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Unexpected joy


his edition of our quarterly newsletter spans the three great seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, which arrive at the darkest time of the year. It’s a time when we are all looking for light, going inside, and huddling around fires. I love the brightness and warmth that come from going outside in summer. But I am also drawn to this season of going inside, seeking the light and warmth that come from within.

Sometimes your plans, hopes and expectations get in the way of something I want to give you.” Years ago, the great writer and preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor, helped me “demythologize” and humanize the first Christmas in such a way that I began to wonder if it might have been more like my own experiences of Christmas than I had previously imagined. By Gary D. Jones

Our national holiday of Thanksgiving comes just before Advent, inviting us, regardless of our circumstances, simply to thank God for what is. This sets the stage, as we then begin the precious and countercultural season of peace, simplicity, and quiet reflection (Advent). And isn’t it interesting that when you observe a sustained period of prayerful quiet, you likely emerge from that time in a spirit of celebration. Sustained and simple attention to the divine inevitably brings something beautiful and holy to birth in us (Christmas). And finally, the beauty of holiness is something that is hard to contain or keep to ourselves; those who experience it tend to shine and show forth something of this same beauty in their lives (Epiphany). In the center of it all is the celebration of Christmas that captures our hearts and imaginations from the time we are little children. And year after year, many of us fantasize about a perfect Christmas. Of course, we know that nothing is perfect in this life. But with its traditions of generous giving, images of warm family gatherings, beautiful church services, bountiful meals, and magical moments for children and adults alike, Christmas for many of us has a way of kindling a hope that, this year, some of our deepest longings for intimacy and joy will be fulfilled. Sadly, the shopping, decorating, cooking and socializing very often start to wear us down, well before Christmas. As family members get more specific about their travel plans and their expectations for the holiday, the hopes and agenda of some start to conflict with the hopes and agenda of others. The result can be that the closer we get to Christmas the further we seem to drift from the fulfillment of our dreams. In fact, often the closer we get to Christmas, the less concerned we are with perfection – we simply want to get a good night’s sleep, keep the peace, and try to get through this time with as little stress as possible. I love Christmas. To be honest, though, there have been some Christmases, both in my childhood and in later years, when the stress I felt around family gatherings made me wonder if there might be something wrong with me or my family. I wondered why other people seemed to have such storybook experiences of Christmas, while the reality in my family never quite seemed to live up to my hopes and expectations—sometimes far from it. We know the first Christmas and every Christmas thereafter has had its share of disappointments and altered plans. It is almost as if God is trying to make a point: There is nothing wrong with hopes and plans, but some of God’s greatest gifts come to us precisely when we are forced to abandon what we had planned for ourselves. When we let go of our own plans, we are available to receive God’s. “If you could just hold your plans a little more lightly,” God seems to say, “and not cling so tenaciously to your desired outcome, you might find in some of the least likely situations a joy far greater than anything you could have planned or hoped for.

Our crèches depict a serenity and perfection we all long for, but we know that Mary and Joseph were human beings like us. It wouldn’t surprise me if Joseph was bone-tired after the long trip to Bethlehem and frustrated at his inability to get a room in the inn. And who knows if he was perhaps still carrying around some doubt, or even resentment, about this surprise pregnancy. He believed he was doing his duty, and trying to be kind, but sometimes exhaustion and frustrating circumstances work against our best efforts. When Mary realized that the time had come for her to deliver, was she afraid, so far from home and stuck in a shed with animals? Wasn’t a husband supposed to provide better than this? And did the holy couple take out their doubts, fears, and frustrations on each other, the way we all tend to do with the people we love the most? We’ll never know for sure. But if Mary snapped at Joseph just before Jesus’ birth, I feel certain she later apologized, as they held each other and together watched the sleeping baby. And surely Joseph pulled her closer, as he in turn apologized for venting his frustration the way he had, and then he told her how strong and brave she had been. Because surely it was now dawning on them that this unlikely situation was actually far better than they could have planned or imagined. The inn where they had hoped to get a room was actually loud and boisterous–they heard the occasional roar from the bar, but all they wanted to do was listen to the baby’s breathing. They realized the inn was the last place they wanted to be. Even though it was true that they had hoped to be near family and friends when the baby came, and that the last thing they wanted was to be stuck in a stable with animals, still, they had to admit that there was something about this situation that made them ponder. There was an unusual peacefulness here, a stillness and holiness about it, unlike anything Mary or Joseph had ever known. There was something magical about the starry night sky, and it seemed to the young couple as if a host of angels hovered around them. There in the wake of their unfulfilled hopes and dreams, they realized that this joy could not have come in any other way, or in any other place, or at any other time. May this same joy be yours.

In this issue

Episcopal Community Services team is in place 2 A Fairfield volunteer's reflection 3 Advent, Christmas, Epiphany calendar 6 Martin Laird leads Advent quiet day, publishes new book 7 Icons are ‘theology in color’ 10 Solstice concert marks the longest night of the year 10

The team is in place for Episcopal Community Services


he work of Episcopal Community Services, the recipient of St. Stephen’s capital campaign funds set aside for outreach, continues to progress with the addition of key staff members.

As previously announced, the Rev. Andrew Terry serves as executive director and Deb Lawrence chairs the non-profit organization’s board. Over the summer, the board hired Diana Vasquez as director of employment services.

By Sarah Bartenstein

Our partner in this venture is St. Peter’s Church, the historically African American Episcopal parish in the East End, where Andrew is pastor and where ECS offices are located. We are also working with the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building in a unique public-private partnership.

Sarah Bartenstein

Diana comes to ECS from Esperanza Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where she worked in development for this tuition-free, Episcopal middle school for girls for three years. At Ezperanza—which is in some ways similar to Anna Julia Cooper School, the coed Episcopal middle school St. Stephen’s helped found in Richmond’s East End—Diana managed relationships with donors, developed partnerships with other non-profits and corporate sponsors, worked with local congregations, and represented the school in the Lawrence and Greater Boston community. She also managed the school’s social media platforms and helped communicate its mission to a range of audiences. She stepped into a newly-created position at Esperanza, as she is doing at ECS. Previously, as a special assistant to the mayor of Lawrence, she managed an internship program, provided constituent services, and staffed a variety of events for the mayor. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts. The board hired Diana after reviewing 60 applications, conducting 12 initial interviews, and holding second interviews with five candidates. They narrowed the field to two finalists before hiring Diana.

Andrew Terry, executive director of ECS, and Diana Vasquez, director of employment services, at the doors to St. Peter's, where ECS has its offices. Completing the team is Ferdie Baruch, director of development (who was out raising money when this photo was taken). Deb Lawrence chairs the board of ECS.

ECS will not be a typical social service program where there are ‘givers’ and ‘receivers,’ but a network of members joined together to expand opportunities for East End families. During that process, board members, realizing that the tasks before Andrew and Diana were huge, concluded that a third person would be crucial to the success of this venture. They decided to hire a business development specialist, and found a deeply committed Episcopalian and well-known community member, Ferdie Baruch, who has left his 35-year career in finance to secure additional financial support for ECS. Ferdie is a member of St. James’s, Richmond, where he has been on the vestry and been heavily involved in both outreach and fundraising. Ferdie will also be responsible for identifying and engaging employers for ECS participants, opening doors not only to jobs, but to careers. “One thing that will differentiate ECS from other work force development efforts is the ability to provide concrete job opportunities along with training,” says Andrew. Andrew and Diana have completed training themselves with the City of Richmond, which has expertise in a number of areas critical to the work of ECS. We have made and will continue to make full use of that expertise. The offices for ECS at St. Peter’s Church have been outfitted thanks to the generosity of local law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, who provided new computers, scanners, and printers at no cost. While the services provided by ECS will be comprehensive, its initial focus is employment assistance, based on the needs expressed by people who live in the East End, and whom we have come to know through our long-standing

