Piper - April 2014

April 2014

In This Issue...
 Ramblings in the Redwoods
 C.I.A. Youth Group News
 God's Story, Our Story, My Story - Ed’s Story
 Unabashedly Episcopalian - a book excerpt
 The Back Page... It's Quiz Time

Ramblings in the Redwoods
Father Blaine Hammond

This month, instead of telling you my thoughts, opinions, musings etc, I would like to present to you: Good stuff from the Vestry Retreat.

As most of you know, each year the new Vestry has a one-day retreat, which is often held at Tillie Cunningham’s house (for which we are continually grateful to Tillie). Each year, we generally do some thinking about how we are going to go about the coming year’s tasks; usually we put in some thought on how to grow. This year it occurred to me (hmm, was it the Holy Spirit?) to try going about it the opposite way: I asked the members to tell me how to go about NOT growing. It took them a few minutes to get the idea of the task, but once they did, I could hardly write fast enough to keep up. Here is what filled several flip-chart pages:

Via Negativa: How not to grow
Ignore new people
Cover charge
Don’t smile
Casual priest
No coffee hour
No usher, no welcome
No weddings for non-members
One service
No funerals for non-members
No music
No traditions
Don’t welcome children
No sacredness or respect
Be rude
No church flowers
Keep it dirty!
No open-door policy
One book per pew
No Sunday School
No web page
Preach that Pharisees aren’t that bad
No wine; only Kool-aid
Don’t help people with the Book of Common Prayer
No outreach
No newsletter
Preach that non-tithers aren’t good Christians
Give people too much to do
No marquee
No maintenance
No toilets
Be critical of their performance
Don’t garden
Jump on newcomers
Don’t support their efforts
Be too one-sided, politically and doctrinal
Wafers only, no bread – especially use stale wafers

We all enjoyed that, and I think we all learned something too. But then we also had a normal “how do we do this” session in the positive sense. I think you might all get something from this list as well:

What Do We Want Our Future to Look Like and How Do We Get There?
Church Growth
Youth
Prayer
Building on tradition
Better communication
Making connections, especially new ones
Telling our story
Wedding revival
Sunday School
Music for youth
Get kids involved
Acolyte program
Kids feel needed, included
Sound System
Volunteer Transportation System
Closed Circuit TV System to Parish Hall
Get Sunday service on a link
Parking
Pay pal or ?? for people to be able to donate online

If you have questions about any of the items on these lists, feel free to ask any of us.

I also contributed the following thoughts to the discussion: Three different terms often used as synonyms.

1. Proclamation: our first priority, the main duty of the church: the proclamation of the Gospel. This can at times cause people to actually leave the church, because the Gospel, in Jesus’ time and today, can be considered scandalous in that it does not always support our preconceptions. However, the Gospel will also draw people; sometimes those will be people we had not expected (or maybe wanted) to draw.

2. Evangelism: Encouraging people to be Christians by telling them the Good News. This does not mean they will necessarily choose to be involved with our congregation, or even our denomination; it is an invitation for them to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ that will change their lives.

3. Church Growth: Creating a welcoming congregation, and inviting people to be a part of it. Bringing people to St. Andrew’s in the belief that we have something here that they will want. However, if we make church growth priority number one instead of proclamation, it is possible that we will dilute the proclamation in the hope of bringing in people who might otherwise be offended by the Gospel.

We need to keep clear about what the Church is and what it is sup-posed to be. If we do what we are supposed to do, in prayer and doing the best we can, then the results are in God’s hands.

It might also be good for you to know which Vestry members have authority and responsibility for different areas of the congregation’s life and ministry. This does not mean they will be doing everything in their area; it does mean they are supposed to know what is going on in those areas. If you have questions about them, want to take the time to help out in some of them, or have responsibilities yourselves in those areas, this list may be helpful for you to keep in a handy place:

