Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Laura Hart Hospitalization

Laura Hart remains in Riverside hospital. However, her health is improving and she has been moved out of ICU into a "step down" room. Her room is Orange Area 8001.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Where the Money Comes From

Money for St. Matthew’s comes from several different sources, and generally the Vestry must spend money for projects for which it was designated. Here is a breakdown:

Designated Contributions

The people who donate this money specify what it must be used for, so it cannot be used for general expenses such as heat and electricity, and these donations are not part of fulfilling your pledge.
  • Memorial Fund. This is money given in memory of a loved one, and often the donor specifies exactly what the money can be used for. In many cases, the money goes to purchase some long-lasting memorial such as stained glass windows or oil candles for the altar.
  • Flower Fund, etc. We have two or three other minor funds. Again, money designated for these funds cannot be used for ordinary expenses and does not get counted as part of your pledge.

Capital Campaign Money

These are the funds you are sending to the Diocese for the Planting for Tomorrow fund. Recent uses of this money have included the new roof and the upgraded electrical system. We cannot use this money for paying general bills, and we depend on your continuing support and your fulfillment of your promise. (Our next major project is probably the floor in the Parish Hall.)

Diocese Outreach Grants

This money comes to us from the Diocese in response to grant applications, and is used for very specific purposes. Because they are outreach grants, they must in some way reach out to the community. Many of our outside music groups are funded by these grants, and the idea is that we will advertise the music to the community and invite nonmembers to attend.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund

The loose offering on the last Sunday of the month goes to this fund, which is used to help needy parishioners with extraordinary bills. One example might be a prescription after surgery.

Private Pocket

Some parish needs, for example the coffee for coffee hour, are simply paid by parishioners directly. This money never goes through the ordinary church budgeting process.

General Operating Budget

This money comes from the offering plate. It includes your pledge money plus loose offering from the first three Sundays of the month and $350 monthly rent from the Montessori school. This money goes to pay the daily expenses of running a church: Rector’s stipend, gas, electricity, organist, postage, insurance, and so forth.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wakeman Campground Dedicated

Last Saturday, about 300 of us gathered from around the Diocese for the dedication of the Wakeman campground. It was a beautiful day, and the program was about what you would expect: speeches by leaders, tours of the grounds, games for the kids, and a grand picnic lunch.

Much of the financing for the project came in through the Planting for Tomorrow capital campaign fund. (This was the fund that we used to put on a new roof, paint the building, and buy a new stove. We kept 70% of the money we raised, and 30% of the money went to the Wakeman campground.) As a Diocese, we raised more than our target amount, so we will be able to do this project right, and do it more quickly than we expected.

The property itself is pretty much unchanged from the last time I was there two years ago. It is still a beautiful spot, bounded on three sides by the Vermilion River (quite a contrast with Cedar Hills, which is bounded on one side by an Interstate highway and on the other by a gas station). Most of the work to date is invisible: architectural and engineering studies, codes and permits, demolition of old buildings, and roughing in roads and parking lots. The local people and the town government seem very happy to have us there, so the various permits have been quite easy to obtain.

In a quick summary, here's what we hope for in the new property:
  • Camp Cedar Hills never had its own water source and could never be made handicap accessible, so it was always expensive to operate and had limited usefulness. The new location will not have those problems.
  • Cedar Hills was north of Youngstown, which put it out of reach for our people in northwest Ohio. This is one reason it was never fully utilized. Wakeman is much more centrally located.
  • For those of us in Ashland, the driving distance is about half: 45 minutes to Wakeman versus 90 minutes to Cedar Hills.
  • We actually have a bit of farmland in Wakeman, which we will use for sustainable agriculture projects. There has been a lot of interest from outside groups in using our property for their programs too.
  • It has been two years since we were able to have a summer camp program at Cedar Hills; we are hoping to have one in Wakeman in July 2017. (The cabins are being pre-built in warehouses over the summer, so they can be put up very quickly next year.)

