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Sunday Schoolers learned about King David in one of their recent lessonsâ€” and then they got to dress up like kings, too. Christian Education for all ages is under way and meets before each 10:30 am Sunday service. â€”photo by Heather Harwell
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Trinity Topics VOLUME XXX | Number 11
November 2014 ...............................................
Staff, Vestry, & Officers Rector | The Reverend Brad Mullis Parish Administrator | Susie Medlin Organist/Choirmaster | Sam Holt Preschool Director | Sherry George Senior Warden | Will Fanjoy Junior Warden | Rob Hites Adult Ed | Clay Crouch Newcomers & Evangelism | Kim Dockery Outreach | Layton Getsinger Finance | Nimocks Haigh Communications | James Hogan Young Adults | Amy Lawton Parish Life | Carol Leach Pastoral Care | Cathy Marshall Youth | Scott Rankin Music & Worship | Anne Rhyne Vestry Secretary | Susan Cardwell Treasurer | Jim Lawton Assistant Treasurer | Evie Caldwell
In This Issue 4
Can-Do Food Drive Wraps Up
We are All Saints
Call for Nominations
Trinity Topics is a monthly publication of Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesville, NC. The views and opinions that appear in this publication are not necessarily those of the church, vestry, diocese, or The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. © 2010 Trinity Episcopal Church. ...............................................
CONTACT US 801 Henkel Road / PO Box 1103 Statesville, NC 28677-1103 (700) 872-6310 | Fax: (700) 872-6315 email@example.com Office Hours: Monday 8:30—3:00; TuesdayThursday 8:30—2:00; Friday 8:30—1:00
The one-stop shop for what’s going on this month
Will the congregation surpass last year’s record of 1,752 pounds?
If you thought this edition seemed thicker than normal, you’re right
God has made us, and he’s made us holy. Rev. Brad talks about why we are in the company of saints
November’s Annual Meeting is when we elect four new vestry members
Website: www.trinitysvl.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/trinitysvl Trinity Talks: www.facebook.com/ groups/trinitysvl Twitter: follow us @trinitysvl Instagram: follow us @trinitysvl or share your photos using #trinitysvl
Every Member Needed
Searching for Home
Turning Grief into Art
Finance and Outreach Notes
Milestones; Service Schedule
The 100 Campaign aims to be a different canvass for our church
Brittany Harrison found herself living out of her car. But the church’s doors weren’t always open
Jane Getsinger’s painting in Hospitality Hall has a moving story to accompany its portrayal of light and dark
The financial update; more on the Angel Tree, recycling efforts, and reading at East Elementary
Birthdays, anniversaries, births and deaths; plus, the full listing of all servers for the month
Write for Topics We welcome your submissions to Topics. If you have a piece of writing, a story idea, pictures, etc. that you’d like to see published here, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org On the back: The All Saints altar cloth; look closely, and you’ll see names on the leaves. trinitysvl.org | 3
Updates Thanks to Worship Volunteers Members of our altar guild will gather on Thursday, November 6, 0:00 for an afternoon tea and meeting to share ideas and to celebrate the great work which they provide for our church. Let's give a big thank you to these folks for all they do for our church and it's worship services! They are: Harriette Andrews, Betty Coltham, Harriet Foster, Diane Kines, Natalie Marsh, Joan French, Lula Cheatham, Martha Neely, Evie Caldwell, Lynn Sweeney, Allison Hughes, Heidi Goldstein, Billie Bourgeois, Francie Fanjoy, Julia Scott, Susan Cardwell, Alice Hunsucker, Joanne Schinaman, Cathy Marshall, Jerri Greene, Tammy Neely, Lynn Lawton, Ginger Hester, and Jennifer York. As pledges are considered for the Every Member Canvass, could joining Trinity's altar guild be a consideration for your Time and Talent offering? New members are needed! —Anne Rhyne
Godspeed, Susie! Parish Administrator Susie Medlin resigned her parttime position effective October 20 to accept a full-time position with a local financial planner. Susie had worked here since fall, 2010, succeeding Mary Beth Leamon. For over four years Susie was the voice of Trinity on the telephone, and the hub of the wildly spinning wheel which is often the life of a congregation. She handled our money and our confidences carefully and prepared worship guides and countless other documents for us. The tasks demanded in this position
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are varied and many, and she undertook them all with grace and good spirit. Susie did all this while caring for her husband Gene, who has had a series of health problems. Although Susie is sad to leave us, and we are sad to see her go, she is accepting a new opportunity which will enable her to care for herself and Gene through the coming years and into retirement. She assures us that we will see her from time to time. We’ll count on it! We wish her God’s richest blessings in this venture. —Brad Mullis
Plans for Memorial Garden Renewal A group of master gardeners and members who have helped maintain Trinity’s Memorial Garden have started meeting to plan a renewal of the garden. Many of the planting materials have become overgrown and difficult to maintain. The group is in the process of redefining the garden. They are considering cutting back healthy plants, removing unshapely and weak material, and adding new varieties that would thrive in the space. If any members have any comments or suggestions for updating the memorial garden please contact Rob Hites, Junior Warden
Cold Outside? Must Mean It’s Time for Coffee Hour Many thanks to all who have helped with lemonade this summer and fall. Starting Nov.2, coffee will be served after the service in the Hospitality Hall. Please take the time to enjoy socializing with fellow parishioners— especially through the colder months of winter. The Parish Hall is being completed and the kitchen is almost back to “normal.” The first churchwide event to be held in the updated Parish Hall will be the Annual Meeting on November 23rd after church. We have a lot to celebrate this year, so plan to be present to hear annual reports, elect new Vestry members and enjoy fellowship with our church family. The lunch will be “covered dish”, so plan to attend and bring a dish to share. This will be a great event to inaugurate our “new” parish hall. —Carol Leach
