This week's Saturday collection features a parish pet, a personal account of one parish's involvement in sheltering homeless families, and another parish's 100 year observance of yearly tradition.
In Florida comes this account of Gus, the cat who lives in St. John's Wewahitchka FL.
Jennifer Adams, the parish administrator fills in the details of Gus' particular ministry:
"Adams said Gus often helps console those who come to the church grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering from physical pain, or seeking solace from tremendous upheavals in their lives.
He is confined to the office whenever the church is empty of people. But during office hours, he has the run of a meeting room and courtyard as well.
And during Wednesday services — scheduled to come to an end after Christmas — he is allowed in the chapel.
'He goes from lap to lap,' Adams said."
In Vermont, Trinity in Vineland is trying to start a Family Promise Network in the area. Dorothy Torchio writes of the initial experience in her congregation:
Our first scheduled host week was in August 2005. We were prepared to host 14 people and ended with only 10, as one family moved into their own home sooner than expected. Redeemer Lutheran hosted in October. We invited our congregations to lend a helping hand at dinner, crafts, homework, reading or driving the Family Promise van. They also stepped up to opportunities to stay overnight and do laundry.
The families who stayed with us were very thankful for the wonderful accommodations we gave them, the delicious dinners and, especially, the crafts and games offered in the evenings. We are thankful for the many volunteers who step forward and meet the challenge. Without volunteers, outreach programs cannot work.
And finally, and probably most delightfully, Wynton Marsalis will be the celebrity "reader" of 'Twas the Night before Christmas at The Church of the Intercession in Manhattan. Nearly a hundred years ago a tradition started of having children gather in the building, hear the story and then form a procession to visit the grave of the poem's author Clement Clarke Moore, who was a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York City long ago.
“This has been a family tradition for many years, this is not just a community event but also something that the entire city can feel identified with, families and children are familiar with the poem, so it’s meaningful for them,” said Betsy Green, a Church of the Intercession representative.
(Don't miss the pictures accompanying the story!)