I Pledge to Give Thanks

As told by Michael Davisimage2

I pledge as one way of giving thanks. I am grateful for all the grace God has granted both to me and to my family. I want to share such grace with others using St. David’s as the vehicle to leverage my giving with the resources our parish devotes to God’s work in the world.

We are called by our faith to give back to God a portion of what we have been freely given by God. Gratitude takes many forms. I find that everywhere I turn I am confronted with blessings from God, and I need to recognize and respond to all those blessings.

Pledging is one of my ways to spread and share that gratitude. St. David’s is God’s vehicle on earth to spread the Gospel message and demonstrate the Gospel teachings through our outreach, worship, fellowship, education, and on, and on.

Working through St. David’s, I can increase my impact compared to simply “going it alone” thanks to the coordination, shared activity, and connections our parish has developed. St. David’s record of outreach starting with St. David’s Hospital, through Caritas, and now to Trinity Center, speaks volumes in how we can promote the Gospel.

What will be next in such a list? I do not know, but I know that the seeds of that next major movement are already here. I feel called to be a part of this Gospel mission founded on gratitude. We can help to share God’s blessings through our work and generosity.

So I pledge. Regularly, each year, using Proportionate Giving as my tool and raising that proportion each year. My pledging started as a teenager; Proportionate Giving came later but has been our family mantra for 30 years or so.

And one last thought: generosity makes me feel good—about myself, and what positive effect I can have. Many have freely shared themselves with me, and I can give that sharing to others based on such a blessed example.

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I Tithe out of Joy and Gratitude

As Told by Lee Parkerimage2-2

My wife and I have not always been able to give to the church regularly. For a time there while I was in graduate school and for several years afterward, we found it very difficult. We were, like many people in this country, living well beyond our means. Each month we added to our debt which included student loans, car loans, and credit cards.

Then, a member of our family gave us a copy of a book by Dave Ramsey that lays out a set of principles on how to budget your money and encourages you to decide in advance where you spend your money rather than just looking back at where it all went. So we laid out a budget and came to realize that we had an abundance where we once thought there was a scarcity. For the first time since we were married, we were able to make a pledge to the Church.

Having both grown up with parents who were members of the clergy, we understood the importance of pledging to the church budgeting process, but found that at this moment our desire to pledge came not out of a sense of responsibility or obligation, but from a place of joy and gratitude for all that we have. That first pledge started at a simple 2% of our rather meager income and has grown to 7% in the years following. We are hopeful that in a few more years we can reach a full 10% of our income.

Each year that we sit down to fill out our pledge card, we start by reflecting on all the blessings we have in our lives, and then ask ourselves how can we share these blessings with others and give back to God with joy and gratitude.

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I tithe in Time, Talent, and Treasure

As told by Jenny Meadowsimage2

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!

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I Pledge because I Need St. David’s

As told by Jennifer GlassJennifer Glass

When I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus’s path, I didn’t quite realize how hard that was going to be. My first realization was that, along with the enormous gifts of love and grace, Jesus asks of us some pretty tough things in return.

Did he really mean that camel – eye of the needle thing? Or “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” in his eternal kingdom? And don’t get me started on that “turn the other cheek” business. This is hard stuff to live out, and its only getting harder. Well, tough jobs require teamwork, so my second realization was that I needed a team if I was going to try and walk this path. You, people of St. David’s, are my team.

I still fail often and sometimes spectacularly, but hopefully now I succeed more. Which is why it is so important to me to have a place of renewal and commitment, where we support and care for each other, teach each other, and redouble our efforts to follow Christ. I want to be a part of that community.

When I walk in the doors of St. David’s, I know it’s that place. I love our coffee shop with its thought-provoking books and treats. Trinity Center serving our homeless neighbors, while the Day School serves our families and friends; our hospitality crew training disabled workers while they feed us, and our choirs and small groups filling our rooms with music and good conversation.

I pledge because I want this community to thrive. I pledge because the world needs St. David’s. And I pledge, most of all, because I need St. David’s.

