Events for December 2022

From small beginnings come great harvests

From small beginnings come great harvests 360 270 Episcopalians in Connection

Vacation Bible School, providing new shoes to school children, making sure that children have all the supplies they need to begin a successful school year, community dinners, educating the community about addiction and recovery, and distributing lifesaving Naloxone in the context of worship are examples of the extraordinary ministries taking place in small congregations in the southeastern region of our diocese. The results are nothing less than the tiny seeds that are planted in the spring that yield great harvests in the fall.

Vacation Bible School at Holy Trinity, Bellaire

Holy Trinity, Bellaire, has a long-time partnership with Epiphany Lutheran Church in Pickerington, thanks to the efforts of parishioner Brianna Voight, who coordinates their Vacation Bible School and all the faithful volunteers from Trinity. A team of young people comes to Bellaire each year for a week of VBS fun. This year most activities were online, but the Sunday kick-off was held at the church. Thirty-five VBS kids, their younger siblings and parents came to play games, pick up craft supplies and receive lunch and snacks items for the entire week. In addition, each child received a bag full of school supplies and other goodies, donated by parishioners and staff of Christ Church Cathedral and the bishop’s office staff. Trinity members reciprocate the kindness of Epiphany by traveling to Pickerington each Halloween to volunteer for their Trunk or Treat event.

Students hold up vouchers for new shoes distributed by volunteers at Grace Church, Pomeroy.

In Pomeroy, the people of Grace Church gathered in late August to distribute vouchers to children for new back-to-school shoes. The ministry was begun by Grace member Steve Story. Sadly, Steve is no longer living, but the yearly event continues in his honor, reaching out to at least 100 children. Grace Church was also able to donate over 75 bookbags full of school supplies through the Meigs Cooperative Parish, a shared ministry to the people of Meigs County among several churches in the community, thanks to donations from the cathedral community and diocesan staff.

Community Dinner at Church of the Epiphany, Nelsonville

The people of Epiphany, Nelsonville, have resumed their community dinner on the fourth Thursday of every month. Homemade selections with lots of love mixed in are served to 50 or more guests at the church, and more dinners are delivered to a nearby senior living community. And as an extra bonus, live music is provided at dinner!

In Portsmouth and Ironton, outreach to the community is focused, in part, on the opioid and mental health crises in southern Ohio. The Rev. Paul Bennett, Priest Resident at All Saints’, Portsmouth, celebrated a “Naloxone Saves” worship service. The worship and provision of Naloxone kits to all in attendance shifts the focus of conversation around drug addiction away from blaming the victim to saving lives and an “orientation to dignity.” A harm reduction approach to recovery begins with the premise that all people are God’s precious children and saving the lives of those who overdose begins the process of healing. The Rev. Sallie Schisler, Vicar of Christ Church, Ironton, is an active community advocate in Scioto and Lawrence Counties, working with Tri-State Family Connections and other organizations to encourage a harm reduction orientation to addiction response.

These are but a few examples of the great harvest of Christian witness in southeastern Ohio congregations. They serve as testament to the faith and tenacity of very small groups of Episcopalians building relationships with community partners and stepping out in faith to love and serve the Lord.

The Rev. Canon Lee Anne Reat serves as the diocesan Missioner for Southeast Ohio, and as Interim priest at Christ Church, Springfield.