October 13, 2020

Exciting news!  Bishop Kee Sloan will be with us at St. Catherine’s this Sunday, October 18th.

Accordingly, there will be one service at 10:30 am, held outside on the church grounds.  We will not hold an early service.  Please bring a chair for everyone in your family to sit in during the service.  Bishop Kee will be our preacher.

Afterwards, a brown bag picnic lunch will be held.  The church will furnish drinks.

Everyone is encouraged to attend, but only if you are comfortable in doing so. This is a decision each person must make for themselves.  If you remain at home, the recorded morning prayer service for Sunday will be available on the website and Facebook, as usual.  

God bless you and your families!

October 16, 2020

A Message from the Stewardship Chair, Hugh Floyd

I am writing as a sojourner with you as the body of Christ, St Catherine’s Episcopal Church, Chelsea, Alabama. I am chairperson of the stewardship committee for the church. We have been blessed with a move into our own facility and occupied it for less than two years.  We have a positive physical presence in the community at this site.   I am hopeful that we can sustain a presence in the community to offer others an Episcopal option to worship, ministry and fellowship as the body of Christ.
This year has been a challenge to all of us with a radical change in our routines including restrictions on our corporate worship, but we have had weekly opportunities to continue our connections with the recorded services.  Many of you have taken that opportunity to continue your spiritual journey in this way. Recently we resumed services in our facility while maintaining our options of recorded connections to the church. These are gifts to us and we are blessed by these options.
Sustaining our presence in the community and expanding our ministry and service in the future is dependent on having a budget supported by our financial gifts to the church.  To that end we are going to have a focused effort to support the budget.  I am encouraging you to participate in this process by making a pledge of financial commitment for the coming year. We ask you to consider what you and your family might be able to contribute to this process given your resources and ability to participate. We have no interest in your thinking there is a fixed calculation of an amount. It is your decision to participate in the pledge effort or not.  A pledge is not in any way considered a contingent for participation.  The church is a place for all those who wish to find support and inclusion in our faith community as they journey through their lives of joy and sadness; we are here to serve the needs of others.
We will begin our organized effort for the church on October 18th and continue through November 22nd.  It will be a focused and brief effort to meet our goals of participation by those who have made a pledge in the past and those who will begin their pledging this year.  During this time, we are asking that you make a prayerful consideration to participate in the pledge effort to support our budget in Sustaining a Purposeful Presence in the Chelsea community as part of the Body of Christ.

A Message from Father Ben

Hello friends,

Late last week, Sally came across the Diocesan calendar and was surprised to find out that Bishop Sloan is coming to St. Catherine’s this Sunday.  I finally was able to contact Judy Hall, Bishop Sloan’s administrator and sure enough, the Bishop is coming.  In order to accommodate the number of folks we expect will want to attend this service to hear the Bishop, Jane and I decided to combine the two services and have one service at 10:30 am.  This service will be outside in front of the church.  Please bring a chair for you and your family.  Following the service, we will enjoy a parish family picnic.  Please bring whatever it is that you and your family will enjoy for lunch (drinks will be provided). 

The pledge cards will be blessed on Sunday and you may pick yours up following the service.  Please read Hugh’s letter before filling out the card.  I hope and pray that you will make a pledge even if you have not in the past.  As it says in our lesson from Matthew, “Give to God the things that are God’s.”  Because we know that everything we have has been given us by a gracious God, we are to return a portion of what we have been given to God. 

Whatever you plan to give for the coming year, great or small, will be greatly appreciated.  St. Catherine’s is very dear to your hearts, I know, so let’s do what we can to help make our ministries, whatever they may be, count as we strive to share and spread the Good News of God’s love.

Please pray for your family and friends, for St. Catherine’s Church and for our country.  Finally, let us give thanks for the blessings which our Lord bestows upon us each moment of our lives. 

God’s nearness to you, 

Thoughts from Sally

There is a concept that I was introduced to almost 30 years ago that I’ve always felt applied to more areas of my life than almost any other, that of liminality.

Liminality is defined as a state of transition between one stage and the next, especially between major stages in one’s life or during a rite of passage, for instance between initiation and full membership. The term “limen” comes from the Latin root-word for “threshold”; it is literally the threshold separating one space from another. A place of transition can be unsettling, scary and at the same time the anticipation can be exciting and full of promise. When our youngest son was two or three, if we had a chance to prepare him for a transition, like going from our house to friend’s house for diner, he always handled it much better. Unfortunately, we aren’t always warned before a time of transition.

Liminality is a place where you have left something behind and yet you are not fully in that next place. It’s not unusual that these liminal times are not easy transitions or are not rapid – we often do not move as quickly or as smoothly from one stage to another as we would like. Teenagers do not mature as quickly as we might think they should. They can become stuck in that awkward stage where we think they should be acting like young adults, yet they still have the logic and rationale of an adolescent. An illness can be that way, a career move or even a pandemic.

Often our patience is tested during these times and we can begin to question our choices or reasons for being in this particular time or place. We can become frustrated or angry at the seemingly arbitrary way it tends to progress. In the end it becomes a waiting space; a place where we have little or no control over the circumstances that seem to govern our lives. Ultimately it is a place and a time where we are challenged to give in to the waiting, to surrender to something larger than ourselves and to trust in the promise of the love and eternal presence of God through Christ and the Holy Spirit to support and sustain us.

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, we find them in a place where, like us, they are caught waiting, they are in a time of transition. They have chosen to dedicate their lives no longer to idols, but to the living true God and to wait for God’s Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead . . . (I Th 1:9).” Paul knows the potential harm that divisive factions and daily temptations can bring. However, he also knows that they have been forged as a community, joined in unity by their devotion and belief in the one true living God. God chose these people and as a result they embody a faith in God that those around them have witnessed and been astounded by. Their faith has produced fruit that has been a witness to their faith, a witness that speaks volumes of the presence of the living God in their midst. The fruit they bear is the faith, hope and love of those within the church of Thessalonica.

