Vestry minutes – 5/16/2017

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 prayer and we checked in with one another.

Scripture & Study:
Clare led a reflection on the importance and the blessings of faithfulness.   

Approve/Amend the Agenda:
The agenda for the 5/16/17 meeting was approved by adoption.
We forgot to approve the 4/18/17 minutes.  We will approve them at our next meeting.

Reports:
Rector Report:  None

Treasurer’s Report:
Mark Stackable reviewed the April financial statements and suggested that a line should be added to the Cash Inflow/Outflow statement under “Contributions Unpledged/Giver of Record” to clarify increases in this designation.  Ann will add a footnote to the cash flow statement that reads “Donations to the deficit” to help identify atypical increases to the budget in “Contributions Unpledged/Giver of Record”.

Mark wondered why draws had not been taken out of the Hughes funds to reimburse 2016 expenses.  Ann reported that the vestry would take action on that at the present meeting.  She was not able to accomplish this before now.  Quarterly draws in the current year will occur going forward.

The Finance Committee had a discussion on payroll that Jeff Tibbits will bring to the vestry.

The Finance Committee appreciates the vestry’s approach to the forthcoming bequest from the estate of Julianne Christensen.  A principal payment on the mortgage should be considered.  Mark Stackable will find out whether or not a payment on the mortgage principal would reduce the monthly payment amount.  Some mortgages structures don’t allow for such a change.

Parish Administrator Report:
Ann reported that it is time to make a draw from the Hughes Maintenance Endowment to cover maintenance and upkeep expenses incurred in 2016.  Ann provided a list of the eligible expense categories for which money can be drawn.
Motion: by Bill Smith and seconded by Eddie Grim that the vestry draw $22,127 to reimburse 2016 eligible expenses for the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings.  Motion passed.

The Hughes Organ Endowment provides for maintenance of the organ and essential needs of the choir.  It is time to make a draw from this endowment as well.
Motion: by Maria DiStefano-Post and seconded by Marian Vermeulen that the vestry draw $5,944 to reimburse 2016 eligible expenses for the maintenance of the organ and essential needs of the choir.  Motion passed.

Gutters will be installed on the west-facing roof edge of the Pantry to prevent ice build-up in the winter from melting snow on the sidewalk.  At a cost of $200, they will be installed by Superior Seamless.

The vestry was presented with three bids for the installation of the Jubilee House emergency exit. A generous grant from Mary Hughes through the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation will cover $10,500 of the total cost and the balance will be paid by Jubilee House SwingShift funds.
Motion: by Eddie Grim and seconded by Marian Vermeulen that we accept the bid from Company C for $16,298 for the Jubilee House emergency exit installation.  Motion passed.

In fairness, the three bids were presented anonymously because two of the companies are owned by two different parishioners. The quote from Evergreen Construction was accepted.

Senior Warden Report:
There was some delay with the repair to the boiler in an attempt to make sure that the expenditure was appropriately cleared since the repair would cost over $1,000.  Discussion ensued.
Motion: by Eddie Grim and seconded by Bill Smith to change the language of an existing vestry directive so that the Rector should be able to authorize an expenditure of up to $1,500 or the amount remaining in that year’s specific budget line, whichever is less, after consultation with one of the wardens, until this policy shall be changed by the vestry.  Motion passed.

Bishop Whayne Hougland has approved the extension of the original Grace Church covenant with The Reverend Carlton Kelly on a month by month basis going forward.  A resolution of the vestry is required to ratify this agreement.
Motion: by Eddie Grim and seconded by Bill Smith: Resolved the vestry of Grace Church extends the terms of the Interim Rector Covenant with The Reverend Carlton Franklin Kelly, originally dated April 20, 2016, on a month to month basis until shortly before the arrival of the new Rector, unless dissolved earlier by mutual consent or upon sixty days’ notice of either party.  Motion passed.

Brittney Collins and Maggie Miron have been chosen to attend the Episcopal Youth Event in Oklahoma. The total cost for each student is $1,000 of which the diocese will cover $600 for each student.  Clare asked the vestry if they would consider helping the students make up the balance.  Ann suggested there is money in the Ministry Misc/Leadership Workshops line and the Spiritual Education line of the budget that might be used to cover the cost.
Motion: by Eddie Grim and seconded by James Deaton that the church donate $200 to each of the youth attending the Episcopal Youth Event from budget line 7345 Ministry Misc/Leadership Workshops.  Motion passed.

