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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

The Gospel in June, 2024

We are back to Mark! In May the readings were from the Gospel of John as it explored the effects of the Resurrection, the roles of the disciples and their relationship to Jesus. This month explores the challenges to Jesus  with the Pharisees, with the disciples and even from his own family.  Jesus is not on the defensive –  these stories help enlarge the concept of the Kingdom of God.

June 2 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost -Mark 2:23-3:6

Sometimes rules and regulations can get in the way of our mission. The connection this week is in the role of the Sabbath. Jesus’ operating principle is that the Sabbath ( and the law and the rituals of holiness) was created for humanity, and not the other way around. ’ In that sense, God is chiefly known as love and the laws and purity rituals are for humanity’s own good.  The alternate theology is that for humans have to achieve a certain level of holiness – through following laws or practicing purity rituals – to be acceptable to God.  That’s the focus on the Pharisees whose religion had deteriorated into rules, regulations and rituals..

To make His point still further, Jesus goes into the synagogue and brings a man with a withered arm into the middle of the gathering. Then, He asks the simple question – is it against the law to do good on the Sabbath – or to save a life? Needless to say, His critics have no answer. Jesus has an answer – he heals the man. Mark’s  description of healings were important  – they were signs that the Kingdom of God was at hand

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Stories to remember 2010-2024 – ORIG. BACKUP

2010 – Aug 1, coming to St. Peters from seminary. We joined with St Asaph’s in Bowling Green for a Thanksgiving service. We have added an evening book group that meets twice a month.

2010- 175th anniversary of St. Peter’s. Year-long celebration for the 175th Anniversary of the church included an organ concert spanning 400 years on our organ as well as a new parish cookbook from the ECW. It culminated in the May 15, 2011 celebration with two services and a lunch.

2011, Shrove Tuesday. The only time, a pancake race down came down Water Street

2011 – Earthquake

An Earthquake in August, 2011 damaged the church. Region I of the Diocese gave us a gift of $1000 to help meet expenses we incurred due to damage from the earthquake, and our sister church St Asaph’s has given us a gift of $250. In 2012, we received a joint grant from the Diocese for $3,500.

2011- 9/11 anniversary

We held a joint service with St. Asaph’s at St. Peter’s for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In November, we had a luncheon and an afternoon worship service with the folks from Memorial Baptist Church.

2011- Community Dinners begin. Community Dinners were funded through a Diocesan Mustard Seed Grant. There 6 dinners from June 4, 2011 to Dec. 14, 2012 with an average of 25 guests at each.

2012 – Creation of Shred-it and the Jail Ministry. Four volunteers from St Peter’s go to the jail once a month to study the Bible with the prisoners there. Our average attendance is around fifteen prisoners, who are happy to have the opportunity to discuss God’s words and apply it to their current lives in prison. Community Dinners continued. We eventually has six of them. Our average attendance for the first five dinners was around twenty-five guests.

2012 – Staten Island mission trip to NY in conjunction with the Moravian church clothing ministry.Our first mission trip as a parish took place August 22-28, 2012. Thirteen of us (including Zeke Fisher, our youngest member) went to Staten Island to help with the annual clothing distribution that is put together by the Staten Island Moravians for the people there who need clothes for school and job interviews. In just three days, we unpacked 400 boxes of clothes and distributed the clothes and school supplies to 1086 people in need on Staten Island. In addition, we worked alongside the Moravians, and learned more about their worship and traditions, important for us since we Episcopalians are now in full communion with the Moravian Church. We also walked the labyrinth at Castleton Hill Moravian Church and learned more about that ancient tradition.

In response to Hurricane Sandy, four people returned to Staten Island on a second mission trip during the first week of December to help sort the clothes that were sent to the island from all over the country to help those who lost everything in the storm. This group sorted mountains of donated clothes into four hundred boxes of clothes that are now ready for the next clothing distribution to benefit those who lost everything in the hurricane, and others who are in need on the island. These clothes will be distributed this February.In addition to providing hands-on help, our parish gave generously to the fund for hurricane relief run by the Moravians on the island, and the money given has gone directly to families in need as a result of the storm. Roger and Eunice Key went back in 2014

In 2012, we received the matching grant from the Diocese for $3500 for earthquake relief.

We dedicated the beautiful cross that Helmut Linne von Berg made for the door behind the altar. He made the cross from one of the wooden beams that was removed from church roof during the belfry restoration. That day we also dedicated the two restored stained glass windows in the back windows of the church. Later in the year we held a Belfry Celebration Day and installed a framed list of donors on the back wall of the church. Two very generous anonymous donors gave St Peter’s the gift of a brass Advent Wreath/paschal candle which we blessed on the first Sunday of Advent

2013 – Catherine wins the John Hines preaching award

2013 Dr. Barbara Ann Fisher, from the Diocese of Easton (in Maryland), led our Vestry retreat in April of this past year. An initiative that grew out of this time of discernment was the subsequent decision on the part of the Vestry to establish a one year position, The Children’s Ministry Coordinator, so that we could put the Godly Play curriculum into place for our children from preschool to second grade and train others to carry on this program in the years to come. Thanks to our teacher this new curriculum we have been able to provide quality education for the young children in our church during the second half of 2013, and continuing through May of 2014.

2013 – Concert series revived with the Thirteen performing. We would go on to schedule 10 performances through 2024 including a repeat of the Thirteen in 2018

2013 – Trailer Park Bible Study – This warm weather Bible study takes place outside in the trailer park. St Peter’s provides lunch and people gather to discuss scripture and share food and fellowship. This project began in September, has taken a break during the winter, and will resume in the spring of 2014. This Bible study is a visible way to show our care for the community of Port Royal.

2013 – Dinner for the Caroline County Football Team Many members of St Peter’s cooked and served a delicious meal for the Caroline County football team before one of their home games. We were one of several churches in Caroline County who participated in this project. Coach Jeremiah Ross declared that our meal and the presentation of it was the best of the season! This project is a way of reaching out to young people in our community and working together with other churches to make a positive difference for the people of Caroline County

2013 – International Projects—Tools for the Sudan and Toilets for Haiti. We supported two Region One initiatives. St Peter’s provided $1300 to help purchase tools for farmers in South Sudan. In addition, we raised money to help fund the Toilets for Haiti project for the Episcopal school for children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The new bathroom for the over 300 children at the school is currently under construction. St Peter’s also donated $750 of the John Hines Preaching Award money to The VTS Missionary Society, which provides financial support to international projects through grants.