Each of us finds ourselves at different times in our lives dealing with the discomfort and uncertainty of not knowing; it can be the fear and cautions of the corona virus, or uncertainty due to a job lay off or an illness that impacts someone we love. None of these situations present themselves when we are prepared, and none of them run their course on our time line.  Waiting requires patience but it also requires surrender to the inevitable truth that we are not in control. I’ve told myself and I tell my children, “It’s what you do with this time while you’re waiting that matters.”

Bearing fruit can mean reaching out to a friend you know has been anxious and alone. It may mean being more patient with your children as they struggle with online classes or anxiety that seems to run beneath the surface for all of us. It can mean taking more opportunities to stop, be quiet and be present to yourself, to God, or even your cat.

Don’t allow this time to define who you are. This stage, whatever it is, will pass and you will find yourself on the other side with new opportunities and new ways to express the person God created you to be. Be engaged, intentional, but realize that you have limits, do not become entangled in the circumstances around you to the point that it overwhelms who you are. If we dive too deep into the fray it can be almost impossible to see what can be most helpful. Alan Seale in his blog, Intentional Living, recently referenced a quote from Mother Theresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” Mother Theresa recognized her role in the world was to bear fruit, not to plant an entire orchard.

In Isaiah 10 15:16, we read, “You did not choose me, I chose you, and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” Choose a goal, some way to bear fruit during this time of waiting, be it waiting for the train to pass or waiting for the Messiah. Surrender to the invitation to rest in the knowledge that we are not in control, allowing yourself to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like Mother Theresa, we may not be able to solve the world’s problems but we can make lots of ripples.

Stay strong, be patient and remain faithful.

See you on Sunday,

Family Picnic on the Grounds

As part of our annual Stewardship Kickoff, we are having a family picnic on the church grounds this Sunday, October 18th.  This will be held after the 10:30 am outside service with Bishop Kee Sloan. We will share a meal while staying safe by maintaining social distance. So, pack a picnic for your family, bring your chairs and join us on the church grounds for both the service and a picnic.  Drinks will be provided.

ECW Live-Streamed Video Fall Conference

Friday, October 23, 12:00 Noon – 4:00 pm

Invitation to the Table:  Finding Your Place

Midday Prayer Service with Homily by The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan

Speaker: The Rt. Rev Glenda Curry

Workshop: Spiritual Practices for Our Life in Christ led by Rev. Mary Catherine Akamatsu, Metagem Institute

The workshop will explore four types of spiritual practices as well as our tendency to prefer certain types of practices and how we can use our preferences for growth in our relationship with Christ.  We will use the Metagem Institutes’s Spirituality Types Practices Indicator (STPI)   A link to complete the assessment will be emailed and results provided to you at the workshop.

A short business meeting will be held before concluding the conference.  All are invited.  There is no charge for the conference.  Donations can be made to ECW programs by going to ECWGive. Please designate your gift to the ECW.

To register and receive all materials for the conference,  email Linda Kennedy.

Christian Formation Opportunity

Last Sunday afternoon, our seminarian Sally Herring began a class focusing on what it means to be baptized and how we live out the promises made at our baptism. This was a Zoom meeting held at 5:00 pm and gave each of the participants an opportunity to get to know each other better. The class will continue this Sunday and for the next five weeks. If you missed last week’s meeting, it is not too late to join in. We will continue the discussion about baptism and about the beliefs and practices that are particular to being an Episcopalian.

Even though we recognize that what we do in the liturgy is important because it reflects our beliefs, too often we don’t really understand why we are doing what we’re doing. This class will give us an opportunity to learn more about the liturgy we love. Each of us will receive an email invitation from Sally on Sunday afternoon inviting us to join the class. Click on the link in the email at 5:00 pm to be a part of this exciting educational opportunity.  

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

We open tomorrow for our regular monthly Pantry Drive Thru. We are asking for feedback from our guests as to what they like, what they would not choose in the pantry, and what they would recommend in the future. This information will enable us to do a better job – we have never seriously asked their advice about how to better serve them. We will publish the results next week in the Dialogue.

We are prepared for tomorrow, but we could use your help in two weeks when we will open our third Pantry Drive Thru in October. Take a look at next week’s Dialogue for suggestions from our guests for the most useful donations to make.

Looking ahead, consider what St. Catherine’s should do on November 20th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We would like your input. Should we ask for donations of Thanksgiving food to share, or ask for funds to purchase a quantity of same-sized turkeys? The reality of the world of Covid-19 suggests that we forget the festivities and double the gifts of food supplies, toilet paper and toothpaste.  In that way, our families can take a deep breath during Thanksgiving weekend knowing they can care for their loved ones for a few more days while waiting for a job, more hours on the job, or a gift from family or friends. Please share your thoughts.

Thank you, dear friends at St. Catherine’s. You make this ministry happen!

Feed My Sheep

We have had a couple of weeks to consider the idea of preparing for the next disaster in advance of losing power, and/or sustaining damage to our homes and vehicles, with a need for quick response to solve problems.

We have been extremely lucky as the most recent hurricanes have not hit Chelsea.  Would you consider holding a meeting either remotely or in-person, or prefer an e-mail questionnaire?  The subject would be to create an asset list of volunteers, skills, tools, and means to connect so that we have the information required to rebound after a crisis.

If you have interest and information that would be beneficial, please send an e-mail to secretary@stcatherinesal.com with your name, suggested meeting type and availability.

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.” 

If you wish to place someone on the Prayer List, email Father Ben 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.