relationships with the Peter Paul Development Center, Fairfield Court Elementary School, and Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School; and by St. Peter’s Church, whose members have walked throughout the neighborhood with their pastor to learn from residents what their greatest challenges are. All clients will come to ECS through recommendations from these partners, as well as from Armstrong High School and local churches. The pilot cohort will be comprised of 20 families representing a broad range of socioeconomic circumstances. Navigating social services can at times cause a person to feel like a number moving through an impersonal system. ECS will provide more personal and specialized attention to each participant’s situation, along with a compassionate, individualized touch in the work of advocacy and encouragement. Diana will be first point of contact for all members and will function more like a coach than a traditional case manager, helping members define next steps and encouraging them as they navigate the system. “ECS will not mirror a typical social service program where there are ‘givers’ and ‘receivers,’ says Deb, “but rather be structured as a network of members joined together to expand the opportunities for East End families.” Congregations—not only St. Peter’s and St. Stephen’s, but others who wish to take part—will form a support network for these families. Members will gather for workshops, social events, and celebration of milestones. Social networks provide connections to people and resources that help all of us grow and develop. They are also a community of learning, providing opportunities to meet people from other parts of the city and with different life experiences. “This community and network will offer our ECS families relationships across the region, not solely in the East End, which again will expand their opportunities,” says Deb. A council of representatives from participating congregations will address issues of faith that arise from engagement with parents and families. This will help the larger community understand, based on face-to-face experiences, how we can remove barriers to thriving, using our energy, resources and influence to create a more equitable, compassionate and prosperous community.

Members of the ECS board and staff discuss ways this new organization will work with families in the East End.


This public-private partnership combines the holistic approach to workforce readiness of the city’s Office of Community Wealth Building with the agility of non-profit organizations and the culture of caring, engagement, and hospitality found in healthy churches. ✤ SEASONS OF THE SPIRIT

Tom with his two mentees.

Necessary but not sufficient For the past year, I have volunteered as a mentor at Fairfield Court Elementary School in the East End of Richmond, through a cooperative program involving St. Stephen’s, Communities in Schools of Richmond, and Richmond Public Schools. My assignment has been very limited: to meet with two 4th grade boys (I’ll call them Marcus and Tyler) once weekly for 45 minutes. I am not a tutor; we don’t engage in any academic activities. My role is merely to show up consistently and serve as an additional caring adult presence in their lives. I was apprehensive about the prospect of engaging person-to-person with children, especially children from different racial and economic backgrounds than mine. How could I possibly connect with 9- and 10-year-old kids? What if we just sat around looking at each other? My concerns proved to be unwarranted. From the beginning of our first session, Marcus and Tyler started talking immediately and never let up through the end of the school year. Our typical activities involve things like competing with each other in UNO games or launching pennies against a wall with catapults improvised from rulers and masking tape. I have particularly enjoyed this activity, perhaps because I can recall that, in my youth, pitching pennies at lunchtime or recess was one way to get into trouble at school. Sometimes we work a puzzle or build a tower out of sticks. On Valentine’s Day, I brought gum drops, toothpicks, and straws which they used to build heart-shaped structures to take home as presents for their mothers. Both boys also decided to make one for me to give my wife (which was a good thing, given that I had been my typically inconsiderate self when it came to Valentine’s Day shopping for Penny). One of the surprises to me is how the boys seem interested in hearing about my life. After I attended a reunion of my old college basketball team, Tyler, an aspiring and talented basketball player, wanted considerable details from me, including pictures and information about how good a basketball player I had been. (I lied.) But occasionally one of the boys shares something that reminds me how difficult and traumatic their young lives can be. One day, Marcus told me about gunfire erupting and a man being shot just outside the window of his apartment building. He talked about

By Thomas A. Cox

his fears when that happened, and also about his disappointment that his mother won’t allow him even to venture out to the sidewalk unless with an adult or older teen. My time with Marcus and Tyler has been gratifying but also humbling: humbling in that I have recognized that my modest efforts are not going to eliminate Marcus’s fears or insure Tyler’s academic success; that, despite my best intentions, the challenges these two boys and their families and community face would continue when they left school that day, and in fact long after they had no more contact with me. But concluding that my involvement with Tyler and Marcus is not sufficient to solve all their problems is not the same as concluding that what I and other volunteers and professionals bring to their lives is not necessary. “Necessary but not sufficient.” That phrase has been running through my head a lot lately when I think about my modest efforts in the community. It helps keep me humble about my own limitations while still hopeful about making at least some difference. But I have also come to see that “necessary but not sufficient” accurately describes so much of what I have brought to every important relationship in my life: as a parent, as a spouse, as a friend. As much as I might wish otherwise, I have never been able to provide everything that my loved ones needed. They and I have always required support from a wide network of family, friends, community, church, and school. In that sense, my efforts may have been necessary, but they have almost never been sufficient. So I am continuing this year as a mentor at Fairfield Court. I do so joyfully, while asking God for the humility to accept that I will never serve as a “savior” in their lives (as a wise person once said, the job of Savior has already been taken), but with the hope and belief that my relationships with both boys really do matter—in their lives and, most certainly, in my own. ✤ Tom Cox is an attorney and St. Stephen's parishioner. It’s never too late to volunteer with one of our East End partners: Fairfield School, Anna Julia Cooper School, or Peter Paul Development Center. The opportunities are varied and tailored to your schedule and needs. For more information, please contact Deb Lawrence or Josh Rockett in the parish office, 804.288.2867.

New outreach coordinator joins Deb Lawrence Outreach is a major emphasis in our life as a community of faith, so we are thrilled that Josh Rockett has joined the staff of St. Stephen’s to serve as outreach coordinator alongside director of outreach Deb Lawrence.

Josh and his wife Abbey, a freelance writer, moved to Richmond from Wheaton, Illinois, outside Chicago, where Josh worked with a Christian non-profit organization called Feed My Starving Children. His work there involved coordinating the distribution of food to people in developing countries, including working with volunteers of all ages and religious faiths. Previous employment includes pastoral care in a hospice setting, youth ministry in a parish, and work in a youth home where he did group work in such areas as restorative justice, domestic violence, anger management, and life skills. S A I N T S T E P H E N ’ S E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H


He has an M.Div. from North Park Theological Seminary. Having come from a more evangelical faith tradition, Josh and Abbey have gravitated to the Episcopal Church in recent years. The Rocketts are excited to be living in Richmond where they already have many friends. “I am thrilled to have Josh join us at St. Stephen’s,” says Deb. “He will be an asset to our outreach ministries as he brings a passion for this work and a love of serving with volunteers.” Josh began his new work here on November 5. He will be doing many of the things that Jessica Smith did before she left in September to work for Communities in Schools in Chesterfield County. ✤ Josh Rockett


Stop. Turn. Listen. Let your life speak. By Melinda Hardy, Braxton Hill and Allen Goolsby Annual Giving Campaign Co-Chairs


t. Stephen’s Church is a special place—in our community and in our lives. People come here to love and be loved, to grow in faith and spirit, and to explore what matters most in life.

