Advent invites us to be present to God

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

By J. Kathryn Costas
Interim Rector

Advent is the beginning of a new church year.  You will see the green color disappear and be replaced with “advent blue”, we will be lighting a new candle each week on the advent wreath, the beginning sentences of our worship change, and we will begin our readings from year B of the Revised Common Lectionary.

I always look forward to this season of Advent.   I ponder how I can make this “season of waiting and preparation” a holy time for myself.  I plan on adding into my day way too many advent readings, I would like many hours of silent meditation and prayer, and also a couple of retreat days each week.  I want to really prepare in order to fully focus on the joy that Christmas brings.  Then reality sets in and I remind myself, I am not living in a monastery but in the world and I reconsider my Advent practices.

What are your advent practices?  Do you strive to do way more than time permits?  Some people choose an advent devotional to read daily, others light an advent candle, some fast a day a week, others open an advent calendar, and some choose to do things for others.  Perhaps the best use of our time is to be.  Be present to God and listen as God makes Godself known to us.

Joan Chittister reminds us that this is a season of waiting, where we learn “the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in the sense of the presence of God all around us, and the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future.” (The Liturgical Year, 2009)  She calls us to develop an “Advent Heart” as we enter into the days of this season of waiting and watching.  Advent is about remembering the birth of Jesus, it is about seeing God among us in our daily lives, in what we read, in the Eucharist, in our work, our families and our community, and it is about the final coming as the full reign of God.

Transition is another season of waiting. It is a time of measuring ourselves as a church, a time to see who we are and if we measure up to who we say we are.  Others gift us with questions that we need to ponder…..Is Jesus evident in who we are?  Can we feel the presence of the Holy Spirit among us?  Do we treat one another as Christ?  Are we willing to let the Spirit come among us and stir up its power within Grace Church?

This Advent Journey is not only about waiting in hope and anticipating, it is about engaging with the God that is present in our midst and moving toward the future.  May we be alert and present to the places where opportunity for mission and ministry present themselves.  May God’s abundant grace fill us with all we need during this Advent time.

Voice of the vestry: Season of Paradox

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

By Clare Andreasson
Senior Warden

Fall is a season of paradox.  We gather in the harvest of a season of beauty and bounty.  We look back in gratitude for all that we have been given.  And we let go.  Leaves change from green to gold.  They fall from the trees.  The plants that have provided flowers and food for us whither and appear to be dying.  The landscape looks barren.  We enter a season where we must trust in the life hidden in the seed, hidden in the roots which are nourished and continue to grow beyond sight deep within the soil.  We move towards Advent, the season of waiting in faith and hope and love for the life that is to come.

It is in the midst of this season that the vestry enters its work of preparing a budget for the year ahead.  We will meet on the morning of Saturday, December 9.  We will look back in gratitude for God’s provision.  We are deeply grateful for all the ways you have given to the work to which we have been called here at Grace and for your stewardship and generosity which have provided for our financial needs as a parish.

In addition, we will spend some time looking at the ministries at Grace which would benefit from greater communication with the vestry.  We hope to revive the connections which vestry liaisons, meeting regularly to understand and support the work of our ministries, could provide.

We will also prayerfully re-evaluate our needs as a parish; we will consider our current employment structures and our spending in light of those needs.  We will work to create a balanced budget.  This is a process which involves both gathering in and letting go.  We ask for your prayers as we do this work.  One week after our vestry meeting, on Sunday, December 17 after the 10 am service, we will invite you to a parish meeting to give you a budget update.

If you are planning to pledge, but have not yet done so, it would help us tremendously if you could give us your pledge card.  We will need to make decisions based on an understanding of what we may anticipate receiving in the year ahead.

The rhythms of the seasons remind me that what has come before nourishes and gives life to what lies ahead.  As a vestry, we enter this season of our work trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide us in gratitude and to give us wisdom as we prepare to receive the new life that is to come.

Vestry minutes – 10/17/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

Oct 17, 2017
6:00 pm

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:  None
Clergy Present: Rev. Kathryn Costas

Prayer and Check-in:
The vestry checked in with one another.

