I hope that, despite the “busy-ness” of this time of year, you have found some time and space to prayerfully reflect on the Incarnation, the profound mystery that we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas. I encourage you this Advent to take some time away from the malls and the internet retail sites, in order to give yourself the gift of sacred time spent with God and family.
I did that this week. On Wednesday afternoon I went for a stroll on Old School Square. There I found our beautiful Nativity creche. The creche on Old School Square is a great St. Paul’s tradition. It is a labor of love built by our Brotherhood of St. Andrew. In the midst of all the holiday commercialism, it reminds us that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Next Sunday afternoon at 3pm we will have another opportunity to give ourselves the gift of sacred time spent with God as we celebrate Advent Lessons and Carols. I encourage you to come and to bring a friend. This special service of Word and song is a great way to share the beauty of the Advent season.
This year, we will have several Advent offerings at St. Paul’s that will help us live into our Vision 2020 Parish Strategic Plan’s goal of deepening our spiritual vitality. Sunday, December 3rd, we will make Advent wreaths that will fill our homes with the beauty and aroma of fresh greens as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. If you’d like to purchase an Advent wreath kit, come to the Guild Room after our 10 am Service. You can make your wreath right there and bring it home for Advent!
This Advent we have introduced a few new offerings. One is “Watching with Hope,” a series of weekly Advent meditations offered by our parish clergy. These meditations are being offered in both written and video formats. Another new offering is the Disciple Tree. Like the Angel Tree, the Disciple Tree will have ornaments that you can take. These ornaments will be an invitation to celebrate the Birth of Jesus by giving of your time and talent in prayer for, and service to, others.
Finally, throughout the entire year, we’re offering a new weekly feature we’ve titled “This Is My Story.” Beginning this week with a feature on St. Paul’s parishioners Nick and Judy Fenney, we will hear stories about how people’s lives have been transformed through the grace of God and the ministries of St. Paul’s.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This feast brings the liturgical year to a triumphant conclusion, as we proclaim the Reign of Christ sovereign in our lives. The Resurrection of Christ forever bears witness to the power of love. It is this love, particularly shown to “the least of [his] brothers and sisters,” that is the defining characteristic of the Reign of Christ.
The celebration of the Feast of Christ the King means that the season of Advent, which marks the beginning of the new Church year, is right around the corner! This year, we will have several Advent offerings at St. Paul’s that will help us live into our Vision 2020 Parish Strategic Plan’s goal of deepening our spiritual vitality. Next Saturday, December 2nd, we will welcome Brooks Saunders Wilson who will lead us in an iconography workshop. Be sure to sign up for this inspirational morning! Next Sunday, December 3rd, we will make Advent wreaths that will fill our homes with the beauty and aroma of fresh greens as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.
This Advent we will introduce two new spiritual offerings. One will be a series of weekly Advent meditations offered by our parish clergy. These meditations will be offered in both written and video formats. Rev. Kathleen will begin the series with a reflection on the traditions of the Advent wreath and the Advent calendar. In subsequent weeks, I will offer a reflection on the genealogy of Jesus, Fr. David will reflect on the “O” Antiphons, and Deacon Helen will help us explore Advent through the eyes and hearts of Mary and Joseph.
The other new spiritual offering is the Disciple Tree. Like the Angel Tree, the Disciple Tree will have ornaments that you can take. These ornaments will be an invitation to celebrate the Birth of Jesus by giving of your time and talent in prayer for, and service to, others.
This past week ended on some incredible “high notes.” On Thursday, I had the joy of joining the children, staff, and volunteers of Paul’s Place Afterschool Program for our annual Thanksgiving Feast. On Friday, our Day School children, their families and friends, our faculty members, and our Board members gathered for our annual Thanksgiving program “The 1st Thanksgiving”. What a wonderful way to enter this special time of the year!
