Where has the year gone? Not just this calendar year, but I am recalling that I have been with you at Trinity for a year now. This past year has highlighted the normal array of activities in a church life, marking the change of seasons, celebrating feasts like Christmas and Easter, hearing about transitions in people's lives with their families (near and far), and mourning the loss of members of the congregation through moving away to other places or through death. All of these are normal cycles of our lives and we do well to note them as they happen. There is much to celebrate before God with those routine events. There is much to reflect on, when we take the time to slow down and pay attention to those events.
Even as I made small changes to how we do our worship services this past year, I have spent a lot of time listening and reflecting. The question, "Who am I called to be?" can also be asked as, "Who are we called to be?". I have heard many people speak of being an aging congregation that... (fill in the blank), but we can't do that anymore. I would like to suggest that this can be a good source of reflection in the days to come. Instead of looking at the things we can't do, reflect on the things we can do. Part of those reflections can center on the basics of why we are here and what we have to offer others around us.
We already have several opportunities to expand our spiritual lives beyond the common Sunday celebration. On Wednesdays, a group meets for Centering Prayer. There is a book study on Thursday evenings that explores books with themes around the spiritual life. On Saturdays, Trinity hosts a Wisdom school where practitioners can explore deeper prayer forms around mindfulness and wisdom traditions.
To those opportunities, we are adding some more foundational classes on Sunday mornings between the services. On the First Sundays of the month, beginning in October, we will look at Common Prayer and an introduction to the riches of the Book of Common Prayer. On the Second Sundays of the month, we will delve into a variety of prayer forms and opportunities in a session on 'Beginning to Pray'. On the Third Sundays of the month, we will look at Bible Study, using the lessons assigned for the Eucharist that day. Most months, the Fourth Sunday is the Last Sunday of the month, and we hope that we will enjoy more fellowship with both services attending. For those months when the Fourth Sunday is not the last Sunday, we will develop a topic based on the expressed desires and questions of those attending. These are intended to be sessions that help inform the newcomers to our traditions in the Episcopal Church. But they are also intended to be 'back to basics' foundation courses for everyone as we look at who we are called to be, both at the church and in the world. All are welcome to attend.
There are also other opportunities to be involved with activities that impact our life as a community and help with the worship. Our hosts greet folks coming to church and help with physical aspects of the service, such as welcoming newcomers and helping them with following our service, as well as taking up the monetary and food offerings. Lectors have the desire and training to read the scripture lessons assigned for the service and lead us in responding to the psalm. The members of the Choir offer their voices to help all of us sing God's praises during the service. The Eucharistic Ministers assist the clergy in administering the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood to the congregation during Communion. In the absence of other servers (or acolytes), they assist in preparing the Holy Table for Communion and in leading the Prayers of the People as intercessory prayer. Others assist by being present at the prayer station at the back of the church, ready to offer personal prayers and prayers for healing to those who request it. Eucharistic Visitors are prepared to take Holy Communion to those who are unable to come to church. Others prepare for the social time following our service, preparing coffee and goodies for us as we continue to share with one another in the fellowship of community. All of these ministries would welcome new members to assist in their work.
All of these groups provide opportunities for us to grow in community and fellowship with God and with each other. They are open to all, but obviously not everybody can do everything. I do hope that, as you reflect on where the community of Trinity Episcopal Church is being called, you will consider some of these opportunities to reflect with each other.
Pax et Bonum,
Did You Know?
-Oct 3rd, 5:30pm: Book Study continues in Jane's Hall. The group meets every Thursday. (10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31)
-Oct. 5th, 4pm: Mindfulness and Wisdom class continues in Jane's Hall. This group meets every Saturday. (10/12, 10/19, 10/26)
-Oct. 13th: Tuna Sunday. Bring canned tuna to church in support of the food bank.
-Oct. 27th, 12:30pm: Vestry meeting in Jane's Hall.
-The Centering Prayer group meets each Wednesday at 9:30-10:30am in Jane's Hall. Everyone is welcome to join this meditative practice. If you have questions about Centering Prayer, contact Martha Robbins, 296-7842.
I have wondered where are going as a community of faith and what our priorities are for outreach. As Vestry members, Carol Holt, Martin Hopper and I are charged with overseeing Outreach for Trinity and we would like to hear from you. What excites you? What are you passionate about? What do you want to contribute in this area? If you have an idea, or would like to lead an outreach program, let us know. In the past, we made homeless bags and sponsored food drives, but they no longer have the support of parishioners or the passion needed to sustain them. No matter what we do, it has to be an extension of our ministry and have the support of the parishioners, as well as someone to organize and lead it. We are called to be Jesus' hands and feet in this world, and our outreach is a visible and tangible way to show God's love and service to others. Please pray about this and let us hear from you.
Our main focus for outreach this year is Project Thanks. For those parishioners who are not familiar with this program, we sponsor making Thanksgiving boxes for the Interfaith Food Bank and distribute them on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving to the families whose names we have been given by the Food Bank. These individuals have to meet certain criteria to be able to participate in this program. Your Vestry felt we could comfortably commit to thirty-five thanksgiving boxes this year; as some parishioners have left our community, we may not have the resources to do more. If we end up with extra turkeys or other items they will be given to the Interfaith Food Bank for distribution.
