Thursday, May 16, 2019

Giving Jesus a Hug

As little Abbie's grandmother was bringing her to enjoy an afternoon on our playground, Abbie asked if she could "give Jesus a hug." Abbie refers to all crosses as "Jesus," and just couldn't pass up an opportunity to show her love!

"...Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.' ” - Matthew 19:14



Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sweet Success!

Each year, Christ Church sponsors an ice cream social and book fair at our partner school, George Mason Elementary. Volunteers are reporting that last Friday's celebration was the best one yet! There was a palpable sense of hope in the air among students and staff and one long-time volunteer remarked, "the school looked and felt the best it has in a long time." We know our dear friends at GMES are excited about breaking ground on a much-need new school. Please continue to keep this process in your prayers!

The children enjoyed ice cream sundaes with all the toppings and each student was given a bag of books to take home for summer reading pleasure. The volunteers would like to share a big THANK YOU to the Christ Church community. Your donations, support, and prayers make this special day possible. Click through the slideshow below to see photos.
  Sweet Success at GMES

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Message for Holy Week


 BY BISHOP SUSAN GOFF

Jesus said, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you." John 12:35

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Holy Week is the longest walk of the year. We begin the walk on the outskirts of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives, where the disciples throw their cloaks over a colt and Jesus climbs on. It is a ludicrous sight - a grown man on a colt, his feet dangling to the ground. Everyone knows that real kings ride great stallions, not donkeys. But Jesus chooses to be a living parable, a parable of humility. Jesus chooses to embrace seeming foolishness to reveal God's wisdom, seeming weakness to show us real strength.
           
We continue the walk in Gethsemane where the disciples fall asleep as Jesus prays in agony. It, too, is a ludicrous sight - soldiers armed to the teeth to arrest the prince of peace, a disciple running away stark naked. We stay only because thousands of miles and thousands of years insulate us from the danger. Otherwise, our walk would end as quickly as theirs did.

We walk with Jesus to the mockery of a trial where the powerful hurl lies and false accusations. We walk with Peter, Jesus' friend, who denies him three times then weeps bitter tears. These, too, are ludicrous sights - those with all the control inventing fictions, those with great love succumbing to fear.

As we walk on, we see Jesus mocked, stripped and beaten, wishing we could be as far away as the men disciples, desiring to bolt as they did, because the pain and fear are too much to bear. We walk yet farther, following Jesus as he carries his cross, mourning with the women he meets on the way. And we stop, we still our walking feet, as we look on from a distance as Jesus hangs on the cross. This, too, would be a ludicrous sight were it not so agonizing. A grown man, acclaimed only days before as king, hanging stripped, exposed, impotent. But Jesus chooses to be a living parable, a parable of humility. Jesus chooses to embrace seeming foolishness to reveal God's wisdom, seeming weakness to show us real strength.
           
Will we accompany Jesus the rest of the way? When our lives, or the lives of those around us, bring us to places of trial and suffering, will we walk with Jesus there? When the bitter, ugly realities of a world in need break in upon our lives, will we step outside our usual preoccupations to accompany Jesus there?   When faced with hard choices, will we chose to be a living parable, a parable of humility, as Jesus was? Will we choose to embrace seeming foolishness to reveal God's wisdom, seeming weakness to show the world real strength?
           
May God give us such courage. In words inspired by of a collect in A New Zealand Prayer Book, we pray:
 Jesus, when you walked the way of love, people shouted their joy, they shouted their accusations, they shouted their pain. Grant us your strength so that, when the shouting ceases, we will continue to walk with you all the way to the cross, all the way to new life. Amen.

Your Sister in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff
Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority 




Monday, March 11, 2019

Shrine Mont Welcomes Everybody

by Addie B.

My name is Addie and I have been going to Shrine Mont Camps ever since I was eight. This will be my 5th summer there! The camp I go to is St.George’s, and I love it! I look forward to going every year. There are many reasons why I love it there. They welcome everybody and they don’t let anyone feel left out, no matter what your background is. I always make a lot of friends there. You easily bond with your cabin mates, and they become like your sisters or brothers. St.George’s is very active and you are never bored there, because they always have something fun planned - things like hiking, swimming, crafts, etc. They always find a way to make you feel better, if you are sad or homesick. Another thing I like there is worship because of all the songs we get to sing. We worship in the outside Shrine and people play guitars. The counselors and staff are all so nice and welcoming. They are also funny and kind of crazy. The overall vibe is positive, which is amazing and makes me feel so happy. I love Shrine Mont Camps so much!!

