We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Advent 1, Nov. 30, 2014

Two services to begin Advent – 9am Morning Prayer, Rite 1 and 11am Holy Eucharist Rite 2 with 7 and 32 at each service, respectively on a relatively mild Nov. morning for this time of year. During the 10am hour, we had the second part of the Advent Christian Ed study, Singing Mary’s song with 13 present. Advent was setup with a change of color to purple and pink. At 11am we had the lighting of the Advent Candle by Michael and Sydney. A Moravian hymn was introduced for the ceremony – Candleglowing. Each week we sing a different verse. The sermon was taken from the latter sentences in Mark and was a dialog between the master and his slaves trying to keep his teaching alive, to share the good news.

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2013

49 enjoyed music from the choir, soloists (harp, violin, organ, vocal), scripture, hymns and a sermon about Joseph. While chilly, we were treated to a spectacular sunset and evening before the service. Links 1. 2.

Christmas Play, Dec. 22, 2013

Last year the focus was on the Angel Gabriel. This year it was Mary. The church windows were decorated with art concerning Mary from all over the world. The play, written by Catherine, featured an older Mary reflecting on her life which included the birth of Jesus.

Thrill of Hope, Advent Study, Dec. 17, 2013

We had 10 people for a simple supper and a study of John A. Swanson’s 6 Advent paintings on Dec. 17, 2013. These paintings are closer to folk art with an emphasis on placing the nativity story with in the community. Mary is integrated within the life of Nazareth and Bethlehem which is turn give you a unique feel of everyday life then. Links 1. 2. 3.

Advent 1, Dec.1, 2013

It was all here:1. A visit from St. Nicholas at a breakfast in his name 2. A sermon about the The Circle of the Church Year 3. The children lighting the Advent Candle 4. The Giving tree 5. The collection of the UTO offering 6. New music, a change in the altar

Christmas creche display, 2012

Creche adorned the windows during Christmas, 2012 One was left by Karen Woodruff and has been in the Parish house. Others were contributed by Catherine, Nancy W and Eunice. Here is a gallery of 8 of the creche. Notice how the appearance is altered depending on the light conditions. The pictures were shot both in the afternoon of Advent 4 and on Christmas Eve. St. Francis is credited with creating the first creche – a living one in 1223

Christmas Play, 2012

With a cast of 20 we presented the “Angel Garbriel”, written by Catherine. The focus was more on the angels with meetings between Gabriel and Mary, Gabriel and Joseph, Gabriel and the Shepherds. We also had a scene between King Herod (Fred) and the wisemen. Baby Jesus was real – daughter of Ben and Kelly who played Joseph and Mary. Nancy did a solo on the famous carol, “Angel Gabriel.”

Christmas Pageant, 2011

The 2011 production on 4th Advent featuring Hamilton Duke as baby Jesus. Directed by Nancy Long and assisted by Becky Fisher. Almost 20 people participated.

Choir Retreat, Dec. 8, 2012

The Choir held a special rehearsal for their Christmas music on Sat. Dec. 8, 2012. After two hours of rehearsals they were ready for their own Christmas meal – Nino’s pizza, salad and Brad’s special cheese cake. Thom Guthrie was on hand also lending his voice.

2023 Highlights at St. Peter’s

This is a topical summary. We have another page that is a chronological listing of 2023 events with table of contents with links to the events.

The highlights can be grouped as follows:

A. New ministry
God’s Garden
Chancellors Village
Advent Worskhop

B. New expressions in ministry
Stewardship tree
Lent -Stations of the Cross in the graveyard and more services

C. Expanded and revised ministries
Mission trip to Jamaica
Anniversary Village Harvest Food Ministry
Sacred Ground revised
ECM (Episcopal Church Men) end of year expanded donations and use of an art auction.
Community – Prayer service, Outside Christmas pageant, Work with community organizations
Key parishioner volunteering
ECW (Episcopal Church Women) projects

D. Music provided new delights
Easter, the summer and Christmas
Blue grass concert

E. Losses connected with two historic trees and two heating systems.

1. New ministry – God’s Garden

A new ministry debuted Sept 17, 2023. God’s Garden for 5 to 9 year olds began with 4 children and two experienced teachers, Elizabeth Heimbach, the originator of the class and Jan Saylor.

One of the first activities was to “God’s Garden” which explored what it meant to be a saint, today (Oct. 1, 2023) for St. Francis Day on Oct. 4. As an example they told the story of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio. Then, they made Pet blessings with treats to give out in church to make pets happy on St. Francis Day, Oct. 4.

