November/December 2016

Parish Retreat, Winter Shelter, All Saints Sunday, Advent, and Christmas are coming!

Parish Retreat, Congregational Winter Shelter, All Saints and Advent/Christmas Services, Sunday School Update, Gleanings from the Archives, and More
Autumn has arrived, and we are looking toward winter at Grace Church.  The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on November 20.  Our plans include a parish retreat scheduled for Friday and Saturday, December 9 and 10.  Grace Church will host the Congregational Winter Shelter on December 4-18. 

The liturgical seasons are also changing.  All Saints Sunday will be observed on November 6.  The last Sunday in the church year, the Feast of Christ the King, falls on November 20.  Advent will begin on Sunday, November 27, and the Advent Study Series will begin on November 30.  The schedule for Advent and Christmas services is shown below.  .  

As always, thanks to all who have offered comments on the content of this newsletter, either by e-mail or in person.  If you wish to comment on any aspect of this newsletter, please contact the Grace Church Office ( or me (  

Mary Ann Ruehling
Your Editor

- Advent Study Series
- Late Advent and Christmas at Grace
- Parish Retreat in December   
- Congregational Winter Shelter
- Feast of St. Francis
- Stephen Ministry Update
- Participation in "Light the Night"
- Gleanings from the Grace Archives
- September's Music on the Lawn Series  
- Grace's Table 
- Liturgy and Music of the Anglican Tradition
- Save the Dates
- Around the Parish; Other Helpful Information 

Advent Season Reflection Series
Wednesdays in Advent at 6:30 p.m. , beginning November 30

Like a Rolling Stone: Rocks, the Bible, and Culture
An Advent Reflection Series at Grace Church

Inspired by the recent completion of the stone restoration work at Grace Church our seminarian, James Stambaugh, will be leading an Advent study series that will explore stones and rocks in Scripture, Christian tradition, and the cultures they interact with.  Stones and rocks are ubiquitous in Scripture and Christian tradition, as they are in our everyday lives, but we hardly ever think deeply about them at all, much less think about them through a theological lens.  In this study series, we will reflect theologically about stones and rocks as both metaphors, and real physical objects with spiritual significance.  Stones and rocks in Scripture will be the primary starting point for the study, and then we will try to connect the ancient texts to our own experiences by exploring the inter-relations between Scripture, tradition, history, music, literature, architecture (including Grace's recent stone replacement and repair), and science.


Late Advent and Christmas at Grace
  • Sunday, December 18
A Service of Lessons and Carols with Children's Christmas Pageant, 10:30 a.m. 
The readings and prayers on the fourth Sunday of Advent, unlike those for earlier Advent Sundays, provide a fitting context for a pageant that tells the Christmas story right up to the birth itself.  The homily at a 5 p.m. service on Christmas Eve will then complete the narrative, with children assisting the preacher in constructing the scene at the manger in Bethlehem.
  • Saturday, December 24 - Christmas Eve
Multi-Generational Family Service, 5 p.m. 
This service will replicate the 7 p.m. service offered in recent years, with a simplified liturgy, children and young people filling the ministries of reader, greeter, server and oblation bearer, and "homily helper", assembling themselves and various figurines around the manger.
Carol Sing, 8:30 p.m.
Festive Eucharist, 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 25 - Christmas Day
Spoken Eucharist, 8:30 a.m.

Eucharist with Carols, 10:30 a.m.

Evening Eucharist, 5 p.m.  

  • Sunday, January 1 - The Feast of the Holy Name
Spoken Eucharist, 8:30 a.m.

Eucharist with Hymns, 10:30 a.m.

Evening Eucharist, 5 p.m.

Parish Retreat
By Rick Elgendy

This year, we are fortunate to have Dr. Robert Martin lead our church retreat on spiritual disciplines and practices on December 9-10.  Dr. Martin will help us to define "spirituality," locate ourselves spiritually, identify the deeper rhythms of our lives as they are, equip us with some tools (including surveys and "types" of spirituality), and develop a "rule of life" for an intentional approach to spiritual development.  The retreat will also be an occasion for a group of us to imagine how we can constantly enrich and challenge our community in spiritual growth.

