Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

Financial Health Sermon Series

Financial Health Sermon Series

Most Americans are in debt.  Many live pay check to pay check. Finances are one of our greatest challenges.  Jesus warned us that, "you cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).  Mammon was an Ancient Near Eastern god of money, revealing money's powerful appeal.  

While we all seek the good life, our pursuit of it through more credit and deeper debt to acquire more things ultimately only enslaves us.  As Proverbs 22:7 points out, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."

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Science, Faith and the Life of Wonder

Science, Faith and the Life of Wonder

Episcopalians are an intelligent group open to advances in science and technology.  Nonetheless, at times, we wrestle with how to reconcile our faith in Jesus Christ and mdern science that seems to have no room for God.  We explore this challeging question in our new five-part Adult Ed class that starts this Sunday October 18 @ 9:30 a.m. entitled “Science, Faith and the Life of Wonder.” We will listen to excerpts of conversations with faithful thinkers on differe aspects of this topic from the award winning radio program On Being and discuss on our own points of view in the faith and science debate.  This Sunday we talk about Charles Darwin and evolution.

 

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Blessing of the Animals

Blessing of the Animals

The Blessing of the Animals is one of my favorites of the entire year!  I love meeting people’s pets.  Most people do as a matter of fact.  If you haven’t already done so, make sure you invite your friends by sending this to them or even better sharing the event invitation on Grace’s Facebook page.  It’s also a great way to introduce people to Grace Episcopal.

Over the years that I’ve participated in this service, dogs, a few cats, bunnies, gerbils, horses, snakes, hawks, falcons and more have attended, not to mention their human companions.  While in general, this service is a good time, the blessing has a profound significance in our technological age.

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Leslie Radford Internship Reflection

Leslie Radford Internship Reflection

When I started my internship this past January at St. Paul’s in Smithfield, NC, I had no idea of how much God would use this time to impact my life and my faith journey. I feel like my faith has expanded and my relationship with God has deepened. I have made connections at St. Paul’s that I treasure and have been nurtured by many people along the way. 

 

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Learning Church

Learning Church

Learning Organization

My Dad worked for GE his entire working life.  While that was common at the time, it is rare in this day and age.  I read several years ago that the average person now has six different careers.  In part this is because our world is changing so rapidly that businesses, indeed industries, come and go at the speed of light.

I remember in the eighties when VHS was new and Mom and Pop video stores sprouted everywhere.  The industry consolidated in the nineties with large chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video pushing out the smaller stores.  Hollywood Video went out of business in 2010 the same year Blockbuster went into Chapter 11.  Its last corporate stores were shuttered in 2014.

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Great Fall Kickoff!

Great Fall Kickoff!

We had a great time at our fall kickoff!  The children in elementary school dove into their new curriculum Deep Blue.  The teens loved Submerge, and the adults got into the Introduction to the New Testament class.  After a great worship service, everyone enjoyed a delicious potluck lunch.

 

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Love of Learning

Love of Learning

I love fall!  It’s one of my favorite times of year.  Don’t get me wrong!  I love summer, too.  The long days and slower pace of life!  But there’s something about fall.  It’s not football.  I like football, but no, I’m not a huge fan.  It’s not the crisp air or the fall colors or hot apple cider, although I like all of those, too, especially the cider!  No, it’s the start of a new school year.

It’s incredibly uncool to say, but it’s true.  I love going to school.  There’s something about it that makes my heart sing.   Remember when Tom Cruise jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch because he was in love?  Yeah, that’s me … about school.  Embarrassing.  I know….

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Labor Day

Labor Day

It was actually the day before Labor Day, but Grace members were laboring to touch up paint, organize the classroom, clear brush and in general get ready for the start of a new Sunday School year.  Once again, great job, Grace!

 

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Cove Base and Reorg Day

Cove Base and Reorg Day

After the carpet installation, we gathered on Saturday Aug 22, 2015 to install new cove base on the wall and to put the sanctuary and lobby back together  for church Sunday.  Thanks to everyone for a great job!

 

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Great Work, Choir Move and Lighting

Great Work, Choir Move and Lighting

Great Job, Grace!

There is only one word to say, “Wow!”  What a great turn out Sunday to remove the carpet, paint the door frames and to prep the wall for the new cove base!  You were amazing!  One person said at the beginning of the afternoon that there was no way we would get all of that done, but we did!  Great job, Grace Episcopal!  Check out pictures from our work day here. 

The installers put in the new carpet Monday.  They also did an amazing job completing a three-day project in one long day.  It looks great!  I think you will be pleased!

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Carpet Removal Day

Carpet Removal Day

Grace had a great turnout to remove the carpet!  After a tasty potluck lunch, everyone pitched in to move the furniture, pull up the carpet, to paint the inside door frames, and to prepare the walls for installation of new cove base, the rubber baseboard. Thanks to everyone for a fantastic job!!

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Great Start and Next Steps for Our Renovations

Great Start and Next Steps for Our Renovations

We’re off to a great start with our renovations.  A huge thanks to everyone who worked so hard and contributed to our effort Friday and Saturday!!  You did a great job!! We've painted the worship space, lobby, hallways and pastor's office. An impressive achievement in a short time!

Paint Tomorrow Thursday Aug 13

Since not everyone can work on a weekend, we’re painting again tomorrow Thursday August 13 starting at 9:00am.  Our goal is to paint the nursery, interior trim, women’s bathroom and yellow metal posts and cinder blocks outside the building.  The posts are rusted and faded and in need of painting.   We want to improve the appearance of the exterior and the interior of our church.  Join the fun for all or part of the day!  Even a few hours makes a difference!