2 All Saints Day; Children’s Choir sings; the Trinity Artist Series presents Laurelyn Dossett & Friends
Family Fun Night in the Parish Hall
Can-Do Food Drive Wraps Up As this issue of Topics is put to press we are pulling together the final numbers for the “Can Do” food drive. While we don’t know the final numbers yet we feel that the amount of food collected prior to the Youth Groups scavenger hunt on October 26th was ahead of last year’s amount. The scavenger hunt appears to have been even better than last year. Scott Rankin is optimistic that we will surpass last year’s amount of 1,752 pounds of food. Thanks to everyone who has participated in this second annual event to help feed the hungry within our community. The youth went around their neighborhoods and put out fliers during the week, on Sunday we took them around to pick up the food and bring back to church. Rowdy Armistead,
Will Fanjoy, and Ginger Hester helped out by driving. Michele Henley and Scott stayed at the church and organized the Narthex. Trinity is a small church in comparison to many of our sister churches in the community. When it comes to love and caring for our fellow citizens, we are a giant among the others and have no peer. We hope that you will make one last trip to the local grocery store to buy canned and dried foods and cleaning supplies this week to help us wrap up this campaign on All Saints Sunday, November 2nd. Following church, after a blessing and photo op, we will form an assembly line to load the trucks to head over to Iredell Christian Ministries. —Layton Getsinger
Kathy & Pat Flourke host Adult Ed; Youth Rake & Run fundraiser
199th Annual Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina in Winston-Salem
23 Trinity Church Annual Meeting following service in the Parish Hall
Thanksgiving Eve service 6:30 pm
First Sunday of Advent
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A Difficult Read
f you picked up this month’s issue of Topics and thought it felt a little thicker, you’re right. The November edition is expanded by four pages thanks, in part, to a long-form article by Brittany Harrison we’ve reprinted in full. That article, as you’ll soon read, is an unflinching look at the juxtaposition between the author’s life as a homeless person and the surprising ineffectiveness of the church. Her story is difficult to read as a church-goer. It’s convicting. It doesn’t leave you feeling warm inside. That is, in part, why I so quickly asked Brittany for permission to share her story with you. (Full disclosure: Brittany and I are old college friends.) Further, though, the topic of homelessness—and how the church can so painfully miss the mark in spite of its good intentions—is an important one for our community and parish. Homelessness and its near -form cousin, critical poverty, are certainly present in our area. Many poverty-level income earners struggle with being underemployed, lack access to appropriate childcare, and suffer the absence of any kind of material safety net. Such families are often a paycheck away from losing their home. Go over to East Iredell Elementary, where Trinity members often volunteer to read to students, and listen carefully to how kids there talk about “home.” They don’t ask one another where they live—they ask instead, “Where do you stay?” Their word choice isn’t simply a matter of cultural difference. It’s literal. Many children at East are the invisible 6 | Topics November 8670
homeless: technically they aren’t living on the streets, but that’s only because they’ve found an aunt, grandmother, or friend to shelter them. There, they stay, not live. Brittany’s story, including her description of sleeping in a cold, dark Episcopal church in the mountains, is gripping not only because Brittany is an educated, articulate white woman—among the last people you’d expect homeless. It’s captivating because so often the doors to God’s house are literally locked to certain members of our community. And while we can have a good conversation about the wisdom of protecting the church’s hard-earned material goods from theft, such a talk doesn’t do much to heal the soul-deep vulnerability torn open by a life without a shelter. What would you do, friend? What should the church do? What should Trinity do? I imagine there may be a few of us who have very visceral reactions to Brittany’s story. I hope it’s the springboard for good conversation about our parish’s role in the lives of the neediest in our area. In this season of Thanksgiving, perhaps it’s better to hone in upon a humble spirit, one that resists taking pride in reciting the inventory of our privilege and instead focuses on the burden God gives us to share our gifts with those who go without, whether that be through our time, our resources, or even our homes. That’s probably a lot closer to what Jesus would have done, and what he’d have us to do. —James Hogan
Kathy & Pat Floerke to Speak at Adult Ed Kathy and Pat Floerke will present at Adult Ed on November 16 at 9:30 am. The Floerkes come to us from the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA), the Nicaraguan project of the non-profit, faith-based organization the Jubilee House Community (JHC). Before moving to Nicaragua in 1990, the JHC operated shelters for the homeless and battered women in Statesville, NC. Working in Nicaragua for the past 20 years, the CDCA seeks to respond to human needs created by poverty in the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere. They say, “The CDCA has been called to work with, and speak on behalf of, the poor in our area of Nicaragua, and to share their lives and stories with folk in the U.S., to bridge the gap between us and our neighbors.” Taxdeductible donations & proceeds from craft sales go to the operating expenses of the project. A craft sale available after both services.