This Thursday, many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our tradition at St. Paul’s is to celebrate our Thanksgiving service with St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and Blessed James Holly Haitian Episcopal Mission, our neighbor congregations here in Delray Beach. This year, our Thanksgiving service will take place at St. Matthew’s (404 SW 3rd St.) on Thanksgiving Eve, November 22nd at 7 pm. Dr. Paul Cienniwa, our director of music ministries, will be joined by choir members from all three congregations as they lead us in song.
Speaking of giving thanks, I want to thank the many people of our parish family who worked so hard to make our annual Treasures and Trinkets Flea Market a great success. This annual Fall event helps to fund the many ministries of St. Paul’s. On behalf of our Vestry, church members, and clergy, THANK YOU!
This weekend we honor our veterans. Much like Thanksgiving is certainly not the only day of the year that we give thanks, Veterans Day is not the only day that we honor the selfless service of the men and women who serve, or have served, our country as a member of our Armed Forces. It is, rather, a day that we set aside to draw our collective attention to the sacrifices made by so many people to defend our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
If you see an active duty service person or a veteran today, I encourage you to thank him or her for their service to our country.
Today we welcome a special guest, Pere Phanord, the rector of Bon Samaritan Episcopal Church and School, our partner congregation in Bondeau, Haiti. Our partnership with Pere Phanord and the people of Bondeau began nine years ago through our participation in the South Florida Haiti Project (SFHP), a collaborative outreach effort of several Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of Southeast Florida and elsewhere. On Saturday, Pere Phanord joined hundreds of people at a food packing event at St. Mark’s Palm Beach Gardens. The food packed yesterday will feed hungry children and families in Haiti.
This year, as a parish, we have given $6,000 to the SFHP. Our financial support goes to pay teacher salaries. It’s making a tremendous impact. Recently, the 9th Graders at Bon Samaritan School took a national exam, designed to identify students who will qualify for higher studies. The results were a huge success. 23 out of the 24 Bon Samaritan 9th Graders who took the exam passed! The Ministry of Education in Haiti contacted the leadership of Bon Samaritan School and asked what they were doing to achieve such a high level of success.
Much of the credit goes to several SFHP-funded initiatives. One is a teacher training program, “Teaching by Heart for Haiti.” Under the leadership of Dr. Diane Allerdyce, the teachers at Bon Samaritan are being trained in a curriculum that emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills, as opposed to the more traditional method of rote memorization and repetition. Another initiative is employing a full-time school nurse to raise the overall level of health and wellness of the children. Medical missions, like the one Janet Thompson served last month plan to bring sustainable health care. Still another initiave is a school feeding program that provides critically needed nutrition. With the support of the SFHP, Bon Samaritan has grown from a K-8 school to one that now goes all the way up to the 12th Grade. We are excited about a new adult education initiative that will provide “GED-type” instruction to adults in the community who did not have the benefit of attending school or completing their formal education.
What a blessing to be a part of such a life-giving ministry that connects us with our brothers and sisters in Haiti!
As a parish family, we celebrate the new activities and initiatives of our Vision 2020 Strategic Plan. It is our shared call to take an active role in implementing this vision for our common life over the next three years.
Our Strategic Plan calls for the formation of several new ministries that will help us to build the kingdom of God here in Delray Beach and beyond. As an important first step in forming these ministries, we will offer Spiritual Gifts Workshops. These workshops are designed to help us discern the gifts God has blessed us with for the building up of our lives, our families, and the Body of Christ. I encourage you to participate in a Spiritual Gifts Workshop. You may just hear God’s call in a way you have not yet discovered!
Speaking of God’s call, this year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s publication of the Ninety-Five Theses, considered by many the formal start of the Protestant Reformation. We have a special opportunity to deepen our understanding of this important time in the life of the Church. Two of our church members, Dr. Sandy Norman and Dr. Patty Kollander, both professors of history at FAU, have arranged for a private St. Paul’s tour of The Protestant Reformation Exhibit currently on display at FAU’s Wimberly Library. The tour will be offered next Sunday, October 29th from 12-2pm. I hope you can join us!
