Table Rock Talk May 2014

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Time travel

Congregational study group delves into parish history

The team tasked with profiling the congregation has spent the last month studying the history of Lawrencefield Parish Church. While the rector examined service records and annual parochial reports, Janine Reddy has researched memorial donations, Barb Hinkle has spoken to several members of long-standing get an oral history, and Karen Dalby has plowed through hundreds of pages of newspaper clippings and written memoirs. The effort is part of the ongoing congregational study required by the Doctor of Ministry program in which the rector is enrolled.

Here are some significant landmarks: The first service in the converted “Spit and Whittle Shop” in Mrs. Paull’s yard was June 10, 1956. The first communion service was August 10 of that year. Gordon and Frances Ahart were the first couple married in the Chapel on August 24, 1957. Jeffrey James Fish was the first person baptized on October 27, 1957, and the first Confirmation service, on March 13, 1960, welcomed two students from Bethany College into the church. The Chapel became an Organized Mission of the Diocese of West Virginia on January 14, 1961.

Soon the new mission was busting the seams of the small Spit and Whittle building despite holding three services a Sunday, and ground was broken for the new Chapel on June 3, 1961. Construction began in the Fall. The first service in the current building was March 3, 1963, with the dedication occurring the following Thursday, with 300 in attendance.

As the team gathers more information of general interest, we will pass it on!

Painless charity

Time to register or renew your Kroger Plus Card

If you have a Kroger Plus card, every time you shop at Kroger, Faith in Action Caregivers will get a donation from Kroger based on the amount of your purchase, at no additional cost to yourself. During 2013 Faith in Action Caregivers earned $3,269.40 from the Kroger Company.

Even if you registered your card last year, you must do it again annually to continue in the program. Please either call Faith in Action at 304-243-5420 and give your Kroger Plus Card number or you can do it yourself by visiting www.krogercommunityrewards.com. The identification number for Faith in Action Caregivers is 81069.

Fundraising milestone met

Need for additional funds continues

As of May 1, the balance on paying back our interest-free loan from the Diocese of West Virginia fell below $8,000. The $10,000 loan was taken out a year ago to fund improvements to the church building and its furnishings, and underwrite our Sunday Soloist program. These funds paid for: installation of the sound system, the new TV and Blu-Ray player, narthex and Sunday School furniture, a new microwave oven, three new Episcopal Church Welcomes You road signs, grab bars in the restrooms, the gorgeous Red Sea mural in the Education Wing and many Sundays of beautiful music.

The loan has a ten-year term, but the Vestry would like to pay it off as soon as possible. We plan to take advantage of the Diocese’s generous loan program again to replace the stained and worn carpeting in the Undercroft, but first we must pay off the existing loan. Donations are gratefully accepted. Checks designated for loan pay-off may be made out to “Lawrencefield Parish Church,” with “Loan payback” on the memo line.

The Rector's Study

The examen of St. Ignatius           The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

I mentioned the “examen” as a spiritual discipline in one of my recent sermons. Since then I have been asked to do an adult education on the subject at the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Parkersburg. I have also used it in the spiritual direction group that meets monthly at Sandscrest. This is something I’ve studied in my seminary work and thought I’d share it with you all.

The examen is a form of prayer and reflection based on the Spiritual Exercises developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556.) The examen was designed by St. Ignatius to apply to people who are active in the world, to allow them to incorporate prayer into their active lives, and to incorporate their active lives into their prayer. Therefore any person active in the world can use the examen to good effect. The examen is a prayer discipline for busy people!

One of the rockbed foundations of Ignatius’ theology and spirituality is that God deeply loves human beings and desires to be in relationship with them. When human beings discern this love, they are drawn into “engagement with life and with the kingdom of God.” Becoming aware of God’s love thus motivates people in two ways: they become more motivated to seek a closer relationship with God, and they become more motivated to love and serve other people in the world.

To do the examen, one looks back on the day just past, considering significant events and one’s affective response to them. Which aspects and incidents bought one closer to God and God’s Kingdom, and which aspects and incidents felt alienated from God and God’s kingdom?

Ignatius himself in his Spiritual Exercises recommended doing the examen twice at day: after the noonday meal, and again after the evening meal. Many modern authors suggest doing the examen once at the end of the day.

It is helpful to prepare for the examen by sitting upright with feet on the floor and becoming aware of bodily sensations and breathing. Some practiioners find it useful to first light a candle, to symbolize the presence of God. Since the root of the practice is desire for God, one transitions into the examen by becoming aware of God’s love.

Thereafter, the examen involves five steps:

  1. Gratitude. From being aware of God’s love, the movement toward thanking God is a natural one. God is by nature giving: “We will much sooner tire of receiving his gifts than he of giving them.”
  2. Petition. One then asks God for grace to know oneself truly, for making a fruitful examen and moving toward understanding and freedom.
  3. Review. Consider the past day (or the hours since one’s last examen) chronologically. Ask “When was I closest to God?” and “When was God most distant?” Other forms of these questions that might be helpful are:
    • “What was I most/ least grateful for today?”
    • “When was I most/least alive?”
    • “When was I most/ least connected to myself, others, God and the cosmos?”
    • “How was I most/ least conformed to the Kingdom of God?”
    • “When was I happiest/ saddest?”
    • “What were the highest/ lowest points of this day?”
    • “What was said and done to make this so?”
  4. Forgiveness. Ask God for pardon where one has not conformed to God’s kingdom.
  5. Renewal. Looking to the future, resolve to amend one’s life, with God’s help, to become more conformed to God and God’s kingdom.
  6. Transitioning out of the process, one prays to continue in the awareness of God’s presence.

    St. Ignatius considered the examen to be the one “spiritual exercise” that must always be present in a day that seeks to be a lived ‘yes’ to God’s will.” Should you be moved to try it, I pray that your day, your life, your examen, may be such a “yes.”