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.

Annual Council, 2013 – Jan. 24-26, 2013

Annual Council is like a great medieval fair. There are vendors, contests, parades and events but like a fair a meeting place among those who assemble once a year. It is a cacophony of sights, sounds and talk. There is the business of council the morning session each morning on Friday and Sat and the workshops in the morning and various breakfast before the Sat. session. Just enough. Catherine and Eunice represented St. Peter’s. The pictures are a combination of the vendors and personalities of the council and some of the program.

Memorial Day Sunday

A Prayer for Heroic Service

“O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen. BCP 839

The Bishop here at Pentecost

Since Bishop Harris will be here May 19, it is a good chance to look at how we got bishops in the first place. Without distinctive “gear” we wouldn’t know them from regular priests. 

Our church name, Episcopal is taken from the collective group of bishops in a church.

The concept of a bishop developed gradually in the early church as an overseer but by the 1st century became established as the head of the house churches in a city. The bishop became less associated with a particular church. A single bishop was expected to lead the church in each center of Christian mission, supported by a council of presbyters (a distinct and subordinate position) with a pool of deacons 

Faith Magazine provides a good run down of the bishop adornments: 

Crosier: The bishop carries a tall hooked staff called a crosier. In the Western church, it is shaped like a shepherd’s crook to symbolize the bishop’s role as the shepherd of his flock. Its roots go back to the walking staffs of travelers at the time of Christ, and crosiers dating from as early as the fourth century have been found in the catacombs. By the Council of Toledo in 633, the crosier was mentioned as a liturgical implement. 

Miter: The miter is the tall peaked hat that bishops wear. It has its origin in the cap with headbands worn by athletes of ancient Greece. It took its current form in the 12th century. The miter/s two shield-shaped halves are said to represent the Old and New Testaments. Two strips of fabric called lappets hang down the back. The lappets were originally designed to be tied around the chin to prevent the miter from falling off while the bishop rode on horseback. The miter is laid aside when the bishop prays, and underneath it he wears a zuchetto, a skullcap originally designed to keep hair oil off the miter. 

Pectoral Cross: The bishop wears a cross called a pectoral cross. Its name derives from the Latin word pectus or “breast.” It is worn differently, depending on the bishop’s garments. For example, if he is in a suit and collar, the pectoral cross is usually placed in the vest pocket, with the chain showing. That’s why you’ll often see the bishop with a gold chain across his chest. The cross can hang from either a chain or silk cord, and many of them held relics of the True Cross. The stone assigned to bishops and archbishops is the amethyst, and many pectoral crosses are adorned with one or more.

Episcopal Ring: Bishops wear a ring that has multiple layers of meaning. It has been a symbol of authority and jurisdiction since the third century. The ring also symbolizes the bishop’s marriage to the church, his spiritual parentage and the inviolable faithfulness with which he will teach and protect his flock. This onyx ring was used by Bishop Povish.

 

St. Peter’s Anniversary, May 15

13 years ago in 2011, St. Peter’s celebrated its 175th anniversary. Today May 15, 2024 is the 188th anniversary of the consecration of the church in 1836. The photo shows various scenes of that day in 2011.

The sermon on the 175th anniversary was based on John 10 the good shepherd passage. Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. “

From the sermon- “The gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and the sheep hear his voice. The point is –not who is in, and who is out, but whose voice the sheep listen to and follow. The voice of Jesus, the good shepherd. But there were warnings in John’s passage. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The sermon continued – “Those thieves and bandits call out to us with voices that divide us—into those who are in and those who are out based on how much money we have, or what color our skin is, or what our political viewpoints are, or even what religion we are—whether Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or Buddhists or Hindus—remember, all of humanity is in this sheepfold “

“In 1814, Channing Moore became the Bishop of Virginia and he was, we are told, “an earnest and powerful preacher, able leader, loving and beloved, who was followed as a man sent from God. He awoke this diocese out of its lethargy and started it upon a career of growth and influence that has continued to the present day.

“Meanwhile, the people of Port Royal had resolved to build a church, and so St Peter’s was raised up on this city lot, and was dedicated 175 years ago to the day. Bishop Moore came here, on May 15, 1836, and consecrated this space, set it aside as a sheepfold in which the people of Port Royal could “come in and go out and find pasture,” following the voice and the teachings of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd. “

Secrets Over 185 years – Some personal thoughts.

