Help Needed for Firewood Ministry on Saturday, April 14

Join us this Saturday from 9-11a at the Wood Collection Site in Warrenton for a split/stack event. The weather looks wonderful for an hour or two of outdoor work!

Specific needs for this Saturday:

  1. Teams of 2-3 for each of 3 gas-powered log splitters onsite to split wood (no experience necessary)
  2. Numerous volunteers to sort and stack the split wood onto pallets throughout the site
  3. Volunteers with chainsaws to cut down logs to a size that can be further split

Make it a family event – there’s a job for everyone, no matter your experience level. We even have work in the community garden onsite for little ones.

Continue reading “Help Needed for Firewood Ministry on Saturday, April 14”

Lenten Family Nights & Other Programs in Lent 2018

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (BCP p. 265)

Saint James’ Warrenton is offering three activities during Lent 2018 to support your spiritual journey in this season of reflection, and you’re invited!

Lenten Family Nights

The adult formation and family ministries leaders have planned a program of Lenten Family Nights for the people of Saint James’. It will be held on the first four Sunday evenings in Lent: February 18, February 25, March 4, March 11.

Whether it’s just you or you have a whole family in tow, you’re invited to this new program that will deepen our relationships with each other and our faith.

  • 6:00 Supper
  • 6:45 Worship
  • 7:00 Program: Adults, High School, Middle School, Childcare
  • 8:00 Good Night

We will begin with everyone gathering for a shared meal at 6:00. Click here to sign up to bring part of the meal. Then we will worship 6:45 with an informal evening liturgy. At 7:00, the High School and Middle School Youth Groups will follow their usual program on the scheduled Sundays. Childcare will be available for all four nights.

The program for adults is based on Brian McLaren‘s new book, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking A Better Way to Be Christian. We will begin with a 15-minute video of Brian speaking and talking with others about the basic points of the book. There is no reading or preparation needed for this program; just come and participate. There will be a facilitator at each table to guide the conversations. We will end the night with a brief gathering and sending forth.

The following is a description of the program we are using, which is called Way of Life.

“Participants learn how shifting away from an outdated system of beliefs to a new way of life based on love can lead to new, more redemptive communities and practices. McLaren challenges participants to focus less on doctrine, more on new ways of reading Scripture, and ultimately on love as manifested in the life of Jesus.”

Adult Formation Learning Groups

Learning groups meet in the reception room every Sunday at 9:15am and 11:45am and on Tuesdays at 10:30am.

These are meaningful conversations about having and living an honest and passionate faith in God.

Currently, we are focusing on the book The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith by Marcus Borg.

To see the syllabus of this learning group, click here. And to see the latest news about adult formation, including discussion questions for each chapter, click here.

Self-Guided Devotion

The book Saint James’ is offering for a self-guided journey through Lent is Ashes and the Phoenix: Meditations for the Season of Lentwhich is published by Forward Movement.

“Threaded throughout with the stunningly visual and visceral poems of Len Freeman and guided by the collects for Lent and Holy Week, Ashes and the Phoenix seeks to lead us through the emotions, symbols, sights, sounds, and scents of Lent. Featuring original woodcuts by artist Jason Sierra, this book is a feast for hungry hearts and weary eyes. If you are seeking a way to answer the Church’s invitation to observe a holy Lent, Ashes and the Phoenix is an excellent companion for your journey to Easter.”

Books available at the rear of the church for $5.00.

Directory Photos: Help Us Connect!

The Stewardship Committee’s motto is “Forming Relationships, Making Connections, Offering our Gifts.” And it all starts with knowing each other!  Please respond with your photograph and directory information so we can build community. Thanks, The Membership Team. 

And we would like two things from every household:


If you already have a photograph in the directory, and you want a new one, OR if you’ve never submitted one, you now have 2 options:

  1. Click here to sign up for a “photo shoot” with Coy between the two Sunday-morning services on October 1, 8, 15, or 22.
  2. Already have a photo you’d like to use? Send a new photo in an email to Nancy at 

Continue reading “Directory Photos: Help Us Connect!”

Gingerbread House Making & Spaghetti Dinner on December 7


Join us for this annual event of family fun!

The cost will be $10 per gingerbread house, and $5 per person for dinner (no more than $20 per family for dinner).

Let us know how many houses your family will need so we can be sure to have it available for you.

Fill out the form below to sign up; there is also a sign-up sheet outside the parish hall.

Continue reading “Gingerbread House Making & Spaghetti Dinner on December 7”

A Note from John Knouse

Dear Friends,

I must begin by telling you, facetiously of course, a piece of my upbringing.

As many of you already know it was in a very rural area of Central Pennsylvania, and because of such, I’ve come to loathe the “legendary fur-ball” of Gobbler’s Knob; Punxsutawney Phil. It is this year however, with his measly 39% accuracy rating engraved in the back of my mind that I am hoping, more than ever, that he is right and an early spring is on the horizon.

This is not necessarily because spring is my favorite season, which is just so happens to be, but more so because all we have on the horizon here at Saint James’ in the next several months, including the spring season.

