Leaders Leap In

Date Posted: 3/27/2014

With a full-time job and small children, new member Sarah Schimmer still found time to head up the stewardship program at St. John’s UMC, Richmond, making her mindful to preserve Methodist traditions of generosity with her own children. She shares her personal story below.

My family and I just celebrated one year of membership at St. John's United Methodist Church in Richmond, Texas.  This year, the congregation is celebrating the 175th anniversary of the church.  We began visiting during the summer of 2012 shortly before our youngest, Henry, was born.  We joined in February 2013 and our children were baptized in April 2013 on the day of our 6th wedding anniversary. 
When we joined the church last February, we took a vow promising our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.  We were influenced by the stewardship campaign theme of Leading Generous Lives and the oak tree logo of that campaign.  To me, the tree symbolized our family’s desire to find a church and a community, to put down roots and to grow.  One of the reasons we joined was our desire to have our children (ages 3 years and 19 months) understand how faith can be a positive life experience. Both my husband and I grew up with faith, he as a Methodist and I, as a Baptist.
It is said the best way to get to know your new community is to volunteer and in the last year we've tried to jump in and be part of our new church community.  In addition to attending Sunday school classes and Sunday services, we have supported the special events that are the tradition and personality of our church.
Volunteering in some way for Vacation Bible School, buying tickets for the annual spaghetti supper, supporting the youth group at Christmas with a poinsettia purchase, and giving tithes and offerings are priorities we wanted to do to build our long-term commitment to our new church.  After just a few months of membership and work with the stewardship committee, our pastor asked me to chair that committee.  I agreed, realizing that getting the most out of our membership means being active and making an effort to get to know other members that attend with us. 
The oak tree that was part of the Stewardship Campaign that inspired us last year, reminded me of one of my favorite sayings: “mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”  When you plant an acorn, you may not get to see it grow into a tree or enjoy its shade.  You plant a tree for future generations to enjoy.  My parents definitely planted a seed by showing me the importance of faith and spirituality.
One of my most vivid memories of attending church as a child was my weekly offering in Sunday school.  When I was 4 or 5 years old, my Dad would empty his pocket change into a green glass vase that came with red roses he had purchased as surprise for my mom.  Each day, we would put the extra change in the vase together and talk about being able to give back.  So, each Sunday, after I was dressed and ready for church, I would reach my little hand in the vase and pull out as much change as I could, knowing I would be putting it in the offering plate for those who needed it more than we did.
As we are growing into our membership at St. John's, we are also teaching our children about the joy of giving to others.  Each week, our 3-year-old, Madeleine, is given a dollar to put in the plate and we tell her how thankful and blessed we are to have a little extra to give back to the church so the church can help others.  Even in this digital age which allows us to conveniently schedule online payments, we believe it is important to demonstrate to our small children the tangible act of giving -- both in volunteer service and in a commitment of regular tithing and giving.
We enjoy attending Sunday school, worship services, the special events, and the community outreach our church provides to support struggling families in Richmond and Ft. Bend County.  We know volunteering our time and committing to regular tithes and offerings helps make the services we enjoy and the important community outreach possible.  
We love our 175-year-old St. John's United Methodist Church in Richmond, Texas, and we know it has taken generations of cultivating and nurturing to ensure this strong oak has grown and will continue to grow for generations to come.  We hope our family can be a small part of that story, as we nurture our own little acorns, Madeleine and Henry, to also have strong roots of faith, spirituality, and an emphasis on the importance of love and service for others. Thank you for allowing me to share our story, and may God bless you as you give!