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.

Looking to the New Year

By Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE

“Each of us can light a candle in the darkness and bring good news to a world in so much need. Is there someone I need to change the way I look at; to see them with God’s eyes? Or is there something bold and courageous I can do, to bring God’s Good News into this broken world which God so loves? Make good news this coming year.”

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

Read more

Feast of the Holy Name

The designation of this day, Jan. 1 as Feast of the Holy Name is new to the 1979 revision of The Book of Common Prayer. Previous Anglican Prayer Books called it the Feast of the Circumcision. January 1 is the eighth day after Christmas Day, and Luke’s Gospel records that eight days after his birth the child was circumcised and given the name Jesus.

The liturgical commemoration of the circumcision probably originated in France. The Council of Tours in 567 enacted that the day was to be kept as a feast day to counteract pagan festivities connected with the beginning of the New Year.

The Feast of the Holy Name has been celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church (usually on January 1) since sometime in the 15th century. The Lutheran church also commemorates the Feast of the Holy Name on January 1.

The early preachers of the Gospel lay stress on the name as showing that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood, though also the son of God, who died a human death and was raised by God from death to be the Savior.

The name “Jesus” is from the Hebrew Joshua, or Yehoshuah, “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh will save.” Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is particularly derived from Phil 2:9-11, which states that God highly exalted Jesus “and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” This scriptural devotion is paraphrased by the hymn “At the name of Jesus” (Hymn 435) in The Hymnal 1982. Other hymns that express devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus include “To the name of our salvation” (Hymns 248-249) and “Jesus! Name of wondrous love!” (Hymn 252).

Read more

Sunday Links, Dec. 31, 2023

Lessons and Carols, Dec. 31

  • Web site
  • YouTube St. Peter’s Page for viewing services
  • Facebook St. Peter’s Page
  • Location – 823 Water Street, P. O. Box 399, Port Royal, Virginia 22535
  • Lessons and Carols, 11am, Dec. 31, 2023. The church heating system failed over Christmas Eve so this service will be in the Parish House
    Lector: NA
    Chalice Bearer: NA
    Altar Cleanup: NA
  • New Years Eve dinner 5pm, Dec. 31, 2023. Please bring a dish.

  • Jan., 2024 newsletter
  • All articles for Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023
  • Recent Articles, Dec. 31, 2023

    Lessons and Carols, Dec. 31, 2023
    Lessons and Carols, Dec. 31, 2023, 11am
    Jan 1, Feast of the Holy Name
    3 Saints after Christmas

    2023 Highlights
    About 16 stories grouped in topics

    2023 Photos, Part 1
    2023 Photos, Part 2
    About 50 photos in each part attempt to depict life at St Peter’s in 2023. It is not just events but the details that are important in Church life including the surroundings, the people, and the ministries. We feel we are blessed at the end of 2023.

    Videos, Christmas Eve
    Photos, Christmas Eve
    Young volunteers at the Village Harvest
    Village Harvest, Dec. 2023
    Caroling! Dec. 20, 2023
    Youth music, Advent 3, Dec. 17, 2023
    Christmas play – photos, video
    ECM Christmas collection
    Christmas flowers
    Village Harvest in December
    Sacred Ground votes scholarship funds
    Chancellor’s Village Eucharist, Dec. 12, 2023
    Music of compline, Dec. 7
    ECW takes dinner to the “House”, Dec. 5
    Giving Tuesday results (updated Dec. 4)
    Advent Workshop – the Nativity blocks
    Advent Workshop – the Christmas trees

    Lessons and Carols, Dec. 31, 2023

    Dec. 31, 2023 – 11am -A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge England and was introduced in 1918.

    Kings College Cambridge holds this service every Dec. 24. The main gate to Kings College opens at 7:30am for the 3pm service.  Many people get in the line by 5am for a 10 hour wait!

    The 2023 service

    It was conceived by Eric Milner-White, the Dean of the College, for Christmas Eve 1918 whose experience as an army chaplain in World War I had led him to believe that more imaginative Christmas worship was needed by the Church of England.  He actually reached back to an earlier time for a service structure.

    The original service was, in fact, adapted from an Order drawn up by E.W. Benson, later Archbishop of Canterbury, for use in the wooden shed, which then served as his cathedral in Truro, at 10 pm on Christmas Eve 1880. AC Benson recalled: ‘My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve – nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the Church, beginning with a chorister, and ending, through the different grades, with the Bishop.”

    The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music. The readings can vary as can the music. Traditionally, “Once in Royal David City” is the opening hymn. Beyond that the service is flexible.

    An opening prayer that is used provides a focus:

    “We gather here to recall the mystery of our redemption. Though sin drew us away from God, he never stopped loving us. The prophets told of the coming of a Messiah who would initiate a reign of justice and peace. This promise was fulfilled in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Let us now reflect with joy on this wondrous mystery.”

    Lessons and Carols is usually done at the beginning of Advent as an introduction to Advent or towards the end as a summary of all that has happened.

    This St. Peter’s service is the perfect culmination of your Christmas week, a joyous celebration along with thoughtful, introspective moments. Plan now to attend.

    King’s College Cambridge – As you have never seen it

    The famous church in England, home of Lessons and Carols, built by Henry VII is altered by projectionist, Miguel Chevalier.

    To illustrate Stephen Hawking’s research about black holes, Miguel Chevalier imagines an immersive environment made up of thousands of constellations that plunge the guests into the mystery of the universe.

    Video Link

    More examples

    3 saints after Christmas Day

    1. St. Stephen Dec. 26

    Stephen was among the earliest Christian martyrs, stoned to death for his beliefs. St. Paul not only witnessed the event but held the garments of those stoning Stephen which he regretted later on and carried a lasting sense of guilt.

    2. John the Apostle Dec. 27

    John, one of the Apostles, possibly lived the longest life associated with the Gospel, an author in that time and Evangelist spreading the Gospel to many in the Mediterranean area who were not of Jewish background. He is believed to be the only Apostle not martyred for the cause. He is associated with the Gospel that bears his name, 3 Epistles and possible authorship of the Book of Revelation.

    3. Holy Innocents Dec. 28

    The term “Holy Innocents” comes from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 2. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, King Herod, fearing for his throne, ordered that all the male infants of Bethlehem two years and younger be killed. These children are regarded as martyrs for the Gospel — “martyrs in fact though not in will.” This can be compared to the conduct of Pharoah in Exodus 1:16. “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”