THE REV. BRAD MULLIS
We Are All Saints Saints, more than anyone else, are their true selves, the selves God has called them to be. And we are connected to them.
love All Saints Day. Sometimes I wonder why it’s one of my favorite days. I love the hymns and the readings. I love that this is a day that we Anglicans have in some way claimed as our own. Above all I love that it makes me feel connected. I’m connected in big and little ways, in practical and mystical ways, to something much, much bigger than myself. I belong to the Communion of Saints. The collect for All Saints reminds us that we are knit together in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Christ our Lord. The All Saints readings for this year give us pictures of what the
Communion of Saints looks like. John’s Revelation takes us around the heavenly throne where whiterobed martyrs among a multitude greater than anyone can count are praising the God who will shelter them and wipe every tear from their eyes. The Epistle, 1 John, calls us children of God, and marvels over the love the father has given us. And Matthew’s beatitudes, most scholars tell us, describe what saints look like. They are folks who are blessed, but blessed when they know they need what God has to give them. When they mourn, they will be comforted. When they are
persecuted for righteousness’ sake, their reward in heaven will be great. These can be intimidating pictures of sainthood, I suppose. But if you think about it, these passages focus much more on God’s gifts than on the virtue of the “saints.” Sainthood, theirs and ours, is God’s doing. It’s a gift, a call through baptism into the life of faith and hope and service among other saints in the confidence that God is somehow transforming us and the world. It’s not something that we work our way to or earn. We all know that sainthood is messy business. Continued on next page... trinitysvl.org | 7
Continued from previous page And I expect that the apostles and martyrs didn’t start out in stained glass. Saints, more than anyone else, are their true selves, the selves God has called them to be. And we are connected to them. The truth is that we are already saints. It is also true that God gives us the freedom to forsake this gift, to fail to live up to it, to choose not to exercise the capacity for sainthood that belongs to all of us. Karl Barth says it’s like being a prisoner who has received a pardon. You’re a free person and your freedom is real, but until you get up and walk through the door of your cell, you’re a prisoner of your own failure to act. Or, if you don’t like that one, how about Barbara Brown Taylor’s analogy: it is like knowing there is a check for a million dollars in the next room with your name on it. The money is yours, you’re a millionaire, but until you claim it and cash it you’re as poor as if it never existed. One common expression puts it a third way: use it or lose it, the saying goes, and that’s the way it is with sainthood too. Once we have been baptized we are saints. Our vocation, our calling from then on, is to act like
Being a saint is like knowing there’s a check for a million dollars in the next room with your name on it. The money’s yours...but until you claim it and cash it, you’re as poor as if it never existed. saints and exercise our sainthood, practice it, so that we do not lose our God-given capacity to be saints. You are loved; act like it. You are redeemed; act like it. You are a saint; act like it. Become what you already are and you will be blessed, because blessedness – which means happiness, joy, fullness of life – is just what happens when you are who you were created to be, living the life you were created to live. Incidentally, that is what the kingdom of God is all about. Remember that you are a saint, part of a great communion, and you are connected. Now live that way. —Brad Mullis
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A Call to Serve Annual Meeting is also a time for electing new Vestry members
s you read this we are finishing up another very successful Trinity “CAN DO” Food drive. I want to thank every single one of you who has helped in this effort, either by bringing food on Sundays, providing funds to buy food, putting food out on your porch for our youth to pick up last Sunday, or in any other way that you were able to be a part of this very important effort! We can all be proud of ourselves for this good work. Our Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 23. In addition to other business that takes place at this meeting we elect four new Vestry members to serve a three year term. The four retiring members Clay Crouch, Cathy Marshall, Anne Rhyne, and Will Fanjoy, are working to enlist a good slate of candidates. If you have an interest in serving I encourage you to let one of us know so that we can answer any questions you might have and put your name into nomination. This is very important work and it is always extremely rewarding to those who take the opportunity to serve. We all will miss Susie Medlin who served as our Parish Administrator for four years, and we wish her well in her future position. Susie was wonderful to work with and always had a smile on her face. Thanks to all of you who were able to contribute to Susie’s going away present—I know she is deeply appreciative. The Personnel Committee is working hard to find someone for this position and we are going to try to fill this position as soon as possible. I want to offer a particular thanks to Mary Beth Leamon for coming back to help in our time of need and to all of you who are volunteering your time to help out in the office. —Will Fanjoy
THE 100 CAMPAIGN
Every Member Needed A new campaign format draws attention to service, participation, and church growth in addition to financial commitments.
rinity Episcopal Church is our home for growing with God. It’s our harbor from the world, our place to fellowship, and our symbol of our mission to gather seeking God, and go out serving God, loving one another as God loves us. This year, our Vestry is excited to present an opportunity for Trinity to grow into its mission of love and service through The 100 Campaign. This is a building campaign—but we’re not laying bricks. Instead, we’re building our church people, strengthening our body of worshippers inside and out, and pledging to go into our community to follow Christ’s example. The 100 Campaign focuses on four core areas for the 2015 year: SERVING GOD AND EACH OTHER. Our community is hungry, and it’s up to us to show God’s love and mercy in service to our parish and community. Whether it’s through supporting our Can-Do Food Drive, volunteering for House Calls, reading to elementary students, or partnering with any of our other outreach programs, your work is a moving example of God’s love in action. Trinity’s 2015 goal is to pledge 1,000 hours of service in our parish and community.
