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!
Congratulations to us! This past week, Delray Beach was selected for the prestigious “All-America City” award by the National Civic League. This is the third year (previously 1993 and 2001) that our city has received this distinction! This follows being named a “Pacesetter Community” by the nationally distinguished Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
St. Paul’s has encouraged the Campaign for Grade Level Reading since its inception -supporting Janet Meeks, the City of Delray Beach Education Coordinator (and St. Paul’s member) by hosting meetings and the initial gathering of Delray early childhood providers. Each November, St. Paul’s volunteers are dispatched on Delray Reads Day – into elementary school classrooms all across town. This commitment to children is right in line with the 53 years of St. Paul’s Day School preparing preschoolers for a life time of kindness and learning. And, in line with our St. Paul’s commitment to literacy as evidenced by the creation of Paul’s Place in 2001 as a response to the dismal literacy rates in our neighborhood. And, in line with the actions of parish members like Nancy Hurd (with Phyllis Hammett, Jean Wilmer, Phyllis Carey) who founded the Achievement Center for Children and Families almost 50 years ago! And, in line with the actions of St. Paul’s as a founding member of Family Promise of South Palm Beach County.
This year our Vacation Bible School outreach project was VBS Reads and we have raised 66 books from the Banyan Creek Elementary School reading list to give to the children as a gift – thanks to the generosity of the VBS families and our congregation!
God’s call to us: Children. Literacy. That’s good stewardship.
Today, we honor and celebrate the men in our lives who have nurtured and nourished us. At our services this weekend, we will ask God’s blessing on the special men of our parish and we will prayerfully remember those dads who have gone on to the larger life of heaven. After each service, our Children, Youth, and Family Ministry will be distributing lolli- “pops for pops!”
Celebrating Father’s Day reminds us that it is summertime. This wonderful season encourages us to slow the rhythm of our lives, taking time for extra rest and relaxation from the busy-ness of life. Here at St. Paul’s, we have entered fully into the unique rhythm of summertime parish life. The first full week of June we were buzzing with activity. With 66 campers and 54 volunteers, our campus was bursting with the sights and sounds of Vacation Bible School fun as we all discovered the joy of God’s gifts.
This past week, our Paul’s Place middle school children began their summer enrichment program. This summer, eight children are participating in this special program. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, they receive instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, technology, and other academic disciplines. They have lunch together, enjoy playtime, watch an occasional movie, and have supervised free time. Every Thursday, they go on a field trip. This wonderful program is offered free of charge, thanks to our generous donors, dedicated volunteers, and hard-working staff.
Although the rhythm of our parish life slows a bit, with clergy and staff taking much needed vacation time, there will still be a lot happening this summer at St. Paul’s.
Today, we have many reasons to celebrate! We join the Church throughout the world in celebrating Trinity Sunday. This foundational doctrine of the Christian faith, one God in three persons, reminds us that we worship and walk with a God who is constantly creating, redeeming, and sanctifying us.
We also continue to celebrate the arrival of Dr. Paul Cienniwa, our Director of Music Ministries. Today, Sunday, June 11th, Dr. Paul will play his debut concert, “French Sweets” played on the harpsichord, as the June concert in our Music at St. Paul’s concert series. We encourage you to invite your family and friends to this free concert. We will have a welcome reception for Dr. Paul after the concert.
At our 10 am Sunday service we are also celebrating Vacation Bible School (VBS) Sunday! This year our theme was “Passport to Peru: Discovering God’s Gifts”. Both the children and volunteers had lots of fun discovering God’s many gifts in our lives. I want to particularly thank Rev. Kathleen, Isabel Hernandez, and their team of dedicated volunteers for all that they did to make this year’s VBS a delightful experience for our children and their families! As they say in Peru, “GRACIAS!”
Today, as we observe Memorial Day weekend, we prayerfully remember the women and men who died in service to our country. As we were painfully reminded once again this week with the dreadful bombing in Manchester, England, we live in a world in which far too many people turn to violence and terror as a means of imposing their own personal worldview on the global community. Memorial Day is a sacred time that invites us to honor those people who, rather than being motivated by self-centered objectives, selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice to make our world a more just and peaceful place. May God bless them with the joy of eternal life, and may God bless us by giving us the grace to honor their sacrifice by recommitting ourselves to being doers of justice and makers of peace.