2. Expanded ministry in Jamaica

Even before the mission began, we hosted Annette Steele, principal of Victoria Primary School who enjoyed a full day at St. Peter’s on Sun, Aug. 13. She addressed the church at announcements about our joint mission to help the students in her elementary school get ready for school in Sept, both in 2021 and 2023. She explained how much it meant to the students and her community.

After the service, she enjoyed St. Peter’s hospitality at a luncheon and met our parishioners and guests.

The group of 3 on the mission team distributed our donations in Jamaica on Aug. 26

We not only brought the usual school supplies but added 6 tablets. Separately, 7 used computers were donated to a school that had never had a computer.  

There were different ways of distributing the items.  There were contests for tablets and food baskets won by answering questions. Certificates given out based on merit overall and in areas like math. A number of students won $1,000 Jamaican dollars for math competency. Teachers were not forgotten – 2 footballs were given out to the coach!

3. Village Harvest ended its 9th year and began its 10th year in August, 2023 and ended the year serving the most people since 2019.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

Unfortunately, the same trend overall wasn’t present with food. Food increased from 2021 to 2022 (14,303 to 15,302 pounds) but dipped to 13,859 pounds in 2023. The first quarter was the problem. We had 2,913 pounds in that quarter compared over 4,000 for 2022 and 2021.

As a result, pounds provided per individual dropped from 14.56 in 2022 to 13.04. In 2021, it was in the same range at 14.32. Overall, pounds per individual are substantially higher since 2019 than in earlier periods.

The 2023 collection on Giving Tuesday, Nov 28 of $1,205 was the highest Giving Tuesday figure since 2019 and provides over 5 months of support for purchasing food for 2024

4. Sacred Ground revised their scholarship program

Representatives from Sacred Ground met with Jessica Thompson, Executive Director of the Germanna Educational Foundation, for lunch at Castiglias in Fredericksburg on Oct. 10, 2023.  The goal was to determine how we could move forward with a new focus on our scholarships for students.

Sacred Ground voted unanimously by email in early December to fund the recommendation forwarded by Jessica Thompson at Germanna for scholarships for students entering the trades. Each student is “in financial need and from underserved populations.” The $2,700 would be split equally to pay for their training.

Each student owes approximately $1,500 for the classes to complete the training. We will pay for the additional expense for each student through additional scholarship funds

They also toured Patawomeck Village in November. The goal of the visit was to understand their history and culture as well as our role

Earlier, the Sacred Ground group had the pleasure of meeting with Alanna Gray (beside Catherine), and her mother and grandmother (opposite Alanna) at Cuppa Cheer in February

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Sermon, Christmas Eve, 2023 – “Peace on earth, good will to all people”

Peace on earth, good will to all people. 

Yet another war is raging in the Holy Land, a war that in a few short months has caused unimaginable terror, a war in which over 20,000 people have been killed.  The Christians in the Israeli occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, have cancelled the usual Christmas celebrations, for celebrations seem out of place with so many people dying such a short distance away in Gaza. 

I’m willing to bet that every year since the birth of Jesus, violence and war have been going on somewhere on this earth, and that God’s peace seems like nothing more than a dream. 

So more than ever, we need this story of the birth of Jesus,  the story that I’m convinced is the most important story in the entire Bible.  This story reminds us that God likes to start small.   God uses the small things that we make available to do great things. 

This story  also gives us hope that in spite of all of human history, we can, along with Edmund H. Sears, who wrote  “It came upon the midnight clear” firmly believe that “when with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and all the world give back the song, which now the angels sing.” 

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Caroling Dec. 20, 2023

We had a small, but vocal group to go caroling in Port Royal, VA and Portobago on Wed. evening Dec. 20. Attendance was affected by the chill of the evening, sickness among prospective carolers and simply the many things to do 5 days before Christmas.

We visited 4 homes in Port Royal and 4 in Portobago singing the classics “O Come all Yet Faithful,”Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, “Angels we have heard on High” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. We rounded off each visit with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Despite the challenges, we enjoyed the evening and spreading good cheer among the homes we visited.

Christmas peace

One of the hallmarks of the Christmas story is when the angels appear to the shepherds and proclaim, “Peace on earth,” in Luke 2:14.

Jesus brought about peace, in the most unexpected ways, when he arrived. The Jews, particularly the zealots, wanted a rebellion. They wanted their Savior to overturn the oppressive rule of the Romans and bring about peace in a violent way.

But Jesus had something else in mind. Jesus brings us peace in a number of ways.

First, he gives us inner peace. Because of his work on the cross, we have a chance to receive salvation and be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This grants us an inner peace (John 14:27). Not only do we have the peace that comes from our assurance of salvation, but we also have the peace of mind knowing God will heal this broken world and will come again.

Second, we have peace with others. We put aside our differences (Galatians 3:28), especially with other believers, because we belong to the same family. We have the same purpose: to let others know about the peace of Christ.