There is an issue of limited parking space which will become more acute when the overflow lot across the alley is no longer available.  Discussion ensued.
Motion: by Eddie Grim and seconded by Bill Smith that the parking lot be specially designated for those in greatest need of proximity to the church.  Motion passed. 

Jeff Tibbits presented suggestions from the Finance Committee regarding salaries and salary structures.  Discussion ensued.
Motion: by Jeff Tibbitts and seconded by Kathryn Holl that the vestry approve giving Parish Administrator, Ann Hackett, a $4,000 bonus in June 2017.  Motion passed.

Clare has received a letter from Bishop Clay Matthews in response to the letter the vestry sent to Bishop Michael Curry in February.  The vestry discussed the letter and possible next steps.  Clare will work on a response to Bishop Matthews’ letter to present to the vestry at our next vestry meeting.

Junior Warden Report: None

Old Business: None

New Business:
Kathryn Holl reported that the Grace Church Foundation has recommended that the vestry give 25% of the forthcoming bequest from the estate of Julie Christensen to the Foundation.  This would increase the Foundation principal, and therefore increase the yearly amount that the Foundation is able to disburse to Grace Church.  The vestry will consider this request and make a final decision when we have received the bequest.

Forum for Congregational Concerns: None

Core Ministry Reports:
Rector Search Committee:
As of the date of this vestry meeting, the Rector Search Committee is two-thirds of the way through initial interviews with candidates, with more interviews scheduled soon.

Follow-up & Follow-through:
Carlton will announce changes to parking at our worship services beginning this weekend.

Compline followed by dismissal at 8:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Mittelstaedt
Vestry Clerk

Engaging the Word: 6/4/17 (The Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday)

Posted by & filed under Engaging the Word.

 By Barbara Klugh

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23. Go to www.lectionarypage.net for the weekly lectionary text. This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. To symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit, priests will wear red vestments, and at Grace, we are invited to wear red as well.

Pentecost by Juan Bautista Mayno, c. 1614. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pentecost by Juan Bautista Mayno, c. 1614. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 2:1-21: We read this passage from Acts every year at Pentecost. Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks, was one of the three annual festivals celebrated at the temple in Jerusalem. Jews had come from Jewish communities all over the Roman Empire and the streets were full of voices speaking many languages.

Our reading tells the amazing story of the coming of the Holy Spirit. It’s a great reminder that Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension are not the end of the story. Before he ascended, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, and he promised that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the day when the Spirit came upon every follower of Jesus as the permanent guiding authority in their (and our) lives. A rushing wind and tongues of fire filled the people with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other languages. Moreover, the people heard in their own native language.

But some sneered at this wondrous happening, and Peter addressed the crowd to explain the meaning of what happened—that this event was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy—“Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Psalm 104:25-35, 37: We read this portion of this wonderful hymn of praise every year at Pentecost. It marvels at the vast universe and praises God for his creative work and steadfast provision for all that exists. “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

I always smile at the phrase, “and there is that Leviathan, which you have made for the sport of it.” It brings out God’s playful aspect and God’s sheer delight in all of his creation.

Gifts of the Spirit, Church of the Divine Spirit, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gifts of the Spirit, Church of the Divine Spirit, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-31: Paul founded the church in Corinth, and stayed there for 18 months.

The ancient Greek city of Corinth was a thriving trade and commercial center. It sat on an isthmus of about four miles wide that joined the Peloponnesus with central Greece. The city was permeated with Roman cultural values relating to power and status, and was known for luxury, materialism, pleasure, and immorality.

While he was in Ephesus, Paul wrote this letter c. 57 AD because he heard from several sources of problems within the church—divisions in the church family, sex and marriage, morality, and women’s role in the church, to name a few.

In this week’s reading Paul discusses spiritual gifts. Paul says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” What matters in our spirituality is not whether we have received this or that spiritual gift—or whether we’re physically attractive or have a high IQ, but whether we confess that Jesus is Lord. In this way we all are equal.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.” The single source is our Trinitarian God.

Everyone receives a gift from the Holy Spirit to be used for the mutual help of the whole church family. And each gift has the same honor and value—there is no hierarchy of spiritual gifts.

Even though the members of the church are different, we function as members of one body. The Spirit dwells in each of us, but we are not sufficient unto ourselves we need the other members of the body to function as a living, dynamic whole Body of Christ.

