Transitions and Discernment on my Mind: Reflecting on the Priest-in-Charge Model

John Frederick, Senior Warden

I co-facilitate the Monday evening Bible study entitled God Calls Leaders, and as the name implies, the focus of the study is how God calls us to do God’s work. As we read about these biblical prophets and Kings who were discerning the will of God, I am reminded that the St. Peter’s Vestry and the Priest-in-Charge (PIC) are in a period of discernment and transition. Scripture says, “God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore… (1 Kings 4:29).  We pray that God will guide the church, grant us wisdom and a discerning spirit in our time of transition.

On August 15, 2018, the Vestry announced that the Reverend Jacob E. Pierce accepted the call be to the Priest-in-Charge to lead St. Peter’s through a time of transition and discernment for a period of twenty-four months. During the transitional time, the Vestry will discern whether to call the Fr. Jacob to become the permanent Rector; similarly, the Priest-in-Charge will discern whether to accept a call to be the rector of St. Peter’s. For the first eighteen months the Priest-in-Charge and vestry conduct business as usual and during the last six months they will engage in an intentional and goal oriented discernment about the call for the permanent rector.

In October 2018, as part of the transition process, the Vestry and the Priest-in-Charge met with Catherine Massey, Canon for Transition, and the Reverend Rhonda Lee, Canon for Regional Ministry, to engage in a facilitated discussion about mutual expectations. The purpose of this exercise was to establish some clear expectations and parameters for the discernment process. The facilitators asked, “What does the Vestry expect from the PIC and what does the Vestry think the Priest-in-Charge expects from us?” Similarly, they asked the PIC, “What does he expect from the Vestry and what does he think the Vestry expects of him?” It was remarkable how similar these expectations were of each other. For example, maintaining a tradition of excellence, spiritual leadership, respect and support, liturgy, boldness, radical welcome, and diversity were all common expectations. Following up on the fall exercise, the Vestry and the PIC met with the Reverend Ms. Lee in February to ascertain where we were in the process. Seven months into the Priest-in-Charge model for St. Peter’s, as outlined by the Office of the Bishop, we are living up to the mutual expectations and the process is humming along beautifully.

So, what can we expect in 2020? For the next ten to eleven months, we will continue with business as usual. Beginning in January through May 2020 there will be a final, active discernment process with the Bishop and/or his designee in which the Vestry and PIC will review where we have been, where we are, and what we have mutually discerned at this time. The congregation will have a role to play as well. There will be congregational meetings to gather data and complete the Office of Transition Ministry portfolio. The Canon for Transition and the Regional Canon will co-facilitate these meetings. It is my hope that our journey together will be clear and transparent and result in a call for our  next rector. To learn more about the Priest-in-Charge Model, visit our transition page on the St. Peter’s website.

John Frederick, Senior Warden

Upcoming Lenten Evensong and Choir Residency


Elizabeth Lenti
Director of Music and Organist

On Sunday, March 24 at 5:00pm, St. Peter’s Choir will sing J. S. Bach’s monumental motet “Jesu, Meine Freude,” as part of a special Lenten Evensong. This motet is unique among Bach’s output in this genre in that it alternates between settings of the chorale text and biblical passages from Romans. Bach likely wrote this motet for the funeral of Johanna Maria Käsin who had requested that her funeral include both the hymn “Jesu, Meine Freude,” and the text of Romans 8:1-11. The underlying theme of this work is trust – the belief that no matter the trials and struggles of this life, our joy is found in Jesus:

Go away, mournful spirits, for my joyful master, Jesus, now enters in.
For those who love God even their afflictions become pure sweetness.
Even if here I must endure shame and disgrace, even in suffering you remain,
Jesus, my joy.

We are also taking the opportunity of this special musical offering to begin talking about our next pilgrimage to England. Many of you will remember that St. Peter’s Choir served as the choir-in-residence at St. Albans Cathedral in August of 2017. This was the first England residency St. Peter’s Choir had done, and it was an incredible experience for all. It was not long after our return that we began discussing another trip.

I am thrilled to announce that St. Peter’s Choir has been accepted for a second residency, this time at Ely Cathedral in July of 2021. The Cathedral city of Ely is located in Cambridgeshire, about 15 miles north of Cambridge. The Cathedral dates from the 11th-century and is considered one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in all of England.

