St. Alban’s is a long-time supporter of Second Story, a youth services organization based in Northern Virginia that offers children, youth, and families hope for brighter futures by providing counseling, shelter and neighborhood-based support. Check out some of the work they are doing in the midst of COVID-19 through the eyes of one of their volunteers and donors here:
The food needs at Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) are constantly changing. Donations of food or cash are always welcome. In order to provide complete meals to families, a team of shoppers checks the inventory at the pantry then goes to several stores to get what is needed most at the lowest price. To assist with this, monetary donations are always welcome. A check can be written to ACCA Inc. and mailed to
7200 Columbia Pike
Annandale VA 22003
We will continue to collect donations on Saturday mornings from 9 am. – noon through July 25 at the food pantry located at 7200 Columbia Pike (trailer separate from the day care center) in Annandale. Weekday food collections will take place from 1-5 p.m. Pantry volunteers are following social distancing guidelines while volunteering at the pantry and we encourage visitors to keep the health and safety of our volunteers in mind while donating.
St. Alban’s is pleased to offer Sacred Ground – a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. The 10-part, facilitated series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. Sacred Ground is part of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. Designed specifically to help white Episcopalians build a stronger foundation to engage in ongoing interracial dialogue in other spaces, the series is open to all.
St. Alban’s Sacred Ground circle is scheduled to start on Zoom the week of July 8. Commitment to the full series and preparation before each session is expected. We ask that you pray and discern if this is the right time for you to participate in this dialogue. Contact Deacon Theresa by July 1 to discuss the program or to register to participate.
On Saturday, June 20, you are invited to participate with The Episcopal Justice Assembly for The Poor People’s Campaign Moral March on Washington Digital Gathering. Register using this link to receive more information. The Poor People’s Campaign is a non-partisan, interracial, intersectional, gathering of impacted people, religious and social justice partners building on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival. Questions? Contact Deacon Theresa.
A note from Deacon Theresa: Many people have asked how to learn more about racism and what they can do. This is not a comprehensive list and is in not intended to cover all aspects of racism. The list includes a variety of types of resources, vetted by me or by people whom I trust. Select from it as a next step in your own personal journey about race, racism, and living your faith in community. This is a life-long learning process. I invite you to enter into it with prayer and humility. Start wherever you feel a nudge or a tug, knowing that others are on similar journeys of their own.
Episcopal Church Resources
- Responding to Racist Violence is a curated list of resources for faithful response to racial violence. The site includes the Presiding Bishop’s articles and letters concerning racism and racist violence. His Pentecost sermon for National Cathedral is also available. Resources include links to books, articles, podcasts, and videos. Scripture references, prayers, and ways to get involved to address racist violence and support those who do are also included.
- The Way of Love: Resources that support a commitment to a Jesus-centered way of life. The Way of Love Podcast with Bishop Michael Curry includes conversations with leaders from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
- The Episcopal Justice Assembly of the Poor People’s Campaign: The recording of the Episcopal Justice Assembly held on June 10 can be found at this link, and accessed with the password “Justice6-10”.
Register for the Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Gathering, Saturday June 20th and 21st using this Episcopal Justice Assembly link.
The Poor People’s Campaign is a non-partisan, interracial, intersectional, gathering of impacted people, religious and social justice partners building on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign established in 1968.
- Click here to watch a brief introductory news clip describing the campaign.
- Click here to explore the Poor People’s Campaign website.
- Click here to review the Episcopal Church Executive Council’s 2018 Resolution on the Poor People’s Campaign.
- Download the Souls of Poor Folks Audit and the Poor People’s Campaign Demands on Systemic Racism and Police Violence.
Discussed at St. Alban’s
- America’s Original Sin: White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis. This book is a powerful act of Spirit-led truth telling and a loving disruption of the status quo. Wallis calls us to transcend racial categories and to see in one another the image of God.
- Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. Thurman, an African American minister, theologian, and civil rights leader, interprets the teachings of Jesus through the experience of the oppressed and discusses nonviolent responses to oppression.
- Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt by Arthur C. Brooks. A discussion with practical steps for having conversations and relationships, even when we disagree. Short animated videos illustrating examples of actions that can be taken are available at https://arthurbrooks.com/love-your-enemies/
- Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. This book was discussed at St. Alban’s. With honesty and humility, Debby Irving shares her own story of transformation—a journey of opening herself to learning about the realities of racism and the unintended impacts of whiteness. Videos of the author discussing her journey are available on YouTube.
Other Recommended Books
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States. In addition to other books, Coates is the author of several Black Panther graphic novels.
