Thoughts from the Associate Rector…
One of my favorite ministries at St. Michael’s is being with folks who are considering confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church. It is such a privilege being with folks who are considering making a public affirmation of their Christian faith and we always enjoy super conversation, fellowship, and study during our time together.
This spring St. Michael’s offer a one-day Adult Confirmation Class,
a Saturday retreat, April 5, 2014, 9 am – 3 pm,
that will feature presentations on basics of the Christian faith, Bible, and life in the church and have lots of room and time for questions and discussions. This workshop will serve to equip those who would like to be confirmed or received, or who wish to reaffirm their baptismal vows, on Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014, when the Right Rev. Dena Harrison, Bishop Suffragan, visits St. Michael’s.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is the adult affirmation of one’s baptism; Reception is the welcoming of an already confirmed person into the Episcopal Church from any Christian denomination. Reaffirmation is for anyone who is just looking for a fresh start or new commitment and has already been confirmed or received. If you have never been baptized, please talk to Robby or me. Attendance at this retreat is very appropriate preparation for baptism but is not required.
Please contact me for information or to sign up. You may also sign up in entryway.
Janne Alrø Osborne
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|Camp Allen Family Retreat|
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour this Saturday night before you go to bed. Daylight Savings Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 9, 2014 (when clocks should be set ahead one hour to 3:00 a.m.).
Don’t be late to your favorite worship service!
Ash Wednesday is March 5
6:45 am * Noon * 6:30 pm
Thoughts from the Vestry and Finance Commission –
The vestry has approved an operations budget for 2014. Based on pledges received to date and other projections, this roadmap for the year forecasts income of $821,000. Planned expenditures for the year total $836,000 leaving us with a year-end deficit of $15,000. Our operational reserve will just barely cover this deficit and our cash flow swings over the course of the year. If you have not yet made your prayerful decision about a 2014 pledge, we invite you to do so. Cards are in the pews and may be dropped in the offering plates.
The diocese has benefited from the $1.3 billion sale of St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston and has passed some of this largess on to the individual parishes in the form of reduced medical insurance premiums. The net result for St. Michael’s is a reduction of about $51,000. Despite this savings our Outreach Ministry budget had to be reduced to the tune of $30,000 in the amount our congregation devotes to helping others. As a church family, we seek to be the instruments of God’s will in this place, and this reduction of our efforts in this calling should be a signal for us to consider prayerfully our priorities.
On the Bearing Lasting Fruits capital campaign front, things are progressing nicely. With a total three-year pledge amount of $967,118, receipts to date are $496,931 - 51.4% after only one year of the campaign. We are now ready to make another $100,000 curtailment of the primary mortgage for a total of $255,000 in reductions, leaving a mortgage principal of only about $124,000 outstanding. This amount should be completely paid off as the campaign is completed. Thanks to all involved in making this a reality.
- Interfaith Hospitality Network at WUMC March 2-9
- Fat Sunday Pancake Supper and More is March 2
- Ash Wednesday is March 5. Liturgy and Eucharist with optional Imposition of Ashes at 6:45 am, Noon, 6:30 pm
- Girl Scout Sunday is March 9
- Adult Confirmation Series begins March 9
- Daylight Saving Time begins March 9
- St. Mike’s Bikes and Trikes is March 22
- Passages for Young People March 28-29
Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.
Start planning now. How are you going to observe a holy Lent? How are you going to examine yourself, repent, pray, fast, deny yourself, and read and meditate on God’s holy Word? These things do not just happen. After Lenten discipline Easter will be abundantly joyous.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
Some of you have asked me what took place at Diocesan Council last weekend in Galveston. For those who do not know, Diocesan Council is the annual meeting of the family that is the Diocese of Texas. As opposed to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other denominations or in “bible churches” whose basic unit of the church is the congregation, the basic unit of the church for us in the Episcopal tradition is the diocese. We understand that we at St. Michael’s are called to carry out the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ through a relationship to other churches in our diocese. This relationship is sacramentally expressed by being in relationship with the Bishop of the Diocese. Indeed, the word “episcopal” means “bishop-al” from the Greek. To be “Episcopal” means to be in relationship with the Bishop.
The about 150 congregations of the Diocese of Texas (now the southeastern quarter of the state from Longview to Waco to Austin to Freeport) met to worship and take care of family business in a parliamentary process involving about 250 clergy delegates and 500 lay delegates representing every congregation. I’m used to worshiping with anywhere from 10 to 200 folks at a time. Worshiping with 1,000 Episcopalians in a service is a moving experience for me. We significantly changed the way we budget the family money for the first time in a half century. It used to be that there were a mandatory administrative part and a voluntary mission part to the budget. For 2014 we have just a mandatory but smaller congregational contribution.
For several years we have had a “companion” (partner) relationship with the Diocese of Southern Malawi. Council added companion relationships with the Diocese of Costa Rica and the Diocese of North Dakota. This is part of seeking to be an inviting Diocese, not just a welcoming one.
The only real controversy at Council did not materialize. We have a Canon 43 that was passed in about 1995 that prohibits Episcopal clergy that are in loving, life-long, faithful, monogamous same-sex covenants from functioning as clergy in the Diocese of Texas. We have debated and voted on various attempts to repeal or modify this at almost every Council since it was passed. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I have moved its repeal at least once myself.) All such attempts to change it have failed, usually splitting the votes about 55/45%. This year in his opening address Bp. Doyle, as one of many points he made, asked the Diocesan family to leave Canon 43 be this year. Instead, Bp. Doyle said that on his sabbatical later this year he would pray and think about how to move the Diocesan family beyond this divisive issue so that we could be more united as a family on God’s mission. Council trusted him to do this. Pray for Bp. Doyle, that our Lord Jesus Christ may guide him to a way forward which celebrates the justice and peace of God.
The Reverend Robby Vickery
Fast forward to today. The EDOT has realized that Houston is no longer short of hospital beds and that, indeed, the whole shape of health care in the U.S.A. is changing radically. Hospitals need to be part of large, even regional or national, networks to survive. SLEH had become a place that was serving people who could afford quality health care. So, last year the EDOT sold SLEH for about $1,300,000,000. Yes, you read those zeros right. The “1″ is in the billions column.
At first I thought of this as forsaking our gospel commitment to be a healing presence of Jesus. Now I understand that we are actually faithfully expanding this healing presence of our Lord. This is because of how the proceeds of the sale will be used. 90% has been placed in the newly formed Episcopal Health Foundation to provide medical care for at risk and underserved populations throughout the 57 counties that comprise the EDOT. The Foundation is working hard right now to develop and implement strategies for how to best do this. The earnings on the principle of this fund will provide about $30,000,000 per year to serve these medical needs. For example, El Buen Samaritano in south Austin has been a powerful presence with its medical clinic for the last 25 years. Now we may be able to start EBSs in Waco, Bryan/College Station, Beaumont, and Longview.
The other 10% of the sale proceeds have been placed in the newly formed Great Commission Foundation and will provide about $3,000,000 per year for EDOT to start congregational missions and to purchase land and buildings.
– The Reverend Robby Vickery
There is still time to join the fun …
THE LEDGE = FUN on February 8th – this Saturday!