Table Rock Talk August 2014

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Congregational study continues with survey of surrounding area

The latest stage in the congregational study undertaken by the parish has looked to the surrounding neighborhood. A demographic study provided by online group ExecutiveInsight provides the following information for the area surrounding Lawrencefield Parish Church to a three-mile radius:

  • The population in this area was 9,277 in the year 2000 and 9,022 in 2012, and is projected to be 8,725 in 2017 and 8,442 in 2022.
  • The median age has increased from 40 in 2000 to 43 in 2012, and is expected to hit 44 in 2017. However, the number of residents in the 18-34 age bracket is expected to increase slightly in the next several years. So is the percentage of early elementary to middle school children. Note that this last is an increase in percentage rather than in actual numbers. The percentage of high schoolers is expected to decline proportionately.
  • There are more married people in this area than the state average would suggest. Divorce is less common here.
  • Household income has recovered from the dip that followed the 2008-2009 economic downturn, and is on an upward trend.

These and other figures will be combined with interviews of some of our neighbors to help develop a neighborhood profile. That profile will figure in the Institutional Study required for Rev. Walter's doctoral project.

Donor Reports Available

If you have made charitable contributions to Lawrencefield Parish Church this calendar year, please check the accordion file in the Narthex for your First-Half Donation Summaries. Statements are filed alphabetically and will be available until August 31. Any statements remaining after that point will be shredded. Mid-year statements are not mailed unless arrangements are made by calling the parish office at 304-277-2353.

Warwood Community Fair

Lawrencefield will once again have a table at this event, which will take place at Garden Park from 5-11pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, August 8-9. Sign up in the Narthex for a 2-hour slot or call Michelle Beihl.

Patronal Feast Scheduled

LPC Honors St. Lawrence August 10

At our regular services on August 10 we will honor St. Lawrence of Rome. Lawrencefield adopted St. Lawrence as our patron in 2007. St. Lawrence was born about 225 AD in what is now Spain. As a deacon Lawrence was charged with care for the poor, and was also custodian of the church's treasures. He was arrested during the Valerian persecution. Roman authorities demanded that he turn over the church treasures in his charge. Lawrence's request that he be given three days to deliver the treasure was granted, whereupon Lawrence secretly and hastily liquidated the treasury, distributing the proceeds to the poor. When the three days were up and Lawrence was summoned to present the treasure, he introduced a large group of poor people and announced, “Here is the church's treasure!” This insolence earned him a death sentence. Lawrence was martyred by being roasted alive over a grill. Maintaining his legendary humor till the end, he reportedly told his torturers, "Turn me over! I'm done on this side!"

Calling Servers and Sous-Chefs

Easy Ways to Help the St. Luke's Soup Kitchen

Rich Walter has volunteered to cook the main course and Dave Duymich has volunteered to serve at the St. Luke's Soup Kitchen, representing Lawrencefield Parish Church at our usual second-Sunday on October 12. They need at least two other servers, and possibly someone willing to prepare a side dish or dessert. Please call the parish office or speak to Rich if you can help.

The Rector's Study

Poetry Doesn't Have to Rhyme           The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

I have a strange relationship with poetry. I won't say I run screaming from the room when poetry comes up (although I'm tempted if the poetry is really bad.) But I usually skip the poetry when reading The New Yorker. I've never borrowed a book of poetry from the library, and the number of poetry volumes I've purchased can be numbered on the fingers of one hand (if you don't count Shakespeare plays.)

However, when poetry is brought to my attention, I often enjoy it. Occasionally poetic phrases stick in my mind forever, like “the Holy Ghost over the bent/ World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings” (Gerard Manley Hopkins, God's Grandeur) or “and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” (T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding.) And I love a lot of children's poetry like The Owl and the Pussycat (Edward Lear), Jabberwocky (Lewis Carroll), Casey at the Bat (Ernest Thayer) or anything by A. A. Milne.

