Grace Episcopal Food Pantry Shares Love at Christmas – and year round

Excerpt from the Mansfield News Journal, written by Lou Whitmire.

“Between 800 and 900 families received food for the Christmas holiday from Grace Episcopal Church food pantry Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

“Known as the church with the red door at the corner of Third and Bowman streets, the Christmas food pantry operation included many volunteers working under a new hoop structure provided with a grant received from the F. Wayne and Isabel Bogan Young Fund at the Richland County Foundation, said Rev. Joe Ashby.”

Read the full story here.

Categorized as Pantry News

Note from the Pantry

979 households in 6 days!

That just may be a new record for us.

The 688 households we served for Thanksgiving is over 70 more than last year. To top it all off, we did it all outside and packed all the boxes ourselves.

And we’ll do it again for Christmas on Monday, December 21 from 4 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, December 22 from 9 to 11 a.m.

EventDate# Services
North Central State11/24/202016
North Central State11/19/202011

Thanks to Bob Windsor, who navigated us back into Meijer Simply Give, from whence our 4,800 cookies came! Good to see Bob when we picked up the cookies. You see in the photo our “sweeties” framed in Meijer’s cookie box tops and our 20 + pallets of packed Thanksgiving boxes in the background.

Fr. Joe has done it again with the help of Richland County Foundation, $6,000 grant to provide a greenhouse for winter distribution. We will close Dec 2 and 3 to construct. The end walls will come later.

Error in the slips that went out, so we will be open two Wednesdays in a row (the 9th & 6th).

The Pantry will be closed December 2nd, 3rd, 30th, and 31st.

Thank you all,

Fr. Daniel

Categorized as Pantry News

Grace Notes: December 2020

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

Dear Friends,

Frederick Buechner writes, “Advent begins in the dark” but this year it may seem that it is hard to tell the difference. Darkness seems to be the constant theme and experience of 2020 and it seems that we can’t even look forward to the traditional joys of Christmas, parties, family gatherings, Christmas Lessons and Carols, or perhaps not even Christmas Eve Mass with the candlelight singing of Silent Night. (I am not ready to quite throw in the towel yet on that one but I must admit it looks unlikely). It is easy to get depressed and, in a sense, give up – why bother with Christmas at all?

And yet this is a variation on a question that is at the heart of every Advent season – why did God bother to come into the world in the first place? And how can we prepare space in our beings to be overwhelmed once more with the experience that God did bother and does continue to bother to come into our world and into our lives?

As much as things have changed this year, this much has not changed – God is still in our midst – loving, healing, encouraging – God still bothers and Jesus will still come the stable in Bethlehem and into the manger of the hearts of all who prepare a space for him.

So, do not give up – do not be discouraged – do not lose hope – find a new way to prepare a highway for our God even in the midst of this wilderness time.


Father Joe

Worship Update & Christmas Plans

Given the reality of the Pandemic and the high infection rates in our area we will not have public in person worship for the foreseeable future. We will continue with our weekly live stream service on Face Book at 9:30 a.m. and the service will be posted on our You Tube Channel. If you need help connecting to the service please give us a call.

If we are able – and this is a longshot at best – to have in person worship for Christmas we will have 2 services as usual at 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. We will take reservations with a to be determined number of parishioners allowed at each service – perhaps 25 – 35 at best. Please watch for information on how to reserve a spot. If we cannot have in person worship, we will live stream a 5 p.m. service that can be watched at any time and you will also get information as to how you can participate in the broadcasted Diocesan or National Cathedral services.


Mitten Tree

Time to bring in your gloves, mittens, hats and scarves for the Annual Mitten tree! The office is open from 9-1 and Monday, Wednesday and Friday or better yet leave us a message and Father Joe will pick up the mittens from your front porch!

We will give out these gifts as part of the Christmas celebration at the Food Pantry.

Food Pantry

979 households in six days!
That may be a record.
The 688 households for Thanksgiving is 70 + more than last year … and we served outside … and we packed all the boxes.
AND we get to do it again for Christmas
Monday Dec 21 4-6 pm and Tuesday Dec 22 9-11 am.

