Updates from the Holy Land pilgrimage group

When in Jerusalem, we are mostly sheltering in place with minimal ventures out for necessities like pharmacy needs. We can eat, relax and pray within the cathedral walls. The neighborhood is quiet as some businesses are operating fewer hours — mostly because shopowners and employees who live in the West Bank can’t get through checkpoints easily if at all. Palestinian Muslims especially have to be careful out of fear of retribution by Jewish extremists if they are in the wrong place; so some busineses are on a skeleton crew.  In the meantime we are being cautious, and prudent; and all of the activities near or in the West Bank have been cancelled.

Everyone is grateful for all the support, love, and care coming from home. We continue to pray for a resolution to the situation—and peace in the Holy Land.

October 10, 2023 – Galilee

Today we ventured out of Nazareth to Galilee, visited the Church of the Multiplication, Capernaum, and held a mass on the lakeshore. We swam a little late this afternoon. All is business as usual up here in Nazareth. We plan to return to the cathedral close in East Jerusalem tomorrow.

There have been many blessings in the midst of this situation, and we are determined to make the best of it. Our leaders and hosts are very candid, and we have at least two open conversations per day assessing the information we have at the time. Those who have tried to leave in the past couple of days have had some challenges getting out.

Thank you for your prayers.

October 9, 2023 – Nazareth

Greetings St Alban’s! We are coming to you from beautiful Nazareth, where we are staying at the Sisters of Nazareth Convent.

Our day started with a two hour drive up the west coast of Israel to Caesarea. The original city was built by Herod the Great starting in 30 BCE and is situated on the Mediterranean Sea. It became a great commercial city and by 6 BCE was the headquarters of the Roman government in Palestine. It is now a beautiful archeological national park. We walked among the ruins of the theatre, promontory palace, amphitheater (used for chariot racing), and impressive harbor. The site was not crowded due to the unrest so we were able to take our time as we followed our wonderful guide Rodney from site to site. We felt so lucky to be in such a beautiful place with the gorgeous Mediterranean beyond the ruins. We had free time for lunch and further exploration. Fr. Paul even took a swim in the water! We closed out our visit with ice cream and boarded the bus for our second activity.

Closer to Nazareth, we visited another archeological park on the site of the city of Sepphoris. After the death of Herod the Great, his son, Herod Antipas, was made governor of the area and rebuilt the city, proclaiming it the “Ornament of Galilee.” I believe it was considered at that time to be the capital of Galilee. Given its close proximity to Nazareth, it is possible that Jesus and his father might have come to the city for work. It is also believed by some that this was where Mary was born and where her parents resided. We saw a Roman theatre, a 5th century Byzantine synagogue, a Roman villa dating back to 200 AD, and 12th century Crusader tower. There are over 60 mosaics dating from the 3rd to 6th century AD. The most famous of these is of a young g woman that has been dubbed the “Mona Lisa of the Galilee.”

After a full day, we boarded the bus one more time to make our way to the Convent. Before enjoying a delicious meal of soup, chicken, potatoes, and beans, we camped out in the courtyard and sang along to The Beach Boys and Bob Marley. We feel very safe with our St. George’s team and they are doing a great job of rescheduling our itinerary due to the current situation.

We look forward to seeing you soon and appreciate your continued prayers.

October 8, 2023 – Calvary

October 6, 2023 – The Wilderness

October 2, 2023 – Petra

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Petra is situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites.

Summer Exploratory Book Journey: Reading the Bible from the Margins

Last year we explored an Education for Ministry (EfM) Interlude Book: The Dream of God By Verna J. Dozier

Join us this year for another exploratory book journey into:

Reading the Bible from the Margins By Miguel A. De La Torre

Or, in other words, how to read the Bible from perspectives that are often ignored; for example, from the perspective of the victims of discrimination.  The author shows how “standard” readings of the Bible, and interpretation by the dominant culture, are not always acceptable to people on the “margins” of that dominant culture.

A comment by Cain Hope Felder, author, Troubling Biblical Waters: “This innovative resource is filled with considerable multicultural capital that can help many better understand the sad persistence of many ‘great divides’ in a nation that is so ready to proclaim to the world, ‘United We Stand!’”

We will explore together this timely and challenging book over 4 Wednesday evenings this summer:  July 12, 19, 26, and August 2. Join us from 6:30 to 7:30 pm to discuss and share thoughts about the important messages provided by this author. Participants may gather personally in Room 11 of the Church or may participate remotely via ZOOM.

An excerpt from the author’s Introduction: “All football players are damned!  According to the Scriptures, anyone who plays football is cursed by God and will spend eternity in hell.  The Bible is very clear about this.  According to Deuteronomy: ‘The pig, because its hoof is divided and it does not chew its cud, is unclean.  You shall not eat its flesh, nor touch its dead skin’ (14:8).  So anyone who touches a ‘pigskin,’ another name for a football, is cursed.  . . .  Yet my understanding of Deuteronomy 14:8, regardless of how legitimate and logical it may be to me, is still rejected by the majority of Christians.  Why?”

