Celebrating Abundance: Invitation to Stewardship
Dear Riverside and College Avenue United Methodist Churches,
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand.
There is a sacred mystery to the growing process, isn’t there? There is something beautiful in nature about watching what we plant grow and bear fruit. Terms like fertilization, germination, and pollination, important though they are, only attempt to give us understanding of the seeming miracle that takes place in the dark earth, unseen by the human eye. Jesus also spoke of this mystery in the gospel of Mark. He said, “The realm of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, they do not know how. (4:26-7)” The apostle Paul, too, spoke of mission in terms of sowing and reaping. He told the Corinthian Christians, “I planted the seeds. Apollos watered the seed. But it is God who gives the increase. (3:6)”
It is God who gives the increase. It is God who gives the growth. It is God who brings about abundance. For nearly 100 years, God brought about abundance through Riverside and College Avenue. We give God thanks for the years of fruitful ministry these two congregations experienced, the lives touched and eternally impacted. But now, we are beginning the cycle anew. The soils have been plowed and prepared. As part of the plowing process, we dug deep into the gifts and passions of our congregations, the needs of our community, and Jesus’ Great Commission. In May, we saw these fields intersect to reveal a heart for children and young families, especially children who are living with significant need. A heart to combat food insecurity in Delaware County was also revealed. God gave us a dream for an afterschool program, offering tutoring and a children’s choir. God gave us a dream for cooking classes, shared meals, and Dining with Dignity. God gave us our missional focus.
Do you remember the energy that filled the room in those conversations? I certainly do. And now, we have the invitation to make that dream – our missional focus – a reality. Our 2022 stewardship campaign invites us to plant seeds into Community of Hope so that God may give the increase once more. As your pastor, I wholeheartedly believe God is ready to bring about an abundant harvest of the Spirit through Community of Hope. Our giving, our generosity, and, yes, our money will help us do just that. We are not giving our money to the same old thing. We are giving to something entirely new! We are sowing seed into freshly tilled ground.
As we continue the month of October, I invite us to continue prayerfully considering what seeds of generosity God is calling us to plant into Community of Hope. Thank you for your willingness to sow parts of your lives and your incomes into the life of this new congregation. I cannot wait to see what God will do with those seeds.
All good gifts around us are sent from God above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all God’s love.
Sincerely, in Christ
The Rev. Keith A. Turner