Happenings@ St. Gabriel's
Hi Church Family! We need your help. As we move toward closing our doors in October, there’s a lot to be done with what’s inside the building. There are many things that spark many memories and, as a church, we’d like to see that these things are passed on to other ministries and organizations so that the ministry of St. Gabriel’s can have new life elsewhere. In order to do that, though, we need to take an inventory. We’re placing a sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall. We’d like to get volunteers who can work during the days or evenings Wed – Sat, Aug 30 – Sep 2, and Mon – Fri, Sep 4 – 8. You don’t have to be available all of those days to work. We just need to know when you’re willing to help and we’ll schedule around that.
For more information, please contact Jean Waller or Rich Roszel. More information is also available in the Aug 25th Parish Blast.
At the end of June, the Vestry announced that St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church will be closing permanently on Oct 22, 2023. As the new Sr. Warden, I had the unfortunate duty of delivering the news. This was sad news to all and particularly difficult for the members of the Vestry who had to vote on it. Many of you have asked why the church wasn’t given a chance to vote on it, but in truth, the “vote” had already been made by the simple fact of our dwindling numbers, financial resources and lack of a Rector.
In the Episcopal Church, our Vestry functions somewhat like a representative form of government. We were elected to represent the interests of the congregation – not to go to the congregation for every decision. I know you understand this, but I mention it just to make the point that we, acting as your representatives, have kept a close watch on the state of the church, and ultimately decided that the time had come to bring an end to the collective body worshiping under the name of St. Gabriel’s.
Now another question has come up, to do with miracles. More specifically, “What if God performs a miracle and turns things around?”
Certainly none of us wants to stand in God’s way. However, by asking the miracle question in this specific way, I think we’re guilty of trying to tell God how to answer our prayer. Instead, we should be praying, “God, you’ve done marvelous and miraculous things through St. Gabriel’s. We ask that you breathe new life in us and cause the blessing we know as St. Gabriel’s to bless others.” This type of prayer is similar but isn’t limiting. St. Gabriel’s really isn’t the building and the grounds; it is, and always has been, the people who have been on this journey with us for the past twenty-five years. Many of those people have already moved on, and God has used them to bless others. As I mentioned in our Parish Meeting on June 25th, we’re like a dandelion. Once the dandelion flower has died, there’s an abundance of seeds waiting to take root elsewhere and start growing. All that’s needed is some wind – or breath – to spread the seeds out into other areas so that new life can commence. I think that St. Gabriel’s is like the dandelion stalk. Its corporate ministry may have come to an end, but each of us represents the seed – the life, love and joy of Christ that we celebrate and share with others each week.
So, in the hopes that we’re not sending mixed messages, let me say that the parish of St. Gabriel’s really will be closing its doors after the final service on Oct. 22nd. But let’s keep praying individually for God to enable us to be a part of the miracle that will happen when our Heavenly Father blows his spiritual breath of renewal on us and sends us on our way to join other congregations.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be opening our doors to visitors from Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, St. Mary and St. Martha of Bethany in Buford, and St. Anthony’s in Winder. We haven’t nailed down the schedule for when each church will be represented here, but we want this to be a time when you can meet some of the folks from those parishes and hear a little about each church. I know that, for me personally, it’s always easier to join a new group when I arrive to see some familiar faces. Each of these churches has committed to helping you fit in should you choose to worship with them in the future.
In the meantime, I look forward to being with you Sunday!
Last Sunday (June 25th), I announced that I submitted my resignation as Senior Warden to the Diocese and would also be stepping down from the vestry. Effective July 1st, Rich Roszel will take over as Senior Warden. I’ve been struggling to make this decision for the past several months. After much thought and prayer, I decided now was the time. Many of you know my plans for me and Dave to sell our home and relocate to an area that is more rural than Hall County.
During the parish meeting, Ron Petrey gave an update on the church finances and Rich Roszel spoke about the decline in members over the past several years. The vestry has had several conversations with the Diocese about the future of the church. After prayerful consideration, the vestry voted to move forward with a holy ending. We are planning to hold the final service on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Bishop Wright will attend and celebrate the life of the church.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 states that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.