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Renovations Begin

Renovations Begin

Grace got off to a great start renovating its facility, painting the worship space, lobby, halls and pastor's office Friday and Saturday August 7 and 8.  Next step is to paint the nursery and remove the carpet Sunday afternoon August 16 for the new carpet installation that week.  Thanks to all who worked hard, had fun and did a great job!

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Art at Grace After School

Art at Grace After School

This week the theme was art in our summer version of Grace After School, our tutoring ministry for children who live in the impoverished Alta neighborhood on Hwy 42.  Award winning West Clayton Middle School Art Teacher Joel Fitzgerald and our volunteers taught the children about creativity and art, using brightly colored pipe cleaners to make self-portraits.  Joel began his lesson by reading the story of creation from the first chapter of Genesis.  After class, the children enjoyed playing hopscotch and drawing in the parking lot.  The game brought back memories to one mother of playing hopscotch, called gigante in Spanish, when she was a girl in Mexico.  They would draw the course in the dirt make markers out of dried balls of mud.

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Church Renovation

My family moved to North Carolina from Roanoke, Virginia, the summer before my senior year in High School.  Whenever a real estate agent would call to say someone was going to look at our house, my Mom or Dad would say, “Red Alert!  All Hands On Deck!”  Everyone in the family would jump into action, cleaning, vacuuming and picking up.

If my parents were here, I know they would be calling an All Hands On Deck, Red Alert.  Next Friday August 7 and Saturday August 8 we will paint our worship space, lobby, hallways, pastor’s office and nursery.  Sunday afternoon August 16 we will move the furniture and pull up the carpet.  Special Effects will install new carpet that week.  Saturday morning August 22 we will move the furniture back for our worship service and install the cove base, the vinyl molding that runs around the base of the wall.  This is the first part of our two phase upgrade.

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Summer Fun School

Summer Fun School

In January, Grace started an afterschool tutoring program for students of West Clayton Elementary School that live in an impoverished neighborhood on Highway 42 a mile or so from the church.  This summer we continue working with these beautiful children.  Members of the church and the community volunteer in this ministry.  This week Trish, who is a Middle School science teacher, taught about water - the different states, the cycle of water and even viscosity!  The children had a lot of fun with this experiment of two parts corn starch to one part water that can be formed like putty only to run like a liquid.

 

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New Planters

New Planters

Thanks to Jack Bacheler, who planted these planters outside the entrance to our parish hall!  They're part of our effort to improve the appearance of our facility.  We will soon begin a two phase upgrade of the interior.  In phase one, we will paint the interior of most of the building.  Our landllords will replace most of the carpeting.  The project will be completed in phase two.  Look for more info to come about our exciting renovatons.

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Time and This Weekend at Grace

Time and This Weekend at Grace

When we moved to North Carolina in 1975, we joined St. Andrew’s, Haw River, a church about the size of Grace.  About once a year our priest Father Griswold, who we lovingly called, Father G., preached a sermon on time.   Fr. G. was a brilliant man who had studied philosophy at Chapel Hill before studying theology at the Berkley Divinity School at Yale.  He knew that time meant more than the passing of one day into another.

This Sunday we begin what is called ordinary time.  Although you might have thought time was already pretty ordinary, we have been living in sacred or extraordinary time.  In the Christian faith, sacred time marks how God has broken into the world dramatically in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There are two extraordinary times in the church year.  The first runs from the beginning of Advent until the Baptism of Christ, which is the first Sunday after Epiphany on January 6.   The second goes from Ash Wednesday until Pentecost.  Both of these include a period of preparation, Advent and Lent, and celebration, Christmas and Easter.  Both hinge upon dramatic moments – the birth of Christ and the death and resurrection of Christ.  Both also are followed by ordinary time.  

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Pentecost

Pentecost

Pentecost

Happy Birthday!  Sunday is Pentecost, the birthday of the church, not Grace Episcopal Church but the entire church, at least in the Western tradition.  Eastern Orthodox believe the church preexisted the creation, citing an early work called The Shepherd of Hermas that was not included in the Bible and, therefore, not the basis for doctrine in the Episcopal Church.

The celebration of Pentecost predates Christianity.  The name comes from Greek and means fifty, since the feast fell fifty days after Easter.  The Hebrew word is Shavuot, which means “Festival of Weeks” (Exodus 34:22).  Originally it celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest.

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Faithful Biblical Women and Creative Women Class

Faithful Biblical Women and Creative Women Class

Women in Scripture

You can’t read the Bible without seeing that women are important.  Although the society of the Ancient World was patriarchal, which is also reflected in the scriptures, women made a difference and not simply because of their children.

Tamar (Genesis 38), Ruth (Book of Ruth), Rahab (Joshua 2, 6:17-23), Deborah (Judges 4 – 5), and Esther (Book of Esther), ranging from a prostitute to a queen, are all notable and strong examples of faith in the Old Testament.  Tamar fights for her levirate right to a child.  Ruth loyally stays with her friend Naomi despite having to leave her home country of Moab.  Rahab daringly hides Hebrew spies, paving the way for the capture of Jericho.   Deborah judges, or leads, the Hebrew people for forty years, during the time of the judges   Esther becomes a queen, who at the risk of her life speaks up to save her people.  This book of Esther, one of two in the canon named for a woman, reads like an ancient version of Game of Thrones or House of Cards.  Esther is the only book of the Old or New Testaments where God is never mentioned.

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