This past week, Rev. Kathleen and I joined Bishop Eaton and clergy from across our Diocese of Southeast Florida at our annual Clergy Conference. We engaged in lively discussions about the mission and vision of our diocese, and considered new, emergent patterns of ministry. Our many ministries here at St. Paul’s came to my mind throughout the conference.
When the conversation focused on how we, as the Episcopal Church, can better share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with young adults (something all faith communities consider often), I thought about two of our ministries: our Seekers young adult ministry and our Children, Youth, and Family Ministry.
Our Seekers ministry is one that, as its name implies, welcomes those who are seeking healing, hope, and a deeper sense of purpose in life. Our Seekers are a welcoming community in which we are fed in body, mind, and spirit, and where we feed others. Think of the Last Supper, where after Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles and fed them with the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, he instructed them to go and do the same. And so it happens…last Saturday, four of our Seekers went to Marathon and helped muck out a homeless shelter that was devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Our Children, Youth, and Family Ministry is like a nourishing tree with many branches. Young parents find support as they nurture their children in the love of Jesus. The young adults of tomorrow, our high schoolers and middle schoolers, find a caring community in which to grow and live their faith in God. Our Church Schoolers discover the wonders of God’s love, made manifest in Word and Sacrament. And now, our newly formed Youth Choir!
What a blessing these ministries are for our church family!
I’m happy to share with you that the final, complete version of our Vision 2020 St. Paul’s Strategic Plan is now available! As you may recall, we “rolled out” the Plan in May with discussions after each service. Since then, we have begun the implementation process. The implementation of the Plan is a call that we all share.
You can download the Plan from our website and paper copies will be available upon request in our church office. I encourage you to read the Plan and prayerfully discern the ways that it may be calling you to be involved in our common life.
The Plan created five new committees to serve our common life: (1) Church School and Youth Leadership Team, (2) Adult Christian Formation Committee, (3) Church Ambassadors, (4) Fellowship Committee, and an (5) Interfaith Relations Committee. Each of these new committees has vestry liaisons. We invite you to become a part of one or more of these new committees.
The ultimate measure of our Plan’s success will not be how well it is written or how often it is read, but rather, how well it is put into practice.
“The worth of a Rule lies not so much in what it says in words as in the life lived by it. Not lived, a beautiful Rule is merely a dead letter. Well lived, an imperfect Rule becomes spirit and life.” – Pierre-Marie Delfieux (The Jerusalem Community Rule of Life, Preface xiv, Paulist Press 1985, Mawah, NJ)
I want to thank everyone for your generous response to last week’s Hurricane Irma relief appeal. To date, we have collected $4,622 in cash donations, $675 worth of Home Depot gift cards, and lots of critically needed items. As we continue to collect cash donations (checks may be made out to St. Paul’s Church with “Hurricane Irma relief” on the memo line) to assist those so devastated by the storm in the Keys, we have a new list of needed supplies to collect: adult diapers, phone carrier gift certificates, men’s work gloves, rubber gloves, bug spray, socks, baking soda, plastic storage boxes. We are collecting the donated supplies in the Parish Hall. From this point forward, Deacon Helen, who is leading our hurricane response effort, will be providing all updates and invitations to serve. I’m so grateful for her leadership on this effort!
This weekend, many women throughout our diocese have gathered for Episcopal Women’s Cursillo # 112. Among them are Brandi Bostwick, who is a pilgrim (a participant), and Rev. Kathleen, who is serving as one of the chaplains. Please keep Brandi and Rev. Kathleen in your prayers for a Spirit-filled weekend.
This Sunday is “Choir Appreciation Sunday.” We are blessed with so many gifted and dedicated people who enrich our worship through song. Today, we will commission and bless them in this special ministry of praise.
