Thoughts & Updates

News, perspectives and updates from Grace Episcopal Church

Help Venezuelan Children

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The 10,000 residents of Churuguara, a picturesque town in Venezuela, went without electricity and water for eight days due to the country’s tanking economy. Gigi, one of my Spanish teachers, who lives there, told me long lines snaked each day to get water at a natural spring. It’s only one of the many trials Venezuelans face daily.

Sky rocketing inflation puts basic commodities out of reach. Chicken in the grocery store costs $20. Gigi makes $10 a month in the local High School. She survives teaching Spanish online, when she has electricity and Internet. The average Venezuelan has lost more than 20 pounds, because she or he can’t get enough to eat.

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Community Emergency Response Team

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A great Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training at Grace! Thanks to Samantha and Jay, who led the training! Members of the church and the community participated increasing preparedness!
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Dad's Day

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My Dad was my best friend. Snow white hair, sparkling blue eyes, and gregarious, he loved his country, his family and his church.  He worked hard for General Electric, but he also knew how to relax, enjoying sailing on Saturdays.  Dad also loved to read and to talk about American history.

Dad had his edges, one of which was a volcanic temper.  He generally apologized later if he blew up at you. He was a good, honest and honorable man.

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High School Graduation

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We give thanks for Justin who graduated from Corinth Holders High School and pray for God's blessing upon him as he takes his next step in life!
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Retirement Celebration

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We celebrated Marlene Weigert, Canon to the Ordinary for the Administration of the Diocese, who will retire in August after working 42 years for the church. Marlene talked about what she learned serving the church. In the past, she facilitated one of Grace's fall pledge campaigns and gave a stewardship sermon. We gave thanks for her service to our congregation, to the church and to God!
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Cookout

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We had a great end-of-school cookout! Thanks to all who came, contributed and helped with the event!
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Youth Sunday

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We give thanks for all of our young people who are important members of our congregation!
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The Ascension: God With You

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As a child, I thrilled watching the televised liftoffs of the Saturn V moon rockets. A mission controller would count down until the five engines belched flame and black smoke. Shuddering, white smoke streaming, ice chunks falling from its super cooled sides, the 360-foot-long, 1-million-pound rocket slowly rose from the concrete launch pad while the earth-bound gantry arms fell away. The massive white and black rocket quickly gained momentum, thundering through the air, shaking the land, taking humanity to the moon. No other rocket to this day has propelled humans beyond low earth orbit.

Almost two thousand years earlier, Jesus ascended into heaven. No cameras were there. Few witnessed it. We have no idea how. We only know that Jesus is now in heaven. God knows our human fears, hopes, struggles, joys, failures and triumphs, because God has shared them, and they are now with God.

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Sacrifice, Jesus, Memorial Day

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On Tuesday April 30th, Riley went to class like normal. Students were making their final presentations. It was the last day of the semester. That night, an all campus party was planned to celebrate the school year’s end. Riley Howell never left that classroom on the UNC Charlotte campus. He rushed a shooter, who’d opened fire, giving his life for his fellow students. The ROTC student was buried with full military honors.

Seven days later, less than two weeks before his High School graduation, Kendrick Castillo lunged at the gunman who had burst into his British Lit class at STEM School Highlands Ranch just outside of Denver. Several other students followed to subdue the attacker. Kendrick’s best friend picked up the slain Senior’s diploma for him at the school’s graduation this past Monday.

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It's About the Resurrection

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The first 40 days of the 50-day Easter season commemorate Jesus’ resurrection appearances. Notably, the Scriptures record little that the risen Jesus says to His followers. We have some important teaching. In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Peter on the shore of Galilee, “Feed my lambs.” In Matthew’s, he exhorts His followers to make disciples. There is more but not much.

As a commentator pointed out, it seems odd. Wouldn’t you hang on every word a friend said after returning from the dead? Wouldn’t you want to know what it was like on the other side? If the many books from people who’ve been resuscitated after being pronounced clinically dead mean anything, the answer would appear to be a resounding “Yes!”

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Second Service FAQs

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As part of our preparation for resuming a second contemporary service, I'm answering frequently asked questions about this service that resumes on April 14th, when we'll offer our traditional service at 9:15 a.m. and our contemporary service at 11:11 a.m.

