Mars Hill Proclaimer
St. Paul's Episcopal Church July Newsletter 2020
From The Reverend
Barbara A. T. Wilson


Dear Beloved in Christ,

    This past Sunday, the psalmist’s words, “How long, O Lord?” spoke for us here in the midst of our social upheaval, injustice and the Covid-19 pandemic—“unprecedented times”--and right in the middle of all of it, Jesus still calls us to welcome of those in need of any kind.

     Since Pentecost, our gospel readings have pushed us to think about mission, that is to say, our ministry to our community. We’ve received the Holy Spirit, and now the question is: How do we move into the world to do our part in helping to bring about Christ’s kingdom? We’re reminded to follow those first disciples, to work in those fields ready for harvest, and to pray for more workers. We have been warned that we will not be treated well, and that it will cause conflict in our own homes, and in our churches.

    Unlike Luke, Matthew doesn’t offer details about the disciples experience. Scholars suggest it’s meant for us “to fill in blanks” with experiences from our own lives.

    The focus is on welcoming.  Jesus uses the word “welcome” six times in this brief passage of only three verses and points us to the importance of hospitality in furthering Jesus’ Kingdom. We are called to consider deeply what it means to welcome one another.

    On reviewing the list from verses 40-42, we realize that this welcome can and ought to be practiced by us at any time, no matter what circumstances or crises we find ourselves in. We also see that our welcoming doesn’t need to be a big deal. Simple, basic acts of kindness offered in genuine welcome for one another are all that God asks of us, like the generosity of so many of you for young Malikye’s family. This is how it’s done--all we need do is look around to see who is in need and try to do something about it.

     This theology of hospitality perhaps reaches its fullest Christian expression in the last parable in Matthew’s gospel – the one most of us remember as the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In that parable, Jesus says outright that the way we treat those who are most vulnerable among us is, ultimately, how we treat Jesus.

     All the small acts of caring, tenderness, and forgiveness that go largely unnoticed but strengthen the relationships that are most important to us, the life of faith is also made up of many small gestures – gestures like making a phone call to ask how someone is doing, fetching groceries for those most vulnerable, reaching out to the lonely. According to Jesus, there is no such thing as a small gesture. A cup of cold water is the smallest of gifts – a gift that almost anyone can give.

    When the gifted poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was sent to prison in 1895, simply for being gay, it was terribly humiliating. In his day, he had been a real celebrity, but all that evaporated once he was convicted. Whenever the prison authorities moved him in public, he was spat at and jeered. On one occasion, when the crowd was particularly hostile, a friend of Wilde appeared and made a simple gesture of friendship and respect that silenced the crowd. As Wilde passed by, handcuffed and looking at the ground, the man simply raised his hat to him.

    Later, Wilde wrote, “The memory of that lowly silent act of Love has unsealed for me all the wells of pity, made the desert blossom like a rose, and brought me out of the bitterness of lonely exile into harmony with the wounded, broken and great heart of the world.”

     A glass of cold water replicated in simple, small actions. And Jesus tells us that every single one of them is important – even eternally significant. God is there in those smallest of good things. Even now, in the midst of big, scary unprecedented things all around us---God is most certainly here.
    
Faithfully,
Barbara+
WEEKLY DEVOTIONS
Book Discussion, 5 PM
(Zoom Video or Audio)
Tuesdays

Lectionary Bible Study , 7 PM (Zoom Video or Audio) - Wednesdays

Choir Chat & Check-In
Children 5 PM and Adult/Youth 7 PM
via Zoom next meetings July 9, July 23
Thursdays

Compline , 7 PM
(Zoom Video or Audio) -
Fridays

Parish Check In , 1 PM
(Zoom Video or Audio)
Saturdays

Liturgy of the Word and Prayers , 8 AM and 10:30 AM
Coffee Chat following 10:30 service
(Zoom Video or Audio)
Sundays 
FROM THE SENIOR WARDEN
June 30, 2020

To My Dear St. Paul’s Family,

I pray that you and your loved ones are staying well. It has been over 3 months since COVID-19 put a halt to our “normal” social and economic routines. The precautions we have all been taking have helped to slow the spread of this awful disease, so much so that we are now allowed to gather in larger numbers and small businesses are allowed to let customers into their shops and eateries. This is wonderful news but, as you are all aware, we must remain vigilant regarding social distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands if we hope to keep the virus at bay. I have no doubt that we as a congregation can do this!

