Update from Our Senior Warden, Carl Walters

We are so blessed to live in this beautiful place called Panama City Beach. The beaches are sugar white and the sand squeaks under your feet as you walk on it. The water is so clear and blue at times you can imagine that you are swimming in an aquarium.  The blue skies and puffy clouds over the Gulf of Mexico can be mesmerizing and our sunrises and sunsets are some of the most beautiful to see in the whole wide world. God must smile each time he looks at his creation and we are so, so blessed to live here. These amazing attributes of this beautiful place have been a constant since I moved here in 1985. Many other things, since I moved here have changed, and it seems the change is accelerating. Without a doubt, our little piece of paradise has been discovered by the rest of the world and development abounds around us.

These changes are not all bad but there is a certain element of change that we must be mindful of such as elevated crime, trespassers, and in general bad actors. Additionally, churches across America have become targets for those that wish to harm innocent people. Even an Episcopal church in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama was the scene of tragedy just a few weeks ago. For these reasons, the safety and well-being of Grace Church and its parishioners have been on my mind. As a result, several actions have been taken to improve safety at Grace Church.

  1. All external doors, except for the main entrance into the church, are being locked at 9:00am. The main entrance door is being locked at 9:10am. Later comers will certainly be welcomed in, but this creates a purposeful entry situation after the service starts when we all have our backs to the entry door. Many parishioners have keys to the church and may have reason to unlock an external door, especially those hosting after service refreshments. Please relock any external that you open.
  2. After the service when everyone has vacated the church worship space, the main entrance door will be locked, candles are extinguished, and lights are turned off. Please do not exit through the main entrance door after it has been secured. The main entrance door will open upon activating the handle, but this disables the lock, and it does not relock automatically.
  3.  Occasionally we have people come into the church wanting to speak to the priest. This most often happens immediately before or after the service and most of these people are seeking some form of assistance. The fact is that we don’t keep any cash at the church and Fr. Joe does not have a discretionary fund. Grace Church has adopted a “no benevolence” policy on Sunday which means we will not entertain any requests for need on our day of worship.  We ask that if you are approached by someone seeking assistance from the church, please inform them of our “no benevolence” policy or seek out a Vestry member to handle the situation. Do not bring them into the church and introduce them to Fr. Joe which then obligates him to deal with the situation.
  4. We have added a RING Camera Doorbell device to the office entry door. This allows Joanne to respond to visitors without having to unlock the exterior door. The device’s camera will activate on motion in its field of view and will record digital video. More extensive camera systems are available, but it is felt this capability and expense is unwarranted at this time.

Many of these safety changes have come as a result of conversation with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and the Diocesan Office; both of which have been extremely helpful and supportive of our efforts. We have invited patrolling BCSO deputies to feel welcome to drop in on occasion, so don’t be surprised if you see a deputy sheriff join us during our coffee hour after the Sunday service or maybe join us for dinner on our 3rd Wednesday potluck. We want to get to know those that serve and protect our community better and have them get to know us. None of these changes are intended to imply there is some new imminent danger or that we are unsafe at Grace Church. They are simply prudent actions Grace leadership feels are good for everyone….church member and visitors alike!

A HUGE thanks for all who served in August, from our lay ministry team to our Coffee Hour hosts. It takes many hands to make a great worship experience. And once again, thank you Sam Richardson for the delightful Sunday Breakfast.

Please lend a helping hand. You have probably noticed the same people over and over again doing the same lay ministry jobs every Sunday. We need more people to help out to lessen the burden on our skeleton crew and make it easier to cover absences. We need GREETERS, LECTORS (hardly any training required), and CRUCIFER / CHALICE BEARERS (more training required). Please see any Vestry member if you are able to join the Lay Ministry Team at Grace. Thank you in advance for your help.

 Special September Events - Mark Your Calendars! 

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Tuesday, September 13

-7:30 am: Meet at Grace for the Adopt-a-Highway service project. Note change in time.

-Noon: Lunch at Wicked Wheel

Feel free to attend one or both as your schedule permits.

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Wednesday, September 21

-5:45 pm; Holy Eucharist and potluck refreshments OR dinner out. Stay tuned for details in This Week at Grace.

Support "A New Day" on Saturday, September 10th at 10:00 am for Pineapple Willy's Summer Beach Cleanup.

For every person that show up, Pineapple Willy's will donate $10 to A New Day and Nine Lives Kitty Rescue. 

Sunday, September 4

Lector: Bonnie Hale

Crucifer/Chalice Bearer: Deb Gray

Greeter: Fred Pope

Counter: Fred Pope

Sunday, September 11

Lector: Kelley Hodges

Crucifer: Katy Hodges

Chalice Bearer: Sam Richardson

Greeter: Deb Gray

Counter: Fred Pope

Sunday, September 18

Lector: Jamie Shepard

Crucifer/Chalice Bearer: Jack Friou

Greeter: Fred Pope

Counter: Sam Richardson

Sunday, August 28

Lector: Amy Helms

Crucifer/Chalice Bearer: Sam Richardson

Greeter: Bonnie Hale

Counter: Sam Richardson

Many thanks to our Lay Ministers who help make Grace the warm, welcoming church it is!

Grace Episcopal Church

9101 Panama City Beach Pkwy, (Hwy 98)

Panama City Beach, FL 32407

(850) 235-4146

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