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April 12, 2020

This is one of the most challenging Holy Weeks I have experienced. I am appreciative of the support from the diocese. The Houston West Clergy have two opportunities every week to talk with Canon Joann and Bishop Hector each week. I am also appreciative of the support I am getting from many of you.

One thing I did want touch base on is who gets to help with the Sunday service. I’ve tried to keep it to staff or ministry leaders along with a few choir people and Carl. I know there are many of you who would like to assist but how to select is a touchy issue. I don’t want people to feel passed over or wonder why did she or he get to help out and I did not. For Thursday night’s stripping of the altar, I’m using a couple because we then don’t have to worry about the social distancing as much. Everybody I am using has been very careful about who they interact with and I’m really trying to keep everyone safe including myself. The diocese is also concerned about exposure for everyone and has asked it any of our members test positive to let us know.

There is a church in DC where before the shutdown where the rector came in contact with an infected person at a conference, came home and conducted a wedding on Saturday, 3 services on Sunday and tested positive on Monday. 500 people ended up in quarantine as a result. We do not want that to happen to us, so we are being extra careful to limit exposure to as few people as possible. I hope you understand.

Virtual Coffee Hour: Thursday at 9:00am will be a casual drop in coffee hour on Zoom. We will not be having coffee hour this Easter Sunday. The log in is as follows:

https://zoom.us/j/2813912785
Meeting ID: 281 391 2785
Password now needed: 783312

Daily Morning Prayer continues Monday-Friday at 8:00am.

April 5, 2020

Video Messages: This week we shared 3 videos with current news and updates. Please take a look at the below:
Rev. Mark Wilkinson – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2HYAFvQdsY&t=13s
Senior Warden, Andrea Smith – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DpZdAJHXSk&t=36s
Family Formation, Julia Peoples – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KagmPpRL1w&t=6s

Message from Bishop Curry: This link will take you to a statement from the Presiding Bishop regarding communion celebrations at this time. It’s an article from Episcopal News Service and is worth the 5 minutes it takes to read:
https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/pressreleases/a-word-to-the-church-on-our-theology-of-worship-from-the-presiding-bishop/?utm_source=ENS+English&utm_campaign=8b026555e0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_04_01_07_37&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d473cad2d8-8b026555e0-44727093

A word of caution: At a meeting with the bishop on Tuesday I learned that there is something going on called ZOOM bombing. This is when somebody hacks into a zoom meeting and disrupts it either by trying to take over the meeting or by “sharing” which is a feature of ZOOM inappropriate material. To help prevent this DO NOT post the log in instructions on social media or share it with someone you do not know. I can protect our meetings with a password, but I’d like to avoid adding that extra step since some have enough trouble logging on without one.

Palm Sunday Services: Services from St. Paul’s will be on Facebook Live again this week at 10:30am beginning with the Blessing of the Palms. I urge you to collect some palm branches from your yard if you have them or other leafy branches. Matthew’s account which we will hear this week does not specify what the branches were so be creative and have them with you for the service. Then afterward I saw a suggestion that you hang them on your front door for all to see, which sounds like an interesting suggestion. One thing some parishes are doing is putting together a video montage of families celebrating at home. If you would like to send me videos that would be great and I’ll put them together and post them on Facebook.

Virtual Coffee Hour: Thursday at 9:00am will be a casual drop in coffee hour on Zoom. The log in is as follows.
https://zoom.us/j/2813912785
Meeting ID: 281 391 2785

Daily Morning Prayer continues on Facebook Live Monday-Friday at 8:00am.

Holy Week Services:
Maundy Thursday at 7:00pm; Maundy Thursday Family Service with Ms. Julia at 6:00pm. Both on Facebook Live
Good Friday Stations of the Cross at noon from Christ the King (they have an outdoor setup that their Men’s Group does every year.) I will stream it on our Facebook page
Good Friday Service from St. Paul’s at 3:00pm on Facebook Live
Easter Service Sunday at 10:30am on Facebook Live

Easter Vigil at the National Cathedral: The vigil will be shown on their website. I will have the link in next week’s Epistle. If you have never seen the Easter Vigil this would be a great way to start. If you love the Vigil like I do, it will be a treat. Next year we will observe it here.

