Blog: We Gather

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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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Disruption and Inspiration

Cara Ellen Modisett, St. John’s communications director for the past two years, has left Roanoke to begin studies at Virginia Theological Seminary as a postulant for priesthood in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia . Here’s a report at the end of her first month of school. I’m on an Amtrak train heading north, back to school after a short Labor Day weekend visit home with family. It feels in some ways as if it’s been years since I left Roanoke at the... Read More
at Monday, September 9, 2019
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Pampas Grass

by Gail Tansill Lambert While driving down Franklin Road across the bridge, I saw pampas grass glowing in the sunshine and swaying in the breeze over the Roanoke River. I couldn’t stop but promised myself I would return with a camera and capture the scene forever. I passed the same spot several times again and again and yet each time I was without my camera.  Frustration grew. I would miss the fleeting glory of these coastal plants.   Finally, on a Sunday outing, I had... Read More
at Wednesday, September 4, 2019
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Fall: A Season for Inspiration

by the Rev. David Olson I can always tell when summer is beginning to wind down because my tomato plants, which I plant fairly early in the year, stop producing tomatoes. Yesterday as I stood looking at their empty branches I couldn’t help but think about how fast summer seemed to go by this year.     But seasons change quickly and with the slow days of summer behind us, it’s time to turn to fall, what is so often for us the busy season. And for good reason.... Read More
at Tuesday, September 3, 2019
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The Q&A: Where do you feel a sense of community at St. John’s?

Cayce and Anne Myers “Our daughter’s baptism at St. John’s was a day that was very special for our family. Not only did it mark the beginning of her belonging to the Christian community, but also the community at St. John’s. During the baptism the congregants say ‘We will’ when asked if they will support each baptized child in their lives in Christ. We and our daughter experience that pledge of ‘We will’ each Sunday at St.... Read More
at Monday, August 19, 2019
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St. John’s, Shaping and Changing Lives

A reflection on giving back, by Wharton Ramsey Why would someone consider leaving an endowment to our church? After all, we seem to be getting along okay, don’t we? This is how I look at it. We all enjoy our beautiful church, and on a year-in-year-out basis we pay for its expenses, including upkeep, clergy, staff and outreach. However, none of us now living paid for the initial land and buildings, and the costs over the years to hand it down to our present... Read More
at Friday, August 9, 2019
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St. John’s, the Building: A Conversation with David Tucker

This interview is the first in a three-part series about our church facility and keeping it sustainable for future generations. | by Carolyn H’Doubler “Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple – open the doors and see all the people.” How many times have we said this little rhyme to our children or grandchildren over the years? It is certainly true at St. John’s that upon opening the doors, we see many, many people, and not just... Read More
at Monday, August 5, 2019
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Exuberance, Trust and Unexpected Life Turns

At the 20th anniversary of his diaconal ordination, the Reverend Eric Long looks back over his time with three different communities of faith. Wednesday, June 26 wasn’t just a normal Wednesday for me. It was a day of reflection, and truthfully awe in the winding ways my life has taken. That is because that day marked the 20th anniversary of my ordination as a transitional deacon in The Episcopal Church (Episcopal priests are first ordained deacons and then... Read More
at Thursday, August 1, 2019
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Bach on a Thursday Morning

Marta Lemley, a parishioner and choir member at St. John's, also has a long background in church music, serving as organist for St. James Episcopal and Lewisburg United Methodist in Lewisburg, W.Va., All Saints Episcopal in Union, W.Va. and St. Elizabeth's Episcopal in Roanoke, Va. before coming to St. John's. She subbed this past Sunday while associate minister of music/interim minister of music Mike Milam was out of town, and we caught some of her Thursday morning practice on... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett at Friday, July 19, 2019
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The Q&A: What is your favorite parable?

In many issues of The Record , we ask several parishioners a question and publish their answers. In the July Record, the question was about favorite parables. Here are the answers! Margaret Grayson The Romans during the time of Jesus were at the height of their power and glory. They had conquered and made provinces of much of the known world. Judea was a Roman province… one to which no Roman proconsul wanted to be assigned. Judea was too small, too poor, and the Jews refused to... Read More
at Monday, July 8, 2019
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Finding Friendships, Strengthening Faith

Jonah Vanke writes about finding inspiration and welcome at Kanuga’s youth events. This past year at Kanuga , one experience that stands out the most to me has been my decision, motivated by a strong reluctance to leave, to wake up at 5:30 on the last morning to spend as much conscious time at Kanuga as possible. I walked to the edge of the lake (conveniently very close to my cabin) and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, and was surprised to meet a few other friends I’d made during... Read More
at Wednesday, July 3, 2019
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Summer in the Mountains, Faith Across Generations

When the Reverend David Olson picked up his children at Camp Lutherock this year, it brought back memories of his own summers there. Lutherock , in the mountains outside Boone, N.C., isn’t a traditional camp. It’s an outdoor adventure camp, which means it mostly just has a few rustic buildings and tents because most of the activities are outside. Everything from backpacking to river rafting to caving to rock climbing. As I drive across the creek and start up the steep... Read More
at Sunday, June 30, 2019
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Family Corner: Mealtime Blessings

Al Cole sent this prayer from “my Lutheran aunt and uncle. Said at most family gatherings.” Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed. Dreama Maxey sent “a mealtime blessing my family used. It was one that my dad, Davis T. Maxey, said.”  Oh heavenly father, make us thankful for these and all our blessings. Pardon our sins and save us, for Christ’s sake. Amen. Did you have a bedtime prayer growing up, or one... Read More
at Saturday, June 29, 2019
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St. John's: A Part of Our Lives

A reflection on giving back, by Rand Garrett I never realized how much St John’s really meant to me until several years ago when I took a seven-week bike trip across the country. As I finished up my trip, I entered some of my feelings into the journal I was keeping. I wrote that, in addition to my family, what I missed most about being away for such an extended time was being separated from my church community. Maybe, like most of us, I took for granted that St. John’s will... Read More
at Thursday, June 27, 2019
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Reflections: Diocesan Spring Youth Event

On May 3-5, 2019 a number of our youth went to Camp Bethel for diocesan Spring Youth Event (SYE), a diocesan weekend retreat where fifth through eighth graders can explore their faith and God’s love for us with other Episcopalians from all over southwestern Virginia. The event is led by the Youth Mission Team, including a number of St. John’s high school youth. This year’s theme was True Colors, encouraging participants to show who they truly are knowing that God’s... Read More
at Monday, June 24, 2019
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Remembering Rachel Held Evans

A reflection by Jenny Fife Rachel Held Evans died on May 4, 2019 at age 37. You’re either grieving this “fearless seeker of truth and servant of Jesus” according to Bishop Curry or you’ve never heard of her. Google her.   I “met” Rachel Held Evans in a journey group last fall, reading her Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. This spring I joined another journey group, reading Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett
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April Retreat: Two Reflections on Friendship

At the end of April, 29 of us gathered by Smith Mountain Lake to eat, drink, laugh, talk and simply be together. The first night, as we selected temporary tattoos to start off our time together, I looked at all of the options on the table and a small infinity sign caught my eye. Within the symbol was the word kindness, written in small cursive letters. After my annual announcement that these last for a week (and to think twice before putting it on your forehead), I chose neverending kindness.... Read More
at Thursday, May 30, 2019
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