A Word From Our People's Warden

The Episcopal (Anglican) Church recognizes “threefold sources of authority:” scripture, tradition and reason (see https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/authority-sources-anglicanism for a brief description of this). For members of Advent, this suggests that we need to be familiar with the scripture and traditions of the church while bringing reason and discernment to our understanding. Doing this is not reserved for Sunday School and Confirmation Class. It is an on-going challenge that is key to our formation as children of God. Our knowledge and love of Christ is not a static thing set in concrete at confirmation; rather it should be seen as an evolving, growing appreciation of the simplicity and complexity of God’s covenant with his people. It is a path to understanding the deep truths of scripture without being in conflict when our other knowledge and experience questions the “facts.”

So it is important that we all devote some time to study of the scriptures, to understanding our traditions and how they have evolved, and to accepting our responsibility to bring reason to our studies so that we may discern hard truths instead of demanding simple rules.

Attending Sunday worship is a first step to this. The readings and the sermons, the traditional words of the liturgy, all help us review what we know and gain fresh insights. It is also an important part of following the commandment to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls.

A second step is to make some kind of on-going study a part of our spiritual journey. Reading the Bible and using the Book of Common Prayer in our personal devotions is one way to explore the scriptures and traditions. But God also calls us to be in community and to learn from one another. So the Formation team is working to invigorate our adult education program. For those who are available on weekdays, Pastor Nancy is leading a Bible study at 11AM on Wednesday. The group is currently discussing the Gospel of Mark. Join us whenever you can for interesting discussions and insight. Immediately following the Bible study, we share in a Healing Eucharist service in the chapel

We plan to offer Bible study during the 9:15 class hour on Sunday mornings, hoping that this time will work for many, and we are open to other ways to create opportunities to meet and study the scriptures. What we need is your time and talents to contribute to this program. A first organizational session will be on November 19 In the St. Nicholas Room. Please join us and help us design a program that will enable us all grow in our faith.

Answering God's Call

On October 29th, the Missional Ministry Team met with the Reverend Bill Cruse following the 10:15 service to discuss the next steps in our work with the Kaleidoscope Institute. 

            “How do we know we are on the right track with the development of  our new                            ministry?”- Question from the  Oct 29 Event

We thought it fitting to talk about the October 29th event with Reverend Bill Cruse by starting where it ended. The question above was the last one asked before we ended the event. Reverend Cruse answered this question simply. We will know that we are on the ‘right track’, because the Holy Spirit will flow through it. The ministry will be both inward – befitting those here in our Parish and outward- benefitting those who are not direct members of our Parish. The ministry will be sustainable over time. Finally, we will experience reciprocity- we will be blessed with further benefits through the Holy Currencies.

             “Church of the Advent has a fantastic music ministry, both for
            adults and children. They sing praise to God and they work
            together in relationship.”
                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

Reverend Cruse helped guide us through the process of understanding the results of the Wellness Event we held on October 1st. He also educated us on how to create and prepare to answer God’s call to ministry.  This will help our not only our own congregation, but also the  greater community around our Church.

            “We have a strong lay visitation ministry. These are dedicated people that visit those in need within our congregation and build much needed relationships.”

                                    - summarized from Oct 29 Event

The question that came out of the October 1st Wellness Event was “How can we begin to form relationships that will help our community?” That’s a loaded question, and it does not have a simple answer. It didn’t even seem to have a beginning.  Reverend Cruse told us that it really begins with the most simple of acts. It begins with “hello”. It’s how we all choose to listen to one another after the initial contact that makes the difference. The listening is where the relationship begins.

            “Our Altar Guild is a dedicated group of people who work together
            every week. They welcome new members gladly and are proud of
            the work they do for our Church, together.”

                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

 No matter where we are, internally, or externally in the wide world, we need to pay attention and listen. Not just stand or sit and listen passively. We must listen with care, and with curiosity. It helps to ask clarifying questions- showing we want to know more about the other person. And, when talking is appropriate, give feedback, share and confirm to the other person that you are listening.

