THE DOVE May 2012

Rector's Column

By the Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin

It would be hard to estimate how many books, articles, sermons, and treatises I have read over the years - like most clergy - about various aspects of congregational life and ministry. I have waded through many heavy, serious tomes, monographs and abstracts and briefer, succinct works; engaged with colleagues in soul- and church-searching conversations and discussions; sat at the feet of many of the leading figures in several disciplines; and, in general, tried-like most clergy-to become immersed in the literature and lore of how congregations function and operate.

Ironically, however, the single best summary I have seen on what makes for a healthy congregation did not come from a massive volume or a learned scholar or a wise fellow cleric. It came from, of all places, the newsletter of a small Lutheran Church in Perry, Iowa, and reads as follows:

A lively church has parking problems; a dead church doesn't.
A lively church has "noisy" children and young people; a dead church is too quiet.
A live church often changes the way things are done; a dead church doesn't have to.
A lively church often asks for more program and mission money; a dead church has plenty of money for what it does.
A lively church asks people to open up and risk involvement; a dead church plays it safe and never risks.
A lively church sees challenges and opportunities; a dead church sees problems and dangers.
A lively church apologizes, forgives, and seeks forgiveness; a dead church never makes mistakes.
A lively church uses its traditions and facilities to serve people; a dead church uses people to preserve facilities and traditions.
A lively church builds on its past, believes in God's future and "lets go" with faith; a dead church believes only in the past and "holds on."
A lively church is filled with committed givers; a dead church is filled with tippers.
A lively church dares to dream great dreams for God's Kingdom; a dead church has nightmares.

Yes, it is simplistic. Perhaps it's even a little glib. It is also largely very true. So how're we doing? And how can we do even better in responding to the call of God in this time and in this place? To what is God calling each of us, and all of?

Good questions to ponder in this month of Pentecost, this month of the Spirit, this month of our parish birthday feast . . .

Mother's Day/Recognition Sunday
May 13, 2012

On May 13, we will celebrate our annual Recognition Sunday, giving thanks for those who offer their gifts and talents in a variety of ministries within Holy Comforter, such as our church school teachers and leaders, choir members, and others. In addition, we will honor all Mothers on that special day. As an added treat, the children from the Church School will be singing at the 9:00 Eucharist, leading the rest of us in some of their favorite hymns and songs from their weekly worship in the Children's Chapel. This promises to be a joyful time as we thank publicly some of the people who make this parish the unique, grace-filled place that it is.

Newcomers' Reception
Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fr. Jason and Jan Parkin, Doug Groncki, and the Newcomers Team invite all who are new to Holy Comforter to join us at a reception and cocktail party at the Rectory on Sunday, May 20, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. This informal gathering-to which children of all ages are also invited-will be a casual and fun time for people who have recently come to Holy Comforter, as well as those pondering connecting to the congregation, to meet some parishioners, learn more about the parish, and become acquainted with one another. We promise that there will be no "hard sell:" we simply want to welcome you to Holy Comforter and enjoy some time together. Please contact the church office by May 15 to let us know you are coming. Please join us!

The Feast of Pentecost
Sunday, May 27, 2012

On May 27, we will celebrate the great Day of Pentecost, one of the seven Principal Feasts of the Church year, and the day traditionally deemed as the birthday of the Christian community. Pentecost is also one of the four Feast days on which we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Baptism, as we will this year at the 9:00 Eucharist. Pentecost falls during Memorial Day weekend in 2012, but all are exhorted - whether in town or on vacation - to observe this great Feast with joy, especially offering prayer and support for those joining the Family of Faith.

Many churches over the years have adopted the practice of wearing red-the color of the Holy Spirit-on Pentecost, so all are encouraged to do so this year. After all, as a parish dedicated to the Holy Comforter, Pentecost is our birthday; and what better way to observe it than to dress up in a colorful fashion, sing some great music, and welcome new sisters and brothers into the family? In addition, if anyone speaks or reads a foreign language and would like to take part in a polyglot recitation of the story of the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11), please contact the Rector. Come, wear red, make a joyful noise to the God who has called us together, and get caught up in the Spirit!

