Grace United Newsletter April 2011

“GRACE NEWS” April 2011

(by Tom Sawyer)

Mission Statement: In response to God’s call, we the congregation of Grace United Church understand our mission is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all ages. Using the Bible as our guide, we are challenged to worship and praise and celebrate God’s love and accept God’s grace, learn God’s will, live in faith, and reach out in humble service in the community and the world.
The Season of Easter is the highlight of the year for the Christian Church. Without Easter, our faith would be an interesting story about a great man who once lived and influenced his friends, like many great leaders over the years. But the events around Good Friday and Easter morning raise the story of the Christ to divine levels of life, death and life beyond death.
In this Lenten time, Grace has been holding its traditional Lenten Lunch and Worship on Wednesdays at lunchtime, along with Friday lunches at St. John’s Anglican Church. Pat Ribey has been leading “Living the Question” at 9:30 on Thursday mornings. On Good Friday we will be joining the Ministerial sponsored Good Friday Service at Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship. Something new, or at least something that has not happened for a long time, is that we are planning a Seder meal on Maundy Thursday, 6:30 pm at the church. This is a re-enactment of a Passover meal, which was the meal at which Jesus instituted our Communion service. It helps us understand something of Jesus’ and the disciples’ background to our communion service. It is designed for people of all ages. In fact there are specific roles for children. The Seder concludes with a meal, so don’t eat supper before coming. Watch for details and how to register (so we will know how much food and how many places to prepare). Of course we will have the celebration of Christ’s resurrection at the regular time on Easter morning.
Through the process of Lent and Holy Week, we are reminded again that there is a cost to following the Christ, of taking up our crosses and walking towards Good Friday, but there is also the joyous freedom and celebration of “Christ is Risen” on Easter morning. We are reminded again that God is with us in our darkest journeys, in life, in death, and in life beyond death. Thanks be to God.


Thurs, May 12 (11 am – 1 pm)
Our very popular Spring Salad Smorg takes place on Thurs, May 12. If you can donate food, assist with serving or clean up or if you wish to purchase tickets, call Carol at 780.875.2479 or Mary at the Church office at 780.875.8959.
Tickets ($10/each) – be sure to get
them early to avoid disappointment.
Marilyn McAllister, her committee, and their volunteers are commended for again putting on this very popular event.

Options for the Future:
Report to Congregation

Following the June 2010 congregational meeting, Central Board asked the Options for the Future Committee to engage qualified consultants and come back to the congregation with two “new church” options; one for a new church on a new site and a “new church” on the current site incorporating the existing sanctuary into the design.
On Tuesday, April 12 at 7:30 pm in the Upper Hall, consultants from Bexson Construction will present two “future options” to the congregation and answer your many questions! The presentation is intended to inform, not to lead the congregation to favor either option. Consensus building around a preferred option is the next stage in a yet-to-be-determined process.
Please plan to attend so that you can learn about both options first-hand and have all your questions answered by people with engineering, design and estimating expertise.

Important dates to remember:
(Wed – Sunday)

Grace United’s Interim Ministry
(by Tom Sawyer)

