Deacon Mike’s Corner

Well it’s the morning after. I find myself in a strange place…in a liminal time between knowing and not knowing. Of course I’m referring to the results of yesterday’s election. I’m sure the results will be decided before too long but in these hours or perhaps days I don’t know exactly whether to be happy for our country or to cinch up my belt and brace for the future.

Regardless of what lies ahead we must deal with our responses to the virus and the danger that the virus poses for each of us. And, we must continue to deal with the social impact of separation from each other. Many people have constructed a routine in which contact with others is minimized and planned according to the guidelines that our local government and our diocese think will protect us and others from contracting the virus. These guidelines, even though sensible, certainly interfere with the life I envisioned when I moved to Oregon.

As a deacon I am called to be with people. As a spiritual director I am called to be with people. Neither of these are entirely possible in these days. When working in a hospice house and in a hospital I came in contact with many people. But these possibilities are very limited at the moment partly because I am in the high-risk age category. In the months leading up to March my activities involved being in groups, exploring possibilities of ministry in the group. That has come to a halt. So in the last few weeks I’ve been mulling the question of how do I fulfill my ministry as a deacon.

I’m turning to you. You are the people who have been here. You know much more about this community than I do. What do you think? What would you suggest that I investigate? If you could minister to the community or the world what would you be doing? In my musings I found a few broad categories that I’ve been considering. Let them be fertilizer for your own thoughts:
• Peace (international, civic, racial)
• Ecology
• Homelessness
• Children in Crisis (e.g., CASA)
• Pastoral care beyond the parish (e.g., Stephen Ministries)
• Food insecurity
• Social justice.

I’m sure you have additions to this list for God gives us prophetic wisdom to see and speak to what is not of God’s kingdom. Even though many of your ideas may still involve personal involvement with others those ideas should not be discarded. We will be in direct contact with other people in the near future and planning is always needed. I have time now in this liminal period. You and I have time to work through plans to bring Christ’s Church before others.

God’s Peace to all,
Mike…

St. Thomas Preschool Going on Hiatus for the 2020-2021 School Year

It is with heavy hearts, but out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of all groups, that we have decided to put St. Thomas’ Preschool on hiatus for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

Preschools are all about socialization and learning how to be in the world. At this time, and going into the current school year, we don’t think there is a safe way to provide this for our students, teachers and families. We will miss them all more than we can say.

For more information, please call St. Thomas at 541-343-5241 or e-mail at  stthomaschurcheugene@gmail.com

Rev. Dr. Diana Akiyama Elected 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon

The 11th Bishop of Oregon Search and Transition Committee is pleased to announce the election of the Rev. Dr. Diana Akiyama as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.  In her own words, Bishop Akiyama said:

I am honored and truly humbled to be amongst those you are considering to be your next Bishop of the Diocese of Oregon.  Throughout my discernment for the vocation of Bishop of Oregon, I have become increasingly energized and drawn to the innovative ministries currently underway in the Diocese.  I believe this growing connection is rooted in my diverse experiences as a priest, and in my longstanding belief that the Church is being called to respond to a changing world.

My roots in Oregon are deep.  I was born in Wheeler, Oregon and grew up in the Japanese-American community in Hood River.  My mother was drawn to the Episcopal Church through her experience at Good Samaritan Hospital’s Nursing School.  My father was baptized in the Methodist Church in response to the internment of Japanese Americans. I was baptized and grew up at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hood River.

I was ordained to the priesthood by The Rt. Rev. Rustin Kimsey in 1989 and since that time I have continually been inspired and nurtured by the ways my ministry has evolved and deepened.  The call to serve as dean of religious life in two different higher education settings allowed me to combine my love of learning with my curiosity about those who do not identify with a religious tradition.  The spirit of Christ always came alive when I was able to voice or demonstrate radical love and inclusion in spaces where great suspicion about Christians was the norm.

Here is my dream, were I to become your next bishop:  to walk alongside the faithful and diverse people of the Diocese of Oregon with joy and hope as we explore how God is moving in our neighborhoods, and to embrace the unique qualities of Oregonians in creative and innovative ministries.

Summer Sunday School

Welcome to week six of summer Sunday School!

Here is the story of Jacob and Rachel.  It is a love story,  but it’s also a story about making promises and keeping them. Please read the lesson by yourself or ask someone in your family to read it to you.

