Announcements, September 20

THIS WEEKEND…

Museum Trip, September 22nd at 11:00am: Everyone is invited to learn together at the UW Geology museum on Saturday, September 22nd.  The guided tour begins at 11:00 a.m.  NOTE THE TIME CHANGE!  Please sign up in the Gathering space so we can let the museum know our numbers!  Please contact Sharon if you need/want to car pool.

Haiti Project Talk, September 23rd, 9:00am: Heidi Ropa with the Haiti Project will be sharing with our kids about life in Haiti.

Inquirers’ Group session 3: Theology, Sunday, September 23rd, 9am: This group is for those new to the Episcopal Church, as well as long-time members who’d like to learn more. At each session, we’ll discuss a short book, read ahead of time. Our third book is “A Faith for the Future,” by Jesse Zink.  Zink unites tradition and contemporary thinking to introduce the essentials of Episcopal theology. What’s the story of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, creation and humanity, baptism, church, Eucharist, mission, and the life after death? Several copies of the book are available for pickup in the Gathering Area, or you can buy it online in print or Kindle editions. It’s OK if you haven’t come to previous sessions. Just read (or skim) the book, come and join in!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Edgewood High School’s Day in the Community: Twelve students and two adults will be at St. Dunstan’s on Wednesday, September 26 from 10:00am – 2:00pm to provide us with some volunteer effort on our buildings and grounds work.  We are looking for people to assist in monitoring students as they work on various projects here that day.  Please contact John Ertl for details.

Campfire, September 27th, 6-7pm: Join us for a campfire! We will roast hot dogs and marshmallows.  There will also be an opportunity to build a shelter to eat in as we bring a fall Sandbox tradition to our evening!  An experience you will not want to miss!

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, September 28th, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Biaggi’s, 1611 Aspen Commons,Middleton, at Greenway Station. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or  Debra Martinez.

Poetry/Art Show: Sunday, September 30th is a celebration of the arts! Members of all ages are invited to bring an art or craft to show, or a poem to read. You can write your own poem or read a favorite. Art will be displayed in the Gathering Space between services and after the 10:00 service. The poetry readings will take place at 11:30am. Please bring your artwork to the church on Saturday afternoon, September 29, and put it on the tables that are there.  If you require an easel, bring yours. Thank you!

All Ages Book Group, October 7th, 9:00am: We will discuss Miss Rumphius, a picture book about choosing to spread beauty. Books are available in the Gathering Space.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, October 10th, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: Julian of Norwich was a 14th Century English mystic whose theology was six hundred years ahead of her time.  She had sixteen revelations of Christ showing her the reciprocal nature of the bond between the soul and God, a bond that is based on love that is tender and co-operative . . . he wants us to be his partners. If that sounds like the relationship with God you long for, join us.  We meet on the second Wednesday of each month.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Museum Trip, October 13th at 2:00pm: Everyone is invited to learn together at the Chazen Museum on Saturday, October 13th.  Sign up in the Gathering space so we can let the museum know our numbers!  Please contact Sharon if you need/want to car pool.

 Annual Buildings and Grounds Work Day, Sunday, October 14th after 10:00 service: Please dress in outdoor work clothes that day and plan on a light lunch and to assist in chores around the church afterwards.

Bread for the World Sunday, October 14thPeg and Dan Geisler will share about Bread for the World’s advocacy to reduce hunger in the United States and around the world and how we can be part of it. We are invited to participate in Bread for the Word’s annual Offering of Letters, to advocate to our politicians for programs that will reduce hunger in the United States and around the world. Following the 10:00 am service, those wanting to write their Congressional representatives may take letter-writing materials. Further information, writing materials and sample letters will be provided.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for October 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Sermon, September 16

Discerning the Good after Conversation with the Philosopher Barber

My barber is a philosopher. (I know, I know, aren’t they all?) At least he struck me as particularly philosophical the day I sat down in his chair and asked for his help with my beard. This was a couple of years ago and I’d grown what was my first significant beard for charity. Charitably, I didn’t know what I was doing and desperately needed help. Now that the money had been raised, the parameters of the agreement followed for the allotted length of time (namely abiding an alarming degree of hygienic negligence), I needed the beard trimmed into respectability. The barber nodded knowingly as he listened, taking in my situation. When he finally picked up his scissors and began to go to work, he broke a thoughtful silence with this truth:

“Beards,” he said, “are remarkable achievements of inaction. You did a thing by not doing a thing, am I right? People gave you money not to shave. But,” he went on, “the verb is active. That’s the madness. We say you grew a beard because of this thing you stopped doing. And we notice. We say to people with beards, ‘I see you grew a beard.’ But we never say to the clean-shaven folks, ‘I see you decided not to grow a beard today.’ Every day we should say to the clean-shaven folks, ‘I see you opted yet again not to grow a beard. How interesting. Well done.’ They’re the ones day in and day out giving honest time to their invisible decisions.”

There was no judgment in my barber’s words, although had they been intended to communicate humility to me, they certainly would have been effective.

