Mentors shape our children’s faith

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

 By Catherine Turnbull

Catherine Turnbull_2014 “Faith, typically, first reaches us through the example and witness of others,” says L. William Countryman in Living on the Border of the Holy. “Through the tradition, we enjoy the company of a vast array of witnesses and fellow pilgrims, even as we discover GOD at work in new ways in our own lives.”

I don’t think I’ve seen a better definition of how to shape a youth formation program. Running right alongside my deep gratitude for the ways in which this faith community—my Grace Church—has molded, challenged, and bolstered me and my family for close to twenty years, is my gratitude for the ways I see my Grace Church stepping alongside its children and young people right now.

I’m grateful that you support the young people learning to pray for each other on the Healing Team, and that you let us pray with you. I’m grateful that you smile while we practice quietly entering the Sanctuary (always a process!). You support the acolytes by thanking them, you support Joyful Noise by responding to their songs, and you support new readers by complimenting their efforts. When Canstruction was underway at the Mall, some of you came by and said hello or cheered us on.

Every Sunday, I see relationships growing not only within age groups but also between youth and adult volunteers; and that’s exactly why I wanted to bring my children up in a church community. I know these volunteers will become mentors, and time with mentors nourishes faith and provides examples of the Love that is ours in GOD. It’s what we do for each other all of our lives, by the Grace of God.


To follow Christ, you have to choose, not once, but a million times…

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

By The Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards

Rev. Daniel P. Richards

Rev. Daniel P. Richards

Life lessons usually come with sweat and blood and leave scars behind. Or
you can read a lot of books. I prefer the books, but I have to say that I
don’t actually get the lesson into my bones until I’ve lost a little skin.

Right now, it is the knowledge of just how much maintenance the good in life
requires. Our house is fairly new to us, but I have a list of to-do items
that is becoming scroll length, in addition to the normal four hundred
things to do daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. Today it is drywall and
door handles.

Let us not discuss the various things that are required by marriage, children, hobbies, job, vocation, church,  and friendships. Everything takes maintenance, at least everything good. I chose fountain pens over throw  aways twenty years ago, and my fingertips are colored with ink a couple of days a week. It is a choice that I made and that I keep making.

If you are going to follow Christ, you have to choose, not once, but a million times. You have to keep choosing. This is one of those theological paradoxes: through Christ you are saved once, but you work out your salvation over the days, weeks, months, and years.

Does that feel relaxing? Does that feel like Jesus’ light yoke or easy burden? Sometimes not. It is easier to go down the big road than to take the narrow path, but I have found that there is a kind of joy on the narrow way that the broad path just does not offer. It is the joy of living as a human being in the household of God.

We do not do the work because God will love us when our chores are done. We work because the Father’s Spirit is transforming us into sons and daughters, citizens of the Kingdom, and sons and daughters get chores because they belong to a household. Citizens work for love of the land. We are part of something beautiful and good, and we are becoming beautiful and good as we grow in virtue.

Virtue takes work. Vice and decay come with time. As a pastor and priest I am on the side of virtue, but it still doesn’t come easy.

I would rather not do the work today. The sun is calling and my running shoes are by the door, and I know I am a child of God. But, I want a home I can live in with my wife and children cared for and at peace, a church that is welcoming, faithful, and holy, and friendships that are joyful. So for today it is drywall patch and new door handles and fasting and prayer and Scripture. Today it is work.

It may be Friday, but Sunday’s coming.

Website celebrates 2nd anniversary – 17,266 visits and counting

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

By Donna Olendorf

Donna OlendorfTwo years ago this month, Grace launched its rebranded website and, just over a year ago, replaced its hard copy newsletter with a Grace Notes blog (

Since then 9,430 visitors from as far away as Kenya, Australia, and Brazil have paid 17,266 visits to the website to enjoy its rich content and clean design. Once on site, visitors can locate information about weekly church activities, Easter services, and a variety of other events as well as listen to audio recordings of Daniel’s sermons or read the weekly Grace Notes blog postings, including Barb Klugh’s insightful reflections on the weekly scriptures (Engaging the Word).

