Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dear Friends,
As the Season of Advent draws to a close, I would like to share with you a  selection from a book I have been reading during Advent.  It is titled “Fragments of Your Ancient Name: 365 Glimpses of the Divine for Daily Meditation” by Joyce Rupp.  Joyce Rupp has written many books on the spiritual life and this one has daily readings that speak of finding  God in our lives.  The one I share with you  here is for December 23 and it speaks beautifully of the Incarnation as we anticipate The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The book runs through the whole year and I recommend it for daily reading and meditation.                                                                                                                         
   Emmanuel                                                                                        Breviary, O Antiphons         
                                    You have come near, God-with-us.                                                                                          Not only made your home among us,                                                                                      You have come to dwell within us                                                                                               Making of our heart a habitat of divinity.                                                                               At each moment of every single day                                                                                         You open the way for us to love,                                                                                             To go beyond our selfish inclinations,                                                                                     To seek the good in each person,                                                                                             To eliminate the barriers that divide,                                                                                             To be a welcoming home worthy of you.   
                                    Today: I am a habitat of love.
I hope that you have been able to carve out a little time to allow the peace and contemplative spirit of Advent into your hearts and minds.  It is always my saving grace in the run up to Christmas; as being at church centers me in the Peace of Christ, despite all the distractions of Santa Claus!  When our hearts are centered on the joy of Christmas, the coming of the light, and the wonder of beautiful music; our spirits are revived, and chores become gifts of this season.  I hope that you are able to see and feel the gift of joy in the coming of the Light, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and celebrate that gift this season.
Christmas blessings,Karin+

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dear Friends,
This is the time of year when we are wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving, gearing up for Christmas and TRYING our best to focus on Advent.  Not a small feat, by any means.
This year Advent begins in December, which feels better than the last Sunday of November, or Thanksgiving weekend.  We will begin our celebration of Advent on December 3rd with an Advent Wreath Making activity during Coffee Hour and a St. Nicholas Party later in the day.  The people of St. David’s will be off to a great start.  Also, please check out our new Advent Christian Formation website! www.stdavidsformation.org.
How can one stay centered during Advent??  In her books, Brene Brown  recommends that stress and anxiety can be countered by focusing on gratitude.  When we become stressed, or even fearful, we can consider the gift that we may be overlooking.  Too many Christmas gifts to figure out?? Say a prayer of thanks that you have a life full of people you love.  Too many people coming to dinner?? Once again, a prayer of thanksgiving for family and friends can help.  Worried about your family member who is traveling for the holidays?? Be grateful that you have someone you love so much that you worry about them.  You get the idea.
When we experience stress over the holidays, it is often because we have taken too much on.  An overabundance of good things to celebrate with too many people can be exhausting!
We can also experience stress because of loss and grief; the person we love is no longer there to join in celebrations of family and love with us.  Take time to thank God for the part this person played in your life and for the love you shared.  Grief is a life-long task that we can only “get through”, not “go around”.  Holidays are   particularly challenging when we are grieving.
Unfortunately, Christmas and New Year’s seem to bring many of these stress points to the fore.  Observing Advent as a season of preparation can really help us to stay centered and focused on  the gift of Christmas, not the stress of Christmas.  Can you spend 5 or 10 minutes in the morning before your day begins, sitting with God, spending time with Jesus, giving thanks for God’s presence and love?  I promise you, this can help  you maintain your composure in the face of the                  calendar and daunting holiday preparations.  This is not the time to neglect, our spiritual lives;, Advent’s emphasis on preparation and quiet can literally save us.  Reading the Bible (or a spiritual book) for a few minutes, or keeping a gratitude journal are all ways of fueling our spiritual centers, keeping our “oil lamps filled”. 
Please let me know how you will keep your Advent this year; I pray that each of us finds time to thank God for all the blessings of our lives and our life  together at St. David’s.
God’s blessings, Karin+

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dear Friends,
This year our Stewardship Committee has decided to follow the Consecration Sunday stewardship program once again. We have listened to your comments following last year’s effort and have adjusted as necessary for this coming year.  I thank our committee, and new chairperson, Tena Achen, for their work on this important aspect of our life  together as a parish.  We are happy to announce that The Rev. David Snyder, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Holly, will be our guest leader this year.