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. Broadly recognized as a critical resource in the modern fight for racial justice. By both empowering the Black women who are her primary audience and awakening change in the broader culture, the book captures Austin’s unique spirit, voice, and ability to transform the conversation we are in. Austin Channing Brown is a Christian writer and speaker who works for a faith-based non-profit. She describes her interactions at the office, in her family and in the world. Videos of Austin Channing Brown discussing her book and other topics are available on YouTube.
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. This memoir discusses Bryan Stevenson’s life work, defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the criminal justice system. The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Mr. Stevenson continues to focus his work on criminal justice reform, racial justice, and public education. Videos of Mr. Stevenson are available on eji.org. A movie adaptation of Just Mercy is available to watch without charge through June 30.
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
- Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas. In this timely and compelling book, The Rev. Dr. Douglas examines the myths and narratives underlying a “stand-your-ground” culture, taking seriously the social as well as the theological questions raised by this and similar events…The author also brings another significant interpretative lens to this text: that of a mother….In the face of tragedy and indifference, The Rev. Dr. Douglas arms the truth of a black mother’s faith in these times of “stand your ground.”
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo. This book explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice. A free reader guide is available at https://robindiangelo.com/publications/. Videos of the author discussing the concepts of white fragility, white privilege, and racism are available at https://robindiangelo.com/media/.
“A Decade on Watching Black People Die” (Code Switch)
“How to Be an Antiracist” (Brené Brown + Ibram X. Kendi)
The 1619 Project NYT Podcast that coincides with their 1619 Project.
OnBeing.org, Race and Healing Consider starting with the interviews of Eula Bliss and Ruby Sales.
The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart spent 20 years working as a police officer for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. She joined the department in 1972, four years after riots destroyed parts of the city following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Gayle Fisher Stewart was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in November 2015, and currently serves as assistant rector at Calvary Church, Washington D.C.
A TED Talk on gender and racist violence with Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Sermons to Watch
- The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II at Washington National Cathedral on June 14, 2020.
- The Rev. Jeffrey Shankles at St. Alban’s on June 14, 2020 available within the Sunday service.
- The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde at Washington National Cathedral on June 7, 2020.
- The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III at Trinity United Church of Christ on May 17, 2020.
Just Mercy is based on the work of Bryan Stevenson and his book by the same name. Available to watch at no cost on all streaming platforms through June 30, 2020.
Selma is a 2014 historical drama film is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. Available to watch at no cost on all streaming platforms through June 30,2020.
WETA and PBS have made several programs available for streaming on the free PBS Video App to help foster conversation and enable meaningful change. Featured programs include documentaries by WETA partner Henry Louis Gates, Jr. such as Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise and The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, as well as Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and many more relevant titles from Frontline, POV and Independent Lens.
June 4, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
It has now been over a week since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
We have seen this before. And, as leaders in a predominantly white denomination, our responses are all too familiar.
We write letters and make public statements. We hold vigils and pray for reform. We urge our clergy and people to become better educated concerning the realities of institutional racism and implicit bias. We reach out to black community leaders and express our sorrow and our solidarity.
Then, gradually, we get busy with other things, until the next murder, the next video, the next spasm of racial violence, when we repeat the cycle.
And nothing changes.
We are heartbroken and angered by this pattern, by our complicity in it, above all by the thought that we might let this moment pass us by without responding with vigor, zeal and persistence to its challenge.
We are determined, with God’s help, not to let this happen again. And yet, we need the participation of our communities in Christ to join in the movement of transforming our society with its sinful way of oppression, into Jesus’ loving, liberating and life-giving Way of Love. Our baptismal promises compel us to act.
As bishops of Province III of the Episcopal Church, we resolve:
To seek, first, the guidance and wisdom of people of color as we look for ways to dismantle racism in our dioceses.
To formulate a plan, each in our context, to build relationships with leaders in the black community offering our support, committing to partnership, and working together to address racial injustice in our localities.
To offer ongoing support to leaders in communities of color, local politicians and local law enforcement, in building a healthy culture in our police departments, ensuring safety for all our citizens and fostering trust between police and people in all our neighborhoods.
To name the reality of systemic racism in our own dioceses and local contexts, and to recognize and address the white privilege imbedded in our Episcopal Church culture.
To be fervent in prayer for the coming of the day when all of God’s children are free.
In all of this, we pledge ourselves to the work of overcoming the sin of racism.We ask for the prayers of our fellow bishops, and of all the people of God, that this resolve may remain strong for as long as it takes to bear fruit. May God help us all.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Mark Bourlakas
Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer
Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knusden
Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown
Episcopal Diocese of Delaware
The Rt. Rev. Santosh K. Marray
Episcopal Diocese of Easton
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G.P. Gutiérrez
The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Rt. Rev. Kevin Nichols
Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
The Rt. Rev. Susan B. Haynes
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe
Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania
The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ilhoff
Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
Saturday, June 6, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Dear Friends in Christ,
When people of faith are thrown into the wilderness of hurt, fear, anger and pain, one of our first impulses is to pray. Our biblical witness is full of the cries of God’s people, some of them quite eloquent, some little more than inarticulate screams from the heart.
