Generations of Generosity – 2017 Stewardship Campaign

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Ministry of the week, Stewardship.

October 19, 2016

Dear People of Grace,

Generations of Generosity - 2017 stewardship campaignI first saw the gold lettering on the arch in the sanctuary in 1973 when my husband and I walked through the doors of Grace as a young couple: ‘The Lord is in his holy temple let all the earth keep silence before him.” It was thought provoking then; its appearance and message draw me still. It is a piece carefully preserved from the old church and reinstalled when we built the new one. I wonder who chose the verse, shaped the wood and lettered the scripture. What were the conversations about this feature in the late 1800’s?  By its presence now we are profoundly connected to those who came before us.

In many ways their efforts are not unlike ours today. They wrestled with a decision to build a chapel, fill its seats and pay their debts by hosting socials. In 1923 the timbers in the basement of the church began to decay and extensive repairs were undertaken. Priests came and left, but the congregation remained. Generations of families continued to provide and organize a Sunday School, choir, the Girls’ Friendly Society and a Men’s Club.

Driven by their beliefs and generosity, these pioneers laid the ground work for the physical growth of Grace Church and its property and its faith community. And we/you are a part of that community now, 150 years later.

In some ways our church traditions now are no different. We pray the same common liturgy, and we minister to each other in our midst and in our community. We do this because we are called to love one another and to share God’s blessings. We do this by promising to give our time, our talent and our treasure. By engaging in these ways, we are growing in our relationship with each other and with God. And we are growing our heritage.

As we plan to welcome the arrival of a new rector and celebrate our 150th anniversary next year, wouldn’t it be wonderful for all of us to commit to Grace and Join Generations of Generosity  that came before us? In the weeks to come during our stewardship campaign, you will hear testimonies during worship from members of the congregation that describe their connectedness to Grace, their relationship with God and their commitment to give.

You are invited to pray and reflect on the same.  What is God nudging you to do? Commitment Weekend will be November 12 and 13 where we will offer our pledges during worship and Join  Generations of Generosity before us that committed to Grace Church and its enduring presence.

With gratitude for all God’s blessings,
Ann Hackett, For the Stewardship Ministry Team

Youth Group serves the hungry in Chicago

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Photo Gallery, Youth group.

The Grace Youth Group took the train to Chicago for an Urban Adventure on 5/19/17.  They visited a Jewish synagogue and an Islamic Center, navigated their way to museums, and ended with Sunday mass and an outreach activity at St. James Cathedral, where they served 140 hungry people a hearty good brunch. This gallery is a peek at their service to Chicago homeless:

Engaging the Word: 5/28/17 (The Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day)

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

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10. 33-36; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:5-11; John 17:1-11. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. The Sunday between Ascension Day and Pentecost is sometimes called “Expectation Sunday.” This is the time when the followers of Jesus devote themselves to prayer while they wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Ascension of Christ by Benvenuto Tisi, c. 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ascension of Christ by Benvenuto Tisi, c. 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 1:6-14: In this week’s reading, we see the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and his ascension into heaven. In the first verses of the Book of Acts, Jesus told the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they are “baptized with the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” The disciples are confused—they ask Jesus if this is when he will restore the kingdom to Israel. They are thinking of a political kingdom. Jesus tells them it’s not their business; the Father will make that decision. Meanwhile, they are to witness for Jesus from Jerusalem outward to the ends of the earth.

“When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud [a sign of God’s glory] took him out of their sight.” Then two men in white robes appear. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven [in glory].”

The apostles then returned to Jerusalem and, along with other followers, devoted themselves to prayer in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The group included Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36: Attributed to David, this week’s psalm praises God as a mighty victor over his enemies and calls others to praise him. Commentaries say Psalm 68 is the most difficult psalm in the Psalter; scholars do not agree on what kind of poem it is. Commentators speculate that the psalm may have been a communal thanksgiving, a processional hymn sung as the Ark was carried into Jerusalem, an index of first lines, or a collection of fragments or snippets centered on the idea of the theophany (manifestation of God).

