Voice of the Vestry: Analog Church

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

Vinyl records are making a comeback. Musicians from all genres are offering them, and fans are buying. Paper notebooks from companies like Moleskine and Detroit-based Shinola have been hot for more than a decade now. In our so-called paperless society, paper is popular again. There has been steady growth in indie bookstores—the brick-and-mortar variety—and recent studies show new stores being opened and entrepreneurship becoming more creative.

So, what are we to make of this renaissance of physical things—analog products and services that were supposed to dissipate into the ether with the advent of digital media? In The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, David Sax argues that there is an important societal counternarrative being written. Our honeymoon with certain digital technologies is ending and we now realize their true value and where they fall short. Sax says: “Surrounded by digital, we now crave experiences that are more tactile and human-centric. We want to interact with goods and services with all our senses, and many of us are willing to pay a premium to do so.”

I find some truth in Sax’s observations. There is something rich and wonderful in the experience of real things. The ochre and chestnut brown leather cover on a handmade journal. The gatefold French flaps and deckled edges of a beautifully bound book. The smell of newly manufactured cardboard and vinyl, and the joy of placing the record on my turntable for its debut spin.

Let me be clear, I am no Luddite (and neither is Sax). I believe in the value of digital advances in our world. But it’s not an either-or solution. We need digital innovations and their productivity, but we also need physical, in-real-life reminders of our flesh-bound experiences. “Reality,” Sax says, “is multicolored, infinitely textured, and emotionally layered. It . . . revels in human imperfection.” We need these real reminders that strike a chord within us as God’s creation.

Today is Social Media Sunday, a reminder to share and engage in conversations of faith via social media. I highly encourage you to find and celebrate community through these avenues. But I also want us to think about our life here at Grace. How do we provide experiences that provide an analog respite for people living in a digital world? Do we have a counternarrative?

The next time you’re in church, pause and look and listen. You will find signs and symbols—analog gifts to us, and to anyone entering this space. Water, flowing down and making all things new. Wine and bread. Anointing oil. Stained glass illuminated by sunlight. Crosses, some held and some made. Kneeling. Gestures of peace and love. Familiar chords and harmonies. Prayers spoken and read. Coffee shared. Conversations affirmed. Food served. And so many more.

Our gracious God has given us these physical manifestations of our life of faith as Grace Church, as Episcopalians, as followers of Jesus, as beloved children of God. Hold on to them and give thanks. Then tell someone else about what you’ve found and experienced. That’s good news.

“Our ears have heard,

    our own eyes have seen,

and our hands touched

    this Word.”  —1 John 1:1a, CEV(Contemporary English Version)

Voice of the Vestry

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word, Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

by Jeff Wescott

When I lived summers in my parents’ home, I often found myself having to do things that just didn’t make any sense.  I don’t mean things I simply hated, like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn: such tasks had merit and contributed to the family’s health and well-being.  I mean tasks that promised only pain and failure.  Learning to ride a bike, for example, demanded I accept the notion that bleeding and hurtling across hot asphalt would, eventually, transform me into a bird. Or, perhaps the job made sense—like earning my first paycheck picking shade tobacco in Connecticut—but still left me sore and itchy, imagining easier ways to make a buck-thirteen an hour.

To all my protests, my dad would just say, “keep at it, it builds character.”  “Oh. For what?” I’d ask.  “Couldn’t I build character just as well by playing with my friends behind the house? Couldn’t I build a great character by reading great characters?  And when will I be done with my character anyway?” Such well-reasoned, sober questions seemed iron-clad to me, but my dad saw right through them.  The poor man had to be a little ashamed: After all, what kid didn’t want to ride a bike?  What was wrong with picking tobacco?  He did it when he was a kid! But all he’d say to me was, “you keep at hard things because it builds your character.”

This summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about Job, wrestling with questions of human suffering and God’s role, if any, in the meting out of evil and suffering.  I don’t mean to say that Job and I are equals in any way—my character is still under construction, whereas Job’s character was built so well that God bragged about him to Satan.  But I do confess to feeling, as Job did, how nonsensical injustice can be. I hear and understand him when he asks, palms turned to heaven,

 

            “What is my strength, that I should wait?

