This year I had the privilege of serving on the Grace 150th Planning Committee, ably led by Holly Anderson and Dave Masselink. It was a wonderful year of activities, lectures, music, worship, and even parade marching. The part of this that was most fulfilling to me personally, however, was working with Renee Krueger to edit the Stories of Grace blog. Hearing the various stories of our parishioners, past and present, has given me a deeper appreciation for how special Grace Church is.
As a historian, I enjoyed reading how our writers approached the histories of Grace. Paul Trapp, who has researched our history extensively through archival documents, shared the the adventures of Henry Clay Matrau, who fought in some of the most bloody battles of the Civil War and then became one of the most prominent lay leaders of the parish in the late 19th century. I also enjoyed reading the personal histories of parishioners like Jeff Erickson, Judy Linn, and Laurie Van Ark. They have been involved in Grace for decades and have had generations of their families involved in the Church. They show us the deep roots Grace has in our community.
The people of our parish also have a special talent for building community, both within the parish and beyond. Through stories about the Women’s Guilds, Pints and Perspectives, Octoberfest, the Fellowship Commission, and Youth Pilgrimage, I learned about the various ways we come together as Grace outside of worship. The “beyond Grace” stories inspired me. I learned from Robbie Schorle about how our commitment to Feeding America has grown over the years, and I learned from Amber Marie Cowles how our connection with Out on the Lakeshore helped her find a connection to a church, a “small miracle,” in her telling.
The blog posts have also helped me see the multiple ways Grace provides opportunities for prayer and reflection. Choir director Steve Jenkins reflects on the long and complex tradition of music in the Episcopal tradition, and teaches us that “our bodies and voices are the essential instruments of praise in our worship.” Linda and Bob Elder shared how meaningful silence and meditation has been to their prayer life. Paul De Coninck taught me that his job as an acolyte is to help people pray.
These stories have allowed me to see the beautiful layers of our community. Thank you for telling us your stories, Grace. I know there are many others. Let us continue to create and share new stories as we enter our next 150 years.
Submitted by: Jeanne Petit