The portions we are reading are a tribute to God (v 1-10), and a call for all to sing praises to God for his power and majesty (v 33-36).

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11: This is our sixth and final week of reading from 1 Peter, a letter to first-century

Ivory depiction of lion eating a man, excavated from Nimrud, Iraq. British Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ivory depiction of lion eating a man, excavated from Nimrud, Iraq. British Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Christians in Asia Minor who were being persecuted for their Christian faith. In this week’s reading Peter calls the persecution a test—a test of faith, in the sense of being willing to suffer and sacrifice for one’s faith. But persecution is also a test of the strength of Christian witness. The ones who accommodate themselves to the world will escape persecution, and the ones who do not compromise will suffer.

Peter says that suffering is a cause for rejoicing, because it means one is sharing Christ’s sufferings. “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.”

Peter concludes with a series of exhortations for faithful Christian living: Humble yourselves before God, discipline yourselves, keep alert. “Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” Know that in the end, God “will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”

Peter held himself to same high standard. Origin, an early Christian theologian wrote: “Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer.” This is why an upside down cross is generally accepted as a symbol of Peter, with the interpretation that he would not have considered himself worthy enough to die the same way as his Savior.

Head of Christ by Rembrandt, c. 1648. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Head of Christ by Rembrandt, c. 1648. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 17:1-11: The past two Sundays have been selections from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, in which he gave his disciples final instructions and encouragement. This week we read a portion of Jesus’ Farewell Prayer or High Priestly Prayer. In this prayer Jesus asks for glorification by the Father; he has completed the mission for which he was sent. “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”

Jesus made God’s name known to those the Father had given to him. Now the disciples recognize that the Father is the source of all that the Son has been given and that Jesus is from the Father. As he is leaving this world to return to the Father, he prays, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” He prays that the disciples will remain united like that of the unity of the Father and the Son.

As Jesus lifted up his High Priestly Prayer to the Father, now it is our turn to lift up the church, the world, and all in need as part of our daily prayers.

 

Reflections on eye mission to Honduras

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Ministry of the week.

By Penny Campo-Pierce, Dr. Bob Foote, & Sandy Foote

Eye exam

Eye exam

This year’s clinic saw 880 patients served by 23 volunteers, including ten doctors. In five clinic days, we made medical referrals for 125 people, sent one man to the hospital for immediate surgery on a torn retina, and arranged for a ten-year-old girl to have cataract surgery so her eyes and brain could begin to communicate, before it was too late for coordination of that process. Our team worked together in a fluid dance to do what needed to be done for each patient, seen in a timely and professional way.

The final stage of the patient’s visit takes place in the dispensing room. Chaotic doesn’t begin to describe it. In one corner, Sandy Foote is talking with a translator and a patient to refer the patient to a general or specialist doctor or an Ophthalmologist, depending on their medical issue. In another corner, Bill Pierce is fitting a patient with frames so new glasses can be made right there in the room or he’s fitting newly made glasses on a different patient. On a wall inside the door, our computer guru Kevin is searching the database for glasses with the right prescription for the next patient in line. Along another wall is the line of patients waiting with their exam card from the doctor. Many of them have a mother, father, sibling(s), or grandma along with them; sometimes combinations of all those possibilities! We have team members and student translators helping find prescription glasses, giving sunglasses to each person, and explaining the importance of wearing the sunglasses every time they go outside. The elevation in La Esperanza is 5500 feet; the UVA rays from the sun cause early cataracts. Sunglasses also offer protection against the dust in the air that may cause another condition, Pterygium.