I marveled at the barber/philosopher’s consideration of the matter, but then decided that this was not really that surprising. Hair and hair cutting are kind of his thing. Still, as a good Episcopalian, his words stayed with me. After all, in the list of all-time favorite and famous phrases of the liturgy, right up there with “The Lord be with you” and maybe also “Guide us waking, O Lord,” from Compline, is that line from the corporate confession of sin. We name “things done and left undone.” That line has always struck me as beautiful and true, calling me to a more fulsome imagination for what might have been done and how I might have lived. Now, though, post conversation with the philosopher barber, I was haunted. While not a sin, maybe, which was a beard? A thing done or left undone? Was it both? And what about other similarly ambiguous acts of inaction? When someone talks about turning the other cheek, for example, the cheek may have been turned, but the real accomplishment was the retaliatory punch not thrown. Similarly, to make space for another’s pain is a very active thing facilitated, in large part, by certain words not spoken. When John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” we can recognize decreasing as an action that definitionally doesn’t take much action, even if in a peculiar sense John’s is a difficult and intentional action to take.

An especially relevant contemporary application appears in Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s remarkable book, “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion,” in which he astutely observes that “‘Just shut up and listen’ might be the most important instruction for anyone committed to unlearning whiteness.” Sometimes to act is to roll up your sleeves and throw your hat the ring. Sometimes to act is to grow the beard.

The complication is that it’s not enough to fall back on sayings like, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” because, the line between action and non-action is difficult to spot, if it exists at all. If I say that to you – “Don’t just stand there, do something!” – it’s actually not possible for me to know that you were not doing something by standing there. It would probably be more honest then for me to say, “I don’t like what you’re doing. Do something else.” In other words, many times we call on people to act when we simply don’t like how they are acting. But precisely for all its reliance on these arbitrary judgments, parsing action from non-action is an insufficient and reductive way to tell if we’re doing the right thing.

Was the thing I did done or left undone? It depends on what you’re trying to do and therefore also on what you recognize as the good for which you’re aiming. For Christians, the good is not an abstract judgment made for the purposes of filling out the scorecard of faith. Ten points and you’re in. For Christians, goodness has to do with discerning where God is, what God is doing, and tending to God’s presence with our own. So Christians gather around the table to discern the Body. Having been gathered by God in this way, we continue from this place in the baptismal promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons, with God’s help. In this way, our worship of God and our care for one another are inextricably bound up in each other. So in the letter that bears his name James can ask a question that appears to blur moral and theological categories, the question he asked in his letter last week, “Do you, by your acts of favoritism, really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” James can question his hearers’ belief in our Lord Jesus Christ on the basis of their treatment of each other and the stranger because James sees that goodness is not a dry application of an arbitrary assessment but has everything to do with where and in whom they believe the living God will show up. Goodness has everything to do with employing the discernment they receive as gifts of this table as they leave from this table and encounter all of those who bear the image of God.

In today’s lesson, James is still talking favoritism, partiality, that thing that God does not have that makes God so generous, but he’s writing about speech and the ways people sometimes talk poorly about the ones who are not their favorites. “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” James writes. “And the tongue is a fire…a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My sisters and brothers, it should not be so.” Now, if it sounds to you like James is channeling Ralphie from A Christmas Story, threatening to wash our mouths out with soap until we go blind if we don’t watch our speech, you can be forgiven the impression. “Only I didn’t say fudge,” Ralphie memorably confesses some decades later. But the context is more insidious than bad words; the context is cursing others; the context is the tendency in followers of Jesus to separate love of God from love of those God also loves; the context is an indefensible separation of the discernment of Body at the table from the care with which we speak of about people we have learned to despise and in whom we do not acknowledge the image of God. James doesn’t say what Dorothy Day would later say, but you get the sense he would have very much approved when she confessed, “I only really love God as much as the person I love least.”

It is really easy to imagine morality as the things we do to impress God apart from God for the approval of God. James will have none of it. Instead, James presents a sacramental world in which goodness only finds substance and direction and meaning as it attends to the presence of God and in which the people who fill our ordinary days bear the image of God, as we give one another by our being opportunities to honor the goodness of the God we have discerned in worship here. So James invites us to consider that the mouths that sing God’s praises here might well consider these prayers and praises to be our mouths’ true vocations for all the other days as well. In other words, how might the ways we have learned to speak to God and, maybe most importantly, the ways we have heard God speak to us, inform the ways we speak to one another? I think for myself that works like gratitude, encouragement, generosity, and forgiveness might find new prominence in my day to day vocabulary. In any case, this is James’ question for us. Our answers are free to take the shape of words and silence, both, because the answer is not in the words alone. Remember, there is no logic to things done or left undone apart from God’s first call to us and the good work of tending to where and with whom God is. Our answer to James lies in the discernment that is God’s loving gift, in the discernment of where God is, what God is doing, and, with God’s good help, tending to God’s gracious presence there, and here, with our own.

Amen.

Announcements, September 13

THIS WEEKEND…

All Ages Book Group, September 16th at 9:00am: Grab the Wishtree book in the Gathering Space and take home to read.  Join us on the 16th for a discussion of the story.  Wishtree is a wonderful book about community told by a tree named Red!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, September 16, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. St. Dunstan’s picks up the tab for drinks and snacks. Friends and partners welcome too.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Calling all Owls! Back to school also means the start of youth group. We are looking for 4th and 5th graders to join us every other Friday night for pizza, sharing and fun activities. Our first gathering will be Friday, Sept 14th from 5:30-7:30. Please direct any questions to Leonora Neville or Krissy Mayer.

