From the council-Jerry Clark
Merriam-Webster defines stewardship as the conducting, supervising or managing of something. The careful and responsible management of something entrusted in one’s care.
But what does stewardship mean in the Bible?
In the macro, it’s the same, but in managing all the resources bestowed upon us by God. And it is our responsibility as God's collaborators, to maintain and manage this gift. You can think of this as something we do at CGS through our ministries.
So how does our mission and vision relate to us being good stewards?
You know that our mission and ministries at CGS can only happen because of our spiritual will and financial gifts. These generous offerings are the resources that propel our mission. And yes, it is real money and time that help to provide our spiritual things!
As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t it only be an "option" to give a financial gift?
Well ... the practice of generosity is a faith discipline. And, growing in generosity deepens our connection to Christ.
Proverbs 18:16 "A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great."
When we give, it is all about the community in which God created us to be active participants. As a community we lift each other up, and God knows we need each other. Giving, reminds us of God's great generosity and love for one and other.
Our financial contributions make a difference in the lives of so many people. As individuals that make up the CGS family, we seek spiritual growth and fulfillment, but also to make a difference in the world around us.
My own giving story happened in August, when Chapel of The Flowers contacted me to help settle the burial fees for a friend lost to cancer. I’d not been in much contact for the last few years, so it was a shock to me about her passing. The last time we had contact was a couple years prior when she needed financial assistance with her son’s funeral.
As sad as this situation was, and unplanned expenses for myself, I was glad and blessed in many ways to help. It was the right thing to do, and a freeing experience for me. I know both Judy and her son Lenny are now in a better place.
Giving can be a sacrifice for many in the congregation living on tight budgets, it takes us out of our comfort zone, it’s not easy, financially or giving of ourselves in other ways. Your time and energy can be a wonderful and rewarding way of tithing, supporting any of the CGS ministries. So maybe skip that latte, or movie night and put that bit of money or time into serving God.
We are all included in God's abundance. We are co-creators and stewards of that abundance. We are transforming lives, so let's share the good news of Jesus through our giving and proclaiming the abundance of God.
I pledge an extra $100.00 towards our 2020 budget goals and invite you to do the same if you are able.
By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
One of the core strengths of most performing artists is a knack for near-shameless self-promotion. Thus, my social media feed is clogged with mostly actors, but also directors, musicians, and designers posting – not just when they have a show opening or running, but about the first rehearsal (“first day of school,” they call it), the announcement that they got hired for a project, or even when they simply audition for something (regardless if they get the gig or not). And like any good Insta-Twitter-Booker, the hashtags are copious: #actorslife #workingactor #blessed etc., etc., etc. As a producer and sometimes artist, I participate in these posts myself, albeit not without some reluctance.
Recently, someone posted a picture of a cast for an upcoming local production of a musical, taking a break at rehearsal. It was less promotion, more casual – just a group of people relaxing, bonding. And it was this photo, surrounded by carefully curated posts of “come see meeeeee in my shooooowww,” that created a small firestorm of controversy in the theatre community: in 2019, in the Bay Area, the entire cast was Caucasian.
More and more, theatre producers have been struggling with this topic, and in many ways, it is a reflection of a national conversation: as the population continues to diversify, how do you ensure that diversity is reflected in both your artists and your audiences? There’s a lot to unpack there: until the last 20 years or so, musical theatre had been mainly created by white men of privilege for an audience that largely reflected their worldview; thus, much of the work now considered “iconic” or “classic” didn’t speak to more diverse artists or audiences, and a vicious circle ensured that is only now truly beginning to be broken.
One of the show’s producers echoed a sentiment that I’ve heard before: they cast based on who shows up to audition – if only white people show up and/or are the best people for the roles, what are they supposed to do? (To be fair, this company has a solid record on diversity apart from this particular production.) It was a defensive stance that was not met kindly. Ultimately, the thread settled into a respectful and thoughtful discussion about what can be done moving forward. How can producers and directors be agents of change – to reach out, to embrace, to be active partners in making art accessible – and relevant – to all, rather than just opening the doors and hoping people come in? How can we do better?
