We Become What We Love

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This past Sunday, we honored the feast day of St. Clare of Assisi. St. Clare was an Italian Saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. As a young girl, she devoted herself to prayer. Clare was born into a wealthy family and was betrothed to be married. At 18, she snuck out of her father’s home and went to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis. Her hair was completely cut off and she exchanged her rich gown for a plain robe and veil. When her father found out, he was furious and attempted to force her to go back home. She refused, clinging to the altar and professing she would have no other husband other than Jesus Christ.  

The St. Clare - Macon Chapter of the Order of the Daughters of the King (DOK) renewed their vows, pledging themselves to be an extension of Christ’s Kingdom through Prayer, Service, and Evangelism. At admission into the DOK, a new Daughter receives the cross of the Order. It is a modified Greek Fleury cross, inscribed in Latin, “Magnanimiter Crucem Sustine,” meaning “With heart, mind and spirit uphold and bear the cross.” At the base of the cross are the letters “FHS”, initials that stand for the Motto of the Order: “For His Sake.”     

When I think about the life of St Clare, I am in awe. She was willing to give up everything in devotion to following Jesus. Clare answered obediently the call of living a life of poverty and piety. She challenges us to focus on what is truly Godly:

“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others.” 
― St. Clare of Assisi

Brittney Kish Lightsey, Junior Warden

Good Stewardship

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Fellow Franciscans,

Each of us have many roles that we are expected to fulfill: parent, child, sibling, employee, employer, parishioner. You get the idea. Today I am appealing to you in my role as Stewardship Chair. On August 15th the Finance Committee will meet to analyze how our finances look for 2019 and to begin the planning for the 2020 budget. As of June 30, 2019 we are $8,382.90 short on pledges received, but have received regular contributions and plate offerings totaling $5,033.03 which puts us about where we budgeted for the end of June. If you are behind on your pledge, please try to catch up before Aug 15, if at all possible, so the Finance Committee will have accurate figures to consider. I remind you that we are not only the hands and feet of Christ, but also the purse for his ministry. While on this earth, Jesus relied on the gratitude and generosity of his immediate followers to sustain his ministry. Luke 8:1-3 tells us, "Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for him out of their resources.” Following the Way of the Cross has never been easy and has always required generous pilgrims on the path to sustain momentum. Our beautiful campus is aging and will continually require additional funds to repair. Many have expressed a desire to increase both outreach and youth ministries at St. Francis. All of this comes with a price.

Please, prayerfully consider this request and give out of your abundance to help fund the ministry of the Risen Christ here at St. Francis.

Blessings.

Your brother in Christ, Jeff

Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts

This is my fourth vestry experience, one which I did not seek.  I was asked to fulfill the last year of a vacated term.  After a little arm-twisting, I agreed.  I am glad I did, because in this current vestry, I am experiencing three characteristics of exceptional leadership that Brené Brown defines in her book, Dare to Lead:

Brave Work | Tough Conversations | Whole Hearts

This vestry is indeed doing “Brave Work.”  It is developing a revised mission plan and vision for our parish.  It is nourishing God’s call for us to build a new facility to better serve ourselves and the community we serve.  It is strengthening our outreach programs to effectively minister to others as well as our own parish.  As our rector is on sabbatical, the vestry is working to see that our parish continues to run smoothly.  We are also supporting plans for the best St. Francis Day Celebration ever!

All of this brave work is accomplished through “Tough Conversations.”  Brown call this, “rumbling with vulnerability.”  A rumble is a discussion, or meeting defined by a commitment to be vulnerable, humble and respectful of individual differences and opinions.  We listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.  As a result of an effective vestry retreat prior to beginning our work, we truly value the God-given gifts each brings to the rumble. 

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This is a vestry committed to the courage of leading with our hearts.  Check out our pictures in the hallway outside of the Parish Hall.  You will see the faces of young adults, fairly new Franciscans, and some old timers, like me.  I find it energizing to listen to the enthusiasm and new ideas of our new members.  They are indeed our future.  We are able to rumble with respect and admiration for we have the courage to love as Jesus loves and to respect new ways of realizing God’s call.

Pope Francis continues to request prayers for his ministry.  So, do we!  Please pray that the vestry’s work will rumble with courage and engage our whole hearts in the ministry of this parish.

Barry Jenkins

Dismantling Racism

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As a vestry member I was required to take training on Dismantling Racism in America led by Catherine Meeks. As well as other required training, I was moved most by this class. I reread Catherine Meeks' Living Into God's Dream and then watched the HBO documentary on Bryan Stevenson. I was so moved I asked F. Ben and the vestry if we could have the training for Dismantling Racism brought to our parish to be presented to our parishioners. They unanimously approved. I have not set a date yet as I would like F. Ben to be here. He said he would like to provide Eucharist at this training in our church. May we all behold one another as God's Beloved.