Museum Trip, September 22nd at 11:00am: Everyone is invited to learn together at the UW Geology museum on Saturday, September 22nd.  The guided tour begins at 11:00 a.m.  NOTE THE TIME CHANGE!  Please sign up in the Gathering space so we can let the museum know our numbers!  Please contact Sharon if you need/want to car pool.

Inquirers’ Group session 3: Theology, Sunday, September 23, 9am: This group is for those new to the Episcopal Church, as well as long-time members who’d like to learn more. At each session, we’ll discuss a short book, read ahead of time. Our third book is “A Faith for the Future,” by Jesse Zink. Zink unites tradition and contemporary thinking to introduce the essentials of Episcopal theology. What’s the story of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, creation and humanity, baptism, church, Eucharist, mission, and the life after death? Several copies of the book are available for pickup in the Gathering Area, or you can buy it online in print or Kindle editions. It’s OK if you haven’t come to previous sessions. Just read (or skim) the book, come and join in!

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, September 28, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Biaggi’s, 1611 Aspen Commons,Middleton, at Greenway Station. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or call Debra Martinez.

Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering, Wednesday, October 10, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: Julian of Norwich was a 14th Century English mystic whose theology was six hundred years ahead of her time.  She had sixteen revelations of Christ showing her the reciprocal nature of the bond between the soul and God, a bond that is based on love that is tender and co-operative . . . he wants us to be his partners. If that sounds like the relationship with God you long for, join us.  We meet on the second Wednesday of each month.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for September and October 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Announcements, September 6

THIS WEEKEND…

Postcard Pals:  Build a friendship with someone in the congregation who is from a different generation through postcards. Exchange postcards through mail or our special Postcard Pal Mailbox at church. The program will run in September and October.  Say hi to your Postcard Pal in person at the Tea Party (Note:  You do not need to attend the Tea Party to participate in Postcard Pals and you are not required to sit with your Postcard Pal at the Tea Party.

Nature Hike, September 9th after 10am service:  Everyone is invited to explore our St. Dunstan’s property with an educational hike.

Sunday School Begins, September 9th following 10:00am service:  Sunday School begins on September 9th and will meet during the 10:00 service.  Our 3 year old to Kindergarten class will learn about the story of creation.  Our 1st – 3rd grade and 4th – 6th grade classes will reflect on humanity as part of creation.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Game Night, Friday September 7th, 6pm:  Learn a new board game or play a favorite!  Playing together is a great way to get to know people better. Pizza will be provided.  We will welcome any snacks brought to share with the group.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, September 12, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.

Calling all Owls! Back to school also means the start of youth group. We are looking for 4th and 5th graders to join us every other Friday night for pizza, sharing and fun activities. Our first gathering will be Friday, Sept 14th from 5:30-7:30. Please direct any questions to Leonora Neville or Krissy Mayer.

Youth Groups- 4th & 5th grade group will gather on Friday, September 14 and 28, from 5:30 to 7:30pm, for fellowship, pizza, conversation and play.  Middle High Youth Group meets every Friday from 5:30 to 8pm for pizza, silly movies, games, conversation and worship. All kids in grades 6 through 9 are welcome!

All Ages Book Group, September 16th at 9:00am: Grab the Wishtree book in the Gathering Space and take home to read.  Join us on the 16th for a discussion of the story.  Wishtree is a wonderful book about community told by a tree named Red!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, September 16, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. St. Dunstan’s picks up the tab for drinks and snacks. Friends and partners welcome too.

Children’s Choir meets after church on September 16 and 23, and will share music in worship on the 30th.

Museum Trip, September 22nd at 11:00am: Everyone is invited to learn together at the UW Geology museum on Saturday, September 22nd.  The guided tour begins at 11:00 a.m.  NOTE THE TIME CHANGE!  Please sign up in the Gathering space so we can let the museum know our numbers!  Please contact Sharon if you need/want to car pool.

Poetry/Art Show, September 30th: Members of all ages are invited to bring a piece of art to show, or a poem to read on September 30th. You can write your own poem or read a favorite. Art will be displayed in the Gathering Space between services and after the 10:00 service.  The poetry readings will take place at 11:30am.

 Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for September and October 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Sermon, September 2

“Don’t Wash Your Hands!” And Other Things My Kids Are Delighted Jesus Said

A homily for Proper 17, Year B. These are the scriptures appointed for the day. When asked why his disciples do not wash their hands before eating, Jesus replies to his accusers, quoting Isaiah, “Don’t you see how you have abandoned the commandment of God to hold on to a human tradition?”

One way to hear what Jesus says this morning is that it’s not what you do that matters. As long as your heart is clean, you don’t need to wash your hands. To make this interpretation of Jesus’ words the basis of your regular hygienic practice at public restrooms and highway rest stops across the country would be really, really gross. Candidly, you might lose friends. You would almost certainly contract myriad of otherwise completely avoidable diseases. This is not what Jesus has in mind.