And what is mine end, that I should be patient?”   Job 6:11

 

To be still and patient, attendant upon God’s wisdom, is perhaps the hardest thing for people to do.  ‘Action!’, we cry. “Let’s fight this thing! There has to be some way we can reverse this situation!  I’m not going to sit by and watch…!”  To move and to know and to fight the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is what I might think is best. Scripture offers a lesson here. God twice asks the question, “Where were you?”—once to Satan, the Accuser, when he returns from “going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 2:2) Satan is an active spirit, “watching everything,” and gathering evidence to use against people. The second time God asks Job, who remains seated and silent in his boils and ashes, and who becomes humble before God’s power and wisdom.  Job finds humility, quiets himself, and learns to trust God. Therein lies the lesson and the challenge: can I find where my strength is, and for what I should be patient, and to what end are all my actions?

 

Finding treasures in God’s good earth – Vacation Bible School

Posted by & filed under Children & Youth, Events, Grace Notes, Stewardship.

by Elizabeth Blondia

VBS kids and leaders enjoying the farm!

For three mornings this past week, ten adults, seven middle schoolers, and 12 young participants from Grace Church met at Art and Linda Schubert’s beautiful farm in Leelanau County to search for and find Treasures in God’s Good Earth. The weather was beautiful, the flowers were blooming, the garden was flourishing, and God’s love was abounding. On the first day, when the children were asked why they thought God created our world, one of the responses was “I think God made all the wonderful things so we could have a good life.” This belief in God’s goodness was just one example of the many touching and special comments we heard from our young Grace Church members throughout our time together.

Each of the three days began with music and singing, prayer, and storytelling, all focusing on the Creation story from Genesis. Kids, middle school helpers, and adults then split into three groups that continued to embrace the themes of God’s love and creation.

In the garden, activities included eating raspberries, carrots and sugar snap peas, and digging up beets, lettuce and onions. The children harvested and prepared fifteen pounds of onions and 24 bags of lettuce for the Grace Church pantry. They looked at bugs and plants under the microscope, including a soil microbe.  Discovering chrysalises amidst the plants and learning about the beauty and awe of living things was made easier with the aid of 10X magnifying glasses the children could call their own.

Under the arts and crafts tent, kids made sand globes with the words “God gave us the gift of water, dry land, and green growing things” written on them, they created suncatchers made from

on the nature trail

plants, flowers, and other things they had gathered on the nature hike the day before, and they made homemade bird treats. At this station, children were also given the opportunity to ride Tilly, one of the Schubert’s gentle horses. This was a highlight of the three days for many of the children. For those that chose not to ride, they happily fed Tilly and her friend Bandit fresh carrots and other goodies from the garden. On the last day, Art hooked Tilly up to their cart and took everyone on a ride, complete with sleigh bells!

The third station was a nature hike along a trail on the Schubert’s property that used to be an old railroad. Along the trail, kids listened and looked for things that God made and things that God did not make, they did a scavenger hunt looking for plants and animals commonly found in the woods, and they played games related to the Creation story. A favorite on the nature hikes was looking for “clinkers” – remains of burned coal left behind by the trains. I was struck by the level of curiosity our children have about the world around us and how important it is to take the time to ask and to answer those questions.

Each day ended with us gathering together again for music, reflection, and rest. We were reminded of God’s example from the Creation story – work hard, but remember to rest. As we all laid on our backs looking at clouds and listening to the birds sing and the children giggle, we were all reminded how blessed we are to live where we live, where the abundance of God’s creation is evident wherever we look. Our final prayer – “Dear God, thank you for bringing us together. Thank you for creating the world and everything in it. Help us learn to be good caretakers of your creation. Amen” – is a good reminder to us all.

Voice of the Vestry: What is a Steward?

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Stewardship, Voice of the Vestry.

by Marian Vermeulen

My earliest specific memory of encountering the word “steward” comes from my childhood, as my brother and I sat in our family living room with my parents, often in the glow of a fire that muttered cheerfully in the wood stove, and listened with rapt attention to my father, reading to us from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. At the beginning of the tale, the line of kings has disappeared from Middle Earth, and the great kingdom of Gondor lies in the hands of the Stewards, who hold the kingdom in their care until the true king shall return. Denethor, the first Steward of Gondor that we encounter, is corrupt and power hungry, having held the highest position for so long that he forgot his charge; he no longer cares for the kingdom and its people for their good, but rather to hold onto his possession and his position.  In his pride and despair, at the height of the major battle, Denethor kills himself rather than be forced to lay down his power, either by losing to the enemy or having to hand the kingdom back to the true king, Aragorn.

