A Shining Surprise!

 

          Can a church be said to glow?  Without a single piece of colored glass, Grace Anglican shimmered like a tiny jeweled box.  A luminous rose color suffused the church interior, subtly reflecting the rose color on our altar and our priest.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind:  It was Rose Sunday!

          There are two Sundays in the liturgical calendar which will permit the use of rose  colored vestments for the altar and the priest.  The first is “Gaudete” Sunday which occurs on the third Sunday of Advent.  Gaudete means rejoice and comes directly from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” 

          The second is “Laetare” Sunday which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  Laetare is yet another Latin word for rejoice.  This time it is derived from the opening words of the Latin Mass, “Rejoice Jerusalem (Is. 66:10).  In both instances, the fundamental concept is to exult in joy which is expressed in the shift from purple to rose-colored vestments.

For Advent, this concept makes sense as we are anticipating the approach of the birth of Christ.  Thus the move from deep purple to rose mirrors our journey from darkness to the light and hope which Christ’s birth sheds for everyone.  For Lent, seeing joy seems almost a contradiction in terms.  But once you focus on the meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion, his victory over death, rose becomes a color to consider.

Further, it is strategic to place the rose-colored vestments in the middle of Lent.  Not only do parishioners gain some visual relief from the unremitting purple but they also experience a mental “reset” to remind them of what awaits them at the end of Lent.  All is not doom and gloom! 

Since the rose vestments for the altar and priest are not required, many churches do not follow this custom.  But then many churches do not have a parishioner like Lalah Tillinghast who is as determined as she is talented.  As Altar Guild director, she has made every altar and priest vestment herself.  She researches fabrics then designs vestments to fit.  Once she has sewn them, she proceeds to embroider them carefully by hand.  The final product is a beautiful work of art from which we all benefit each week.

You’d think that she’d be happy to bask in her success.  No such thing!  The project of rose vestments haunted her.  It was yet another precious gift that she wanted to offer the church.  However, the fabric itself was elusive.  She searched for years to find just what she was looking for in terms of color and pattern.  Her selection is a rose-colored brocade which means that the raised design in the fabric causes it to glimmer when it catches the light.  And if you call it pink, you will be roundly corrected! 

None of us was expecting to see the church or the priest in rose so we were thrilled by this delightful surprise!  Now we are counting the weeks until we get to see it again.  The church year will never be the same again.

It's easy.

Joy in Triplicate!

            Usually, they say that troubles come in three’s.  Not in the case of Grace Anglican Church, Wildwood, Florida!  We have been blessed by three marvelous events that have helped to grow our membership and strengthen our relationship with our community.

First, on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Father R. Wayne Ogg had the pleasure of baptizing three infants at Grace Anglican Church.  These children were brought by their parents and grandmother, Lisa Jodray.  Ms. Jodray is the realtor who worked tirelessly to arrange the purchase of the Church property. 

That Tuesday, a bright and sunny day, foretold a beautiful setting for the baptisms.  With three young children, no one expected a quiet one.  In fact, the babies were welcomed into Christ’s Church by a community of Christian family and friends without a peep!  A strange man pouring cold water on their heads was a source of wonder to them.  The church, packed to standing room only, followed their lead and quietly but joyously celebrated the newest and youngest Christians.

Second, our Internet statistics for the month of March demonstrated our reach into the community.  Nearly two hundred people viewed our church on Google Search while 156 saw it on Google Maps.  In addition, 7 people asked for directions to Grace.  Meanwhile, we have added five new members since November and we are expecting a family to join any day.  They may also bring some cousins.  So our membership is perking along!

Third, the cherry on top of the sundae were the substantial physical improvements to the church building.  The pool has been filled in and a concrete pad poured on top of it.  It will hold two spaces for handicapped visitors.  We have also added a large ramp with a gentle incline to help those who need wheelchair access.  Finally, after a lot of crawling under the foundation (yes, it’s Florida but this old house is not built on the ground) and making holes in walls, the state-of-the-art sound system is in place.  Now the sanctuary and the meeting room are connected and wired for shared transmission of the service.

            With the banner month of March, Grace Anglican can be said to have fulfilled Goethe’s prescription of a successful building: “Three things are to be looked to in a building:  that it stand on the right spot; that it be securely founded; that it be successfully executed.*”  Grace Anglican has met and exceeded each requirement.  As such, it is poised for an exciting period of growth and development.  Thanks be to God!

*Translation from Goethe’s novel, Kindred by Choice, by James Anthony Froude.