It’s nice to have an international readership, but by far the most important readers are right here at home. By sharing your stories, you help make the website a ministry that reflects who we are and how we live. If you have a faith story to share—and almost all of us do—please send it to Donna Olendorf at






How does God fit into your life journey?

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

By Rosemary Hagan

Hagan_RosemarySpiritual Direction is a ministry that helps a person in his or her efforts towards becoming “a human being fully alive.” In our busy lives it is often difficult to hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Direction can help one to be more attentive and responsive to the promptings of the Spirit.

The primary focus is on deepening one’s relationship with God and growing in awareness of God’s living presence in the ordinary events of life. This leads to an even deeper and more realistic understanding of who we are in relationship to God, self, and others.

The director/companion listens, asks questions, and at times offers suggestions to help the person grow in prayer and relationship with God, self, and others. This conversation allows the person to discover his/her own inner voice and wisdom from God deep within.

Spiritual Direction gives a person an opportunity to share one’s story and faith journey. Regularly scheduled visits allow for ongoing attentiveness to one’s personal experience, thus uncovering the ways by which God speaks to us and invites us to a deepening union.

Spiritual Direction may be for you if…

• You are an average person who is serious about growing in your spiritual life…
• You desire to deepen your relationship with God…
• You wish to have an opportunity to talk about your life journey and how God fits into this journey…
• You are interested in exploring spirituality and different ways of praying…
• You desire to become more aware of God’s presence…
• You are seeking answers to personal decisions and want to turn to God for guidance..
• You are striving to become a woman / man for others and wish to have your life centered in God…

Grace Church offers professionally trained Spiritual Directors who have been approved to offer direction out of Grace Church by The Very Reverend Daniel P. Richards and Rosemary Hagan, D.Min. For more information contact Rosemary at 231-946-3065,

Voice of the Vestry: the curmudgeon contingent

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

Vestry member Chuck Wolterink

Vestry member Chuck Wolterink

As Bishop Whayne Hougland might say, “What’s up, y’all?”

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been a long, cold, difficult winter, and combined with a variety of bothersome ailments, things breaking around the house, and my unreliable internet connection, it has made me even more depressed and frazzled than usual.

I remember reading, when I was a child, that all it would take for another Ice Age to happen is for the snow to last through the summer for three years in a row. This winter has made that improbable threat seem all too likely. You see, I’m one of those who, if I found myself surrounded by stampeding elephants, would slowly shake my head and think, “I knew it. This was bound to happen someday.”

So you can imagine my thrill when I was asked to run for vestry again. It’s true that my first term on vestry was unexpectedly rich and rewarding. But this would be a whole new group of people, many of whom I had barely even had a conversation with before—a daunting prospect for an introvert loner like me. I could almost feel marauders circling.

But it hasn’t been that way at all. I’m proud to have been a part of the decisions we’ve made in our first three meetings. I’ve been a Food Pantry volunteer for over ten years, so I’m especially pleased by the vestry’s support of the Pantry’s upcoming move and expansion. We also sent aid to those who lost their homes to the typhoon in the Philippines. On our retreat in February we prayed, studied,  and discerned together. My fellow vestry members aren’t marauders after all, and I look forward to getting to know them better as we serve this congregation over the next three years. Of course, a boulder will probably fall on the church by then. So let’s do as much good as we can as fast as we can.

It’s the first day of spring, the pile of snow at the end of my driveway is down from about seven feet to five or so, and there’s visible blue sky at least once or twice a week. Maybe spring weather will come; surely Easter will come. Thanks be to God.

Your vestry representative for the curmudgeon contingent,

Chuck Wolterink

(Thanks to my daughter, Elizabeth, for help in preparing this article.)


The Daily Office

Posted by & filed under Voice of the Clergy.

By The Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards

Christians have gathered for prayer at various hours of the day from the
time of the apostles. Morning and Evening Prayers have been marked for us
in the Anglican tradition by the prayer book services. They represent a
merging of the morning and afternoon offices of the Benedictine monastic

So why do it? By beginning and ending our days in regular prayer and
Scripture, we shape our hearts and minds to the way of God.

