Where Is God Calling Us (and You) to Go?

empty concrete road covered surrounded by tall tress with sun rays

When Jesus was asked by a lawyer to identify the greatest commandment, he responded with two: to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Here at St. Alban’s, we have a long history as a mission-oriented church, with numerous outreach and community ministry programs aimed at providing food, comfort and spiritual support to our neighbors here in Annandale and around the world. Even during the craziness of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been overjoyed to see how many of our parishioners have given their time and energy toward helping others – toward “loving our neighbors.”

But, what does it mean to “love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind”?

This past summer, your Vestry resolved to make spiritual growth and discipleship a priority for our parish. We are working with an organization called RenewalWorks (part of Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church) to identify the best way to develop a discipleship program that will meet the needs of our parishioners, wherever each of us may be on his or her Christian journey.

The first step will be to figuring out where we are right now on that journey. In mid-September we will be sending a link to an electronic survey (print surveys will also be available) that we hope every one of you will take.

This survey, called a “Spiritual Life Inventory,” will take about 30 minutes to complete. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is very important! Your direct input through this survey will drive all our decisions about new programs and resources designed to help us, as individuals and as a community, grow closer to God in our daily life.

You will be hearing a lot more about the RenewalWorks program, the survey, and discipleship in general, over the next weeks and months, as we seek to discern God’s call for the future of St. Alban’s. Your participation is immensely valuable. Keep watching for the survey link later this month, and please participate as soon as possible (the survey will be open for only a short period of time).

If you have any questions about the RenewalWorks program, please speak with Fr. Jeff, Fr. Paul, Kevin Holland or Chris Martin.

Ways to support Afghan refugees

As Afghan refugees arrive in Virginia, Lutheran Social Services (LSSNCA) is the agency providing resettlement support in the National Capitol Area. Information about monetary donations and the list of necessary items being accepted is available on the Lutheran Social Services website. Collection sites and dates in our area are listed below. The Lutheran Social Services website includes information about purchasing items through the LSSNCA Wish List on Amazon.


LDS Church
4911 Ox Rd
Fairfax, VA

TIMES: 11:00am-6:00pm

DATES:  Monday August 30- Saturday, September 11
(Sorry, no donations accepted on Sundays)


Peace Lutheran Church
6362 Lincolnia Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22312

TIMES: 12:00pm-7:00pm

DATES:
Tuesday, August 31
Wednesday, September 1
Thursday, September 2

Food Ministry at Poe Middle School

As we head into our 8th year of helping Poe Middle School students, we recognize that the last 18 months have changed us all in various ways – and have most likely also changed our schedules and routines.  One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the number of students in our community who still go to bed at night on an empty stomach.

We have put together a brief survey which can be found here.  Please take a few minutes to share your feedback with us by September 1 on your willingness to participate in this important St. Alban’s Ministry.

Often times we need a quick reminder on “why we are doing what are doing”.  Here are some updated statistics on Poe Middle School, which will help familiarize you with the students that are right here in our backyard:

  1. School enrollment in the 2020-21 year was 973, down from 1,011 from 2019-2020.
  2. The percentage of students on the free or reduced fee meal program has declined – from 76% in 2019-20 to 68% in 2020-21.

We are not sure what this decline signifies – although the drop might reflect the chaos caused by the pandemic.  We’d like to think it is good news when you see the % drop that much, but we know there are still plenty of kids in need.

Poe Middle School’s After-School Program is amazing!  More than 80 different activities and events are offered to the students, including: academic support & enrichment, youth development, sports & recreation, fine & performing arts, and community service.  A small reminder of why we chose this ministry and why we continue to be a driving force in these young lives:

  • 85% of students agree that coming to the after-school program helped them to do better in school
  • 86% said it helped them get along better with classmates
  • 84% said it helped them get along better with teachers
  • 84% said it helped them learn about new things

On average, the number of students we fed on an every-other week basis was 300.

Volunteers are needed for four tasks:  shopping for ingredients, cooking them into a main course, transporting meals and supplies to Poe, and serving cafeteria style followed by a cleaning up.

Once again, we are so grateful for those who have participated in the past, but more importantly, we welcome all those  who would like to help out with this important ministry.  We hope you will join us as we begin the 2021-2022 school year next month!

Camille and Remy

The Rev. Halim Shukair, guest preacher for Sunday, August 8, 2021

This Sunday, August 8, we welcome the Rev. Halim Shukair as our guest preacher.

The Rev. Halim Shukair hails from Beirut, Lebanon. Fr. Halim is currently Assistant Priest at Christ Episcopal Church, and Priest-in-Charge for Mother of the Savior Church, both in Dearborn, Michigan.

He holds Masters of Divinity (MDiv. 2018) from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria; and holds previous degrees from the Lebanese American University and a Diploma in Theology from the Near East School of Theology (both located in Beirut, Lebanon). He discerned a call to holy orders from his home parish All Saints Episcopal Church in Beirut.

Fr. Halim was ordained in December, 2018 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit, Michigan by the Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Bishop of Michigan, on behalf of the Most Rev. Suheil Dawani (Archbishop of Jerusalem.)

Halim has a particular interest in interfaith dialogue, Christian Formation, Liturgy and contemplative life.

Read more about Fr. Halim’s unique ministry uniting two congregations, one English-speaking and one Arabic-speaking, in Dearborn, Michigan.

