The Weekly News - December 19, 2018

Greetings!

In this issue of The Weekly News:

  • Father Stephen's Christmas Message
  • Schedule of Christmas Services
  • Two Early Christmas Gifts
  • Pictures for Directory
  • Ushers Needed for Christmas Eve Services
  • Church Office Schedule
  • Dates for Your Calendar

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.”
John 1:5

Only a few days remain until it’s Christmas, so I’m writing with an invitation. Sometime, in the next few days, light a candle in your home, turn off all the other lights, and, while looking at the candle’s flame, take a moment to reflect on the single verse quoted above from St. John’s Gospel. It’s John’s version of the Christmas story. No Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem, no shepherds tending their flocks by night, no Magi following the star for John - instead a light that shines in the darkness.  

We don’t rely on candlelight any more. Candles are for birthday cakes, and romantic dinners, and, of course, church services. Because we don’t use candles to see after sunset, we forget how easily a candle can be extinguished. A child’s breath can blow it out, it’s so fragile. 

Whether John was thinking of this when he used light as a symbol for the coming of Jesus into the world, we don’t know. What we do know is that God chose a precarious way to enter the world when the Savior was born as an infant. The fragility of the light is reflected in these words: “the darkness did not overcome it.” It’s Evangelist’s way of acknowledging that the darkness certainly could have put out the Light. By God’s grace and favor, the darkness did not, has not, and will not. This is the Christmas good news we’ll celebrate as we worship together in the coming days.

This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the last candle on the Advent wreath. Please come as we make final preparations for God’s coming. Then come back the next evening as we welcome what John describes as “the true light, which enlightens everyone. . .” John 1:9. Services on Christmas Eve – all with Holy Eucharist – are at 4:00, 8:00, and 11:00 pm. On Christmas Day, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with Carols begins at 9:00 am. The Light of the World shines brightly in the darkness once again.  

Blessings,
Father Stephen
Christmas Pageant

All children - whether members or guests - are welcome to participate in the Christmas Pageant at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve. The service will include a simple telling of the story of Jesus' birth. No rehearsal is required.  Parents or grandparents and their children should arrive at 3:30 pm and go to the area outside rooms 203 and 204 (above the Godly Play room). All the materials needed to dress the children as shepherds and angels will be available there. The children will line up and move to the narthex (or lobby) at 3:55. The procession will begin at 4:00 pm.
Senior Warden Announces
Early Christmas Presents

On Sunday, December 16, Senior Warden Fred Winters announced two “early Christmas presents” at the 7:45 am and 10:00 am services. 

The first is that St. Christopher’s has commitments in hand to eliminate the parish’s remaining construction debt of over $800,000 within the next five years. 

The second is that, this evening (Wednesday, December 19), the vestry will be adopting a 2019 operating budget with significantly more resources for ministry than St. Christopher’s has ever had before. This has been made possible by the generous response of parishioners to the Annual Stewardship Drive - an increase in pledge commitments of more than 15%.

In his announcement, Fred reminded the congregation that the theme of this year’s Annual Stewardship Drive has been “prepare the way." Everyone was asked to help “prepare the way” for the arrival of our new rector and to “prepare the way” by growing and expanding our vibrant ministries in order to fulfill God’s vision for St. Christopher’s. Fred noted that, during times of transition from one rector to another, many churches slide backward or just coast - putting everything on hold until the arrival of their new rector. “But,” he said, “that is not St. Christopher’s!”  

At the conclusion of his remarks, Fred shared a letter from Bishop Jennifer, who commended parishioners for their faithfulness and commitment during the interim time. She called it “a stunning example of what a productive transition period can be” – one that promises “a strong and healthy beginning with a new rector.”  The full text of Bishop Jennifer’s letter can be read here.

Some background may be helpful in putting the good news of these two “early Christmas presents” in context.

Since the third phase of construction on the campus ended in 2009, St. Christopher’s has been paying off a loan on our buildings. The parish has been able to service the debt without impacting the operating budget because of income from previous capital campaigns and the sale, in March of this year, of the last piece of property owned by the church on the west side of Meridian Street/US 31.  

By taking advantage of a guaranteed loan program through the diocese, the church successfully refinanced the debt in July 2018 following an extensive analysis of options by former parish treasurer, Norm Callahan, and the work of current treasurer, Barb Lyter. 

