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.

 

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.

Continue reading “Photos of Haiti, by Haitians”

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.

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

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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Church/School Expansion Update: September 2017

When will we break ground?

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.

Continue reading “Church/School Expansion Update: September 2017”

Parish Meeting on July 23, 2017

Hopefully one last parish meeting before we break ground on the expansion building project!

As we file all of the necessary paperwork for us to break ground in early September we need a more specific resolution regarding our financing and collateralizing of our endowment and rectory as conditions of our loan.

Come to church on Sunday July 23rd and cast your vote! We will open the meeting right after the 8am service and will keep the meeting open until after the 10:15 service and ballots can be cast at any time during that window. Please make sure to make it to church that Sunday as this is an important requirement.

CONNECTED Capital Campaign: Frequently-Asked Questions

What does “Pledge Day – April 2, 2017” mean?

  • “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.

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SJES Family Fun Night @ The WARF

Friday, March 31 | 5:00 – 8:00 pm

Join us at the WARF for a family fun night of swimming benefiting the SJPA!

Pizza, snacks and drinks will be sold onsite for $1.

ALL children must be supervised (6 and under must have a swimming adult) and attendees must comply with WARF rules listed on the the back of the form below.

When signing up, please keep in mind:

  • Children 2 years and younger are free and do not need a wristband.
  • Children under the age of 6 must have a swimming adult with them in the water. The swimming adult needs a wristband.

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CONNECTED Capital Campaign: What Makes SJES Unique

Our church and our school are truly CONNECTED.

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.

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By The Numbers: Saint James’ Church & School

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

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

898 adults and children call Saint James’ their home today

Continue reading “By The Numbers: Saint James’ Church & School”

CONNECTED Capital Campaign: Spotlight on our Endowment

We are CONNECTED in our future.

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.

The CONNECTED Capital Campaign shines a SPOTLIGHT ON OUR ENDOWMENT:

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.

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CONNECTED Capital Campaign: Music

We are CONNECTED by music.

February 19, 2017

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.

Members of the Saint James’ Youth Chorale rehearse in the music room before a performance in February 2016.

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.

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CONNECTED Capital Campaign | February 12, 2017

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!

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CONNECTED Capital Campaign Update

Project update

The new architecture firm, Kerns Group Architects, is swiftly refining our drawings and integrating their new ideas into the project. We have been very impressed with their careful listening and quick turn around. I think a few of the most impressive changes include the addition of a distinct school entrance and a richer incorporation of our existing architectural details, most notably highlighting the ascension window and pitch of the church, and a more cost effective and accessible location for the elevator to serve both church and school.   We continue to grow more excited with each revision and cannot wait to share the final schematics with all of you later this fall.

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Saint James’ Softball Cup is Tuesday, August 9!

Thank you to those who came out last week to play against the Fauquier Community Child Care team.  We won 18-1 in seven innings, which allowed us extra time at Fosters afterwards!

All of the past weeks have been leading up to this week’s game versus the Saint James’ Episcopal School parents, teachers, and alumni!  We hear through the grapevine that the school team is getting packed with players, so we need our best out on the field this Tuesday.

I have already heard from a few of you who have confirmed for this week – if you haven’t contacted Debbi or me, please reach out to us via email, cell, or text so we can get a proper headcount.

Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to pack the stands and cheer us on – this game will be EPIC!

Continue reading “Saint James’ Softball Cup is Tuesday, August 9!”

SJES Bookfair | April 10-17

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Saint James’ Episcopal School has once again partnered with Bookworm Central to offer quality books of all genres for all ages so please stop by and check it out the week of April 10-17!

It wouldn’t be the book fair without some organized fun!  Join us for these book fair activities!

1)  Puppeteer Beth La Londe will read a story from 9:45-10:00am and 10:15-10:30am on Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13.  Feel free to attend even if you aren’t at school; siblings welcome!

2)  Come to the book fair in your PJs on Friday, April 15, from 5pm – 7pm as we hang out and read books and build, build, build:

  • Build your very own book nook. We’ll provide the boxes and crayons! We’ll also have bean bag chairs and pillows to build your own cozy reading spot!
  • Build your character by wearing your jammies in public!  =)
  • Build your vocabulary, memory, and imagination by reading!
  • Build up your relationship with family members and friends by bringing them all to family night!
  • Build a love for reading!

Stock up on books for summer reading,  buy your favorite teacher a book for their classroom, and support the SJES “Building New Worlds” Book Fair!

Thanks!

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 john@saintjameswarrenton.org.