EventDate# Served
North Central State11/24/202016
North Central State11/19/202011

Thanks to Bob Windsor, who navigated us back into Meijer Simply Give, from whence our 4,800 cookies came! Good to see Bob when we picked up the cookies.
You see in the photo our “sweeties” framed in Meijer’s cookie box tops and our 20 + pallets of packed Thanksgiving boxes in the background.

Fr. Joe has done it again with the help of Richland County Foundation, $6,000 grant to provide a greenhouse for winter distribution. We will close Dec 2 and 3 to construct. The end walls will come later.

Error in the slips that went out… so we will be open two Wednesdays in a row, the 9th and 16th.
The Pantry will be closed Dec 2 and 3 and Dec 30/31.

Thank You all


“Connected in Grace” is our theme for this year’s Every Member Canvas.

We are well on our way to wrapping up the Canvas. Thank you for your faithful and prompt response. Once again, your faithful giving is remarkable and prospects for financial prospects for 2021 look promising. However, there are still about 20 family units from whom we have not heard. SO, please return your pledge card as soon as possible! Also, we still need your pictures for the collage!

Vestry Nominations Sought

At the January 2021 Annual Meeting we will be electing 3 people to serve on the Grace Church Vestry for the next 3 years. The Nominating Committee of retiring Vestry members – Betty Diemer, Deb Landin, and Jason Whitehead – are accepting names.

The Canonical requirements are that the nominee be:

  • 16 years of age or older
  • a member of the parish for at least 6 months
  • a member of a family unit that contributes to the support of the parish
  • attendee at church at least 3 times in the past year (definition of active).

The Vestry recommends the following additional expectations for members:

  • Contribute to the Operating Fund of the Church.
  • Be a regular attendee in Church.
  • Be active in the overall life of the Church.
  • Agree to regularly attend Vestry Meetings including the Annual Vestry Retreat.
  • Agree to serve on a Vestry Commission
  • Agree to serve on other committees or programs as agreed to by majority of Vestry members such as shepherding or stewardship programs.

If you are interested in being considered for nomination, or would like to nominate someone else, please speak with a member of the Nominating Committee.

Year-End Giving

Please remember that all contributions must be received by December 31st to be included in reporting for tax purposes in 2019. If you have questions about your pledge, please call the Parish Office at (419) 524-2661

Offering Envelopes – 2021

The 2021 offering envelopes are now available. Please pick up on Sunday or stop by the office. VERY IMPORTANT! PLEASE mark down your name and the box # that you take. Otherwise, when you turn one in, we will have no way of knowing who to credit for the contribution. Thanks!

Note from the Pantry

Every time I have written about the pantry for some time, I write about Grace. God seems to have “a vested interest.” Our pantry is beautiful to experience – the people, gifts, growth, faith, kids, … on and on.

I haven’t been picked up by the police from our pantry either.

Have you heard? In August a Police Officer approached one of our volunteers while he was handing meat out at the drive-through line. We kept distributing. The officer walked him to the patrol car, asked him to get in. By this time, I was standing nearby and asked the officer if he would bring our volunteer back. I believe that he responded yes, they just needed him for questioning. Neither of them returned that day. I later learned that our volunteer had been put in jail for theft of two dollars in change. Something his family claimed he was given for helping a white couple move. The couple pressed charges and our volunteer had a $10,000 bond. His family arranged to get him out with partial payment. Even though all charges were later dismissed, the family is out $1,200 which has been a hardship.

How could this happen? This is a bizarre story. I talked with the officer’s supervisor who confirmed, “yes, this is all over $2 in change.” Does it make a difference that our volunteer was black? I could not imagine this ever happening to my white son. Fr. Joe has been trying to get answers to how the bail could have been set so high?

If Grace Pantry is a generator of Grace, how can one of our poor volunteers be picked up while working, be subjected to three months of persecution (now, inexplicably, the couple is seeking restraining order against HIM), and left $1200 poorer?

Fr Joe and I have recognized that we need to do some work. Could we have protected our volunteer? Could the outcome have been different? Internally, how are our volunteers experiencing the pantry differently? Are there ways that some are treated unequally?  We will gather all willing volunteers and with the help of the diocese and our Commission??? on Racism, hear differing perspectives, and find common understandings for our work.