Scripture & Study:
The Rev. Kathryn Costas led the vestry in a reflection based on a quote from Thomas Merton.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The agenda was approved by acclamation.
The minutes of the regular vestry meeting of 9/19/17 were approved by acclamation.

Rector Report:  Rev. Kathryn Costas present
The All Saints service will be moved until the first weekend in Nov. 2017 and Maxcie Latimer will do a high-tea following the 5 pm service that weekend.

On Sunday, Nov 19 there will be a Thanksgiving Service followed by a potluck with special recognition of the families who have been a part of Grace Church for more than one generation.

There was discussion of the number of services to be held on Christmas weekend, given that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.

Kathryn is beginning to schedule meetings with each individual vestry member.

Kathryn will put together a transition team with input of names from the congregation.

Kathryn will ask parishioners to submit the names of fellow parishioners whom they consider to be trustworthy and wise, and who have a sense of the pulse of the parish.

Kathryn will hold a Staff Retreat next Tuesday (10/24/17) from 10am-1pm.

Treasurer’s Report: Mark Stackable, present
The finance committee reviewed and discussed the draft 2016 audit.

Refinements were suggested by the auditors in the following areas: the check signing process, the weekly collections, the insurance on savings and investments, and the way expenses on renovations are reported: they should be “capitalized” not “expensed.”  Discussion ensued.

The Finance Committee established an end of November deadline for the GEC 2018 budget.  In order to facilitate preparation of the 2018 budget, the Finance Committee will meet on 10/24, 11/7, and 11/14.

Motion by Marian Vermeulen and Seconded by Eddie Grim – that from this date forward vestry members Clare Andreasson, Senior Warden, James Deaton, Junior Warden, Jeff Wescott, and Bill Smith, be named as account signers on all accounts except the GEC Foundation; and the Reverend Kathryn Costas be named as signer for the Discretionary Fund account; and Ward Kuhn and Bill Pierce be maintained as signers on the GEC Foundation account.  Motion approved.

Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Marian Vermeulen – the stated policy is that the weekly offering is counted, recorded, signed, sealed in designated envelopes by two unrelated individuals immediately following each service and placed in the safe.  Motion approved.

Motion by Jeff Wescott and Seconded by Bill Smith – To accept the audit, as is, with the addition of the Charles Schwab Document stating verification of insurance.  Motion approved.

Parish Administrator Report:
Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Bill Smith – that the vestry accept a generous gift of approximately $2750 to be distributed as designated by the donor to the Jubilee House and the Food Pantry.  Motion approved.

Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Karl Bastian – to approve the additional expenditure of $482 toward the remodeling of the bathroom in the Brown House.  Motion approved.

Important upcoming dates were discussed:
The 150th Event Worship Service time – Dec 10, 2017 Time TBD
The Annual Meeting – Jan 21, 2018 (alternate snow date Jan 28, 2018)
The Vestry Retreat – Feb 2-3, 2018

The vestry agreed to change the date of their November meeting from Tuesday, November 21 to Tuesday, November 14 in order to avoid conflicts with Thanksgiving travel.

Senior Warden Report:
Clare met with Jeff Tibbits to discuss his reasons for resigning from his position on the vestry, to thank him for all that he has contributed to Grace Church, and to express sorrow for his departure.

Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Karl Bastian – to accept Jeffrey Tibbits’ resignation from the vestry.  Motion approved.

Eddie pointed out that our bylaws require that the vestry appoint a replacement for Jeff Tibbits before the vestry elections in January.  Clare will lead a process of discernment in this regard.

The issue of the plumbing in the Parish Hall needs to be reviewed and addressed; Ann Hackett is in the midst of seeking quotes for replacement of pipes for the entire parish hall.  It is not yet clear whether we will be able to use PVC pipes, or will need to replace with cast iron.

In light of the decommissioning of our Rector Search Committee, the vestry agreed that it would be wise to remove our rector search page and our parish profile from the Grace Church website at this time.

The vestry discussed the timing of posting vestry minutes publicly on the church website and agreed that minutes should be posted once they have been approved by the vestry.

