Table Rock Talk October 2017

The Newsletter of Lawrencefield Parish Church

Improvements in progress

Maintenance projects initiated

Several improvements to the physical plant of the church are in various stages of happening:

Replacement of the rotted windowsills on the exterior of the epistle side of the nave (the right side as you come in) is underway, and estimates are being received for the painting of the church exterior. Generous individual donors have come forward to finance these efforts.

In addition, the vestry is hoping to be able to begin work on the replacement of two of our oldest heating / air conditioning units and ductwork. These units are original to the building and are a few decades past the typical life expectancy for such equipment. Cost for this work is estimated to be $11,600. Because the balance in Lawrencefield’s investment account designated for Building and Property is somewhere around $7,000, the vestry is hoping to raise an additional four to five thousand dollars before contracting for the HVAC work to be done. Those desiring to contribute toward this effort are invited to call the church office.

The previous report of a need to replace the roof has proved to be premature. The vestry currently believes the few leaks we are experiencing can be addressed through repair rather than replacement, at minimal expense. They are trying to contact the original installer for advice on this matter.

Meeting time

Diocese, parish plan annual meetings

Lay and clergy delegates from all the Episcopal churches in West Virginia will convene in Charleston on October 27-29 for Diocesan Convention. Lawrencefield Parish Church will be represented by the Rev. Cynthia Byers Walter, and lay delegates Michelle Beihl and Rich Walter, with Tom Farnsworth as alternate. The proposed diocesan budget for 2018 will be discussed and elections to various diocesan offices will be held. As of this writing there is no information about any resolutions that may be presented at convention. For information on any of these matters, please contact one of our delegates.

Closer to home, Lawrencefield will hold our annual Congregational Meeting on November 12 following the 10:00 service and our customary parish luncheon. Three new vestry members will be elected, and the membership will be given a first look at the 2018 budget. Reports will be also be offered from Lawrencefield’s various ministries. Retiring vestry members Tom Farnsworth, Barb Hinkle and Airry Schultz are serving as a vestry nominating committee. To nominate yourself or another for vestry, please speak to one of them.

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

What Confirmation is and isn’t

Lawrencefield is once again blessed with a Confirmation Class of three young people: Emilee Beihl, Holden Farnsworth and Jacob Stern. They will be confirmed on December 3 when the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, makes his periodic visit to Lawrencefield. Classes have begun, meeting approximately every other Sunday in the Rector’s office between services. This seems as good a time as any to review for all of us Confirmation theology and praxis in the Episcopal Church and at Lawrencefield specifically.

Confirmation has been variously understood through the years. In the beginning of Christianity there was no rite of Confirmation separate from Baptism. It’s not that people weren’t confirmed; it’s just that they were not confirmed apart from Baptism. The first converts to Christianity were all adults. They made a personal, conscious, mature decision to identify themselves as Christians and follow Jesus Christ. Thus initially all Baptisms were “believers’ Baptisms,” performed only by bishops, who oversaw geographical groups of individual parishes called dioceses, as they do today.

The Baptism service in the early church included not only the profession of faith and the ritual bathing that we associate with Baptism today, but the laying on of hands by the bishop, symbolizing the candidates’ connection to all Christians everywhere, inside and outside their particular location, within the Body of Christ.

As Christianity became legal and much more populous, Christians married each other and had children within the faith. As parents desired their children to be included in the family of God from the beginning of their lives, the practice of infant Baptism emerged. Soon there were so many people wanting Baptism that bishops could not keep up with them all. At this point they authorized priests, who served local groups of Christians, to officiate at Baptisms. However, bishops retained authority over recognizing people as mature members of the Body of Christ, as well as the symbolism of connection to the larger church. This is the point at which Baptism and Confirmation became separate rites. People were baptized as infants and confirmed at a point at which the bishop could make his rounds among the parishes in his diocese.

This practice evolved into something like we know today, where people are baptized as infants and confirmed when they are at an age of decision and can personally affirm the promises made on their behalf when they were too young to do so.

In Protestant Churches, which rejected the Roman Catholic practice of First Holy Communion because it had no basis in scripture or early Christian tradition, Confirmation became an admission rite to participating in the Eucharist. While this practice generally assured that children received some kind of formal instruction in what Communion is, it tended to undermine Baptism, which from the beginning is supposed to mean full initiation into the Body of Christ.

In the twentieth century, Confirmation became the culmination of children’s Sunday School: in many cases no more than a sort of graduation exercise. For a practical matter, it resulted in a lot of young people dropping out of church after they were confirmed. Presumably they were getting the message that they were now “finished” in their Christian formation. (Clergy joke: “How do you get rid of bats in the belfry? Just confirm them and you’ll never see them again.”)

Our current practice of offering Communion to all the baptized regardless of age is an affirmation of the basic dignity of baptism as full inclusion in the Body of Christ. Confirmation is once again understood as an opportunity for young people to publicly and maturely affirm on their own the baptismal promises made on their behalf when they are too young to do so. Confirmation instruction provides an opportunity for young people to learn more about the official beliefs of their church, and, hopefully, make these beliefs their own in some meaningful way, so that they don’t fly off like bats.

Please include the Confirmation Class in your prayers!

Vestry Vibes

Summary of the September 17 meeting:

Ratification of email vote The vestry ratified its email vote to accept parishioners’ offer to have the church exterior painted.

Sill work Work has begun on the repair of the window sills on the exterior of the west side of the nave.

HVAC Options were discussed for financing the replacement of the two oldest HVAC units before the heating season starts. Inquiries will be made, and also an appeal for donations.

Country Churches book The book that was to be published by the Wheeling News-Register featuring country churches in the area apparently has evolved into a series of feature articles. A reporter interviewed the rector for material. Subscribers to the paper are asked to keep an eye out for anything that may be published.

Staff bonuses The vestry retroactively approved the rector’s decision to pay the secretary for her vacation week, the sexton for a week she took off to care for relatives, and the organist for the Sunday we didn’t have services owing to the Cluster picnic. The vestry also approved a bonus for the yardman. All our helpers are doing exceptional work which the vestry feels should be rewarded.

Annual Meeting Originally scheduled for November 19, the annual meeting was rescheduled for November 12 to accept the offer of Ron and Eleanor White to provide food for the parish luncheon. This leaves only one scheduled vestry meeting before that. Therefore the vestry will meet briefly after church on November 5 to make sure all is ready for the congregational meeting. Forms for ministry reports will be distributed at the October meeting, along with parish lists so that vestry can make their annual all-parish calls.

Nominating Committee Retiring vestry members Barb Hinkle, Tom Farnsworth and Airry Schultz were appointed as vestry nominating committee. They will submit a slate at the October meeting for the November election.

Sandscrest Fall Festival Sandscrest is holding a festival October 21-22 and has invited Lawrencefield to have a booth for children’s activities or church information. Ideas for such a booth were discussed. Before a commitment is made the rector will obtain more information about hours.

Minutes and Financial Report were approved and received.