God, help us!
How long, O Lord?
Answer me when I call, O God!
Give ear to my cry, O Lord!
We pray because God puts it into our hearts to do so. God desires to be in deep communion with us, and prayer builds that communion. Prayer draws us close to the beating heart of God.
We pray because we have seen and experienced that prayer is concrete action for the sake of the world. God hears our prayers, and God answers. Our words do not return to us empty, but prepare a way for God to do in the world all that God intends.
We pray because at times we can do no other.
We pray knowing that it is risky to pray. God may well answer our prayer by sending us out to be what we want to see in the world. God may well choose to change us and use us according to the prayers we have uttered.
We take the marvelous risk of praying for justice in our world now, opening ourselves to God for the sake of a world so in need of God’s presence, God’s love, God’s transforming power.
I am grateful to the community of Deacons in the Diocese of Virginia for calling us to this 12 Hour Virtual Prayer Vigil for Justice, Reconciliation and Peace. It is part of the role of a Deacon in worship to call God’s people to prayer, and our Deacons are faithful in calling us from our individual congregations to a wider community of prayer together.
There are a variety of ways to participate in the vigil:
- You may sign up for 30-minute prayer slots. There is no limit to how many people can sign up for a single time slot. The more people praying together, the better!
- You can set a time to pray alone or with members of your household.
- You can host an online prayer vigil for your small group, congregation or faith community.
- You can tune in to the prayer time live on the Diocese of Virginia’s Facebook page Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
The diocesan Deacons have composed this prayer booklet for use as a resource during the vigil. Use whatever is helpful to you. Add a song as you are called. Read some of the Psalms, which are quintessential cries of the heart. Follow the ways that God is leading you.
May God’s blessing fall richly upon you as you share in this time of vigil. May God bless us all as God works in and through us in the power of prayer.
Your sister in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority
The music search committee has been meeting online since the stay-at-home order began. Our most recent work has involved the paring down of candidates based on their resumes and, in some cases, based on sample video clips they have submitted. The resumes we received from many of the candidates were very impressive, which made the “paring down” process challenging, but our search committee has reduced the pool to ten candidates. For the search committee, the most important part of our search process will be the in-person audition, where our finalists in the search will demonstrate their qualifications. In addition to keyboard skills, we also plan for each of the finalists to spend time with our choir in a rehearsal session to get a sense of how they work with people.
It was my intent to move forward with hiring our Minister of Music/Organist until the recent release of a report by a joint commission of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). In this report, the commission outlined the heightened risk of the spread of COVID-19 infection by singers. Apparently, singing has become risky business in this environment.
Hopefully you all are aware that for the foreseeable future, sacred music as part of our gathered worship will be dramatically different than what we are accustomed to, and the pandemic will certainly sideline most choral groups for some time. Because we don’t have clarity about when or how choral music can return as part of our worship together, I do not believe we can protect St. Alban’s staff, volunteer singers, and our parish family from COVID-19 infection. Because of the current environment, I have reluctantly decided to suspend our search for a full-time choirmaster/organist.
I am determined to move forward with this process when there is a clear path to doing so safely and long-term. I have reached out to each of the remaining candidates to assure them that my intent is to resume the search process at such time as hiring a full-time musician becomes feasible. Of course, I will keep our parish family up to date on the activities of the music search committee when we are reactivated and are able to continue our work.
“We take Holy Communion not because we are doing well, but because we are doing badly. Not because we have arrived, but because we are travelling. Not because we are right, but because we are confused and wrong. Not because we are divine, but because we are human. Not because we are full, but because we are hungry…”
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m not sure if that’s always true, since human beings tend to forget. But I know that it is true, for me, right now, as I find myself deeply missing not only the vibrant community of our life together, but also the experience of celebrating Eucharist together and receiving the Body and Blood. I do know in a visceral way now that I have at times taken it for granted.
I know some of you miss it too. I’ve heard from several people in the last couple of days, wondering how we might work around our current restrictions in order to receive communion together. This experience of communal “social distancing” is bringing my own understanding of Eucharistic theology into a brighter clarity — that is for sure.
“Since I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols… I will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and suffering of the world.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, priest and scientist
As you might imagine, this has been a huge issue that your clergy (Deacon Theresa, Fr. Jeff and I) have been really wrestling with, in conversation with our bishops and our colleagues in this diocese and beyond.