Every year we have a story, or two or three, about the most wonderful patient encounter. This year our favorite is about the three-year-old boy who came with one eye turned in fully toward his nose; the other eye was not tracking on anything in his environment. He was a great little trooper during the eye exam and the fitting for new glasses. When he came back for his glasses, he was not engaged with what was going on around him at all. As soon as we put on the glasses, his eyes were tracking together and he couldn’t soak everything in fast enough. Now comes the best part: he looked at his mother and asked “Can I take them home?” No dry eyes on any team members with that one!  Praise God for His help in all things. It would not be possible to do this work with any joy or equanimity without God being in each and every detail.

 

Engaging the Word: 5/21/17 (The Sixth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

By Barbara Klugh

Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:7-18; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. In this week’s readings, Paul’s preaching in Athens sparks curiosity, ridicule, and belief, Peter tells Jesus’ disciples not to be intimidated for doing good in the world, even if it results in suffering, and Jesus promises his disciples that he will send an Advocate to be with them forever.

St. Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael, 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Paul Preaching in Athens by Raphael, 1515. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 17:22-31: Our reading this week takes place during Paul’s second missionary journey (50-52 AD). Paul arrives in Athens, a center for philosophy and the exchange of ideas, and a city with many gods. Paul was distressed about all the idols and proclaimed the Christian message in the synagogue and in the marketplace. Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him, and wanted to know more about the “foreign divinities” Paul was proclaiming, so they brought him to the Aeropagus (Mars Hill), the site of the advisory council and a meeting place for philosophical discussions.

Paul begins with a compliment, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, `To an unknown god.’” Paul then tells them that the unknown god is God, the creator and Lord of heaven and earth, the source of all that is.

Paul tailors his message to his Greek audience. He quotes from Greek philosophers, such as Epimenides, who wrote about the one god, “In him we live and move and have our being,” and Aratus, who wrote, “We are his offspring.” Paul tells his audience that the one true God has been patient with human ignorance for a time, but all should repent because God “will have the world judged in righteousness by a man [Jesus] whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The lectionary ends here, but in the next couple of verses we learn, “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed, but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ At that point Paul left them. But some of them joined him and became believers.” Their reaction is just as true today—when people hear about Jesus and the Christian way of life, some scoff, and others become believers.

Psalm 66:7-18: The psalmist calls on all the earth to bless and praise God. God has protected his people through tests of hardship and defeat and brought them to freedom. The psalmist promises to make offerings and invites people to hear what God has done for him—God responded to his repentant heart. “Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, not withheld his love from me.”

St. Peter by P.E. Besenzi, 17th cent. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Peter by P.E. Besenzi, 17th cent. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 3:13-22: In this week’s reading, Peter continues to encourage Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith. Peter is not calling on Christians to seek out suffering, but tells us that it’s a blessing to suffer for doing what is right: “Do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.” Always be ready to witness for Christ. Keep in good conduct; it will honor Christ and shame your abusers. Peter says, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.”

It may be theologically incorrect, but, personally, I think suffering is never God’s will, but that God suffers along with us when we are enduring hard times. In the Prayers and Thanksgivings section of the Prayer Book, Prayer 55, p. 831, “For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement”: The prayer begins, “O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.…”

We are called to follow the example of Christ, who suffered and died once and for all to bring us to God. Peter tells us, “he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison (meaning he ‘descended to the dead’ as we say in the Apostles’ Creed)” who were disobedient in the days of Noah so that they might hear the message of salvation. Peter says the eight persons on the ark were saved through water, prefiguring baptism. And now, baptism saves us, “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.”

Detail of statue at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Orford. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Detail of statue at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Orford. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 14:15-21: In this week’s reading, Jesus continues his farewell discourse, his final instructions to his disciples.

Jesus tells the disciples to keep his commandments. You probably recall Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, which we read on Maundy Thursday: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Although he won’t be physically present, the Father will give them another Advocate to be with them forever. The Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The Spirit is not available to unbelievers, but they (and we) know him because he will dwell within.

Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” The resurrection of Jesus will reveal his living presence to the disciples through the Holy Spirit. No longer confined by time or space, Jesus will continue to be with his disciples always, because the Holy Spirit abides in everyone who loves Jesus and keeps his commandments. This is very Good News indeed!

