January 17, 2021

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Dear Friends,

In a time when much of the news we hear is bad, behold: I offer some glad tidings of great joy!  The good news is the generosity of Grace Church parishioners, and your Christmas giving to the Vestry Fund for Outreach (VFO).

The history of the VFO is important for everyone to know.  Years ago the Vestry began the practice of devoting our entire Christmas loose plate offering to ministry beyond our walls in hopes of alleviating some of the human misery on the streets of New York City.  The first year (2004) the Christmas congregations at four services responded generously and we were able to make approximately $10,000 in grants to various shelters and food pantries.  As the financial life of Grace Church improved we recognized that raising money today only to give it away tomorrow was not going to build a culture of outreach for the long haul.  Also, we ran the risk of having no outreach budget at all should something like a Hurricane Sandy or a pandemic severely curtail Christmas.

Thus in 2009 the wardens and Vestry established an ongoing fund that would grow and serve as a means for seriously blessing agencies of mercy in the city.  Since then the entire Christmas offering has gone into the VFO, and we make grants on a five-percent annual draw of the corpus.  People have continued to respond enthusiastically and the VFO has grown beyond our expectations.  Last year we were able to write $13,795 in grants.  But the really amazing news is the Christmas 2020 response.  Due to the pandemic our in-person attendance was only a fraction of what it normally is, but people answered call through online giving and the blessed the VFO with a collection of $18,690.  Thanks to you, every year Grace Church is increasingly able to participate in helping people not fall through the cracks, and even reach for a better life.

In other news on campus, yesterday the school community received word of the upcoming retirement of George P. Davison, Head of Grace Church School since 1994.  George plans to end his remarkable tenure in June of 2022, so we still have 18 months before we bid farewell to our friend and fellow parishioner.  In the meantime, a search committee has been appointed to name George’s successor, and I am pleased to report that I am on it.  The time commitment will be considerable but well worth it.  The healthy relationship between church and school doesn’t just happen automatically, but is the result of close cooperation between the Vestry and Trustees, and between the Rector and the Head.  Therefore, in the same way that I am now on the search committee for a new Head, the Head always should be offered a seat on the search committee for a new Rector (not that I am envisioning any such a committee existing in the near future!).  If you’d like to read the letters to the school community from George and Board of Trustees Chair Olivia Douglas, click here.

Finally, Grace Church masks are on the way to all of our 2021 pledging households.  We have temporarily run out but have ordered a new supply.  As soon as it arrives the great mask distribution will resume.  If you haven’t yet received yours, stay tuned.

The Rev. J. Donald Waring
Rector