One popular idea floated early on was to do a consecration of bread and wine via the Internet, but there are multiple problems with this from a standpoint of our understanding of the Eucharist as Anglicans; so, understandably, the bishops have said “no” in near uniformity. Likewise, pre-consecrated bread and wine, for reasons of safety and security, are not to be “left out” for people to come and pick up from, say, the Narthex.
So how do we observe these solemn Holy Days without receiving the very Sacrament that celebrates the victory of Jesus and his Resurrection? It seems almost impossible.
The Eucharist: Word AND Sacrament
One way to faithfully walk with Jesus this Holy Week has been suggested by Dr. James Farwell, the VTS liturgics professor who came to teach our Lenten series on Holy Week in 2018. Some of you will recall that memorable series of lectures.
On Facebook, on March 19, he wrote:
“The Anglican commitment to Christ’s presence to us in Word and Sacrament is worth pondering in this moment. The Eucharist is Word and Sacrament…The point of the Eucharist is not the changing of bread and wine but the changing of you and me. Is God unable to change us WITHOUT the bread and wine? Might God be able to work in us through a period of sacramental deprivation? Even through it?”
Every service of Holy Communion contains two basic parts: The liturgy of the Word, centered on hearing and responding to Holy Scripture; and the liturgy of the Table, the celebration of Communion. Dr. Farwell encourages us to lean heavily this week on the reality that Jesus comes to us not only in the bread and the wine, but also in hearing and meditating on God’s word.
In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus says something to this effect: We are not to subsist merely on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. This is a “both/and” situation. The Body and Blood are true spiritual food, “the bread that came down from heaven,” like manna in the wilderness. But, we believe that the Scriptures are written as well for our nourishment, and we are advised by that famous prayer of Thomas Cranmer to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” these words.
The mystical poetry of the prologue to John’s Gospel tells us that Christ himself is the Word of God, and that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” — that Word comes to us in a very vivid way as we take it into our bodies by eating the consecrated bread and drinking the consecrated wine. The Scriptures, the “word of God,” contain within them the God-inspired written witness to Jesus, the Word of God.
Through our baptism, marked by the Holy Spirit as “Christ’s own forever,” and through our participation in Holy Communion — the two Great Sacraments commended to our attention by Jesus himself — we OURSELVES become the bread of life broken out for the healing of the world.
Our Plan for Holy Week
This Holy Week, we are leaning on the Word, even as we long to experience the physical presence of Christ in the elements of communion. We are living without one element of our spiritual nutrition, for a time; but will live fully in the other element, the Holy Scriptures!
As such, our worship this week leans heavily on the Daily Offices, both Morning and Evening Prayer, which are centered around the reading of the Bible. The psalms of lament, central to every Holy Week, are already taking on a new life for me, considering the suffering of our world right now. I hope you will join us in observing this holy journey through our online worship offerings, praying with us and meditating with us on the words of life given to us in the Bible.
Morning Prayer will happen as usual at 8 am Monday through Friday, via Zoom. Please consider joining us, even if you haven’t before — the heavy lifting is done by the “regulars” so all you have to do is tune in and watch/listen. The links to access the online worship, as well as the Morning Prayer booklet, may be found on the Worship/Prayer page of the St. Alban’s website.
Evening Worship in Holy Week will be offered daily on YouTube. Services will be posted by 7 pm each day, on our Saint Alban’s Live page. We invite you to join in at that time so we may pray together in real time. The liturgies are available in PDF on the Live page, as well — they are specifically formatted for viewing on a smartphone or tablet (such as an iPad.) View the services on your laptop or smart TV, and use your phone or tablet to follow along. Or, simply listen and pray along with us.
What about the Triduum?
Our observance of the Three Days (the “Triduum” — Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) will contain familiar elements for those of you who cherish those liturgies (and will also be available via video here at our website). But the optional parts that really necessitate gathering together in-person, such as the Veneration of the Cross, the foot-washing, and things that center around the presence of Christ in Holy Communion, will be saved for when we can actually gather again.
I know I’m not alone in longing for experiencing the mystical grace and presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, and also longing to be in the presence of our beloved Community as well. When we finally do gather again, in person, we will light the new fire of the Easter Vigil and process with the Light of Christ into our church. It will be a huge celebration.
For now, we wait. The wait seems long. But after the deepest night comes the dawn. Daybreak is coming. Stay strong in the faith, dear friends. God is with us.
“Blessed, worshipped, hallowed, praised, and adored is Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven, in the most holy sacrament of the altar, and in the hearts of his faithful people. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercies of God, rest in peace.”
A traditional private prayer for after receiving Communion