Twenty-five years ago, Saint Gabriel’s was planted in Oakwood and thrived for many years. When the church couldn’t afford a full-time priest, we began a steady decline. Five years ago, we had 174 members. At the end of 2022 we dropped to 44 members. We are at a point financially where our pledges and plate contributions won’t cover all the expenses and we now must use savings to cover the deficit each month.
I know several members believe we are giving up too soon and are praying for a miracle. But looking at the membership numbers and finances, aging members who are tired from their work to keep the church going, and the time it takes to prepare for the holy ending, we must proceed with the plans to close. If God grants a miracle we would stop the closing.
The church is not the building, but the people. It is time to uproot and plant ourselves wherever God leads us. We are like the seeds of a dandelion. When the seeds are blown and scattered, they take root and eventually become a new plant. Let’s share our gifts and talents to spread the Gospel and help grow the Kingdom of God.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve on the vestry and as Senior Warden. I will always love this church and will hold it close to my heart.
Peace & blessings,
The Vestry has called a special Parish Meeting to give a mid-year update on the status of our church. We’ll meet this Sunday, June 25th, following a combined 10:30am worship service. We encourage all members to attend.
The Memorial Service for Sheena Lawrence will be held at Saint Gabriel’s on Saturday, September 9th at 11:00 a.m. Father Mike Freeman will officiate and will be assisted by Father Bill Combs, Father Bob Fessler and Mother Linda Pineo. Following the service, a reception will be held in the Parish Hall. Refreshments will be provided. Sheena loved Saint Gabriel’s and was an active member until her health deteriorated. We hope you will be able to attend and celebrate Sheena’s life and the contributions she made when she was active.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. We hope you will be able to attend as many services as possible during this special week.
On Maundy Thursday at 6:30pm, we will have a potluck supper followed by Eucharist. Fr. Bob will talk about the Seder meal and what the various foods represent. Please sign-up to bring your favorite dish or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easter Sunday, we will have a Rite II service at 10:30am followed by a potluck lunch. (Please note that this is a combined service. We will not be having the Rite I service at 8:00am on Easter Sunday.) Bob Condon will be providing his famous ham, so please bring a side dish or dessert and enjoy the time of fellowship as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! A sign-up sheet is in the Parish Hall, or you may email email@example.com.
Regina Grisham, our Senior Warden, reminds us in this week’s Parish Blast about a poem written by Charles William Everest. The first stanza is particularly appropriate for Holy Week:
“Take up your cross, the Savior said, If you would my disciple be; take up your cross with willing heart, and humbly follow after me.”
We hope you will make plans to join us throughout this Holy Week, but especially on Easter Sunday!
We had a good turnout for our Wednesday, Lent Service/Eucharist and Soup Supper this week. We enjoyed homemade soup, salad, bread and dessert and it was delicious! Please make plans to attend next Wednesday at 6:00pm. If you would like to volunteer to bring something for the meal, there is a sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall.
February 17 – 19, 15 women gathered at Camp Mikell for the Women’s Retreat. Here is a group picture of those who attended. A special thank you to Lindsay Lemay, Nena Lund, Esther Atkinson and Diana Rosen for their efforts to make the weekend so meaningful and fun! The theme was “How can I keep from Singing?” and words such as “Just what I needed” and “So refreshing” seem to be how most described the weekend.
We’re happy to report that the repairs following our Christmas Eve flood have been completed: We now have full use of the Parish Hall and kitchen! The last task is to have the carpet professionally cleaned. Since the water pipe burst over the offices, classroom and kitchen back on Christmas Eve, we’ve been without a kitchen and largely without a Parish Hall, but over the weekend of Feb 16 and 17, the new cabinets and countertops were put in and all the plumbing was reconnected. The best news for some of us at that time was that the coffee service was, well, back in service! We’re grateful to Ron Petrey, our Junior Warden, for overseeing the repairs and for dealing with the insurance company.
The quilters will be able to resume their work on Wednesday’s, the Terrific Thursday Lunch Bunch will be able to have lunch at the church, and our coffee and fellowship can be enjoyed between and after the Sunday services without feeling like we’re in a storage building. Thanks to those who worked so hard to get things put back in place, and thanks to Rich and Debbie Roszel who hosted the Lunch Group at their home during the restoration.
