I Am St Nick: Val Gruenwald

“I am St. Nick.” When Douglas proposed that simple statement to guide us as we think about stewardship, it immediately felt right. In four words, it sums up what the experience of St. Nicholas has been for me. The emotional reaction came first – the same kind of feeling I get when I am home, surrounded by the people who know me best. Where I can take a sigh of relief at the end of the day and settle into its comforts. As I reflected on the similarities, I realized that St. Nicholas is my family of faith, my second home.

I realized that just as we cherish each member of our family at home, seeing how each one contributes something unique that makes our family what it is, we are each a treasured member of our family at St. Nicholas. No one is anonymous. Every single individual brings another experience of God’s love to our midst, as we gather to celebrate the liturgy as a family of faith.

I also thought about what it takes to keep each of those families sheltered, cared for, educated, challenged, and all the other things that go into creating a strong, loving family. I know that as “Mom” (now “Grandma”), I’ve had a pivotal role to play in each of those areas. Along with every other member of my family, there are unique ways I contribute to what’s most important to us. This is so true of the role each and every member of my St. Nicholas family plays, as well.

The physical home where these things happen is an important part of our family’s story. It is where we gather, where each person is nurtured. It is a little oasis when the cold winds howl outside. It’s where each person who crosses the threshold knows he or she is loved and appreciated. It’s where we talk of what matters most to us, explore the depths of our experiences, discuss – and debate – what we believe. Isn’t that exactly what our experience of St. Nicholas is, too? It’s hard work to keep our home that oasis. There is physical work to be done and bills to pay. I know that both homes need my elbow grease and my financial contribution to be that place I want for my families.

Why have I chosen St. Nicholas for the past 9 years? It’s required far more hard work and personal sacrifice than my previous (huge, wealthy) church! It is because St. Nicholas lives out the Greatest Commandment Jesus spoke of, in a way I have never experienced in any of the many churches I have known. When asked by the crowd, Jesus said all the laws and commandments come down to just one: “Love your God with all your heart; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

St. Nicholas is where I find this message being lived. And I want to do whatever I can to keep that experience alive for my immediate family and my faith family. I can do that best by remembering that “I am St. Nick.”

Valerie Gruenwald

-Val Gruenwald

I Am St Nick: Douglas VanHouten

The community of St. Nicholas has changed my life. I’ve always felt that since most of time and energy is spent outside our church walls, most of our ministry happens outside those walls as well. However, my truth is that the community of St. Nicholas informs how I live “the other six days.”

I am inspired to be a better person when I watch Earl make someone completely welcome in acts as simple as walking over to get a bulletin for someone who didn’t take one upon entering.

I am reminded to live a bit more carefree when I witness our children–at their place of honor in church–simply enjoying being together and, without thought, sharing the materials provided for their common use.

I am mindful of the need to share the talents I have been given when I watch Bob step up to share his voice with the choir, and when I see Garrison and Jess faithfully join in choir practice.

I am motivated to serve others in my daily life–in even basic human acts such as holding open a door for another weary commuter at the train station–when I watch Scott, Eve, Cindy, Bob, Jay, Manny and others in action caring for our guests at the Holy Innocents Food Pantry.

I am humbled when I see the warm welcome Manny gives people during the week as they come to St. Nicholas seeking a safe place, shelter, a kind ear, and most of all a reminder that God loves them.

St. Nicholas is not a building. St. Nicholas is the spirit in the air in the walls of our building – a spirit palpable outside our walls. St. Nicholas is you. St. Nicholas is the person who seeks that reminder that God loves them. St. Nicholas is every guest at our Food Pantry. St. Nicholas is our music.

I am St. Nick. And, as such, I am also responsible for taking a share in everything written about above.


Douglas VanHouten

I Am St Nick: Posts And Pledges

From the Stewardship Team:

We hope you’ve taken some time to read the I am St. Nick email sent earlier this week. And, we hope you’re considering submitting your own story about how the community of St. Nicholas touches and changes your life.

New ministries have begun and new people are participating in ongoing ministries at St. Nicholas. In addition to your time, talent, love and energy, we hope that you’ll contribute your monetary resources, which, in addition to your other valued gifts, enable us to continue to change lives–our own and those of others who are part of the St. Nicholas Community. As we continue to stress, that community includes those who worship at St. Nicholas, but also those who rely on our community for the many support groups hosted by St. Nicholas which are vital to their lives. Our community includes our guests who come to our food pantry, and those who seek a welcome and warm embrace as they drop by during the week.

We are most grateful for the many ways all the members of the Community of St. Nicholas support, enhance and give life to our mission and ministries.

We hope you are considering your pledge to St. Nicholas for 2012. As we wrote earlier, our hope is for every household at St. Nicholas to submit a pledge form for 2012 by November 20 so that we may plan for next year’s budget.

Pledge forms are at this link and on the shelf just outside the worship space.

Of course, we are always seeking your gift of time and talent as well. Please take a look at the “Serving” page of our website and see if there is a ministry you feel called to share in.

The Stewardship Team consists of Bob Kalicki, Douglas VanHouten & Val Gruenwald