Table Rock Talk November 2015

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Calling all Lawrencefielders

Members convene for Annual Congregational Meeting Nov. 15

All members and friends of Lawrencefield Parish Church are enthusiastically urged to attend our Annual Congregational Meeting on November 15, following the 10:00 service. The Annual Meeting is primarily a celebration of our common life at Lawrencefield.

Reports will be presented from various officers, committees and ministries, and three new vestry members will be elected.

To emphasize the celebratory aspect of the Annual Meeting and to promote fellowship, the meeting will include a ham luncheon. Parishioners are asked to bring salad and dessert. A sign-up sheet will be posted in the Narthex.

Deepening our prayer life

Workbooks on spirituality featured in new adult education

Friends of St. Lawrence (FSL) will meet for the first time for informational purposes at 11:30 (after the 10:00 service) November 22. Thereafter participants will observe a daily spiritual discipline using a step-by-step workbook and attend weekly meetings (called “Chapters”) between the Sunday services during the Advent season (a total of four Sundays before Christmas.) The workbooks have been compiled by the rector in consultation with a small ministry team. The daily spiritual exercises are simple and need only take five minutes a day. They represent a good beginning for anyone interested in developing a daily prayer practice, but will also complement any prayer practices currently in use.

Topics for the daily study include: Abiding in Love, God’s Presence in You, Where are You, God? and God is Moving in You.

Participation is limited to ten. Please speak to the rector if interested.

  • Organizational Meeting: 11:30am; November 22
  • Chapter Meetings: 9:00am; November 29, December 6, 13, and 20

Electronic giving to expand

LPC registers for online donation program

With the approval of the vestry, Lawrencefield has partnered with “MyEoffering,” a subdivision of Church Budget Envelope and Mailing Co., which has assisted churches with collecting offerings since 1917. The vestry has vetted this company to the best of our ability, and their credentials are good.

Members will be able to donate from any location, debiting a checking or savings account, or paying by credit or debit card. A “landing page” will be created using a secure donation platform in the style and color of Lawrencefield’s current website. Here members can make one-time or set up reoccurring offerings. Each member is supplied an initial personal password and user name. Members may log on 24/7/365 to make contributions, revise their giving profile or view their personal giving history all with no assistance from church staff. The security level is equal to what banks use to protect their transactions.

Studies have shown that churches making online giving available can increase giving up to 35%.

Outside of encouraging members to pay their collections electronically through the “Bill Pay” function of their bank account webpages, the Vestry has avoided contracting with an online collection service because of the high charges usually associated with such services. MyEoffering charges no set-up or monthly fees, and their cost per transaction is low compared with other companies. A mere 30-cent charge is associated with checking and savings transfers. Using a credit or debit card does incur an additional 2.75% charge.

Donors may be asked to add processing fees if paying by card. Clergy of churches using this form of electronic giving report that families are usually happy to increase their weekly donation by a dollar to two to compensate for these charges.

Giving through Eoffering will result in much quicker transfers than using “Bill Pay” since the transfers to the church account are electronic, not requiring the processing of paper checks.

More information about registration with MyEoffering will be made available shortly.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Thankable things

Preparing to write a column for this Thanksgiving month, I found myself vaguely remembering a poem I believe I first read in an Ann Landers column a million years ago. Googling the few words I remembered, I found this anonymous prayer which is what I’m pretty sure is the origin of that memory:

Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We're eating very well
With home, health, and happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss;
By the stack of evidence,
God's been very good to us.

Not to be Pollyanna-ish, but some things are like that: you can find something to be grateful for in them even if at first they seem like chores or misfortunes. Sometimes the gratitude needs time to emerge, as for example the gratitude I feel for the job loss back in 1998 that opened the opportunity for both Rich and me to pursue the jobs we were meant to do. Of course we were miserable at the time, but eventually a very great good ensued, for which we are both grateful.

Gratitude is an especially graced attitude to have before God. Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart is supposed to have said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” There is always room for more gratitude in the world. I believe that when an individual is grateful, the store of goodness in the world actually increases.

In that spirit, I started to think about things I’m grateful for that many people would not be. (Actually this would make a great parlor game—go around and have each person tell about something for which they are thankful that most people would not be!) Now most of these things are not unmitigated blessings, but I can find gratitude in my heart for:

~cold weather. I like to bask in the sun as well as anyone, but I find it hard to be physically active when the ambient temperature is above 65. I can’t sleep well in a room above 60. I love cuddling under quilts and wearing fuzzy socks and sweaters.

~raking leaves and shoveling snow. I love the smells and clean air and the physical exertion.

~exercise (especially afterwards.) I feel logy if I’m inactive for too long, and I always think of my mother, for whom movement is difficult, and how much she would love to move around more if she could.

~snow. I ski. And I’ve never gotten over the childish excitement of snow days.

~shorter days. Yeah, I’m as susceptible to daylight deprivation as anyone, but there is something about settling in for a long winter’s nap that suggests nesting and safety to me.

~vegetables. OK, I’m weird, but prepared artfully, vegetables rock.

~rainy days (as long as there aren’t too many in a row). Once in a great while I like to emulate my cats and laze around all day. In my house this is known as “having a Kitty Day.”

Not everything can be made into a thankable thing. But it’s amazing how many things can be! This Thanksgiving, let’s try thanking God not only for the obvious blessings, but the hidden ones too.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the October 21 Vestry Meeting:

Business email

The email address for the church has been changed.

Nominating Committee

Retiring vestry members Scott Duymich, Lisa Martin and Aimee Stern discussed their possible successors to be placed on the ballot at the November Congregational Meeting.

Holiday Worship Schedule

Owing to low participation in past years, we will not offer a Thanksgiving Day service this year. The rector will prepare a booklet of Thanksgiving devotions for use by families. We will continue to offer the 10am Christmas Day service as well as the 5pm Christmas Eve service.

Kitchen Clean-Up

The kitchen was dramatically tidied by Michelle Beihl but still needs to be scrubbed. A date of November 8 has been set at 9am for a full clean.

Junior Warden

Scott Duymich reported on a successful churchyard clean-up. Gutter caps are being installed. June Paull has contacted Savage Construction to assess the leak near the elevator before the carpet is replaced in the undercroft. Dave Duymich requested that maintenance expenses be checked against the budget. These costs proved to be slightly over budget, but the vestry authorized any additional needed maintenance expenses in excess of budget through the end of the year provided that any single expense over $100 receive vestry review. The Vestry expressed deep appreciation for the low-cost, high-quality maintenance work provided by the Duymiches.

Stewardship Committee

The Annual Giving letter went out this week. The Stewardship Committee may meet once more before the end of the year to discuss the possibility of a 13th month ask.

Cats Meow Shelf-Sitters

Michelle Beihl reports that the maker has all the information they need. We are awaiting the finished products, which will be sold for $16.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Tom Farnsworth reported that we have exceeded our 5% limit on withdrawals from the endowment, cash flow being unusually slow since summer. A contributing factor is that we have lost three major donors in the past year. The trustees will meet at the end of the month. Tom feels it is premature to consider anything drastic like reducing the rector’s hours to stay within budget.