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!

Peace,

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 nmp0627@yahoo.com

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!

Outreach

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!