I write all of this not to kvetch about my job, but I find it to be a useful parallel for the church today. As many in our congregation read the book “Dear Church,” the conversation is had about diversity and inclusiveness, and the struggle for equality and social justice in the ELCA and beyond. The call in that book is to not just open the doors, but for those of us inside those doors to walk outside into the world and be an active participant in God’s covenant – it is not enough for us to proclaim, welcome, and serve the same 100 people each Sunday. The modern church, much like musical theatre, is largely a construct of white men of privilege. Many millions of people, inside and outside of the church, have been both actively and passively marginalized by that construct. And while CGS can point to many successes in breaking that cycle, there is still a long way to go before all God’s children can truly feel like they are, in fact, all God’s children. How can we do better?
Proclaiming, Welcoming, Serving
My name is Jean Herriges and I have the honor this year of serving as Secretary on the CGS Council. One of my main responsibilities is to take notes at the Council meeting and make sure they are accurate. As you probably know, the Council and the congregation have spent a lot of time this year talking about CGS’s governing documents. This includes the constitution, by-laws, and continuing resolutions. I’ve learned so much about how our church works this year as we’ve focused on these important documents – and keeping the meeting minutes accurate has been tough!
One of the areas we focused on for the constitution was to propose a change to when the new Council members start their term. Our proposal is for the Council term to start in the spring, rather than in January. January has always been a bit challenging, as we focus so much of our attention, both in church and out, on the season of Advent, that it can be an overwhelming experience for new Council members to get oriented to their roles on Council. I also LOVE the idea that we will be “rebirthing” Council after the season of Easter. Stay tuned to this item, as we will be voting to ratify this and the other proposed changes at our November congregational meeting.
After the special congregational meeting held in September, Council received feedback from several members about items we voted on and discussed. There were questions, recommendations, suggestions, and even complaints. The Council discussed each of these and continues to communicate with members about their concerns. I’m continually impressed by how much care and concern our members show toward making sure that CGS is a well-run organization. We are lucky to be in this together, and to have each other help guide us as we live out our mission to proclaim, welcome, and serve.
A journey towards tithing, and beyond
Tithing is a journey, at least it was for me. I didn't start out tithing ten percent of my income, but through the experiences of witnessing family members giving Sunday offerings since I was a young child, I knew it was an integral part of being a follower of Christ to fulfill God's work on earth. As stated in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:15 “And he said to them, Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
As long as I've attended church, I have always given a portion of my salary, but, let's be clear, it wasn't always easy. As we travel along our life's path there are both easy and hard times. In fact, there was a lengthy period of my adult life that I did not attend church at all. It was shortly before I married and subsequently divorced four years later. I now realize that I was like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.
My Catholic guilt and my need to hear God's word lead me back to his fold of believers. When I bought my little house in Willow Glen approximately thirty years ago, I made a promise to God to start attending church once more.
I began worshipping at Resurrection Lutheran on Leigh Avenue and I gave a portion of my income to the church.
But how much should I give? At first, I gave about $200 a month, not ten percent. Eventually, I transferred my membership to Immanuel Lutheran Church further down Leigh and gave about $300 each month, still not truly tithing. I was struggling, not giving with my whole heart. I even complained to a Mormon friend (I knew they were supposed to tithe also) that I would have plenty of money if I didn't give $300 of my money to the church every month. Time passed, I continued to give, but was I giving first fruits or sloppy seconds?
As I grew in my faith I became further involved with my church giving in other ways as well as monetary means; serving on Altar Guild, Usher Team, Coffee Team, Sunday School helper, etc. (sound familiar?) and participating with my church on events that helped our local community. It was then that giving an offering became easier and more from my heart. I was happy to give to support God's work. I increased my monthly donation again, (still not quite ten percent though).