      JACOB AND RACHEL: A LOVE STORY ABOUT KEEPING PROMISES

Our story today is about Jacob and a journey he took to a place called Paddan Aran. Along the way he saw a beautiful woman standing near a well. He dropped everything and stared at her. It was love at first sight!  The beautiful woman’s name was Rachel and she was the younger daughter of Jacob’s Uncle Laban. (What a coincidence! ) Rachel had an older sister named Leah, but Jacob only had eyes for Rachel. Jacob was so much in love with Rachel that he asked Laban if he could work for him just so he could be near her. Laban answered, “Yes, you can tend sheep for me, but you must tell me how much I should pay you for your work. Even though you’re a relative, I must pay you something.” (That seems fair, right? What a good guy)

Jacob answered, “I will work for you for seven years if you will let me marry your younger daughter, Rachel. “Laban answered, “It’s a deal!” At the end of the seven years, Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. I have kept my promise and have worked for you for seven years.” So Laban threw a big party to celebrate and when evening came, he took his daughter, Leah, to Jacob instead of Rachel. (Not such a good guy, I guess.)

Jacob said, “Why have you done this to me? I kept my promise. Why haven’t you kept yours?” Laban answered, saying,” It is not our custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older. You can have Rachel only if you stay and work for me another seven years.” And Jacob did just that. He stayed and worked another seven years and finally was able to claim Rachel as his wife.

Dear Lord, you have promised good for your children. We know that we can trust you to keep your promises. Help us to be faithful to keep our promises. In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Once you’ve read the lesson, ask yourself if you’ve ever made a promise to someone that you didn’t keep. Maybe you promised your mother that you would clean your room, but you went out to play instead and forgot about your promise. You may have even made a promise to someone that you had no intention of keeping. Unfortunately, most of us have made a promise that we didn’t keep. In today’s story you’ll learn that Laban was not very good at keeping his promises.

What this story is trying to teach us is to be like God, not like Laban. When God makes a promise, you know that promise will be kept. God wants us to keep our promises, too. Here are some of the promises God has made to us:

 To love us forever.

 To comfort us.

Can you think of more promises?

Your Sunday School teacher,

Sue Colvin

 

St. Thomas’ Summer Sunday School

So many people are planting gardens lately, maybe you have been, too. The lesson for Sunday, July 12th is a parable that Jesus shared with his disciples using a farmer who was planting seeds. Remember a parable is a simple story that teaches a moral lesson. What kind of soil do you want to be?

Here are some activities you might do:

SEED ART: Find some small seeds and glue them on a piece of colored construction paper to form the words, GOD’S WORD! Remember the “seed” in the story represents GOD’S WORD!

SOIL AND SEED WALK: Take a WALK outside to plant some seeds.

Most of all, have a good time and remember that you are loved by God and St. Thomas.

One of your Sunday School Teachers,

Holly Spruance

St. Thomas’ Summer Sunday School!

Welcome to Summer Sunday School!
We are providing booklets to send to our Sunday School children for summertime reading.  This week, we are reading the story about Abraham and Isaac and learning to trust in God.  Think about what you put your trust in. Things like, the sun rising every morning or rain in the winter or food on the table at dinnertime. What else can you think of? Do you trust that your parents will provide for you like God provided a ram for Abraham? Do you trust that God will provide for you, too? I hope that you do and that you realize that God will never stop caring for you.
The booklet also has a coloring page, a word search page and a multiple choice quiz. Here are some other activities for our kids:

• Take a TRUST WALK around your home and look for all the things you place your trust in. Things like chairs (will they hold you up or break?) or refrigerators (will it keep things cold?) or your own eyes (will they let you see?) What else can you find? Once you’ve completed your walk, talk about things we can trust God to do every day in our lives.

• Make a TRUST NECKLACE. String the plain and lettered beads onto the necklace cord to make a colorful necklace that says T-R-U-S-T-G-O-D Give the necklace or bracelet to someone you trust. In case you want to make a second necklace, I’ve included an extra necklace cord, lettered beads to spell out the word P-R-A-Y and some more plain beads. You could make a bracelet, instead, using string. Simply tie the two ends together once you’ve arranged your beads.

Have fun!
Your Sunday School teacher,
Sue Colvin

On Eagle’s Wings – A Message from our Rector, Ann Gaillard

I pray for you every day, praying for your health and well being and safety. I miss seeing you all. 
 