As mentioned at our services on Sunday (Feb 19th), St. Gabriel’s has been invited to join St. Mary and Martha for a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper this week at their location at 7:00pm. Even though our kitchen has been put back together, there’s still a lot of work ahead for us to regain the space in our Parish Hall. As such, we didn’t feel it reasonable to plan on having the dinner at St. Gabe’s.
The address for St. Mary and Martha Episcopal Church is 4346 Ridge Road, Buford, GA 30519.
Subsequent to this invitation, we also received an invite from St. Anthony’s in Winder. Their dinner will be at 6:00pm. The address is St. Anthony’s Episcopal Church, 174 St. Anthony Drive, Winder, GA 30680.
We hope to see you Tuesday.
Sheetrock work and paining in the offices and Adult Classroom is finished, the molding is being put back in place, and as of Thursday, February 16th, the new cabinets and counter were being installed in the kitchen! That leaves re-installing the kitchen sink and coffee service, and putting toilets and sinks back in one of the bathrooms … oh, and putting all of the books, files, pictures, etc. back in the offices. It sounds like a lot, but we’re almost there. Thanks for your patience during this last overhaul. And if our timing works out, perhaps we can give up further renovations for Lent.
We’re pleased to announce that sheetrock work has begun in the church and we should be on our way to getting everything put back together following our water damage from frozen pipes on Christmas Eve 2022. Father Bob moved out of the sanctuary for the recording of his video homily this week due to the work (and noise) that was underway on Wednesday.
We will be meeting in the sanctuary once again this Sunday and we hope to see the rest of the restoration completed in a short amount of time. Thanks for your patience and faithfulness to St. Gabriel’s in spite of this temporary setback.
“I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we are moving against wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who has love has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rich and Debbie Roszel have offered to host the Terrific Thursday Lunch group at their home in Flowery Branch this week on January 12th. The Parish Hall, where we usually hold our lunch gatherings, is still in a bit of disorder as we wrap up our cleanup project, so we thought a nice, relaxing, lunch gathering off-site might be in order. Please let the Roszels know if you’d like to attend by calling the church office at 770-503-7555. We don’t like to post personal addresses on the website so call first and they can give you the directions by phone, text or email. This will also help the Roszels know how many people to expect. We hope you’ll make plans to attend!
Our church office is up and running again and we’ve resumed weekly services in the Sanctuary. Sheetrock still needs to be replaced in several of the rooms off the main hallway and baseboard needs to be replaced. Most likely, the last of the renovation work will involve installing new cabinets in the kitchen and putting the sink back in place. On another positive note, we’re talking with the plumber about moving the supply pipe that caused these issues to a warmer location, most likely about two feet in from the edge of the roof so as to provide much better insulation of the pipe and avoid freezing in the future. We’re grateful that this disruption was relatively brief, and we’re grateful to those in our congregation who stepped in to help during Christmas to dry out the church.
Please join us Sunday for a special Rite II Service. Since our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services got canceled due to our building flooding, Gregory and the choir will present the full Christmas program they had planned for Christmas Eve this Sunday, January 8th, at 10:30am. In addition to the choir performance, Taylor Spires, an accomplished clarinetist will also perform a couple of special songs. Taylor is the son of Lee-Ann and Billy Spires and grandson of Jean and Jim Waller. Even though Christmas has passed, this will give us an opportunity to celebrate Jesus’s birth.
This week we were able to get the parish offices put back together so that Esther and Nena could do their work. John came in to clean the restrooms, empty the trash and vacuum. Ron is waiting to hear from the contractor and get a quote on the cost to finish the repairs. Hopefully, we will have that information the week of January 9th. We are anxious to get the church repairs completed as soon as possible.
In the meantime. we do plan on resuming services in the church THIS WEEKEND (Jan 8)! Please plan to attend either the Rite I service at 8am or the Rite II service at 10:30, and don’t forget that we resume our study of The Apocryphal Jesus at 9:15 in the Adult Education room.
While the interruption of our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services due to a frozen water pipe that burst was very sad, the timing really couldn’t have been better. The pipe burst in several places due to the extreme cold, but it did so very shortly before members of our church arrived to get ready for the Christmas Eve service. As such, we caught the problem very quickly. Water got into several offices, two of the bathrooms, and the kitchen. Some sheetrock had to be removed as well as some baseboards and some of the kitchen cabinetry. However, we were able to get the water remediation company, Serenity Restoration, out on Christmas Day with industrial fans and dehumidifiers, and we were able to bring a plumber in on Wednesday to repair the broken pipe and make it so that we can turn the water back on as needed. Our hope is that we can be back in the building in very short order.
