One of my favorite hymns in the Hymnal is The Church’s One Foundation written by Samuel Stone in the 1860s. I always find that in hearing this Hymn sung in a church service with a full church and led by a choir, my spirit is lifted. I first listened to this Hymn, not in English, but in Malayalam, the language-specific to Kerala India, where I was born. I heard it as a young toddler in worship in church – the musical setting Aurelia, composed by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, being an instantly recognizable one. In my formative years, this Hymn both in Malayalam and in English reminded me that the church, with its faith in Jesus, would be sustained through challenges both great and small. And further, it gave me hope that the church would use these challenges to forge an incredible victory for all God’s people.
There is a fascinating history of this hymn. Fr. Stone composed the text as an answer to the divisions within the church. These divisions sparked him to draft a set of hymns based on the Apostles’ Creed in 1866. He titled it, Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed. “The Church’s One Foundation” is based on the ninth article, The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints. The Hymn describes the church’s relationship to its “foundation” Jesus Christ. The church is represented as the collective Christian fellowship of the earth as it united by its savior, the son of God.
When I hear it in our liturgy at Christ Church, I think of our church and its mission to spread the Gospel to the world. A gospel that I have come to realize over these many years can change the life direction of people who engage with it. This hymn also reminds me of the importance of our community to model faith in our divisive and confusing world. Our church, as it nurtures the sacred, becomes a model to the world, bringing peace and unity out of division.
So I was pleased when our Stewardship Committee chose the stewardship theme for this year to be “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” The committee led by Marshall Mugge has come up with a creative program which includes stewardship presentations at our church services, beautiful inserts, and short but insightful sermons. All of this will be unveiled in October, our stewardship month. The Committee and I are excited about the program because it will help us understand the needs of our church, especially as we have been faithful in our witness to God.
This year in stewardship, we will hear about the financial, spiritual, communal, and educational importance of our church’s ministry in the life of church members. It will help us to be inspired by the hard work of our staff. It will also help us create a budget for 2020 which will expand our ministry.
We at Christ Church are at an exciting place in our history. We have almost completed a successful Capital Campaign; we are at the moment replacing a slate roof which we anticipate will last for over 125 years. We have experienced significant growth over the past five years, even during our Capital Campaign. The challenges, which we have faced with faith, have to lead us to be at a stronger position than ever. Indeed, the hymn, The Church’s One Foundation bears truth that our faith in Jesus will always move us to firmer foundations!
Rector, Christ Church Westerly