His powers then pass to his son, Faramir, one of the noblest characters in the books (and my first fictional crush I might add) whose first words when he meets Aragorn are “My Lord, you called me. I come. What does the King command?” You probably already know where I am heading with this. Symbolically speaking, the King is God, who holds ownership over all. We are aspiring to be a Steward like Faramir, faithful, loving, caring, tending well and giving back generously of himself to that which was given to him. Too often in churches, the word Stewardship gets associated with a monetary giving campaign, and indeed I imagine some of you may have been surprised to see the word come up in July. After all, it’s not that season yet! I actually read a quote that left me chuckling, “when most people hear the word “stewardship,” they grab a wallet or purse, either to open it or to get a firmer grip.” But that focus that has taken place in churches all around the world is one that loses something significant from the word. And please don’t misunderstand me, being a member of the vestry has certainly taught me that funding the church is of vital importance! Yet it is only one small aspect of a very high calling.

At its heart, Stewardship is the belief that we are the caretakers of a world that belongs solely to God, and as such it is our responsibility to manage absolutely everything for His glory. Over the next few months, I hope to be able to share stories with you of the people in our Parish who are quietly and beautifully living into that truth, and hopefully together we can all explore what it means to be noble Stewards for our King. Peter wrote that, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Let’s challenge ourselves to begin to consider the gifts God has given us; family, personal strengths, character traits, property, financial success, skills, intelligence and reason, compassion and love, and every combination of the above list and more. Let’s think about how we might best implement those gifts and ignite our passions for the glory of God.

When King Aragorn of Gondor returned, Faramir came before him to surrender his office as Steward and the white rod that symbolized that position, but the King said to him “That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!” The greatest King of all has granted us the honor to be eternal Stewards of a magnificent Kingdom full of gifts. Let’s do our office!

Going forward: what did we learn by going outside?

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

by The Rev. Kathryn Costas, Rector in the Interim

The Rev. Kathryn Costas, Rector in the Interim

Keeping in mind that Grace is a downtown church, we wondered what that might mean for folks. When participants entered the parish hall, they were given a card with a number on one side that identified their table and the other side identified who they would be as they participated in the afternoon exercise.  This included: recently retired and new to Traverse City, homeless, a tourist, a person with limited accessibility, a 30-something person with children.  The assignment was to discover our neighborhood up to two blocks in either direction through the eyes of the folks listed on one’s card.  People were asked to observe our church and surrounding area with new eyes.  This exercise became an eye-opener for many.

Here are some of the findings:

From the tourists:  Grace is not physically visible, there is lots of construction going on, several religious options on one street, this is a walkable/bikeable community. large legal presence nearby including jail, Uninspiring signage, lack of advertisement of accessibility to church, most visibility will come from “parkers”, no handicap signs, where do we enter?, need directional signs inside building, where is church info or literature?, Am I welcome?

From folks with limited accessibility: No church sign in front, the sign on the corner is tough to read from car, no signage for parking lot, well kept grounds but noticed construction all around, interesting mix of churches, municipal buildings, and residential, welcomers crucial at front and back, better encouragement and visibility for coffee hour, need more newcomer/welcoming training, curb in front of door on Washington St., parking too far from entrance, handicap parking is far away from ramp, move 2 parking spots to base of ramp rather than by stairs, no elevator to fully utilize up and downstairs spaces, no bus stop nearby, west door to parish hall locked during services with 2 parking spaces, only one interior ramp in church, sound system needs better mics, receiver for hearing impaired, too great a distance to communion rail, special pews for folks with wheelchairs and canes so communion can be brought there, electronic button to access doors (including bathrooms).

From the homeless: area of well maintained homes, hidden spots to sleep, meal schedule posted at Methodist Church but not at Grace, ATM rooms are locked, Jubilee House closed as well as Methodist Church, big locked doors, most lobbies are locked, limited public restrooms, free meals behind restaurants, church has restrooms and water, a food source.

From the recently retired and new to TC: Wouldn’t know there was a church here until right in front of it, lack of parking in the area, no clear signage, outside of Grace belies inside, no “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs, not many people walking by, Grace/Jubilee House not connected (either online or in print), Court House connections, not clear where to enter, street is dark at night.

From 30 something with children: the church is surrounded by apartments and condos – few children and families in immediate area, lack of young persons to welcome other youngsters, activity bags are good to occupy children, (are they well stocked?), no place for outside activities.

exterior from Washington St.