Jesus is talking about what makes people unclean in the ritual sense and, even beyond that, in the “worthy to stand before God” sense. The traditions of Jesus’ day had a long list ready of things that would make you unclean for admittance in the worship of God’s people. Some uncleanliness could be remedied. Some couldn’t. This is why the story, for example, of the good Samaritan in Luke’s gospel is so powerful and poignant: the religious leaders literally step over the body of a traveler left for dead, in part because to have touched him would have made them unclean and unable to perform their duties in worship. Interestingly, interaction with a Samaritan was also on the list of things that would make a person unclean. And yet is is from the Samaritan traveler that the broken body on the road finds reception, love, and healing.

You and I live in an age that, to put it mildly, does not like to be commanded, and so it is easy, perhaps, to hear the whole struggle over commandments and cleanliness as the maybe necessary, but embarrassingly rudimentary, progress of an archaic, ancient time. How sad, we think, that once upon a time people believed those kinds of things. How unfortunate, we think, that people ever allowed themselves to be commanded. A bit like watching somebody else rescued from a trap we know better than to step in. But that is also to miss the point that Jesus is making. The point is that Jesus is drawing a line of distinction between the commandments and the tradition, clearly delineating them as separate realities, alleging conflation and abuses by religious authorities, and, finally, Jesus is remembering for the whole people of Israel that these commandments had been given by God in order to shape the people as a people, to keep them ordered, connected, aware of the ways they belonged to God and, belonging to God, to keep them mindful of the ways they therefore belonged to each other. The point is that invoking the commandments that connect the people of God to God and each other in order to divide the people into the haves and have nots is maybe the worst abuse of the commandments, to Jesus’ mind, imaginable. All while pointing to themselves as exemplars of holiness. Like the churchgoers in Corinth, showing up to the feast, gorging themselves, not noticing that some at the table have nothing to eat, the Pharisees who take offense that the disciples don’t wash their hands cannot see how what they believe to be their saving grace is actually their sin, because it turns out there’s not much grace at all in ritual purity that requires distance from the dirty ones. The point is the calling out of an emerging market, even a religious market, for being well regarded by others, a piety production line that skips over the hassle and mess of actually belonging to one another. So, for example, in the verses that immediately follow this passage, Jesus observes that adult children are using the law in ways that allow them to shirk their responsibilities to their aging parents.

Twenty-first century western culture may no longer stress cleanliness in the same sorts of ways as ancient Judaism (though, to be sure, our society possesses its own modern variations on the theme), but we do very much share the plight of people who would like to do life without belonging to others, without living life in such a way that others can make claims on us. Conversations about how to care – and who should care – for aging parents or children with exceptionalities or those without homes are still difficult conversations to have. What’s worse, like the ones Jesus calls hypocrites this morning, we sometimes use religion to protect ourselves from, and turn a blind eye to, the claims other people might make on our lives, our money, our time.

Now, to be clear, to use religion in this way – in such a way as to protect oneself from the claims of other people, to make it look as if love of God and love of neighbor play for opposite teams or, maybe better, to somehow communicate that the two are different sports entirely – you have to twist it some. Almost to the point of breaking. But it can be done. And there are plenty of examples from which to learn this dreadful art, plenty of examples from history in which Christians have exchanged belonging to each other as one Body for the appearance of individual goodness, over against or sometimes simply indifferent to the unclean, even the unclean we are subsequently happy to help. In describing what he calls “the insufficiency of goodness,” Rowan Williams puts it this way:

So much work and (even) ministry…had been predicated on the assumption that it was about good people doing good for other people. Goodness is the problem. We do things in order to be good, or perhaps to seem to be good. We do things knowing who we are to those we define as different from us. And the result very often with the best and most generous will in the world is that people’s sense of isolation, powerlessness, and rejection is intensified rather than healed.

Nevermind the problem of evil, the religious leaders in Mark’s gospel confront us with the problem of goodness, of reputation and self-regard, and it is a problem, a dynamic, with which people in our time are more than familiar, even if, in a particularly challenging moment, that the problem is goodness sometimes escapes us. Of course we want to be good. It’s what good people do! Goodness, though, can be a way by which we assure ourselves that we are doing this thing called life in a way that matters. But playing for goodness, so understood, underwrites the lie, the fiction, that our lives are games to win.

Do you remember that time in the gospels when Jesus and his disciples are watching people put their money in the box outside the temple? Rich folks dropping bank. A widow with a coin. And some preacher one time shared that story as the basis for understanding God’s preference for percentile giving. It might have been stewardship season. But that only makes sense if our lives are games to win, if holiness comes in points to accrue and hold over others. Record high scores. But did you ever notice in that story that Jesus never calls the widow the winner? He simply makes the observation of what transpires and lets the irony that the money box outside the temple had been instituted to support the widow and orphan hang in the air like a stench with the potential to wake people up.

It’s like the smugness I sometimes feel when I take my extra clothes to Good Will, proud of my generosity, when I’ve forgotten the words of saints like Basil who say that, when I find myself with coats to give it’s only because I have stolen the extra coat in my closet from the one who has none that I have some to give. Because life is not a game to win. Because belonging, for the faithful, comes first.