I am very grateful to Mother Barbara for developing a plan to allow our congregation to begin in-person worship. The target date is September 6. We have already purchased individually packaged servings of bread and wine; we will designate seating for the purpose of social distancing; and we have purchased sanitizing supplies to ensure that we are taking the appropriate measures to keep our members safe. If there is a surge in virus cases, our reopening date will be pushed farther into the future, but it is a comfort to me to know that we have a plan for in-person worship ready to put in place when the time is right. Online worship services will continue, perhaps permanently, as this is an important ministry for individuals with compromised immune systems and for caregivers.

There is another serious matter that we as a congregation are facing – our deficit budget. I want to thank Gretchen Schlabach for getting this tough conversation started at our June vestry meeting. The 2020 budget was passed with a deficit of $47,770. Treasurer Rick Johns successfully applied for a PPP loan, on behalf of St. Paul’s, in the amount of $27,000. (Thank you, Rick!) This still leaves a deficit of $20,777.  There will be increased costs associated with returning to in-person worship. These expenses are not “optional”, so we have no idea where we will end up at the end of 2020.

The vestry is very concerned about the budget deficit. In 2019, St. Paul’s also passed a deficit budget. We ended the year $25,179.25 in the red. We would like to reverse this trend as we look ahead to 2021. At the June vestry meeting, we began looking at areas where we could cut costs. This is a difficult but necessary process for the financial health of St. Paul’s.

Budget cuts are one way to reduce deficit spending. The other way is to grow the church. But we are in the middle of a pandemic!! Mother Barbara reminded the vestry of the importance of developing new ministries to the effort to grow our congregation. Some of the ministries the vestry discussed were: creating a food pantry, virtual Taizé services (or in-person services, substituting chanting for singing [we have no idea when we will be able to sing together again]); and virtual ministries for those that must avoid in-person worship.

Just before the COVID-19 crisis, we had an excellent parish discussion about our worship life at St. Paul’s and our hopes for the future. We must continue this conversation if we want St. Paul’s to thrive in the years ahead. I have every confidence that we can do this!

In Faith & Hope,

Maureen
Senior Warden
FROM THE JUNIOR WARDEN
June 30, 2020



Greetings brothers and sisters of St. Paul’s,
 
Since joining the Vestry in a leadership role, I’ve been motivated to learn more about my role and responsibilities by reading some of the resources that are available on the Chicago Episcopal Diocese website.  There are many great reads that inspires deeper reflection.  I encourage you to take a look.  

One article,  How Do We Tell Our Story?   written by Demi Prentiss,  caught my attention the other day.  Certainly, this question in the title is not new to St. Paul’s. In fact, you may remember at the Annual Meeting one parishioner asked that we set time aside to talk about who we are as a congregation and to share our visions for the future. We followed-up and talked.  Then COVID………

In a couple of months, we anticipate that St. Paul’s church will open its doors again.  What does our narrative say?   To reignite our imagination, I’d like to leave you with Prentiss’s considerations and questions:  

Our people tell a story . . .  
In the way that they gather and greet one another and engage the stranger.
In the way they celebrate and mourn together.
In the individuals they honor and in the way they reinforce their culture.
In the leaders they follow and the way their leaders speak to and for them.

Our ministries tell a story . . .  
Who do we seek to serve, and how do we learn from them?
What do we seek to nourish through our work?
Who benefits?
What’s the benefit to the greater community?
Where do we draw the line?

