February Grace Notes

Grace Notes

 Our Mission Statement:
To know Christ & make Christ known

February ~ 2018

Rector’s Reflection
“Your values create your internal compass that can navigate how you make decisions in your life.  If you compromise your core values, you go nowhere.”  Roy T. BennettAt the start of last summer I sat with thirteen other ordained, Episcopal women clergy at a retreat in Austin, Texas titled “Beautiful Authority.”  At that sacred gathering Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves lead a time of reflection when she asked each clergy person to state what were their top three core values.  I remember thinking at the time, “Wow, I am 47 years old and this is the first time someone ever asked me what my core values are.”  The question and answers people shared impacted me so deeply that soon after returning to New Hampshire I asked our staff the exact same question.All of us are unique creations of God.  We become those unique creations because schools, work environments, families, friends, even enemies impact and shape the values we hold close to our hearts.  All of us have core values, whether we have thought concretely about what they are or not.  We express them in our work, parenting, shopping, texting.  No part of our lives isn’t touched by what traits we believe and treasure are most important.Nearly two months ago a tremendously talented group of parishioners, led by myself, Christine Anderson, and two professional consultants from the Episcopal Church Foundation, began to meet and talk about discerning our parish’s core values.  Special thanks to this group of talented lay leaders: Sue Critz, Ernie and Lyn Marino, Lauren Cline, Kelley Muir, Justin Otto, Christine Anderson, Bill Bochinski, and Dave and Ken Kjellander who have spent significant time within together about what is valued at Grace Church, crafting thoughtful questions to ask our parish community, and sharing sacred stories about what makes our parish community unique.  All these parish leaders have now been trained as facilitators for what the Episcopal Church Foundation calls the Strategic Listening Process.  Our goal is to carve out special times to have holy, honest conversations about our parish’s reality and future.We now invite you, our parish family, into a deeper conversation about our church’s core values so that we can become more clear as to why Grace Church is here.  What do you think is special about Grace?  What hopes and dreams do you have for our parish?  What is God calling us to do?Please consider attending one or more of the following sacred circles to talk about your experiences at Grace Episcopal Church:Sunday, February 4th at 9 AM (following our 8 AM service) – Parish Library

Wednesday, February 7th at 1 PM (following our C.S. Lewis program) – Parish Library

Saturday, February 10th at 10 AM – Home of Kelley, Ian, Mannix, and Davan Muir
89 Titus Avenue Manchester, New Hampshire 03103

Sunday, February 11th at 12 PM – Parish Library

As previously stated, you are welcome to attend more than one of these gatherings if you choose.  Take note, no Grace Church staff will be present at any of these meetings.  We want parish members to be able to speak freely, share their hearts fully.

You are welcome to come and listen at those meetings.  To speak at these gatherings.  To take the questions our Strategic Listening Process facilitators have crafted and answer them at home in writing or later on in a digital survey.  We want to hear your minds, hearts, souls, and dreams for this place called Grace.
Blessings and love,
Marjorie +

**Can’t make a session but still have thoughts to share?  Look for opportunities to give your input, including an online survey found here: https://devh.typeform.com/to/vYgiyD **

Meeting Jesus In The Gospel of John
A Lenten Discipline

It seems like just yesterday our parish was singing Christmas carols.  Rejoicing again in the birth of our Creator as a child in a manger.  Yet now we are only a few weeks away from beginning the season of Lent.  A period of forty days when we examine ourselves, our life and spiritual patterns, the depth of our devotion to God, and think more deeply about how we can be and become holier and better people.  This year Ash Wednesday will take place, interestingly enough, on Valentine’s Day.  What a wonderful day to begin the season of Lent.  To question ourselves in all aspects of life what our level of love for our God above is.

The Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE), a monastic community located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has become well known for gifting Christians across the globe a chance to participate in daily, video reflections produced by both the monastic and lay members of the SSJE community.  This year the theme of SSJE’s Lenten series will be “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John.”  As someone who is not a fan of John’s gospel, I am thankful for this opportunity to look on John’s gospel again and find meaning and joy in John’s words.  Note that hhis program will not only reflect on John’s gospel, but also the First Letter of John.  Brother David Vryhof (who led our parish’s 2017 Vestry retreat!) explains as a member of the SSJE community, “We hope that by learning together from Jesus, considering his human friendships and his teachings about the God he calls “Father,” we will discover God as One who longs for deep intimacy with each of us.”