Congregations that approach financial stewardship from a biblical perspective do not view the money Christians give to their church merely as a way to pay its bills.  Rather, such congregations see financial contributions as a way to help people grow spiritually in their relationship with God by supporting their church’s mission and ministry with a percentage of their incomes.

Our congregation’s stewardship committee and vestry has, once again, selected the New Consecration Sunday Stewardship Program as a way to teach the biblical and spiritual principles of generous giving in our stewardship education this year.

This program is based on the biblical philosophy of the need of the giver to give for his or her own spiritual development, rather than on the need of the church to receive. Instead of treating people like members of a social club who should pay dues, we will treat people like followers of Jesus Christ who want to give unselfishly as an act of  discipleship. New Consecration Sunday encourages people toward proportionate and systematic giving in response to the question, “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?”

During our 8 & 10 am  Eucharists on Consecration Sunday, November 19, we are asking our attendees and members to make their financial commitments to our church’s missionary, benevolent, and educational ministries in this community and around the world.

Every attendee and member who completes an Estimate of Giving Card will do so                voluntarily by attending morning worship on Consecration Sunday, November 19. We especially urge people to attend who feel strongly opposed to completing a card. The  procedure will be done in such a way that no one will feel personal embarrassment if he or she chooses not to fill out an Estimate of Giving card. During both the 8 & 10 am services, our guest leader will offer a brief period of instruction and inspirational homily, after which our members may make their commitments as a confidential act of worship.  Online pledging will still be available for those who prefer to make their pledge in this way or cannot attend that Sunday.

Over the next few weeks we will encourage participation in Consecration Sunday events through our Consecration Sunday team and vestry members.  Our team will make every effort to inform, inspire, and commit each of us to attend our Consecration Sunday Eucharist on November 19, which will be followed up with a Celebration Luncheon after the 10 am service.  Please look for your invitation and RSVP card in the mail soon.

Thanks in advance for your enthusiastic participation in this year’s Consecration Sunday events.  Your commitment to St. David’s and always generous response to our yearly stewardship program is greatly appreciated. 

God’s blessings, Karin+

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dear Friends,
“God is not a boy’ s name”
Have you seen this bumper sticker?? It is on the bulletin board in our narthex near the water fountain.  What in the world does it mean and where did it come from?  You ask…Well…I am so happy you did!
Last year when I was at The General Convention 2015 as an alternate deputy, I visited most all of the booths set up in the gallery from various organizations from around the church.  And I brought LOTS of materials home.  Some of them made their way onto our bulletin boards…some from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, some from the Church in Jerusalem, and this one from the Episcopal Women’s Caucus.  I have been a             member of the EWC for many years and was happy to visit these dedicated women at their booth.
So…what does that phrase mean?  It means that God does not have to be a “he”.  God is not a boy’s name and God is not a girl’s name.  God is God. Period.  In my preaching, I try my best not to attach a pronoun to God.  ”God” usually works just as well as “he” or “she”.  It may seem obvious to some, or silly to others, but detaching the male gender from God makes a lot of sense to me.  It may seem natural to you to use the pronoun “he” for God, but to others it may be a stumbling block, conjuring up images of that bearded old man in the sky who reigns down damnation and judgment.  To others, it may remind them of an abusive father or older male in their lives, thereby getting in the way of their feeling the abundant love that God is. 
There are times in our liturgy that many, including me, substitute the word God for he.  In the opening sentence the Officiant says : “Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit” and the response is “And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever”.  It is easy to substitute ‘God’ for ‘his’ in the response and say: “and blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever”.   In the Sursum Corda (Lift up your hearts) at the beginning of the  Eucharistic Prayer the Celebrant says: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” and the response is:  “It is right to give him thanks and praise”.  The response can be changed to: “It is right to give God thanks and praise”.  Neither of these changes affects the meaning of our words, but they can help to remind ourselves that God is neither male nor female. 
As our prayer and spiritual practices remind us that God is indeed greater than male or female, our words can support this knowing as well.  I hope that you will try these changes to the words of the Book of Common Prayer and see if they expand your mind and heart and full experience of God in worship.
We will start printing these words for you in our bulletins in December…let me know if you find it helpful to your spiritual growth and discipleship.
Wishing you a Blessed Advent,
Karin+

