As we have been blessed, so we are called to be blessings – living and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ through our witness, our words and our works. Giving of our financial resources is an important step in the life of faith. There is no underestimating the impact individuals and communities can make when moving toward a common goal.
Harvard Avenue Christian Church is a church constantly in formation, both in lives changed and spirits nurtured, and in building transformed and ministries fulfilled. In the midst of it all, our commitment to building relationships with God, one another, and the community we serve will continue to grow.
As part of life at Harvard Avenue, consider how you will respond to the love of God in your life and in the world, and how you will commit to this spiritual life and ministry we share.
Stewardship 2019: OPEN MIC
Our current stewardship emphasis,
supports our daily, ongoing ministries for the 2019 calendar and fiscal year. You can make your 2019 pledge here.
There is a substantial and convincing amount of research documenting the benefits of gratitude, many of which are health-related. Gratitude improves physical and psychological health, reduces stress and improves responses to it, and grateful people sleep better and longer. The healthiest, happiest, longest-lived people in the world express gratitude as part of their daily lives. Belonging to a faith-based community and having a strong sense of purpose are common characteristics of healthy longevity.
Our faith-based community at Harvard Avenue Christian Church is a gift. A gift that requires care and nourishment. Our sense of purpose should be to provide both: by showing gratitude through our gifts of time, talent, and treasure. So the mic is open and the floor is yours. Give thought to what you will say and do. How will you express your gratitude?
. OPEN MIC .
thoughts from the Harvard Avenue family
Like a jolt of electricity, it hit me this past Sunday while I was stubbornly not clapping when Mark opened his sermon with “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I suddenly realized, right down to my toes, that I would not have be doing what I do at Phillips Theological Seminary were it not for Harvard Avenue Christian Church. I wouldn’t even be working in Tulsa!
Years ago, long before Don and I arrived and when the seminary was separated from Phillips University, the people of Harvard Avenue, among many wonderful Christians in Tulsa, supported the journey of the school from Enid to Tulsa. And then they moved heaven and earth to help the seminary make a home here. You wouldn’t believe how many of our people served on the board, worked on the faculty and staff, scrounged furnishings, attended dinners and golf tournaments, repaired buildings, hosted students, and gave generously—all to help Phillips educate ministers for our churches, our agencies, our non-profit ministries. I can’t even start naming every HACC member involved in that work because I would forget or not even know someone’s rich, sacrificial, faith-filled contribution to our mission.
How could I not be grateful for our faith community? Thanks to us—I get to do what I love doing and get paid for it. Thanks to us—I get to participate in training Christian leaders for this century. Thanks to us—I get to be a part of speaking gospel love and gospel justice to a city and a state and a nation that needs these words and deeds. And thanks to God for opening up this congregation to such ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.
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After one visit to Harvard Avenue Christian Church I raced home gushing, “I’ve found our peeps!” The next Sunday, Jim visited and immediately agreed. At long last, thanks to Tom and Pat Maxwell’s invitation, we’d found our church! A touching handwritten note from amazing Mark Briley midweek confirmed it. Search over, we were home.
What made this church so special? What slapped us in the face and said, “Wake up…this is it!” In a nutshell, Harvard Avenue Christian Church was and is ALIVE!
It’s alive with joyful participation in everything Christ and church, no matter what age. It’s alive with a genuine respect and caring for each other that goes above and beyond the norm, no matter what the personal differences. It’s alive with a thirst for knowledge and involvement in community affairs, no matter what background. All this is lived with smiling gregarious fun. What’s not to love?!
That was seven years ago and we continue to marvel at the ways our exceptional church family has changed our lives. We’re more involved in church than we’ve ever been: outreach service, church exercise groups, ladies breakfast, men’s groups, book club, Grimes and Key Elementary mentoring … the list goes on. Our excellent leadership defies description. Mark, Courtney, Kevin, Kelly, Isaac, Andrew, Ashley, Susie, Darlene, and Colt are unparalleled. The same goes for Christy, our office everything, and Nedean, our money mama, and many more who contribute to upkeep and maintenance. All exceptional folks. Gifts from God.
Sitting Bull reportedly said of the white man, not long before US soldiers killed him and his people for open defiance of the Dawes Act: ‘We may never see eye to eye. Your people value a man for what he owns. We value a man for what he gives away.’
Sitting Bull would have loved the giving folks at HACC. We support church, the family that changes lives and sustains us through joys and troubles. We come together and faithfully pledge our tithes and offerings. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the means to give back in gratitude of blessings received .. and I’m thankful for diversity. We learn and grow from family because of all of its diverse and wonderful parts.
Years ago “stewardship” was considered keeping the lights on, maintaining the church, keeping good pastors, and yes, even welcoming new members. The rest of what now is considered ‘good stewardship’ was all about the duties of membership: attending worship, Sunday school, Bible study, and helping our community.
