Table Rock Talk June 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Thurston to preach

Noted author takes Lawrencefield pulpit July 5

On July 5, the Rev. Bonnie B. Thurston will preach at Lawrencefield Parish Church. Because she lives locally, many in the congregation will have experienced some of the retreats and study sessions Bonnie has led without realizing that she is internationally known for her poetry, scholarship and wisdom. An ordained Disciples of Christ minister with a deep affinity for the Anglican tradition, Bonnie was for thirty years a college and seminary professor. She has authored numerous books on spirituality, scripture and theology.

If you’re happy and you know it

Consider sharing your joy by:

  • Sending a “thinking of you” card to someone you haven’t seen in awhile or someone on our prayer list
  • Signing up to give altar flowers for August 9 or November 29 in honor of something for which you are thankful (See Shirley Weaver)
  • Smiling at someone you don’t know
  • Volunteering to cook or serve for the Soup Kitchen July 12 (See Janine Reddy)
  • Making a special donation to help clear our balance on our Diocesan Loan
  • Singing out loud (St. Augustine said, “He who sings, prays twice”!)
  • Asking a Vestry member if you can help out with the Parish Wish List (We desperately need office computers!)
  • Saying “Thank you, God!” (And seeing if you hear, “You’re welcome!”)

New Facts received

Study on Episcopal Church Growth and Decline released

A study undertaken by Episcopal Church headquarters in New York was recently published and copies sent to all churches. Prepared by C. Kirk Hadaway, the publication is officially titled New FACTS on Episcopal Church and Decline: A look at the dynamics of growth and decline in Episcopal congregations based on the 2014 Survey of Episcopal Congregations, in conjunction with the Faith Communities Today (FACT) ecumenical/ interfaith survey project.

Results of the survey identified characteristics associated with growing and declining churches. The report contains many graphs showing percentages of churches in each category that are growing. A copy has been posted on the bulletin board in the undercroft. Another may be borrowed from the rector’s office.

Churches that are growing typically:

  • have a high percentage of members younger than 34
  • are progressive or moderate
  • have a clear mission and purpose
  • are perceived as “spiritually vital”
  • emphasize living out one’s faith in daily life
  • are “willing to change to meet new challenges”
  • have not recently experienced major conflict
  • have three or more weekend worship services
  • have a bilingual or “non-typical” weekly service
  • describe their worship as “vibrant and engaging”
  • would not describe their worship as “reverent”
  • engage children and youth in worship
  • feature a “chaotic” coffee hour
  • are involved “a lot” in recruiting new members
  • greet newcomers warmly and make multiple efforts to contact them
  • use at least five forms of newer technology
  • hold fellowship events at least weekly
  • specialize in Sunday School
  • have clergy with a four-year tenure
  • have clergy that “generate enthusiasm”
  • have clergy that “have a clear vision for the congregation”
  • experience a lot of rotation of lay leaders

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Extraordinary Time

The Feast of Pentecost (May 24 this year) marks the beginning of what is known as “Ordinary Time,” so-called because it’s not associated with any particular church feast or season. Sure, the Sundays are numbered after the Feast of Pentecost, but note they are called, for example, “The Third Sunday After Pentecost,” as opposed to, say, “The Sixth Sunday of Easter.” That is because the Feast of the Resurrection continues to be celebrated for fifty days during Easter Season, whereas Pentecost itself is only celebrated on one particular day. I don’t know the reason for this, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Pentecost does not celebrate an event in the life of Jesus Christ the way most other church feasts do.

We have been commemorating events in Jesus’ earthly life since the beginning of Advent, which anticipates Jesus’ birth. After Advent we celebrated Jesus’ Nativity at Christmas, and his manifestation as the Son of God during Epiphany. During Lent we prepared for Jesus’ Passion, remembered in particular during Holy Week, and since Easter we have been celebrating his Resurrection, and then his Ascension.

At Pentecost the focus shifts. Of course we still identify ourselves by what Christ did and does, but at his Ascension, Jesus passed the baton for Gospel ministry on earth to the disciples. So during Pentecost Season we explore what it is for us to be disciples of Christ. It’s like everything from Advent up to this point has been saying, “This is why you’re a Christian,” and Pentecost Season says, “Now go out and be a Christian.”

This reminds me of a terrific book I’ve recently read by Richard Rohr called Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. I must have mentioned this book in a sermon or previous column because it impressed me so much. Rohr, a Franciscan friar, holds that in the first half of life we are concerned with establishing our spiritual identity, and during the second half of life we live into that identity. I recommend this book highly for anyone who is noticing that their spiritual needs seem to shift in middle age or so. At any rate, it’s like Advent through Easter Season we are establishing our identity as followers of Jesus, and during Pentecost Season the emphasis is actually following Jesus.

Thus, if taken seriously, Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary, in the usual sense. I wonder if it would help us really observe this season meaningfully to consider another meaning of the word “ordinary.” “Ordinary” can also mean “that which has been ordained.” For example, although the usage is somewhat archaic, a diocesan bishop can be called “the ordinary.”

God has ordained this longest of church seasons for us to develop into disciples of Christ. Ordinary Time is God’s gift to us. It may be that the reason God ordained such a long season for developing discipleship is because God knows how long it takes to get things through our thick heads and hard hearts.

Psalm 118 says, “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ordinary Time is the season the Lord hath given us to grow and thrive in Christ. Let us grow and thrive.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the May 17 Vestry Meeting:

Audit Committee

Members have agreed to serve. The 2014 financial records have been gathered together. The Audit Committee will meet soon.

Undercroft Curtains

The undercroft windows have been measured. Jaci Neer will consult with the supplier, check with the donor, and get back.

Rector’s Study Chairs.

The upholsterer recommended by Lisa Martin is not available. Lisa will make other inquiries.

Church Door Poster

The framed poster showing front doors from Episcopal Churches in West Virginia has been hung in the downstairs hallway where the framed newspaper page used to be. The newspaper page will be moved to the undercroft.

Rector’s Summer Schedule

The rector will take the next four weeks of her sabbatical beginning the afternoon of June 21. The first three weeks she will be at seminary and the last she will be on retreat. David Duymich agreed to sort mail and listen to phone messages if needed. Tom Farnsworth will handle accounts payable. The rector will preside at services June 21, July 12 and July 19. June 28 is the Annual Cluster Service and Picnic at Oglebay, and July 5 the Rev. Bonnie Thurston will preach and Lay Leader Barb Hinkle conduct the service. The rector will also take a week of vacation in September.

5K Race

Marc Seamon is organizing another 5K race to take place October 24. He has engaged an online registration and publicity firm which charges nothing but a percentage of our earnings. Other costs should be minimal. The Vestry approved this effort.

Education Committee

The Committee has set dates and will convene a sub-committee to plan the special event for our middle school children that would have them interview older church members and present their findings at the All Saints Service on Sunday, November 1.

Junior Warden

The high-rise toilet has been installed in the ladies’ room center stall. The sump pump in the elevator shaft has been replaced. The Gills have made a donation toward the resurfacing of the driveway. Paving contractors have been contacted but have yet to get back with estimates.

Stewardship Committee

The committee met again in May and sent out the summer mailing, asking members to keep their donations current.

Flower Guild

Need donors for August 9 and November 29.

Soup Kitchen

Needs someone to cover July 12.

Fundraisers

Michelle Beihl has contacted Jeff Zoet to take a photo upon which wooden keepsakes depicting LPC from The Cat’s Meow can be based. The rector is having new notecards printed.