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.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mike McKinley is home — again

Mike has had a rough time for the last month, but he is finally home from hospital and rehabilitation, etc. He feels much better now. Apparently his heart problems have been sneaking up on him for a while now. Anyhow, he's carrying a pacemaker and a defibrillator.

He's very much back in the leadership of the Vestry. On his second day home, he arranged for a repair to one of the exit doors, and is making plans for discussing the budget with Dean.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Shirlene is home

Shirlene Reed's gallbladder surgery was successful. She is home now.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Organ Dedication

Today the Norma Elizabeth McKinley organ was dedicated with a recital by guest organist David Powers. We had a large crowd that included members of our own parish and a lot of old friends. Most stayed for quite a while at the reception that followed the dedication ceremony.

Mike McKinley, who generously donated the organ in memory of his wife, was unable to attend because of health problems, but the family was represented by his son and daughter-in-law.

The organ is an electronic organ, but if you are imagining something that sounds fake, the recital was quite a surprise. The first thing we heard were chimes. Later in the recital, Powers showed off the clarinet and harpsichord voices. Modern electronic organs get their voices by taking digital samples of musical instruments and storing them, so when the organist calls for a particular sound, it is not a synthetic guess. It is an actual representation of a particular harpsichord. It was all very impressive.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bob Reed is home

Bob Reed is home from the hospital and doing well. He was at church Sunday, but (understandably) feeling very weary after his surgery.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Mike McKinley is Home

After suffering a heart attack last Saturday night and receiving a pacemaker, Mike McKinley is now home. He's not ready to receive visitors yet, but he's doing well.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Two big building improvements

Exterior paint

The exterior painting got finished this week. Our excellent, honest Amish painters were able to do the job for less money than their original estimate, so the final bill was substantially less than we expected.

Note on the painting
You may wonder why the church building doesn't look that much better! This is because the whole building did not get painted. (We didn't have the money for that.) The west side of the sanctuary (facing Mifflin Avenue) and the south side of the building got done. Those areas were peeling to the point where bare wood was exposed, but when you park your car and walk up to the building, you don't normally see those sides. The north side of the building (which you do see as you walk in) is showing dirt and wear, but at least it is still protecting the wood underneath, so we postponed doing that painting.


When I went by the building on Thursday afternoon, the place looked a bit like a desert. All the overgrown old foliage had been torn out and Brandon had just begun putting in the new plantings. There was no mulch yet, and the ground was pretty dry, increasing the desolate look. Friday's weather was excellent for outdoor work, and today's looks to be good too, so I expect Sunday morning to bring a really nice appearance. I don't know what his completion date is, but I would be surprised if the project went more than another week.

We got two unexpected little bonuses from this project. Near the Parish Hall door, there is now a small plaque saying that the plantings were in loving memory of a former Parish member. I didn't recognize the name, and there had been no talk of this being a memorial garden, so it was a puzzle. The answer was that the plaque had been buried deep in the foliage and forgotten and Brandon only found it when he began pulling out old plants. So now we have a memorial garden, not just a better looking entrance-way.

The other bonus is that the stained glass windows in the sanctuary, the ones behind the altar, had been blocked by overgrown plants. Now they get full sun all the way to the bottom, giving the room more light and color. It's a noticeable difference.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Changes are starting to get visible

We have made a lot of changes around the church building in the last year:
  • Revamped and upgraded electric system.
  • New kitchen stove
  • New roof on the sanctuary
  • Several new doors
A problem, though, is that all of these changes are invisible. Few people go into the furnace room to gaze at (and rejoice in) the new fuse box, and the new roof is exactly the same color as the old one. Even the next big expense item, painting the church exterior, will be invisible because we're having it done in exactly the same brown color as previously. If you don't spend much time in the kitchen, you don't remember the fire-hazard monster that was our previous stove, so you might not even notice that we have a new one. (Fittingly, the old one's name was Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and volcanos.) People who are sensitive to music will probably realize that the new organ is an enormous improvement, but the new one looks pretty much the same as the previous one (and our organists got good at working around the problems of the old one, so a casual listener did not realize that our unique sound came from the organ's inability to play certain notes).

All that is about to change.

The first small visible change is new signs pointing to the church entrance. On Grubby Sunday, the church doors will get a coat of red paint. The big visible change, though, will be the new landscaping, which is scheduled to start appearing this week. Brandon Nardo is doing the work, and his design will give us a continual change of color so there is really no "dead" season for our plantings.

For the future

The Planting for Tomorrow money that is coming in will go toward the paint and the landscaping, but we need to pay attention (and soon) to the parking lot and the floor in the Parish Hall. Once again, unspectacular—we're trying to catch up to years of deferred maintenance.

But why?

Some of the repairs have been very pragmatic. If you want to keep a wooden building, you have to deal with fire hazards (such as the wiring and the stove) and weather hazards (which explains our need for paint and roofing).

There's more, though. If you visit a restaurant that a friend recommended and the place is shabby, with holes in the parking lot and a floor that is falling apart, you might not want to come back. And if the entrance is difficult to find and intimidating, you might not even go in at all. The Vestry is thinking of these things and wants to make St. Matthew's a more pleasant, inviting place.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New organ!

