Stewardship Sunday

Each May we dedicate one Sunday or worship to reflecting on our practical stewardship of the church.  Here, Rector Alan summarises his thoughts on our blessings and challenges:

I fear that this is going to sound like an election manifesto for the ‘Generosity Party.’ (Either that or a pastoral letter from someone definitely not an Archbishop!)
I preached about stewardship at the end of May. The subject made me realise how much of my ministry has been about the movement of things, and how my theological training, which may well have filled my head and heart with the lofty transcendence of the Christian faith, yet left me totally unprepared for a ministry of the movement of things (chairs, hymn boards, bank accounts, bodies, etc.). ‘We have become a church of crypts,’ I observed ruefully, of ‘towers, vaults, sacristies, safes, funds, burial grounds and masonry; of stone, roofs, doors, fences, gates, silver and plate; of treasurers, solicitors, deeds, charities and registers; of personnel policies, of health and safety schedules, of safeguarding practices,’ to name but a few of the articles that comprise the ministry of things.

It’s true. ‘We have become a church which requires a huge expenditure of energy just to keep the wheels in motion, even if we are not always clear what direction we wish to travel in. The more we plan the less we rely on God,’ (said, I becoming more preachy), ‘the more anxious we become the less we lean on his providence, the more taxing the business of managing becomes the quicker we lose a vision of the kingdom of God.
I then presented my manifesto for the ‘Generosity Party’, as follows: ‘Stewardship at St Giles is different to stewardship in other places. In the country parish that I knew, stewardship meant that if the people did not give the church would not be. It was a fairly simple message, as you can imagine and it was easy to scare people. You can only be in debt for so long before someone says, ‘Enough is enough.’ The people did give, I am pleased to say, or at least gave enough to stave off the clerical bailiffs from the door.
‘The primary stewardship of St Giles is to guard and nurture the gifts and generosity of those former times, through whose bequests of land and property and money we are enabled to continue. The Duchess Dudley and Caroline Clayson’s of the past, among others, have made possible a bedrock of stewardship that remains, and shall remain, the primary resource of the ministry and mission of this Church. (You would not need a calculator to work out that those who do come would need to be giving far more than is reasonable to keep the show on the road). No matter. Providence has been good to us. Providence has been on our side.

‘My appeal is not a desperate one, therefore, but it is heartfelt: I wish you to lead generous lives. I know the usual line, and have used it myself before, that we who follow a generous God must needs be generous ourselves; but this year I offer a variant on this. I wish you to be generous because it is good for you. I wish you to live full and fulfilled lives and to live towards the world as one who wished to bless and not curse it, so that you might, one day, be able to say that you have left it just a little bit better than it was before; and for this you will need to be generous: generous with the gifts you have been given, generous with love and laughter if they are yours to share; certainly generous with faith, not lecturing or hectoring or patronising others, but offering them due love and courtesy; and, yes, generous with money, (and yes, including St Giles) but also generous towards others. If there is something that really matters to you then follow the example of the apostle James and ‘visit the fFatherless and widows in their affliction;’ and if you can’t ‘visit’ them yourself then make realistic provision for others to do so. It is intrinsically good to be generous. It frees us from thinking that everything is ours, and ours alone; and that way freedom lies.’

What’s On?

The primary ministry of St Giles is Christian hospitality. Our Church was founded for this purpose in 1101 and continues in the same spirit today.

The key way in which we express this is by remaining open for prayer and quiet throughout the week. No questions are asked of the one who comes to pray, and no demands made on the weary, the inquisitive or the random visitor. As God’s love is at the heart of our life and church, so his presence is at the heart of such hospitality.  We also seek to enrich the spiritual experience of visiting St Giles by playing host to a changing calendar of music, art and cultural events.

Finally, we work to make the church and its surroundings available for a wide range of community groups, local organisations and events. These activities are run by outside groups; however, we are delighted to be able to provide a space for these groups.

The Children’s Space

Summer party invite (2)

Over the past year or so we have been working with a local mother and others on the idea of a semi-permanent children’s space to be set up at the west end of the church, to provide a safe, attractive and child-friendly environment where parents, carers and young children can spend time together. There are many families in our local community living in fairly cramped households who, from time to time (and especially in the winter months) need somewhere else to be with their children. To this end, and thanks to a grant from the William Shelton Educational Charity, a large rug and a varied collection of craft and play equipment has been acquired.

World Food Market

We host a World Food Market, arranged by Epicurean Events, in the North Churchyard on Thursdays from 10am to 3pm. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the churchyard and have a break from the usual sandwich shops, so do pop along if you work nearby for a choice of warm lunches from around the world.

World Food Market 3

Support Groups

Simon Community LogoSt Giles is pleased to host Support Groups who provide food and drink for the body, mind and spirit. From 2pm to 4pm on Saturdays and from 1.15pm to 3.15pm on Sundays the Simon Community set up a mobile Street Café in the north churchyard to dispense tea, coffee, sandwiches, fruit, cake and words of advice, seeking to reach out to the most unreachable. If you want to know more or find details of how to volunteer, please visit their website.

During the week, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups gather in the Vestry House behind the Church. By definition, these are only open to those who seek such support and in each case the website (or word of mouth) is usually the first point of contact. Theses groups are entirely self-directed and operate independently of St Giles, but we are pleased to provide meeting space at the heart of the West End, where both addictions are only too prevalent.

Details of the timing of support groups can be found in our calendar on the side of this page.