There has been a request for vestry liaisons to be appointed to the Youth Formation ministries.  The vestry strongly supports this request however, the vestry would like to make a decision in this regard after re-evaluation of the core ministries for which liaisons are needed and after new vestry members are elected in January 2018.

Our pledge campaign and work on preparing the 2018 budget are both underway.  The vestry will need to evaluate current salary structures in light of the needs of Grace and the resources which we have available to us.

Junior Warden Report:
Social Media Guidelines for parish staff and volunteers have been drafted by the communications committee.  These guidelines are based on similar policies used by other Episcopal parishes and dioceses.  The vestry has been asked to review this policy in preparation for their November meeting.

Old Business:
Last month Eddie presented recommendations from the Jubilee Ministries Subcommittee and asked that the vestry take time to consider them in preparation for formal acceptance at the October vestry meeting.

Motion by Jeff Wescott and Seconded by Karl Bastian – to accept the recommendations of the Vestry Jubilee Ministries Subcommittee as written.  Motion approved.

Karl Bastian gave an update on the Stewardship campaign.  The vestry thanked him for the excellent work that he and his committee have done so far.

New Business:
In consideration of those with allergies it is important that we become peanut-free in our food offerings, especially during coffee hour.

Sue Kelly presented a request from Candice Westerfield, Kathy Woods, Maxcie Latimer and Betsy MacGirr who would like the blessing of the vestry to form a group to begin archiving all of the historical documents related to Grace.  The vestry was delighted to affirm their request.Kate Wood was appointed to the chair of the nominating committee.

Forum for Congregational Concerns:
Core Ministry Reports:
Rector Search Committee:
Follow-up & Follow-through:

Kathryn Costas closed the meeting with prayer.

Meeting concluded at 9:00 pm

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Grace will host Safe Harbor Dec.  2 – Dec.  9

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


Artist rendering of the new Safe Harbor Shelter, published with permission of Safe Harbor.

New homeless shelter now open

The building has changed, but the mission remains the same.  Every year from November through April Safe Harbor offers shelter—a warm, safe place to sleep and a hot meal— to the homeless during the coldest months of the year.

Staffed by a coalition of more than twenty local churches, Safe Harbor is a volunteer organization that relies entirely on donations of food, time, and talent to keep it running.  Churches sign up as hosts for a week and provide a hot dinner, a simple breakfast, and resources to supervise the guests. In the past, this involved taking turns sheltering the homeless in their own churches.  Guests would sleep on a mat on the floor and eat in the church hall.

All that changed on November 4, when Safe Harbor opened its doors at a new permanent facility on Wellington Street.  Over four years in the making, the winter shelter offers five dedicated sleeping areas, including flex rooms for guests with special needs, which can sleep 72 guests.   It has hot showers, several washer-dryer units, and a cell phone charging locker for each guest.  There is a media room with a television and several computer stations.

Guests can arrive from 5:45 – 7 pm, and must leave the building by 8 am, after a simple continental breakfast.

While churches no longer need to provide shelter, they remain the backbone of the organization.  “It takes 167 people to run the shelter each week,” Safe Harbor Director Peter Starkel told the Record Eagle. The churches, in conjunction with Goodwill Inn, provide that staffing.

 Our turn is coming up soon. Grace is hosting at Safe Harbor from December 2 – December 9 and volunteers are needed to prepare meals and staff the facility. Dinner and Breakfast teams are in especially short supply.  Serving as a Safe Harbor volunteer is a rewarding experience.  All shifts at the new facility will be trained and first-timers will be paired with a seasoned volunteer.

If you would like to volunteer, sign up online at   or contact Donna Olendorf (231-947-2330, ex 309).

Grace Pilgrimage – a tradition since 1998

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Youth group.

By Donna Olendorf
Director of Children & Youth Formation

From the earliest days of the Church until today, Christians have made pilgrimage a part of their faith. And, in 1998, having adopted a curriculum that holds pilgrimage as its central feature, Grace youth also embraced this tradition, traveling to distant lands in search of God and their own identity.  Those who have made such a journey describe it as a life-changing experience. Being in new environments with people you don’t know well asks you to trust in something larger than yourself.  It makes you grow.

