Adult Formation Syllabus: Learning More About Christianity

Adult Formation at Saint James’

Adult formation is learning about the faith and being formed by the triune God through the following:

  1. study of religious sources [Bible, Prayer Book, tradition, etc.]
  2. prayer [contemplation, lectio divina, centering prayer, examen, etc.]
  3. meaningful conversation [honest, open, focused, non-judgmental, shared, helpful, respectful, etc.]
  4. participation in the life of a faith community [learning groups, St. James’, The Episcopal Church, etc.]

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Advent & Christmas Calendar 2017

Sunday, December 10  |  Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols


Tuesday, December 19  |  Saint James’ Elementary School Pageant

— 11:00 AM

Students from Saint James’ Episcopal School will re-enact the nativity of Jesus Christ with costume, song, and prayer. It’s a beautiful program and you shouldn’t miss it! If you can’t make it in person, this event will be streamed live on our YouTube channel

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Photos from Haiti: October 2017

In late October 2017, a small group from Saint James’ visited North-East Haiti. This was not a mission trip; rather, we traveled there to learn about how Saint James’ could be a long-term partner in the work that Haitians are already doing to improve the educational lives of children.

Our goal was twofold.

First, we went learn about primary education in northern, rural Haiti and to connect with Haitians improving the educational opportunities of children there, especially in an Episcopal context. We were able to board for a week at St Barthelemy Episcopal School in Terrier Rouge, where we gained insight into the potential of an Episcopal school in this region and what a transformative impact it can have on a small town.

Second, we went to seek out and connect with an Episcopal primary school in the area, with the goal of providing long-term financial support and establishing a lasting relationship. We found this in St Luc Episcopal Church & School in Trou du Nord.

Because the largest ministry of Saint James’ is our school, and because Haiti is the largest diocese in the American Episcopal Church, it seems a natural fit that we use our material resources and intimate knowledge of the challenges facing an Episcopal school to do what we can to support a similarly-sized school in Haiti, where the effects of quality education can be absolutely transformative to individuals and to a community. 

These are images from our trip.

PHOTOS BY HAITIAN BOYS

“Each of the following photos was taken by a Haitian boy in Terrier Rouge. Three boys took an especially keen interest in my camera: Jeff, Dervilien and Hermetz. All three are students at Ecole St Barthelemy, and each boy is either nine or ten years old. At various points during the week, I was able to hand my camera to them and they took it from there. I think these are the most valuable images from our trip, because they show what Haiti looks like to Haitian children themselves.” -Coy

Daily Life in Terrier Rouge

Though only about 20 miles from Cap-Haïtian, the second-largest city in Haiti, Terrier Rouge is a quintessentially rural town of 10,000-15,000 residents. We got the distinct sense that everyone in the town knows everyone else. Almost no one lives on the outskirts of the town; to live in an isolated house would mean unacceptable isolation from the life of the community. Most structures in town are made with cinderblock and concrete, the ideal building materials in a place where air-conditioning is almost non-existent and where, despite the rarity of any rain at all, flooding is an ever-present risk from those storms that do make it over the mountains.

Ecole St Barthelemy

Ecole St Barthelemy was founded in 2001 as a preschool with just 30 students. Since then, it has grown into a student body of 1,100 students ranging from preschool all the way through the upper secondary-school grades. From the two graduating classes so far, each of the 40 students has gone on to university, an astonishing feat in a country where only 32% of the population has even some secondary-school education, much less university experience. The school is run by Pere Jean Bruno, a retired Episcopal priest. He also chairs the board of Esperance et Vie, a nonprofit which funds the school, a local medical clinic and community improvement projects. Almost all students at St Barthelemy cannot afford the <$100-per-year tuition and attend through scholarships, funding for which stems mostly from donations by individuals and churches in the United States.

Ecole St Luc

St Luc’s school was founded in the early 2000’s in Trou du Nord, a town somewhat larger than Terrier Rouge and about five miles away. Unlike St Barthelemy, St Luc has not had the blessing of such steady funding or a singular driving force like Pere Bruno to push it forward. Ecole St Luc currently enrolls about 250 students from preschool through the first year of secondary school. This number will greatly reduce by the end of the school year; many families cannot afford the tuition for the entire year, and must pull their kids out early. Of its $40,000 yearly budget, about $15,000 has been funded by an Episcopal Church in Maine, though this source of funding will drop to about $5,000 next year. The priest of Eglise St Luc, Pere Sadoni Leon, has put special focus on improving the quality of education at Ecole St Luc in the two years since he arrived in Trou du Nord. All new teachers graduated at least from secondary school in Cap-Haïtian, where the quality of education is generally much higher than in towns further east.

