Security at St. Peter’s

Brian Whitely, Facilities Manager

Over the past year we have experienced some security issues here at St. Peter’s and have also seen and heard news of terrible events at houses of worship around the country. Because of this, I would like to provide an update on some of the recent security initiatives that the staff and vestry have undertaken.

An updated video camera system has been installed within the Parish House, nave, and garden area. The video camera system provides the ability to monitor activity in high traffic areas, as well as in significant areas where safety is a top concern, such as the Atrium and Nursery. Additionally, the video camera system assists with viewing parts of the building when there is little or no occupancy.

Duress (“panic”) buttons have been installed in specific areas, so that when activated the alarm company contacts CMPD. This process allows call for help even if someone is unable place a 911 call. As part of the system, flashing strobe lights are in place in the Rector’s office, the Ministry Associate’s area, and the Parish Administrators office. When a duress button is activated, the strobe lights flash, notifying occupants in those areas that trouble is taking place in the building.

Recently, I have met with a Protective Security Advisor with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a Community Liaison Officer with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and discussed the various steps that can be taken at St. Peter’s to ensure safety, while maintaining a welcoming environment. Based on these meetings and ongoing discussions within the parish, a formal St. Peter’s emergency response plan is being created to provide information and suggestions on dealing with the variety of emergencies that we possibly face.

Brian Whitley, Facilities Manager

Note: You can pick up a hard copy of this update from any of the public spaces in the Parish House.

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”

My friend Corey tells a story about a priest she met in Italy who gave up his charity work with children after a conversation with Mother Teresa. She tells the story better than I can (here’s the link to her blog: “Revelation in the Wreckage”) but for those who don’t mind spoilers, it was because this icon of charitable work challenged him to listen deeply to God’s call in his life. Had he been doing good work? Of course he had. Had he been making a difference in the lives of children? Yes, that, too. Her admonition to him was neither to quit his work nor to do it better but, instead, to listen to his deepest longing for what God was calling him to do.

What appeared to be selfish–become a hermit/author–was actually a leap of faith: embracing his passion while trusting that God would care both for him and for the children. It took an enormous act of faith to step away from what seemed to depend entirely upon him, to leave it in other capable hands while taking up something unproven, seemingly selfish, and fueled only by desire to be closer to God’s movement in his life.

Today, years later, he’s the author of numerous books that may have changed more lives and fed the souls of more of God’s children than anything else he ever did. God works like that. And now during Advent we’re advised to let God work that way with us. To hold lightly that which we think we “have” to do–even good, Christ-centered work–to go with God on a journey of faith beyond what we imagine it to be. This Advent, consider Mary and all those who’ve listened and acted on a call that appeared to be this-world crazy. This Advent, consider those longings and passions just beneath the surface in your own soul and place them in the presence of God’s grace, praying with Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

The Reverend Sally Johnston
Assisting Priest

Advent Lessons & Carols is Sunday

It is a yearly tradition for many of us to listen to the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, broadcast every Christmas Eve from King’s College in Cambridge. The history of Lessons and Carols goes further back than this most famous version. In 1880, Edward White Benson, Bishop of Truro, devised the service as a way of bringing together the city to celebrate Christmas. Truro Cathedral was still under construction, so the first Lessons and Carols service was celebrated in the wooden shed that served as their temporary worship space.

The first time King’s College held this service was in 1918, and it has been broadcast since 1928. All around the world, people tune in to hear this annual celebration of the birth of Christ and to listen to both familiar carols and newly composed works. Though the carols may change year-to-year, after a slight revision in 1919, the readings and prayers have remained unchanged. Its celebration has continued even amidst some of the most uncertain of times. During World War II, the decision was made to remove all the glass from the Chapel in hopes of saving it from destruction in the war. And yet Lessons and Carols still took place, in a windowless and cold chapel, in the midst of a world at war.

At St. Peter’s we continue this tradition on Sunday morning, December 2 at 10:45 a.m. Our carol service is modified for use in Advent instead of Christmas and we end our lessons with the story of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel visits, and tells Mary she will become the mother of Jesus.

