St. A's News

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Celebrating Martin Luther King
& Seeking the Spirit

This Sunday, January 16th, we will celebrate the Feast of Martin Luther King, Jr. We will remember King's life and ask what his legacy has to teach us in the struggle for justice today. We will especially focus on how King both sought the presence of the Holy Spirit and acted as a conduit for that Spirit in the world around him.

Please join us for worship at 9:30am, via Zoom or Facebook Live!

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Monthly Bible Study on Hope

Christian faith is centered around hope: we find ourselves in a world that is very often full of suffering, ignorance, despair, and death. And yet we seek to live the values of compassion, love, kindness, and joy. So at the core of our faith is the belief that things can be better than they are. This marks our faith as one of striving, struggling, willing, and working to make a better world. In short: we hope.


The past 2 years have been a severe test of our ability to hope, as COVID-19 has caused pain, death, and major disruptions to our daily lives. As Christians, we look to God’s love, God’s salvation, in Jesus Christ. A big part of our work as a community has been to hold on to hope during a time that can often feel hopeless.


So: what does this “hope” really mean? Does it actually help us to achieve anything? Would we be better off if we just accepted that the way things are is the way they have to be? This Thursday, January 13th at 7pm, we’re going to explore the Scriptural witness to hope to try and get some answers to these questions.


All are welcome to join us via Zoom! If you don't know our Zoom connection information, just email Rev. Scott at priest@staugustinesdc.org and he will be happy to share it with you!


This Bible Study will occur every 2nd Thursday at 7pm, with a new topic and selection of Bible passages each month.

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St. A's Worship: Remote Only For Now

In August of 2021, many of us were able to finally return to in-person worship after 18 months of gathering only by internet or phone. Last week, we unfortunately had to return to a remote-only format due to the huge spike of COVID-19 infections in the District of Columbia: 

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Image via Google & the New York Times

Even though our community has been faithful & diligent in wearing masks at church, and even though our population seems to be highly vaccinated, this rate of infection means that gathering together in-person presents real risks for many members of our community, especially for those of us with un-vaccinated or immunocompromised family and friends.

For this reason, Scott has decided to keep our gatherings remote-only for the time being. He will continue to evaluate the infection rate weekly, and we hope that we can announce a return to hybrid services with an in-person option soon—but that time has not come yet.

If you have questions or concerns about this decision, or simply want to talk more about it, please feel free to reach out to Scott by email or phone.

Christmas 2021

Important Update

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Many of us have been waiting for more than a year for the chance to gather together in-person for  this beautiful service when we hear the story of Jesus’s birth and sing well-loved songs together. Today I have to share the sad but necessary announcement that we are canceling in-person worship for the near future,  due to the huge increase in COVID infections in the District of Columbia over the last week. This means that our Christmas Eve an Christmas Day services, as well as worship this Sunday, will be remote only via Zoom and Facebook Live.

This was not an easy decision, but ultimately I believe that safeguarding our community’s health must be a top priority. Although we have been faithful in wearing masks when gathering together, and nearly all of our members are vaccinated, the new Omicron variant of the COVID virus seems to be more transmissible than previous variants, and such measures may not be sufficient to keep us safe. Even with the precautions we have been taking, I believe gathering together in-person is simply too risky at this time.

We will, of course, still gather for worship on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and on Sunday. Please join us remotely via Zoom video conference, phone, or Facebook Live. We will be celebrating Holy Eucharist during at least one of these services, so if you do not have any consecrated wafers at home and would like some, please be in touch with me ASAP and I will be happy to meet you today or tomorrow to hand them off to you.

Even though we won’t be gathering in-person this weekend, our community still stands together, just as we have throughout the pandemic. If you have any questions for me, or just feel the need to talk, please reach out to me by phone or email. I also encourage you to call each other in the coming days, to keep the bonds of fellowship strong at a time when we celebrate hope even as we face anxiety and uncertainty.

No matter what happens, no matter what challenges we face in the coming days, Christmas is coming—Christ, God incarnate, is coming. Even in the midst of darkness, there is this good news to share. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as we share the Good News of Christmas!

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The Season of Advent begins November 28!

As we approach the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas!), we enter the season of Advent: a time of waiting, watching, of remaining alert for God's presence in the world. We invite you to join us over the next 4 Sundays as we keep vigil during this special season in the life of the church. We will be wondering together especially about the Signs that God gives us in the world: how can we notice God's signs to us, and how can we interpret them? How can they guide us on a good path in life? Join us as we ask these questions together in prayer, study, and worship!

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Wresting with the Angel: Bible Study

And as we begin the season of Advent, we are also launching a new version of our Bible Study, called Wrestling with the Angel. We will gather with one theme or topic in mind, and draw from a number of passages from Scripture as we seek to learn together. We will meet once a month at 7pm on the 2nd Thursday. Each class stands on its own; you are welcome to join whenever you can and like!

Our first session will be at 7pm on December 9th on Zoom. We'll read Scripture together and ask "What is the Church?" If you don't know our Zoom channel address, just email Rev. Scott at priest@staugustinesdc.org and he will be happy to send you the info! All are very welcome to join us.

