A Guide to Holy Nativity
Administration and Leadership
As in all Episcopal churches, an elected group called a Vestry, at Holy Nativity consisting of a Senior Warden, an Accounting Warden, and five more members, meets monthly with the Rector (priest) to work together to oversee and ensure the vitality and smooth running of all aspects of parish life.
Financial and other ministry area reports are presented and discussed, details of upcoming events firmed up and/or delegated, and short and long term planning and visioning done – all in the context of prayer and shared ministry.
An Annual Meeting of the whole parish takes place in late January.
We are a member parish of the Bucks Deanery of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, and are active in those bodies in both formal and informal ways.
· Sunday bulletin notices are emailed out every Thursday, other parish emails as needed.
· Website: www.holynativitychurch.org
· Facebook: Holy Nativity Church – please like and share! We are also on Twitter.
· Seasonal, informational, and inspirational messages are posted on our church sign.
· “Coffee Hour” following worship: parishioners take turns bringing and serving coffee and/or cold drinks and snacks, at the host’s discretion. Coffee, set-up instruction and paper goods are provided.
· Various activities throughout the year, including Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, Easter Vigil reception, picnics, fundraising activities, other shared meals or activities at church or elsewhere.
Christian Formation is our lifelong, ongoing learning and growth in faith and discipleship.
· Sunday Forums (for adults and/or all ages) are held after worship 1-2 Sundays a month or more.
· Sunday School for pre-K – 6th graders is normally offered on first and third Sundays during the school year during worship, rejoining the congregation at the Peace for communion.
· Lent Madness – brackets with halos instead of hoops! – is a great way to learn about the saints of the church while having fun!
· Inquirers’ programs – baptismal prep, instructed eucharists, etc. – and other special programs are scheduled per demand and interest.
· Also: diocesan and deanery programs; various interfaith and other community learning events.
As our mission statement makes clear, we are followers of Jesus serving the world. At Holy Nativity we have a big heart for ministry to and with neighbors near and far, sharing Christ’s love one person or need at a time. Our outreach activities include:
· Holy Nativity Episcopal Preschool has been providing loving, creative early childhood education for area children since 1983, and we are justifiably proud of our biggest and oldest outreach ministry! See the Preschool page on our website.
· Our Pub Theology Group is two years old and going strong! An opportunity for people from any or no faith background to share deep conversation about things that matter, in an informal and mutually respectful setting, Pub Theology meets every Tuesday from 7:00-8:30pm at the Publick House in Wycombe. Like us at Pub Theology of Central Bucks on Facebook!
· Aid For Friends: we prepare and package frozen meals after worship on the 2nd Sunday of each month, to be delivered to elderly people and others in need of meal assistance and friendly visits throughout the Philadelphia area.
· And many more outreach ministries!!! We support the work of the Bucks County Housing Group with financial and food basket support of their nearby food pantry, holiday gift drives, etc. With our Preschool we do another gift drive for area seniors, and collect gently-used bras that help victims of human trafficking worldwide lift up their lives and incomes. We join the Diocese in the United Thank Offering and other efforts, and are a member parish of the EPIC consortium of central Bucks Episcopal parishes. We join other area faith communities in supporting the work of Bucks County Power Interfaith in addressing issues of justice and equal opportunity, as well as the local efforts of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence.
Pastoral Care/Parish Community
Our love and care for one another at Holy Nativity is evident when we are together when we are apart. Our Rector, and numerous parishioners, check in on and visit those either no longer able, or temporarily unable, to make it to worship, bringing Communion, prayers, flowers, cards, etc. We support one another in times of grief, illness, or family difficulties, and rejoice over births and birthdays, graduations and marriages, etc. We pray by name – for healing and strength and in thanksgiving – for many more people who are known and loved by those in our congregation.
For followers of Jesus, stewardship is our sacred responsibility to take wise and good care of all that God has entrusted to our care – our planet, our nation and communities and families, the way we spend our time, and the resources, talents, and gifts with which we have each been uniquely blessed.
