Last month, your vestry unanimously supported a new outreach to our neighbors called, La Misa.
La Misa is a program, initiated by TryTank/Virginia Theological Seminary and the national church, that equips congregations to invite neighbors who are culturally shaped by ancestry or immigration from South or Central America or Puerto Rico. St. Paul’s is located in the center of a vibrant and growing community that includes these neighbors.
La Misa, will equip us to welcome and incorporate those who are specifically looking for liturgical worship with progressive social policy and theology. That's us!
We anticipate that this ministry will begin to unfold during the spring through training in cultural sensitivity, and the raising up of a team that will lead us in the invitation and incorporation component. In addition, we may be receiving a newly ordained priest to assist us in this project.
Please be prayerful about your role in this new ministry. James Ammon is serving as interim team captain. Speak to him about ideas and ways you want to participate.
I am delighted to be a part of St Paul’s during this important time. This is our year to widen our welcome to all of God’s people!
St. Paul’s is so blessed to have received several significant bequests that have been invested and monitored through a fund called the Diocesan Investment Trust (DIT). The total value of these funds as of November 30, 2021, is $480,533. This amount fluctuates with the market, but we have diversified between stocks and bonds as a way of protecting our investment from the vicissitudes of the market while optimizing our interest income.
Now, speaking as possibly the most mathematically challenged member of the congregation, (better perhaps than Iris and Charles of the 2 year old department), here’s the deal: we are spending into the principal of our investment fund. The way I think about it, it’s like eating the lettuce in your garden. If you take bits of it off, it will keep growing and replacing itself. If you take too much, it doesn’t grow as well and takes longer to replace what was lost. If you pull it out by the roots, no more lettuce. Same deal with this fund.
We have been withdrawing from the principal because we’ve had to. By faith, we’re believing that our congregational giving will continue to increase so that the practice can stop.
So far, year after year, our giving is growing. And significantly.
Last year was the first time the Vestry and Treasurer conveyed the reality of our financial situation to the whole parish. This year, at Annual Meeting, our treasurer will again make this situation really clear. And she will use math!
As your Rector, I’m not losing any sleep over our situation. St. Paul’s is in God’s hands, and even if we were to lose all the money in our bequest, we would continue, by faith, to survive. However, it’s important that we all know our financial status, because we share the responsibility for our life together.
Let’s continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us and grow us. All that we have and all that we are is a part of our life in Christ. With that clear commitment at our center, we will be well.
-- Pastor Rebecca
Recently, a survey was given to those who attend our Thursday to-go meals. The survey asked what their pressing needs were. 12 people filled out the survey. Of those who responded, health care - including access to dental and vision was listed as a pressing concern. In response to the surveys, we created resource lists to assist our guests. What a wonderful thing to be able to say, 'all of your healthcare needs can be met one block away!'
The Family Health Center on the corner of Michigan and Holy Hills, was founded through the collaborative efforts of the community, including St. Paul's. The clinic serves the insured and under-insured. They have been essential to providing COVID testing and vaccinations through this pandemic. And, they offer vision and dental care along with standard health care for the whole person.
Knowing the integral relationship that our guests and neighbors have with Family Care Center, I have self-nominated to join their board of directors. Next week, I'll be having lunch the Board Chair, Wilma Schmitz. As we host the installation of air quality monitors on our building in January, this partnership may prove invaluable. Together, we are strengthening our church community and making a difference in Carondelet.
-- Pastor Rebecca
As a priest, I’m always curious about shows featuring religious folk. That’s how I fell down the rabbit hole of Midnight Mass, a new horror/drama series on Netflix created and directed by Mike Flanagan, a former altar boy.
The 7 part limited series released in September, 2021 introduces us to Riley Flynn. Riley is returning to his familial home after spending four years in prison. With Riley, we enter the fishing community of Crockett Island. Riley’s return coincides with the arrival of a strange new priest, who has replaced the old monsignor at St. Patrick’s. It is these two arrivals that drive the series to its apocalyptic end.
Midnight Mass checks all the boxes for a horror film. The long shadow of evil stretches from the opening scenes into the intimate stories of the characters. The characters are surrounded by hints of violence and evil while still holding space for the good and mundane. By the time evil appears at the altar of St. Patrick’s, we are well prepared. Watching blood pour into a chalice is more sinister and sacred than most of us want to admit.
If you are an easily offended Christian, you’ll want to take a pass on this series. But if you are a person of faith willing to watch a a slow-burn horror film, Midnight Mass will meet your expectations for the genre and leave you with food for thought.
The series doesn’t demonize or disgrace people. The two Muslims and many Christians on Crockett Island are portrayed with honesty and respect. They are allowed to catastrophically fail and still find grace. In the extremity of their choices and the gruesomeness of their behaviors, we find a timeless morality tale.
As only this genre can do, suffering and death are pervasive in the plot. If the characters aren’t talking about it (and they do, a lot), they’re full gushing in it. But the true issue is how each one responds when evil emerges in the very places they call good. Like I said, a timeless morality tale. In the blurry goodness of hymn singing and candles, sermons and stories, the parishioners at St. Patrick’s become victims of sedated faith. The congregation’s willingness to hide all the warning signs in altar cloth and bible verses leaves them unprepared for the horror spawned among them.
Thank God, the source of the horror in this series is completely fantastical. But we have only to look around to see how abusive leaders and their misuse of their “sheeple” can be deadly. Faithful to the Christian tradition, Midnight Mass reminds us: death is not the last word, nor the worst outcome. It’s our choices that hold the greatest terror.
In the long history of the Church, men have held positions of leadership and power at all levels. This was as much true at St. Paul's as it was anywhere. In fact, as far as I can tell, I am the second female Rector. The first female lasted for about a year.
Now, not only do we have a female rector, we have a female deacon, and much of the leadership you see up front each week is female. That's great! Our vestry is comprised almost entirely of men, so there is good representation there. But, I don't want to commit a sin against men that was made against women. I'm talking about the sin of marginalization. While we would all agree that everyone belongs and should find support and voice in our community, to really achieve belonging, we need to be intentional to make space and create opportunities. We need to encourage men who might hang back, and, maybe, we need to create safe space for men to be together.
I've been listening to a podcast called, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It's a deep dive into what happened at a Mega Church in Seattle when their outspoken pastor cultivated an environment of toxic masculinity with himself as the most toxic. Men were attracted to the church because it affirmed their value in their families, careers and Christ's Kingdom. But the message was wrapped in images of domination and misogyny. I wonder, how can we affirm and value men without the toxicity? Men are critically important in their relationships, families, careers, and Church - as are women, and folx who identify as neither or both. So how do we ensure that you, our St. Paul's men, are included?
I invite you to go to comment here, on our Blog page. Respond with your thoughts and opinions. Whatever your gender, share yourideas on how we might avoid marginalizing or de-valuing men at St. Paul's. Click the button below to get right to the spot.
It has been over a year since we were together regularly in person. Things have changed. We've changed. How do we strengthen our common bonds? Here are a few suggestions: