For the first time in years, the Boy Scout Drive did not garner the amount of donations needed to keep the shelves filled. In fact, it was about half the normal quantity. As a result, the pantry shelves are running empty. Although the Giant Food “Fill the Bus” drive is coming in February, there is an urgent need now for the following items (all canned/bottled): all types of tomato products, including spaghetti sauce; corn; fruit (except mandarins); Maseca corn flour; and jelly. Of course other non-perishables are welcome; these are the ones most frequently requested and for which the supply is almost gone. Thank you for remembering your neighbors in need.
Today and tomorrow (November 15 & 16) your clergy and three delegates are seated on the convention floor at our annual convention, representing you as our St. Alban’s delegation. It’s awe-inspiring to think that we are part of a tradition that has continued for over 250 years.
Our convention is an annual gathering of clergy and lay representatives from all 180+ parishes in the Diocese of Virginia. So, what happens at our annual convention? It begins with an inspiring pastoral address by our bishop, this year by our suffragan bishop in the absence of a diocesan bishop. Typically there are addresses by guest speakers, too. This year we heard from Mr. Brian Sellers-Petersen, Agrarian Missioner from the Diocese of Olympia in Washington, who spoke about care of creation.
An interesting part of convention is hearing “stories of the diocese,” inspiring stories of how parishes, big and small, are engaging with their community, reaching out, bringing new life to their congregation by carrying out Jesus’ Gospel imperatives to serve others.
At Convention we elect representatives to Standing Committee, a 12-member elected council of advice to the bishop who also can serve as the Ecclesiastical Authority in the absence of the Bishop. We elect delegates to our triennial national General Convention and hear reports from different diocesan committees and task forces. Essentially , we conduct the business of the church as an assembled council.
For me, the highlight of Convention is the Eucharist – where we all gather in worship, sing the praises of God, and share in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Convention is a great opportunity to see the Church in a new way and in a new light, and it looks very different than Sunday morning at St. Alban’s. Every March we call for nominations for lay delegate to Convention. Delegates are elected by the Vestry, and must be pledging members in good standing of our parish. If you are interested in serving, you don’t need to be nominated by someone else… let your clergy or a member of the Vestry know.
One foggy evening, when I was stationed in West Germany, I was driving through a fairly rural part of the countryside, when I noticed a rather eerie glow off to the right side of the road. As I got nearer, I realized that I was approaching a cemetery, and each grave was marked by a burning candle. I had passed that cemetery any number of times, but I had never seen it so beautifully illuminated. I later discovered that a local tradition was to place a lighted candle at the grave of loved ones on November 2nd – The Feast of All Souls’, or as we Episcopalians now call it, “The Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.”
Two venerable and beloved Church feast days happen this week – The Feast of All Saints’ and The Feast of All Souls’. All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, is one of the principle feasts of the Church Year, and is set aside as the day when the Church remembers the saints of God – known and unknown. It is one of the few Feast Days that, when falling on a day Monday through Saturday, can be moved to Sunday (and, incidentally, it is one of the four Sundays especially appropriate for baptism.)
While the origins of All Saints’ Day aren’t known, its roots probably go back to the 4th Century, when a feast for all the martyrs was observed in May. It wasn’t until around 735 that Pope Gregory III declared a Feast of All Saints on November 1. While the Feast of All Saints’ celebrates the saints of God, known and unknown, who have died, All Souls’ Day celebrates relatives and loved ones (the “rest of us” faithful whose lives do not merit a day on the Church Calendar) who have died. All Saints’ and All Souls’ became inextricably connected – sometimes being called Allhallowtide or Hallowmas season, being observed on November 1 and November 2, respectively.
The Western Church began their observance of All Saints’ with a service of Vespers on the evening before, which would be All Saints’ Eve, or All Hallows’ Eve. It isn’t much of a stretch to see how simple, superstitious and pagan folk might embellish a commemoration of the departed with stories of tormented souls of the dead, demons and other evil spirits – becoming the festive day of Hallowe’en we’ve come to know and love.
The Feast of All Saints’ is especially important in the Episcopal Church. We often speak of “the Communion of Saints,” and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day remind us of our belief that all Christians that ever lived, are living, and will ever be, are bound together in one Communion – the Body of Christ. All Saints’ and All Souls’ celebrates this bond as we continue the ancient practice of praying for the saints who have gone on before us and acknowledge that those saints in heaven are praying for us.
Please join us for our observance of The Feast of All Saints’ on Sunday morning, November 3rd, at 8:15 and 10:15. We will be observing The Feast of All Souls’ with a solemn Evensong on the evening of November 3rd at 7:00 pm. All are invited to attend this beautiful sung service, and to bring photos of loved ones who have departed this life and light a candle as a silent and visible prayer for them.
Breakfast on day three was courtesy of Harry’s team. Harry and crew delighted us with biscuits and gravy and fried June apples. Landon and MacGregor picked the apples the day before during some down time on their worksite. Most of the kids ate cereal.
Harry’s team continued their work on the bathroom project, redoing some old plumbing and working on a shower surround.
George’s team (with Allison and Liv) began working on a wheelchair ramp and plans to have their work finished Thursday.
