African Palms USA, an outreach ministry of St. John’s Church of Olney, Maryland, was founded in 1965 by Father Alan Talbot, an Anglican missionary in Masasi, Tanzania who sought a way for poor farming families to augment their income and improve their living conditions. The result was turning a simple hand-woven palm cross into a great source of income and humanitarian aid. The net proceeds from the sale of the crosses, and all donations received, are returned to Africa in the form of non-denominational self-help grants to meet basic human needs. The grants committee awards numerous grants up to $5,000 based on need. Past projects receiving the grants have included disaster and refugee relief, medical and public health programs, education, and agricultural assistance, primarily in east Africa.
The crosses are produced by villagers in Tanzania. Entire families take part in the project. Palm cross orders ranging from 50 to 10,000 are shipped nationwide to over 3,000 churches, church related groups, chaplaincies, and individuals. And all of this is done primarily by volunteers. African Palms’ crosses are made from dried branches of the dwarf palm Hyphaena coriacia. The crosses are hand-woven, and neither the trees nor the crosses are chemically treated and are environmentally safe.
These crosses can serve as a reminder of your part in helping people in Africa help themselves.
Thoughts from the Associate Rector…
One of my favorite ministries at St. Michael’s is being with folks who are considering confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church. It is such a privilege being with folks who are considering making a public affirmation of their Christian faith and we always enjoy super conversation, fellowship, and study during our time together.
This spring St. Michael’s offer a one-day Adult Confirmation Class,
a Saturday retreat, April 5, 2014, 9 am – 3 pm,
that will feature presentations on basics of the Christian faith, Bible, and life in the church and have lots of room and time for questions and discussions. This workshop will serve to equip those who would like to be confirmed or received, or who wish to reaffirm their baptismal vows, on Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014, when the Right Rev. Dena Harrison, Bishop Suffragan, visits St. Michael’s.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is the adult affirmation of one’s baptism; Reception is the welcoming of an already confirmed person into the Episcopal Church from any Christian denomination. Reaffirmation is for anyone who is just looking for a fresh start or new commitment and has already been confirmed or received. If you have never been baptized, please talk to Robby or me. Attendance at this retreat is very appropriate preparation for baptism but is not required.
Please contact me for information or to sign up. You may also sign up in entryway.
Janne Alrø Osborne
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour this Saturday night before you go to bed. Daylight Savings Time officially begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 9, 2014 (when clocks should be set ahead one hour to 3:00 a.m.).
Don’t be late to your favorite worship service!
Thoughts from the Vestry and Finance Commission –
The vestry has approved an operations budget for 2014. Based on pledges received to date and other projections, this roadmap for the year forecasts income of $821,000. Planned expenditures for the year total $836,000 leaving us with a year-end deficit of $15,000. Our operational reserve will just barely cover this deficit and our cash flow swings over the course of the year. If you have not yet made your prayerful decision about a 2014 pledge, we invite you to do so. Cards are in the pews and may be dropped in the offering plates.
The diocese has benefited from the $1.3 billion sale of St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston and has passed some of this largess on to the individual parishes in the form of reduced medical insurance premiums. The net result for St. Michael’s is a reduction of about $51,000. Despite this savings our Outreach Ministry budget had to be reduced to the tune of $30,000 in the amount our congregation devotes to helping others. As a church family, we seek to be the instruments of God’s will in this place, and this reduction of our efforts in this calling should be a signal for us to consider prayerfully our priorities.
On the Bearing Lasting Fruits capital campaign front, things are progressing nicely. With a total three-year pledge amount of $967,118, receipts to date are $496,931 - 51.4% after only one year of the campaign. We are now ready to make another $100,000 curtailment of the primary mortgage for a total of $255,000 in reductions, leaving a mortgage principal of only about $124,000 outstanding. This amount should be completely paid off as the campaign is completed. Thanks to all involved in making this a reality.
There is still time to join the fun …
THE LEDGE = FUN on February 8th – this Saturday!
Can you bowl a strike? Grab your socks, and let’s see who can score the highest! Ledges (little Edges) is back and we are going bowling!
All 3rd-5th graders are invited to come and get a sneak preview of what youth group is like. Meet at the church on Saturday, February 8, at 4:30pm, and we will return at 7pm. We will have pizza at the bowling alley for dinner.
PARENTS: If your mini-youth is interested in being a part of this LEDGES bowling outing, please email Mary Conking
by 9am Saturday, and she will email you a release form.
The event is $20 per person and friends are always welcome! Hope to see you all!!
If you want to learn more about our youth program or have any any questions, please contact Mary Conkling
, our youth minister.