The Hebrew word for peace: Shalom, goes far beyond not fighting with others or peace as we know it. As pointed out in the book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, shalom is, in essence, how things are meant to be: a slice of heaven.

The peace of God allows us to look at others through heaven’s eyes and help guide the world to see God’s here and not-yet here kingdom.

Peace from God, biblical peace, allows us to trust in God’s promises (Proverbs 3:5), through restful, tranquil faith, despite the dark, scary world around us.

Advent 4, Christmas Eve, Year B

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ. – Thomas Merton

Explore Advent, Part 4 – Over the Sundays in Advent there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s continue with Advent 4.

Explore the Christmas Scriptures Let’s move to the Christmas scriptures

From the Presiding BishopMessages since 2012


Diocese of Va. Advent Meditations, Week 4

Feast of the Annunciation –  9 months before we celebrate the nativity there is the related Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 which is described here .

Art of the Annunciation – The Annunication has been depicted in art for a thousand years. Here are 30+ images of that history .

Nativity art, all around the world.

“I will light candles this Christmas” – Howard Thurman

Blessed Like Mary- David Lose invites us to understand that we are Blessed Like Mary

National Geographic explores"How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman"

A Digital Nativity.

What if current social media like Facebook, Gmail, etc had been available at the birth of Christ ? Watch the Digital Nativity

Advent IV – Love

Love is a crucial part of the Advent story. Because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant with what he thought was a child out of wedlock with another man (Matthew 1:18-19). Mary has a natural motherly love for Jesus, and ultimately, we see God’s love for everyone by sending his son for us (John 3:16).

Jesus focused on preaching love throughout his ministry. Two of his greatest commands involve love: Love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).

Love is the greatest of all the virtues on the Advent wreath and encompasses Jesus’ entire purpose for being on earth (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Arts and Faith- Advent 4, relating art and scripture

Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, director of ministerial formation at Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary.

John Collier’s contemporary depiction of the Annunciation brings the story of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel into our present reality. Collier’s The Annunciation stands on the shoulders of Tradition, depicting the encounter in such a way that includes the standard symbols of the past. We see Mary and the angel face-to-face, Mary holding a book as a symbol of her piety. We see the lily as a symbol of her purity, the painted window as a symbol of her virginity, and the dove perching in the background as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. These symbols are the familiar language of many Annunciation scenes and connect this work to those from the great masters of the past.

While using these familiar elements, Collier retells the story for our present day: Mary is a young schoolgirl with a ponytail, still in her uniform, and she lives in a suburban neighborhood. Her shoes are playfully untied—she must have just slipped back into them to come to the door. In bringing together past and present, Collier invites us to see the Gospel scene not as a distant story but as one unfolding in our lives here and now.

As the story unfolds, the encounter between Mary and the angel reveals even deeper meaning. Mary is a young schoolgirl with untied shoelaces, but she is also a figure of strength, steadfastness, and faith. She looks squarely at the angel, who in contrast bows reverently before her, paying homage to God’s grace manifest in his lowly handmaid. The angel’s presence is subtly liturgical—in his dress and posture, he resembles an acolyte serving at the altar, ready to adore the presence of the Lord who will in a moment become flesh in the body of this young girl. The angel-as-server is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s bodily presence in our midst, first welcomed through the faithful “yes” of Mary. Standing at the door with Mary and Gabriel, we are at a liturgy, gathered into one Body to encounter the real presence of Christ in our midst. Like Mary, we are called to say “yes” to this moment and offer ourselves to await his arrival.

Christmas Flowers

Flowers cut on Dec. 13 just after Bible study and then arranged. Thanks to Alice Hughes for leading this effort. (In the full post, click on the photos for a lightbox)

Freshing up the flowers, Sun., Dec 17

Shadows from the window panes

Looking up

The full arrangement

With the poinsettias

The Shape of Advent in Scriptures, Year B

Each week in Advent has a specific theme:

Week 1- The End of Time / Remaining Awake
Week 2 – God promises for Peace and Justice / John the Baptism
Week 3 – Rejoice (Gaudete Sunday) / John the Baptist
Week 4 – The Messiah

Advent comes from a Latin word – “advenire” – which means to come to/ During Advent. There are three comings:

• The Coming of God to the world as a human baby
• The Coming of God to the world in His glory at the end of time where God’s purposes will be fulfilled. The second coming
• The Coming of God into the world today. Jesus comes to us now in word and sacrament, in prayer and praise, in his Body, the Church

Advent causes us to remember that we are a people who live “between.” We live between the incarnation and the parousia, the day of the Lord.

Advent is a journey, a pilgrimage of watching and waiting. We are not ready for the Christ Child as we have work to do.

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