E-newsletter | June 3, 2021

In the Garden
“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” 
This Sunday we will hear a story of Adam and Eve. Like many of our most profound scriptures, the power of humanity’s first brush with temptation and their separation from God in the garden has been buried under the haze of familiarity. And worse—I’m afraid that its power has been lost to bad or thoughtless teaching from the Church.

But today let’s throw off all of those horrible images from art of Angel’s with swords of fire casting Adam and Eve out into the hard reality of life after the beauty of Eden.

Let’s try to suspend the thought that human toil and misery were God’s punishment for humankind’s first failure. Let’s even take the risk of believing that far from being vengeful, God’s heart was breaking as God witnessed the loss of humankind’s innocence and gazed in horror as shame came to be one of our closest companions. God did not create a punishment of leaving Eden, Scripture is just describing the reality of life and suffering after innocence has been lost.

What a horrible moment for God when God’s heart turns to embrace and celebrate with those whom God so lovingly created and gave life only to find that something dark and sinister had crept into their hearts and that they were afraid of their loving creator. The foundations of the earth must have trembled when humanity first hid their hearts from God’s all-embracing love. 

In those few indiscreet moments of giving in to temptation, we hear how humanity’s innocence was shattered. When humankind first chose to place a barrier between them and God, a relationship that was once whole and pure became deformed and they fell into fear. 

There is that word again…fear. God knew that now that their innocence was lost and that they lived in fear, the joys of Eden were lost to them as well. I’m not so sure that those famous curses that followed Adam and Eve’s confession are punishment so much as God simply and sadly detailing what the world feels like when we live out of fear and shame. What we forget is that God in fact made this crafty serpent that we have turned into the bad guy of the piece, but it was humankind that created fear and shame. 

God’s deepest intention is that we all know joy and know it completely. God calls us to return to the belief that the world is good and that we as God’s beloved are God’s very delight.  I think God calls us to banish shame and fear, and as I said in Sunday’s sermon, shame, fear, or guilt never helped anyone create anything beautiful or long-lasting. 

This is how we relieve ourselves of the darkness and pain we carry around, often spilling out over onto others close to us. By allowing God’s light to shine into our places of shame or guilt we can be transformed and that of which we are ashamed can become wisdom or compassion. Our wounds, healed by the love of God, can become the very best parts of us. This is the power of God.

We can do this healing, spiritual work at any time. Claim God’s endless season of mercy and restoration and just lay all of your shame and pain at God’s feet. 
Let’s just lay all of our sorrow, fear and suffering out on the table and see what God does with it. Once we do this I promise you we will be liberated and free. And once we are liberated and free who knows where this new life might lead us?  

Imagine this: It might just lead us straight back to our own first hope; a hope that also knows the sadness and sorrow of life, but refuses to feel shame at our failures and give up once and for all the notion that God does anything but LOVE us. This is a life in which we can love God and embrace life without fear or shame or anything that is keeping us from the joy of God. Live God’s eternal life here. Live God’s eternal life now, on this side of paradise.

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie

Welcome to our New Director of Music!
We are very excited to welcome Dr. Russ Stinson to St. Paul's after his retirement from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Russ, a Wilkesboro native, and his wife, Laura, have returned to the area after his years in Academia. He also, coincidentally, performed this same role at another church called St. Paul's!

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Stinson this Sunday, June 6th at the 10:30 service.

In years past we have split this important position between a Choir Director and an Organist, but Russ joins us as the newly created Director of Music and he will fulfill both of these roles, as is often traditional in the Episcopal Church.

And, we also extend a very, very special Thank You to Ramona Curtis for all of the hard work and love she has shared with us through the St. Paul's music program during these last many months. Our videos and in-person worship have been deeply enhanced by her gift of music.

Office Closed Thursday & Friday

The office will be closed on Thursday and Friday of this week. Mother Stephanie will be available by appointment only.
Coming Soon!

Look for these exciting Parish activities to be announced soon:

Genesis Bible Study
Date and Time TBA

The First book of the Bible contains so many of our best known and most beloved stories, many of them familiar since childhood. But do we really know the power and purpose of these stories as intended by their original Hebrew writers and storytellers?
Join Mother Stephanie on a 7 week adventure through the first nine chapters of this beautiful scripture and learn that the human journey is never far from the presence and love of God.

