Saturday, May 1, 2021

"Serving as the heart and hands of Jesus" -- our Build Day volunteers share their witnesses

A dedicated team of CCE volunteers worked with our amazing community partners, Richmond Metro Habitat for Humanity, for a special Build Day. We were blessed to work on a home for future homeowners Genesis, Matt, and their two young daughters.


"The morning was sunny, cool, and beautiful. Our group showed up prepared to paint the indoor walls. Our leader, Fabian, informed us that the drywall wasn't finished. Instead, we would be finishing the siding on an outdoor shed. In addition we dug some post holes for the back deck. Many hands made the work really light." - Jane Emrick

"Over the years I have been blessed by participating in Christ Church Episcopal Habitat for Humanity Build Day. The joy I receive, putting my gifts and talents in service to others is part of what feeds my faiths journey.

'Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.' (1 Peter 4:10)

I am thankful that CCE and its church community have instilled in me to be a good steward of my gifts and talents. I pray and give thanks for all the gifts Christ has given us. We know that all we have received is from his loving hands.

Gracious and loving God, you call us to participate in the life of our communities. Help us to always use your gifts wisely and teach us to share them generously. Send the Holy Spirit to work through us, bringing your message of love to those we serve. May we bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ in our lives each and every day. We pray with grateful hearts, in Jesus’ name. Amen." - Dan Spitzer

"What a great day it was: a little chilly early on, but it warmed up nicely and we had a clear blue sky!  As things turned out we were able to work outside putting siding on the new shed.  Participating in projects like this provides personal rewards in several different ways for me.  We’re working as a team by helping in a small way to build a new home for a deserving couple, but we’re also building strong bonds with those on our CCE team. Truly we’re serving as the heart and hands of Jesus!" - Jim Heck


 Build Day 2021

We are called to serve others in Christ's name. Join us on our next mission adventure! More here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

You are invited to share your nativity scene with others

All are welcome to gather online on Sunday, December 13 for a time of sharing our favorite Nativity Scenes! Children and families are encouraged to share at 9 AM and adults and teens can gather at 1 PM. (But also feel free to pick a time that suits your needs.) The Zoom links can be found in Realm or contact us and we will send you the link.

Show off your favorite scene with others and share a word or two about what makes it so special. For some of you, it may be difficult to pick just one! And for others, perhaps you don't have a nativity set among your holiday decorations or have yet to unpack it this year -- that is ok. Join in anyway to bear witness to what others share.

You are also invited to send in a photo of your Nativity and we will share it with others. See below for a special time of sharing from Mark and Becky Hansell and a slideshow of photos we have received so far.

The Hansell family has grown to love this beloved, hodgepodge set.

"Becky inherited this from her parents who inherited it for Becky’s mother’s parents.  It is an old beat up set that has been pieced together over the years.  Th shepherds, wise men and Mary and Joseph are from Germany and the angels seem to have been added later from Italy.  The crèche looks to have been made by Becky’s grandfather.  And the “hay” seems to be old, actual lead, tinsel. All the people seem to be a combination paper mache and plaster that is hand painted.  And then there is the cast iron camel and the “Christmas dog”, which don’t seem to fit in.

We begrudgingly set this up our first years of our marriage because it was all we had.  We did then and still today make fun of the hodgepodge, but there is something to the history and knowing Becky’s grandparents put real effort into collecting and creating this set makes it part of our holiday preparation.

Becky’s grandparents fled Nazi Germany with next to no possessions, so having a small piece of them with us in the holiday is a great way of demonstrating the importance of family to our family. I would not miss helping to set it up each year."



Nativity Share
Enjoy this slideshow of entries from our CCE family. Send us your photos and we will include them!


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

3 Wonderful Ways to Give

This Giving Tuesday, we invite you to support Christ Church and our mission partners. Thank you for considering making a gift this season!

