The Reality of a Young Parish: Meeting Christ at the Entry Doors.

 

There were two events on the life of our parish recently that may have slipped your notice. First, last Sunday we dedicated and blessed our newly-renovated church doors, and secondly, in the same week, we updated our Facebook banner image.

Now, normally I do not write about each time we update our Facebook page, or we would be hearing about it every week! But, this week, it is rather significant in that the image is entitled, “There are Rules, Then there are People.”   The image contained the following narrative:

“We began only 8 years ago in a rented space in a synagogue in Philadelphia and have grown to a campus that includes a beautiful parish, a caring community of Franciscans, a wonderful school, and an historic cemetery. Many people ask us how and the answer is always the same: we know how to love. Yes, there are rules, but then there are people!”

You see, that really is the essence of our hope – a hope that we bring through our radical welcome every week here at Saint Miriam. It is also why those doors are so important to us and why they took so long to complete. I asked Ed Worthington to design his architectural work to tie in the created door pulls to our Altar and other liturgical furniture in the Sanctuary that he had previously completed. Why?  Because what we do in the Sanctuary is meaningless if we neglect the robust welcome at our front doors. And, what we do at the front doors, is only completed when we welcome others – all the others who come and wish to to find Jesus – to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at our Altar. It is amazingly simply and drastically complex; and it is needed.

For eight years now, Saint Miriam has been sustained by a small number of persons who give very generously, often filling whatever revenue gap remained after pledges were returned. I myself have forgone receiving a salary so that we might continue to grow and reach where we are today, but this has placed a tremendous hardship on me now. Our economic demographic has changed now, too, and our present and future financial stability depends on greater generosity from the whole parish. That is why I am informing you that we did not meet our 2016-2017 budget goals in this year’s stewardship appeal, and if we do not raise the median pledge level, and receive stewardship pledges from those of you who have not yet given, we will begin to make cuts and the first cut will be staffing. That is correct, you will see less of the people who care for you and more of the burden will shift to me. Once I break, I am sure the parish will not flourish. This is not egotistical; it is simply the reality of a young parish.

Now, the solution is rather simple: everyone should share the burden of the budget. As I often say, I am not seeking equal giving, I am insistent, however, on equal sacrifice. It is what being a good steward is all about. You may be interested in knowing that it takes an average of $27.50 per week, per person to keep us here. So, if your giving is less than that, others must make it up. If you cannot give that amount, I understand, but everyone can give something and everyone can give regularly, especially using electronic means to help us remain healthy and vibrant. If we were able to raise the median pledge — if many were to give a bit more — our pledge base would increase easily and significantly. The 2015 median pledge was approximately $1,200, and what we need is only $1,340, or just over $11.00 more per month, per person. I think that is very doable. I know that it is.

Do the open doors and our radical and inclusive welcome also include those who give so generously, too? I think Saint Miriam is worth the effort and the support.
 
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