We will soon gather to celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Savior, and in doing so will be moving ever so quickly toward the new season, the bloom of daffodils and the smell of fresh cut grass. That’s when our opportunities to be involved in various events and activities expands enormously.

Focusing first for a moment on the new: we are very blessed and excited to welcome Mrs. April Walker to the staff at Saint James’ as our Assistant to the Director of Family Ministries. April will be assisting me, on a part-time basis, with various Christian Education and Family Ministry opportunities. When you see her on Sundays, please take a moment to welcome her aboard!

Then as we move deeper into spring and toward early summer, the children, youth and adults of the parish will have wonderful opportunities to visit my absolute favorite place in The Diocese of Virginia – outside of Saint James’ of course – Shrine Mont. Please see the dates and brief info below, feel free to call or email me with any questions, and contact us to sign up today. Registration forms for youth events at Shrine Mont are available here.

SJEC kids play at the swimming pool at Shrine Mont during 2015 Parish Retreat.

Continue reading “A Note from John Knouse”

Humans of Saint James’ | John Knouse

John at his home in Front Royal. The quilt behind him was given to him and his wife Amanda as a wedding present, and was signed by the guests at their wedding.

You may have heard of “Humans of New York,” a photoblog by photographer Brandon Stanton which has let us glimpse into the stories of ordinary New Yorkers.

At Saint James’, we believe that community is one of the most important functions of the church, and that by this we help promote and “respect the dignity of every human being” in the words of our baptismal covenant.

And thus follows this first post in our new series: Humans of Saint James’.

While it may not match the scope or sophistication of Stanton’s work, it is no less important – as we hear the stories of fellow parishioners, we are allowed to glimpse another piece of the story of Christ in the world, in Warrenton, in Saint James’, and in each of us.


Our first subject is John Knouse, the new director of Family Ministries at Saint James’. He comes to us from Trinity, Upperville, where he served for three years as families ministries director.

I sat down with John at his home in Front Royal, where he lives with his wife, Amanda, and their two children, Ruth and Caleb. (Amanda has served as rector of Emmanuel, Delaplane since 2012.)

John was born and raised in a Lutheran family in a small town in central Pennsylvania. His story in the Episcopal Church starts with the things he is still so passionate about today: family ministries, summer camp, ecumenicism, and, of course, his wife Amanda.

“I found the Episcopal Church my fourth summer on staff at a Lutheran summer church camp – I met this beautiful woman that was sent as part of an ecumenical program – the Lutheran camp was doing a partnership with the Episcopal Church. We had not-enough kids and a big camp and they had a lot of kids and no camp so we combined the two. I was the program director on the Lutheran side she was the program director on their side, and that’s when I became an Episcopalian.” (John was officially received into the Episcopal Church three years ago by Bishop Ted Gulick)

John is strongly grounded in the belief that the church’s ministry to families is the foundation of much of our mission. I asked him whether he missed the Lutheran Church of his youth, and his answer dealt less with any theological or historical differences between the two traditions than with how the church, no matter the denomination, needs to create a strong moral foundation for families and community.

“I love the similarities [between the Lutheran and Episcopal churches] … but maybe I just miss some of the people from my congregation growing up, the values and the different things … I think values have changed .. maybe i miss the old school values a l ittle bit – the very morally centered kind of religion we used to teach people at home – your morals affect other people and kind of centering your beliefs around that.”

“If we stopped labeling people and start loving people,” he said later, that would remove many of the obstacles in the church’s ministry.

And that’s the story he wants to continue to tell at Saint James.’ He sees his new role at Saint James’ as a continuation of his life’s work: “Just loving on kids, spreading the fact that each person – no matter if you’re eighty years old or eight years old – that you have a value to God … that nobody can tell you that you’re not anything. I hope that I never crush my child’s hopes at some point in [Ruth’s] life – and I’m sure I will, and I’m sure I will with Caleb – but I want to let them … know that you really can be anything that you want to be. And it does start at a young age, but really – if you believe in yourself , if you believe in God, and [so does] the community and especially the church that surrounds you – you really can be anything.”

John is confident in the Episcopal Church’s ability to fulfill this mission. “[The Episcopal Church is] start a great mix because we are a destination church – because we have gathered Roman Catholics, because we have gathered people from the Evangelical church and people from the Lutheran church. because it’s such a great destination church it’s kind of gotten some of the most interesting, well-educated, very emotional and exciting people … that’s a great gift we’ve been given in the Episcopal Church, and moving forward that is something that we can really utilize to grow and to reach out to a very diverse group.”

I asked him what he’s experienced in his short time at Saint James.’ “It’s been great!” he said, “…we have a really interesting, diverse group of people … We’ve have people who’ve had maybe really high-end corporate jobs and we have folks like … Chris Giglio … who’s a huge airline pilot who flies all over the world … and then you have people like … Norma Thatcher who has dedicated 25 years to teaching sunday school at Saint James’, who is absolutely in love with godly play … who tragically lost a child … they have so much to offer our church community through their stories. the fact that we have such an eclectic group of people plays into the whole diversity of the Episcopal Church.”