 

Eyes were opened as people observed our church and surrounding area looking for what others might see.  Accessibility in the parking area and in the church plant and lack of signage both within the church and outdoors surprised people. These are two areas that many noticed needed improving. Work in these areas will continue as we work toward being a more welcoming church plant.

Going forward: next steps

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Interim Rector, Voice of the Clergy.

by The Rev. Kathryn Costas, Rector in the Interim

Over three different days, folks from Grace met in small groups to discover and identify themes that capture the positive core of Grace, those elements that give life to Grace, parts of our past that we might desire to carry into our future.  The time began by meeting in dyads with someone not well known to you.  For about forty minutes folks were invited to discover more about the person through stories.

The Rev. Kathryn Costas

Stories help us share who we are and learn about one another.  The first question was about God’s presence.  ‘Tell me a story about a time when you had a sense of God’s abiding presence at Grace’. Then folks shared a time when they felt most alive, most involved, or most excited about being a parishioner at Grace.  We shared what we valued about ourselves and what we valued about our role at Grace.  And then we shared what we thought were the core values of Grace, what gives life to this congregation.

After gathering back into table groups, folks shared with the group the highlights of what they had heard during their interviews Then the groups reflected on what they had heard and from that they identified themes that capture the positive core of Grace.

Each table shared these positive elements, things they wanted to carry with them into the future with the larger gathering.  After all groups shared their themes, the papers were put up so all could gather and review them.  Each person attending was given three green dots and asked to identify the three themes they believed most identified who Grace is, those themes that are most important.

These top themes from the various gatherings comprise what the people at Grace value most:

  • Welcome: every voice matters, respecting the dignity of all; offering diverse worship
  • Intellectual Welcome / Openness: open altar, open for kids, open for all; talk to folks who think differently
  • Trailblazer: move ahead and try/innovate; rabble rousing
  • Valuing Everyone: kids, older, homeless, sick, and everything in between
  • Community Needs: aware that we reside in and need to serve those around us
  • Liturgy/Worship: we are fed, nourished in worship; communion; traditional, shared experiences
  • Ministry: we need each other, we learn from each other, reciprocity, presence of God experienced through other.
  • Safe Place: to find out who you are and who you are to God and who God is. It is about belonging not conformity.
  • Values: volunteering, committees, Jubilee House, Safe Harbor, people who invest of themselves, opportunities for involvement
  • Outreach/Compassion: service
  • Relationships: one on one, love, pastoral care, ministering to one another
  • God’s abiding presence in difficult times

     Going forward we will use these themes to imagine what Grace Church would be like if the theme was fully alive and realized.      

Following lunch, people gathered in groups to discover the neighborhood surrounding Grace.  Next week the focus of this article will be on what people learned as they walked the blocks surrounding Grace.

Can you Adopt-A-Spot?

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Stewardship.

by Ann Hackett, Buildings & Grounds Coordinator

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.                            -Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

 When I read this verse, I wonder how I am doing nurturing my spiritual inheritance.  Am I working to serve the Lord Christ? Am I working heartily for the Lord?  At home? At church? In my community? For others?

I invite you to make your own reflections and, at the same time, think about this. The campus of Grace Episcopal Church used to consist of a single church structure. Such is not the case now. We maintain five structures: the “brown house” with two apartments and the Jubilee House (both more than 100 years old), the Parish Hall (built in 1965), the Sanctuary (built in 2005) and the Food Pantry (remodeled in 2015). The structures support a lot of vibrant ministry and fulfill a variety of needs, but they demand a healthy portion of maintenance and love.

Remember how we “Showered Love on the Brown House” in preparation for Rev. Kathryn’s arrival?  More than 40 people signed up to apply themselves to one task, one hour, one time or one area. Some painted, some swept, some tilled the earth and some installed items. Others power washed, cleaned, and shopped.  A few more polished, scrubbed and pruned. Providing that refreshed housing option proved rewarding to those who contributed and enjoyable to Kathryn. It looked wonderful!

From where did that urge to help come for those 40 people? Was it an invitation from a friend or acquaintance?  Was there a desire to use a gift or talent to help out? Was it a nudge from God? Most likely it was a combination of these. Parishioners at Grace step into ministry work to be a part of the church community, to share a personal talent as a way of service or simply to enjoy the fellowship of others. It’s how we get things done, connect with each other and serve the Lord Christ.