            “Our Ushers and Greeters have transformed into a more relationship-
            oriented ministry. They talk to the people they give leaflets to. They ask
            about the person who needs a gluten free wafer. They try to make people
            that come through our  door feel like they are welcome.”

                        - summarized from Oct 29 Event

The Ushers, the Greeters, the Altar Guild, and the Music Ministry are in their nature task driven ministries. There is a job to get done. Most of the time, we are a church of doers. We get things done. However, when we recognize that we should be doing tasks together, listening to and for each other, that is when tasks become relationship-driven. We start to do the work, because we like it, not because we simply have to just get a job done.

             ”We have a wonderful Funeral Reception Ministry. It is all about
              building relationships, something that is very important for a family who
              just lost a loved one. We welcome the families and help them
              with these important tasks.”

                           - summarized from Oct 29 Event

We need to reach outside of our Church community.   How do we know this? The Holy Spirit offered us opportunities and we embraced them. We have begun to form relationships with St. Michael’s Church to combine and improve our Youth Programs. So far, the response has been tremendous. At least 40 youth per night (two times a month). The service projects they are undertaking is impressive.  They have helped with community clean ups and packed 25,000 meals for RISE against Hunger.  As a congregation, we have also had a chance to begin the process of forming relationships with the Kennett Adult Literacy Program. Through discussions with the leadership of the literacy program over the summer, we discovered that the program needed space to meet.  This space that was much more valuable than any check we would have been able to write, and so we offered the unused Sunday School rooms for weekday classes.

Reverend Cruse also gave us information on Planned Change. This planning is the ground work to cultivating a new ministry that will help us build future relationships. The Missional Ministry Team plans to begin working on this process together.  

We have many vital ministries within our Church and so many caring people. We have a responsibility to share the abundance of our blessings with others who need it.  It seems fair to say that we have already received many signs that we are on the right track!

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us on Sunday for this very powerful event!

~ The Missional Ministry Team

           

 

Live Your Faith

 

Helping with the Rummage Sale is like watching the Bible come alive. You might think that the Bible is not relevant to life today but working the Rummage Sale for 20 years has shown me the Bible is a living breathing how-to manual!

I have been blessed with this work for 20 years now and have worked alongside of some amazing people. I have seen folks come in and tell us that they needed clothes for hospital treatments, and we have been able to help them out. We have been able to help the homeless in Chester. We have been able to help the mission of Family Promise.

A few years ago a woman came into the Fall Rummage Sale and picked up what looked like a plain plastic looking toy. She had tears in her eyes and asked if it was really for sale. We assured her it was and this toy turned out to be some really desirable toy she couldn’t afford for her son’s Christmas gift. That was such a great feeling to allow someone who truly appreciated the things we have!

The best thing that ever happened to me there was the story that Mark tells (Mark 12:43) came to life. Two ladies came in and purchased their items. They had to leave to go to their job picking mushrooms, but they gave us $2.50 extra and said it was “for the church.” Those two ladies gave more generously than most of us.

Nothing is ever wasted, and when the sale is over everything goes on to a new destination. Clothes are taken to the Orphan Grain Train, a Lutheran Mission which ships it all over to wherever there is need.

We welcome any help and your efforts will be very much appreciated!

Tori Robinso

You Never Think……

 

            One hot afternoon, a truck driver, a Lutheran Minister and some of his congregation, a bunch of Evangelical Christians, a Rabbi, and a bunch of teenagers joined hands forming a prayer circle in a yard.

            I know this sounds like the beginning of a possibly questionable joke. However, the story is true. The setting: the yard of an 89 year old woman in a Houston suburb about a week after floods from Hurricane Harvey devastated her home.

            The woman and her son, the truck driver of the story, could not afford to relocate her. Nor could they afford the initial cost of cleaning out the wet structure of her home before mold set in and ruined it further. So, the truck driver asked his pastor, the Lutheran Minister, for help. The Evangelical Christians were many of the woman’s neighbors. The Rabbi was a family friend. The youth, well they were desperate to do something useful after a week without their electronics (their admission, as told to the reporter 😊 ).

