What is your hope for St. Mary’s Church?

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, September 8, 2019

By: David May, Rector

At the August vestry meeting, members of the vestry took turns answering the question, ‘What is your hope for St. Mary’s Church in this coming year?’ One of the common responses was the hope that the momentum we feel from the new life and new energy God is giving us will continue. This new energy and life is a gift from God. So, before anything else we should say, ‘thank you, God’! But there is an important way that we can each make ourselves available to this gift of new life and cooperate with God’s Spirit so that the momentum we feel may continue. It’s not complicated, I don’t think. We each can offer a simple prayer: Lord of my heart, speak to me and show me how you are calling me to serve my parish and you.

At our Annual Parish Meeting this past January, I wondered aloud about my hunch that St. Mary’s is ‘a sleeping giant’. If that’s true, I see signs that God has roused us. This has everything to do with God’s faithfulness. But I think this has everything to do with members of our parish – both longstanding members and people brand-new among us – finding their call to serve here. You can see it in the way the Spirit is renewing members of our Outreach ministry group. You can feel it with our new St. Mary’s Welcomers ministry and their hope for us all to give a holy and generous welcome to all who come here. You can sense it in the heart of our Adult Christian Formation ministry members who long to show that knowing God is loving God.

The leadership of our parish – both lay and ordained – have their part to play and their ministries to carry out for this new life and momentum to continue, to be sure. But the truth is, where God is leading us into new life – fully awake! – in him, is happening because of all of us together.

So, what is your hope for St. Mary’s Church in this coming year? Ask God to show you how to put your life and your gifts into service for our parish and for God. And then say ‘thank you’ for God – who is always faithful – will surely show you, and give you life fully awake in him.

Serve in God’s Name

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, September 1, 2019

By: Madeleine Dunaway, rising 7th grader who participated in the Middle School Mission Trip

“But be doers of the word, not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” – James 1:22

Throughout the whole Shenandoah Valley Mission Trip, the theme of our service was clear. Community. Dignity. Respect. We treated others with dignity and respect, and we served the community around us. The first night, we began journaling and I started to realize how this theme didn’t just relate to the service we were performing and the community we were serving. It applied to the community and friendships that were forming within our service team too. Through working and living together for couple of days, we were already close friends. Though this was an important part of the meaning of these words, and the mission trip altogether, we learned more about these words through our service.

During our first day of service, we painted a mural on the entrance wall of a hardware store that was owned by Habitat for Humanity. All the things sold by the store were discounted and all the proceeds went to building affordable homes for the homeless. One of the things that day that really stuck with me was how friendly and supportive the people who passed by were. You could easily tell that they really cared about the store and loved the idea of the mural. The community within the store was striking. Everyone knew each other and greeted each other. Even members of our group, who no one had met before, experienced a piece of that community.

In the Bible verse that I started with, it says, “But be doers of the word, not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” I think this verse really ties back to our theme of the mission trip. The way I take it, it means, serve in God’s name. I believe that when you are gathered in a place in God’s name, a community is formed.

Did You Know…. St. Mary’s History

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, August 25, 2019

By: Elizabeth Starling

What first attracted me to St. Mary’s was our beautiful churchyard and all of the history I knew must be buried there. Maybe that’s a strange first thought, but with a background in archaeology and museum studies, I just can’t myself! Fast forward two and a half wonderful years of working here, and David May asks each staff member to come up with a summer project to work on. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting himself into!

My project has been researching St. Mary’s rich history in preparation for a paneled exhibition to open in the Dover Lounge this winter.

Did you know that…

-the land on which St. Mary’s sits was donated by the Wickham family of nearby Woodside, specifically by Littleton Wickham, great grandson of Attorney John Wickham who served as lead counsel for Aaron Burr during his 1807 trial for treason?

-the money for construction of the church was raised by the Allen family, of nearby Tuckahoe Plantation, in memory of their daughter Mary who died as an infant?

-the majority of the numbered graves in the churchyard are original congregation members—mostly coal miners and farmers—and that St. Mary’s saw them through the most joyous of times (births, returning from war, baptisms) to the most trying of times (loss of children, tragic accidents, murder)?

-one little girl numbered each of the graves, and that she too is buried in our churchyard?

-our churchyard is the final resting place of several Confederate soldiers, including a prisoner of war and a deserter?

And there’s so much more! My research adventure continues through the Fall, and I look forward to sharing more with you. In the meantime, if you have a favorite memory of St. Mary’s or any memorabilia you’d be willing to share, please give me a call at the church office. I’d love to hear from you!