I've actually been known to write poems. Not often. When I have done this I have needed three things: a really compelling idea; a recognizable form, like sonnet (14 lines) or haiku (3 lines); and a reason, like a school assignment or a spiritual director's suggestion. Once I wrote a poem for a family occasion.

There was a poetry component to one of my doctoral classes last month, Spirituality, Liturgy and the Arts. During this segment, I was exposed to some poets I'd never before of before, and some concepts I'd never considered before.

I learned that a Welsh poet called David Jones (what else? He was Welsh!) called poetry a sacramental activity. The definition of a sacrament is something that uses material things to signify spiritual truths; likewise a poem uses words to convey the ineffable. Novelist and poet Dorothy Sayers said that making poems is cooperating with God. Even science tells us that poetry and prayer may originate from the same part of the brain.

Finally in this class I was challenged to bring poetry into the worship experience at my church. This essay is my first attempt to do this.

I wonder if it might be possible for us all to attempt to write poems expressing somehow our relationship with God. When you think about it, poetry may be the best way to think and talk about God. God can certainly not be adequately described by objective language.

There are different ways to experiment thinking poetically about God. For example, we can look at a Bible passage and highlight all the God verbs, all the God nouns (possibly with another color,) all the God adverbs and adjectives (we might need a lot of colors.) Then we can choose the three or four we like best and arrange them.

I was preparing these remarks while working on the sermon for July 27, when the Gospel passage was Matthew 13, where Jesus uses lots of different images to describe the kingdom of heaven: a mustard seed, a measure of yeast, a treasure in a field, a perfect pearl, a net full of fish. This is metaphor! This is poetic language! So I started to think of what my metaphor for heaven would be — something, small, homely, hidden, with the potential to grow, something worth sacrificing for. Like Jesus, I couldn't come up with one metaphor that did all of that at once. But then I started to think of how I've always thought that heaven must be like a choral performance, with everyone singing their part to produce beautiful music. Hmmm — this could be the start of a poem!

I may share some of my attempts with you in months to come. In the meantime, consider this lovely piece by Mary Oliver, called Praying:

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the Informal Meeting June 15:

As a quorum of Vestry members was not present, those present met for an informal informational meeting. The following matters were discussed:

  • Requst to Use Building Rev. Walter has heard nothing else from Compassionate Friends concerning their request to use the Lawrencefield Church building.
  • Past Vestry Minutes The Vestry minutes of Lawrencefield Parish Church have been assembled into notebooks and are in the Rector's office. Rev. Walter is still searching for missing minutes.

Summary of the July 20 Vestry Meeting:

  • Loan There have been no new loan expenditures. The payback balance is now $6006.00.
  • Rev. Walter's Sabbatical Lawrencefield Church ran smoothly during Rev. Walter's sabbatical leave. Thank you to all those who helped in her absence.
  • 2013 Audit The 2013 audit report is completed. Audit committee members were Karen Dalby, Carlyle Farnsworth, Mary Frohme, Jaci Neer, and Bill Neer. Rev. Walter will submit the report to the diocese.
  • Bishop's Visit The Rt. Rev. Michie Klusmeyer, the Bishop of West Virginia, will visit Lawrencefield on October 12. He will meet with the Vestry between the two services. There may be a confirmation.
  • Coffee Hour Vestry desires to continue coffee hour every week after the 10 o'clock service, though recent coverage has been inconsistent. Rev. Walter asked Nancy Paulovicks, Fran Schoolcraft and a third person of their choice to form a committee to develop a plan for coffee hour coverage.
  • Annual Meeting Lawrencefield's annual congregational meeting will be held on November 16. Vestry will meet on November 23.
  • Stewardship The Stewardship committee will meet in August to prepare a letter to go out to all members in August suggesting that members donate a 13th month.
  • Financial Report $5,000.00 was taken from the endowment in June bringing this year's total of disbursements to checking to $10,000.00.