Grace Notes, our monthly newsletter,
 is currently published twice a month as an e-newsletter.
Serving up God’s grace
In our last issue of Grace Notes, I shared some of the many wonderful ways you have been caring for one another. Throughout this pandemic, Grace has been a community of grace. Your care for one another continues, and it is inspiring. We continue to explore ways to be together and are working to envision how we will begin to reopen in light of the “Restore Illinois” plan.

We are called, however, to work beyond our own congregation and community, too. St. Peter writes, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Peter 4:10). The church is always called to care for those within and beyond itself.

Of course, many of you have been doing this. The Grace members who volunteer at Harmony’s food pantry are a prime example of God’s love in action. The Social Ministry, Justice and Peace, and Benevolence Committees are working together to explore more ways in which Grace can more intentionally reach out during this time of great human need.

A handful of wonderful organizations are highlighted here, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Grace will work to make more opportunities available and needs known. In the meantime, be on the lookout for ways you can help your neighbors. God’s grace is abundant, and we are richly blessed. May we richly bless others.

Pastor Dave Lyle
Many organizations, including a number of Grace benevolences, need your support during the pandemic.
Food for the hungry. As businesses have closed and people have lost jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem of food insecurity has grown throughout the city and suburbs. In a recent article in the Forest Park Review, the directors of the Forest Park food bank, housed at the Howard Mohr Community Center, and Beyond Hunger (formerly the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry) reported serving an increasing number of people, including many who have never visited the food bank before.

Here's what you can do. Local food banks are in need of financial support, and many also need volunteers. The Beyond Hunger website describes a “Grow-A-Row” program that will accept donations of fresh produce from local gardeners through the summer. Beyond Hunger is also in need of face masks to distribute to clients. The Harmony Community Food Pantry continues to need able-bodied volunteers and financial support. The Chicago Food Depository partners with agencies throughout Cook County to provide food for hungry people. There are many ways to donate and get involved.

Shelter for those who are homeless. Housing Forward (formerly PADS) is providing meals to clients sheltering in temporary individual accommodations. Volunteers are needed each day to pack 30 breakfasts or 30 lunches and deliver them to the organization’s Maywood office. Find more information and a sign-up form here.

The Covid-19 information page on The Night Ministry website explains why people who are homeless and poor are especially vulnerable during the pandemic. The Night Ministry needs meal donations in addition to ongoing financial support. Visit their website for more information.

Caring for vulnerable families and children. Hephzibah Children's Association in Oak Park is always in need of supplies for its day care, Head Start and family support programs, as well as clothes, shoes, toys, personal items and gift cards for the children living in the organization's group and foster homes. Hephzibah has a wish list posted at Amazon, an easy way to donate everything from diapers to blocks to special toys without having to leave your home to shop.

New Moms in Oak Park also has an Amazon wish list to provide diapers and formula to the mothers and babies they serve. New Moms keeps a food pantry stocked for families who live in their 58 apartments. You can donate items from the New Moms wish list on Amazon.

Beyond our local community. Lutheran Disaster Response is responding to the pandemic both in the U. S. and around the world. Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response’s general account enable the organization to respond quickly whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
Livestream worship continues on Sundays and on Ascension Day
As the Easter season comes to an end, we continue to gather for worship services livestreamed on YouTube, including an Ascension service on Thursday, May 21, at 7pm.

Pentecost is celebrated on May 31 this year. On Sunday, June 7, we will celebrate graduation with our high school seniors with additional video presentations shared on YouTube.
Grieving what we've lost during the pandemic

The losses that we are experiencing during the pandemic are extensive, writes Pat Gulik, our Parish Nurse, and many go unnamed: loss of our view of the world as safe, predictable and benevolent; loss of freedom and social movement; the loss of collective gatherings at church; the loss of routine and connections to the things we like to do.

It’s important to be sensitive to these losses. It’s also important to provide support and maintain our social connections.  Read more.
News from Grace Lutheran School
End of the school year
Grace School’s academic year comes to a close on Friday, May 22, with the last day of e-learning for students and teachers.
Tuesday through Friday, May 26–29, students and parents will be coming to school, following social distancing guidelines as they clean out desks and lockers, claim their belongings, and return laptops and iPads.
Eighth grade graduation
Grace School’s drive-in graduation service is being planned for Wednesday evening, May 27. Read more.

Help with student art displays
Grace School's art teacher, Melissa Hammer, is seeking a volunteer to help with updating the art displayed in the building.
Contact information

Email. The best way to contact Grace staff members while the building is closed is by email. Email addresses for Grace staff consist of the person's first initial, followed by their last name: for example, dlyle@graceriverforest.org. For more information click on the email icons at the Grace staff page on our website.

Phone. Voicemail messages at Grace Church (708-366-6900) are checked daily and passed on to the appropriate person.

Emergencies. The pastor's emergency number is 708-689-3032.

Daily devotions. Pastor Lyle continues to post a daily devotion and prayer on his blog; you can sign up there to follow his posts via email. The link to the devotion is also posted daily on the Grace Church Facebook page.

Ascension image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.   http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54351  [retrieved May 13, 2020]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skip/111045024/