In Christ, Sandra Brown

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Dismantling Racism training seeks to increase "racial understanding, healing and reconciliation." It is offered several times throughout the year and is required for all parish clergy and all lay leaders, including vestry members. Trainings are developed by the Diocese of Atlanta Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism.

Spread the good news of the kingdom of God

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Rev. Shirley Porter’s sermon this past Sunday got me thinking. The Gospel (Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20) was regarding Jesus sending out the seventy to spread the peace and good news of the kingdom of God. They were not to carry any purse or bag. I don’t know about you, but I am a serial over-packer and am lost without my purse. If I was one of the seventy, I would definitely be feeling a little uneasy and unprepared. Perhaps that was the point. Jesus wanted his followers to focus on the task at hand and not all the other things we worry about when we travel.

I am also not always the best at sharing my faith with others. It’s not that I’m ashamed of being a Christian. I just want to be respectful and not offend people of other faiths. But Rev. Porter had a good point about that. We honor and welcome those of other religions, letting them openly speak about their faith. When is it our turn as Christians? Why do we feel like we need to be timid about our love of Jesus? I think we should challenge ourselves to be more open about our faith. As Rev. Porter said, it’s not about converting people to Christianity but about forming meaningful relationships.

Brittney Kish Lightsey

Junior Warden

Standing Together

Fellow Franciscans,

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For those of you that participated in Sunday’s services, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I really enjoyed the Litany that we used to mark the beginning of our mutual sabbatical with Fr. Ben.  I pray that this will be a time of transformation for us all.

In his morning meditation on Monday, Fr. Richard Rohr (in discussing the concept of Church which we inherited from the Jews) said “that there has to be some kind of collective good or collective transformation that bands together, because there is no way that we as individuals can stand alone against corporate evil or systemic sin. Here the individual is useless. The individual will be bowled over and lose.”   This is the time for us to band together as a Franciscan community not for Fr. Ben, not for the Diocese, not for the National Church, but for us: the body of Christ that is St. Francis Episcopal Parish.

I challenge all of us to use this sabbatical to learn, and grow into a stronger, more loving community.  There are many opportunities for service and worship at St. Francis:  Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Prayer Shawl Ministry, Freedom School, Tai Chi and Sunday morning Eucharist services.  Find something that challenges you in your spiritual journey so that we, as the Parish, can transform ourselves into what the Divine is calling us to be.

Blessings.

Your Brother in Christ.

Jeff Hobaugh, Sr. Warden

seniorwarden@stfrancismacon.org

Thanks for your generosity

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As the Treasurer of St. Francis, first, let me thank you for all the support you provide to our community both financially and through the giving of your time.  Our missions and vision are successful because of you and your generosity.

 The Finance Committee, including me as the chair, work diligently to ensure the funds we have available, with vestry approval, are distributed equitably in support of our missions, both internally and externally.  It is our responsibility to provide current financial status to each of our committees and account holders on a monthly basis to ensure sound financial management throughout the year.  Vestry liaisons to the various committees work with committee chairs to aid in this quest.  Regular reporting of budget status enables areas of issues be addressed in a timely manner and helps lay a foundation on where funds will be prudent for consideration in the next year’s budget and budgeting process.

 Current overall budget status for our church is at a good point; however pledges are behind based on budget estimates.  Summer attendance and subsequent giving usually drops for a couple of months.  We are keeping our eyes on that and will report accordingly.

 Again, thank you for your current and continued support!

 Your Sister in Christ,

 Beverly Soles, Treasurer

Parish Life Committee

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Greetings!  As Vestry Liaison to Parish Life I would like to thank Joseph Whidby (Chair) and his dedicated committee members for the awesome job they do in providing fellowship for our parish.

The purpose of the Parish Life Committee is to enhance interaction among parishioners and strengthen the parish community. The committee provides opportunities for parish social activities such as the weekly Sunday coffee hour, St. Francis Speaks, the annual Parish Picnic at Pentecost, and other event, such as the Shippen family send-off.

The Parish Life Committee also works with other committees and parishioners to plan and host our St. Francis Day Celebration.

Volunteers and donations are essential to the ongoing success of Parish Life's programs.  At this time Parish Life is in need of volunteers to help with setup and cleanup for the Sunday coffee hour. If you would like to lend a hand, please contact Joseph Whidby.

Christine Uebel-Trotter, Vestry Member