Sometimes, people encountering the chaotic pace of the world make the choice to stop—to step off the treadmill. Like the Prodigal Son, they turn back toward the source of their life. As they ignore the noise of the world, they are able to listen. And they allow their life to speak. St. Stephen’s serves as a sacred village green where these things can happen. Seven days a week, we are a gathering place for a stressed, conflicted, and divided world. We are a source of hope and healing, a place to learn and grow, a sacred center for prayer and worship, a spiritual home base for people who go out to share God’s love in their neighborhoods, their schools, their workplaces and beyond. Through programs like our food ministry, mission trips, our city jail ministry and CARITAS, we feed the hungry, we care for the sick, we visit the prisoner, and we welcome the stranger. Inspired by the depth of our outreach, churches from across the country—and as far away as Australia—seek guidance from our clergy and staff. With the breadth of our service

Temple Cone, poet laureate of the city of Annapolis, to read at St. Stephen’s Poet Temple Cone, who has visited St. Stephen’s to read his poetry once before, will return Thursday, January 31, at 7 p.m. Cone was recently named as the first Poet Laureate for the city of Annapolis, where he is professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy. The late Claudia Emerson (Late Wife) wrote, “A poet of unwavering honesty and lyric precision, Temple Cone’s gift to us, and to poetry, is in ‘the persistence of song’— an underlying sense of wondrous optimism despite the perils of the world we shape and are shaped by.” Cone is the author of four books of poetry: Guzzle, from FutureCycle Press (2016); That Singing, from March Street Press (2011); The Broken Meadow, which received the 2010 Old Seventy Creek Poetry Press Series Prize; and No Loneliness, which received the 2009 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book Prize. He has also published six poetry chapbooks, as well as reference works on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Walt Whitman, and 20th century American poetry. He holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Wisconsin, an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia, an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins University, and a B.A. in philosophy from Washington and Lee University. His parents, Barbara and Bobby Cone, are long-time St. Stephen’s parishioners. ✤


offerings and our welcoming spirit, our average Sunday attendance has grown to 1,216 and places St. Stephen’s fourth in attendance among Episcopal churches in the country. As one of the 20 largest Episcopal churches in the U.S., however, our giving lags. In fact, we rank 18th for the financial support we receive through pledges and offerings. Without a doubt, we do great things here at St. Stephen’s Church. But there is a growing cost to these offerings and the vital work we do. It requires your financial support.

Sometimes, people encountering the chaotic pace of the world make the choice to stop—to step off the treadmill. Like the Prodigal Son, they turn back toward the source of their life. As they ignore the noise of the world, they are able to listen. And they allow their life to speak.

We hope you will be a pledging member of St. Stephen’s for 2019. If you have been a pledging member for 2018, please accept our deep gratitude for your support, and consider increasing your pledge for 2019. If you are not a pledging member, please consider becoming one this year. Every dollar is critical as we make plans for our ministries, operations and offerings. Even if you give to St. Stephen’s regularly, unless you fill out a pledge form, our vestry’s ability to plan and budget is diminished. The amount you give is up to you; we hope that you will give in proportion to what you have, and that your pledge to the church be a meaningful decision and not a reflexive one. Pledge cards are available at the church doors and throughout the parish house, or you may pledge online at Please consider the importance of St. Stephen’s to yourself, your family, our community and beyond, and join us as we strive to do God’s work in the world. God asks us to do important things with our lives. But we can’t do them alone. That’s why the church is here: to do this work together. Thank you so much for your support! ✤

The stillness we ache for Pico Iyer to speak at St. Stephen’s in March “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”–Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness, p. 66 At a time of round-the-clock news, beeping phones and escalating stress, it can be harder than ever to remember what we care for and what really matters. Drawing on his time in monasteries Eastern and Western, calling upon his 44 years of talks with the XIVth Dalai Lama, and trying to maintain his sanity in an age of acceleration and distraction, journalist and essayist Pico Iyer will visit St. Stephen’s on Thursday, March 28, 2019, at 7 p.m., and share practical tips and suggestions for how to make a life as well as a living in a world of clutter and confusion. Born in Oxford, England to parents from India, Iyer was educated at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard. His books include The Joy of Quiet, The Art of Stillness, and the novel The Lady and the Monk, to name just a few. He has reached new audiences through his TED talks. His newest book, Autumn Light, will be published in April. Reservations for Iyer’s talk should be made at or in the parish office. The suggested donation is $25. Those interested in reading several of Iyer’s books and discussing them in depth should send an email to Allison Seay,, for details about a group forming after the new year. ✤ SEASONS OF THE SPIRIT

Connect and reflect on the ministries of St. Stephen’s I’m a geek about human growth and development. So I was fascinated by a recent study examining the impact of having people write about their core values. The study demonstrated that reflecting on core values leads not only to feeling more positive emotions such as “loving” and “connected,” but also leads to actually acting in more compassionate ways. How cool is that? The process of identifying values and thinking deeply about them seems to have a centering effect on us humans, reminding us of what matters most and leading us to act in better alignment with what we care about.

By Susan Wilkes

In recent weeks, “ministry liaisons” have been leading interested parishioners through a process of reflecting on the core values of St. Stephen’s. The word cloud shown on this page reveals some preliminary ideas for what the core values of St. Stephen’s might be. I’m eager to see not only what values we identify but also how our parish-wide work reflecting on our core values might affect us. Will our growing clarity about what matters most to us at St. Stephen’s lead us, through our many ministries, to act in even more effective and compassionate ways? In addition to the work on core values, each ministry area has been reviewing their history and discussing how their ministry has evolved over time. Ministry liaison Catherine Whitham, who piloted the process with the healing prayer ministers early this fall, says that “every single person was eager to share experiences” and that it was powerful to understand more about the “profound connection” parishioners feel through their involvement in the ministry. Interestingly, many in

the session also remarked on the rapid pace of change and how the prayer requests have changed over the past 10 years. This is exactly our hope about all of these sessions–that they provide time to connect with others interested in a particular ministry, to deepen understanding of how we are touched by the ministry, and to trace how it has evolved over time. The word “joy” in the word cloud is in smaller type, but it’s definitely there, on the right side, next to beauty and excellence. We hope joy is part of this process, too, as we all consider the rich history of our ministries and reflect on what really matters at St. Stephen’s. The meeting times for all of these sessions are posted on the Envisioning Our Future page of the parish Web site at All are welcome to join one or more of these important conversations; no sign-up is needed. Many meetings have already occurred, but there will be additional opportunities to participate in this two-year process. ✤

FALL AT ST. STEPHEN'S Fall brings many cherished traditions to St. Stephen’s, including the Bluegrass Bash, the Blessing of the Animals service near St. Francis Day (October 4), and All Saints' Day and All Saints' Sunday. On All Saints' Day we give thanks for the Communion of Saints, including those we love but see no longer. On All Saints' Sunday, we welcome the newest saints into the household of God with Holy Baptism. September’s Bluegrass Bash (bottom photo) was postponed one week this year when the threat of hurricane-related weather conditions loomed, but when the rescheduled date, September 21, arrived, it was a wonderful occasion for fellowship, music, hospitality for the larger community, and source of additional funding for outreach ministries at St. Stephen's. The Rev. Claudia W. Merritt (middle photo) conducted this year's Blessing of the Animals service, which attracted scores of dogs, large and small, and their humans. On November 4, All Saints' Sunday, a total of 13 children were baptized, some in the 9 a.m. service in Palmer Hall Chapel, others at the 11:15 a.m. service in the main church. In this photo (top), the Rev. Gary Jones baptizes Ann Woodson Hedrick, daughter of Jeb and Ibbie Hedrick. Bluegrass Bash photo by Sarah Der; other photos by Sarah Bartenstein

S A I N T S T E P H E N ’ S E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H



Hark, the herald smartphone rings

By Andy Russell

TANZANIA. The sun is up, it’s 9:00 a.m., and I’m wide awake. I’ve already eaten breakfast: a banana, milk, and two Weetabix biscuits. I’m sitting on my couch, laptop on my lap, with a cool breeze funneling through the ornate metal rails that cover my windows. The Skype ring tone draws my attention to my laptop and I click to accept the call. The familiar scene of the living room of my parents’ house fills my screen, my parents smiling into the attachable webcam. The scenery outside their window is covered by dusk. My brother, at his college campus, joins the call, and we all start to share the latest updates of our lives. I imagine many people identify with these two anecdotes. They speak to the power of technology and its ability to connect us instantly in ways that were impossible not long ago. As we’ve all experienced, instant, widespread, and far-reaching connection can be a good or a bad thing. When I followed the call to serve with the Young Adult Service Corps in Tanzania, my parents were not entirely pleased with my decision to live in Africa for almost a year. To ease their concern, I agreed to Skype with them once a week. Not call— Skype. For my mom, there was something intensely reassuring about seeing my face, physical confirmation that I was safe and healthy. The internet made that possible. On the flip side, sometimes I really hate that the first thing I typically reach for every morning is my smartphone. Even if I put my phone on the other side of my bedroom, I’d find the strength to drag my body across the room and scroll through


