Vicar - The Rev. John Burton
Sunday Holy Eucharist Service - 9.30am.
Church School for children grades 1 thru 8.
Vicar's Report - as presented at the 182nd Parish Meeting January 26th 2014
As I reflect on the year that is past, one image that stands out is the St. Paul’s Garden which we dedicated on August 18. Its genesis was a suggestion made by a parishioner during my first couple of weeks as your Vicar over 7 years ago. Construction was begun about four years ago as a result of a discussion with interested parishioners after Church one Sunday. Its existence is a testimony to the way things often work at St. Paul’s. Someone champions an idea and asks for support. The people of the Parish respond with their time, talent and treasure. More people get involved. The funds are contributed in amounts large and small. Volunteers come out to do some of the physical work. A few professionals are hired. The design grows and changes as more people realize the potential of what can be.
In the end—or almost the end as there is still a bit of work to be done to complete the task—we have a beautiful space that satisfies the original idea of a place for the interment of ashes of long time members, but also provides a place that the living members of the Parish and the community will be able to enjoy for generations to come. Together we have created some-thing of beauty, something for today and for the future, a space that will provide a peaceful retreat, a place for conversation and re-creation, a space in which we can celebrate together the presence of God in our lives. Just like the bread and wine of Communion, this space is a combination of nature and human labor brought together and dedicated to God and received back for our enjoyment. It is a sacred, sacramental space.
On a beautiful late June evening, a small group of us came together to enjoy the garden in the cooling hour as the sun was setting. It was the first ‘Conversation in the Garden’ and our task was to brainstorm how we would use this beautiful space. Many ideas came forth—some of which will take shape in the year ahead.
Twice this year we used our Garden for interments. The second occasion followed directly on a Memorial Service in the Church, and the real gift that this space provides clearly showed forth. With the tolling of the bell, the congregation processed to the burial spot. The cremains were placed in the ground, and the family and friends of the deceased were able to place earth in the grave at our own pace, without the usual distractions of the workmen waiting nearby to complete the job upon our departure. When this was complete, people, again at their own pace, were able to take the short walk back to the parish hall where our volunteers had prepared a lovely reception. A complete experience of St. Paul’s hospitality, with no procession of cars to interrupt the flow. What an amazing thing has come forth from our Parish!
2013 brought the start of something else quite significant though less visible at St. Paul’s. Over the summer a small group of parishioners coordinated by Cynthia Henrich formed the St. Paul’s Prayer Guild. The purpose of this group is to pray regularly, intentionally, and confidentially for people and situations that are referred to them. What is significant about this group is not only their dedication to daily prayer for others, but also their administration of this ministry. As a part of their monthly meeting they receive updates on those for whom the group has been praying, adding and removing some from their lists, and updating others so that their prayers remain specific as situations change. I believe that tangible results of this group's ministry have already been seen, and I believe that it has the power to positively change this Parish in the years ahead. I would commend anyone who feels called to this ministry to contact Cynthia, and anyone who desires to add someone to their list to contact Cynthia or Pat.
As usual, we did a lot together during the past year.
January’s preaching presented Confirmation Class for those who had not had it since the last century—nearly all of us. This prepared us to confirm Erica Mott and Ray Gray, and Receive Virginia Fulton, Barbara Willard, Cindy Fregeau, Monica Marsh, Sue Morgan and Bill Powers into the Episcopal Church when Bishop Ian visited on a very snowy day in February.
Lent began early and brought us Soup Suppers during which we discussed four parables exclusive to Luke’s Gospel. There was an acolyte party at which our youth acolytes graduated from shadowing others to serving solo. Our Holy Week commemoration included a Palm Sunday Procession, Palestinian Dinner and Night Watch on Thursday, a special Children’s Good Friday Experience presenting stations of Jesus life based on a travel frame, Good Friday Liturgy, a lively and moving Easter Vigil with lessons presented in several media including puppets, and a joyous Easter Morning celebration.
In May we celebrated Rogation Sunday in the Garden with watering cans to nourish the newly planted shrubs, and pray that the unseasonable drought that followed would not harm our new plantings.
June found St. Paul’s and our Weir paintings featured on the Victorian Home Tour, the Relay for Life on a brutally hot weekend, a night at the movies with the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the Parish Picnic at Roger and Bonnie’s, the Steeple Chase in which we earned a trophy, and four Sunday visits using the liturgies of other Churches in the Anglican Communion.
The Autumn found us with the Blessing of the Animals relocated to the Garden this year, and concluded with an Advent discussion of the opening chapters of Matthew’s Gospel focusing on dreams as conversations with God.
