Table Rock Talk September 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Handicap grant awarded

Diocese challenges parish

The Council of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia has awarded several grants from the “Harper Fund,” which is designated for ministry to elders, including a “challenge grant” of $2,000 to Lawrencefield for handicap parking.

Lawrencefield had applied for a grant of $5,000, which would cover the entire estimated cost of paving a portion of the upper parking lot for handicap parking. Council has a standing policy of sharing costs for capital improvements with the parishes that apply for them, and therefore opted to provide partial payment in the expectation of stimulating local support.

Those interested in contributing toward the $3,000 additional needed to complete the handicap parking project may make checks payable to Lawrencefield Parish Church with “Handicap Parking” on the memo line.

The Vestry hopes to schedule the paving in the fall.

Diocesan Altar Guild to meet

The Diocesan Altar Guild, now in its seventh year, announces its annual meeting, October 15, at St. Timothy’s-in-the-Valley, 3434 Teays Valley Road, Hurricane, WV, 10 a.m. until noon. Topics of concern to all involved in the ministry of the Table will be presented. For information please contact the church office.

YWCA solicits youth essays

The YWCA-Wheeling is proud to announce the 2017 Project on Racism Essay Contest, which honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while encouraging student’s creativity through essay writing. The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The 2017 contest will be based on the following quote from Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written on April 16, 1963: “Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider…”

The Essay Topic for Grades 9-12 is “What does ‘outsider’ mean? Describe one time when you experienced being an outsider. How did it feel to be an outsider? What advice do you have for someone in a similar situation? What does ‘insider’ mean? Describe one time when you experienced being an insider. How did it feel to be an insider? Describe one thing you did, or could have done, to make someone who was an outsider feel included.” Shorter topics are available for Grades 1-4 and 5-8.

Essays must be submitted by October 21. They will be judged by age division according to grammar, originality, relevance to theme, and effective expression. Applications are available from the rector.

Diocese seeks trainers

The Commission on Racism and Diversity (CORD) of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia is soliciting names of candidates to be trained as leaders. In order to fulfill their obligation to train all church leaders in the diocese, CORD is seeking trainers in each of the diocese’s seven deaneries, including the Northern Deanery, of which Lawrencefield is a part. To be nominated as a CORD trainer, please see the rector.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Being a priest

Recently, Bishop Klusmeyer asked me to submit a short essay about being a priest as part of a study he is doing on ordained ministry for both priests and deacons in the diocese. I thought you might be interested. Here are some excerpts of what I submitted to the bishop.

Most of what I do as a priest falls into two categories: What I do as a baptized person, and what I do as the rector of a parish. Only a relatively small (but very important) part of what I do is specifically priestly. In other words, my ministry as a priest overlaps a great deal with what lay people and other ordained people (deacons and bishops) do.

According to the Catechism, all baptized people share the calling to “follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” Representing Christ and his Church is part of the job description for all orders, although the catechism provides particulars for us ordained folks. In the case of priests the particulars are to pastor the people, share in oversight of the Church, proclaim the Gospel, administer sacraments, bless and declare pardon.

Of these only the parts about sacraments, blessing and pardon are unique to priests (and bishops, who are priests first.)

There are a few things that my own journey to the priesthood taught me about priesthood. First priesthood is a calling from God. This was not something I chose. It was something that chose me. Secondly, priesthood happens within and for the church. God did not just convict me of something I had to do for myself. I would not and could not have discerned this calling without the church – my own parish as well as the greater church. Calling may touch individuals, in the same way any godly gift may, but calling is also profoundly corporate in nature.

In the final analysis, however, only God can “make” a priest. Study, practice and native talent certainly contribute to priestly formation. The bishop presides. The people must consent. But God makes the priest. This is not a matter a priest can possibly take pride in. God chooses whom God wills, and God knows, this is not dependent on any personal excellence on the part of the ordinand.

The priestly ordination rite obviously contains more language describing the unique ministry of priests: that they are to “nourish Christ’s people from the riches of God’s grace,” and “strengthen them to glorify God in this life and the life to come.” Implicit in this language is the administration of sacraments, blessing and absolution specifically mentioned in the catechism. Here is what priests are specifically called to do, and why they are to do it. We are to baptize, make Eucharist, bless and declare forgiveness. That is our peculiar job. And we are to do it to nourish and strengthen God’s people for God’s kingdom.

As a rector, that job takes a distinct form, and includes not only sacraments, blessing and pronouncing absolution, but also administration, management, teaching, and, sometimes, locating the duct tape when a child throws a plastic dinosaur through the nursery window. In terms of how I fill my days as a priest, these things occupy probably as many hours as preaching, preparing for worship, visiting the sick, and the other jobs that most people associate with rectoring. In other words, although sacraments and pastoring are the core of the priestly calling, a rector often does not have the luxury of saying, “Sorry, not my job description.” Part of the calling is doing whatever you are called to do in the course of a day.

Perhaps more important than all of this, though, for a rector, is the responsibility for “keeping the vision” for the parish. A rector must help the congregation discern and live into not only their personal calling as baptized persons, but their collective calling as a unique congregation, with a unique place in God’s kingdom. Like individuals, congregations are uniquely gifted for unique work in their particular situations. Alerting, inspiring, focusing people on their collective ministry as church is to my mind the core of rectoring.

So that’s what I do as a priest. I strive with God’s help to fulfill my baptismal promises to live out the Gospel as all Christians do. In addition, I baptize, I administer Eucharist, I bless, I pronounce God’s forgiveness to the penitent. In my own particular case, priestly vocation has the specific shape of a parish rector: administering and leading my congregation, in both spiritual and practical senses.

Why am I a priest? God gave me a priest’s gifts, and said, “be a priest.” I don’t know why. I might as well ask why I have green eyes.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the August 14 Vestry Meeting:

Sabbatical Coverage Church business was handled very smoothly during the rector’s absence in late July, early August. Lay leader Barb Hinkle and Bishop Ralph Dunkin ably led worship. Parish Secretary Jeanne Wolfe managed mail, phone messages and accounts payable. Treasurer Tom Farnsworth handled payroll. By the grace of God no major pastoral matters emerged during the period. The rector expressed her gratitude to everyone who chipped in to help.

Rummage Sale The August 6 sale was a huge success. Large volumes of merchandise were sold, for a profit of $1,146.20! Jennifer Duymich is investigating where unsold merchandise may be donated.

Senior Warden Barb Hinkle is still looking for a source for the personalized tote bags that we hand out to visitors. The problem is that many suppliers do not do lots as small as the one we require. Airry Schultz has a lead on a local firm that can do the printing.

Junior Warden The drainage work is complete at an expense of a few hundred dollars for supplies, which will be covered by the Building and Property Fund. Use of the equipment was donated. Labor was provided by Dave Duymich, assisted by Scott Duymich, Marc Seamon, Jack Wheeler and Ron White.

Dave is in the process of trying to fix the mixer in the upstairs bathroom shower. The mixer may have to be replaced.

Tom Farnsworth reported that our request for a grant to pave a handicap parking space has been approved in part. The vestry expressed a desire to contract with the paver to have the work done before the cold weather if possible, and at the same time possibly patch the worst potholes elsewhere in the parking lot. The rector will contact Wilson Blacktop for an updated estimate.

Minutes for the June 19 meeting were not available, register Michelle Beihl being in Mississippi for the birth of her grandchild.

July Financial Report showed strong performance in investments. Because of our usual summer slump in donations, $5,000 was transferred from the General Endowment in July to meet expenses. We may need another transfer before too long, but we are doing pretty well to get into the summer before needing our first transfer.