If you are interested joining this digitally based Lenten program (you basically get a five minute or less video sermon in your e-mail inbox every morning), please go to www.meetingjesusinjohn.org for an invitation to participate from our Presiding Bishop, the Right Reverend Michael Curry. There you’ll be able to gain more information about the course and sign up for daily videos. A printed prayer journal is also available for your private and daily reflection. You can pick up a copy of this journal for yourself on the back table located in our nave.

Finally, consider attending the “Meeting Jesus Quiet Day with the Bishop” on Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 9 AM to 4 PM at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church located at 354 Main Street in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.  The retreat day for lay people from across our diocese will focus on three themes: meeting Jesus in Scripture, meeting Jesus in Prayer, and Meeting Jesus in our Neighborhood.  There will be opportunities to participate in prayer stations involving icons, a labyrinth, the newspaper, and more.  There will be teaching with Bishop Robert Hirschfield, reflection with Tina Pickering, Canon for Ministry Development, and time with fellow pilgrims. Worship and Taize Music will be woven throughout the day.  If you are interested in attending the Quiet Day, please e-mail me atmarjoriegerbrachtstagnaro9@gmail.com and I will send you a direct link so you can register for the event.

Blessings and love and prayers for a Holy, life giving Lent to one and all, Marjorie +


Open my eyes, my ears, my soul,

To the harmony, energy, light

Suffusing all –seen and unseen—

Including all that is or has been,

That points to the path that is right,

At this moment, for these feet to tread.

4 August 2012,  Julia M. DiStefano, all rights reserved.

Knitting Outreach

Marilyn Pettigrew is a knitter who attended the Grace Church Knitting Retreat and is a crossing guard at Hallsville Elementary School in Manchester. Many of the students she sees do not have basic winter necessities and it makes her cold to see them walking to school without mittens on these cold days. Gail Austin, a member at Grace Church who also serves on the Vestry, is a member of the church knitting group and also attended the retreat in October. As the attendees were introducing themselves to each other, Gail showed everyone that she was working on a pair of mittens, one of SIXTY pairs she had been working on over the course of the year. Marilyn reached out and asked if she might have some of those for the children that cross her path every day. On behalf of the Outreach Committee, Nancy-Ann Feren gave her 20 pairs of mittens and Marilyn tied them to the fence outside the school and sent Nancy-Ann a picture and this note:

“Oh…thank you so much. The mittens are awesome. I will give out one pair to a little girl this afternoon. The rest tomorrow morning…I hung them on hangers by size and will put them on the fence for them to choose. I am so excited. Thank you so much. I just love the children so much. I just cannot thank you and your knitters enough. Merry Christmas.”

Special thanks to Gail Austin for her devotion to this project. Thank you to Marilyn for attending the Grace Church knitting retreat and reporting the need that she sees in her community and giving Grace Church another opportunity to reach out and help those in need in Manchester. Finally, thanks for the knitters at Grace, and those who join them, for their faithful outreach.

Happy Birthday to the following February birthday celebrants!

2    Elyse Goyette
Lillian Goyette
8    Maria Douglas
9    Rachel Otto
15   Paul Botana-Gumbs
17   Lucy Rhodes
20   Brent Stagnaro
21   Karen Taylor Kimball
12  Christine Anderson
David Charlesworth
Maureen Nagle
14  Debra Coakley
Ed Doyle
Emma McIver
25   Rohan Cline
27   Theodore Lassonde
28   Ann Marvin
Watch over thy children, O Lord, as their days increase; bless and guide them wherever they may be. Strengthen them when they stand; comfort them when discouraged or sorrowful; raise them up if they fall; and in their hearts may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
   Book of Common Prayer, page 830
If you don’t see your birthday listed that means that we do not have it.  Please call the office so that your special day can be acknowledged – or if we have it wrong, please let us know that also.
Baptism: Emma Victoria Frost, December 10, 2017
Births: Congratulations to the Reverend Dick Matthews who just became a grandfather for the second time! We give thanks for the birth of Marlow Roy Witman Matthews, born Thursday, January 18th, 2018
Ecumenical Ash Wednesday at the NH State House
Wed., 2/14, 7:30am—St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, ConcordThe NH Council of Churches will sponsor a Service of the Word with Distribution of Ashes for our state Senators and Representatives who will be in the neighborhood of the State House that day. Bishops and senior clergy from many denominations will participate as well.This event is sponsored by Senator Jeb Bradley and Senator Jeff Woodburn. Our hope is to pray together in a spirit that crosses both church and party boundaries.

