Twenty five years is a long time. Twenty five years ago I was a graduate student in Tallahassee working on finishing a dissertation and looking forward to spending the next year as a visiting faculty member at East Tennessee State University. Twenty five years ago, Susan I were “just” dating and having lots of fun. Graduation, marriage, and children were not even on the radar. Twenty five years ago, Bill Clinton was elected president, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi were Wimbledon champions, AOL (American Online) was just one year old and Yahoo would not appear for another two years. Twenty five years later, I am a priest in the Episcopal Church with two grown children, one of whom is graduating from college. Good thing I am just as tall and slim as twenty five years ago. You know that I am kidding. Twenty five years, good years for the most part, is a long time. During that time I had a season for being a professor of sociology, for starting and raising a family, a season of living is several places in the South and the Midwest, a season for sharing time with inlaws and for seeing them die too young. I am sure that your experience over twenty five years is also one of seasons and change. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
About twenty five years ago a bunch of servants of God started Country Fare, that wonderful gathering of this faith community in an effort to provide quality discount goods and raise funds to help the needy. Over the years that event has changed and has seen changes in leadership, and this community has changed along with it. There were years when for practical or other reasons Country Fare was not held, but mostly for the past twenty five years this church has gathered and pulled it off one more time. It has been a huge effort with untold blessings for those who have participated as workers and guests. I do not think anyone doubts that Country Fare has been a good thing for this church and our community. But we also recognize that our community has changed. When Country Fare started, there were not the number of thrift stores we now have. Country Fare provided at its start something not readily available to the local population. These stores provide both a place for us to donate our gently used items and the low cost goods that benefit so many in our community. We should also recognize that we have changed. Hauling furniture and long hours moving, sorting, organizing and preparing items for sale takes a physical toll. Country Fare is a tall order for a parish with an average age of about 70. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Country Fare has had its season and will be on Sabbath for at least this year.
In this season where we now find ourselves, we have several on-going and newer ministry activities into which I invite your participation. Upcoming is the annual Parade of Tables. With that on-going, I ask that you make that an event where you invest your time, talent, and treasure. Be generous in your donation of an auction item. Attend and be generous in your bidding. All funds raised will be carefully used to further the mission of God in the world. I also ask, if you are not already doing so, that you participate in our Ingles Gift Card program. Ingles cards can be used for all your grocery, prescription, and gas purchases. The church receives $5 for outreach for every $100 of gift cards sold. We have only 20-25 families of our approximately 190 who regularly purchase Ingles Gift Cards and that could be greatly increased. Doubling that number would generate about $9000 annually for our outreach fund. For your convenience and so that you may earn your card program bonus points, credit cards will now be accepted for Ingles Gift Card purchases. We are asking that you pay the 3% credit card fee or an extra $3 on each $100 in cards that you purchase. Lastly, take note that our church now has a ministry team called the Holy Smokers. The Holy Smokers prepare and sell smoked meats and sides to raise funds for the church and its mission. You will find them holding events at church and throughout our community. Those looking for fun and fellowship out in the community along with your service might consider becoming part of the Holy Smokers team. Please feel welcome to ask me about any of these ministries and how to get involved.
Grace and peace,