Grace Hikers 2017 schedule

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

Schedule for Summer and Fall 2017

Hikers will meet at church parking lot at 9:00 am

Lunch will follow hiking

Will carpool from church to hiking and back to church

Total time is usually 4 or 5 hours depending on location of trails

 

 

MAY 13                                      AUGUST 5

Pete’s Woods                                                       Seven Bridges

GT Regional Conservancy                                 GT Regional Conservancy

Arcadia Dunes, Arcadia MI                               Rapid City, MI

Lunch Location:                                             Lunch Location:                    

M22 in Onecka                                                     To be determined

 

JUNE 3                                      AUGUST 26

Houdek Dunes                                                       Alligator Hill

Leelanau Conservancy                                          Sleeping Bear Dunes

Leland, MI                                                               Leelanau, MI

Lunch Location:                                                Lunch Location:

To be determined                                                   To be determined

 

 

JUNE 24                                    SEPTEMBER 16

Legacy Art Trail                                                    Light House West Nat. Area

Crystal Mountain                                                  Leelanau Conservancy

Thompsonville, MI                                               Northport, MI

Lunch Location:                                            Lunch Location:

To be determined                                               To be determined

 

JULY 15                                     OCTOBER 7

Mud Lake                                                              Hartwick Pines

Leelanau State Park                                             State Park

Northport, MI                                                       Grayling, MI

Lunch Location:                                               Lunch Location:           

To be determined                                                 To be determined                                                                     

If inclement weather hiking will be cancelled.  For information contact Glenda Andrews gkandrews@earthlink.net or 231-275-0036 or church office

Immigration crackdown: Exchange student denied entry into U.S.

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Youth group.

By Cyriaque Gilbert, as told to Donna Olendorf

French exchange student Cyriaque Gilbert with host family member Kate Blondia

French exchange student Cyriaque Gilbert with host family member Kate Blondia.

I am a 14-year-old exchange student, visiting the Blondia family from France. There are six children in my family, and it has become a tradition for us to come to Traverse City as teenagers. Two of my brothers have already been here, one in 2012 and one in 2013.

Both my brothers got into the United States without a problem, so there was no reason for me to worry that I would be turned away. But that is exactly what happened. Between their visits and mine, a new president had been elected and he had signed an executive order tightening immigration policies and border control.

When I arrived in Detroit after an eight-hour flight from Paris, I got in line with my father and mother to go through Customs. The agents asked to see my documents, and my parents showed them my paperwork, explaining that I was an exchange student who would be studying in the United States for a few months.

The agent looked at my passport and then he looked at me. At first I wasn’t worried, but when he asked for documents that I did not have, I started to feel nervous. He wanted to see my ESTA form, which stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and he asked for my SEVIS ID number, which the government uses to maintain information on non-immigrant students and exchange visitors. I didn’t’ have either of those things. I was documented for a vacation.

After three hours of questioning, the outcome was firm: I could not enter the country. I would be an illegal alien. And so, my parents and I were ushered back onto the same plane we had gotten off of for eight-hour return flight back to Paris.  If I wanted to come to the United States, I would have to correct my paperwork and buy a new round-trip ticket.

Back home in France, my parents and I visited the US Embassy and they helped us fill out the right paperwork. But the problems didn’t end there. I was supposed to attend Glen Lake School, but that district did not have a SEVIS number allowing them to access the internet database that transmits data to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Luckily, the Leelanau School, where my host parents both work, participates in that government program and they assigned me a number and agreed to sponsor me.

The process took two weeks and delayed my arrival by almost a month, from the end of March to the end of April, but I am here now.  This time, we flew to Chicago where, a family friend had assured us, the customs agents are more lenient. My mother stayed home, but my father was with me and we cleared Customs without incident. Then we rented a car and drove to Traverse City.