CHURCH GROWTH. We want to welcome more guests and visitors into God’s house, and we have room in our pews to grow. At September’s Rally Day, we had one of the biggest groups come forward for Holy Confirmation in memory. Let’s make 2015’s class even bigger! Trinity’s 2015 goal is to invite 100 visitors to church.
PERSONAL GROWTH. Our parish grows stronger every time a member steps up and volunteers within our ministry. We invite you to commit to one of our Trinity Teams and join in serving God and each other. Join a small group, sing with the choir, work with the Altar Guild, or help with church communications—or tell us your idea of how
our church can accommodate your skills and interests. Your growth makes Trinity better. Our 2015 goal is to have 100 parish members involved in our programs. FINANCIAL SUPPORT. Last year, Trinity’s congregation responded enthusiastically to help us balance our budget and find funding for a Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry. While we’ve balanced our budget, we still need to hire a director—and it’s clear we need to offer more financial support to hire the best person. Help us grow in 2015. Trinity’s goal is to match at least 100 percent of last year’s pledge support—and hopefully increase dollars pledged, and to secure a total of 100 pledge units. We can’t do this without your support. This truly is an every member effort. Join us as we make 2015 a year of growth within our parish, one that helps each of us in our quest to walk in love as Christ loved us. —James Hogan and Nimocks Haigh, 100 Campaign Co-Chairs
To download your pledge form, visit trinitysvl.org and click on “The 100 Campaign” link in the menu. trinitysvl.org | 9
SEARCHING BY BRITTANY HARRISON
hen I was seventeen, I attended a lock-in hosted by my church’s high school youth group. For those of you who did not participate in Christian youth groups as youngsters, a church lock-in is essentially a big supervised slumber party that usually takes place on church grounds. It’s not that different from any other slumber party attended by teenagers since whenever sleepovers became a thing: there’s pizza, snacks, music, movies, and a general lack of any actual slumber. 10 | Topics November 8670
FOR HOME My church was a little different from what you probably picture when you think of a church, especially if you have no personal experience of evangelical American Christian culture. My church had over five thousand members, having risen from humble origins meeting at a local high school to purchase a bankrupted hotel-slash-convention center. I attended Sunday school classes in remodeled hotel rooms that had been emptied of beds and nightstands and furnished with straight-backed chairs and long polished conference tables. There was a full bath in every room. We were a privileged bunch of believers— though if you’d asked us, we would have said we were “blessed.”
This immense building was protected after-hours by a sophisticated security system. I didn’t know this until the night of the lock-in, when the adults paced off the invisible lines we couldn’t cross without setting the alarms off, which they begged us not to do or else the intern in charge of the lock-in would be charged a $200 fine. I felt vaguely that there was something a little antithetical about a church having a security system, but I didn’t think about it much until after midnight, when we were rounded up from our dodgeball game in the parking lot and taken back inside so the doors could be locked. The side entrance we were using had two sets of doors: one of them opened from the parking lot
onto a useless little vestibule that contained nothing except a few feet of tiled floor. People left their wet umbrellas there when it rained. You had to pass through the vestibule to reach the doors that actually led into the church lobby. I commented to my youth pastor that I didn’t understand why both sets of doors had to be locked. I could understand that some enterprising thief with a truck large enough to accommodate several enormous couches might find something worth stealing in the lobby, but what were they protecting in the vestibule besides the dirty rug we wiped our feet on? “Yeah, we used to leave the outside doors unlocked,” my youth pastor said distractedly. “But home-
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POVERTY & HOMELESSNESS
________________ 13,524 Homeless in North Carolina
17.9% Statewide poverty rate
49,933 Homeless veterans in the US
136,705 NC households receiving federal rental assistance
less people were sleeping in the vestibule, so they had to start locking them.” I don’t remember what I said to him in reply. Probably just, “Oh.” But I do remember what I was thinking, because it was one of those uncomfortable thoughts that I ignored studiously until they built to a critical mass about a year later, when my faith in God and the church finally broke under their combined weight. I was thinking: What’s wrong with letting the homeless sleep in a tiny, empty room that you’re not using for anything? Would Jesus lock the doors of a church so that homeless people couldn’t sleep inside it? Wouldn’t Jesus kind of…I don’t know, do exactly the opposite of that? Thirteen years later—two summers ago—this exchange with my youth pastor resurfaced in my memory, when I myself became homeless and started searching for safe places to sleep at night.