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Dear Friends,
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves,                       
When our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
“Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess            
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;        
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity.
“Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,                            
To venture on wilder seas where storms will show your mastery;  
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.”
           - The prayer of Sir Francis Drake, adventurer (1577)
This prayer, attributed to Sir Francis Drake, is found in the book, Joining Jesus on his Mission, How to be an Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke. It is a book that our vestry has read and discussed and one of the books on mission and discipleship that I read while on sabbatical leave.  The prayer spoke to me, as I believe that too often we become ‘pleased with ourselves’ and complacent, that we ‘dream too little’ and ‘sail too close to the shore’.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are a people sent into the world to proclaim the love, mercy and justice of God as we have found it in Jesus Christ.  That can be risky business, but it is our call.  
Greg Finke brings this idea local and begins small.  He asks us to explore what it means to be “neighborly” to those people with whom we interact at home, at work, and in our communities, extending ourselves to find out about them, be curious about their lives and responsive to what we believe God might be calling us to offer them.  Finke asks “What would be good news to these people?  What aspect of the gospel would bring some healing to their wounds and restoration to their lives?”  We don’t have to have all the answers, but it helps to be asking the questions, to be aware that God is working in the world to set things right for each human being we               encounter.  Jesus does the hard work.  We are only asked to “enjoy people; and seek, recognize and respond to what Jesus is already doing in the lives of the people we are enjoying”. 
Hmmm….that doesn’t sound too hard, does it??  If this idea intrigues you and you would like to know more about joining God’s mission right here and right now, please speak with me.  I would love to start a small group to begin to explore how we can join in with Jesus in this simple but profound way.
It’s good to be back, and I look forward to seeing you all in church and out and about very soon!
Blessings, Karin+

