Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

Thoughts and observations by John Gibson, Vicar of Grace Episcopal Church near Clayton, NC.

Easter at Grace

Easter at Grace

Only seven (7), count them, seven (7) shopping days until Easter!  Have you bought your Easter gifts?  Mailed your Easter cards?  Put up your Easter tree?   Planned your Easter party?  What?!  You haven’t done any of these?!  I confess….  Neither have I.

Our society puts so much emphasis upon Christmas that Easter almost seems like an afterthought.  The truth is that Easter is more important.  Don’t get me wrong!  The birth of Christ is an important holy day, but his resurrection confirms the story of his birth, affirms the witness of his ministry, and reveals his power over sin and death.  

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Goals 2014

Goals 2014

On Saturday March 15, your vestry and I met with the Rev. Dr. Trawin Malone, Canon for our diocese’s Northeast Region.  We brought in Dr. Malone because he specializes in congregational development.  We spent the day looking at who we are as a congregation – our strengths, growth areas and Clayton demographics.  At the end of the day, we came up with three goals for the next year: 1) expand outreach, 2) grow the congregation, and 3) strengthen stewardship.

The vision for expanding our outreach includes developing a hands-on after school tutoring program twice a week for elementary school students.  College and high school students would be able to participate with adult supervision.  In addition, we would like to expand our involvement with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry located in Newton Grove.  Currently, every Lenten season, Grace collects money through the mite boxes, and clothing and other items for this essential ministry.

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Invitation to a Holy Lent

Invitation to a Holy Lent

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most so far at Grace is getting to know some of you - over lunch, coffee, or visits in your homes.   I treasure these times.   In our rush-rush world, making time to get to know someone isn’t always easy.

I think of Lent the same way. It is a time to get to know God.  Of course, God is always present. We can go to church any Sunday and talk to God any time. Nonetheless, in our busy lives, God often becomes a second or third priority. The church long ago recognized a need for a time to refocus our lives on God. The season of Lent was originally a time set aside to prepare those being baptized at Easter or a time of repentance for those who had committed “notorious sins”. It later became a time of renewal for the whole church. This renewal takes two forms – letting go and taking on.

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All Are Welcome!

All Are Welcome!

In recent years, "All Are Welcome" seems to have become the Episcopal slogan.  Although I don"t know the history,  it might  have come from Marty Haugen's 1994 hymn "All Are Welcome in this Place".  Though it is not a new theme for us Episcopalians,  it is at the heart of our faith. Although Queen Elizabeth forged our middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism when the two of them were tearing Europe apart, ultimately,it's rooted not in history but in God' s dream for the world.

God impressively reveals this dream in Acts 2:1-6 when the Holy Spirit descends upon people "out of every nation."  The gift of the Holy Spirit unites the peoples divided and scattered at the tower of Babel.  On the day of Pentecost, we see God's will that the body of Christ is for all persons.

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Relationships

Relationships

The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on what is most important in our lives.  What is most important to you?  I imagine that most of us would list health at or near the top.   We might also say our faith.  And undoubtedly, our familial relationships would be at or near the top.

In reality, all of these are interrelated. Strong relationships with one another and with God mean healthier lives and community. We Christians believe that relationships are the essence of God in the body of Christ and God’s very being.  God is three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –in one being – God. 

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Introduction

Introduction

I grew up in Christ Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Virginia.  Our family joined St. Andrew’s, Haw River, a mission congregation about the size of Grace, when we moved to North Carolina in 1975.  I discerned a call to the priesthood while serving as a Volunteer-in-Mission in the inner city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the mid-80s.     After graduating from seminary, I was called in 1991 as assistant-to-the-rector of St. Paul’s, Cary, where I met my wife, Cindy.  I served as the vicar and then the rector of The Prince of Peace (TPoP), Apex from 1999 to 2005.

The consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 hit the congregation hard.  Cutbacks forced the downsizing of the staff and I was one of the casualties.  It was a hard time for my family.  I eventually was called to St. Michael’s, where I was responsible for adult education and missions.  Seven and a half years later I was told that the congregation needed to focus on young adults.  Once again, a challenging time!

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