Grace Notes

Grace at Walk-In Dinner, September 2, 2010. More pictures can be viewed <a href=/cgi/gracewestwood.cgi?navItem=2010_october_walk-in_dinner>here</a>.


Dedication of a Church
According to the certificate on the wall above the stairs in the narthex, the people of Grace Church presented this building to the Right Reverend Benjamin Martin Washburn to be “separated from all unhallowed, worldly and common uses, and solemnly dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” on October 4, 1939. This Sunday we celebrate our thankfulness for our parish community’s physical home.

It’s interesting to me that it was almost thirty-five years after ten visionary men and women met to sign a request for an Episcopal Church mission in Westwood (on December 1, 1904) that this building was dedicated, with benchmarks met along the way separated by years (sometimes many years): the first Annual Meeting was held in 1906; construction on what is the core of our current church building began in 1909 (and completed the following year); and fifteen years (fifteen years!) after the building was completed, in 1925, Grace Church was accepted as a self-supporting parish of the Diocese of Newark and the Reverend Laurence A. C. Pitcaithly became the first rector of this parish.

I’m interested in all of this not because it’s unusual as such timelines go. It probably isn’t. I’m interested in all of this because in so many ways it’s hard for me to imagine any group of people having and holding onto and believing in and working for any vision for nearly thirty-five years. It’s especially difficult to imagine such a sustained visionary hope, life and practice in today’s context of ‘get it done yesterday.’

It was thirty-five years between that original meeting and the dedication of this building when it could easily and obviously be said that that original vision was finally fulfilled. Thirty-five years! That’s a long time for a group of people to hold onto a vision.

Of course they weren’t just holding their breath and waiting for a building for those thirty-five years. They were clear about what God was calling them to be and each of them found their place within the life of that shared vision. Throughout that time they were faithfully worshiping, praying, learning, teaching, and supporting each other and that vision. In that kind faithfulness they were already living into their vision.

Visions discerned through prayerful reflection and trust in God guide parish congregations in their life and ministry. For the two years I have been here I have been working with the Vestry and have spent long hours in prayer discerning a vision of the ministry to which God is calling Grace Church in this time and this place. The vision that is becoming clear to me (at least) is the vision of Grace Church as a spiritual center for Westwood—a spiritual center in which

  • the regular round of prayer and worship practiced by the Church over the centuries is observed and practiced here, and is the backbone and foundation for our life and mission and prayer is offered regularly for our own needs, and also (and this is important) for the specific needs of the community that God has called us to serve;
  • we as a congregation give ourselves to Holy Spirit to be formed and transformed for God’s work in Christ and in turn work to form others (not least our own children) in the faith;
  • those who are spiritually hungry and homeless, and perhaps turned off, intimidated (even wounded) by organized religion, might find a place to begin to approach God from any starting point in a safe, supportive, honest and authentic environment;
  • we as a parish could and would engage our neighbors every day in meaningful ways and open a space in an indifferent (or even hostile) world for the work of the Holy Spirit.

The details of what this might look like are finally coming together and I am anxious to share them with you, but for now I wanted simply to reflect on what it means for a congregation to have and share a vision and also (maybe especially) on the faithfulness required to support one another in such a vision. If we can begin to understand that then we’ll know that the word dedication has less to do with what a bishop does to a building than with the faithfulness of each of us to one another, to a vision of life and ministry, and to the God who has called us to live it.

--Father Rhodes

VISITORS... If you are visiting us for the first time (or the first time in a while), we are happy that the Holy Spirit led you here and honored by your presence. Please fill out a pew card and drop it in the collection basket or give it to an usher or member of the clergy as you leave the nave and please also sign our Visitor Register in the narthex (entryway) following the Mass. You are strongly invited to stay for fellowship and coffee downstairs following the 10 am Mass.

NURSERY CARE... Nursery care is available during the 10 am service. Our nursery care giver, Vickie Luppino, welcomes children to stay with her during any part of the Mass.

SUNDAY MORNING ADULT CHRISTIAN FORMATION TODAY AFTER MASS... The Adult Forum will continue next Sunday after the 10am Mass. We continue to focus on themes in the letters of Paul: Gospel and Empire (10/10). If you sometimes find yourself listening to the epistle at Mass and wonder, “What is Saint Paul talking about?” come to the Adult Forum for the next few weeks when Father Rhodes will try to at least crack open the door into the world of this great evangelist, church-builder, theologian and saint.

OPEN HOUSE SOCIAL... Sunday, October 3rd. Procession and Solemn Mass.

MANY THANKS... The Altar Guild would like to thank all who supported our Treasure Sale, and all who donated to help the guild purchase new linens. Special thanks also to Jim Davidson, for a generous donation in memory of Marilynn Spilker. Thanks again!

OPEN HOUSE SOCIAL... Friday, October 8th, 7pm at the home of Debbi Geller, 157 Grant St., Haworth. Bring a dessert and BYOB.

PLEASE SUPPORT FOOD FOR FRIENDS THIS PROGRAM YEAR... The beginning of a new church program year as the fall season begins provides a timely opportunity for dedicating or rededicating ourselves to support the Food for Friends ministry. Here's a reason why your dedication is needed now. The Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York says the number of people in New York City needing assistance has risen to epidemic levels. They are serving over 1,230 meals each weekday on average. We may expect a similar need for food assistance at St. Paul's Community Development Corporation Food Pantry in Paterson, which receives our contributions. You can donate each Sunday through the Food for Friends barrel. The pantry especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's Community Development Corporation and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.

ATTENTION GRACE CHURCH YOUTH... The Youth of Zion Lutheran Church have issued a special invitation to all Grace Church young people in grades 6 - 12! All are invited for a pizza lunch / swim party sponsored by Zion Lutheran Church today, October 3rd from 12:30 - 4:00 p.m. at the Zupfer’s, 51 Maulbeck Ave., Westwood, NJ. If the weather is too cold, the party will be held in the Zion School Gym with all sorts of games. We need to know who’s coming. Call the Zion church office at 201-664-1325.

SAVE THE DATE: Monday, November 8—Grace Church will hold a wine tasting fundraiser. Mark your calendars. Details to follow...

Blessing of the Animals TODAY!!!

Your pets and their support staff are invited for a blessing at noon today on the lawn in front of the church steps for our annual Saint Francis Animal Blessing. All types and conditions of God’s creatures (of any faith) are welcome.

Ministers of the Assembly

MP Officiant and LEM (8 am) John SchneiderCharles Keil
Lay EucharisticLeslie BisdaleTheresa Peter
Ministers (10 am)Andy SmethurstJim Davidson
LectorJohn MartinBill Hafemann
Intercessor (Prayers) Debbi GellerAki Okunlola
Chief ServerKate LandiEvans Roache
AcolytesEvans Roache
ThuriferLeslie BisdaleBen Martin
UshersJim DavidsonLarry Toppin
Billie EvansDaisy Toppin
CountersCookie SmethurstCharles Keil
Kate RandallEarl Hedin
Altar GuildPat LandiTheresa Peter
Chris ScottDaisy Toppin
Coffee Hour Mickey HafemannDaisy Toppin
Billie EvansTheresa Okunlola