  1. Give to Christ Church so we can carry the Gospel torch into a new year, growing deeper in our faith, serving neighbors, and connected to others. Also, if you have not yet done so, pledging your support helps us plan vibrant ministries for 2021. >GIVE<  >PLEDGE<
  2. Support The Giving Tree, a ministry of Christ Church Episcopal to support Hope for Humanity and their special school in South Sudan. Make a gift, reach a child, and watch The Giving Tree become illuminated in worship each week. For every gift made, we will add a votive candle to our new “tree” and you will receive a beautiful handmade ornament. Your gifts help raise a new generation of leaders in a country that needs them! >DONATE< or text CCE Hope to 73256.
  3. Purchase a unique gift from the Tap Tap Collective and help the ministries in Haiti that CCE has supported for many years. This online shop is committed to connecting artisans with patrons who will love and appreciate meaningful crafts handmade in Haiti. The items are beautiful! Proceeds go directly to support families in Haiti with healthcare and nutrition services. >SHOP<

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Unstoppable Church--Coronavirus Times: A Pastoral Update from Rev. Shirley

Friends, living with coronavirus conditions raises lots of questions. So, I’m hoping this information will answer some of them. Please email or call me if you don’t find the answers you’re looking for. Or if you just want to talk, that’s good too. My contact info is in Realm and on our website.

First, Christ Church follows both the Governor’s Amended Executive Orders as well as the requirements given by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Early on in the pandemic, we watched churches and funerals become super-spreader events, and the diocese set the goal of limiting virus spread while asking the clergy and volunteers of the churches to do all possible to keep the ministries of the church vibrant and relevant.

Where we are now:

    In-person Outdoor Worship with Online Option — CCE was approved by the Diocese of Virginia for in-person outdoor worship, and we’ve been doing this for a few months. (Please thank our music and audio-visual teams for all their technical re-work and weekly heavy-lifting that has made this possible: Keith and Caedmon Tan, Lee Bowles, Gordon Macgill, Rich Hull, and Nick Parker and others.)

    Online Worship — Given the colder temperatures, 11/22 will be our final fall in-person outdoor worship. Starting 11/29, please join us for worship online. Worship will be live-streamed (YouTube) at 10 AM (and accessible afterward), and we will provide a drive-up add-on from 11AM - 12 noon for those who would like to pick up their holy communion wafer.

    Coming Up — CCE has been pre-approved by the Diocese of Virginia for in-person indoor worship once the level of virus in Henrico County declines to low-yellow (under 5) or green, so long as Rev. Shirley and the Vestry feel it’s responsible to do so, given that we’re also keeping an eye on Hanover and Goochland because of proximity. We use the global epidemics site. The diocese provides a weekly update by county. Our plan for in-person indoor worship can be found here. A group of lay leaders has been tasked by the vestry with preparing the procedures we’ve been using for outdoor worship and for indoor worship planning. Please thank them for their diligent and hope-filled work: Jen Wasik, Lee and Tracy Muckey, Roge Smith, Michael Compton, Bonnie Shelhorse, Kay Holmes, Scott Arnold, Kathy Theado.

And look with hopefulness toward Advent and Christmas!

  • Advent Worship (online), Sundays November 29-December 20
  • The Light of the World: A Drive-Through Christmas Experience (in-person), Sunday December 20, 1-4 PM and Thursday, December 24, 1-4 PM.
  • Candlelight & Communion on Christmas Eve (in-person), Thursday, December 24, 5:30 PM

Monday, November 16, 2020

Thank you for your generosity!

Way to go, church! You displayed incredible generosity in donating coats, hats, and gloves for the men at CARITAS' Men's Healing Place. CARITAS now has all of the items they need! We give thanks for those  following the command from John the Baptist in Luke's gospel, chapter 3, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Worship Update from Rev. Shirley

From Rev. Shirley 

Friends, we've loved seeing you in person for outdoor worship and hearing that many more of you are tuning in to online worship using You Tube. What a resilient congregation! God has made us tough.

I have applied for and received approval from Bishop Goff to start conducting worship inside the church when the health indicators go to low-yellow or green. The color system is based on Harvard's global epidemics data. Please everyone wear your masks and use social distancing so we can keep the virus spread down.

When we do announce in-person indoor worship is available, we will use the weekly eNews and Realm to communicate details about how to sign up. If you choose to remain at home, we will continue to livestream worship using You Tube. 

Until health indicators go favorable and I announce that we are offering indoor worship again, we will continue to offer in-person worship outside every Sunday at 10 a.m. so long as it's not raining and so long as the temperature is over 45 degrees. We will continue to offer holy communion (wafers only). Please know that, if you are staying at home to guard your health but would like a pastoral visit, Rev. Shirley and Rev. Richard are both happy to make house calls if you have an outside place to meet, or if you'd like to meet at the church on a weekday outside. The weather has been wonderful for this. If you have any questions or comments you'd like to share, please email Rev. Shirley,


Since we know that hosting 1,800 people for Christmas Eve is not possible this year due to COVID, we have committed with our Gospel partners at Shady Grove Methodist Church to offer a drive-thru Christmas story. Through six outdoor stations that tell the story of the Messiah, from prophecy to Nativity to Jesus' charge to his disciples to love one another, costumed volunteers will tell the story that changed the world through song and spoken word. This is an opportunity for people inside and outside our churches to be touched by the Spirit of Christmas. Aching to do something fun for the holidays? Contact Rev. Shirley or Keith Tan if you'd like to be part of this wonderful event. And to round off Christmas Eve, once daylight falls, each church will offer its own small Christmas service. Inside if we can, outside if we must. Stay tuned for times and details.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Bear Witness to God's Fruitfulness! The Good Soil Video Series

 Watch all 6 videos in our special storytelling project!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thank you for helping turn Hunger into Hope

1 in 8 people in our beloved metro Richmond region is food insecure -- meaning that too many of our neighbors are not receiving the necessary nutrition.These are our neighbors who are working one or more jobs and are barely scraping enough together to get by each month. These are our neighbors who are living paycheck to paycheck when an unexpected medical expense or car trouble takes them down, depleting what little savings they have. These are our neighbors who are forced to make tough choices each month between basic necessities – pay the electricity bill or buy healthy groceries for well-balanced meals for themselves and their families. Add to these challenges the stress of living in a pandemic and it can feel overwhelming.

FeedMore offers hope and help to our neighbors through their many services. Check out the amazing work they're doing. At Christ Church, we partner with FeedMore so we can live into our mission of being the heart and hands of Jesus.

Thank you for giving to our most recent Food Drive, where we gathered 23 grocery bags of non-perishable food to donate to FeedMore. Your support makes a real difference in the lives of others.

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Pastoral message from Shirley, Richard, and Darren.

Learn, Pray, Act

Beloved friends of Christ, as your clergy we want to say two things today: (1) we love you, and, (2) by pulling together, we can live into what God has promised to make us: one in Christ Jesus.

When Jesus’ disciples were first learning to be followers, he told them that people who receive the word and accept it bear fruit, not just a little fruit but thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. (Mark 4:20)

This is just the moment to pull together and remember that God gives us the word — Holy Scriptures and the teachings we get from them — so that we will not just survive but bear fruit that blesses people far beyond us. God’s power will do this even though we may be exhausted from Coronavirus, job losses, and the collective realization we cannot avoid: George Floyd’s death reminds us of the sin we all are vulnerable to falling into, failing to fully respect the dignity of a child of God, based on their skin color. In short, racism. We are a nation grieving in many ways. We are also a band of disciples, driven by the mission of the Episcopal Church: to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ (BCP p.855.) God reminds us that, if we diligently receive the word, God will bless us to be a blessing: thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. God is giving us the opportunity to pull together and learn, pray and act together.

We want to start by inviting you into opportunities to learn together. We will continue to offer ways to pray together, as we have been doing, and there will be other opportunities too. And as we receive the word and think together about what may be stopping us from fully living into the love and flourishing of all God’s children, we will find ways to act to be healers and reconcilers. These practices of Learn, Pray, and Act are intended to guide us into the healing work of racial reconciliation. Stay tuned for upcoming information about learning groups.

We are particularly interested in learning more about the struggles of people of color.  Our intention is to educate ourselves by listening to the voices of our Black and Brown members and neighbors, and tending to our relationships, as siblings in Christ.  Presiding Bishop Curry’s sermon for Pentecost is a great place to start, along with the links provided by the national Episcopal Church.  Click here for the sermon & resources.   We also hope to work with those of you who are interested in leading in your own ways.

God loves us with a never-failing love. So let us love one another and bear abundant fruit that lasts.

In Christ -
Reverends Shirley, Richard, and Darren

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sermon for Morning Prayer


“Bear with one another in love, through interdependence.”

