Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Repentant stranger gives "manna"

A friend of mine was in an Episcopal News Service article with an unusual story. The ENS article reports that money has been turning up at Church of the Resurrection in Dallas, but not in the collection plate. It's been stuffed into a back pew, or slid under the door. The story started like this:
Parishioners were mystified in January when a repentant stranger left a cashier's check for $3,255 along with $13 in cash and an itemized list of his past misdeeds in a back pew.

An attached note signed by "Michael" explained: "I paid every single debt I had in life but could not find or locate 14 of them or I wasn't sure." A list of 14 crimes, ranging from stealing candy to CDs and a car followed, each with an estimated dollar value, totaling $3,268—the amount of the donated check and cash.

The list included: a $100 robbery at White Rock; $300 for a set of knives taken from another soldier in Iraq; and "a lot of CDs in a Velcro pouch from an ex-friend in Tyler, Texas, when I was a kid, $300."

A week later, cash began showing up at the financially strapped church.

An anonymous donor shoved $300 in twenty dollar bills through a space between the doors of the church's vestibule. When part-time parish secretary Joanne Stephens discovered it, "I counted it three times, to make sure," she recalled in a telephone interview from the church office. "I thought it was manna from heaven," she said, adding: "And I said anytime the Lord wants to put that manna down again, I'll take it."

More cash turned up a week later. This time, the generous but secretive donor left $100 in smaller bills scattered in the vestibule and triggered an alarm in the process, according to the Rev. Alfredo Williams, Resurrection's vicar.

He investigated, but found no one inside the church. "It's very, very strange, all these things happening. We don't have words to explain but we do need the money," he said.
The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard is in charge of the congregation. We have known one another for a dozen years as church planting circles in the Episcopal Church are small and she helped me get connected with church planting while in seminary. Victoria reports that as news of this story has gone out, even more money has been turning up. People were looking for ways to pay back debts when they could not locate the person to whom they owed the money.
Donated money went into the general fund and was spent on helping families. "It paid the rent for a Burundi family" when the primary wage earner was laid off and for clothing for the children of two other families who were burned out of their apartments.

"And it went for our expenses," she added. "Our fuel bills are highest in January. It went to pay our lights and things like that. It also went to the Angel Food Ministries, and to helping our parishioners who have been laid off. The Burundians have been hard-hit by these economic times in the manufacturing industry. You know, last hired, first fired."

She estimated that about 40 percent of the congregation's $150,000 yearly budget is subsidized by the diocese.

Heard, who is celebrating 25 years of ordained ministry this month, said she is thankful, both "for the money and for the changed life" of the congregation's mystery donor. It is "very moving that somebody experienced the power of God and the grace of God so powerfully in their lives they would write a letter and place a check in the church," she said.

"This man tried to do something; he tried to give back, to make a difference. That's the Gospel at work."
The full text of the article is online here: Repentant stranger gives church 'manna from heaven'.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor



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