Dr. Martin is Dean and Professor Christian Formation at Wesley Seminary, where I teach.  I am confident that you'll appreciate the rare combination of knowledgeability, warmth, and a keen eye for the practical that he will bring to our conversations.

Thanks to the support of the church to defray some of the cost of attendance, meals, lodging, and expenses together cost $90/person.  If you haven't been before, you'll find our venue, Bon Secours, to be a place of beauty and peace, holding the promise of a restorative and invigorating time for participants.

For details on registering for the retreat, please view the retreat flier here, see the yellow insert in the Sunday bulletin, or contact the church office.
Hope you'll be able to join us.
Reflecting Pond and Footbridge--Bon Secours 
Labyrinth at Bon Secours_

Congregational Winter Shelter 
by Peter Tietjen
"Winter is Coming" is the motto for the Starks of Winterfell (for those who follow Game of Thrones), but it is also a daily concern for our homeless neighbors at this time of year.  As the seasons change and the nights begin to turn cold, it becomes time to plan for the annual Congregation Based Shelter program of the Georgetown Ministry Center.  This year, Grace will welcome 10 homeless guests to sleep in our sanctuary and receive breakfast and dinner between Sunday, December 4 and Sunday, December 18.  As in years past, we need volunteers to cook and serve a hot meal each night of the shelter.  We will also need assistance on the 4th after 10:30 service to move in the cots and duffels of our guests and to stack chairs and make the place ready for them.  We will also need help on December 18 for the move out.  A sign-up sheet for those who wish to help will be posted on the kiosk during coffee hour.  Anyone who would like to volunteer can also contact either Peter Tietjen or Helena Dunn; use to reach them both.  If you are interested in hosting a meal, please sign up as soon as possible.  The host roster is filling up, courtesy of our generous parishioners.  Thank you for your support.

Feast of St. Francis Observed at Grace Church on October 2    

The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which falls on October 4, was observed at Grace Church this year on Sunday, October 2.  St. Francis, who lived in the twelfth century, is widely known for his love of nature and animals. Grace Church's observance included the Blessing of the Pets on the terrace in front of the church before the 10:30 service.  Pets were invited to remain at church for the service. 

 The kittens came to church with Helen for St. Francis Day.  Sparkle (seen in front) and Scout (behind Sparkle) enjoyed the trip to Grace Church for their blessing.   
Whoopsie very much enjoyed his visit to Grace Church for St. Francis Day with his best friend Helena.  (Photo by Tracey Johnstone.) 

Blessing of the Pets.

