The Church always has been and always will be supported by volunteers. Nevertheless, the world often focuses on clergy, specifically paid clergy. In reality, the clergy would be hard pressed to serve Christ in his Church without volunteers and certainly couldn’t serve Christ in the world. The Jesus movement would disappear if it had to depend exclusively on the clergy. Thankfully, God isn’t letting that happen.
At Saint John’s, we have several prayer teams. None are paid; if they were, even at minimum wage, we would not have enough left off to heat and cool the church. Heather Wallace leads our Sunday School, and she just led had an awesome Easter Egg hunt. She’s a volunteer. Many knit prayer blankets — volunteers. The Vestry, Men’s Group, Women’s Group, choir, counters, ushers, greeters, readers, altar guild – all volunteer. No one got paid to do The Watch from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday. Volunteers help with the school – from office duty to reading to students. Volunteers bring treats on Sunday and other times. Our fundraising and outreach teams volunteer their time and are some of the biggest contributors.
Part of being Christian is to volunteer time to support the mission of the Church. And by the way, let me put in a good word for those of the cloth—priests and deacons volunteer above and beyond their job descriptions for the Church. We have two fine examples with Fr. Tolley and Fr. Stott – both volunteer; but even before retirement, when they were salaried, they went far beyond what they were paid to do.
I’d like to point out one volunteer after receiving his permission to do so on Maundy Thursday, Dean Peters. You’ve seen his work and benefited from his volunteering. A retired electrician, he served in the Navy. His work in electronics is still top secret. He was called a “super-spook”, whatever that means. What I do know is that he loves the Lord, his wife, Rose, and his church.
Dean is always willing to serve. I can ask for help and find he’s already started. This past Maundy Thursday service, I needed him for a reading. Two-minutes before the reading he said, “Yes, of course,” in true Dean fashion. He had already prepared, just in case. Tuesday of Holy Week he single-handedly cleaned and trimmed our meditation garden for use on Easter. He was also a part of a conference call talking about a possible solar project. He was present on Monday at our Men’s Group meeting and also at Wednesday’s Vestry meeting. After all that, he looked me in the eye Thursday and asked if I was holding up okay.
When I think about what it means to be Christian, I think of Dean and his commitment to his wife in sickness and in health, his commitment to the Lord to serve without being asked. I think the country and Jesus’ Church need more Deans. The country and the Church could also use more Marj’s, Mark’s, Claudia’s, Tim’s, Lynn’s, Gretchen’s, Norma’s, Judy’s, George’s, Wilma’s, Barb’s, Craig’s, Linda’s and David’s. And the list goes on and on from all our incredible volunteers at Saint John’s.
Saint Paul told us to imitate him in following Jesus. That’s a hard act to follow. Emulating the lives of the saints, starting with Saint Peter, might mean being crucified upside-down. But, our volunteers at Saint John’s makes it easier to be a Christian. Their Christianity is more approachable than trying to follow Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas or Desmond Tutu. Our world is desperate for people who love the Lord and are willing to serve Christ and his Church. My hope for this Easter season is that we all be-like-volunteers for Christ.