Loving Our Neighbor

As some of you know, I have been active in supporting NH Peace Action and New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  Last year I joined Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP).  A sub-group of that is the NH Immigrant Solidarity Network, with a focus on “sanctuary, support, accompaniment, and advocacy”.  At our last meeting it was announced that three churches in NH have agreed to provide level one sanctuary; that is, they will provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants on site.  Criteria for an individual/family to be in sanctuary include having a court case pending, and they have to be investigated and recommended by the Sanctuary Network before being referred to the host church for their approval.

Level two congregations agree to provide carefully vetted, dedicated volunteers.  Examples of services volunteers can provide: bring prepared food or food to be cooked, other shopping needs, laundry, assistance with paying bills and legal fees, emotional and spiritual support, accompanying individuals/family to ICE check-ins and court visits, translating, taking school-age children to school and entertaining younger ones, and more.  A U.S. citizen must be present in a level one sanctuary if a person or family is present.  It will take many volunteers to cover that, since it is a 24/7 commitment.

We are still very much in the planning stages.  If you have questions, or think you may be willing to help, please contact me at episrev@comcast.net.

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.  As you did it to one of the least of these, my sisters and brothers, you did it to me.”

The Rev Jane W Van Zandt

(Editor’s note: the following is a two part reflection from parishioner Hank Gagnon on three outreach ministries that enrich his life and our Grace community)

Dear fellow parishioners,

I’d like to share some of my experiences with three outreach ministries I have the pleasure to be involved with through Grace Episcopal Church.  As I began to gather my thoughts about how I might describe these ministries, I recalled a Facebook posting I’d seen recently that illustrated community service most appropriately.

There is a Bantu (African) term called Ubuntu, which is translated as “humanity towards others.” It was the theology of Desmond Tutu, the chairman of the South African (Truth and Reconciliation Committee).  Although the term Ubuntu is new to me, its philosophy is not, as it is evidence in all works of social service. Simply stated, it is “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

The first ministry I’d like to describe is New Horizons (soup kitchen). The first and most tangible work of mercy people can perform is to feed the hungry. New Horizons and its dedicated staff accomplish this by gathering fresh food products from outside sources, then preparing and serving them in a clean, safe place to anyone in need of a hot, nutritious meal.  New Horizons relies on hundreds of volunteers to help prepare and serve food and clean up in its Manchester Street location.

Volunteers from Grace Church, often as many as a dozen, directed by Mickey Linares, play their part on the first Sunday of each month.  To be involved in this ministry is both rewarding and humbling.  There is a sincere warmth with which the people treat both strangers and members of the community, and the resultant collaborative work helps transform austere lives.  Corporal works of mercy include not only feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, but sheltering the homeless—another way that New Horizons insures that people are not isolated, and through mutual support can help each other complete and safeguard themselves.

The next ministry I’d like to promote is “Picnic in the Park,” an event usually held the first Saturday of each month and hosted by Grace Episcopal Church in our Great Hall.  To be human is to affirm one’s humanity by recognizing the humanity of others and, on that basis, establish respectful human relations with them.  This ideal is well accomplished through the efforts of Patti and Greg Lindstrom and other volunteers from Candia Congregational Church.  A truly outstanding and generous group of people who not only cook large amounts of fresh food but deliver it to Grace Church along with cases of bottled water and desserts.

They also help address and stamp mail for visitors, and donate clothing items as well. I work very closely with our own sexton, Emery Freethey, in collecting donated clothing, including socks, coats, jackets and sweaters, hats and blankets.  Terry Everett has even brought brand new scarves collected at her school to be offered at this event. Emery and I set up tables to serve up to 135 persons in little more than one hour before it’s time to clean the hall and set up again for its next scheduled event, when Grace opens its doors again for AA meetings.

Emery is a most gracious and patient host who represents our Grace community in a very favorable way.  I feel blessed to share his company and look forward to doing God’s work alongside him.  It’s not just “the usual suspects” who volunteer at Picnic in the Park, either, as several burly members of a local motorcycle club attend this monthly event to help serve and act as security so that all visitors are provided for and protected.  A key concept associated with Picnic in the Park is how we behave and interact with our less fortunate brothers and sisters as we try to make our visitors welcome and comfortable.