“Busy till night…”

            “Busy till night, pleasing myself mightily to see what a deal of business goes off a man’s hands when he stays by it.”  Pepys could have been describing the last six months at Grace Anglican Church in Wildwood, Florida!  Our time has been divided equally between two herculean tasks which we have just completed.  Perhaps it’s time to enjoy the summer and rest on our laurels until the Archbishop’s visit in August?

            Our first task began with the county’s requirement of the execution of a small scale development plan.  Whenever the government uses the word, “small,” beware!  That simple adjective in government speak is the tip of a giant iceberg!  Our plan called for designated handicap parking spaces and a handicap ramp.  Read below to see how much work our “small” plan actually entailed.

            To make the spaces, we began with a dilapidated pool.  We used more than 80 yards of fill to prepare the pool for permanent sealing.  The fill, conveyed by a dump truck, was shoveled into the pool.  Then Father Wayne and Lalah Tillinghast compacted the fill by hand until the grade was perfectly level.  At that point, the contractor poured a 5 inch thick concrete slab with steel reinforcement.  Next Paul Temple joined Father Wayne and Lalah to paint and stripe the slab for handicap parking spaces in accordance with the building code.  Finally, the correct signs indicating parking for handicap drivers, properly positioned, were planted.

            But we were not yet ready for inspection because we had not constructed the ramp.  The building code requires a slope of one inch rise per twelve inches of run.  These dimensions resulted in a ramp of 30 feet!  Again Father Wayne, Lalah and Paul took the task in hand.  Using pressure treated 2” X 6” lumber and composite deck boards, they created a ramp any model would be delighted to traverse!

            Next came the inspection of the new physical additions to the church.  Given the meticulous perseverance of Father Wayne, Lalah and Paul, we passed with flying colors!  We received our approval in July.

            Meanwhile, as we worked on the church’s exterior, we also focused on completing a task which, like the small scale development plan, required weeks of concentrated work and effort.  But in this case, the work was entirely mental.  We decided to apply for the 501 (c) 3 tax exempt designation by the IRS.  This decision led us straight to the IRS website in order to download directions and forms for the application named “Form1023.”

While the form and directions are clearly written, many questions required additional explanation and supporting materials.  For instance, Part IV, “Narrative Description of Your Activities,” includes a subset of eight questions which must be answered for each activity!  These questions are straightforward such as “How does the activity further your tax exempt purposes?”  But they force the writer to think long and hard how to cogently reply.  The IRS includes a warning:  don’t repeat in this answer what you have written elsewhere!

Bearing that requirement in mind, we took advantage of the IRS invitation to attach supporting documents.  These covered a wide range of documentation from the Book of Common Prayer to the Ordo Calendar as well as articles from Glad Tidings.  Our intent was to illustrate our activities instead of preparing a long and repetitious description.

Separate Schedules were also part of the final application.  Somehow Father Wayne navigated the labyrinth of the IRS website to find them, fill them out and then print them.  In all, our submission to the IRS, mailed Friday, June 30th was over ½ of an inch thick!  We wish them speedy reading resulting in a positive reply to us.  We’ll keep you posted!

With these two tasks accomplished, everyone at Grace is breathing a sigh of relief!  We are ready to relax and enjoy summer.  Perhaps having made such an effort, we will be exempt from my mother’s favorite quotation, “For Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.”?

Bishops and Badges, Part I

 

            Archbishop and Mrs. Robinson arrived for an official visit on Saturday, August 12th.  Wet and wild, it was pouring although Florida is the “Sunshine State.”  While there was very little sunshine outside the church during the weekend, the church itself was suffused with the glow of faithful members. 

It was a heartwarming visit which blasted off with a parish dinner at Father Wayne and Penny’s home.  As parishioners arrived, the clouds unleashed torrents of stinging rain.  Pulling food out of cars and delivering it proved quite a challenge.  Yet nothing arrived damaged!  Bev’s hors d’oeuvres and Lalah’s deviled eggs were delivered safely, ready to be devoured along with Penny’s famous Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

This dinner gave new church members the opportunity to meet the Archbishop and Mrs. Robinson.  Sitting at two large round tables, everyone had a chance to visit with one another as well as with the guests of honor.  Needless to say, there was lots of laughter and pleasant banter. 

Sunday morning found the church packed and ready for a musical and lively service.  No one was disappointed.  The Archbishop’s clear lead, both singing and chanting, gave more timorous church members courage to make joyful noise.  Again we were all entranced to hear his sermon.  We took heart in his words and comfort in his assurances.

Then the coffee room rang with discussion.  Questions ping ponged around the room as the Archbishop and his wife chatted with everyone.  The discussion ranged from the ordinary business of life to serious religious inquiry.  It was exhilarating to participate in this event.  It was difficult to end the discussions and even harder to say goodbye.  But we look forward to seeing the Archbishop and Mrs. Robinson, probably when it is less humid!

Bishops and Badges, Part II:  The Tale of the Badge

 

Father Wayne realized that asking one person, no matter how capable, to handle all the altar guild responsibilities was impractical.  So, he suggested to Dana that she join forces with the head of the Altar Guild, Lalah.  “I’d rather have a root canal!” was her initial reaction, based on her first unhappy exposure to the Altar Guild in another church.  But she couldn’t say no to Father Wayne. 

            What a wonderful experience!  Dana found herself gently and firmly guided by Lalah who patiently answered her questions.  Lalah prepared a curriculum in bite-size pieces so that her protégé would not be overwhelmed.  Then she provided a book from which she had learned much of what she knew.  Further, she initiated Dana into the mysteries and joy of altar guild work.  Details such as crocheted crosses on the corners of the frontal to mark its proper location suddenly opened a whole new world to her assistant.

            Lalah never criticized her fledgling apprentice’s efforts.  Instead she stood nearby to help and support without trying to control.  As a result, this partnership yielded a second fully-trained Altar Guild member, a book and a badge.  The book, actually a notebook, is divided into altar guild tasks which are described and photographed.  This way, if someone forgets, they can rapidly and easily check their memories.

            As for the badge, Dana’s long-standing joke was her role as “Junior Altar Guild Member.”  She told everyone that she was working on her Altar Guild Badge.  Lalah took her up on her words and presented her with a homemade badge!  You’ll see in the picture that altar is spelled alter to signify the Guild’s ability to make changes on the fly as necessary.  Needless to say, Dana is very proud of her badge and enjoys wearing it.

            Thus, the life of Grace Anglican continues to grow and develop as experiences deepen the bonds of fellowship and faith.

“Oh, Happy Day!” Part I

            With apologies to Edwin Hawkins who made this song so famous in 1967 by creating a gospel music arrangement of an 18th century hymn, these words capture the joy and optimism animating Grace Anglican Church.  On the heels of turning two years old, the church delighted in two wonderful events, a special Christmas project, and an adult baptism.

            The first event began as a wish in parishioners’ hearts to be of service to the community of Wildwood.  Unlike the nearby communities of The Villages and Ocala, Wildwood is struggling.  The Methodist Food Bank works overtime to fulfill basic nutrition needs.  Beyond food, workers also help to arrange repairs and improvements for people who live where toilets don’t flush and stoves are merely decorative. 

            Grace has forged a working relationship with our Methodist sisters and brothers.  In addition to providing food for the food pantry, we reached out to them to get connected with a needy family for whom Christmas was too much of a stretch:  no presents, no meal, no celebration.  We learned about a single mother and her two children who would have no Christmas without some help.

            Father Wayne organized a flow chart which detailed what the children of Family “A” (as we called them) wanted. Penny Windsor and Beverly Caparco had the pleasure of buying toys and tops for the two children and their mother. In addition, Penny, Cathy Gray and her mother, Jean, and other parishioners supplied both TJ Maxx and Wal-Mart gift cards so that the mother was able to buy the right size and style of clothing for her 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.  The Caparco family helped out by giving a Bob Evans Christmas meal gift card.

            In addition to this family, we worked together to meet the needs for gifts and food for another deserving family, Family “B.”  We discovered them through a local social worker. The 13-year-old boy has a mental working age of 3 due to early childhood abuse by his father.  His desires included music and educational toys.  His sister at 10 years old was divided between “My Little Pony” and Barbie with accessories.  Lalah Tillinghast pounced on the Barbie request.  She sewed Barbie clothes and accessories.  Beverly Caparco and Dana Sauro provided toys and books for the boy as well as My Little Pony gifts for his sister.  Paul Temple gave the boy a Kindle so he could play music and games. This family also received a Wal-Mart gift card for after Christmas shopping.  Finally, Beverly and John Caparco provided a gift card for a complete meal for Christmas from Bob Evans.

            The joy of providing all the gifts (please see our pile in the photograph!) was only eclipsed by the thank you card we received from the mother of Family “B.”  In addition to the beautiful card, she included pictures of the children with some of their gifts.  The coffee room glowed with pleasure!  That was one of the best days so far in the life of Grace!

 

To be continued…