Shrimp & Suds is Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

This Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., the Youth Advisory Team will host the parish for a fun, casual gathering of adults on the third floor rooftop of the Parish House to enjoy Harris Holt and his cooking team’s Low Country Shrimp Boil, along with Mike Hoffman’s incredibly delicious cheese grits, accompanied by a selection of local craft brews and other beverages. This is holy work. Shrimp & Suds is one of four fellowship-oriented fund-raisers that our youth leaders and youth families host to raise funds for holy pilgrimage, one of the pillars of the Journey to Adulthood curriculum. Pilgrimage is just one of the many ways that St. Peter’s provides our youth the opportunity to grow their faith: to learn about and to connect with the saints who, over thousands of years, have built the church into a framework that supports us in our struggles to live in hope and love. The preparation for and the pilgrimage itself enable our young people to cope with the vagaries and capricious of an often difficult world.

So, in doing the “work” of relaxing and sharing a meal at Shrimp & Suds, and doing the same at our Spring Spaghetti Dinner with Silent Auction, and shopping at Advent Fair next month, you ensure that we will continue to raise up young people who live in faith, and enable St. Peter’s to provide those touchstones, such as this class’s Holy Pilgrimage to Canterbury and France, to all of our young people. This is truly holy work that we all do together and provides hope for the future. We hope that you will join us.

Register online now.

Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Formation

Observing the Feast of St. Francis

Last Sunday, in the atrium for the oldest children of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we talked of the life and vocation of St. Francis of Assisi in anticipation of his feast day. We read the Canticle of the Sun and sang the Prayer of St. Francis. There was much curiosity and interest expressed by the children. “Could he really talk with the animals?” I chuckled when I remembered that a former rector used to lament that St. Francis had been reduced to and remembered as the patron Saint of yard ornaments, despite his rich theology, church reform and life’s work of sacrificial love.

On Sunday at 5:00 p.m., we will honor St. Francis at our annual Blessing of the Animals. Almost 800 years after his death, St. Francis remains an important figure and symbol in our church life. Pope John Paul II wrote on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990, Saint Francis of Assisi offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation … As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.

Given the stories and history of St. Francis’ life, perhaps he would not mind being the patron saint of yard ornaments. After all, the yard provides a sense of place; a place of joy, of rest, of beauty, a place of restoration, and a home for plants and animals.

You and your pet are invited to attend the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday. (Stuffed animals are welcome as well!) Perhaps you might want to visit the newly restored statue of St. Francis, located in the churchyard near Discovery Place.

Anna Hurdle, Director of Children’s Formation

Strategic Planning Kick-off, Sunday October 7

In last week’s column, Chris Cudabac, writing for the 2019 Annual Fund Team, offered a beautiful reflection about our parish. He wrote, “St. Peter’s has a long legacy of boldness: establishing Charlotte’s first hospitals, nurturing the area’s first orphanage, sending out missions to bring the good news of salvation to those on the margins of life, using parish buildings to feed and host the homeless, and marching to proclaim our support for equality and justice for all.” Our boldness is a common thread in our history and a present reality as we continue our ministry and prepare for the future.

Last spring the Vestry determined that St. Peter’s should embark on the process of developing a Strategic Plan. The clergy transition and several necessary distractions delayed our start, but your Vestry agrees that now is the time to begin this work.

I am thrilled to announce that our consultant for the St. Peter’s Strategic Planning Process is Andi Stevenson of Stevenson Wallace LLC. Andi has 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, specializing as a consultant, trainer and speaker, based in Charlotte and working nationally. Her 100+ consulting projects have supported a wide range of faith organizations, universities, historic properties, start-up charities, corporate foundations, and arts and culture organizations. Andi recently completed a strategic plan for Myers Park Baptist Church and, several years ago, consulted with the Choir School at St. Peter’s. Andi comes to us highly sought after and highly recommended. She has a tremendous amount of respect for our history and our uniqueness as a parish. Andi is the right partner for us as we envision our future together.