(More in next month’s issue of Grace Notes)

13th Annual Dr. Seuss Breakfast

The Outreach Committee is sponsoring its 13th annual Dr. Seuss Breakfast on Saturday, March 10 from 9 to 11 AM.  This is intended as an outreach activity to benefit children from several local elementary schools as well as from Grace Church. Activities are geared for children of kindergarten age to 3rd grade although all ages are welcome.  Once again the Cat in the Hat will be present to meet our guests and to read stories; Corky the Clown will perform. There will be a variety of craft activities and face painting.

We need your time, talent, and treasure.  Could you contribute a bottle of apple juice or a dozen mini-muffins?  Could you help supervise a craft project?   Could you help clean up after the event?  Sign up sheets are on the kiosk for these and other possible ways to help.

Tickets are free and can be obtained from members of the Outreach Committee or the church office.

There will also be canisters on the table at coffee hour during the month of  February for monetary donations to help purchase supplies.

The Dr. Seuss Breakfast is a very popular event but can only be successful with your help. If you have questions, contact Nancy-Ann Feren (603-627-2503Nferen@comcast.net).


Handy Thoughts

I regularly read Forward Movement’s “Day by Day” for thoughts and inspiration.  At the bottom of the page for each day’s reading there is a note titled Moving Forward.  The note for Tuesday, June 20, 2017 was the following:

“Stand at your sink.  Try to run the water into your clenched fist.  Try it with an open hand.  Try it with your hand cupped.  Think about how we hold God’s blessings in our lives.”

This resonated with me on different levels.  One level is our relationship with God, and another level is our relationship with other people.  But, actually, both are connected.  If we treat other people badly, that weakens our relationship with God.  Other people can be a blessing to us, but we may lose out if we keep a clenched fist and don’t extend a hand.  Now let’s look at the three options presented in the quoted passage.

At some time we have probably all had clenched fists, either mentally or physically.  Maybe we were angry and the clenched fist was a way of expressing that.  Maybe we were holding very tightly to an opinion and weren’t willing to consider other options.  Maybe it expressed holding on to our possessions, either because of greed or fear.  Relaxing our grip can free us.

The flat hand is better.  It means the clenched fist has been opened.  Now it can be used to touch someone in a gentle or soothing way.  It can allow us to re-think some of our opinions.  It can release some of our fortune for positive work.

The cupped hand is a good analogy. We must be open in some way to hold and acknowledge God’s blessings which could include food, friends, and fortune.  Food needs to be eaten with flexible hands.  Friends are not embraced with clenched fists.  Even our fortune needs some freedom if we want it used in a positive way.  Holding our fortunes gently allows us manage them more positively.

Now think about your own life.  How do these ideas relate to you?  Can you think of a positive way to use a clenched fist?

Dick Feren

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Present: Gail Austin, Steven Botana-Gumbs, Mark Critz, Richard Feren, Ann Hewins, Linda Heath, Edward High, Nancy Johnson, Linda Lassonde, the Reverend Dr. Marjorie Ann Gerbracht-Stagnaro, David Roy,Excused: Amy Brumfield, Mickey Linares, Eileen SuckleyThe meeting was opened with prayer by Rev. Marjorie at 7:01 PM. We then proceeded with the reading of the Norms.VOTE: A motion to accept the Clerk’s Report as corrected was made by Mark, seconded by Linda H, and was carried (correction: A balance of $17,000 remains to be paid back to the Grace House account Parish Improvement Fund.)The minutes will be made available to the parishioners after they have been approved by the Vestry.VOTE:  Ann made a motion to accept the Rector’s report; it was seconded by Ed and was carried.
Rev. Marjorie reported that she and Linda H. had attended the Active Shooter Response Training organized by the New Hampshire Council of Clergy.  Linda reported that the training was very worthwhile; the presentation was good, succinct, and direct.  It emphasized that we should not put ourselves as victims and that we not take cover but should react.  This training was not to train the trainers; there will be other meetings to follow.The Vestry then had a discussion concerning what we would consider doing at Grace Church.  Rev. Marjorie said that at the training they were told that we should be cautious about having guns – they said that the best weapon that we could use is a ball point pen. Dave, Ed, and Linda L. have had this kind of training at their places of work.

They reported that they were given a plan of what to do if something happened.  Linda L said that she had experienced an incident at work and following the plan that they had devised worked well.  She noted that at church it would seem that those sitting in the back of the church would be most vulnerable.

