Wednesday, May 24, 2017

St. Andrew's youth elected to Diocesan EYC Board

Elections for the next diocesan Episcopal Youth Community Board were held during May Weekend at Chanco, May 19-21. Once again, St. Andrew's holds two of the seven seats. Congratulations Devin Alex Ellis and Vanessa Smock!  Pray for them and the rest of the EYC Board as they lead the youth of the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Praying Aloud - on Pentecost and beyond...

Dear friends,

One of the greatest gifts that we can give is to pray for another person.  Many times in my life, I have been deeply touched by the knowledge that someone was praying for me by name, especially during a time of special need or hardship.  I hope you’ve had that same experience.

On Sunday mornings when we gather for worship, we always pray together.  We pray for the Universal Church, our nation, the world, those who suffer, and those who have died.  Most Sunday mornings we include in our prayers the names of people on our parish prayer chain list who are in special need.  The names we hear aloud on Sunday mornings are only a tiny portion of the total number of names on our list.  It would take too long to read off every name one at a time.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to pray by name for each person on the prayer chain list every time we gather for Sunday worship.  In fact, it’s easy to do so if we work together, sharing the ministry and responsibility of lifting those names in prayer simultaneously when the leader invites our spoken prayers.  What happens then is that for a few moments, the church sounds like what I imagine the first Pentecost sounded like: a swell of voices raised together.

Incorporating individual names in this way has a number of advantages:  It makes the Prayers of the People more truly the prayers of the people, with parishioners’ voices raised in prayer all over the church.  It allows us to pray by name for each person on the prayer list every Sunday.  Congregation members become more active, vocal participants during the prayers, and the prayers become ever more inclusive, as worshipers begin to add other names and concerns.

So, you’re asking yourself, how exactly will this work?  It’s easy.  When you pick up your Sunday bulletin on the way into church, you will have the option of also picking up a short list of six or seven names for use during the prayers.  During the Prayers of the People, the leader will invite our prayers “for those whom we now name, silently or aloud...”  And then all of us who are holding names will read them aloud simultaneously. 

It makes sense for us to introduce this new way of prayer on Pentecost Sunday.  I hope you’ll take part in it.  More importantly, I hope that you and all those for whom we pray will experience the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit and abiding love.

Faithfully, Anne

The Modern Diaconate - Part three: The Deacon in Liturgy

Click here to read Part 2.

The deacon in the liturgy represents the bridge between the church and the world, acting as herald, servant, and one who bids and one who sends.  The deacon reads the gospel from the midst of the people, and bids the congregation to both the creed and the confession. It has been customary for the deacon to either introduce or pray the prayers of the people in most parishes. Alternately, the deacon bids the people to the prayers, a layperson reads the prayers, and the priest adds a concluding collect, and all three orders of ministry are heard. 

The deacon sets the table for the Eucharist, to the particular preference of whoever is celebrant, and makes sure that the altar book is open to the Eucharistic prayer form of the day, pointing to each line if necessary as the priest reads, and assists in the distribution of the sacrament, offering bread if there is only one priest, and wine otherwise. The deacon is sometimes referred to as the minister of the chalice. When all have received, the deacon either clears the table, or redresses the chalice and paten, depending on local tradition.

The deacon dismisses the people, sending them out into the world to make Christ’s love known in both word and action. 

Vestments seem strange to those unused to having a deacon serve in their parish. For the Offices, a deacon wears what a priest wears, cassock, surplice, and tippet. For Holy Eucharist, an alb is worn. The difference between orders is visually apparent in stole and dalmatic. The deacon’s stole is worn diagonally (from left shoulder to right hip), and as a servant was probably initially some kind of a towel. It has evolved to mean that one shoulder is kept “unyoked” to bear the burdens of the world. The dalmatic is essentially an apron for the one who waits on table. 

A deacon cannot pronounce absolution (unless using the pronoun “we” and “us” in the absence of a priest), bless anything or anyone, or consecrate the elements. A deacon can baptize, marry, anoint, bury, and officiate at any of the office liturgies. 

Deacons are licensed to preach, and you can expect their sermons to be some kind of a call to respond to the needs or to the pain, of the world, as  modeled by Jesus.
To be continued (Formation of Deacons) 

Katherine T. Gray
Chaplain, Riverside Hospice

Monday, May 15, 2017

Some Sabbath Time

There’s a reason why St. Andrew’s has had only three parish musicians since the 1960’s – this church/school is a good place to work.

The Vestry has graciously offered me a two month sabbatical, and I’m being allowed some creativity in how it unfolds.  I’d like it to be more spiritual than professional (that sometimes happens with old organists!).

I remember the Rev. Joseph Buchanan viewing Communion as a time to place at the altar whatever is going on in our lives for the purpose of redemption by God. During the sabbatical, I’d like to compose some Communion music that gives that message. 

My sincere gratitude to Anne, the Vestry, and the parish for this most thoughtful gift.

Brad Norris, Minister of Music

Monday, May 8, 2017

Diaconal Ministry - Part 2

Click here for Part 1 of this series on the Diaconate. 

The transitional diaconate, a period of training within a parish, has been in place for many years, while the vocational diaconate died out in the first century. An ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons meant a period of training within a parish, usually from 6 months to a year, and leading to ordination to the priesthood. This was, and still is, true of both the Roman Catholic as well as the Episcopal Church. Our Lutheran brethren have no such order, and other mainline Protestant denominations consider deacons to be an office rather than a clerical order.

