Announcements - Week of Sunday, May 9, 2020
New Matching Challenge Grant
Thanks to an anonymous pledge, we have a new opportunity to help retire the construction loan debt on our Christian Formation and Fellowship Building even sooner than planned, and for less money overall. Every contribution that we receive for the new building between 21 April 2020 and 31 December 2020 (unless otherwise specified) will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $100,000.00, with all such contributions plus the matching amount being used to pay down the principal on the construction loan. The sooner we can pay off the principal, the sooner we can pay off the entire loan, and the less we have to raise for our total expenses on the loan (thanks to reduced interest payments). Even amidst the current economic uncertainty, you might be able to donate for this special opportunity at some point between now and year’s end. Your gift should have “New Building” marked on the check or on the envelope for your gift, and every gift will be welcomed. For information about how to transfer investments in tax-advantageous ways for this purpose, please contact Sue Selz in the church office <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
New Offering of Weekday Morning Prayer
You are invited to join Father Rickenbaker weekdays in May at 8:00 a.m. for Morning Prayer, Rite Two, on Facebook Live. Simply type <www.facebook.com/AquiaEpiscopalChurch> into your browser’s address bar. You can join in by watching the video even if you don’t have a Facebook profile. The readings for the day will be posted in the comments section of your screen. You may submit your prayer requests via the comments section or via e-mail <email@example.com>.
New Thursday Evening Series
In order to extend the joy of this Easter season and all the hope it inspires, your clergy invite you to join in a new Thursday evening series (running May 14—June 25, starting electronically at 7:00 p.m.), featuring the book SURPRISED BY HOPE by N. T. Wright, an Anglican bishop and an internationally renowned professor of New Testament and early Christianity. This book and our series will address such important Christian themes as resurrection, life after death, Paradise, Purgatory, the Ascension and Second Coming, the kingdom of God, the mission of the Church, and other related issues. You are encouraged (but not required) to purchase the book for yourself on your own; it is available in hardback, paperback, e-book/Kindle, and audio-book/Audible/MP3 formats through Amazon.com and various stores and Websites. Anyone will be able to view our clergy-led presentations through broadcasts over Facebook Live, even if you do not use Facebook or do not have a Facebook account; simply go to the Website <www.facebook.com/AquiaEpiscopalChurch> and watch the recordings, whether live or at a later time for your convenience. In addition, by special arrangement with a Christian vendor, a number of parishioners will be able to enjoy video recordings of Bishop Wright’s own discussion about the material; if you are interested in this limited-time/limited-number opportunity, please contact Father Morris soon (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-659-4007).
Vacation Bible School Postponed
In light of coronavirus restrictions, we have decided that our planned week for VBS must change from June 8-12 to a different time later in the summer. Stay tuned for updates.
New Wednesday Bible Studies
The in-person gatherings for Wednesday Bible studies will be suspended for the next few weeks, due to current coronavirus regulations. We shall resume them as soon as feasible. Meanwhile, the Bible study discussions are being continued online at our church’s Facebook page <https://www.facebook.com/AquiaEpiscopalChurch>. Even if you do not have a Facebook account, you can still access the videos archived there for worship and faith-formation simply by clicking on the video for the given day. Also, you do not have to join in the Bible study live; the videos will be stored there for your viewing at any time convenient for you. Father Rickenbaker recently began a new Wednesday morning series on the Book of Job in the Old Testament (starting electronically at 10:30 a.m.) that will run through June 17. On May 13 Father Morris will begin a new Wednesday evening series on the Gospel of John in the New Testament (starting electronically at 7:00 p.m.) that will run for several weeks. You are welcomed to join in these video-based Bible studies at any time. If you want to be added to the e-mail list for updates about the Wednesday Bible studies, please contact the relevant member of the clergy: <email@example.com> or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Sunday Worship Online
For all who wish to participate in online worship on this coming Sunday and for the next few weeks, please visit <https://www.facebook.com/AquiaEpiscopalChurch>. Morning Prayer with a sermon will be offered on Facebook Live each Sunday morning. Even if you do not have a Facebook account, you can still access the videos archived there for worship and for faith-formation simply by clicking on the video for the given day. Also, you do not have to join in the worship live; the videos will be stored there for your viewing at any time convenient for you. If you want to receive a copy of the worship brochure that will be used for online worship (best sent by e-mail, but snail-mail can be arranged), then please contact Father Morris (email@example.com or 540-659-4007).
Any Questions for Father Morris???
Do you have any questions that you want to ask our clergy? Perhaps you have some questions of the wide-variety sort we ask when we play “Stump the Priest!” where you can ask anything on your mind. Perhaps you have some concerns about how our parish is being affected by the restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps you have some questions about how to address the spiritual and emotional challenges we face with physical distancing and other changes to our daily routines. Please raise your questions and concerns directly with Father Jay Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-659-4007), and he can begin addressing them for everyone’s benefit at the end of his next Sunday worship broadcast on Facebook Live on May 10. By answering your question, he might be able to address a concern shared by others in our parish. Rest assured that he will NOT announce your name when he reads your question during our electronic worship. If a private answer would be more appropriate than a broadcasted reply, then of course you may request that.
Anne E. Moncure Scholarship
To all graduating seniors: The Episcopal Church Women understand that your 2020 high school graduation will be very different than other graduating years at your schools. Whatever the changes might be, the ECW will continue to accept your application for the 2020 Anne E. Moncure Scholarship. Each year the Aquia ECW honor her memory with a scholarship in her name which is presented to a deserving graduating senior from Aquia Church. She was a life-long member of Aquia Church and also a long-time educator in Stafford County; she was the first supervisor of elementary education in Stafford County, a position she held for thirty years. To receive an application with guidelines, please contact the church office <email@example.com>. For consideration of the scholarship, all applications and required information must be returned or e-mailed to the Aquia Church office by the close of business on May 31.
