“As Any Had Need”: The Rector’s Discretionary Fund

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” — Acts 2:44-45

The feast of Pentecost is almost upon us, coming early this year on May 19. It is a special day in the life of the church that commemorates a moment when the Holy Spirit was experienced among the people of God as a source of great power for ministry and the spread of God’s good news of liberation for the world.

In the Acts of the Apostles there is story after story about how this early community of the church lived in ways of radical solidarity with one another, binding together as followers of the way of Jesus in communities that were manifesting an alternative economy from the economics of exploitation, conquest, and extraction. In chapter 2 we hear how the new church banded together, holding all things in common, selling their possessions so as to have money to distribute “to all as any had need”!

In our world today the economics of exploitation, conquest, and extraction still hold sway. Call it globalism, capitalism, free market, or survival of the fittest, these ways of being connected by money and possession are still normative some thousands of years later. But, the church has not lost this calling to be an alternative household, community, and economic reality. When folks join a church, one way they manifest that sense of belonging and mutual interdependence in Christian community, is through giving of their finances into a collective and communal fund. We pledge, together, our dollars and cents to see to the furthering of our common mission and ministry. And, then in addition to this, throughout a given year, we also give extra funds out of our income and within our ability, to the additional needs of the community. Offerings like the Mustard Seeds extend our ministry beyond what we had initially planned, sending help and aid to organizations beyond St. John’s or to the already abundant work happening in our FIA ministries. 

On top of all of this are the small gifts (when I was a little kid, our pastor called these the offerings that jingle), the extra coins and cash in our pocket, when the plate is passed on a given Sunday. This loose plate offering, made at the 8am service every week, is added to something called the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, a pot of money specifically set aside for the clergy to be able to respond both to parishioners and those in the wider community, who come to the church from time to time, in one kind of fiscal need or another.

Sometimes the discretionary fund goes to help a person get back on their feet after getting downsized, or in the midst of a divorce where two incomes are reduced to one, or in the midst of a life-changing illness. So often the programs, safety nets, and systems in place in our city, our state, and our country, just aren’t enough to help a person in need. And it is in spaces and places like this that our church has a little extra to distribute, to all, as any has need.

At present, the need is greater than the capacity of this fund to keep up. In the midst of economic uncertainty, the ups and downs of a world tossed about by the forces of globalism, greed, and a disregard for the poor, I hope you’ll take a moment to prayerfully consider this central and defining hallmark of Christian community, to give to a common fund that supports all as any have need. Your gift, joining with many others, helps us feed the hungry, stretch the budget of the single mother, fill the tank of the unhoused vet who drops in, and tide your fellow parishioner over between jobs as they seek to once again be gainfully employed. 

The Mustard Seed collection at both services on Sunday, May 12, will go to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund.

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