2013 Blessing of a stole for Army chaplain in Afghanistan Barbara Porterfield, the mother of the Rev. Amy Turner, our Godly Play teacher, joined with the 27 other stole makers to make 41 stoles for U.S. Army chaplains serving in Afghanistan. In addition to making a stole that was blessed by the congregation at Zion Episcopal Church in Charles Town, Barbara also made a stole to be blessed at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg; a stole that we blessed here at St Peter’s and then sent off to be given to an Army chaplain serving in Afghanistan

2013 Community Dinners and food donations We received a gift from the Diocese for $250 to continue our community dinners in Port Royal. For our Easter and Christmas Community Dinners, we partnered with Caroline’s Promise and also with Caroline County Parks and Recreation. People from all over Port Royal and the surrounding area came to these dinners and enjoyed food, fellowship and entertainment. We had over 100 people at the Christmas dinner.

2013 – FredCamp. FredCamp is an ecumenical Christian work camp for high school youth working to change hearts and homes in the Fredericksburg area since 1999. St Peter’s supports this group financially. This year, many of us ate together at Ruby Tuesdays and in doing so provided a donation to FredCamp. Several of us provided some hands-on support and prepared and delivered lunches for a FredCamp work team during their week of work on a trailer in the Dogue area of King George.

2014 Creation of the Village  Harvest. An essential ministry which brings in people from several counties to receive donated food in a market-style format or through bags . This came after a retreat with Sally O’Brien from the Episcopal Church Building Fund encouraging a resourceful use of our buildings and creative ways of being “church” in our community. After a study from the Vestry it was concluded Port Royal exists in a food desert, meaning that fresh produce and healthy food choices year round is not immediately available for those who lack money and transportation. Thus the creation of the Village Harvest in August, 2014. With help from the Northern Neck Food Bank and the willingness of Johnny Davis to pick up produce, we have been able in just two months to distribute to 21 families fresh produce including collards, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelons, avocados and acorn squash. In addition, we have provided these families with Kleenex, soup, peanut butter, bread, and other food staples.

2014 During 2014 we also shared our building with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service for their Food Fridays program, which met once a month at St Peter’s for several months in 2014. This program teaches people about healthy eating and how to prepare healthy foods. The groups of people who came prepared recipes and shared the results by eating lunch together.

In October, we once again cooked and served a delicious meal for the Caroline County football team before one of their home games. We were one of several churches in Caroline County who participated in this project and this year we partnered with Second Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dawn, Virginia. This project is a way of reaching out to young people in our community and working together with other churches to make a positive difference for the people of Caroline County.

2014 – Port Royal Tutoring – From March to June, 2014 there were 100 student encounters, 9 tutors over 3 months with Easter intervening.  It didn’t last but it was a valiant effort to connect with the community. This effort was led by Ken Pogue.

During 2014 we continued to offer the Godly Play curriculum to our children from ages three to eight. The Rev. Amy Turner, who put this program into place and taught it for a year, left at the end of May, and the class resumed in September under the leadership of Callie Towler, who grew up in the Methodist Church and who graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2014. We currently have eleven children in the Godly Play class. We continue to offer a nursery for our youngest children every Sunday morning.

2014 We began Advent with a Candle Tea at Coffee Hour during which we learned about Moravian Advent customs. We used several Moravian hymns in our Advent worship services, including our Advent wreath lighting hymn, Candle Glowing. On Christmas Eve, we held a traditional Moravian Christmas Eve Love Feast instead of our normal Episcopal Christmas Eve service.

2014 We applied for a Mustard Seed Grant from the Diocese of Virginia in 2014 which wrote and $7000 was awarded to us so that we could re-leather the organ bellows (the lungs of our organ). This is the second Mustard Seed Grant we have received from The Diocese of Virginia in the past four years, in addition to a financial gift from the Diocese that helped pay for our continuing community dinners this past year.

2015 2015 was a year of planning for the future. Catherine wrote a UTO grant for $15,000 which we were awarded for the renovation of our church kitchen, badly in need of improvements.

2015 After finding an old letter about work that the Vestry had done in the early 2000’s regarding the restoration of the “altarpiece” behind the altar in the church, Catherine brought this project back to the Vestry’s attention, and by working through the Virginia Historical Society, we were able to find an art conservator in Richmond, Cleo Mullins, who will be leading the restoration of this altarpiece during 2016. We will receive a $5000 grant from The O’Neill Fund for the Stewardship of Historic Resources, administered through The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, to help fund this project. The Vestry has also revised the St Peter’s Church Endowment Fund and has reactivated the Fund so that can be put back into play as a financial resource for outreach and church projects at St Peter’s for years to come. CPR training for parishioners in 2015 was the first of various activities that will address safety issues at St Peter’s.

We schedule a separate collection for the UTO each year, an essential women’s ministry.

2016– Restoration of the frontpiece (tablets). High up on that scaffolding, Cleo Mullins, Beth Fulton, and the crew of the Richmond Conservation Studio, along with Rusty Bernabo were working magic on the altarpiece, restoring it to its former glory. Johnny and men from the church saved money by picking up, erecting and returning needed scaffolding for the 3-month job. This project included plaster work, painting of the gold framing, removing and repainting the 4 wooden tablets, etc. The cost was approximately $50,000 which was generously donated by the membership and friends, and a grant from the O’Neill Fund for the Stewardship of Historic Resources. The ECW ladies asked that the kitchen be remodeled to better service our On All Saints’ Day, we celebrated the completion of this project, made possible by your financial generosity.

2016 Year of maintenance – Work included the scraping and painting of both the church and the parish house, new and improved plumbing in the parish house along with the renovation of the kitchen, the painting of the nursery roof, a new roof on the church (Ivory Home Solutions of Fredericksburg after leaks and other damage was noted. This cost was donated by one church member) and refinished floors in the sacristy and altar areas.

2016 The restoration of the kitchen this past year, planned by Eunice Key, Cookie Davis, Betty Kunstmann and Cindy Fields, made possible with the help of a UTO grant as well as your generosity, has given us new opportunities for outreach.

This summer we had two lunches for those who come to the food distribution, and in December we made soup for people to enjoy when they came to the food distribution. The distribution gives us the ongoing opportunity to fulfill another of our baptismal vows, “to seek and to serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbors as yourselves.” We have also carried out those vows through the jail ministry at Peumansend Creek Regional Jail.

In 2016 we reached halfway across the world to provide help to a family in Nepal who lost everything in the earthquake there.

2017 – Season of Creation. We began programming this in 2017 from Sept 1 to Oct. 4. In connection with the season we added the rain barrel and  composing bin and other support for the environment.

2017 – The Vestry has been working on a comprehensive safety plan for St Peter’s due in part to continuing gun violence in this nation, including violence carried out in churches and other places of worship. Chris Hall and Scott Moser from the Caroline County Sheriff’s Department did a safety assessment of our property in September and reported their findings to the Vestry, including both the things we are doing well, and the areas in which we could make our buildings and grounds safer. They were highly complimentary of the well-kept grounds. Cookie has pruned the large boxwoods behind the church in response to their suggestion so that these shrubs should not provide hiding places for those who might cause trouble.

