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.

God’s Garden – Palm Sunday to Easter

This week was the culmination of the Lenten part of God’s Garden. They reviewed the Palm Sunday story which they had heard earlier. They made beaded crosses to hang around their necks. Finally, after working on the Lord’s Prayer with hand movements earlier in Lent they presented their work to the congregation today on Palm Sunday, March 24,2024

1. Reviewing the story on Palm Sunday

2. Creating crosses

3. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer – Palm Sunday in Church

God’s Garden makes “Resurrection Eggs”

On the week before Palm Sunday, the children created “Resurrection Eggs”. There were 12 numbered plastic eggs each with an object, a symbol of the events on that day of Holy Week. The children numbered the eggs, put an object in the eggs and heard a story. For example, the first was a palm branch for Palm Sunday. The story is taken through Holy Week to the Resurrection.

Here are the two handouts followed by the video segments:

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God’s Garden Explores Mark – “Let the Children Come to me”

God’s Garden took up Mark 10:13-15 – “Let the Children Come to Me”

“13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

This is one story they can identify with and see Jesus as a great friend!

The class featured a variety of activities – two directly involving the children and two directed by the teacher. First one child read it. Jan explained it. The children played a game getting them to Jesus. Finally, Jan read them another story expanding on the Gospel for our time.

1. Children read the story

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God’s Garden makes pretzels for Lent, Feb. 25

Pretzels for Lent date back to the early Church, perhaps sometime in the 4th century. During that time it was common for Christians to fast during the season, abstaining from meat, dairy, fats, and sweets. These quick breads are made with only a tiny bit of sugar to activate the yeast and no fat – they are entirely flour, water and yeast! The simplicity of water, salt, and flour suggested commitment and attention, not least also prayer.

As to the shape: pretzels are made in the shape of two arms crossed in prayer. In Latin, the pretzel is called “bracellae”, meaning little arms. The word “bracellae” became the German “bretzel” and “pretzel.”

Another story places the origin of the word in “pretiola” which means little reward, so pretzels might have been given as an award to a child who had learned her prayers!

The children had fun making pretzels and they even sent some home. The dough was bought so that the activity could fit in the time frame and still have time to work on the Lord’s Prayer.

Here’s a photo gallery showing the steps in making these Lenten treats


(full size gallery)

“God’s Garden”, Learning the Lord’s Prayer

Do you remember when you learned the Lord’s Prayer ? I don’t and I bet you don’t either. “God’s Garden”, ages 5-9 began learning it during Lent on Feb. 18 to be ready by Easter.

Two techniques were used. A “signing” video was played and the children over the course of the session became adept in learning the Lord’s prayer in this manner by imitating the movements and text from the teacher. Moving hands and bodies almost reminded one of an exercise class.

The second technique was adding a cross to a piece of paper where the prayer written on the arms of the cross. The children used their fingers to trace the path of the prayer. Much less aerobic! You could also learn a segment at a time.

We have two videos showing how it went:

1. Signing

2. Tracing

The Alleluia Banner, Feb. 11, 2024

This is part 2 of the Alleluia Banner story. Last week Feb. 4, the banner was decorated and finished by “God’s Garden” (children ages 5-9) during Sunday School (10:15-11am) and hung on the altar in the church.

This week the box for the banner was decorated and taken to the church before the service. A discussion about Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday ensued. Later, in the church service the banner was taken off the altar during the last hymn and placed in the box to be ready for the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Feb 14.

1. Finishing the Banner’s box and taking it to the church. Photos.

(full size gallery)

2. Christian Education discussion – Shrove Tuesday, Lent (Ash Wednesday).

3. Announcement in Church

4. Closing Hymn – “Alleluia, alleluia give thanks”. Alleluia placed in hiding

God’s Garden Feb 4 – March 31- The Alleluia!

The next eight Sundays of God’s Garden will include a big project!

During the first few sessions, the class will be designing and decorating a big banner with the word “Alleluia.” The banner will then be displayed in the church until the first Sunday of Lent when it will disappear.

The disappearance of the banner will be a reminder that during Lent the congregation does not end each service with the word “Alleluia,” and this will be a way to introduce lessons about Lent, Palm Sunday, and Easter. And, of course, the banner will re-appear on Easter!

Creating and Displaying the Alleluia Banner

This is a “process” Powerpoint concerning the preparation for “Burying the Alleluia”, one of many Lent events beginning Feb. 14. Today, Feb 4, the banner is being ceated. First, a background slide introduces “Burying the Alleluia”, a practice which has been traced back to the Middle Ages. Then, “God’s Garden” Sunday School class from ages 5-9 are shown finishing the Alleluia Banner in several photos. Jan Saylor created the banner and thd class finished it.

The finishing process is included along with a video excerpt of the lesson around it provided by Jan and Elizabeth Heimbach. Then, the banner is transported to the church and pictures show it being hung on the altar. Finally, there is a video during the announcements of the church service of it presented to the congregation. Next week the box will be created for it. The Powerpoint follows:

“God’s Garden” Fall Session Completed

This fall, Jan Saylor and Elizabeth Heimbach have been meeting each Sunday with a wonderful group of children who have been enthusiastic about singing, talking, listening, and learning.

God’s Garden met for the first time on Sept 17 for 30 minutes in the Parish House before church for 5-9 year olds. The curriculum was developed by the Episcopal Relief and Development organization, and it is designed to help children see God’s gifts around them everywhere in the world of nature.

The class combines song “The Lord’s Been Good to Me”, Bible stories, and crafts. The first lesson focused on water; other lessons centered on animals, seeds, and soil. A favorite part of the animal lesson involved packing little bags of treats for cats and dogs. The class was delighted to distribute the treats to pet lovers as part of the service celebrating St. Francis.

Attendance has been mosty comprised of 3 girls who are very engaged answering questions and responding. The class completed after Sunday’s lesson Oct. 22, 2023. Looking forward, Jan and Elizabeth hope to continue with a second session later in the year.

“God’s Garden” Begins

A new ministry debuts 9/17/2023! 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. With this age range the pace is fast. The lessons included a song which will be weekly and then the focus was on water. This was apropos since we are celebrating the Season of Creation during September. After a song on creation, the class looked at why water is necessary through agriculture, people, and nature. The teachers next asked for examples of water in the Bible. With a little prompting the children brought up Noah’s flood and Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Water is necessary but there are hazards!

An engaging segment demonstrated how Moses life was shaped by water in multiple ways. Miriam is the sister who watches over her baby brother Moses among the bulrushes on the banks of the Nile. Their mother had hidden Moses in a basket on the riverbank to protect him from Pharaoh’s decree to throw all Hebrew baby boys into the river. Pharaoh’s daughter finds the floating basket on the Nile River with a helpless baby inside. She adopts him and calls him Moses. What a way to start your life!

Both the children and teachers were enthusiastic in the class, which made for good learning and the conversations flowed in both directions.

Images left to right top to bottom. Taking about creation (the big world!), a song, water in our time, and story of Moses