March 29, 2020

First of all, please know that I am praying for all of you at this time. I am always available by phone at 757 353-7379. We have several members that are at very high risk to this virus and I ask that you continue to pray for them. Keep in touch with each other.

THIS SUNDAY’S SERVICE:
This Sunday will be Morning Prayer again from St. Paul’s. Carl will join Wendy and I with a prelude and a postlude. 4 of our choir members will be there so we will add some hymns and I hope you will join in the singing as we try to make this as normal as we can in an abnormal situation. The gospel is the raising of Lazarus and this is one of the stories Wendy prepared for her 1 hour storytelling program when we were at the Biblical Storytellers Academy. She will tell the story and you do not want to miss it.

SUNDAY VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR:
I have scheduled a virtual coffee hour via zoom for anybody who would like to check in and chat after the Sunday service. Andrea will host until I get out of my vestments and to the office.

Here is the log in information:
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/2813912785
Meeting ID: 281 391 2785

HOLY WEEK:
At the moment based on conversations with Bishop Hector and directives from Bishop Andy, I am planning a full set of Holy Week services including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday in the evening, Good Friday and Easter morning. At the moment we are all proceeding on the assumption that we will still be under a stay at home order. I’m designing the Maundy Thursday service to be interactive with parts for you to do at home. I’m trying to work out how I might get palms to people. A suggestion from another priest was to encourage you to cut some palms from your yard if you have them. It is really hard to be definite about anything at this point when things are changing almost on a daily basis.

NEW VESTRY MEMBER:
Bob Treat has asked to step down from vestry since he will be spending the spring and summer at their summer home in upstate New York. Jo Gustin was approved to fill out the rest of his term which runs through December. Thank you to Jo for stepping up and volunteering.

ONLINE OFFERINGS:
I will continue to offer Morning Prayer at 8:00 Monday through Friday. I encourage all of you to take a moment and consider making some sort of a home altar or chapel space. This is a great way to keep some of your focus on something other than the news. Click here for article that is helpful if you are interested.

Bible study will again be offered via zoom on Tuesday at 9:00 and I will do another virtual coffee hour Thursday at 9:00. The zoom invitations will come out via email. For zoom some have found it easier to download the app on their phone or tablet. The program works better with Chrome or Firefox browsers if you have the option.

March 22, 2020

As we settle in for what looks like a rather extended disruption I wonder; how are you all doing with this? Looking forward to how we will continue to worship, pray and study together I find both challenging and exciting in a strange way. I’ve heard of quite a few grandparents assisting with childcare for grandkids of parents especially those who cannot work from home. Lots of wondering about what the schools are going to do to keep some semblance of education going. It’s an unsettling time for all of us.

The vestry has been reaching out to each family via phone or email, checking in on their assigned folks and passing information on to me. I’ve been following up and will be working my way through our member list checking on folks. Please remember my cell phone number is (757) 353-7379. More than anything else, pray for yourselves and for others. If you are looking for prayer resources visit our website – http://www.stpaulskaty.org/related-links/.

I plan to continue to offer Sunday morning services on Facebook Live. Last week the video had over 700 views! I’m checking with a new media consultant at the diocese about advantages to YouTube live. If anything changes, I will let you know. I am planning on offering all the Holy Week services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday along with Easter morning whether we are there in person or not.

SUNDAY’S WORSHIP: We will be on Facebook live again this Sunday from the St. Paul’s Facebook page, but we will be streaming from Christ the King Alief.

DAILY MORNING PRAYER: Beginning Monday, Wendy and I will offer Daily Morning Prayer as a Facebook live stream at 8:00am Monday through Friday. I will use the Morning Prayer that is found at the Mission St. Claire website –
https://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html. They have an app that you can download on your phone or tablet so you can follow along.

