Why Give to St. James'?

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Stewardship Stories

Why We Give

The Cate Family

Our family—Jan, John, Alex and Philip—have been attending St. James’ since 1997. We were initially simply drawn to the well-regarded pre-school and the beautiful building. At the time, we had no idea how integral St. James’ would become to our lives.

In the intervening years, it’s proved to be an incredible place in which to raise two boys, a vital solace and refuge with the passing of parents, the source of dear and lifelong friends, and, of course, the place where we’ve been able to grow in Christ and God’s love. Most recently, it was the springboard for us to take the amazing Holy Land pilgrimage. We’ve enjoyed serving in a variety of ministries—vestry, Prospect Manor, lay eucharistic ministry, and acolytes among them.

We realized a long time ago that all of this can’t happen without giving back. Deciding how much to give can be tricky, but we’ve tried to give as much as we thought we could. We understand that giving ability varies, but we’ve always thought that St. James’ is made that much more a true community if all members give at least something.

By now, we can’t imagine our life without this special, special place. We look forward to our continued journey in this wonderful St. James’ community.

An Enduring Home

Timothy Morton and Vera Gluscevic

We stumbled upon St. James’ church, loved her, bade her farewell, missed her for years, and—most improbably—have returned to have her anchor the foundation of a new life we are building here with our family, back where our family began.

One Sunday morning last spring, Tim found himself in a familiar place sitting with the bass section in the choir. The place was familiar, but the context was brand new. For the first time, he looked around and saw this sanctuary as a place where our two children might grow, a place that might over time imprint deeply into their souls as a familiar refuge. Vera, Andrej and Zoe were back home in New Jersey, and Tim was visiting LA for a scientific conference, as we both had intentionally sought ways to do regularly over the previous six years. But this time, Tim was able to sit and quietly enjoy the time and space, looking not back to our previous life here, but forward to a new one.  

We had left California six years earlier: five and a half years after Tim had first joined the choir via a chance association, fifteen months after we had celebrated our marriage in the church, and just days after the sanctuary had hosted Anne baptizing our four-month-old Andrej in the morning and Tim directing a farewell choral concert in the evening. After that concert Tim had returned alone to that darkened sanctuary, absorbing the peace, savoring the final minutes of our time there, having made music, friends, and memories he knew we would hold forever in our hearts.

The two of us had embarked together upon the cruelly unforgiving path of dual-careers in academic science, in which a family’s desire to remain living together severely limits their professional options. We had remarkably managed to both secure temporary positions in Princeton, but our future remained uncertain for years. Would we be able to maintain the all-important short-term research productivity under the unyielding demands of new parenthood? Would one or both of us have to leave science and find a corporate job? If either of us did manage to land a permanent position, where would this be? And, most naggingly, in this unknown future landing place for our family’s dreams, would we ever find a community like we had experienced at St. James’? Despite the distance, this place still felt so much like home to us that we couldn’t bear to have our Zoe baptized anywhere else, so we tacked on a few extra days to one of our SoCal research trips to have her baptized here.

By the grace of God, our winding path has finally brought us back home. That spring morning, sitting in the bass section, Tim could for the first time look forward to a known future for our family because we knew the USC physics department was very likely to offer Vera a faculty position. They did so soon thereafter, and we all moved back across the country this past summer, to stay.

We know our lives will not escape inevitable further seismic shakes and jolts, but our pledging and service to St. James’ function as the bolts to secure this new life we are now building to the foundation of the Church, which is in turn deeply rooted to the solid bedrock of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayerfully Consider Pledging…Please

Cathy Shin Rosenberg

We are really blessed. We share a strong faith with each other. We celebrate the joyful events in each other’s lives and comfort each other in times of trial and sorrow. We welcome everyone and anyone to join us, and we change the lives of people in our community – people who may never set foot in our church – simply because they have no one else to turn to, and we are here, and we count ourselves blessed.

We won’t bore you with a laundry list of the many services that St. James’ provides. We don’t need to state the obvious by extolling our wonderful clergy and staff and the good works they do for our community. We know you know all these things. We ask that you pray.  Pray for our St James’ Church and consider pledging.

