Spoken at the 11/07/21 Choral Eucharist
Thank you, Dean Young. Thanks also to the Stewardship Committee for this opportunity.
I want to start off by saying good morning to people attending this service online. On any given Sunday there are more people online than in-person. My friends, we can’t see you but we know you are here – participating in what we have come to call hybrid church.
My religious upbringing was Quaker. I was away from church a long time. I came to Grace for the reassurance of a creedal, sacramental theology and liturgical worship. I came because I needed a better religious education. I came because Grace was open 7 days a week.
It was also important that Grace has a history of community service in San Francisco and connections to the civil rights movement, women’s rights and gay rights, environmentalism and climate awareness. I’m excited about the Grace community’s growing role in public policy advocacy, exemplified by the 2020 endorsement of Prop 17 to restore voting rights to parolees, and our recent endorsement of the End Slavery for Good movement.
This is where stewardship comes in. Online church plus in-person is resource-intensive. When Covid-19 happened, Grace stayed open in the virtual space 7 days a week. The Cathedral invented new ways of doing worship, sustaining community, holding classes and discussion groups, even musical performances. It is not as simple as recording a video on your smartphone and uploading to Facebook. Grace has a whole operations and communications team dedicated to making this vision of hybrid church possible. By pledging to stewardship, we help Grace create a new kind of church experience – one that extends beyond the walls of our cathedral and to those who to worship from home or from afar. Grace has no boundaries.
It’s the same with social justice. It is demanding and time-consuming to be a thoughtful, faith-forward advocate. The Cathedral relies on our support to weave social justice awareness and engagement into the whole fabric of church life. Imagine the impact the Grace community can have in the public square if you and I all contribute through our stewardship pledges.
People ask me, “How much money are you expected to give to your church?” Grace benchmarks 100% participation and stewardship as a spiritual practice and discipline. Members set their own targets. If it would be helpful to you, my wife (not a churchgoer) and I target our charitable contributions at 5% of taxable income. My share goes to Grace and other Episcopal charities; hers to direct service charities in Oakland.
Whatever you give, give joyfully. Stewardship dollars ensure that Grace stands as an advocate for all, and that our physical doors and our online portals are open to all. So please, join me in pledging your support to the 2022 stewardship campaign. It’s easy to do online or by picking up a brochure at the table in the back or at coffee hour. Thank you.