But it’s tricky, right? Tricky because it’s as easy to become self-righteous about belonging as it is to be self-righteous about anything else. It’s very, very easy to find oneself perpetually wondering out loud why the other guy didn’t wash his or her hands or do the right thing. But the belonging doesn’t come from the washing of hands, yours, mine, or others. It comes from the love of the One who, on the night before he died, washed the feet of his friends, and whose love for us, as well as his love for the ones we despise, remains the truest thing about us all. This belonging names the truth about God’s love. This One feeds us here at this table; this One who is the food we are fed. And so we who are many are one body, we belong to each other, for we all partake of the one bread.

Amen.

Announcements, August 30

THIS WEEKEND…

Postcard Pals:  Build a friendship with someone in the congregation who is from a different generation through postcards. Exchange postcards through mail or our special Postcard Pal Mailbox at church. The program will run in September and October.  Say hi to your Postcard Pal in person at the Tea Party (Note:  You do not need to attend the Tea Party to participate in Postcard Pals and you are not required to sit with your Postcard Pal at the Tea Party.

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, Sept 1, 10am: The book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngor. “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait. HAVE A GOOD READ.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Game Night, Friday September 7th, 6pm:  Learn a new board game or play a favorite!  Playing together is a great way to get to know people better. Pizza will be provided.  We will welcome any snacks brought to share with the group.

Nature Hike, September 9th after 10am service:  Everyone is invited to explore our St. Dunstan’s property with an educational hike.

Sunday School Begins, September 9th following 10:00am service: We have three classes: Kindergarten and younger, 1st – 3rd grade and 4th – 6th grade.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, September 12, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN.  (Julian Gatherings are initiated and supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church: www.orderofjulian.org).

All Ages Book Group, September 16th at 9:00am: Grab the Wishtree book in the Gathering Space and take home to read.  Join us on the 16th for a discussion of the story.  Wishtree is a wonderful book about community told by a tree named Red!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, September 16, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. St. Dunstan’s picks up the tab for drinks and snacks. Friends and partners welcome too.

Museum Trip, September 22nd at 10:00am: Let’s learn together! We’re taking a trip to the UW Geology Museum!  We are taking a guided tour and an approximate number of people is appreciated in advance.  Please sign up in the Gathering Space!

Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Sharing an Announcement: please email it to the office (office@stdunstans.com) NO LATER THAN 9am, Wednesday morning. This is a firm deadline; announcements that come in later will have to be included in the next week’s E-news and News & Notes page.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for September and October 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee.

NOTES FROM THE FINANCE COMMITTEE…

Paying Pledges Online:  If you have made a financial pledge to St Dunstan’s, either for our annual budget or for the Open Door Project capital campaign, there are a couple of ways to make payments online if that is convenient for you.

  1. Visit donate.stdunstans.com on your phone or computer. This online “storefront” has different donation options. Please use “General Donation” for annual pledge contributions, and scroll down to “The Open Door Project” to make a contribution towards your capital campaign pledge. Note that you can enter custom amounts. This site uses Square, a widely-used secure service, to process online donations.
  2. Check your bank’s website for a “Bill Pay” feature that sends a check automatically every month (or whenever you want). If possible, please use the memo line on the check to indicate whether it is an annual pledge payment or Open Door payment. (UW Credit Union offers a memo line space, when setting up recurring online payments; other banks probably do as well.)

If you would like to put something in the offering plate on Sundays to represent your gift, you can pick up an “I Gave Online” card on the way into church. Thanks to all those who contribute financially and in so many other ways to sustain and grow our ministry together here at St. Dunstan’s!

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Announcements, August 23

THIS WEEKEND…

Funeral Services for The Venerable Susan Mueller, Saturday, Aug 25th at 11:00am: The Venerable Susan Mueller, former deacon at St. Dunstan’s passed away on Aug. 12. Her services will be at the Lutheran Church of the Living Christ 110 N. Gammon Road (about
2 blocks north of West Towne) on Saturday Aug. 25 at 11:00 AM. There will be a visitation from 9 until the time of the service, at the church. Bishop Stephen Miller, the Rev. Andy Jones of St. Andrew’s and the Rev. Dan Kowert of the Church of the Living Christ will officiate.

Grace Shelter Dinner, Sunday, August 26, 7pm: Every fourth Sunday, a loyal group of St. Dunstan’s folk provides dinner for residents at the Grace Church shelter, and breakfast the next morning. See the signup sheet in the Gathering Area to help out. To learn more, talk with Rose Mueller.

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, August 24, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Taigu, a handmade Chinese style noodle restaurant in downtown Middleton, at 7610 Elmwood Avenue. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt or Debra Martinez.

Postcard Pals:  Build a friendship with someone in the congregation who is from a different generation through postcards.  Exchange postcards through mail or our special Postcard Pal Mailbox at church.  Postcards will be supplied.  Register for a Postcard Pal in August and the program will run in September and October.  Say hi to your Postcard Pal in person at the Tea Party (Note:  You do not need to attend the Tea Party to participate in Postcard Pals and you are not required to sit with your Postcard Pal at the Tea Party.)

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, Sept 1, 10am: The book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngor. “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait. HAVE A GOOD READ.

