My name is Bill West. I came to St. Stephen’s in the Spring of 1996 when I moved to Houston. I grew up in the Episcopal church and had been active in parishes in Syracuse NY for 12 years where I’d met my partner Jill Carrington. What struck me most about St. Stephen’s is how similar it is to Jill’s former parish and that Helen Havens, the rector here, knew the rector of Jill’s old parish in Syracuse.
A few months ago I was with our group serving at LOTS. Normally we just setup tables and then serve breakfast to the homeless people who come into the parish hall after their worship service in Trinity Church. But that day both the service and breakfast were in the parish hall and so we heard Vicar Steve Capper’s sermon. I had often wondered how one would preach to such a group. In his sermon, Steve said that the early church grew so rapidly because it welcomed everyone who came, not because some obscure Hebrew prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. This is a key point that we at SS understand.
Being accepted by others helps us accept ourselves. I’m committed to St. Stephen’s because I’m accepted here as I am, not for who I’d like to be or who I might pretend to be. Faith is about being honest, not about holding your mouth right and believing six impossible things before breakfast every morning.
I think of St. Stephen’s the way I think of my house. I’m very fortunate to have a comfortable home in a pleasant neighborhood. But my house was built in 1953 but would not remain comfortable if I did’nt keep it up. Last year I had the plumbing, air conditioning and windows replaced. This year I’ve gotten a new roof. I want my house to be comfortable while I’m in it and for it to be suitable for the next owner.
That’s what I want for St. Stephen’s. I have pledged to the capital campaign about what I’ve spent on home renovations. I have delayed paying off most of my capital pledge until next year when I turn 70 and start taking distributions from my IRA and receiving Social Security. I hope to increase my pledge when I see how those work out.
Thank you for your attention. Thank you for being St. Stephen’s.