Cross Section Newsletter
The May issue of our Cross Section newsletter is now available on our church’s Website <www.AquiaChurch.org>. Our monthly newsletter is a handy, helpful way to receive some spiritual guidance and encouragement and to keep up with the many events and ministries of our parish. If you would like to be added to the e-mail distribution list for receiving the newsletter, please notify Sue Selz in the church office <firstname.lastname@example.org>; if you would like to receive a printed copy of the newsletter, please notify the church office (email@example.com or 540-659-4007).
Youth Group Online
Throughout the month of May, the youth group will be meeting online for faith-formation and discussion. Our Sunday morning meetings (like for Sunday school) will take place each Sunday morning in May, starting electronically at 10:30 a.m. Our next Sunday evening meeting is scheduled for May 17, starting electronically at 4:00 p.m. All of these Sunday morning and evening online meetings will take place through Google Hangouts, which we have used successfully at the initiative of one of our teenagers. These online conversations are important opportunities for our teenagers to keep in touch with each other and to remain engaged with faith-formation while so much of their lives otherwise has been disrupted. If you have any questions about this, please contact the clergy: <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>.
Aquia's Table and Aquia's Pantry
Did you know that since Aquia’s Pantry began curbside pickup of groceries, we have distributed 5,220 lbs of food from the regional food bank alone (not to mention what we have shared from other sources) and that we have helped feed 487 people? Did you know that Aquia’s Pantry has recently added Sheetz convenience stores to the list of vendors offering us gleanings from their supplies? Aquia’s Pantry will continue to offer curbside delivery of groceries most every Wednesday, 6:00—7:30 p.m. Also, for various reasons about logistics and safety, Aquia’s Table will not resume its usual operations until sometime later this month at the very earliest. For both Aquia’s Table and Aquia’s Pantry, stay tuned for updates. Meanwhile, if you have any brown paper grocery bags, please drop them off at the bin near the main entrance to the Christian Formation and Fellowship Building (the new building). Aquia’s Pantry will then fill your brown paper grocery bags with groceries as signs of God’s grace and deliver them to neighbors in need. Also, if you have any brown paper grocery bags but cannot drop them off, then please contact Michael Golasz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will pick them up from you. Thank you for your support.
Note from the Treasurer
Stewardship and Church Finances: We find ourselves in uncharted times, but many aspects of church life continue with little change. Our monthly operations, including salaries and benefits for our employees, administration and utilities and maintenance, without our mortgage payment, exceeds $30,000--and this amount includes reduced costs for utilities and maintenance. So, if you pledge or give without pledging, your continued support is truly needed. The increased use of electronic giving is helpful, as it avoids the need for or our office and counters to handle mail, which could be contaminated, but we still pick up the mail and your mail-in contribution will be counted. Where possible, if parishioners can absorb the nominal transaction cost, that is also very helpful. Be mindful that you can make an electronic contribution and apportion your gifts between multiple purposes, e.g., pledge, flowers, outreach, etc. You can give electronically through Realm – the link is <https://onrealm.org/AquiaEpiscopalC/Give>, and there is a “GIVE” link on the church website <https://aquiachurch.org>. Also, you can give via text message: text AQUIA to 73256. Making a special trip to drop your contribution off at the office is the least desirable method, as that makes you leave the safety of your home. It is gratifying to see the parish continue to fulfill pledges and make generous contributions to many causes--Thank you. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Treasurer <email@example.com>.
Additional Note from the Treasurer
The CARES Act: This legislation, recently passed by Congress, contains some new provisions for charitable giving:
- For 2020, there is a new $300 deduction for qualified charitable donations. Individuals who take the standard deduction can claim an above-the-line tax deduction for cash donations to qualified charitable organizations, up to $300. Gifts of appreciated securities and gifts to a donor-advised fund or supporting organization do not qualify.
- Donors who itemize their deductions can usually deduct cash contributions up to 60% of their adjusted gross income. For 2020, that cap is lifted, and donors contributing cash to charity may deduct up to 100% of their income, which is a significant tax-savings for anyone able to contribute larger amounts. Again, this is only for gifts of cash, and only for gifts made directly to charity (not to donor-advised funds or supporting organizations).
- The CARES Act eliminates required minimum distributions (RMDs) from many retirement plans in 2020. Some donors have been using their RMDs for tax-advantaged charitable gifts by making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly to charity. Under the CARES Act, it is still possible for donors who are 70½ or over to contribute up to $100,000 directly to a charity without paying tax on the distribution. This remains a beneficial way for donors to make gifts to your church.
The CARES Act is a complex new law. This information is intended only as a summary of provisions that may be important for church stewardship efforts. Donors should always consult with their own professional advisors before making a gift.
A Message from Father Morris
While we all await the time when we can resume public worship in person and can resume the typical operations of our various ministry groups, your clergy and vestry remain concerned for meeting the pastoral and spiritual needs of our members and our neighbors, even while we practice physical distancing. We can still pray for one another, check in with each other through phone calls, and offer help to others with groceries, errands, and appointments. Your clergy and vestry are already doing those things, and we invite you to join us. Please contact us when there are emergencies and other pastoral concerns. Be sure to keep in your prayers everyone affected by the coronavirus, including those who have died, the sick and the quarantined, their caregivers, those facing lost income or isolation or other fears, medical professionals, and public officials. And stay tuned for updates, as we begin preparations for reconvening eventually, once there is sufficient clarity from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Diocese of Virginia about what will be permitted and when, alongside what restrictions will be in place.
If you want to be added to our e-mail distribution list for announcements and updates, simply notify Sue Selz in the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-659-4007).