            The New York Times reporter chose to focus on this particular woman, because 25 years before she traveled to Florida to help people deal with the devastation wrought on their homes after Hurricane Andrew. “I never thought I would need the same thing someday,” she told the reporter.

            Isn’t that true for all of us? We never think we could ever need help. Sometimes, we try to deny that we need or want others to help us. But, really it’s not true nor healthy. A few years ago, I needed surgery. A couple of days before I went to the hospital, I bumped into the chair of the casserole committee. It dawned on me that maybe my husband could use the help with meals. I thought I would try to give him one less thing to do the first few days after I came home. So, I asked for a few meals. I said nothing else. After all, I didn’t want to be a ‘bother’ to anyone. I just wanted a little help…my family didn’t ‘need’ more.

            Well, 2 days later, a very worried Reverend Nancy called me. She expressed true concern about my need for surgery and what could the Church could do to help. To this day, I feel bad that I assumed it was a bother to ask for help. I had a whole Church of people as a resource. People who wanted to help! When Nancy insisted that the Church would be there for me, I added my name to the prayer list. I asked for help getting my son to Church so he could acolyte until I was allowed to drive again. And, an army of very good cooks provided meals that were not casseroles. The meals helped my husband tremendously. For a long while after my name came off the prayer list, people asked after my health. I am grateful to report that my surgery was a success.  I thank God every day for my continued health.  And I know that if I should ever have a need again, I can call and ask.

            We often use the word “community” to refer to the place we live. In reality, “community” is the people in the place. It’s our family. It’s the people we live next to. It’s the Church we belong to. It’s the town we live in. It’s people who through disaster after disaster have demonstrated that coming together to help each other is what we should do. It’s what we are called to do.

            And, when I say “called”- I mean asking for help as well as providing help.

            Who knows when any one of us could end up in a rag tag, diverse prayer circle praying to the same God- thanking Him that the tragedy was not worse and sending people from our communities to help.  

            Yours In Christ,

            Karen Rodgers, Vestryperson

           

            

To Thine Own Self Be True!

Which is more important: how others perceive you or how you perceive yourself? Tough question! In today’s world perception seems to have become reality. Yet, you are the most important person in determining the outcome of your happiness. I say, “To thine own self be true!”

Last Sunday’s Welcome Back Picnic was another resounding success and I can’t get enough of that Blue Grass mass. As keeper of the flame, I know I flipped 120 burgers and rolled 72 hot dogs, all of which were consumed along with deviled eggs, salads and desserts brought by parishioners. Mushroom Festival parking yielded some $4,000 for our Youth Programs! Thanks to all for a job well done!

This Sunday, Jim Palic and his team will be launching this year’s Annual Canvass. The Vestry has compiled the budget requests and the goal is to raise $580,000 in pledges. This is up a little from last year and covers Advent’s basic operating costs and some strategic investments. The latter includes an expansion of our Children & Youth programs under Rev. Greg Wilson’s leadership and promoting our good works more broadly in the community. And a better sound system!

Does Advent need YOUR support? Yes! We need as many people as possible to participate so the Vestry can set a realistic budget and continue to grow this church. In the weeks to come, parishioners will “Share God’s Gifts” and testify as to how Advent has helped them. We all need to humbly listen to their stories. Pledging support is visible evidence of your commitment to Advent, which as a community will always be there to support YOU.

Also this Sunday, Tom Curry and his team will also be starting an adult forum series on end-of-life matters. Death is a part of life, just not the fun part. We need to discuss such things as wills, living wills, advanced health care directives, financial record keeping, etc. for the sake of the surviving families. It is good stewardship!

My perception is that Advent is doing well. I personally benefit from serving on the Vestry, participating in Advent events and contributing as able to our collective experience. Advent is my church – Advent is your church!

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10 ESV

Your Obedient Servant,

Collis O. Townsend

Development Warden