Jesus appears to the disciples by William Hole, 1906. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jesus appears to the disciples by William Hole, 1906. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

John 20:19-23: This week’s reading from John’s Gospel It tells us that three days after the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples are hiding out behind locked doors because they were afraid for their lives.

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the last sentence in The Message: “If you forgive someone’s sins they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” Food for thought.

In our love of animals we catch a glimpse of what God wishes for us

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

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Genesis 1:26

By Marian Vermeulen

I have a slight aversion to the description “horse crazy.” While in some senses accurate, the use of the word crazy implies that there is little reason behind an admiration for horses. In reality, I believe there is a very excellent and worthwhile reason, and have no qualms about my lifelong dedication to learning about horses and animals in general.

Marian & horse springtimeWhen God commanded mankind to rule over all of the animals of the world, I think He opened a pathway for us, one that we can follow to gain some slight understanding of His relationship to us, and in so doing, help us achieve a better relationship with him. Working with horses brings me closer to God than anything else I have experienced. As God is sovereign over me, so I must be sovereign over my horse. I must be calm, quiet, and confident. I must make decisions, choose our path, and set boundaries.

Yet the word sovereign has more to it than command, it is also care. I must enforce boundaries through correction rather than punishment, and build trust and love between myself and my horse. Love is an interesting description to use between a horse and a human. A horse can certainly hold affection and love of a sort for a human, yet the love the human has of the horse is deeper, stronger, and more powerful than the horse has the capacity to understand. Just as we will never truly be able to understand God’s wild, magnificent and never ending love for us. Yet when we form truly deep and holy bonds with our animals, I personally believe we can catch the tiniest hint, a reflection, of what it must be like for God as he rules over us, how deep his compassion and how great his leadership.

And in our animals perhaps we can also catch a glimpse of what he wishes from us: kindness, trust, innocence, devotion, and an obedience that is freely and lovingly given.

“After all, the qualities required to be good with horses are the same qualities required to be good at life in general… quiet confidence, dependability, consistency, and a willingness not to use force.”  – Mark Rashid, Horse Trainer

PoWeR Book Bags brings new reading ministry to Grace

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

Dear Grace Episcopal Church Members,

PoWeR book bags logoThank you very much for graciously allowing us to serve children and families with you at your food pantry. We are grateful that you’ve welcomed us into your world! While you are feeding the children’s bodies, our hope is to also feed their minds.

We are PoWeR! Book Bags, a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization whose goal is to bring literacy to children in need. P is for play, W is for write, and R is for Read. By encouraging children to play, write, and read, we assist children in reaching new heights. Our mission is two-fold: to increase the number of literacy experiences children have and to expand the quantity of books that they own. Both are based on research that shows a strong correlation between time spent talking, reading, and writing; the number of books a child owns and one’s overall life success.

PoWeR book bags pix of kid readingChildren with more do better. They perform better academically, have more friends and better social relationships, and are more likely to graduate from high school and contribute positively to society. Those with less literacy experiences and little to no books are most likely to have difficulty in school both academically and socially, drop out of school, and have a difficult time as adults. When children come to the pantry, they select a hand-crafted book bag containing writing supplies (and as a recent recipient added, LOVE!). The children then select a few books to go into their bag. Each time they return to the pantry, they select more books and writing supplies.

What can you do to help? First, pray for the people receiving the bags. Second, you could join us. We need people to sew bags. We also could use volunteers to help create our writing booklets, tie ownership tags to bags, fill crayon bags, and stuff bags. Finally, as we distribute new and very gently used books, we could use donations. Grace Church has kindly offered to host a donation bin in the Parish Hall where you can leave books for the program. We serve all children, birth through high school.

We are most excited to be adding Grace Episcopal Church as one of our local pantry sites. We began in March of 2016. Since then, we have distributed over 11,000 books and 3,000 book bags to children in northwestern Michigan. From the reactions of families and those that work in the pantries, we know we are making a difference. Visit us on Facebook (powerbookbags) or on the web at www.powerbookbags.com to learn more and explore the ways that you’d like to become involved!

Sincerely,

Kara Gregory and The PoWeR! Book Bags Team

P.S. And did you hear? We were the happy recipients of a $250 grant from the Order of the Daughters of the King, Province V, for which we are quite grateful!

 

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.

 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!