I am looking forward to being with all of you here at Transfiguration this coming weekend! Last weekend, with First Informed Communion and Baptisms, our attendance was phenomenal. All three services were full, the music was joyous, and our Fig Family felt as though it had been re-membered, just as Mother Erin described in her sermon. This weekend, I need a favor from you: come back, fill our pews again, and join your voice to ours as we praise God and break bread!
That’s not the only favor I need from you. If you are not actively involved in ministry and fellowship with us, I need you to reach out to Gabby Guion, our Minister for Congregation Life, or to Fr. Ted or me. Transfiguration is blessed with many ministry groups – from the Bookstore to the Clothes Horse, from the Food Pantry to Austin Street Center, from Altar Guild and Acolytes to Lectors and Sound Technicians, from Greeters to Ushers. These ministries serve our Fig Family and our community, and all of them are seeking new members. What’s more, we have numerous fellowship groups who are emerging from pandemic seclusion. Open Door, St. Elizabeth’s, Episcopal Men’s Fellowship, Foyer Groups, book clubs, prayer circles, and more are all meeting in person again. So, if you’re not actively involved in ministry and fellowship here, I need to ask you to get involved. Transfiguration needs you to get involved!
While I’m asking for favors, let’s talk about stewardship. So far, we’ve received commitments totaling $1.3 million, which means that our budget for next year is 65% funded. Heartfelt thanks to each of you who has pledged already. If you have not yet pledged to support Transfiguration financially in 2023, would you please come this weekend and make your pledge?
I know I’m asking a lot of you, but I’m on a favor-seeking roll. Would you please join me in praying for Fr. Casey and his family. They will soon embark on the last leg of his sabbatical. They’ll be travelling to Costa Rica where they hope to see up to four species of sea turtles nesting along the coastline. Let’s pray together for travelling mercies, days filled with sunshine, and lots and lots of turtle sightings.
Friends, these are the sorts of favors that clergy and staff here at Transfiguration regularly seek of our members. Unfortunately, Internet scammers seeking to capitalize on our relationships and your generosity regularly create fake email addresses that look uncannily like our email addresses. They use these illicit accounts to contact our members, pretending to be us, and asking for favors. Sometimes they ask you for gift cards. Other times they ask you to email them back before they share what they need.
Please know that your clergy and staff will never email you asking for a personal financial favor. When the church conducts stewardship campaigns, we do that in person here at the church and through materials we mail to your residence. Occasionally, leaders in our church will make follow-up phone calls, and we will sometimes send follow-up mailings. We do not solicit gift cards from our members. We do not ask members to wire money to us. We do not ask our members to “email us back so that we can discuss a favor” with them. Even if a member of the staff, including clergy, finds her or himself in dire financial need, it is unethical for us to solicit support from our members. We will never do this. Thus, any message you receive that requests a favor from you, especially a financial favor or a reply by email to get more information about the need, is suspicious.
We are also aware that some Internet scammers impersonate us on social media outlets like Facebook. Most recently, people have created fake Facebook profiles and used them to comment on posts made by a member of our staff. In these posts, they tag our friends and ask them things like “Rebecca’s Friend, Would you please add me? I’d like to have a conversation with you.” Please do not ever add someone you do not know as a friend in a social media platform, even if they pretend to be a friend of ours. Doing so allows these hackers to access your friend network and to perpetrate their wrongdoing even further.
So, yes. Your clergy have many favors to ask of you. We ask you to give us the gift of your presence, your voice, your service, and your fellowship. Transfiguration asks you to support us with financial gifts made directly to the church for support of our programs, our capital campaign, and special events in our life together. Each member of the clergy and staff are profoundly grateful for the many ways you respond when we ask you for a favor. Rest assured, we would not abuse your generosity by misusing our relationship for personal gain.
God’s keeping to you, friends. See you this weekend!