We are a community of people who yearn to receive more and more of what God gives, believing this provides us with what we need and cannot give to ourselves.
St. Philip’s strives to be a Christian congregation, committed to showing up in order that we may remember what it means and what it takes to be God’s people. Rooted in this faithfulness, we work together to honor and support one another, staying open and grateful for what lies ahead in the life of our community
Since 1871, St. Philip’s has been a place where people have been invited, welcomed, and shaped into being followers of Jesus who believe that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27. Our congregation consists of people who were “born into” the Episcopal Church, people new to Christianity and people in between. Our youngest member is a toddler and our oldest is over 90 years old.
SHARING GOD'S GIFTS
A CANVASS MINUTE FROM MARY BIANCA
I have been a member of St. Philips for about 9 yrs now. I was brought up Roman Catholic and my husband Joe and I raised our 3 children in the Roman Catholic church. When our children were growing up, I was involved in teaching Sunday school, and through our parish and my work as a visiting nurse, was involved with the Loaves and Fishes program, volunteering to deliver meals on Thanksgiving and participating in providing meals at the Shelter. During those years, things were very stable, predictable, and rather comfortable in my spiritual life.
Then several changes came our way. The children grew up and moved out. We were empty nesters! At this time, we also faced unemployment issues along with some other issues. As a result, we made several moves in a short number of years. The final move brought us to Southampton. I personally had gone through some spiritual ‘questioning.’ I had become disillusioned. I stopped attending church regularly. When Joe and I moved to Southampton, I decided to try again. I was searching for something, but I had no idea what. We attended several of the Catholic churches in the area. At the time there were 3 Catholic churches in Easthampton and several in Westfield. I call this our “anonymity phase”. We arrived to church late and left early, no one knew, no one cared. We had driven past St. Philip’s many times, and both Joe and I asked. ”What is an Episcopalian? and Maybe we should find out someday”. Several more months went by and one fateful Sunday in December it had snowed several inches the night before and we were not able to get out of our driveway to the early Mass. St. Philip’s had a worship service at 10 o’clock. When we arrived, we were greeted by a lovely woman, Chris Sanborn. The next week we came back.
We have a granddaughter who has special needs. When she was younger, she was prone to outbursts. We had taken her to several of the same churches we attended, but such outbursts were not tolerated well and we were told that ‘there was a little room in the back of the church for children who were distressed’. After finding St. Philip’s, we told our daughter that we think we have found a church. She and the children soon began to attend St. Philip’s and the people of the parish were very welcoming. No one gave us ‘the look’ when Moira had an outburst. Soon after, I became involved in Sunday school. Joe and I became ushers and have participated in numerous activities at St. Philips through the years. We have been volunteering at the Easthampton Community Center for the past 5 yrs and the last 2yrs with the Pioneer Valley Power Packs.
When we began attending St. Philip’s, we met with the Priest, who was here at the time, to learn what an Episcopalian was. She stated that the Episcopal Church was based on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Perhaps it was the ‘Reason’ I was looking for.
I would not be truthful if I said that I never become disillusioned, but my faith in God and human kindness is stronger because of St. Philip’s. I have not only found a community of worship, I have found a wonderful community of good friends. What would I do if St. Philip’s were not here? I guess I would return to anonymity, but as Bonnie said last week “I didn’t get here alone”.
A CANVASS MINUTE FROM DEBORAH MURRAY HRUBESH
On Christmas Day this year, I will have been coming to St. Philip’s for five years.
It is an honour to have been asked to speak with all of you today about my experience at St. Philip’s with sharing and receiving God’s gifts.
To begin, I would like to share a Lillian Smith quote that I feel best encapsulates my experience at St. Philip’s.
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far, unless as it extends into the world around us, it extends an equal distance into the world within.”
When I wandered into this church that bright beautiful Christmas morning, I really did not fully comprehend what was in store for me, but I knew from my lapsed worship that I had a deep need and that something very important was missing from my life. Despite the admonitions from the erudite priest “that beatings would continue until morale improves.” always said with a mischievous grin and laughter from the pews.
One of the important lessons I have learned and find that our church exemplifies is that…
God gives us what we need and cannot provide for ourselves.
We receive the gift.
We say “thank you” for the gift.
And we share the gift!
So, during my time at St. Philip’s what are the gifts I have received?
A warm, open, authentic, and caring community.
Somewhere I feel safe to speak my truth.
Education and how to understand scripture.
To pray and also be prayed for.
In the simplest of terms that St. Philip’s walks the walk and talks the talk in our missions.
I say “thank you” for these gifts every day and have learned to share the gift by giving of my resources…time, talent, and treasure.
I serve on Altar Guild.
I am on Vestry.
I am on the Communications Committee and especially focus on growing our social media through Facebook, which you heard about last week during our Quarterly Meeting.
I am part of the All 4 Her Consignment Sale Team.
I am a lector.
Just recently, I requested and received the Card Ministry.
And not this week but next, I will be giving Mary Bianca a call to request if I can help pack the PVPP bags on Wednesday evenings.
I delight in ALL these activities.
And, there is never a lack of good examples to follow in the steps of.
These activities nurture and fulfill my call to purpose and have definitely extended me into the world around me as well as an equal distance into my inner world.
And for that, there is not enough gratitude.
A CANVASS MINUTE FROM BONNIE KATUSICH
“Sharing God’s Gifts’ is our Canvas theme this year. What have I been given that I am not able to provide for myself, and how has that affected my life? Well, I am certainly a late bloomer. I was fortunate growing up and in my young adult life – or maybe I was oblivious, but life was easy. Marriage and children tend to spice things up a bit, and I was married, had two children, was divorced, remarried, and co-parented the raising of four children. While working full time. Still, it was easy. Then at home there was some trauma. And then my Dad was dying. And what was relatively an emotionally peaceful life wasn’t any longer.
We tend to think we can get through tough times on our own. And maybe we can – just grin and bear it, right? Keeping our ghosts locked tight in the closet is the only way, right?? I don’t think I can quite pin down when I was given the gifts I needed to get through those difficult times or the times since then, but as I’ve grown, I can look back and see clearly God’s work in my life. Little things I never noticed in the past now make me stop in my tracks and experience the joy of clear sight – from those little ‘things’ come great perspective. And from those reminders come retrospective clarity. It wasn’t until I began paying attention – paying attention to the words we hear every Sunday; participating in studying those words and stories and reminders I’ve heard over and again, that I was able to make real sense of my own story.
What have I been given? Grace. Mercy. Compassion. Love. Steadfastness. How has it affected my
life? Not only can I handle the stresses of life much more easily, but I can walk with others and do,
through their struggles. I do this through my pastoral commitments in and outside of our St. Philip’s
community. I walk with a different pace; I walk with gratitude. And while this may not sound like it
would influence my gifts of treasure – my pledge, it sure does. I want to give – I have proof – reminders -
of God’s steady provision throughout my life. I didn’t get here on my own. And it is in deep gratitude
and with joy that I give back through my pledge. Thank you.