The Rev. Kenneth Erickson

It is with absolute joy and delight that we are able to announce the call of the Rev. Kenneth Erickson to be the 15th Rector of St. James Church, Birmingham, Michigan.  Ken, who was associate at Holy Comforter from 2005 to 2007, has most recently served as the interim Associate at Christ Church, Winnetka, and as Chaplain and Director of Church Relations and Major Gifts at Holy Family Ministries in Chicago. He and his family will be moving to Birmingham in early summer, and he will begin his new ministry on July 1.

St. James is a significant church dating back to 1895, and is located north and slightly west of downtown Detroit. It enjoys a lively and diverse ministry, a dedication to outreach, and a fine music tradition, including two choirs for children, an adult choir, and a handbell choir (the church even has a men's golf league and a bridge group, among other things!).

We give thanks to God for this wonderful new opportunity and call for Ken, and send the Ericksons off with our prayers, support, and gratitude for his time among us here at Holy Comforter and elsewhere in the Diocese of Chicago. If you are in the Detroit Metro area, you now have a church to visit. May God bless Ken and his family in this new chapter of their journey of faith and hope!

The Vineyard

We express our sympathy to and offer our prayers for the Washburn family on the death of Char's brother-in-law, Larry Sinyard.

Calendar of Events

Wednesday, May 2
Time for Women Book Club, 7:30pm in the library
Friday, May 4
Act Now: Chicago Jr. High School Mission Trip (return 5/6)
Sunday May 6
Sue Murphy Easter People Presentation, 10:00am in the Great Hall
Saturday, May 12
Holy Family "Reach for the Stars" Spring Benefit

6:30pm at Michigan Shores Club
Sunday, May 13
Recognition Sunday
Mothers' Day Diaper Drive (a one-day collection of any size/brand disposable diapers for World Relief) 
Wednesday, May 16
Celtic Spirituality led by Fr. Hardman, 10:30am in the library
Sunday, May 20
Newcomers' Reception/Open House from 4:00-6:00pm 
Hosted by Fr. Jason and Jan Parkin at the Rectory
Sunday, May 27
The Feast of Pentecost and Sacrament of Baptism
Sunday, June 3
Holy Eucharist featuring Country Music at 10:00am
followed by the Parish Picnic on the church grounds

Annual Picnic Goes Country
Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bringing the Sacred and the Secular Together
By Father Chris Hardman

Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour. (Jeremiah 12:9 KJV)

The first big hit for country music legend, Roy Acuff, was "The Great Speckled Bird," a song based on the Jeremiah passage cited above. The words were written by the Rev. Guy Smith in the midst of the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy of the 1920's and 1930's. In this song, the great speckled bird represents the persecuted Fundamentalist Church. It speaks of how the church is going to make it through the great tribulation and rise up and fly away to heaven. (i.e. the Rapture)

My wife's father used to say that "The Great Speckled Bird" was his favorite song. Perhaps, he was kidding; after all, he was the prosecuting attorney for Eastern Arkansas, loved Jazz, and was much more sophisticated than your typical 1960's country aficionado. But, on the other hand, maybe he wasn't kidding because there is something about this song that speaks to the soul. It is not just about a particular time of persecution, but about persecution in general. And to some degree we have all experienced that. It is a part of the human condition.

That is what country music does for us, you know? It gives voice to our struggles in the midst of suffering. In a sense it is like Blues music. It is an expression of a marginalized and sometimes persecuted group of "white people" who struggle with evil and suffering in the broader "southern white culture." Sure, the suffering is mostly centered around someone cheatin' on someone else, but nevertheless, that is the source of lots of suffering as well.

The biblical story certainly resonates with country music. It, too, is about finding grace in the midst of our trials and tribulation. It is about God being present to us in the midst of our suffering, suffering with us, helping us to get through it while at the same time drawing us closer to God and one another. And that happens, as you know, not just in church, but in our regular lives. The sacred and the secular are not separate realities but part of the same reality.

So we are going to incorporate country music into our service of Holy Eucharist at the parish picnic. The songs we are going to use are not old timely hits, but current music. Country music has broadened its appeal and has become much more mainstream today. But, at its best, it still gives voice to grace in the midst of suffering.