I wonder if we can capture that energy again. That shared time and purpose. What if each household were to adopt a spot? A spot on the campus of Grace to claim as your own…a spot to steward for one year – one task or one area.  We showered the Brown House with love. Can we shower our campus with the same? For most spots no skill or know-how is required.

Some areas/tasks to be adopted:

  • Sweep an entry
  • Walk around the campus and pick up debris
  • Scrub the font
  • Change out a furnace filter
  • Wash the exterior of kitchen cabinets
  • Clean interior of parish hall windows
  • Polish sanctuary brass railings

By adopting a spot, your love for this place called Grace and your heart as a steward for its care and appearance will be evident. If each of more than 150 households adopts a spot, this could be a significant love fest! Imagine the impact on our premises. Imagine your inheritance from the Lord!

A list is posted in the Commons with lots of spots to adopt.

Voice of the Vestry: We don’t need a canoe

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

by Clare Andreasson, Senior Warden

“What you need,” said my father, in a voice weighted with authority and experience, “is a canoe.”

My husband and I and our two children were in the midst of a long season of changes for our young family which left us feeling fragmented, fearful, and disconnected from one another.  I was frantically looking for someone to tell us what to do to make things better.  My father was happy to oblige.

“Buy a canoe,” he said.  “It will be the perfect way for you to go out as a family and experience the beauty of the waters of northern Michigan together.”

And so we did.  We bought a canoe.  We installed a hitch, borrowed a trailer, and spent hours creating an elaborately engineered hanging system for the canoe in our garage which even our smallest child could manage.  We talked a lot about canoeing.

The canoe has been stored elegantly in our garage for the past eleven years.  We have never used it.

When we bought the canoe, we hadn’t really done the work of figuring out who we were as a family.  The authors of the book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership would say that in response to the challenges we were facing, we chose a “technical fix” over an “adaptive response”.  The technical fix failed.

Our adaptive response took longer to develop.

It began with planning for a family vacation.  My husband called us all together.  “Every voice at this table matters,” he said.  “I want to know what is important to each one of you.”  Our responses, of course, were wildly different.  They often presented mutually exclusive options.   There was a sense of competition: if your voice is heard then mine won’t be.  There were times when I wondered if our children deliberately set out to veto one another.

My husband, however, does not give up easily.  We persevered.  We made lists.  We listened.  Slowly, and somewhat to our surprise, we began to discover what we shared.  Clear themes emerged: we found that being together on the water is not a way that we connect as a family; that we all love to be outdoors, but in different ways; that we like to explore new places together and then have time alone.  The themes led us to choices which none of us would have found on our own and which were somehow just right for all of us together.

We were learning a way of discernment in decision-making that included each one of us.  It took time, it was often messy, and, unlike the canoe, it transformed our life together.

As a parish we also find ourselves in the midst of a season of changes not only in the church but also in the larger world.  Rather than standing in places of fragmentation, anxiety, and disconnection,

created by the vestry on their retreat in Feb. 2018

Kathryn+ has invited us to parish conversations.  Every voice in our parish matters.  What is important to each one of us may differ wildly and may appear mutually exclusive.  Our conversations may not be easy.   However, I have come to trust deeply in the work of the Holy Spirit among us as we listen to one another.  Through a process of deep listening and discernment, clear themes will emerge.  This is an opportunity for us to renew a clear sense of our own unique identity as a parish family, and a clear sense of the ways we are uniquely called to live out that identity in love for God, for one another, and for our neighbors.  Vitality flows from the inside out.

We don’t need to buy a canoe!

Youth Group closes busy year

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

by Elizabeth Wolterink, Youth Group Leader

 

Thank you all for voting in the Youth Group’s icon project!  We had lots of votes for our “most saintly saint,” with all of the saints receiving some votes.  The winner was St. Michael the Archangel, written by Travis Holl.  Travis’ icon pictured St. Michael slaying a dragon, representing the triumph of the hosts of God over the forces of evil.  All of the students were so pleased to be able to share their finished works with you and we hope you enjoyed seeing and reading about them!

 

 

It’s been a busy quarter for the High School Youth Group.  We began the early part of 2018 with an exploration of faith and science by using a frugal science tool called the foldscope.  This fully functional miniature paper microscope was developed by Stanford scientists to test for malaria in remote areas without access to labs or electricity.  We were able to acquire foldscopes for all the students and did some cool observations with them.

