One Body in Christ

There is one Body and one Spirit;
There is one hope in God’s call to us;
One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;
One God and Father of all.

It may be in our baptismal liturgy that we are most reminded that we are one body in Christ. And it may be in that same liturgy that we are most reminded of our particular Episcopal ecclesiology; that is, our way of being church. There is one body. When we look at the Diocese of Western North Carolina of which we are part, we see that we at Good Shepherd are part of one body spread across twenty eight counties, gathered in sixty three worshiping communities and six summer chapels. We own two conference centers; one at Lake Logan and another at Valle Crucis. The body also contains the Deerfield Retirement Community and Christ School. Though in many locations, we are one body guided by one Spirit under one God and Father. Bishop Taylor reminded us of this oneness at the recently concluded 94th Annual Convention of our diocese. The context of his comments was the diocesan budget and giving to the mission of The Episcopal Church, that body of one hundred and nine dioceses spread across several nations and continents. He reminded us that the thirteen percent of the diocesan budget designated to the National Church for 2016 was not something given to “them.” We are “them.” There is one body and one Spirit.

With that in mind, here is some of the good news from our 2016 diocesan budget. Pledged income is up $52,000 and total income is up $80,000. Total income for the diocese is projected at around $1.7 million. Our children and youth, those from Murphy to Gastonia, from Boone to Saluda, will benefit from a $10,000 increase in funding to Camp Henry. Our Campus and Youth Ministries combined will receive over $230,000 in 2016. We will spend over $54,000 on Justice and Outreach with $30,000 committed to New Mission Initiatives. In other funding, Kairos West, a community organizing initiative in West Asheville will receive $20,000 while our ministries for Congregational Vitality and Support for Small Parishes will receive $44,000 and $40,000 respectively. Church of the Advocate, part of our ministry to the homeless will receive over $21,000 in 2016. Lastly, I note that our Hispanic Mission will be funded at almost $200,000 which is an increase of $65,000 and now supports two full-time priests serving the growing Latino/a population in our diocese. As you can see, we are dedicated to supporting both the future of the church and those less fortunate while also supporting new mission initiatives. All of this is our work. There is one body and one Spirit and we support the mission of our diocese by a 10% pledge of our income. This is not money we could have used for ourselves but money that is being used for ourselves.

The same spirit of oneness should be the spirit found in our giving to Good Shepherd. Our budget includes expenses for personnel and administrative costs, buildings and utilities and supplies, the mortgage and insurance, and funds our many ministries including outreach and children, healing and pastoral care, adult formation and parish life, worship and music, and more. This budget belongs to all of us, serves all of us, and requires contributions from all of us.

Grace and peace,
Fr Bill+