-
Click here for more information about Shrine Mont camps.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Empowering Teens & Parents

BY ADAM WILLIAMS

Last night, Christ Church’s Youth Ministry hosted seminars for parents and teens regarding teen mental health awareness. Speakers from the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation spoke to over 40 parents/adults and 30 students about the need to identify signs of depression in our teens, as well as explored tools for developing healthy and positive coping mechanisms for moments of stress and anxiety. This marks our second successful event with the Foundation, making it clear that the desire for prioritizing our mental health is strong among our community. Thank you to all who came and took part in this important conversation! 
Parents learn how to recognize signs of depression in teens.

Teens develop skills for coping with stress and anxiety.
 More info about the Cameron K. Gallagher foundation.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Even at the grave, we make our song


By Rev. Darren Steadman

Thursday January 31, a call came in from a parishioner.

“I’m sitting here with some lovely new friends, and unfortunately there has been a tragic death in their family. A man, only 48 years old, passed away a few days ago and his family is here to make the final arrangements. They could really use some pastoral support, and they may need a place to have the funeral. Oh, and they have just arrived from England. Can you help?”

I took a few seconds to fully comprehend this complex situation, and even less time to realize my response.

“Of course, I’d love to help.”

I met the family that Thursday, only a little more than a week ago, and they were “shattered,” the word used by the mother of the man who had passed on. They had to arrange an emergency passport for one of the kids by driving all over England, just after hearing the horrific news that their uncle/brother/son had passed away suddenly in the States. Then, the red-eye flight. Then, arriving at his empty apartment to begin settling his affairs. Exhaustion and sorrow were both deeply present.

Thank God for the good neighbors, who met this family, and eventually connected to us at Christ Church Episcopal, only a mile down the road. Thank you Jesus, for the network of souls and relationships that was strong enough to join this poor, suffering family, and the local priest. A priest in the Anglican (English) tradition, nonetheless. 



From there, the miracles of healing began to shine through the darkness. We talked and cried. I met the beautiful middle-school-aged children, a niece, a nephew and a son. They identified songs and readings for a funeral service. We met with the funeral home.

Then Tuesday February 5th, the day of the funeral arrived. The hearse arrived in our parking lot, and soon after, the family. Then guests, a few CCE lay ministers, and refreshments. The casket was covered by a white funeral pall, symbolizing the thin layer of holiness that separates the earthly world from the divine.

The service began, and after the readings from holy scripture, several friends stood to speak. They spoke with both joy and deep pain about the goodness of their friend. I looked around our worship space with new eyes, at several dozens of people who I had never met, who came seeking God in this time of great loss. Our sanctuary was bright and unseasonably warm, which perfectly and poignantly matched the spirit of resurrection that filled the room.

So, thank you, Christ Church, for opening your doors to a neighbor in great need. Our beautiful campus hosted a congregation that had been cut by the deepest sorrows imaginable. We were able to respond with open doors, open arms, and the message of hope in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. With immense joy, I was able to speak one of the most beautiful lines of prayer in our Book of Common Prayer: “All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” The flowers from the service were given to us by the family as a token of their gratefulness, and will remain in the milling area this weekend.

Thank you for making all of this possible, Christ Church Episcopal. Our worship space was indeed a sanctuary, and the house of God.

In the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rev. Darren Steadman

P.S. For further reading, I recommend BCP p.507, which is a note about our Burial rite. Just before I escorted the family from the parlor into the sanctuary to begin the service, I read to them this note which begins with “The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all meaning in the resurrection …”

Entertaining Angels

By Rev. Richard Pelkey
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. – Hebrews 13:2
Thank you to all who supported the CARITAS family week of January 19-26. While it was a joy to share this week with our brothers and sisters from Shady Grove United Methodist Church and the West End Islamic Center, you, the members of Christ Church Episcopal stepped up in big ways to share your gifts of love and hospitality to homeless families in Richmond. Many of you volunteered your time with hosting meals, cleaning up from dinner, doing laundry, staying overnight with our guests, and playing with children, to name a few. Many of you also shared your gifts of treasure to meet this previously unexpected opportunity to serve. A total of $1875 was donated for the week. Thank you! Of that amount, $985 was used to meet the week’s expenses. The balance of $890 will go a long way to help us when we host CARITAS again in November. There will be more opportunities to volunteer and give in November, when we will be taking the lead in hosting that week.

Again, thank you all for sharing your gifts of time, talent, and treasure, in living out the Gospel imperative to care for those in need.

