17 October 2021
Much has changed since my stewardship presentation last year! Although we have experienced much improvement from the ravages of the COVID 19 pandemic, the recent flare up of the variant has caused renewed caution. We have returned to regular church services, held our church play in the June timeframe, held our church festival in three days rather than the normal four days, have recently re-opened our Sunday School Program and GOYA and are restarting many other activities. Throughout all of this turmoil, our Saint Demetrios Church has been there for us as a beacon of light in these stormy seas. Now, as we normalize our church services and activities and normalize our own lives, we must give thanks to God for all his blessings both known and unknown, seen and unseen! Stewardship is the Christian way of returning to God His blessings so that we may continue to support God’s house!
Last year, I spoke about how we, our church family, everyone here today, everyone viewing on social media and those who are not here today, are the good seeds planted in the good soil. Our beloved Saint Demetrios Church provides the good soil for our faith through worship at our church services and for good works through our participation and support of the myriad of philanthropic activities and programs throughout the year. We have everything in our church to work towards our salvation! We are so blessed at Saint Demetrios!
When I reflected upon my stewardship presentation this year, I remembered how Father Lou said that we are fortunate and do not have to fear being harassed, tortured or slain for our faith as the martyrs of the church experienced. We are free to worship without any fear of torture or death! When I visit Saint Nina’s Monastery in Frederick County, Maryland for my volunteer work, the sisters read the lives of the Saints during each meal. While eating, I listen to how the Saints were tortured, dismembered and slain because of their unwavering belief in God! In our society, it is typically not what you would like to hear when you are eating dinner however, it makes me think how fortunate and easy it is for us Orthodox Christians to worship at our beloved Saint Demetrios Church! We must be vigilant and not become complacent!
The time and talent given by our stewards are critically important as recently demonstrated with our church play and festival. While working at our festivaI on Saturday evening, I was asked how many volunteers were working at one time. I estimated that we had about 100 volunteers working on Saturday evening! The person who asked was amazed with our commitment! We also need treasure, to sustain our church family. We depend on stewardship, the festival and the church play to meet most of the financial needs of our parish. Due to the pandemic, we had to move our play to the June timeframe and shorten our church festival. We were blessed with beautiful weather for our festival this year. However we could easily have bad weather during our future festivals and plays. We can no longer depend on the festival and the play to help balance our operating budget. Although the pandemic has greatly affected our church, our expenses remained constant. It is our responsibility to fulfill the needs of our Church Community and to demonstrate our Orthodox faith through Christian Stewardship. Fortunately, we are a large parish with over 460 pledging stewards. With such a large number of stewards, a small weekly pledge increase by each steward would greatly help our financial situation. We realize that the pandemic has affected our parishioners in many different ways. We ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your pledge. An increase of $2-$5 per week would greatly help offset the proceeds that we depended upon for the festival and the play.
Will you help?
We have come a long way on our stewardship journey. In 2021 we were able to make some real progress toward increasing our commitments to meet our budget goal. We still have a way to go. We are climbing a mountain. When we look up, we see how far we must go to achieve our resource goals. When we look back, we see how far we have come! The stewardship chairperson is only one person. I am counting on you to spread the word! Stewardship depends upon the participation of the entire church family. Last Sunday, Mary Triantifilouspoke at length about our Saint Demetrios church family. Please step up and help our stewardship drive by speaking to family members and friends who are not with us today about increasing their pledge! We are all in this together! Let us not procrastinate, let us make thisvcommitment today! Everyone should have received a stewardship letter and pledge in the mail last week. Consider signing up for the Network For Good, a program for using a credit card to fulfill your stewardship pledge. God loves a cheerful giver! I leave you today with the words of Saint Boniface of Mainz: “The church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship, but to keep her on her course.”