Each year, the St. Thomas parish family “adopts” the children, youth and seniors of housing communities to help with the spirit of Christmas in our Stockings & Bells Gift Program. This is an opportunity to help make Christmas special for our residents at Thomaston Woods and Thomaston Meadows by providing a gift.
Typically, there is a “Giving Tree” at the top of the stairs by the Parish hall decorated with paper stockings and bells. This year we will have a table with the gift requests displayed in labeled red envelopes beginning November 29. You also have the option to sign up online for a gift request beginning today with our Signup Genius.
Each gift is a maximum of $25. This is a great way for your family to practice outreach and share in the spirit of giving and caring. You can register online or in-person at church by simply selecting an envelope, then write your name and contact info in the Gift Log next to the corresponding recipient’s name (essential!), then have fun shopping and finally return the gift (already wrapped) with the envelope attached to the church by December 13th.
It’s been a while since we have been able to share with you any update as to where we stand with our own operations in the midst of the pandemic.
With this in mind, the Diocese has issued new guidelines that will enable us to resume our ministry. Please take time to watch the Health Update video and carefully read the updates below.
- The Diocese has issued new guidelines that will enable us to resume our ministry within the Level 3 (Red) designation.
- If Hamilton County remains at a Level 3 (Red), we will be able to resume in-person worship, with Holy Communion, for the First Sunday in Advent, November 29, 2020. We will continue to implement our required preventative, health & safety protocols i.e. wearing masks, health checks, reserving your seats, etc.
- The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will remain as our operational criteria (or gating criteria). If Hamilton County is ever designated Level 4 (Purple), we will need to return to the highest degree of protocols, which means a suspension of services for both the parish and school.
- These provisions will be in addition to weekly and special services offered online via our YouTube Channel.
- Home Communion visits will also resume beginning in Advent with special health & safety measures offered.
- Please call the parish office for more information at (513) 831-2052 or email email@example.com
Thank you and God bless you!
I hope all is well and healthy with you and your extended families. Here we are, coming back together after having been apart since March.
First and foremost, on behalf of the Vestry, Thank you! There is so much that each of you have done to help us remain strong even with the difficulties of the pandemic. Amid a time when St. Thomas’ doors have been closed and our church lives completely disrupted, your commitment and support has been extraordinary to meet the challenges and even fulfil our 2020 pledges. Your stewardship has made all the difference! I believe that what we as a congregation have done, with regards to 2020 pledges, shows the extent of the graciousness, generosity, and love that we hold towards our spiritual community of St. Thomas, each other and the outreach mission we continue to support together.
With all the disruption we have experienced in our church lives, and with not everything back to how it used to be, the operation of the church continues. Especially now, our mission is critical: to make God’s love known by who we are, what we practice and how we serve others in Christ’s Name. Our ability to realize our mission has meant adapting, learning, and changing more…and repeating this every week it seems. On top of that, we are not coming back in the usual start of a program year or our own liturgical life that we love so dearly. Still, our mission and the importance of
St. Thomas as a touchstone remains front and center.
The Vestry and Finance Committee continues to work hard to manage expenses in light of all of the work that had to be undertaken to ensure we would be in position to re-open as soon as we were allowed. The extent of deep- cleaning and disinfecting that continues to be undertaken represents a significant increase in staff labor costs. Following the guidelines to resume operations, the church has had to invest in various air purifier systems and ventilation maintenance, as well as additional disinfecting equipment, such as electrostatic sprayers. These are one- time purchases that have been able to be absorbed into the 2020 budget. Labor, however, remains a challenge.
The extent of the incremental labor hours required to allow us to hold our proposed service schedule for this program year is large. The additional hours needed to perform the deep cleaning and disinfecting throughout the church (even aside from St. Thomas Nursery School), between services and during the week has meant an increase the number of hours required for the entire facilities staff and moving one of our staff members to full-time status.
As we now embark upon the 2020-2021 program year, it is time to consider what these extra provisions mean for the 2021 Operating Budget and our Annual Giving Pledge Appeal. The Vestry is asking for your prayerful consideration to increase your family’s pledge by 8%, to help cover these increased expenses. Such an increase, along with the continued efforts to control expenses will help ensure that we can continue to maintain a balanced budget, considering our increased staffing costs.
The importance of Annual Giving Pledges and online giving has been seen even more acutely this year. If you currently do not pledge, we ask you to consider doing so. Having everyone participate by making a pledge means we can more accurately budget our resources and share the work of ministry that much more gracefully. Every dollar is honored, valued, and is carefully spent. St. Thomas continues to grow in numbers and vibrancy because of the generosity and commitment of our congregation with our time, talent as well as treasure shared.
As you know, my past custom has always been to talk about our stewardship during a Parish Breakfast and to respond to all questions and comments. We are not able to come together in that manner this year. We are looking at the feasibility of having an abbreviated session in the Sanctuary after services. Regardless, I am always available to answer any questions you may have regarding the budget or financial status of St. Thomas.
I encourage you to contact me directly at (513) 484-5600 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With a grateful heart. God Bless!
Jim Davis, Sr. Warden