1. Do the job that needs to be done in good times and bad. Carefully plan what you do. St. Peter’s came together over decades, not overnight.

2. Know your mission to do God’s will, united in love for God, one another and our neighbor. Never forget the mission! We have learned how to extend the pasture and our congregation is diverse.

3. Maintain the important links – close connection with parishioners and through them the community. We need the support of both.

4. Accept the generosity of parishioners. They live through what they give you and find meaning to their lives and enhance your life as well.

5. Tell your stories and retell. Relish in who you are and where we have been and never forget the blessings that have been received along the way.

6. Remember the past but don’t live in it. We can look back but can only move forward.

St. Mark’s Day, April 25

John Mark is the author of the Gospel of Mark which we are reading this year in Year B.

The painting was done in 1625 by Frans Hals, a Dutch painter, who painted portraits of all the Gospel writers.

Mark’s work was the first Gospel probably written in the 60’s AD. Gospel means “Good News” of Jesus Christ reflecting His life and work.  The Gospel says the Kingdom of God is at hand and brings new life, sanctification and hope to the world. It is also one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Synoptic, in Greek, means “seeing or viewing together,” and by that definition, Matthew, Mark, and Luke cover much the same subject matter and treat it in similar ways. Some scholars believe an oral gospel existed first, which Matthew, Mark, and Luke used in their versions.  Others argue that Matthew and Luke borrowed heavily from Mark.  A third theory claims an unknown or lost source once existed, providing much information on Jesus.  Scholars call this lost source “Q,” short for quelle, a German word meaning “source.”  Still another theory says Matthew and Luke copied from both Mark and Q.

Mark stresses Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God now breaking into human life as good news (Mk 1:1415) and Jesus himself as the gospel of God (Mk 1:18:3510:29). Jesus is the Son whom God has sent to rescue humanity by serving and by sacrificing his life (Mk 10:45).

Tradition holds that Mark was present when Jesus Christ was arrested on the Mount of Olives.  In his Gospel, Mark says: “A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.” (Mark 14:51-52, NRSV) Because that incident is not mentioned in the three other Gospels, scholars believe Mark was referring to himself.

John Mark first appears by name in the book of Acts.  Peter had been thrown in prison by Herod Antipas, who was persecuting the early church.  In answer to the church’s prayers, an angel came to Peter and helped him escape.  Peter hurried to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many of the church members were praying

Paul made his first missionary journey to Cyprus, accompanied by Barnabas and Mark (Acts 13).  When they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.  No explanation is given for his departure, and Bible scholars have been speculating ever since.  Whatever the shortcoming was, it disappointed Paul though Paul later forgave him

According to Coptic tradition, John Mark is the founder of the Coptic Church in Egypt. Copts believe Mark was tied to a horse and dragged to his death by a mob of pagans on Easter, 68 A.D., in Alexandria. Copts count him as the first of their chain of 118 patriarchs (popes).

St. Mark’s day is a public holiday in Venice since Mark is Venice’s patron saint. One of the highlights during the Feast of St Mark is the Regata di Traghetti, a boat race featuring gondoliers who compete while transporting passengers in their gondolas. One tradition associated with St Mark’s festival was the Festival of the Blooming Rose, symbolizing love and romance. The custom of giving a rose bud (bocolo) to a loved one is still practiced today.

Irish Elements in our service, March 17, 2024

On St. Patrick’s day we give thanks for our Irish Heritage. The Irish are the second largest nationality, behind the Germans.

The day is marked with the accomplishments of St. Patrick. Patrick while not Irish was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity from the Druids. In 431, St. Patrick was consecrated Bishop of the Irish and went to Ireland to spread “the Good news” there. He baptized thousands and ordained many priests to lead new communities of Christians.

Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, demonstrating that God is both three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one, as the shamrock is both three-leafed, yet a single plant. Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids, symbolizing eternal life. So he re-interpreted known symbols.

While this day is considered a festive, party day in America, it is a religious celebration in Ireland. (In fact until 1961 you could not buy drink in Dublin, Ireland on this day.) We are celebrating with the following Irish elements in our service:

1. The opening hymn, “Be thou my vision,” is a traditional Irish hymn.

It was on Slane Hill in County Meath around 433 CE that St. Patrick risked his life by climbing to the tallest hill in the area and lighting a huge fire. King Logaire of Tara proclaimed no one could light a fire before the king signaled the beginning of the pagan Druid spring festival.

