Father Jeff

Father Jeff

The Rev. Jeff Shankles came to St. Alban’s in 2005 as assistant rector, and eventually became rector in 2013. He and his wife, Kate, have two adult children, Audrey and William.

Morning Prayer, March 15, 2020 – 10:00 am

Please join us for the office of Morning Prayer live at 10:00 am on our Facebook page.  To follow along, the liturgy is available for you in pdf format here.

St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are all one body (Ephesians 4:4).  Even though we are separated, we are still one body in Spirit as disciples of Jesus, and one way that Spirit is manifested is through our worship and through our common life of prayer.  I hope you will join us.

If you are not able to be with us at 10:00, the video will be available for delayed viewing soon after the service ends.

St. Alban’s response to the COVID-19 virus pandemic

Dear St. Alban’s Family,

Join us on Sundays at 10am as we livestream Morning Prayer via YouTube. Access the livestream and archived video recordings here.
Weekdays at 8am we offer Morning Prayer via Zoom online conferencing. Click here for access details and link.
Check your email! We are sending regular updates and messages, including scheduled Zoom social events for our church family. If you’re not on our email list, please contact us and request to be added.

I hope you have seen the pastoral letter recently sent out from Bishop Goff in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the letter, Bishop Goff relates that she met online with the clergy of the Diocese of Virginia and, as the Ecclesiastical Authority, directed that there will be no public worship at churches in the Diocese of Virginia through March 25. If you are aware of someone who might not have received her email, please pass it on to them.

Bishop Goff made it very clear that churches are, at the moment, not closing, and staff will be reporting for work. What does that mean for our parish family?

While Bishop Goff mentions “physically gathering for public worship,” I take her directive to mean that, in addition to our Sunday worship, there will be no church sponsored, or church-sanctioned, gatherings. This includes choir rehearsals, Lenten programming, Education for Ministry (EfM) sessions, Tuesday Eucharist and Bible Study, Chatting Fingers, Sunday School, Youth Group gatherings, Vestry and any of the other varied ways we gather.

While the doors will be closed for public gatherings and worship, we plan to continue live-streaming our daily office of Morning Prayer from the downstairs chapel, and are making plans to provide some kind of livestream of worship (either Morning Prayer or Eucharist) on the two Sundays we are apart. We will be reaching out to those we are aware of who live alone, to check in and make sure everyone is OK.

I hope you will take advantage of the technology with which God has enriched our lives to stay connected through our online worship and to stay connected with each other – checking on friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners and the most vulnerable among us.

I am grateful for Bishop Susan and Bishop Jennifer’s leadership in this difficult and challenging time. While we might be inconvenienced in the short term, not gathering in numbers helps to mitigate the spread for the community-at-large. In our conference call it was clear that this was a tough decision for them to make, but it was the right decision to make.

During this two week period, please do not hesitate to reach out to your parish staff and clergy if you are in any need, are feeling anxious, frightened or need someone to talk to. As Bishop Goff said in her pastoral letter, “do not be afraid. God is good.” Hold each other up in prayer. Now, as always, God is with us.

Faithfully,

Fr. Jeff

Lenten Programming at St. Alban’s

  • Our custom at St. Alban’s is to change some of our practices, most often around our common worship life, to reflect the penitential significance of Lent. We will continue some of those changes at our 10:15 service to the more penitential prayers of Rite I (beginning on page 324 in the BCP).  This year, to provide more choice, our 8:15 service will be using a rite from the Church of England’s supplemental “Common Worship.”  The sense, intent and meaning of the words are essentially the same as Rite I used at our 10:15 service, only in contemporary language. The first Sunday in Lent our worship will begin with a solemn procession around the nave as we pray the Great Litany (the first Latin work from the Roman Catholic Mass translated into English by Thomas Cranmer).  The remaining Sunday morning services in Lent will begin with a recitation of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) or the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11)
  • During Lent we will be introducing a practice of lay-led healing prayer during Sunday morning worship. Individuals from a team of lay people in our parish who feel called to a ministry of healing prayer will be stationed in the back of the church near the blue candle and Mary of Jerusalem icon. After receiving Communion, our prayer team members will be happy to pray with anyone who would like prayers for support, strength, courage, healing or for any need. In the season of Lent, lay-led healing prayers during Communion will take the place of healing prayers that have been offered by the clergy during announcements. If you would like a clergy person to pray with you at another time, please contact them to make arrangements.
  • We continue our tradition of a Lenten Wednesday Evening Program – this year a study of the Book of Hebrews (click here for more details). Wednesday evenings at St. Alban’s will offer:
5:00-6:00 pm Private Confession in the downstairs chapel
6:00-6:30 pm Stations of the Cross in the nave
6:30-7:00 pm Soup and salad dinner
7:00-8:00 pm Presentation on the Book of Hebrews

The 255th Diocesan convention

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.

Fr. Paul and Maddy at Convention
Fr. Paul and lay delegate, Maddy, engaged in the business of the Church

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.

Celebrating the Communion of Saints

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.

Vacation Bible School 2019 – Monday

This year’s Vacation Bible School looks to be one of the best!  With 50 kids registered, and some amazing adult volunteers signed on to lead and help out, our hallways and classrooms were jumping this morning!

Day three of the Youth Mission Trip to Hurley, VA

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.

 

Day two of the Youth Mission Trip to Hurley, VA

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 of the Youth Mission Trip to Hurley, VA

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.

Join us for our annual parish weekend at Shrine Mont – September 27-29, 2019

Shrine Mont gatheringOur 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