Approximately ten years ago, I transferred my membership to CGS and quickly became involved in church life here. However, it wasn't until Laurie Gaumer spoke at one of our recent congregational meetings about how she tithed ten percent of her gross income, that I searched my heart once again. Should I, could I... give more? I prayerfully considered how God has abundantly dealt with me and recently increased my offering to a true tithe.
Where are you on your personal journey? Have you prayerfully thought about God's abundance in your life? Are you giving sloppy seconds or first fruits? Food for thought.
Choir Singer Focus - Jean Hope
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. My father was a professional musician, and my mother and three older siblings all sang. I thought everyone sat around the piano in the evenings and sang together in harmony. The first time I sang in public, I was 7 and I sang with my sisters in three-part harmony at the Musician’s Union picnic in Cleveland. The audience didn’t pay much attention, but I was smitten with the thrill of singing in harmony about thoughts and emotions that I didn’t have the words to express. I felt my soul soaring with the song and for the next 50 years I felt that same thrill as we sang at weddings, funerals, service organizations, parties and dance recitals (our dance teacher took one look at our dancing and said you three can sing).
Music, especially singing, is the vehicle to experience and enhance every human emotion and situation you encounter as you go through your life. It provides a theme song for every joy, sorrow, challenge and success you could ever have.
I recently discovered a song by Lauren Daigle called “You Say”. Every morning I ask Alexa to play this prayer and meditation that reminds me that I am loved and supported by God who knows me better than I know myself. The words are “You say I am loved when I don’t feel a thing. You say I am strong when I think I am weak. I believe, I believe what you say of me.” I sing along with the words and begin and end my day with this declaration of faith and gratitude for the joy of creation and the many wonderful people I have to share it with.
You don’t have to be a good singer to experience the uplifting joy and comfort that music provides. You just have to be willing to throw yourself into the experience.
From the Council - Skye
Hi CGS! My name is Skye Gordineer and I’m just finishing up my first year on the Church Council. You can usually find me wrangling anywhere from one to three kids in the back of the church on Sunday. We sit there because of the amazing kids area that CGS has set up in the past few years. There are toys (quiet ones), books, art supplies and more that make it so much easier for me to bring the kids to church every Sunday.
This space is one of many areas funded by the church budget that the Council is currently working on for next year. Spaces like the kids area in the sanctuary, the nursery, as well as The Godly Play classroom need continued resources to provide the support families need to make it easier to attend church on a regular basis.
Please consider making continued or additional contributions to the offering plate this year. Did you know that you there are many different ways to donate to CGS? There’s the obvious envelopes in the pews (for checks or cash), but there’s also ways to give online to CGS via Breeze, Amazon, PayPal, Facebook, and EBay. Ask a council member for more info, or click here. Thank you for continuing to make CGS a welcome place for everyone!
A time of sharing from Tim
I think that animals are amazing because they are like us...but perfect, without flaws. They forgive you and don't get angry at you because you left them alone or stepped on their tail. They are also so lovable. Dogs are amazing and you can't really change my mind.
In my opinion, I think dogs are the best animal created because a dog is the only pet I have. Golden are the best kind ever. They are just so great and cute, and I love them so much. They love me, and I love them. And so do lots of other people.
But there are some things that are challenging, like being shy. It's hare to communicate and play with a shy dog. I think that some pets are just scared of everything. And sadly, most times it's because they got treated unfairly or badly.
In my opinion I think God made animals because sometimes people can be mean, and we're not all perfect, and sometimes you need a friend. I fell like dogs love me and are always happy to see me. And that's how God feels. She is always happy to see us, and she loves us.
-a testimony from Tim, shared with the people of CGS on Animal Blessing Sunday 2019
By Theo Olson, Council President
In August the Council went to St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista for our annual retreat. This year our focus was on stewardship and CGS finances. We faced our financial reality as a community, we studied abundant giving as Paul describes in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, we celebrated the work God is doing through CGS as we live out our mission, and we left inspired to support our shared mission.
