Monday, June 27, 2016

Hunger in our Community: An EYC Three Day Mission Project

Our purpose to Care, Do, and Reflect

Our three days of mission in the local community were rich.  We had 24 youth and 7 adult missionaries go out.  Our focus was the many kinds of hunger.  We reflected through scripture and worship each day as we completed projects where we learned about each organization and assisted in areas that the organizations felt would be most helpful.

Tuesday, June 21 – Theme:  Prepare
Who we supported:  The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank & THRIVE Peninsula. We reflected on the statistic that this area of Virginia has the highest level of food insecurity. We completed projects with the Food Bank and THRIVE Peninsula where we learned about each organization.  This helped us to raise our awareness for our community.

Wednesday, June 22 – Theme:  Feeding
Who we supported:  Youth Give Back Luncheon to our Parish and Caring for our church in the morning, we provided a welcoming atmosphere for a meal to be shared which provided for the building of relationships. In the afternoon, we cared for the church grounds, that by giving to the earth, the world will give back to us.

Thursday, June 23– Theme:  Giving
Who we supported:  Grace Episcopal, Yorktown & St. Paul’s Episcopal, Newport News. We prepared 100 Manna Bags to assist the homeless and prepared 60 meals to be passed out in the community for those who are hungry. We learned of the hunger focused outreach provided by Grace Episcopal Church in Yorktown and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Newport News.  We are grateful for The Rev. Connie Jones and The Rev. Bruce Cheney who worked with us.

We gave each of the four organizations we supported a $200.00 donation to further their hunger mission in the community.  Your challenge as a parish is ask one of the missionaries about their experience and how you can assist to change hunger in our community.

Submitted by Harper Lewis, Youth Director

Vacation Bible School outreach project

Please don’t forget to clean out your closets and pantry for Thrive Peninsula, our Vacation Bible School outreach ministry this year.  Thank you to those who have already brought in shoes – these have been delivered to Thrive. We will continue to collect shoes and the following food items through Thursday, July 14: boxed meals, cake/pie mixes, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned juice, canned meats, canned soups/stews, cereals of all kinds, crackers, cookies, dried milk, pasta, rice, stuffing mixes, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, jelly, pudding, salad dressing, seasoning packets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Daily vigil for those killed and wounded in Orlando

Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing arrest and death, commanded Peter to sheath his sword.  He said, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  Then, he exemplified a nonviolent response to his enemies by praying for their forgiveness as he hung in agony on the cross.  We are called to follow the way of the cross, never giving way to rage, anger, or bias, practicing radical hospitality even to our enemies.

 In our ignoble history of mass shootings, the forty-nine deaths in Orlando make this numerically the worst.  Fifty people were wounded and four remain in critical condition.

Jesus extended loving hospitality to all, including the social outcasts of his day. His nonviolent way of responding to his tormentors and executioners during his trial and death are in sharp contrast to the rage and violence of the Orlando perpetrator, and also, the hostility on the part of some in our society that is being directed toward all people of the Islamic faith. 

As we strive for justice and peace among all peoples, as our baptismal promises call on us to do, let us, also, avoid rage toward the perpetrator, praying for him as we pray for those killed and traumatized by his actions.

Please join us each day this week in a moment of silence and in the offering of this prayer for Orlando at 12:30 PM.

Merciful and Gracious God, you have made us members of one body, connected like muscle and bone.  If one suffers, we all suffer. We pray this day in common grief for the tragedy in Orlando, and for the seemingly relentless reality of gun violence and hatred of gay, lesbian, and transgendered people.  We seek to transform the world by doing what Jesus taught us: welcoming the stranger, loving our enemy, and working for peace and justice.  This day we pause in our indignation, confusion, and grief.  Through sacrament, song, and friendship, may your Spirit bind our broken hearts, and send us out with renewed dreams of your new creation where we will not hurt nor destroy in all your holy mountain.  This we ask in the name of the Holy Trinity, one God.  Amen.

Monday, June 6, 2016

May Weekend 2016: “We are all God’s Children”

For grades 6 – 12 – Let us be inspired!