PALM SUNDAY: I would still like to do a dramatic reading of the Passion Story but I need some folks who would be willing to take the various parts and come in that morning. I would need about 10 people who can volunteer. If you would like to participate, please email me (mwilkinson@stpaulskaty.org). We do have the palms ordered and I will bless them. I’m working on a way to distribute them if you would like to pick them up.

VESTRY met via Zoom Wednesday night to keep the business end of the church going. We still have to pay bills, approve decisions and spend time planning for this uncertain future. (Please remember the bill paying part. Many thanks to those who have set up the automatic payments or on line giving) For more information on electronic giving you can go to our website – http://www.stpaulskaty.org/giving/.

ONLINE BIBLE STUDY: Several other priests are going online with bible study. So I’m going to try a ZOOM bible study this Tuesday at 9:00am. You do not need a program for this, just follow the link below. An email newsletter with instructions will be sent out on Monday. You can find the readings for the next Sunday on the Lectionary Page – http://www.lectionarypage.net/. I have a regular email list for Tuesday morning but if you want to be added to that list, send me an email and I will add you. ZOOM: https://zoom.us/j/2813912785 Meeting ID: 281 391 2785

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Wendy and I will be offering Stations of the Cross on Friday at 6:30pm. This will be streamed on the Facebook page of Christ the King.

ALL WILL BE WELL: Julian of Norwich is famous for a saying. “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” This mantra has carried me through many a crisis. My faith tells me that this will be true here as well.

God bless you in these challenging times.

March 15, 2020- Third Sunday in Lent- Morning Prayer Service

If you do not have a Facebook account, you can still watch the video of Sunday, March 15 morning prayer service by clicking here.

March 15, 2020

I made the following announcement on Sunday, but I wanted to be sure that all of you are aware of the steps the Bishop has ordered so that we can be as safe as possible in the coming weeks. To read the entire message, visit https://www.epicenter.org/health-resources/. We have added some disinfecting between services of our worship space including the altar rail that everyone touches. I will refrain from shaking hands. On a given Sunday I normally touch every single person in the service. That makes me a central point of contact (literally) and I do not want to take the chance of passing anything along to the rest of you.

Due to the incredibly contagious nature of COVID-19 and to practice an abundance of caution, Bishop Doyle is recommending the following common-sense steps and practices for your church operations and liturgies. Until further notice:

  • Bishop Doyle is requiring the discontinuation of intinction (dipping the bread or wafer in the cup). It may be important to remind us all that “Sacraments may be received in both kinds simultaneously” but this is subject to the bishop’s approval, according to the BCP page 407-408.
  • Drain and empty all baptismal fonts and stoups, and for the time being, the practice of dipping the hands in the water of a font should be discontinued. If you perform a baptism, please use fresh water each time.
  • Avoid physical contact with others, including during the exchange of the peace—a simple bow or verbal exchange is appropriate.
  • Place hand sanitizing gel at the credence tables and ask all who are involved in the distribution of communion and chalice to sanitize before the distribution.

RESPONDING TO THE VIRUS: One thing that I want us to be conscious of is that there may be some who may end up being quarantined over the next few weeks. Know that we are here for you if that happens. Call the office if you need food purchased or meals made. I will be working on setting up what’s needed to record and post the sermon at least from each Sunday for those unable to attend. If needed, we will look at using Facebook live as a way to share our Sunday services. If you have some technical skills and would like to help with this, please let me know.

INTERIM CHOIR DIRECTOR: I am pleased to report that Dr. Jason Oby had successful surgery last week and is now recovering. He will be out for 2-3 months but plans to return when able. In the meantime, Patricia Shadle will be our interim director. She is a friend of Ken and Mary Alice Fields who put us in contact with her. She will begin on March 29. A HUGE thank you to Carl for all of his hard work and dedication in keeping our services running since Dr. Oby was taken ill.

BAPTISM AT EASTER: We are planning to have baptisms at the Easter Vigil this year. The Easter Vigil is the most traditional time for baptism dating back to the early church. The Vigil is a great service and is held starting at 7:00 p.m. on the Saturday evening before Easter. Watch for more information about this wonderful service. If you have someone who would like to be baptized, please let Jennifer (jkuhn@stpaulskaty.org) know so we can set this up.

