Table Rock Talk March 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Lawrencefield by the numbers

Highlights from the Annual Parochial Report

Each year, every parish in the Episcopal Church is required to compile a report of statistics relating to attendance, worship and finances. The Canons (or bylaws) of the greater church require this. The reports are submitted to TEC (The Episcopal Church) headquarters in New York, where trends are noted and followed. They are also submitted to our Diocesan Office in Charleston. Financial figures are used there to compute the “Missionary Apportionment,” the amount that each parish is assessed to fund diocesan and church-wide programs and administration.

Here are some highlights from Lawrencefield’s 2014 report: The good news is we gained eleven members. Most of these were members formerly listed as inactive but restored to active status by virtue of attending at least three times in the past year. The bad news is we lost seventeen through death, transfer to another congregation or removal to inactive status. Thus our number of “Total Active Members” decreased by six from 2013, to 127. Of these 117 are “Communicants in good standing,” meaning that they have not only “received Holy Communion at least three times during the preceding year,” but are faithful “in working, praying and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God.” Of these, nineteen are under the age of sixteen years of age.

Last year we had 105 Sunday Eucharists and forty-eight “Private Eucharists,” which refers primarily to when the rector takes communion to shut-ins. There were two marriages, three burials, one baptism and four confirmations.

Our Operating revenues, including $25,000 transferred from our endowment funds, totaled $165,539; our operating expenses were $165,899.

Soup's up!

Lawrencefield hosts Cluster Lenten series at St. Matthew's March 4

The annual Lenten Study Series sponsored by the Wheeling Cluster of Episcopal Churches continues on Wednesday evenings during March. Sessions take place at St. Matthew’s, downtown and are free-standing – you do not have to attend them all. Each program is hosted by one congregation and begins with a light supper.  Participants may bring their own sandwich to supplement.  Lawrencefield hosts, offering soup and beverage, on March 4, which is the second session in the series.  Sign up in the narthex to help. Supper will be from 6:00 - 6:30 and the program follows from 6:30 to 7:30.  The remaining sessions are described in the Calendar.

Nature abhors a vacuum

Fill empty slots on our sign-ups!

  • Altar flowers: Flower chair Shirley Weaver reports that we have altar flower donors for nearly all Sundays in 2015. Sundays still requiring altar flower sponsors are June 7, June 19, August 9 and November 29. Altar flowers are $44 a pair. Please see Shirley or call the church office if you can take one of these dates.
  • Soup Kitchen: Cooks and servers are needed for the Soup Kitchen at St. Luke’s on Wheeling Island on the following dates: March 8, June 14 and July 12. Volunteers, usually in teams of 3-6, prepare the meal ahead of time and serve it for lunch. If you can cook but not serve, or serve but not cook, please see Soup Kitchen Chair Janine Reddy and she can match you with complementary volunteers.
  • Coffee Hour: Contact Hospitality Chair Nancy Paulovicks to provide after-worship snacks.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Last month I wrote about humility. This month, in observance of Lent, I offer some thoughts on an even less popular monastic virtue: poverty.

This topic has been on my mind because of an assignment I’m required to do as part of my study of Franciscan spirituality. As you may know, the Franciscans were founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the early 1200’s. Francis was a young battle veteran, the son of a wealthy merchant, who had a life-changing experience after returning from war (during which he had spent time as a sort of POW, awaiting ransom.) He encountered a group of lepers on the road and received the almost blinding realization that though ostracized, diseased and dependent on alms to live, these lepers were people like himself, beloved of God.

I’m not sure it’s relevant, but in those days anyone with an obvious skin disease was considered a “leper,” not just people with what we now call “Hansen’s Disease.” Although there was certainly little understanding of how skin disease was transmitted, people did recognize that it was communicable, and therefore minimized contact with lepers, typically confining them to separate communities that were often quite squalid. Deprived of their usually livelihoods, lepers were not only sick and neglected, but desperately poor, despised even by those on the lowest rung of the social scale. Thus for a member of the merchant class to embrace one was unheard-of.

Francis of Assisi recognized how much the class system and socio-political situation debased and exploited the poorest in society, regarding them as basically non-persons. Francis believed that God had created the world for all people and that all people were alike in being created and beloved by God. He concluded that he was called by God to eschew participation in structures that so thoroughly disregarded God’s beloved, and decided to live in solidarity with the poorest of the poor.

Francis thus is a far more radical figure than the sweet, slightly mad preacher-to-the-birds we sometimes envision. He did not embrace poverty as an end in itself, but as an extension of his profound belief in the kinship of all human beings before God.

I have been challenged by my class in Franciscan spirituality to consider what relevance Francis’ teaching on poverty has in my own ministry situation. I balk at thinking we all must sell all we have and give it to the poor (though it’s interesting to contemplate what would happen if we did!) But that’s not exactly what Francis was about. Francis was about the commonality of humankind. This is probably as unpopular an idea these days as voluntary poverty.

I wonder if we can start, though, with an effort to be generous with our fellow humans. I’m not really talking about our pocketbooks here (though Lord knows, there’s probably room for more generosity there!) I’m thinking about generous habits. Just as, as our Prayer Book says, we sin “in thought, word and deed,” we can certainly, in response to our God’s generosity, be more generous in thought, word and deed.

Generous thinking involves thinking well of someone until some wrong on their part is proven (not just alleged) and then it means forgiving freely. Generous words are words of kindness, support and love. Generous deeds are those that help others.

I wonder if this Lent, we can begin each day with the prayer, “Dear God, as you have been generous with me, give me the opportunity to be generous with another of your beloved children.” Then see what happens.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the February 15 Vestry Meeting:

Audit Committee

The Rector proposed names for the committee which will be charged with auditing the 2014 accounts.

Committee Sign-Up

All vestry members are asked to serve on one of the following committees: Budget, Worship, or Christian Formation. Questionnaires were circulated to indicate preference. Signers for Checking account Our new officers are now authorized to sign checks, and former officers have been removed.

Rector’s Housing Allowance

The vestry is required to annually approved the Rector’s housing allowance. They decided to continue at the current level until the Budget Committee can meet.

Furnace Estimates

During our last regular furnace check-up, the technician suggested that we obtain estimates for replacing the furnaces. They are still functioning adequately but are reaching the end of their life expectancy, and we should be prepared if they suddenly conk out. The rector will obtain at least three bids.

Advertising

An ad has been purchased for a church directory page in the Wheeling Intelligencer that should appear sometime February 24 – 26. Those who subscribe were asked to keep an eye out for it.

Organ-Tuning

We have been asked if we want the organ tuned before Easter. Each tuning costs about $600. Organist Martin McDonald has said it’s not necessary, so the vestry voted to defer tuning until the Fall.

Undercroft Reservation

The Vestry approved the Rector’s request to use the undercroft for a family reunion on August 29.

Flowers

Chair Shirley Weaver reports the 2015 altar flower schedule is nearly full. The rector will publicize the empty Sundays. The Easter lily sign-up is posted.

Stewardship

The Stewardship committee will meet soon to make plans for the pre-Easter mailing.

Soup Kitchen

There are still some Sundays for which we need volunteers in 2015.

Minutes

The January minutes were approved.

Treasurer’s Report

End-0f-2014, January and February reports were received.

Coming Events

The Holy Week Schedule is posted. The Evelyn Underhill discussion group starts March 1. There will be a Monday Night Movie April 13: In the Steps of St. Paul.