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!

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!

Grace Notes: October 2020

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

I am VERY happy to announce that on Sunday, October 4th we will break our fast from physically receiving Holy Communion! It has been a long time since March and even though we have been blessed with the reception of communion by intention we are an incarnational people and receiving the actual Body and Blood of Jesus will be renewing!

In order to make the reception of Communion as safe as possible we will use the following directives issued by our Bishop:

  • We will receive only the bread.
  • We will receive standing at the bottom of the chancel steps rather than at the altar rail.
  • The priest will place the bread in the communicant’s hand and he/she will only then remove their mask to consume it.
  • We will practice social distancing as we approach the sacrament – 6 feet between people please!

The members of the Altar Guild will be given special instructions on safely preparing for our services as well.

I rejoice with you in this opportunity to worship in a deeper and richer manner.


Fr. Joe


Sunday, October 4th: Communion AND Organ

We will have one service at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 4th. Along with being able to receive Holy Communion, it will be a special day as Nathaniel Powell will be back with us to play the organ – In fact, since we cannot sing he will be able to “show off” what the renewed instrument can offer with special pieces! Don’t miss this special event!

During October we will continue to have one service each week at 9:30 a.m. Watch your email for news about when we will start live streaming the service on YouTube or Facebook! We will continue to offer some form of online worship weekly for the foreseeable future. We miss everyone but also want you to be safe and to make decisions with which you are comfortable and only join us in person if you are comfortable!

Blessing of the Animals

The St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals will be held this year on Sunday, October 11th at 3 p.m. on the back lawn of the Church. Bring an animal friend and invite a human friend! Bring your lawn chair, too!

All Saints’ Day

This year we will celebrate All Saints day on November 1st! This is the fourth great Feast day that we will celebrate with special music and the remembrance of those who have gone before us and who continue to be a witness and support in our journey of faith.

Please use the included sheet to turn in names for the All Saints’ Day Prayer List.

Fridays at Noon

Each Friday at noon we gather on the front steps (or just inside the door depending on the weather) of Grace Church to offer prayers for all victims of the Corona Virus and for racial reconciliation and healing.

Stewardship: Connected in Grace

“Connected in Grace” is the theme for this year’s Every Member Canvas. Watch for more information as we celebrate the ways we are connected in God’s Grace and in the grace we experience in this parish family even in a time of disconnection in our world.

One of the projects will be the production of a collage of pictures of the people of Grace Church! So, get ready to take a selfie or send us your favorite picture of you in 2020!

Study and Formation

Brown Bag Lunches: Fellowship, Bible Study, and Prayer

The Friday Bible Study is starting up again! We will meet each week starting September 25th at 12:15 following the noonday Prayers on the Steps. You may bring your own lunch and we will meet in the Fellowship Hall practicing social distancing and wearing masks except to eat. The first study will be on Israel in Exile.

Book Club!

The Book Club is not meeting at this time. We will try to make a plan as to when we will get back together. Rita Glaser has posted a list of books for the book club so if you would like to look over that list and read one of those until we make a plan feel free to do so. Thanks for your understanding and we will meet again as soon as we feel it is safe.

Congrats to our Authors

Congratulations to our parish authors Willie Davis and Norman Jones!

Willie’s book entitled Olive Hill recently came out and is available at It is a historical novel about Olive Hill, Kentucky!

On Wednesday, October 7th at 7 p.m., we will host an evening with Willie to talk about the book. This evening will be limited to 25 people in the nave. Please call the Church to make a reservation.

Norman’s newest publication is entitled Provincializing the Bible. Watch for more information about a possible evening with Norman to hear more about his work!


Operation Christmas Child

Please drop off your filled boxes on Sundays or in the office so we can prepare them for shipping! We still have boxes in the office if you would like to pick one up to fill. All of your help and donations are much appreciated!

Crop Walk

During a Pandemic? Yes!

This year more than ever is crucial as there are so many vulnerable families out there who don’t know how they will pay for or produce food in the months ahead.