Smartphones give you more flexibility so you don’t have to be tethered to your desk. That lets you go to your kid’s game instead of staying at the office.—James Driscoll Smartphones make it really easy to check weather and get directions. I’m a curious person, so I like that if I want to know a fact I can find an answer in a matter of seconds. I love the news and to be able to communicate with my family members so easily.—Sue Reichel Easy directions is a really big thing we use it for. I actually really like that my daughter can text her cousins out of town. They communicate more over text than they would by phone call. —Stephanie Johnson


It’s too easy for my kids to get addicted to it. They always play these mindless games and get overly upset when it’s time to stop playing. —James Driscoll


Sarah Bartenstein

RICHMOND. Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep. I wake up, turn over and turn my alarm off. Before I even have a chance to clear my eyes, still blurry from sleep, a pang of anxiety grips me. I quickly reach for my phone. After unlocking it and reviewing the notifications for likes, posts, and fantasy football updates, I fall back into my bed. Briefly satiated yet maybe not quite satisfied by my check-in with social media, I roll out of bed to start my day. It’s a bright screen, so I’m definitely awake now.

my notifications. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. However, there have been times when I moved certain apps off my home screen or disabled certain notifications, and that has helped me, in moderate ways, to use my phone responsibly. During Advent, as we prepare ourselves for God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus, I wonder this: how do smartphones, and other technology, influence our ability to anticipate, prepare, and wait, not only for Christmas, but all things in our lives? What does it mean to anticipate when a 24/7 news cycle and streams of social media posts flash before your eyes? What does it mean to prepare when Pinterest and thousands of online recipes are at your fingertips? What does it mean to wait when you have Amazon Prime? What does it mean to be a Christian, in 2018, during Advent? At three “Future of Church and Society” events in October, Gary Jones asked parishioners to place themselves on a continuum: is technology drawing us closer together or pushing us further apart? People voiced the things they appreciated and the things that concerned them. Similarly, family ministry staff recently asked parents and youth to tell us what they see as the advantages and disadvantages of technology, especially smartphones. Here are some of their answers.


I like having a smartphone because it allows me to stay in touch with my friends and family. I especially use Instagram and Snapchat to communicate with my friends.—Claire, grade 9 I like being able to easily keep up with my friends using social media. It’s cool that I can always catch up with them whenever I want. Also, there are lots of fun games and activities to do that I can fill my free time with. —Jay, grade 9 A pro of having a smartphone is easy communication with others when they aren’t necessarily near you. I really enjoy having a smartphone because it’s a quick and simple way to communicate with others. I frequently use my phone to listen to music throughout the day.—Caroline, grade 10 I like being able to communicate with people instantly and to be able to have access to knowledge. —Alex, grade 11 I like the ability to be in contact with pretty much anyone pretty much anywhere in the world. It’s really helpful to have access to your friends or family if you need to talk to them. I am also a big fan of the map capability of most phones nowadays. I frequently plug an address into my phone if I don’t know where it is.— Daniel, grade 12 I really like being able to see news through all of the different media because you can learn a lot about the world. —Laura, grade 12


My phone can be distracting when I am trying to study or do homework. It can even interrupt me when I’m hanging out with my friends and family.—Claire

You lose your freedom. The expectation with smartphones is that you get back to people immediately. It’s just one more thing to do. It’s stressful! The temptation and feeling that you need to check your email constantly is a big one for me.—Sue Reichel

I don’t like how the phone is very addicting. I often find myself spending way too much time on it. Sometimes I don’t use it for a while so I don’t spend too much time on it.—Jay

My daughters want to watch and listen to music but it’s hard to know what’s in the videos. A lot of music videos are so sexualized and you can’t possibly sort through all of the content. —Stephanie Johnson

I do not like how it is distracting and takes up so much of our time. The (constant) notifications and text messages make it seem like what you are talking about is much more important than it is.—Alex

A con about having a smartphone is I feel like people can get caught up in posting pictures online or just not paying enough attention to the people and world around them. Although I use my phone on a daily basis, it’s not so important that I feel like I can’t survive without it.—Caroline

I think it is hard for teens to be able to see what is going on all the time because it can lead to them overexerting themselves trying to do everything and feeling left out.—Laura ✤


Youth mission trips focus on ‘becoming Beloved Community’


ast summer, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies (the legislative house of the General Convention that includes clergy and lay deputies from every diocese) invited all Episcopalians to engage in “Becoming Beloved Community.” Drawing from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s popularization of the term “beloved community,” this initiative calls for us to “dream and work to foster Beloved Communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life and see themselves and others as beloved children of God.”

We are also exploring additional domestic youth trips, especially in other cities in the South that have contexts similar to Richmond’s. While I served with the Episcopal Service Corps in the Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta last year, I was faced with hard truths about the inequalities that exist in our country. “Racial reconciliation” is an intimidating term. It asks us to leave no stone unturned, from overarching systems that disenfranchise specific groups of people to our very own assumptions and biases.

By Andy Russell

As our plans take shape, we’ll keep you informed via the Spirit (our parish’s weekly printed newsletter), the eSpirit (the email sent every Wednesday), and the family ministry email newsletter. In the meantime, if you have questions, please be in touch with any member of the family ministry team, Becky McDaniel, Allison Seay, Sarah-Keel Crews, or me. Our email addresses are listed on page 12 of this edition of Seasons of the Spirit. ✤

Briget Ganske photos

Sarah-Keel Crews photos

Two years ago, then-director of family ministry Michael Sweeney and outreach director Deb Lawrence offered a meaningful in-town mission trip for youth that explored Richmond’s history, the city’s current context, and the Christian responsibility for racial reconciliation. We want to continue this journey, eager to learn and participate in work that lifts up all people in our city. This summer, the family ministry and outreach teams will offer another in-town youth mission trip. St. Stephen’s has many wonderful partners across the city, including Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School, Fairfield Court Elementary School, Peter Paul Development Center, and Episcopal Community Services. We look forward to further collaborating with our partners, hoping to invite other Richmond-area Episcopal churches into the work of building “beloved community.”

At first, as I wrestled with questions of race and social inequality, I felt guilty and embarrassed. But racial reconciliation is not about shaming people; it is about acknowledging that we are all beloved children of God and that we too often fall short in treating one another this way. Visiting another city and engaging in the reality there can be a powerful way to start moving towards “beloved community.” As the “Becoming Beloved Community” mission statement reads, we have the opportunity to grow as “reconcilers, justice-makers, and healers in the name of Christ.”


Family ministry events help mark the seasons The annual Advent Fair takes place Sunday, December 2. We’ll have wreathmaking kits (form, candle holder, candles) available (suggested donation, $12), and tables set up with tools and greens so you can assemble your wreath on the spot. This activity will be available from 10:10 a.m. until 1 p.m. in Room 14. Meanwhile, one of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria (classrooms) will be open with Advent activities taking place. In Room 7, there will be Advent crafts for young children. Tacky Lights Tour: Youth in grades 4-9 are invited to join family ministry staff on Sunday, December 9, 5:30-8 p.m., to tour some of the brightest, most elaborate holiday light displays in Richmond. We’ll gather at St. Stephen’s and take the tour in our church vans. Christmas sweaters are encouraged, and we also ask each youth to bring a holiday treat to share on the van. There is no cost but sign-up is required at

St. Stephen's youth made trips to the pumpkin patch, Busch Gardens, and Shrine Mont this fall. On October 14, Club 45 (fourth and fifth graders) went to Ashland Berry Farm on church vans, chose pumpkins and enjoyed fellowship and refreshments along the way. The following Sunday, October 21, sixth through 12th graders attended the 8 a.m. service together before boarding vans for Busch Gardens. During the first weekend in November, middle school students went to the annual junior high weekend at Shrine Mont conducted by Parish Youth Ministries, a group of senior high youth from throughout the Diocese of Virginia. These weekends offer the opportunity to meet youth from other churches throughout the diocese.

