Farnham & St. John's
Torrence's Weekly Message

Old, old trees sheltered us in place.  It was a balmy 77 degrees, with a light cool breeze from the East. Early morning had offered a few raindrop splashes as some of us arrived early at N. Farnham church last Sunday to finish setting up for our first outdoor service for the summer combined congregations of N. Farnham and St. John’s, but the rain would graciously hold off till later morning and mid-day when everyone was back home.

People gathered carrying lawn chairs, arranging them at spots marked with little bright yellow flags. Ed and Becky Marks had to shift their location at least once because the yellow flagged spot they chose had been previously claimed by an ant colony. Folks presenting with their “come as you are” attire the church promotes any summer, dressed up their outfits with a interesting array of face masks, colorful cloth ones, bright blue surgical ones, even Sci-Fi type elegant plastic hooded ones.

A typical bright summer July sun watched over us as we gathered but luckily allowed its full light and heat to be filtered through a gauze like cloud cover for most of our service. I made a mental note to suggest a return to the old tradition of wearing a hat to church for coming services, not just for women but for men too.

Ed Elliott, Sunday’s gloved usher stood watch over the hand sanitizer station handing out bulletins and fans (more about the fans later), reminding folks of the food pantry basket and collection plate waiting to receive offerings. He rang the church bell as we settled in place for our service, semi-circling at six+ foot intervals around the East door to the 1737 cruciform church we call “home” for the congregation of N. Farnham and for those joining in from St. John’s. The combined summer services of our two “yoked” sister churches offer such a special opportunity for this larger two parish related “family” to share each other’s home spaces, providing hospitality like extended families do – kind of a Virginia tradition.

Music swelled the breeze as the beloved sounds of Ben’s organ music pushed through the open doors, the rich tones of Sumner’s clarinet and lovely string vibrations of Arline’s violin threaded through our worship time. The bird chorus perched in the canopy of the old trees offered the singing that we couldn’t.  A fat bee buzzed around Altar Guild chair Becky Mark’s lovely flower arrangement at the base of the processional cross which graced a spot beside the side door near where I sat. Perhaps I was the only one to hear its contribution to the morning music.

The music was such a highlight to our service and wove into the July 4 th weekend theme along with a prayer for our nation during these troubled and challenging times and a homily about independence and dependence. Stan Terhune served as our lay reader his voice carrying the strong messages embraced by Paul’s letter to the Romans and the comforting words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
However, the stand-out volunteer of the morning (I dubbed him the welcome committee) was a big grey tiger stripped cat, clearly the neighborhood watch captain of sorts, who arrived as we were setting up for outdoor church and then hung around for the whole service. Making himself useful by checking in with every person in attendance, one by one and even a second round with some members of the congregation who apparently were very skilled at behind the ear scratching and back rubs. He paused to listen attentively to Stan’s reading of the morning’s Biblical passages. He wandered into the church to check it out at one point but his stay in there was brief – the action was clearly outside.

The service ended with a favorite hymn, hymn #718 found in the “National Hymns” section of our hymnal. Our singing was off limits since our breath doing so could affect the air being breathed in by others around us. But perhaps others’ hearts like mine were softly humming along with this postlude offering. The music, even without words, was a powerful prayer for weary hearts searching for Divine Providence to sustain us, help us through a troubled passage time, lead and guide us towards a clearer horizon. Some of the words are still on my heart days later. It is familiar to us as the hymn “God of our fathers” - but, of course, God is the God of both fathers and mothers – of our forebearers and of the founders of this nation who were drawn to the idea of freedom, but depended upon a providential God for passage to it and being sustained in it.

God . . .
thy love divine has led us in the past . . . in this free land by thee our lot is cast . . .
be thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay . . . thy word our law, thy path our chosen way

from war’s alarm, from deadly pestilence . . . be thy strong arm our ever sure defense . . . thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace

 refresh thy people on their toilsome way. . . lead us from night to never ending day . . . fill all our lives with love and grace divine . . . and glory, laud and praise be ever thine.


