Finding a Church Home

A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 29, 2017

By: Bill Huffman

Marilyn and I returned to Richmond in 2012, after a 13 year absence, to be close to family. We purchased a home in Randolph Square where we joyfully hear St. Mary’s bells every hour, and since we were Episcopalians, it seemed right that we should visit St. Mary’s. We were attracted by the history of Little St. Mary’s, the simplistic beauty of New St. Mary’s, and the peaceful serenity of the church grounds. It’s been the last two years that we became active members. For me, the men’s spiritual practice with Bob is one of the most meaningful hours of my week. I also attend the lectionary Bible study led by Frank Eakin, which is an enlightening and thoughtful discussion of each Sunday’s Bible readings. Marilyn joined the altar guild and enjoyed several of Weezie’s tours at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Together, we participated in book studies and CARITAS, enjoyed Choral Evensongs and Lessons and Carols at Christmas and, most recently, Faith & Film with Andrew. Through all of this we’ve met many wonderful people. We were looking for a church home, and we found one at St. Mary’s.

Thinking about this reflection made me realize how significant St. Mary’s has become to us in a short time. Several years ago, Weezie led a book study of Being Christian by Rowan Williams. In my favorite chapter titled “Eucharist”, Williams writes “…when we gather as God’s guest at God’s table, the Church becomes what it is meant to be – a community of strangers who have become guests together and are listening together to the invitation of God.” So, in my prayers during Holy Communion each Sunday, I thank God for his invitation and his welcome and I thank Him for St. Mary’s Church.

Writing this also made me realize how much all of us have to celebrate. St. Mary’s has undergone a significant amount of change over the last few years and has remained a strong and vibrant church. We learned last week that there will be more change in the coming months. As Al Rider stated so well in his letter “…it is our sense of humility, love of place, simplicity, tradition, community, and willingness to embrace change that has guided us…Over time there are changing faces in the pews and at the Altar, but we remain the same place. And it is a good place.” St. Mary’s offers each of us a “good place” to grow spiritually and strengthen our faith.

St. Mary’s is indeed a good and special place. Let us all commit to St. Mary’s future with our gifts of time, talent, and treasure.

Joyfully from your Heart

A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 22, 2017

By: Georga Williams

St. Mary’s was my old church but now it is our new church. Danny and I are delighted to be back. What took us so long? We raised our young family in another Episcopal church closer to our home. When they became adults they chose to go to other churches. Our daughter and her family chose St. Mary’s. Two nieces, two nephews and their families plus Danny’s sister and brother-in-law are here, too. We come to church on Sundays and see family. And it is a happy place to worship with them and old friends.

My father, mother, sister, brother and I were members here in the 50’s. I met Danny at a St. Mary’s Young Peoples’ Service League progressive dinner. Nine years later we were married by Rector Stanley Ashton in 1961. My father’s and mother’s funerals were conducted here by the Rev. Holt Souder and the Rev. John Miller respectively. And our daughter was baptized here. You get the idea….we have come home again.

This is a bright, sunny, friendly, happy place. We love it. I have enjoyed meeting and interacting with the parishioners, and joining the altar guild and a pastoral care team. To continue to be a vital place, churches must ask their congregations for funds. It should be all of our pleasure to give to a place that means so much to so many.

Danny and I aim to tithe. We came to this conclusion some years ago and continue to strive to tithe. It is not a burden but a genuine honor to help keep this place functioning to the standards to which we are all accustomed. We all know that we will be asked to give once a year. Do it joyfully from your heart.

I urge you to see this as an opportunity to prove to yourself that you have done your best to support this special place, St. Mary’s.

The Welcoming Spirit of St. Mary’s

A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 15, 2017

By: Patsy Simril

Thankfulness is what I feel about St. Mary’s. As newcomers, we would like to thank the clergy, staff, and congregation for the warm welcome we have received. We came from an Episcopal church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which pulled us in and showed us the value and joy in participating in our church community. It was one of the greatest blessings we had in our former home. Less than two years ago when we transferred to St. Mary’s, you pulled us in and put us to work. Consequently, we are feeling welcomed and appreciated in our new church home. Keep doing this. You are good at it and it is powerful!

