Why I support the diocese and the broader church with my pledge.

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A reflection by Tom Hargrove

It was once famously said by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives that: “All politics is local.” Folks who seek political power must ensure that the streets stay paved, the garbage gets picked up and local needs are met.

But that’s not quite true of our faith.

Sure, we are members of St. Luke’s Church, conveniently located on Fort Hunt Road, so we have a local place to go on Sundays to receive Communion, to participate in collective prayer and to volunteer in many ministries that make our community better. Our local spiritual needs are being met.

But we are also a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia which includes 80,000 active members attending 181 churches. The diocese also encompasses six church schools, two retreat centers, nine summer camps and many programs of spiritual education. How many of us – or our children – have gone to Shrine Mont summer camps to learn the “generous love of God and a theology of inclusion”? Our broader diocesan church stretches from Kilmarnock to Woodstock, and from Alexandria to Millers Tavern to Harrisonburg.

“We are as a diocese a vibrant, vital, urgently relevant, breathing reality for Jesus in this world,” says our retiring Bishop Shannon Johnston.

I wanted to share this because we are in the season of stewardship when we must decide whether and how we will support St. Luke’s and our many ministries together and our ministries as a diocese. If you haven’t done so, please pledge your support for this year. You can pledge online at: http://www.saintlukeschurch.net/pledge

Members of St. Luke’s have told me that there can be tension between the business of the church and the “spirit of the church”—the reality of expenses versus the inspiration of the holy; the profane and the sacred. But it’s important to remember that we are members of a larger community, not just a single parish along Fort Hunt Road.

Many times in my life I’ve come to feel intense gratitude for our diocese and the broader church all around me. All of us who’ve been confirmed in the Episcopal faith have literally been touched by a bishop. (Shannon confirmed my son on a sweltering Sunday when our air-conditioning had failed.) During my three years as your Stewardship Committee chairman, I relied heavily on the advice and support of our diocese in how to craft successful campaigns. I’ve attended and voted in annual Diocesan Conventions, taking part in the day-to-day life of our broader community.

Please join with my family in generously supporting this parish and the important ministries of our Diocese.

– Thomas Hargrove with help from Rob Lamb and George Omohundro