As we get ready to welcome Dr. Paul Cienniwa, our new Director of Music Ministries, next weekend, I want to thank those people who have worked so hard during this interim period of our music ministry. On behalf of our entire parish family, we thank Mary Catherine Salo, Erin Paiva, Brad Keller, Anita Smith, Allen Webber, Brigitte Kumpf, and Marie Ridolfo. We also thank all our musicians, choir members, and Music Guild, who have “gone above and beyond” over these past three months and blessed us with their musical and vocal talents. “Well done good and faithful servants”! [Matthew 25:21]
This weekend the secular calendar moves from March to April. For sports fans like me, that means its time to enjoy the thrill of the college basketball finals and the excitement of baseball’s Opening Day!
Meanwhile, our Church calendar welcomes us into the Fifth Sunday of Lent. As we continue our journey of Lent, we see Holy Week and Easter Sunday ever-closer on the horizon! Through worship, study, service and fellowship, we are renewing our repentance and faith, as we prepare to renew our Baptismal Covenant at Easter.
On Monday evening, we will have a special opportunity to renew our faith as Dr. Patricia “Patty” Kollander shares with us the inspiring story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian who spoke out courageously against Hitler and Nazism, something for which he was martyred in the Flossenburg concentration camp.
On Wednesday morning, we will have another opportunity to renew our faith through worship and fellowship as we welcome The Rev. Rich Barbour, Associate Pastor of Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton and current president of the board for Family Promise, as our guest preacher for an ecumenical prayer service. This special Lenten ecumenical prayer service will start at 11 am and will be followed by lunch at 11:30 am. Lunch is $10, dine in or take out, and all proceeds will support the good work of C.R.O.S. Ministries, which feeds the hungry here in Palm Beach County.
As we look ahead to Holy Week, I remind you that next weekend (April 8 & 9) we observe Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion. Our 10 am service next Sunday will begin in the courtyard and include the Liturgy of the Palms and procession into church. Our Church School children will sing a gathering hymn in the courtyard and our Choir will lead us in singing the processional anthem into church.
Today we bid a grateful farewell to Dr. Keith Paulson-Thorp, who has served as our Director of Music Ministry for more than 10 years. As Keith enters into his well-deserved retirement, our prayers and best wishes go with him and Marshall. We will have two festive farewells for Keith this weekend, one after our Saturday 5pm Illuminated Worship and the other after our 10 am service. We hope you will be able to join us as we celebrate the gift of Keith’s ministry among us!
Thanks to our talented and resourceful choir members, I’m happy to say that we will have superb musicians serve our musical needs in the interim period, as we await the arrival of Dr. Paul Cienniwa on June 1st.
Speaking of arrivals…we begin the season of Lent this Wednesday, March 1! On February 28, our Brotherhood of St. Andrew will prepare a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and on Ash Wednesday we will celebrate the Holy Eucharistic with Imposition of Ashes at 7 am, 12 noon, and 7 pm. Our 12 noon Ash Wednesday service will be a combined service with our Delray Episcopal neighbors, St. Matthew’s and Blessed James Holly Mission. At that service, Fr. Mike Cassell, the retired rector of St. Joseph’s in Boynton Beach, will be our guest preacher. A simple soup lunch for $10 will follow the service. The 7 pm service will feature our choir.
Finally, last, but certainly not least, I know that I speak on behalf of our entire congregation when I say THANKS to the many people who gave of their time, talent, and treasure to support our 8th Annual Sale: Furnishings, Fashion, & Flowers. Our co-chairs Kathleen Megan, Judy Fenney, and Adele Harrell, their team of volunteers, and our office staff helped to make this, once again, an incredible event!
This Third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday to rejoice. As you contemplate the various causes for rejoicing in your own life, one that we share in common is the infinite love our Creator has for each one of us, a love that overflows with grace and mercy. By God’s grace, we have been drawn into a life-giving relationship not only with our Maker, but also with each other. Through our sharing in God’s mercy, the wounds in our relationships can be healed.
As we continue to prayerfully discern what God is calling us to in our common life as a parish family, particularly over these next four years, we share a renewed Mission Statement and Vision Statement to guide us in the living out of God’s grace and mercy.
St. Paul’s Mission Statement:
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church spreads God’s love and grace in the world through inspiring worship, meaningful fellowship, Christian education, and compassionate outreach.
St. Paul’s Vision Statement:
In 2020 St. Paul’s will be recognized as a spiritual leader in our changing community, our doors open to all, a welcoming home to those seeking a deeper relationship with God, a champion of justice and diversity, a servant to those in need, and a loving teacher of God’s Word.