Game Night, Friday September 7th, 6pm:  Learn a new board game or play a favorite!  Playing together is a great way to get to know people better. Pizza will be provided.  We will welcome any snacks brought to share with the group.

Nature Hike, September 9th after 10am service:  Explore our St. Dunstan’s property with an educational hike.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, September 12, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore, ObJN at slfiore@mac.com. (Julian Gatherings are initiated and supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church: www.orderofjulian.org).

All Ages Book Group, September 16th at 9:00am: Grab the Wishtree book in the Gathering Space and take home to read.  Join us on the 16th for a discussion of the story.  Wishtree is a wonderful book about community told by a tree named Red!

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, September 16, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. St. Dunstan’s picks up the tab for drinks and snacks. Friends and partners welcome too.

Museum Trip, September 22nd at 10:00am: Let’s learn together! We’re taking a trip to the UW Geology Museum!  We are taking a guided tour and an approximate number of people is appreciated in advance.  Please sign up in the Gathering Space!

 Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Sharing an Announcement: please email it to the office (office@stdunstans.com) NO LATER THAN 9am, Wednesday morning. This is a firm deadline; announcements that come in later will have to be included in the next week’s E-news and News & Notes page.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

Looking for Coffee Hosts for September and October 2018! Consider being a coffee host and talk with Janet Bybee at for more information.

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Announcements, August 16th

THIS WEEKEND…

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry:  Many thanks to everyone who contributed so generously to the MOM Backpack Program.  Your school supply donations will help so many students in our community go back to school with the necessary tools for learning.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, St. Dunstan’s!!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Evening Eucharist, Sunday, August 19th, 6pm: Join us for a simple service as the week begins. All are welcome.

Pride Parade Marchers Needed, August 19th: We will line up between 12 and 12:30, and kickoff is at 1. We have been assigned to spot #51. Please, contact Michelle Der Bedrosian.  All are welcome (LGBT+, straight, old, young, children, people with mobility differences, everyone!)

Building relationships around a campfire at St. Dunstan’s: Wednesday, August 22nd beginning at 6:00 p.m.  We’ll roast hot dogs and marshmallows while singing songs and getting to know each other better!  Come join us for fire, fun and fellowship!

Ladies’ Night Out, Friday, August 24, 6pm: Come join us for good food and good conversation among women of all ages from St. Dunstan’s. This month we will meet at Taigu, a handmade Chinese style noodle restaurant in downtown Middleton, at 7610 Elmwood Avenue. For more information, or to arrange a ride, please contact Kathy Whitt.

Postcard Pals:  Build a friendship with someone in the congregation who is from a different generation through postcards.  Exchange postcards through mail or our special Postcard Pal Mailbox at church.  Postcards will be supplied.  Register for a Postcard Pal in August and the program will run in September and October.  Say hi to your Postcard Pal in person at the Tea Party (Note:  You do not need to attend the Tea Party to participate in Postcard Pals and you are not required to sit with your Postcard Pal at the Tea Party.)

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, Sept 1, 10am: The book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngor. “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait. HAVE A GOOD READ.

Madison-Area Julian Gathering Wednesday, September 12, 1:00 – 2:45 PM: We welcome everyone who is interested in learning more about contemplative spirituality in the Christian tradition.  We meet the second Wednesday of the month for a period of contemplative prayer, after which we discuss a reading from Julian of Norwich, a 14th Century English mystic who has been called “a theologian for our time.”  We would love to have you join us.  If you have questions, contact Susan Fiore.

(Julian Gatherings are initiated and supported by the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative monastic order in the Episcopal Church: www.orderofjulian.org).

Young Adult Meetup at the Vintage, Sunday, September 16, 7pm: The younger adults of St. Dunstan’s are invited to join us for conversation and the beverage of your choice, at the Vintage Brewpub on South Whitney Way. St. Dunstan’s picks up the tab for drinks and snacks. Friends and partners welcome too.

Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Sharing an Announcement: please email it to the office (office@stdunstans.com) NO LATER THAN 9am, Wednesday morning. This is a firm deadline; announcements that come in later will have to be included in the next week’s E-news and News & Notes page.

Altar Flowers: September and October dates available! Honor a loved one or a special event with altar flowers. Reserve your special date by writing your dedication on the sign-up sheet. Suggested donation is $35. Write “flowers” on the memo line of your check or on envelope containing cash, or donate online at donate.stdunstans.com.

NOTES FROM THE FINANCE COMMITTEE…

Paying Pledges Online:  If you have made a financial pledge to St Dunstan’s, either for our annual budget or for the Open Door Project capital campaign, there are a couple of ways to make payments online if that is convenient for you.

  1. Visit donate.stdunstans.com on your phone or computer. This online “storefront” has different donation options. Please use “General Donation” for annual pledge contributions, and scroll down to “The Open Door Project” to make a contribution towards your capital campaign pledge. Note that you can enter custom amounts. This site uses Square, a widely-used secure service, to process online donations.
  2. Check your bank’s website for a “Bill Pay” feature that sends a check automatically every month (or whenever you want). If possible, please use the memo line on the check to indicate whether it is an annual pledge payment or Open Door payment. (UW Credit Union offers a memo line space, when setting up recurring online payments; other banks probably do as well.)