Norm’s analysis identified a dark cloud, however. The new loan of $816,000 far exceeded remaining funds. When remaining capital campaign funds and proceeds from the land sale were exhausted (in a period of less than two years), principal and interest payments on the loan would have to come from the church’s operating budget, thereby severely limiting the parish’s ability to fund its current ministries and programs and impeding the growth of any new ministry initiatives. 

The dark cloud also had the potential to discourage candidates who might otherwise have had an interest in becoming our next rector.

This past spring, the vestry appointed a small team charged to find a solution, including a possible broad-based capital campaign, to reduce the debt to a more manageable level. The vestry also authorized the retention of a highly experienced fundraising consultant whose fee was covered by grants from The Center for Congregations and the Diocese of Indianapolis. 

Earlier this year, the parish received a matching gift challenge grant of $500,000. The donors’ goal was to inspire others to eliminate the remaining debt completely and to grow the Building Maintenance Memorial Fund, established earlier this year by a major gift from the estate of Dick Gilbert.  

The challenge grant proved to be a game-changer. Several active parishioner families responded with generous commitments that came very close to meeting the challenge. Then, because of a second challenge, parishioners made new and increased pledges to this year’s Stewardship Drive. Those new pledges and increases to previous pledges earned a matching gift that was directed to debt elimination, thereby making it possible for all parishioners to participate in debt elimination. With the added matching gift, we earned the full $500,000 challenge grant and put the effort over the top. 

The pledged resources will do more than eliminate debt. St. Christopher’s will also have sufficient funds to increase significantly the Building Maintenance Memorial Fund so that maintenance for our aging facility can be funded for years to come.
If you wish to join your fellow parishioners by making a 2019 pledge to expand St. Christopher’s ministries, it’s not too late. New and increased pledges received by December 31 will be eligible for the matching gift, which will go toward the Building Maintenance Memorial Fund. Please call or send an email to one of the following as soon as possible:

John Lyter - 317-627-0072 | jblyter@gmail.com

Mike Smith - 317-501-6586 | jmsmith763@gmail.com
Continuing to prepare the way for our new rector

It’s time for us to update our church photo directory and our online directory in Realm. We want our new rector - and you - to be able to put names with faces. We are working with LifeTouch to take portraits. For now, we ask that you to save the dates. We will be photographing all families January 22- 26 right here at St. Christopher's. Our directory won’t be complete without you. Watch our bulletin/message boards/ The Weekly News for more information on January 2. We will offer both on-site and online reservations. Each participating household will receive a printed directory and an 8x10 portrait at no cost.

If you are a family with college kids who are home for Christmas, contact Carolyn Parrott (317-409-1726) right away. There is a possibility to get your family's portrait made right after Christmas at another church, but we must provide information to make the reservation for your sitting now!
Ushers needed on Christmas Eve

Ushers are needed for the 4:00 pm, 8:00 pm, and 11:00 pm services on Christmas Eve. If you would be willing to usher for one of these services, please contact:

Karen Poyser - 317-571-8493 | karenpoyser@gmail.com
Church Office Holiday Schedule

The church office will be closed from Monday, December 24, through Tuesday, January 1. The Weekly News will not be published between December 19 and January 2.

The deadline for announcements for the next issue of The Weekly News is Monday, December 31, 5:00 pm. Email to Anita Walker (awalker@stchriscarmel.org with a copy to Carolyn Parrott (carolyncparrott@gmail.com).

Reminder: If you plan to make a year-end financial donation for 2018, it must be postmarked by December 31.
Important Dates for Your Calendar

The  Save the Date page  of St. Christopher's website is updated weekly. Check this resource for new information. You also may want to review the insert in the Sunday bulletin, as it provides the schedule for the coming week. 

January 13, 9:00 am | Common Grounds Adult Forums Resume
January 13,10:50 | Youth Formation Resumes for Spring semester
January 13, 5:00 - 7:00 pm | Sunday Dinner for youth, grades 6-12, and parents
January 14, 6:00 pm | St. Christopher' 4Cs
January 18-20 | Chicago Mission Trip (details available in coming weeks)
January 22-25, 2:00 - 8:30 pm | Pictorial Directory Sittings
January 26, 10:00 am - 4:30 pm | Pictorial Directory Sittings
February 3,11:30 am | Annual Meeting of the Parish
February 10, 11:30 am | Backpack Packing (note date change)

Church Office hours
Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 12 noon and 1:00 to 4:00 pm.(except as noted above)