2017 – Helmut Linne von Berg, the Junior Warden, has installed locks on the heat pump and the basement doors of both the church and the parish house as another easily implemented safety improvement. Other plans, which we are still in the process of implementing, include installing an AED to help with medical emergencies, and the purchase of additional fire extinguishers for the back of the church which can be used both for any fires and as deterrents against anyone intent on harming our congregation when it is gathered for worship. The Vestry will be presenting a comprehensive safety plan to the congregation sometime during the first part of this year.

2017 – Another almost completed project is the sign that hangs on the outer front wall of the church. Rance Rupp, a woodworker and artist, is in the process of lettering the sign and making it more weather resistant.

2017 – Throughout the year, we made various improvements to our buildings and grounds, including the raising of the bell tower and new sidewalks for the sacristy entrance, the parish house kitchen entrance, and the nursery.

2017 – Some highlights from this past year include the MLK Community Walk and Celebration in Bowling Green on January 16th. St Peter’s was one of the supporters of this walk, and the Roger and Eunice Key and Catherine joined in the walk and the worship service in Bowling Green that day.

2017 – On the first weekend in May, ten people from St Peter’s joined Christ Church, Spotsylvania, for a joint parish retreat at Shrine Mont. Catherine prepared the various worship services, all designed with our Celtic theme in mind. Related was a concert by Magical Strings and presented a stunningly beautiful concert of both traditional Celtic music and original compositions played on instruments made by Philip and Pam Boulding, the musicians.

2017 – In June, the children enjoyed a weeklong Vacation Bible School, led by Becky Fisher, who put together a creative program based on Christian themes in the Harry Potter series.

2017 – On the last Sunday in June, Bishop Shannon Johnston, our Diocesan Bishop, and The Rev. Ed Jones came to St Peter’s for the Bishop’s annual visitation. (A prayer walk was repeated in 2018). Bishop Johnston participated in a prayer walk through Port Royal before the service, and we prayed at various spots throughout the town. We made stops at both Shiloh Baptist Church and Memorial Baptist and prayed with members at both churches. And down on the pier, as we headed back toward church and the close of the prayer walk, we remembered our baptisms as we prayed while looking out over the Rappahannock River

Bishop Shannon granted us permission to observe The Season of Creation for five weeks, beginning on September 1 and ending on St Francis Day, October 4th. The goal of this season in worship was to deepen our understanding of God as Creator, to celebrate God’s role as Creator, and to examine, deepen and widen our own relationships with God, creation, and with one another. With the Bishop’s permission, we used the Eucharistic Prayer, “We Give Thanks” which Catherine put together and is unique to St Peter’s. This Eucharistic Prayer highlights the role of God as Creator and Jesus dwelling in nature as one of us to bring us abundant life.

2017 – The Season of Creation observance came to an end on Wednesday, October 4, St Francis’ Day. Before the Village Dinner, Susan Tilt led an art project, and Catherine designed a Stations of the Cross that drew attention to familiar pieces of the natural world around St Peter’s. Several dogs showed up for the blessing of the pets, and a hermit crab got blessed as well.

2018

2018 was the return of some opportunities for Community outreach

On the first weekend in May, some members of St Peter’s joined Shiloh Baptist for Shiloh’s MS Walk, and others went to Shrine Mont with Christ Church, Spotsylvania. It representedn 5 years of retreats with Christ Church and the Rev. Jeff Packard.

The Holy Week services took place as usual, with the addition of a foot washing and pizza supper Catherine did over at the trailer park before the Maundy Thursday service at St Peter’s. Easter Day fell on April 1st. Catherine preached at the Community Sunrise Service as well as at St Peter’s.

After Easter, St Peter’s, Shiloh and Memorial held a potluck lunch and invited Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Moser to speak with us on the topic of church safety and to hear his suggestions for how to keep our people and church buildings safe from harm.

Also in April, several members of St Peter’s went to Memorial Baptist Church for a gospel concert by The Miller Family.

Between Ascension Day and Pentecost, we joined with Christians around the world and participated in “Thy Kingdom Come,” a prayer initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

During April, we formed a discernment committee for Salli Hartman, led by Thomas Haun, from the Diocese of Virginia. We affirmed her call to the diaconate. She begins her training for the Diaconate in January of 2019.

With Bishop Shannon’s permission, on the Sundays of September we observed Year B of the Season of Creation, delving more deeply into our interconnectedness with one another, with God and with all of Creation. The Season of Creation ended on St Francis’ Day with the blessing of the pets at St Peter’s. Gospel on the River took place on the last Saturday of September at the home of the Heimbachs. The stewardship campaign coincided with the Season of Creation. We ended the stewardship campaign by taking home daffodil bulbs to plant.

During “Thy Kingdom Come,” we spent intentional time in prayer with those who came to the food distribution. In addition, several people took lunch to the trailer park for the children one summer day in July. We provided the food for the Port Royal Tree Lighting in December and several people from St Peter’s helped serve the food, along with Memorial Baptist Church and Shiloh Baptist Church.

In November we welcomed Melanie Karpinos, from Heifer International, to speak with us about the work of Heifer International. In addition to the other donations made to Heifer during the Season of Giving, Mary Peterman donated three watercolors of “charming cows” which we raffled off and in doing so raised almost $200 additional dollars for Heifer International.

In an effort to encourage visiting and pastoral care among church members, Catherine put together a visiting program called OneDay, which began with some helpful hints about paying visits to parishioners. Then we prayed together, and went out to visit and then returned for a time of conversation and prayer. This experiment did not catch on and will be discontinued in its current form.

Our congregation is aging. Several families are looking at major changes over the next few years.

2018. Other ministry

In February, Catherine and the Dukes met in Fredericksburg and attended a program at the Fredericksburg Area Museum called Waterways. We learned about the impact that the Rappahannock River has had on life in this area, and also talked about the waters of baptism. We ate pizza together after the program. All were invited to this program.

Catherine led the children on a hike around Portobago Bay in June. Stopping at various places along the way, we read scriptures, prayed, and ended with the Eucharist by the river. The children spontaneously contributed to care for the environment by cleaning up the area near the river near our Eucharist and lunch spot.

In July, the children took a field trip to Maymont in Richmond, VA, to spend the day in nature, to enjoy feeding the animals there, to play in the creek, and to learn from the educational exhibits about nature in the visitors’ center.

In October, Catherine put together a Sunday afternoon family Eucharist followed by a Halloween dinner for families and children.

For adults, the Christian Education included a Sunday morning Lenten program that looked at helpful ways of praying for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. On Wednesday nights during Lent, Catherine offered a class on the book of Revelation.

