Epiphany Star
Newsletter, Church of the Epiphany
February 2021
Clergy Clatter

If you are not “on Facebook”, you may not have seen the endless “photo shopped” images of Bernie Sanders sitting by himself, in a folding chair, outside in the cold at the inauguration, wearing colorful handmade mittens. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about that – just an old man (my age), huddled to the cold, with a pair of mittens crocheted and sent to him by a fan. It’s a neat little slice of life photo. But that photo has taken on a life of its own. Someone digitally removed the background, and started putting Bernie and his mittens all over the place. The other night he was up in a tree, and in what appeared to be the Hampton Roads Tunnel. He is sitting in church pews, singing with choirs, emblazoned in stain glass, and every place one you can imagine. The more amusing, the better.
What I find so interesting, is that here is a man who has been, and continues to be politically controversial. People love him or hate him, politically. He’s a U. S. senator who has run for president twice. His face has been plastered all over the news for years, at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. He has something to say about almost everything, and he has never shied away from controversy. For years he has been popular with the college age group, as the rest of us ponder what it is that young people see in this old man.
But here he is. He is appearing everywhere someone can think to place him. People are having fun with a politician, and a controversial one, at that. And I have not seen one nasty remark about Bernie and his mittens. I’m told that there are now tee shirts on sale with Bernie sitting in his chair with his mittens. The woman who made the mittens and sent them to him is now a popular guest on talk shows. I don’t care where you are politically, this is fun, light hearted, creative, and people are enjoying it. We have needed this so badly.
Sometimes the intensity of issues can become so heavy, that we feel almost pounded down by them. In the church we saw the introduction of “The New Prayer Book”, and the ordination of women, and a publicly gay bishop, to name a few issues. Those issues became oppressive, as we struggled to live through them. A lot of people couldn’t take it and left the church. I, for one, just wanted to move on. Genies don’t go back into bottles. For me, the challenge was how to move on.
Thank you Bernie for wearing your mittens to the inauguration. Thank you for helping us “lighten up” and enjoy a brighter, humorous, creative side of life. You and your mittens have made a significant contribution to our redemption as “One Nation.” You have helped us laugh.

Richard +
The Season of Lent 
From St. Agustine's Prayer Book

Ash Wednesday begins the season with the imposition of ashes as a sign of our mortality and the Litany of Penitence as an exercise in confession and repentance. The weekdays of this season are all marked by abstinence or self-discipline in some way. A rule of life, carefully developed in the weeks before Ash Wednesday, with focused patterns of prayer and reflection, self-denial or service, is a normal expectation.

The First Sunday in Lent tells the story of Jesus' fasting and temptation. The Spring Ember Days follow the First Sunday in Lent. The Fourth Sunday is also known as Refreshment Sunday—its readings and liturgy are often brighter and more joyful than other Sundays. In the old lectionaries, the epistle for this day was Paul's meditation in Galatians 4 on Sarah and Jerusalem, our mothers in faith—and so this Sunday was kept as Mothering Sunday. On the Fifth Sunday in Lent, the focus begins to shift from us and our need for repentance to the mystery of the Cross. Whatever one's normal pattern of prayer and participation in public worship, this Sunday begins a time for renewed and additional effort.

Two major holy days fall within this season: Saint Joseph on March 19 and the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 25. When Easter occurs early, these feasts may fall within Holy Week or Easter Week—and because those days take precedence, these feasts would be kept on the weekdays after the Second Sunday of Easter.

Epiphany's Lenten Program (Fr. Bridgford)
Since a huge part of our Lenten Programs at Epiphany have traditionally revolved around food and sharing a meal, and since that it impossible this year due to the pandemic, Julia and I have put our heads together and come up with a Lenten Program that we are calling “Food for Thought.” It can’t be Lent at Epiphany unless we get that food in there, somehow. Following is our plan:
Shrove Tuesday, February 16th

We will not hold our traditional Pancake Supper at church this year, but we encourage you to keep this tradition alive by fixing pancakes, bacon, sausage, apples, or whatever you prefer, at home for dinner. The tradition is, at least symbolically, that rich foods are consumed before Ash Wednesday as an introduction to Lenten confession and fasting. The church has offered us a very gentle way of doing this. I love pancakes.
Ash Wednesday, February 17th

Julia and I will record the traditional Ash Wednesday liturgy and make it available Wednesday morning for your viewing on Facebook and You Tube. We will announce page numbers, if you wish to follow the service in your Prayer Book.
We will administer the Imposition of Ashes by drive up or walk up. From 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm Julia (and perhaps I) will be in front of the church with a space marked off by cones. If you drive up or walk up, you will be offered ashes with a swab. In addition, I will be out front from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm to administer ashes to those who wish to receive. In the event of rain, we will put up one of John Childers’ tents that he has loaned us for events like this.

