September 30, 2015

As we approach Ingathering Sunday, October 11, the Cathedral will be hosting a series of stewardship speakers, talking to us about how their financial gifts reflect their life in this community. Our third speaker (on September 27) was Scott Huebner, member of All Souls.

Good morning, my name is Scott Huebner, and my family and I have been attending the Cathedral of All Souls since 2007. We had moved to Asheville from Seattle in late 2006, leaving a city and community that we adored and the only community that we had ever known as a newly married couple. We moved to Asheville, knowing no one, and had only visited once before as tourists years earlier. At the time we moved, our daughter Mia was about a year and half old, and we were expecting our son Felix just a few months later.

About 18 months after Felix was born, and about a year after first attending the Cathedral, we decided to have him baptized. Being new to town, with two young children, our circle of friends was understandably small. We invited the few friends we had, along with family members from afar, and wrapped ourselves in our new Asheville community. The photo of that day, with all of us surrounding the altar, still hangs on the wall of Felix’s room.

Felix’s baptism, however, has always been accompanied in my memory with a certain uneasiness. Today I stand here, 7 years later, almost to the day. September of 2008, much like September of 2015, is that time of year when we speak of stewardship. At the time of Felix’s baptism, many of the friends that were invited, were not regular church goers. And the uneasiness I feel, when I reflect back on that day, is not because of the baptism itself, but because of all of those non-church attending friends sitting through a congregant (such as myself) espouse the importance of stewardship.

Much like the WCQS fall fund drive, I wondered if they too were rolling their eyes and changing the station. Worse, had we as a church played the card that all churches are often accused of by non-church goers, by asking for money. Was this what I had subjected my new friends to, and would they ever come back?

For the last two years, I have served on the Properties Committee here at All Souls. I have witnessed, and at times played a voting role in many significant improvements to the physical structure of the Cathedral: the restoration of the exquisite stained glass, the installation of brick sidewalks, renovations to the classrooms, the addition of air conditioning to Zabriskie Hall and the classroom wing, countless replacements of heating and cooling units, the replacing of tile on the curved roof of the apse (thanks by the way, Richard Morris Hunt), and now the replacement of much of the remainder of the original 1896 roof tile. And while these things are nearer and dearer to my heart, and profession as architect, they speak to only a fraction of what goes on within this place that we consider our home.

It is a very Asheville thing to say that we take great pride in being good stewards of our natural resources, good stewards of the environment, good stewards of our streets and community. Yet we hesitate, much like the pangs of guilt that have lingered within me from the baptism 7 years ago, in being good stewards of our church and faith community: the place and people and services and healing, the wellspring of our eternal life, our unwavering connection to God. A place where we come for solace, for comfort, for inspiration, for friendship, for guidance, for laughter and joy, and reflection, and introspection, and discomfort and tension and peace. We are conflicted because on one hand we know that God operates in many ways outside of the confines of this world, challenging the laws of our rational mind, asking us to be faithful in the face of our countless questions. Yet we find a richness in the unknowable, in the mystery. But on the flip side, we know that all of this is not just manna from heaven, but the manifestation of our generosity, and sacrifice, and giving. We are not just asked to give money, but our time and our presence, our ears and our hearts.

In reflecting on this time of stewardship, I am at peace because I now see it as an invitation to community. Our communal participation at All Souls is a multi-textured quilt, an intertwining of serving and being served. Giving and receiving. Loving and being loved. This is why it is important for me to pledge and give of my time and financial resources to All Souls.

Thank you.