I am pleased to announce that Amanda Parker has graciously agreed to be co-chairperson of Project Thanks this year and I am delighted to have an extra hand and brain to insure the success of this outreach ministry.
Distribution will be Sunday, November 24th, from 1 to 4 pm. Bring your turkey to church that day, and we will box the nonperishable items between services. As in past years, we ask your support by donating turkeys or nonperishable items toward a turkey dinner. The produce, dairy, eggs, rolls and pies will be purchased through Costless, as in past years this seems to be the easiest and most cost-effective source for these items. Once we know how much of each nonperishable item we need a list will be provided so you may sign up to purchase them and bring them to church no later than the Wednesday prior to distribution. We will also accept monetary donations to cover the cost of our purchases from Costless and any extra shopping needed for nonperishable items. More information will be forthcoming with dates and times for packaging and shopping.
As always, we need folks to box the items in as well as to stay and help with distribution. This is a heart-warming and fun activity for those who participate and all are welcome. Thank you for your continued support of this ministry.
Noreen Lafferty, Senior Warden and Co-chair Project Thanks
Holy Currencies - an approach to looking at how we are stewards of God's gifts
It still amazes me that, in the life of the church, talk about stewardship gets people to immediately think of fundraising, pledge drives, and a Fall Beg-A-Thon. Stewardship is about much more than money, though, to be honest, money is part of it. Stewardship gets into issues of how we care for things and how we value things, more than the money itself.
A colleague of mine, Eric Law, has written many books on aspects of the church caring for and nurturing itself, especially as it pertains to leadership, governance, and the inclusion of all. As he was building his teaching toward making churches and programs sustainable, he played with some themes and wrote a book around it. The book is Holy Currencies.
In his work with struggling congregations, Eric was trying to find ways to help them shift from the paralysis that occurs when resources become tight and the congregation struggles to identify their purpose in being, and the resources to make it happen. He recognized, along with other church developers, that churches need to shift away from having a "Mission Statement" and toward being Missional. It is a shift away from the passive to the active. As he started looking at issues around money that are a constant plague to churches, he starting exploring the varieties of gifts which churches have to offer and explored ways in which that could happen sustainably. That led to exploration of currencies.
One of the first things to note should be rather obvious - currency is related to currents, and currents are flowing. It was an early term for money, denoting that the money was flowing, and intended to flow. But Eric also noted that many other things are also currencies.
A common element of struggling churches, like Trinity, is that we collect money to pay leaders to make ministry happen at our place. Right away, we are talking about three currencies: Leadership, Place, and Money.
Leadership comes under the guise of Gracious Leadership as a Holy Currency. It is not just about making things happen, but about the grace that come in the relationships developed as programs, events, and liturgies occur. It is about including people in the decision making and providing teaching and training so that skills are developed and shared with others. Since we are in a situation with a part-time priest and part-time administrator, it is essential that others share in the process of relating to others in the congregation and the community to show God's graceful presence in our life.
Place is included with Time as a Holy Currency. The primary use of the church building has been to use part of the upper floor for Sunday services, with the downstairs office being used part of the week. Otherwise, the building stands empty. Jane's Hall sees increasing use with some book studies along with Centering Prayer and the Friday night AA group. A Wisdom school, run by others, is now meeting in Jane's Hall weekly, and several members of our congregation attend.
Money is the medium of exchange, the currency used to pay for the salaries and the facilities. Even with a tight budget on the expense side, more money is flowing out than is coming in. In large scale, macro-economics, running a deficit can help stimulate the economy, but we are not at a large scale for our economic picture. We cannot sustain this deficit for more than a few years.
Eric talks about other currencies that church communities have to offer. My sense is that the folks at Trinity have experienced some of those currencies from time to time, but perhaps it will be good to explore them in greater detail and make them an intentional part of who we are and how we function.
Truth is a currency that we do well to explore. Unfortunately, the word has several bad connotations of late. Truth is often used a weapon to polarize, especially when some suggest that their understanding of truth is the only one. In our postmodern era, there is also an increasing recognition that different traditions contain portions of a larger truth and express it in different language than we are used to. Eric Law points out that the Hebrew word for truth emet is composed of three letters from the Hebrew alphabet, aleph, mem, and tav, which are the first, the middle, and the last letters of the alphabet. To be fully seen, we must see the beginning, the middle, and the end of the stories to discern truth. We must also be able to truly listen to multiple perspectives and hear the stories of others in order to know their truth. The church is intended to be a place for truth telling, a place where the perspectives can be heard. The gospel story of the beggar at the gate being ignored by the rich owner highlights that truth is not being heard. Can we listen to the stories of those different than us? Are we hearing the stories of the LGBTQPIA+ community? Are we hearing the stories of women? Are we hearing the stories of the poor and the homeless? How can we help highlight Truth within our church and within our county?