The Strategic Planning Team, made up of parishioners from a diversity of genders, ages, and backgrounds, will work with Andi to collect information from parish listening circles scheduled this fall. The Planning Team will not create a plan for the parish but will facilitate conversations. The entire parish will create this plan together. Stay tuned to the eNews and parish website for more information and to sign up for a listening circle.

Please plan to attend the St. Peter’s Strategic Planning Kick-off on Sunday, October 7th at 12:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. A free lunch will be served, and Andi will share more about this process.

Our Lord called St. Peter “the rock on which I will build my church.” We are the beneficiaries of a solid foundation laid by our forebearers. Now is the time to build on the foundation we have inherited and ensure that St. Peter’s continues to be a beacon of hope for years to come.

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

How much is is possible to give?

“Bold” is the first word in our parish vision used to describe the people of St. Peter’s. Calling our parish bold is neither aspirational nor boastful. St. Peter’s has a long legacy of boldness: establishing Charlotte’s first hospitals, nurturing the area’s first orphanage, sending out missions to bring the good news of salvation to those on the margins of life, using parish buildings to feed and host the homeless, and marching to proclaim our support for equality and justice for all.

Members of long standing might have trouble perceiving how extraordinary St. Peter’s congregation looks to someone new to the parish. I have heard several life-long Episcopalians remark that their first visit to St. Peter’s marked the first time they had ever sat in church next to someone of a different race. Bold? How bold is it that the children of our parish are growing up to think of diverse congregations as normal, and homogenous congregations as strange?

Our history has been one of boldness. Our congregation is a bold vision of the world we want to see, rather than the one that we see too often. And now, we need to make a pledge to support out present and our future, which is as hard for us to imagine now as our present appearance would be difficult for our forbears.

We need to be ready for everyone who is trying to find good news in a bewildering and distressing world; to do that, we need to show ourselves and Charlotte that our aspirations are matched by our willingness to support them.

The fact is, St. Peter’s has been living on borrowed time, surviving in the present by imperiling its future: time borrowed from the stones and plaster that are falling apart, time borrowed from programs that have been practically flat-lined for nearly a decade, time borrowed from faithful volunteers and staff spread too thin, though they would be the last to say so.

The bold strokes through which St. Peter’s changed itself and the face of Charlotte had a cost. The generations who came before us met it, and St. Peter’s and Charlotte are better because they did. The hospitality that cares for so many still has a cost. The music and liturgy though which so many souls are fed have a cost. The formation programs through which so many, young and old, have been led to a closer walk with God, these have costs. There is so much more that we all value. You name it. It costs time; it costs dedication. And, more often than not, it costs money.

But, as always with our church and our God, there is good news. We, the people of St. Peter’s, have more than is necessary to meet these needs, and, by God’s grace, now is our time to stand in the shoes of the women and men who have effected so much change for the better.

What should we do? Fix firmly in our minds that God asks us to put our selves and all we have at God’s service: no more, but no less. Then ask, how much is it possible to give? If each member of the parish who does not now pledge made a pledge of fifty dollars, we could easily see a better future. If every household now pledging found a way to increase their pledge by a tenth, we could look forward to a year of abundance in all we do, the like of which no parishioner has ever seen.

Chris Cudabac for the 2019 Annual Fund Committee

What’s with all these summer youth trips?

A few weeks ago, a parishioner asked me why we take youth trips and what the goals of these trips and camps are. “Does the cost and effort justify the expense?” the parishioner wondered. In considering this question, I thought others might have similar ones, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

I’ve read many youth ministry experts’ opinions about how to engage and keep young people in church, how to keep them involved as they become young adults. The answer most often given by the youth themselves when they are older, is that they had a great mission trip experience, or a pilgrimage that meant so much to them, or that they loved having the time to get to know their peers and their adult leaders during these experiences. The respondents expressed gratitude and a sense of growing commitment: the opportunities the church presented them began to create a strong bond to that church. I agree with these findings. I see our young people grow so much and in so many ways as they serve others with abandon at HUGS Camp, or on a mission trip to Costa Rica, or at Episcopal Outreach Camp painting the walls of a local woman who is homebound. I also watch them form lasting bonds of friendship and make memories with the other teens in the youth group as they worship together on the beach at sunrise, or watching and discussing a movie during a trip. During the Detroit mission trip, we watched a documentary about the 1967 riots portrayed how one city continues to grapple with systemic injustice and how to be a part of the solution.

