In 2011 two members of the Grace Vestry Outreach Commission – Mary Fenno and Karen Smith – tried to get parishioners to name their blessings aloud during church by passing a “Thanksgiving Basket” and asking that each blessing be accompanied by a monetary donation. Who knew all it took for folks to speak up was to ask them for money? These donations range from a few coins to more substantial donations (or even an I.O.U.) and represent gratitude for neighbors, children’s accomplishments, birthdays and lives well-lived, good medical outcomes, devoted pets, sermons and whatever else life presents that makes us happy to have experienced it. Each month the proceeds from the Thanksgiving Basket are directed to a nonprofit organization helping to make people’s lives better, whether here in Yorktown or the world. Since its inception, those coins have added up to more than $23,000 to the greater good.
Red Ball Express
The second Sunday of every month means an appearance by Grace’s “Red Ball Express.” It’s a large, red Radio Flyer wagon that was donated to Grace to help collection of food for the York County Food Closet in memory of the original “Red Ball Express.” The original RBE was established in World War II to rush food and supplies from the invasion ports to U.S. soldiers. Between Aug. 25 and Nov. 16, 1944 the original RBE drivers braved extreme weather conditions, bad roads and enemy fire to deliver supplies to the front lines. Some even engaged with the enemy.
Chalices and Patens
Eucharist is celebrated with a chalice to hold the wine and a paten to hold the bread, or host. At Grace, a 2019 project spearheaded by former Associate Rector The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline R. Soltys culminated with the creation of parishioner-designed and hand-painted chalices and patens. These were used to share Holy Eucharist with one another during Grace’s annual meeting on January 12, 2020. At the time, this meeting was important because it provided another opportunity for the congregation to tell the Rector Search Committee about the qualities we hoped for in a new church leader. Just two months later, it became a touchstone for a style of worshiping together that was lost temporarily due to the pandemic. Grace has a history of celebrating our Christian faith through art and is grateful to the 14 members whose talent gives life to our faith. Click here to learn more about the project and artists’ inspirations.
Every tradition has its start and for Grace’s practice of commissioning artwork that incorporates a cross, it began with a collaboration between then-Rector Reverend Carleton Bakkum and noted folk artist Nancy Thomas. “The World Cross,” is a painted wood piece completed in 1993. Since then more than 30 pieces have been added to Grace’s inspirational inventory, lately at a pace of one per year. The annual cross is typically commissioned, sometimes by a parishioner and other times by a member of the clergy, and presented to the congregation at Easter. The new cross is unveiled during our annual outdoor Easter worship service to join the procession of crosses through the Grace churchyard. A list of the Grace crosses, their artists and a bit about each partnership that resulted in each creation is available by clicking here.