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The Ambassador

The Newsletter of 
St. Matthias' 
Episcopal Church 

Minocqua, Wisconsin

Whoever you are, wherever you find yourself on the journey
of faith, we welcome you.

Mark Your


August 14 - 11:00 AM 

Commission on

Congregational Vitality


August 18 - 6:00 PM

3rd Thursday Evensong

& Potluck


August 30 - 4:00 PM 

Parish Book Discussion




Please remember to check the server list on the bulletin board at church (or click here to see the latest monthly schedule online).


Also, if you are going to switch dates with someone, please inform both Bill Kane and Michael Tautges at the Church Office.  Thank you!


Ambassador Archives


Want to read a recent issue of the Ambassador?  Just click on the links below.  (older archives can be found on our website)
May Ambassador
June Ambassador
July Ambassador
From the Rector

Jesus came to be with us, in our human condition. He offered us first and foremost the unconditional status of belonging on nothing more than the merit of being who we are... period. Each person he encountered, no matter their past, or present, was given the gift of empathy... shown through word and deed that he saw them, truly and without reservation, and that he loved them in the same way - with no reservation. He even made it a condition to follow him that his disciples seek to love one another as they were loved and that they avoided the very human impulse to secure their own futures by stepping on, over or around each other.
Knowing these things is not the same as being able to live into them. Like many things we have a general understanding of, walking in this deep kind of love takes time and daily, intentional, self-reminders to become an integral part of who we are as disciples. Especially the vulnerability in community part - that's the piece that allows us to truly connect because we are not holding on to a wall of self-protection. That's the piece that terrifies most people but at the very same time is so hopeful, so compelling, that we want most of all, to learn to live. Why? Why strive to "change" so that we approach one another with openness and trust, like as Jesus indicates, "little children" (Matthew 18:3). Why? So that we can truly inherit our gift of life - fullness of life beyond anything we might have experienced before. We do need a safe place to practice this vulnerability, with safe people so that we can begin to have the courage and confidence to practice wholeness in the world. That is the blessing of being part of the beloved community. We can practice vulnerable wholeness and grow together.
A little over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual meeting of FORMA (a national organization for Christian Education directors started in the Episcopal Church) at the Episcopal Cathedral in Houston, TX. Our keynote speaker was one of their members, Dr. Brené Brown. If you aren't sure who she is, or haven't heard of her you will want to find a recording of one of the interviews with her on PBS, NPR or . I first became aware of her awesome work about five years after 9/11. She is a social scientist whose research into the effects of shame and anxiety versus resilience, courage, and belonging, have been foundational in helping researchers understand the causes behind some of our most troubling social ills, such as addiction, depression, and violence. In her research she discovered an interesting thing about the condition of shame. Shame is a fear response to emotional trauma, based in the feeling that we are unlovable because of who we are. Churches, especially, need to be aware its dangers and work to create environments that promote safe spaces to learn each person's worth.
She talked about the importance of allowing our own vulnerability to show in order to allow others to feel safe and valued for who they are, rather than who they think they need to be. This doesn't mean we don't ask people to work on their faith, it means that we let them know that who we are, and who they are, is more important than what we/they know, or how they look, or... Honoring a person by being honorable in our interactions with them inspires children and those who have come to believe they have little self-worth, to seek what it is we have... as the hymn says, "they will know we are Christians by our love".
Erin +
Around the Parish

Parish Updates

Office Help Needed!

Do you have two hours?  Michael has lots of vacation time coming, and it would be wonderful if he could take off some days while the weather is still beautiful!  We are looking for volunteers to answer the phones for two hours between 10:00 and 3:00.  If you feel you could help out, please sign up on sheet on bulletin board.  Thanks much!

Events!  Events!  Events!

Do you have an idea for a fun event for St. Matthias'? Or ... do you sometimes wonder if meatballs are the only thing Chris knows how to make and that just maybe we could come up with something different? Or ... do you have an idea on how we could change up a current event? Or ... have you ever thought 'I know how to put placemats and silverware on tables - I could help with that!' If any of this sounds familiar, please join our new-to-be-formed Events Team! If you only want to be involved with one or two events, or you are gone part of the year, or if you are more of an 'idea' person that a 'hands-on' person, that is perfectly fine - if you are interested in helping in any way, please talk with Chris. Our new Events Team needs you!

Commission on Congregational Vitality

After the service on Sunday, August 14th, members of our diocesan Commission on Congregational Vitality will meet with our congregation. They are meeting with every congregation in the diocese, and we have chosen this date in hopes that many of our summer residents will join in the discussion. This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to assess our strengths and weaknesses, to learn more about the ministries and activities of other churches, and to share what we do, in hopes of assisting other parishes. We will begin right after the service and will finish by 2:30. Your input is important so please make plans now to attend!
Foyer Groups:  Beyond Coffee Hour

New to St. Matthias' and want to meet more people in the St. Matthias' Family? Been around St. Matthias' for a while and are interested in meeting new members or different folks from your usual choir/Thrift Shop/Caritas/etc. cohort? Know a lot of the St. Matthias' family casually, but want to know us better? Then, Foyer Groups are for you!

Foyer Groups are groups of 8 to 10 people (not necessarily couples or even numbers) who embrace the opportunity to break bread together 3 times - once a month in the late Summer/early Fall. Over the course of a meal, we listen to each other's stories: What brought us to the North Woods? What brought us to St. Matthias'? What keeps us here? We are a very diverse group, and we all have one thing in common - the love and fellowship we find at St. Matthias'. While we share similarities and explore differences, with love, respect and curiosity, we do avoid political judgement and proselytizing.