As the ancient Irish people woke up, they could all see Patrick’s defiance of the king. Patrick wanted to show the world that God’s light shines in darkness, and that only He deserves praise.  King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance, he was permitted to continue his work as Ireland’s first Christian missionary.

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St. Patrick, March 17

St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland, was born in England, circa 386. Surprisingly, he was not raised with a strong emphasis on religion.  

When St. Patrick was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. His job was to tend sheep. He came to view his enslavement of six years as God’s test of his faith, during which he became deeply devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. In a vision, he saw the children of Pagan Ireland reaching out their hands to him, which only increased his determination to free the Irish from Druidism by converting them to Christianity. 

The idea of escaping enslavement came to St. Patrick in a dream, where a voice promised him he would find his way home to England. Eager to see the dream materialize, St. Patrick convinced some sailors to let him board their ship. After three days of sailing, he and the crew abandoned the ship in France and wandered, lost, for 28 days—covering 200 miles of territory in the process. At last, St. Patrick was reunited with his family in England. 

Now a free man, he went to France where he studied and entered the priesthood. He never lost sight of his vision: he was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity. In 431, St. Patrick was Consecrated Bishop of the Irish, and went to Ireland to spread “The Good News” to the Pagans there. Patrick made his headquarters at Armagh in the North, where he built a school, and had the protection of the local monarch. From this base he made extensive missionary journeys, with considerable success.

To say that he single-handedly turned Ireland from a pagan to a Christian country is an exaggeration, but is not far from the truth. He baptized thousands and ordained many priests to lead new communities of Christians. His explanations of God was so simple that he was criticized during his lifetime for his lack of learning. However, he was known for his passion and zeal.

“Patrick was really a first—the first missionary to barbarians beyond the reach of Roman law,” Thomas Cahill writes in How the Irish Saved Civilization. “The step he took was in its way as bold as Columbus’s, and a thousand times more humane.”

Through preaching, writing and performing countless baptisms, he convinced Pagan Druids that they were worshiping idols under a belief system that kept them enslaved. By accepting Christianity, he told them, they would be elevated to “the people of the Lord and the sons of God.” 

Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, demonstrating that God is both three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one, as the shamrock is both three-leafed, yet a single plant. While no hard data proves that Patrick actually went around teaching via plant life, it was a brilliant move if he did. Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids, symbolizing eternal life. There is a consistent record of Celtic Christianity’s reinterpreting the culture into Christian forms, and this is a profound example of that.

St. Patrick died in 461 in Saul, Ireland. Though he was never formally canonized by a pope, St. Patrick is on the List of Saints, and was declared a Saint in Heaven by many Catholic churches. 

The Episcopal Church annually honors St. Patrick with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, the date of his death, which falls during the Christian season of Lent. 

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What to remember about St. Patrick on March 17?

Today is March 17, 2023, St. Patrick’s day. Among all the saints, St. Patrick’s day is easily remembered. You can’t forget it with all the celebrations. In our time it is connected with parades, wearing green, and drinking green beer among others.

Many things may be surprising about his life. No, he didn’t wear green. He wasn’t Irish but British. His original name wasn’t Patrick. Plus there may be parts of his original story made up by him to promote his cause. British professor Philip Freeman, author of a biography on St. Patrick has tried to strip away the legends – That he was “kidnapped from Britain, forced to work as a slave, but managed to escape and reclaim his status, is likely to be fiction/” Were the stories a way to escape his place in England?

So what is left and what’s in it for us in 2023? Plenty! Subtitle – how to succeed in the world? First, you must have a mission. Then you must pursue it with all of your talents. You must have a unique angle, different from others. Call it creativity and add in some luck. Let’s take each one.

1. He succeeded in his mission which is his objective and also includes his methods. He was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity from the Druids. In 431, St. Patrick was consecrated Bishop of the Irish and went to Ireland to spread “the Good news” there. He baptized thousands and ordained many priests to lead new communities of Christians. Patrick made his headquarters at Armagh in the North, where he built a school, and had the protection of the local monarch. He had a stable base! From this base, he made extensive missionary journeys, with considerable success.