Why a residency? Singing for daily services at Ely will give the choir the opportunity to experience the roots of our Anglican tradition, and to sing the music of that tradition in the place for which is was conceived. We will have the opportunity to travel beyond Ely to sight-see during the week, and we will also experience the life of that city, and of the Cathedral, on a day-to-day basis. A residency is a chance for us to “stretch” as a choir – to learn new music, refine old favorites, and improve as an ensemble. Singing together on a daily basis and traveling together as a group will make us a better choir and a stronger community.

We will be talking more about this wonderful opportunity and ways in which parishioners can support, and even take part in, this trip. I am grateful for the dedication and beautiful singing of St. Peter’s Choir, and we are grateful for the support of the congregation of St. Peter’s.

Elizabeth Lenti, Director of Music and Organist

Sacred and Holy Pilgrimage

Lyn Holt
Director of Youth Formation

The current Pilgrim Class has chosen a different path for their Holy Pilgrimage. We will begin in London, travel to Canterbury, cross the Channel to Bayeux and the beaches of Normandy, Mont St. Michel, Chartres, and finally, Paris. Having 18 years of experience leading youth pilgrimages, I prefer not to engage a tour company, but to plan our Pilgrimages so we can make it our own. Because of this new location, I’m starting from scratch in the planning.

I’ve found an excellent book, “The Pilgrim’s France,” by James and Colleen Heater, whose forward is written by my favorite pilgrimage author, Phil Cousineau. In it, he relates a story about being in the beautiful Chartres Cathedral when an older French gentleman asks him, “Can you help me find God?” Cousineau simply points to the labyrinth on the floor of this magnificent place, where a beam of sunlight shone directly on the center of the labyrinth. This labyrinth is a symbol for the long and winding road of the soul, the path that leads in and out of the center of our lives. It is there, in the center of our journey, that we find God.

The labyrinth and pilgrimage are sacred metaphors for our life with God, giving us the time to connect or reconnect with God as we wind through life, reminding us always to seek the center – God’s heart. This class will have the privilege of walking this very labyrinth, constructed in the early 13th century, and copied throughout the world. The class’s adult volunteer leaders, who’ve been with them throughout their teens, Fr. Jacob, and I will walk with them on this journey to the center and out again, into the world, taking God in all of our hearts.

We are so grateful to the parish for giving us the privilege to have this journey and the time away to connect with God and Christian saints of old in this very specific way. We want to invite all parishioners to join us for our “Saint Pierre’s Spaghetti Dinner” and Silent Auction on Saturday, March 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., so we can share fellowship and food with you before we set off on this sacred Pilgrimage on June 24. 

Blessings,

Lyn Holt,Director of Youth Formation

Lenten Adult Formation

The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson
Associate Rector

As we prepare to move into Lent next week, it is my hope that we are all thinking about what Lenten disciplines we will engage in this year. Many people choose to give up something for Lent as a reminder of Christ’s own sacrifice of his life; others choose to take on something that will aid in their spiritual growth. Either way, whatever you choose to do for Lent should ultimately help deepen your relationship with God.

On Sunday mornings during Lent, our adult formation offerings will be geared toward helping you to more fully enter into this holy season. The Forum during Lent will focus on the book The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. This is an excellent book detailing the historical and cultural context of Jerusalem and the rich symbolism that permeates everything that happens during Holy Week. It will add a whole new dimension to how you understand the Gospels! Participants in the Forum are encouraged to purchase the book and read along, but prior reading is not required for attendance. Fr. Jacob and I will highlight the important points of each chapter during our presentations.

Also on Sundays during Lent, we will be offering a series on Spiritual Practices. We will gather in the Parlor from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. to learn about and practice a new spiritual discipline each week. Participants are then encouraged to practice what we learned during the upcoming week. By the end of Lent, you will have a “toolbox” of various practices that you can continue to use throughout the year. So after Eucharist, please grab your coffee and a snack at Coffee Hour and join us in the Parlor!

My hope is that you will participate in one or both of these offerings. Please know that as we move into this holy season, you all are in my prayers. I pray that this Lent will be a holy time of self-reflection and growth in your relationship with Jesus.

The Reverend Amanda C. Stephenson, Associate Rector

Social Justice through Ministry Engagement

Rev. Deacon Robin Sands

Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.   – Matthew 25:45

In response to the words of Jesus, Outreach and Social Justice ministries are integral to life at St. Peter’s. Our Parish Vision is to become a community of bold followers of Jesus, a crowd that effects good change for the world, a place known for radical love and welcome, and a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte.

