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!

2014 Hero Awards of Richland County

In the midst of bitter January temperatures, Rev. Ashby and his congregation joined forces with the Red Cross to open the doors of their church as a warming shelter for the community.

Two men released from the local correctional facility, were caught without transportation in the 30 below temperatures. They were brought to the church and stayed the evening with Rev. Joe and the shelter volunteers.

“They opened up to us,” said Rev. Joe, reflecting on the two young men. As the evening passed, he learned more about the young men, about their lives and how they transpired. Moved by their determination to fulfill their promise, Rev. Joe was able to connect one of the men to a pastor in the man’s hometown.

Read the full story:

Confirmation Sunday

On October 13, 2013 The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., Bishop of Ohio was at Grace Church to preach, celebrate and confirm, receive and accept the Reaffirmation of Faith from candidates. We also celebrated this special day by welcoming all Grace Church Food Pantry Volunteers to join us for worship and for a luncheon honoring Bishop Mark, the newly confirmed, received and reaffirmed and the Pantry Volunteers.