If you would like to put something in the offering plate on Sundays to represent your gift, you can pick up an “I Gave Online” card on the way into church. Thanks to all those who contribute financially and in so many other ways to sustain and grow our ministry together here at St. Dunstan’s!

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave.  Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

Sermon, August 12th

A homily preached at St. Dunstan’s, Madison. Proper 14, Year B, Track 1.

Good morning! My name is Jonathan Melton (still). I’m the chaplain at St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center at UW-Madson, with you through October in this sabbatical season both for Mother Miranda and St. Dunstan’s. Still delighted to be so invited. And equally delighted to be with you as we worship the living God this morning. Are you glad to be here? Turn and tell a neighbor – I’m glad to be here! Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls this evangelism 101 – turn and tell someone something about something.

In the gospel today, the people are put off that Jesus calls himself bread from God. For many of the people listening to Jesus, his claim is more than illogical; this bread rises to the level of blasphemy. Some Wonder, Bread from God? This is Mary’s boy. They’ve watched him grow up. And now he’s God’s bread, come down from heaven? Some of the people, let’s call them the upper crust, like the Pharisees, suspect that something is a rye. Kneading to get to the bottom of it, to drive Jesus oat, they press in on the crowds. But then, in the moment of crisis, in the heat of the oven, Jesus doubles down on his claim, that’s right, just now, in the story before us – when his antagonists yeast expect it.

And how could he not? The disciples, like Pita, loaf around on the sidelines. We search the scene for someone willing to go against the grain, to speak up for Jesus, but alas we find naan. So Jesus speaks for himself. In words grilled deep into the heart of faith through generations, he speaks up. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus says.

You’re safe, I’m done.

The offense the people take at Jesus’ divine bread-ness may surprise you. It’s honest and maybe necessary to ask, what’s the big deal behind this claim to be bread? You and I are familiar with this bread that offended the people. We probably take it for granted. Of course there’ll be bread when we come to this space. We may take as a matter of course that this bread and holy meal stand at the center of our common life and all that we are in Christ. Or, conversely, for all the familiarity, we may forget from time to time what the bread is about, why it matters, what it’s for. For example, St. Paul one time said that we who are many are one body, because we partake of the one bread; and yet, it is easy to come to the table simply to satisfy an individual need. And God knows we have our individual needs. One of them, it turns out, is to be saved from being left as individuals. But it is easy to forget what this bread is about.

There are reminders, of course. Reminders that we are being made into one body by this bread. Reminders like the breaking of the bread at the end of the Eucharistic prayer: the priest holding up the bread and saying, “Behold the Body of Christ!” And the Assembly (that’s y’all), channeling Augustine, replies, “May we become what we receive.”

Martin Luther put it in a typically Martin Luther way; he said we are baked into one cake with Christ. My Granny one time explained to me that there’s just no un-caking a cake. We are made a part of one another in Christ, by this bread. This bread, the bread Jesus gives us, the bread that Jesus is, stands at the heart of our common life. But then what does it mean in 2018 to have a common life?

Enter the book of Ephesians. In it, you’ll find Unusual Reasons, capital U, capital R. Not unusual things, but Unusual Reasons for alarmingly usual things. Usual things like not lying, telling the truth. Unusual Reasons like, because we belong to each other. Not because you might get caught. Not because it will further your good name, your reputation, or your prospects for the future. Unusual Reasons like we belong to each other.

If all we had to go on was the part of the letter we read today, the Unusual Reason for telling the truth might have been harder to spot. Sure, there’s the initial line about being members of each other, but apart from that today’s reading looks a lot like one of the long list of rules you and I have come to expect from the Bible. If you go back a chapter, though, to chapter 4, there you’ll find the words our prayer book uses to mark the mystery of the cake we have become. In the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, they are the words that begin our worship whenever someone is baptized. These are the words that you already know:

There is one body and one Spirit; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.

Page 299. All of the rules that follow these words are not rules at all in the traditional sense; they are invitations to live the gift the Ephesians have been given, which is membership in the one Body of Christ. It’s a body chock full of people who all claim significant differences. Gentiles and Jews. Rich and poor. Misers and spendthrifts. Quiet and loud. Snarky and sincere. People with homes and people without them. Wisconsinites and Texans. People who floss and people who brace themselves for the hygienist’s bi-annual lecture. Folks who belong to the correct political party and those who subscribe to the side that inexplicably lacks all real sense. People who’ve got it together and people like me. We who are many are one body, because we partake of the one bread.

Ephesians gives more Unusual Reasons. Unusual Reasons for things like not stealing. Unusual reasons like making sure you can earn enough to give away some goods to those in need. How wonderfully odd. No mention here of respecting personal property or the upholding of constitutional property rights. No, the moral logic of the letter takes as its starting point the waters of baptism and that pesky, transformative bread. Waters and bread that break down fences and walls and give us again to each other as gifts; waters and bread that invite us into a love that is learning not to fear and is willing, even looking, to be surprised. If you’re not careful, Unusual Reasons for usual things can give you a new imagination for what is possible and what is real.