I believe that our small investment in the spiritual education of our young people will return huge dividends to our congregation, to the Episcopal Church, and to the world. We are all helping to provide our young people with tools to become successful adults who keep God at the center of their lives. The youth will share their observations from this summer’s trips and camps. Please join us next Sunday, September 23, 9:30–10:30 a.m. in the parish hall for our Summer of Mission presentation.

Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Formation

Finding True Peace

I am intrigued with books about deeper meaning. So much so that my appetite exceeds my capacity to find the time to read them all. However, recently I came a cross a book which got my attention titled, “The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at our Political Crisis,” by Martha Nussbaum. To begin with, I know what fear can do in my own life. And I see all around me a world where fear limits understanding. Good news is never as compelling as bad news; if it “bleeds it leads.” Nussbaum writes that “There’s a lot of fear around in the U.S. today, and this fear is often mingled with anger, blame, and envy. Fear, all too often, blocks rational deliberation, poisons hope, and impedes constructive cooperation for a better future.” I would add to her list my observation that fear also undermines the Spirit.

More often than not, when fear is present, the thing that can give us peace is forgotten. That thing is the presence of God’s kingdom. Often we have done everything the world says is right, only to find ourselves hopeless. Sometimes in human circumstances, we find ourselves governed by fear. And yet it’s in those very places that we find the Savior of the world. In order to remember this, meditate on the prayer that Jesus taught us, born from the divine wisdom that reminds us that, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” And it starts with the familiar words, “Our Father who art in heaven.” This prayer reminds us that the God of creation holds all things in his hands. Through how we treat one other, we will find true peace. That is our shared human divine purpose and the common good.

The Reverend Keith Lane, Assisting Priest

Evensong at St. Peter’s

In my short time at St. Peter’s, I have been most impressed by the sheer scope of programming our parish offers. As the new season begins, I am personally looking forward to Evensong. Evensong was the first Episcopal service I attended, about 5 years ago. I walked out of that service with an overwhelming sense of peace and quietness. I also walked out with a bulletin which included remarks from an article by Steven Hough entitled “‘Do Not Touch Me’: The Wisdom of Anglican Thresholds.”

Evensong hangs on the wall of English life like a old, familiar cloak passed through the generations. Rich with prayer and Scripture, it is nevertheless totally nonthreatening. It is a service into which all can stumble without censure – a rambling old house where everyone can find some corner to sit and think, to listen with half-attention, trailing a few absentminded fingers of faith or doubt in its passing stream. Most religious celebrations gather us around a table of some sort. They hand us a book, or a plate, or speak a word demanding a response. They want to ‘touch’ us. Choral Evensong is a liturgical expression of Christ’s Nolle me tangere – ‘Do not touch me. I have not yet ascended to my Father’ (John 20:17). It reminds us that thresholds can be powerful places of contemplation; and that leaving someone alone with their thoughts is not always denying them hospitality or welcome.

Evensong at St. Peter’s is typically offered on the second and fourth Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Choral offerings are sung by the St. Peter’s Choir, the Choir School at St. Peter’s, and the Burli Singers, directed by parishioner Rob Burlington. The 2018–2019 season is especially important for the MasterSingers as they prepare for a choral residency in July 2019, at Durham Cathedral, England. During this residency the MasterSingers will sing Evensong every day for a week, as well as Matins and Holy Eucharist on Sunday. As we delve into a new season of formation, I kindly invite you to experience Evensong for yourself. The first three opportunities are September 23, September 30, and October 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Garrett Law
Assistant Organist and Choirmaster

“A season and a time…”

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

All around us are signs of summer ending and fall on its way: back-to-school sales and football schedules, a slower commute, a longing for sweater weather. And here at St. Peter’s, as in many churches, we kick-off fall with our return to the regular rhythm of formation classes, choir rehearsals, and Holy Chow. It’s a time of beginning again, making commitments, and adjusting our sails.

