When fuel costs were spiraling ever upwards, Christ Church re-focused our "Angels Under the Balcony" gift program on an even older parish tradition: helping our neighbors-in-need stay warm through the cold days of winter. This effort began in the 19th century when Julia Leete Newhall made it possible for the Rector to buy coal, oil or wood to heat the homes of "widows of good character(!)" As the Town grew and my predecessors could no longer vouch for those of good character, this endeavor was entrusted to Social Services and became the foundation of the Town's Fuel Assistance Program.
This Sunday, December 20, we will continue Miss Julia's good work with a special offering. Please make checks out to Christ Church with "Fuel" in the memo line. Although fuel prices have moderated and winter is yet to arrive -- officially or literally, there are surely colder days ahead, and we want our neighbors to be warm at home!
Our Mitten Tree provides another way for us to serve as "Angels Under the Balcony: and help our neighbors keep warm. Please help decorate the Tree with new, or as-good-as-new, gloves, scarves, hats and/or coats. The first "decorations" last Sunday prompt a big smile and chuckle with their whimsey and joy. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and care already on display! The Mitten Tree will remain up through Sunday, January 3; your gifts will go to the Guilford Food Bank for distribution.
The topics of Angels-Under-the-Balcony and Miss Julia, inspire me to remind you of two of her other good works. The Rector's Discretionary Fund still receives the income on a $1,000 note that she gave. That income, plus honoraria from officiating at special services, allows me to respond in the name of Christ Church to needs and opportunities beyond the parish budget, including help with rent, utilities, and other pastoral emergencies, and to offer gifts in gratitude to parish volunteers and staff. Although this Fund is audited, the recipients remain confidential.
Miss Julia also gave the Rectors of Christ Church the wherewithal to assist folks who need help with expenses at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She did this by donating her "Bed Fund" to the care of Christ Church clergy. To capitalize the hospital, people purchased the right to a bed (sort of like buying a timeshare); purchasers often entrusted the rights to these Bed Funds to their parish clergy in their estates. Some parishes have many such funds; some have none; Christ Church has Miss Julia's. So, because of her generosity, I am the latest rector who is able to "nominate" individuals to benefit from MIss Julia's Bed Fund. When I don't have a nominee, an Ecumenical Bed Fund Committee, of which I am a member, approves nominations made by the hospital itself.
Other Advent preparations continue this Saturday & Sunday:
By definition Advent is a season of preparation: We are preparing the way for the birth of God's love, and keenly mindful of all of God's gifts to us. God's generosity inspires our own giving. Your generous response will help your parish continue to serve as a beacon for the light of Christ to us, and to the world around us. In the words of this Sunday's Collect, may the process of making your pledge for 2016 be part of your Advent so "...that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself."
Miss Julia would expect, and do, no less!
In faith and hope,
P.S. A December/January issue of "Glad Tidings Online," is now available. In it you'll find information about our Daytime and Evening ECWs, Reports on our diocesan convention from our delegates Jean Valentine and Caroline Herrick, and terrific photos of acolytes at "work."
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!