> I have just been elected (first time ever, anywhere) to the > vestry of my parish. .... I wondered if anyone would like to > contribute their own Tales of the Vestry for > the edification (and possible amusement) of all. Congratulations. Enjoy the assignment. I took several years off after my last time on the vestry, and am delighted to be back on again, since last May. Here are some suggestions that will help you enjoy your experience. Make an inventory of your talents and look for ways to connect them to the needs of the parish. Be especially alert for opportunities to serve those whom others are not noticing. I try to change pews at least once every 6 weeks so that I notice what's going on that I had not noticed before, especially who's sitting at the edges in the back where I do not usually sit. I'm working hard to learn the names of everyone. A good photographer in the parish has supplied me with many pictures he's taken at the coffee hour, and I have been taking a few pictures myself. I'm amazed at the number of people who have said with delight and surprise, "You remember my name?!" I also started a simple birthday calendar of the parish (see http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/gracepray.html). I had no trouble gathering the mth/day. I asked a few, posted them on a bulletin board, with a note "Please add your own birthday." A strange surprise was that some people not in the parish directory started putting their names up. They want to be remembered. The clergy have started putting the ones for the month in the newsletter and using them in the Prayers of the People. I have set up a unix routine that mails me the names and phone numbers of each person on her/his birthday, and I call them. Often the spouse answers the phone and is excited to know why I have called and fetches the one whose birthday it is. Some of the chores I am working on now: We have people in my parish who have been born in at least 15 different countries. We have two huge flag poles out front, and I think I have persuaded the rector to back my proposal to invite people to go together to buy a good nylon flag from each of these countries. We will fly one flag per country for a week at a time, keeping the others on display in the parish hall. My parish is right in front of the Post Office and across the street from the Federal Building where all immigrants into New Jersey are processed. Hundreds from each of those countries walk by our parish every week. Imagine their joy when they see their own flag...... Several of us will go together to buy as our national flag, the rainbow flag. On the first warm day I plan to investigate all the streets near the parish for Laundromats, apartment buildings, and other places that have bulletin boards for flyers, and I will experiment with putting announcements of special events in the parish. A friend from a parish near us puts fliers in our building for every event in her parish -- for every concert, forum, bible study....... and she assures me that she can identify several people at every one of those occasions who found out about it with her notices. The trick is to make copies and get others at the coffee hour to put them in their neighborhood as well. I made business cards for every member of the vestry using a parish logo and the person's own contact information. People are actively using these when they talk to visitors at the coffee hour. One told me that she was able to get restaurant nearby to donate some food for an ECW occasion when she used her Vestry business card to introduce herself. You don't have to be on the vestry to undertake these activities. Jesus bids us to go into the highways and hedges inviting people to God's feast. Thousands are languishing for lack of the Good News we take for granted. Joy! Lutibelle/Louie
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