You can participate in a CROP WALK in several ways:

  • Walk the normal 3 mile route on Sunday, October 4th from 2-4 with your family or friends.
  • Walk with a group from Grace Episcopal Church. We would like to try a different route this year….possibly on the bike path?! Father Joe will announce final place and time.
  • DONATE to CROP. This year we are being encouraged but not required to sign up on-line and to have all your sponsors pay on-line. It is easy. Go to:

You then have options to REGISTER or DONATE. To register, choose WALKER or TEAM. Our team is GRACE EPISCOPAL and you can choose that if you’d like to be a team member. If you simply want to register as a WALKER you can. By doing either of these options, you can proceed per instructions and post to Facebook to get friends and family to donate. If you simply want to donate, choose DONATE and you can fill in Team Name (Grace Episcopal) or my name (Margaret Ransom, Team Captain). It really is very easy and safe and either of these methods will get all monies applied to our team effort for CROP. If using a computer is not your thing, we have donation envelopes available at the church. Please consider joining us either by walking and/or donating to help in these difficult times. Thank you.

Margaret Ransom
CROP WALK, Team Captain

Notes 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.


Grace Notes: September 2020

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

Each year at this time I usually begin my letter by saying “Happy New Year!” The calendar says the year begins on January 1st and the Church begins its new year with the first Sunday in Advent but functionally for many of us New Year’s Day comes with Labor Day – the end of summer, and the return to “normal activities” such as the school year. And how we wish we could say that was the case this year. I am sure that all of us would be glad to flip the calendar page and be done with 2020. But we can’t and as people of faith we are called to live fully, love deeply and give hope and life in this time and place.

So how do we do this? I think one of the ways we are called to love the world at this time is by being responsible – respecting the gift of life that was to given to us and every other person by being as safe as possible in perilous and dangerous times. It means balancing carefully the realities of living our life with the risks we encounter with what were normal activities just months ago and caring for that other person as a beloved child of God. It also means being willing to make reasonable or manageable risks to meet real needs. This is a balance we have struggled to maintain at the Food Pantry and I believe have done a good job for the most part. As far as we know none of our workers have contracted the disease here and we ask for your continued prayer support for safety.

Another “reasonable risk” many of us are choosing to make is in person worship. Beginning on September 13th, we will have a outdoor service each Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. We will also continue to offer the taped service on YouTube and Facebook each Sunday at 10 a.m. We will still be wearing masks and practicing social distancing but this is a cautious step towards a return to regular worship. The Vestry and I have decided to be cautious in our approach but are hopeful that we can feel safe with returning to indoor worship in October.

Bishop Hollingsworth has also given clear and specific instructions about how we might begin to receive communion. The guidelines specify that only the bread will be distributed. We will not come to the altar rail but will receive standing at the foot of the steps. We will be wearing masks except to eat the bread and the priest will sanitize his/her hands regularly during the distribution.

The Vestry and I are watching closely to see of the conditions are safe to begin distributing communion at that time. If we decide to do so, my intent is to have communion once a month until a vaccine is available so as to limit the risk that I might transmit the disease and to allow time between communion services in case I become symptomatic. I am being tested before we begin having communion to be as sure as possible that I am not an asymptomatic carrier.

We will be making decisions about restarting other groups and activities on individual basis. In all cases we will be wearing masks and practicing social distancing when in the building. Groups will also be responsible for cleaning areas after each usage.

For now the office will continue to be open on a limited basis. Pam Armstrong will generally be here on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9-1 and I am here most mornings. Please feel free to call me here or at home with any questions or needs – my cell number for those who may not have it is 419-989-3868.

Please know that all of you are in my prayers and I thank you for your continued prayers – Be safe, love one another and know that the Church is not closed it is just out of the building!


