Dear St. Thomas’,
The leaves are turning colors. There’s one tree with brilliant red leaves in the Rectory lawn. The litter underneath has fallen in the shape of the tree: it looks like a red shadow on the ground.
I went to seminary in West Texas. There the joke was there were only two seasons: summer and winter. I always suggested there was a third: autumn happened on the third Saturday in October, between 3.30 and 3.45 in the afternoon. That’s when all the leaves dried out and fell, becoming an angry brown pile on the ground.
You don’t go to West Texas to see the fall foliage. For that you go to New England (or South Jersey)! You don’t go to Maine to see Prickly Pear cacti. For that you go to West Texas. Similarly, I would avoid the seafood in West Texas, the cheesesteaks in Seattle, and, well, all the food is good in South Jersey.
As we talk about Stewardship generally and our pledge campaign specifically, we have three themes:
- Giving First
- Proportional Giving
- 100% Participation
Proportional Giving does not mean giving what you don’t have. It doesn’t mean taking food from the mouths of your children or neglecting your other responsibilities in the world. It doesn’t mean giving the most or even the same as anyone else. That would be like eating a cheesesteak in Seattle: I don’t recommend it! Proportional means what is fitting for you. Proportional means what makes sense for you.
Often we talk about proportional giving in terms of percentages. The “biblical standard” is the tithe (which literally means a tenth: 10%). But that is a reach for many of us: something towards which we strive over time.
When Becky and I were married, we talked about how much we wanted to give. We wanted to give proportionally, a value we both learned from our parents. Our goal has always been to give between 15-20% of our income.
When I was at seminary and we were living on less than $12,000 per year, our giving may not have seemed like much to the counters. But that’s OK. It was proportional and it was right for us. When I had a good job in industry some years ago, we were able to give generously. When I was laid off, I sent a note to the pledge secretary of our parish to let her know that our giving would still be proportional, but drastically reduced from what we had originally pledged for that year.
This year Becky took a job, in part to help provide for oldest child, Aviva, to go to college next year. This means that our joint pledge to St. Thomas’ went up and we also had some new income to give to another charity near to our hearts. All this besides additional funds for college because we continue to give proportionally.
Giving proportionally means that no matter what ups or downs come along, your commitment to honor God with your wealth remains consistent. It’s another aspect of a life ordered around seeking first God’s kingdom. I urge you to give proportionally and, if St. Thomas’ is an important part of your life, to pledge a generous part of that proportion to St. Thomas’.
Diocesan Convention for 2020 is online this weekend, 14 November. You can watch it live on the Diocesan Youtube channel.
Adult Formation is on break this weekend due to Diocesan Convention.
An Advent Retreat Day, Praying through the Hymnal, is being offered on Saturday, 28 November, from 9am to 1pm. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom link. See the flier below.
St. Thomas’ will not be offering our usual “Giving Tree” program this year due to the complications of the pandemic. Instead…
Kitchen of Hope is accepting donations of gift cards to grocery stores and/or monetary donations for our Thanksgiving Giveaway. Deadline for the donations is Wednesday, November 18, 2020 after the Wednesday night Eucharist. We will also accept turkey or ham for distribution. Thank you for your support. Contact: Vivian H. or the KOH Board of Trustees.
This week is Bible Sunday! Bibles are being delivered ahead of time and will be presented and blessed during online Sunday School.
Grungy Sunday is coming: 22 November from 11.30-2pm (or when we’re done). Bring a sandwich and a rake (or leaf-blower!): water and snacks provided! Together we will rake up all the leaves at St. Thomas’ and prepare our beautiful campus for the winter months. Rain-date: 6 Dec.
Roll up your sleeves for the Red Cross Blood Drive coming back to St. Thomas’ on 24 November from 2-7pm! Space is limited; register at RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Bishop Stokes is releasing weekly recorded versions of his sermons. New sermons are usually released Saturday evenings on Youtube. Tune in to hear a great preacher who is in touch with the pulse of our life together as the Diocese of New Jersey.
Every day you can join St. Thomas’ as we observe Morning Prayer together. You can listen in on the St. Thomas’ website Monday through Saturday, and join us live on Zoom on Sundays, with a sermon, at 8am.
St. Thomas’ offers weekly Sunday School for children online Sundays at 9am. A separate class is offered for teens on Sunday evenings at 6pm: contact Daniel O. (or leave a message at the church office) for connection details for teens.
Join us online for Centering Prayer on Mondays at 4pm.
Coffee Hour will be online Tuesday at noon.
