- As a member of the church choir, I am privileged to assemble weekly for discovery and delivery: 40 minutes of intense rehearsal followed by performances of a wide range of religious choral music which skillfully enhances our worship throughout the cycles of the church calendar. Expertly conducted by Chris Clark, with inspirational keyboard accompaniment by Lee Cheek or Sarah Keene, and augmented with the leadership of bass soloist John Cheek, our group can flexibly expand, as required, from three or four singers to a full choir with additional instrumental accompaniment on violin and woodwinds. Singing with this group has been spiritually rewarding, and has also improved my musicianship in all areas.
- The Wisdom Group is an appointed group of parishioners charged by the vestry to examine and define potential financial partnerships with outside groups for social good. After months of planning and networking throughout the region, our biggest project to date culminated in May 2019 when we co-presented with Fairview Hospital, “Addiction and Recovery with Chris Herren” at Mount Everett Regional High School during the school day. For greater community impact and education, a free open evening program was held at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. In addition to our ongoing financial support of Gideon’s Garden, we also underwrote a portion of the Multicultural BRIDGE Summer Day Camp program, which culminated in a day of activities and celebration at Gideon’s Garden. We also have continued substantial support for the important work of the Berkshire Immigrant Center. The Wisdom Group continues to seek input from our congregation as to specific future endeavors.
- I also serve on the church vestry, which monitors all the pieces of the evolving jigsaw puzzle that is Grace Church. Directed by a committed executive committee consisting of the Senior and Junior Wardens, the Treasurer, and Secretary, along with the Rector, it has been my privilege to contribute what I can to overseeing the many facets of Grace Church: budgeting to outreach, office setting issues to worship, stewardship to community involvement.
- A project that has grown closer to my heart is wrapped around Gideon’s Garden at Taft Farm. For the last ten years, this garden has grown and flourished under the steady support and guidance of owner Dan Tawczynski and greenhouse manager Sue Hayden. Of course, the secret sauce to this “youth-supervised” gardening experiment continues to be the constant presence of our very own guardian angel, Pennie Currie. Pennie has mentored and inspired children, adults, and families through her involvement in opening opportunities for connections to the garden/farm through animal care, camp programs, and other special events (i.e. ice cream socials). After ten years of partnership with Taft Farms, a new initiative (a leap of faith) took place when Grace Church received a gift that was used to hire a full time program director. The Rev. Jen Bloesch, was chosen to direct this youth-focused ministry. Together with Fisher, who serves as youth supervisor, Jen planned the layout and expanded the number of rows for field planting. Jen and Fisher ordered and planted the seeds at Taft Farm’s plastic houses. They cleaned up the fields, hoop house, and tool shed, and re-created chicken coops in the barn. Jen incubated two sets of eggs at her apartment before moving them to the Garden.
Van deliveries of fresh grown vegetables to numerous food pantries and social services agencies continue without disruption. A number of youth groups contribute to the planting, maintenance, and harvesting of produce, and more importantly, they experience stewardship, belonging, and fellowship that they can carry forward with them.
My personal involvement with the four areas outlined above only scratches the surface of what is going on at Grace Church. I hope that by sharing the accomplishments of these ministries, we will continue to Shine Our Light in the next chapters of our shared adventures together.