Grace United Church has shown an amazing strength staying strong in spite of difficulties with ministerial leadership teams over recent years. Having excellent lay leaders step forward to carry so much of the load of ministry when there has been no paid accountable ministry leadership, then to step back as new ministers seek to establish their own style and methods, only to repeat the cycle again, is very hard on people who have been giving their heart and soul to serve God through the Church. It is not surprising that some people have felt hurt and unappreciated. What is surprising is that so much of the congregation’s life and work has carried on without missing a beat. This is evidence of God’s Spirit at work among us.
Part of the task of an Interim Minister is to help a congregation see what is happening and to lead to new ways of doing ministry that don’t necessarily fit historic patterns. A common problem with congregations of more than 150 households is that so much of our ministry training and experiences assumes congregations of between 50 and 150 households, where the minister knows each member by name, and there is some personal connection between the minister and each member. In such a setting, it is important that new ministers have opportunities to offer pastoral care in situations of bereavement, sickness, baptisms, weddings, and so on. If former or neighboring ministers give the pastoral care it becomes difficult to establish that close personal relationship with parishioners that makes for a good working relationship.
In larger congregations, it is impossible for the minister to operate on that basis because as attention is given to new people, it falls away from others who feel neglected by “their minister”. If ministers are trained and experienced in congregations of less that about 150, where they are central to all that goes on in a congregation, it is very hard for them to shift their roles to a new model where they may be sharing the formal ministry with other paid accountable ministers, and sharing the planning and delivery with numerous groups and activities that replace the minister on the front lines. In such a church people have a sense of belonging through groups and activities (choir, Sunday School, study groups, fair booth, UCW groups, men’s groups, friendship and visitation, youth groups, finance committee, trustees, etc.). The programs of the church (through the members of the congregation) are carrying out the mission of the church with the paid accountable staff training and supporting lay leaders and groups, as well as planning, leading and coordinating high quality, effective worship on Sundays and other occasions.
This calls for a different role on the minister’s part, where the minister is not trying to personally carry out all the functions of ministry, but is to see that those functions are carried out effectively by other staff and the many volunteers that are the heart of the congregation.
My appointment is planned to run from January 2011 through June 2012. The first three months are drawing to a close. This has been a time of emphasizing a Program Church model where lay leaders and groups, as well as people like retired ministers -- whether lay or clergy -- have been recognized for their continued value and service in the life of the congregation. It has been a time of trying to learn about the programs, activities, and congregational leadership. The next three months will focus on trying to develop a part-time temporary ministry team to expand upon my half time work. This may well involve recruiting people already active in the congregation to serve on staff to work with me to plan and lead worship; to work with couples in planning, preparing for and conducting weddings; to work with committees in preparation for sacraments and pastoral care; and to offer counseling the majority of time when I am not in the community. The staff would also be a resource to all our committees and volunteers. New part-time, temporary (until June 2012) staff will also be working with the one full-time staff member who has been “holding the fort” through all the challenges and changes, our Office Manager, Mary Laursen. Mary is the one who handles all the inquiries across the counter and on the phone and has done a marvelous job, well beyond her formal job description.
The summer is always a slow time to accomplish much change, but I hope that if there is new staff in place, we will be able to hit the ground running in September. From September to December I see the congregation becoming familiar with the modeling of a “Program Church” and becoming comfortable enough with it that a Joint Needs Assessment Committee (JNAC) will be able to draft job description that fit the needs of Grace. From January to June 2012 I see a firming up of the team concept of ministry (between staff, but also between staff and volunteers, and volunteers with each other) allowing for a wide diversity of gifts, skills and theological perspectives and operating styles in preparation for the calling of a new team on July 1, 2012.
Legacy Gifts Policy to be Established
While Grace United Church has in the past received special donations and been named as a beneficiary in various estates, each of these gifts has been dealt with on a case-by-case basis. However, with two new bequests pending, one being very large and the other earmarked for a particular purpose, the Stewardship Committee is recommending that Grace United Church establish a policy that will guide decision-making related to these and future gifts.
The Trustees are currently working with the executors of the two estates regarding these bequests and will continue to do so. The Trustees, with participation from Central Board and the Finance and Stewardship Committees has already begun to research issues and options related to legacy gifts and endowments.
Central Board will be asked to establish a “task group” to recommend policy to Central Board and the congregation on decision-making related to receiving, investing and using these bequests. If you are interested in serving on such a task group, please make your interest known to the leadership of Central Board.

Email News from Grace

A list of about 100 email addresses of Grace United people has been compiled. To date, it has been used on three occasions to provide church-related information to recipients.
We very much want to reach as many in the Grace family by email as possible. If you would like to receive church-related news in a timely manner, please share your email contact information with Mary at the church office or send it via email to
If you do not have email, perhaps you have a friend, relative or neighbor who might be willing to receive the email and pass on the information to you.
Church-related Websites
A good way to stay in touch with the wider church is to check out United Church-related websites.
Grace United Church
St. Paul Presbytery
Alberta-Northwest Conference
United Church of Canada
United Church Observer
And if you have not been able to attend worship or want to review the text of a recent sermon, you can find copies of bulletins and sermons on the church’s “blog” at /