John Gibson

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The Lord's Prayer and the New Zealand Mosque Attack

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Sunday, March 10th, we began our Lenten sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. In preparing for this series, I was impressed by biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan’s claim that it is humanity’s greatest prayer. Although considered THE Christian prayer, Christ is never mentioned. The prayer, in fact, is deeply rooted in Judaism. All its elements can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures or ancient Jewish literature.

The opening words “Our Father” reveal that God loves everyone on this earth like a loving and caring father. And each person is our brother or sister, because God is the Father of us all.

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First Sunday in Lent aka PJ Sunday

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"What's worship like in your church?" It's reverent, traditional and playful! The pics from our traditional service on the First Sunday in Lent, a.k.a. Time Change Sunday, March 10, 2019, will show you! Since we set our clocks ahead an hour, kids of all ages were invited to wear their pjs! Yes, you'll see some children and adults in their pajamas!
 
That's just one of the playful aspects of our congregation. We also have a bounce house! After the service, children jump to their hearts content, while adults enjoy coffee hour. We hope the children will have fun and want to come to church. 
 
Preschool and elementary school children have their own video based class/prayer time for part of the service. Parents worship in peace while their children learn, craft, sing and pray at their level.
 
This service is traditional, too.  The people leading worship wear robes. We have a pipe organ, violinist, choir and beautiful hymns that have been sung for centuries by faithful followers of Jesus. Our biblically based service traces its roots to the earliest known. At its heart is communion, which we have every Sunday.
 
Another important part of our worship is community. Each Sunday, people celebrating a birthday or anniversary come forward for a prayer and blessing. People enthusiastically greet one another with the peace of Christ, too.
 
Our growing congregation currently meets in a rented, metal building. Sometimes this puts off people used to a traditional church structure. Jesus, of course, was born in a stable. As the beauty, power and love of God transformed that humble space, they have transformed this one's interior into a beautiful place to worship God.
 
John Gibson
Pastor
 
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Burying the Alleluias

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As part of our Lenten season of renewal, we take time to reflect on our lives. We observe this in our worship at the beginning of the service with a time of silence and a confession to God of what we have done and left undone. We also refrain from saying "Alleluia" during the service. The children put the alleluias into a box on March 3rd, the last Sunday before Lent. The alleluias will be raised in a joyful shout on Easter day when we praise God for Jesus' resurrection!
 
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Burning Palms for Ash Wednesday

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On the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent, we burned the palms from last year's Palm Sunday to make ashes for the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The ashes are sign of our mortality and complete dependence on God. This moving ceremony tied last year's celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem with our preparation for and observance of Lent, a season of spiritual renewal before the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Day.
 
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2018 Vicar's Award

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Each year, we recognize someone for his or her outstanding service to the congregation. This year, we gave thanks for Becky, one of the church's first members, who has served in almost every way possible, leadig the women's group, prayer shawl ministry, serving on the governing council in worship, singing in the choir and much more! We also thanked Otto, who in his four years at gec, has served on the governing council, led two fall pledge campaigns, written grants for the church, served in worship and much more, too! We are blessed to have such faithful servants of God!
 
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Candlelight Christmas Eve Service

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A beautiful service to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Many thanks to all those who served and attended to make it such a wonderful experience!
 
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Decorating for Christmas

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Many thank to everyone who helped decorate for Christmas and to all those who bought poinsettias! The church looked beautiful!!
 
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Emilea and Bryson's Baptism

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Congratulations to Emilea and Bryson who were baptized Sunday December 23rd. We're excited not only that they became followers of Jesus but also that their parents Anna-Kate and Patrick became members when Bishop Lee visited on December 2nd. We're thrilled the Millers are at Grace!
 
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A Gift Without Strings for You

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Years ago, a colleague gave me two tickets to a Friday night performance of the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh. Someone had given the person better seats. After a long week, Cindy and I were too tired to go. The next week my colleague angrily chewed me out, saying that those tickets had cost a lot of money.

That incident started me thinking how gifts often come with strings. I was expected to attend the symphony. It didn’t matter that we were exhausted. Our need for rest was secondary. The giver’s desire was more important.

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