After our 10am Service, we invite all those who are new to St. Paul’s to join us in the parish hall for our Newcomers Brunch. Irene and I, and members of our Vestry look forward to seeing all our new members and friends at today’s brunch.
After spending the past four months in New England, we welcome back Fr. David Angelica! Next Saturday, October 7th, he will be leading our Annual Pet Blessing.
After a couple of very stressful, and often chaotic, weeks, things seem to be coming back to some semblance of normalcy for us here in south Palm Beach County. As we know, that is not the case with many other communities, including communities in our own diocese.
One area that was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Irma is the Keys. Today, we are collecting some critically needed items that relief workers in Marathon have requested: Home Depot gift cards, batteries, baby wipes, band aids, bug spray, and big garbage bags. You can drop your donated items in the designated boxes located in the parish hall. We will be transporting these donated items down to Marathon on Monday morning. If you could not bring items to donate, but you would still like to help the relief effort, please considering making a financial donation. Checks can be made out to St. Paul’s Church with “Hurricane Irma relief” on the memo line.
Today is “Social Media Sunday” in the Episcopal Church. Social Media Sunday is the day set aside for Christians everywhere to use digital devices intentionally to share their life of faith with the world. Here at St. Paul’s we invite you to take a photo at church and share it on the social media platform of your choice. Inside today’s bulletin you’ll find some social media resources to help you grow in your faith.
To celebrate Social Media Sunday, we are issuing our first ever “check-in challenge”. The person with the most Facebook check-ins to St. Paul’s between now and Treasures and Trinkets gets a free raffle ticket for a Treasures & Trinkets raffle prize! Good luck!!
With the coming of Hurricane Irma this past week, we once again were reminded of how powerful nature can be and of how vulnerable we are. Some of us chose to stay here in south Florida to ride the storm out, some of chose to evacuate to a safer place, and some of us had no choice. Whatever our circumstance, we in south Palm Beach County breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it could have been much worse. At the same time, we feel a deep sadness for those who experienced a deadlier, harsher side of the storm.
At the writing of this bulletin message, first responders are still engaged in rescue efforts to save lives. Utility and communications companies are working to restore service. Relief organizations are in the process of responding with life-sustaining aid. And we, like so many communities of faith, are providing spiritual, emotional, and material support to those in need. If you know of someone whose needs are greater than your capacity to meet, please contact us so that we can try to find available resources.
As we are in the rescue and relief stage of Irma’s aftermath, our most effective response now is prayer and financial support for the relief effort. If you would like to donate to the relief effort, please make your check out to St. Paul’s with a note in the memo section that indicates that it is for “Hurricane Irma Relief”. There are baskets at the church entrance in which you can place your donation. As a parish, we will work with our local and diocesan outreach partners to help those affected by the storm.
As we witness the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has brought to the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are called to respond with generosity and compassion. Any natural disaster like this has three stages: rescue, relief, and recovery. First responders and military personnel have been focused on saving lives and getting people out of harm’s way. At this stage, our best and most appropriate response is prayer: for the dead, the survivors, and the first responders.
The relief stage is generally focused on the giving of cash to help local communities address their emergency survival needs of food, drink, shelter, and critical care. I encourage you to support Episcopal Relief and Development, who has been directing donations to disaster areas for a long time. Your donation is guaranteed to go where it is needed most. To donate to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Hurricane Harvey Response Fund, drop your donation in the designated basket at the church entrance or go online and visit: www.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-harvey-response.
The recovery stage is focused on helping communities to rebuild and become self-sufficient. Over the coming weeks, as impacted communities identify their most pressing recovery needs, we at St. Paul’s will have opportunities to respond. We are exploring the possibility of a mission trip, parish-to-parish partnerships, and other avenues to help in the rebuilding effort.
After each service, we invite you into the parish hall to write a prayer and place it on our Prayer Net. We also invite you to join us in Bush Hall after each service for a caring conversation about the impact of Hurricane Harvey and our response.