Announcements for the bulletin or parish email are due into the office by noon on Wednesday of each week. You can email them to email@example.com or call the office at 856-881-9144. Announcements are subject to editing due to limited space.
Lectionary readings for this week: Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30
Lectionary readings for next week: Isaiah 64:1-9, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37, Psalm 80:1-7,16-18
Please continue in your daily prayers for: Dennis, Marge, Joann, Sandy, Sally, Oscar, Kelly, Lillian, Susan, Kass, John, Keisha, Holly, Paul, Gary, Colleen, Kelly, Bob, Dan, Virginia, April, Carlene, Andrea, Joan, Jimmy, Lou, Marie
A few services at St. Thomas’ have begun meeting in our beautiful nave once again. Saturday nights we celebrate the Eucharist at 6pm. Unfortunately, seating is limited to 12 pews with a maximum of two people per pew as we continue practice social distancing.
What this means is that, if we’re full, anyone else who shows up must be turned away. That’s a difficult and disappointing thing to do.
To try to minimize disappointments, we are trying out a system of RSVP’s. If you would like to attend the Saturday night service, please find the link to RSVP over on the St. Thomas’ website.
If the RSVP’s are already full, please know that we record these services and post them on the website (usually by the next morning) for all to see.
We miss being together in larger numbers. But this pandemic isn’t going away in the next few months. Until then, we strive to follow Jesus’ example in our love for one another.
This Weekend at St. Thomas’
- Saturday, 4.30pm: Adult Formation Online
- Saturday, 6.00pm: Holy Eucharist in the Nave (limited capacity)
- Sunday, 8.00am: Online Morning Prayer with Sermon
- Sunday, 9.00am: Online Sunday School for pre-school to pre-teens
- Sunday, 10.30am: Holy Eucharist Outdoors at St. Thomas’
- Sunday, 6.00pm: Online Sunday School for Teens
contact Dan O. for connection details
- Sunday, all day: Holy Eucharist at St. Thomas’ (recorded)
Weekdays at St. Thomas’
- Daily Morning Prayer (Monday through Saturday)
- Monday, 4pm: Centering Prayer
- Tuesday, Noon: Coffee Hour
- Wednesday, 5.30pm: Holy Eucharist (outdoors at Lych Gate, rain or shine)
- Wednesday, 7.00pm: Bible Study with Bishop Stokes
Online events hosted by St. Thomas’ are accessed via Zoom: instructions here.
Covid-19 diagnoses continue to tick up dramatically across the nation, including in New Jersey. Two people from St. Thomas’ have reported positive tests in the last week or so.
If you test positive for Covid-19, please let us know. You can email the office or call the emergency pastoral line (856.881.2841) to contact Father Todd directly. Your diagnosis can be kept private if you wish.
First of all, we want to lift you up in prayer.
Secondly, it is important for us to know when someone tests positive so that we can alert the public health department if there has been an exposure on campus. They will then do “contact tracing”: communicating with anyone who might be at risk of exposure to the virus. They can do so without revealing anyone’s identity. With this simple action, reporting your diagnosis, you can save lives.
This, too, is how we love one another in this season.
During this season of coronavirus infections, when attending events on campus at St. Thomas’, please demonstrate your love for your friends and neighbors by:
- Wearing a mask (covering both mouth and nose)
- Remaining six feet apart from anyone you don’t live with
- Refraining from touching, hugging and shaking hands – even during the Peace
- There will be no singing
- Service bulletins you have touched must be taken home
- After the service everyone must disperse with no lingering
- No sharing of common objects such as pens, paper, etc.
See a calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church.
Which Saint will you remember today?
See the official St. Thomas’ calendar or a list of upcoming events.
Are you serving in liturgy? Check the rota!
Saturdays, 6.00pm: Holy Eucharist With Sermon
in the Nave: limited to 9 households or 17 people
Sundays, 8am: Online Morning Prayer with Sermon
Sundays, 9am: Sunday School
online: for children
Sundays, 10.30am: Holy Eucharist
outdoors, rain or shine
Sundays, 6pm: Youth Group
online: for teens
Mondays, 4pm: Centering Prayer
Tuesdays, Noon: Coffee Hour
Wednesday, 5.30pm: Holy Eucharist
outdoors, rain or shine
Wednesdays, 7.00pm: Bible Study with the Bishop
Daily on Weekdays: Morning Prayer
Emergency Pastoral Care:
Call this number if you have a pastoral emergency, such as an alert about an ailing parishioner, a hospital stay, a death in the family, or to request last rites. Leave a message and with a phone number for your call to be returned.