As of Friday, July 31, 2020

A Message from Father Ben

Hello friends,

This past Sunday the Vestry met in the parish hall.  Yes, we observed social distancing and we all wore masks.  I think that a lot was accomplished at that meeting.  Folks thought it a good idea to have a virtual “coffee hour” via Zoom.  Another great idea was to have a service in the parking lot.  Folks could sit in their air conditioned cars and listen to the service on the radio.  Norm and Jim Cawthon will work out the details for the broadcast.  The vestry will give it a dry run before our next meeting scheduled for Sunday, August 16.  Already on the calendar for October 25, there will be a picnic on the grounds.  It was suggested that when the weather gets cooler, we can hold outdoor services.  We are also offering “Home Communion” for families and small groups of “in-your-bubble” friends.  We use the Service of Communion under Special Circumstances with bread only from the Reserved Sacrament.  Please call me or Clyde to set up a time which is convenient for you.  If you have any other ideas about how we can be together, please let someone on the vestry know.

Special thanks were expressed to Bill Wheeler for his tireless work with the Beans and Rice Ministry.  Because two volunteers will be moving away, two more people are needed to volunteer to help distribute beans and rice to our visitors.  Bill said that this would entail two hours once a month.  It is a worthwhile ministry, one that is needed, to help with those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  If you would like to help, please get in touch with Bill. 

If you have not listened to the Sunday service, I invite you to do so.  Norm said on Sunday that more people are listening and that is good news.  It was suggested that we have young folks read the lessons.  I’m all for that.  If you or your children would like to read, let me know.  The more the merrier. 

So, as you can see, life goes on at St. Catherine’s.  It is important that we all keep in touch with each other during these stressful times.  And once again, pray for the church, for each other, for your family and friends and for the country.  Always remember, the Lord loves you no matter what!  This is the greatest good news of all.

God’s peace be with you, 
Ben+

Thoughts from Sally

A week or so ago this country lost one of our most prominent public leaders, and compassionate followers of Christ. John Lewis died on April 17 after spending at least 65 years of his life in public service. He was elected into the United States House of Representatives in 1986. He preached his first sermon when he was 15 and I’m not sure that he ever quit preaching. He began following Martin Luther King, Jr. as a teenager, meeting him for the first time when he was 18 years old. He was only 23 years old when he appeared on the mall in Washington D.C., standing next to Dr. King, when he made his “I have a Dream” speech.

After Lewis died bi-partisan tributes for him began to be expressed. He was loved and appreciated by both sides of the aisle. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia said, “The country will never be the same without John Lewis.” Soon after his death, I was listening to a recording of interviews with Lewis and every time he described an event he had participated in, he began by describing it as an act of love. His words did not ring hollow. It’s not unusual to hear words like love and respect or equal rights casually thrown around. Not always do the speaker’s actions seem to fall in line with the meaning these words hold. However, Lewis consistently lived his life with the belief that all humans should be treated with love and respect. He dedicated his life to non-violent activism in the pursuit that each person be treated the way that God intended. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he was the genuine article.

Regardless of whether your politics aligned with Lewis or not, it’s difficult to argue with the Gospel or the intent to act out of love or compassion for others. He didn’t distinguish between whites or blacks when it came to treating others with dignity or respect and every action he took began out of an act of love. He lived his convictions, took a beating for them on the Edmond Pettus Bridge, and never uttered a word of retaliation or hate. You may have wished he were more conservative or less vocal. There were many people of faith who asked Martin Luther King, Jr. to be less vocal, but it wasn’t in his DNA.

I’m certain it wasn’t in Christ’s DNA. The disciples probably wished on more than one occasion that he had been less inclined to draw attention to himself, to walk away a few more times rather than enter into confrontations with the Jewish authorities. It might have made their lives a bit easier. They may have wished that instead of staying with the crowds in the deserted place where they had been listening to Jesus’ teaching that he had sent them home to find food on their own, but Jesus showed “compassion for them.”  Instead of sending them away hungry, Jesus told the disciples that they would feed them. Earlier he had cured the sick, he had spent time with them, teaching and listening, he showed compassion for them. He was present to them in the way that truly matters. He listened and knew their concerns, their fears. More than simply being present, which in itself is a gift, he wanted to take care of them, He knew their souls were hungry for more than just bread for their bellies. He knew they craved food that fed their desire for what only he could provide. Jesus never failed to show compassion, even in the crowds when his disciples were hurrying him along, he would stop and listen or heal or reach out to touch those who heard something in his voice and in his words that they were hungry for.

I’m as guilty as anyone about getting caught up in what my “plan” is. I’ll have a list, an agenda of what needs to be done that day, or expectations for how something should go, and I walk past someone who calls out or I’ll be impatient with my son or my husband when all they need for me to do is take the time to listen.