Grace Church Stephen Ministry Update
by Nancy Seferian
In 2015, after Grace Church became a Stephen Ministry member church, Grace began participating in a network of churches of various denominations who offer Stephen Ministry for their congregations in the DC area. The purpose of this networking system is for churches to help each other in training Stephen Ministers, providing Peer Supervision Groups, and serving as helpmates in offering advice, answering questions, and on some occasions sharing Stephen Ministers. For instance, if one church had a male Stephen Minister who didn't have a Care Receiver at the time, and another church had a male Care Receiver but no male Stephen Minister, the first church might offer their male Stephen Minister to work with the other church's male Care Receiver.
With our networking neighboring churches in mind, and after beginning preparations in the Spring of 2016, Grace Church sent its first member, Nancy Seferian to participate in Stephen Minister Training with a group at St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church in Bethesda led by Deacon Julio Blanco-Eccleston.
While Nancy studied with her training group, Grace's Stephen Leaders, the Rev. John Graham, John Seferian, and Nancy Seferian, continued to build awareness of this new ministry. They prepared informational handouts, talked to people, and attended some of Grace's other ministries to answer questions and expand knowledge.
Nancy completed her 50 hours of training in July, 2016 and was given a Care Receiver from Grace Church to work with by the Referrals Coordinator, John Graham. She now meets with her Care Receiver for one hour a week. Nancy now also participates in a Peer Supervision group composed of Stephen Ministers and several Stephen Leaders at St. Columba's Church for support in her caring ministry. The Peer Supervision group meets twice monthly.
During the summer of 2016 John and Nancy Seferian also interviewed several lay members of Grace who were interested in serving as Stephen Ministers. Three of them were selected to participate in Stephen Minister Training at National Presbyterian Church on Nebraska Avenue. Our new Stephen Ministers in training are Sally Stanfield, Sharon Schambra, and Bill Schambra.
Stephen Leader John Seferian is working to develop a Community Resources Handbook for our Stephen Ministers. It will be geared specifically for Grace Church. It will include areas where additional care might be needed such as medical or physical care, legal or criminal justice needs, financial or housing assistance, educational or vocational assistance or spiritual assistance that goes beyond a Stephen Minister's ability to provide.
The Stephen Leaders have asked lay member Sakena McWright to work with Nancy in coordinating Awareness Building efforts for our Stephen Ministry. Among Sakena's many skills and extensive experience, she brings to this role exceptional organizing, planning, and publicity expertise.
We are looking forward to having three newly trained Stephen Ministers in the Spring.  Our next effort will be to educate our parishioners, staff, and ministries in how to identify and refer someone, a Care Receiver, they think might benefit from having a Stephen Minister walk with him or her through a difficult time in life, give comfort in times of crisis, be a good listener, keep confidence, offer prayers or Bible readings, support, and be there.  
(Copyright 2000, Stephen Ministries, St. Louis, MO.  Used with permission.)


Grace Church Participation in "Light the Night" on September 11

by Rev. Sarah Motley

The church door remained open until 8:00 pm.

Luminaria bags filled with sand and candles lit the pathway to the church.








Gleanings from the Archives of Grace
Part of a Series Leading up to Grace Church's 150th Anniversary 
by John Boynton