“Pilgrimage is both a looking in and a looking out,” said Barb Johnson, who co-led the 2010 trip to Yosemite. Read on to discover the blessings that youth pilgrimage has brought to Grace:

Glendalough, Ireland (1998) under the leadership of Bill & Penny Pierce and Jay & Jody Ferry

The first Grace pilgrims traveled to the Center for Celtic Spirituality in Glendalough, Ireland, in the summer of 1998. “We had adopted the Journey to Adulthood (J2A) youth program and were told to take a pilgrimage,” recalled J2A leader Bill Pierce, who researched destinations and discovered Father Marcus Losack at Glendalough. A poet, Anglican priest, and Celtic scholar, Fr. Marcus led the youth in spiritual direction. “It changed my life,” said Lisa Kelly, who took the trip with her brother.

Inis Mór, Ireland (2001) under the leadership of Jan Stump Tharp and her co-leader.

Three years later the second group of pilgrims journeyed to Inis Mór, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Ireland.  With over 50 different monuments of Christian, pre-Christian, and Celtic mythological heritage, the pilgrims were never far from some of the oldest archaeological remains in Ireland.


London, England (2004) under the leadership of Bill Pierce and Jill Polmateer.

The success of the first two pilgrimages to the British Isles inspired a third trip to London, England in 2004, also under the leadership of Bill Pierce. For this journey, Jill Polmateer joined him as co-leader.




Rome and Florence, Italy (2007) under the leadership of Dan Bruining and Barb Dancer.

Ready for a European experience, the J2A pilgrims traveled to Italy. They visited famous Roman ruins, ancient churches dating back to the 4th century, and attended mass at an Anglican church.  Their travels were highlighted by a tour of the catacombs of St. Sebastian where the pilgrims saw first-hand where many martyrs and early Christians were buried.  When the trip was over, Dan summed up the experience, “We are unconditionally grateful for the opportunity we had to grow together as a community and to grow in faith.”


San Francisco and Yosemite (2010) under the leadership of Bob Foote, Linda Schubert, and Chris and Barb Johnson

Eight J2A members traveled to California in 2010.  Their pilgrimage included daily Bible study, journaling, hiking a spirit walk, and doing a service project in Yosemite Park. In San Francisco, they worked in a food garden, helped serve a community meal, and attended service at a monastery. “The most rewarding part was watching the youth step out of their comfort zones and trust others, whom they had not known well,” wrote leader Barb Johnson in a reflection about the experience. “I felt as though we had met our objective: We planted the seed.”


Camino de Santiago, Spain (2013) under the leadership of Brad and Kathy Will, and Linda and Art Schubert

The most recent J2A pilgrimage took place in June 2013. Led by the Schuberts and the Wills, the seven Grace teens traveled to Spain to walk part of the ancient Camino de Santiago. Journaling became an important part of their travels and helped solidify their experience when the group reconvened two years later, under the inspirational leadership of Elizabeth Wolterink.  They crafted a panel paper, “Walking Toward God: Confronting Consumerism,”  which they presented to the Parliament of World Religions in Utah in October, 2015.


This year’s J2A group spent the past month interviewing pilgrims and pilgrim leaders, and have created a video presentation that will be shown at Coffee Hour on November19. Please stop by for a look.


ECW has been committed to service for over 150 years

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

By Ellen Schrader

Two weeks ago I set out to write a brief piece about the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and its history at Grace.  An odd feeling came over me as I held the notebook of the first secretary of what was then called the Women’s Auxiliary, dated Nov. 14, 1895.  I was handling a book that had been handled by another woman from another time, yet we were linked by faith and a desire to serve our God.  Mrs. E. L. Sprague was that secretary, wife of senior warden Elvin Sprague and part of the couple who reinvigorated the parish during those years.  The local chapter was encouraged by a letter from the diocesan secretary of the Auxiliary ‘giving ideas of the good work which is being carried on in other localities.’ In a time when a spool of thread cost four cents and three yards of flannel cost 24 cents, the ladies paid the insurance premium for the church in the amount of $4.75.  In addition, the Auxiliary paid for the rector’s fuel (wood), the janitor, renting tables and chairs from the Hannah Lay Co., electric lights, and a casket.  In spite of all that, they managed to send $5.00 to the Industrial School for Boys of Southern Virginia, a home for delinquent children which opened in 1892.  Bazaars, socials, and member dues were their primary mode of fundraising.  Thus began our long history of women’s service to the parish and those in need.

