Last week was National Volunteer Week. I received a number of thank you emails from organizations where I volunteer, and the emails got me to thinking about all the volunteer workers we have here at the church: people who provide support for our worship services, keep the coffee flowing and the food stocked during fellowship activities, tend the flowers, keep the building in good repair, teach our children and youth, lead the choir, organize adult programming, balance our books, monitor our finances, provide rides, etc. It may not take a village to run our church, but it does take a dedicated corps of volunteers to supplement the efforts of our hard working staff.
Our volunteering is not confined to the church property. So far this month, we have helped at St. Paul’s food pantry, participated in a UCC conference on immigration and refugee issues, provided assistance to clients at Jubilee Jobs, and taken part in a public forum on low income housing and tenants’ rights. In addition, a number of people continue to volunteer on a regular basis with some of our mission organizations. These include Bruce Grimes, who volunteers at Friendship Place, and Serena Wiltshire who volunteers at Shaw Community Center. My apologies to anyone I have inadvertently left out. There will be more opportunities to volunteer in the coming months, and I hope you will consider joining in. Time commitments vary by activity, but most take only a few hours.
I used to think I was too busy to add more volunteer activities to my plate, but that was before I met Le Rowell. Le is the chair of our Member Care Committee and a member of our 100th Anniversary Committee. She also sings in the choir and participates in a number of church groups that meet monthly, including the poetry group (which she founded.) Outside of church, Le is active in the Rehoboth Art League and several other organizations. In recognition of all that she does, Le was honored this past Tuesday by Seabury Resources for Aging in a special service held at the Washington National Cathedral where she was recognized for her service and leadership and the significant impact she has on her church and community. Congratulations to Le on this well deserved honor. Le, we are truly grateful that you devote so much of your time and talents to our church!
And thanks to all of the volunteers among us!
Who We Are:
Today’s story comes from Katherine Stevens, the chair of our Building & Grounds Committee.
I joined Cleveland Park Church in 1990 after a short search with my two daughters, then 10 and 7. The search followed a 20-year hiatus in church membership. When we visited CPC, a girl Susannah’s age walked down the aisle to light the candles, and Susannah said, “Maybe I can do that someday.” I thought, “Well, this must be the place.” I think it was Georgie Dunham who invited us to a potluck and hymn sing that evening and we went. There is a photograph of Susannah and Caroline sitting at a table, sharing a hymnbook and singing, that very night. My husband, Nye, was not there — he’s not a church-goer.
I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I was looking for in a church, but I’ve found the intimacy of Cleveland Park just right for me. I love the democracy of the UCC — that it’s not a top-down arrangement. We, the congregation, decide what is important to us. We decide who we will invite to share in the leadership of the church, in the pastorate. One minister said, years ago, “Congregationalists believe God is in the congregation.” I’ll go with that.
I also always loved that Cleveland Park Church–for a long time–was a “not-quite-ready-for-prime-time church.” In that needful atmosphere, if you had an idea, you could run with it. If it worked, it would become a beloved CPC tradition. The fall dine-around dinners came from that spirit. So did an orchestra started and conducted by Dorothy Mora. However, when Ellen arrived, she fit into the congregation like a puzzle piece we didn’t know was missing, and made the whole work better than our parts ever had. We still may feel moved to propose an idea and make something new happen. Don Clarke’s annual art show to benefit Joseph’s House comes to mind.
In the years since I’ve joined, I’ve enjoyed singing in the choir, learning to arrange flowers under Georgie Dunham’s tutelage, heading up the Diaconate, re-decorating the parlor (twice), helping with the church’s written communication, serving as moderator, and now chairing the Buildings and Grounds committee. I’ve made a multitude of friends. I’ve been retired now for seven years —I worked for several independent schools as director of communication doing lots of creative stuff. Now I’m a volunteer literacy tutor and do lots of other creative stuff, like sewing, sculpting (wood and stone), and writing. And babysitting my 4-year-old granddaughter counts as creative too!
Did You Know:
- Did you know that Le and Ed Rowell first met at CPC and that the church played a key role in their courtship?*
- Did you know that at one time CPC had a thriving theater group and that Richard and Sue Bambach were leading players? The next time you see Richard, you might want to ask him about his starring role in the play, Pure as the Driven Snow.*
*I learned both of these tidbits at the potluck lunch held after the ‘40s and ‘50s service on April 15th. I can’t wait to see what is revealed on June 17th when we hold our ‘60s and ‘70s service.
EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Coffee Hour Conversation: Our Own Authors! 4/29—Join us after worship as David Finnegan-Hosey and Chessy Prout discuss their newly published works: Christ on the Psych Ward and I Have a Right to… A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice and Hope. Both books are timely and relevant in today’s culture. They are also deeply personal, brave accounts of the authors’ experiences.
Children’s Sunday, 5/6—Come to our annual Sunday School-led worship service, starring our wonderful young actors, theologians and musicians. This 100th Anniversary Service will feature ghosts and a glance at times past. … Visiting children and youth are warmly welcome to participate.
Bible Study, 5/13—This monthly group will meet after Coffee Hour in the parlor to discuss Genesis. All are welcome. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org.
FaithLife Group, 5/13—This group meets one Sunday a month from 5:30-7 pm to discuss how faith impacts life (and vice versa). This spring we’re exploring our deeply held beliefs via resources found at www.thisibelieve.org. Please join us! Questions: email@example.com.
Confirmation/Coming of Age Sunday, 5/20—Join us for this celebration of ten young teens and their journey of faith, fellowship and fun. They’ll lead the service and share their Credos (Belief Statements) as part of worship. Come and support these amazing youth; we are happy to welcome them as members of the congregation!