Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Summer liturgies

Dear friends,

A blessing and a challenge of liturgical worship is that the words of the service become so familiar.  The blessing is that those familiar words can be a source of great comfort, and anchor in the midst of life’s changes and uncertainty.  The challenge is that familiar words sometimes become stale, so well known to us that we no longer truly hear what they are saying. 

During worship this summer, we will be exploring some prayers and liturgies that differ from what we typically use in our worship during the “program year” (September through May).  At the 8:00 a.m. service, we will pray Eucharistic Prayer I instead of Eucharistic Prayer II.  At the 10:30 service, we will incorporate wording from an Episcopal resource called Enriching Our Worship, and toward the end of the summer we will use the service of Holy Eucharist from A New Zealand Prayer Book.  If you are paying close attention (and I hope you will be!), you may notice slight differences in the wording of the Nicene Creed: the dropping of the phrase “and the Son,” which invites us into a centuries-old theological debate about the nature of the Trinity.

My hope is that these less familiar and perhaps unexpected words will catch your attention and invite you into fresh and deeper understandings of Jesus, who is himself the Word.  In the words we hear and speak in worship this summer, may we indeed hear anew what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.


Prayer Shawl Ministry

Several years ago, I had a beloved friend in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who was a retired priest called Father Alex.  He was an alumnus and a big fan of University of Michigan football and the school colors of blue and maize.  Towards the end of his life, he became ill with COPD.  I decided to bring him a prayer shawl; and after a brief prayer, I picked a knitted one to bring to him.

As soon as he saw it, he said, “It’s maize!”  He was so happy because it brought him great comfort and also because the prayer shawl bore one of his alma mater’s colors.  He wore it about his shoulders right up until his death.

I am sure that there are similar stories of how much joy and comfort prayer shawls bring to those who received them and also to those who make them.

The Rev. Carol Chamberlain, who is one of our associate clergy, and I are interested in finding out if there is any interest at St. Andrew’s in people gathering together to breathe new life into the current prayer shawl ministry.  Please contact either of us and let us know if you would like to be part of this great ministry of bringing comfort and joy to others.


PORT - An opportunity to serve others

Matt Deller will be leading our PORT ministry for the 2018-2019 season. (Thank you, Matt!) We are seeking volunteers to assist Matt, especially a few people to coordinate/prepare the two meals for December and March.  Although it seems like a long time until December, it is never too early to begin planning for this important ministry.  Please contact Rachel Roby in the church office for more information or to volunteer, 595-0371.

What Is PORT?
PORT (People Offering Resources Together) is an emergency winter shelter that hosts an average of 100 individuals per night, for 20 weeks during the winter. The name of this program really explains it all: it’s a safe harbor, made possible by a network of 130 interfaith (Christian and non-Christian) groups that provide the facilities, volunteers, food, clothes and many other resources to homeless men, women and children in our area.

How Do We, as a Parish Help?
The shelter moves to a different church every week, and each night, there’s a new group of volunteers responsible for welcoming the guests and providing at least two  meals (dinner and breakfast) per day. St. Andrew’s serves as a Partner Church for one night/morning in December and again in March.

What Other Resources Are Provided through the PORT Ministry?
Each season, PORT volunteers and staff get involved in planning, cooking, or distributing clothes and hygiene donations. In addition to the hundreds of volunteers, a sheriff’s deputy provides security in the shelter; intake and social workers provide guests with information, job referrals, notary services, and more. The services provided in the shelter are designed to meet the holistic needs of the guests: emergency, short, and long term. Other services provided at PORT include: community referrals, case management, collection of homeless data, medical referrals, on-site medical evaluations and dental care, showers, provision of transportation, flu/pneumonia shots, information for affordable housing, job placement and job referrals, identification services, filing taxes, nutrition education, AA, N.A, life skills training, and more.

And Last but Not Least!
Thank-you to Margie Holt, Louise Ragland, and Joy Johnson who have, along with Matt, led our team of PORT volunteers for the past several years.  Their tireless efforts have made such a difference in the lives of so many!  And thanks also to the many other St. Andrew’s volunteers who have served on the team!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Bread for the World: Advocating for Hungry People Near and Far

On June 11 and 12, John and I will be in Washington, DC, participating in Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day.  Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.  For more than 40 years, Bread for the World’s members have helped win bipartisan support for measures that address the causes of hunger.

I’ve been a member of Bread for the World since 2001, when I worked as an intern in its Church Relations department while serving in my first call, at Christ Church in Alexandria, VA.  I have participated in Lobby Day almost every year since then and am very much looking forward to taking part again this year. 

