Stewardship 2016: Father David’s Letter to the Parish

Posted by: on Oct 24, 2016 | No Comments

To the People of St. Andrew,

I will retire as the Rector of the ECUY in August, 2017.  This means that the coming year will be a time of transition for all three of our parishes.  The processes of change are already in motion.  One of the most significant steps recently taken is the decision to separate the three churches of the Upper Yellowstone.  St. Andrew’s and St. John’s will join in partnership, while St. Mark’s will pursue its desire to have a resident priest in Big Timber.

What does stewardship mean in such times of change?

The first thing to remember is that a parish is always more than its clergy leadership.  This is true whether leadership is departing, or soon to arrive.  This, as always, is a good time for parishioners to exercise more responsibility with regard to their own spiritual welfare and development.  Stewardship means continuing to cultivate the practices of taking care of one another, of studying together, and of serving the local community.

Stewardship means acting with hope for the future of the parish.  It means acting to identify those things which have proven valuable, and to imagine ways to ensure their continuity.

Stewardship means taking the time to reflect on the Christian path—its teaching, doctrine, liturgical practices, governance—and to notice those things which are nourishing, and those which are a source of frustration.

Stewardship means being in conversation with others about the identity, values, and priorities of your parish, and the kind of leadership you seek.  It means becoming more aware of your own spiritual priorities, and taking responsibility for them.

Stewardship means drawing upon your own and others’ spiritual maturity.  It’s not always easy to work in committees, and to harmonize diverse ideas.  No one will get exactly what he or she wants. There will never be a perfect balance between personal preferences and the desires of the community.  Nonetheless, speak the truth in love, and act with grace.

Finally, stewardship means recognizing the gifts which have been entrusted to you, and then sharing them for the good of all.  Share your gifts of time and energy and money.  The changes in the structure of the ECUY mean that each parish will have to assume greater financial responsibility, yet there is no doubt that our three parishes have the resources—spiritual, emotional, and financial—to go confidently forward and thrive.  May God’s blessing be upon the next chapters of all our lives. And my deepest gratitude to all of you for these past twelve years, which have taught me more about God’s presence than I ever could have imagined.

The Rev. David Gunderson