I will be here until June 25 and I’m looking forward to becoming fluent in English and experiencing American culture, including the Youth Group trip to Chicago later this month.  I never dreamed that I would be impacted by a crackdown in immigration laws, but now I know that a presidential ban can apply even to a student like me!

Engaging the Word: 5/14/17 (The Fifth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. In this week’s readings, Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr, Peter offers encouragement to the new Christian community, and Jesus promises that his eternal presence will be with his disciples.

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Pietro da Cortona, c.1660. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Pietro da Cortona, c.1660. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 7:55-60: This week we learn about Stephen, our first Christian martyr, and about how God can use terrible events to advance the kingdom.

Earlier, Stephen was one of seven men who were appointed to distribute food to the widows. He did great wonders and signs among the people. A group from the synagogue debated Stephen and falsely accused him of blasphemy. They seized Stephen and brought him before the council.

As his defense, Stephen gave a thrilling history of the Jews from Abraham to Jesus (a great read—7:1-53). He concluded by equating the religious authorities with their ancestors who rebelled against God, failed to keep God’s law, and opposed the Holy Spirit. Stephen blamed the Jewish leaders for murdering the Messiah. The authorities became enraged. Now we come to this week’s reading.

When Stephen tells the leaders of his vision of “Jesus standing at the right hand of God” in heaven—their rage boils over. They drag him out of the city and they began to stone him to death. Saul, who later became Paul, was a witness. As Stephen nears death, “he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.” Stephen’s prayer echoes the words of Jesus as he was dying on the cross—he commended his spirit to God, and asked that God not hold this sin against them.

Our reading ends here, but with God there is always more to the story. After Stephen’s death, a severe persecution breaks out against the church in Jerusalem, and many people scattered in fear for their lives. Now here’s an example of God’s redeeming grace. Yes, the people scattered in fear, but they took the message of Jesus with them. So the gospel spreads throughout Judea and Samaria, beginning to fulfill Jesus’ final words before his ascension as recorded in Acts: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Pulpit Rock, Isle of Portland, UK. Photo by Chris Downer. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pulpit Rock, Isle of Portland, UK. Photo by Chris Downer. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Psalm 31 1-5, 15-16: Our psalm is attributed to David, and is a prayer for protection, trusting in God’s righteousness and strength. The psalmist prays, “Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.”

Psalm 31:1-5 is one of the Compline psalm selections in the Prayer Book. Click here to hear it sung by the Pittsburgh Compline Choir.

Apostle Peter,13th Century icon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Apostle Peter, 13th century icon. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 2:2-10: In this week’s reading, Peter appeals to his readers (including us) to grow in Christian maturity. In order to live with new life in Christ, we need to stop some behaviors. The lectionary doesn’t include v.2:1, which tells us what to stop doing: “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.”

Then, using several figures of speech, Peter tells us what to do: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

He says to think of the church as God’s temple, with Jesus as the cornerstone, and we as the living stones. And just as Jesus was chosen by God, we, too, have been chosen and called out of darkness into the marvelous light of God to be his royal priesthood and a holy nation, and God’s own people. My, what an awesome privilege and holy calling we have.

Christ taking leave of the Apostles by Duccio (1260-1318). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Christ taking leave of the Apostles by Duccio (1260-1318). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 14:1-14: Our gospel passage this week is part of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, which he gave to the disciples after the Last Supper. Earlier, Jesus tells his disciples that the end is near, and that where he is going, they cannot come. Peter wants to know, “Lord, where are you going?”

In this week’s reading, Jesus tells them not to worry. He is going away to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house, so they can live with Jesus and his Father forever. When the time comes, he will return for them. And, anyway, Jesus says, they already know the way. Thomas is confused. He said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Now Philip is confused. He said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Then Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

As our love grows, we are willing to take risks for God’s kingdom

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

My dear sisters and brothers of Grace,

Carlton head shotI started my sojourn among you almost one year ago. This time has been challenging and joyful.  I came here not knowing quite what to expect and found a congregation full of God’s love and a willingness to trust that love into the unknown future. Your lives, both collectively and individually, have been a powerful witness to the reality of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

You have endured wounds that had the potential to kill you, but have seen those wounds transformed into life in the love of Jesus. You have faced the knowledge of the past, recognized that it had no control over you, and taken the steps necessary to redeem it. You have been a strong and hopeful witness to the whole church as we have confronted the evils of misogyny, sexism, and sexual abuse. While your work in this area is not complete, you have made a worthy beginning that has laid a strong foundation for future growth.

