Trinity Wall Street's annual stewardship campaign recently got some help from Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for the Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Suarez was the guest preacher at the downtown Manhattan church on Oct. 25, and spoke at the parish's campaign kick-off following the service.
An active Episcopalian, Suarez noted that, while Jesus was not afraid to talk about our relationship to money, Episcopalians notoriously are. "We do it reluctantly, apologetically, politely," Suarez said.
"That arm's length relationship to money ... hasn't been effective enough to create in us a spirit of sacrificial giving," he continued. "Do we look like a people that says, not as a boast but as joyous reassurance, 'The Lord has done great things for us?'"
Suarez also addressed the ongoing economic crisis. Acknowledging that Trinity Wall Street is an endowed institution, Suarez said that in the past year even endowed parishes are dealing with the consequences of the economic crisis. "The church is calling you in this perilous age to embrace the idea of stewardship writ large."
The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, rector of Trinity Wall Street, talked about some of those challenges in his remarks during the parish's stewardship brunch, particularly the June 2009 closing of John Heuss House, the homeless drop-in shelter founded by Trinity 20 years ago. The shelter closed due to changes in city funding policy.
"As a church, we are discerning what gifts we have," Cooper said. "We are stewards of the gospel, the church, humanity."
After the service, Congregational Council President Emory Edwards shared his perspective as a Trinity Wall Street parishioner.
"We're trying to do something big at Trinity Wall Street," he said. "We see people in need, and we respond to that need. All our gifts are sorely needed and valued.
Or, as Suarez put it, "All you have is gift. The question now is, what will you do with your share?"
A video of Suarez's address is available here.