Here on this little island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, I am always amazed that our news is often a microcosm of what is happening over the big world. The main headlines in the New York Times on Friday (which we got in our mail on Saturday, of course) were “Blackout Spoils Research Work” and “Power System Use is Pressing Limits”. And on Sunday morning we had no coffee since we have an electric stove and coffee maker. Then there were headlines that the “White House and First Lady Are at Odds over Jerusalem”. How holy places are used will, I suppose be an eternal problem. But since we were in Jordanian Jerusalem when the war started in 1967, we weep for the Palestinians. This weekend, Grindstone Islanders came face to face with their own problem of how to use its holy property. No problems cause more intense responses nor demand more sensitivity in the way one person sees another.  Our summer pastor warned us on Sunday morning of  “the tendency to allegorize”, the tendency to see an argument in terms of “good and evil”.


Saturday night was a time of getting to know each other in the nicest ways, sharing a meal together.  The annual turkey dinner was prepared by church women who held very different views about how to use Dodge Hall but who worked together to produce what seemed to me to be one of the best we’ve ever managed. Erma Slate was in charge; seeing that the potatoes were put on to cook at just the right time to be freshly mashed when the first hungry people came through the door. But she had Margaret Taylor and Norma Frazier and Clara Carnegie and Yuvon Marra and Elaine Brooks and Brenda Slate and Doreen Meeks, and Mary Lou Rusho, and, and, and.  I’m sure I’ve left out many who lent a hand.  But together they worked and enjoyed each other and gave all of us a wonderful dinner, a real Thanksgiving Dinner, cranberry sauce, moist, tender turkey and all. Afterwards Phyllis Schwartz, Elaine Brooks, and I, keeping our ears peeled to the fun out in the yard, cleaned up the few things that had to be done in the kitchen.  The cooks had also washed most of the pots and pans as they worked.


Outside the carriage house, when everyone had eaten their fill, Urch Slate ran a raffle for gifts from the merchants in Clayton that sent many people home feeling lucky. That’s a good feeling to go home with on Saturday night.  Then Jeff Marra took over being auctioneer from his father, Phil, and sounded as professional as Ken Larson did last year.  Erma Slate went home with a propane stove which turned out to useful already on Sunday morning, and Clara Carnegie pulled her very special prized treasure out of her pocket to show me: a night light in the form of an angel made of stained glass by Minister Dick and his talented right hand, Mary Petry. Many people went home with glorious new night-lights.  


By nine-thirty, the crowd had moved across the road to Dodge Hall for the Saturday night dance to the music of the Ray-John Band.  Everyone rocked and rolled until Bubby Bazinet and Carolyn carried the band back across the river sometime after midnight when most of us were sound asleep and the electric wires were browning into a deep rest. Sis Matthews was in her favorite chair smiling her long happy smile as she watched her Grindstone family “cut a rug”, and Erma was at the door taking the money to pay the band with Brenda sitting beside her to help. And can you believe there were hot dogs and burgers on the grill?


Luckily David Shepard brought his boom box with batteries to accompany himself as he sang in church on Sunday. There were no lights and no organ, but it didn’t seem to matter. Phyllis Swartz had organized a small choir, too, which kept us from missing the organ as much.  Anyone who would like to sing in the choir this year should call Phyllis at 686-5746.


Next Sunday is the Memorial Service to commemorate those who have died in the last year: Dr. Horace Custis, Mary Ingerson, Joel B. Lamb, Herbert Lucas Sr., Beulah Raymond, Harrison Slate, and Robert Sorth.  (Please inform the minister of any other persons to be acknowledged.)


Then on Sunday, July 11th,


The Reverend Wendy Rhodehamel called the meeting of the Church Council together, at the end of a ten minute break after the worship service in the sanctuary of the newly remodeled church, with prayer.  She then passed out a three sheet set of guidelines for the agenda of the meeting.


She discussed for a few minutes what the church means when it teaches that we should live together in love for one another, and how the councils of the church help the minister relate to his congregation. Somewhat later, the minister, The Reverend Richard Petry, described how helpful it is for a pastor to have a representative group of the whole congregation   to provide him or her feedback from the many segments of the whole group and aid him in relating to each of its many diverse members.