Last week, I came across an article, whose title caught my eye, America’s response to the coronavirus is the most American thing ever. If you will indulge me, I want to read from a couple of sections from it.

The article begins, “The US response to coronavirus has been consistently inconsistent. It’s also uniquely American. There are no national guidelines and no organized efforts to reopen the country beyond what measures states have taken. Public health officials say one thing while governors say another and President Donald Trump says something else entirely. We Americans are left to make up our own minds.”

“It’s a symptom of American individualism, a national value that prizes personal freedoms, limited government, and free will over all else. ‘It’s always been the orientation of America on balance, compared to other countries, to put a priority on individual freedom and liberty,’ says Andrea Campbell, a professor of political science at M.I.T. who studies the intersection of politics and public health…It’s in our DNA…And it’s informing the country’s unruly response to this pandemic.”
The article goes on to describe how this pandemic is reinforcing our partisan political divides. It reinforces American distrust of centralized authority. It’s reinforcing the current skepticism of science that has been front and center in the climate change debate.

The article continues with the impact of economics on the country’s response. The article says, “American individualism is the driving force behind another national value – Capitalism, which requires people to act in their self-interest. So, when weighing the tradeoffs of social distancing, many Americans make their decision with some capitalistic cost-benefit analysis. The cost is life as we know it – going to restaurants, shopping, visiting friends, working at an office. The benefit is our health, and the health of loved ones and strangers.”

“Making sacrifices to help a stranger may be a hard sell for some. ‘The issue with the coronavirus is that it’s not very visible,’ says Ann Keller, a University of California at Berkeley associate professor who studies pandemic responses. She continues, ‘You don’t know who you’re protecting, who’s avoided getting sick from your actions. That’s a big ask of people, especially when it appears that not everyone is doing it or that the criteria seems to be different in different parts of the country.’”
“Coronavirus isn’t something we can see rip through the country like a tornado. The benefits, too, are invisible. If coronavirus guidelines work, they may not seem like they were ever necessary, because fewer people will have gotten sick. But people will remember what they lost by making those sacrifices.”

So, what I want to do this morning is weigh this American individualism and the self-interest of capitalism against what Paul says in today’s passage from the letter to the Ephesians. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Paul sets the bar pretty high. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Do it with humility, with gentleness, with patience. Bearing with one another in love, striving for unity and peace.
Bearing with one another in love. The sacrifices we’re making: staying at home, wearing masks when we go out, the shared economic costs; these are how we are currently called to bear with one another. They are signs and actions of love.

Bear with one another in love. Bear, lift up, carry the burden. This speaks of our interdependence. American society values independence. The Church values interdependence. I need you and you need me. We need one another.

This interdependence is born out of our baptism. There is no solitary Christian. In baptism, we are knit together. We’re joined. We become part of a body. Paul outlines a variety of gifts for building up the body of Christ and closes with body imagery. But perhaps what is more helpful, and explicit, for us today is from 1 Corinthians, chapter 12. Paul says, “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body…There are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Corinthians 12:14-16,20-21)

“I have no need of you,” is not in the Christian lexicon. Independence, individualism says, “I have no need of you. I can do it all on my own.” Interdependence says, “I need you. I need you.” The calling on our lives is to bear one another in love. I need you and you need me.

At the end of the article, the author makes a call for a unified response to the coronavirus, drawing on this country’s past moments of pulling together through common, or shared, sacrifice: like in the Great Depression, during World War II, or in the days following the attacks of September 11th.
I agree with this call. But I want for us, as Christians, to look to our Lord Jesus Christ as the example and source for our unified response. The more we can bear one another in love, the more we share our gifts and share the sacrifice, more we live into these practices that help us to grow and mature in our faith, the more we can witness to the world a way of being beyond individualism and self-interest. The more we can respond by imitating Christ, the more we can show the world the way of love.

+ Rev. Richard

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Invite others: "Come to church with me!"

Those of us in the Christ Church community have been blessed to experience joyful and centering worship on YouTube each week since the pandemic hit Virginia. We sing, pray, hear from the scriptures, and are moved by compelling messages from our clergy. We worship on our personal devices, and feel connected to God and others, prepared to face the week ahead.

Consider inviting others to join you for online worship. Share these graphics through social media, or text or email one to a friend.