We will NOT be holding services New Year’s Day, but do plan to be back in the sanctuary by January 8th. Please watch your email and this website for updates.
We’re sad to report that all services for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have been canceled due to a burst water pipe at the church. Water remediation crews will be getting us dried out and back to normal as quickly as possible. We’ll post updates here as they become available. Meanwhile, we hope you have a happy, safe and dry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Thanks to all those who helped with our Angel Tree gifts this year. This was our first time as a congregation to participate with Prison Fellowship in providing Christmas gifts to children of inmates living in this area. We also provided gifts once again to residents at a personal care home in the area. The gifts were delivered earlier this week.
In addition to the gifts we provided to our Angel Tree families, we also had some age-appropriate Children’s Bibles donated, and each child also received a scholarship to attend a summer camp for free this year, so our chance to bless these families (and especially the children) grew thanks to God’s amazing provision.
So thanks for your generosity in helping make Christmas a little brighter for the recipients of these gifts!
On December 4th, following our Annual Parish Meeting, members of St. Gabriels’s gathered in the Parish Hall for a delicious Pot Luck Lunch. Soups, salads, meatballs, breads, and deserts were all on hand and a “good meal was had by all.” As a congregation, we’d like to do this more often, so be on the lookout for news of upcoming gatherings in the Parish Blast. If you’re not yet subscribed to the Parish Blast, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and you’ll start receiving it in your email inbox each week. Oh, and a big thank you to all who brought those delicious dishes!
At our Annual Parish Meeting on December 4th, we elected our 2023 Vestry. Marshall Cheves, who had served on the Vestry during 2022 decided to step down due to time constraints in his schedule. Regina Grisham, Ron Petrey, Rich Roszel and Jean Waller agreed to serve for another year, and Rama Doussa has stepped up to serve as our fifth Vestry member. The five were voted on and approved as a whole by the Parish. We are grateful for Rama’s willingness to serve and welcome her input and guidance in the new year.
As a church, we are still behind in our giving toward our 2022 pledges. By this point, we hoped to have received 92% of our pledges but, to date, have only received about 85%. If you made a pledge this year, we hope you will be able to honor your commitment before the end of the year. Our goal is to reach 100%.
Meanwhile, the 2023 Pledge/Stewardship Campaign is now underway. There are so many ways to support our church, by your presence, service, and financial contributions. To help our church budget and plan for 2023 please complete the pledge form that was mailed to you and return it to the church by mail, or better yet, attend a service and place in the offering plate. If you didn’t receive a pledge form, please pick one up on Sunday. And thanks to those who have already returned their 2023 pledge!
At the upcoming parish annual meeting, the 2023 vestry candidates will be voted on by the congregation. The Diocese requires a minimum of 5 members. We would love to add more members. Please prayerfully consider becoming a part of the vestry and sharing your talents to help our church grow and become more vibrant. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any vestry member.
Work is continuing on the church parking lot and will be finished in a couple of weeks. If you would like to contribute towards the cost of this project, please note “Parking Lot” on your check.
Our Terrific Thursdays Lunch Bunch continues to meet on Thursdays at Noon. Make plans to get together with fellow parishioners and others in the Parish Hall. Bring your lunch and enjoy a casual time of fellowship and conversation. If you’re busy during the week and can’t make it to the church on Thursdays, our Wednesday Lunch Group continues meeting via Zoom each week and would welcome newcomers. If you’re interested in learning more about either lunch gathering (and especially if you want a Zoom invitation to participate on Wednesdays), please call the church at 770-503-7555 and speak with Rich.
A 4-week Advent Study Is underway on Thursdays thru December 22nd. Father Don leads the study at 11:00 a.m. The book chosen is “Names for the Messiah: An Advent Study”, by Walter Bruggemann. The book can be purchased in paperback or Kindle through Amazon. Following the study, stick around for our Thursday Lunch Bunch, a BYO lunch gathering at the church.
Father Bob announced Sunday morning that Thursday evening Eucharist services have been cancelled for the next two weeks.