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dear Friends,
This summer, wouldn’t it be great to take the time to:
   • Exhale                                                                                                              
   • Close our eyes                                                                                                
   • and Smile (deeply).
None, absolutely none, of the above concepts are encouraged, dare I say allowed, in our present day culture. We are called to be on the run, fully engaged, and aware of all that’s happening – anywhere in the world, at any moment. It has become a common expectation that a phone call or text will be responded to in a matter of seconds. To say that we have moved beyond the invention of the fax machine is a simplistic understatement.
But hey, it’s summer! Aren’t things supposed to change? Can’t we slow down a bit? At Saint David’s, we go down to only one service. A few years ago, I asked a former rector of mine about the drop in attendance during the summer months and he explained, “…our   parishioners are away at their summer homes, or just skipping church so you think they have a summer home!”
For us, perhaps our summer can be different this year. We may not be able to go away, but still, can we unplug – not just from our daily logistics and technology, but from the world of our creation? Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book An Altar in the World, refers to the spiritual practice of saying no. In the nature of a Sabbath, Taylor talks about the lost Christian tradition of taking a day to say no to our daily commitments and routines, and focus on God; or rather to allow God to focus on us. Over time, she points out, we have lost our Sundays to sports, television, and more recently, our jobs. Each of us, I am sure, can point to  something in our lives that we have acquiesced to invade our supposed day off. We have lost the time to rest our muscles, let the dust settle from our chores, and allow the veritable ringing in our ears to subside.
Sometimes, like us, I think that God hadn’t any idea of the wonder of Creation until it was done and He stepped back, rested, and considered it. In a moment of creative revelation, he truly saw everything, and blessed it – the first blessing. My question this summer is: how can we bless those in our lives, our jobs, church and careers, if we, too, do not take the time to pause and step back? For it is in the perspective of disengagement that we can truly see all that is good, all that we need to forgive, and the many ways we need forgiveness from God.
May this summer, for you, be such a blessing that allows you to and eventually re-engage, as we each strive to once again:
 • Take a deep breath,                                                                                       
 • Open your eyes,                                                                                            
 • and Smile (knowingly),
                                                                                                               The Reverend Hank Bristol, Dcn.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dear Friends,
Well, it is here!  The sabbatical that has been so long in the planning is about to begin.  As I think and pray about it, there are a few thoughts I would like to leave you with.
First, I would like to say thank you.  I am so grateful to our wardens and vestry and to all of you for your generosity and support.  I am honored and blessed to be your rector, and greatly appreciate your willingness to grant me some time away from the parish.  This would not be possible without the leadership and generosity of The Rev. Dr. Jacob David, the faithfulness of Deacon Hank Bristol and the commitment of Judy Henningsen.  Just having returned from his own sabbatical in India, Father Jacob will be covering our worship services and providing pastoral support for our parish.  Deacon Hank will be present to guide and support our parish family.  Judy Henningsen, as always, is the brains of the operation, and will keep all running smoothly.  Our wardens, Carol Rodgers and Pat Kraft, will also be at the ready to offer leadership and support as needed.  All shall be well.
I am looking forward to a few things; reading and studying, gardening, traveling and spending time with family and at the beach.  Not too long a list! First reading and  studying—I will be reading books on discipleship and mission, and would like to suggest that you do too!  The book Joining Jesus on his Mission:  How to be an  Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke is one I have already shared with some of you.  The vestry will have copies, so please either order yourself one or ask a vestry  member to share theirs.  I hope you will enjoy it and that we can discuss it together when I return.  Canon Droste has provided me with a syllabus of titles, so I will have plenty to work with.  More study—I am taking a week long Continuing Education course called Appreciative Leadership.  I am looking forward to sharpening my  leadership skills and studying this important aspect of ministry.  Gardening—I look forward to digging and praying in my back yard and enjoying the warmer weather.  Traveling—Dave and I will be heading to VA and NY for friends and family celebrations and then to Alaska to find some whales and bears.  Family and beach—I will then head to the shore for some grandbaby and extended family time and will fit in a few good novels.   I am so looking forward to all aspects of this time to pray and think and study and just be.
I trust that you will have a healthy and happy early summer and that upon my return in August will have some good stories to share.  Life here at St. David’s will go on—you are such a strong and committed group of Christians!  I will miss you and the gift of my ministry with you; but I know that I will return renewed by the Spirit in love and commitment for all of you and our church.
Easter blessings,Karin+

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dear friends,
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
These are the opening words of our Easter celebrations.  At the Great Vigil of Easter, after the new light is kindled and the story of salvation told, new water is blessed and these words ring out—the candles on the altar are lit and the Gloria is sung.  On Easter morning, our worship service begins with these   joyful words.
What do they mean to you??  Another Easter come and gone, good music, lots of flowers, too much chocolate and maybe an Easter Egg hunt?? Or do they speak of new life and possibility?  The resurrection is all about hope for me—that God has the final word and isn’t done with us or our world yet.
In a time when conflict abounds and our country is polarized in so many ways, it is easy to begin to feel hopeless.  In our personal lives also, when it seems like each day brings worse news, it can begin to feel like hope is fleeting.  Easter reminds us that hope is often found in struggle.
Certainly, those last days for Jesus were full of hardship, struggle and  disappointment.  His disciples even more so as they came face to face with their own inability to maintain their commitment to Jesus at his death.  But that struggle produced hope—hope that death is not the final word and that God’s word will prevail.  That hope was hard won and is available to each of us.
When we struggle and survive, we develop a sense of possibility, a store of memory that tells us new life is not only possible, but that it comes to us out of our struggles.  Hope develops when we experience pain and suffering and yet we still live, even thrive in the face of it.  Hope is what keeps us afloat.
The Resurrection story is one of hope and new life.  My prayer for each of us this Easter Season is that we are made aware of new possibilities, new life through our lives in Christ, and that we never lose hope and our faith that God’s kingdom will prevail.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.  The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Easter blessings,
Karin+

