Stephen Ministry by Rodger Hardy
I had read that being told that one has cancer is a shocking event. In my case it was much more gradual; from something is not quite right, to something is definitely wrong, to it may be cancer, to the confirmation. Further- more, I had no idea how serious it was until the treatments became more and more drastic. At some point I realized I was in real trouble.
While I had submitted to all the recommended treatments and procedures, and taken all the (shockingly expen- sive) drugs prescribed there was a sinking feeling that it wasn’t enough, that things weren’t going well. I felt bad, not just physically, but also emotionally. Although I had been a Stephen Minister for several years I now realized that I needed a Stephen Minister for myself.
My first meeting with my Stephen Minister was a little like a magician sitting in the audience of a magic act, knowing there was a rabbit in the hat. But Stephen Ministry is not magic, it is just the care receiver talking and the care giver listening. As I walked away from our first session I thought to myself, “I don’t know what just happened, but I feel better.”
“The Micah Initiative has been supported by the Outreach budget for 14 years. At present there are 16 dedicated volunteers, and I venture to say we all have our stories to share. One of mine is about one of my kindergarteners. I normally go to John B. Cary on Mondays, but one week I was unable to go on Monday, so I went later in the week. As I was walking down the hall, one of the students stopped me and said, "You were supposed to be here Monday." This little girl let me know that they count on our presence. The Micah Program is all about being a constant in these children's lives. So many of them come from chaotic backgrounds and need someone they can rely on. Yes, we buy school supplies, tutor, mentor, and serve in many other ways. But most importantly, we are there to let them know we care, to be a constant in their lives.”
NEW PROJECT FOR THE FOOD PANTRY
The Food Pantry has recently added a new project. We have started composting!
Composting is the environmentally healthy practice of returning to the earth, in the form of enhanced dirt, non edible fruit and vegeta- bles. It is in line of what we are called to do as Christians.... to be good stewards of the earth and care for her creatures great and small.
The two drum composters at the church, outdoors by the Food Pan- try doors, are filled with cut up fruit and vegetables from Kroger that are not edible. Those items (green stuff) have been chopped up and added to the drums along with leaves (brown stuff) and dirt at a 1 to 3 ratio. Two of our volunteers have added worms to the mix to help with breaking down the products.
The compost is made by "cooking" the drums in the sun and turning them several times a week which advances the break down of the items inside. No meat or dairy products are added because they draw animals which we don't need or want. Depending on the sun and other factors, the compost is usually ready in 6-8 weeks, but that is not an exact science!
All compost made will be added to the existing gardens at the church and worked into the soil. It is a win-win situation for all of us, a simple, and right thing to do.
St. Matthias Outreach Fund supports Kairos Project, which helps women in prison with spiritual needs and redemption.
The beauty and relaxation that covered the women as we shared our stories and they had an opportunity, in small groups, to share their stories, the walls began to tumble down. Together, we sang, we prayed, we cried, we loved, we listened, and we loved and listened some more. At the end of every Kairos weekend the women have an opportunity to share with the greater Kairos community what the weekend has meant to them.: In what spiritual conditions they arrived, what they found, what they were taking away. Over the years the com- ments and transformations made are mind-boggling and affirming. When you hear women say that in the past three days I experienced more love than in the first 40 years of my life, or I received a bag of letters which are the first letters I received since I've been incarcerated, or I've learned to love myself, I've learned to forgive myself and others, I've learned how to have a relationship with God and I know now how much God loves me.
It is inspiring and hopeful to watch a seed planted blossom into beautiful creation! This very thing has been happening here.
In early spring, following the loss of a loved one, a member came to offer a donation on behalf of that person. As the conversation evolved, a seed began to take form. The seed was the idea of two new stained-glass windows for the top portion of the windows beside the front en- tranceway. The windows would give balance to the center window over the entrance and would complete the existing stained-glass windows on the front of the church.
Others were brought into the conversation. Remembrances, biblical verses, theology, spirituali- ty, artistic appearance, our parish identity—all of these watered the seed to help it begin to spring to life.
We sought out Andrew Goldkuhle, owner of Goldkuhle Studios, LLC. Andrew has been associat- ed or involved with the craft of stained-glass his entire life. Aside from an extensive career ini- tially in various construction fields including fine woodworking for Colonial Williamsburg and roller coaster construction for Bush Gardens, Andrew worked with his father extensively on windows at The National Cathedral. Since the passing of his father in 2009, Andrew has worked full time on many conservation projects for windows at The Washington National Cathedral, Duke University, Mercersberg Academy Irvine Chapel, Women’s Army Museum, and numerous churches in the greater Richmond area.
At the same time, Cindy Paulin was sought out as our artist in-residence, and together with Andrew, and our donor, the design of the windows began to take shape.
The seeds are nearly fully blossomed! At the end of September, we can anticipate the installation and dedication of these new windows. On September 23rd at 10AM, Andrew and Cindy will be presenting the Adult Forum to give people an idea of the scope of Andrew’s work, and to be able to answer questions anyone might have. The anticipated, but still tentative, date of the dedication is September 30th.
These new windows will offer all of us yet one more possible vehicle of spiritual connection with God. For some, the liturgy or music provide this. For others, the physical surroundings and the beauty of icons found in stained-glass point to the majesty of all of God’s creation and bring them closer to God. And for others, it can be any one of these things. Because of the generous donation given, we can further enhance people’s experiences in the realm of the Spirit – and to provide even more seeds opportunity to bloom!
Your Sister in Faith, Brenda+
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