The Daily Office can appear daunting at first, so let me just encourage you
to begin with where you are and simplify as much as you need to and add as
you feel ready. It can feel text heavy, so don’t be afraid to stop and just
listen to God breathing in you and let the text sing rather than plod along.

We begin with a sentence of Scripture and confession, then the Psalms and
readings, Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, a collect or two, and a
final prayer of thanksgiving, and blessing to close.

You can find each service in the Book of Common Prayer, at, or ask for someone to walk you through it. Like any
practice, the first few times through feel awkward, but after a short time,
it is hard to imagine life without it.

We will have a little workshop after each service this weekend to get you
started if you are new are just need a refresher.


6th century liturgy will be celebrated on March 22

Posted by & filed under Voice of the Clergy.

By Pete Clapp

Once a month, Grace celebrates its Saturday evening service with a historical ceremony that uses different liturgical forms from the early days of Christendom.  On March 22, 2014, the 5 pm mass will be a 6th century liturgy from the city of Rome.  The material that follows is a commentary on that ancient liturgy.

Historical background

By 285 ad the Roman Empire was too large to govern efficiently, so it was divided by the Emperor Diocletian into two parts: Eastern and Western.  The Eastern Empire was today’s Greece, Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Near East, North Africa, and some of Central Asia.  The Western Empire included Italy, Northern Europe (British Isles, Spain, France, Portugal, and Germany), and western North Africa.

Between 285 ad and Constantine’s early 4th century rule, which unified the empire once more (as Eastern and Western), there were considerable periods of misrule, corruption, conflict, further division, and struggle against the tribes of various conquered peoples.

Constantine's Conversion, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Constantine’s Conversion, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

After Constantine declared Christianity to be the religion of the state circa 318 ad, he left his empire to his three sons–Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans–who divided the Roman Empire between them, but soon fell to fighting one another.  In these conflicts, Constantine II and Constans were killed. Constantius II died later after naming his cousin Julian his successor and heir. Emperor Julian ruled for only two years (361-363 ad) and, in that time, tried to return Rome to her former glory through a series of reforms aimed at increasing efficiency in government. Julian rejected Christianity and blamed it for the decline of the empire. While he officially proclaimed a policy of religious tolerance, Julian systematically removed Christians from influential government positions, banned the teaching and spread of the religion, and barred Christians from military service. His death, while on campaign against the Persians, ended the dynasty Constantine had begun. He was the last pagan emperor of Rome and came to be known as `Julian the Apostate’ for his opposition to Christianity.

Christianity was re-established after Julian’s death, and under the Emperor Theodosius (379-395 ad) pagan worship was outlawed, pagan temples were turned into churches, and the famous Academy of Plato was closed.  These efforts were not popular with more conservative Roman citizens, who saw the pagan pantheon of Roman gods as a stabilizing influence among human affairs, while Christianity removed divine influence to some far away heaven.

During this period and the next 80 or so years, constant wars with the Goths, Vandals, Picts, Scots, Franks, Huns, and the Visigoths depleted the strength of the Western Empire and it slowly declined into confusion and disarray until its end in circa 476 ad with the conquest of Rome by a Germanic king.

(The Eastern, or Byzantine Empire, continued as such until 1453 ad, but was much different in character and culture from the Western section of the empire.  The Eastern Empire was Greek-speaking, while the Western used Latin.  The Eastern Empire was never as centrally governed as the West.

About the liturgy

Today’s liturgy is a product of the Western Roman Empire and its turbulent history of the 5th century.  Amid the ups and downs, twists and turns, fears and doubts of the Western empire’s populace, the Christian Church offered the average Roman citizen a source of stability, a beacon of hope, and an opportunity for spiritual peace while under threat.

This silver paten is one of only four to survive from the first "golden age" of Byzantium (6th century). Walters Art Museum.

This silver paten is one of only four to survive from the first “golden age” of Byzantium (6th century). Walters Art Museum.

What are some of the changes we can see?  The Western liturgy was more fixed . . . that is, predictable and set, partially as a response to theological controversies and also as an antidote to the changes in the civil order and in the culture.  The lessons had been reduced from four to two.  In Rome, preaching as a part of the liturgy was no longer practiced.  The “Kiss of Peace” had moved to the “Breaking of the Bread”.  A formal blessing of the people at the close of the liturgy had become fashionable.