What’s God calling  US  to do?

Peace,

Gretchen
Junior Warden
SHARE WORK PLAN FOR CHURCH GROUNDS
Several years ago when Dick Dowen was on the vestry, he came up with a Share Work plan to care for the church. Several folks adopted a bush or two or an area of plants and Betsy Pool made those folks name plates on stones by their respective bushes.  Bill and I have continued to care for our adopted bushes twice a year since the plan was set in motion.  Is there anyone else caring for particular bushes so we don't reassign them? Are folks interested in helping? Please email  Susan King (parishoffice@stpaulsdekalb.org) or Jennie C.  which area interests you. You can team with someone or ask for an area to be split up.  After everyone has a chance, a final plan will be shared.  Thank you!!  
 
Suggestions:   Mark your calendars twice per year to check your adopted bushes.  Keep your bushes trimmed and weeded where needed.  You may want to trim bushes away from touching the church. If you want to donate mulch for your area or lay down gardener-cloth, feel free.  
Tools : Trimmers (electrical or manual); Rake.  Please make arrangements if you need to borrow tools or use your own.  
Goal:  Ownership for everyone wanting to be involved and saving on expenses.
Expenses : None. This plan is not intended to need any funding.
Here is a diagram of the areas that could be adopted.
Music Ministries

The Adult/Youth and Children's Choirs, and Instrumentalists, will continue to share special music for the season of Pentecost through-out the summer, in hopes to bring you some moments of peace and hopefulness!

God Be In My Head - John Rutter Jesus Loves Me - Traditional
The choirs continue to engage in biweekly chats via zoom while practicing hymns and anthems in the safety of their homes. They are learning new technical skills as they begin to record their voices, for a kind of virtual choir, creating some new performances of hymns and anthems to share in later worship services and on the church Website.

Hannah Buckle, Assistant Director
of Music and Pianist/Accompanist

Lynne Jacobson, MDiv,
Pastoral Assistant, Recorder

Kathleen Johnson, Organist
TREASURER'S REPORT
JUNE 19, 2020

We have enough money in the bank to easily cover our June bills.  We will not need to take any money from the Endowment Fund this month.  We took in $5287 in pledges in May; we have collected about 70% of our 2020 pledge income so far, even though the year is only 42% over.

As of today, our bank balance stood at $40,777.

We spend $19,333 in May.  We have spent 41% of our annual budget, which is right on target.  We are spending more on Computer Technical Assistance and the Website than anticipated, since we are doing a lot more online than we did before the pandemic.  We have also spent a lot on Communications and Taize, mostly for advertising.  Other than those categories, nothing stands out as an unusually high expense category. Some expenses have dropped: for example, our Copying bill is normally about $200/month; our combined bill for April and May was $17.

We are still paying all of our workers their full salaries, equal to what we paid in February before the onset of covid-related restrictions.

The amount of time we have to spend our $27,000 PPP loan has been extended from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.  We will easily be able to spend all of it on salaries and utilities, so it should be entirely forgiven.  I will be working with our bank to apply for forgiveness, probably some time in August or possibly September.  

We transferred $3000 to the Endowment Fund in May.  I will transfer the rest ($5288) in June.  

The Music Fund is quite low: $29.  The Discretionary Fund has $681 in it.  We sent $140 to the Salvation Army Food Pantry in May. We also sent our quarterly contribution of $450 to Grace Place.  

We traditionally send $250 to a seminary every year.  I would like to do this in June if possible.  In recent years, we have sent it to the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, in honor of Brian Prall.  Since he has graduated and has a job, I would like to know if we should continue to send the money there, or instead to some other seminary.

Our electric bill remains quite high, over $400 despite minimal building usage.  I suspect this is caused by lights that are always on or come on at night.  I suggest replacing all of them with LEDs, which use much less electricity than incandescent bulbs. 