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Coy McKinney Discusses
the Douglass Community Land Trust

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This Sunday, Coy McKinney, a DC public school teacher and one of the principal leaders of Southwest DC Action, will lead our Sunday Forum as he tells us more about the proposed Douglass Community Land Trust that aims to provide affordable housing here in Southwest. Please join us after the service, in-person or via Zoom!

Gathering the Gifts Stewardship Campaign

Our Stewardship season began October 10th and continues through November. This year our theme is Gathering the Gifts: this Sunday we will kick off the campaign and discuss financial stewardship. Then on October 31,  we shift to stewardship of time and talent, with a ministry fair and guest speakers.

We invite members, neighbors, and friends to discern how you are called to support the work our community does. We invite you to listen to Stewardship Committee Chair Bruce Crane reflect on what gathering the gifts means to his own practices of stewardship in this video below:

Our full Gathering the Gifts Stewardship materials are available online: click here to view them. To offer your 2022 pledge, please email Stewardship Chair Bruce Crane at bruce@staugustinesdc.org.Thank you for visiting our site and for your support!

Blessing of the Animals: October 10th

In recogntion of the Feast of St. Francis (Oct. 4) we will hold our annual  Blessing of the Animals at 11:45am on October 10th, right after our Sunday Forum. Please see our flier below for more information! All are welcome to join us.

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We Return to In-Person Worship with a Hybrid Service

We return (again!) with in-person worship on September 12. We will hold a hybrid service, so feel free to join us either in-person or remotely via Zoom or Facebook.

All are welcome!

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other issue, please get in touch with Scott: priest@staugustinesdc.org.

Possible COVID Exposure on August 29

 

No in-person worship September 5

This past Sunday, we met for our first in-person/hybrid worship service in nearly 18 months. On Tuesday evening, Rev. Scott was informed that one of the people present had tested positive for COVID-19 after developing symptoms on the Monday after our service. Note that this person is vaccinated.

Since everyone in attendance wore masks throughout the service and, to our knowledge, all in attendance were vaccinated, the likelihood of any transmission should be very low. Nevertheless, we have taken this possible exposure very seriously. Those who were in attendance were contacted on Wednesday with the information about their possible exposure and encouraged to get tested for COVID.

For those of us present last Sunday, our first step, of course, was to get tested. Scott and one other parishioner first used an at-home test—which is relatively inaccurate—and both of us got a positive result. Both Scott and this parishioner then got more accurate PCR tests at a local pharmacy—and both tests came back negative.

All other people who have reported their test results to Scott have also reported negative results, so we are reasonably sure that no transmission has occurred. However, because there were some positive results—even though the positive results came from low-accuracy tests—we will not meet for worship in-person this Sunday. Please join us remotely via Zoom or Facebook Live.

We will be in touch next week with more updates about this situation, and we intend and hope to have in-person worship available for September 12. We will confirm this via email, Facebook, and on our site later next week.

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other issue, please get in touch with Scott: priest@staugustinesdc.org.

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We Return to In-Person Worship on August 29!

 

Please read below for details, such as the requirement to wear masks and the strong encouragement to be vaccinated before attending.

 

The last time we met for worship inside our sanctuary was March 8, 2020. In the nearly year-and-a-half since then, we have continued to worship, learn, and keep fellowship remotely: by phone, video conference, Facebook, and email. Our community has shown incredible resilience throughout this time, and we remain a well-connected and committed community.

However, for the vast majority of us, maintaining community in this remote way has been far from ideal. Many of you have spoken to me of your longing to return to the building, to worship together and spend time in one another's presence. Of course, we had to prioritize the health and safety of our families and communities, and so we did the best we could with a difficult situation.

As the various vaccines were introduced in late 2020 and continued to be administered in 2021, the rate of infection began to drop precipitously, and in May of this year we began discussions as a community about when—and how—to re-open for in-person worship. Finally, now, after a long exile, we can return: we will hold in-person worship beginning on August 22 at 9:30am.

This is of course joyous news, but we must remain vigilant against COVID-19 and continue to prioritize our health and safety, and that of our families and communities, especially as the rate of infection has begun to climb again due to the Delta Variant of the virus. So, even as we re-open for worship, there are a number of important stipulations.

Please read the details of our re-opening plan below:

1. Remote worship will remain available:
Even as we return to in-person worship, we know that many people may prefer or even need to continue to worship remotely. On August 22, we will be launching a hybrid service: we will hold our service in-person but will livestream the whole service via Zoom so that those who choose to remain at home can continue to join us. We will also hold our Sunday Forum after the service and will make this available via livestream too.

2. Please do not attend in-person if you have symptoms of respiratory infection:
If you have symptoms of the COVID-19 infection, such as fever, persistent coughing, nasal or bronchial congestion, head or body aches, or shortness of breath, please do not attend in-person worship (or any other public gatherings!) until you received a negative COVID test.

