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Message from the Senior Warden

Message from the Senior Warden

THANK YOU!

Two little words – “thank you” – but what an impact they can have on another person. Research shows that saying “thank you” is good for your health as well as your social relationships with other individuals. It promotes self-esteem, it boosts confidence, and it can actually lower your blood pressure! Saying “thank you” tells someone that they are appreciated, and how can that NOT make someone else feel better or improve your relationship with that person?

Too often we are caught up these days in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, running here and there, shopping, wrapping, baking, planning, etc., all for just a few minutes of happiness. However, we need to slow down and express our gratitude to the people around us – our friends and loved ones, the cashier at the grocery store, the clerk in the mall, the person who holds a door open or helps us when our arms are full.

More importantly, when was the last time you thanked God? When did your prayerfully thank him for all he’s given you? God’s presence is constantly with us. He looks out for us and helps us in subtle ways that you might miss because you’re busy doing all the things on your To-Do list. Take a moment to spend time with God and thank him for all he’s done.

And thank YOU for participating in the Loose Change Challenge … every little bit counts!!

Blessings,
Diane Flayhart, Senior Warden

Message from the Junior Warden

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; it makes no noise at all, but softly gives itself away; while quite unselfish, it grows small. – Eva K. Logue

I found this quote some time ago and have never forgotten it. It makes me remember that this life we have been given is not for us to keep as we should like, but to be truly meaningful, as God intended, it must be given away, shared with others until, at last, emptied of all we have to give, it is extinguished. What a wonderful thought. To have the ability to spend our life giving to others. Imagine what the world would be like if we could really do that. But there’s work, and dealing with others who maybe aren’t having a good day, and worries about schedules and finances and parents and sickness, and…well the list goes on and on. Some days it’s not easy to give, is it?

Christmas is a time where giving is in the forefront of our thoughts. Primarily the buying, wrapping, and giving of gifts, but there is also that well-known feeling of Christmas Spirit; a little extra kindness or patience that grows as the holiday approaches, giving a smile comes easier as we feel the warmth of Christmas in our hearts.

I want to challenge you to join me in an endeavor this December. I want you to look for an opportunity each day to give something of your time, your talent, your treasure, or yourself (a smile can have great impact) to someone. The object being to make someone’s day a little better because you were there. A word of support or thanks, a helping hand, pay a toll for the guy behind you, whatever. There are no rules. How, what, when, who, and why are entirely up to you. My hope is that by the end of the month, we’ll all have an expanded practice of giving and will have shared our light with many more people than we might have otherwise.

One more quote, from a very wise man:

“Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.
We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.
We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.
And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.”
– Buddha

Best wishes for a joyous Christmas!
Sharon Greenbeck, Junior Warden

Message from the Junior Warden

It’s November already. Wait…what?!? I realize, especially at this time of year, just how fast time goes by. In January we’re shuffling by, holidays are over and we’re waiting for the spring thaw. Then the trees and flowers start to bud, but we still have to get the kids to school, work, work, work…then BAM! It’s July! Oooh, that long-awaited vacation is coming! Aaannnd it’s over…the kids are back to school, and the holidays are around the corner AGAIN. A very condensed version of the year, I know, but as I’ve gotten older and my children have grown, I notice that my to-do lists get longer and the days get shorter. To quote an old saying… “So much to do…so little time.”

The property committee volunteers started out the summer with an ambitious to-do list, and I am truly humbled by what they accomplished. (That being said, I think the list is longer now). I want to shout out a big THANK YOU to the folks who gave, and continue to give up their time to work on the church property. Whether it’s fixing a bathroom soap dispenser, moving bricks or planting greenery, there is SO much that needs to be done…all the time! I also appreciate those who notice things and bring them to my attention. This church property seems to have gotten larger now that I know all the things that need to be done.

This season has always caused me to raise my often preoccupied heart in real gratitude for all that our loving God has given us. As we get into Fall, please take a moment to enjoy the bounty of colors, watch the leaves fall, enjoy the beautiful earth he has given us.

Message from the Senior Warden

GRATITUDE, Part Two

Last month I touched on Gratitude, and asked what are you grateful for? I discussed the things at St. Thomas’, like having a place to worship and our ability to serve the community because of our many generous members and renters. I am also sure that you might be grateful for more personal things that touch you every day – a roof over your heads, food to eat, clothes to wear, the love of family and friends. Those are the same things we strive for at St. Thomas’ – a building to provide a safe and secure place for worship and community service, food to share with the Assistance Center of Towson Churches (ACTC), clothes to donate to Paul’s Place for those who have little to wear, and the love of fellow parishioners and community members. During our Stewardship Campaign this year in November, feel free to share what you’re grateful for and prayerfully consider how you might be able to share that gratitude through an increase in your pledge. Even just a small amount could make a difference to someone else.

Another way to show your gratitude for St. Thomas’ is to volunteer to serve as a Vestry Member. Nominations are open for two positions this year. Serving on the Vestry gives you an opportunity to share your ideas and help mold the path of St. Thomas’ in the future. Meetings are usually held on the second Sunday of the month after the 9:30 am church service, and there is a 2-day retreat (usually a Friday night and then Saturday day meeting) held once a year to plan for the upcoming year. The only age limit is that nominees must be at least 21 years of age, so that means you are eligible! If you are interested in serving, please contact one of the following members: Josephine Aikins-Afful, Tracey Daniels, Debbie Hood, Donna Lettow, Mary Beth Robinson, Amy Shimonkevitz, Chuck Shimonkevitz, Jim Stultz, John Windsor, Sharon Greenbeck, Rev. Loree, or me. If we don’t hear from you, you might hear from us. Please consider saying “Yes” if asked to serve.

And don’t forget, that Loose Change Challenge is still going … every little bit counts!!

Blessings,
Diane Flayhart, Senior Warden

Senior Warden’s Message

I came across an opinion article by Chris Sonksen. He is a pastor who trains other pastors and church leaders from all over the country, and based on his conversations and research, he is encouraging people to quit church.

This message resonated with me, especially in an environment where churches, including ours, are struggling with attendance. However, he made several valid points which made me think about who we are and what we do at St. Thomas’.

He claims that 80% of the work in most churches is being carried out by 20% or fewer of the church members. Instead of being participants, most members are being spectators, and the pastoral staff and church leaders are getting burned out.

Other things to note is that less than 20% of professing believers follow the biblical principle of giving. Only 5% have shared their faith with a non-believer. And more than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

Does this sound familiar? When was the last time you increased your pledge? Have you invited someone to join you at church? Have you forgotten what it was like to make your Sunday attendance at church something you can’t imagine not doing? Something has to change. Casual attendance and the belief that others will serve, give and share the Gospel are causing churches to die. As believers, it’s time that we’re either all in or we get out – quit!

If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles, what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our church community? What if we all exercised generosity? What if everyone served in their God-given purpose? What would happen if we simply stopped spectating and started belonging? Our relationship to Christ, the blessing, the reward, the joy, the fulfillment, and the purpose would radically transform our lives and our church.

I’m ready to quit and go all in … are you?

Diane Flayhart, Senior Warden