Building Grace Church - Materials and Methods

The recent restoration and refurbishment of the sandstone arches in the front of Grace Church provide a useful point of view from its construction in the months between July of 1866 and the dedication on Easter Sunday in April of 1867. The erection and completion of a stone structure in nine months, difficult in the 21st Century, can be illuminated by the materials and methods used in its construction.
An article in The Intelligencer, a contemporary publication dated October 17, 1866, under the heading Georgetown Affairs, notes "a Gothic structure to be called Grace Church" as being "in course of erection" referencing architect Thomas Plowman and masonry superintendent J.H. Hutchins. The article further states that the building was scheduled for April completion at an estimated cost of $12,000 1867 currency.
Research reveals a composite construction combining "rubble" and "aslars" modes. The first of these two terms of art describes irregular stonework mortared together, the second describes regular hewn stone blocks, in our case facing applied to the internal rubble wall.
One circumstance may explain the nine-month term of construction, in that the building, despite being on a rise above the Potomac, sits on a bedrock foundation, obviating the necessity of trenching and filling footings to support the structure. As noted in earlier Gleanings our building does not have the traditional excavated undercroft below the ground level of the entrance. The entry stairs and left and right stairs leading to the sanctuary were necessary to accommodate a spacious Sabbath School room beneath the raised sanctuary on the aforementioned bedrock.    
The stone selected for the walls was gneiss, a composite stone formed of softer rock by geological pressure. While adequate to the design, it is a grade below igneous granite, which while perhaps more durable, is also more difficult to work with. The same may be said for the sandstone selected for the door and window arches, which so appreciably weathered over its first 150 years.
It is likely that the stone, locally quarried, was hewn into blocks at the quarry and shipped to the site to be reworked in situ for the facing. Diagrams in reference books illustrate rubble walls constructed by means of interior bracing. It can be conjectured that this method was employed in raising the interior wall to which the ashlars facing was bonded. Absent 21st Century cranes the work was probably accomplished with scaffolding and block and tackle.
The floor of the sanctuary was (and still is) supported by fluted iron pillars, still evident in the hallway which runs between the Rose (Mitchell) Room and the room across the hall as well as the kitchen. This capacious space prior to its mid-Twentieth-Century subdivision was used for a wide variety of events other than the Sabbath School:  musicales, church suppers and rummage sales. The stained glass window in the eastward facing wall would have filtered the early morning sunlight into the sanctuary with greater aspect then at present, as it is blocked by the construction of the Guggenheim Building which now all but abuts that wall.
Perhaps the singular most impressive architectural feature is the wooden ceiling which supports the roof. This nave, in traditional church parlance, reflects two historical aspects of our church. A dictionary definition of nave is 'the part of the church extending from the vestibule to the chancel...reserved for the laity."
The word origin of nave is the Latin for ship. This etymology is recapitulated in the design of the nave which strongly references ship building methods. It can be seen as an inverted hull, with a ridgeline evoking a keel, the heaviest and strongest timber of a ship, and the frames bracing the gunnels, or sides, of a ship. The preferred material for ship planking was oak, but the materials of the Grace nave remain unidentified.
In the mid-Nineteenth Century, Georgetown was still an active seaport and the nave's close adherence to wooden ship design would have been familiar to the congregation. John Graham, the current rector of Grace Church, expressed this in saying it would have been reminiscent of "a ship of salvation amid waters of distress."
The evangelical or "low church" orientation of the Georgetown Parish, from which the newly created Grace Church sprang in 1866, was passed on through the generations along with the nautical heritage. In traditional church architecture the nave is for the laity and is divided or screened from the chancel, reserved for clergy. In the "low church" tradition the division between congregation and clergy is less clearly delineated than in "high church" tradition. It is significant that the nave runs the full length of the sanctuary from the vestibule to the eastern wall, there being no delineated chancel.
Washington is a city of marble monuments, massive Greek revival federal buildings, and a National Cathedral said to be the seventh largest in the world. Grace Church, pocketed between, not to say hidden by, luxury condominiums and a four-star hotel, is a modest companion to these greater edifices. However, the District of Columbia, now in its 226th year, had yet to attain the "fourscore and seven years" referenced by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address given three years prior to the founding of Grace Parish. At the time the cornerstone of Grace Church was laid, the Washington Monument was a truncated obelisk yet to achieve completion, the Capitol Dome was a work in progress, and domestic animals wandered on the mall. The impressive monuments, federal buildings, and the National Cathedral were to be accomplishments of a century yet to arrive. Our small church, its view unimpeded by later construction, stood isolated from the city and yet central to Lower Georgetown. Moreover, it could be seen from up and down the Potomac.
Psalm 118 verse 22 reads "The stone which the builder refused is become the headstone of the corner." John Graham points out that this verse is among the most referenced and reiterated verses of Hebrew Scripture in the New Testament, perhaps nowhere as poignantly than in Acts IV, verse 11 as Peter, arrested by the priests and Sadducees for healing the man at the temple crippled since birth, confronts them with the assertion that the healing was not done by him but through the power of Christ crucified, "the stone which was set at naught of you builders (but) is become the head of the corner."
It is worth considering that the humble gneiss and sandstone of Grace Church recapitulates this message.  A church is not just a building, and a congregation awaited the creation of Grace Parish, comprising laborers, artisans, and shopkeepers. That congregation has waxed and waned through generations in its 150 year presence.  Its present day affluent surroundings mask the difficult progression from seaport chapel to church building to become not merely a quiet oasis in a 21st Century urban setting, but a living testament to the struggles and challenges endured and overcome by those who have worshiped here since that initial cornerstone was laid in the Summer of 1867.