Welcome Recital and Reception for Russ Stinson
Coming in June

All Parish Picnic and Potluck
Save the Date!
Scheduled for July 18th
Look for more information coming soon!

From the Senior Warden:
To Make a Call, Vestry Moves to Discern Next Rector

This August it will be one year since Mother Stephanie joined us as our Interim Rector. At that time Bishop Jose gave the Vestry the option to call Mother Stephanie as our full-time Rector at a time agreeable to the Vestry, Mother Stephanie, and Bishop Jose.

After prayerful consideration, and in consultation with the Bishop, your Vestry, in agreement with all above parties, has decided to enter the period of discernment about this call.

We want to make sure that you feel informed about the Vestry’s action and decision and so we include the following information to help you understand the process that we are undertaking. We have many members from other denominational backgrounds that do things a little differently, so I also wanted to share the Episcopal polity in making these decisions.

In the Episcopal Church it is the Vestry alone that calls a new Rector. In our Constitution and Canons (the governing “laws” of the Episcopal Church) in Title III, Canon 9.3 it states that at a duly called meeting of the Vestry held for this purpose, with the candidate for Rector having been approved by the Ecclesiastical authority (The Bishop) as a qualified candidate, the Vestry shall elect a Rector.

At the time of election, “Written notice of the election of a Rector, signed by the Wardens, shall be forwarded to the Ecclesiastical Authority. If the Ecclesiastical Authority is satisfied that the person so elected is a duly qualified Priest and that such Priest has accepted the office to which elected, the notice shall be sent to the Secretary of the Convention, who shall record it. Race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons, shall not be a factor in the determination of the Ecclesiastical Authority as to whether such person is a duly qualified Priest. The recorded notice shall be sufficient evidence of the relationship between the Priest and the Parish.”

As Senior Warden I have called this meeting of Vestry on June 19th at 4PM. This is considered an Executive session of the Vestry so it will be Vestry members only. We are, of course, always interested to hear from all of you and if you have any questions for us before our meeting, please contact me at markawlms@aol.com, or any other member of your Vestry (listed below) and we will be happy to hear from you.

In spending the last year with Mother Stephanie, I feel very confident about her abilities and her commitment to our congregation. For your interest I am including a link to her resume and among the items of interest in her rich and varied time as a Priest, serving congregations in a variety of contexts, is her completion of four years in the Doctor of Ministry program at Virginia Seminary concentrating on Congregational Development, the Lilly Foundation Grant that was a three year program of post-graduate Advanced Leadership Training with modules from Harvard Business School, Hay 360 Management Systems and other Fortune 500 company systems, as well as her overall history as a lifelong learner.

But most importantly, it is her passion to care, to preach, teach, and to be a tireless advocate for building God’s beloved Community that moves the Vestry to discern this next step.

Again, we look forward to hearing from you should you have any questions,

Mark Williams, Senior Warden

Doug Merritt - dougmerritt62@gmail.com
Richard Barber - rbarber3185@yahoo.com
Carol Canter - ccanter123@gmail.com
Ramona Curtis - curtiser@charter.net
Beverly Cook - jambev@aol.com
Joe Fesperman - joefesperman@yahoo.com*
Doug Morris - dam72961@gmail.com
Gwen Temple - gt1116@gmail.com
Mark Williams - markawlms@aol.com

*Please note that Joe Fesperman's email address has been updated. Any emails sent to Joe Fesperman's previously listed email were not received.
See Diocesan Video Featuring our Own Bill Hurd!

Click the link to below to see a Diocesan Video Presentation about how Parishes in the Diocese are adapting to the need for more technology in bringing worship to our members. Bill Hurd discusses the technology setup at St. Paul's, and how it has kept our Parish connected during the pandemic.
UPDATED 5-26-21
We must still wear masks, especially for congregational singing, and we must still refrain from the Common Cup during Eucharist, but all other restrictions are lifted.

