Donna Olendorf

Who am I now? What is God calling me to be?

By Donna Olendorf  Lent begins for me with the imposition of ashes at a quiet Wednesday service that leaves me feeling humbled and blessed. “Remember, Donna, that thou art dust and into dust thou shalt return,” says the priest as she dips her fingers in ashes to make the sign of the cross on my …

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Grace will host Safe Harbor Dec.  2 – Dec.  9

  New homeless shelter now open The building has changed, but the mission remains the same.  Every year from November through April Safe Harbor offers shelter—a warm, safe place to sleep and a hot meal— to the homeless during the coldest months of the year. Staffed by a coalition of more than twenty local churches, …

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Grace Pilgrimage – a tradition since 1998

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children & Youth Formation From the earliest days of the Church until today, Christians have made pilgrimage a part of their faith. And, in 1998, having adopted a curriculum that holds pilgrimage as its central feature, Grace youth also embraced this tradition, traveling to distant lands in search of God …

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Our strength grows with our youth: Register them for Church School

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children & Youth Formation “The strength of our church grows with our youth,” wrote vestryman Bob Bursian in 1973, capturing the spirit of Christian Education that has been present at Grace Church since its very beginning. In fact, the roots of our Church School reach back to a time before …

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How does your garden grow? Food Pantry gets fresh veggies from Schuberts’ farm

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children & Youth Formation There was a time, not so very long ago, when gardens were as common as smart phones are today, and almost everyone grew their own vegetables. Those days are gone, even here in Traverse City where many people are still farmers.  For most of us, visiting …

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Youth group commits to pilgrimage – one step at a time

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children & Youth Formation I remember the day that Daniel told me he had cancelled the youth group pilgrimage. It cost too much money, he said, and required so much fundraising that the spiritual focus of the group was lost. Furthermore, pilgrimage hadn’t deepened the faith of the participants, but …

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Racial Reconciliation Retreat: Understanding the gap between our vision and our world

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children and Youth Formation I failed the State of Louisiana literacy test. Yes, I flunked a voting test designed to measure whether or not I could read at a fifth grade level. There were 30 questions and I had 10 minutes to complete the test.  More than one wrong answer …

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Where do my children belong?

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children and Youth Formation Finding a good learning fit for our children is one of the most challenging–and rewarding–aspects of being a parent. We want our children to be nurtured in an environment that promotes learning, builds confidence, and encourages relationships. We want them to be comfortable, but not so …

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How can we embrace each other when we have different views?

By Donna Olendorf Director of Children & Youth Formation Even though I talked to parishioners when I was Senior Warden, my perspective is different now.  As a staff member organizing fall registration for Christian Education, I am spending a lot more time on the phone, chatting with parents, teachers, and volunteers–and often getting an earful …

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Grace creates clear policy for reporting sexual harassment

By Helen Hankins and Donna Olendorf After months of hard work and research, Grace Church has completed its own standard operating policy and procedure (SOPP) for reporting sexual misconduct. The guidelines, called Reporting Suspected Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, or Sexual Harrassment, have been posted on the website and the Parish Hall bulletin board. Grace created …

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Will our children have faith?

By Donna Olendorf Senior Warden Come mid-August, I will step into a new role at Grace, filling the very large shoes left empty when Catherine Turnbull resigned her post as Director of Children and Youth Formation. Though I won’t formally join the staff for another month, I’ve already started learning my way around the GEC …

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