We are beginning to have conversations about what reopening the church might look like. Bishop Hanley, in much consultation with medical professionals, the governor, clergy, other bishops, and so forth, has issued guidelines. They are quite extensive. I am attaching them for your perusal, and I welcome your input!  We at St. Thomas will start reopening very slowly and carefully, keeping the safety of everyone as paramount. The theology behind wanting to keep people safe is simply: “Love thy neighbor.” And no matter what, we will continue to provide on-line worship. That’s one of the reasons we want to carefully approach reopening: we know we need both to figure out how to do church together in a very small way, but also how to use technology to live-stream the service. Keri Davis, Deacon Mike, and I are doing You-tube tutorials, Zoom meetings, and on-line conferences in order to figure out how best to move forward. 
 
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, once again, has provided the Church with another lovely few minutes of “Habits of Grace,” which you will find here:   https://episcopalchurch.org/habits-of-grace?wvideo=xops3jbhvi&wkey=YWVzZ2FpbGxhcmRAZ21haWwuY29t&foreign_data=mailchimp_campaign_id%3Aff8b79f026
 
And Keri Davis has again given us a lovely musical meditation (actually one of my very favorite pieces):  “On Eagle’s Wings,” which you will find here: https://soundcloud.com/user-87407182/on-eagles-wings
 
Much love and many blessings,
Ann+

Deacon’s Corner

St. Stephen by Your Deacon and Postulant; Mike and Jackee

I thought I’d better mention that last Sunday our first reading concerned the stoning of St. Stephen. He was born in c. 4 AD and was stoned to death in c. 34 AD (the reported dates vary by several years). That means he was about 29 years old when he died. He was an ordained deacon of the church.

When the disciples realized the Greek-speaking widows were being neglected in favor of the Hebrew-speaking widows, seven men were ordained to serve the community. Stephen “worked great wonders” among the people. This ultimately led to false charges before the Sanhedrin and his execution by stoning. All this is contained in Acts 6-7.

The idea that someone is that fervent in their faith in Jesus the Christ is so foreign to most of us. I have long wrestled with the question, “to what point of threat would I resist before denying Jesus?” Would just voicing a denial be a true turning from Christ?

In some places in the world this can be a real concern for people. But, this is simply a mind game in the circles we live in here in Eugene. It does bring up questions about, “what is denial?” How do I deny Jesus when I neglect other people (the reason deacons were ordained)?

We are told, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And so, if we ignore our neighbor we are denying Jesus by flaunting this second of the great commandments.

– Mike….

 

St. Stephens’ feast day is December 26th

The St. Thomas Church Family in Pictures

Pictures throughout the year.  Everything from Blessing the Animals, Christmas decorations, bingo, working in the garden. making palm crosses, preparing for Easter and Rector Ann Gaillard’s installation. Friends, family, fun and fellowship!

 

 

   

 

A Message from our Rector, Ann Gaillard – Sweet Hour of Prayer 

Dear Parishioners and St. Thomas’ Church Community –

I hope you are safe and well!  As you are aware, the Governor Brown is starting gradually to lift restrictions later this week for retail stores, gatherings, restaurants, etc… We’re not sure yet what that will look like for Lane County. Bishop Hanley has been in close conversation with the governor and other clergy leaders in Oregon, as well as with the Presiding Bishop and the other diocesan bishops around the country about what in-person church gatherings might start to look like. My understanding is that Bishop Hanley will be issuing guidelines to individual parishes about reopening on a gradual basis. I am sure those guidelines will include things like limiting the number of people to 50 or fewer, maintaining 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and so forth. There will be quite a bit of preparation involved to make in-person worship happen at St. Thomas, so I’m sure it will be well into June before we are able to get together. I will keep you informed as I and the Vestry know more. Please know that Bishop Hanley has been wonderful about communicating with the clergy in the diocese, holding weekly Zoom office hours and brainstorming with us about what might be possible when we resume in-person church services.

As always, I’m including the link to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s weekly video, “Habits of Grace” :   https://episcopalchurch.org/habits-of-grace?wvideo=xops3jbhvi&wkey=YWVzZ2FpbGxhcmRAZ21haWwuY29t&foreign_data=mailchimp_campaign_id%3Afeb4fb1918

Also, Keri Davis, St. Thomas’ Musical Director, has recorded for us a lovely hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”  Here is the link, and below are the words:  https://soundcloud.com/user-87407182/sweet-hour-of-prayer

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Words:  W.W. Walford      Music: William Batchelder Bradbury

1 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne
make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare
by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

2 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
the joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn
with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
where God my Savior shows his face,
and gladly take my station there,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

3 Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
thy wings shall my petition bear
to him whose truth and faithfulness
engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since he bids me seek his face,
believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!