The Social Justice Ministry Area currently consists of four different “pillars” representing areas of focus and interest for our parish. Some of those areas include Assuring Democracy, Community Justice, Immigration and Refugee Support, and Racial Reconciliation. We know all of these things are important to the members of our parish and part of our call as Christians.

The Social Justice Ministry Team would like to invite anyone who is interested in serving in one of these ministries to join us this Sunday in the Community Room after the 10:45 a.m. service. This retreat is designed to look ahead and establish some priorities for the upcoming year. We would particularly like for you to join us if you are interested in helping to lead and support some of these efforts. It has been a busy and exciting year for Social Justice Ministries at St. Peter’s and there is much work yet to be done.

Fr. Jacob has encouraged us to reflect on how we can become more deeply engaged in our parish. Please consider what this may look like for you and your call as part of Christ’s Body in the world.

Peace be with you,

The Reverend Deacon Robin Sands

Praying the Beatitudes

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge

The gospel reading for this Sunday comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus offers some of his most memorable teaching in this sermon, in particular Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. These Beatitudes include four blessings followed by four warnings. The Greek word translated as “blessed” was often used in Jesus’ day to describe those seen as fortunate due to their circumstances and station in life. Jesus subverts this notion by calling “rich” or “happy” those society might deem unfortunate. Through the Beatitudes, our Lord is calling us into solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the mournful, and the persecuted.

There are many ways to answer Jesus’ call to stand with the marginalized through participation in the many outreach, social justice, pastoral ministries at St. Peter’s. I invite you this week to pray for those Jesus calls blessed, and then to consider how God might be calling you to stand with those who suffer. Feel free to write your own prayers, but I’ve offered some below from the Book of Common Prayer.

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP, 826

“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.”

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP, 826.

“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.”

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP, 505.

“Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude you, revile you,
and defame you on account of the Son of Man.”

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP, 816.

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Priest-in-Charge

The Choir School at St. Peter’s in 2019

Town Choirs of The Choir School at St. Peter’s, February 2018

The beginning of 2019 is a busy time for the Choir School.

This Sunday our youngest singers, the boys and girls of the Town Choirs, will be leading worship at the 10:45 a.m. service. For most of these young children, this will be the first time they have sung during church at St. Peter’s. In addition to learning the anthems that they will sing, they will need to learn how to process at the beginning and end of the service. They will learn the hymns and service music and the order in which these elements come in the liturgy. And, of course, they will work hard to be quiet and attentive throughout the service!

On Saturday, February 23, the Choir School is holding its annual Serenade Gala at the Charlotte Country Club. This year we will highlight the MasterSinger’s upcoming residency in England at Durham Cathedral this July. There will be dinner and dancing, both live and silent auctions, and a performance from the MasterSingers of a program of British music. Please join us – tickets are available at www.thechoirschool.org. Please make your reservation by this Friday, February 8.

Other events for your calendars: On Sunday, March 10, the Boys and Girls Tour Choirs will sing for Evensong at 5pm here at St. Peter’s. A week later, on March 17, the MasterSingers will travel to Durham, N.C. to sing for Evensong at Duke Chapel. The MasterSingers will also be presenting a concert in Davidson at Davidson College Presbyterian Church on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. And of course, save the date for our Spring Concerts, Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11.

If you know a child between the ages of 6 and 13 and are interested in learning more about the Choir School, you can contact me at elenti@st-peters.org.

Elizabeth Lenti, Director of Music and Organist

Supporting the Pilgrims on Their Journey

Youth Pilgrimage 2017, Italy

The Youth Pilgrim Class (our 10th and 11th graders) has two final fund-raisers for our holy pilgrimage to London, Canterbury, and Northern France. The 14 pilgrims, their adult leaders, and Fr. Jacob will leave, after celebrating Holy Eucharist at St. Peter’s, on June 24 to experience spiritual growth, and to gain the conviction that comes from walking the actual paths of the saints who spread the gospel and built the foundations we now know. We will celebrate shared Eucharists in special places, visit beautiful cathedrals and abbeys, and flesh out the knowledge gained through our three years of study of saints, self, prayer, spiritual journaling, history, and cultural appreciation.