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dear Friends,
If  you were in church on Ash Wednesday, you heard me talking about (as per Pope Francis) taking on a Lenten Fast from “indifference towards others”.  I think we in the church are often guilty of being so self-absorbed about ourselves and “our” mission that we forget that that mission is necessarily all about other human beings and the love of God!
It is important to me to be available and open to conversation with others while I am in the church building, so if you have stopped by the office, you have probably heard me calling out—“Who’s that?” and coming out to chat for a minute.  I also like to be out and about in the hallways to greet those who are coming to our church for recovery meetings, yoga, scouts and Jazzercise, as well as our own members.  I believe this is an important part of God’s mission for the church-one of hospitality and welcome.  This year I have extended this to our community through “Free Prayer” sessions at Teddy’s in Cranbury and Theology on Tap at The Americana Diner in East Windsor. 
Believe it or not, being “available” for conversation is a big part of being a disciple in today’s world.  In my homily on Ash Wednesday, I suggested having “curious conversations” with the people in your life, work, community and your church.  During these conversations, wonder to yourself what God might be doing in their lives.  As Christians, we believe that Jesus is active and involved in the life of every human being.  Creating, Redeeming, Blessing…everyone.  That is the work of Jesus.  We don’t need to worry about that…but we can help Him on HIS mission to reconcile the world to God.  Small conversations can be a big step.  Conversations in which we show genuine caring and interest in another person’s life can be life-changing for all involved.  Wonder what God might be up to and then ask yourself the question “How can I help?”  Practice on your family members!
This takes the pressure off the word “evangelism”, something we often struggle with.  If we truly believe that Jesus is already active in the world, that it is not up to us to “save” anyone…we can be free to create life-giving relationships without an agenda.  Isn’t that a relief??  No agenda is necessary other than genuine interest and caring.  Ask Jesus to help you to see how you can help Him on His mission and you will be surprised by what happens.
Are you intrigued by this idea? Is God calling you to investigate what discipleship can mean in your life and our church? Please speak to me about becoming a part of our new St. Paul discipleship team.  I promise it will be life-giving for YOU as you deepen your faith and trust in God and join Him on His mission in our world.
Blessings,                                                                                
Karin+

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dear Friends,
Do you stop in at Coffee Hour after worship on Sundays?  Believe it or not, Coffee Hour is an important part of the fabric of our Christian community.  Carol and Ed Miller and our rotating Sunday hosts and hostesses work very hard to make it a time of refreshment and nourishment.  I am so grateful for their ministry!
It is also an important time of connection.  This is where relationships form and we get a chance to “find out” about each other.  Coming and going on Sundays for worship only is understandable, and sometimes necessary, but it is hard to find your place in a church community without taking the time to know and be known by others.  
I know that this is hard for many people.  I know that the introverts among us would rather not enter a space filled with other people, many of them that they do not know.  But, I ask you to give it a try….to enter that space and have a “3 Minute Conversation”.  That’s all…just 3 minutes with someone new to you. 
What can that achieve?  Well, many of us come to Coffee Hour and immediately sit down with our friends and those with whom we have church “business” to take care of.  That is fine, and encouraged…but leaves many on the “outside” looking in.  If we all do our best to have one “3 Minute Conversation” with someone we don’t know after church, we will strengthen our community by building relationships within. I encourage you to take the risk and give it a try.
What can I say in 3 minutes?   Well, first, introduce yourself.  Then, ask a question:  “Have you been coming to St. David’s for very long?”  “Where do you live?”  “Where were you brought up?”  “How did you find this church?”  “What brings you to St. David’s?”  “What do you enjoy doing?”….you get it.  Easy, soft-ball questions.  And then be curious and ask a follow up question or two.  Perhaps this could be your “Lenten Discipline”.
You will be surprised by what you will learn and how this simple practice will increase the bonds within our community as well as creating a more welcoming space for newcomers.  Connecting with newcomers helps them answer these questions:  Where do I fit in?  Can I make friends in this church?  Is there room for me relationally?  Does this church need, me?  Can I find a place to belong, and serve?  Am I safe here?
When we reach out with genuine interest to those who are new to St. David’s, we let them know that this is a place where they are welcome and a place where their spiritual needs as well as their need for belonging will be honored.
Each of us is an ambassador for this church—on Sundays and all week long.  I hope you will take that ministry seriously and reach out, connect and find out about not only your fellow church members but also visitors to our church.
Blessings,                                                                                                                           Karin+

