Touching Hearts, Touching Lives

"People say that walking on water is a miracle, but to me, walking peacefully on the earth is the real miracle.” — Thick Nhat Hanh

Over the past few months the vestry and I have conducted not one but two surveys with the congregation. The first was the CAT survey or Church Assessment Tool. In it, we wanted to know what the congregation thought about our direction, communication, and conducting a capital funds campaign. As will be noted in another part of this newsletter we will make the findings of that assessment available to everyone.

The second survey was a feasibility study led by Cargill and Associates, a capital funds campaign company that St. Clare’s has worked with in the past. The results were very good, and you should know that the vestry has approved moving forward with another capital funds campaign.

While there were many good things said about the mission and ministry of our church and school, we did learn about things we can improve on. It will be my intention to address some of those matters in this
newsletter, not only through Heart to Heart, but in stand-alone articles and community forums. Be on the look-out for those opportunities over the next few months.

Of the many places where we can, and will, improve, an issue close to my heart centers on how the giving in this congregation touches the hearts and lives of others. While this newsletter will not be the only vehicle to share that information (Even now, the staff of St. Clare’s is making changes to the way in which you will receive giving statements. One of the changes will include how lives have been changed! I thought I’d share a recent story about a life that has been helped by the generosity of this congregation. I pray it touches your heart as it has touched mine.

In early October, I received a phone call from a young woman named “Jenny.” She is a single mother with an autistic child who receives no help from family or the child’s father. She called the office, sobbing because like many people she juggles her bills trying to make ends meet and when you drop one ball, the all the balls come crashing down. The ball, or rather bill, that she dropped was her internet bill, which she uses to do research papers for her class. Jenny is trying to improve life for her child and herself. Through the tears she said to me: “I’m so tired, Fr. Ron! My goal of graduation is two semesters away and I just can’t do it all! I need this internet and today is the only day I have free at home to get this paper done. If I don’t complete it, I’ll fall behind, and if I fall behind, I’ll never catch up!” She tried to continue but her voice cracked and she broke into wailing of sobs and moans.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

My discretionary fund was tanked (Those are the funds given to me by the parish for occasions like these)! And I told her thus. She tried to be brave but she was overwhelmed. To make a long story short, I remembered I had access to enough funds to meet her needs. After making several phone calls, the problem was solved and I called her back.

Her response?
“When I graduate, I want to write you and the people of St. Clare’s the biggest thank you card in the world!”
I wanted to tell her that the thanks was all mine…the opportunity to love and serve God in the moment was mine…and ours.

This is just one of the many stories, the many ministries that goes on at St. Clare's each week. It is long past time that we told these kinds of stories, so, buckle up, brace yourselves! We are going to tell these stories to ourselves, to each other, to anyone who will listen!

Yours for the reign of God,