We hope you will join us for our annual picnic on Sunday, June 3, at 10am so that "great speckled bird" we call Holy Comforter might fly away to heaven. Local country band Lucky Town will lead us in singing the following songs: 

Folsom Prison Blues [Johnny Cash]
Free & Easy [Dierks Bentley]

Live Like you Were Dying [Tim McGraw]  
Living In Fast Forward [Kenny Chesney]  
Last Dollar [Tim McGraw]
Bless The Broken Road [Rascal Flatts]  
In Color
[Jamey Johnson]

Sweet Home Alabama [Lynrd Skynyrd]
Chicken Fried [Zac Brown Band]

Celtic Spirituality

A New Adult Education Opportunity

By Father Chris Hardman
Over the past 25 years a recovery of Celtic Spirituality has had an enormous influence on our church. In fact, it is one of the primary traditional sources that is leading us into a "new-old way of being church." (When I say Celtic Spirituality, I am referring to a particular way of relating to God not to the Boston basketball team. Thus, Celtic is pronounced with a "k" sound not an "s" sound.)

The Celts were known as the "the fathers of Europe" but retreated to the fringes of Europe (Gaul, Britain, and Ireland) during the Roman invasion just before the birth of Christ. The Celts in Britain were converted to Christianity very early, around 100 A.D.

The barbarians (Anglo-Saxons) invaded Britain about 410 A.D., destroyed many churches and pushed the Celtic Christians into the western fringes-Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. In the 6th century, after things had settled down, the Celts who had developed their own style of Christianity (a holistic style based on a monastic model, but with an emphasis on nature) began to move east and south and evangelize the Anglo-Saxons.

About the same time, 597 A.D., the Roman Church sent Augustine and others to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons as well. Their brand of Christianity (Benedictine Spirituality) was much more regulated than the Celtic type and so many conflicts between the two arose. In 664 A.D. they reached a compromise at the Synod of Whitby wherein the Roman Church essentially "won" and began to enforce their regulations on the whole church in England. Thankfully, however, many of the Celtic Christians ignored the Roman mandates and maintained their own style of spirituality.

Thus, as the Church in England continued to grow, the influence of both of these groups produced a Church with a very distinctive style. We know it as Anglicanism.

We have just completed a series on Benedictine Spirituality and on Wednesday, May 16, at 10:30am we will begin a 4-week study of Celtic Spirituality, using Ray Simpson's book Exploring Celtic Christianity: Historic Roots for Our Future. Since Celtic Christians loved nature, we will immerse ourselves in it when possible. I hope you will join us.

Please note: There will be no class on May 2.  On Wednesday, May 9, we will hold a discussion session that will focus on Marjorie Thompson's presentation, "Growing in Forgiveness: A Practice of Spiritual Freedom."

Recognizing the Ordinary

By Patti Pateros, Director of Community Life 
Recognition Sunday is May 13, a day in which we traditionally and intentionally thank our church school teachers and choir members for the service they provide for the parish. On this day, let's also think about all those who, everyday, make Holy Comforter a wonderful, loving, caring community . . . by their unsolicited good deeds, their compassionate ministry, their gracious stewardship, their joyful participation in worship, fellowship and formation. No one is expecting special recognition; none are waiting for a pat on the back. What they do just comes naturally; to them, these are ordinary acts.  So it is to you - our Holy Comforter community - that we extend our gratitude and appreciation this Recognition Sunday.
Read full article here>>>

Many Ways to Say "I Love You" 

By Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministry Associate
There are many ways to hear God's voice, feel God's touch, and know God's presence.  I think we tend to forget that at times. We are so busy trying to raise our children correctly or successfully that we forget to open up our minds to the numerous ways we can teach our children (and ourselves) to know God. We know God's love in the hug of a grandparent, the laugh of a teacher, and the sharing of a toy with a friend. We hear God's voice in the goodnight whisper of Mom or the baseball cheer of Dad. We sense God's presence when we reach out to someone in need or when we sit quietly in our backyard being still. God does not limit God's voice to words we hear in church. God has many ways to say, I love you.  Read full article here>>> 

One Thing Leads to Another

By Mary Johnson, Director of Children's Ministries
In a Google search of quotes about friendship, I came across several I really like. One in particular led me to a search of the individual credited with the quote. I spent the next 20 minutes reading a little bit about Conrad Aiken, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Poet Laureate of the United States. He was born in Savannah, Georgia. and is buried there but had a fascinating life beyond the confines of Savannah before his death in 1973. His request was that his tombstone would be a bench so that visitors, in his words, could come and sit and enjoy a martini at his grave. The inscription reads: "Give my love to the world." The quote of Conrad Aiken that caught my attention is: "Music I heard with you was more than music. Bread I broke with you was more than bread."  Read full article here>>>