By 1922, the ladies were contributing to children’s aid ($127.18) and the building fund ($334.91), and in 1925 disbursed $890 to the vestry.  That same year, the Women’s Auxiliary national organization (including all its local chapters) was recognized by the National Church and women were appointed to national standing committees.  Of note, General Convention declined to authorize women as licensed lay leaders that year.

During the 1950’s, the Rev. Francis Foley, Rector, asked the Women’s Auxiliary to split into two separate guilds, in order to accommodate the work schedules of some ladies, and the meeting preferences of others.  St. Catherine’s Guild was made up of young mothers and working ladies, and St. Margaret’s Guild consisted of ‘mature’ ladies.

In 1965, the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Church became the General Division of Women’s Work (yes, really), and the diocesan and local Auxiliary units became the Episcopal Church Women.  At Grace, St. Catherine’ and St. Margaret’s combined to become the Grace chapter of ECW.

In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, ECW raised money by providing food for catered events, like graduation parties, weddings, and cocktail parties (check out the ads reproduced on this page).  Many still remember the annual Peony Tea, the Silver Teas at Christmas, and that spring dinner that fed 800 people and raised a ton of money for outreach.

By 1980, ECW was providing funds annually (to the tune of $3000) to support the parish, local charities, the national church, and foreign missions.  The group continued to disburse funds for use by the vestry, and supported the discretionary fund, among others.  Locally, ECW supported a variety of charities, including Third Level Crisis Center and the Women’s Resource Center.  Nationally, they continued support to seminaries, foreign relief efforts, and St. Gregory’s Abbey, among others.

By 1985, there was a notable decline in traditional women’s ministries nationally, and in 1988, ECW ceased to exist at Grace.  In its place, The Rev. Mark Story, Rector, requested that ECW members become part of a group called Parish Life, continuing the work of the original Women’s Auxiliary.  Parish Life remained active until it was disbanded in 2013 by the Rev. Daniel Richards, Rector.  Its work has continued, through the individual efforts of its former members.  ECW has been resurrected across the country, and is active within our diocese, but so far it has not found new life at Grace.  What does our future hold?



This article could not have been written without the help of the 150th committee, especially Kathy Woods and Maxcie Latimer; and the information provided by the Episcopal Women’s History Project, available online at

Voice of the Vestry: Fall is a time to awaken to God’s creation

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

By Kathryn Holl

It was two am when I felt a nudge from our puppy Leo to go outside. I wanted to sleep yet I felt his eyes staring at me.  Quietly I walked to the door, not to awaken the household, and stepped outside with him.   He walked square to the middle of the front garden and sat down.  “Leo” I said “come on, what’s up?”  and he just stared at me.  I stepped through the doorway, barefoot, into the garden.   I walked over to him and stood.  In that moment I looked up.   The sky was lit up with millions of stars from horizon to horizon.  I stood in awe at God’s beautiful creation and universe, grateful for the stir to awaken when usually I sleep.

How often I walk around asleep even in the light of day.  I can be so “busy” that I forget to notice the single red cardinal on the hedge row, the lichen formed in a perfect circle on the tree trunk, the way light touches a single leaf or a neighbor’s need.

Fall is time for me to awaken to a world God so carefully created. It is time to remember and lovingly steward my many bountiful gifts. I  give thanks for the community of Grace.

Vestry minutes – 9/19/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

Sept 19, 2017
6:00 pm

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:  None  
Clergy Present: None

Prayer and Check-in:
The vestry checked in with one another by sharing prayer requests.  Eddie opened the meeting with prayer.

