Blog: We Gather


by Christine Kimel O Lord, we suffer plague Friend and foe alike fall ill And die, untouched by human hands   The dead pile up Few grieve at their graves They go to their rest unsung   The hungry, the oppressed, the victims of violence to body and mind The children, hidden and afraid Their cries rise to You, unheard by human ears   Our hymns are silent No longer do we gather to praise Your name Our priests pray in empty spaces alone... Read More
at Wednesday, August 19, 2020
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Sacred Ground Resources

A number of St. John’s parishioners and others from the community are participating in Sacred Ground, the Episcopal Church’s curriculum on race and faith.  Facilitators from St. John’s have recommended the following resources for those who would like to explore these topics further.  The Starter Kit: Waking Up White by Debbie Irving So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo The Uncomfortable Truth (Amazon Prime) The 1619 Project – New... Read More
at Thursday, July 30, 2020
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House Church

by John Jackson When my grandmother had her 80th birthday in the early 1980s, my family came to Roanoke from our home in Richmond to celebrate. We called my grandmother, Grandma Edie, and she was my last living grandparent. My mom (her eldest daughter) stressed the importance of being present for this special occasion. The weekend was filled with parties, a reception at her assisted living home, and house church. My aunt and my grandmother both attended Christ Lutheran at the time,... Read More
at Monday, May 18, 2020
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Laughter, Lilacs, and Board Games

      by Al Cole On a walk around the neighborhood last weekend, I happened to overhear a conversation between a parent and child, who were also out on a walk. They were playing a story-telling game. The rules were that each could only say one sentence at a time. There was laughter at the silly story, and even more laughter when the rules were altered to only say one word at a time. I was happy to share in their joy, even as I walked out of hearing distance of their... Read More
at Monday, May 11, 2020
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Night Prayer

by Lolly Rosemond “The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.” It is quiet now.  Trouble, our twelve-year-old hound, has settled down after sending his final message to the dog two blocks over.  The TV is off.  Any news can wait until morning. I pull out my prayer book and open to Compline, then scroll down on Facebook to pick up the night’s offering. “Our help is in the Name of the Lord The maker of heaven and... Read More
at Monday, May 4, 2020
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Journeying through Film

by Alan Perry I always await the start of Journey Groups with great anticipation. There are a couple of reasons for this; I know I will learn, but the best reason is the interaction with the St. John’s community.    This winter and spring, I was in a Journey Group that looked at Jesus and Mary Magdalene in film. I didn’t know much about the topic and I still know only a little. Even so, watching the movies and... Read More
at Friday, April 24, 2020
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Guess that..........Parishioner!

Guess that………Parishioner!  These photos were recently unearthed deep in our church archives. Can you guess the parishioner? Make your guesses and share your memories of St. John’s in the comments portion on Facebook! Make an appointment to visit our remarkable History and Archive Room on the fourth floor to find more photos from church directories, back-issues of the church newsletter dating to the 1920s, photos spanning the 20 th century, memorabilia,... Read More
at Thursday, February 20, 2020
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St. John’s Youth Group: Lots of Fun While Learning about the God Who Loves Us

by Jackson Wills A lot of kids around my age think Youth Group at church is not for them. They’d rather spend their Sunday nights doing something else. Those kids may be missing out on one of the best experiences of our young lives. Each Sunday after the Gathering Service and Sunday Supper, I look forward to spending an hour with friends, learning about God, and unwinding before school the next day. Youth Group also opens doors to opportunities like diocesan events such as Youth... Read More
at Wednesday, February 5, 2020
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Epiphany Dawns

by the Rev. Dr. Jenny Call I first learned about epiphany from childhood cartoons.  Back then, I recognized it as the “a-ha” moment when Tom the cat would have an idea to defeat Jerry the mouse and a lightbulb would appear over Tom’s head. Suddenly he had grasped a solution to his problem…at least for the moment, until his nemesis outwitted him once again.  Growing up as a low church Baptist whose major holy days included only Easter and Christmas, I... Read More
at Thursday, January 23, 2020
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Moving into the New Year—With Gratitude

by Al Cole Gratitude for the Big and Small For a few years running, I made a New Year’s resolution to write something I was thankful for every day on a sticky note and add it to a jar. On the following New Year’s Eve, I read through a year’s worth of accumulated notes with my partner. We laughed and cried as we remembered our year together. The content of the notes ranged from the mundane (a favorite food!) to the extraordinary (a promotion at work!). Whether big or... Read More
at Thursday, January 9, 2020
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A Heavenly Host

by Lucy Burnett Christmas Eve of 2014 was my family’s first Christmas Eve service at St. John’s. I remember staring at the stained-glass windows during the service and drawing my own version of an angel from the stained glass windows (yes, I took some artistic liberties). The next year, I came across my drawing whilst nostalgically flipping through my old artwork and decided to make an updated version with the skills I’d learned over the year. Since then, I’ve made... Read More
at Thursday, January 2, 2020
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A Christmas Reflection

by Phil McNeish Christmas is the day when it all began...again. On Christmas, God’s love for you and me began to be manifested in a way never before imagined. How could it be that God loved us so deeply that he would send his own son to the earth to redeem us? What father could give up his son—even for a short time--so that others could live eternally? It is unthinkable. And yet He did it. The ancient prophet Isaiah recorded the words that God himself put so well: “As the... Read More
at Friday, December 27, 2019
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Exploring Racism and Faith: An Invitation to Walk on Sacred Ground

by M. Todd Null I am not a racist.  I believe that all human beings are created in the image of God and are therefore of equal value.  But I’m also white, male, cisgender, and solidly middle-class.  These identities convey significant unearned privilege within the social, political, and cultural systems in which I live.  Maybe I benefit from racism? I am not a racist.  But I was born in the richest and most powerful nation on the planet.  A nation that... Read More
at Monday, December 16, 2019
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Sunday Supper: So Much More than Food

by Martha Keely I could report the stats of attendance and meal costs associated with our Sunday Suppers. These figures can be obtained from our financial secretary.  These dispassionate metrics do not reflect the many ways God’s grace and love shine during this time. Numbers would not indicate that Sunday Supper at St. John’s is about so much more than food. Sunday Supper is a time when we are enabled to do God's will. It is a time of healing and a time when... Read More
at Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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Q&A: Why Is Worship Important to Me?

