Table Rock Talk October 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Calling all Friends of St. Lawrence

Workbook project on spirituality to kick off soon

Ten members of the Lawrencefield family are being sought to participate in a project exploring Christian spirituality which is planned to take place this Advent. The project is part of the rector’s doctoral study to see if coaching in spiritual discipline increases awareness of baptismal vocation. In other words, the rector is investigating how widening our experience of prayer affects our self-concept as Christian ministers!

Participants will be asked to observe a daily spiritual discipline and attend weekly meetings (called “Chapters”) between the Sunday services during the Advent season (a total of four Sundays before Christmas.) We will use a workbook of daily spiritual exercises, currently being compiled by the rector in consultation with a small ministry team. The spiritual exercises are simple and need only take five minutes a day.

The working title for this group is Friends of St. Lawrence, although the name may change based on input from those who participate.

A second group will form during Lent 2016, using new material to be compiled by the rector. It is hoped that members from the Advent group will form the core of the Lent group. Those interested are warmly invited to see the rector.

Advent Chapter Meetings
  • Organizational meeting (TBA)
  • November 29
  • December 6, 13 and 20
Lent Chapter Meetings
  • February 7 (Organizational meeting)
  • February 14, 21, 28
  • March 6, 13

Diocesan Convention meets at Pipestem

Statewide gathering convenes October 23-25

Lay and clergy delegates from all the Episcopal churches in West Virginia will convene in Pipestem State Park on October 23-25 for Diocesan Convention. Lawrencefield Parish Church will be represented by the Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter, and lay delegates Jay Paulovicks and Rich Walter, with Nancy Paulovicks as alternate. The proposed diocesan budget for 2015 will be discussed and elections to various diocesan offices will be held, including the Sandscrest Board, for which parishioner Barb Hinkle is running. The only resolution submitted to date concerns the approval of the position of Assistant Bishop in Diocese. For information on any of these matters, or a copy of the resolution, please contact one of our delegates.

Festival of Gifts to coordinate with Annual Meeting

For the past three years Lawrencefield Parish Church has celebrated the considerable talents of our membership with an Art (plus) Show called Festival of Gifts. This year we will hold the Festival over the November 14 weekend, as we have our Annual Meeting on Sunday, November 15. Plan now to submit an example of your creativity. Entry blanks will be available in the narthex. Suggestions: Art, photos, cooked items, videos, sound recordings, ceramics, taxidermy, inventions, restored machinery, carpentry, poems, athletic trophies, perfectly shined silver, perfectly shined shoes, hairstyling (provide photos), diplomas, a stack of the books you’ve read this year, stamp collections, hand-tied fishing flies, scrapbooks, window treatments, home-made clothing, plastic or wooden models, ice sculpture, etc.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Strength to strength

Happy are those whose strength is in you….They will climb from strength to strength.

Psalm 84:7

As of this writing, I am newly returned from a 3-day workshop Called to Transformation: Asset-Based Community Development. This is the first in a series of similar workshops that the Episcopal Church plans to hold 3-4 times a year for lay and ordained church leaders. This one was in St. Louis, and the next will be held in Denver in November. The cost to me was minimal ($175 for room, board, and program for three days – exclusive of travel expenses) so I know that the national church underwrote most of the cost – a sure indication that this program is something the church wants to be widely experienced by as many Episcopalians as possible.

The gist of the “asset-based” approach to ministry is simple: start with gifts, rather than problems. Typically, churches conduct outreach programs in response to perceived needs. There is a hurricane, and people are displaced; people need money for utilities and food; a building needs to be built or repaired. Obviously, responding to crises is one way they church can act as God’s kingdom in the world. But several authors have noted that traditional hand-out style ministries from the haves to the have-nots produce undesirable results.

Robert D. Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It, says that the way charitable efforts are traditionally practiced dehumanizes the recipients by encouraging dependency: “Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, bruising the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environments. We fly off on mission trips to poverty—stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaway goods, trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in ‘turning my people into beggars.’”

I have not read the Lupton book, although I will. It was highly recommended during the workshop to every church member in the country!

The point of the workshop was not just to tear down the traditional way of doing outreach but to offer a different, more empowering model. Church members can start by realistically assessing their own personal gifts. Then church communities can inventory their collective assets. Finally, one-on-one interviews in the target population are geared toward uncovering the gifts already present, to engage and involve people in helping themselves.

There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the gist. I find this approach very exciting. It meshes with something that has been part of my theology for a long time (and was instrumental in my pursuing ordained ministry): the notion of Spiritual Gifts. I’ve actually taught about Spiritual Gifts several times.

Spiritual Gifts are described in the Bible, in Romans 12:4-8, I Corinthians 12:4-11, and Ephesians 4. In short, they are gifts given by God to every individual for the building of God’s kingdom. I was originally taught that spiritual gifts are for building up of the church, but I’ve modified my personal definition, expanding the theatre of spiritual gifts to God’s Big Plan for the redemption of creation. If people can assess their own spiritual gifts (and there are various easy ways to do this—ask me) they will have a good idea as to what God is calling them to do. As Presbyterian preacher Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

At any rate, the exploration of personal spiritual gifts is the obvious starting place for “Asset-Based Community Development,” and I plan to give some attention to this issue in the Friends of St. Lawrence workbook series (see above)

Whether you plan to participate in FOSL, check out those Bible readings and consider what your spiritual gifts are. And if you are interested in attending a later edition of the Called to Transformation workshop, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ll even pay your tuition if you want to go!

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the September 20 Vestry Meeting:

Undercroft Curtains

The donor who paid for the installation of blinds in the undercroft windows is arranging to have wooden valances custom-made.

Undercroft Carpet

The fundraisers for this project are consulting with a decorator and a carpeting contractor.

Handicap Parking

The rector advised that diocesan funds may be available next year to pave a handicap parking space.

Driveway Paving

A contract has been signed with Wilson. They will try to have the paving done by November. Otherwise it will wait for Spring.

Bishop’s Visitation

Bp. Klusmeyer has released his visitation schedule for 2016. Lawrencefield can expect him on April 10, two weeks after Easter.

Nominating Committee

Retiring vestry members Scott Duymich, Lisa Martin and Aimee Stern are appointed as nominating committee for their sucessors on vestry, to be elected at the Annual Meeting in November.

Senior Warden

A date will be announced shortly for the kitchen clean-up. Barb Hinkle will investigate when food handling classes are to be held. Vestry members and others are urged to take handfuls of the new parish business cards and leave them around town.

Junior Warden

In Scott Duymich’s absence, Dave Duymich reported on the plasterboard installed in the front stairway. Some finishing details remain to be done.

Stewardship Committee

Our participation in the Kroger Community Rewards program yielded $70 this quarter, with seven families participating. Kroger shoppers who have not yet registered their cards to benefit LPC are encouraged to enroll. Printed instructions are available in the undercroft. The color brochure that will accompany the Annual Giving letter going out this fall is being designed and awaits a few more photographs before printing.

Cats Meow Shelf-Sitters

This fundraiser is almost ready. Coordinator Michelle Beihl asked for input for information copy for the back of the ornaments. The rector suggested “TEACH + PREACH + REACH” along with the slogan we have on our Facebook page, and will send the copy out by email for vestry approval. The ornaments will cost about $10 to make; the vestry approved a sale price of $16. Hopefully, in addition to present members, out-of-towners with ties to LPC will want to buy them.

Treasurer’s Report

Cash flow this summer has been unusually slow but despite several draws from the endowment, Treasurer Tom Farnsworth reports that we are still under our 5% limit.