Scripture & Study:
Eddie led us in a reflection on the importance of abiding in Christ, based on a scripture passage from the Gospel of John.

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
Approved minutes from the regularly scheduled vestry meeting on 8/15/2017 by acclamation as amended.
Approved minutes of special vestry meeting on 8/23/17 by acclamation as amended.
Approved minutes of special vestry meeting on 8/31/17 by acclamation.


Rector Report:  None

Treasurer’s Report: Mark Stackable Present
The Finance Committee is pleased with the way the distributions are now being made to Grace Church from the Hughes Organ Fund.

They pointed out that the Organ Fund has the available funds to hire talent but they recognize that it can be hard to find talent.

In addition, the Finance Committee affirmed the decision to offer the use of the Brown House first floor apartment as housing for the Interim Rector.

Parish Administrator Report:
Love Inc. proposes that Grace Episcopal donate $4,000 in support of their fundraising efforts through participation in Swingshift and the Stars.  The Vestry decided that we need more information and Eddie Grim suggested that he will discuss this with the Jubilee Ministries.

The calendar dates for November and December 2017 vestry meetings were reviewed for possible holiday travel conflicts.  The Vestry will make the decision on revised dates at the October 2017 meeting when our new interim rector is in place and when we have more members present.

Senior Warden Report:
The following online vote was made and passed unanimously on September 9, 2017:

Motion by Eddie Grim and Seconded by Jeff Wescott – to offer an interim salary package which includes a salary of $80,000 with the option of using the Brown House as a rectory or a housing allowance of $21,000, up to 5 weeks vacation, and the option of up to 3 months negotiable extension at the end of the contract which will be set to expire when a permanent rector is called or when specifically negotiated with the interim candidate.  Motion passed.

The vestry affirmed this online motion at this regular September vestry meeting.

Clare then presented the final version of the interim rector covenant which Kathryn Costas accepted and signed and which included a salary of $80,000 with housing provided by Grace Church in the Brown House first floor apartment.  This covenant needed to be ratified by the vestry.

Motion by Sue Kelly and seconded by Karl Bastian –  to approve the Interim Rector covenant as accepted and signed by the Rev Kathryn Costas and the Senior Warden Clare Andreasson.  Motion passed.

The covenant will be sent to the Diocesan Office to be signed by Canon William Spaid and Bishop Whayne Hougland.  A copy of the signed covenant will be kept on file in the church office and in the Diocesan office.

In addition, the vestry was presented with a resolution with regard to the housing allowance provided by Grace Church for Kathryn Costas.

 Motion by Eddie Grim and seconded by Jeff Tibbits to accept the following resolution:

 The following resolution was duly adopted by the Vestry of Grace Episcopal Church at a regularly scheduled meeting held on September 19, 2017, a quorum being present.

Whereas, the Reverend J. Kathryn Costas is compensated by Grace Episcopal Church exclusively for services as a minister of the gospel; and

Whereas, Grace Episcopal Church provides Rev. Costas with rent-free use of a church owned rectory as compensation for services that she renders to the church in the exercise of her ministry; and

Whereas, Rev. Costas incurs expenses for living in church- provided housing; therefore, it is hereby

Resolved, that the annual compensation paid to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2017 shall be $20,000 of which, $2,500 is hereby designated to be a housing allowance pursuant to Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code; and it is further

Resolved, that the designation of $2,500 as a housing allowance shall apply to calendar year 2017 and all future years unless otherwise provided by the vestry; and it is further

Resolved, that as additional compensation to Rev. Costas for calendar year 2017 and for all future years, unless otherwise provided for by this vestry, Rev. Costas shall be permitted to live in the church-owned rectory located at 222 Boardman Avenue, Traverse City, MI 49684, and that no rent or other fee shall be payable by Rev. Costas for such occupancy and use.

Motion passed.