A welcoming spirit is one of the most attractive attributes anyone or any church can have. We all know the insecurity of being “new,” and we remember the names of those who include and encourage us, whether it is at school, work, or at church. It is the foundation of trust, and I believe that love does not grow without it. Already, we feel safe here.

St. Mary’s has a bright, open, positive feel to it, and it is not just because of your beautiful sanctuary.  The people I meet (please wear your nametag) seem relaxed and happy in their faith. This happy faith spills over in their generosity of time, talent, and treasure, all of which contribute to this great community of faith. Each is important and vital to the health of our church. The more time I spend with God in His community, the more I want to use whatever talents I have to enrich our community. I can’t help but feel thankful to have a loving place to worship, create friendships, and strengthen my faith. All this leads my heart to want to share my treasures.

Geoff, Henry, and I look forward to getting to know all of you better as we continue our spiritual journey at St. Mary’s.

The Value of St. Mary’s

A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 1, 2017

By: Doug Pera

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” Albert Einstein

I have the honor of sharing a few thoughts on why St Mary’s holds such a special place in my life and the life of my family. As I was considering church options a few years ago, I landed at St. Mary’s due the influence and suggestion of my wife, Jane. It did not take me long to determine that St Mary’s was a good fit for me and what I needed from a church family. The warm and welcoming environment was immediately evident and my comfort within the church continued to grow as I met more parishioners, became more involved, and was able to spend time with the leadership of the church.

Additionally, I felt there was a feeling of acceptance and understanding of various points of view. I knew then, and it is only more relevant now, the ability to openly discuss one’s views in a loving environment is often missing in today’s institutions. At St. Mary’s I feel that I can have a view and while not everyone agrees with it, there is a respect and openness to hearing a different viewpoint.

While all the characteristics mentioned above still apply, I have also developed an appreciation for the value that St. Mary’s provides to my family. I feel that I have grown in my relationship with God but also have seen my family’s growth as well. Jane, Gray, and Lucie have all invested time and energy into their relationship with St. Mary’s, and have benefited in ways too many to explain. The children’s program has created a buzz and excitement that is palpable when you walk in on Sundays. Jane has been incredibly impactful in so many areas of the church but she would tell you that she has been the beneficiary of her activities at St Mary’s.

The value of St. Mary’s to me and my family has been too great to measure in terms of monetary value. However, I understand the need to do everything that I can to help by investing my time, talent, and treasure to ensure the continued growth of programs and energetic staff, and maintain the fantastic physical facility that we all enjoy. We need your help during this pledge season.

What is it that you believe?

A Weekly Stewardship Reflection, Sunday, October 1, 2017

By: Mark Deutsch

Do You Believe?

I have long been a believer.

As long as I can remember, I have believed that I have a responsibility to leave this world a bit better than it was before I got here. I believe that I have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than myself. I believe in surrounding myself with other individuals who also believe that character and positive values matter. I believe that local communities are best equipped to serve the needs of their local community. I believe in supporting the neighbors who support me. I believe that each of us has limitless positive potential and the power to change our lives and those around us for the better. I believe that my actions matter. Henly and I both believe that we should instill these beliefs in our children and raise them to be kind, thoughtful, and loving.

We believe that St. Mary’s is an ideal community to foster and support these beliefs. Over the course of the past twenty or so years that we have been members of the St. Mary’s family, we have gladly shared our time, treasure, and talents to deepen our faith. Whether it is through…

Worship around the beautiful grounds …
Spiritual Education programs for adults and children …
Music that brightens even the darkest days …
Pastoral Care when faced with some of life’s greatest difficulties …
Fellowship such as Supper Club which is one of our all-time favorites …
Outreach to serve our most needful citizens …
Children & Youth Programs provided by our outstanding staff …

St. Mary’s provides a wonderful, nourishing environment for our spirits to soar. I believe these are the reasons our family gives joyfully to St. Mary’s.

What is it that you believe?