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9/20 - Caribbean Fundraiser Dinner

9/21 - Holy Eucharist 8:00 AM & 10:00 AM

9/23 - Food Pantry

9/23 - Prayer Shawl Ministry

9/24 - Holy Eucharist & Prayers for Healing

9/24 - Bible Study

9/25 - ALPHA course at Giant Supermarket

9/25 - Choir Rehearsal

9/28 - Holy Eucharist 8:00 AM & 10:00 AM

9/30 - Food Pantry

10/1 - Holy Eucharist & Prayers for Healing

10/1 - Bible Study

10/2 - ALPHA course at Giant Supermarket

10/2 - Choir Rehearsal

Choosing according to Design
Throughout the summer, I have been thinking about the phrase, "free will." First, I spent some time reading and meditating on Genesis 1-3, which describes Lord God creating all there is, seen and unseen, as well as the drama of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. For the Church, this is the paradigmatic passage about the awesome gift of life and freedom and how it is incumbent upon us to use this freedom to honor and obey God and not "follow the devices and desires of our own hearts (BCP, page 37)."
The second reason "free will" has been in my mind is because this summer the news media has reported an extraordinary amount of violence and lawlessness around the world. You know the list; there is no need to repeat it. All this needless suffering is the result of people making very bad decisions which are cruel and injurious to others many of whom are innocent victims caught in the crossfire of wickedness.
In secular terms, I suppose many people would define "free will" as the capacity to choose what you want. Like many secular understandings, this is partially true. Partial truths can be problematic. Think of this. With pencil and paper, you draw parallel lines. They appear parallel which means if extended several inches, feet or even miles, they will remain the same distance apart, never crossing or diverging because what begins as parallel remains parallel. But, what if they are not exactly parallel at the start? Then, as they lengthen, they will cross or drift apart. So, this is an analogy of the danger of partial truths. At first, they seem fine but over time mislead us.
So, here is the problem with the partial truth of "free will" defined as "the capacity to choose what you want." Yes, we do have the capacity to make daily and life-altering changing decisions. Yet, the Judeo-Christian traditions teach the power to choose is a gift from God inextricably linked to the gift of life as dramatized by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. "Free will" does not mean "we can choose what we want." Theologically, "free" means "gratis" as in we do not have to pay for it. It is a gift given to us! "Will" means the power to make something happen. So, in theological terms, "free will" is a capacity given to us. We could even say it is shared with us from the Lord
It is fitting, then, for us to use this "given or shared capacity" according to the Giver's will. In other words, the Author of the gift has a large say on the usage of the gift. And, the beneficiary of the gift, you and me, are expected to live according to the Giver's desire and instruction. Note this is not simply a moral obligation as in "we ought to do it." It is by design. We are made in the image and likeness of God and in him, we live and move and have our being. We are built to think and act in beautiful, good, truthful, and loving ways. Like God, it's product design! A product acts how its designer plans. It would be nonsensical and silly to use a vacuum cleaner to prune your rose bush!
So how do we think and act as we are designed? Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the life of our Designer. Take up your cross and follow him. Saint Augustine said, "Love God and do as you will." This is why we need God's Word and Sacraments as well as our brothers and sisters in faith. Choose the destiny designed for you, abundant life! See you Sunday!
Yours in Christ,

Father Hastings
There’s been a lot of activity over the summer, but I am looking forward to having all the church school families all together at the same time when we return to church school on September 7.
We have some new members of our church school and youth group team. Karen West will be leading in the Preschool and Kindergarten room. Karen has been assisting in that class for the last year and is ready to take the lead in teaching. Kyle Stout and Ashleigh Morris met with some of our teens in July and August. Their leadership skills and heart for the youth group was evident on our mission trip, and I am so proud to see them growing in faith. I'm grateful that they have been able to give so much of their time to St. Anne's this summer. Ashleigh is excited about helping with youth group this year and Kyle may be around to help out as well.
As I reflect over the summer that is coming to a close, I have to say it has been a great one, memorable for me in many ways: good vacations and time with family, and good times with our friends from St. Anne’s. I remember praying about our Mission trip on Holy Trinity Sunday, a week before we went away, and coincidentally Holy Trinity Church in Niagara Falls, one of our service sites, ended up being a place we will never forget. I had the feeling that the Holy Spirit was working in us; teaching us and leading us to serve. It was a very profound experience for me and wonderful to see how it strengthens the faith of our young people to be around people of faith, working together, humbly trying to show God’s love in a community.
Our Vacation Bible School was a great success especially thanks to the dedication of Jennifer and Mike Brennan and Mitch Will. I can’t thank them enough for all they did. We had a lot of fun - thank you to Fr. Hastings, Kimberly Stout, Kyle Stout, Ashleigh Morris, Melanie DeMarco, and all who donated snacks. Also, a big thanks goes out to our decorating team: Carole Capps, Pam Hastings, Mary Duffy, Nancy Smith and again, the Brennan family.
Our church school children, with the help of Mary Duffy and Kyle Stout, helped St. Anne’s food cupboard in July and August by putting together about 75 small bags of toiletries to be given out to our friends in need. It was great to see even the youngest members of St. Anne’s sorting through the soaps and small plastic bottles. Never too young to help in some small way!
One of my favorite St. Anne’s memories from this summer was Youth Sunday on August 3rd. I am so pleased to see new acolytes Carly Kinckner, Elena Shaffer, and Mark Shaffer (who has been crucifer for most of the summer), also Anthony Sibley, Amy Vera and Kate Vera serve at the altar. They were excellent. I know Marion is very proud of them and so am I.
I will be praying for our children as they begin a new school year, especially those who are moving on to new schools and I ask you to do the same. We are blessed to have this community of Christ that is a source of support for our families. I hope you have made some great memories this summer and are feeling refreshed and ready for a new school year.
In preparation for the season, my brother, Ed Woytowicz has offered to host our first rehearsal and picnic on Thursday, September 4. All choir members ought to have received an email. If you are interested in coming, email me at swoytowicz@yahoo.com. I will provide the entrée and as always, everyone can sign up to bring sides, desserts, and beverages. We will be singing at the 10:00 am liturgy on Sunday, September 7, rehearsal beginning at 9:00 am sharp. Our first Thursday night rehearsal will be on September 11 at 7:30 pm....