182nd Annual Meeting Address
Jan Smith Wood, Rector
January 28, 2018
The year we’ve lived since our last Annual Meeting has been one of consolidation, innovation, and engagement. We get a glimpse of this in the reports contained in our annual meeting booklet, and there has been much more.
Brad Wieber completed the renovation of our church library. After our sexton, Tim Morrow, shored up the bookcases with new stronger shelves, Brad sifted through the books, incorporated new offerings, organized the shelves, and got the library into working order. (If you haven’t looked at what is on offer, please do so.)
Included in the newly ordered library, are books from Webster and Joy - we bid them adieu in March. The Maughans are missed even though we know that they are at home in Virginia with their daughters and families.
We discerned and implemented a new way of observing the seasons in our corporate worship. Our wonderful choir now leads us in music and worship from Holy Week through the 12 days of Christmas. They take a break from this ministry in the winter seasons of Epiphany and Lent. We have lived through a full sequence of this practice and are finding it to be more fitting than imagined when we decided to experiment.
After several years of searching, keeping an eye open, talking with whomsoever, we finally found a bell choir director. Heather Carman, director of the Sandusky Choral Society, is also director of the Grace Community Bell Choir. They completed a full season, from May through December, with four public performances in 2017: in the Washington Park Gazebo for a Summer Tuesday night concert, on their own in August here at Grace, and twice with the Sandusky Choral Society in December (in Norwalk and here at Grace). They begin again in the Spring. We have yet more bells that can be rung - so there is room for new bell choristers (...in case you’re interested)
We started a new Education for Ministry class which included some reorganizing so that our weekday Eucharist is now on Tuesday evenings. It is a Eucharistic experience unlike our other offerings in that it is contemplative, quiet, and calming - and complete in under 30 minutes.
Children’s Chapel began a new iteration which offers more arts and conversation and uses some of the fine books in our Church Library. Elaine Howey has taken lead on this and is ably assisted by Lisa Fowler, Ken Neiding, and Tim Bressler.
The Properties Committee continues its dedicated oversight of our buildings and grounds. 2017 included picking up the pieces when winter storms blew shingles off the roof, organizing a new roof installation, completely mending and painting all paintable exterior surfaces (including red doors), foundation work, and then initiating the landscaping project you’ve just heard about. All of this in addition to routine maintenance that is notable for its invisibility. Our Properties Committee members with Tim Morrow make sure that this campus is available for use by all kinds of people throughout the year.
For example, in 2017, we hosted
The Vestry worked very well and constructively together this year. We read through national canons, diocesan canons, and then our own by-laws in order to revise them to be aligned with what we do and what we are required to do. We took counsel together on matters of fiscal stewardship, exercised spiritual leadership, and thought about who God is calling us to be together. We listened, visioned, and spoke truthfully. I want to thank the entire vestry for a year well-lived - and particularly thank Mary Toney, Zep Porterfield, and Phil Gravengaard for three years of excellent service. THANK YOU!!
A new committee is emerging - perhaps this is an area you’d like to serve? - to purposefully communicate who we are and what we believe. Vestry member, Pete Fox, has taken lead on this. The vestry elected to reach out to our neighbors through “Hometown Welcome” - an informational welcome brochure that the Sandusky Register sends to every new resident each month. Not only do we have an ad in this brochure, but we send our monthly newsletter to these households for three months in a row. We also participate in the Washington Park lighting ceremonies on Thanksgiving Friday - handing out hot cider and cookies and “God loves you, no exceptions” bracelets to everyone who passes by.
We regularly help our neighbors, not only with community free meals and outreach grants, but with help from the discretionary fund and the thrift shop. We give away grocery vouchers to those in need: when Cardinal closed, it caused quite a stir in our midst. With the help of those we help, we found another option: Save-A-Lot on Perkins Ave. “That’s a good place,” said one neighbor. When the weather got extremely cold, the Community Organizer for the city of Sandusky called to ask if we would be a warming center - because people know that Grace helps.
Everyone here could add to this narrative of abundance and generosity: material and spiritual, relational and personal. All of us have been gifted by another in surprising ways because of Grace. Each of us has, at least once or twice, seen the face of Christ in another person in this community.
It’s important that we look back into our recent and our distant pasts and remember. Not to be nostalgic. Not to figure out how we can replicate something that used to be. But in order to celebrate and to see our way forward.
God is present in who we are now, calling us into God’s future.
From the charisms and realities of today,
we get a sense of what and who we are called to become.
Like individuals, communities grow in wisdom and action from who they are now to become more than they ever imagined possible.
Today’s enthusiasms, actions, energies are signposts for tomorrow’s passions, missions, and proclamations.
Planted in our past, we blossom into who we shall be.
Grounded in our traditions, we rise to new endeavors.
Grateful for what has been, we say “yes” to what shall be.
Strong in relationships forged today, we hold hands with friend and stranger alike and brave the unknown Way of Christ leading us forward.
As we begin this new year together, let us remember those who have died:
Let us give thanks for the babies born and baptized:
Let us pray: