A Lay Leader Message from Catherine Harwood
Hello Grace family. As our congregation’s lay leader, I have watched with awe and gratitude as our staff and dedicated volunteers kept finding new ways to allow us to worship and do God’s work during this long pandemic.
It has not been easy.
In addition to the lives lost to COVID, one of the toughest impacts has been the loss of routine connections with the church we love. Due to safety concerns, it’s not been possible to volunteer as much as we may have in the past. Plus we have missed the shared meals, classes and church events that bring us together and build relationships.
Now those events are restarting and our Gracevine newsletter and Sunday bulletin are full of details about monthly church meals, group meetings and outreach missions. It’s wonderful that so many have returned to worshipping in person – and that we have the continued blessing of online worship.
Now it’s time for that next step, to look for ways to personally reconnect with Grace by volunteering in ways that fit the needs of each of us and our families.
As we each assess our approach to living with this ongoing pandemic, we must ask ourselves is there something I can do to increase my connection to Grace and our mission to serve others, within the boundaries of what we each consider safe?
For some that next step in reconnecting may mean coming back to worship or volunteer in person, either with or without a mask, and we welcome and encourage that. For others, it may be finding ways to help remotely such as signing up for Grace’s prayer emails, inviting a friend to watch the online services and devotions on Facebook and commenting on those, plus sharing them to our own personal Facebook to increase their reach.
I want to encourage you to reflect on the wonderful sermon series from our pastors that asked us to “get out of the boat” and find ways to make a difference.
For Patti Willhardt that message led her to put her talents for hospitality to work by setting up a Coffee Bar each Sunday in the E&A Lobby as a gift to us all and to provide a warm welcome for visitors who we hope make Grace their church home. Patti has committed to organize this each Sunday until June – might this be an area where you could step up and volunteer to keep this going?
Walt Secrest and Gail Williams have organized our Scrip gift card fundraising effort for years, bringing in nearly $13,000 to support Grace since it started in 2014. Their appeal for someone to step up and help with coordination was heeded by April Patellis who realized she’d done the same thing before at a local school.
What spiritual gift do you have that can match up with a church need?
The list of volunteer opportunities is long and varied and includes options such as the food pantry, mowing and weeding team, picking up trash in the parking lots, being a Sunday greeter or small group leader or participant, helping set up the altar and flowers, working on the sound booth team, pressure washing and painting, helping with youth and children’s ministries, visiting our shut-in members at home or in assisted living, sharing your musical talents – the list goes on and on.
Reach out to Tracey Beatovich in the church office if you can help with an in-person need at church. (There are great options for teens who need service hours for Bright Futures scholarships).
The first of two immediate needs is the Justice Ministry Rally in the Grace Sanctuary this Thursday, April 7th at 6 PM to highlight the critical shortage of affordable housing. Come and support this important cause led by Pastor Beth by just sitting and listening.
Second, is a seasonal request we can all do right now to fill plastic eggs with candy and drop them off at church for the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 16th from 10 AM to Noon. You can also sign up online to help that day and can use that same link to RSVP that you are bringing your children (not required but appreciated).
The Easter season reminds us of the amazing gift of God’s unconditional love – and the sacrifice on the cross that made that gift possible.
It’s time for us to get out of the boat and share that gift through our time and talents.
I look forward to seeing you at church or online and I thank God for the blessings of this wonderful church family that is our Grace UMC community.