The ECW took a field trip to Belle Grove in February and learned more about what being enslaved on a plantation would have been like in the pre-Civil War years.

In June, Catherine and most of the Vestry attended the diocesan Church Vitality Day at Aquia Church in Stafford.
During Advent, Sunday morning Christian education for adults centered around three words, “Behold, Rejoice, and Proclaim.”

2019 –On Sunday mornings this past year, we studied Romans and then delved into an in-depth study of First Corinthians, which culminated in a visit from Bishop Ihloff, who played the part of Paul in our class.

We have also traveled around the world in a series of pilgrimages and have spent some time with The Rev. Deacon Carey Connors discussing mission and how best to carry out our mission of proclaiming God’s love to the world.

The Spanish Bible Study. Last year, thanks to help from you, the Fredericksburg Region and the Diocese, Catherine was able to attend the Latino Ministries competency course at VTS. This study led to the Spanish Bible study which began last Lent and then continued through the year, with commitment from those attending to continue to meet in 2020.

This Bible study (Friday nights) is geared toward Spanish speakers. During Lent, we listened to a short talk in Spanish, followed by a discussion. Since Lent, the group has continued to meet, and our current study consists of each person bringing a Bible scripture that illustrates a certain theme such as faith or blessing. We share a meal together and then join in conversation around the theme of the evening. All are welcome at this Bible study, even those who don’t speak Spanish.

Countries represented in this one Bible study are Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Mexico

The St Peter’s music program. Many churches are no longer fortunate enough to have a choir, especially smaller churches. I’m so grateful to the choir members who have been so faithful over the past several years—Nancy Long, Helmut Linne von Berg, Mike Newman, and Roger Key. With the addition of Thom Guthrie, Mary Peterman, Denise Gregory and Tucker Fisher, our choir has been able to add beauty and quality music to our worship each Sunday. We are also blessed with several instrumentalists who are willing to share their time and talent: Helmut Linne von Berg, violin; Marilyn Newman, harp; and Mary Peterman, flute; Thom Guthrie, organ. Brad Volland, our music director and organist, as done a masterful job of putting all of these talents together to make some wonderful music, as well as contributing his own talents by playing our little tracker organ. Every year Helmut Linne von Berg and Jim Heimbach produce Gospel on the River, an enjoyable afternoon of singing gospel hymns together. Brad and these wonderful musicians are true blessings for our church.

The Concert Series. St Peter’s offers a world class concert for the community each year, thanks to your generosity and commitment to this outreach program for the community. This year we welcomed PhilHarmonia, a chorus of over twenty young people from Philadelphia, PA. The Heimbachs hosted the reception before the concert.

Two new worship services took place this year—The Blessing of the Backpacks for the children, and The Christmas Service of Comfort for those who have suffered losses during the year and may not have felt overwhelmed with joy during the Christmas season. The Connexion Chamber Choir from Colonial Beach came over and sang for this service.

The Season of Creation this year brought us to the end of the three year Season of Creation lectionary cycle. During this season, we not only celebrated the wonders of creation, and thanksgiving to God for all God has made, but we also looked at some of the current problems that the earth is experiencing and how scripture applies to current environmental crises.

Our beautiful property brings us closer to God. Robert Bryan cleared the riverbank and worked on the old colonial road bed next to the church, opening up the river view. We are so blessed with the beautiful view that we enjoy of the Rappahannock River and of the many flowerbeds around the buildings that Cookie Davis maintains.

2019 – Trex Bench placed overlooking the river. Thanks to Eunice Key for leading this effort which was to further recycling.

Other Ministry, 2019

Weekly summer fun for the neighborhood kids. This year, instead of Bible School, we tried having a series of study and activities that included our friends around the neighborhood. Elizabeth Heimbach and Catherine held cooking classes for neighborhood kids and Jim Heimbach taught everyone how to make omelets.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Families–The Episcopal Church Men took dinners to many families at Thanksgiving, and with the help of the ECW, St Peter’s adopted a family for Christmas and bought and delivered the requested presents. Both projects were done in conjunction with The Caroline County Department of Social Services.

St Peter’s provided the pizza for the Port Royal Christmas party. The Town Council, Caroline’s Promise, Caroline County Parks and Recreation, the Port Royal Fire Department and the churches come together to provide this annual gathering for Port Royal residents. Santa Claus made his appearance as usual.

We have also been blessed at St Peter’s to have those in discernment for ministry join with us in a variety of ways. Phil Fitzhugh, who helps with the food distribution and is a regular at the Wednesday Ecumenical Bible Study and who has preached at St Peter’s, is in the process of becoming a locally licensed pastor in The United Methodist Church. Salli Hartman, who did her discernment work at St Peter’s, is in the diocesan school and is being trained as a Deacon in The Episcopal Church. She has been approved to move forward with her candidacy. The Reverend Deacon Carey Connors, who is currently a Deacon, is at VTS and will graduate this May and be ordained as a priest in The Episcopal Church. We are blessed by having her with us two Sundays a month. She is sharing her extensive knowledge in missions with us as well as preaching once a month and serving as the Deacon in our worship services.

2019–  Stations of the Cross created in 2019 with posters added in 2023 in the cemetery to encourage community support.

2020

2020 has been a time of dealing with exceptional challenges with the elimination of gathered services after March 8 due to the pandemic. We have moved forward by figuring out alternate ways to worship.

The theme of Persevering in the Pandemic is relevant to our experience in 2020. Services were remade on Zoom in the church or in person outside along the riverbank

The theme of restoration from the Old Testament and God doing a new thing in the New Testament was apropos to St. Peter’s in 2020. God is creating, redeeming, and sustaining. We learned to be both flexible and adaptable. Themes for the year:

1. The church moved to Zoom with scattered outside services along the river in the fall.

The Zoom services offered additional ways for parishioners to contribute through photographs and discussion. In July and August, we held Morning and Evening Prayer outside. In September, we celebrated the Eucharist twice.

2. New services (Compline) and educational opportunities (Sacred Ground).

The latter considered racism against various group from the 19th century to the present. 16 people, including people from other churches, participated in the ten-week Sacred Ground study that is offered by The Episcopal Church. Our response, because of that study, is threefold. We will continue to learn by meeting in a book group and continuing to add to our knowledge about racism.

3. Ministries regrouped under the restrictions due to the pandemic, including the ECW (Episcopal Church Women), ECM (Episcopal Church Men), Village Dinner, and Village Harvest. Children ministries could not be scheduled.

4. Within the ministries there were alternate means of connecting – ECW, for example, made cookies for members not able to connect. We used our ample driveway to distribute food for the Village Dinner and Village Harvest food ministry. We also provided messages of assurance in the food with the latter, an idea from one of our parishioners. There were untold phone calls, email, and outside visits to preserve the connections. In December, the ECW added an activity. They packed and delivered plates of cookies to members of our community who have been especially isolated due to the pandemic.