Eglise St Luc

On Sunday morning, we attended church at Eglise St Luc, the Episcopal church that runs the school. Pere Sadoni invited Fr Ben to give the sermon. Although the service is in Haitian Kreyòl, the primary spoken language in the country, the order of the service is almost identical to an Episcopal service conducted in English – a testament to the multilingual reach of the Book of Common Prayer. There were some marked differences from a typical American Episcopal service; drums formed a musical backdrop for many of the prayers and liturgies. The Prayers of the People, especially, were a vibrant expression of reverence and fervor. While only 20-30 parishioners attended on this particular morning because of some confusion about the time of the service, Pere Sadoni says about 70 people count themselves members of St Luc, most of whom attend every Sunday.

 

Thanksgiving and the Parable of the Talents

It’s not about the money; it’s about our relationship with God”

On Sunday, I preached on the Parable of the Talents, which is about our relationship with God. At some point during the Thanksgiving holiday, I invite you to reflect on the following three points of that relationship:

  1. Receive with joy and gratitude the gifts God gives you.
  2. Use them enthusiastically in service of others and all of God’s Creation.
  3. Treasure and trust your relationship with God; let God love you, lead and guide you.

-Fr Randolph

Notes on Chapter 13: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter THirteen, “Francis: A Natural Spiritual Genius”

Quote from page 191, 204

If your only goal is to love, there is no such thing as failure. Francis succeeded in living in this single-hearted way and thus turned all failure on its head, and even made failure into success. This intense eagerness to love made his whole life an astonishing victory for the human and divine spirit, and showed how they can work so beautifully together. That eagerness to love is the core and foundation of his spiritual genius….

Love is not love until you stop expecting something back. The moment you want something in return for your giving, all love is weakened and prostituted. This is the nature of the divine energy that transforms; it is inherently contagious, and it is holiness itself. This is Francis and Clare.

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(Brief!) Adult Formation Survey

Looking ahead to Epiphany and Lent (January 7th through March 24th, 2018), the Adult Formation Ministry Team wants to have your input on what kinds of learning groups would best suit your situation and schedule.

We have been using learning groups at Saint James’ as a way to provide a structured and supportive environment in which meaningful conversations about our faith can take place.

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Notes on Chapter 10: Learning More About St Francis And Creation

Eager to loveChapter Ten, “Entering the World of Another: Francis and the Sultan of Egypt

Quote from page 153

The connection that Francis makes with “the enemy” in his lifetime might end up being his most powerful statement to the world about putting together in inner life with the outer, and all of its social, political, and ethnic implications. He also offers an invitation to – and an example for – the kind of interfaith dialogue that provides a much-needed “crossing of the borders” so we can understand other people at even basic levels. Like few other incidents in his life, Francis’s meeting with the Sultan of Egypt took him far beyond the usual saccharine portrayals of him. Francis’s kind of border crossing is urgently needed in our own time, when many of the exact same Christian-Muslim issues are at play all over again.

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Photos of Haiti, by Haitians

Late last month, a group from Saint James’ spent a week in northern Haiti, mostly in two rural towns.

We went especially to explore the possibility of partnering with an Episcopal school in the area, but the most fulfilling upshot of our trip was that we experienced the love and hospitality of our Episcopalian brothers and sisters, and gained a richer, deeper and more personal understanding of a country so often defined in the minds of foreigners simply by its material poverty.

We will share our experiences on Sunday, December 3rd at 9:00am in the Parish Hall.

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Notes on Chapter 9: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter nine, “The Legacy of Clare: Living the Life at Depth

Quote from page 138-139

Clare’s letters and writings are so consistently upbeat, positive, hopeful, encouraging to others, and lovingly visionary that we can only conclude that she faced her demons down, dove into the negativity that all of us avoid in ourselves and in the world, and came out the other side as clear light or Chiara. Clare allowed herself no place to run or hide, and lived for forty years in one little spot of earth, outside the walls of Assisi, called San Damiano. She was both a master and mistress of letting go of all that was unnecessary or unimportant. She went inside instead of outside, and subsequently discovered the outside  to be a perfect mirror for the grace she had already found within – and vice versa. Clare went deep instead of far, low instead of high – and thus redefined both high and low. Breaking all records, the formal process for her canonization began only two months after she died.

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Ministry of the Month: Learning Starts Early + Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5k

NOVEMBER 2017 MINISTRY OF THE MONTH

On Saturday, November 18, the third-annual Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5k & Kids’ Fun Run will wind through the streets of Old Town Warrenton. You can register for the race here.

While the event is an absolute blast, complete with a turkey mascot on a bicycle, it also serves a much more profound purpose: funding efforts to increase access to preschool in Fauquier County through a Saint James’ initiative called Learning Starts Early.

Learning Starts Early (LSE) is an outreach ministry with a simple vision: that each child is a beloved child of God, and that each child should enter kindergarten ready to thrive and grow academically, socially and emotionally.

