Table Rock Talk June 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

WV Churches address “Opioid Epidemic”

Clergy consult on Substance Use Disorder

An Associated Press report appearing March 7, 2017 on the US News and World Report “Best States” webpage states: “Fatal drug overdoses in West Virginia continued to rise last year and its overdose death rate still far outpaces any other state in the country.” In response to the well-documented crisis described in this report, the West Virginia Council of Churches called together clergy of several denominations to participate in a Consultation on Substance Use Disorder at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 25.

The Consultation followed several “Listening Events” sponsored by the WVCC in various communities across the state: in Moundsville, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, Keystone, Huntington, Charleston and Beckley. The Listening Events were geared toward getting a better picture of how communities are experiencing the opioid crisis, and what their greatest concerns are, in the interest of determining how churches might best respond. The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, and Sandra Steiner Ball, Bishop of the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, co-chaired the WVCC Listening Events Steering Committee.

Bishops Klusmeyer and Ball delivered welcoming addresses to the all-day event in Buckhannon Assembled clergy included Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics. The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter, Rector of Lawrencefield was among those present.

The agenda began with a summary of Findings from the Listening Events, which suggested that churches can help address the opioid crisis by providing accurate information, providing training and support for users and families, and sharing the hope of the risen Christ, who lived and taught a gospel of hope for everyone. A Panel on Stigma and Brokenness in the Local Church followed. Panelists noted that drug users, who most need this gospel of hope, often do not turn to the church because of the perception that churches only want “good people.” And indeed, sometimes churches do not welcome the broken. Part of what the church can do is destigmatize addiction. The main thing, one panelist said, is to be loving, remembering that Christ came to heal.

Senator Joe Manchin addressed the assembly by Skype, saying we must change the way we look at drug use, which is not just a criminal issue, but also clearly a state health issue. He detailed policies he is supporting to promote treatment centers, monitor access to prescription drugs and assist recovering users in finding jobs.

A video on the pathology of drug addiction, group discussions, and presentations on Practical Steps for Addressing Substance Use Disorder rounded out the day’s program. Strategies include training people in leading Family Support Groups, Motivational Interviewing (a procedure which has proven more effective than intervention in getting users into treatment) and the administration of Naloxone (a drug for acute overdose situations.) Additional information was circulated and regional resources shared. The day concluded with a Service of Healing.

The rector returned from the conference with a number of resources which are available to Lawrencefield parishioners for the asking.

To further raise awareness of the drug situation in West Virginia, September 17 has been set aside as a Day of Hope, to Celebrate and Support Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery from Addiction. For information on this event contact Martha.impactov@gmail.com.

The phone number to call for help with substance abuse is 1-844-HELP4WV.

The Rector’s Study The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Byers Walter

Episcopal Esoterica: Rogation Days

We recently passed an occasion which appears on Episcopal Church calendars, though for a practical matter it is not often observed today. These are the “Rogation Days.” The term comes from the Latin word for “asking,” which, evidently, is rogatio.

Rogation Days occur on the three days before Ascension Day. Ascension Day always occurs exactly forty days after Easter, and so Ascension was May 25 this year. Because Easter obviously is always on a Sunday, Ascension Day is always on a Thursday. Ascension Day marks the day described in Acts 1:9-11 when Jesus was carried into heaven after his resurrection. We have never during my tenure observed Ascension liturgically, but we could if there were sufficient interest. At any rate, 2017 Rogation Days thus were May 22, 23 and 24. Traditionally, on these days, the Great Litany is sung in procession as an act of intercession.

The Great Litany, one of the most ancient liturgies in use, is found on page 148 of the Prayer Book. Many churches use it at the beginning of Lent, as its emphasis is on repentance and petition. I participated in the Great Litany several times while in seminary and found this liturgy unspeakably dreary, so I have never been tempted to use it at Lawrencefield. But many of my clergy colleagues, and presumably many of their parishioners, find it moving and meaningful if led by a competent choir. I encourage you to take a look at it. Its principal virtue is that it intentionally commits nearly every imaginable aspect of human life to God’s care.

Here is what An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians, edited by Don W. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum (my go-to source on all things Episcopalian) has to say about Rogation Days:

They originated in Vienne, France, in the fifth century when Bishop Mamertus introduced days of fasting and prayer to ward off a threatened disaster. In England they were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting. The vicar “beat the bounds” of the parish, processing around the fields reciting psalms and the litany. In the United States they have been associated with rural life and with agriculture and fishing. The Propers in the BCP (pp. 207-208, 258-259, 930) have widened their scope to include commerce and industry and the stewardship of creation. The BCP also permits their celebration at other times to accommodate different regional growing seasons.

While I am not fond of the Great Litany, I love the idea of dedicating the use of the land itself to God’s glory. Blessing the fields at planting, circumnavigating the church grounds, and recognizing rural life, fishing, commerce, industry and the stewardship of creation are ways of acknowledging God’s gift of the earth to us, and committing our use of the earth’s resources to the service of God’s kingdom.

Though I have never drawn attention to this before, On the Sunday before Ascension I usually pick hymns that celebrate the beauty of the earth. This year I chose “All things bright and beautiful,” and “All creatures of our God and King.” In this small way do I observe Rogation Days.

Officially, Rogation Days for this year are past, but the rubrics for Rogation Collects allow for their use “at other times.” As you plant your garden this year, consider praying this prayer “For fruitful seasons”:

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: we humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper all who labor to gather them, that we, who are constantly receiving good things from your hand, may always give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the May 21 Vestry Meeting:

Change to Churchyard bylaws Churchyard chair Mary Frohme presented amendments to the Churchyard Rules & Regulations to bring them into conformity with current practice. The changes are (1) to eliminate reference to the Churchyard Committee when adjustment to burial fees is made for the interment of cremated remains, as these fees are handled by the funeral home; (2) to eliminate the requirement for a vault in the event a biodegradable urn is used; and (3) to renumber paragraphs consecutively.

Long Term Maintenance In the absence of Junior Warden Scott Duymich, Long-Term Maintenance Committee member Dave Duymich reported hearing from Bob Luchetti, Sr., church member and former head of the contracting company that built the church. Bob opposes replacement of the roof on the grounds that the original roof is a “life-time” roof, installed by a Pittsburgh firm, which if it is still in business might have recommendations on how to repair the leaks. Dave will research this company and recommends in the meantime that we not replace the roof. We have extra tiles in storage which might be used for repair. Bob Luchetti knows a carpenter who will repair the weather-damaged windowsills on the east side of the nave at Bob’s expense. Dave also reports that an associate of his may be able to replace our oldest HVAC units at much lower cost than we have been quoted, and recommends that we move HVAC replacement to the top of the priority list. He will obtain an estimate in writing. The vestry accepted Dave’s report and recommendations.

Stewardship The rector reported cash-flow issues, resulting in the need to tap the endowment for $16,000 to cover operating expenses so far this year. This is a high amount for this early in the summer. She will ask the Stewardship Committee to send out a summer letter with donation envelopes enclosed, as we have done in the past to address the usual summer slump in donations.

Public Service Notices The rector read notices from the Ohio County Public Service District listing items that must not be introduced to sanitary systems, and restricting water entering the filtration systems to bathroom, kitchen and laundry wastewater.

Minutes and Treasurer’s Report were presented and accepted.