A Church Success Story

A few months ago, on whatever Sunday the story of the ten lepers was the gospel lesson, I preached a sermon challenging the congregation to get up from the side of the road and start moving. The teens present heard the message and came to the Vestry (our church governing board) with a letter echoing the sentiments of the sermon and saying that they were frustrated with the comfortable, but relatively inactive stability of our parish, that they wanted the church to grow both in size and in mission, and that they wanted to be part of the moving forward.

The Vestry’s response was to challenge them back by encouraging them to put forward a youth candidate for the then up-coming vestry election. The kids pointed out that a 3-yr term (which is the standard term of office for governing board members in the Episcopal Church) was too long for a teenager (any 16-18 yr old would have to resign to go to college). So the vestry created a 1-year fully empowered youth representative position on the vestry and it was filled by a 16 y.o. Junior at the annual meeting.

The Vestry also asked the kids what they would like to do in the way of mission and, after researching the question and discussing it at the youth group meeting, they decided they would go to the Gulf Coast to aid in the on-going Katrina/Rita recovery. Fifteen of our folks, teens and adults, have signed on to go on the trip, and they invited two other parishes who are going to send another 15 persons.

It was agreed with the kids that the parish would fund 1/3 of the cost from the operating budget; our bishop’s youth missions fund (established just a couple of years ago) is providing a grant for another 1/3; and the kids are responsible for raising the remaining 1/3.

The fellowship committee met with the kids and came up with some fundraising ideas, one of which was a Men’s Cake Auction. The idea was that the men of the parish would be challenged to bake a cake all on their own and then these would be sold at a potluck at church. We though maybe 15 cakes or so would result and we’d raise maybe $500 for the effort.

The sign up resulted in 29 men agreeing to bake confections and the auction was held today. Two guys turned out to be unable to carry through on their commitment, but each made a separate donation in place of the cake. So there were 27 cakes auctioned off. Some of them were incredibly creative, and there was a great variety of types — lots of chocolate, a pistachio cake, a carrot cake, a cake made in the shape of our church building, another in the shape of an 18-wheeler, one that looked like a huge hamburger!

Total raised: $2750! Amazing — these darned cakes sold for an average of over $100! My carrot cake went for $180! The cake shaped like our church building sold for $260!!!

Great fun was had by all present and more than 80 people stayed after the auction to enjoy a potluck luncheon and dig into a few of the cakes for dessert.

And most of all there was a real sense of folks buying into the mission project.

It’s amazing what a little well-channeled youth frustration can accomplish.

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1 Comment

Filed under Christian Stuff, Episcopal, Just for Fun

One response to “A Church Success Story

  1. Thanks for the reflection.
    Hope you’ll pop by my site “Liturgy”
    http://www.liturgy.co.nz
    Let me know if you are interested in linking.

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