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2017 Stewardship Stories, Part 4

October 29, 2017
29 Oct 2017

God’s work in Action

 Albert & DeDee Malafronte

In my 11 or 12 years as a St. James’ parishioner, I have been honored to work on and sometimes head a ministry or three, serve on the vestry, and occasionally make a lot of noise from the pulpit trying to help bring Christ’s story to life.

DeDee, who always worked Sundays at the pharmacy and was an Easter, Christmas Eve attendee, retired last year and has since been a regular parishioner and Prospect Manor volunteer.

I am a lifelong Episcopalian, who many years ago considered ministry as a career. Sadly, as life moved on, I was never able to find a church that moved me the way my childhood and young adult hood church in Connecticut did. But then I found, (or was found by) St. James’, South Pasadena.

DeDee, with little religious upbringing, was immediately drawn to Reverend Anne and her message and supported my desire to start pledging without hesitation, despite not yet being able to attend regularly.

We pledge because we have directly seen (through ministry involvement) the wonderful works that pledging enables St. James’ to do. Feeding the less fortunate citizens in our area, bringing the gospel to shut-ins, who without us would not have it, serving, as we can, the many homeless men and women in our city, this is God’s work in action and we are blessed and honored to be able to be a part of it. This is what we believe pledging and working on ministries does. And we truly believe there is nothing more important.

 


A Space for Light

Ashley Wilkins & Drew Carr

It’s hard to choose to be present in the world today. I, Drew, can easily be drawn into an electronic world of “You won’t believe who said this.” I am distracted by the ping of a notification. I’m frequently incensed by a tweet.  As I take a step back, I can see that I trade the physical world for bits of light flashing on a screen. I am distracted by the electronic world because in my own life I see a lot of darkness.

Ashley and I work as psychologists. We see the effect of darkness in the world. In the span of a couple of weeks, I’ve called Child Protective Services, the Ombudsman for the Elderly, and worked through someone attempting to take their own life. On a good day, I tell someone they don’t have a degenerative brain disease or that they are struggling with the same condition we all share – humanity.  Almost every day of the week Ashley hears about some of the worst things people do to other people through the horrors of war and other violence.  The world is dark and full of terrors.

There are too few places within our culture to rest. We’ve seen the dire effect on people when they do not have a supportive community who is able to hold their pain.  We know personally about the effect of hard living without a lot of hope that tomorrow will be brighter.  As such, we choose to support a community that offers light to the literal orphan, stranger, and widow, and the one that exists deep within all of us.

We each found St. James’ during a difficult time in our lives. Although Ashley was christened as an infant within the Episcopal Church, her family never attended services and the initial link to the Church was done in deference to the wishes of her grandparents.  Later friends would lead her to a personal faith, shaped and formed by a sister church community in Honduras, her geographical proximity to 9/11, and, a myriad of experiences that left her affected by the isolation and hurt of the world. She found in St. James’ a connection to her past and more importantly a community of people who deeply cared. In contrast, I was raised in a different faith community. That tradition used fear to elicit faith. The doctrine warned that unless I remained sinless I would be doomed. After a few attempts at being perfect, I gave up choosing to enjoy God’s damnation rather than live in quiet isolation.  I stayed outside any community for many years. A friend invited me to Sacramentum. People were quiet, open and welcoming. One little boy ran up to the altar, clearly during the wrong time, and the priest simply smiled at the boy, picked him up, and welcomed him in.  It became an invitation to him and to me. At different times and in different ways, both Ashley and I found a glimmer of hope and belonging under the rose window.

People need St. James’ to continue to be an invitation. St. James’ offers a place for many people – people like us in their exposure to dark and hard things – to come share in company, be known, and reach back out to the world. By giving what we have, we participate in the mission of the Church. We hope that it may remain a place for those surrounded in fear that they may find rest, hope and maybe even some faith.

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