The “bidding prayer” for this service says it well: “Let us rejoice, in our carols and hymns, that the good purpose of God is being mightily fulfilled. Let us celebrate the promise that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will bring all peoples and all things into the glory of God’s eternal kingdom.”

Elizabeth Lenti, Director of Music and Organist

This Sunday, Josephine Hicks will preach at both the 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. liturgies.

Join us on Sunday, as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King and learn more about supporting the important work of Episcopal Relief & Development.

Josephine, a parishioner at St. Peter’s for many years, has served as Episcopal Relief & Development’s Vice President for Episcopal Church Programs since January 2018. In this role, she oversees and provides strategic leadership to the newly-developed department, Episcopal Church Programs, with the goal of deepening the organization’s programs and engagement within the Episcopal Church. Episcopal Church Programs includes the US Disaster Program, Engagement and Episcopal Asset Map teams. Working closely with her colleagues, Josephine will develop programs and resources to meet the needs of Episcopal dioceses, congregations, networks and individuals.

Prior to joining the organization, Josephine was a member of the Board of Episcopal Relief & Development. She served as Church Attorney for the Episcopal Church and handled investigations and ecclesiastical disciplinary proceedings under the Canons for the Episcopal Church. Her other church leadership positions include serving as a member of the Church’s Executive Council and General Convention Deputy for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. She also was a member of the Joint Nominating Committee, which conducted a search for Presiding Bishop, and as the lay representative from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Consultative Council. Her relationship with the Church and the work of Episcopal Relief & Development are important ways that she lives out her faith.

Prior to joining Episcopal Relief & Development, Josephine was trial lawyer and has 30 years of experience litigating disputes for a wide range of clients, including public utilities, manufacturers and other businesses. Most recently, she was a partner with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Preparing for Advent

As we prepare for the beginning of a new year in the Church liturgical calendar on December 2, the first Sunday of Advent, I am reminded of the practice of setting new goals for the new spiritual year.

One of the goals we can set for ourselves as we begin this Advent, is to work on deepening our spirituality in new ways. Many Episcopalians participate in #AdventWord, an offering of the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE). SSJE sends you a brief meditation each day that accompanies the word for the day, which you then capture in a photo on social media. It’s fun. And when you engage in this Advent practice, you’ll be reminded during these four weeks of God’s love for us in a variety of ways. It engages you to find the beauty in the God’s creation, which in turn increases a spiritual connection to Him and to His creation.

Additionally, the youth group is offering five other titles from Forward Movement at our annual Advent Fair (for purchase) to assist in creating a more holy Advent. The Pilgrim Class is also offering other Advent items: candles, wreaths, and calendars, as well as Christmas gift items, AutoBell gift cards, St. Peter’s suncatchers, t-shirts and more! Please come shop with the Pilgrim Class on November 25, December 2, and December 9. We appreciate your support as prepare for this summer’s Holy Pilgrimage to Canterbury and northern France.

Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Formation

The Iris Trio, appearing at St. Peter’s at Noon, November 19

Several times a year St. Peter’s hosts Center City Concerts at St. Peter’s, where musical programs are played — free of charge — for all who love music and appreciate its beauty and power.

But moving into our sixth season, Center City Concerts has been — if you will pardon the pun — playing it a bit low key, and the time has come to hit some big notes.

With Charlotte in the midst of a commercial boom, and with so much growth and so many new faces at St.Peter’s and in the city at large, we have hopes of filling the pews during the five concerts we will host this 2018-2019 season. And you can help us do exactly that, not only for this season, but for all that follow.

How?

By giving yourselves an hour of incredible music, and by getting the word out to your friends, neighbors, and coworkers that here is an opportunity for them to enjoy an amazing noontime respite of music that feeds the soul and mind. Come join us, and bring them with you.

