A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Love
September 7, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At our Diocesan Convention in June, I spoke of what I have come to see as a “spirit of poverty and fear” that has come over much of the Diocese, negatively impacting our ability to serve God and His people. Far too many parishes are in a survival or maintenance mode, due to limited finances and fear. As I stated at the Convention and will say again, that is not what God wants for us. Satan knows all too well our human vulnerability when it comes to money and material possessions, and he is using it against us, to bring chaos into our individual lives and to limit our effectiveness in serving God and growing the Kingdom.
What many regard as a financial issue is really a spiritual issue. With rare exception, such as a major medical emergency or loss of job, the majority of the financial struggles in our individual lives and our parishes is self-created, not because the expenses aren’t real, but because we have listened to the ways of the world and failed to trust God with our money, which in fact, is really His money on loan to us. Martin Luther once said, the last part of a person to be converted is their wallet. Unfortunately, as I look at how few people tithe, and how money is often used as a weapon, I believe there is more truth in that statement than most of us would like to think.
The world would have us believe that if you have enough money, if you live in this particular neighborhood, if you drive that particular car, if you wear these particular clothes, if you have this particular job, if, if, if”¦then you will have peace and happiness and fulfillment. The reality is, without God as the center of our life, we will never have peace. Far too many people have believed the lies of the world, and now find themselves hopelessly in debt, trying to work two or more jobs, totally exhausted, with no time for themselves or their family, and even more tragically, no time for God. Approximately 50 percent of all marriages are ending in divorce, with financial issues being a major contributing factor. More and more children are growing up in single parent families or homes where both parents are working all hours of the day and night with little to no parental supervision. Our jails are overflowing with young men and women who came from such backgrounds.
I could go on and on with an ever growing list of societal woes that are either directly or indirectly related to society’s quest for material wealth and possessions. The bottom line is, for far too many people, life is tragically out of balance. The quest for the “almighty” dollar and all that can be bought with it, rather than blessing us, is destroying us.
For our own spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health and well being, and that of our families, it is essential that we bring balance back into our lives. To help us achieve that goal, I have invited the folks from Crown Ministries to come to the Diocese. An informational meeting about the Crown Ministry Program that I would like to see shared throughout the Diocese, will be held as follows: Sept. 10th ”“ Potsdam; Sept. 11th ”“ Unadilla; Sept. 12 ”“ Johnstown; Oct. 1st ”“ Elizabethtown; Oct. 2nd – Coxsackie; and Oct. 3rd ”“ The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany. Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m..
As your Bishop and Brother in Christ, I am asking that every active priest and deacon in the Diocese as well as the key lay leadership from every parish in the Diocese, attend one of these meetings to learn more about the program and how it works. It is my sincere hope and prayer that every parish in the Diocese of Albany will offer the Crown Ministry Ten Week Program beginning this January. Based on everything I have seen and the people I have talked to, the Crown Ministry Program is an excellent, sound, biblically based program that has a great deal to offer. They have helped countless people throughout the world reprioritize their financial affairs, learn to budget more effectively, get out of debt and come see money and material possessions as the blessing God intends them to be, rather than the curse they can become, when our priorities become confused and misguided. God has given us money to help us ”“ not to control us.
To the naysayer out there ”“ Will Crown Ministries solve all our problems? Probably not, but it is a good start. Is it perfect? No, but it has much to offer if we give it a chance. I invite you to join me, as we move forward in an attempt to bring a greater sense of balance into our financial lives.
For those who have come to trust God with their money and material possession, they have been set free of the huge financial albatross that drags so many people down, wreaking havoc and misery in their lives. True financial freedom can only occur when God is in control of our finances. Crown Ministries can help us learn how to more effectively invite Christ into our financial lives, in order that we might become better stewards of that which He has entrusted to us. I look forward to seeing you in the coming days and weeks. God Bless You!
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
–(The Rt. Rev.) Bill Love is Bishop of Albany