Table Rock Talk October 2016

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Improvements afoot

Enhancements to physical plant

Visitors to Lawrencefield will notice the addition of two or three paved parking spaces to the upper lot, opposite the main entrance. These will shortly be lined and signed for handicap parking. Paving was completed in September by Wilson Paving Company, and was financed by proceeds from the August Rummage Sale, specified donations, a grant from the Harper Fund of the Diocese and the Building and Property Fund. Persons who use wheelchairs or other equipment for mobility issues will now not have to contend with making their way through gravel. Major potholes in the upper drive have also been filled.

In addition, with the apparent resolution of drainage issues, we can now proceed with plans to replace carpeting in the undercroft. This project has been funded by proceeds from an insurance claim for water damage. Carpet will be replaced by new industrial grade carpeting in the fellowship area, and with impermeable laminate flooring in the kitchen.

Diocesan Convention meets in Morgantown

Statewide gathering convenes October 28–29

Lay and clergy delegates from all the Episcopal churches in West Virginia will convene at the Waterfront Convention Center in Morgantown on October 28-29 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 and Tom Farnsworth as alternates. The proposed diocesan budget for 2017 will be discussed and elections to various diocesan offices will be held. For information, please contact one of our delegates.

Annual Meeting set for November 20

Nominations being accepted for new vestry members

The Vestry of Lawrencefield Parish Church has scheduled the Annual Congregational Meeting for November 20, 2016, following the 10:00 service. Reports will be presented from various officers, committees and ministries, and three new vestry members will be elected. There will also be a brief training in use of the defibrillator device the church keeps on hand for emergencies.

A Nominating Committee comprised of retiring vestry members Michelle Beihl, David Duymich and Bob Luchetti, Jr. has been appointed to present a slate of nominees to serve as their successors on vestry. This year, they will also present two nominees to serve as delegates to next year’s Diocesan Convention, which will meet in the Fall of 2017. The Nominating Committee will report at the October vestry meeting.

Vestry members serve a three-year term. The role of the vestry is provide leadership for the congregation and manage the church’s business. The vestry usually meets on the third Sunday of the month after the 10:00 service. Meetings typically last one to one-and-a-half hours.

For more information about vestry elections, please contact a member of the Nominating Committee.

The Rector's Study The Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter

Spiritual and religious

When my husband Rich was an attorney in a small-town private practice, he had a court-appointed client who evidently had quite a history with the legal system. In his first meeting with this man, Rich perused the extensive “rap sheet” of petty and not-so-petty misdemeanors, and wryly remarked, “You, sir, are a certified Bad Dude.” The man looked wounded and replied, “But Mr. Walter, I’m a very spiritual person.”

Demographers tell us that the fastest-growing religious preference in the United States is “spiritual but not religious.” When I’ve met people for the first time and they find out I am clergy, they often use language like this, as if they are trying to placate the inferred criticism of my priestliness: “Well, I’m not much for church but I believe in God. I don’t think you have to go to church be spiritual, and I’m a very spiritual person.” To which I can’t help thinking, “Well, whoopee ting.”

It seems as if many people are trying to reassure themselves that being spiritual is all they need to be, or that by being “spiritual but not religious” they have graduated to a higher life form that has no need of ritual, organization or superstition.

I have two issues with the “spiritual but not religious” designation. The first is that in my view it means nothing except that you don’t go to church. People use the SBNR self-description as if expecting that that distinguishes them somehow. But the fact is that saying you are spiritual is like saying you are carbon-based. Humans are spiritual beings. We are physical beings, we are intellectual beings, and we are spiritual beings. There is no way you can be human and not be a spiritual person. Spiritual is how we are made.