Senior Warden: Paul Balch. The Senior Warden is also known as the Rector’s Warden. He is a liaison between the Rector and the Congregation, and between the Rector and the Vestry.
Junior Warden: Jerry Fishel. The Junior Warden is also known as the People’s Warden. He has responsibility for building and grounds, and is also a liaison between the Vestry and the members of the congregation. If you have something you want the Vestry to hear or consider regarding the life of the congregation, tell the Junior Warden.
Communications: Ray Wentz. This has to do with all areas of Church communication, including website, advertising, Facebook page, and Piper.
Outreach: Gina Carling and Elizabeth Forbes. This has to do with all areas where the Church is reaching out into the community, to help, to involve people in what we do, to raise money, or to bring information back to the Congregation.
In-reach: Elizabeth Forbes and Gina Carling. In-reach involves all areas of our lives together as members of St. Andrew’s, including our social life and our ministry to one another’s needs. If we have functions that are mainly to benefit the members of the congregation, that is in-reach; we need pastoral care or home communions, that is in-reach.
Worship: Randi Alves. Randi is the Director of the Altar Guild, but this position also involves all aspects of our worship activities.
Youth: Jerry Fishel. Teresa Ruff, our Vestry Clerk, is also interested in and taking part in this ministry. We would like to develop a Committee of people to help out with all aspects of our ministry to, with (and from) youth and children in our Parish. (Can you help?)
Stewardship: Jennifer Kennedy; with a committee to be developed.
Floater: Tillie Cunningham. Tillie is interested in helping in several areas, including youth, worship, and building and grounds with regards to gardening.

Each year we have been slowly re-inventing how we organize and act as the Vestry, your elected delegates. The idea of commonality among department chairs, the reduced number of areas of interest and committees, have all been part of this. We never again want to see some individual hung out to dry, overwhelmed with responsibility and without help. Because of this, we have started having an Activity Group meeting the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the upstairs room. You might try coming to that! It is open to everyone; in fact we hope everyone will check it out sometimes. The idea is to see what is needed in our upcoming activities in terms of management, people or just nuts-and-bolts work and planning. Do we need someone to make a list? That’s where you would find that out. Do we need someone to make phone calls? Likewise. It’s a group for everyone who is or wants to be involved.

We are planning to install the new Vestry on April 13 at the 10:00 service (Palm Sunday). I hope you will be there to support your Vestry.

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Church Clean-up Day

Bring your brooms, mops, wood polish, gloves, rags, buckets, favorite gardening tools, and don't forget the elbow grease! And bring the kids to help too!

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Youth Group News

Children’s Easter Festivities
On Saturday, April 19th, all Youth (grades K-5) are welcome to come and help dye Easter eggs in the Parish Hall. We will meet at 11am.

On Easter Sunday, April 20th, the Youth Group (grades 6-12) will be hiding Easter eggs and putting on the Easter Egg Hunt for the younger children of the parish. We will be hiding the eggs before the 9 am service, so set your alarms and look lively! The Easter Egg Hunt will be between the 9 & 11 am services. Let’s make it memorable for the little ones!

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God's Story, Our Story, My Story: Badge of Honor - Edwill Butler (aka Eddie)

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by someone at church why I try to make sure the Processional Cross is always facing a certain way in Church. I call it the "Cross for Christ" or the "Badge of Honor".

I started as an acolyte at St. Andrew’s probably around 1962 or 1963. I was taught that carrying the Processional Cross is the biggest honor an acolyte could be entrusted with.

Growing up in Ben Lomond I played the old game of cowboys and Indians. World War II had been over about twenty years, but I was Sgt. Rock when I played with my friends. I day-dreamed of saving the damsel in distress at the castle while being a knight in shining armor. Every one of these dramas had a flag, scarf, or pennant that led the "good" guys into battle. It was an honor to die holding that symbol. The ultimate honor is the Cross. It represents the person, Jesus Christ, who unconditionally died for our sins. I do not understand all of today’s symbols, such as a ring through the nose or tattoos all over the body, but I understand the Cross.

Every Sunday that I serve, I still see these four ladies — and some more — sitting in back of the church watching Eddie Butler. They’re not there physically, but they are watching: Delah Powers, Dorothy Davis, Clara Moody ( I walked with her to church - she lived to the age of 102), and two other ladies, whose names I cannot remember. Besides making sure I did not get into mischief, their number-one job was to make sure I honored the Cross, carried it correctly, and positioned it rightly so that "OUR BADGE" of honor is in front of the United States flag, St. Andrew's flag and any other flag that is there. And the shield should be facing the congregation so that we know Christ is ready for us at all times.

So the "Badge of Honor", our Cross, is ready 24/7.

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April Events Galore!

April 3-5: Youth Group is camping at the Pinnacles!
Sunday, April 6: Lenten Soup Supper, 6:00 pm, Parish Hall
Saturday, April 12: Parish Clean-up, 9:30 am
Sunday, April 13: Palm Sunday Liturgy, 8 & 10 am
Sunday, April 13: Seder Supper, 5:00 pm, Parish Hall
Thursday, April 17: Maundy Thursday Foot Washing, 7:00 pm
Friday, April 18: Good Friday Service, 6 pm
Saturday, April 19: Youth (grades K-5) Egg Dying, 11:00, Parish Hall
Saturday, April 19: Easter Vigil, 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 20: Feast of the Resurrection, 9 & 11 am
Saturday, April 26: Pre-school Rummage Sale, Parish Hall
Saturday, April 26: St. Andrew’s Plant Sale, St. A’s Patio
Sunday, May 4: after church services, Chili Cook-Off

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from Unabashedly Episcopalian - Andrew Doyle

Each year at the Easter Vigil, Episcopalians renew their baptismal vows. We begin with affirming our desire for this sacramental life, or someone who loves us does so on our behalf.