Julia and I will take turns offering short recorded presentations of about 15 minutes, for four Thursdays. Although we will both participate in each session, we will alternate being the prime presenter. The schedule is as follows:
February 25th

Julia will present “Myself as Creation”
March 4th

Richard will present “Knowing God” – his journey with God
March 11th

Julia will present “Knowing God”, using “The Burning Bush” - her journey with God
March 18th

Richard will present “The Changing Church” – the Church post pandemic
March 25th

We can’t have Lent at Epiphany without “Stump the Clergy.” This session will be via Zoom. Julia and I will be together on the big screen at the NUOM office to take your questions and discuss anything you like. The time has not been decided. If you want to participate and do not know how to use Zoom, call John at the church office, 622-7672, or Buddy at the NUOM office, 461-4213. One of them will help you get set up. You can use your phone or your computer. Once it is set up, it is fairly easy to use.

The Altar Guild has 2021 Episcopal Church Year Calendars for sale. See Jim Fisher to purchase one.
Vestry Highlights
Jan. 14, 2021

  • Recapped Bishop Haynes visit and Blessing of Epiphany on its 100th Anniversary. Due to the pandemic, activities were limited to bare essentials, but still nice. A recording of the service is available on You Tube and Facebook. Bishop Haynes agreed to return next year for a more dynamic 101st Anniversary and an opportunity to meet members of the congregation.

  • Reported that an outreach gift has been sent to St. Columba ministry for food.

  • Discussed plans for Ash Wednesday and Lent (see separate article).

  • Reported that we are exploring the possibility of a virtual choir. Stay tuned.

  • Reported that Vestry elections have been pushed out to April.

  •  Next meeting February 11, 2021

If you haven't picked up your 2021 Pledge envelopes, please call the Church office to arrange pick up or delivery.
Sunday Morning Service YouTube Schedule

Looking for Readers for the Wednesday taping of the Sunday YouTube Services. If you are interested, please contact the office at 757-622-7672

Feb. 7 - Fifth Sunday after Epiphany - Holy Eucharist:
  • Homily by Rev. Richard Bridgford.
  • Officiant - Rev. Julia Ashby.
  • Lectors - Brian Pritchard and Ariel Fernandez.
  • Organist/Pianist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Feb. 14 - Last Sunday After The Epiphany - Holy Eucharist:

  • Homily by Rev. Julia Ashby
  • Officiant - Rev. Richard Bridgford.
  • Lectors - Brian Pritchard and Ariel Fernandez
  • Organist/Pianist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Feb. 21 - First Sunday in Lent - Holy Eucharist:

  • Homily by Richard Bridgford.
  • Officiant - Julia Ashby.
  • Lector - TBA
  • Organist/Pianist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Feb. 28 - Second Sunday in Lent - Morning Prayer:

  • Homily by Julia Ashby.
  • Officiant - Richard Bridgford.
  • Lector - TBA.
  • Organist/Pianist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Be on the lookout for emails giving the details and links for the services on YouTube featuring our favorite priests, Richard Bridgford and Julia Ashby.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers

John Childers
Sheila Brinck
Jerry Cronin
Kevin LaPointe
Mike Scott
Nell Steckman
February Birthdays

2       Betty Holden
3       Carlos Fernandez, Sr.
11     Maryann Woodruff
12     Kitty Sims Ledsome
12     Joanna Feret
23     Diana Stein

February Anniversaries

When can we again gather in our buildings for worship? A note from Bishop Haynes and the Health Advisory Panel

In the recent Town Hall Meeting with the Diocese, Bishop Haynes communicated to those in attendance that in-person public worship will be safe to resume when the percent positivity rate in Virginia has been consistently (for two weeks) below the 8% rate. We are monitoring the numbers daily and are encouraged that case rates are beginning to drop. However, the percent positivity rate for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia is currently 12.6 and decreasing.

Other regional rates are as follows:
  • Central: 11.6% and decreasing
  • Eastern: 17.3% and decreasing
  • Near Southwestern: 12.5% and decreasing

It is good news that case rates and percent positivity rates are decreasing, but they are not in the safe zone yet. We continue to monitor the situation and will keep you advised of our progress. We encourage you to continue to connect with each other virtually, through telephone, internet and cards and letters to each other. The day is coming when the pandemic will be behind us. Remember the love you have for each other and act upon it.
Coffee Klatch is back by popular demand! Check your emails for further information.
Online worship in Southern Virginia

Churches in Southern Virginia are offering a wide range of opportunities for regular online worship - Sundays and weekdays, from Eucharist to Compline to "Pop-up Prayers". Click here for a listing of ongoing virtual worship opportunities.

For the latest schedule of events, visit our website at