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I Pledge to Help the Future of the Church

Gustavo HernandezAs told by Gustavo Hernandez

It was the fall of 1924 when St. David’s vestry approved the purchase of the Surgeon’s Hospital located at 17th and Rio Grande. This was the start of what we know today as the St. David’s network of hospitals. It was 1999 when a group of St. David’s parishioners out of concern for people experiencing homelessness on the streets by the church started a volunteer based Sunday-only ministry. Today we know this ministry as the Trinity Center. The history of St. David’s contains many of these stories like Caritas, Warm Heart International, Next to New, El Buen Samaritano, Austin Habitat for Humanity, to just name a few. They were all small things started with great love. These are visible signs of the entrepreneurial and giving fabric of our church.

The journey that started in 1847 continues today with contemporary initiatives such as Ashes to Go, Laundry Love, SoCo Community, ”Austin vibe” services, adult education and sermon podcasts, just to name a few.

We walk in faith to meet the challenges of a busy, distracted and rapidly changing world. Together we imagine new ways to embody the gospel of Jesus Christ. What else can we build in the future?

This is why I pledge. I want to hold the hands of the many St. David’s generations that met the challenge of their changing world, and built a faithful tomorrow. I want to walk with you and meet your own aspirations. I want to be part of a place where together we can celebrate and grieve, where it is ok to be vulnerable and joyous, where we’ll care for each other and welcome the stranger, the familiar and the different.

I’m proud to serve on a Vestry who has courageously chosen to fund all our programs at 100%. These are the programs that honor our past and look to the future. This year our goals are to support our staff family with far too long delayed salary adjustments, to care for our least paid employees, and to set a sound foundation as we start our journey with a new rector. Like previous generations at St. David’s, the goal has been set in faith, and now the challenge is calling each one of us to once again contribute in communion with those present and long past.

The work of the Holy Spirit cannot be understood in a given moment– it requires an epiphany from a perspective that only time can give. The mysterious ways of God’s work are both challenging and comforting; they call to faith and abiding love. It brings me great joy to walk with you in this journey of faith.

May the love and peace of Christ find you everywhere and in everything you do.

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I Pledge to Make Opportunities

As told by Eric LeibrockEric Leibrock

For many years I tried to be invisible in the church. I attended worship services and received the comfort of the word and sacraments, but I did no ministry work and donated just enough so they would leave me alone.

The Holy Spirit drew me gradually into immersion in the liturgy and music of this ancient root of Christianity—so different from the “no-frills” church in which I was reared as a child.

As I was swept up in the endless, cyclic progression of the church seasons, the nurturing fellowship of amazing fellow parishioners drew me into hands-on ministries. I began to realize that the annual plea to give back some of my time and my money to the church was an opportunity, not just a pesky obligation.

After a few years of self-satisfied giving, I heard a friend refer to the practice of “ridiculously under-pledging.” Pondering just what kind of label this might be, I began to examine more closely that partially visible man in the mirror. Later, I began moving gradually toward fulfilling the Biblical requirement to tithe—after serving on the vestry and taking part first-hand in the wrenching decisions of “what to cut,” from St. David’s annual budget.

There is nothing to cut. The only way to enable more of what the church wants to do is for me—not just you—to donate more and to “let my light shine” through ministry. When I joined St. David’s 25 years ago, there seemed to be a group of wealthy donors who could be depended upon to bail out the church during lean times, with one family said to be making annual tithes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today there is no “knight on a white horse” riding to our financial aid. What we do have is Jesus Christ riding a humble donkey. When he reaches into his saddlebag to strew his grace and blessings throughout the world, I want to help make sure his hand doesn’t come up empty.

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What if Everyone Pledges?

As told by Beth MonsonMonson Family

We pledge because pledging is the right thing to do. We pledge because when we come in summer, the air conditioning offers relief from the heat outside. Someone has to pay the electric bill. In winter, we are cozy warm inside, because the heat is running. Someone has to pay for that, too. We flush toilets in this building and drink from its water fountains. The water bill must be paid. The lights run on electricity that isn’t free. And so we pledge.

We pledge because my high school band director, Mr. K, said there were only two rules, and I took him seriously. The first: When you’re considering an action, ask yourself, “What if everyone took this action?” Using his logic, “What if I don’t pledge?” becomes, “What if no one pledges?” There would be no St. David’s, no more worshiping beneath the old stained glass windows in the historic sanctuary, no more choir rehearsal in Bethell Hall, no more doughnuts in Sumner’s. The second: “Would Mr. K approve?” And so we pledge.

