This past week has been the commemoration of the birth of John the Baptist who is the patron saint of our church. In pre-Covid times that would have meant a special church service to commemorate our 139th “birthday” and, normally, to coincide with the annual visit of the bishop, a confirmation service. But that is all on hold…
And, of course, it also coincided with the launch our annual dedicated giving campaign.
It reminds me of the story of the mother who was hysterical because little Jimmy had swallowed a R2 coin. She turned to her husband and screamed for him to call a doctor. So he picked up the phone, but instead of calling the doctor, he decided to call his minister. The wife was upset and said, “We don’t need the minister, we need some medical help!” To which the husband replied, “Hey, our minister can get money out of anyone!”
I want to put you at ease. My goal is not to try to force more money out of you. You can breathe a sigh of relief. Because in fact we have been supported beyond our wildest imagination by parishioners and non-parishioners alike since lockdown.
Many have also learned the new technology and migrated to EFT, so that support has assisted in such a way, that together with additional assistance from the UIF TERS fund, we have been able to pay all our staff members since lockdown started. So, thank you for your generosity!
We have also had an overwhelming response to our “loaves and fishes” project, through the Food4Needy campaign donations in cash and kind, mainly sandwiches, bulk mieliemeal porridge, vegetables and fruit, which has allowed us to re-open our soup kitchen, food parcel outreach and, recently, the outreach to indigent aged in Walmer Township (Gqebera). I mean it boggles my mind that we have made more than 40 000 sandwiches since Easter – and not one has been wasted! It makes me want to stand on my chair and shout out: Alleluia!
It comes because of the grace of God working through God’s people and a Christ-centred spiritual maturity when it comes to giving that is present in this part of the Vineyard.
At St John’s, we believe that extraordinary things are accomplished when the grace of God is expressed through our generosity. And we are witness to that again this year.
So here are some aspects of giving.
Giving to support the church:
This is understood as both an obligation and as an opportunity. It is an obligation to support those who preach the gospel, and an opportunity to share in gospel ministry and its results:
Gal 6:6: Those who receive instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
1 Tim 5:17-18: The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture say, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “Workers deserve their wages.”
Giving to support the spread of the gospel elsewhere:
Gifts to help those in gospel ministry create a partnership or sharing in that ministry. In this partnership, the givers also share in the rewards of that ministry.
Phil 4:15-19: Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, and an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Giving to the poor:
Jesus assumes in his teaching that we will continue this practice, and shows us how to do it, without making a show of our giving.
Matt 6:1-4: “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, o that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Luke 12:33: Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
But it is also about Giving with the right attitude:
2 Cor 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
So, as an encouragement:
a. Give generously
b. Give cheerfully
c. Give constantly
d. Give thankfully
In order to do this well, at St John’s we work hard to ensure that we steward these resources the following way, through:
- our annual budgets and accounts are public documents accessible to all, received and approved by the Annual Vestry Meeting of all members, and the budget is set by Parish Council, a voluntary committee to which any member may be appointed;
The probity of our financial handling is the responsibility of the wardens, three volunteers appointed annually by the Annual Vestry Meeting, and our accounts are independently audited;
We believe in using our finances for the good of much more than our established ministries and membership, including strategically allocating funds to organisations like InContext, ACVV, Bible Society, Centre of Concern et al;
Sensitivity: while we live in faith, trusting in God’s storehouses, we do not wish to demand more from the congregation than it can bear; and
- we are constantly reviewing the recipients of our resources, both internal and external, in order to pursue the best returns for the Kingdom.
So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, please continue to partner with our King, Jesus Christ, and us, his people, in the great ministry of the gospel in, through and from our church. Partner with us in prayerfully through your Time, Talent and Treasure.
Grace, peace and freedom to you!
Electronic Dedicated Giving Forms
We have entered a new era this year and will purpose to send you all the information via electronic means. For those of you who have not been exposed yet to Google Forms, do not be dismayed, you will see how easy it is. And, perhaps, by so doing we will also assist in saving the trees on our planet by not using so much paper.
These will be circulated via our St John’s newsletter letter lists from next week.
Please do fill in the forms which should not take more than a few minutes.
Please also be aware that there is utmost privacy in the dedicated giving forms when it comes to the tithe. Only one person appointed by the Executive sees these forms for banking and budget purposes. The Rector doesn’t have access to the forms.
Petro will explain how to install this on your smartphone.
Click here to watch.
Do you have a sewing machine?
Would you like to help to make face masks?
St John’s has partnered with Masks for PE and is encouraging people to make masks to give away in needy areas.
Wearing face masks when out and about is mandatory. Everyone needs at least 2. That’s a lot of masks! Masks for PE makes it very easy for people to help. They supply packs with enough pre-cut fabric for 30 masks, thread, fabric ties and instructions.
Finished masks will be packaged along with instructions in English and isiXhosa as to how to wear them safely and how to care for them.
Masks will be distributed at our Fountain Road Soup Kitchen in Ggebera and the Centre of Concern.
Please Whatsapp Debbie (083 454 0479) to arrange collection.
We would appreciate it if you could deposit your dedicated giving contributions via EFT into our bank account:
Branch Code: 050417
A/C Name: St John the Baptist Church
A/C Number: 080281206
(Please make sure your name & reference is included)