August 15: The Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ

Apse icon from Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem
Apse icon from Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem

The honor paid to Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, goes back to the earliest days of the Church. Indeed, it goes back further, for even before the birth of her Son, Mary prophesied, “From this time forth, all generations shall call me blessed.”

O God, who have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Besides Jesus himself, only two humans are mentioned by name in the Creeds. One is Pontius Pilate, Roman procurator of Judea from 26 to 36 AD. That Jesus was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate pins down the date of his death within a few years, and certifies that we are not talking, like the worshippers of Tammuz or Adonis, about a personification or symbol of the annual death and resurrection of the crops. His death is an event in history, something that really happened. The other name is that of Mary.

The Creeds say that Christ was ‘born of the virgin Mary.’ That is to say, they assert on the one hand that he was truly and fully human, born of a woman and not descended from the skies like an angel. On the other hand, by telling us that his mother was a virgin they exclude the theory that he was simply an ordinary man who was so virtuous that he eventually, at his baptism, became filled with the Spirit of God. His virgin birth attests to the fact that he was always more than merely human, always one whose presence among us was in itself a miracle, from the first moment of his earthly existence. In Mary, Virgin and Mother, God gives us a sign that Jesus is both truly God and truly Man.

Little is known of the life of the Virgin Mary except insofar as it intersects with the life of her Son, and there is an appropriateness in this. The Scriptures record her words to the angel Gabriel, to her kinswoman Elizabeth, to her Son on two occasions. But the only recorded saying of hers to what may be called ordinary, run-of-the-mill hearers is her instruction to the servants at the wedding feast, to whom she says simply, indicating her Son, ‘Whatever he says to you, do it.’

This we may take to be the summation of her message to the world. If we listen to her, she will tell us, ‘Listen to Him. Listen to my Son. Do what He tells you.’ When we see her, we see her pointing to her Son. If our regard for the Blessed Virgin does not have the immediate effect of turning our attention from her to the One whom she carried in her womb for nine months and suckled at her breast, to the Incarnate God, the Word made flesh, then we may be sure that it is not the kind of regard that she seeks. A right regard for her will always direct us to Him Who found in her His first earthly dwelling-place.

Hagiography written by James Kiefer, and reprinted with permission. Read more of his work.

Capital Campaign Kicks Off in September

by Bill Calvert & Linda Cummings


For those who participated in the St. Alban’s Feasibility and Planning Study, thank you! We are pleased to share that, at the close of the study, 51 strategic conversations were completed. An additional 40+ members of our community engaged in an electronic survey.

The St. Alban’s Feasibility Study Executive Summary provides an overview of the results; you can download a copy of the feasibility study here.

Our consultant, CCS Fundraising, presented a report to the Vestry during the June 2019 meeting. (Download this PDF to learn more about CCS Fundraising.) Following the presentation, the Vestry authorized the commencement of a Capital Campaign for the purposes of upgrading our kitchen and attached restroom facilities. The Vestry authorized funding to support the hiring of CCS Fundraising to run the Capital Campaign, scheduled to start on or about the first week of September.

Preliminary planning is now underway to establish leadership roles and responsibilities in support of the campaign. We (Bill Calvert and Linda Cummings) have agreed to co-chair the campaign and, with the help of the many willing and wonderful volunteers at St. Alban’s, hope to make this effort fully transparent and successful.

We will continually update the capital campaign and kitchen page on our website with info and news, so be sure to check back frequently. There’s a banner at the very top of each page of our website that will always take you there!

Many thanks again for your time, for your important advice, and for your help in this important planning endeavor for St. Alban’s. In the coming months, we will share more information about the plans. And, if you ever have any questions, please ask!

Bill Calvert and Linda Cummings are the co-chairs of the St. Alban’s Capital Campaign.

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.

July 1: Pauli Murray, priest, 1985

On July 1, we honor the memory of Pauli Murray, an early and committed civil rights activist and the first African American woman priest ordained in The Episcopal Church.

Liberating God, we thank you most heartily for the steadfast courage of your servant Pauli Murray, who fought long and well: Unshackle us from bonds of prejudice and fear, so that we show forth your reconciling love and true freedom, which you revealed through your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Born in Baltimore in 1910, Murray was raised in Durham, North Carolina, and graduated from Hunter College in 1933. After seeking admission to graduate school at the University of North Carolina in 1938, she was denied entry due to her race. She went on to graduate from Howard University Law School in 1944. While a student at Howard, she participated in sit-in demonstrations that challenged racial segregation in drugstores and cafeterias in Washington, DC.