Got your attention?  If you would like to join us in this journey, please email Pam Matthes at [email protected]  by June 28, 2023.  [The first 5 to sign up will receive their books for FREE!]

Watch Party for Sacred Ground Fall Kickoff Webinar

Sacred Ground Fall Kickoff with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

On September 15, 2022, Presiding Bishop Curry will hold a webinar session with the Church to share his vision for racial reckoning and justice ministry for the next two years. We will be holding a watch party  at St. Alban’s for anyone who would like to join us for this special webinar!

Following our time with Bishop Curry, we will:

1) learn from leaders skilled at welcoming new (and perhaps skeptical) people into race conversations; and

2) explore strategies for transitioning into action and community engagement (including organizing groups for the new Sessions 10 and 11!)

Who: Fellow Sacred Ground facilitators, participants, and all Episcopalians interested in learning more about this dialogue series.

What: Bishop Curry will share his vision for racial reckoning and justice ministry over the next two years and how to engage using the Sacred Ground curriculum.

Where: St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Room 11.

Snacks and drinks will be provided at the St. Alban’s Watch Party.

When: Thursday, September 15th, at 1:30pm or you can watch it at home by registering for this special event via zoom. The webinar will be from 1:30pm to 3pm (EST). To register to watch it at home, please use this link.

Sacred Ground Circle at St. Alban’s Begins January 14 at 6pm

St. Alban’s will begin its second Sacred Ground Circle on Thursday, January 14 at 6pm using Zoom. Contact Deacon Theresa by Sunday, January 10 if you have questions or would like to participate. The 10-week film- and reading-based series 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. For more information about Sacred Ground, see the January/February edition of The Word or visit the Sacred Ground Website.

No matter how far apart two sides are, there are effective strategies to bring people together…

How many of us have ever prayed, ‘Lord make me an instrument of your peace,’ then found ourselves in complex and polarized situations that made peace seemingly impossible?

Make Me an Instrument of Peace is a 5-week course designed to help us bridge the divides that keep us from moving forward.

Designed by the Office of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church, and combining conversation, discussion and short videos, this course is ideal for those who want to take dialog between polarized people or parties seriously.

The first session will begin on Sunday, October 4 at 9:00am and run for about 50 minutes on Zoom. The remaining sessions will be held on October 11, 18, 25 and November 1 (all at 9:00 am). Each session will be led by St. Alban’s clergy, but will be ‘taught’ by a team of experts in civil discourse. This course includes these five sessions:

If you would like more information about the program, please contact Deacon Theresa or register below (we ask that you register so that we can send you the participant’s guide):

Participate in the Episcopal Justice Assembly – June 20

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.

Patience, Persistence, Prayer, and the Proper Use of Agitation

by Trish Huheey

On October 22, the 3rd-4th-5th grade St. Alban’s Sunday School class focused on persistence as a force for change. We studied the parable of the Widow and the Judge (below), and learned how the widow prayed and approached the Judge over and over, seeking justice, until he finally relented.

We watched our Whirl curriculum video, about a group of friends who lobby their friend’s baseball coach to let him play in a game. The coach initially ignores them, but the kids persist in standing up for their friend until the coach finally lets him play. This led to a discussion about times we stood up for something we believed in, and whether or not we persisted, if we did not succeed immediately.

Finally, we made sandcastles, and observed how water wears away at a sandcastle’s base. We also observed that, when we shook our trays and agitated the water, that the sandcastles wore down even faster. One of our students said that “agitating” sounded a lot like “annoying people,” so we discussed if there was a time to annoy people for good reasons! Jesus tells us that we should not give up!

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Luke 18:1-8 (New International Version)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

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!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Episcopal Church

What does it mean to be an Episcopalian? What does it mean to be an Anglican? How do we differ from other Christian denominations or faiths? What do we believe? Why do we worship the way we worship?

We’ll tackle these, and all your questions, during our Episcopal 101 series beginning Sunday, May 5th, and continuing through Sunday, May 26th. Episcopal 101 meets during Sunday school time at 9:15 in Room 11.

Whether you’re new to the Episcopal Church, or you’ve been around a long time and are still puzzled by what we believe or the way we do things (or wondering what everybody is doing up at the altar during the Eucharist), you’ll find these sessions both worthwhile and fun.

May 5, 2019
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” … prayer shapes our belief. An introduction to the Book of Common Prayer.

May 12, 2019
The Eucharist … spiritual food and drink.

May 19, 2019
What does it mean when we say, “Holy Scripture is the Word of God, and contains all things necessary to salvation … ”

May 26, 2019
The Anglican Communion … one big happy family?