Clare presented two building use requests to the vestry.  The first was a request from Tom McIntyre to rent our space for a neighborhood meeting with regard to the building he is developing behind us.  The vestry agreed to this request in the hopes that it would facilitate an opportunity for our neighbors and those impacted by this development to raise questions and concerns.

The second request was from an organization named Indivisible, seeking to meet regularly at Grace Church.  The vestry tabled this request until Kathryn Costas’ arrival when it will be discussed with her.

 Junior Warden Report:
            No Junior Warden report

 Old Business: 
            No old business

 New Business:
 Karl Bastian, Stewardship Committee, reported that they are going to kick off the pledge campaign this year on October 1st with the theme “Grateful Harvest.” The pledge card and the poster are already done.  There are testimonial weekends to come with thematic events lined up.   The Committee is seeking in-person testimonies for Oct 7, 8, 14, and 15.

Eddie Grim reported on the work of the Jubilee Ministries Subcommittee and presented recommendations to the vestry. In summary, these recommendations reaffirm the volunteer-led nature of these ministries and strengthen ties and improve communication between the ministries and the congregation. These recommendations need to be reviewed by the vestry, and adopted at our next meeting in October.

Forum for Congregational Concerns:

  Core Ministry Reports
            Rector Search Committee:

Follow-up & Follow-through:

Sue will write a letter to Kathy Will thanking her for enhancements to music and worship.

Michael Mittelstaedt will follow up with Kathy Will on seeking musicians/talent for hire.

Compline followed by dismissal at 8:15 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Jubilee House – Built on God’s Love

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

By Glenda Andrews
Jubilee House Director

Jubilee – just the word brings joy to your heart and a smile to your face. When you put this word alongside Bible references where debts are forgiven, you start to understand what Jubilee Ministries are all about here at Grace.

In 2004 our sanctuary was too small, so Grace decided to build a larger one. Echoing similar decisions made in the past, Grace chose to stay in the center of town where the needs were the greatest, serving the needs of the poor and those living on the edges of society. The Rev. Ed Emenheiser, rector at that time, felt there should not be a new sanctuary unless there was a new outreach ministry as well. Research was done to find out what unmet needs were in our city. We discovered that a daytime shelter that could provide hot showers and free laundry was needed, and so Jubilee House was formed.

From these small beginnings in 2006, Jubilee House has grown to where it is today. It is a direct and dynamic link between our theology and our ethics, that being the talk of our faith is the walk of our faith. The Bible calls us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, and to respond to the gospel call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care of the sick. For when we do for the least of these among us, we do for Christ. This is the core of our faith. This ministry is rooted in honoring God’s presence in each human being, and believing that each person has value no matter their life’s circumstances. When we offer our services, we are offering them to God. When people walk lighter, when we can ease their pain, we are also giving them God’s love to help heal their wounded spirits and broken hearts. In turn, we heal ourselves as well.

In this house, an average of 45 people a day come to find shelter from their storms. This is where they can find rest and peace, and have daily needs met. They experience God’s love from the volunteers who give of their time and hearts to these children of God. God’s love is strong and present when a loved one is remembered and a “family community” can come to mourn.

My prayer is that this ministry, as an extension of Grace Church, will continue to grow in faith where all people are seen as equals—not only in God’s eyes, but also in ours. We do not see, treat, or judge others based on the clothes they wear, their background, their financial situation, their race, creed, or religion. May God give us eyes to see them as brothers and sisters, God’s own.

Is God calling you to join this vital ministry on behalf of our neighbors in need? I’d love to share more with you. Please contact me at or 231-275-0036

Vestry minutes – 8/15/2017

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Vestry minutes.

August 15, 2017
Feast Day of St. Mary the Virgin
6:00 pm

Vestry Members: 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: Canon William Spaid
Staff Present:  Ann Hackett, Parish Administrator
Clergy Present: The Rev. Carlton Kelley

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

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The minutes from 7/18/17 were approved by acclamation.
The agenda for 8/15/17 by was approved by acclamation.

Rector Report:  None

Treasurer’s Report:  Mark Stackable

The Finance Committee reported that the “Contributions from Pledges” is significantly down, year-over-year, and shows a two-and-a-half year downward trend.  Mark reiterated that, while Grace enjoys some capital growth, cash conservation remains imperative.