2016-2017 EYC Board
Over ninety youth and adults were gathered from around the diocese at Chanco the weekend of May 20 for a faith based retreat that’s focus was “We are all God’s Children.”  Eighteen of these youth and adults included our community here at St. Andrew’s.  There are nine youth leaders (the EYC Board) that put on these weekends for their peers and included two of our youth, Spencer Harrell, a senior and Audre’ana Ellis, a junior.  

The retreat was full of music, worship, youth talks, small group discussions, and more.  The topic talks were given by six of the members of the EYC Board who are 10th – 12th graders and they challenged us to think deeply about Building Community, Celebrating Diversity, Challenging Injustice, Striving for Peace, and Trusting in God.  These focus areas allowed the community to enter into thoughtful conversation that left us energized and eager to go back out into the world. 

At May Weekend each year EYC elections to the board take place. Two the nine elected were from St. Andrew’s.  Congratulations to Alex Ellis, a sophomore, and Audre’ana Ellis, a senior, who will serve on this coming year’s EYC Board. 

I would like to leave you with the below talk from one of our St. Andrew’s youth, Audre’ana Ellis, who is a member of the EYC Board.  May you too be inspired as were all of us.      

   -  Harper Lewis, Youth Director

Challenging Injustice by Audre’ana Ellis

Today I am here to discuss challenging injustice; but what really is injustice?  Injustice is the lack of fairness or the violation of the rights of others.  So many times when we think of injustice, prejudice, discrimination, and inequality we think about racism, but injustice is also found in gender, poverty, religion, and sexual orientation.  However the main focus today is on racial inequality.

Racism seems to be a never ending problem, not only in this country but the entire world: since the arrival of the first slaves until now with Ferguson and instances of police abuse of power in schools and on sidewalks.  People still can’t accept different colors of skin.

Everyone in this room, including me, knows that racism is a problem, but why do we not help change this issue?  A Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, once said, “Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.”  In this I believe he means that the worst thing you could do is to not care for something.  We are all God’s children, so why do we not care about one another?  God told us to love, love, love thy neighbor as thy self.  God wants us to actively pursue peace and justice to heal the brokenness in order for everyone to live in harmony.  Unfortunately discrimination and inequality are at school, work, church, on your sports team, or in your neighborhood.  But we can do something to change this, and take up the challenge!

I challenge each and every one of you to first accept that discrimination is a problem in society. Second, make a conscious effort to make a change:  whether it be making a friend who is a different color than you, making a club that recognizes the LGBTQ, learning about other religions in order to understand the differences between you and them, or acknowledge that girls and guys are both equally awesome!  Third, once you have made these changes get others to accept the challenge and make the world a better place.

So do y’all accept my challenge? If you accept the challenge repeat after me:  I accept the challenge to end injustice because we are all God’s children. Awesome!  Let’s end in prayer:
Healing God, stir me from my indifference.  Though the world’s brokenness sometimes feels overwhelming, give me strength to accept the challenge of pursuing your perfect peace.  Amen. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Bible study becomes growing outreach ministry

The Thursday morning bible study has gathered weekly, September through May, in the library at St. Andrew’s for many years. But this year they did something a little different and inadvertently turned their small weekly gathering into a growing outreach to the residents of The Arbors retirement community in Port Warwick.

One of the group’s facilitators, Terry Thomas, moved to The Arbors in the fall of 2015. Due to decreasing mobility, it very quickly became clear that traveling to St. Andrew’s each week just wasn’t possible any longer for Terry. Without hesitation, the group decided to bring bible study to Terry. Management at The Arbors reserved a meeting room on the fourth floor for the group and they quickly settled into their new location.

 It didn’t take long for news to spread around The Arbors community that there was a weekly bible study happening on the fourth floor. Residents stopped by and joined in the discussion. The group is growing and it won’t be long before they will need a larger meeting space.

“It’s wonderful to have new people and new voices added to our discussion,” said Mary Poole, one of the group’s facilitators. “It definitely makes things more interesting. We have very lively discussions each week.”

The bible study isn’t just a class, it’s also an opportunity for residents to meet new people and enjoy one another’s company. The group didn’t think of the bible study as outreach at first. But as member Cathy Frey said, “That’s what outreach means - going out, getting out of our building and into the community.”