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Notes on Chapter 6: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter Six, “An Alternative Orthodoxy: Paying Attention to Different Things

Quote from page 81-82

One of the earliest accounts of Francis, the “Legend of Perugia,” quotes Francis as telling the first friars   “You only know as much as you do.” His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was foundational and revolutionary for its time and at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). For Francis and Clare, Jesus became someone to actually imitate and not just to worship.

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Worship Notes: Praying Shapes Believing

by randolph charles

The way we pray shapes the way we believe is a core principle in Anglican worship. That’s why it’s so important to be intentional about our liturgical prayer. Is what we say and do in corporate worship encouraging our spiritual growth? Is it both challenging and nurturing us as disciples of Jesus? Is it building us up as a faith community and preparing us to be sent into the world to do God’s ministry? Let’s talk about it.

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2017 Pledged Giving FAQ

Why Pledge?

Pledging…

  • commits us to building God’s kingdom on earth through the mission and ministry of Saint James’
  • allows the vestry to budget responsibly
  • helps determine our priorities in life when we first pledge a proportion of our income to the Church and then create our household budget
  • can be an act of sacrificial love

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2017 Stewardship Letter from the Senior Warden

Dear Saint James’ family,

As your senior and junior wardens, we are writing this year’s annual pledge campaign letter. Newcomers and visitors reinforce what we all feel when they observe that we are a church that radiates meaning, purpose and vitality. The vestry bears the responsibility for the finances of the church, and as their officers, we can state with confidence that our budget is designed to support what makes Saint James’ exceptional.

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Ministry of the Month: Saint James’ Firewood Ministry

October 2017

“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” – Romans 12:13

Fauquier County is one of the materially wealthiest places in the United States. But that’s not true for everyone who lives here.

Roughly 4,000 people in Fauquier live below the poverty level. And in an area where land prices are high and affordable housing scarce, even more people struggle to make ends meet and to afford those basic needs like decent housing and heat during the winter.

Colin Borgstrom, who heads up the Saint James’ Wood Ministry, emphasizes that the need is everywhere, not just in areas of the county that have been especially left behind in economic development.

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2017 Stewardship Letter from the Rector

Dear Saint James’ Family,

As a child, a significant rite of passage during our summers in Vermont, was that leap from the top rock of the cliffs above Lake Champlain. We would prepare for that harrowing moment by years of jumping from the various lower outcroppings. As thrilling as any of the lower jumps might have been, there was nothing quite like that moment when through deep breaths and wobbly knees, we gathered up just enough will, courage, and encouragement to raise our front foot off the rock, close our eyes, kick off with that back foot and just fly through the air. At that moment the fear meets exhilaration and pride and then after what seems like an eternity, our feet would break the water’s surface and the coolness of the lake would consume us.

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Notes on Chapter 5: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter five, “Contemplation: A Different Way of Knowing

Quote from page 61-62

I believe the very foundation of what we mean by holiness or, in this case, mysticism, is that [Francis and Clare] knew and loved from a different source; they knew by participation in a Larger Knowing that many of us call God. Or, as Paul says, “They knew as fully as they were known” ( 1 Corinthians 13:12)

This kind of shared knowing, which is nothing but full consciousness is what many of us mean by contemplation. True contemplatives surrender some of their own ego boundaries and identity so that God can see through them, with them, and in them – with a larger pair of eyes. It is quite simply a higher level of seeing, and, if you do not like the religious language, you can just call it consciousness, or deep consciousness. But you still have to let go of your small, egoic self to get there (John 12:24). “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Conversation Question

  • What could you let go of and how could you let go in order for you to experience a closer union with God?

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Trip to Haiti & How You Can Help!

Vitamins and Medications needed

As Fr. Ben preached on Sunday, a team of eight, including six members of Saint James’ Episcopal Church and School (Lee and Terry Owsley, Marianne Lynch, Cammie Fuller, Coy Ferrell, and Fr. Ben), are heading to Terrier Rouge, Haiti from Monday October, 23rd – Sunday, October 29th. They’ll be staying at Saint Barthélémy Episcopal School, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.

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Notes on Chapter 4: Learning More about St Francis and Creation

Eager to loveChapter four, “Home Base: Nature and the Road”

Quote from page 47

Creation itself – not ritual or spaces constructed by human hands – was Francis’s primary cathedral, which then drove him back into the needs of the city, very similar to Jesus’s own movement between desert solitude and small-town healing ministry. The Gospel transforms us by putting us in touch with that which is much more constant and satisfying, literally the “ground of our being,” and has much more “reality” to it, rather than theological concepts or the mere ritualization of reality. Daily cosmic events in the sky and or the earth are the Reality above our heads and beneath our feet every minute of our lives: a continuous sacrament.

Conversation Question

  • How might the cathedral of God’s Creation be an environment in which you can be transformed by the Gospel?

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