250,000 Mentally ill homeless in the United States
24.4% Jobs in the NC economy considered low-wage
$23,893 Average college graduate debt Source:s www.spotlightonpoverty.org, www.nchv.org, mentalillnesspolicy.org
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n 2011, two life-changing things happened to me: I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I wrote my first (good) novel. I landed a contract with a literary agent shortly afterwards. I thought I was on the verge of the career I’d always dreamed of, and this hope of future happiness made me realize how dissatisfied I was with the life I was presently leading: I was confident that big changes were coming, but there was no reason not to make little changes of my own
in the meantime. I decided to move back to the tiny mountain town where I’d attended college from 2000-2000, reasoning that it would be a temporary refuge until my novel-writing career got properly underway and I could afford to move some place more exciting. I’d been happy in college, or at least as close to happy as I’d ever been, and I thought I still had a few friends in that town. I had no real friends in Raleigh. I was isolated, and I wanted to change that. But things started going wrong almost as soon as I moved. I got hired for a position with an agency that supplied companions to autistic children, but was told I couldn’t start work for a couple of months. My agent wasn’t having any luck selling my novel to an editor. My money ran out, the friend I was housesitting for returned from abroad, and I had to find other accommodations. I ended up sleeping in my car for a week until an internet fundraiser provided enough money for me to move into a very cheap apartment. I starting working, and I managed to get by for almost a year, but my PTSD symptoms got steadily worse until I was completely unable to function. I lost my job just as the lease ran out on my apartment. I was too mentally ill at that point to even try to save myself. I gave away (or threw away) almost everything I owned and moved back into my car, this time for almost a month. I’ve considered myself an atheist since I was eighteen, but I nonetheless spent a couple of years in college trying to find some form of Christianity that could rekindle a portion of my old faith. For this reason, I made occasional appearances at the tiny,
I was thinking: Would Jesus lock the doors of a
church so that homeless people couldn’t sleep inside it? Wouldn’t Jesus kind of…I don’t know, do exactly the opposite of that?
liberal Episcopalian church on campus, where the lack of a deep belief in God didn’t stop me from enjoying a sense of community with intelligent, literate people who shared my values. The parking lot of St. David’s, the Episcopal church I had attended in college, was an ideal overnight parking location for a number of reasons. It was on campus, but not technically part of university property, so the cops didn’t patrol there. It was also high on the side of a hill, so casual passers-by were unlikely to see or make trouble for a lone woman asleep in her car. Most importantly, the sanctuary doors remained unlocked overnight. The priest of St. David’s, who knew of my situation, said that keeping the doors unlocked was basically church policy for that very reason: God’s house should be available as a shelter to anyone who needed it. My second bout of homelessness began in the late spring, when it was still quite cold in the mountains, and I spent more than one night sleeping inside the pitchblack church, on the floor between the altar and the first pew. I was grateful for the refuge, but dismayed when I discovered that the door inside the sanctuary leading to the church’s only bathroom was not just locked—it didn’t even have a doorknob on the outside. Apparently God was happy to let people sleep
in his unheated sanctuary on a cold night, but he drew the line at letting them pee in his toilets. I got used to driving a mile to the 20-hour WalMart in the middle of the night, until finally I just stopped drinking water after eight in the evening. I learned a lot about the various public buildings in my little town while I was living in my car. Since my most urgent need during the daytime was a wi-fi connection, I spent most of my time at the public library, unless I could scrounge enough money to buy a coffee and occupy a table at one of the three restaurants in town that provided free internet access. Sundays were difficult, however. Everything in the area was closed after 2 pm, including all but one of the restaurants. Almost the first thing I missed when I became homeless was the opportunity to simply lie down flat and let my body relax completely. My car seat would only recline so far, and lying at an angle meant that I was partially supporting my own weight as I slept by bracing my feet against the floor. Even when I slept for twelve hours, I inevitably woke up exhausted and groggy, with sore, stiff muscles. So on Sunday afternoons, when there was absolutely nothing else to do, I would wait until I was sure the church would be empty, then go lie on the floor by the altar with my head on the cushion the priest knelt
on, listening to music on my computer while I tried to convince myself I would feel better if I could just cry.
ust as the weather was turning from uncomfortably chilly to uncomfortably hot, I ran into an old friend at the public library. He’d been a grad student in the English department when I was an undergrad, and we’d worked together at the university writing center. He and his family had stayed in town after he graduated; he was now the youth pastor at the Presbyterian church. I told him all about my situation. By that point, I had lost any reticence I once felt about admitting I was homeless. I no longer cared about making people feel uncomfortable, and I felt no shame when they gave me pitying stares. Every new person I shared my story with was someone who might have a solution of some kind, and I took every opportunity that came my way. Of all the people I reached out to, David was the first person trinitysvl.org | 13
I spent a long time after that struggling against the temptation to just accept that I was doomed. who was both willing and able to help. There was a house next door to his church that had been made over into a youth center. David’s office was there. The house was empty on Sunday afternoons, and it had a kitchen and (most importantly) a shower. He said he would have to check with his boss (the church’s head pastor) but he didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to sleep there that night. A few hours later I was settled at the house, showered and wearing clean clothes for the first time in days. I was bone-weary, but I didn’t go to sleep right away. I didn’t want to waste the incredible contentment of being alone in an airconditioned house with internet for the first time in over a month. (Being comfortable and alone at the same time was another sensation, like being able to lie down, that I hadn’t realized I would miss when I became homeless.) I even had food—David had gone to Wal-Mart and bought me a frozen pizza to cook. At one point, a few hours after I arrived at the house, I went to sit out back, where the wifi signal was stronger. A strange man came up the sidewalk between the house and the church next door. He was middle-aged, handsome, well dressed, and I knew instantly he must be David’s boss—pastors just have a certain look about them. He introduced himself and shook my hand and gave me his phone number. “David told me about your situation,” he said. “Anything you need, 10 | Topics November 8670
anything we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call.” I was touched by his obvious sincerity, but at the same time I was thinking: If David told you that I’m homeless, then you already know what I need. Can you hire me? Do you have a place I can stay for more than one night? If you really want to help me, what are you waiting for? I was also struck by the fact that he, like most people I met, seemed to regard my situation as some kind of shocking/surprising tragedy, which seemed a little naive, considering that on any given night about 600,000 people in the U.S. are left without a place to sleep. But I’d already come to understand that what really shocked people like David’s boss was the fact that I was a young, well-educated white woman. I belong to a class of society that is normally well-protected—the factors that make me a strong statistical candidate for homelessness, like my mental illness and abuse history, are invisible. But even though I felt that I was probably being unfairly singled out for compassion, my priority was survival, not justice. I would take all the compassion, all the pity, all the charity I could get. Not that it amounted to much: even people like David’s boss rarely had more than kind words to give. It was David himself who found a room for me in the end. Even though he was supporting a family of six on a very modest salary, he offered me the room over his garage to stay in for as long I needed it. He could have made extra money by
renting the room, but ever since he’d bought the house he’d used that room to help people in the same situation I was in. It was his own remarkable generosity that put a roof over my head for the next four months, not the church.