I may be romanticizing John Lewis’ career a bit. It’s easy to do when it seems we have so few public examples of love and determination that are driven by a desire to live the gospel’s message.

George Wallace was governor the day they tried to march from Selma to Montgomery. He was at the helm when the violence broke out. Years later, Wallace’s daughter and John Lewis embraced in a common bond based on love for the people of Alabama and the desire for all people to be treated with respect, dignity and most of all love.  I don’t like the divisions politics draw between people. I know the values of the different sides are extremely important and they matter a great deal, but I hope that the overarching concern can always be love for one another.

St. Catherine’s was built on this very same value. All of our goals and hopes and dreams are based on the gospel message. I pray that our life together at St. Catherine’s can always be based on love for one another and for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it’s in our DNA. 

Opportunities to Enjoy Camp McDowell

Due to COVID-19, Camp McDowell canceled the usual organized summer camps. As a substitute, we are all being offered “once in a lifetime” opportunities to enjoy the camp as individuals and as families. In previous weeks, we highlighted the opportunity that families have to spend a weekend at camp this Fall.  An opportunity has been added for each of us to enjoy- a day at Camp, beginning Sunday, July 26 and extending through August 31. This information comes to us from the Diocese:

For the first time ever, Camp McDowell is offering one day passes! Come from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for a day of hiking, canoeing, swimming, and a pasture party hot dog lunch! Rates are $25.00 per person. Kids 4 and under are free.

Click here to register for a day pass.

The Front Lawn

We have grass!  The front lawn is greening up from seeding, part of the recent landscaping efforts.  Take a ride by the church and see for yourself!

St. Catherine’s Garden

The Garden Committee has been working hard and hopes that all of the St. Catherine family is enjoying “watching our garden grow.”

All the beds have been planted. We have tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, squash, zinnias, begonias and sunflowers. At this time, only the squash appears to be non-productive. Plans for the future include:

1. expanding the current gate into a pergola, which can be planted with muscadine grapes,
2. planting pear and apple trees in an espalier display along garden fencing, 
3. sprigging grass on the side of a new pathway into the gate,
4. building a new gate on the front of the enclosure,
5. planting a biblical garden (would need a green house for olive trees, etc.)
6. building a compost bin.

There will be a seminar at Petals of the Past (Jemison, AL) on August 22 at 10:30 am; it will be an apple, pear and muscadine walking tour to learn about variety, care and maintenance – tastings included. Click here to send Brent an email indicating your interest in this seminar.

St Catherine’s Drive Thru Pantry — Our Beans and Rice Ministry

Times are hard and we want to help our neighbors in every way possible. To this end, we are opening our pantry three times in August: tomorrow, August 1, again on our regular Saturday, August 15, and finally on Saturday, August 29. Thanks to the entire St. Catherine’s family for making this is possible.

Again, here is the list of items that would make especially helpful donations:

  • Cans of green beans, sweet peas, tomatoes, carrots, or mixed vegetables (we have enough corn through August)
  • Dry goods such as spaghetti, pasta, and mashed potatoes, as well as spaghetti and pasta sauce,
  • Toothpaste and toilet paper,
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits either from your own garden or from the Farmer’s Market.

As always, thank you St. Catherine’s for being “The Little Church that DOES”!

Feed My Sheep

Two “Close to Home” Opportunities

We have two opportunities for Outreach this week that are close to home:

1. From our neighbors at King’s Ranch

 As our youth and children soon head back to school, we are in pressing need of the following essential items: Disinfecting Wipes, Lysol Aerosol Spray, Hand Sanitizer and Disposable Gloves.  If you can donate, thank you. Items can be dropped off at our office at 221 King’s Home Drive, Chelsea, AL 35043 M-F 8:30-4:30

2. The Beans and Rice Ministry

Our good friends Roy and Carol Hancock are moving to Florida. Even after they no longer attended services at St. Catherine’s, Roy and Carol continued to be faithful supporters of Beans and Rice, spending several hours each month filling bags with beans and with rice to distribute through our pantry. Their leaving will leave a hole in this ministry. If you would be willing to pick up the reins and continue their service, please contact Bill Wheeler. Click here to send him an email, or you may call him. 

Parish Prayer List

“If we genuinely love people, we desire for them more than it is within our power to give, and that will cause us to pray.” 

During this time that we are unable to gather together at church for worship services, email Father Ben to request names be added to the list. Email him at rector@stcatherinesal.com or you may click here.  As always, names will remain on the list for about a month unless you indicate otherwise, will appear in the weekly Dialogue and will be included in the Prayers of the People during Sunday worship services.