Yet the work you have admirably done is not simply the correcting of past injustices, as important as that is. Your work has been and is walking the way of the Cross. Your work has been claiming those portions of this community that have died and raising them, by the gracious will of God, to resurrection in Jesus Christ.

As our love for one another and the world grows more mature, more Christ-like, it inevitably becomes less defensive and fearful and more willing to take risks for God’s kingdom informed by the great tradition of the Church…that God’s will might be done on earth as in heaven. The treasures of our tradition that feed us are not simply things we have done in the past, but are activities that are formed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Our love becomes more Christ like as we are willing to accept more disciplines of holy living not simply for personal enrichment, but for the building up of Christ’s Body, the Church. I have no doubt that with your next rector Grace Church will continue to blossom into its fullest potential of Christ’s love.

The future is always fraught with uncertainties and it is best that we can never know our future until it happens. However, in the kingdom of God, the future is always one that brings us to a fuller knowledge of the love of God. In God’s love we are given the will to serve God, one another, and the world no matter what crosses the future may bring.

And so, we continue to say and to believe: Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The Rev. Carlton Kelley

 

Draft vestry minutes – 4/18/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

Vestry Members:  Clare Andreasson, Karl Bastian, James Deaton, Maria DiStefano-Post, Eddie Grim, Kathryn Holl, Sue Kelly, Michael Mittelstaedt, Bill Smith, Jeff Tibbits, Marian Vermeulen, Jeff Wescott (Absentees in Italics)

Guests Present: None
Staff Present:  Ann Hackett  
Clergy Present: The Rev. Carlton Kelley

Prayer and Check-in:
Carlton opened with a prayer and we checked in with one another.

Scripture & Study:
There was no study for this evening.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The agenda for the 4/18/17 meeting was approved by acclamation.
The minutes from the 3/21/2017 meeting were approved by acclamation.

Reports:
Rector Report: 
Carlton reported that we have some good news:

  • The Wednesday evening study group re: Sexual Abuse wants to continue to meet around the topic of forgiveness.
  • Steve Wade has organized a presentation on civilly talking about politics and religion, using a book by Senator John Danforth.
  • Carlton will contact Central United Methodist Church to see if we might arrange van pickup for our seniors who need transportation to church. Seniors would potentially ride from the parking garage used by Central to Grace.  Grace would offer to share this expense.
  • There is a spiritual gifts assessment tool on the diocesan website – (60 questions) that purports to help you discern what your spiritual gifts are.
  • Jubilee House will be the recipient of the funds and donations raised by a national meeting of barbershop quartets performing at a convention in Traverse City.
  • Grace has received an unrestricted gift of about $110,000 from the estate of Julie Christensen. Carlton recommends that the vestry tithe a portion of this gift and save the remainder for future special projects or needs.

Treasurer’s Report:
In the absence of Mark Stackable, Ann Hackett presented the financial report.
The finances are looking healthy.

Ann said that the Finance Committee recommends that we set up an auto-payment on the loan, which would make the payments more even and the interest more regular.

Parish Administrator Report:
2016 Audit: An audit of Grace Church financials is necessary before the arrival of a new rector.  Two quotes were secured:

  • Dennis, Gartland & Niergarth (DGN) $10,600
  • Vanderwal, Spratto & Richards (VSR) $8,000

Motion by Marian Vermeulen and seconded by Jeff Wescott to accept the quote of $8,000 from VSR to perform an audit of the 2016 financial records of Grace Church.  Motion approved.