For Christians, stewardship has also long been shorthand for how each one of us offer our Time, Talent, and Treasure – our time and participation in parish worship, fellowship, outreach and other activities; our particular talents and skills, and financial support including an annual written pledge to contribute a percentage of our income – to support and ensure the life and ministries of the Church. As with most churches, Holy Nativity is almost completely dependent upon the financial support of its members.
The Greek-derived word for worship, liturgy, translates as “the work of the people.” From a quiet summer Sunday to our dramatic and joyful Easter Vigil, in listening and speaking, praying and silence and singing, and – most especially – gathering to be fed at Christ’s table so that we may go out and follow Him and share His love in our daily lives, worship at Holy Nativity invites the full presence and participation of all. Besides our priest, who presides and preaches, and our musicians and occasional choir, who help us to make a “joyful noise,” there are many different ways for people to help with our worship. The following ministries are scheduled quarterly according to people’s availability. Training and instructions are provided as needed.
· Acolytes – who may be anywhere from eight to eighty! – assist the priest at the altar at communion time, and carry the cross, torches, and the Gospel book at different points in the service, along with other tasks at special services.
· Altar Guild members care for, set up, and clean up communion elements, vessels and linens and other church furnishings before and after worship, assist with arranging and/or procuring altar flowers, and order supplies as needed.
· Chalice Bearers come forward to administer the communion wine during communion.
· Coffee Hour hosts make coffee and tea water and set out cold drinks (or just cold drinks in the summer) and a few snacks for fellowship time after Sunday worship, and clean up afterward. Simple and store-bought are fine (and check the week before to see what’s on hand before shopping; coffee and paper goods and utensils are supplied); homemade or fancy is fun if you feel like it. Either way it’s nice include something sweet, something savory, and a gluten-free option or two. As with altar flowers, Coffee Hours may be offered in memory of someone, in thanksgiving for a birthday, etc.
· Counters work in pairs after worship to carefully count the offering monies, fill out a count sheet, and set up and usually drop off the deposit at our bank just up the road.
· Flowers for the two stands on either side of the altar may be offered (except during the Sundays in Lent) in a loved one’s memory, or in thanksgiving for a person, birthday, graduation, anniversary, etc. You may either bring the flowers, and an altar guild member can help with vases and arranging, or arrange in advance with our altar guild to procure and arrange the flowers, and reimburse them.
· Greeters arrive by 9:15 to greet people as they enter the church and give them worship booklets, give a special welcome to new worshipers and answer any questions they may have, and at offertory time bring the bread and wine to the altar, receive the offering plate(s); then bring the offering forward at the end of the offertory hymn when given a nod from the priest.
· Lectors read the first and second scripture readings; the second (Epistle) reader also leads the Prayers of the People. There is a handy pronunciation guide beneath the lectern.
· Opening/Closing the church: Opener arrives by 9am, disarms security system, unlocks front and back doors, turns on lectern microphone and lights as needed, and checks heat/AC as needed. Closer stays until the end of coffee hour and people have left, locks the front and back doors, turns off mike and lights (check bathrooms!), and arms the security system – or makes sure anyone still in the building will take care of any lights still on and setting the alarm.
If you would like to be a part of one or more of these ministries, speak with our capable Ministries Scheduler, or the rector, a few weeks before the beginning of a new quarter of the calendar year. We will arrange any training needed, and put your name down on days when you are available.
Here is an easy way to support our parish ministries:
Holy Nativity is enrolled as a charity with the Amazon Smile program. AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Holy Nativity every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Holy Nativity. Just go to www.smile.amazon.com and select Church of the Holy Nativity- Newtown, PA as your charity. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. From time to time, they may offer special, limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products or services or provide for additional donations to charitable organizations. Please see www.smile.amazon.com for complete details.