Foyer Groups are about fun and fellowship. Sometimes a group meets in a restaurant. Sometimes we meet in a home, in which case the host prepares the main dish and others bring the appetizers, sides, and deserts. We always laugh, and we always leave feeling warmer and more connected.

Can't commit to all three meals (somewhere between August and November)? No problem. We always "over book" each group, so that we can be sure to have at least 8. Want to bring a friend who's not currently at St. Matthias' on Sundays? Perfect - the more the merrier! Don't want to drive at night? We will give you the name of someone else in your group who would be willing to pick you up. Besides, carpooling is encouraged.

Look for the Foyer Group sign-up sheet on the bulletin board during Sundays in August. If you have any questions, contact Jane Trotter - (715) 277-2749 or [email protected].
Around the Parish

Music Ministry Team:
   Opening the Word of God in an Intimate Setting

Evensong services are an ancient practice of the church, which most likely began in monasteries as part of the daily cycle of prayer for monks and nuns. Today, Evensong services allow church member communities to continue a small piece of this ancient practice. In our busy lives we can feel overwhelmed by images, sounds, schedules, and the never ending demands of modern life. Coming together in a small community helps us make a deep spiritual connection to quiet our minds through reflection, prayer, and music.
Holden and Cherwien Evening Prayer services are a recent addition to the Evensong repertoire. Unique to both is their choral accessibility for congregational singing with a cantor/priest, and both have comprehensive booklets for congregational use. Another musical prayer service adapted for evening worship is Taizé, a tradition that started in an ecumenical French monastic community called Taizé. Music of Taizé will be familiar to our congregation as we often sing a Taizé reflection during communion, for example, "Veni Sancte Spiritus", and "Bless the Lord My Soul".
We started doing Evensong at St. Matthias' in the mid-to-late 90's on the first Sunday of the month. At that time, everyone sang a plainchant setting from the hymnal. In 1999, Fr. Wallace attended a conference of Episcopal musicians and liturgists in which the Holden Evening Prayer was used one evening. He thought it was very singable and would make a nice alternative to our Prayer Book's plainchant Evensong. People loved the way Holden is presented. It was a refreshing change, and brought new life to ancient texts. From that time, our worship team members have searched for similar Evensong settings that also could open the Word of God to us in this intimate setting.
Under the leadership of Interim Priest Carol Amadio, the Team decided that after Erin was well settled at our church, we would introduce the congregation to occasional alternative settings, starting with Cherwien Evening Prayer because of its similarity in form and structure to Holden. Our idea was that exposure to other Evensong offerings in the Anglican tradition (e.g., Cherwien, Taizé, Prayer Book Evening Prayer) would enrichen our congregation's spiritual worship experience. The Music Ministry Team invited Teena Orling to join the Team as official Evensong cantor because of her extensive background in solo work in liturgy. In the winter and spring of 2016, we alternated Holden and Cherwien Evening Prayers to give the congregation time to get used to the service and help the snowbirds upon their return.
On Thursday, August 18th, we will introduce Cherwien Evening Prayer to our snowbirds. Given concerns about changes in Evensong expressed to our Music Team by some of our congregation, in the next few weeks the Team plans to schedule a facilitated forum for our congregation to dialogue about our Evensong services.
Hymn of the Month:  Father of English Hymnody
Written by Le Ganschow
For the past several months our Music Ministry Team has featured an article in the Ambassador on the history of some of our hymns and other service music. This month I selected Isaac Watts' "O God Our Help in Ages Past" (sung on August 7). This simple hymn, based on Psalm 90, is an all-time favorite of congregations and appears in many Protestant hymnals.
Watts (1674-1748) is sometimes called the "Father of English Hymnody" because his approach to hymnody resulted in dramatic changes in both words and music from the traditional Anglican hymns that were composed up that time. Watts wanted simpler music and words. He disliked the use of exact Psalm texts that didn't necessarily fit the accompanying tunes. In his view, the psalm texts and tunes were "grim and ...too tightly tied to the letter of the Scriptures." They were uninspiring, needed more personal expression, and new musical settings. In his words, "To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly, while the psalm is upon their lips, might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion."
"O God, Our Help in Ages Past" is an example of Watt's idea of simplicity in music and words. The tune is a simple four-line expression of the "...timeless greatness of God". The words are a loose paraphrase of parts of Psalm 90. Later the Wesley brothers altered some of Watts' hymns, including changing Watt's " Our God, our help..." to " O God, our help..." Handel used the tune for one of his anthems, "O Praise the Lord." (You might listen to Handel's piece on YouTube to appreciate how a composer embellished Watt's hymn with orchestra and choir.)
Watts was a brilliant British lyricist, composer, organist, and preacher. He began composing hymns and other spiritual musical offerings at an early age (wrote his first poem at age 7). Like his dissident father, he was a Congregationalist. It is said that he began composing after his father challenged him to "give us something better, young man." This "something better" resulted in a collection of around 600 hymns, including a number of familiar hymns.
About 50 of his hymns appear in Protestant hymnals today. A glance at our hymnal index shows that we have 17 hymns ascribed to Watts, including, for example, "Joy to the World" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."
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