With God’s blessings,
The Rev. Richard Pelkey

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Youth Choir Trip 2019: Famous in my Father's Eyes

Andrea Macgill shares her witness as a volunteer chaperone on the recent Youth Choir Trip:

"The congregation of St. John's Episcopal in West Point, Virginia, led by our former assistant rector, Barbara Marques, welcomed our youth choir this past weekend. Two of the youth singers at St. John's joined our kids in leading worship Sunday morning. The parishioners were so kind and incredibly grateful to the kids, saying they could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit Sunday morning.

The kids got to experience much more than just singing in church, though. One of the parishioners is a French-horn-maker with his own shop in town, and he gave the kids a hands-on demonstration of his craft that he has honed for many decades. It was fascinating to learn how these beautiful instruments are made! Later in the day, we visited the Mattaponi Indian Reservation – specifically the food bank, which is a part of Feed More. Sharon, a member of the Mattaponi tribe, welcomed us with a song in the native language and then shared her gift of story-telling as we helped her to stock the shelves in the food bank. Saturday night we all stayed at a beautiful home on the York River, which was so graciously lent to us by two members of St. John's. After lunch Sunday, we made a side trip to Colonial Williamsburg and enjoyed the beautiful sunny afternoon before heading back to Christ Church."

Keith Tan, Minister of Music, shares:

"The people who came to worship at St John’s that morning were awestruck; one remarked how she sensed the Holy Spirit through their singing; all gave thanks to God! They bore great witness to Christ, and to the ministry of Christ Church. Thank you for your support and prayers!"

Click through below for a few photos!

"I don't need my name in lights
I'm famous in my Father's eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I'm not living for applause
I'm already so adored
It's all His stage
He knows my name."

- © 2014 Word Music, LLC, Francesca Music (ASCAP)

Youth Choir Trip 2019 Photos by John Snuggs

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Pantoum


by Rev. Darren Steadman

Warm greetings Christ Church! It is such a pleasure walking the Christian journey with you all, and I want to thank you for creating such a loving community here. I am grateful to have been able to preach this Sunday, and want to share with you the poem I felt called to write based on Psalm 19. My continued prayer for us is that God's peace may be found in our holy scriptures, whenever we need it.

Blessings to all,
Rev. Darren

Stanza 1
My LORD, my rock and my hope
The beauty of your world leaves me speechless, but it's only a whisper of your full glory
Your light shines on all people, and you warm every heart
By the heat of your Love, all hearts are opened, all around the world

Stanza 2
The beauty of your world leaves me speechless, but it's only a whisper of your full glory
The letters of your law safely embrace me, and I live to fulfill your commandments
By the heat of your Love, all hearts are opened, all around the world
I will follow you; I will speak your holy name; and the words will be sweet on my tongue

Stanza 3
The letters of your law safely embrace me, and I live to fulfill your commandments
Even in the cold seasons and dark nights that punctuate the story of my life,
I will follow you; I will speak your holy name; and the words will be sweet on my tongue
I pray that my words and my thoughts are acceptable in your sight

Stanza 4
Even in the cold seasons and dark nights that punctuate the story of my life,
Your light shines on all people, and you warm every heart
I pray that my words and my thoughts are acceptable in your sight
My LORD, my rock and my hope
-

Click here for Darren's sermon.
Click here to learn about Pantoum.
Click here to read Psalm 19.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

You are Here

At Christ Church, we seek to be the heart and hands of Jesus by aligning our passions and strengths with organizations that work to meet the needs of our neighbors, both locally and internationally. Throughout the Bible, we learn that God wants us to work for justice, especially for the vulnerable. Justice and mercy are core values of what we strive to do in our service through Missions and Outreach.

Through your service, your gifts, and your prayers, we go into the world, as God has called us to do, to serve others in Jesus' name.



The organizations we support include our four priorities of ending hunger, providing shelter, enhancing educational outcomes, and ensuring access to health care. Providing relief to the suffering is part of what we do, while also seeking opportunities for systemic, transformative change.

The organizations CCE supported in 2018 include: 


Feedmore and Shalom Farms: feeding programs for all age groups, cultivating healthy food and teaching food preparation as alternatives with the goal of ending hunger.

CARITAS and Richmond Habitat for Humanity: providing shelter and restoring dignity through short term housing and healing programs and safe affordable permanent housing.

A clinic in Haiti and Crossover Medical Ministries: ensuring access to healthcare to those who have no place else to turn.

St. Marc’s in Haiti and Hope and Resurrection School in South Sudan; George Mason Elementary School and Anna Julia Cooper School and Communities in Schools, Richmond: enhancing educational outcomes.

Episcopal Relief and Development, Re Establish Richmond (connecting resources for refugees in Richmond area) and Sophie House.

