I am awed when I think of our historic “beacon on the hill” sanctuary being built 160 years ago when Austin had only about 1,000 citizens–the 1850 U.S. Census records Austin at 629 people, and by 1860, the population had grown to 3,494. The stewardship of so few parishioners to build for future generations a permanent and beautiful tribute to God’s beneficence testifies to the now trite phrase “pay it forward.” But pay it forward they did, and that has been true of all subsequent generations who have worshipped in and loved their, and now our, historic church.
The monumental physical plant and the full array of programs didn’t just appear, but rather they were planned for, and the generosity of those stewards who came before us made sure the structure would grow to accommodate future congregations and the programs we enjoy today.
Running a physical plant that covers a city block and houses God’s programs and cares for the spiritual needs of His people and reaches out to its neighbors downtown requires us all to contribute regularly and as responsibly as we do for the maintenance of our own homes. The needs of St. David’s Church reoccur as regularly as our own utility bills and property tax statements. None of us would think of missing a year of supporting our own homes or of sporadically making a small payment, nor would we expect our neighbors to pay those obligations for us.
I ask every parishioner to assess honestly what St. David’s means to his or her family’s life and to consider how large their commitment must be to assure its operation for another year. Then I ask my fellow parishioners to pledge an amount commensurate with that evaluation to assure the continued operation of St. David’s in 2014. But I ask more of us all.
PAY IT FORWARD! St. David’s Episcopal Church is a senior citizen of Austin, and like other seniors, the physical plant we enjoy must be monitored and maintained so that there will still be our beautiful “beacon on the hill” in another 160 years. I, therefore, ask each of us to be the same kind of stewards of God’s treasure as were those pioneers of 1853 and as were those who enlarged the sanctuary and added the pipe organ 100 years ago and as were those who built Sumners Hall and the education wing under it 50 years ago and as were those who built Bethell Hall, Crail Hall and Trinity Center 15 years ago. Those who came before us “paid it forward,” and now so must we!