Family ministries caroling: Parents and kids are invited to gather at St. Stephen’s on Thursday, December 20, at 10 a.m. in Room 14. We’ll practice carols and have breakfast before departing in groups to go caroling for people who can no longer get to church regularly. We’ll conclude at noon. There is no cost, but sign-up is required at Children’s Christmas Pageant: This endearing pageant takes place this year on Saturday, December 22. All participants should arrive by 1 p.m. for a mandatory rehearsal, followed by costuming and the 3 p.m. pageant. This is open to all children age 2 through grade 5. Please register your child so we can ensure that we have sufficient costumes and adult helpers. This year’s co-leaders are Emily Rose and Lacy Noble. Please register at as soon as possible, but no later than Thursday, December 20. Youth Pageant: This unique pageant is a beloved tradition. It takes place this year on Sunday, December 23, during the 11:15 a.m. service. Participants are asked to help with cart building on Thursday, December 20, 6:307:30 p.m. The required rehearsal takes place Saturday, December 22, 10-11:30 a.m. Everyone in grades 6-12 is welcome, but registration is required at, by December 16. The following events are planned for the first few months of 2019; additional details, costs and registration are at • Sunday, January 27: Indoor rock climbing for grades 9-12; pick up and drop off are at St. Stephen’s; 1-4 p.m. • Sunday, February 3: Super Bowl-ing for grades 4-8 from 1:30 until 3:30 p.m. We’ll meet at the bowling alley (details to come), and you’ll be home in time to watch the Super Bowl. • Saturday, March 2: “7-11” party for grades 6-8 (a lock-in without the overnight—7 p.m.-11 p.m.) ✤ S A I N T S T E P H E N ’ S E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H



Parish Calendar Read about Advent at St. Stephen’s at indicates child care available, ages 4 and under

Briget Ganske

Daily Morning Prayer and Evensong Each weekday at St. Stephen’s we offer Morning Prayer and Communion at 8:10 a.m., and a simple service of Evensong at 5:30 p.m. Both services are brief and take place in the main church. Evensong is led by the Virginia Girls Choir on Wednesdays. If the Daily Office is not already a part of your spiritual practice, Advent, Christmas or Epiphany may be an especially appropriate time to try it.

Christmas services at St. Stephen’s

Saturday, December 1 9 a.m.-noon–Farmers Market in the Fellowship Hall 9 a.m.-3 p.m.–Advent Quiet Day with Fr. Martin Laird 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel

Last year we changed our Christmas Eve schedule, because the 4 p.m. service for families with children we’d been offering for many years had become so crowded, even the overflow seating was overflowing! Instead of one family service, we held two, one at 3 p.m. and one at 5 p.m. We’ll continue that pattern this year. It’s year two, so now it’s a tradition!

Sunday, December 2–Advent I 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, in main church and Palmer Hall Chapel 10:10 a.m.–Advent Fair (no Sunday school); Fr. Martin Laird in Sunday Forum 11:15 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two (Advent Fair continues after this service) 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.– Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline

The 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. services are identical and both include choirs and instrumentalists. The same liturgy and music will be used for both. If you loved the 4 p.m. service from 2016 or earlier, you’ll be right at home at either of the afternoon services. The schedule for Christmas Eve: • 3:00 p.m., Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, the “Family Service,” with singers and instrumentalists • 5:00 p.m., Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, the “Family Service,” with Palmer Hall choirs and instrumentalists • 8:00 p.m., Celtic Christmas with Virginia Girls Choir and instrumentalists • 11:00 p.m., Traditional Christ Mass (Holy Eucharist: Rite One) with St. Stephen’s Choir and instrumentalists

Tuesday, December 4 11 a.m.–Women of St. Stephen’s Holiday Music Program and Luncheon Wednesday, December 5 5:30 p.m.–Evensong with Virginia Girls Choir 5:45-6:30 p.m.–Wonderful Wednesdays supper Saturday, December 8 9-11 a.m.–Second Saturdays Centering Prayer 9 a.m.-noon–Farmers Market in Fellowship Hall 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel

All Christmas Eve services take place in the main church, with overflow seating available in Palmer Hall and the Fellowship Hall. A half-hour of special music precedes each service (so, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.).

Sunday, December 9–Advent II 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, in main church and in Palmer Hall Chapel 10:10 a.m.–Christian education for all ages 11:15 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6-8 p.m.–Grades 4-8, Tacky Lights Tour (sign up in advance) 6:30 p.m.–Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline

The Christmas Day service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 25. Sanctuary, the Compline choir, will sing. The first Sunday of Christmas (Christmas I), December 30, will follow the usual Sunday schedule. The 9 a.m. service will be a simple, quiet, contemplative service with piano, special instrumentalists, cantor and beautiful Christmas music. At 11:15 a.m. we will have the traditional service of Lessons and Carols for which Episcopal and Anglican churches are known. Saturday services (5:30 p.m.) take place as usual, as do Morning Prayer and Evensong, except on the weekdays the parish office is closed (December 25 and 26, and January 1). ✤

Wednesday, December 12 5:30 p.m.–Evensong with Virginia Girls Choir 5:45-6:30 p.m.–Wonderful Wednesdays supper (last one until January) Saturday, December 15 9 a.m.-noon–Farmers Market in Large Fellowship Hall 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel

Advent offerings

Sunday, December 16–Advent III 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, in main church and Palmer Hall Chapel 10:10 a.m.–Christian education for all ages 11:15 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.– Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline

Advent begins Sunday, December 2


ake your own Advent wreath during our Advent Fair on December 2 in Room 14 throughout the morning. Kits with wreath forms, candle holders and candles will be available; the suggested donation is $12. If you have evergreen trees or shrubs in your yard, consider bringing some sprigs or cuttings for yourself and some to share. Other Advent resources will be available at the fair, and one of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria will be open for those who’d like to take part in the Advent activities offered in that program. There will be no Sunday school that day, although the Sunday Forum will take place in the Fellowship Hall. Daily Advent meditations have become a much-appreciated and anticipated feature of the season at St. Stephen’s. Reflections on the Daily Office Lectionary (the Scripture passages assigned for each day of the week) or some spiritual insight or experience related to this season of preparation for the Incarnation arrive in each subscriber’s email inbox every day of the season. The email subscription is free and is open to all, not just parishioners. If you are not already receiving them, you may sign up at

Traditional Advent calendars will be available in the May Fair House. ✤ See the article on the facing page about an Advent Quiet Day with Martin Laird, Saturday, December 1.


Briget Ganske

The Society of St. John the Evangelist and the Anglican Communion will collaborate on an electronic Advent calendar. Very brief daily reflections are paired with images—just like a printed Advent calendar—which arrive in your inbox each day. To sign up, visit


Friday, December 21 Candlelight Winter Solstice Concert, 7:30 p.m. (see article, page 10)

Martin Laird to lead Advent quiet day

Saturday, December 22 9 a.m.-noon–Farmers Market (outdoors this week only) 3 p.m.—Children’s Pageant, main church (mandatory rehearsal at 1 p.m.) 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel

In one of his epigrams, “The Blessed Silence of the Night,” the 17th century mystical author, Angelus Silesius, writes, “If your soul can be still as the night to the created, // God becomes man in you, retrieves what’s violated.” Elsewhere he writes, “God far exceeds all words that we can here express // in silence he is heard, in silence worshiped best.” These themes, so clearly related to Advent, help us prepare for the beginning of the season.