March 8, 2020

Thoughts on communion and viruses: I know many of you have seen the news about the Roman Catholic diocese changing communion practices. Bishop Doyle sent out some information including an article about germs and the chalice. Research shows that the silver chalices that we use combined with the alcohol content of our communion wine makes the common cup safe. Pottery on the other hand does not provide the same level of safety so we will stay with the silver this Lent. Here is a link to the full article. If you are still hesitant to partake from the shared cup in light of recent health concerns, please know that receiving only the bread is an option and is still considered as having received communion in full.

Adult Sunday School: The Way of Love: Continues with the Way of Love curriculum. This week we look at Pray. How do we pray, how might we look at different ways to pray?

Lenten Quiet Day March 28: I will offer a morning of prayer and reflection on March 28th from 8:30 until 12:30. During our time I will offer instruction on the labyrinth, Anglican Rosary prayers and an introduction in the Ignatian Bible Study techniques (including several types of meditation options.) This is designed for everyone whether you are familiar with these types of prayer of want to get started.  We will conclude the morning with Eucharist.

Baptism at Easter: We are planning to have baptisms at the Easter Vigil this year. The Easter Vigil is the most traditional time for baptism dating back to the early church. The Vigil is a great service and is held starting at 7:00 p.m. on the Saturday evening before Easter. Watch for more information about this wonderful service. If you have someone who would like to be baptized, please let Jennifer know so we can set this up.

Welcome Roundtable: Several members of the Hospitality Ministry traveled to St. Aidan’s in Cypress last Saturday for a morning of presentations about how we welcome visitors to our parish. We will be looking to revamp our ministry to do a better job of welcoming, tracking and connecting those who visit us.

March 1, 2020

The First Sunday in Lent: Lent begins today with the Great Litany. This ancient prayer is said or sung at the beginning of the service. At the 10:30 service, I will chant the Litany in procession using an ancient and very traditional setting. Each of the responses is then sung by the congregation and the choir. I experienced the Great Litany at the national cathedral back in 1999 and the acolytes process not just down the center aisle but continues to process around the entire cathedral. While we do not have a cathedral, the procession will go around the church using both side aisles as well as the center aisle. I am aware that you may not have done this in the past and I hope you will find this way of doing the Great Litany meaningful and a great start to the season of Lent.

Adult Sunday School: We begin a series looking at the seven part of the Way of Love. This is a rule of life that Bishop Curry is encouraging all Episcopalians to adopt. A rule of life is a way of living in community that most monastic communities follow and they date back to the time of St. Benedict. Come join us and learn about the 7 Ways of Love during our classes. There will be short videos and then discussion.

Thoughts on fasting: I will reference the follow thought on fasting in my sermon. I hope that this look at the tradition of fasting in Lent will set you on a different path this year. I picked this up years ago on the House of Deputies email list and I believe it was written by the Rev. Ann Fontaine. The idea which I will look at during my sermon both on Ash Wednesday and Lent 1 is to make your fast something that will make you better for having done it during Lent.

Fast from judgment, Feast on compassion

Fast from greed. Feast on sharing

Fast from Scarcity, Feast on abundance

Fasts from fear. Feast on peace

Fast from lies. Feast on truth

Fast from gossip. Feast on praise

Fast from anxiety. Feast on patience

Fast from evil, Feast on kindness

Fast from apathy. Feast on engagement

Fast from discontent. Feast on gratitude

Fast from noise. Feast on silence

Fast from discouragement. Feast on hope

Fast from hatred. Feast on love.

February 23, 2020

Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday:

I hope you will start off Lent the right way by joining us for Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and Ashes on Ash Wednesday. Details in the article below.

Sundays in Lent: Beginning today, the adult Sunday school class will look at the Way of Love, the rule of life that has been developed for the Episcopal Church. We will look at all 7 themes during Lent. Today we will watch Bishop Curry’s sermon where he introduced the Way of Love and General Convention in 2018 during General Convention in Austin.

