Beloved People of St. Martin’s,
From the earliest days of the church, the Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the charitable work of the fellowship of believers. The church took seriously the charge we heard in last week’s reading from Isaiah to care for the widows and the oppressed. Occasions still arise, usually several a month, where I am approached by someone who needs assistance, either in our parish or a stranger. The purpose of my priest’s discretionary fund is to give me the flexibility to provide aid in a helpful way. The requests can range from the simple—needing gasoline—to appealing for help paying medical bills, electricity, or rent. Often just as important as the financial assistance is to listen to people and help them brainstorm if they are in an untenable situation.
I usually don’t hear from strangers again. But last month, I received a beautifully hand-written thank-you note from someone on disability whom we had been able to help through the priest’s discretionary fund. We had talked for a good half hour about all kind of things, which ended up bearing fruit. Given that you all are the ones who make this fund possible, I want to quote part of that note:
“A belated, but sincere, thank you note here, to let you know that I truly appreciate your generosity in helping me with my July rent payment. It was a pleasure meeting you. I have decided to relocate, come hell or high water to the _____ area to be close to family…. Since I met you, I discovered that I qualify for subsidized housing! What a gift! Thank you again for your generosity, St. Martin’s!”
Today, and every third Sunday of the month, is Priest’s Discretionary Fund Sunday. If you are able, I humbly ask you to consider giving a designated gift today and whenever you can to help replenish the fund, which never has a balance much above a few hundred dollars, which can be used very quickly. This small fund can make a big difference in easing anxiety of people in distress, and is at the heart of the church’s mission in the world. Thank you so much for your shared ministry with me in this endeavor.