Table Rock Talk April 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Vestry committees inaugurated

Budget approved, Education and Worship groups to meet

This year, all members of Lawrencefield’s nine-member vestry were asked to choose one of three committees on which to serve: Budget, Education or Worship. Each committee is to have three members.

Budget

The Budget Committee’s task was to create a parish budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year. Vestry register Michelle Beihl, parish Treasurer Tom Farnsworth and vestry member Bob Luchetti, Jr. volunteered. They met once with the rector to review actual expenses for the last three years and anticipated changes in 2015, then met once more to finalize a budget based on expected revenues.

The Stewardship Committee has reported Giving Cards returned from the Annual Campaign reflecting parishioners’ intent to give $114,520 to the General Operating Fund plus $2,600 designated for the Building Fund. Anonymous cash offerings, memorial donations, sponsorship of altar flowers, sale of the periodical prayer guide Forward Day-By-Day, and donations specified for the payback of our Diocesan Loan together are expected to add $8,433 to the coffers, for a total of $125,553 anticipated income.

The Budget Committee kept expenses in line with past years, with minor increases where trends indicate, for a total of $170,733. The Budget Committee provisionally budgeted that the entire shortfall be drawn from the endowment, though historically at least $20,000 a year comes in from unexpected but unbudgetable sources (special gifts, pledge overpayments, memorial donations, legacies, fundraisers) to keep our annual draw from the endowment from exceeding the 5% limit set by our Trustees. Michelle Beihl also presented ideas for fundraisers to help fill the gap.

On presentation of the budget to the vestry, the vestry voted to increase the rector’s total compensation package (salary, pension, housing allowance, self-employment tax offset and insurance) by 3%, resulting in a total increase to the budget of $2,506. With this change the budget was approved at the March vestry meeting.

Education

The Education Committee’s task is to advise the rector on adult education offerings. Senior Warden Barb Hinkle and vestry members Airry Schultz and Aimee Stern serve on this committee. They are looking over curriculum catalogs for ideas and will meet for the first time with the rector early in April to make recommendations for the summer and fall.

In the short term, a “Monday Night Movie” will be shown Monday, April 13 at 6:30pm in the undercroft called In the Steps of St. Paul. This is an educational documentary featuring British actor David Suchet, literally retracing the first-century missionary journeys of Christianity’s first international missionary. The event will be publicized in the adjoining neighborhoods with mailbox flyers. Popcorn will be served.

Worship

Worship Committee members will advise the rector in planning worship. Junior Warden Scott Duymich and vestry members Dave Duymich and Lisa Martin serve here. They were asked to read a short book on Episcopal liturgy, Liturgical Life Principles: How Episcopal Worship Can Lead to Healthy and Authentic Living by Ian S. Markham, and will meet with the rector in April to discuss the book and how it might inform liturgy decisions at Lawrencefield. We will also evaluate our Holy Week worship schedule and look ahead to worship needs in the coming months.

Parishioners with ideas or questions in any of these areas are invited to talk with the appropriate committee members.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Leave rage alone

My Facebook friends, like my friends in general, are all over the political map. Some are arch-conservatives, and some are flaming liberals, and some are downright squishy. I love them anyway.

My tolerance for outrage, however, is severely limited. This week I quietly un-friended a distant relative (I’ve never met her – she was recommended by a cousin) because her posts consistently express outrage at something or other that is either going on in the world, or reported to be going on in the world, which is not the same thing. I love my relative, but I would rather put my energy (which believe it or not is not unlimited) toward something other than either joining in outrage, or countering outrage with outrage.

Yes, there are things worth getting exercised about. Personally, I think the kingdom of heaven is worth getting exercised about. I’ve told you what that means to me: it means doing what Jesus did: forgiving, healing, feeding, working for justice, loving. But I suspect that even if Facebook posts or news commentary pretend to be eliciting passion for the kingdom of heaven by pointing out apparent injustice, mostly they just add to the unhelpful, confrontational, self- absorbed and hysterical atmosphere that surrounds us at every turn.

