E-newsletter | February 11 , 2021

Mountaintop Experiences

“Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” ~Mark 9:2-5
Years ago I was on a horse adventure in the southern desert of Arizona. About forty miles south of Tucson, rising from the vast stretch of plain, I discovered a majestic peak that the Tohono O’odham people have named Baboquivari. Among the many mountains that encircle the desert, it is this mountain alone that the indigenous peoples identified as sacred. Staring up at its majesty from the desert floor, one cannot help but to understand how these deeply spiritual people came to understand it as the place where their god dwelled. 

And as the Hebrews wandered in the desert and tried to make sense of their new life of freedom from bondage, confused and dismayed by the actual realities of their freedom, they too found God on a mountaintop. 

It was from the peaks of this mysterious mountain in the Sinai that Moses met their God face to face and then shone with brightness such that the people could not even bear to see it. From this experience on this holy mountain the Hebrews came to wed God in their eternal covenant. And this Sunday we will see Jesus’ disciples experience their own revelation as they journey with Jesus to a mountaintop to pray. It was up on the mountain that Jesus’ disciples witnessed his transfiguration and where his deepest identity was glimpsed by those who were with him. 

“Mountaintop experiences” are what we call those brief moments of spiritual connection and communion with God through which it feels like our earthly existence is transcended and perfected even if just for a moment. It is no wonder that Peter wanted to build dwellings and stay put. 

The mountain, as one of nature’s most noble goliaths, has come to represent for so many people the very nature and symbol of transcendence. Just think of how our love affair with mountains pervades our life in the Blue Ridge. Our mountains are ancient and their majestic peaks have worn with their great age, but they still hold such deep, deep attraction. In spiritual life that metaphorical ascension into the thin and ephemeral air of the mountaintop is where we might catch a glimpse at a revelation of the Holy. 

These experiences can be as rare as they are holy, I know in my life I can only remember three significant mountaintop moments and all of these happened before I was ordained as a priest in the Church. These experiences were not magical, miraculous, or otherwise spooky, but like the disciples, I found it better not to speak of them very much, primarily because words were insufficient to the experience. 

All I can really say is that what I experienced was a brief, but overwhelming sense of God’s love; a feeling that encompassed not only myself but everyone and everything. It was after one of these experiences that I was able to truly taste the wonder of the gift of forgiveness and let go of a long held painful anger toward someone; an anger that had colored my life for some time. I felt liberated to love more because I had experienced the completeness of God’s love and out of that brief moment my view of the world was forever changed. 

I believe my mountaintop experience had to meet those challenging and difficult realities of my everyday life or they would have been pointless; I do not believe that these moments come to us for ourselves alone, but so that we might love ourselves and one another more completely.

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus loses its power if it does not include the moment when Jesus and the disciples come down from the mountain. These precious experiences are meant to change the way we move through the world. They are never solely a private experience of spirituality that is removed from our work-a-day lives. They are a promise wrapped in a vision; a vision meant to carry us down into the ordinary, the hard, and the ugly, and they are, as I once read, a glimpse of the unimagined possibilities so present at ground level.

“…May a window of light always surprise you.
May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds.
May you know that even though the storm might rage yet not a hair of your head will be harmed.”
Harry O’ Donohue

Grace and Peace,
Mother Stephanie   

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Outreach Opportunities

Giving to the Student Choice Food Pantry

As you are probably aware next Wednesday 2/17 is Ash Wednesday. In the past when we could gather to enjoy Shrove Tuesday pancakes prepared and served by the men of the church, the offering went to support Samaritan Kitchen's Backpack program. This year, as Lent begins, I would like to propose each of us prayerfully consider sending the same amount of money we would have given at the supper to the church to support Rachel Minick's new Student Choice Food Pantry at North Wilkesboro Elementary. This provides food for approximately 100 children weekly and gives them an option to make their own food choices. My challenge is for us to raise $1000. There is no doubt we can do it. What better way to begin a season of reflection than to keep those who are hungry foremost in our minds?

Volunteer Service with County Health Department

Volunteers are needed by the Wilkes County Health Department to register people receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Appointments have been made to give a total of 2000 vaccinations on Thursday and Friday at River's Edge. Recipients remain in their vehicles, and are appreciative. Volunteers walk from car to car, filling in a brief questionnaire and temperature check for each person. Significant walking is involved. Hours are 8:30 am until around 2. I have been able to leave before 1 the last 2 weeks. Community service, exercise and masked social interaction outside all in one activity....a win/win/win. For more information call or text Joe Fesperman @ 202-821-5885 or email me at joefesperman@yahoo.com
Thank you for thinking of our student pantry. I spoke with the mother of one of the students who uses the pantry and she expressed her gratitude that her son is allowed to self select food. She said he is proud of the food he brings home each week. She said that the food does not go to waste because it is food he likes!  - Rachel Minick
Outreach Supports Student Choice Food Pantry

Thanks to a commitment from ancillary Outreach funds provided by the Strickland Foundation, a Student Choice Food Pantry has been initiated at North Wilkesboro Elementary School. Each week, students receive a grocery bag and are allowed to self select meal items and snacks from tables. Food is categorized (proteins/dinner items, fruit and vegetables, snacks, and breakfast items) and students choose the amount indicated on the table. Joy radiates through the room as students choose their food for the weekend. Allowing students to have choice has given them dignity and pride in their weekend food bags. The students smile and laugh as they pick out food.

