While we are starting a new program year, much feels like an extension or culmination of where we have already been.
We continue to celebrate our bicentennial year with a service in September taken from the 1789 Prayer Book. Our annual Gala in October will celebrate the light we have been in the town of Warrenton and the exciting and important ministry ahead. And we will celebrate our place among the communion of saints with an All Saint’s organ recital and choral evensong. It has been a rich experience to learn more about our history, the people and the pivotal events, and see our place in God’s still unfolding story.
Additionally, our Learning Starts Early outreach initiative will welcome our first official students to Saint James’ and we are continuing other efforts to ensure kindergarten preparedness including developing partnerships with the public school system, Head Start, neighboring preschools, Community Touch, and others, reading to Head Start students, and organizing our second annual “Gobble, Gobble, Run, or Wobble” 5k and fun run.
Of course, our CONNECTED Capital Campaign, currently in the “silent phase”, will only grow louder as we enter the public phase and share our updated renderings. It is so exciting to realize that we will be preparing to break ground by the end of this program year! Just envision the new flower room, renovated sacristy, ample music area for vocal and bell choirs, additional meeting space, an elevator and ramps so everyone can participate in our ministry and programing, adequate space for our school to thrive, and shiny new accessible bathrooms!
This year will also have us assuming a new role that I believe we are particularly equipped to undertake. We will be welcoming a new seminarian from VTS (Virginia Theological Seminary). We will be tasked with helping him grow in his knowledge and preparedness for parish ministry and provide him the experience and feedback to discern his call to this ministry. A lay committee has already been formed and Jeffrey Stevenson will start on September 11th.
The vast majority of his time at Saint James’ will be on Sunday morning as he will experience liturgical leadership, preaching, organizing and leading adult education, and absorbing the culture, history, and ethos of Saint James’. Jeffrey is a rising middler at VTS (year 2 of 3) and visited Saint James’ (along with several other churches) as he discerned his field education site. During his multiple visits here, he was struck by the energy, the truly intergenerational community, and the clear integration of church and school. He commented that he had not expected to find this much vitality outside the beltway and had rarely witnessed it within.
As a recently married gay man, Jeffrey did ask me about the parish’s receptivity to him. I was honest in saying that our congregation reflected the spectrum of beliefs on this and most social/ political/ theological issues. He expressed that that was precisely what he was looking for in a parish. I added that regardless of individual beliefs, that I was confident he would be warmly received. Please welcome Jeffrey and take a minute to learn more about him.
Finally, on the heels of a fantastic Vacation Bible School, where our church was transformed into a network of caves as our children spelunked in search of the light of the world, we begin another year of formation for all ages.
For adults, we will continue to provide breakfast and rich conversation with the bishop following the Thursday morning service (from 8-9). That group is also forming a book club. Additionally, Lyn will be back (at least a week of each month) to help guide our Tuesday morning women’s group.
Rumor has it that Bonnie Zacherle is sharing her robust artistic talent with others in the community.
Also, Jack Flikeid, Kathy Ellis, and our new seminarian will work together to provide substantial learning opportunities on Sunday mornings. Finally, stay tuned for more on the establishment of an Education For Ministry (EFM) program here at Saint James’ Episcopal Church. Our children will continue to follow the Sunday lectionary with age appropriate lessons in children’s church. Please take the time to read about what your child has learned and utilize the provided questions to keep the formation continuing throughout the week. The dinner table is a great opportunity for this discussion.
Laura Updyke has hit the ground running in preparation for the year to begin. She would LOVE your help. Please consider volunteering to help provide our young people with a firm foundation that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Both our middle and high school youth groups promise to be large, not only in number but in Spirit as well.
All of this and countless other ministries, fellowship opportunities, and events will make this second half of our bicentennial year one for the ages. Please jump in with both feet!