To learn more or get more involved, please attend the open Missions & Outreach Network meeting on Wednesday, February 13 at 6:30 PM in the Library. All are welcome! Contact Rev. Richard Pelkey with any questions.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Groundbreaking for New GMES!

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. - Isaiah 43:19
 
Myceiun Patterson, 5th grader, is as elated as Principal Ferguson and Assistant Principal Ford

We tend to read and hear this prophecy from Isaiah a lot during Advent, as we await the coming of  the Christ child. It came to mind again this week, as our dear partners, George Mason Elementary School, celebrated a wonderful new milestone. On Wednesday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a new GMES! This long-awaited venture is an important investment in the lives of the children and educators in historic Church Hill. 
 
The new GMES should be completed by fall 2020.

Christ Church has been in partnership with GMES through the Micah Initiative and Communities in Schools for over a decade. We are thrilled that our friends will soon thrive in a safe, healthy environment where they can reach their God-given potential. Join us in celebrating this answered prayer! 


Are you feeling called to build relationships with the GMES family? Click here!


Monday, October 8, 2018

Because of You


When ministry happens, we see glimpses of God’s kingdom here on earth. In this series, we will share how, because of you, we see God in each other. We hope these stories will inspire you to give generously to our Annual Giving Appeal, which funds our church and the ministries done as close as Short Pump and as far away as Haiti and South Sudan.

Because of you, this happens...

A few years ago, Christ Church re-imagined its pastoral care ministry and formed a cohort of trained pastoral caregivers as part of Community of Hope, International. Since then, these compassionate listeners have served individuals facing illness, divorce, substance abuse, and death. In small and large ways, these caregivers have made a difference in other’s lives.

The caregiving came full circle this summer when two of our caregivers found themselves in need of help. “It wasn’t until my wife required emergency surgery that I fully appreciated the power of this ministry. During a hectic two days, a CCE Pastoral Care Giver listened, prayed on our behalf, and kept others informed. His presence made a stressful situation more peaceful and allowed me to stay focused. I will be forever grateful for what he did.”

Because of your gifts, we can provide personal care to those in need. Taste and see that the Lord is good.


Because of you, this happens...

When our women’s Bible studies invited women from our neighborhood West End Islamic Center to gather at Christ Church for conversation and fellowship, they hoped to extend hospitality and learn about the commonalities of our faith traditions. At the first meeting, the group quickly fell into comfortable sharing of their faith and their lives. The two groups made a deep connection and they have met regularly ever since. This summer, when a Christ Church member was seeking to help a former CARITAS client, she made an appeal on Facebook for a young mother and her son. Among the first responses were two women from WEIC who offered financial gifts toward the purchase of a new air conditioning unit. Because of you, small groups meet weekly to nurture spiritual formation, and acts of radical hospitality extend like ripples in a pond. Taste and see that the Lord is good!


Because of you, this happens...

For the second summer in a row, our Mid-High mission team spent a week serving their neighbors by partnering with local organizations all around metropolitan Richmond. Before the week’s service projects began, the youth embarked on a prayer tour around Richmond. The final stop was at the Reconciliation Statue, a landmark that recognizes the history of slave trading in Richmond and symbolizes a commitment to a new way forward based on honesty, love, and forgiveness. As they prayed for the reconciliation of our city and those living in it, our students gathered around the statue and placed their hands on its surface. People in need were served that week. Crops were harvested, schools were cleaned, meals were served, senior citizens were kept company; and the hearts of young people were forever changed. Because of you, our youth are learning that the power to transform the world lies within each of them. Taste & See that the Lord is Good!

Because of you, this happens...


When CCE first started supporting Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in South Sudan, teachers had to be recruited from neighboring Uganda as years of civil war have decimated the teacher population. This year, HRSS has its first native-born teachers. Mr. Thon Bec Ater himself was educated at HRSS and now returns to the school to equip South Sudan's girls and boys for leadership through quality education with a Christian foundation. You have made this possible. As a child, when he saw the words “Christ Church School, Virginia USA” on the wall of his classroom, Thon said it told him that Christ has a purpose for humankind, a purpose beyond humankind’s borders and colors.

Because of you, this happens...

When we gather for worship, we are changed through Eucharist, music, prayer, and fellowship. Sometimes we hear God’s call to action. When CCE collected pet food last October, a visitor asked Rev. Shirley after worship, “Will the church still be open 20 minutes from now? … Because I want to go to the grocery store and give some pet food to your pet food drive. You see, I’m new, but I’m looking for a church that cares about people. I know there are people who have to choose between buying their medicine and feeding their pets. I want to help.” Because of your gifts, worship happens at CCE, and service to our community happens, service that gives people hope for a new day.