Did you know that 22.5% of children in Palm Beach County are food insecure? That means that 60,340 children go to bed hungry in our community. Did you know that 14.7% of all people in our county are food insecure? That means that 199,460 people in our community do not know where they will get their next meal. Of those 199,460 people, 29% do not qualify for food stamps or other federal nutritional programs. That means that 57,843 people in our community often must rely on emergency food assistance programs to meet their basic nutritional needs.
Today we have a wonderful opportunity to make a difference for the hungry in our community. It will be our joy to welcome Gibbie Nauman from CROS Ministries on Sunday morning. CROS Ministries is one of our key partners in ministry that help to provide emergency food assistance and other services to literally thousands of our Palm Beach County neighbors. The food we collect today and sort after the 10am service will go to help CROS Ministries in their mission to provide emergency and short-term food assistance to children and families in need.
As a parish, we have doubled our financial support of CROS Ministries this year. This year we are giving $10,000 to support the good work of CROS Ministries. That means that your pledges and other gifts to St. Paul’s help to feed hungry children and families throughout our community. This is the work of the Gospel!
At a time when white supremacists are still assembling to foment hate and division, when terrorists who have perverted the message of Islam are still perpetrating death and destruction, advocating tolerance seems like a necessary starting place for restoring respect and civility to the public square. But how do we, as dreamers of a better world, help to move things beyond tolerance to a place of unconditional love where we are celebrating our diversity? Our Episcopal tradition invites us to not simply tolerate diversity, but to celebrate the great gift of diverse traditions, ethnicities, languages, customs, cultures, sexualities, and creeds.
As we continue to witness horrific acts of hate, our faith challenges us to respond with a love that cultivates healing and hope. Let’s continue to discern how God is calling us to respond, individually and collectively, and let’s continue to pray for the courage to love in God’s name.
Believe it or not, this Monday, our Day School begins its 54th year of providing quality education in a loving, Christian atmosphere! Please pray for Liz Ryan, our Day School director, and our teachers: Grace Aho, Morgan Miller, and Kathy Yates, as we begin the 2017-18 school year. We have 34 children enrolled this year! Please pray for these 34 children and their families, especially on Monday, as the tears will undoubtedly flow...from both the parents and the children! Also, please keep our Day School Board members, who give so much of themselves to help guide and support our Day School, in your prayers.
Another one of our ministries to children and families, Paul's Place After School program, begins its 17th year on Monday. Please pray for Kathy Fazio, Paul's Place director; Taylor Kilpatrick, assistant director; and Miliene Dallegrand, assistant; and our other Paul's Place staff and volunteers as we begin this new school year. We have 29 children participating in our Paul's Place After School program this year. Please remember these children and their families in your prayers.
Our Church School has many exciting, faith-filled Sunday events planned for the beginning of the new school year. Starting today with the blessing of teachers, backpacks, and our Day School playground, and continuing next Sunday with our "Happy New Year" puppet show, and the CROS Ministries food sorting project on August 27, all leading up to Sunday, September 10, when our Church School will begin. This year we are excited about a Church School curriculum that will be lectionary based. That means that our kindergarten through fifth-grade children will be hearing the same bible stories in Church School that will be proclaimed in Sunday worship. This is a wonderful way for our families to share God's Word, starting from the same place and being steeped in God's love! Please pray for Rev. Kathleen, our Children, Youth, and Family Ministry director; Liz Ryan, our children's faith formation coordinator; Erica Ragnott, our Nursery director; our Church School teachers and volunteers; and all of our Church School children and families, that this new school year will be filled with faith, fun and grace.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This special feast day invites us to embrace anew the divine gift of Jesus Christ, revealed to Peter, James, and John as the Son of God, the Chosen Messiah. Jesus, in his transfigured glory, appears with Moses and Elijah. Moses is revered by the Jewish people as the giver of the law and the one chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Elijah is revered by the Jewish people as the greatest of all of the prophets. In Jesus, the law and the prophets find their fulfillment.
