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):

Diocese-wide Worship Service – Sunday, September 6, 2020

Mark your calendars for an online worship service with the 60,000+ members of the Diocese of Virginia, and many friends, families, saints, and seekers. Your St. Alban’s Clergy encourage you to join in this historic worship service led by your bishops on Facebook and YouTube. In unity with the 180+ parishes of the diocese, this service will be held in lieu of our usual Sunday morning YouTube worship offering on September 6th. I hope you will all take advantage of this rare opportunity to be part of something much bigger than ourselves, and certainly much bigger than St. Alban’s!

Click here for more information.

Cloth Masks for Annandale Healthcare Center (AHC)

Annandale Healthcare Center has experienced a large number of COVID-19 infections and deaths. They have asked for reusable, washable cloth masks. This is a great chance to help the residents and staff stay healthy. Deacon Theresa will offer contact-less pick-up from your home or from church. Email Deacon Theresa to arrange pick-up. We’ll deliver masks to AHC beginning July 13. We encourage you to pray for who will wear them as you sew.
Don’t sew? Consider purchasing masks made by refugee women working with Lutheran Social Services.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area is connecting refugee seamstresses with the Northern Virginia community. Support local refugee women and families during these difficult times by purchasing homemade face masks. Masks are $8/each (cash preferred), with optional tip, and 100% of the profits go directly to the seamstress who made the masks. Contact-less pick-up and delivery of finished masks is available, and orders are generally completed within 1-2 days. For all questions and order requests, please email Netra Anand, Refugee Health Liaison.

ACCA Food Pantry Collection

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

ACCA
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.

These are the most-needed items right now. Please share with your friends and neighbors.  Follow ACCA on Facebook for the latest needs.

Sacred Ground: A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith

St. Alban’s is pleased to offer Sacred Grounda 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.

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.

Resources on Race, Racism, Faith, and Justice

people holding a white and black signage during daytimeA 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”. 

Sign up! 

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.

Books

Discussed at St. Alban’s

  • 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. 
  • 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/.

Podcasts

“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.

Videos

The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart on policing, reconciliation, black lives and the church’s role

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.

The urgency of intersectionality

A TED Talk on gender and racist violence with Kimberlé Crenshaw.

Sermons to Watch

Movies

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.

Other Resources

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 WarBlack 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 FrontlinePOV and Independent Lens.

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.

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

Lent Madness – The “Saintly Smackdown” Returns!

“What are you doing for Lent?” In the run-up to the church’s holy season of repentance and renewal, this question echoes in parish halls and dining rooms, pews and study halls.

One exciting answer to the proverbial question is … “Lent Madness!” That’s because, for the eleventh straight year, people of faith the world over are filling out brackets and gearing up for the 2020 “Saintly Smackdown.” 

With its unique blend of competition, learning, and humor, Lent Madness allows participants to be inspired by the ways in which God has worked through the lives of saintly souls across generations and cultures. Throughout Lent, 32 saints will battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Based loosely on the NCAA basketball tournament of a similar name, this online devotion pits saints against one another in a bracket as voters choose their favorites throughout this penitential season.

Here’s how to participate: on the weekdays of Lent, information is posted at www.lentmadness.org about two different saints. Each pairing remains open for 24 hours as participants read about, and then vote, to determine which saint moves on to the next round. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; 8 advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the Golden Halo.

The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.

This year, Lent Madness features an intriguing slate of saints ancient and modern, Biblical and ecclesiastical. This year’s saints include heavyweights such as Patrick, Harriet Tubman, Clare of Assisi, Hildegaard of Bingen, Joseph, and Jude, along with many lesser known yet equally inspiring people of faith. The competition kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 27, with an epic battle between Thomas More and St. James the Less.

The full bracket is online at the Lent Madness website and, while not necessary to participate, we have copies of The 2020 Saintly Scorecard in the St. Alban’s narthex. This companion guide includes biographies of all 32 saints, a full-color bracket, and information about how to fully participate.

Why focus on saints during Lent? Like us, their vision may not have been perfect — and they had their share of blind spots. But what binds them together, is a strong faith in Jesus Christ and a willingness to serve him amid the circumstances of their own day. They saw the face of God with perfect clarity and shared God’s love for the world in their own ways. If we allow them into our lives, the saints can serve as a deep source of spiritual inspiration. 

This year’s Golden Halo winner will join illustrious company. Previous winners were:

  • George Herbert, 17th century English poet, 2010;
  • C. S. Lewis, 20th century British writer and theologian, 2011;
  • Mary Magdalene, disciple of Jesus, 2012;
  • Frances Perkins, 20th century American public servant, 2013;
  • Charles Wesley, 18th century English preacher and hymn writer, 2014;
  • Francis of Assisi, 13th century monastic and advocate for the poor, 2015;
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century German theologian and activist who was killed by the Nazis, 2016;
  • Florence Nightingale, 19th century nurse and social reformer, 2017;
  • Anna Alexander, the first African-American Deaconess in the Episcopal Church, 2018; and,
  • Martha of Bethany, the Biblical sister of Mary, 2019.

If you’re looking for a Lenten discipline that is fun, educational, occasionally goofy, and always joyful, join the Lent Madness journey. Lent needn’t be all doom and gloom. After all, what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get closer to Jesus Christ?