Father Joe+

Sad News to Announce

It is with great sadness that we announce the resignation of Nathaniel Powell as our organist and social media director. He wants to take on the enormous task of applying and attending graduate school. His new job at St. Paul’s in Cleveland Heights is going well, but the new opportunities and pandemic relief efforts make him want to focus on his career path. Nathaniel is working with us as we make the transition and will continue to support Aaron Zu in taping services as long as needed. We are beginning a search for a new organist.

Nathaniel’s time with us has been a great time of renewal and joy. His obvious talent as a musician, coupled (I’m told that’s an organ term) with his willingness to do whatever was needed and his joyful attitude, blessed our lives. His overseeing of the renewal of our organ was a wonderful gift to Grace. We will be planning an opportunity to say thank you and good bye when appropriate and certainly an opportunity to hear him play the renewed organ! If you’d like to send him a note: 7004 W Clinton Ave, Cleveland, OH 7004 or

Brown Bag Lunches: Fellowship, Bible Study, and Prayer

The Friday Bible Study is starting up again! We will meet each week beginning September 11th at 12:15 following the noonday Prayers on the Steps. You may bring your own lunch and we will meet in the Fellowship Hall practicing social distancing and wearing masks except to eat. The first study will be on Israel in Exile.

From the Vestry

During the past several months we have been blessed by the faithful support of the people of Grace Church and by extraordinary giving by members and the community especially in support of the Food Pantry. We were also able to apply for and receive the Payday Protection Loan (PPP) from the Federal government. This means that the financial picture at Grace has remained strong during the Pandemic. However, we did note a significant drop in pledge giving during June. Please remember that the costs of operating the church in terms of salaries, utilities and maintenance have not changed. We need your continued support. You may mail your gifts to the parish office or bring them to any of the scheduled in person services. Again, thank you for your faithful support!


Notes from the Pantry

I cannot write enough gratitude to cover all that is happening at the pantry to feed people, which means to me that Grace is flowing freely through the pantry and with those working remotely. A few anecdotes: Gloria and Pam (recipient volunteers) insisted on returning to the pantry. Pam fed us all banana bread last week. And Gloria now sweeps the floor during the end of every distribution, calling herself the “Floor Manager.” Don and Paulette come on Tuesdays to work with Pat, and have made a huge psychological impact by doing jobs we would not easily get to. Two volunteers have been coming regularly from First Christian. Nelson has fixed many of our bikes, making for some very happy riders. A new volunteer, Sally, now comes every Thursday from First Christian and is quickly becoming integral. (She also donated her husband’s bicycle, one of the best we have ever given. Sally met her future husband on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure and rode together for 50 + years till he recently passed away.) Grace flowing out of, in to, Grace. Joe received a hundred dollars from a former recipient who said they do not need the food now, but want us to stay strong!

We say good bye to two men who have given us strength in the last 5 months. Jacob and Andrew Stump now anticipate and meet the needs of our distribution with great aplomb. Jacob has also grown an inch over the summer, probably from all the ice cream at his second job! Neither of them slow down long enough at the church to take on any nourishment. We will miss them as they go to further their education, but they have taught us how it is done!

We served 362 households in the last week of August, which would have been a normal week last year. 1162 households in the month of August, a typical month for last year. While our numbers for the last three months were 70% of who we served during the same three months of 2019, it seems that we are increasing significantly. Our “new” electric pallet jack is a help.

We are now exploring options for safe winter distribution so if you have ideas give Fr. Joe or I a call and watch for more news.

We are now exploring options for safe winter distribution so if you have ideas give Fr. Joe or I a call and watch for more news.

Fr. Daniel

Operation Christmas Child

Have you seen the Halloween displays in some local stores? Also, the Christmas decorations are appearing. These are the first signs of fall. Summer is quickly coming to a close and so once more it’s time to think about Christmas boxes. While some have been filled, there are more that are empty. Boxes will be available after services or at the office or by calling Doris Williams at 419-347-6747 or Peggy Sipes at 419-756-6901. If you haven’t done this before, we’ll have information about items to pack.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

Categorized as Grace Notes