Meanwhile, the painting crew finished scraping (thanks to Darius’ dogged determination to get every last loose bit of paint off the house!). Unfortunately, an afternoon downpour slowed their worked considerably.
After an hour break under the shelter of the front porch, the crew was able to put a coat of paint over the entire house but weren’t able to finish the project.
Pearl, the owner of the house, was very pleased with her freshly scraped and painted house. Today (Thursday) may be a short work day as part of our team (Ted and MacGregor) are helping load a shipment of USDA food that they’ll be delivering to the Center around noon, and all hands will be necessary to unload the truck.
|Team 2 started the day off for us with pancakes, ham and scrambled eggs. Ted even got fancy and sprinkled little colorful candy sprinkles into the pancakes…not sure if they gave the exact effect he was hoping for. But, it’s the thought that counts! Thanks, Ted, Victor and George!|
Our valiant team of painters returned to their project to finish scraping, and begin painting, their house. With rain threatening their work, the team worked feverishly to complete painting the front porch and one side of the house.
|Battling wasps and the heat, the painting team persevered. Tomorrow is another day.|
Harry’s team laid linoleum flooring. MacGregor and Landon learned to cut the flooring to fit.
|George’s team laid flooring and applied a coating of koolseal to the roof of a trailer|
|We ended the day with a brief service of compline on the front porch.|
Nothing like a couple of happy missioners!
Day one started out with threatening skies which soon cleared, bringing a hot, humid work day. After an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and french toast, we divided into three work teams: one team to finish replacing a bathroom floor (led by Harry Baisden), one team to finish hanging some paneling and installing baseboards (led by George DeFilippi) and one larger team to scrape and paint an older house (led by Frs. Jeff and Paul).
After a gut-busting, starch-o-rama dinner of chicken and dumplings, we took a celebratory trip to Walmart in Grundy! Who says we don’t know how to have fun? We ended the day with a brief service of compline on the front porch of the bunk house.
Our annual weekend at the diocesan retreat center in the Shenandoah’s is a great time to relax, and spend time getting to know one another over mealtimes, worship, singing, and fellowship. While there are different programs offered, the only thing that is “mandatory” is that you enjoy yourself, have fun and take advantage of the slow pace of life over the weekend. If a glass of sweet-tea or a tasty Anglican beverage are calling to you from a porch rocker, then that’s where you need to be!Read More
A few Sundays ago, a gentleman came into the church seeking a ride and some financial assistance. In this specific case, this gentleman is well-known to your clergy, and has been using the same story for as long as I have been here, and perhaps even longer. (Without going into details, his story is demonstrably untrue.) He may have real needs (I truly don’t know), but his method is dishonest. Fortunately, he only got a ride out of our parishioners, and no cash.
What should you do when a panhandler comes to Church?Read More
“Your building is either advancing your mission… or a drain on it.”
That’s a quote from one of the architects who produced the design for our new kitchen. That architect very succinctly described our situation. I know that there are some who have concerns about the project – concerns about the cost, concerns about the complexity and there are, perhaps, other unvoiced concerns.
A member of the St. Alban’s Vestry, Jim Kilby, shared some thoughts on the project with me, and I’d like to share them with you. — Fr. Jeff
From Jim Kilby:
Over the past few weeks, I have heard that some members of our congregation question the high cost and need to undergo the kitchen renovation project. While initially I shared this opinion, I now have a greater understanding of the scope of the project.
Much of this was gained through reading the Case for Support of the Kitchen Project, participation on the Capital Campaign and through talking to some of our primary kitchen users. I am now onboard, completely.
Simply put, our kitchen is not a commercial grade kitchen, but it should be.
If the sole use was supporting coffee hour, I might be swayed against the project. However, our kitchen is not adequate to support our mission of community outreach (Poe Middle School after-hours meals program, Belvedere Elementary weekend food program and Hypothermia Project), nor our larger parish meal requirements.
Furthermore, if we do anything to our kitchen, we need to bring it up to code. This will require significant below-foundation plumbing work as well as other modifications.
I believe the bathroom remodel is a related project which would be prudent to undertake in conjunction with the kitchen. I use the “I’m changing your water pump, so It would be smart to change out your timing belt since you are approaching 90k miles” analogy.
Finally, adding a shower and laundry will be a significant upgrade to help us in executing our Hypothermia Project Mission, as well as helping the Altar Guild with linens and other requirements.
In my life in the Navy I have found it useful to use a command philosophy to center the crew on “the main thing.” I’ve found an open discussion of the difference between “ownership” and “stewardship” is helpful in this regard.
Ownership vs. Stewardship
If I “own” something, I have choice to care for something as I am moved to (example: I don’t have to change the oil in my car, even though I know that I should). If I am a “steward” of something, I no longer have that latitude. I am entrusted with the care of that object. It is a matter of trust and obligation. It is different.
As members of St Alban’s, I believe we are stewards of our property, stewards of our mission that positively impact our community. It is truly a higher calling. I am committed to this project and strongly believe that this is a “must do.” I am optimistic that the feasibility study will determine that we have the congregational resolve and fiscal means to make this investment in our church. Let’s get to it!
Member, St. Alban’s Vestry