5. Filming began inside the church in Dec. and was integrated within the online service from Zoom. We have bought a hotspot for St Peter’s, which will allow us for the first time in the history of St Peter’s to have internet access in our church buildings.

Another casualty of time. The nursery had to be demolished due to deterioration rather than upgraded. The roof was saved. Johnny took windows we had purchased from Window World and could not use to Habitat for Humanity in Hanover. The space was converted into a pavilion after much discussion and has been a favorite space in later years.

2020 – Creation of the Tree Fund. An investment for the present and future.

Because we’ve not been able to sing together during the pandemic, we have done a lot of listening to music during this time—music from all over the world. We’ve heard music that we wouldn’t normally get to hear. What music, in addition to the music we usually use, will we want to add to our in-person worship? What different music will we want to sing together?

Worship online in addition to our in-person worship may also be something we will continue. Would you drive to St Peter’s in the dark to participate in a twenty-to-thirty-minute service of Compline? Probably not! But spending thirty minutes of quiet worship on Sunday night online could continue to be a satisfying way to close the day in prayer. Currently, Compline at 7PM on Sunday nights offers a peaceful prayerful close to the day in community. We may want to continue such online offerings

2021 -In 2021, we regathered in person for worship on Palm Sunday (March 28, 2021) after having met almost exclusively on Zoom for most of 2020.

By the summer of 2021, we were doing most of our work together in person again. We’ve learned to adapt quickly to the constantly changing challenges of the pandemic. The Village Dinner returned in 2021 as take out only. The in-house dining option has resumed in those months when the virus rate has decreased. The Village Harvest food distribution went from a market style distribution to one in which already packed bags are delivered to the client’s vehicles. Worship services have both in church participants as well as those who attend on Zoom.

We regathered in person for worship on Palm Sunday after having met almost exclusively on Zoom for most of 2020. By the summer of 2021, we were doing most of our work together in person again. We’ve learned to adapt quickly to the constantly changing challenges of the pandemic. The Village Dinner returned in 2021 as take out only. The in-house dining option has resumed in those months when the virus rate has decreased. The Village Harvest food distribution went from a market style distribution to one in which already packed bags are delivered to the client’s vehicles. Worship services have both in church participants as well as those who attend on Zoom.

Both the ECW and the ECM came up with new ministries. The ECW did a day of soup deliveries in March and held a plant sale in the fall as part of our observance of The Season of Creation. The ECM sent out Thanksgiving cards. Sacred Ground, the group working on racial reconciliation and healing, continued learning about the effects of racism in our nation by reading three books, and then coming up with action plans focused on continued work to promote racial reconciliation in the community.

The most audacious act of the year was certainly the Jamaican mission trip. Andrea Pogue inspired St Peter’s and friends to raise $3,000 for the Victoria School in Jamaica. St Peter’s provided and shipped school supplies to Jamaica and seven people from St Peter’s went to Jamaica to meet the faculty and the students of the Victoria School and to hand out the book bags in person. Both the ECW and the Vestry provided additional funds for the school at the end of the year from their outreach budgets. The 2021 event has become a launch pad for additional support we can provide to that community.

In 2021, St Peter’s contributed over $12,000 to the local community, the nation and the world.

1. The church collected 292 bottles of hand sanitizer for Caroline’s Promise for their school supplies distribution for Caroline County Schools on July 31, 2021.
2. The ECM raised $2,300 and worked with Caroline County Social Services to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas help to various families.
3. Giving Tuesday raised $900 for the Village Harvest. Our food distribution celebrated its 7th anniversary in November, 2021.
4. The Vestry contributed $3,000 to various charities.
5. ECW donated $3,000 to various charities – locally, nationally and internally. These funds were raised from the monthly Village Dinners.

2021 – After a several years of work, we dedicated our outdoor pavilion in September 2021 in memory of Dr. John R. Sellers, Sr. The dedication program featured music that had special connections to John and his life, and was performed by Helmut Linne von Berg and Jim Heimbach. After the service, many in the congregation provided a lovely reception for John’s family that took place in the shelter of the pavilion on that rainy afternoon. The pavilion gives us an outdoor space for prayer, reflection, meetings, and gathering for coffee hours. The pavilion starred in the Christmas pageant as the stable at Bethlehem. This space is truly a gift to our parish.

2021 –  Christmas play goes outside and repeated in 2023. The play goes back to the 1990’s when there were a large number of children in the church. This put our unique and beautiful outdoor spaces to work as we enacted the Good News of Jesus’ birth. Many thanks to the Heimbachs for sharing their front porch for the beginning of the pageant. This outdoor pageant brought our community together. In addition to members of St Peter’s, friends of St Peter’s, an angel from Memorial Baptist, and others in the community, we presented the Christmas story to those who came from as far away as Bowling Green and King George to see the Christmas story unfold outdoors in scripture and in song.

In 2021 the Sacred Ground group continued learning by reading Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How we Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGee, and All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, by Tiya Miles. We have been talking recently about ways that St. Peter’s can become part of what Bishop Curry calls the Beloved Community. As a first step, we are planning to invite the Diocese of Virginia Missioner for Racial Justice and Healing, Dr. J. Lee Hill, Jr., to speak at St Peter’s, either in person or via Zoom. In addition, the group has asked the Vestry to provide $500 to establish a scholarship allowing a Caroline County minority student to attend Germanna. We hope that as the group firms up plans for the future, we will have more information about the new scholarship fund and that many in the congregation will want to contribute to it.

2022

Lent 2022 arrived along with an unexpected and sudden upheaval in my family which meant that Catherine had to take an unexpected leave of absence from St Peter’s. Under the leadership of the Vestry and Becky Fisher, our Senior Warden, the church put a plan into place and proceeded on with worship, study, outreach and pastoral care in my absence without a glitch.

A great blessing that came from my absence was the arrival of the Rev. Tom Hughes and his wife Alice. When Catherine returned after Easter, Tom and Alice decided to continue with us, with Tom in the role of Assisting Priest. Tom and Alice have joined wholeheartedly in the life of our parish and have contributed to our well-being as a parish on many levels.

ECM Thanksgiving and Christmas Collection provided $1250 to the community through our collaboration with the Caroline County Department of Social Services. The Department of Social Services uses the money to provide families with store specific grocery gift cards. This is the third year since 2020 that over $1000 was provided for this ministry to Caroline County.

