Table Rock Talk June 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Basic survival

Lawrencefield partners with YWCA

For the third year in a row, Lawrencefield has participated in the WIND program of the local YWCA: Women Inspired in New Directions. This program is directed toward provided a safe, supportive environment for women beginning a journey of recovery. Most of the women in the program are survivors of drug addiction, prison or domestic violence. The YWCA provides housing, support for drug and alcohol abstinence, and training in basic job skills, with a goal of self-sufficiency for each participant.

The “Y” provided a list of necessities including basic toiletries, laundry soap, towels, and underclothing. Lawrencefield volunteers shopped and collected many shopping bags of these supplies during May, exceeding our goal of twelve bags. They were received gratefully at the downtown facility.

A letter from YWCA House Technician Shannalee Kuri stated, “We appreciate your support for these women in recovery and thank you for joining our fight to end drug and alcohol abuse in our neighborhoods…. In the valley the YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people. This time is vitally important as it provides us with an opportunity to celebrate and harness our collective power and to significantly increase our impact on the valley.”

Safety audit conducted

Vestry responds to recommendations

Every five years, at the recommendation of the Church Insurance Company, the Diocese of West Virginia appoints volunteers inspectors to visit every church building in the diocese with a checklist of standard safety and security considerations. This being the fifth year, Bishop Klusmeyer appointed Becki and Jack Krzywdik (pronounced krizz-dick) of Christ Church, Wellsburg. The couple have been working their way around the diocese and visited Lawrencefield in March. Their recommendations were received last month. These are recommendations only and carry no penalty.

In Lawrencefield’s case, there were only four, and all of relatively minor import:

  1. Develop a crisis management/ emergency relocation plan.
  2. Develop guidelines pertaining to when a new member may volunteer.
  3. Consider using same-day deposit of offerings.
  4. Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the nave.

Although compliance is voluntary, the vestry considered these recommendations in the best interest of the church and reached the following conclusions:

  • Rector will research what other churches have done for crisis management and present a draft at the next vestry meeting.
  • The vestry deems the screening of volunteers necessary only in the case of volunteers who work with children, and as a practical matter, no one enters the Sunday School wing without the knowledge and consent of Sunday School Superintendent Jennifer Duymich. However, to satisfy this consideration, rector will compose a policy in consultation with Jennifer that we can keep on file.
  • Same-day deposit of offerings is not practical in our situation. Our Money Trail policy has lots of checks and balances, and with our secure filing system, we are confident the money is being handled as safely as possible.
  • First Choice is actually servicing our fire extinguishers right now. Rector will consult as to whether or not we already in compliance with legal and industry requirements.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Let freedom ring

When we list God’s greatest gifts to us we are likely to mention such things as love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, life and family. There’s something else that should be on that list: freedom. I was reminded of this in a recent session of spiritual direction. Learning to notice where freedom lies is nearly as important to Christian living as learning to discern where love lies.

I am speaking specifically of spiritual freedom, and not about freedom of religion, one of the civil liberties granted to us by the U.S. Constitution, as great a gift as that is. Spiritual liberty is, to my mind, one of the best reasons to be a believer!

When Jesus begins his ministry in Luke 4:16-21, he references the book of the prophet Isaiah, where the day of the Lord is described: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After reading this aloud, Jesus tells his listeners, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus is describing his core ministry here.

Note that Jesus’ commission is defined by the proclamation of five things: good news, release, recovery of sight, freedom of the oppressed, and the year of the Lord’s favor. Thus at least two fifths of Jesus’ job description has to do with being an agent of freedom: bringing release to the captive and freeing the oppressed. Actually there is still another part: that business about proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor. This is a reference to the Jubilee Year provided for in Jewish law: when those who have been enslaved are supposed to be emancipated every seventh year. As we see, then, a big part, perhaps the biggest part, of Jesus’ mission, is liberation.