Wellness is one of the hardest currencies to wrap our heads around. It touches on many other issues, but perhaps is hardest to make obvious to others. One part of Wellness is related to the currency of Truth, since we need to hear Truth and be able to act upon it. Many of us incorporate elements of Wellness in our lives in looking at more sustainable environmental practices. Do we each take time for Sabbath - not recreation - but Sabbath? That is an element of wellness. Trinity has had elements of an identified health ministry over time, which shows concern for Wellness within the congregation, but what are ways to sustain that with a pool of volunteers that is reduced in its ability to provide the services needed. Signs of Wellness come to us in interactions between different smaller communities working together on making a more sustainable world, which leads us into Relationships.
Relationship is a currency that can be shared. We have certainly developed relationships with each other here at the church, but we all have other relationships outside the church: our families; current or former co-workers; people living in proximity to us (often known as neighbours, but that concept has been changing), people involved in civic groups or interest groups such as those with mutual hobbies, and others. We are influenced by them, and we have influence with them. How do we share that currency and keep it flowing. I often find that I compartmentalize my life so that people in one group don't know about people in the other group, which does not always allow the currency of Truth and Wellness to operate. Relationships are not there to be manipulated, but are there to allow partnership and sharing in a wider community than the church community.
The currencies of Truth, Wellness, and Relationships need greater exploration, along with the currencies of Gracious Leadership, Time and Place, and Money, as we look at making Trinity a more sustainable community. I hope that in this time of reflection on how we use our gifts and talents, that we will consider all the ways in which all these currencies are available to use and look at creative ways to include others in those currencies. I look forward to hearing from all of you about ideas we can explore to broaden our use of these currencies.
Pax et Bonum
-Oct. 10th, 10am-2pm: Free Community Health and Resource Fair. Pokerville Market 18170 CA-49 in Plymouth. Contact Brandee McCann @296-5588 for more information.
-Oct. 10th, 4-8pm: Free financial class "Smart Money for Success" sponsored by Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency. Location: Kennedy Meadows Apt. complex, 701 New York Ranch Rd., Jackson, rental office conference room. Call 209-223-1485 ext. 243 to register.
-Oct. 28 & 29: Preventive Dental Hygiene at the Amador Senior Center. Call 209-223-0442 for an appointment.
-Oct. 15-Dec. 7th: free help with enrollment in Medicare Part D. call 209-532-6272 for an appointment.
-Oct. 26th, 10am-2pm: Free Flu Shot Clinic. Sutter Amador Outpatient Services Center. Please bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Interfaith Foodbank.
-Oct. 25-Dec. 25th, M-F 2-6pm: Safe Space art show. An art show celebrating the courage and beauty of rural queer communities. By highlighting the experiences of the marginalized and disenfranchised, "Safe Space" serves to bring new opportunities for understanding the value of diversity in our rural community. AMADOR COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL 617 South CA-Hwy 49 Jackson, CA (In the Mother Lode Plaza) (209) 256-8166
-Story Time at the Amador County Library is Thursdays at 10:30am. Contact the library for more details. 209-223-6400
-Upcountry Veterans free monthly lunch is the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 11:30am-1:30pm at Pioneer Veterans' Hall, 25100 Buckhorn Ridge Rd. Contact Lori (209-418-9695) for more details.
-Dementia/Alzheimer's Support Group meets the second Monday of each month (5:30-7pm) at Gold Quartz Inn in Sutter Creek- for information contact Susan at 257-1377. They also meet the third Wednesday of each month (2-3:30pm) at Amador Residential Care in Jackson- for information contact Sheri at 223-4444.
-Dad & me: for dads, uncles, grandpas, etc. and children 0-5 years old. This is a chance for a free, fun outing together (like visiting a fire station or garden center). "Dad & me" events are held the 4th Saturday every month. Call 257-1092 to reserve a spot in the next event. Space is limited.
-Amador SPEAKS (suicide prevention/education) is putting together a Suicide Prevention Coalition and is seeking members of the community to participate. Meetings will be held the 3rd Thursday of each month at 3:30pm in Conference Room E at the Health and Human Services Building (10877 Conductor Blvd., Sutter Creek). Contact Vanessa Compton at 223-6315 for more information.
All are invited to join the Trinity Singers! Choir practice happens each Tuesday at 5pm in the church. Bring your voices, your instruments and a heart for worship and praise! For more information please contact Mary Yount at 209-267-5461.
Food Bank Donations
Food gifts for August totaled 169 pounds.
The total for 2019 is 832 pounds of food collected in the food cart.
Thank you for your generous support of this ministry.
The following members of our church family are celebrating birthdays in October!
9th- Chris Mathany Putnam
10th- Gail Sweet & Rose-Marie Zwieg
14th- Keith Sweet
24th- Kyle Mathany
27th- Armen Kendig
27th- Svetlana Mathany
If you are celebrating a birthday in October, but you don't see your name listed here, please contact our Parish Administrative Asst.
Would You Like to Contribute to the Newsletter?
If you have an article of interest to the congregation that you would like included in the newsletter, please email it to the office, firstname.lastname@example.org by the 20th of the month. It will be included in the next month's newsletter.
Trinity Episcopal Church, 430 N Hwy 49, Sutter Creek, CA 95685