 September's Music on the Lawn Series  
by  Mary Ann Ruehling
The 2016 Music on the Lawn series featured five Thursday evening concerts.  The first four concerts were held outside in the churchyard.  The final concert on September 29 was held inside because of inclement weather.   Two of the performances included audience participation (dancing) to Cajun-Zydeco and Klezmer music.  Other concerts featured Bluegrass-Country music and Vocalese.  At the final concert in the series, the audience heard some beautifully reflective jazz improvisations by a saxophone-bass duo.   A total of some 300 audience members enjoyed the performances over the course of five evenings.   
Grace Church wishes to thank all who worked to make these concerts a success, to include:

- Our volunteers:  Catherine Aselford. John Boynton, Reg & Doreen Burner, Vicki Carlson, Braden Murphy, Mary Ann Ruehling, Sally Stanfield, Lee Tyner, and Dave Wigglesworth, for assistance with concert production and hosting.

- Our Georgetown neighbors:  Dog Tag and Simit and Smith Bakeries, and Pinstripes, for providing onsite restaurant concessions.

- The Grace Church staff: Rev. John Graham, Helen Buhr, and Luis Solares, for their (customary) outstanding organization of the concerts.  Additional thanks to Luis for help with photography for use on social media.

Cloudburst performed vocalese on September 22. 
The audience danced to music of Machaya Klezmer Band on September 15. 

Grace's Table:  Volunteer Opportunity
by Dave Ryder

As Grace's Table begins its second decade of ministry we are in search of servant leaders to build our longstanding core team.  We have wonderful volunteers from Grace Church members, St. John's Episcopal Church--Lafayette Square, National Community Church (NCC, also known as the Theater Church), and members of Georgetown University's coed service fraternity Alpha Pi Omega.  Nonetheless engagement by new volunteers adds resiliency and growth in our efforts to serve and levels the workload across a broader group.  Recently during a Grace at 150 session held during a Saturday lunch the attendance and outspoken testimony of many underscored the importance of this work to the community we serve and the deep appreciation for the commitment of Grace Church.

This ministry of Grace Church provides and shares a meal at 11:30 am on Saturdays for those who are homeless or on the margins of being homeless.  Via " ", coordinator Dave Ryder will send out a schedule on or near the first of the month, indicating what's needed for each Saturday of the month.  If you'd like to be on this distribution list, or think you might be on it but aren't sure, let John Graham know.  

Send an e-mail to and let the Rector and Coordinator Dave Ryder know when you can help, and what you would like to provide:  entree, salad or vegetable dish, bread, and / or dessert.  Families with children are welcome, along with everybody else!  Read the  description of Grace's Table on our website to learn more about the history and purpose of this ministry, and also some practical details about volunteering. Volunteering dates should be arranged through the email address mentioned above,  Dave will be in touch to confirm your participation.   


  Anglican Liturgy and Music:  All Saints Day and the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed
by Mary Ann Ruehling

Each year on November 1 the Episcopal Church celebrates All Saints Day.  On the following day, November 2, the church celebrates the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.  What is the difference between these two observances?   
"In the New Testament, the word 'saints' is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community," explains Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2010).  "From very early times, however, the word 'saint' came to be applied primarily to persons of heroic sanctity."  So, while technically All Saints Day, November 1, includes all deceased Christians, historically there has been a strong inclination to remember and honor our personal loved ones on a separate day.

In the Catholic Church this remembrance on the day after All Saints Day is called All Souls Day, when the bereaved have the opportunity to offer prayers and masses for loved ones who have died.  However, this practice was rejected by many Protestant reformers because the theology behind the observance was associated with the medieval doctrine of Purgatory, along with the practice of paying for masses to be said for the dead to assist their souls into heaven.

At the time of the English Reformation in the mid-16th century, All Souls Day was integrated into the celebration of All Saints' Day in the Church of England.  But by the 19th century, some parishes influenced by the Anglo-Catholic Revival reinstated the observance of All Souls' Day on November 2.  The 1979 Book of Common Prayer officially restored the observance in the Episcopal Church, renaming it the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.  (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, 2012)  (   At Grace Church, the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed will be observed this year on November 6, All Saints Sunday, when those who have died whom parishioners wish to commemorate will be remembered by name during the service.