Resources for Lent:

The Lenten booklets from Living Compass “Living Well Through Lent 2020: Practicing Courage with All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind” are in the narthex.

Lent Madness: https://www.lentmadness.org

This is a fun page where all during Lent you get to vote on the saint of the day. Sign up for the email and get your ballot each day. Go to the website and read all about saints you know and many who you do not know. By the end of Lent one saint will win the Golden Halo as the top saint of the year.

SSJE resources: https://www.signsoflife.org

This page offers a program of reflection and prayer using the Way of Love (which we will be studying during Lent on Sunday mornings). The seven days are each divided with one of the seven areas and then each week features a different focus. There will be a video posted each Sunday. This is jointly sponsored by the Society of St. John the Evangelist and Virginia Theological Seminary.

February 16, 2020

Report from Council: Join us Sunday morning at 9:15 for a special Adult Forum where the delegates from this year’s council will give a report on what went on at the annual meeting of the Diocese of Texas. There were several exciting initiatives announced and of course the bishop’s address is worth hearing about (visit https://www.epicenter.org/council-2020/ for all Council highlights and presentations).

February 9, 2020

Hospitality Committee: I mentioned last week that I attended a Welcome Roundtable. This gathering is focused on the importance of how we welcome our visitors. After meeting with Andrea Smith Tuesday morning we agreed that we really need to bring up our process in the very near future.  An immediate need is for some more people to volunteer to be there Sunday morning to greet and welcome visitors and help them enjoy our service. I will offer training in how to do this and it is a fun ministry. Let me know if you would like to help with this once a month or if we get more people once every 6 weeks or so.

Mentoring at Hutsell Elementary

I had a call this week from Magdalena Benavides the guidance counselor at Hutsell Elementary across the street. The school has a mentoring program (different from a tutoring program) and she is in need of 5 men to mentor boys in the program. You can reach her by email (magdalenabenavides@katyisd.org) or by phone 281.237.6531. The online application is https://publicbiapps.katyisd.org/KEYSMentorApplication/Default.aspx.

Katy Christian Ministries Tutoring Program: The Katy Christian Ministries tutoring program is up and running. I had the pleasure to greet the children as they arrived last week. They are truly excited at the possibilities using our parish hall opens up to them. One immediate need is for someone who can help a high school student with Chemistry. If you have some of that background and could help out, let me know and I’ll get you in touch with the people running the program.

February 2, 2020

Annual Meeting: A big thank you to everybody who helped make our Annual Meeting such a success. If you were not able to attend there is information below on how to get your copy of the Annual Report. Thanks again to all who submitted reports to Jennifer and a big thank you to Jennifer for putting this together while I was away.

Welcome Roundtable: This past Thursday, I went to Good Shepherd in Kingwood for my first Welcome Roundtable discussion based on the Invite Welcome Connect evangelism program from the national church. This is a monthly meeting at various Houston area parishes that is sponsored by the diocese where priests and lay people working on building their churches can meet to share ideas. They are run by a facilitator trained in Invite Welcome Connect. I would love to have some people volunteer to be part of this important work to grow our parish.

Feast of the Presentation of our Lord: This Sunday is something unusual. The Feast of the Presentation of our Lord falls on a Sunday this year (Feb. 2) When that happens it takes the place of the regular Sunday readings and the color of the day is white (for a feast day) instead of the green for Epiphany. This also means we have readings that only get read on Sunday once every 6-7 years. I hope you will join us this Sunday.

Adult Formation: Who wrote the Bible part 2. I will continue our class on who wrote the bible and if time move on to the next series, What Did Paul Really Say About Women? Do you have an idea for a class or topic, email Mark your suggestions.

Facebook Posts: I often post links to what I read on a daily basis on the our Facebook page. If you find one of the these posts inspiring, please share it on your page and let me know what speaks to you. If you are puzzled and want to understand his sometimes very deep thoughts, just ask and I’ll be happy to help unpack what he has written.