We pledge because our clergy and staff are important to us, and our pledge pays their wages. Claire and Mary and Suzette are teaching our very loud boy to sing sweetly in the Cherub choir. Jeanie and Katie see to it that we know what’s happening around the campus every week with Looking Ahead. (It doesn’t write, print, or fold itself.) We pledge because Jimmy and Josh can fix anything around here. We pledge because our priests and preachers deliver sermons that help us live better, and they must feed and shelter their families. We pledge because Peter at the front desk (Mr. Peter, to the kids) welcomes every person who graces the doorway of our church.

We pledge for the same reason we pick up litter in the parking lot and welcome people we see holding red folders and looking lost in Sumners. We pledge because this is our church home.

We pledge because our faithfulness tells the diocese – and candidates for the job of our next rector – that we are an engaged, faithful, active community.

We hope to pledge more each year. So far, we have been successful. We recognize that someday we might face hardship – we might lose an income, gain medical bills, lose everything in a natural disaster. If any of that happens, God help us, we might pledge far less, but we will pledge.

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Every Pledge Makes a Difference

Anthony Chapple, Junior WardenAs told by Anthony Chapple

This Sunday is the perfect Sunday for me to share with you the reason I make an annual pledge to St. David’s. It is really very simple: I love this place!

In the most cosmic alignment of church duties, last Sunday I found myself working with the rector search committee, ushering the Lessons and Carols service, actually reading one of the Lessons, and making an announcement as a member of the vestry on the status of the current pledge effort. Oh, and I wrote this. How lucky can one guy be? To be able to do good things for someone I love, is a blessing for which I am forever thankful.

I love this church and the body of Christ we form as members of His church. We are a beautiful diverse people of varying ages, genders, races, physical abilities, political affiliations, economic status, relationships and so much more. We’re all of this and we meet regularly on this campus to worship the God who made us, celebrate the Christ who saves us and experience the Holy Spirit who strengthens us. We do this as one body united.

Two weeks ago, I called some of you in the parish to personally say “thank you” for having turned in your pledge. All of you expressed appreciation for the call and some of you said, “I only wish I could give more.” You gave what you can and, believe me, it makes a difference. Thank you.

If you have not yet read the parish profile, I encourage you to go on-line and read it. If you have read the profile, you know that we do a lot of good things for people outside the walls of this building: prayer and Eucharist services for our homeless neighbors, in-home communion for members unable to be here physically, the smiles and laughter of youth extending helping hands to people we’ve never met, laundry love, bed-time story brigades and, again, so much more.

I don’t think that any of us could pay for all of this to happen by ourselves. But when your pledge is put with my pledge and my pledge is put with someone else’s pledge and each pledge received is added to those, look at what we are able to do to spread the Good News — and when necessary, we will even use words.

If you have not yet turned in a pledge card, I invite and encourage you to do so. Every pledge makes a difference. Know that yours will, too.

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Keeping a Gratitude List

As told by Ann Cooperann cooper

I keep a gratitude list. Every night before I go to bed, I list three things I’m grateful for. It’s amazing (or maybe not) how often St. David’s, or more accurately, someone from St. David’s, appears on my list. I also keep a list of people I pray for, many of whom are St. David’s members. Why? Because I’m called to this ministry, and because it is an honor to carry them in prayer and in my heart, as I have been carried.

I once heard that the opposite of poverty is community, and that is what St. David’s means to me. The community that is St. David’s nourishes me in so many ways. That nourishment may take the form of the wonderful food in Café Divine, or the often unseen ministrations of our staff and clergy, or of a member I encounter. Maybe it’s the person  who greets me when I come through the doors, or the people I  greet as I sit in the lobby on Wednesday afternoons. Maybe it’s the Eucharistic ministers  at the altar rail who look me in the eye as they offer me Christ’s body and blood, or who brought those elements to us in the hospital and at home when my husband Eddie was sick. Maybe it’s the Altar Guild teams who serve behind the scenes to prepare for each service, or the WeEBS (Wednesday Evening Bible Study) who remind me that I am a “beloved and cherished child of an awesome and amazing God.”

St. David’s feeds me and so many others, and I want that feeding to continue into a future I will never see.

This year, as I remembered with gratitude how I have been blessed in so many ways, I decided  to increase my pledge, so that I have a part in bringing about that future. We all have a part to play in St. David’s present and future.  I invite you to join me in making a commitment of time, talent, and treasure to St. David‘s.

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First Post

This is a test first post for the testimonials blog.

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