Dear Members and Friends of Augustana:
As the Augustana community works on our plans for ministry at Augustana in 2019, we also need to think about our personal financial engagement in that ministry. Practically speaking, we need to estimate our income for budget purposes, but just as importantly, this is a time for us to reflect on our church, its meaning and importance – for us, for our neighbors and community.
Our stewardship theme this year – Deepening Roots, Growing Branches, Bearing Fruit – offers us an opportunity for that reflection.
The strength of a tree relies on a healthy root system – securing the tree against storms and enriching the tree with water and nourishment. At Augustana, our roots include our heritage, the communion of saints that have gone before us. Our root system isn’t just historical, though – it’s the people of Augustana here and now.
Our roots include a committed and energized community that serves in so many ways – worship leadership, education, social justice, advocacy, events, and serving those in need.
Events are one aspect of that exciting engagement. In the past year, Augustana members have organized creative and ambitious events. From our beer pairing in early June to the flea market of late August, from acting as a performance space for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and opening our spaces for Open House Chicago, these events have shown some of the wonderful assets that our church and congregation members have to offer the broader community.
While challenges lie ahead, we turn now in hope and faithfulness to what the future holds for the Augustana community—the ways in which this community will continue to reflect the light and love of Jesus into Hyde Park and beyond.
Our deepening roots enable our tree to spread and grow its branches. For Augustana, that means an emphasis on high-quality and meaningful worship, coming together as a community and deepening our individual spirituality. On regular Sundays and on festival days, worship is at the core of our community and it is around the Lord’s Table that we gather.
Growing branches also means building on our strong programs – confirmation, Sunday School, adult education – as well as new initiatives like our summer Peace Camp. It includes our partnerships in the community, for social justice and community action.
Augustana’s branches also includes our transitional nature – in our neighborhood, we are constantly saying godspeed to folks ending their time in Hyde Park and who, strengthened by their time at Augustana, go to serve the church and their new congregations. This has been and remains a core part of Augustana’s identity. Some of our members call Augustana a permanent home, while it is one (too brief) stop along a journey for others. In either case our members grow, together, in fellowship.
Augustana’s sharing of space is another example of growing our branches and provides a great resource for a neighborhood where many fine groups seek occasional meeting spaces or are priced out of traditional rental arrangements. For example, Hyde Park Village, led by member Gary Worcester, enables older people to stay safely in their homes with the support of friends in the Village, while the Hyde Park Refugee Project, led by member Dorothy Pytel, offers support to refugees fleeing violence and helps them to thrive in our neighborhood. Groups either occasionally meeting or permanently housed in Augustana offer personal and spiritual growth for so many.
Augustana continues bearing God’s fruit here in Hyde Park: fostering peace and justice in our community, deepening spirituality, and bringing the Kingdom of God to a world in need. The message of God’s unconditional grace, free for those who come forward to take it, is a precious balm. In a world so taken by hatred and division, God’s command to love our neighbors without reservation or restraint, heard loud and clear from Augustana’s sanctuary, is as relevant today as ever.
So the season begins in which we reflect on our giving, financially and in other forms, to Augustana. As we consider our pledges for next year, let us reflect on the role that Augustana plays in our lives, and in the lives of the many more touched by Augustana in Hyde Park and beyond.
The Augustana Stewardship Committee
Max Kellogg, Carol Albright, Carolyn Lawrence, Jim Vondracek and Celeste Garrett