Then we arrive at another set of questions: The Renunciations. Here we renounce Satan, evil, and sinful desires, as well as stating that we accept Jesus as our Savior, put our trust in him and promise to follow him. We can’t get to the Baptismal Covenant without first answering these questions. We don’t get to our definition of God or our promises without considering these commitments and establishing this foundation.

From there, we move into the Baptismal Covenant itself, which begins with an affirmation of our faith in the Trinitarian God, in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. The covenant continues from that general statement of faith, a faith we share with Christians the world over, to naming the uniqueness of the Episcopal way of following Jesus. These five promises serve as the heart of our Baptismal Covenant: to read Scripture and participate in worship; to resist evil and repent when we fail at it; to tell others our own Good News stories; to recognize Christ in everyone and then serve them; and to strive for justice and peace and the dignity of every human being.

We believe in a particular God, who is creator and savior of a particular world in which we are helping to bring about a particular kingdom in a particular way. We are taking on a discipline as a Christian, and one that is uniquely Episcopalian, and we should not mistakenly assume everybody makes these promises in baptism.

Every denominational framework is unique. This one is ours. When we identify ourselves as ‘unabashedly Episcopalian’, we are promising to act and speak out against spiritual forces that rebel against God and the story of God and our understanding of who God is and the world that God created. With clarity, we are saying we will act and speak out against powers which corrupt God’s creation and destroy the creatures of God. We are expressing a personal willingness to bring intention to those daily choices that place us closer or further from the will of God in Jesus Christ. We are going to aim toward Jesus as the highest form of a life lived in God’s community, and we are going to trust that God’s love and grace will enable us to do this work.

We constantly have before us this question: How am I doing with these promises day after day after day, as a Christian and an Episcopalian? On this solemn and joyful occasion, we present ourselves and choose together to make our pilgrim way in this world. We choose God’s unexpected, upside-down kingdom over all others. This is how our journey begins.

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Lent Soup Suppers continue with Seder Supper on Sunday, April 13, at 5pm in the Parish Hall.
Once again, Gene Kodner and Diedre Guindon will be hosting the Seder Supper for St. Andrew's. This is a rich and spiritually rewarding event. We will eat the traditional dinner, partake of the ritual foods, sing the songs of the Passover, and rejoice in God's saving grace.

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Bible Challenge

Come with us on a Pilgrimage of the heart!

Ever thought of taking a holy pilgrimage? Here’s one you can take from right here in the San Lorenzo Valley. Come on a journey through the Bible, a year-long reading adventure, with The Bible Challenge. Short meditations written by Anglican scholars from throughout the world accompany the daily readings. Our faith will be enlivened and expanded by a sustained encounter with God's Word. If you never thought you could read the whole Bible, The Bible Challenge is a wonderful way to embark on a holy pilgrimage joined by others from around the world! Recommended by Bishop Mary! We have a group meeting once a week at the church (Tuesdays, 6:30-7:30pm in the Parish Hall) and a group meeting online through Google Groups.

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Episcopal News Service

Thomas Butler’s days are busy and full; the Flourtown, Pennsylvania, lawyer is in and out of courtrooms, representing clients in commercial litigation law-suits. But not before he’s met the Bible Challenge; to read the entire Bible in a year. “It’s a grounding for me each day,” said Butler, 65, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, who started last January and is anticipating completing the Bible by Easter. Then he wants to start all over again.

“Reading the Bible from cover to cover is like running a marathon,” Butler said during a recent telephone interview from his office. “Okay, you’ve accomplished it but what have you really done? My conclusion thus far is that there’s a lot more to get out of the Bible and a lot more to be gained by continuing to read the Bible.” Which is something he’d never considered until he attended a friend’s memorial service at St. Thomas Church in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 26, 2011. The rector, the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, invited the congregation to join him in the Bible Challenge. “I’d never thought about reading the Bible before I heard Marek’s invitation,” he recalled. “It was a challenge which on that day struck me as something I wanted to do.”

