“Recently, Rev. Colby and John Starnes asked me to head the Stewardship Committee.  I was honored, but I must admit also somewhat humbled.  Stewardship is a challenge for many, perhaps most churches right now, Hazelwood included.  There are many reasons for this, and frankly, some of these reasons are, well, just bigger than me. I told Rev Colby and John,  ‘I want to help.  But I am not sure I know exactly how.’

“So I prayed some about it.  And, I found that I had within me a sense of urgency about  stewardship, and frankly about the finances in general of Hazelwood. It appears to me that our giving runs about 15-20% behind our programs. I agreed to help, and I decided I would begin by telling you a few things that I believe, and pray that this would help move us all to increase our levels of stewardship.

“First of all, in a big sense, I believe that Hazelwood Christian Church, and churches like it, are very important to our country.  I remember Dr. Cartwright reflecting one Sunday near his retirement that, and I hope he doesn’t wince at my paraphrasing, he said ‘as best he could tell there were two types of people in this world, those who believe someone is looking out for them and those who don’t.’  To me, believing that someone is ‘looking out for you’ is responsible.  It provides peace and humility and the real, deep down strength and faith that comes with these two gifts. And, for the freedoms we cherish in this country to flourish requires that we be responsible for our own actions and lives.  Thus, when we give to Hazelwood we are being responsible, and we cut these issues that are bigger than us all down to size, and we do what we can do to improve them.

“Secondly, in a more immediate sense, I believe Hazelwood Christian Church is very important, perhaps even paramount right now, to this community, a community that has lost jobs and population but retains a spirit.  Hazelwood has always been a kind of ‘roll up the sleeves’ type of church.  And, today we offer the community much, including:

  • A membership that gives of its time and money in many a good work.
  • A minister who seems to genuinely want to help us all,  who speaks in good spirit and, I say enviably, from the center of the room with no notes.
  • A dedicated staff is available to help him and our congregation.
  • Music that is a joy, as good as the community offers, from inspirational choral and organ works, to hymns with a warm feeling and a good beat, to simple piano solos that, on occasion and surprisingly so, make my day. 
  • Two meaningful services, one that rings out our traditions, and one that sings out our present day. 
  • The best, maybe by far, preschool in community, teaching time-honored Christian values which is as noble and needed a calling as I can think of.
  • An acceptance that many people have many opinions. 
  • A sense of family and a source of strength when we need it.
  • A weekly communion of faith.

Thus, when we give to Hazelwood, we are giving to and improving our community, which right now may be the most pressing need of all. 

“Finally, in a personal sense, I believe that I owe Hazelwood Christian Church much, a lot even.  It has taught me many, perhaps most, of the things I needed to know to be a responsible man. It has helped my children grow straight and true, like its walls.   It has strengthened my family and my life, and when I have needed it, it has strengthened me.  I recall the words of Dr. Sulanke, ‘The level of happiness is directly proportional to the level of Thanksgiving.’  I am thankful and I am happy to give.   In fact, it has become a pleasure to give.

“To sum up, I believe that our church, our community and our country are all at a sort of crossroads right now.   I believe it is this confluence that fuels my sense or urgency, and it is why I am here today.  Much of this is bigger than me, true, but… I want to help, and I am asking for your help to commit to do 4 things, things that we can do:

  1. Continue to volunteer your time to the church.  This I know is particularly appreciated Rev. Colby.
  2. Think about your friends and acquaintances. Ask one or more of them to come to church with you. Follow up with a goal of bringing one new member, or even better, one new family to the church this year. 
  3. Call a member whose attendance has been irregular, let them know they are missed, and invite them to come to church.  Perhaps pick them up if necessary. 
  4. Make a commitment to increase your giving by     
    whatever you feel you can. 

“Hazelwood Christian Church has a long tradition, has provided a warm home away from home for many a person and family over the years, and continues to offer that and more today.  When we give to Hazelwood, we invest in the future of the church, the community and, in a bigger sense, the country.  We also invest in ourselves. 

“Hazelwood is more than a mansion on a hill; it is a beacon on a hill.” 

Steve Cartwright, Stewardship Committee Chair