Jesus speaks of liberating captives and the oppressed, but his active ministry has nothing to do with emptying prisons and overturning oppressive political and social regimes. Jesus is focused on other kinds of captivity and oppression. Some of these are physical: chronic ill health, blindness, deafness, lameness, paralysis and hunger. But the freedom Jesus offers is not just physical. To show this Jesus often tells the people he is healing, “Your sins are forgiven,” “Your faith has healed you,” and “Come, follow me.”

Thus does Jesus address spiritual freedom along with physical freedom. The crowd’s habit of focusing on the latter at the expense of the former is clearly frustrating to Jesus. I believe that although his great compassion often leads him to free people from their physical bonds, his primary ministry is for spiritual freedom. The physical healings are almost incidental.

The spiritual liberation Jesus offers is a huge, huge, gift to us. So much so, that the awareness of spiritual freedom is one of the surest signs of God’s presence – possibly even more reliable than that sense of peace and joy we all crave.

The awareness of which way freedom lies is for St. Ignatius Loyola a fundamental element in his method of the discernment of God’s will for our lives.

The freedom Jesus offers is not, of course, the freedom to do whatever the heck we want. Jesus’ freedom is freedom from guilt, addiction and unhealthy patterns of thought. Sometimes choosing in favor of freedom means doing something one might rather not do, because it is the right thing to do, and not to do it would lead to the bondage of guilt, or the much more terrible oppression of regret. True freedom lies in following Jesus: loving the unloveable, holding possessions and feelings lightly, and seeking the truth despite its cost.

In spiritual direction I am often called to assist people in making difficult life decisions. As Ignatius wisely perceived, in situations like this, it is helpful to consider each alternative in turn, being alert to one’s affect in considering each. Does the thought impart lightness and freedom, or darkness and dullness? The way that “feels” free is likely to be the right one. Because freedom is the way of Jesus.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the May 15 Vestry Meeting:

Diocesan loan

We have received our check for $10,000 to be applied to capital improvements. It has been deposited to the Building & Grounds Endowment. Application has yet to be determined, but if it is needed for remediation of the drainage issue it is available.

Insurance claim

We have received a check for $6,400 for replacement of the undercroft carpet. This check also has been deposited to the Building & Grounds Endowment pending resolution of the drainage issue.

Rector Housing

The rector’s “anchorage” in the education wing is furnished and she will begin using it for overnight stays immediately.

Budget Committee

The Budget was approved by email vote, but this vote could not be ratified for the official record in the absence of a quorum.

Education Committee

will meet soon to plan for Fall.

Fundraising Committee

is working on the August rummage sale.

2015 Financial Audit

Mary Frohme has assembled an audit committee and will audit the 2015 books probably before the end of the week

Rector’s Sabbatical.

Rector will be gone the Sundays of July 24, July 31, and August 7. Retired ELCA Bishop Dunkin will supply July 31 and August 7, and lay leaders will cover July 24. Bp. Dunkin will also do July 3, when the rector is out of town for her son’s wedding.

Increased insurance rate for dorm room in education week.

This amounts to only $20 a year and was approved by email vote, but could not be ratified in the absence of a quorum.

Churchyard trees

One tree has had to be removed to accommodate a burial in the past week. Removal was paid for out of the Churchyard Account. Churchyard Superintendent Mary Frohme will mark other trees that must be removed. The vestry will determine the best and most economical means of removing them once they have been identified.

Junior Warden

Work continues to inspect and clear the drains.

Treasurer’s Report

General Operating is in good shape thanks to the timely payment of an annual pledge in full. The General Endowment has been augmented by a bequest of $10,000 from the will of Carlyle Farnsworth, and by $3,925 in donations received in Carlyle’s memory. Market figures have also improved. The Building & Property Endowment would have been wiped out by paving expenses, but has been replenished by loan and claim proceeds.


Discussion of whether to continue the July 3 Fireworks Party was tabled till the next vestry meeting.