Parenthetically, have you wondered how the thieves that Paul addresses could have found themselves needing to steal apart from the body’s failure to be as generous toward the thieves as Paul hopes the thieves can learns to become toward the others in need? It’s beautiful, I think, how Paul hides within his words to thieves an injunction that, in singling out the thief does not single out the thief at all, but calls out the community, too, uprooting any judgements we might have apart from our own realization, again, that we belong to each other. Put another way, maybe we are all of us thieves. Maybe we are all thieves invited to trust God to share what we had thought was ours alone to possess. As we do so, we discover that our fears of not being enough for the other people in the life of this body were unfounded. Even better, in the vulnerable offering of ourselves to God and one another, imitating Christ’s self-giving love for us, this is where we have know the belonging made possible in Jesus, for even on our worst days, when we are sure there is nothing of value in us to give, there is forgiveness in the cup.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus says. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” This bread is Good News. But is easy to forget what this bread is about. There are reminders, of course. Ephesians whispers some of them. Reminders that we are being made into one body by this bread.

Amen.

Announcements, August 9th

THIS WEEKEND…

School Supplies for Middleton Outreach Ministry:  Many thanks to everyone who contributed so generously to the MOM Backpack Program.  Your school supply donations will help so many students in our community go back to school with the necessary tools for learning.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, St. Dunstan’s!!

THE WEEKS AHEAD…

Diocesan Opportunities to Serve:  If you are interested in having a greater role in the Diocese, there are several positions becoming available. Open nominations are happening from now until August 13, 2018. To learn more about the positions, talk with Rev. Miranda and/or see the information sheets posted under the bulletin board calendar.

Building relationships around a campfire at St. Dunstan’s: Wednesday, August 22nd beginning at 6:00 p.m.  We’ll roast hot dogs and marshmallows while singing songs and getting to know each other better!  Come join us for fire, fun and fellowship!

Men’s Book Club Meeting, Saturday, Sept 1, 10am: The book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngor. “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait. HAVE A GOOD READ.

Election Season Prayers: Praying for our political leaders has always been part of Anglican and Episcopal worship. In past election seasons, we have often included candidates for public office in our prayers in informal ways. This year we are taking on the discipline of praying for this autumn’s elections as part of our weekly Prayers of the People, using language borrowed from some of the prayers for our country in the Book of Common Prayer.

Sharing an Announcement: please email it to the office (office@stdunstans.com) NO LATER THAN 9am, Wednesday morning. This is a firm deadline; announcements that come in later will have to be included in the next week’s E-news and News & Notes page.

NOTES FROM THE FINANCE COMMITTEE…

Midyear Financial Update

Based on the first six months of 2018, St. Dunstan’s financial picture continues to be healthy. Our income is up by $7,500 compared to our year-to-date budget. This is largely due to an increase in plate contributions ($3,200 over budget), prior year pledge payments ($3,900), rent income from building users ($625) and a rebate on our snow removal contract because of a less-than-anticipated snow fall last year ($1,100). We are also ahead of pledge payments by $9,200. Some of this represents additional pledges but folks are up to date on their pledges. This is a good sign because traditionally giving drops off during the summer months. Thank you for your continued support of St. Dunstan’s!

We are also under budget on several expense accounts. We have experienced some savings in office staff ($950) due to the transition in staff. Our maintenance budget is considerably under budget ($2,000) but expenses may catch up in the second half of the year. We are over budget in Fellowship/Kitchen expenses and church utilities ($800). We can attribute much of this increase to the extra events connected with our successful capital campaign. Overall, we are under budget on expenses and over budget on income, which is great, and we’re hopeful that our finances will remain strong in the second half of 2018.

We have already received $317,000 in Open Door Campaign pledge payments.

Current financial statements are posted on the bulletin board outside the meeting room door. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact treasurers Gloria and Valerie at treasurer@stdunstans.com.

Paying Pledges Online:  If you have made a financial pledge to St Dunstan’s, either for our annual budget or for the Open Door Project capital campaign, there are a couple of ways to make payments online if that is convenient for you.

  1. Visit donate.stdunstans.com on your phone or computer. This online “storefront” has different donation options. Please use “General Donation” for annual pledge contributions, and scroll down to “The Open Door Project” to make a contribution towards your capital campaign pledge. Note that you can enter custom amounts. This site uses Square, a widely-used secure service, to process online donations.
  2. Check your bank’s website for a “Bill Pay” feature that sends a check automatically every month (or whenever you want). If possible, please use the memo line on the check to indicate whether it is an annual pledge payment or Open Door payment. (UW Credit Union offers a memo line space, when setting up recurring online payments; other banks probably do as well.)

If you would like to put something in the offering plate on Sundays to represent your gift, you can pick up an “I Gave Online” card on the way into church. Thanks to all those who contribute financially and in so many other ways to sustain and grow our ministry together here at St. Dunstan’s!

STAFF NEWS…

Clergy Office Hours: If you would like to visit with one of our clergy, they would like to visit with you! Father Jonathan Melton will hold weekly “office hours” on Mondays from 9 – 11am, at the MOKA at 5227 University Ave. Father Tom McAlpine will be available on Thursdays from 1-3pm at the Starbucks at 3515 University Ave. And Father John Rasmus will be at St. Dunstan’s on Thursdays from 9 – 10:30am.

6205 University Ave., Madison WI