Christ says, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16), and this is a good test for media stories that we may be tempted to pass on because we personally agree with them. If a post that makes the rounds motivates people to forgive, heal, feed, work for justice, and love, well and good. If it just stirs people up and makes them mad, trust me, it’s not from God. Frankly I don’t notice that the proliferation of blogging, posting and political and social commentary increases genuine kingdom-of-heaven work in the world.

I am challenged by this observation to renew my own dedication to kingdom-of-heaven work in the world: loving, forgiving, healing, feeding, working for justice in my own life. I also choose not to participate in a culture of outrage. I will not post or pass on outraged media commentary. I will not “like” or respond to outraged posts, either pro or con. And yes, I will “un-friend” those who indulge in outrage consistently.

However I will try to forbear from taking offense. I came across a wonderful quote from Ken Keyes as I was writing this piece: "More suffering comes into the world by people taking offense than by people intending to give offense." Keyes was a new-age, self-help guru, but what he said in this case is good advice for people who want to follow Jesus. It seems to me that part of that loving-your-neighbor stuff is giving your neighbor the benefit of the doubt when you sense your dander getting up.

If Keyes is beyond the pale for you, consider Psalm 37: There is lots of good advice here: “Do not fret yourself because of evildoers” (verse 1.) “Put your trust in the Lord and do good” (verse 3.) And my personal favorite: “Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil” (verse 9.) This psalm even includes a verse than can be used as a visualization exercise to help us get control of ourselves when we sense ourselves starting to get outraged: “The Lord laughs at the wicked, because he sees that their day will come” (verse 14). There’s a picture. When you start to feel angry at something being reported on the news or on Facebook, imagine God laughing.

So much of what we all do (not just the wicked) must be laughable to God. I don’t imagine that God laughs in a cruel, I-told-you-so way. God probably laughs at us in the same way doting parents chuckle when toddlers stamp their feet and pretend to get tough.

Unfortunately, as adults we can do lots more damage than toddlers. All the more important that we act like adults and leave rage alone.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the March 15 Vestry Meeting:

Audit Committee

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

Vestry Committees

Michelle Beihl, Tom Farnsworth and Bob Luchetti, Jr. will serve on the Budget Committee. Dave Duymich, Scott Duymich and Lisa Martin are the Worship Committee. Barb Hinkle, Airry Schultz and Aimee Stern constitute the Adult Education Committee. The Budget Committee has already met. The other two committees will meet soon after Easter.

Furnace Estimates

The rector has obtained bids for replacing the main furnaces from Johnson, MountainAire and Neumann. They range from $6,400 to $8,020 depending on brand and efficiency rating. It was suggested that we may be able to get the furnaces wholesale from Famous Supply, and the Duymiches are willing to install them at even greater savings. The need is not yet acute, since the current furnaces are still functioning adequately, and hopefully will remain so until we pay off our current diocesan loan and are eligible for another one to finance furnace replacement.

Advertising

An ad publicizing Holy Week and Easter services has been purchased to appear twice in the Wheeling Intelligencer. Those who subscribe were asked to keep an eye out for it.

Fundraisers

Michelle Beihl presented a few ideas for fundraising: (1) An indoor yard sale at which parishioners can offload their rummage and at which non-member neighbors may purchase tables, and (2) Wooden keepsakes depicting LPC from The Cat’s Meow. These and other possibilities will be explored.

Senior Warden

Barb Hinkle is contacting members we haven’t seen in a while.

Junior Warden

At some point we will need to repave the drive. Scott and Dave Duymich will get estimates.

Budget

The vestry approved the budget presented by the Budget Committee, with a 3% pay raise for the rector.

Flowers

We need altar flowers for July 19, August 9 and Nov. 9.

Stewardship

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

Soup Kitchen

We need volunteers for June 21 and July 19.

Minutes

The February minutes were approved.

Treasurer’s Report

March report was received.