 

 

As Lent was starting, Grace hosted a diocesan youth retreat on Celtic Christianity organized by Donna Olendorf.  Kids from three other churches joined our group at Grace for two days of workshops, fun, and worship.  From the retreat and Lent Madness we moved into our icon project.  In the midst of this, the students also participated in the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive, marking, sorting, and shelving the donations to Grace’s Food Pantry.

 

We welcomed a new leader to the group in late Spring.  Mike Okma stepped in to help out for the end of the year.  Mike works for the Land Conservancy and he, his wife Daniele, and their three children are faithful members of the 10:00 service.  We were blessed to have him on board!  Mike joined us just in time for the students to dive from icons into another artistic project: designing the image for their t-shirt and hoodie sale.  They combined Grace’s fleur cross with a part of the 150th anniversary logo and chose the fonts, wording, and placement for the image.  The sale was a great success with almost 90 shirts sold!  The proceeds will go toward the group’s pilgrimage fund.  Thank you to everyone who bought a shirt to support us!

Youth Group will go on its normal summer hiatus and reconvene again in the fall.  Sadly, both Mike and Elizabeth will probably be unable to continue as leaders next year.  If you feel called to work with a great group of young people in this wonderful ministry, please prayerfully consider becoming a leader and speak to Rev. Kathryn.  Thanks for all your support of our group this year!

Vacation Bible School at Grace July 17-18-19: Searching for treasures on God’s good earth

Posted by & filed under Events, Grace Notes.

by Sue Kelly, Children & Youth Education Council

Where can you find God this summer?  Our children and youth will be asked this question on our last day of church school, June 10.  Look for their responses in the centerpieces on the tables in the parish hall during our ice cream social coffee hour.

One place they will be able to find God this summer will be at Vacation Bible School, July 17-19.  This year it will take place at the beautiful Schubert Farm on Fouch Rd.  The Schuberts have graciously invited our Grace kids grades K-5 to find God as we Search for Treasures on God’s Good Earth.

A creative team is putting together a three day experience from 9am to 12 noon to explore the goodness of God’s creation outside in fun, active ways that will get your hands dirty.  We will be using the Creation Story from our Godly Play curriculum to guide our explorations and ground our VBS kids in scripture from Genesis.

“What was the biggest present you ever got?”  The storyteller suggests there are some gifts that are so huge they can be hard to see and the only way to see them is to go back to the beginning.  “In the beginning…well in the beginning there wasn’t very much.  In the beginning there was… nothing.”  (Godly Play Curriculum by Jerome Berryman)

God gave us the gift of light, the gift of water, the gift of dry land with green and growing things, the gift of day/night and a way to count our days, the gift of creatures that fly and swim, the gift of creatures that walk on the earth, and the gift of a day of rest to remember the great gifts of all the other days.  And God said, “It is good.”

“Why is this story important?  The story of creation reminds us with whom and through whom we begin.  A measure of the joy that creation inspires in us comes from knowing that its beauty has a source far beyond us.  Its size, its complexities, and its interconnections leave us awestruck.  The power of God’s creating word challenges both our hearts and minds to recognize the wonder of human beings as well.  At their best these final creations show signs of the love and strength that God wills for all of life.  Can we rise to the challenge of living in accordance with God’s will? ”

(Witness Sunday School Curriculum)

Each day we will begin by meeting on blankets on the lawn where we will joyfully sing songs lead by Connie Meyers.  We will pray and then each day hear a portion of the creation story.  Kids will then be divided into three groups for rotating stations.

The Garden/Service/Snack station will be run by Linda Schubert.  Kids will plant and harvest for the Pantry Garden which feeds our hungry.  They will also prepare their snack from the nutritious vegetables right from the earth.  The Exploring God’s Creation Hike will be led by Elizabeth Blondia.  Kids will find and identify birds, wildflowers, trees, rocks, and creatures in the earth and pond.  The Nature Inspired Arts/Crafts will be created with the help of Sue Kelly.  While kids are working on crafts, they will have the opportunity to ride on a horse led by Art Schubert.

At the end of our time, we will meet back on our blankets to end in prayer and say goodbye:

Dear God, thank you for bringing us together.

Thank your for creating the world and everything in it.

Help us learn to be good caretakers of your creation. Amen.

k for more information on the bulletin board in the parish hall, sign-up poster in the Commons, and postcards sent to your house.  You may also call the office to sign up.  Let’s explore God’s Good Earth together at Vacation Bible School!

The VBS Committee

Elizabeth Blondia. Sue Kelly, Connie Meyers, Linda Schubert