Although some seating would be provided for the elderly and infirm, the congregation would have stood during the rite, and some perhaps sat on the floor.  There would be visiting among the people before the liturgy began, during the administration of communion, and after the exit of the clergy.  During the prayers the congregation would hold their hands in the “orans” position along with the clergy.

The power of the Church had grown as the empire’s civil order was breaking down.  Bishops and clergy became more important in public life, because of their exemplary values and their generosity toward those in need, but mostly because they filled the power vacuum left by the breakdown of the civil order.   But while the Church was a bulwark against threatening change, the liturgy was becoming shorter and more convenient for the people as familiarity squeezed out repetitive parts of the service, and shortened the attention span.  In the next few centuries the liturgy would shorten even more.  For example, the Litany would shrink to just using the Kyrie eleison.

Note what you either do or do not like about this 6th century liturgy.  What social or cultural forces influence our contemporary liturgy today?

Transfiguration: Jesus reflects the glory of God

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

By The Rev. Katheryn King

Katheryn King I had the privilege of knowing Donny when I served in South Dakota.

I hope everyone has the privilege of knowing a “Donny.” Donny was one of the Olsen farmers, who were brothers and farmers for many generations.  These brothers worked hard together. Some were herdsman, some farmed grain and corn.  Donny was one of these Olsen farmers.

One of the things I remember best about the Olsen men were their hands. They had the biggest, hardened hands I’ve ever seen.  You could get lost in those hands. Shaking hands after Sunday service was like slipping my hand into a glove of God’s grace.  Donny was like that. Besides the hands and his strong stature was the smile in his eyes.

I remember one day on Main Street. It was Homecoming and folks were gathering for the parade. Donny never missed an opportunity to socialize. I spotted Donny coming out of the café. He’d been on a trip to Sweden and just returned. I greeted Donny with a big hug I could fit around him.  Donny never let me forget and thoroughly enjoyed every chance to tell me how the Preacher gave him a hug in front of God and most of the town!

I received word that Donny died a while ago and that the whole parish and community mourned. On a bitter winter day the church was full for his funeral.  I hear they even ran out of the open-face sandwiches the ladies always served and every single cup was washed twice. You can’t stand in a Dakota cemetery without something to eat!

I also heard you almost expected to see Donny rambling in for the service or to sing with the men – brothers, sons, nephews, cousins like he had done all of his life.  Oh, how those Olsen boys could sing!

You see, knowing Donny – seeing those smiling eyes and being held by huge hands was, for me, like glimpsing the glory of God. God shining through for all to see.

That’s kind of what the Epiphany season has been.

The theme of the season is God’s glory in Jesus. The light of God in Christ has been growing from babyhood – the visit of the Magi to the time of his last journey to Jerusalem. The light of the first Epiphany was small as a candle but by the time of the Transfiguration, the flame has become the brightness of the sun.

As a babe, God’s glory was seen by the Wise Ones who revealed him as king.

At his baptism, Jesus’ glory is acknowledged by those left to follow him. And during the last Sundays of Epiphany season, we have seen glory and power reflected in his healings and teachings.

Now at the Transfiguration everything comes together.

Jesus reflects in his person the glory of God. The past is fulfilled in the approval of Moses and Elijah, and in a bit of Divine special effects, the voice of God call the disciples to listen and obey Jesus. The truth speaks loud and clear.  Disciples and followers of Jesus have to live in the real world. They can’t stay on the mountain. They can’t live in tents forever.

Jesus and his disciples come down from the Mount of Transfiguration to continue their journey to Jerusalem. Jesus returns – again with God’s approval and assurance.  Peter, James, and John come down with a new understanding of their Lord’s mission and their own mission.

Certain things in Donny’s life were either before or after my time. I never knew his dearly beloved wife. I didn’t know Donny with serious health struggles that finally took him. But people like Donny can inspire us as experiences on the mountain to uplift us. Life is not lived at the top of some mountain.  We must come down. We must go on.

We must walk with Jesus into tomorrows filled with difficulty but also tomorrows of hope and grace.