Dear St. Thomas’,
This November, before the beginning of Advent, we are beginning our annual Stewardship Campaign for St. Thomas’. This campaign is based on two complementary premises:
- Stewardship is a way of life for Christians. We believe the world and everything in it belongs to God. As Christians living in this time and this place, we recognize that giving specifically of our material wealth is a counter-cultural discipline which leads to spiritual growth. In giving, we learn to let go of secondary things and cling ever more tightly to primary things: God and God’s kingdom.
- Making commitments (pledges) about how much we intend to give to our parish this year enables us, as a community, to make responsible decisions about how we will operate and do God’s work together. For this reason, we invite everyone to fill out a pledge card, telling us about your intentions. Your individual commitment will be kept private, known only to myself and the pledge secretary (Bob Shaw). But we will report out numbers in aggregate.
This year, as every year, there are three fundamental anchors to our pledge campaign:
- Giving First
- Proportional Giving
- 100% Participation
These are the themes you will hear over the next three weeks.
Giving First is from the biblical idea of giving God from our “first-fruits”, our best. If we were bringing grapes or apples to offer to God and one another, we would bring the best of our produce. When we bring money to offer God, one dollar bill is equal in value to another. But sometimes those dollars run out. Do you give first from each paycheck you receive, or do you merely give your leftovers, whatever you might or might not have remaining at the end of the month?
Those things that are important to us (a house, a car, electricity) we pay for first, clearly signaling their priority in our lives. What does your checkbook signal about your feelings about God in your life?
Personally, I have set up my bank to automatically send St. Thomas’ a check each month. That is getting paid first out of my income. I don’t even have to think about it. It is a great feeling, whenever I look at my bank account, to know that I’m already doing the right thing, already expressing my allegiance to God, without even having to think about it from month to month.
That’s why we don’t just give to St. Thomas’, but we pledge. We make the decision now for the whole year. We do that in faith that God is faithful and that God will continue to provide for us, so that we can practice that same faithfulness in providing for God’s work at our parish.
For the next three weeks you will hear thoughtful sermons about stewardship when we gather for worship. For the next three weeks, you will find a pledge card attached to the back of your worship bulletin. But I invite you to download the pledge card today, to fill it out. You can mail it in to the church office (“ATTN: Pledge Secretary”) or just drop it into the offering plate on Sunday. Today I invite you to choose for the year: choose to give first to God out of your income, and to include St. Thomas’ as a regular part of that faithful giving.
The Episcopal Church is offering online resources for healing in the wake of a challenging election.
On 1 November, for All Saints, the National Cathedral offered a national, interfaith service for healing and wholeness.
On Thursday, 4 November, before any clear results emerged from the election, Presiding Bishop Curry appeared on the Today show to offer a message of hope, unity, and love.
Coffee Hour is canceled this Tuesday. Join us next week, 17 November, for lunchtime conversation via Zoom!
An Advent Retreat Day, Praying through the Hymnal, is being offered on Saturday, 28 November, from 9am to 1pm. Register at email@example.com 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.
Next week is Bible Sunday! Bibles are being delivered ahead of time and will be presented and blessed during online Sunday School.
Diocesan Convention for 2020 will be online on 14 November. https://dioceseofnj.org/diocesan-convention/
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.
Adult Formation is offered at 4.30pm on Saturday via Zoom.
Adult Formation (Sunday School – on Saturdays!) will be postponed next weekend (14 November) due to Diocesan Convention taking place at that time. That Saturday’s Eucharist celebration (6pm with very limited capacity) will continue as planned.
Announcements for the bulletin or parish email are due into the office by noon on Wednesday of each week. You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 856-881-9144. Announcements are subject to editing due to limited space.
Lectionary readings for this week: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25, Psalm 78:1-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13
Lectionary readings for next week: Judges 4:1-7, Psalm 123, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25:14-30
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
Congratulations to Don D. and to Kane W. (and Kane’s parents) on their baptisms as we celebrated the Feast of All Saints together!
Covid protocols prevented us from practicing asperges – the sprinkling of water on all present while exhorting, “Remember your baptism!” Instead the heavens sprinkled us all with water and we were all given to that remembrance!
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
- 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.
Traveling for the Holidays?
If you have plans to travel over the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas), please note that the State of New Jersey requires people returning from most states outside New Jersey requires a two-week quarantine. This includes church. You can read the official announcement here.
You may have noticed that my family traveled recently to go see aging parents in Texas. We were only in Texas for three days and only interacted with four people outside the airport. Yet we quarantined for two weeks upon our return, even missing a funeral happening right outside our doors. This is how we love each other during the season of corona-tide.
If you travel to any of the states not specifically exempted by the State of New Jersey, please refrain from attending church until you have quarantined for two weeks after your return.
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.
Unwilling to endure an interruption after 92 years, the O. family prepared a beautiful – and socially distanced – Ham & Oyster Supper! They report:
- Shucker – Jeremy O.
- Fryer – Sandy O.
- Photographer – Graham O.
- Mess – Joint credit.
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
online – canceled 10 November
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.