The hymn most frequently associated with the observance of All Saints Day/All Saints Sunday in the Episcopal Church is "For all the saints who from their labors rest" (The Hymnal 1982, #287).   The hymn tune used in most hymnals today was written by Ralph Vaughn Williams.  He called the tune "Sine Nomine" ("without name") in reference to its use on the Feast of All Saints, to include those saints "without name."  This tune first appeared in the English Hymnal of 1906. Although most English hymn tunes of its era are written for singing in four-part harmony, Sine Nomine begins in unison with organ accompaniment (original verses 1,2,3,9,10 and 11).  The other five verses (4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) of the original 11 verses are set in sung harmony.  Original verses 3, 4, and 5, having to do with apostles, martyrs, and evangelists, are omitted in most versions of the hymn which are now in use.

Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), the son of an English vicar, was educated at the Royal College of Music and at Trinity College, Cambridge.  He was a composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores.  He was also a collector of English folk music and song:  this activity influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes. In 1904 Vaughan Williams discovered English folk songs and carols, which were rapidly becoming extinct because the oral tradition through which they existed was being undermined by the increase of literacy and printed music in rural areas. He traveled the countryside, transcribing and preserving much of the music himself. Later he incorporated some songs and melodies into his own music.  For many churchgoers, Vaughn Williams' most familiar composition may be the hymn tune Sine Nomine which he wrote for the hymn "For All the Saints" by William Walsham How.  (   

The text to the hymn was written by William Walsham How (1823-1897).  How was born at Shrewsbury and educated at Wadham College, Oxford. After taking Holy Orders (ordination) in 1846, he was assigned to various posts as an Anglican clergyman in England and Wales.  In 1888 he was consecrated Bishop of Wakefield.  Bishop How published books on theology, pastoral work, and numerous sermons and hymns.  A number of his hymns are still in use.   The most popular of these, the aforementioned "For all the Saints who from their labors rest," and "We give Thee but Thine own," are widely used.   (


8:30 am - Holy Eucharist 
9:45 am - Adult Forum
10:15 am ( last Sunday of the month) - Prayers for the Nation and the World, with Remembrance of the Fallen
10:30 am  
- Holy Eucharist, with full music*; Sunday School
5:00 pm  
- Sunday Evening Eucharist
*Child care available


I f you would like to have your birthday included, please e-mail the church: .

November                                   December                  
Paul Alligood
Alexandra Brennan
John Graham
Goranka Henegar
Lawrence Molinaro
Sakena McWright
Sally Stanfield
Rachel Tyner
Lucinda Wallace

Robert Bujard
Patricia Murphy
Sophia Murphy
Stacy Murphy
Doretta Tietjen
Rupert Wallace



FLOWERS FOR THE CHURCH                     
If you would like to contribute flowers for the altar on a given Sunday, please find the signup sheet on the kiosk during coffee hour,  or contact Helen Buhr at  We can order flowers and have them delivered to the church for $65, or you can make arrangements to purchase and deliver them yourself.   


Sunday, November 6:  All Saints' Sunday

Sunday, November 6 and 13:  Final sessions of "Chaplains Under Fire" discussion after the 10:30 am service
Sunday, November 20:  Annual Parish Meeting after the 10:30 am service 
Sunday, November 27:  Advent begins
Wednesdays, beginning November 30:  Advent study group at 6:30 pm   

December 4-18:  Congregational Winter Shelter

December 9-10:  Annual Parish Retreat 
Sunday, December 18:  Festival of Lessons and Carols with Children's Christmas Pageant   at 10:30 am
Saturday, December 24:  Christmas Eve Services at 5:00 and 9:00 pm; Carol Sing at 8:30 pm

Sunday, December 25:  Christmas Day
Services at 8:30 and 10:30 am and 5:00 pm

Grace Episcopal Church
1041 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington DC 20007
(202) 333-7100

A big-hearted Episcopal parish in lower Georgetown!

Join Us This Sunday!