The Transfiguration was a mountainside moment of grace for Peter, James, and John. It was an opportunity for them to glimpse the eternal glory of Jesus. As summer vacation season winds down, I hope that you have had a summer filled with moments of grace. These moments can energize and sustain us as we return to our more regular, school-year routines.
Next weekend, August 12 & 13, will be filled with blessings! We will bless teachers at all of our weekend services. At our 10am service, we will bless our children and their school backpacks. After the 10am service, we will celebrate a special blessing of our new Day School playground. Be sure to check out the schedule of upcoming Children, Youth, and Family Ministry events in the Acts of St. Paul section of this bulletin!
Believe it or not, it is the last weekend of July, which means the new school year starts in two weeks! Our Children, Youth, and Family Advisory Council met this past week and we are excited about the new school year for Church School and Youth Group. In the Acts of St. Paul section of today’s bulletin there is a calendar of upcoming events for children, youth and families. Be sure to plug into all the faith and fun to come!
With the start of the new school year comes the start of our new program year here at St. Paul’s. In addition to lots of great happenings for our children, youth, and families, we will be offering lots of programs for people of all ages. Our 2017-18 Parish Life catalogue will be coming soon. Also, be on the lookout for a fellowship activities survey. This survey, which is an initiative from our Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, will help our Fellowship Committee to plan and schedule fellowship activities of greatest interest to our parish members. We hope most of you will take the survey electronically when it is emailed to you. Paper copies will also be made available.
As summer vacation season winds down, I hope that you are able to spend some quality time with those who you hold close to your heart over these next couple of weeks.
It is wonderful to be back after two weeks of vacation. Irene and I spent a week in southern California helping to move our daughter Ingrid into her new home in Anaheim. We enjoyed many special family moments, and now Irene and I are adjusting to the bittersweet reality of our “nest” no longer including Ingrid. Yangito, our beloved pooch, is now being showered even more with affection from his mama Irene, who always delights in spoiling him!
I hope that you have had, or will have, the chance to take some time for rest and relaxation this summer. Its hard to believe that the new school year begins in three weeks! Here at St. Paul’s, we are busy preparing for the joy and excitement that the new school year brings.
I’m delighted to share with you that we have made a wonderful addition to our children’s faith formation program. Liz Ryan, whose full-time ministry is serving as our Day School director, is now also serving as our Children’s Faith Formation Coordinator. This ministry will include developing and implementing our Church School curriculum for Pre-K through elementary; recruiting, training, and scheduling our Church School teachers; coordinating special events; and helping to lead our VBS program. Liz brings a deep faith, contagious joy, and a wealth of experience in religious education to her new ministry. Most importantly, she loves children and she loves sharing the gift of faith with families. God is good, all the time!
Happy Independence Day! This long four-day weekend, as we celebrate our independence, is a great opportunity to count our blessings as citizens of the United States. We often think of freedom as “freedom from…”, yet the blessings of freedom are perhaps most powerfully exercised in terms of “freedom to...”. In this country, we are free to practice our faith, we are free to actively engage in the political process, we are free to speak our conscience in the public square. In these, and so many other ways, we live out our unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
This past Tuesday, we honored an extraordinary woman in our community, April Hazamy. After serving more than 17 years as the program director at the Caring Kitchen here in Delray Beach, April is retiring. The Caring Kitchen is an interfaith ministry that serves the homeless, individuals and families with low-incomes, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Volunteers (many of whom are members of St. Paul’s) and staff provide breakfast and hot lunches five days a week, evening hot meals four nights a week, meals to the home-bound three days a week, and bagged lunches on the weekend. The Caring Kitchen also provides clothing, eye glasses, toiletries, notary services, bus passes, and a host of other social services. Perhaps the greatest way we can honor the legacy of April, as she retires, is to recommit ourselves to serving others in the name of Christ. Blessed with freedom, we are free to serve!