“Bold” is the first word in our parish vision used to describe the people of St. Peter’s. Calling our parish bold is neither aspirational nor boastful. St. Peter’s has a long legacy of boldness: establishing Charlotte’s first hospitals, nurturing the area’s first orphanage, sending out missions to bring the good news of salvation to those on the margins of life, using parish buildings to feed and host the homeless, and marching to proclaim our support for equality and justice for all.
Members of long standing might have trouble perceiving how extraordinary St. Peter’s congregation looks to someone new to the parish. I have heard several life-long Episcopalians remark that their first visit to St. Peter’s marked the first time they had ever sat in church next to someone of a different race. Bold? How bold is it that the children of our parish are growing up to think of diverse congregations as normal, and homogenous congregations as strange?
Our history has been one of boldness. Our congregation is a bold vision of the world we want to see, rather than the one that we see too often. And now, we need to make a pledge to support out present and our future, which is as hard for us to imagine now as our present appearance would be difficult for our forbears.
We need to be ready for everyone who is trying to find good news in a bewildering and distressing world; to do that, we need to show ourselves and Charlotte that our aspirations are matched by our willingness to support them.
The fact is, St. Peter’s has been living on borrowed time, surviving in the present by imperiling its future: time borrowed from the stones and plaster that are falling apart, time borrowed from programs that have been practically flat-lined for nearly a decade, time borrowed from faithful volunteers and staff spread too thin, though they would be the last to say so.
The bold strokes through which St. Peter’s changed itself and the face of Charlotte had a cost. The generations who came before us met it, and St. Peter’s and Charlotte are better because they did. The hospitality that cares for so many still has a cost. The music and liturgy though which so many souls are fed have a cost. The formation programs through which so many, young and old, have been led to a closer walk with God, these have costs. There is so much more that we all value. You name it. It costs time; it costs dedication. And, more often than not, it costs money.
But, as always with our church and our God, there is good news. We, the people of St. Peter’s, have more than is necessary to meet these needs, and, by God’s grace, now is our time to stand in the shoes of the women and men who have effected so much change for the better.
What should we do? Fix firmly in our minds that God asks us to put our selves and all we have at God’s service: no more, but no less. Then ask, how much is it possible to give? If each member of the parish who does not now pledge made a pledge of fifty dollars, we could easily see a better future. If every household now pledging found a way to increase their pledge by a tenth, we could look forward to a year of abundance in all we do, the like of which no parishioner has ever seen.
Chris Cudabac for the 2019 Annual Fund Committee