Recent times at St. Martin’s have been very eventful and full of surprises and blessings. Let me mention a few items on our full slate of recent wonders—beginning with our birthday.
Though many of us are older than St. Martin’s, it’s not by much: we celebrated the church’s sixtieth birthday in October. On that Sunday we were full up with sixty plus people, some of them less than sixty plus years old. The Bishop was on hand for the occasion, as well as several other Episcopal clergy persons. In addition, the wider faith community of the State of Jefferson was represented, with the ministers of Trail Community Church and the local Methodist congregation also taking part.
Not long before that Sunday, Father Tom Buechele agreed to continue as Priest-in-charge for another year. That’s a great thing for us all, as Father Tom “speaks to the hearts of the people of St. Martin’s.” His social justice orientation, his graciousness in liturgy, and his outgoing nature are a perfect fit for us, he is greatly loved, and all are grateful for his presence in ministry to us.
Also on the clergyperson front, for the first time in living memory, St. Martin’s has a deacon. I am greatly privileged to be living out my diakonia in Shady Cove. Ordinarily, I’m a man of very few words, but I have to say I’m an extremely happy camper. Service at St. Martin’s has been from the beginning a wonderful experience and I’m grateful for the wisdom of the Bishop in posting me to St. Martin’s. I aspire to be an effective bridge between the community at large and the church, to bring them closer together in service to what I believe is our common cause, the furthering of God’s Kingdom.
Speaking of the Kingdom: in terms of social justice ministries, I’m here to testify that we at St. Martin’s step up to the plate with strong membership participation in our food bank and laundry love ministries, both of which are important ways we express our caring and love for those we live among. This last food pantry helped with groceries for 90 families, which we calculate means around 320 people altogether. Our Laundry Love ministry is a fairly new one for us which reaches another group of people in Shady Cove. Last Laundry Love served six families, eleven people altogether, and is a growing ministry as the word spreads.
In terms of table fellowship, let me just say that we at St. Martin’s step up to the plate there also—literally. Just in the past several months, there has been an Oktoberfest feast, a prime rib banquet, a Seder meal, and an Easter Sunday Lamb and Ham Spread. Any one of those would have taken your breath away and all of them were on offer to the Shady Cove community at large. And every Sunday, Coffee Hour is a true hour—nobody stands around with a little coffee cup and a cucumber finger. It’s a sit-down lunch, and there’s a lot of talk and a lot of laughter around the tables. We very firmly believe in celebrating the abundance of the Kingdom and the convivial warmth of Christian fellowship in deed as well as in word at St. Martin’s.
I would like to mention another stepping up as well—St. Martin’s people stepping up to and into a washbasin for Maundy Thursday’s footwashing. Without diminishing the beauty of the experience for everybody concerned and without diminishing its spiritual meaning, allow me to draw attention to the comprehensive participation level at St. Martin’s. twenty-one people were there, twenty had their feet washed. That’s more than 95 percent.
Finally, there was a wonderful part of the Good Friday liturgy, Father Tom’s inspired extra moment in the part of the liturgy where the people approach the cross. They brought forward with them a big nail that they were given when they first entered the church. When it was given to them, they were told that their concerns and troubles and guilts—whatever they wished—could be “put into the nail.” There was a metal bucket at the foot of the cross. When the people came forward, they reverenced the cross and dropped their nail into the bucket—a kind of “letting go.’ The nails made a very satisfying k-chink or k-chunk sound when they went in. I think we’ll be doing it again next Good Friday.
And that’s the news from Shady Cove.