Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Brand and Package: a Stewardship Discussion


It may seem strange to see marketing terms used when talking about Stewardship in the Church, but they can actually be useful when discussing who you are as a parish, and how you present yourself to the world and potential members.   
St. John’s is a unique place.  In Metro Detroit there is no other church, Episcopal or otherwise, that is like St. John’s.  There are certainly parishes in other major cities much like St. John’s, with similar attributes.  But in our area there is no other place with this package.
Individuals are generally drawn to one or more aspect of this package, but all play a part in defining and strengthening the brand.  To diminish or change a portion of what we do here is the endanger damaging the brand, and its attraction to the whole.  For example, when Coca-Cola changed the recipe for is successful product, they damaged its brand for several years.  This is not to say that we can’t be looking to make improvements.  All must be done with an eye to the greater whole of who we are and what we do.
            What are some of the portions of our brand that make up the package here at St. John’s?
1)      Traditional Anglican Faith – No deviations theologically to the faith as the Anglican Communion has received it from the witness of Scripture, and the traditions and ministry received from the Apostles.
2)      Traditional Worship/Liturgy – Based on that traditional faith as codified in the Book of Common Prayer from 1549 to 1928.  The form for ceremonial was restored in the Anglican Communion by those involved in the Oxford Movement of the mid - 19th century, of which St. John’s was an early proponent.
3)      World Class Music – St. Augustine said that “He who sings prays twice”.   Music has been a vital aspect of the worship in the Anglican Communion, and especially so here at St. John’s.  Our English choral tradition lifts the heart, promotes right belief, complements our Prayer Book worship, and edifies the faithful in ways that are deeper than words can express.
4)    Biblically sound and inspiring preaching and teaching – The clergy strive to make the Word of God relevant and challenging so that the faithful can be both comforted in His Holy Word, and challenged to grow in greater holiness.
5)      Remarkable Building – For over 150 years these grand buildings have stood on this corner of Woodward Ave as a witness to the strength of the Gospel, and its architecture inspires one to worship God Almighty in the beauty of holiness.  In addition to aiding in worship, our facilities are used for education, social gatherings, and they host a variety of parish ministries and community groups. 
6)      Our downtown urban location – Although some think is a disadvantage, we embrace being centrally located among the sport stadiums and theatres, near major highways, and easily accessible for those who travel from as far away as Ann Arbor, Algonac, and South Lyon on a regular basis.  The neighborhood also continues to see new and renovated housing and loft apartments which attract people to move into the neighborhood surrounding St. John’s
7)     Warm, welcoming, and encouraging fellowship – Many people have said that as much as they like a combination of the first 6 items listed, it is this seventh one that brings it all together and keeps them coming back to St. John’s.   At Coffee Hour or Potluck luncheon after worship on Sunday, at various Social Fellowship Outings, or in one another’s homes, we come to know one another and care for each other.  This strengthens our bonds to each other, and to the parish, through the common denominator of our faith in Jesus Christ.

What are the things you like best about St. John’s?  Two, three or four of the items may jump out at you as your favorites.  Another one or two you may find you don’t take advantage of, or perhaps you are not too interested in.  And there may even be an item or two that doesn’t strike your fancy at all.   If you put together even a small group of parishioners I am sure you will find all parts of the package covered in a ‘favorites’ column. 
So what does this have to do with Stewardship?  With the exception of numbers 6 & 7 (neighborhood and fellowship), all of these items are covered by the parish budget.  It is the responsibility of the Vestry to allocate funding for these various items so that they are supported, encouraged, and kept in good repair to the Greater Glory of God and proper packaging of the brand. 
The substantial part of the funding comes from YOUR PLEDGE AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT of St. John’s Church.  What is St. John’s worth to you?  Are you willing to support her? 

As we spend time in October discussing Stewardship, know that the Vestry works hard to ensure that what we are doing today is to the greater glory of God now AND will also be here, God willing, in future years and decades.  Your generous support of this ministry not only ensures we will be here on Sunday and available during the week, but also for future generations, that they may be led into all truth and to know Him through the ministries and worship that we hold so dear.