Five St. John’s parishioners reflect on the meaning of worship for them. Their reflections continue the theme of the article “Why Worship?” on page 3 in the December Record . As you read this Q&A and the article, perhaps you too will consider the meaning of worship for you.   By Janet Johnson Worship is a two-way conversation between God and me with prayer.    Those conversations include adoration and praise, thanksgiving for the blessings I... Read More
at Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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The Font: The Place from Which We Begin a Life of Love

by Phil McNeish Not long ago, I sang first tenor in the St. John’s choir for the better part of two years. Each Sunday the choir processed into the nave side by side. As we passed through the door coming into the church, we first encountered the baptismal font situated in middle of the center aisle. We moved around it, one line passing to the left, the other line passing to the right. It always called to my mind a rock jutting out of a river with the water flowing around it on either... Read More
at Thursday, November 21, 2019
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St. John’s Children from Fall Faith and Fun Journey Group Create Art for Forthcoming Book "Making Room for Everyone: More Stories for Building a Children’s Chapel"

by Bill Gordh I smiled when I saw the art the children of St. John’s journey group created to go with the story “A Night of Peace.” The Scottish story tells of God speaking to the animals about a forthcoming night of peace. God tells the animals that when they see a mighty star in the sky, a star shining down on the little town of Bethlehem, they will feel peace in their hearts and in the world. The images the St. John’s children created—a wolf on a hill, a... Read More
at Thursday, November 7, 2019
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Saints of God: Living the Way of Love

by Pattie Ames, Christian Formation Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia One of my favorite hymns is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.” I sang it almost every day in chapel at the Episcopal Day School I attended. Our rector talked a lot about saints and shared their stories. He also reminded us of the last verse of the hymn which tell us that you can meet saints anywhere. I have met a lot of saints in my day, both in and out of the church. To me, they are... Read More
at Friday, November 1, 2019
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Seen and Loved

by M. Todd Null I’ve spent most of my life deeply desiring to be seen by God.  In a bitter irony, I’ve also spent most of that time trying to be invisible. I was raised in a Fundamentalist Evangelical tradition that gifted me with many things.  It inspired my love of music and vocal harmony.  It taught me to cherish Scripture and the Truth it reveals.  It embedded in my DNA a deep respect and gratitude for the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.... Read More
at Monday, October 28, 2019
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A Common Bond: The Gathering Band and Being the Church

It has been my privilege to be a member of The Gathering Band for the past several years. As I recently gave thought to the band and its members, I was struck by how well its makeup reflects the overall makeup of St. John’s Church. Each band member comes from a different religious background. Some come from a decidedly Evangelical religious persuasion. Others have known only the joys of the Episcopal experience. Some came from a godly family. Some are spiritual orphans. But that is... Read More
at Thursday, October 17, 2019
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On Love and Church

Love took us by surprise. We weren’t looking for love – as a matter of fact, we were looking for exactly the opposite. We were kind of hot messes, to be honest, and we thought it best to sort out our “stuff” on our own. There’s an adage about loving yourself before you can love someone else: we figured we had some work to do before dragging anyone else along for the ride. The first week, we went out for fun. The second week, we were surprised to find... Read More
at Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Welcoming a God of Disguises

by Al Cole Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) What would it be like to entertain angels? What would you talk about? What food would you serve? …and the thought most awesome of all, what if you have already entertained them? Angels are ubiquitous in the Bible, and often come in the guise of a stranger. Abraham and Sarah once entertained angels in the form of three men, and in... Read More
at Monday, October 7, 2019
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Q&A: Strangers in Our Midst

Three St. John’s parishioners, Ivonne Fuentes-Wallace, Charlotte Simmonds, and Ruth Cassell-Huynh, reflect on powerful experiences with strangers. Ivonne Wallace Fuentes: I met E last fall: a young mother, her husband and adorable toddler in tow, asylum seekers from El Salvador in desperate need of housing help.  She was scared, bewildered by her new surroundings, still traumatized by the horrors behind them, only to find a startlingly aggressive bureaucracy shackling her and... Read More
at Thursday, October 3, 2019
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Washington National Cathedral Organ Tour

by Mike Milam "I'm never this lucky," I thought, as I clicked the button on Washington National Cathedral's website just a few days before my trip to D.C. in July hoping to snag a ticket at the last minute to an evening tour of the Cathedral's organ. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had just reserved the last available ticket! It was a great evening, beginning with an overview and demonstration at the console, led by George Fergus, associate director of... Read More
at Tuesday, September 24, 2019
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We Remember, We Repent

By Jenny Garrett Fife ( ) “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin. I am a child of the South. By the early 1700s, all my ancestors had arrived in Virginia.  Some owned slaves.  One was an overseer.  They all fought in the “War Between the States.”  John Wilkes Booth was shot in my great-grandfather’s barn. I grew up outside of Richmond, lived in an... Read More
at Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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