Bread for the World has taught me a lot about the importance of trying to address the causes of poverty and hunger in addition to carrying out the more typical church ministry of providing assistance to those in need.  The concept is simple:  If we were actually able to figure out how to stop hunger and homelessness, then we wouldn’t need food pantries and homeless shelters.  When I get overwhelmed by the world’s problems, the faithfulness and diligence of Bread for the World staff and members are sources of hope and inspiration for me. 

If you are interested in learning more about Bread for the World, visit the website at or talk to John or me.  Perhaps next year we can have a St. Andrew’s Church contingent participate in Lobby Day!

- Anne+

Seeking the Spirit’s Help: Gun Violence

The Texas school shooting on May 18 was the 22nd school shooting in the US thus far in 2018.  Each year, 2737 children and youth die from gun violence—7 per day.  School shootings grab our attention, but it is  daily gun violence that kills the vast majority of young victims.  Black children are ten times more likely than white children to be killed by gun violence. 

As Christians, how do we respond to these horrific facts?  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless, and even numb in the face of such devastating news.

But we are not alone.  As Pentecost day reminds us, God has sent the Holy Spirit into our midst to be our teacher, advocate, enabler, and guide.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Christian community collectively, not as an individual possession.  Trusting in the Holy Spirit’s presence, I invite you to join me on Thursday, June 14 at 7 PM in the Parish Hall for a time of prayer and conversation about the scourge of gun violence in our nation that is killing our young people.  The meeting will be a time for prayer, for listening to one another, and most importantly, for listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we discern together how we can respond—either individually or as a group—to the ongoing loss of precious lives.   All are welcome.  Please come. 


Monday, May 14, 2018

The ministry of hospitality

Dear friends,

I am grateful for the many ways that the people of St. Andrew’s offer a ministry of hospitality, to one another and to those outside our doors.  The scrumptious brunch on May 6, complete with the beautifully decorated parish hall, was a great example of parish hospitality.  So, too, is our generosity with our building. 

Did you know that we regularly host a number of community groups, including the Tidewater German American Society; the Boy Scouts; the Friends of the James River at Hilton Beach; and the Hilton Architectural Review Board?  In addition, our music room provides space for bag pipe lessons every Saturday morning, the committees running the 100th anniversary of Hilton Village often meet at St. Andrew’s, and we periodically host ecumenical clergy gatherings and diocesan meetings such as the Program Budget and Review Committee.  Recently we received a request from a local Jewish group, Emet v’Or, to use a room in our building on Friday nights through the summer, and we are working on the details of that arrangement. 

As you know, over the summer we will be entering a parish-wide discernment process to determine together what mission God is calling us to next.  Certainly one aspect of that work will be discerning how best to make use of our physical space, especially the school classrooms and offices.  As we look ahead to that task, I am thankful for the generosity of spirit that already characterizes our decisions about building use.  I look forward to working alongside each of you as we determine how best to continue carrying out this aspect of our ministry of hospitality: sharing the blessing of our space, in God’s name, with those around us.


Monday, May 7, 2018

The school is closing; now what?

Dear friends,

A number of parishioners have been asking what’s next, now that St. Andrew’s Episcopal School as we have known it is closing.  That is an excellent and appropriate question, one that the vestry and I take very seriously.  The answer has two parts to it:  one for the time between now and the last day of school, which is June 8th; and one for the following days and weeks and months.

For now:  The vestry’s primary concern at the moment is caring well for everyone affected by the closing of the school.  There is a lot of work to be done in terms of attending to the pastoral needs of children, families, faculty, and staff, in addition to the pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts tasks involved in closing a school.  As a vestry, we are focusing on that important work through the end of the school year.

For the near future:  In our upcoming meetings, the vestry will work on creating a discernment process to engage parishioners and community members in determining what mission God has in mind for St. Andrew’s.  We expect to begin implementing that discernment process sometime this summer. Some of the many questions we as a parish will need to address together are:  As people of faith, people with good news to share, how can we best serve the children and adults of our community now and in years to come?  What unmet needs are there in our community, and how might we partner with community members to meet those needs?  What are we uniquely positioned to do in this place, in this time, in God’s name?  How can the gifts and skills developed and nurtured through our ministry with the school over the past 71 years be put to good use in the next 71 years?

In our Christian story, sad endings are followed by new beginnings.  Even death doesn’t have the last word.  Right now we are in mourning as our beloved school closes.  But our story, and our ministry, doesn’t end here.  We are Easter people, and we look expectantly to the future that God already is holding in his hand.

Iinvite you to join the vestry and me in providing pastoral support to the school community in the coming weeks; and in discerning our next steps through the process we’ll start this summer.