Beginning in the 1840's and extending to the 1930's, the Episcopal Church ordained men to serve as missionaries to isolated areas and indigenous people. They remained deacons for the duration of their ministries. From 1885 through 1970, Episcopal bishops "set apart" women as deaconesses, by prayer, but occasionally by the laying on of hands, to care for the sick, the poor and the needy.  (A community of deaconesses served in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, educating the children of miners through the late 1960's). Men were ordained from 1952-1970 as "perpetual deacons", to serve parishes as sacramental and pastoral assistants in the booming post WWII church. These were generally older men serving in their home parishes and were not deployed to other parishes. They were trained and supervised by their parish priest.

Vatican II renewed the "permanent diaconate" as a permanent position for men, including those who were married.  The Episcopal Church renewed the order of deacon in 1970, and citing the biblical record, for the first time allowed women to be ordained as deacons. The remaining Episcopal deaconesses were then deemed deacons, and the office of deaconess was abolished by canon law. After much debate, the traditional period of temporary transitional diaconate prior to priesthood was also retained.

Beginning in 1971, vocational deacons generally served in social care ministries outside of a parish. Some of these were women who were seminary trained with a priestly call. Many others, both men and women, had a liturgical base in a parish, with their identities firmly based on their work outside the church.

The ordination of women to the priesthood, approved in 1976, led the way for the vocational diaconate to mature into its own identity, as the different calls to ordained ministry were recognized during periods of discernment. Whether a transitional or a vocational deacon, ordination is to word and service. (Only priests are ordained to the sacraments of absolution, blessing and consecration). The difference at that point is that vocational deacons are to earn their living in the world, while a transitional deacon is employed by the church from the beginning of their ordained life, and the emphasis is on training for the priesthood.

Many vocational deacons work in social or institutional ministries---counseling, school, college, hospital or prison, police, fire  department chaplaincies; HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and rape crisis agencies; working with the homeless, the addicted, refugees, at risk children.  Other sell insurance or real estate, teach school, work in offices as administrators, newspaper reporters or are musicians. My daughter-in-law Elissa's father, John Earl, is both a vocational deacon and a family practice physician, providing free healthcare to those unable to pay, or without health insurance.

There are instances of deacons working in the church professionally, highly trained in areas of diocesan leadership, counseling, pastoral care, Christian education, youth or college ministries, or administering social action ministries.  It is the work of a deacon within a parish to enlist, train, and support the baptized in ministries of care, or to lead the church's efforts in social action and justice issues.

A deacon working in the world, ministering to "those whom it is easy to forget", is charged with bringing the concerns of the world to the church, and inviting a response.  The church in any time, is called to be the conscience of our world, and to speak truth to power, while taking the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love to a broken world.

Katherine T. Gray, Chaplain, Riverside Hospice

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Celebration of New Ministry for St. Andrew's

On Wednesday, May 3 at 7 p.m., St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church installed the first woman ever to serve as rector in our parish’s 98-year history. St. Andrew's officially installed Anne as our rector at a Celebration of New Ministry service. 

The Celebration of New Ministry service is a tradition in the Episcopal Church and includes an induction ceremony in which the bishop, representatives of the congregation and community present symbolic gifts to the new minister. The Book of Common Prayer outlines eight symbols to be presented at Induction – including a Bible, a vessel of water for baptizing, a book of prayers, olive oil for healing and reconciliation, the keys to the church. These presentations are often expanded to include those that highlight particular ministries of the parish. Some of the gifts that were exchanged at the service included a cell phone, walking stick, work gloves, a map, and a pair of shoes. 

Participants in the service included the Rev. Melinda Bobo, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Dubois, Wyoming who was our preacher; Pastor Charles Cheek, Community Networking Director of Peninsula Baptist Association; Rev. Clark DeSarro-Raynal, pastor of Hilton Presbyterian Church in Newport News; and Bishop Herman “Holly” Hollerith, IV, Bishop of Southern Virginia. 

Click here for the Celebration of New Ministry service booklet. Go to our Facebook page for lots more photos.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Circle 4 welcomes the Rev. Dr. John Herbst

Circle 4 Women’s Group held its fourth meeting of 2017 on Tuesday, May 2, continuing its program series of “Getting to Know the Staff.”  A record number of attendees filled the parish library to hear our esteemed guest.  The Rev. Dr. John W. Herbst, Adjunct Professor of Bible at Regent University (and husband of our rector), presented an informative program about his calling to ministry, his interest in the Old Testament, and his recent book, Development of an Icon:  Solomon Before and After King David.  It was indeed a privilege to hear from John, and his willingness to speak to our group reminds us how fortunate we are to have Anne and John with us. Thanks again, John--for sharing your zeal for teaching and learning and for taking the time to come and talk to Circle 4!

This was the final program meeting before our June 6 luncheon and break for the summer.  Details will be posted in upcoming editions of The Net and online at

Being Family

Five kids in a station wagon before mandatory seatbelts, before DVD players, before Sony Walkman.  My Dad controlled chaos by singing.  When we got good enough, we would sing in a round, my Mom leading the second part.  This Easter made me think of one of those songs – it is about family being together.  “O Lord, everybody’s home…eating, drinking, breathing of the Lord.  O, rejoice, the family’s all together, O Lord, everybody’s home.”  We would sing it again and again, soaking up the feeling of doing something together, creating something beautiful together, being peaceful together.

How often do families get that chance?  I saw it happen on Easter when I realized I was seeing something I don’t see a lot: a whole family.  Whether at Target or taco night out, I often see only part of a family.  Even my husband and I, a family of two, find it hard to schedule dinner together.

Church is a chance for all ages to be together in the station wagon.  There will definitely be personality differences and we will try to keep food fights limited to the youth room, but there will be space for everyone.  Thank you families and couples and singles for coming.  You make our family whole.  Now let’s sing.

The Rev. Jen Kimball