The following is the text of a talk given by Chris Odom, Senior Warden, during the Sunday, September 15th service at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Good morning!  My name is Chris Odom and I’m the Senior Warden at Saint Peter’s.

I have to say that when I learned about this year’s stewardship campaign theme, I was pretty excited.  It should come as no surprise to any of you, but I’m a child of the 80s which was, among other things, the decade of sequels so I can easily relate to “Stella 2:  Give Harder.  Do Harder.”

I was also a huge Star Wars fan and in 1980 the Empire Strikes Back was the first sequel I ever saw.  For those who haven’t seen the movie:  1) shame on you and 2) spoiler alert…the pivotal moment at the end of the film is when Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke Skywalker’s father.  I’m sorry, what??  I remember walking out of the theater wondering how I was going to be able to make it through an excruciatingly long 3 years before I could find out the rest of the story!

Waiting a long time to find out how a story ends isn’t really so much the case anymore, now that we can binge watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix, or watch Ken Burns documentaries on PBS six nights straight, or browse through thousands of titles (including sequels) online.  The same is true here at Saint Peter’s, which is why our stewardship theme this year is so perfect.

Unlike some campaigns of the past, we don’t have to wait years to see the fruits of our gifts to Saint Peter’s blossom.  In fact, our pledges to Saint Peter’s in 2019 have already made a huge difference in allowing us to better care for our physical space, start new ministries that offer sanctuary to those in our community, and expand our staffing to accommodate our growing congregation.

I’m nearing the end of my second go-round of serving on the Vestry and it makes me tremendously proud and excited to see where this church is and where it’s going.  Our finances are looking better than I’ve ever seen them.  We even have a modest Building Reserve Fund which is something long overdue for our church.  We’ve been able to launch a commitment to be better stewards of our resources and the environment with LED and motion-sensor lighting through the campus, including some amazing outdoor lighting.  Very soon our parking lot is going to get a much-needed overhaul so we don’t have to worry about tripping or losing a tire to a pothole.  All of these things and so much more are because of you, me, us…our family!

Why do I pledge to Saint Peter’s?  The answer is two-fold.  Simply put, I pledge because I am excited about the momentum happening here and by pledging, I give the Vestry, the Finance Committee, and the staff the commitment and information they need to make solid plans for the next year.  The complex answer is much deeper.  I pledge because you are my family.  There is a spirit, an energy moving and building within our family and I want to help support that.

I want to support Marilyn Rishkofski and the SPARC ministry in their efforts to create an intentional community space where the intersection of the arts and faith are celebrated.  I want to support the Rev. Peggy Cromwell as she becomes the associate priest our family has needed for so long.  I want to support Brett Hardison and John Churchwell as they work together to improve and maintain this beautiful space.  I want to support Patty Oeste as she works musical magic here every week.  I want to support Heidi Mackey, Kelly Jeffus, and our youth who are the future of this church.  The list is truly endless!

Pledging allows me to directly support my family.  Selfishly, I get a kick out of knowing that my pledge helps all these things grow in some way.  I sometimes look around the church and think, “Wow…I helped with that!”  Maybe I didn’t patch the parking lot pothole myself, but my pledge helped get a little bit of that asphalt.

Guess what the really cool thing is?  Each of you can experience this same selfish feeling too!  All it takes is a pledge.  No matter the size, your pledge can and will make a difference.  Your pledge will help support your church family.  Your pledge will continue the momentum that is building at Saint Peter’s.

If you haven’t already sent in a pledge, I encourage you this week when you find yourself binging on Netflix, or reading book 2 of the Game of Thrones series, or just when you have a moment to yourself, prayerfully and spiritually consider a pledge to Saint Peter’s in 2020.  Take the time to fill out a pledge card or go online to let the office know your decision.  And then in 2020, find me and let me know when you have your own “Wow…I helped with that!” moment.