Hands on assistance to parishioners from ECM included support for John and Toni Faibisy. Toni came home from months in the hospital and in rehab and the house had to be made ready for her arrival. John said of this assistance from the ECM that he ‘received a mighty assistance from ECM, who arrived in force at his house to clear furniture for him in anticipation of the arrival of Toni’s new medical equipment and supplies. This equipment included a medical bed, wheelchair and the like. Additionally, the ECM team had solid ideas about rearranging furniture to maximize space in the house to accommodate the incoming equipment. John greatly appreciated the space-saving interior rearrangement ideas, most of which were put into effect. He also appreciated aid he’s been given over the months, such as “soul food” delivered to agent who can barely operate a microwave or acting as a shuttle service to pick up a car from the auto dealer twenty miles away. Thank you ECM!’”

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) contributed to St Peter’s outreach as well as tending to needs within the congregation. Elizabeth Heimbach, ECW President, provided the following report.

hroughout 2022, St. Peter’s ECW has continued to serve grab-and-go Village Dinners each month. At our annual meeting in October, the group planned the menus for the upcoming year and voted to donate the money earned by the dinners to the following organizations: St. Peter’s Discretionary Fund, Village Harvest Food Distribution, Healthy Harvest Food Bank, St. Andrew’s School in Richmond, Five Talents. Heifer International, Episcopal Relief and Development, Victoria All Age School in Jamaica, Micah Ecumenical Ministries (in honor of Thomas Hughes), Luis (Cookie’s friend in Haiti).

In November, the ECW gathered to write Christmas cards to members and friends of St Peter’s who are scattered far and near and to enjoy some time socializing together.

The ECW also delivered toys, clothes, and food as a Christmas gift to a family in Bowling Green and prepared Christmas cards to enclose with the food bags for Village Harvest, as well as for church members who have moved away.

The Discretionary Fund

In 2022, the Discretionary Fund provided $5715 to those who called St Peter’s for assistance. Thanks to the generosity of the people of St Peter’s, Catherine was able to help approximately 60 families with emergency financial needs, including rent and utilities, car payments, and medical bills. This ministry brings not only funds, but also hope to the people who call St Peter’s for help.

Vestry Outreach donations on behalf of the Congregation

At the end of each year, the Vestry sends money out to various organizations that represent God at work in the world. This year, the following groups received donations from St Peter’s: Hunters for the Hungry, CERVE, St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Caroline’s Promise, Caroline Young Life, Caroline Recovery Center, and Episcopal Migration Ministries.

Other Outreach projects

St Peter’s members contributed snacks to the Blessing Cart for Nurses at Mary Washington Hospital in February. In July, we contributed 250 boxes of markers for Caroline County students, which were distributed along with other school supplies by Caroline’s Promise. In September, St Peter’s partnered with the Caroline County School System to help sponsor a family evening of kickball in Port Royal.

Prayer, Study and Worship

For most of the year, Monday morning meditation took place at 6:30 on Monday mornings on Zoom, giving people the opportunity to pray together for twenty minutes at the beginning of each week.

In January and February of 2022, St Peter’s offered a program called “Preparing our Legacy,” an online series of talks from various experts regarding the issues that we need to take care of as we age—financial and legal matters in place, wills done and updated, and for our families, information about what we want medically at the end of our lives. Working with a funeral home, planning a funeral service, where to be buried—all of these things in place mean peace and less stress for ourselves, our families, and those we leave behind. Twenty people from several churches attended. Resources from the series have helped people as they plan for the future.

During 2022, the weekly Wednesday Bible study continued. Each week, this group prays together and then studies the lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. The group met in person, and also on Zoom. The planned Lenten study on the Psalms was postponed and will be held in 2023 during Lent.

In December, a group from St Peter’s went to The Bethlehem Walk sponsored by Salem Baptist Church in Manokin-Sabot and experienced Bethlehem as it was at the time of the birth of Jesus. In its 19th year, the Bethlehem Walk has presented the Christmas story and the story of salvation to thousands of people each year.

Worship continued both in person and also on-line. St Peter’s members participated in the community sunrise service at Townfield, the home of the Longs, on Easter morning. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services were held. After the Christmas Eve service, the young people, along with the Hicks family, went caroling at the home of the Linne von Bergs, who were not able to attend the Christmas services.

Toward the end of 2022, the Vestry hired Fredericksburg Technology to update the sound system in the church and to improve our on-line worship offerings by switching to You Tube from Zoom.

Racial Reconciliation

The Sacred Ground Group continued its work on racial reconciliation during 2022. The group continued reading for education. To address historic and systemic inequities in education for African Americans, St Peter’s created the Sacred Ground Scholarship, available to students in Caroline County of African American or Native American heritage. In the spring of 2022, two scholarships for $1000 each were awarded to two African American seniors at Caroline County High School. In July, The Rev. Dr. Lee Hill, now the Canon for Racial Justice and Healing in the Diocese of Virginia, visited St Peter’s. Lee preached and then joined us for lunch afterward to discuss various ways forward in our work for racial reconciliation. In October, the group traveled to Washington, DC, to visit The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Creation Care

In May, Andrea Pogue brought Shred-It back to Port Royal for the tenth year. This outreach service helps in our care of the environment by giving people the opportunity to dispose of and to recycle their documents securely.

On Earth Day, Saturday, April 23rd, approximately thirteen people, including scouts from Troop 304, Zeke Fisher’s scout troop, met to work on the church riverbank and to provide better access to the river. The group cleared an open space and removed trash from the area. We partnered with Friends of the Rappahannock, represented by Brent Hunsinger, who joined in the work.

St Peter’s observed The Season of Creation in worship from September 1- October 4, St Francis’ Day. Ben Hicks led a four week study based on the book Goodside’s M.O.R.E Model for Effective Climate Action. The four people who participated learned more about how to reduce our use of greenhouse gases, and how to come up with a specific plan of action to do so.

2023. This is Catherine’s sermon for the Parish meeting.

Jesus doesn’t wait around for people to come to him. He immediately calls followers, those he hopes will help him in his work of sharing the good news so that all will know that the kingdom of God has indeed come near.

As he walks by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees the brothers Simon and Andrew, who are busy casting their nets, hoping to catch fish. And then two more, the sons of Zebedee, James and his brother John. They too are fishermen, and Jesus finds them in their boats mending their nets. These four immediately leave their nets and follow him. Jesus tells them that they will still be fishing, only now they will be fishing for people.

Since today is the day of our congregational meeting, I’m going to focus on how this passage applies to all of us here at St Peter’s.

Jesus has called us to be his followers. So here we are, approximately forty-eight people, thirty-five of us actively involved in the mission and ministry of this church. We are small in number, but mighty in what we do as followers of Jesus. What I am going to say now will serve as our annual report for the year just past, 2023.

We are the ones that Jesus has called not only to believe in the Good News, but also to proclaim the Good News. The time has drawn near, and we don’t have any time to waste. The world needs this good news, not just news about someone doing something kind, although that news is important. This good news is about specifically turning toward Jesus, finding a new way to go that differs from the ways that the world offers, and following Jesus in trust and hope, believing that not only does God have a place prepared for us when we die, but that God’s kingdom is here and now, life changing, that new life is not only a possibility but a reality, if only we follow him where he would have us go.

