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.
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.
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.
That is the question asked almost daily from parishioners, school parents, staff, neighbors. The answer is “as soon as we possibly can”! Originally we had hoped to begin at the beginning of September but are now shooting for the end of the month/ beginning of October. We are currently seeking final approval of our site plan, construction drawings, and necessary permitting.
“Pledge Day – April 2, 2017” is the day we will hand out the pledge cards to everyone and also the day we will collect the pledge cards.
Can I take my pledge card home on April 2nd and think about my gift?
Of course you can, but our hope and desire is that all pledge cards will be filled out and handed in on the same day – Pledge Day, April 2, 2017. The weeks leading up to April 2nd will highlight aspects of the capital campaign and allow time for individuals to consider their gift.
Saint James’ Episcopal School’s first fifth grade graduation in May, 2015 was a monumental achievement for our community. What in 2010 had been just a dream had become a reality. This dream made manifest was realized in no small part thanks to the unwavering support of the Church.
Our Church and School continue to remain extremely intentional in their interconnectedness and this is why both entities continue to thrive. As an Episcopal School, we are the Church’s largest, most vibrant, and most closely connected ministry.
As we look ahead with great hope and optimism to Pledge Day, April 2, 2017, it is fitting that we take a moment to look more closely at our largest ministry, largest donor, and continuing success story, Saint James’ Episcopal School. The numbers below leave no doubt that education is a central passion and gift of our parish.
Saint James’ Episcopal Church & School by the Numbers
50 years ago the education wing was built onto our church. At that time there was no school and the parish consisted of 309 members.
898 adults and children call Saint James’ their home today
Two hundred years ago our founding parishioners understood that their dreams could only grow from a church set on a solid foundation of support. Legacy donations to the Saint James’ Endowment serve to keep our beautiful, historic church alive and vital for future generations.
Our relatively new Endowment hopes to become like the older buildings on our campus—sustaining a myriad of ministries and increasing in value over time. And yet often the Endowment goes unnoticed, just as we take our buildings for granted at times– rushing about from the parking lot through the doors, from the nave into the Parish Hall, and from classrooms to the playground. The Endowment funds are invested to provide an annual stream of income to the church, but the principal is never touched.
Corporate worship lies at the heart of Saint James’ spiritual life, and music plays an important role in almost all of the worship services that we offer. It is the mission of Saint James’ music ministry to aid the congregation in offering up praises to God.
As Episcopalians, we have a musical heritage that is one of the world’s richest and most deeply spiritual. For over 500 years, Anglican church music has sought to tell the Christian faith with authenticity and truth. Our music is an extremely diverse and multi-layered art form that celebrates and encompasses many different traditions. You might be interested, when singing hymns, to read the small print below each one and note the many and varied sources of the poetry and the music.
Our beautiful, historic, welcoming church will be made even more hospitable with the addition of new handicap parking spaces in the parking lot, permanent ramps, a lift for Parish Hall access, a centrally-located elevator in the new building, and ADA-certified bathroom facilities.
Father Ben shared this remembrance which highlights just one example of how needed and how welcome the planned accessibility upgrades will be:
“The Director of Christian Education from my previous church in Louisville came to church one Sunday. Lauralee wanted to show Ms. Martha her classroom so she led her down the stairs. Ms. Martha has some mobility issues and I forgot how much she had depended upon the elevator in Louisville. As I watched her slowly go down each step backwards, clinging to the rail, and wincing the entire way, I realized that the most formative person in my children’s faith development would hardly be able to teach Sunday school at Saint James’ much less serve as Director of Christian Formation. It was a profound recognition of the need and the fact that it is not just those confined to wheelchairs whose ministries are limited by our space.”
Our exciting renovation plans will open up our spaces to everyone who wants to share in them!
Our goal for 2017, the beginning of our third century of ministry in Warrenton, is 170 pledging households. Please prayerfully consider what amount you can pledge to God’s work in our community. Everybody should have received a pledge packet last Sunday or in the mail this week. If not, please contact Nancy in the office and she will mail one to you. Thanks to those of you who have already dropped off or mailed in your pledge.
I asked this question on my first Sunday at Saint James’ four years ago this winter. I talked about asking my daughter that question half way through a rather rigorous hike, I encouraged you to consider all the ways that Jesus asked his followers that same question, and whether God might be asking the people of Saint James’ Episcopal Church the same question.
Years later I am ever more convinced both of God’s call to us and our resounding answer, “ADVENTURE!!!”. Here is the rub. Adventure is not easy. Jesus certainly never said it would be.
One of my favorite prayers, attributed to 16th century explorer, Sir Francis Drake, asks the same question of us. Have we arrived safely because we sailed too close to shore… (have we) fallen in love with life and ceased to dream of eternity?
Community Touch, an organization based in Bealeton, is holding its 6th Annual “Holes for the Homeless” golf tournament on May 2 at Fauquier Springs Country Club. Their goal is the raise money to help them provide beds, food and clothes for homeless people in Fauquier County, and to provide tutoring for at-risk kids and life skills for their parents through their Victory Transitional Housing program.
VTH is a one year program that offers transitional housing to homeless men, women and children with a broad range of needs. The program helps individuals achieve and sustain a higher quality of life through resources, and various training opportunities. Residents pay off debt, save money and clean up credit while living in the program. Community Touch also operates Clara’s Food Pantry, which feeds the hungry, and Noah’s Ark Outreach, which distributes free furniture and clothing to the less fortunate in our community.
Plan for a movie, play, concert, museum or sporting event with dinner, ice cream or snacks. The child has your complete and undivided attention.
Winter weekend get-away for the whole family
Access to a heated pool at your motel/hotel would be a treat in itself. For children who love splashing around in the water, winter swimming is awesome. The pool doesn’t need to have Olympic dimensions. Any size will do.
A subscription to a magazine expands a child’s horizons every month.
Start a new tradition in which family members write individual notes of appreciation to everyone in the family. These messages are affirming, honor shared feelings, and strengthen family ties.
Donate to a charity in the name of a loved one or organize an alternative gift fair to support local and international charities. Because this may be a departure from your traditional gift exchange with family and friends, you might tell them gently that you prefer their supporting a charity instead of buying gifts for you.
Give the gift of time.Create a gift certificate that offers babysitting, a lunch date with a friend or relative, a home-cooked meal, or whatever you wish to share.
Give something that you madesuch as baked goods, spiced pecans, baking mix in a jar, birdseed wreath, or Tried & True Hand Cream
Select fair trade productsfor the coffee, tea, and chocolate lovers on your list.
These bags come in many sizes. Folded up, they are tiny when not in use. (So easy to carry!) They make terrific gifts.
Here are other actions that are sure to spread good cheer. They certainly did in my life during the past year! As the recipient of every one of these thoughtful gestures, I am thankful to both friends and strangers…..
Pay the bill for strangers at the table across the room. When the waitress told us that our bill had been paid by someone we didn’t know who had already left the restaurant, we were astonished. That initial act of generosity sparked us to do the same for other strangers in that room – and perhaps they did so as well. Never underestimate the impact of one random act of kindness!
Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen or talked with in a long time. The blessing of reconnecting is priceless!
Give away a really good book that you enjoyed to someone with similar reading tastes. You may even think of more favorite “treasures” to share with others.
Give narcissus bulbs (also called paper whites)that grow in water on a bed of stones or gravel. The fragrant blooms warm both the heart and soul when cold weather seems endless.
Host a potluck or a wine tasting to bring people together. Invite everyone to contribute food and/or wine.