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Rector’s Letter from the 2016 Annual Report                                  
Dear Friends,
St. David’s continued to grow in strength and vitality in 2016.  It is such a gift to minister alongside so many dedicated Christians!  We could not accomplish all that we do here without the sustained efforts of so very many.  I appreciate all you do for our church in many ways, large and small.  In 2016 we added 20 new members and our Average Sunday Attendance increased by 3!
This year we have strengthened our Outreach Program through our renewed commitment to Rise and the Wednesday evening (now twice a month) food program along with our other Rise partnerships.  We look forward to participating in a meaningful way in the new Millstone Area Habitat for Humanity building project in Hightstown in 2017.  Thanks to John Patterson and the new Outreach Committee for their hard work this year.  Significant funds were raised, and matching funds obtained from our Diocesan Global Initiatives Grant program, for earthquake relief in Ecuador and hurricane relief in Haiti.  Our congregation always rallies to respond to emergencies at home and abroad.
Our St. Paul team did some great work this year and continued its commitment to the diocesan program led by Canon Rob Droste.  Many workshops were attended, at which electronic  evangelism, Christian Formation and growing disciples were focused on.  My thanks go to  Carol Rodgers, Deacon Hank Bristol, David Miller, Ed Miller, Angela Levy, Christopher Achen, Catherine Katona and Abbi Clissold for their commitment to Christian formation and discipleship.  We began our work with a Lenten Season of Gratitude, making sure that every aspect of parish life was included in this theme.  A new Lenten Christian Formation website was created around the theme of Gratitude and the kick-off was held on Shrove Tuesday.  Inter-generational activities were planned and all were included.  It was a wonderful effort.  The team then regrouped, studied their work and in the fall held a St. Nicholas Day party to which the whole community was invited; gingerbread houses, a visit from St. Nick, and gold coins along with a movie room and dinner made for a wonderful evening.  The work of this committee led to changes and efforts in other areas of parish life such as the Duck family  planning and hosting 2 Movie Nights with great success,  my starting to offer Free Prayer sessions at Teddy’s in Cranbury this past fall and also “Theology on Tap” for young adults with Evan  Hierholzer.
David Thomsson, our Stewardship Chairperson, took on a new challenge this year and formed a committee to bring New Consecration Sunday to our church.  It was a great success, increasing the number and size of pledges for 2017.  Thanks to all for your faithfulness! A great new part of this program was our celebration luncheon hosted by Kathy & Ron Herzog.
Our Welcome/Evangelism Committee also stepped up their efforts this year.  They attended a Diocesan workshop entitled “Invite, Welcome, Connect” and used the knowledge they gained to order and distribute reusable grocery bags at Cranbury Day and the Hightstown Harvest Fair.  This created a great opportunity to talk with local people about our church.  A New  Member Dinner was held in September to welcome all those who had joined St. David’s over the past few years.  
This year we have continued to grow our Christian Formation offerings through the leadership of Father Jacob David and  Seminarian Evan Hierholzer.  They, along with David Miller and Deacon Hank Bristol have offered a very strong program at 9 am on Sunday mornings, at which attendance has grown.  Deacon Hank has continued offering Book Study/Covenant Groups twice a year which are always very well attended and well received.  Evan Hierholzer and I led a Lenten Soup Supper series on Gratitude. Our Women’s Lunch & Learn program has flourished.  Thanks to Kim Duck and Bob McKay for providing solid programs for the youth of our parish.
Thanks to David Miller, we have begun offering more labyrinth walks this year.  A Labyrinth Guild will be formed in 2017 to support this important work with the goal of quarterly walks.  Please let me know if you would be a part of this important community outreach effort.
This year we had the pleasure of welcoming an Aspirant from the diocesan Committee on the Priesthood for his formation year.    David Gooding came to us from St. Elizabeth’s in Elizabeth and added to our congregational life this year.  David shared his musical gifts with us, as well as his preaching talents and worked with our fledgling Men’s Fellowship group.  I enjoy mentoring those in the “process” and was grateful to be a part of David’s journey.  He will be missed here at St. David’s and we wish him well.
