The Day of Discussion About St Thomas With Archbishop Douglas Hambidge Was Well Attended and Well Received
This past Saturday the 8th of January we had a day long workshop with Archbishop Douglas Hambidge on the theme of “Looking Forward”. The Archbishop talked about Stewardship in the widest sense. He reminded us that Stewardship really is a way of living as a Christian. Archbishop Douglas started the discussion with the important idea that from the very beginning everything belongs to God and what we are doing is being stewards of what God has entrusted to us. The real question then becomes what is it that we are doing with what God has given to us be they time, talents or resources.
The Archbishop suggested that the question we should be asking ourselves as a community is, why has God put St Thomas here in this place and with this congregation and how is it that we are to help God with His plan? The Archbishop made the important point that we don’t need to solve all the problems, but that “The test of the Christian journey is are we doing the best that we can in the given moment”? In the end it is faith in God that motivates us and not the wish for personal reward. Our reward is the inspiration we receive in our faith and love of God.
Archbishop Hambidge further said it is very important that all the people in the church feel like their voice is being heard and that they are a part of what is going on in the church. He said people need to feel ownership in their church, so that the entire community can say ‘we are all the church’. This does not mean that everyone will always get what they want, communities are not like that, but that every voice should be respected and heard and that what is going on in the church should be communicated to everyone. He gave a number of practical ways to do this and we will be trying some of them in the near future, such as a “who’s coming to dinner party”.
The Archbishop also said that we should take special care as individuals and as a church to listen to what God is calling us to do. God will show us, perhaps in mysterious ways, but God will lead us if we ask the question and listen for the answer. He said that churches like all communities grow big in small increments, but that we should pay special attention that the small steps of growth are in keeping with what we do best with the people and resources at hand. For example some churches with a large but under-utilized kitchen might start a community meal, but that might not make sense for a church without such a kitchen.
Finally Archbishop Douglas said that, “To engage in stewardship means to respond to God’s call to you”. He reminded us that the bible says all spiritual communities have all the talents and gifts that they need; the idea is to figure out what best to do with them. He reiterated that all belongs to God and that, “Stewardship is a faith response not a financial response”. He said that we come to church to worship and this renews our body, mind and soul and with this energy we invigorate our own community and the wider community beyond our church doors. He said that he is very optimistic that churches who listen to God’s call to make a difference in our world will grow and that the congregation will feel they are a part of something larger, and indeed they will be as they become stewards of God’s plan.