Denied admission to Harvard University for an advanced law degree because of her gender, Murray received her Master of Laws degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1945.

In 1948 the Women’s Division of Christian Service of the Methodist Church hired Murray to compile information about segregation laws in the South. Her research led to a 1951 book, States’ Laws on Race and Color, that became a foundational document for Thurgood Marshall in his work on the decisive Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954.

Committed to dismantling barriers of race, Murray saw the civil rights and women’s movements as intertwined and believed that black women had a vested interest in the women’s movement.

Perceiving a call to ordained ministry, Murray began her studies at General Theological Seminary in 1973. She was ordained deacon in June 1976, and, on January 8, 1977, she was ordained priest at Washington National Cathedral. She served at Church of the Atonement in Washington, D.C., from 1979 to 1981 and at Holy Nativity Church in Baltimore until her death in 1985.

Murray’s books include the family memoir Proud Shoes: Story of an American Family (1956) and the personal memoir Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage (1987).

(Hagiography taken from A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Church Publishing, Inc.)

Our July/August Newsletter Is Here

Check your mailbox for the latest issue of The Word, the St. Alban’s print newsletter — or feel free to download a PDF copy here. (If you’d like to be put on our mailing list, just use the contact form here to tell us you’d like to receive our mailings and be sure to include your complete mailing address.)

In the July/August 2019 issue . . .

Father Jeff reflects on summer: “With the last of the barbecue consumed at our St. Alban’s Day Picnic, I hereby declare summer ‘officially underway!'” He also has news about the search for a new music minister, and sincere thanks for the hard work of several parishioners on the kitchen design and capital campaign committees.

Father Paul on “doing Sunday School better”: “As one of your priests, I feel it’s important to emphasize: the spiritual lives of your children are worth prioritizing! After all, it is our values that order our priorities, and it is our priorities that define the movement of our lives. If we keep Christ at the center of our lives, we are strengthened to hold fast when the winds of change and challenge blow.”

The Kitchen Committee shares news and updates on the Capital Campaign for our kitchen and parish hall renovation.

Plus Deacon Theresa shares new opportunities for service, there are tons of photos from the parish picnic and Sunday School party, and lots more!

Download the PDF here.

June 25: James Weldon Johnson: poet

On June 25, we remember James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938), an American poet, educator, diplomat, and civil rights activist.

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of faith that the dark past has tought us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.

James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. His parents stimulated his academic interests, and he was encouraged to study literature and music. Johnson enrolled at Atlanta University with the expressed intention that the education he received there would be used to further the interests of African Americans. He never reneged on that commitment.

In the summer after his freshman year, Johnson taught the children of former slaves. Of that experience he wrote, “In all of my experience there has been no period so brief that has meant so much in my education for life as the three months I spent in the backwoods of Georgia.” After graduation, he became the principal of the largest high school in Jacksonville, during which time he was paid half of what his white counterparts were paid, even though the school excelled under his leadership.

In 1900, he collaborated with his brother, Rosamond, a composer, to create “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Written in celebration of President Lincoln’s birthday, the song, still popular today, has become known as the “African American National Anthem.” Due to the success of their collaboration, Johnson moved to New York in 1901 to join his brother, and together they attained success as lyricist and composer for Broadway.

In 1906, Johnson was invited to work for the diplomatic corps and became U.S. Consul to Venezuela and later Nicaragua. During his Nicaraguan tenure, Johnson was a voice of reason and reconciliation in a time of civil unrest and turmoil. His ability to bring together people of differing viewpoints toward a common vision served Johnson well in the 1920’s, when he became an organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Johnson was a prolific poet and anthologist. He edited The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), a major contribution to the history of African American literature. His book of poetry, God’s Trombones (1927), seven biblical stories rendered into verse, was influenced by his impressions of the rural South. (Note: at Saint Alban’s, Johnson’s poetry is included as a non-scriptural reading at the Liturgy of the Word at the Easter Vigil.)

James Weldon Johnson died on June 26, 1938.

Biography from A Great Cloud of Witnesses (Church Publishing).

 

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