Our concerts are free of charge, but we still need to raise funds for publicity and to pay our musicians. But here’s the thing: If we can fill the church, we can fill our coffers because we know how generous and appreciative our audience members are.

November marks the first of three monthly concerts in a row, beginning with the internationally acclaimed Iris Trio playing clarinet, viola, and piano on November 11, followed by The Burli Singers’ always wonderful Christmas Concert December 17, and our annual Martin Luther King Day concert on January 21, 2019. (Stay tuned for news about our May spring concert with The AW Duo, our artists in residence.)

For more information, please visit www.centercityconcerts.org. Go to our Facebook page to hear live streams of recent concerts.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” — Plato

 Kathleen Mundle, for the Center City Concerts Board of Directors

Stewardship and the Annual Fund

“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)? God’s love is with us at all times. In response, we strive to give every moment in return.

In stewardship we recognize that we are responsible for the world and have an obligation to take care of it. Stewardship often refers to the way we use our time, talents, and treasures to advance the Kingdom of God.

In Jesus’ time, a steward was entrusted with the responsibly of administering assets belonging to another. We express our own stewardship when we recognize that the assets are God’s. We can take care of the earth or we can pollute it; we can help the homeless, or we can ignore them; we can advance God’s Kingdom, or we can frustrate it. Each of us has a choice.

Many of us, myself included, often think we are too small to have an impact. Individually, that might be true – but in numbers, there is strength. We at St. Peter’s are strong, bold followers of Jesus Christ. We have a vision and we have a purpose.

We are a strong parish with a bold message, not just to those who worship with us, but to all those we serve. From our spectacular music and choirs to our youth programs; from our outreach to the homeless to our Room in the Inn participation, our parish is full of ministries and programs we need to support so that they can thrive and grow. We have fantastic clergy and staff, but we need more. With growth comes new obligations, new commitments, and greater responsibility.

Giving money for St. Peter’s work and mission is a responsive act. We are responding to God’s love in this place. I don’t mean to limit stewardship to simply financial giving. But we can’t ignore that money is a fundamental aspect of how we as a parish promote God’s mission in Center City Charlotte.

I again ask that you dig deep. Let’s make this year the year we surpass our goal. Let’s make this the year St. Peter’s can do everything it wants and needs to do to advance God’s mission in our community.

If you have already pledged, I thank you. If you have not, now is the time; today is the day! Do not procrastinate. Make your pledge to St. Peter’s, for the present and to the future. Let’s ensure that this Parish continues to be a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte.

John Buric, for the Annual Fund Team

Welcoming the Right Reverend Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan

On Sunday, October 28, St. Peter’s will welcome the Right Reverend Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Hodges-Copple will celebrate and preach at the 10:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist where she will confirm, receive, and reaffirm those who are recommitting themselves to a life of faith. Afterwards a special coffee hour reception will take place in the Parish Hall. During the formation hour at 9:30 a.m., all adults and youth are invited to a special Bishop’s Forum in the Parish Hall.

It has been our practice at St. Peter’s to observe our patronal feast annually, the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle. Normally celebrated in January, we are transferring our parish feast to this Sunday, as we celebrate with those who have chosen to publicly commit themselves to following the way of Jesus in the Episcopal tradition.

The Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter commemorates the moment when Peter proclaims Jesus as Messiah, and in turn Jesus confirms Peter to his favored place among the disciples. “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…’” (Matthew 16:13-19a). Until that moment Peter had been known simply as Simon, but Jesus gave him a new name: Peter. In Greek, the name is Cephas, which means “rock,” becoming Petra in Latin and Peter in English. Jesus calls him Simon the Rock, the rock on which he will build his church.

I believe it is no coincidence our parish is named for St. Peter. We are the inheritors of a solid foundation, a rock which has been a beacon of hope in Charlotte for 184 years. As we celebrate this Sunday, may we be inspired to join those who are recommitting themselves to following Jesus in this great Episcopal tradition, and may we, like Peter and those before us, continue to boldly proclaim Christ’s love in Center City Charlotte and in all the world.

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

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