Please note that we will record the names of those who attend so that we can facilitate contact tracing in the event of any infection among attendees.

 

3. Masks will be required for all people while inside:
Everyone will be required to keep a mask over their nose and mouth while they are inside the building.

 

4. We urge those who attend in-person to be fully vaccinated:
Although we will not be requiring proof of vaccination status for those entering the building, we strongly urge people who want to attend in-person to be fully vaccinated, both for their health and for the health of others in attendance. We know that some people, for health reasons, may not be able to receive the vaccine, and we welcome anyone who finds themselves in this situation to continue to join us remotely. Again, please note that the service will be available via livestream.

We understand that no children under the age of 12 can currently receive the vaccine, and only their parents can decide whether such children should attend in-person. It's not an easy decision to make, and please know that if you'd like to talk with Scott about this situation, he would be happy to talk: priest@staugustinesdc.org.

 

5. We will not hold Coffee Hour after the service:
St. A's has a long and wonderful tradition of sharing coffee, snacks, and fellowship after the service. However, since drinking and eating require us to lower our masks for extended periods, we will not be sharing food or beverages together. We know that abstaining from this time of fellowship will be difficult, but again, we must prioritize the health and safety of our communities.

6. We will continue to evaluate the situation:
The threat posed by COVID-19 continues, especially in the form of the Delta Variant, which is now increasing infection rates across the country, including the DC area. St. Augustine's leadership will continue to evaluate the situation, and we may make further changes to our in-person worship plan in the weeks and months to come.

 

Note again that we will continue also make our worship service available remotely via Zoom. To join us remotely, please contact Rev. Scott for the connection details: priest@staugustinesdc.org.

Newcomers are always welcome!

Derek Chauvin Convicted of Murdering George Floyd

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. He was convicted on all 3 charges brought before the court; he remains to be sentenced sometime in the near future.

This conviction will not bring George back, nor will it single-handedly end systemic racism or state violence. But it is a real step of accountability, especially considering how rarely police officers are even charged with crimes after using deadly force.

This conviction is a victory for justice, although we know it is one step in a very long journey. The last few weeks have brought news of police violence and intimidation to people of color across the country. At St. Augustine's, we commit to being an active ally in anti-racist work. As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or ideas about this work, please contact Rev. Scott at priest@staugustinesdc.org

Bishop Mariann has released her own statement on the conviction, which you can read here.

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Holy Week 2021

As Lent comes to an end, Easter is on the horizon. For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have spent the week before Easter in especially attentive prayer. The 3 days leading up to Easter are especially significant. Together they form the Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

 

St. Augustine's will hold services on all 3 days, and we invite everyone to join us! Here is our schedule:

Maundy Thursday Service: April 1 at 6:30

Good Friday Stations of the Cross Service: April 2 at 12 noon
Good Friday Evening Service: April 2 at 6:30pm

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil: April 3 at 6:30pm

 

Please join us! All services will be live-streamed on our Facebook Page.

(You don't need a Facebook account to watch!)

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Women's History Forum:
March 21

March is Women's History Month! Here at St. A's we will celebrate the month with a special Sunday forum on March 21, right after our worship service. Guests are invited to tell us about a woman in your life—a mother, grandmother, aunt, daughter, professor, priest, doctor, writer, politician, saint, or any historical figure—who has inspired, taught or shaped you in significant ways.

Please join us!

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Upcoming Online Concert!

We are also very excited to continue our celebration of Black History Month with a special concert of traditional Spirituals performed by Stephanie Ball, concert artist and curator. Ms. Ball will present Musical MonumentsSpirituals and the African American Concert Tradition on Friday, February 26th at 7:30pm and again as a matinee performance at 2:30pm on Sunday, February 28th. You can get tickets here.

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Worship Online Every Sunday

Although we are not meeting in-person due to the coronavirus, we worship together every Sunday online. Click here to see past and present services.

We also gather for worship on Tuesday evenings and for Bible Study on Thursday evenings.

Newcomers are always welcome!

Response to White Nationalist Terrorism in DC
statement released by Rev. Scott on January 6, 2021

On January 6, 2021, some supporters of the current president who do not accept the legitimate election results from November 2020 broke into the Capitol building and assaulted Capitol police with tear gas. Some of these terrorists accessed the Senate chamber (members of the House and Senate had been evacuated). As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has said, the “events at our Capitol [on January 6] are deeply disturbing. We believe the actions of armed protesters represent a coup attempt.” 

We strongly encourage you to read the statement released by the Movement for Black Lives, "Dear Black People", which astutely summarizes the reality we witnessed yesterday:

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Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a 15-day State of Emergency for the District. We encourage everyone living in the District to pay close attention to news and any alerts from the DC government.

St. Augustine's does not endorse political parties or candidates. But we do endorse fair elections. And we do un-endorse the violence at the Capitol on January 6. We are glad that Congress officially certified the results of the 2020 presidential election on January 7. We urge federal and municipal authorities to protect DC residents and prevent further violence from white nationalist terrorists who may remain in our city.