We discussed whether it would be wise to lock the doors once the service had begun.  The need to have an emergency egress was noted. The Nursery doors should always be locked. We noted that the Greeters/Ushers would be our first line of defense and that they should be trained as to what to do if an incident occurred. It was, however, noted that we might frighten the congregation by going around and locking the doors – also it was noted that it was necessary to keep the doors open in the summer to provide ventilation. A Safety Committee to study this problem and give us recommendation will be formed; Steve Botana-Gumbs, Linda Lassonde, Bernie Tonnar, Greg Desaulniers, and Hank Gagnon will be asked to be on this committee. The ushers’ input will be requested; Rev. Marjorie will ask the police representative to attend the committee meeting. Mark will coordinate with the Property Committee to create an emergency egress.
We further discussed if it was better to run, hide, fight vs. be a hero.

Dick said that some items in the October Financial Statements that had been accepted had had to be adjusted ($20,000 could be charged to other accounts rather than operating expenses) and that the November Financial Statement was not ready.  He said that he and Gail were determining the criteria of the categories that should be used in our accounting system; they have to determine what is to be considered maintenance or capital improvements.

VOTE:  A motion to accept the amended Financial Report of October was made by Mark, seconded by Ed, and was carried.

He reported that the pledge response to date is $160,000 and he thought that the final amount would probably be around $240,000.  He noted that more people are not putting down a  pledge amount.
He has forms that must be completed before the endowment funds can be transferred to ECF.  He was encouraged to do this as soon as possible so that the maximum return can be realized. He presented “Budget 3 years (past-present-future). It was requested that he include the actual and budget for past and present.

He said that this was the operating budget and that funds existed for special purposes (such as Laundry Love, etc.); they would be separate entities. The Vestry noted that some items in the 2018 budget did not seem correct including the following; Payroll Expense, Music, Choir Supplies, Church Nursery.  Dick and Gail will attend the next Property Meeting so that they can set the projects and projected costs and present what will be considered maintenance or capital improvement.  The planning and Finance Team will also be invited to attend.  The Vestry stressed that a final budget must be presented and approved before the Annual Meeting and that all the funds be available for review at the Annual Meeting as well.

The Vestry discussed the need to have a financial reserve/threshold for spending on maintenance issues and fixed assets spending.  Rev. Marjorie stated that she had provided a “Central Filing Book for 2018” where all expenditures will be recorded.

VOTE:  A motion that spending amounts of $4000 for maintenance issues and $2500 for fixed asset spending when approved by one warden and either the Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer be allowed was made by Mark, seconded by Ann, and was carried.

The meeting was adjourned following a prayer 8:42 PM. The next meeting of the Vestry will be on January 17th.

Respectfully submitted,
Nancy Johnson, Clerk

Need a sitter?

Hello, My name is Victoria Hennessy and I am looking to babysit!

After I graduated from UNH, I moved to Manchester to join City Year. City Year is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the math, literacy, behavior and attendance skills in 8 elementary schools in Manchester. I decided to do a year of service before going to medical school because I believe that every student should have an equal opportunity to learn and succeed.

I am serving at Northwest Elementary School and living at Grace House.  I have a reliable vehicle, am a certified EMT, and am great with kids of all ages. I am available and can work Friday nights and any time on Saturday and Sundays. My phone number is 860-575- 4420 and my e-mail address is victoria.hennessy95@gmail.com. My requested rate is $10-15 per hour.

Feel free to call the following people as my personal references:
Shauna DiZio – 603-315-1482 or Katie Vachon – 603-703-1548

Grace Episcopal Church
106 Lowell Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Tel (603) 622-9813
Fax (603) 669-6044
The Rev. Dr. Marjorie Gerbracht-Stagnaro, RectorVestry
Linda Heath, Warden           Amy Brumfeld, Warden
Nancy Johnson,  Clerk            Richard Feren, Treasurer
Edward High, Assistant TreasurerValerie Anderson, Gail Austin, Steven Botana-Gumbs, Amy Brumfield,
Hank Gagnon, Linda Lassonde, David Roy
Matt Serge, Eileen SuckleyStaff
Mark Cleveland, Director of Music
Ken Grinnell, Organist
Carter Beck. Organist
Justin & Nicole Otto, Church School Coordinators
Marlene Thompson, Parish Administrator
Lyn Marino, Assistant Parish Administrator
Jill Porter, Bookkeeper
Emery Freethey, Sexton
Hank Gagnon, Assistant Sexton
Susan Senneville, Nursery Care GiverNewsletter
Lauren Cline
Lauren6997@yahoo.comNext Newsletter Deadline
February 15, 2018