I am honored to work with Carol Rodgers, our Senior Warden and Patricia Kraft, our Junior Warden.  These dedicated women give so much time and talent to our church community and are wonderful partners in ministry for me.  Corinne Peters will be leaving our  vestry this year, having served 9 of the past 10 years! That is commitment.  Corinne has led our Finance Committee and served as liaison to our Welcoming Committee and has done so with grace and dedication.  Thank you, Corinne!  We are blessed with a wonderful vestry, a group of disciples who work very hard for our church and who  take their own spiritual growth seriously.
I began this letter by saying how much we accomplish here with the help of so many….I would be remiss not to include our staff in that statement.  Judy Henningsen has been with our church for almost 9 years and I couldn’t imagine our office without her.  Judy is a welcoming presence to outsiders and a source of support and help to our parishioners and vestry (and to me!).  Please thank her for her dedication to our church.  Tim Doutt has been a mainstay in our office as a volunteer for many years, and now, over the past few years, has been a paid staff member wearing two hats, Treasurer and Sexton.  If you ask him, he will tell you that he enjoys his work as sexton very much, treasurer—well, maybe not VERY much! But Tim does an extraordinary job of keeping our financial house in order and I thank him for his dedication to St. David’s.  Dr. Brian Katona, our Minister of Music, has been with us for almost 5 years.  He has brought our choir to new levels of excellence, brings us guest musicians and encourages our members to share their gifts with the congregation on a regular basis.  Many thanks go to Brian for his musical gifts and leadership.  Evan Hierholzer has rejoined our staff this year as Seminary Intern and his gifts have made a great addition to our Christian Formation and J2A programs.  Evan will surely be missed when he graduates from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2017.   Father Jacob David, Deacon Hank Bristol and Brother John Baptist round out our staff, as they volunteer their time here at St. David’s and enrich us with their ministry and wisdom.  I am indebted to each of them for their support and the partnerships we share here at St. David’s.  Being a solo parish priest can be a lonely occupation; these good people support me in a way that I can never adequately thank them for.  It is a great blessing to minister with each of them.
I have been honored to be a part of the discernment process towards ordained ministry for two people this year; Carol Rodgers (diaconate) and Evan Hierholzer (priesthood).  This year we have formed a Parish Committee on the Priesthood for Evan and will form a Parish Committee on the Diaconate for Carol in 2017.  This is a special time for our church, being a part of discerning God’s call to these two gifted individuals.  Please keep them in your prayers.
Deanna Emerson has agreed to chair our 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee.  The committee will spend this year planning and we will all spend 2018 celebrating the gift of St. David’s and its rich history to each of us and to our community.  This is indeed an exciting time to be a part of this church!
I pray God’s blessing on each of you with thanks for your support and for sharing this journey with me.
Yours in Christ,                              K                                                                                                                                                            
Karin R. Mitchell+ K 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dear Friends,
This letter comes with prayers and blessings for a Happy and Healthy New Year for you and for those you love.  On New Year’s Day, we will celebrate the Feast Day of the Holy Name of Jesus.  This is a                  celebration of the day that Jesus was circumcised and received his name.  The name “Jesus” comes from Joshua, the Hebrew word for “savior” or “deliverer”.  It is a good opportunity for us to remind                   ourselves, at the beginning of 2017, who our savior and deliverer is and where our hope lies.  In the name of Jesus, we find our strength and our salvation, for He is Emmanuel, “God is with Us”.  May God continue to be with  each of us and our country during this year of transition and may we always fix our eyes on Jesus, our hope, and constant source of  redemption, strength and love.

The Prayer of St. Francis de Sales 
Be at Peace
Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;
rather look to them with full hope as they arise.
God, whose very own you are,
will deliver you from out of them.
He has kept you hitherto,
and He will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will bury you in his arms. 
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you then and everyday.
He will either shield you from suffering,
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.


Christmas blessings,
Karin+