2022 Stewardship Campaign
Gathering, Gratitude, and Generosity
By Lilah Greene
In 2020 I lost my mom and I lost my husband, Jim. I still have my sweet Caramel, but she’s 17, and a dog cannot last forever. Put simply, pandemic or no pandemic, I don’t know where I would be without St. John’s – the love, the history, the vision, the community, and the place of engagement.
Have you ever felt this love for this place – for this community? Even briefly? Maybe you felt it and moved away. Maybe you felt it once and then decided it wasn’t real. Maybe you thought it was the people and not the church, the person not the community, the group not the faith. But this year I have learned that making these distinctions misses the mark – these are all aspects of community, and they all matter.
Ann Lamott tells the story of a Rabbi who shares with his students the importance of having God’s word on their hearts. And when a student asks, “But Rabbi, don’t you want us to have God’s words in our hearts?” the Rabbi replies, “Only God can put his words in your heart, but if I put God’s words on your heart, when your heart breaks, they will fall right in.”
Our world is on fire in one corner, and flooding in another; we are losing loved ones, we are grieving, we are aging; there is real fear – not just imagined – for the future of our planet and our country. Is your heart-breaking to see the world so? Mine is. But good things are happening, too - new family members, new friends, new missions and new challenges. Are we celebrating the love alongside mourning the loss?
Recently, I took a wonderful course on Climate Change and Activism from an organization whose mission statement is to create a socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling human presence on planet Earth. And I asked myself – isn’t that what we strive for at St. John’s? Why am I looking at other organizations? What is missing at my home church? These questions haunted me.
So, when I was asked to chair the Stewardship campaign this year, I jumped at the chance because I know we’ve got something really special here, and we need to step up our commitment or we could lose this most precious, bighearted community. We could lose the power of God’s presence in a positive community. In this campaign we are asking you to examine our relevance. We want us, together, to re-view what St. John’s has been, what it is, what it could be and what we want it to be for all of us. What can we do together to bring the values we share to the forefront? How do we bring our commitment to God’s love as a gift and inspiration to love each other, our planet, our island home, and our community? I believe that when we look at this closely, we will say together, “Pandemic or no Pandemic, we can make the world a better place if we channel the potential right here, right now at St. John’s.”
Of the 8 Pillars of Joy, this year we choose to focus on these two: Gratitude and Generosity. I am grateful for so much, despite the losses in 2020. I know words of gratitude strengthen us, heal us and bring us joy. We hope you will use the enclosed 3 thank you cards and use them to exercise your gratitude muscles however you choose.
And as for Generosity, know that Jesus spoke well when he said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”