Karl Bastian reassured Mark that the Stewardship Committee is, indeed, up and running and planning preliminary activities for our stewardship drive.

Mark shared with us the F.C. conversation about the recommendation from the Rector Search Committee that the Vestry consider 1) a signing bonus and 2) increasing compensation as the Vestry revises the Rector compensation package.  Mark said that “signing bonuses”, as such, are subjective to each candidate and can be offered in a variety of ways.

Parish Administrator Report: 

The City of Traverse City will replace a portion of the water service line that serves Jubilee House, switching out galvanized steel (which includes a lead gooseneck connection) to 1” copper. Alpers Excavating is contracted to do the City’s portion; Grace has to cover the cost from JH to curbside. Eddie moved that the Vestry accept Alpers’ proposal quote of $2,325.00 to install a new one-inch copper water line from JH to curb stop into the Jubilee House.  Jeff T. seconded. Motion carried.

Rev. Carlton Kelley’s departure makes necessary adjustments to various financial accounts. Ann Hackett provided the Vestry with a list of those who will have signature privileges on various financial accounts. James moved the Vestry accept this list of names.  Eddie seconded. Motion carried.

Supporting LOVE INC: Discussion tabled, in view of the length of this meeting.

Ann Hackett also gave the Vestry updates on the following items:

–Kathy Will’s efforts to improve the music/sound system in the sanctuary.

–A ‘Thank You” note from Safe Harbor, acknowledging the contribution from Grace Church for the new permanent shelter.

–Finale of the annual audit, due by September.

–The progress on fixing the leaking Sanctuary roof.

–Brown House bathroom remodeling progress.

–Jubilee House emergency exit progress.

–Stewardship Committee’s Campaign, chaired by Karl Bastian, has begun its work.

–Our insurance claim for sewage backup on June 23.


Senior Warden Report: 

Supply Clergy:  Clare was pleased to report that our Bishop has granted special permission for the Rev. D. Edward Emenheiser to preside at services for October 14/15, and that Fr. Ed has joyously accepted! With the hiring of Rev. LaRae Rutenbar and the continuing work of Rev. David Lillvis and Rev. Meredith Hunt, Grace Church is well-supplied with clergy.

Brown House:  Several parishioners have suggested using the lower apartment of the Brown House be adapted for Rev. Rutenbar’s use, rather than house her at the Park Place on her weekends with us.

Participation Needs: Clare asked the Vestry to consider stepping into the great need for LEMs, ushers, lectors, and greeters.

Better Jubilee Ministries Connections: Eddie, James, and Bill have devoted time and attention to JH and its ministries and this has been well-received. Clare has asked the Vestry to look at ways to foster work on fostering even better connections between the Vestry and these other essential ministries at Grace.

Adult Ministry Offerings: Clare let the Vestry know of several conversations she has had with people who would like some kind of adult formation “classes” on Wednesday nights. She encouraged the Vestry to begin thinking and creatively brainstorming ways to address this need in our parish.

Junior Warden Report:
150th Anniversary Committee Update:  The next big event is the installation of a timeline of Grace Church.
The Great Grace Parish Picnic is Sept 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm in the Grace Church parking lot in a tent.

Community Open house and Old Fashion Hymn Sing with potluck—Saturday and Sunday, October 14-15.

Communications Committee Update: The Grace Church Directory is making progress.

Old Business:

New Business:

Forum for Congregational Concerns:

Rector Search Committee:
Discussion about our desire for members of the Vestry to meet with the leadership of the RSC, along with spiritual advisor Rosemary Hagan, to discuss how best to move forward with the search for our new Rector.  A motion was made by Eddie Grim and seconded by Bill Smith to request that the RSC continue to pause in its work until after this meeting, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday evening, August 23.  Motion passed.

Follow-up & Follow-through:

Fr. Kelley closed the meeting with prayer.
This was followed by dismissal at 9:15 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Jeffrey Wescott
Temporary Substitute Vestry Clerk