Fifteen years ago, Peter and I joined St. James’ because we believed that its members were committed to being genuine Disciples of Christ. Since our first hand shake with Rev. Anne, we have chosen St. James’ Church. Our family milestones took place at this church. Peter and I got married here. Our daughter Elizabeth was baptized here. She played baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant, and now she is walking down the aisle as an acolyte. We have hosted Christmas parties, pool parties, vestry holiday meetings, Food Locker strategy lunches, discernment gatherings and Sisterhood of St James’ cocktail parties.

The word is spreading…our church has an incredible loyal following in this community. Look around you: this is the power of the Gospel message! The practice of generosity is a faith discipline. It is the mark of a growing faith and deeper walk with Christ.

We ask you to join us in prayerful preparation on behalf of the whole church as stewardship Sunday approaches. We believe that God’s abundance will enable us collectively to provide the resources that will empower our church to do even greater things. We thank you for your part in that life changing work.

Pledging is Faith in Action

Michael and Morgan Fanelli

Having faith that God will always take care of our family has been a touchstone for us. We came from two different religious denominations, finding the Episcopal Church as a middle ground. Liturgy and communion every Sunday were familiar, but Prayers of the People, The Fraction were all new. Yet we found a home at St. James’, a chance to grow in our faith as a couple.

We made friends at services, we got married at St. James, and our children, Annie and Marke, were baptized here. We got involved. Michael was the Church Treasurer for 5 years. Morgan was Director of the Youth Center at St. James’ for 8 years, and the kids grew up in the church. We are grateful for the chance to grow in our faith as a family.  Our faith, regular worship, courage, and whispers from God, remind us that everything will be okay.

We believe our financial pledge is a way to put our faith into action. Our path is not your path. We feel that pledging and how much is an independent decision and is different for every parishioner and their families. Every year we decide how much to pledge. But pledging, no matter the amount, is a good and positive experience that helps shape our faith. Just trust in the Lord, and so we do.

Pledging is essential to the life of the Church. It helps define us all as the Community of St. James’. So, as we head into 2020, we honor the gifts that we have received, and we continue to pledge in thankgsiving.

Michael started attending St. James’ in 1995.

Morgan and Michael began attending together in 1997.

Because God is Faithful (and Doesn’t Want Me to Be Anxious)

Heather Inouye

I pledge to St. James’ because I am an especially good financial worrier. I’ll explain. I’ve had two knee surgeries that required physical therapy. For me, these experiences became a parable about spiritual healing and growth. You see, I believe that spiritual disciplines are most beneficial not when we are strong or especially pious, but when and where we are weak or in need of healing and growth. To engage in a spiritual discipline is to invite God to work. At the root of my financial worry is a fear about God’s character and an expectation that (despite what the Bible says) God will not provide for me. Generally, I work too hard and feel anxious about resting as a result.

The story about God’s supplying manna to feed the Israelites in the wilderness and God’s command to rest on the Sabbath (along with the provision that extra manna collected for the Sabbath would last, even though on other days it would spoil) speaks directly to me. This is where my financial worries meet my true view of myself, my work, God, and the relationship between us. Every time I write my check to the church, I feel a twinge of anxiety when I come face to face with my needs, fears, and the true state of my heart. I fear that God is untrustworthy, insufficient, or unlikely to care whether my needs are met. Through tithing, I open myself to God’s gentle rehabilitation of this impairment.

How do I decide what to pledge? I follow my physical therapist’s advice: “Go to the pain—not through it.” Every year, I evaluate my pledge in light of my resources and ask, “Is this amount sufficient to bring me to the question of whether I trust God to provide for me?” If not, I increase it. If yes, I don’t. I don’t believe that God calls us to harm ourselves through our spiritual disciplines. Rather, I believe that God invites us to join with God and others on a journey toward greater healing and wholeness. I invite you to accompany me.

Heather Inouye has attended St. James’ since Ash Wednesday, 2012.

Gratitude

Courtney White

The day I became an Episcopalian in 2006 at All Saints Church, my life changed! My heart was filled with gratitude; however I did not feel a part of the All Saints family. Something was missing.

The day I walked in to St. James’ Church to hear Rector Anne, I knew I found my home. It is a medium size church with so much warmth and love. So many members welcomed me with open arms! I knew I found my home!

St. James’ is very active in helping the less fortunate in our community. That is why I pledge.