Sunday, December 23—Advent IV 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, in the main church and Palmer Hall Chapel 10:10 a.m.–Christian education to grade 5 (no Forum or youth Sunday school) 11:15 a.m.–Morning Prayer and Youth Pageant 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.–Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline Monday, December 24—Christmas Eve All services in the main church with overflow seating in Palmer Hall and Fellowship Hall 3 p.m.–Children’s Service: Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, music begins at 2:30 p.m. 5 p.m.–Children’s Service: Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, music begins at 4:30 p.m. 8 p.m.–Celtic Christmas Service; music begins at 6:30 p.m. 11 p.m.–Traditional Christ Mass: Holy Eucharist: Rite One; music begins at 10:30 p.m.

Silence itself has no opposite, says Fr. Martin Laird in his description of an Advent quiet day he will lead on Saturday, December 1, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. “For the silent mind, sound is as silent as no sound. For the decluttered mind, despair and delight manifest the very same silence we incessantly embody by the simple fact that we are. But for the cluttered mind, such things seem to be at odds.” To explore this, among other things, Fr. Martin will consider such challenges as “the inner noise generated when we try to use contemplative practice to acquire something we think we lack; or get rid of something we would rather not have in our lives; or how the practice of ‘mindfulness’ risks leaving us fixated on ourselves as our own contemplative projects; as well as other special challenges for the maturing contemplative.”

Tuesday, December 25–Christmas Day Parish office closed 10:30 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in main church, with Sanctuary choir Wednesday, December 26–Feast of St. Stephen Parish office closed Thursday, December 27 Parish office reopens Briget Ganske

Saturday, December 29 No Farmers Market 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel Fr. Martin leading a retreat at St. Stephen's

Fr. Martin has lectured and led retreats at St. Stephen's and throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. He is professor of Early Christian Studies at Villanova University and the author of Into the Silent Land; A Sunlit Absence; and the forthcoming An Ocean of Light. He is one of the world’s foremost teachers on the practice of contemplation and is held in high regard by scholars around the world, as well as by such leaders as Richard Rohr and the archbishop of Canterbury. His first two books are perennial favorites in our bookshop and we are excited about the release of his third. ✤

Two offerings for Lent Briget Ganske

Ash Wednesday is March 6, 2019. Plan now to take part in events for Lent, one at the beginning of the season, the other just before Holy Week. Registration is at, or you may stop by or call the parish office, 804.288.2867. Greening the church (above); Celtic Christmas Eve (facing page, bottom)

Sunday, December 30–Christmas I 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two No Sunday school or Forum; childcare available for ages 4 and under, 10 a.m.-noon 11:15 a.m.–Lessons and Carols service 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.–Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline Tuesday, January 1–The Holy Name Parish office closed Saturday, January 5 9 a.m.-noon–Farmers Market (back indoors) 5:30 p.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two in Palmer Hall Chapel Sunday, January 6–Feast of the Epiphany 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two (contemplative service; see page 8) 10:10 a.m. –Christian education for all ages 11:15 a.m.–Lessons and Carols service 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.–Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline Wednesday, January 9 Wednesday supper and other Wednesday activities resume Sunday, January 13–The Baptism of Our Lord/Epiphany 1 8 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite One 9 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, in the main church and Palmer Hall Chapel 10:10 a.m.–Christian education for all ages 11:15 a.m.–Holy Eucharist: Rite Two 5:30 p.m.–Celtic Service 6:30 p.m.–Sunday Community Supper 8 p.m.–Compline Monday, January 14 Winter Covenant Period for Emmaus Groups begins

We are always grateful to receive a visit from one of the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during Lent. We are especially honored this year that Br. David Vryhof will lead a workshop on Saturday, March 9, 2019, from 9 a.m. until noon, on “The Gift of Humility.” Humility is not a much-sought-after virtue today, but monastics in every age have seen it as the chief virtue of the Christian life and the single most important Br. David Vryhof, SSJE goal of monastic life. In this half-day workshop, Br. David will help us understand why they valued humility so highly, how they recognized it, and how they sought to develop it. Participants will also consider humility as Christ taught and lived it, and as the early church practiced it. The Society of St. John the Evangelist is the oldest religious order for men in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition. Br. David serves the community as its Assistant Superior and as the Communications Brother. He is an experienced teacher, spiritual director and retreat conductor. He’s also an avid sports fan. On Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13, 2019, Kayleen Asbo will lead a retreat on Dante’s Divine Comedy, titled “Dante: A Journey to Hope and Healing.” How do we hold onto hope when everything around us is falling apart? How can we face the difficult task of rebuilding shattered lives in the midst of persistent darkness? How do we find our way out of despair into healing and community? How do we turn towards the difficult tasks of personal and collective transformation with integrity? How do we discover a place of belonging and joy? Kayleen Asbo will help us dive into Dante's Divine Comedy to awaken our imagination so that we might discover how it can lead to our own renewal. Dr. Asbo is a passionate scholar of history, myth, music, art and comparative religion. Educated at Smith College, Mills College, the San Francisco Conservatory, Pacifica Graduate Institute and the University of California, Dr. Asbo holds a PhD in mythology and additional master’s degrees in depth psychology and piano performance. She teaches at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, the Osher Life Long Learning Institutes at UC Berkeley, Sonoma State University and Dominican University in California. ✤


Soul windows Icons are ‘theology in color’

Solstice concert brings light to the longest night of the year


he Virginia Girls Choir and Sanctuary, our Compline Choir, will present a concert Friday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m., titled “A Celebration of Light: Music for the Winter Solstice.” On the longest night of the year, enjoy a candlelight concert celebrating the lengthening of days and the coming of light. The one-hour concert will feature musical reflections on light from composers across the ages. Pieces will be about winter, light (with particular reference to Christ as the light), Advent, and Mary.

Barbara Massey taking part in the annual icon workshop

By Barbara Massey What is an icon? The word comes from the Greek word for image. Icons are sacred images and have been called “theology in color.” An icon is a religious work of art, usually a painting. The most common icon subjects are Christ, Mary, saints or angels. It is not simply a representation of a religious subject, but a representation with religious meaning. Icons are “soul windows”—entrances into the presence of the Holy. It is a prayer simply to gaze attentively at an icon and allow God to speak. Praying with icons is an ancient practice involving keeping the eyes open to focus not on what we see in the moment, but what we see over time as we sit in stillness and silence before the icon, gazing. Gazing at an icon in prayer creates an awareness of being in the presence of God. In the icon are both beauty and holiness. In the Orthodox Christian tradition icons are said to be written, not painted. The Orthodox consider making icons more a form of prayer than art, and believe the iconographer’s hand is guided by God. Writing an icon is a contemplative practice. Therefore, before an icon is written, the iconographer or artist begins with prayer. The hands are blessed and anointed with oil as well.

Several summers ago I participated in the annual week-long icon workshop at St. Stephen’s Church and wrote the icon of the Holy Face. Beginning with a totally blank board before me, I worked and waited each day for the Holy Face to appear. It took days of anticipation before the image began to emerge and take shape. The more I worked and waited, the clearer the image became. The Holy Face is in my home now. With its arresting, penetrating and compelling eyes, it continues to draw me into its gaze and is a reminder each day that only when I look directly into the face of God am I able to then look into the face of others with respect, love and mercy, attributes of God. Only then can I see the faces of others clearly as individuals made in the image of God. I have created several icons since that first one. As I venerate them, I am drawn into silence and remember a line from a simple, ancient prayer from the Book of Hours, dated 1514: “God be in my eyes and in my seeing. Amen.” ✤


The annual icon workshop will take place July 21-26, 2019. Enrollment for this workshop always fills very quickly. If you would like to be notified when registration opens for the 2019 event, please visit where you’ll see a link to sign up for an email alert.