hen I decided to return to Raleigh and its superior employment prospects that October, I moved in with online friends who professed to be “giant Communists.” They supported me for over a year, until last spring, when they decided to sell the house. They gave me a few months’ warning so I could find a new place to live. I was panicked, and more than a little furious with myself. I’d been given a rare opportunity to regain independence and stability, and as far as I could see, I’d wasted it. For a long time after I returned to Raleigh, my mental health had only seemed to get worse; I was seeing a therapist for a while, but I had also begun recovering memories of sexual abuse in my childhood, which raised my anxiety to whole new levels. I hardly ever left the house. I did find a part time job caring for elderly and disabled persons in their homes, but I worked very few hours and never made enough money to pay rent, or build savings. I was terrified that I would have to sleep in my car again, this time in a city where I didn’t know any safe places to park at night. But I also felt that if it did
come to that, it would scarcely be more than I deserved for not having forced myself to push past my illness and work more over the past year. I began frantically pricing apartments and looking for new jobs. Then, about two weeks after I was told that I would need to move, I was raped by a man who lived on the same street as me. Significant portions of my higher reasoning seemed to check out entirely after that. I no longer had any kind of coherent plan for my future. My only goal was to move out of the house, and then leave Raleigh for good, as soon as possible. I began reaching out to everyone I knew who might be able to help me get a job and resettle in a new city. At first, I thought my luck was changing: an old college friend knew someone who worked at a major homeless shelter in Charlotte. They were hiring, and he thought my work experience in human services would make me a viable candidate for the position. There was just one snag. The organization was a private Christian charity, and the job application required candidates to state their religion and sign a faithbased mission statement. I hesitated, naturally. I looked up information about the shelter and discovered that they were known for working with interfaith organizations, which seemed promising. They were also committed to paying even their part-time employees a living wage, which seemed to indicate broadmindedness. I exchanged emails with my friend’s contact in the organization and told her frankly that while I could completely support the organization’s goals, I couldn’t honestly profess to be a Christian. I also disclosed that I was queer. She wrote back to me that she didn’t
foresee either of those things being a bar to my employment. I was in high spirits for a week or so after I sent in my resume. I thought that I had an especially good chance of getting the position, because of my past work experience and my friend’s personal recommendation, and also because, in my cover letter, I had briefly described my prior experience of homelessness. I assumed that my lived experience of the very problems the mission was working to solve would be in my favor. But the next time I checked in with my contact, I was told the position had been filled by someone else. I briefly considered driving to Charlotte and presenting myself at their women’s shelter as a recovery program participant, since I couldn’t be staff. Then I decided that I’d wasted enough of my life trying my luck with religious institutions.
spent a long time after that struggling against the temptation to just accept that I was doomed. But thanks to the generosity of close friends and support from the internet, I survived long enough to transition to a shaky stability. I have an apartment in Baltimore now, and enough money for a few months’ rent. I have food stamps. I still don’t have a job, though I’ve had a little luck with freelance proofreading work. Homelessness is a more remote specter now than it has been at any point in the last six months, for which I am pathetically grateful. It isn’t that I don’t possess enough advantages
to feasibly bail myself out of another dire situation: it’s just that, after a certain point, I tend to stop trying, because I don’t think I deserve any better. My friends get worried and unhappy when I say things like that. Both because they’re my friends, and because they believe everyone deserves to be safe, to have food and shelter and clothes. I believe that too. But there’s a glitch in my thinking that allows me to believe that I’m the exception to that rule. That glitch was created a long time ago: when you’re abused as a child and no one intervenes, you grow up feeling like everyone around you is in a conspiracy to ignore the evidence of what’s happening to you. It feels like all the adults in your life have looked at you and said, “Well, kids in general deserve to be protected, but this particular kid is just getting what’s coming to her.” When I was a kid, every adult in my life was connected to the church in one way or another. At first they were teachers at the Christian school I attended until eighth grade; later, they were pastors and leaders in my church youth group. Despite my passionate belief in God as a teenager, I never really fit in at my church. Every Sunday, I was told that the church was my home, and my fellow believers were my family, and when I looked around me, I saw that this seemed to be true for everyone else. But even though I had plenty of friends at school, I never had any at church. I was close to my drama and English teachers, but my youth group leaders were obviously uncomfortable with my questions, my sense of displacement in the church, and my outsized emotional needs. They reinforced the message that I was an exception: that because everyone else had access to a sense of community and belonging in the church, it must be my fault if I trinitysvl.org | 15