The place has a name


With a bit of fanfare, Bishop Hollingsworth announced the new name for the property:

Bellwether Farm

Here's his explanation of the term:
Since the Middle Ages, shepherds have singled out one ram in a flock to wear a bell and indicate where the flock is going. The bellwether has come to signify a harbinger or herald of what is to come. In this sense, it is the Church's vocation to be a bellwether of the kingdom of God, and the vocation of every Christian is to be a bellwether of God's mission to heal the world. It is, of course, our common prayer that through this new camp, retreat, and education center, and in each of our lives, we will be the bellwether of Christ's redeeming and reconciling love.

Two more thoughts

  1. Of the 300 or so people there, at least 100 were children and teenagers. Their numbers surprised me. A retreat/conference center such as this one is really important to our mission to teach and disciple these kids, and they will (very soon) grow into the adults who sustain our church.
  2. It's very easy to forget that there are members of our larger church beyond the walls of our parish and the 40 or so people we see weekly. When I attend such events as Winter Convocation, the Mission Area Council, and the Bishop's Bike ride, they pull me out of myself and remind me of the larger church, and when I show up at such things as the Wakeman BBQ picnic, I always get involved in conversations with distant friends. There's much more to the church than our tiny corner.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How we spent that money

We have seen a lot of changes around the St. Matthew's building, much of it paid for by Capital Campaign money. Here's a list of what we have done recently, and how we paid for it.

Paid with money we contributed to the Capital Campaign

  • New kitchen stove
  • Rewiring to improve safety
  • Exterior door replacement (two of them)
  • New roof
  • Painting half the church exterior

Paid with money from memorial contributions

  • Altar candles (this was a while back)
  • New church organ
  • Signs directing people to our front door

Paid with specially designated money

  • Parking lot repair (David Eisel has been collecting money from people who park here to watch the football games. This fund covered the cost of the first repair cycle.)

Paid from savings

  • General landscaping

Yet to do


We are about halfway through the five-year cycle of the Capital Campaign, and contributions continue to come in. Three more building improvement projects need our attention:
  • Parish Hall floor (Currently it is made of disintegrating asbestos tile. We need to fix that.)
  • Second phase of parking lot repair (The parking lot had gotten really bad, and we need to follow up on this year's patch with a more permanent fix.)
  • Remainder of the exterior painting

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Virginia Bemis working toward becoming a Spiritual Director

Virginia Bemis has just completed the first year of a two-year licensing program in spiritual direction at John Carroll University in Cleveland. She will begin her second year in September. After certification, she plans on starting a spiritual direction practice.

Virginia describes spiritual direction as
training to listen to what God is saying in your life. It's growing your prayer life. It's discovering yourself and how you related to God. It's not psychotherapy, and it's not being told what to do. Instead, you start on a journey, along with a guide, to find out more about how you and God speak to each other at this point in your life. This guide is known as a spiritual director and is sometimes described as a personal trainer for your spiritual life.
The first year of the licensing program consisted of theological study, including the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The second year will combine theological study with internship. Virginia will work with directees under the guidance of an experienced supervisor, and will then be eligible for certification.

The University offers the licensing program through its Institute of Ignatian Spirituality.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Website not down

Apparently, Google has been refusing to index our church's main website for some time now. (I don't often search for the name of our church, but I should.)

The church and the website are still going, and I have cut the site down to very simple content in hopes that I can get back in Google's good graces, which is why you will not see any pictures or much of anything else fancy there. The bad news is that Google typically takes six weeks to index a site, so if my fixes didn't work, I will not know until the end of October. And if the site still has problems, there is no really good way to find out. The good news is that people do keep finding out Facebook page and the church website will appear if they follow the link.

If you want to see what the new (and very simple) home page looks like, just follow the link to St. Matthew's home page.

Later news:

The church site might have been hacked. Google simply refused to do anything with us, so I went through all the arcane little items and deleted the ones that didn't make any sense. Miracle! Google now can see the site!

We might have some action in the near future!

Still later news (September 9):

Aside from the hacking, another problem with the website is that I used fairly old-fashioned web code to do such things as inserting pictures and specifying where things would actually appear. Google did not love me for that. The home page is now done according to the new style, and the three following pages will soon be revised too.

If you type "Church Ashland Ohio" into Google, we are now on the third page of results. (Too far down in my opinion, but we are getting closer!)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Home from the hospital

William Bates (Mary Jo's dad) and Kasey Donnovan both hope to come home from Kingston next week. I'm sure they both would appreciate a card.