This time of year reminds me of New Year’s Day, when we traditionally make resolutions for changing ourselves in the days ahead. In fact, I look at five times a year as days of resolution and commitment. Besides New Year’s Day, there’s my birthday when I consider the year stretched out ahead and set plans for being a better me. There’s Advent, the beginning of the church year, and Easter Day, the ultimate new beginning. And finally, fall – back to school, back to church – a time to set new goals, try new schedules, commit to new ways of being family, community and disciples.

I’ve recently returned to St. Peter’s after many years in other churches. As fall approaches I look forward to engaging more deeply with this community: giving thanks that I can live into my ministry here and praying about ways I can offer comfort, challenge, hope and assurance of God’s grace and love. What about you? How does Fall Kick Off speak to you about ministry and discipleship and entering a new season of living your faith? Browse the Sunday leaflet. Study the Life at St. Peter’s schedule. Re-engage in something you used to do. Try something new. There is a need and a ministry with your name on it and others waiting for you to join them. The next season of your faith starts now.

The Reverend Sally Johnston
Assisting Priest

God is Love. Love is the Way.

At St. Peter’s, “We uphold the full inclusion and belonging of all people in the life and ministry of our parish church. We affirm that our baptismal covenant vows to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons,’ to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves,’ and to ‘respect the dignity of every human being’ apply equally to all people, regardless of race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Without apology or condition, we believe that all people literally means all people” (from our Parish statement on Welcome, Inclusion, and Belonging).

For many LGBTQ people, the Church is responsible for and represents oppression and hostility. The faith communities that raised them, baptized them, first taught them about Jesus of Nazareth were not prepared to love them fully. On Saturday and Sunday, St. Peter’s has the unique opportunity show our neighbors that our life in Christ is life in a Loving, Liberating, and Life-giving God. We have the opportunity to share that God is Love, and Love is the Way. We preach with our presence on the parade route that we are all children of God, made in God’s image, and God loves us unapologetically and unconditionally.

St. Peter’s will have a booth in the festival on Saturday and Sunday. This will be an opportunity to welcome and connect with our neighbors. If you would like to be an ambassador for St. Peter’s at the booth, march in the parade, or help provide hospitality, please sign up using this form.

The Pride at St. Peter’s planning team has been hard at work making arrangements for this weekend and we hope you will volunteer to help out and spend some time on the lawn during the parade.
God is Love. Love is the Way.

The Pride at St. Peter’s Social Justice Planning Team

The Choir School Begins A New Season

After a brief respite following our tour in June to Washington, D.C., the Choir School at St. Peter’s is gearing up for another season of singing. Some of our returning choristers will continue in the same choir in which they were singing last year. Some will be embarking on their first year in a new choir – Town Choir choristers moving to Tour Choir, Tour Choir choristers becoming MasterSingers – and we will welcome many new young singers into the Choir School program.

Each season begins with two intensive singing experiences. This year, the first will be the MasterSingers retreat in Valle Crucis. We carpool up to the mountains on August 10 and spend three days at the Valle Crucis conference center. We spend our time learning the music that we will be singing throughout the fall. As any of the teenagers will tell you, we spend a great deal of time rehearsing! We also find time for fun – for group activities, games, and many opportunities to get to know each and grow as a community. The weekend ends with our singing the morning service at the Church of the Holy Cross.

On August 13, the Town and Tour Choirs will arrive at St. Peter’s for Choir Camp. This five-day camp is designed to take choristers all the way through the process of learning a program of music for both an Evensong and a short concert. We rehearse throughout the day – learning both sacred and secular songs. The children also receive instruction in music theory and play handbells. In the afternoon, various group activities are scheduled. Choristers will do crafts, go bowling and to the park, among other fun activities.

Choir Camp culminates in Evensong and a concert on Friday afternoon. It is always extraordinary how much our young singers can accomplish in the space of a single week. I invite you to come and experience the final performance of camp on August 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall.

Elizabeth Lenti, Director of Music and Organist, Artistic Director of the Choir School at St. Peter’s