An ancient tradition of holy pilgrimage is to “take prayers” from family, friends, and parish members to offer at the holy sites to which the pilgrims journeyed. Family and friends helped the pilgrims pay for their sacred journeys, so the pilgrims offered their prayers in return. We want to take your prayers to offer to God when we pray at the various holy sites we will visit, given that YOU all have, in large part, made this pilgrimage possible for St. Peter’s wonderful teens. Please email Director of Youth Formation at lholt@st-peters.org with any prayers you would like us to offer at Canterbury Cathedral, Mont St. Michel, Chartres Cathedral, and Notre Dame in Paris. We are very much looking forward to taking you with us through your prayers.

This Sunday we’re selling homemade chili – traditional, vegetarian, and white chicken chili – for $10 per quart after both services. On March 16, we will have our major fund-raiser, our Saint Pierre’s Spaghetti Dinner plus Silent Auction and two fun raffles. Join us for great fellowship for the family with table service by the pilgrims themselves.

Thank you for walking this journey with us and for the incredible support you provide. We will pray for all of you as we are walking, and would love to pray specific prayers for you, too.

Welcoming Deacon Robin Sands

Dear People of St. Peter’s,

Pictured are the Right Reverend Sam Rodman, the Reverend Deacon Robin Sands, and the Reverend Jacob Pierce.

I am pleased to announce that the Reverend Deacon Robin Sands has been assigned by Bishop Rodman to serve at St. Peter’s.

You may remember Robin from her time as diocesan intern in 2017. Over the past year she has been preparing through coursework and hospital chaplaincy for ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons. Earlier this month Robin was ordained by Bishop Rodman at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte.

The Book of Common Prayer states: “The ministry of a deacon is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.” To put it simply, deacons are called to stand in the breach between the Church and society, to proclaim the gospel to the world, and to make aware the needs of the world to the Church.

I am thrilled Robin will be joining the clergy team at St. Peter’s. She is a tremendously talented and passionate deacon, who truly embodies the ministry to which she’s been called. Deacon Robin will serve as the primary clergy resource for our Outreach and Social Justice ministries, as well as serving alongside the other parish clergy in administering the sacraments, preaching, teaching, and providing pastoral care.

Save the date of Sunday, February 3 when we will welcome Robin with a special coffee hour reception in the parish hall following the 10:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist.

On Sunday, February 17 we will welcome our new Associate Rector, Mother Amanda Stephenson with a reception and a “pounding.” We will do the same for Deacon Robin, but with a twist. Instead of household or personal items, Robin has requested we each bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to Loaves & Fishes. Please visit this link for more information about needed items.

During this period of transition, we have been blessed with the increased presence of the Reverend Sally Johnston as part-time assisting priest. Both Mother Sally and Father Keith Lane will remain as assisting priests at St. Peter’s. Father Keith will continue in his role as part-time assisting priest for pastoral care, and Mother Sally will continue to call St. Peter’s “home,” preaching on occasion, presiding, and assisting the clergy as needed. She looks forward to returning to retirement and the pew, and though I will miss her regular presence on staff, I am glad she isn’t going far.

On behalf of our entire clergy and staff, thank you for your prayers and your support. They are truly felt and appreciated.

Peace,

Father Jacob
Priest-in-Charge

Stand Together for Martin Luther King Observance

On February 29, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood. He famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That quotation offered hope as he addressed the symbolic mountains of materialism, poverty, violence, hatred, and racial injustice. Fifty-four years later, we continue to struggle to surmount those mountains. While we can bear witness to the many structural changes that make these mountains scalable, we have yet to change the hearts and minds of obfuscators, break down the structures, divisions, and barriers that make these mountains seem insurmountable. At St. Peter’s we recognize that when we are stand together and advocate for the least among us, we are doing the work that scripture asks us to do. The Prophet Isaiah challenges us to, “Learn to do right. See that justice is done — help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows. (Isaiah 1:17). Similarly, Proverbs (31:9) tells us to, “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, we will stand together and march in solidarity. We will be a voice for those who suffer under conditions of injustice, racial prejudice, poverty and violence in our communities. Martin Niemoller, an outspoken foe of Nazi rule and a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany said,

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Let us march together spreading love and hope. We will gather in the church lobby at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 19, 2019 and leave promptly from church at 9:05 a.m. for Hal Marshall Center Parking lot (700 N Tryon St.).

John G. M. Frederick, Senior Warden