Praying for Holy Trinity School, Haiti with special intentions at this time

St. Alban’s has financially supported Holy Trinity School, Haiti since the early 1960’s, when school founder, Sister Anne Marie Bickerstaff, was a frequent speaker at St. Alban’s.  (To find out more about Holy Trinity School, please click here.)  According to Steve Lusk’s history of St. Alban’s, Called to be Saints, the financial support, and visits by Sr. Bickerstaff, were the birth of a continuing parish tradition. Each Sunday, young people who had celebrated a birthday during the week were asked to come to the front of the church to receive a blessing and present their birthday thank offerings. The recommended gift was a penny for each year of age.  The offerings were sent “to help other children at Holy Trinity School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.” In 1970 the vestry extended the gift opportunity to adults, at a recommended rate of ten cents per year. St. Alban’s continues to support Holy Trinity School through our Outreach budget.

When news of the recent assassination of Haiti’s president was announced, Deacon Theresa reached out to Holy Trinity School to let the director know that the school is in our prayers every Sunday and at other times. You can read the director’s response here (English) (French).

July 2021 Caregivers Session

Our July Caregivers’ session will be held this Sunday, July 11 at 11:45 am in the Parish Hall. Light snacks will be provided during this time of resource sharing and support for those who provide physical, emotional, financial, or other support for a loved one.

For those of you who wish to attend virtually, the Zoom log-in is:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85123743510?pwd=bXk4SWp1QW5NNFpUTjlyeUJMQTJYUT09

Meeting ID: 851 2374 3510

Passcode: 179542

If you need to call in by phone: +13017158592,,85123743510#,,,,*179542# US (Washington DC)

The Bazaar Book Room is now accepting donations

The Saint Alban’s Bazaar is on schedule for this Fall, and we are requesting book donations.

If you are interested in our preferences: popular fiction (adventure, historical, crime, romance) books, particularly in paperback format, and history/autobiography books. Cook books are also fine, as long as they are from within the past 10 years.

If you do donate books, please spare a thought for those who have to handle them; and use boxes that are not too large (and therefore too heavy).

If you have any questions, or if you would like to volunteer to help with the book sale at the Bazaar, please contact Izanne Zorin.

Thank you so much!

Your Bazaar Book team

One Day, 15,000 Volunteers, Making Over 7500 Bunk Beds

Be part of an historic event called Bunks Across America (BAA 2021) on June 12, 2021.

BAA 2021 is gathering 15,000 volunteers in 46 states across the country to build beds for children who don’t have beds to sleep in.  This day should stand as a revelation to those who don’t know there is a problem and a beacon of hope to those who don’t know there is a solution. We want as many people as possible to get involved to be a part of the solution.  The Northern Virginia/Washington DC Chapter of BAA 2021 will build 100 beds for kids to be distributed in the coming weeks.

Each recipient child receives a handmade bed, and brand-new bedding – including mattress, comforter, blanket, sheets, and pillow! There are many ways to get involved, from volunteering to donating, but what we need most is for you to spread the word about BAA 2021 and help us make history!

BAA 2021 is an outreach project of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP).  To learn more about SHP go to SHPbeds.org or contact the local president at [email protected].

SHP/BAA 2021 is not an Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) program, but its work will benefit children in Annandale and Northern Virginia.  This information is provided to you on behalf of ACCA and SHP.

Regathering in person? YES!

Based on current public health information showing a decline in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is lifting more restrictions, Bishop Susan Goff informed the clergy throughout the diocese that we are permitted to regather without distance and capacity restrictions to the extent we are ready to do so.

St. Alban’s Regathering Committee has been preparing for this moment and agilely pivoted to address this welcome news. Hopefully you had an opportunity take our “regathering” survey to help the Committee better prepare for restarting worship in person. As Fr. Jeff noted in his email which accompanied the survey invitation, it won’t be exactly like it used to be, but it is a start!

The Regathering Committee, in consultation with the Vestry, created a plan that balances our desire to gather in person with concern for everyone’s safety, including the most vulnerable in our community. Here are some of the details:

  • Start Date: June 13
  • 8:15 am service – in the parish hall (allows for physical distancing)
  • 10:15 am service – in the nave (physical distancing will be recommended)
  • The 10:15 service will be Live-streamed on YouTube
  • Masks – required (except when lectors and intercessors read)
  • Vaccinations – not required

This plan gives you the option to do what you feel most comfortable doing at this point in time:  attend the 8:15 am service where you have the maximum flexibility for physical distancing; attend the 10:15 am service where physical distancing is possible within the fixed pew seating; or watch the service via the church’s new live-streaming technology from the comfort of your home.

More details are being worked out; public health data will continue to be monitored; and adjustments will be made, accordingly.

Many thanks to the Regathering Committee for their hard work in getting us to this point: Charles Becker, lead; Donna Archer, Harry Baisden, Elizabeth Howton, Ivy Kilby, Chris Martin, Margaret Pendley, Moira Skinner, Tom Tycz, Rick Weinberg, and Fr. Paul.

Summer Changes to the Poe Middle School Food Distribution Program

The Poe Middle School Food Distribution Program is now the Braddock Elementary School Distribution Program 

As Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.”  With the coming of June, our Poe Middle School food distribution program is transitioning to work with Braddock Elementary School.  We have recently learned that Poe Middle School will not need assistance during the summer months.  Our contact referred us to Braddock Elementary School (a feeder to Poe MS) as they have lost their usual assistance.  The Outreach Committee felt that support for the Braddock families was in keeping with our plans for the Poe families and therefore could move forward.  We are looking for members who can, once again, help us pack the bags and transport them to the H-Mart parking lot in Annandale for distribution.  Our Sign-Up Genius (link below) has openings for our August distribution date.   Thank you so much!

Sign up link:

Sign Up!