As a group, we dug into our finances and learned that we have an abundance in our investments. We discovered that some of the restricted funds were for ministries that we no longer carry out, so we took steps to un-restrict these monies so that we have it available for future ministry.
We did a deep dive on the budget and all our accounts so that we can understand and share with the congregation our financial reality. And with this deeper understanding, we began work on the 2020 budget, stewarding our money, keeping mission as our first priority.
We discussed our stewardship and began to look at ways in which leadership can know and understand member giving in an effort to know what is reasonable and possible as a community as we develop budgets and manage our finances. We spent time in Bible Study reflecting on abundant stewardship and learning from the Macedonians to joyfully give of our first fruits. These initial steps will help us develop a stewardship plan for our congregation in the months ahead.
Through the ELCA Treasurer's Office and other expert consultation, we are reviewing our financial processes and putting together written policies to ensure CGS is current with our fiscal management.
The Council is inspired by the way members are responding to our mission and stepping up in various leadership roles to help us learn how we serve our community. For example, learning how CGS could become a safe car park location or how to get involved in addressing the homelessness crisis. Some of us are leading book discussions and reading, Dear, Church, in preparation for our conversation with Rev. Lenny Duncan in November, which will also be an opportunity to open our doors even wider to our community for this important discussion.
These are just a few examples of the many ways in which we, the Body of Christ at CGS, are ministering to our community and one another. Thank you for all that you do in small and large ways to be God's Hands.
While we move into the budget planning season, please hold the Council in your prayers as we look to keep a balance between the mission work and ministries of CGS with our financial reality. I also encourage you to talk with the council members about your ideas on stewardship and the budget.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The whims of the spirit
By Pastor Manda
For the past month, Jean Hope has been taking the drawers of CGS history and digitizing it for our archives. Recently she found an article from the very first Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly in 1988. We both marveled at how much this newsletter article from the bishop sounded exactly like a newsletter article that we would find in this newsletter in 2019.
Based on the content (which you can find on the kiosk in the Narthex) there was a great deal of anxiety in the community about the amount and rapid pace of change. “Do we have to make so many changes so quickly?” “What will the new church be like?”
He talks about how many people were relieved to hear the new language of worship and see the diverse expressions of faith in the new assembly. He also acknowledges that others were hurt or offended by the same things.
What’s even more remarkable is that through the Presiding Bishop Chilstrom’s sermon, he reminds us that the apostle Paul writes about the same things in his letters to the first Christian churches. “Paul, what about those nasty lawsuits between members?” and “What are you going to do about those who make pigs of themselves at the Lord’s Supper?”
And thus we are reminded that we’re not doing anything new at CGS. We’re repeating the same cycle of questioning, change, and adjustment that the Body of Christ has been doing from the very beginning. Our community is not drastically changing for the first time, we’re doing it for the 2,000th time.
But church. I want to tell you – you are doing it well.
At our special congregational meeting in September I wanted so badly for things to go well. I worried that if we couldn’t figure out how to communicate well that there would be fear and a loss of trust in one another. My fears were unfounded because what I witnessed on Sunday was a community that did a MARVELOUS job of facing change together.
The council did a phenomenal job of preparing for that meeting. They put months of thoughtful prayer and conversation into those motions. Our members did a wonderful job of raising excellent questions. We even proposed amendments! And amendments to amendments! THAT WAS AWESOME!
In that meeting I saw a community that isn’t stuck in the past nor afraid of the future. Or, well, maybe we are individually but collectively we’re faithfully responding to God’s call and shifting our resources, our way of life, and our hopes to Proclaim, Welcome, and Serve.
Of course, the same thing is true that has always been true. Every year there will be something more to change, some new adjustment to make. But Church, in your ability to be adaptive and flexible to the whims of the Holy Spirit in our midst, I am seeing the Word of God at work, creating new things and speaking the truth of resurrection into the world. Thanks be to God.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.