I am attaching a budget summary sheet.  It is still in the data-rich but quite opaque spreadsheet form it has been.  I am aware of a strong need to improve it so that important things are easy to spot.  I haven’t gotten to this yet: the job of Treasurer is still quite difficult for me (but it is getting better).

Respectfully submitted,

Rick Johns,
Treasurer
ON LINE GIVING USING REALM
If you would like to begin giving through the Realm system, here are instructions .

If you would like my help in setting things up, please email me (Rick Johns) at mitrick.a.johns@gmail.com . You can also text or call me at 815-217-4849.
GARDEN TEAM
Rebecca and Brad Smith and Jocelyn Prall met at the garden early Tuesday morning the 16th (wearing our masks) to weed, water and harvest our first produce from St. Paul's garden for donation. We were able to gather peas, some radishes, basil and dill. Brad and Rebecca delivered these to the food pantry at Bethlehem Lutheran church. Some of the other many vegetables will be ready in the next few weeks. Additional plantings are also being completed. 

Jocelyn Prall
History Mysteries
Have you ever wondered about the memorial on the property at St. Paul's with the stone set with handprints.?Look around for where it is. Here is the story. We will feature more of the memorials on the property of St. Paul's in coming Proclaimers.

A MESSAGE FROM THE BISHOP
Returning to Our Churches:
A Framework and a Plan
Bishop Jeff Lee shares phased guidelines
for re-opening churches

After weeks of consultation with diocesan leaders and other dioceses across the Episcopal Church, Bishop Jeff Lee today shared the Diocese of Chicago's plan for re-opening our churches with clergy leaders via Zoom . The guidelines are based in large measure on meeting public health criteria spelled out in Restore Illinois, the state's five-phase plan to guide its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I am profoundly grateful for the creativity, the faithfulness, and the flexibility I see in churches all across this diocese. In online worship, in adaptive changes in ministries to those in need, in extraordinary attention to pastoral care and the tending of our communal life -- I see and celebrate a church that is alive and well. I encourage us to continue these practices," Lee said. 

The plan emphasizes that re-opening churches at this time is not mandatory and that clergy and lay leaders must work together to determine what is appropriate for their context. Included in the materials is the link to an online verification checklist to be completed and submitted to the bishop's office before re-entering the church building.

"The health and safety of the members of this diocese, our leaders and our employees remain our primary concern. Take your time as a community in working through these guidelines and proceed at a pace that is comfortable for you," Lee said. 

View the guidelines for re-entry online in  English  and  Spanish .
  
On Sundays, it is important to listen in to our Bishops, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and our own Bishop Jeff Lee. We will put links to their sermons on our webpage each week.
The Rector's Discretionary Fund Collection

First Sunday of the month
July 5, 2020

Donations allow us to assist people in need in our community. We would like to collect gift cards that could be used for basic necessities and groceries this month.

While there are no gatherings at church,
please remember donations can be mailed.
Food Pantry Collections for July
As The Salvation Army responds to the Coronavirus,  financial donations  are the most helpful. We are able to obtain food and supplies at a better cost in bulk, and they help us support businesses. If you're interested in making in-kind donations of non-perishable foods and supplies, please call 888-369-1349 to make arrangements.
Activities & Events


Activities for July are limited to on line gatherings. Please check our website www.stpaulsdekalb.org
for what is offered.
July Birthdays and Anniversaries


Birthdays

7/4                Pat McMahon
7/5                Jocelyn Prall
7/21              Marilyn Cleland
7/29              Susan King
7/31                Steve DeGolier



Anniversaries

7/27.       Rhys/Jocelyn Prall
7/27             Jimmy/Courtney Russell
EXPRESSIONS OF HOPE
from Kris Borre
St. Paul's Episcopal Church Contact Information
900 Normal Rd., DeKalb, IL 60115 
Parish Office: (815) 756-4888 
The Rev. Barbara A.T Wilson, Rector