Grace Notes: November 2020

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, November 1st, we will celebrate the last great feast of the Christian year, All Saints’ Sunday.  Often this day gets reduced to a day to remember those who have gone before us and give thanks for their love and witness.  But even though this is an important part of the celebration of this day, it is only a part of what we celebrate and proclaim this day.

All Saints’ Day is a time to celebrate a very real if unseen reality.  That is the unity of the people of God – past, present and future – in worship of the Holy One.  As Eucharistic Prayer D (which we use this day) says “countless throngs of angels stand before you…and joining with them, and giving voice to every creature under heaven, we acclaim you and glorify your Name”.  This is the mystery and power and awesome and joyful truth we proclaim that today the veil separating heaven and earth becomes a little less solid and we are gathered into that community of praise with all who have gone before us – from Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah, Ruth, David, Joseph and Mary and those who have loved and been loved by God in every age up to and including our own and by those who are still to come in the human story and journey.

In Celtic tradition, you might say that today we expect to encounter one of the “thin places” and others might speak of the mystery of God in all places and times.  However, we try to express it, this is a day of mystery, a day to rejoice and stand in awe of the Divine Love that conquers all, holds all in union and fills and renews all now and forever.

This year will be a special All Saints’ Day as we particularly remember and give thanks for the life and ministry and love of 4 long time members of Grace Church whom we have lost from our earthly midst during the Pandemic – Jim Baker, Doris Farina, Doug Seiler and John Toney.

Ultimately, we are celebrating the culmination and fulfillment of the Christian story.  This is the day we proclaim the Church Triumphant – the gathering together in the great heavenly feast of all God’s people – the ones for whom Jesus came to earth to show a new way of life, the one’s he gave himself for on the Cross, the ones filled with the Holy Spirit and power at Pentecost.  This is the day of victory and rejoicing as all are gathered before the throne of the Holy One.


Father Joe

Special Thanks

A big thank you to David Tovey who has agreed to play the organ through December – including Christmas Eve!

Patrick Clinage will sub on November 15th and December 13th.

Thanks to both David and Patrick for enriching our worship.

Diocesan Convention 2020

The Annual Convention is on November 14th. Tony Herz, Deb Landin, and Carol Loveless are our delegates. Thank you to each of them for agreeing to sit in front of their computers and do this important work.

Christian Formation

This is Norman Jones’ newest book. Join us at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 11th when he will offer a summary and insight into this work at Grace Church. Attendance is limited to 25 persons in the Nave so please call the Church office or look for the sign-up sheet on Sunday!

Special thanks also to Willie Davis for his fun and interesting presentation on his new book Olive Hill!


Connected in Grace

The theme this year is “Connected in Grace. By now you should have received your packet and pledge card. Please read the material carefully and prayerfully consider your commitment of time, talent, and treasure for 2021 at Grace Church.

Special thanks to Norman Jones and Larry Von Blon for their excellent Stewardship presentations.

Please return your pictures for the Grace Collage as soon as possible and we ask that pledge cards be returned by November 8th.


Read the Note from the Pantry here.

Operation Christmas Child

Please drop off your filled boxes by November 1 so we can prepare them for shipping!

Note from the Pantry

September 23rd and 24th we served 350 households which would be about 500 by Bonnie’s count. We can expect the need to increase over the winter. Hopefully we are not done improving our distribution in pandemic. Fr Joe, Tony Herz and I have searched our area for a winter pantry location that would help us continue our drive through. We have looked at former bank, car dealership, or warehouse locations. If you have any ideas, please call one of us.

Also, if anyone has a lead on a factory roller conveyor, we have imagined that a section of that could help us move boxes. Our new chest freezer on wheels is making all of us smile, and we will soon move our new dual fridge/freezer unit into the kitchen.

Again, I cannot thank volunteers enough. Some new people have found low-risk ways to slip in to action and our veterans led by Pat and Terri continue to adapt and keep us humming. Many of you have seen Andrew and Jacob’s reflections on the Grace YouTube channel, well worth viewing if you haven’t.

Soon we will make available some more interviews from Pantry volunteers. One highlight to me is how even Riley (though who of us is surprised) notices how confused we were when we converted to drive through, but how well it works now. God’s Grace again. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your work. Thank God for our mission.