VOLUME 2, NUMBER 13, FEBRUARY 20, 2011
Vestry and Mission This week a copy of the minutes of the February Vestry Meeting and a financial report is pinned to the bulletin board in the narthex (we'll include a much simpler summary of the financial information in next week's Grace Notes). This is in response to a request made at the Annual Meeting. That the Church operates on a variety of calendars reminds us that we live in more than one world (we live at least in the Christian world and also the world that doesn't take Christ into account), and this fact makes Church life interesting, though not always convenient. This time of year is usually an exciting one for the Vestry because it feels like a fresh time—new Vestry members and/or Wardens—a new year—new plans. At the same time, it's complicated by being a continuation of the program year of the previous Vestry.
I am trying to figure out a way for us to make things for the Vestry a bit less complicated, possibly by changing the date of the Annual Meeting to some time in May in order to elect new Vestry members in time to plan their own program year (rather than inherit program from the previous Vestry) in the summer and then hit the ground running when the program year starts in September.
As we're doing that, we're also looking at revising the By-Laws in order to allow the Vestry to be more flexible and so more able to respond to the world as we find it and the ministry to which God is calling us rather than trying to fit these into a model that's been around for decades or longer. In many ways we've been hampered by a structure that requires us to think in terms of institution and maintenance. Such structures made sense when the Church has stronger ties to the wider institutions of society, including playing some part in maintaining its institutions—what is often called the Age of Christendom. But in the time in which we find ourselves, we need to be more intentional about discerning and carrying out God's mission in the world. This requires more flexibility because the world is changing and we need to be able to adapt if we are going to engage (though not conform to) it.
On March 5 the Vestry will be on retreat at the Church of the Annunciation in Oradell. We will pray and worship together, share food together, remind ourselves about our own experience of God's call to be Christians and members of Grace Church, and, asking for the Holy Spirit's guidance, plan the coming year (and, hopefully, lay real groundwork for the years that follow).
We will begin to turn our eyes outward in a very simple, but clear way with a sort of "Threshold Project"—which will be about the way newcomers, after they have heard of our existence or seen something about us on the web, first experience us in person—signs, steps, doorway and baptismal font. We will also begin the work of planning how we will begin to live into the vision of becoming the spiritual center for Westwood as described in the Rector's Report at the Annual Meeting (if you weren't there and would like a copy, please call 201 664-0407 or email firstname.lastname@example.org the office and we'll get you one). This planning will include concrete steps toward deepening the prayer and worship life of Grace Church, opportunities to grow as disciples for young people, families and adults, as well as the ways we will begin to interface with the community, including (at least) the first real steps toward opening a Coffeehouse/Bookstore in our Large Parish Hall.
This is a complicated, but exciting time to be a Christian. This is a complicated, but exciting time to be the Church—the Body of Christ. And this is a complicated, but exciting time for Grace Church. May God bless us in this complicated, but exciting time.
ADULT FORUM... On sunday Mack Harrell continues a multipart introduction to the book Simply Christian by Bishop N. T. Wright (retired bishop of Durham). The book has been called the 21st century answer to the C. S. Lewis classic Mere Christianity and is an accessible introduction to the thought and work of this great Anglican theologian. The final part will be February 27. The following week, March 6 (just in time for Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Good Friday), Debbi Geller will offer an Adult Forum on the traditional Christian Practice of Fasting.
REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS THIS WINTER... Winter has set in with a vengeance and should be with us well into March. The statistics concerning those who have been unemployed for over a year and are losing faith and hope is very disturbing. Many of these persons may be turning to food pantries to make ends meet. Please help St. Paul's help people in serious need. The Food 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.
Lent 2011 at Grace Church
Ash Wednesday—March 9
Sundays in Lent
Thursdays in Lent—March 17, 24, 31 and April 7, 14
Fridays in Lent—March 18 and April 1, 8, 15
Ministers of the Assembly
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