“I know the school’s hoping to expand and potentially build an addition and grow a little bit which will hopefully – along with expanding the school and growing the school, which will be incredible – will also give [the church] the space back to increase their Sunday school programs and utilize the space that was used by the church [in previous years] …If [in] the next five years, the school was able to expand, the church would be able to expand as well”

“[My time here has been] refreshing to me – I spent three years in a church and I loved my time there, but this has been – in a short period of time I’ve been here – very exciting. There’s a lot going on and I’m just really excited to be a part of it …. Now people are walking up to me and introducing themselves to me on Sunday morning saying ‘I’ve never volunteered’ or ‘I used to volunteer and i want todo it again’ … it’s been really good and I’ve been excited about it”

John can be reached at

Fr. Ben Reflects on the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

(note: this was written before the General Convention vote on changes to the Episcopal canons on marriage)

On Friday, June 26th the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states do not have the legal authority to ban same-sex marriage, thus making it legal in all 50 states.

This decision has been an occasion for incredible joy for many, but certainly not for all. For people I care deeply about this represents the greatest legal victory in their long fight for the recognition and protection of their relationship or potential future relationship. This also is a public acknowledgement that their love and commitment is valid.   For others I also care deeply about this is an erosion of a biblical and moral framework they have worked tirelessly to maintain for themselves and for their children. Not only is there sadness over this particular decision but tremendous anxiety around the potential for continued fissuring of that foundation.

As I reflected on Friday’s ruling, several parishioners flashed before me. I have pastored to a parishioner still reeling from being violently beaten some 40 years ago by his own father upon discovering his son was gay. I have also listened as a man described knowing he was different in a rural Canadian town before he had any word to describe what he was. He attempted taking his own life and described with visible relief moving to a place where he learned he was not alone. Both of these men expressed the hope that young people growing up today do not have to suffer as they did.   I also recall two brave women expecting their second child sitting near the front of the church unsure how their family would be received. Upon later inquiry, they expressed that they did not want to raise their children in a “gay” church but in a place that valued children and ministered effectively to them.

I have also heard from parishioners who describe the frustration of being told they are “the greatest generation” but then are also told that their beliefs, their worldview, their language is wrong. Still others have expressed the difficulty of parenting today and trying to instill clear values and morals when so little seems absolute.   They count on their church to be that anchor, their moral compass, and struggle when the needle wavers. Even our ancient texts seem to be revealing new truths.

My prayers, influenced by so many who have shaped my ministry, have been varied.   I thank God for what I see as the Spirit’s work in expanding the sacred.   I give thanks to those I see stepping out from decades of shame and fear and for those who hopefully will not endure such pain. I pray that all might find a glimpse of God’s abundant and unconditional love in intimate committed relationships.

I pray for those who are deeply hurt by this decision. I pray that the deep conviction girding those individuals will not be unfairly seen as hatred or bigotry, but as fidelity to their understanding of God’s will.

I pray that all will respect the deeply held Episcopal conviction that people of faith do not agree and do not have to agree on this issue. Across religions and denominations people of considerable devotion and scholarship come to different conclusions.   Certainly in The Episcopal Church our greatest minds have faithfully utilized the three-legged stool of scripture, tradition, and reason to arrive at different deeply held convictions.   Therefore, I also pray for guidance.

We do our best to discern God’s will for the world. The Bible helps, but is not always unequivocal.   Certainly scripture contains passages denouncing homosexuality; however, in the pages in which we confer the greatest authority, Jesus makes no mention of it. In fact, he spends the bulk of his ministry broadening our understanding of who is within the reach of God’s embrace and condemning laws and religious leaders that separate people from the love of God.

I pray that at Saint James’ we commit ourselves to digging deeper, sharing our different perspectives, and fully engaging scripture.    I do not know what the Supreme Court decision means for our parish or how our General Convention will respond, but I am convicted that we are called to walk that journey together. I feel a great pull in my ministry as rector between leading where I sense God nudging me and my commitment to guard the unity of Christ’s church, the Body of Christ in the world.   I also believe there is far more that unites us including the considerable ministry to which the Lord is calling all of us.

The Body is not called to be stagnant, but the Body is weakened when part is left behind or regarded as expendable.   I have found when we all come to the Eucharistictable our faith and understanding grow and we more fully reflect the God who invites us and feeds us unconditionally. Therefore, know that I will exercise my liturgical authority as your rector with considerable care.   From you, I ask that you continue your ministry of radical hospitality and careful listening so that Saint James’ may be a welcome home to those who see with similar eyes and those who stretch you the furthest.

I truly find it a privilege to help parishioners wrestle with these difficult issues and respectfully share our common and divergent beliefs and would gladly discuss this further with you. I also look forward to broader discussions and study groups regarding how our faith and our reading of scripture inform our views on this and many other issues that confront us. Thank you for walking beside me.



New Family Service & Dinner

Fr Ben is offering an informal Family Service and Dinner once a month (on Wednesdays)

Weather permitting, they will be held outside in the playground area. The short services will begin at 5:30pm,
to be followed by dinner at 6:00pm.

Next month-October 9th,our service will be the ”Blessing of the Animals” to be followed by Pizza!

Thank you to all of the people who prepared food for our service on Wednesday. It was delicious!