WE MISS YOU! We invite you to come back and join us for in person worship! Services will be held at their regular times of
8:30 and 10:30.
Join us for Worship on YouTube or click on the link on our website!
Offering Hospitality in Time of Need
Thank you for your generosity! $450.00 so far...
And thank you to Gwen Temple and Carol Canter for fulfilling this needful ministry!
Hospitality is a primary call of faith community. We all have times in our lives when circumstances overwhelm our basic needs and that is when the the care and feeding of our members becomes a paramount need.

There are many in our church family that could use and appreciate a meal. Since COVID, our Feed My Sheep Teams have been inactive.

Until such a time when we can get those teams up and running we are starting a Care & Feeding Fund.

Over the past week, we have received $450 worth of donations towards our Care and Feeding Fund. A special thank you to those who contributed.

If you would like to donate to this fund by writing Care and Feeding Fund in the memo line of your check, we will purchase food and deliver to our parishioners in need.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off by the church office. And again, please make all checks out to St Paul’s with the memo of Care & Feeding Fund.
Thank you!

Carol Canter
Gwen Temple
Ongoing Ministry Opportunities Below!
Listed below are on-going opportunities to give, participate, and serve at St. Paul's. We don't want these ministry activities to become "wallpaper" as they do change slightly from time to time so check in each week and see what invitation to serve might be calling your name!

“You created every part of me, knitting me in my mother’s womb. 
For such handiwork, I praise you. Awesome this great wonder!”
 Psalm 139:13-14

The prayer shawl collection at St. Paul’s is very low.
Prayer shawls are made to provide warmth, comfort, healing, and peace to those who may need it.

If anyone is inclined to knit or crochet a shawl and would like to donate it to the churches shawl collection, donations can be dropped off at the church office.

A special thank you to those who have made and donated shawls in support of our ministry.

For further information please visit www.shawlministry.com

The May/June/July issues of Forward Day by Day are now in the mailbox by the front door of the office.


New Vestry Minutes have been added. April's minutes are now available!

Click button to go directly there
Serving in June 2021

June 6 - Edward Southwell (8:30)
June 6 - Denise Sturdivant (10:30)
June 13 - Mary Southwell (8:30)
June 13 - Cindy Smith (10:30)
June 20 - Jeff Beard (8:30)
June 20 - Joe Fesperman (10:30)
June 27 - Laurie Love (8:30)
June 27 - Dick Sloop (10:30)
Altar Guild

June 6 - Mary Lankford, Sharon Greene, & Bonnie Merritt
June 13 - Mike & Mary Southwell
June 20 - Drew & Pam Mayberry
June 27 - Mary Ann Caplinger & Tom Carnes


June 6 - Hannah Hartzog
June 7 - James Hartzog

June 6 - Randall & Naomi Faw
June 7 - Daniel & Patricia Bumgarner
June 9 - Richard Shepherd & Kathleen Rouse

Prayer Requests

Prayer requests can be made by emailing the office at office@stpaulwilkesboro.org
or by calling the office during regular office hours.

Bulletins are printed on Thursday mornings and requests submitted after that time will not be in the printed bulletin for that week, but may still be spoken. Prayer requests received by noon on Wednesday will be included in the weekly e-newsletter.
Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.
Hilda Absher, Doug Johnson, Lorraine Little, Jen & Cliff McElroy, Becky Mullins, Kris Riley, Tara Riley, Jeff Smith, Susan Whittington
Jim Andrews, Ken Asel, Pam & Robert Baugh, Thomas Dellinger, Tina Duncan, Mary Hawkins, Cynthia Hill, Bob & Donna Webber
Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially Cole Griffith, Zach Necessary, Walker Pardue, Philip Southwell, Mark Stone, Jason Westmeyer, and all others who serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Please send to the church office the addresses of troops with connections to
office@stpaulwilkesboro.org, especially those abroad.

The Lessons for June 6, 2021
Genesis 3:8-15
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Psalm 130
De profundis
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?
3 For there is forgiveness with you; *
therefore you shall be feared.
4 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.
5 My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.
6 O Israel, wait for the Lord, *
for with the Lord there is mercy;
7 With him there is plenteous redemption, *
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke” —we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Mark 3:20-35
The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org