Social Media at Grace United
For the past several months we have been posting Grace United announcements,
events and worship services on our blog -
What is a blog - you ask? A blog is simply a website that provides news orcommentary around a particular subject or in our case, the activities of our church. Entries are displayed in reverse chronological order so the latest information is always the first you see. Entries can also be 'tagged' (organized) so that you can quickly sort the information around a particular topic. Some of the topics on the Grace United blog include: Announcements, Events, The Bulletin, Tom's Sermons, Kids and Youth...
Topics are shown in the right hand sidebar of the blog page. If you click on these links the site will refresh and show you all the information that has been posted about that topic! Very handy!
The blog is a great place to catch up on what is happening at the church. Recently, we added Rev. Tom's “sermon notes” and pictures of his Covenanting Service. Thank you to Edith Cunningham for providing the photos.
We are always looking for more content. If your committee, UCW group, youth group or Sunday School class- you get the idea - has anything it wants to share, please send it in to the office and we will get it posted! PS. If you can
send it via email that will save typing time!
For all you “Facebookers”, we also have a Facebook page for the Grace United and for the Youth. There are links to these pages from our website and blog. Again this is a great place to catch up on what is happening at the church.
All of our blog postings link to our Facebook page and we have also posted pictures and some inspiring video there as well. We would also encourage you to post your own thoughts, announcements, reminders, thank you’s... on Facebook. Facebook is meant to be interactive and immediate! Plus it will save the office and our volunteer’s time. Let's have some fun with it! See you in cyberspace.

Parking Available in Streetscapes Lot

Grace United has again leased the 10 parking stalls (including one handicapped space) on the north side of the Streetscapes lot, south of the church. Please feel free to use the stalls at your convenience.
The Property and Maintenance Committee monitors the use of the parking stalls so if you are using a parking space on a regular basis, please obtain an identification sticker for your windshield. This will prevent you from being mistaken for someone who is using the space for personal rather than church-related business.

Friendship and Visitation

The Pastoral Care Workshop held March 26 was attended by 18 members of our congregation. The people I have spoken to all found it very worthwhile. The message that it brought home to me is just how much Pastoral Care our congregation does in ways that we may never have considered. We think of visits or phone calls to people in the hospitals, homes, and lodges as Pastoral Care. The prayer chain is definitely Pastoral Care. When we visit bereaved people, take food, attend funerals, sing at funerals - this is Pastoral Care. When we play bingo with the residence at the Nursing Home, help at the food kitchen, take food to the men’s or women’s shelter or the Thorpe Recovery Center, this is also pastoral Care. When we meet a friend in the Mall and stop to hear their story of illness or uncertainty of some type we are still ministering to one another. When we help any of the many charities in our community in whatever way we do it, we are giving of ourselves and caring for others. The workshop was very helpful in that we practiced ways to visit and ways that would not be well received.
(Submitted by Shirley Aston, Chair )

Interdenominational Food Pantry
Reminder: The Food Pantry appreciates any donations of non-perishable items. (Pantry items can be deposited in the barrel in the lobby of the church. Thankyou.

TUESDAY, MAY 3 (2 – 7 pm)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4 (10 am -7 pm)
THURSDAY, MAY 5 (10 am – 2 pm)
Donations of clean, miscellaneous household items, kitchen items, books and furniture are welcome. Clothing may also be donated provided articles are seasonable and up to date. (No shoes or boots).
If you wish to have your items picked up on Monday May 2, please call and leave your name at the church office at 780-875-8959. Preferred times for dropping off donations for the Garage Sale: Monday, May 2.
Men & women to set up for the sale on Monday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. We also welcome any women of the church not currently a member of the UCW, if you have any free time to come out & help for one hour or a few hours to help sort & organize or work at the sale please call Mary at the office 875-8959.

Music at Grace
The music program will soon be winding down for the summer months – but we still have some good things happening! Sunday, Apr 10, the Kidz Choir will share their music. There will also be the Pic Ups with a lively sing-a-long.
On Wed, Apr 13, the choir and bells will present a Lenten Meditation through music – Lunch from 11:30 am – 12:20 with the meditation from 12:20 – 12:50.
On Palm Sunday, Apr 17, the Indroit will be played by Amanda and Greg Weaver (clarinet and saxophone). The Celebration Ringers will ring a Chinese Melody “The Journey”. Kaitlyn Rogers and Jessica Hines will be singing “And on This Path.”
The Easter service is a work in progress.
On May 15, the choir will be taking the service “The Celebration of Music” doing anthems that have been done in the past and maybe one or two new ones.
See you in church!
(Gladys Jack, director of Music at Grace).

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