Brown House Vacancy: The lower apartment will be vacated at the end of May, becoming available for rent, June 1, 2017.  The rent is currently $1200/mo.  The management company suggested a rent increase to $1300/mo.

 

Motion by Eddie Grim and seconded by Jeff Tibbitts to increase the rent from $1200/mo for the lower apartment to $1300/mo.  Motion approved.

Safeguarding God’s Children/Adults Certification: Grace Church has been participating and complying with the Diocesan Best Practices for Safeguarding children and adults since the Diocesan Convention laid out expectations in 2007. The Diocese requires certification but does not spell out expiration for the certification at this time.  The vestry/rector can determine their own requirements for renewal.  Discussion ensued.  Carlton pointed out that this is ultimately the decision of the rector. Eddie suggested that given we are in transition and anticipating a new rector, it may be wise not to take any action at this point. The topic was tabled pending the arrival of future rector.

Review Building Use Policy:
Policy was established in 2009 and now needs review.  Carlton pointed out that canonically the rector establishes the parameters for building use.  The topic was tabled pending the arrival of future rector.

Other Topics:
We are nearing the initiation of the work of the renovation of the Jubilee House emergency basement exit.

Carlton hosted a breakfast for newcomers on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Thank you to Sue Kelly and Ellen Schrader for their hospitality and attendance.

It became necessary to rekey the exterior doors of the church, parish hall, and Jubilee House on April 13, 2017.  An individual who volunteered at Jubilee House but who still retained his keys to church facilities, exhibited unpredictable behavior and entered the premises before business hours.

As a leader of the church, attendance is required at the Anti-Racism Training on Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 9:30am – 2:30pm at Grace Church.  Register on the Diocesan website.

The first quarterly Vestry update for the parish is scheduled for Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 11:30am.
June 4 (St Paul’s at Grace) and June 11 (Grace at St. Paul’s) is the Great Church Swap with St. Paul’s in Elk Rapids

There will be a special coffee hour on Sunday, April 23, 2017 for Donna Olendorf and Jeanette Kania who have been received into the Episcopal church by laying of hands by the Bishop in Grand Rapids.

Senior Warden Report:
At the executive committee meeting, September was discussed as a potential month for the 150th anniversary celebration of Grace Church.  The first planning meeting is set for May 4, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Sue, James, Marian, Karl, Ann, and Clare are all willing to be a part of this committee.

Clare offered a reminder to complete Safeguarding training if needed.

There has been some conversation about finding ways to participate in more outreach to refugees. Jeff Wescott suggested that he could act as a liaison.  The vestry agreed to the idea by acclamation.

The vestry may need to look at the budget to ponder if there is the ability to increase the hours of some staff, with some consideration of discrepancies and equity. Jeff Wescott suggested we discuss this during the May meeting.

We will need a vestry member to take the role of the alternate clerk in the event that Michael Mittelstaedt cannot attend a vestry meeting.

Clare thanked the vestry for their faithful, prayerful and thoughtful conversation with Bishop Hougland and Canon Spaid last month.

Junior Warden Report: None

Old Business: 
Karl reported that he is still gathering information regarding the costs and the logistics of advertising in the bulletins.

New Business: None

Forum for Congregational Concerns: None

Core Ministry Reports:
Eddie Grim recommended that the vestry establish a Jubilee House subcommittee which is charged with the development of a long-term plan for the continued management and operation of the Jubilee House Ministries.

Motion by Jeff Wescott and seconded by Marian Vermeulen that the proposed Jubilee House subcommittee be formed with the following members: Jubilee House Director Glenda Andrews, Grace Church Rector, vestry representatives Bill Smith, Eddie Grim, and Junior Warden, James Deaton, and volunteer representatives Jake Morse and Ed Emenheiser. Motion approved.

Rector Search Committee:
Marian reported that the Rector Search Committee will meet Thursday, April 20, 2017 with Canon Spaid who will present the list of candidates to the committee.