Tickets ($20 adults/$10 students) are available in the parish office and online, ✤

A Symphony of Symbols Take an interactive tour of the church with the rector WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 AT 6:30 P.M. Entering a church like St. Stephen’s, which is descended from the 12th and 13th century Gothic cathedrals of Europe, is like suddenly being immersed in a symphony of rich, ancient symbolism; it is much more than a pretty building. In fact, most Gothic cathedrals are named for Mary (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora), Our Lady, the mother of Jesus. Even this naming is a sign of what many have experienced about the effect of giving oneself to the experience of worship in such spaces over time. E P I CT E D I As we pray in this nurturing environment, surrounded by images of saints and scenes from the life of Jesus, images of the natural world and celestial phenomena, and reminders from daily life of divine immanence and transcendence, we find ourselves gradually changed, as if we are constantly gestating in the womb of Mary, being reborn to a deeper truth about our life.







Today iconographers paint Christ’s portrait, the Holy Face, as if on a cloth. No other icon or portrait is painted this way. The special significance of this icon lies in its origin, having been created by Christ himself. It is seen as a validation of the practice of making icons.

Sanctuary is a mixed choir directed by Michael Simpson. They sing the 30-minute Compline service each Sunday at 8 p.m., and occasionally sing at other special services. The choir formed in 2010 to sing for Compline which was originally envisioned as a special offering for our centennial year. It became so popular that the a cappella service, and the choir, have continued. This choir also recorded a CD of music used in our Compline service, titled simply “Sanctuary.” Compline is an ancient service of Psalms and prayers, found on page 127 in the Book of Common Prayer.


One of the most recognizable icons, Mandylion (literally a handkerchief or napkin), is an icon of the face of Christ. It is based on a story in the Orthodox tradition in which King Abgar of Edessa sent a message to Christ asking that he come to him to heal him. Christ could not come. Instead he pressed a napkin to his face and imprinted his image on it and sent it to the king. Abgar was healed by looking at the face of Christ. The outline of Christ’s face remained on the napkin as the “image not made with hands.” All icons of the Holy Face are said to have been reproduced from that prototype. In AD 525, workmen repairing a wall in the city of Edessa found a container with a cloth that had a face painted on it. It was called “the image not made with hands.” It was said to have been hidden in the wall by Christians when they were being persecuted.

The Virginia Girls Choir is an auditioned choir of girls from grades 5 through 12 from throughout the community. Their director is Kerry Court. Founded in 2008, this accomplished choir recorded a Christmas CD, “An Unexpected Christmas,” and has performed on tour in the United States and England. The choir sings during Sunday morning worship and for special services, concerts and recordings. In addition, this choir sings for Choral Evensong on Wednesdays during the school year.


Briget Ganske

During the time of year when the days have grown shorter and shorter, while shopping, parties, and other holiday demands threaten to eclipse the Advent season, enjoy an evening with family and friends listening to stirring music in our beautiful church.

The Episcopal Church’s worship is full of ancient wisdom and depth, and it is most powerful if we are awake to its richness. In our worship, we are not just getting our moral compass straightened out, learning about the Bible, or asking God for help. Instead, we are entering another dimension of life altogether, coming home to God and our own souls; and in the process we are being renewed and refreshed as members of the Body of Christ so that we can return to our everyday lives with awe, wonder, humility, and reverence. Three times each year, the rector provides an interactive tour of this sacred space. It is an exploration of the richness of Episcopal worship and the role sacred spaces like ours can play in nurturing our faith. Participants gather in the nave, behind the baptismal font, where the rector takes us “beyond the stone façade.” After an introduction to our worship space and its history, the rector leads the group down the central aisle of the nave to a side chapel and ultimately into the chancel and sanctuary to explore some of the basic elements of worship and the Eucharist, and the group joins in Holy Communion together. This tour is the culmination of the inquirers class (offered fall, winter and spring), but it is always open to everyone whether or not you have taken part in the class. The next “Symphony of Symbols” tour takes place February 27. You do not need to register—just come to the church at 6:30 p.m ✤ SEASONS OF THE SPIRIT

St. Stephen’s Choir, symphony musicians present a masterwork

Briget Ganske

St. Stephen’s is excited to present W. A. Mozart’s Requiem in concert this winter. This performance of one of the great choral and orchestral masterworks of the 18th century will feature the St. Stephen’s Choir—our Sunday morning choir—and friends (other experienced singers who do not sing regularly with the parish choir), as well as members of the Richmond Symphony. Chris Edwards will conduct. The concert will take place Friday, February 22, 2019, at 7 p.m. Tickets ($25 adults/$15 students) are available in the parish office and at ststephensRVA. org/concerts. Lois of Black Boar Farm is one of our year-round vendors.

Brrr….come inside and shop

Proceeds will support the music program at St. Stephen’s. ✤

Farmers market is indoors for the winter, Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon Every year when the Farmers Market @ St. Stephen’s heads indoors, we discover that some loyal patrons do not realize they can continue to shop their favorite market year-round. At St. Stephen’s, healthy eating and supporting local farmers and other businesses are not limited to the warmer months. We are proud and grateful to be able to offer fresh, locally-raised products to customers, and to support vendors who have products to sell year-round. And of course, with the Café @ St. Stephen’s open a few steps away from the market’s winter location in the Fellowship Hall, market patrons can enjoy coffee, tea, a latte or other hot drink on their way in or out, or fuel up for their shopping trip with a healthy smoothie or other breakfast food. The market goes inside each year right after Thanksgiving, and is open 9 a.m. until noon. Fresh produce is available from several vendors, but it’s in great demand. So be sure to arrive early, or better yet, sign up for your favorite vendor’s CSA. In addition to produce, you’ll find eggs, meats, baked goods and prepared foods. Do you receive the market newsletter? Go to to sign up for this free weekly email so you’ll be know when your favorite vendors will be at the market, and to learn about market surprises. Each issue also includes a recipe and a prayer to say at mealtime. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram.


Fresh produce all winter: Agriberry Farm and CSA, Broadfork Farm, Byrd Farm, Crumptown Farm, and Urban Choice Mushroom Farm are all continuing through the winter. Elk Island will be back with hydroponic produce. Bundy Heirloom Farm, new to the market last spring, will stay for the winter, bringing a large variety of heirloom vegetables and pickled products using those same vegetables. Liberty Tree Farms, which joined us at the end of the indoor market season earlier this year will return; they offer dried beans, salsas, and sauces made from their own produce. Chicken and eggs all winter: ShireFolk Farm will stay with us through the winter, providing a winter supplier for pastured chicken and eggs, along with Byrd Farm. Black Boar Farm, Crumptown Farm, Deer Run Farm, Faith Farm, and Harlow Ridge Farm will have eggs as well. Faith Farm is also partnering with Snyder Family Farms to offer ground chicken. New vendors and old friends: Mahogany Sweets will join our indoor market to offer gluten-free baked goods. Geescakes, who joined us for the outdoor season, will come indoors to offer their beautiful and delicious miniature cheesecakes. Great Harvest Bread returns to provide bread all season, and Sharp Again will be here every other week as they are during the outdoor season, ready to sharpen your kitchen and garden tools. Prepared foods and the Café: and Red Cap Patisserie will be indoors over the winter. Truly Scrumptious, Curds and Whey RVA, and Unkol Chuck’s Brunswick Stew will also have grab-and-go food. Souper Chef G will join us for the winter to provide ready-to-serve items. Dreaming Tree Farm will join us with fresh farm-to-table salads made with their own vegetables; anything they don’t grow themselves has been locally sourced. And remember that the Café @ St. Stephen’s is just down the hall with fresh coffee, tea, espresso drinks, smoothies, and other goodies. There’s free wifi in the café, so you might want to take a break before or after shopping at the market to enjoy this relaxing, welcoming space.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

ST. STEPHEN’S RECORDINGS Available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen’s An Unexpected Christmas The Virginia Girls Choir and Ana Hernández Sanctuary: Music for Compline Sanctuary, the Compline Choir A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols St. Stephen’s Choir, the Virginia Girls Choir, Sanctuary Gift idea: Why not present one or more of these recordings with tickets to the Solstice concert and/or the Mozart concert?