Today was the first day for the new digital organ! (Honestly, there was a question whether the old console would make it another month.)

It sounded fine, and even with a few glitches (there are a lot more bells and whistles to manage) we're sure it will be a great addition to the sanctuary. The ordinary observer sitting in the pews cannot see any difference whatsoever, so the difference is all in the hearing. No more odd moments when a key sticks and the note continues to sound. No more times when the organist presses a key and nothing happens at all.

The Organ Committee is planning a proper dedication and recital, with guest organists and a big invitation to the community. (The date will depend on availability of the artists.) We're also looking into ways to use the new organ at other times, perhaps for such things as guest recitals and evening programs.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Laura Chagat Health Update

Laura Chagat's surgery at Riverside Hospital in Columbus was successful. According to Robert they removed two tumors from Laura's brain. Please continue to keep Laura and Robert in your prayers.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Organ First Step

I stopped by the church building on Friday and saw that the organ installers have put up the very first phase of the project. Two very inconspicuous speakers are now hidden behind the beams high up near the roof of the nave. You can't see them at all when you are sitting in a pew, and I assume the console won't be there for Sunday, but the project is beginning.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Taize Field Trip

Last Wednesday, nine of us made the trip to St. Alban's in Cleveland Heights to participate in their Taizé Compline service.
(Full Disclosure Note: We also used this as an excuse to have dinner together at a restaurant which features all sorts of sandwiches and melted cheese creations.)
The TaizĂ© community in France is an ecumenical monastic community which has become known for its simple songs and chants. Here is an example of their singing. (We were fewer than a dozen, and we didn't have musical instruments, so we didn't sound much like the YouTube version here.)

Compline (which is an evening service similar to Vespers or Evening Prayer) is an excellent setting for this sort of meditative music. St. Alban's has enormous windows to look out on the gathering evening, and all of us agreed that the prayer service was really profound.

The point of all this is to learn whether we should incorporate this kind of music at St. Matthew's. Thursday Evening Prayer seems like the place we would see it first.
(OK—here's another advertisement: Singing at Evening Prayer will go a lot better if we have a few more voices. We generally meet every Thursday at 5 p.m. for about half an hour. It's a great way to close out a work day.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Landscape Plans

Brandon Nardo, who has been doing our mowing, and who owns Nardo's Landscaping Solutions, presented a complete landscape plan to the Vestry last Sunday. He wants to get rid of dead and overgrown plants, freshen things up, and give the church exterior a colorful display that will change with the seasons but never really go dead.

To tell the truth, we need it. Many of the plants were put in a very long time ago and the general look is sort of withered and dying. Maybe a lot of thought went into the original plantings, but that was in the 1970s, so it's time for some freshness.

Is this a frivolous waste of money? I don't think so. For one thing, the face we would like to present to the community is a welcoming, lively face, and dead plants do not help that image. For another, we worship a God who loves beauty and freshness, and it would be really appropriate for our worship place to reflect God's character. If a third reason is needed, the "Prayers of the People," which we pray each Sunday, includes prayers that we would be mindful of God's created world and take care of it. Yes, we recycle plastic, aluminum, and paper, but "caring for God's creation" should also include planting things and caring for them.

Brandon is set to begin as soon as the weather clears and the soil dries a bit, so if you see trucks and heavy equipment moving earth, it's probably him.

Hosta appeal

Part of the new plan includes hosta plants. (They bloom nicely and require little care.) If you have hostas, any color, they can find a new home in the church flower beds.

Money note

The landscaping and the new floor in the Parish Hall were not part of the original Capital Campaign proposal, but replacing the organ was—though it was a "pie in the sky" kind of proposal. Now that Mike McKinley has stepped forward to generously give the organ to the church, we have Capital Campaign money available for other projects. Note that this means we do have to keep up with the pledges we made to the campaign.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Church Organ News

As Rev. Kay said on Sunday, there is some bad news, some good news and some excellent news about the organ.

The bad news

Kevin Jacques, who plays for the church several times a year, gives the current organ six months to live. An increasing number of notes simply do not work, including one whole stop.

The good news

Our organ committee has listened to several options and has made a decision. The proposed new organ is a digital (electronic) organ that sounds remarkably good and has the endorsement of several of our friends who are organists. We will keep the organ pipes, and it's possible in the future to set up the organ console so the pipes will sound too.

The excellent news

One member of the organ committee, Mike McKinley, has decided to pay the whole cost of the new organ as a memorial to his dear wife Norma. The papers are being signed this week, so a new organ will certainly be in place by summer.

The footnote

When the Capital Campaign was first proposed, organ repair/replacement was part of the plan. We held off on several other needed projects (for example, new floor in the Parish Hall and landscaping) because of the expense of the organ, but now we can use Capital Campaign money for other needed building repairs and improvements.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Catherine Kearns 90th

March 27, Easter Sunday, was Catherine Kearns's 90th birthday. During coffee hour, we had a decorated cake and a card shower, and several family members came from out of town to help her celebrate.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Health News

Dean Glasener is home resting from successful thyroid surgery.