All of these events occurred amidst our usual schedule of Sunday Eucharists, Church School, weekly Thursday Bible Studies, monthly Contemplative Eucharists, twice monthly Village Coffees, Choir and Recorder rehearsals, AA meetings and Yoga classes.
As I reflect on the year I remember a few other notable details that will doubtless be covered in other reports. This was the year in which we repointed the masonry on the exterior of the Church. Presumably this is a once in my lifetime event, and prepares the way for replace-ment of the roof which lies ahead. In addition, a small group of parishioners headed by George Younger and Jim Russel continued with the re-glazing of the windows in the nave, a monumental volunteer task witnessing their love for this Parish and our building. But what I see as our most amazing accomplishment is what we did with our finances. We began the year with a budget which projected in broad numbers a $6,000 deficit and included a substandard $3,000 payment on our $12,000+ pledge to the Diocese. Incredibly, we ended the year with a small surplus, having brought our Diocesan pledge up to the 10% minimum. This means that we exceeded our projected income from this time last year by approximately $15,000! This is truly a testimony to the faithfulness and generosity of this parish community
As always there are many individuals to recognize for their generous contributions of time and talent which keep this place working: Altar guild members, flower arrangers, choir and recorder group members, musicians, coffee hour hosts, grounds and property caretakers, liturgical assistants, acolytes and acolyte trainers, readers, greeters, committee members, Vestry, treasurer and counters, pledge secretary, newsletter editor, website mistress, photographers, cleaners, window glazers, Parish life cooks and servers, decorators and un-decorators, drivers, those who keep things going with their silent prayers, those I’ve forgotten to name and people who just appear and do things that they notice need to be done who no one else notices . It is through the hard work of all that St. Paul’s thrives. But I would be remiss if I did not thank by name the outgoing members of our Vestry, Bill Morgan, Kathie Humphrey, Margaret Breen and Eric Sabo. During a term in which we felt some perceived stress around finances, they and all of your Vestry members worked hard to lead the Parish to where we are today. And I personally need to thank a million times, our Parish Secretary Janice McKusick who always does her best to keep me organized and to meet deadlines even when she receives things very late
I pray that God may continue to bless St. Paul’s as we have been blessed in the past year, and that we may turn that blessing outward for the service of our world.
St. Paul's Messenger
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Garden Committee 2014 Report
In 2013, St. Paul’s Garden saw significant change, growth and development. Thanks to the work of several enthusiastic gardeners; shrubs, trees and lilies were planted, fertilized and mulched during the planting season.
The section of the garden designated as “Memorial” also took shape. The committee chose a layout of native granite stones to be placed in an arc at the easterly end of the garden. The center piece for the arc is a carved Celtic cross. Too each side of the cross there are thirteen (13) granite stones under which ashes are to be interred. Three matching granite stone benches were also installed in this area at the 3, 9 and 12 o’clock position.
The Dedication ceremony and Eucharistic service was held in August with parishioners providing fresh cut flowers from their own gardens to beautify the alter area. We were blessed with wonderful voices of Debbie Russel and Sally Muir who sang the Offertory Hymn “Let All Things Now Living”. At the Ministration of Communion, the chalice and paten made from a cherry tree cut during the initial clearing of the garden was used. The chalice and paten were turned and donated by Dr. Mike H. Summerer, Sally and Gordon Muir’s brother-in law. After Communion, the Blessing of the Garden occurred with parishioners watering the newly planted flowers and shrubs. The Service continued with the Blessing of the Celtic cross, the granite stones and Consecration of the Burial Space. In addition, George Younger, Richard Swartwout and Gordon Muir were commissioned as Trustees.
There were two interments in 2013. In a family service the ashes of Harold Nelson parents (Pat and Harold Nelson) were interred. The second interment was for Denis Blanchette, Julie Mott’s father. This interment followed a memorial service in the church, and a processional to the garden.
In October the annual Blessing of the Animals occurred for the first time in the Garden.
A Memorial plaque is being designed to be placed on the left outside wall of the alcove as you enter the parish hall. This design will reflect the stones as placed in the garden and contain brass plates inscribed with the names of those interred in close proximity to the stone under which the ashes are interred.
The Garden was designed to be utilized as a memorial, liturgical and social space. In October the annual Blessing of the Animals occurred for the first time in the Garden. A list of potential uses for the Garden is posted next to the Garden plan in the Parish Hall.
The Garden Committee will meet in March to talk about the next steps in planting, water and the possibility of completing the reconstruction of the stone wall.
Should you wish to make a contribution as a memorial or as a thanksgiving for continued development and maintenance you may do so by writing a check to St Paul’s with a notation Garden Fund.
We thank all who contributed both time and money to help make the Garden a reality.
Gordon E. Muir Chair
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