When we lived in Europe in the mid 1980s, we were fascinated by the growth of so many towns and villages. No matter the size, in the center of each village, town, or city, there stood an architectural treasure of a church. Small or large they were beautifully hand-built works of art. Even in the 80s, most of these village center churches had morphed from being the town’s foundational epicenter into something more like a historical point of interest on a tourist map. They were still lovingly cared for, but inactive except for an occasional single Sunday morning worship service.
This summer while visiting our family lake house in Michigan, we found ourselves again in the small town of New Buffalo, Michigan. This was the place to restock on groceries and dine out closest to home. New Buffalo is an old town just over the Michigan/Indiana border. Again, in the center of this town stood a beautiful little farm community church with white siding and a lovely understated entry, steeple, and bell tower just perfectly appropriate for the community. This year, we noticed much work being done on the church. We commented how nice it was that it was being kept up. Soon we also noticed new lettering being placed over the front door. We watched while the letters went up, B-R-E-W-E-R-Y. Yes, the beautiful town center church was becoming a brewery. We were comforted that at least fellowship would continue in this place, once God’s house; but would God be remembered, talked about, prayed to, or even acknowledged? So, on the one hand, this building was now again being cared for, but it’s unlikely that in a generation or less, it would ever be remembered as the town’s epicenter and foundation.
Without trying to surmise what happened to this little church or all the village center churches in Europe at which we marveled, it does whisper to us about this notion of stewardship. It is truly keeping the lights on, but perhaps more importantly, it is keeping the Spirit on. This is something HACC does so well. We welcome, nurture, educate, and support our members and our community, and this work transcends our building. So, yes, lets keep the lights on, but let’s keep the Spirit inspiring and lighting our way too.
Clean drinking water. The first sign of spring. Homemade ice cream. When we were just ‘regular visitors’ at Harvard Avenue, Barbara Crider for taking the time to mail a card saying she missed seeing our baby in the nursery after we were gone two weeks in a row. Sunsets at the beach: God’s majestic works at their finest. Elders who are brave enough to step up and speak before the congregation each week during service – bless them for public speaking! Bob and Sue Flint who welcomed us to their home for a ‘Be Here’ event and followed with a fresh batch of amazing molasses cookies and sharing their treasured family recipe.
All things – and people – I am grateful for!
During this time of stewardship, two things come to mind:
Oprah’s push a few years ago for people to keep a gratitude journal – maybe nothing fancier than my list above. I encourage you to consider jotting down your list every day during this year’s stewardship emphasis. An Open Mic, on gratitude: What will you say?
The other cornerstone piece that is top of mind is gratitude for my parents and the many others who taught me, often through example, that ‘it is better to give than receive’. We always say in bedtime prayers with our little one that we are ‘blessed beyond measure’ … and it’s true. I admire so many at our church from a distance, where you see their fingerprints impacting our community through gifts of time, talent and treasure. Let us all count our blessings, and give good measure to the ways we can support Harvard Avenue Christian Church in the coming year.
Family. This has always been a very important value in my life, but especially in the last two months, family seems to be one of the words that means the most to me. As a new member of the Kansas State family, I hear this word, family, almost every day. The Wildcat Family. As I heard this word over and over again, I began to realize what family has always meant to me.
Family is a sense of belonging; a group of people that knows you inside and out. But even more than that, family is a supportive, caring, unshackled love that permeates every part of you. The importance of family is why I chose Kansas State. I feel like I belong every time I set foot on campus.
The moment I first walked in the doors of Harvard Avenue, I felt at home. I felt welcomed, I felt supported, I felt loved. Every family relies on each individual to share their gifts to help the family continue to grow and make an impact on their community.
Harvard Avenue is unrelenting in its work to impact our community, as our recent partnership with Family Promise exemplified. Mobilized by God’s grace, we are a family, sharing our gifts, so that God’s love may grow in us and be planted in the hearts of those we impact.
“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
My granddaughter, 5-month old Bailey, is lolling on the lap of her great-grandmother, Evelyn Hunter, as I write this in Indianapolis. I can hear Bailey chattering up at her and Eve laughing down into her beautiful baby face. Bailey’s parents are out doing the work of God in the world while we spend this precious day with this child before heading home to Oklahoma.
Grateful, I pray, as I watch the two of them. Grateful for lives lived well and generously. Grateful for a new life with all its possibility. Grateful for the strength of a family that has passed faith in Jesus Christ from generation to generation. Grateful for a church that supports us in our commitment to follow Jesus in the details of family living and in the complexities of our social arena. Grateful for friends who share our joy and our pain, our anxieties and our celebrations and lift them in prayers of concern and prayers of gratitude to God.
Grateful for Harvard Avenue Christian Church. So grateful that I keep wondering how best to respond to all the gifts God has given us. I’m keeping the question open so that when the time comes, I can answer with the same gratitude I’m feeling right now.