Allan (and Mary Rose) and Allan's mom, Jean Andersen and are home from a trip to Florida. Jean had a severe infection and was hospitalized for three days in Florida. She is still very weak and will not be in church on Sunday.

Cliff Broeder fell earlier this week in a parking lot but is doing much better and hopes to be back in church on Sunday.

Faithful former parishioner Martha Unger passed away Thursday morning (March 17th). Please keep Charlie Unger in your prayers. The memorial service will be April 2nd, at 3pm (reception beforehand), Trinity Episcopal Church, Alliance, OH. May Martha's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Church Building Improvements

As a result of our Capital Funds Campaign, we will be able to make several improvements around the property. The money from the Capital Campaign comes in quarterly, so here are a few of the changes you will see over the next few months.*


Many of the plants and bushes around the church have gotten tired and/or overgrown, and nobody ever took a look at the whole property to give it a coherent appearance. We've asked Brandon Nardo to draw up some plans and begin working on them. By the time the weather is hot, you should see some definite changes.


We were supposed to get a lot of painting work done last summer, but weather prevented our contractor from doing it. He's promised to get on the job just as soon as things are warm and dry enough that the paint will work well.

Door Paint

Church buildings often have red doors. The symbolism goes back centuries, and it's not just Episcopal churches. The reason behind the tradition is a little uncertain: some say it's because of the blood of Christ (and he did say, "I am the door."), while others say it's because churches were traditionally a place of refuge and safety. Whatever the reason, we have chosen a shade of red, we're buying the paint, and we will soon have renewed red doors on the church.

Church Organ

Our pipe organ represents the best technology of the 1970s. Unfortunately, the company that made it has gone out of business, and 45 years is a long time for electrical components, so some of the notes are reluctant to sound, while others simply do not go at all. We've got an organ committee examining several options for replacing and/or repairing our organ. It will be a major expense, so this change will probably not be immediate—but we are working on it.

*If you have pledged to the Planting for Tomorrow campaign, you are receiving an envelope every month. That is where the money for these projects is coming from. Please be faithful in fulfilling your promise. If you would like to begin contributing, please talk to the church treasurer.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

John Wagner, Parish Assistant

John has actually been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work for the parish for years: collecting mail, cleaning, and so forth. Now we are making it official and giving him the recognition he deserves. John's new title is Parish Assistant.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Judith Ream is Home

Judith has been discharged from Kingston and is home. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rev Kay's 25th

Last Sunday was the 25th anniversary of Kay Ashby's ordination to the priesthood. We had a grand celebration, with music, lasagne and a decorated cake. Friends from all over (including the Bishop and a lot of clergy) attended.

We tried to keep the whole thing secret. Kay's husband, Joe Ashby (who is the priest at Grace Episcopal in neighboring Mansfield) organized the whole thing, and the secret almost worked, but at Winter Convocation several people said to her, "I hear the Bishop is visiting you this Sunday." And "I hear you are going to have a grand celebration this weekend." So the cat was out of the bag. For her part, Rev. Kay did a great job of feigning cluelessness all morning on Sunday, even though the trunk of her car was stuffed with paper plates for the dinner and her son just happened to want to visit and stay over night and just happened to bring his saxophone along.

The service itself was Candlemas, which celebrates the arrival of light and life through Jesus Christ and that seems appropriate, considering the impact Rev. Kay has had on our parish.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vestry Changes

In an Episcopal parish, the Vestry is the group of lay members who watch over physical, temporal aspects of the parish (such things as roof repairs). At St. Matthew's, we have five Vestry members, who are elected for three-year terms. A Vestry member cannot be re-elected until he/she has been out of office for a year.

The Vestry elects its own officers: Senior Warden (the chair-person of the vestry), Junior Warden (who acts as vice-chair, and who has special responsibility for building maintenance), and Secretary. The parish also has a Treasurer, who is not necessarily a member of the Vestry.

The two members who are leaving Vestry are Allan Andersen and Judith Ream. Many thanks to both of you for your service these past three years.

Our Vestry for 2016 is
Curtis Allen, Secretary
Erin Fuller
Mike McKinley, Senior Warden
Sister Nadine
And Shifley, Junior Warden
Dean Glasener is our church Treasurer.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Action by the Anglican Communion

You are probably aware, if you have been reading news reports, that (in the words of the CNN headline) "Anglicans suspend Episcopal Church over same-sex marriage."

As a Diocese and as a parish, we have tried to provide a safe home for LGBT Christians, so this action by the larger body of world-wide Anglicans is very troubling. I encourage you to read:

*The "Presiding Bishop" is also known as the Primate, and is the chief pastor for the entire denomination.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Convocation

We will be sending seven adults to the 2016 Winter Convocation in Sandusky: Sister Nadine, Andi Shifley, Curt Allen, Rev. Kay, Erin Fuller, and Bob and Shirlene Reed. In addition Tyler, Jessica, Elody, and Kasey will be attending the youth event.

Winter Convocation is an annual Diocesan event (this year at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio, Friday, Saturday - January 29-30) that focuses on developing resources for living the Christian life. This year's theme is "Growing in our relationships with God, Self, Others, and Creation."