By this I mean that it is human nature to look beyond ourselves for ultimate meaning. We can imagine powers larger than ourselves. Even atheists do this. They may find meaning in predictable chemical reactions and quarks and empirical data, but most of these things require some kind of leap of faith. For example, we see the effects of the force of gravity, but we don’t actually see gravity. Therefore conceiving of something called gravity requires the ability to imagine something that not only pertains to oneself, but to all of nature. In simplest terms, this is what it is to believe in a higher power. The ability to believe in a higher power, no matter how basic, is evidence of spirituality, and this is fundamentally human.

Universal human spirituality is evident in other ways. All human beings after their earliest infancy have some sense of self. And all human beings have a desire to be loved and valued. They need their lives to have some kind of meaning. These are also aspects of spirituality. So don’t go telling me you’re spiritual as if you expect me to respect you more for it! (You deserve my respect for the simple reason that you are human.)

My other issue with SBNR (and I know I’m preaching to the choir here) is that when your highest spiritual reference is yourself, you are basically a member of the Church of Me. There is no standard outside of your own experience by which to judge the validity of your spiritual values.

In relatively mild forms, being spiritually self-referential leads to self-centeredness and an erosion of compassion for others. I see a lot of this in our culture today, even among us “religious” folks. In extreme forms, this self-reference becomes madness. In their own spiritual universe, it made sense for those two young men to shoot up Columbine High School.

Going to church is a great privilege. Church provides an opportunity to be affirmed in our deepest selves – the spiritual part of us that cannot be denied. Church also provides a context for our spirituality, which in isolation can become warped, preventing our fullest development as human beings. In addition, Church is like a greenhouse in which we can cultivate fellowship with others that can then be transplanted out into the world.

I am glad to be a member of the Episcopal Church, where being a member of Church does not mean we all have to adhere to the same rigid standard of conviction, but that we have a reliable framework in which to explore our individual and collective spirituality. The Episcopal Church is obviously not the only place this work can happen, but it works for me.

I was about to say I am proud to be spiritual and religious, but perhaps pride is a manifestation of that self-reference stuff of which I am so critical. Perhaps it is better to say I am humbly grateful to be both spiritual and religious.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the September 18 Vestry Meeting:

Rummage Sale Proceeds The vestry voted to allocate proceeds from the August 6 sale, amounting to $1,146.20 to the challenge grant from the diocese, matching $2,000 of their money to money we raise for handicap parking up to $2,000 of our own.

Handicap Parking Checks totaling $850 have been received for handicap parking. Added to Rummage Sale proceeds, this comes to $1,996. The Diocese has been notified that we have raised our $2,000 and a check for a matching amount is reportedly on the way. In the meantime, in anticipation of successful fund-raising, the paving has been completed by Wilson Blacktop. Dave Duymich will look into painting lines and erecting handicap parking signs. After the $2,000 from the diocese and the $2,000 we have raised there is still $890 remaining on our bill from Wilson which we can pay from the Building & Property fund.

Dicoesan Convention will be held October 28-29 at the Waterfront in Morgantown. Jay Paulovicks and Rich Walter are duly elected delegates, Nancy Paulovicks and Tom Farnsworth are alternates. Rector will also attend.

Stewardship Committee will meet shortly to discuss the Fall Mailing. Annual Congregational Meeting is scheduled for November 20. Nominating Committee Outgoing vestry members Michelle Beihl, Dave Duymich and Bob Luchetti are designated the Nominating Committee, charged with presenting three names at the next vestry meeting of persons able and willing to serve as vestry members for the 2017-2019 term. They should also present a name for a delegate to Diocesan Council nest year.

Senior Warden In Barb Hinkle’s absence, Fran Schoolcraft reported that a local source has been found for personalized articles we can give as welcome gifts to newcomers. Based on her report, the vestry voted to spend $350 for personalized pens, Post-its and bottles of hand sanitizer.

Junior Warden The drainage work has held up under recent heavy rains. The project to replace undercroft carpet and kitchen flooring may now proceed.

Coffee Hour Because Christmas is on a Sunday this year, there will be no Coffee Hour that day.