Table Rock Talk August 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Fall concert planned

Lawrencefield will host von Trapp

Lawrencefield is in the midst of finalizing plans to host a concert by internationally known folksinger Elisabeth von Trapp on Thursday, November 2. Born and raised in Vermont, Elisabeth is the granddaughter of Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired The Sound of Music.

Although she has performed around the world, Elisabeth enjoys more modest tours in the U.S., contacting churches for the opportunity to perform in intimate venues that compliment her acoustic style. Upon hearing of her intention to make a Midwestern tour in the Fall of 2017, the vestry contacted her agent and has been thrilled to discover that Wheeling fits in perfectly to Elisabeth’s existing tour plans.

According to her website, Elisabeth has carried on the legacy of the legendary Von Trapp Family singers, while creating her own style. Her repertoire ranges from Bach to Broadway, sacred to pop.

When performing at churches Elisabeth’s practice is to take a freewill offering rather than charging admission, returning 10% of donations and CD sale proceeds to the host church.

For more information, or to help with organization, please contact Sue Farnsworth.

Annual Cluster Picnic at Sandscrest

Event scheduled for August 20

Episcopalians in Wheeling will unite in a common service of Holy Eucharist II at 11:00am on Sunday, August 20 at Sandscrest Retreat and Conference Center over the hill.

Lawrencefielders will join with members of St. Matthew’s downtown and St. Luke’s on the Island for this annual celebration of joint ministry in the Wheeling area.

The service will be followed by a festive picnic luncheon under the tent. Hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks and desserts will be catered by the talented Sandscrest staff. Families are encouraged to bring side dishes, salads and vegetables to share potluck.

There will be no services at Lawrencefield that day. Those preferring the 8:00 service are encouraged to attend the 8:00 mass at St. Matthew’s downtown.

Confirmation class announced

Preparation offered for youth and adults

Confirmation classes for youth begin September 10, meeting at 8:50am in the rector’s office. Confirmation is for those baptized as children who wish to make a mature affirmation of their baptismal vows. Reception is also available for adults previously confirmed in another denomination who wish to formally join the Episcopal Church. A service of Confirmation and Reception will take place when the Episcopal Bishop of West Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Michie Klusmeyer, visits Lawrencefield early in December. Those interested in either being confirmed or received may speak to the rector.

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

Rediscovering virtue

A recent op-ed column in the New York Times by Arthur C. Brooks deplores the modern erosion of the concept of prudence. Prudence, Mr. Brooks notes, has commonly come to be associated with risk-aversion and excessive caution. Mr. Brooks, observing widespread reluctance to take responsibility for positive action among our nation’s leaders, advocates reviving the traditional understanding of prudence as “righteous decision making that is rooted in acuity and practical wisdom.” In doing this he draws on a book by German philosopher Josef Pieper called The Four Cardinal Virtues.

I am not familiar with Pieper, a Catholic academic who died in 1997, but these comments strongly reflect the writings of St. Francis de Sales, a Swiss Bishop who died in 1622. (Once again I am struck by the timeless wisdom and psychological insight of bygone Christian mystics!)

De Sales wrote numerous letters of encouragement to the faithful at a time of dangerous tension between Catholics and Protestants. Many of these letters have been consolidated into a spiritual classic called Introduction to the Devout Life. The third chapter of this volume is called “Containing Counsels Concerning the Practice of Virtue.”

This chapter explores how to cultivate such virtues as patience, humility, gentleness (towards others and toward ourselves), obedience, purity, poverty of spirit, friendship, temperance, modesty, respectful conversation, faithfulness, balance, chastity and more.

While Mr. Brooks observes that the virtue of prudence has become corrupted in modern usage to connote fearful inaction, I would observe that the virtues embraced by de Sales have been likewise corrupted, to the point where being called humble, obedient, pure, temperate, chaste and poor of spirit would be considered faintly (or not so faintly) insulting, especially if you were in a position of public trust. Such virtues have become associated with weakness and wimpiness. It is no coincidence that as this has happened the tenor of public discourse has become increasingly uncivil, and examples of actual leadership have seemed scarce.

I wonder how much the decline of respect for traditional virtues owes to the nineteen-sixties, when so many so-called “Victorian mores” were discredited as repressive and exploitative. Some social assumptions of the day were indeed exploitative and repressive, so I can’t regret their passing in many cases. In any case, we can’t “go back.” But like Mr. Brooks I would like to see a reexamination of the virtues we as a society no longer seem to value because we inaccurately associate them with repressive structures we no longer respect.

Mr. Brooks would like to see the true nature of prudence as well-considered action revived because the rejection of prudence (understood as avoiding conflict) has led to political impasse. I would like to see the true nature of prudence, and of all the virtues, revived by Christians who are seeking to follow Jesus and serve the kingdom of God. Of course, I also believe that the widespread practice of Christian virtues would inevitably improve the quality of public discourse and create an environment more conducive to effective government. But my principal interest in this subject is spiritual.

The Christian pursues virtue for its own sake, not to fulfill social expectations, not to get into heaven, not even for a worthy social cause like good government. The Christian pursues virtue because the meaning of his or her life derives from a Savior who exemplifies those virtues. The Christian pursues virtue because his or her heart has been transformed, and continues to be transformed, by the Lord of love and King of heaven. The pursuit of virtue is both evidence and agent of continuing conversion and the following of Jesus.

In the words of St. Francis de Sales: “Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily; and our Lord Himself has told us that ‘he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.’ If you do all in God’s Name, all you do will be well done … so long as you do all wisely, you will gain greatly as in God’s Sight, doing all because He would have you do it.”

Vestry Vibes

Summary of recent developments:

As this newsletter goes to press, the vestry plans to meet next on on July 30, too late for July vestry actions to be reported here. The following are agenda items for the upcoming meeting. The August newsletter will report July actions.

Rector’s vacation plans The rector will be on vacation August 16-26. The one Sunday that falls during her absence coincides with the Annual Cluster service and picnic, so arranging for supply clergy will not be necessary.The rector will also likely miss some time in September when her third grandchild arrives.

Audit Mary Frohme and her Audit Committee have completed their 2016 audit report. This will need to be reviewed and approved by the vestry before being forwarded to the Diocese

Parking Policy The rector will ask the vestry whether a policy for dealing with non-church-related use of the parking lot on Sundays is desirable.

Ratification of email vote The vestry will need to ratify its email vote to approve the November Von Trapp concert.

Updating of priority list A firm estimate for refurbishing the HVAC system has been obtained. Any further information about roof repair will be reported. The vestry will approve the priority list for physical improvements to be submitted to the fundraising committee.

Rummage sale proceeds The vestry may discuss how to apply proceeds from the August Rummage Sale

Minutes and Financial Report will be submitted as usual for approval and acceptance.