Table Rock Talk October 2014

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Welcome Bishop Klusmeyer

Events surround annual visitation

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, will visit Lawrencefield on October 12. The bishop visits all parishes in the diocese at least once every one or two years. This year, the Bishop will confirm four young people: three from Lawrencefield and one from St. Matthew's. Confirmation marks the mature affirmation of faith for persons baptized as infants or young children.

Bishop Klusmeyer will preside at both Sunday services that day, and meet with the vestry between the services. A special coffee hour brunch is planned to honor bishop and confirmands.

This year the bishop's visit coincides with Lawrencefield's annual Festival of Gifts. Arts, crafts and other examples of creativity from church members will be displayed in the undercroft. There is still time to register to display your creations! Pick up an entry blank in the Narthex!

God bless the animals

Traditional St. Francis Day event to take place at St. Luke's

St. Luke's on Wheeling Island has invited Lawrencefield's rector to officiate at their annual Blessing of Animals, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, October 5, at 4pm. Members of Lawrencefield are particularly invited to bring their pets to this event, which is open to the public. The ceremony will take place in the St. Luke's parking lot.

Blessing of the Animals is a traditional observance for St. Francis' Day, October 4. St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is revered for his love of animals and his perception of God's presence in all creation.

Coffee Hour reborn!

New chair, new plan, time-honored theology

Nancy Paulovicks has recently accepted a call to serve as Hospitality Chair, with oversight over Coffee Hour and other fellowship activities at Lawrencefield Church. Nancy brings to this position a passion for food and a conviction that facilitating fellowship is true ministry.

Nancy's plan is that for two Sundays a month, Coffee Hour will consist of a relatively simple array of beverages and doughnuts, while on the remaining Sundays Lawrencefield tradition of multiple food options will be continued. She has organized a sign-up sheet which currently is filled into December. Those desiring to help out with catering Coffee Hour should contact Nancy at 301-232-6796 or n.paulovicks@gmail.com.

The concept behind Nancy's approach to Coffee Hour is summed up in a quotation she found on the website for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC:

In our Baptismal Covenant we affirm that we will continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship. That means we will gather on a regular basis for conversation, getting to know each other, for the building of relationships and refreshment and to support each other.

This is the purpose of Coffee Hour.

Congregational study wraps up

The congregational study undertaken as part of the rector's Doctor of Ministry work is nearing completion. The study team, consisting of Karen Dalby, Barb Hinkle and Janine Reddy, along with the rector, has examined Lawrencefield's social networks, personal stories, parish history, statistics, demographics, neighborhood perception and leadership experience. In distilling the mass of information collected, he rector has observed that although parishioners generally do not talk about personal religious experience unless asked, spirituality and faith run very deep here, as does a depth of family feeling not often found even in a small church. Detailed findings will be summed up in a paper that, after being submitted as required for grading in mid-October, will be made available to the congregation.

The Rector's Study

Faith Sharing           The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

One of the courses I took during the June term of my doctoral studies was called Spirituality, Leadership and Mission. In the course of this class I studied models of leadership in both the secular and sacred traditions. The range of material studied extended back to the sixteenth century, with the writings of St. Francis de Sales, up to the present day. Among the modern materials suggested was a program created by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina called GoSpeak: Sharing our Faith.

The diocese's website describes the program as follows:

At the 198th Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Curry challenged us to go deep, go speak and go do. As a diocese and in communion with five other dioceses, we took up his challenge to go speak – to share our faith.

On May 15, small groups of 8-10 Episcopalians—at last count, over 800 people—gathered in homes and other informal settings across the Diocese. Under the direction of a trained moderator, participants practiced sharing personal stories of how God has moved in our lives.

The process for the event creates a comfortable situation in which everyone present can discover that they have a story of faith to tell. As important as telling one's story, participants also experienced the power of deep listening.

This effort proved so successful that the Diocese of North Carolina decided to create a deck of 30 cards, each of which provides a prompt for faith-sharing. The cards can be used in various ways, which I have yet to fully explore.

I recently acquired a deck of these cards, and I am intrigued. Here is a sampling of what they say:

  • Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Share the story of a time in you life when this was especially challenging. How did you respond?
  • How does using your smartphone, tablet or other electronic device bring God closer to you?
  • Do you think that faith is the absence of doubt? Share a story about a time you were confused about your faith.
  • What does it mean to be made in God's image? How does knowing you are made in God's image affect how you relate to others?

What would you say if you had to answer one of these questions? Under what circumstances would you feel safe in answering them out loud?

As you know if you read the Congregational Study story on page 1 of this issue of Table Rock Talk, I have been impressed, in the gathering of personal stories from church members, how deep faith runs here at Lawrencefield. Like many people in this part of the country, Lawrencefielders do not like to hit other people over the head with their own beliefs. Consequently, a casual observer might not realize how seriously and personally faith is experienced here. But in one-on-one encounters during the course of the study, people spoke candidly and movingly of things that are deeply important to them. Being invited into the process has been a privilege and a blessing for me.

This type of conversation about what theologian Paul Tillich would call "ultimate concerns" obviously cannot happen casually. For people to share on this intimate level requires an assurance of safety. That the interview setting of the Congregational Study provided this type of safe environment is an unexpected benefit of the assignment. The experience was so enriching for me and for the other members of the study team, that I wonder what other faith-sharing opportunities there might be for us at Lawrencefield Church. The GoSpeak initiative presents one model of faith-sharing, but I'm sure there are others.

There are lots of reasons not share one's faith too readily. Laying bare the soul to any degree makes a person vulnerable. Besides, none of us wants to impose our faith on others. But faith-sharing within the community is kingdom-building. Is there a way we can do more of this at Lawrencefield? I welcome your thoughts.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the August 17 Vestry Meeting:

Memorial Donations

$2,745.00 has been donated to Lawrencefield Church in memory of Bill Neer.

Flower Guild

A chairperson is needed to take over the duties of the flower guild. Vestry suggested some members, and Rev. Walter will ask them to serve in this role. Michelle Beihl volunteered to assist the chairperson.

Churchyard Superintendent

Rev. Walter asked for suggestions of names of church members who might be willing to serve as the Churchyard Superintendent. Rev. Walter will also ask Mary and Bob Frohme, Assistant Churchyard Superintendent, to prepare a list of procedures for the churchyard.

Churchyard

At the next Vestry meeting the cost of burial at Lawrencefield will be examined. Also at the next Vestry meeting will consider the possibility of using some funds from the churchyard account for maintenance of the churchyard.

Nominations

Sue Farnsworth, Nancy Paulovicks, and Fran Schoolcraft, outgoing Vestry members, will make up the committee to nominate three church members to serve on the Vestry. Rev. Walter will ask suggested members to serve as Convention Delegates in 2015.

Senior Warden

Lisa Martin reported on a possible leak. Scott Duymich, Junior Warden, said it would be fixed.

Junior Warden

The front pillars have been painted. Next weekend a lift will be rented to paint and repair the areas that are higher. Several lights are out. Scott will replace these.

Stewardship

A letter suggesting some "giving ideas" was mailed to all Lawrencefied members. The committee will meet in the next few weeks.

Soup Kitchen

Eleanor White's teacher sorority will provide for and work the October soup kitchen at St. Luke's.