Some comments overheard:  
“My mom loves this oatmeal.” 
“I’m getting applesauce for my little brother.” 
“Thank you for letting me shop!” 
"Rice and beans are my favorite! Thank you."
“I liked picking out my food- it was kind of the best.”
If you would like to provide ongoing financial support to this food pantry, donations can be made to St. Paul's with Food Pantry in the memo line.
Thank you for your support, 
Rachel Minick
Ramona Curtis and Ruth Harris are in the process of updating the church directory from 2018. If you’ve had any changes since 2018 to your phone numbers, mailing address, email address, or if you want to be added or deleted, or if you know someone that you would like to add, please email your changes/requests to:

Thank you for helping us with these updates.
Our former Parish Administrator, Vanessa Greer, has agreed to help maintain the work of the office as we continue our search for a new administrator. The office will still be closed to the public but accessible through appointments. If you call the office and do not reach a person, please leave a message.

Messages left on the office voicemail are directed to the email associated with the either the rector or administrator depending on your selection. If you leave a message someone will return your call. Thank you!

Thank you for your patience during this transition.



Episcopal U:
We Pray What We Believe
Beginning March 3rd!

Join Mother Stephanie on Wednesdays at 12:30 beginning March 3rd for a six week journey through the rich tradition of our Eucharistic liturgies.

In the Episcopal tradition we state that we do not have doctrine or dogma, but we make the claim that we pray what we believe, meaning that our Book of Common Prayer and its supplemental resources contain the corpus of our belief system. But DO we believe the claims that are made about God and about humanity, creation, and Jesus in the prayers we hear week by week?

The answer might surprise you!

Please sign up with Mother Stephanie by March 2nd to receive the Zoom link to this adventure in exploration and learning.

Bring your questions, your curiosity, your doubts, and your theological baggage as we embark on this 6 week romp through Liturgical Theology.

If you are interested in a PM offering of this class please make your interest known and we will explore the possibility.


The Feb/Mar/Apr issues of Forward Day by Day are delayed due to post office delays.

We have a limited number of the large print issues that are available in the mailbox in front of the church office.
2021 Annual Meeting Report can be found on the website.

Copies of the 2021 Annual Meeting can be picked up from the office or we can mail one to you. If you would like a copy, please email the office to request a copy mailed to you or to schedule a time to stop by.

The 2020 Vestry Meeting minutes are now available on St. Paul's website under Vestry.

Click button to go directly there
Serving in February 2021
(Recorded Service)

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love
Feb. 14 - Cindy Smith
Feb. 21 - Mary Southwell
Feb. 28 - Bev Cook
Altar Guild

Feb. 7 - Laurie Love & Ramona Curtis
Feb. 14- Mary Lankford & Sharon Greene
Feb. 21 - Mary & Mike Southwell
Feb. 28 - Pam & Drew Mayberry

14 - Carl Elledge
14 - Ashley Icard
15 - Carol Claycomb
16 - Jeri Martin
17 - Tate Morris
17 - David Shupe
17 - Dick Sloop
20 - Robert Baugh

Feb. 15 - Ken & Devvie Asel
Feb. 18 - John & Peggy Harwell
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.
Prayer List

Please remember in your prayers: All who are ill or unemployed and those who are on our prayer list.

Jim Andrews, Pam Baugh, Robert Baugh, Bella, Nancy Blair, John Brame, Rosie Carlton, Thomas Dellinger, Tina Duncan, John Farris, Laura Gentry, Karen Hennig, Paula Jameson, Doug Johnson, Ken Love, Tyler Olender, Jordan Samuel, Delores Weaver, Bob Webber, Donna Webber

Armed Forces
Let us pray for the safety of all our troops, especially: Dr. Matthew Cage, Edward Colville Griffith, Zach Necessary Walker Pardue, Philip Southwell,
Mark Stone, Lt. Col. Patrick Szvetitz, 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 February 14, 2021
2 Kings 2:1-12

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Psalm 50:1-6

1 The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken; *
he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, *
God reveals himself in glory.
3 Our God will come and will not keep silence; *
before him there is a consuming flame,
and round about him a raging storm.
4 He calls the heavens and the earth from above *
to witness the judgment of his people.
5 "Gather before me my loyal followers, *
those who have made a covenant with me
and sealed it with sacrifice."
6 Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause; *
for God himself is judge.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:2-9

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church | 336-667-4231 | office@stpaulwilkesboro.org | https://stpaulwilkesboro.org