The leaders of the Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral Stewardship Ministry will present a five-week series of reflections, prayers, mediations, and short stories to prepare the way for our 2024 Stewardship Campaign. We welcome your thoughts and reflections in response, either using the comment box at the bottom of this page, or via email.
If you have any questions or reactions, please write Junior Warden for Stewardship Chris Rigos at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WEEK 5—WHEREVER YOU ARE
by Amanda Davis
Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.
I have always loved these words, which we hear each week before coming together at God's table. They convey not only a feeling of welcome, but of recognition that both faith and life itself are journeys. There are times we feel great connection—to God and to our community, seeing God's abundance and joyfully participating in various ministries. At other times, we may find ourselves in a period of wilderness and struggle, when we need to rely on our community to lift us up. Wherever you are, you are seen, you are valued, and you are invited in.
This year's Stewardship theme is Pilgrims Together: Moving Forward in Faith. Pilgrimage provides an opportunity for active reflection and can transform our connections with God, with nature, with ourselves, and with each other. Walking the same paths as myriad pilgrims before us, it is both a deeply personal and incredibly communal act. This stewardship season, I invite you to reflect not only on where you, and Saint Mark's, are now, but ways we can be transformed together through the gifts we share.
Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome at Saint Mark's, and we are grateful for your presence in this community.
WEEK 4—SACRED SPACES
by Peter Snyder
Pilgrimage is about seeking out sacred space. But sacred space can also be found close at hand. Week by week, as I worship and engage in ministry at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, I enter into a sacred space—a space where I encounter God in prayer and worship, in music, in the preaching of the Word, in the sacraments, and especially in the lives of those with whom I share this space. Yet the point of sacred space is not to hoard it for ourselves but to invite others in, and to take it with us as we are sent out: "Let us go forth in the name of Christ." This rhythm of gathering and sending is a pilgrimage in its own right that nourishes my soul.
I do not know how even to begin to put a value on all of that. What I do know is that I have never looked at what I give to the church in time or money in transactional terms. Rather, giving is a spiritual discipline that is nurtured by the community of faith and in turn builds up that community. It becomes swept up in the ceaseless tidal flow of sending forth and gathering in.
WEEK 3—PILGRIMAGE OF THE MIND
by Wayne Duncan
Pilgrimage can occur by walking, flying, climbing... and sometimes just by reading, thinking, and discussing. I have been grateful for the pilgrimages I have been able to take over the past six years through the Education for Ministry and Wisdom School offerings at Saint Mark’s.
The Education for Ministry program has led me to feel a connection to the University of the South even though I’ve never stepped foot on the campus, and their course of readings and small-group discussions have taken me to ancient Jerusalem as we studied the Hebrew Bible, to new understandings of the New Testament as we read and discussed John Collins’ book on Biblical values, and through the complex history of the Christian faith through Diarmaid MacCulloch’s challenging Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, as well as current theological texts that challenge us to look at racism and the issues facing the church in new ways through the writings of Catherine Meeks and Stephanie Spellers.
This small group's weekly journey has been supplemented with the varied and engaging offerings from the Wisdom School, including Richard Rohr’s remote broadcasts of his CONSPIRE conferences from New Mexico, as well as Belden Lane’s lectures on the natural world and Mary Crist’s workshop on the Doctrine of Discovery in our own Bloedel Hall. These offerings have helped me deepen my faith and broaden my understanding of Christian faith and its history. They have helped shape my perspective on Christianity and how I reflect these values in my life. I’m grateful for these opportunities, and grateful too for the opportunity to support these faith formation programs through my annual financial commitment to Saint Mark’s.
WEEK 2—"EXTRA PROTECTION"
by Greg Simon
Our family’s annual pledge or financial commitment to Saint Mark’s comes directly from our bank account. That electronic transfer is very efficient, but it feels a little too impersonal. So my practice has been to make a plate offering of $5 or $10 cash each Sunday. During our pandemic virtual worship, my weekly plate offering also went virtual. As we watched the livestream from our living room, I made a virtual plate offering by Venmo. My pandemic-induced cashless habit has stuck with me, and the cash in my wallet is still left over from 2019. We’ve returned to in-person worship, and now I make my virtual plate offering using Venmo from my pew. A few months ago, a new Venmo feature started asking me if I wanted to “add extra protection to my purchase.” The app tells me that I can “get a full refund if something goes wrong.” I smile and decline. Many things are going right at Saint Mark’s, and I have much to be grateful for here. This community is one place where I don’t need any extra protection.
WEEK 1—A PILGRIM'S GRATITUDE
by Chris Rigos, Junior Warden for Stewardship
For what am I grateful at our beloved Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral? How do I begin, with humility, to become a pilgrim of thankfulness?
I am grateful for my wise friends with the Creation Care ministry, who teach us how to love and protect our fragile and abundant world. I give thanks for our Garden Ministry friends who so lovingly care for our outside yards. I am prayerful for our beekeepers, for our bread-bakers, and for the artists who create masterpieces with flowers. I am thrilled by the hikes, feasts, and bike rides among different generations. Those who care for our Greenbelt keep us honest and humble in taking care of our part of Creation.
I am amazed and inspired by those among us who seek social justice, both at home and abroad. I am excited by their ongoing links to other faiths, to our indigenous neighbors, and to those in need of meals and affordable housing. Those honest souls who monitor and wisely invest our resources earn my respect, as do those facility gurus who keep our buildings safe, warm, and ready for our ministries.
I am amazed at the culinary skills of our many cooks and their devotion for feeding the hungry. I am joyful when I hear our many choirs and music makers. I am inspired when our liturgical ministers, both clergy and laypersons, offer prayer and song with dignity and beauty. Those who serve us at the table have won my admiration and thanks. I come away from the weekly table feeling filled with forgiveness, grace, and inspiration.
My open eyes find a daily rediscovery of gratitude and praise for you, my friends and fellow pilgrims. Your prayers and meditations keep me resilient and eager for life. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, thank you for joining me on my journey in this place, with presence, love, and mutual support. It is an honor to be traveling together.