And the good news is that this new life is available not just to us, but to all people who will follow. Imagine! If people believe this good news and follow, God’s kingdom will become much more a reality on this earth than it is currently.

The Good News is ours to share! Jesus’ trust in us to share this news is a huge, undeserved gift. So out of gratitude, we want to carry the Good News out into the world.

Even though the disciples left their fishing nets behind when they followed Jesus, they still needed the skills they had learned—casting their nets and mending their nets.

Both casting nets and mending nets are necessary parts of discipleship. As disciples, we must cast our nets but we also must mend our nets as well. Here are some of the ways we have been both casting and mending the nets that Jesus has given to us to use here at St Peter’s.

Jesus fed the hungry and asked us to do the same thing. The Village Harvest, our food distribution, is one of the major ways that we cast the Lord’s nets out into the community. In any given month, seven to ten people here at St Peter’s work to make food available to those in need—and we provide food for an average of about 90 people a month. This physical work of going to the food bank, loading the truck, unloading it, sorting and packing the food, and distributing food would be impossible without all of those of you who donate money to this project, and these donations come from people outside the church as well. This project is completely funded by donations. A sign of your generosity—at the end of 2023 we had almost $1750 in our Village Harvest fund, which will help us to cover the purchases of food in the coming months. We get the food from our partner, the Healthy Harvest Food Bank. Even though we get the food at a much lower price at the food bank, we still have to buy the food, so your funding is crucial in order for us to cast out the nets that help to address hunger in this county and beyond.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the fresh food that we have left over? That food gets taken over to the Caroline County Social Services food pantry in Bowling Green—a way that we partner with Social Services.

Another important way that we cast out the Lord’s nets in conjunction with Social Services is to support their Thanksgiving and Christmas projects for people in need in this county. We do this through the ECM collection for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Again, your financial generosity is a way to cast the Lord’s nets out into the world.

We also partner with Social Services in some other ways. We participate in CERVE, a group of churches in Caroline County who work with Social Services and the Sheriff’s Department to provide emergency help to people in Caroline County. We are the only church in this part of the county involved in this group, and our presence is important in maintaining a link with the churches across the county.

The Caroline County Public School System holds family nights periodically throughout the year, and we get to support them through your generosity in bringing snacks and other supplies. Also, we help the school system through Caroline’s Promise, providing school supplies for their school supply distribution that takes place each year right before school starts.

We also cast our nets through the annual Shred-It project. People come to St Peter’s for a needed service that is not otherwise available in this part of the county. And their donations help us in turn.

This past year we cast out nets out to college students at The House, the Episcopal ministry to students and faculty at the University of Mary Washington and to Germanna. The Episcopal Church Women did the cooking and provided dinner for the students and we got to spend some time with them. The ECW also made many donations to groups out the world who are casting their own nets on God’s behalf.

We cast our nets abroad by partnering with The Victoria School in Jamaica, providing needed supplies, educational funds, tablets for the students and computers for the school with the help of people in Andrea’s family not directly connected with the church. And money has also been made available for the school to provide breakfast for students who would otherwise come to school hungry.

Our outdoor Christmas pageant is another way to cast a net out into the community, making a central story about Jesus come alive for the people who came to witness the story of his birth. And one thing I love about that net casting is that people in the community wanted to participate—two angels flew in, and we even had a resident of Caroline County bring his goats to be part of the pageant.

One new way that we are casting nets is through helping to provide a weekly Eucharist to the people at Chancellor’s Village. I go at least once a month to celebrate the Eucharist for a group of Episcopalian residents, and this year we St Peter’s people may decide to go as a group to provide a time of fellowship afterward for the people there who attend.

Having our services available on YouTube is another way to cast the Lord’s nets out into the world, making our worship available any time for anyone who would like to join in from anywhere in the world. Paying for Breezeline is an added expense that we have taken on, but it is essential for this 21st century net casting that we are called to do. In addition to putting our worship services online, Ben also has created a website that serves as a huge resource for education, and helping people to grow in faith and knowledge in addition to exhaustively documenting our life together here at St Peter’s.

I’ve talked so far about how we cast our nets as we fish for people with whom we can share the good news.

But just as important is net mending. Nets and the people who cast the nets need care to keep themselves and the nets in optimal working order.

And so we mend our nets when we come together to worship each Sunday. To get to praise God together, to hear God’s word, to pray together, to sing together and to participate in the Eucharist—this is the most important net mending that we do each week, and this is why I try to make sure that our worship service is one that people will want to attend, because they find some strength and encouragement for the week ahead in the time we have spent together praising God. And all of you pitch in to make our liturgy happen. Don’t forget that the definition of the word liturgy is “the work of the people.” Lectors, chalice bearers, ushers, music makers, bread bakers, altar tending, flower arrangers, and those of you who show up to worship and to participate—every one of us here makes worship possible and meaningful for all of us each week. We are grateful to have Tom and Alice Hughes bringing their talents to our church and pitching in. They have both been a blessing.

Education is another way that we mend our nets. Our weekly lectionary Bible study, which has gone on for years now, is a central way for us to learn, and in doing so, to strengthen our nets. This past year we had a class on the Psalms, and best of all, people have come together to have a class for our youngest children from ages five to nine. This kind of strengthening our nets, through education and participation in worship by our children, is of the utmost importance. I’m glad that we have had some growth in this area this past year, especially after the isolation that Covid created.

We support one another and mend our nets when we care for one another by making calls, sending cards, visiting and showing our care for each other in a variety of ways. What we do for one another strengthens not only the recipient, but the giver as well.

Praying together is another net mending activity. We have an active prayer list, and in addition we pray for people in our church and community each week in Bible Study. Also, this past year, we had a prayer vigil that focused on the war in Gaza, a way to remember that we must turn to God in these challenging times and not become discouraged or to lose faith when God’s kingdom ever coming on this earth can seem so improbable in these dire situations.

One net mending project that we have created at St Peter’s is the group that we call Sacred Ground, committed to learning more about racism (mending our own nets) and to then to get creative about faithfully creating ways in which we can be part of dismantling racism in this country (mending nets out in the world). A direct result of this net mending is The Sacred Ground Scholarship, which this year is helping three students at Germanna Community College go to trade school without incurring debt, so that when they graduate and work in their new trade, they will be able to do so debt free. We have been able to do this by actively partnering with the administration at Germanna Community College.