Follow-up & Follow-through:

  • Carlton will follow up with Central Methodist Church on the possibility of using their van for our parishioners who are experiencing difficulty due to our limited parking.
  • Sue Kelly will write thank you notes to Julie Christensen’s family for their generous donation from her estate.
  • Clare will find out what the vestry might be able to do in memory of Mary Lee Pakieser’s brother who recently passed away.

Compline followed by dismissal at 9:00pm

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Engaging the Word: 5/7/17 (The Fourth Sunday of Easter)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10. Go to www.lectionarypage.net to read or print the weekly lectionary text. In our readings for Good Shepherd Sunday, we learn how the earliest Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship with one another, Peter instructed his readers to rejoice in suffering for doing the right thing, and Jesus described himself as the true shepherd who is the gate for the sheep.

Good Shepherd window at St. John the Baptist’s Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Good Shepherd window at St. John the Baptist’s Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 2:42-47: Most likely written by the author of Luke’s Gospel c. 85-95, The Book of Acts connects the Gospels and the Letters, the documents that form the majority of the New Testament. This week’s reading continues with the events of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit empowered the people to become the first Christian community.

Peasants breaking bread. 14th century manuscript. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Peasants breaking bread. 14th cent. manuscript. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The newly baptized “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (This probably sounds familiar, as it’s the first promise of our Baptismal Covenant.) Responding to the teachings of Jesus, all who believed shared money and possessions and attended to one another’s needs in a joyous sense of community. They continued to be devout Jews and “spent much time together in the temple” and, as followers of Jesus, the earliest Christians “broke bread at home” (Luke’s expression for the Eucharist), establishing a new way of being in community.

I found the idea of living in such a close community attractive and scary—I really want to follow Jesus, and, at the same time, I resist the totality of this vision of community. I read a few commentaries, and learned that many interpreters since the Reformation consider this passage of Acts as a utopian description of communal life, or maybe a record of the honeymoon period of Christianity, but one that was unsustainable as the church grew. So maybe we can’t return to the life of the earliest Christians, but as Christ’s disciples here in northern Michigan, we’re coming closer and closer. And I treasure our community in the joy of celebration, of doing God’s work together, and being available to one another when times are hard. That’s Grace.

  Psalm 23: In this week’s reading we have the Twenty-Third Psalm, in which David describes God as his shepherd. In the Wikipedia entry for Psalm 23, I learned about J. Douglas MacMillan. He was a minister in Scotland, a shepherd for 12 years, and wrote a book about the Twenty-Third Psalm. He maintains that the shepherd theme permeates the entire psalm. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Douglas MacMillan argues that verse 5 (“Thou preparest a table before me”) refers to the “old oriental shepherding practice” of using little raised tables to feed sheep. Similarly, “Thou anointest my head with oil” may refer to an ancient form of backliner – the oil is poured on wounds, and repels flies. MacMillan also notes that verse 6 (“Goodness and mercy shall follow me”) reminds him of two loyal sheepdogs coming behind the flock.

St. Peter by Pierre-Étienne Monnot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

St. Peter by Pierre-Étienne Monnot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Peter 2:19-25: This week’s reading is addressed to household slaves who are suffering unjustly. Peter argues that enduring unjust suffering wins God’s approval, and that one should imitate Christ: “When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”

This text was meant to provide encouragement to the faithful followers of Jesus who were suffering at the hands of the Romans. Peter reminds them that by Jesus bore our sins that we might live for righteousness. “For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

Drystone wall and gate near Drumkeeragh forest, UK. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Drystone wall and gate near Drumkeeragh forest, UK. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John 10:1-10: In our reading this week, Jesus uses sheep and shepherd imagery to portray himself as the true shepherd (the Son of God) and gate for the sheep (God’s people), in contrast to the Pharisees who are thieves and bandits. Here is the entire reading:

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

The lectionary stops there, but Jesus continues in the next verse: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” And he did.