Nativity 2020 Newsletter and Donation Appeal

Icon of the Nativity – CF1059
Icon of the Nativity – CF1059

Heaven Draws Near

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Bless!  The Lord!

God is near and God is close and God is real and God is love, and He is so full of love that He came to earth to be with us and make a way for us to come to Him across the bridge He built to bring us to His Eternal resting place in Heaven with all those who love Him. That is what this Nativity Season is all about. Since He came and became a man, a human being like us but without sin, we can be sanctified and become more like Him imbibing His Life, by His Grace and His Love, into our inmost being. It is this Life that we seek to fulfill every good thing that He has prepared for us.

In hard times, we need to remember this more than when things are easy, and we indeed live in hard times, economically and with much uncertainty even about those things that we so took for granted before, such as health and work and education and a secure future that seemed more normal then. In these hard times, we need to turn more to Him, and also turn to those that we have an ongoing relationship with to pray and care for spiritually, and this is why we are writing to you today.

Our Challenges So Far This Year at the Skete

We have had many challenges this past year since the last Nativity Season, and we have tried to take them one at a time as they came up, which have now so multiplied so that we feel somewhat overwhelmed by this perfect storm facing us just now. We have tried to be thankful at the opportunities that such challenges provide to deepen our faith by asking for more of our needs as they come up, and also to be able to ask others who are near and dear to us, especially those that we feel an ongoing relationship with in prayer and also for outward help. Sometimes it is easier to be thankful and sometimes harder, but in every case we are turned to look for help and support beyond our own means to manage our daily life, as it says in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11)

We are thankful to continue our ministry of the holy icons that we produce to help our neighbors near and far with their own spiritual lives as these icons are truly “Windows into Heaven.” We are thankful that we have been able to continue our daily prayers and services here at the Skete, and to provide solace as we can to those who come to visit us, and for our faithful workers who help us do these good things. We are thankful that we have had a chance to connect with so many people this last year through our outreach of weekly emails to many on our email list and by seasonal hard mails to our donors and those that we have known for some time. All these things we are truly thankful for.

We are also thankful that God has deepened our hope in Him and to turn humbly to ask others when we cannot cover our needs that are real and necessary to live each day and season. We are thankful for you and your prayers, your concerns, and your giving that has enriched our hearts when what was able to be given in support, for even the Widow’s mite was precious the Lord. We are turning to you now for we have real needs in this perfect storm we are facing to ask you to pray if you can help even more generously as our needs are serious and so very needful of support and prayers.

Outside the Common Monastic Building in the Snow
Common Monastic Building in Winter

St. Nicholas Church in the Front Valley in the Winter
St. Nicholas Church in Winter

Monastic Cell in Skete Back Valley
Monastic Cell in Skete Back Valley

An Amish and Monastic Roofing Crew, Dec. 2020
An Amish and Monastic Roofing Crew, Dec. 2020

Our Present Urgent Needs

First of all our Common Monastic Building is in danger of being damaged as our well has been damaged by a lightning strike and will cost about $5,000 to repair. That is the only source of water in the back valley and to fill our wood fired boiler that heats the building and keeps the lines that feed the building and run in the floor of the building from freezing. Also, even more difficult is that we recently found out our battery bank that is the only source of power to keep the energy from our two banks of solar panels, are at the end of their useful life and needs to be replaced. Just now the pumps turn off by evening and can’t run through the night when it is coldest. We just found this out when the batteries wouldn‘t hold a charge overnight that serve the heat in the circulation lines in the concrete floor. Without this change to get new batteries immediately the whole system will fail this year causing serious damage as we move into deeper winter. The replacement batteries will cost $4,000.

The third and critical need is for general funds to offset our loss of business this spring and summer from being shut down for over two months by the State of Wisconsin’s non-essential business mandates, and then this fall by having our whole computer system hacked and encrypted which shut us down completely again for over five weeks and is still partially affecting us today. Without the expense so unexpected we couldn’t come back up again as far as we have come, which is thankfully much of the way so we can again produce the icons and get to the files to be able to email others and to write and send out donation and newsletters like this. This has costs us much lost time, many, many unplanned expenses, that are now running over $10,000 dollars, to fix the different dimensions of IT expenses and re-establishment of our computer programs and workstations, and we need your help.

Please be as generous as you can. We know you have many financial needs for your own family, and yet since we feel that you are a part of our spiritual family we are encouraged to both ask Him, and to also ask you for help. Any amount will help. Pray and see what your heart tells you, and pray, pray, pray for us!

Your Brothers in Christ,

The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the community at St. Nicholas Church

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