was different. Rather like with my biological family, my church family kept assuring me that I was loved, even though their actions didn’t bear this out. It took many years before I could bring myself to cut ties with my abusive family. Long after I realized that their version of help was just another kind of harm, I felt obligated to maintain contact. Part of me always hoped that one day they would understand their mistakes and change their ways. I think this may be why I continued to have high expectations of Christian organizations long after I stopped identifying as a Christian. As a professed atheist, it sounds strange when I say that I’m disappointed by Christians. Most of my closest friends have been atheists all their lives; hypocrisy and inconsistency in the Christian church doesn’t surprise them, because they never expected anything better. And when I look back at my time in the church, I can see hypocrisy in moments like that conversation with my youth pastor about locked doors. But when I was at my lowest and most desperate, the fact that the church seemed to have nothing but crumbs to spare me still stung. It also continued to reinforce that glitch in my thinking: Christ commanded his followers to love and serve the poor unconditionally, but apparently I was the exception again. There’s not much comfort to be gained from the knowledge that when it comes to the paltriness of Christian charity, I wasn’t really an exception at all. Everyone at the bottom of the barrel gets the same inconsistent attention from the church. My church was by no 16 | Topics November 8670
means unusual in helping the poor only when it was convenient to do so. Volunteering at a soup kitchen was God’s work; going out of the way to lock the door of an empty vestibule just because the needy continued to be needy after the soup kitchen was closed was just business as usual. Considering the fact that the failure of the church to live up to its own teachings was what drove me away from it in the first place, I probably have no right to be surprised by the fact that nothing’s changed in the last fifteen years. But that’s the heartbreaking thing about dysfunctional families: you never stop hoping that, one day, they’ll be better. And you never stop taking it personally when they disappoint you all over again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brittany Harrison writes fiction about teenage girls and blog posts about media, memory, and survival. She needs a job and a cat, and then life will be perfect. Read more stuff she’s written at languageandlight.com. This article first appeared online at thetoast.net.
Turning Grief Into Art Grief ebbs and flows in our lives. For Jane Getsinger, painting became a channel for dealing with a lasting sorrow.
arlier this y ear, Trinity accepted a painting given to our parish and created by Jane Getsinger. You can find it hanging in the Hospitality Hall, over near the table by the window, radiant with light from the courtyard. The painting is striking: a chalice bathed in the light of a doorway, casting a long shadow against the wall behind it, one that magnifies its features and accentuates them in the contrast between light and dark. The Chalice, as it’s known, finds its genesis in a similar time of contrasting light and dark. Nearly four years ago, Jane’s son, David, succumbed to a devastating drug addiction, passing away in February 2011. His long battle began with a sports injury, and later a painkiller dependency, and one habit led to another, deeper and deeper into darkness. “I had been asked to do a show [for the Iredell Museum] in 2010,” Jane said, “and the series of work I had committed to became an evolution and turned into my therapy, really. It became my way to cope.” The work’s composition, too, was inspired by a trip to Mt. St. Michel in France. When they arrived on site, well after nightfall, there was a sound and light show going on in the 800 year-old monastery. Jane describes the experience as mystical: “I never forgot that evening. The next morning, in the brightness of daylight, that numinous, ancient quality was gone.” Jane returned to the States with a series of photos taken in France, and after the devastating loss of David, she began painting The Chalice based on a black and white photograph. “I needed the comfort of what the chalice and its ‘thrown shadow’ mean. I wanted to see if I could experience some
The Chalice, 2011, by Jane Getsinger
healing…some peace… through the contemplation and drawing of the image. It kept me busy and amazingly at times I was even happy.” Jane says the painting was never intended for sale;
she kept it in her home for some time, but later felt moved to give the piece to Trinity. Now it rests, its beginnings infused in light and darkness, for our parish to experience. — James Hogan
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Angels, Oysters, House Calls, Readers, Cans Next up on our schedule is the Trinity Angel Tree. We hope to have it up in the Hospitality hall at the beginning of December so that we can systematically handle the requests that come to us each year from 5th Street Ministries. As hard as it is to believe plans are starting for our the Trinity Annual Oyster Roast which is tentatively scheduled for January 16, 2015. More details will be forthcoming in the next month. As we approach the cooler days of the year leaves, along with a limb or two, are beginning to fall. Remember that the Trinity House Calls group is available to assist the elderly and infirmed members of our church with ad hoc yard clean up;
