Deacon Brad hosted an open house at his residence in celebration of living there just shy of a year. He provided hamburgers, hot dogs with fixin’s, and soft drinks. Guests helped out by grillin’ the meat, and drinks were kept cold, iced in a kiddy swimming pool.
Everyone wore casual attire and brought their own beverages and lawn chairs as desired. As you can see by the photo, lawn chairs formed a single, back pew for the backyard Eucharist presided over by Fr. David.
In the past, some members of our Holy Trinity congregation participated in a knitting and crocheting project during Lent. We made prayer shawls to be distributed to those who could use an extra handmade “hug.”
This year, we chose a different project. We all have family and friends affected by cancer, so we chose to make hats for cancer patients, who often lose their hair during treatment. Many ladies participated, and we blessed one hundred and twenty hats! The hats will be given to cancer support programs so they can be offered to patients. We pray for comfort and healing for all people affected by cancer.
It’s unusual to turn on the news and not hear something about the plight of refugees. For as much information that is broadcast, there’s just as much confusion about who are refugees and how we can help or even if we should help. Gabriel Akoi is a refugee from Liberia. He’s been in the U.S. for over 10 years and has attended Holy Trinity Episcopal Church the last several years. Currently, he works at Bethany Christian Services helping other refugees arriving to the U.S., many of them children who came here alone, without family members for support. He and others from Holy Trinity’s Outreach Committee invited Rev. Kris Van Engen from World Renew to talk to our parishioners about refugees and answer our questions.
People come into the U.S. to live permanently through four different avenues: family members, employers, diversity requirements, or as a refugee. The number of refugees in the world has reached its highest peak – over 30 million in 2016 according to the United Nations. Less than 1 percent of refugees are permanently displaced to another country. An even smaller number find their way to the U.S., and that’s after being vetted by multiple international and U.S. agencies and a more than two-year process. As Gabriel said, these people don’t want to leave their home. He didn’t want to leave his home in Liberia. Resettlement in the U.S. is a life-saving opportunity, not a choice.
What can be done to help these families and children when they are displaced to the U.S.? There are organizations in place right here in Grand Rapids to help them resettle. If you’d like to know how you can help, please talk to Gabriel or any member of the Outreach Committee and they will connect you and your resources with the needs of our new neighbors, whether it’s transportation, help with job placement, furniture and other household goods, or mentoring of refugee children.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” ~James 1:27
The Sunday School children planned an Outreach Project for Mother’s Day. They collected small unopened, unused bottles of perfume, lotion, nail polish, hair products, deodorant, personal products, and more. Their goal was to build 12 goodie bags for the women that reside at a domestic crisis shelter. Most often, these women arrive at the shelter without anything but the clothes on their backs.
The Rev. David Brower will be serving us as our interim rector during our search for a rector. David began his life’s journey running through the plains and forests of the Belgium Congo. His exposure to the exquisite cultural heritage of the Mbunn people amidst a pristine creation unspoiled by Western exploitation left him with an insatiable desire to explore the infinite wonders of the natural world and experience the rich diversity of human cultures.
His upbringing as a Baptist missionary kid blessed him with an abiding love for the stories of the Bible and a deep commitment to serve humanity. An added blessing of his missionary heritage was romancing another missionary kid (his wife Clara) when they were students at the Grand Rapids Bible College (now Cornerstone University). Together, they traversed the sometimes rocky, often joyful and always challenging path that led them out of the Baptist fold into the inclusive embrace of the Episcopal Church.
David began his professional career as a high school social science teacher. Later, after several vocational twists and turns, he began a three year period as a graduate student in anthropology at Michigan State University. Finally, the call to ordained ministry, which he first heard as a child, caught up with him, and he began his seminary formation at the Episcopal Divinity School (at the time in Cambridge, Massachusetts) in his mid thirties in 1976.
For many years, David has served urban and suburban churches in the Detroit area in the Diocese of Michigan and was prominently active in many phases of Diocesan life. More recently, he served a cluster of three churches in Ohio and then a Church near Buffalo, New York before retiring to a home near his birth place in Zeeland, Michigan. He thoroughly loves his involvement in Interim Ministry in which he has served six churches in the Diocese since his return to Michigan.
Each week, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church invited its neighbors to join us each week for Lenten soup suppers. We met on Tuesday evenings through the Lenten season. These gatherings allowed us to share a simple soup supper from 6:00-6:30 pm. Participants were asked to bring their own place setting, a beverage, and fruit, cheese, or bread to share. After supper, we discussed the Five Marks of Love curriculum from 6:30-8:00 pm. Participants did not need to study ahead of time or commit to every week.
Each year, we set the 40 days of Lent aside for a reboot. On February 26, the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) published a self-paced (anytime) course called 5 Marks of Love. “The six-week series provided the opportunity to observe and to reflect on the ways in which the Divine Life expresses itself in and through us; individually and in our faith communities, as well as in the world around us.” You can find more details: click here
On Maundy Thursday, April 13, we gathered downstairs at 6 pm for an agape meal and foot washing. The meal included Middle Eastern finger foods such as dates, grapes, nuts, olives, pita bread, and cheeses. Adults had an option of wine, and the children had apple juice. As we ate, there were points when we paused to reflect on scripture. The evening included a Holy Eucharist, and after our meal, we washed each other’s feet.
Episcopal youth, Madison Gradnigo, was encouraged to participate in the consecration of the wine.
Interim rector, Fr. David Brower, washed feet of senior warden, Melissa Puzan.
Each month, members and friends of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church gather at The Pantry to volunteer their time and talent. On April 6, 2017, in addition to helping the staff and program participants, we also had the opportunity to share some of our treasure. Through a donation of $750, we hope these funds will assist The Pantry in its ministry even when we aren’t physically there.