After starting with Genesis 1 he is nearing the Book of Revelation, and acknowledges it’s taken him more like 15 months, but says the extra time was well spent. “I used to get up maybe like everybody, rush around, and do whatever I was supposed to do that day,” he said. “Now, I take a half-hour and read the Bible and think about it. It has given me a different context and background in which to view things that are going on in the world and in my life.”

Zabriskie came up with the Bible Challenge in 2010 as a way to rejuvenate his own spiritual life. Like many busy clergy, “I was feeling spiritually and physically worn down after Christmas, after helping lead seven services in three days,” he said. He decided to challenge himself to read the Bible in a year. “After three to four days I found it so incredibly spiritually gratifying, that it felt like God put it on my heart to invite others,” he said. He sent an invitation to a few friends, then to church members and then to “those not in our church, who I play tennis with or socialize with and got the same response. I kept on promoting it. We had 50 people within 24 hours.”

And the good news has continued to spread, nationally and globally. “Fifteen dioceses around the world are doing it; ten are in the United States,” he said. “There are 45 churches doing it now and many more going to start. I anticipate we could have members in over a thousand congregations by the end of this year.” People ages 13 to 93 in churches from England to Nigeria, Tanzania to Pakistan are participating. The readings can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks or CDs. Participants may start on any day they choose. Said one priest, …”[TBC] is em-powering people to understand they’re called into ministries.”

“Our prayer book is replete with Scripture and … we hear a ton of it in church but it’s excised from its context” on Sunday mornings, said another priest. TBC gives people that context, she added. “There are people in Pakistan, in the city where Bin Ladin was found, there are people all over the world engaging this wonderful journey because Marek heard the call of the Spirit and invited others to join him. That’s discipleship, right? This is a real gift.”
The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent with the Episcopal News Service.

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Ed Butler (Apr 2)
Henry ValldeRuten (Apr 5)
Sharon Fishel (Apr 6)
Maryelise Balch (Apr 8)
Donna Brough (Apr 11)
Barbara Banke (Apr 14)
Pauline Syres (Apr 16)
Sheryl Mello (Apr 18)
Susan ValldeRuten (Apr 22)
Tom Fogarty (Apr 27)
Joan McVay (Apr 27)
Tillie Cunningham (Apr 28)
Cindy Garay (May 2)
Cathy Newfield (May 3)
Moe Garray (May 3)
Preston Boomer (May 7)
Janet Parske (May 8)
Jaden Ruff (May 10)
Barry Holtzclaw (May 12)
Katie Garay (May 18)
Tim Cadell (May 21)
Michael Freeman (May 22)
Logan Hudson (May 26)
Mark de Haas-Johnson (May 29)

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The Back Page...

It's Quiz Time! - Elizabeth Forbes

Who do you know who fits some or all of these descriptors?

1. Is given to reaching out to and helping others
2. Acts out, models, or shows in a symbolic way the concrete ministry of service in action
3. Guides, directs, or coaxes others in seeing Christ in others, especially those we tend not to see Christ in
4. Inspires, invites, and supports impulses to ministry in others
5. Speaks up for those who have no voice or are unheard; allies with others in compassionate action or ministries of justice
6. Sees an unmet need in the community and gathers others to develop an ongoing response
7. Sees the gap between what is and what God wishes for us, talks about it, and draws others to do something about it*

If you said yes to more than one of these descriptors, or someone you know would, then you or that person may have the heart of a deacon. But how does one know for sure? Do the persons have a sense of being called by God? Do others around them sense they are Spirit called? Do their actions, such as those above, proclaim their call?
Unfortunately, our church leadership is not clear about what constitutes a deacon. As Bishop Mary has said, sometimes we think that anyone whose heart is on fire for the Lord is surely called to ordination. Though an unspoken consensus of the past, the church is now moving away from that presumption.

But most everyone would agree with the Illinois deacon who said that deacons serve as a bridge between Church and world, dismissing and sending the people out (2) at the end of the liturgy to live out their baptismal ministries of praying for the world (1), advocating for the dis-empowered (5), keeping the hard questions in front of those who can help (7), and activating them to change our world (4).

We are all — lay people, deacons, bishops, priests — called to all of the above. (see the Baptismal Covenant, BCP, p. 304). But each of us is moved by the Spirit to engage in a different part of the work, based on our inherent gifts, learned skills, and the shape of our spirits. Since they are given by the infinitely creative One, there is an infinite variety of gifts and calling. And each has an essential place in the body of Christ.

With two exceptions, whatever a deacon does can be done by lay people. (Do you know what they are?) So why do we ordain deacons? And why am I even writing about them? Well, that’s another conversation…

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If you are interested in submitting an article in next month's newsletter, contact Elizabeth Forbes or Paula Jansen.