repair storm damage and ice and snow removal. Typically anything not requiring a licensed trade person can be performed by our talented crew of volunteers. Please call Jim Rhyne or the church office if you have a need with which we can help. The Trinity Outreach Committee committed some years ago to assist with the reading program at East Elementary School. We continually need volunteers for this very worthwhile endeavor. It only takes an hour a week, usually early morning to work with a student to let them read to you. It is a most rewarding experience for the volunteer as well as the child. If you feel you can lend a hand with this project
please contact Walter Patterson for additional details. In lieu of recycling your aluminum cans at home please bring them to church with you each Sunday. The blue recycling bins are downstairs on the left hand side of the Memorial Garden entrance to the Parish Hall. The proceeds from the sale of the cans are used for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. We collected 15 pounds of cans in September bringing our YTD Total to 275 pounds. Our 13 year Grand Total stands at 5,967 Pounds (33 pounds shy of our THIRD TON ). YTD $109.80 has been deposited in the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. — Layton Getsinger
Financial Update Through nine months, our financial position for 2010 remains positive measured against the 2010 Budget as well as the actual through three quarters last year. What a difference a year makes! Remember that last year we were in a significant deficit. The difference is your financial commitment to Trinity…made and being honored. As we enter the fourth quarter, please maintain the momentum of the first three. The every member canvass is now in process as is the process of developing a budget for 2015. Our 100 Campaign sets a goal of at least 100% of this year’s pledge support. By setting the goal at least 100% and
increasing the number of pledge units we can reasonably expect to increase our budget for 2015.This is going to be needed in order to properly staff our Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry and to review our salary structure, including re-staffing our Church Secretary. We also anticipate some increased expense as we upgrade our Church and office technology. Our many ministries will be increased by your pledges of time, talent and treasure. Thanks to our wonderful congregation for all the support given to Trinity. We are truly blessed. — Nimocks Haigh
Year to date: 2010 Actual 2010 Budget 2013 Actual Month: Actual 2010 Actual 2013 Budget 2010
11,221 13,125 9,083
165,382 155,606 138,200
1,360 1,575 1,030
177,963 170,306 108,717
558 0 3,809
178,521 170,306 152,567
161,830 170,523 169,968
16,691 (177) (17,001)
1,222 803 1,058
13,763 11,992 17,290
60 120 175
15,005 12,915 18,927
500 (938) 0
15,585 11,977 18,927
15,752 15,970 18,136
(167) (3,996) 791
18 | Topics November 8670
11/1 11/2 11/3 11/0 11/7 11/8 11/9 11/11 11/13 11/17 11/20 11/21
11/11 11/10 11/19 11/21 11/29 11/30
11/22 11/23 11/20 11/25 11/26 11/27
Lila DeBow Sandra Poole Sam McDowell Susan Cardwell Zoe Devine Loring Fishburne Eva Clendenin Jerrie Greene Lorene Ramsey Nimocks Haigh Sonny Rankin Fred Lowry Cathy Marshall Betty Brady Tom Allison Bob Tolle Chuck Pippin Nancy Currier Abigail Hart Elizabeth Cardwell
Buddy & Margaret Johnson Herb & Sandra Poole Chris & Maggie Shoobridge Chuck & Kim Dockery Will & Susan Fanjoy Bob & Susan Tolle
Please send your milestones to the church office to be included in Topics.
Service Schedule SUNDAY, 11/9: Lectors: Clay Crouch (8), Andrew Rutter; Chalice: Roger Davidson (8); Nick Harknett*, Margaret Johnson; Greeters: Scott Rankin, Theresa Salebra; Ushers: David Alexander*, Thomas Clendenin, John Philip Dulin, Buddy Johnson; Oblation – Sam and Judy McDowell; Nursery – Susan and Will Fanjoy; Acolytes – Madison Peters, Blair Warren, Ellison Johnson, Ava Harwell; Assistant – John Deter SUNDAY, 11/16: Lectors – Sam McDowell (8), Bill Balatow; Chalice – Chris Shoobridge (8), Anne Rhyne*, Bill Balatow; Greeters – Jim Rhyne, Maggie Shoobridge; Ushers – Jim Lawton*, Jeff Holland, Bud Martin, Sam McDowell;
Oblation – Chuck and Kim Dockery; Nursery – Jim and Re Johnston; Acolytes – Buchanan Deter, Reid Balatow, Carter Payne, Christian York; Assistant – Bill Balatow SUNDAY, 11/23: Lectors – Roger Davidson (8). Diane Kines; Chalice – Roger Davidson (8); Will Fanjoy*, Kim dockery; Greeters – Tommy and Wendy Allison; Ushers – Andrew Rutter*, Locke Allison, Bill Balatow, Don French; Oblation – Will and Susan Fanjoy; Nursery – Lauren and Andrew Rutter; Acolytes – Meredith Dockery, Maribeth Peters, Sarah Alexander, Mary Hudson Alexander; Assistant – Margaret Johnson
WEDNESDAY, 11/26 (THANKSGIVING EVE): Lector – Jim Rhyne; Chalice – Sam McDowell*, Anne Rhyne; Greeters – Rowdy Armistead; Ushers – Tommy Allison, Dee Ham; Oblation – Ellyn Mullis and Sally and Charlie; Acolytes – Sally Mullis SUNDAY, 11/30: Lectors – Michael Coltham (8); Trudy Goodman; Chalice – Chris Shoobridge(8); Sam McDowell*, Kaye Taliana; Greeters – Bill and Inga Balatow; Ushers – Bob Foster*, Amy Brier, Bill Leach, Jim Rhyne; Oblation – Joan and Don French; Nursery – Kelly Hogan, Ellyn Mullis; Acolytes – Tessica Martin, Gray Lackey, Kaid Mitchell, Hailee Mitchell; Assistant – Katie Payne
trinitysvl.org | 19
P.O. Box 1103 Statesville, NC 28687 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
20 | Topics November 8670
We strive to live as the Body of Christ by loving one another, sharing our gifts, and serving as Godâ€™s hands and feet in the world.
Examining the difficult encounters between a homeless young woman and the church. Also, a look at the saints, the story behind a painting in...
Published on Oct 31, 2014
Examining the difficult encounters between a homeless young woman and the church. Also, a look at the saints, the story behind a painting in...