Reflection from Eileen and Steve Costello, Annual Campaign Co-Chairs
Meet and Greet
Eileen: Good morning. I am Eileen Vargas-Costello and this is my husband, Steve. We are your Co-Chairs for the 2020 FRS Campaign and in a little while, we’re going to talk to you about what we find so special about FRS, but first we’d like to have just a little celebration of our community and we want the kids to take part before we sing them out to Young Church.
Last December, we weren’t able to make it to church on the day that the Pageant From the Pews and the FRS 12 Days of Christmas were being performed. We didn’t want to miss it, so we turned on the live stream. It was quite an experience, watching from the outside, but what really struck us was how the sense of community just jumped off the screen. Steve said, if I weren’t a member of this community, I would so want to be one!
Steve: It’s so true, that’s what we noticed… that these people love to be together, they have so much fun and that they bring so much joy to their time together… it was also apparent that Tim Fountain’s organizational skills are outstanding! That’s what this place is really about – the community – and I’d guess that’s what keeps all of us coming back every Sunday.
So, would you indulge us for just a moment or two, if you feel comfortable doing so, and keeping in mind the current situation with the Coronavirus – would you take a minute to greet those around you with Namaste greetings, to say hello, to let them know that you’re happy to be here, together, today?
Eileen: Thank you for that! Now, there’s just one more thing we’d like to do before the children head off. As you may know, one of the most important items that your campaign gifts fund is the compensation for our dedicated, caring, talented staff. Do we love our staff? Can we take a minute and ask that all of our staff in the sanctuary stand so that we can recognize you and thank you for your commitment to this community and for the amazing things that you do for us every day?
Thank you so, so much. And now let’s join our voices to sing the children off to young church.
Eileen: As we enter the first of our Giving Sundays, it’s the perfect time for us to think about all the reasons why FRS is important to us and to our families. We’re so excited to be here with all of you today and to have an opportunity to share with you our thoughts and feelings about what makes FRS such a special place.
Let’s start with the building itself. There are so many things about this structure, big and small that are special to Steve and me. First, the steeple. I’m probably not the only one in here who has a phone that’s running out of space because of all the steeple pictures.
Steve: It’s really true. We can’t walk anywhere within view of the steeple, day or night, winter or summer, rain or shine, without Eileen stopping everything to take yet another steeple picture.
You know what I love? I love the history. I feel it every time I walk through those doors, not only in the large, readily apparent ways, like the architecture, the portraits in the vestibule and the straight back pews, but also in the small ways, like the names of the parishioners from decades past who wrote or etched their names in the doorway behind the organ and on the way up to the steeple… to the Youth Group, don’t get any ideas!
Eileen: I also love the plaques on the walls listing all of our past ministers and I especially love that the latest name is a woman!!
Steve: I love that too! One other little item that I love is the lamps on the columns. It took me a while before I realized that there are little faces molded into the design. I love to look up and think about all of the people over time that those faces have gazed down on.
Eileen: I love that window (point out favorite window) and how the tree branches change from full and green at the start of church to golden in the fall, to bare in the winter, to budding in the spring and back to green in June. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gazed out through the wavy glass during sermons, but I WAS listening…
Steve: I love the banner on the front of the church; how it expresses our values. I also love how respectfully and eloquently we explain our commitment to those principles to people who may disagree with them, whether in person or in letters to the editor.
Steve: Yes, the building is beautiful and we do have a responsibility to maintain it as those before us did and as those after us will, but what’s really important is what happens within these walls, the people that fill this place, our community.
So, Eileen what are some of the things about this community that are special to you?
Eileen: I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the most special moments that we’ve had at FRS have been with the youth group and the other advisors. The trips to the Arizona/Mexico border and to Pine Ridge and watching the kids grow and come together as a family has been life changing. And, the teens gave me my first cool nickname…
Senior Youth Group: Smileen!!
Steve: Yes, Smileen, you’re spot on. I remember when we joined FRS, the main reasons were to give our kids an introduction to a spiritual life, and to provide them with opportunities to volunteer and give back in their communities. I never would have dreamed, at that time, that they and we would have had the opportunity to travel to Pine Ridge twice and to walk the desert trails taken by migrants in the borderlands. The picture on today’s order of service and on the cover of the 2020 Campaign Brochure is from that day in the Arizona desert, when we followed the migration routes and left water and supplies at drop spots. It was 115 degrees that day. Like you said, truly life changing.
But there are life changers that happen here every Sunday; hearing the youth choir sing always gets me.
Eileen: Hearing Lea play the flute, Kristin playing the cello and Aster playing the harp, Steve Lichty playing the trumpet…
Steve: The candles of peace; coming together, all of us to send positive thoughts to those in need and to raise awareness of their plight.
Eileen: The amazing people and the amazing things they do – Nikki Rosen and her vigils, no longer with us, but always a part of us, people working to combat gun violence, to save the environment, to protect those facing unjust deportation, to help those in need, to bring joy, music and laughter to others, or maybe just to offer a smile to those who need one. This is who we are. This is what this community is.
Steve: Eileen, you absolutely nailed it. Now, we want to hear what you have to say. If you’d like, please raise your hand and let us know in one or two words how FRS is special to you.
Steve: Can you feel it? Can all of you feel this community? To those of you watching the live stream, I bet you can feel it too. I bet you can. This is it. This is why our campaign is so important, because it allows us to build; to build a foundation on which we can do all of the amazing things that we do, both inside these walls and outside in the community.
Now, one of our goals for this year’s campaign is to achieve 100% participation from both members and friends. However, we also know that everyone has different financial circumstances, challenges and capacity. We also know that so many people give so much of themselves to this church with non-financial contributions; their time, their talents, their efforts and these gifts are so important and make us who we are. We also know that every pledge is a gift, no matter what the size, whether $1 or $10,000, these are all gifts and are joyfully received, all of them.
So, we are targeting 100% participation, but that needs to be 100% anxiety and guilt free. If each one of you pledge the amount that leaves you free of anxiety, free of guilt and full of joy, then that is the right amount for you.
Eileen: Thank you so much for letting us share our thoughts about why FRS means so much to us. If you have any questions or concerns or if you’d like to have a one on one discussion about giving, please reach out to us in person or through our contact information that you’ll find in the Campaign Brochure. We’re also happy to welcome new volunteers to the Campaign team, so don’t hesitate to let us know if you’re interested! We look forward to continuing this journey with you!