Artisans and craftspeople: In addition to all of our great food vendors, we’ll have a number of jewelry makers, craftspeople and artisans as part of the indoor market. Visit them for Christmas décor and gifts, and come see them throughout the winter months: Linda’s Wreaths, Tuckahoe Plantation Flowers with natural holiday décor, Much and Stuff, KR2 Knitting, Shady Nook Alpacas, DK Designs Jewelry and Lovely to Look At. ✤


Garner Stewart is the market manager, ably assisted by Barry Cleaton. Volunteers are needed every Saturday— contact Garner at or sign up online at Special note: the Saturday before Christmas On Saturday, December 22, there will be so much activity in the Fellowship Hall as we prepare for the Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve, the market will be back outdoors for one Saturday only. This has become a fun holiday tradition, with hot drinks available for shoppers. Come pick up food for your Christmas feast, as well as décor and gifts. It will be a fun and festive market morning!

S A I N T S T E P H E N ’ S E P I S C O PA L C H U R C H



St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Seasons of the Spirit Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Winter 2018

6000 Grove Avenue Richmond, Virginia 23226

Issue Number 30

Parish Staff

Presorted First Class Mail U.S. Postage


Richmond, VA Permit No. 320

To reach a staff member, call 804.288.2867. To send an email to a member of the staff, use the initial and name provided in parentheses, with (If no email is listed, it means that the staff member does not have a St. Stephen’s email address.)

Our missionaries in Argentina Heidi Schmidt Monica Vega


Term Expires 2019 John Bates, Senior Warden Judy Buchanan Marie Carter Calle Luke, Junior Warden Mac McElroy David Wise Term expires 2020 Melinda Hardy Braxton Hill, Register Richard Kay Martha Orr Proutt Cyndy Seal Chip Tompkins Term expires 2021 Mary Bacon, Treasurer Orran Brown Sr. Robert Dibble Mollie Hines Mitchell Alston Williams Wesley Wright

Seasons of the Spirit Sarah Bartenstein, editor Steven Longstaff, designer

Contributors: Tom Cox, Sarah-Keel Crews, Sarah Der, Briget Ganske, Melinda Hardy, Braxton Hill, Allen Goolsby, Gary D. Jones, Barbara Massey, Andy Russell, Susan Wilkes

Café completes its first year By Sarah Bartenstein The Café @ St. Stephen’s opened last year at Thanksgiving—happy birthday to us! We are grateful to those whose generous gifts helped the café become a reality, those who worked to get the doors open, and all who have continued to work in the café, promote it, and patronize this fledgling enterprise. A project team chaired by Jim Orville and composed of parish staff, vestry members and other parishioners continues to monitor café operations and make adjustments where needed. The café continues to operate as a safe space for young people to gather with their peers and with members of our family ministry staff, and as a gathering spot for parishioners and the larger community. Stan Barnett, who has been the parish’s coordinator of kitchen ministries since 2011, is now the café manager. (Moriah Karn, the founding manager, accepted a position with Habitat for Humanity and left the café last summer.) Several baristas who have been with us from the beginning, or nearly so, are still here, along with a few newer faces. Though the café’s hours were abbreviated over the summer, with the re-opening of school we have returned to the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekday schedule. On Saturdays and Sundays, the café is open 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. It’s closed when the parish office is closed, whether for a holiday or due to inclement weather. We are so fortunate to have this warm and welcoming space to gather or take a break. Be sure to visit often! ✤


• First, use this wonderful space! Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, a snack or treat, breakfast or lunch, smoothies or espresso drinks made to order. • When you meet a business associate or client for coffee, use our café (and buy food and beverages while you’re there). • Hold a social or business event in the café; contact Stan Barnett for details, or 804.288.2867. • Encourage your kids to come to the café after school (we are happy to keep gift cards on file for them). • Stop in for breakfast before or after you visit the Farmers Market on Saturday, and before church or after you attend church on Sunday. • Buy gift cards for kids, business associates, babysitters, neighbors, and as stocking stuffers. • When you come to St. Stephen’s for a class or group, get your coffee or tea or latte from our café. • If your child is here for an event or rehearsal, enjoy a few moments to yourself in the café. • SPREAD THE WORD that our café is here and is open to the entire community.


• We have free wifi! • Though parking has been a challenge both because of the construction going on at our neighbor St. Bridget’s Church, and because the lot nearest the café is public property, we have marked several spots in front of the café (along the Three Chopt Road side) for café patrons. The May Fair House parking spaces in our parking lot at the corner of Somerset and Grove are now marked for the shop and the café. • We have punch cards for frequent buyers (buy 11 cups, get the 12th free). • Parents or grandparents can purchase café gift cards for young people and café staff will keep them on file (no lost cards!) • We’ve expanded and refined the menu and offer daily specials (soup, sandwiches, flatbreads, drink of the day). • The café not only recycles, but its disposable flatware and cups are compostable and bins for this purpose are available in the café. • The café is committed to paying its baristas a living wage. This was a founding principle of the café.

Briget Ganske

Janet S. Allen (jallen), Associate for Development & Operations Stan Barnett (sbarnett), Coordinator of Kitchen Ministry & Café Manager Sarah R. Bartenstein (sbartenstein), Director of Communication Deonte Campbell, Sexton Marion S. Chenault (mchenault), Preschool Director (2886401) Dawn Childs (dchilds), Assistant for Children’s Music Ministry Barry Cleaton, Assistant Market Manager Donald Clements, Sexton Kerry Court (kcourt), Director, Virginia Girls Choir Sarah-Keel Crews (skcrews), Minister to Children and Youth Chuck Dixon, Sexton Chris Edwards (cedwards), Director, St. Stephen’s Choir Melissa Hipes (mhipes), Finance Manager Chris Holman, Sexton The Rev. Gary D. Jones (gjones), Rector Deborah Lawrence (dlawrence), Director of Outreach Betsy Lee (blee), Office Manager Becky Lehman (blehman), Assistant for Hospitality & Communication Becky McDaniel (bmcdaniel), Associate Rector & Director of Family Ministry Christi McFadden (cmcfadden), Finance Assistant The Rev. Stephen Y. McGehee (smcgehee), Associate Rector The Rev. Claudia W. Merritt (cmerritt), Priest Associate The Rev. Penny A. Nash (pnash), Associate Rector Ben Nelson (bnelson), Sexton & Sunday Community Supper Cook Josh Rockett (jrockett), Outreach Coordinator Marshall Rotella, Sexton Andy Russell (arussell), Minister to Children and Youth The Rev. William L. Sachs (bsachs), Priest Associate Allison Seay (aseay), Associate for Religion & the Arts Steve Simon (ssimon), Facilities Manager Michael Simpson, Director of Celtic Service Musicians Elizabeth Spell (weddings), Wedding Coordinator Garner Stewart (farmersmarket), Market Manager Wei-Li Suen, Palmer Hall accompanist Greg Vick (gvick), Principal Organist

Seasons of the Spirit--Advent-Christmas-Epiphany (Issue 30)  

The winter edition of Seasons of the Spirit (published November 2018), the quarterly journal of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond,...

Seasons of the Spirit--Advent-Christmas-Epiphany (Issue 30)  

The winter edition of Seasons of the Spirit (published November 2018), the quarterly journal of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond,...