Right now, we need God's healing Graces and to be in a beloved community as much as we ever have. Bring the comfort and power of Jesus to others!

Invite Others

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Looking for the Gifts


Have you ever experienced a rough patch in life and received this helpful advice?
“Cultivate a gratitude attitude”

“Have faith that God has a plan”

“Count your blessings”
These are good practices -- useful for keeping things in perspective. Useful to reassure ourselves that God is present and remains in control. But not particularly helpful in the thick of the moment when trying to make sense of the crisis at hand. I don’t need a platitude attitude.

Pastor Shirley has shared this with people experiencing trying times: “Look for the Gift.”

This isn’t the same as “count your blessings.” In this context, Blessings and Gifts mean different things.

Blessings refer to those good things that continue to happen, unrelated to the current crisis. Recognizing Blessings during times of crisis can ground us, provide perspective, and reassure us that not everything is going all wrong. In COVID-19, those blessings we notice might include:
  • Beautiful weather so we could be outdoors in our yards, walk the neighborhoods.
  • Stable internet connections
  • Availability of food
Gifts – in this context – refer to good things that would NOT have happened except for the ‘bad thing’ – the rough patch, the crisis. These will be very individualized because each person’s situation is different.

The beauty of "look for the Gift" is you can do it NOW, not wait to look back and say "Yep... God knew best!" It takes spiritual discipline to keep the faith in moments of crisis – to believe and not just hope God hasn't "stepped away". This is made easier when you're able to spot a few Easter eggs of grace in the moment – the Gifts. The good things that still manage to come out of the bad.

For me, COVID-19 has been especially terrifying because my father is in memory care. It has also been disappointing – Abby’s grad school graduation had to be cancelled. Adam’s plans to work at Camp Hanover changed. It has been irritating -- the job search for Michael has slowed to a crawl.

Even so, I have continued to experience God’s blessings – specifically in this time:
  • Comfortable and safe home environment to ride out the quarantine
  • Easy communications with those I couldn’t visit in person– calls, texts, emails, videochats
  • Good health
  • Employment
Finding the Gifts was a bit harder. Especially in the beginning, when anxieties were running so high. Remember our collective moment of disbelief when the quarantine was extended to June? We all had a choice to make: survive or thrive. We could close our eyes and hold our breath til June, or find a way to create a meaningful existence even when many of the things that gave meaning and purpose were shut down for quarantine. Survive or thrive. Identifying the Gifts helped me to see we don’t have to wait for COVID to pass before we can live fully again. We just have to be open to live differently. There are worthwhile things happening because of, even in spite of, COVID-19.

Finding the Gifts in no way negates or even minimizes the bad. It does help us find light in that darkness.

For me, the Gifts have included:

Focused time together with all four of us at home – watching a movie, having dinner, just hanging out in the kitchen sharing the latest memes and cute kitten videos. We had not expected to have more of this “us four” time, so this bonus time is a huge gift.

Talking daily walks through the neighborhood with any combination of Abby, Michael, and Adam. And the conversations we've had that might not have been otherwise.

Experiencing Spring – daily walks gave me the opportunity to watch the earth’s wake-up process – phlox, tulips, irises, flowering trees, azaleas – in a way I just don’t when zipping by them in my car.

Helping churches find ways to continue meeting for study and worship. Some of these new avenues may help shut-ins be a more active part of common life even after the COVID crisis has passed.

Learning new skills – I’d never created a worship video before. But as my Dad would say, “No sense being ignorant all your life…” I took what I did know how to do, and did my best to figure out the rest. It was fun, and a wonderful creative outlet.

Family projects of recording music content for online worship services.
A much-needed break from the world and its busy-ness.
Some Gifts are more easily recognized in hindsight.

When my mom had a sudden serious illness a while back, I was thrown in the deep end of her health crisis and figuring out Dad’s care in her absence. It was a nightmare. I confess at that time I couldn’t bring myself to look for a Gift -- what Gifts could there possibly be in this situation? But I did find them. We moved Dad temporarily to assisted living in Richmond while Mom recovered. One Gift was the extra time this gave me with Dad. Another Gift I recognized only in hindsight: The assisted living stay helped smooth the way when we needed to place Dad in memory care a year later.

In times of crisis, it can be helpful to look for the Gift. Sometimes you just have to look really hard.