None of this casting and mending would be possible without your presence and also your financial support. Net mending this year has included the physical mending of our buildings, big unexpected expenses—new furnaces for both buildings, repairing termite damage and painting. We had several trees that had to be either removed or severely pruned this year. Here I want to thank Cookie Davis, our Junior Warden, and Johnny Davis, who have been nothing short of heroic in dealing with all of the emergencies in our buildings and on our grounds that we have faced this past year.

Topical review, 2023

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. New expressions in ministry
Stewardship tree

Thanks to Jan Saylor for her artistic ability to create the stewardship campaign tree. Pledges to the campaign helped the tree grow another leaf. The campaign began Oct. 8. By Oct 29, it had grown about 18 leaves!

Lent -Stations of the Cross in the graveyard and more services
Using Mary Peterman’s artwork, we created banners for the stations of the cross in our graveyard. After Palm Sunday, Jan taught us to make Palm crosses. The Tenebrae Service and Maundy Thursday were added back to Holy Week this year after COVID.

Chancellor Village Eucharist – During early August, 2023, the local Episcopal region organized a weekly Eucharist at Chancellor’s Village. Catherine participates once or twice a month and shares the pulpit with the other priests of the Fredericksburg Region.

Advent Workshop –
Jan Saylor organized an Advent Workshop on Nov. 26 from 3:30pm to 5pm. This was our first such workshop for the entire congregation.

It was a wonderful intergenerational event with 16 people participating. It was a good kickoff for Advent, creating items to be taken home.

Jan had organized the Parish House into 4 stations:

-Creating a block based nativity scene. The characters were drawn on small blocks of wood.
-Bird feeder made with pinecones covered with peanut butter and bird seed.
-Advent wreath intended for tables with candles and greenery.
-Decorated Christmas trees that started with sugar cones and were covered with different frostings, white and green, decorated with assorted sprinkl

3. Expanded and revised ministries

Mission trip to Jamaica

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.

Anniversary Village Harvest Food Ministry -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.

Sacred Ground revised
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.

ECM (Episcopal Church Men) end of year expanded donations and use of an art auction.
The ECM collected $1,545 for Christmas and Thanksgiving. $500 went to Social Services for 10 Thanksgiving dinners. $800 was sent in December for Christmas donations. This was made possible in part by auctioning off 3 of Mary Peterman’s artworks. This is the second largest donation over four years since 2020.

Wifi- We moved from Zoom to YouTube. This allows viewing the service on the day but also at other times since recordings are stored on a YouTube site.

Community – Prayer service,
We also held a 2 hour Prayer service for the Mid-East after war broke out on Oct. 7. Our time together included a short prayer service at noon, other prayers at 1pm and concluding prayers at 2pm. Larry Saylor provided meditative music throughout the 2 hours.


Outside Christmas pageant,
We revived the outside Christmas pageant and added to it. 3 live goats were in the field for the shepherds plus a reconstructed star to display


Work with community organizations
St Peter’s served as a Partner in Education with the Caroline County Public Schools adding snacks for bingo night at the Fire house.

We collected 95 packs notebook paper in conjunction with Caroline’s Promise for the beginning of the school year. We donated snacks to the schools upon request

Our Shred-it- this was the 11th appearance of the Shred-it truck since 2012. Shred-it’s goal is to safely dispose of records no longer needed using a professional shredding company After costs of $335,the project made $305 for St Peter’s ministries

Key parishioner volunteering
– Johnny Davis cut up and cleared a large limb that fell from the sycamore tree earlier this summer. He led the effort to recover after the July 29 storm that sheared off the top of the sycamore tree. He has also cleaned the gravestones in the graveyard. He organized the painting for the parish House and recovery after termites were discovered in the church

-Jim Anderson has adjusted the pew doors on the south side of the church,
-BJ Anderson continues to make the delicious gluten free bread that we use each Sunday.
-Cookie Davis continues to provide flower arrangements for the church each Sunday, a labor of love that involves gathering what is blooming in the area and then artfully arranging the flowers for our altar.
-Alice Hughes organized the Christmas flower cutting and arranging with 5 other people. She provided instruction to several who had never arranged flowers before.

ECW (Episcopal Church Women) projects

St Peter’s Episcopal Church women welcomed a group of youth and children from Port Royal for lunch and games on Wednesday, August 9th. School started the next week. This was the first summer event for Port Royal since the pandemic and was sponsored by the ECW.

Sept 25 The group met to make donations for 2023:
1. Donate $100 to CERVE, (the Caroline Emergency Relief through Volunteer Efforts),
2. $250 to Catherine’s Discretionary Fund,
3. $500 to Village Harvest,
4. $500 to Social Services for their Christmas program.

Dec. 5, 2023 – ECW took dinner to the “House”

16 Losses connected with two historic trees and heating systems

4. Music provided new delights
Music highlights. The choir continues to excel beyond their numbers with its mix of instruments and pieces. There were many variations of their performances – 1 the full choir, 2 Larry Saylor, guitar, 3 Mary Peterman and Denise Gregory, flute and piano, duo, 4 Larry and Helmut linne Von Berg, vocal duo, 5 Mary, Denise and Ken – trio

Our annual concert was a bluegrass band. Little Falls Bluegrass Band from Stafford, entertaining us at Pentecost.

The gentlemen have played bluegrass music for many years in many bands, including this one. They comprise all ages – the banjo player celebrated his 18th birthday on Pentecost. They have played for weddings, social and church services. They are tight both in music and friendship – and it shows! Their acapella numbers were especially wonderful.

5. Losses connected with two historic trees and two heating systems.
We lost the pear tree just behind the Parish House which was over 100 years old. The pear tree was probably planted by the wife of Rev Ware, who served at St Peter’s from 1888 to 1918. She planted an orchard of fruit trees on the church property. This pear tree was probably the last member of her fruit tree orchard, connecting us to the faithful witness of past St Peter’s members. Ironically, we had one of the best pear years this year.

Our large sycamore tree now stands as a sentinel with no branches. The branches that remained after the freak storm at the end of July did not have enough support from the tree trunk to safely remain on the tree. The sycamore tree will probably bush out in the spring with small branches and leaves. Meanwhile, it too provides a witness to our past. It is estimated at 200 years old, possibly planted before the church was built.

The Parish House heating system was replaced over the summer and was a planned upgrade. However, the Church heating system failed on Christmas Eve and will need to be replaced in 2024.

2024
See Mid-year review 2024

Thoughts for the future

  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 leading up to 1836. It was 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. Celebrate the diversity of our Parish..
  3. Maintain the important links – close connection with parishioners and through them the community. We need the support of both.
  4. Do we know the needs of the people of Port Royal? We need a closer connection to offer what we can for them.
  5. Accept the generosity of parishioners. They live through what they give you and find meaning to their lives and enhance your life as well. Encourage them to expand and create new ministries
  6. 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.
  7. Remember the past but don’t live in it. We can look back but can only move forward.