2. He was known for his passion and zeal and was creative at the same time. He was totally dedicated as a priest for 40 years. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, demonstrating that God is both three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one, as the shamrock is both three-leafed, yet a single plant. Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids, symbolizing eternal life. So he re-interpreted known symbols.

3. He is considered the first writer in Irish history. He has left us an autobiography (called the Confessio), a Letter to Coroticus (cruel ruler who persecuted Christians) in which he denounces the slave trade and rebukes the British chieftain Coroticus for taking part in it, and the Lorica (or “Breastplate” a poem of disputed authorship traditionally attributed to Patrick), a work that has been called “part prayer, part anthem, and part incantation.”Breastplate” is in the Episcopal Hymnbook. The version tune we sing was written by Mrs. Cecil F. Alexander, for St. Patrick’s Day, 1889, and sung generally throughout Ireland on that day

“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

A possible 4. Tell your own story which he did!

St. Matthias, Feb. 24

After the Ascension of Jesus, the Apostle Peter, in a “general assembly of the faithful” declared the need for a 12th apostle, since Judas was no longer one of the twelve.  With all the questions, doubts, and dangers facing the apostles, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Twelve was a very important number to the Chosen People: twelve was the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. If the new Israel was to come from the disciples of Jesus, a twelfth apostle was needed.

One hundred and twenty people were gathered for prayer and reflection in the upper room, when Peter stood up to propose the way to make the choice.

Peter had one criterion that, like Andrew, James, John, and himself, the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple from the very beginning, from his baptism by John until the Ascension. The reason for this was simple, the new apostle must become a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross and of eating his body — teachings that had made others melt away.

Two were considered as most worthy of the dignity–Joseph, called Barsabas, and, on account of his extraordinary piety, surnamed the Just, and Matthias. Matthias was chosen by lot. Clement of Alexandria says that Matthias, like all the other apostles, was not chosen by Jesus for what he already was, but for what Jesus foresaw he would become. He was elected not because he was worthy but because he would become worthy

Matthias was one of the disciples about which little was written. However, the Book of Acts records that he had been a consistent follower from Jesus’ baptism until the Ascension. We do know that he was present at the Pentecost.

 

Black History Month, Feb., 2024

From the Diocese of West Missouri

“Black History Month is an annual celebration of the heritage and Americans have played in our country throughout U.S. history.

“If you don’t already know about prominent figures such as Madam C.J. Walker, who was the first U.S. woman to become a self-made millionaire; George Washington Carver, who derived nearly 300 products from the peanut; Rosa Parks, who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and galvanized the civil rights movement; and Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, this is a month long opportunity to learn more!

“Black History Month began as an initiative by Carter G. Woodson, a brilliant and highly accomplished son of slaves, to honor the heritage and achievements of African Americans with a week-long celebration in 1926. Then, in 1976, President Gerald Ford designated February as Black History Month, urging all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

“Reasons we should all, regardless of our own heritage, celebrate Black History Month!  It celebrates diversity and honors all people. It unites us to be reminded that black history is our history. It takes us beyond the history books and helps us understand the importance of our stories. It helps us be better stewards of our privileges. To quote J. Tisby, “Racial and ethnic diversity is an expression of God’s manifold beauty. No single race or its culture can comprehensively display the infinite glory of God’s image, so we have been given our differences to help us appreciate God’s splendor from various perspectives.”

Now for a quiz! The Diocese of West Missouri provided a page of quotes that celebrate the month.  You have to guess the author, however. But don’t despair, flip the page and you have the answer!  Link to the quotes:

https://bit.ly/3NSY3nJ

Rosa Parks birthday, Feb 4 – Black History


From the SALT project

“February 4 is the birthday of Rosa Parks, born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913. In the 1940s and 50s, she served as secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, working as a civil rights organizer and activist.  

“In August of 1955, black teenager Emmett Till, visiting relatives in Mississippi, was brutally murdered after allegedly flirting with a white woman. Parks attended a mass meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery on November 27, 1955; the meeting’s speakers addressed the Emmett Till case at length, including the news that Till’s two murderers had just been acquitted. Parks was deeply disturbed and angered by the verdict, not least because Till’s case had received such widespread public attention, far more than other cases she and the Montgomery NAACP had worked on over the years. Just four days later, she took her famous stand on that fateful Montgomery bus ride. She later said that when the driver ordered her to move, “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.”

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