Looking ahead to July "Sundays"

Last Sunday's patriotic theme gave shape to our morning services. Next Sunday our Morning Prayer service on July 12 th (both the outdoors in person one at 9 a.m. and our Zoom service at 11 a.m.) will be shaped musically and liturgically around the theme "For the Beauty of the Earth and Joy in all its Creatures" as summertime offers its abundance and presents its joyful energy all around us. In preparation, spend some time this week sitting outside under the shade of a favorite tree, or picking something tasty from your vegetable garden for supper, or attending a bird song morning or evening concert in your yard.  The old trees at North Farnham Church will again shelter us this coming Sunday. The remainder of our July Sundays we will worship around and under the ancestor trees at Sabine Hall where St. John's will host the services. "Ancestor trees" is my favorite term for old, weathered, big beautiful trees planted by those whose names perhaps may have been forgotten over time. Looking forward to being with you, whether in person, over the internet air waves and/or simply joyfully in "spirit" wherever we may be otherwise.  Torrence
Quotes of the week
"Trees bridge heaven and earth."

On one side is a big picture of North Farnham or St. John’s. The other side offers a red/white/blue visual theme and sports the exclamation I’M A FAN! Then the name of the respective church, the Episcopal Shield, a biblical quote, and a short paragraph about the history of the respective church.

YES! We are talking about a REAL FAN! Made of cardboard and positioned on a natural colored wooden handle.. Like the fan we used to find waiting for us in our church pew on hot summer Sunday mornings before the era of air conditioning in our indoor sanctuaries.

Brainchild of “our own” Sandy Wade Hagan and produced locally by Julie Stanley the fans commemorate July 5, 2020 and our first outdoors worship service after the March 2020 suspension of in person worship gatherings due to COVID-19. Folks at our last Sunday service each received a fan – one to use during the service and then to take home for use at home, but certainly to bring back with them when coming to future services. We will also make a fan available to those of you who, for health and safety reasons, are not able to join with in-person gatherings right now.

Don’t you want to JOIN THE FAN CLUB by coming to outdoors church on an upcoming Sunday? Or if you are sheltering at home, just let us know you want one to use while you are Zooming in on our alternative “virtual” Zoom Sunday morning prayer service or simply sitting outside connecting with the Divine in all of nature around you, but needing a fan to help stir up some spiritual breeze for the soul.
Upcoming Sunday
Morning Prayer Services
July 12 th
9:00 a.m. outdoor

at Farnham Church

11:00 a.m. "Virtual"

July 19 th

9:00 a.m. outdoor

at Sabine Hall
sponsored by

St. John's Church

11:00 a.m. "Virtual"

9:00 a.m. Outdoor service will be cancelled in event of rain.
Face Masks required *
Bring your own lawn chair *
Seating will be marked in advance at 6-8 foot intervals for individuals and/or immediate family "groupings"
"Social" distancing will be respected
We will have music, but not singing
A food pantry donation basket
will be available for can and jar donations
* We will have some disposable masks and sanitized chairs available if you forget
Outdoor services will be followed by an 11:00 a.m.
“Virtual” Service
accessed through Zoom by computer or phone
(The Virtual Service is Rain or Shine)
Join us with a cup of coffee for a visit at around 10:45 and we'll have coffee (1/4) hour before instead of after the service. Instructions to be sent with the sermon on Friday or Saturday. The link has been set up as recurring weekly, so will remain the same through the end of August. It is posted on the church web-site . Please note
Bring your pets!
Church Office hours are THURSDAYS from 9:30 - 3:00.

The state and the Diocese require that masks be worn if you visit the office.

For the time being Lucy works other irregular hours from home and the best way to reach her is via e-mail at parishchurchnews@gmail.com
The Parish Prayer List
Courtenay Altaffer
John Barber
Martha Berger
Randall Bone
Sue Bowie
Nancy Allin Bush
Anna Calvert
Mary Claycomb
Sumner Elwell
Constance Edwards
Bob File
Regina Griggs
Barbara & Harry Grander
the Rev. Howard Hanchey
Weir Harman
Mary Hertling
Billy Hooper
Rebecca Hubert
Marcia Jenkins
Stephanie, Nick & Donovan Kaywork
Jim & Sharon Krider
Susan Lewis
Frank Lynch
Susannah Marais
Judi Newman
Kirsten Palubinski
George Patrick
Dennis Rynd
James Rynd
Debbie Belfield Stacks
Scott Strickler
Waldy Sulik
Billy Tennyson
Connie Thompson
Matthew Yates
and Rose Mary Zellner
Please e-mail any updates to the prayer list to parishchurchnews@gmail.com Replying to this e-mail will send it to Torrence.
July Birthdays & Anniversaries
1 st – Tish King
9 th – Miriam Sisson
28 th – Susan Crowley
30 th – Mary Sulik
There will be an outdoor Morning Prayer Service at Farnham Church at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and a virtual Morning Prayer Service held via Zoom at 11:00 a.m. Instructions for access to the virtual service are here.
Farnham Church
St. John's Church