Though I was baptized and confirmed Episcopalian in my youth in East Texas, by my mid-40s I was attending a Unity church in Arlington, Texas. When I moved to Austin, I made the rounds of the Unity churches, but none struck me as ‘home’.
About a year later, Barbara Grove, a long-time friend, invited me to lunch. I knew she had retired, so when she said she had only an hour, I was puzzled. She told me that she was sorting music for the choir director at St. David’s, a church I had not heard of. But the words ‘music’ and ‘choir’ made the hairs on my neck stand up, and I knew the Spirit was working in our conversation. She suggested that I audition with David Stevens for the Parish Choir, which I did successfully that afternoon. That was about a month before Christmas 2004, and I was immediately at home in the church building and in the St. David’s community.
When I feel at home I get involved, as I believe tithing is 3-fold: time, talent, and treasure. St. D’s has a TON of outreach opportunities within the church, in Austin, and far afield. I moved my pledge to St. David’s, made it a ritual to have breakfast on Sundays at Café Divine so I could meet more people, joined a Kitchen team and the Writers Group, traveled with the choir to a sister church in Hamburg, Germany, volunteered to play the piano at Trinity Streets’ 3 p.m. service, sang in the then-Celtic service at 5 p.m., worked weekends when the Cold Weather Shelter was open and then became CWS Coordinator for 7 years, joined the Steering Committee for GLEE (Gay, Lesbian, and Everybody Else), served a term as President of the Parish Choir, and started an Audio/Visual group that never really got off the ground. Even before Ian Huddleston and I married in 2009, he joined me in the pledge and many of St. D’s activities.
Since 2012, we have spent part of every year in New Zealand, Ian’s homeland. We fell in love with the Nelson area, atop the South Island, and moved here two months ago. However, there’s really no place like St. David’s here (maybe not anywhere!), so our pledge remains in Austin. I also am still an active member of GLEE and the Writers Group, an advocate for Trinity Center, and enjoy being one of the proofreaders for Looking Ahead and Connecting every week – another way to stay in touch and to give back to the church.
St. David’s parishioners have vision and creativity. Often those visions are to create groups that interest them, and by and large the rector/associate rector hears those ideas and gives the go-ahead. We the parishioners tell the congregation our vision, and the rest of us have free rein to join or not. It’s inspiring to have so many fellowships and outreach activities, some long-standing, others short-term, yet none of them micro-managed.
St. David’s is an exciting church to be part of, a church whose mission is more about serving the community and the world almost 24/7 than opening its doors a few hours on Sundays. We’re delighted that our tithe not only supports such a church, but goes beyond, to the Austin community and the world. Ashes to Go, Warm Heart International, veterans, home churches, men’s groups, women’s groups, youth groups, Prime Timers, our neighbors, Bridge Builders, Bedtime Story Brigade, Laundry Love, and Café Divine, including GO Kids and SXSW Music, are just a few. Thanks to all of us, the list goes on and on and on.
That’s why we tithe and why our tithe stays at St. David’s. Love to all, and come see us when you can!