One of the tasks for the congregation on Sunday was to elect a wholly new Church Council which would take the place of the former uniquely Grindstone “Board” which some of the parishioners thought had become unwieldy and ill- defined. Wendy therefore went over the guidelines by which the United Methodist Church operates normally in its churches, and described the tasks of the Church Council, the Trustees, the Nominating Committee and the PPRC (Pastor Parish Relations Committee )


Wendy then referred the congregation to P. 38 in the United Methodist Hymnal in answer to a request that “members” and particularly “affiliate members” be defined.  It was left to the Rev. Petry to work out what it means in the Grindstone Methodist Church and to prepare a list of members and affiliate members.  Realizing that this would take reflection and time, the date for the meeting for the presentation of the nominations for the council and the election of members by the congregation was set for August 8, 1999. The first class of nominations will, therefore, begin its term on August 8, 1999 and continue through the year 2000. The second class will serve through 2001, and the third class will serve through 2002.


There was some definition also of how the financial officers (the Trustee, the Treasurer, and the Financial Secretary) must work as members of the entire Church Council, which would in turn work always as representatives of the whole congregation and be always responsible and responsive to it. Not all members of the Church Council need be members or affiliate members, though at least one trustee must be either a member or affiliate member.


The congregation then chose the three member nominating committee (the number of members being decided because there were three classes to be chosen), and charged them to make “radically inclusive” nominations to the Council, inclusive in sex (one of the three trustees must be a woman), in age and in representation of the various groups on the island. It was especially recommended that the people who live all year round on the island be well represented, and that the summer residents who are nominated to the Church Council be people who can spend long stretches of time here each year, or at least have long years of connection with the island and the whole community.


The following people were elected to the nominating committee. The term of membership will normally be three years, but in order to rotate a new member every year, Margaret Taylor will go off in 2000, Aleatha Williams will go off in 2001, and Erma Slate will go off in 2002:.

            Class of 2000:  Margaret Taylor

            Class of 2001:  Aleatha Williams

            Class of 2002:  Erma  Slate




The second task of the congregation was to consider the relationship between Dodge Memorial Hall and The Grindstone Island Methodist Church. A task force was elected after a thoughtful discussion of the problems, responsibilities, and possibilities in the relationship.


NOTE: (Dodge Memorial Hall was originally established and its use defined by Emmet Dodge who gave the hall to the Grindstone Island young people for a place to meet, to have parties, and serve the needs of their community, especially the winter community. The hall has been used in a variety of ways through the many years the Islanders have managed it, and served in many capacities. Every Saturday evening in the summer there is a dance at the hall, which is attended by people young and old from far and near, on and off the island. During the sixties and seventies an island group provided the music. Now it is usually provided by a band from Clayton or the surrounding area. When an ice storm devastated the island, the island people served meals each day at the Hall to the repair crews.  It is the Hall that holds the annual Old Homes Day at Potters Beach. They celebrate Halloween with a great party at the hall, and sometimes they have Thanksgiving diners there. When a member of the community dies, the Hall sends flowers to the mourning family and they usually serve a meal to guests after the burial, if the burial is in the island cemetery. All of this is done, of course in close connection with the church, which owns both the hall and the cemetery.   It is the church which has preserved the spirit of community on the island since its establishment in 1890 by the Reverend Shorts, so the relationship of the church to Dodge Hall requires loving care and a willingness to take some risks.)


The particular problem arises from both state law and United Methodist law.  It is easier to solve the problem of the state law that young people under 21 may not drink alcoholic beverages.  This responsibility seems to be one feels able to take on and fulfill.  The United Methodist Church, however, does not allow any alcoholic beverages to be consumed on church premises.  This becomes a problem for those who do not share the church’s absolute stance.


The District Superintendent carefully described various ways the task force could choose to solve this problem in the relationship, reminding us that the task force does not need to be restricted in its complex and delicate task to the four-week time schedule before the next meeting. 


The congregation elected to the following Task Force to Consider the Relationship between the Grindstone Island Methodist Church and Dodge Memorial Hall:

            Eileen Slate

            Fred Jackson

            Patsy Parker

            Nancy Carlisle

            Phyllis Shwartz

            Jeff Marra

The Reverend Richard Petry then lead the congregation in a closing prayer and benediction.


So it is.

Aminta Marks