January 26, 2020

Annual Parish Meeting: Today is an important day for us. Our Annual Parish Meeting will be between the services in the Parish Hall. You will hear reports from our Wardens, treasurer and the rector. Click here to read the meeting handout.

I also promise a very interesting sermon this morning on the calling of the first four disciples. What would you think if you were there when Jesus called them. Who would you be in the story from Matthew 4:12-23? Come and see who shows up to tell the story. (Hint, this will be a similar style of sermon to what I did on Christmas Eve). Click here to read my sermon.

Adult Formation: Who wrote the Bible part 2. I will continue our class on who wrote the bible and if time move on to the next series, What Did Paul Really Say About Women? Do you have an idea for a class or topic, email Mark your suggestions.

January 19, 2020

Next week: Wendy and I will be away from Saturday January 18-25 on a long-anticipated vacation. With all the turmoil of a search for a new call last year, we did not have a chance to take a proper vacation. While I am gone The Rev. Mary Wilson will be your celebrant today and I know you will enjoy hosting her again. If there is a pastoral emergency, please contact Jennifer in the office and she will be in contact with another priest to assist. I will be back in time for the following Sunday and the parish meeting.

Adult Formation: Will not meet today and the parish meeting will be the following Sunday. Class resume Feb. 2. I will finish up on the who wrote the bible class and begin to look at a series entitled, “What did Paul really say about women?”

KCM Tutoring: Tutoring program will begin this Wednesday, January 22nd. The tutoring program is for students of all ages. They are thrilled to be able to use our facility as this gives them additional space to work with more students. Many of the students come from Hutsell across the way!

Wednesday Noon Service: There will be no noon service next Wednesday, January 22nd. We will resume services on January 29th.

Monday, January 20th: Following the KISD calendar, the office will be closed tomorrow and reopen, Tuesday, January 21st.

January 12, 2020

BAPTISM OF JESUS: This week we celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John according to Matthew. This is one of those Sundays when we look at our baptismal promises and re-affirm those promises. BTW the next opportunity for Baptism is Easter so if you have someone in your family who would like to be baptized please let me know.

ADULT CHRISTIAN FORMATION: This week will be a quick overview of who wrote the Bible, how it was written, and how the bible was finally put together in the form we know. Join us at 9:15 and discover why there are so many variations in translations and what does it mean when you say, “I read this in the bible.”

CASSEROLE CREW: I am still looking for someone to volunteer to coordinate this important ministry. This job involves organizing food to be taken to someone who is just getting out of the hospital, had a baby, been injured, had a death in the family, any of those life events that make cooking a meal a challenge. You don’t have to be a cook, just have some organizational skills.

January 5, 2020

Epiphany

Today we celebrate Epiphany. I am moving the readings from tomorrow which is the actual day to today because I believe that the story of the Magi is important and brings the 12 days of Christmas to a formal close and we enter into the season of Epiphany. Epiphany runs until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. An Epiphany means a showing, manifestation or appearance of deity. It also means a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. Jesus for most of his time on earth used the commonplace to teach us about the greater mysteries of God.

Adult Christian Formation

All classes resume today. For the adult class we will look at a series of essays by Richard Rohr that he published last week on Incarnation. What is the Incarnation and why is incarnation important? What role does incarnation play in salvation? Come and enjoy what I hope will be a lively discussion.

December 29, 2019

Lessons and Carols: Today at our 10:30 service we are doing the 9 Christmas Lessons and Carols. This service has been made famous by King’s College at Oxford. We wait all Advent to sing our favorite carols but the 12 days of Christmas pass so quickly that we often do not get to sing many of them. We also do not get much of the actual Christmas story during Advent. This service allows us to hear the majority of the story from Luke’s Gospel and to sing 11 different carols when you add in the processional and recessional. I truly hope you enjoy this unique service.

One of my passions is storytelling and what captured my attention with biblical storytelling is the opportunity to do longer passages of scripture than we normally get on a Sunday morning. So often we lose the context of the story when we only here small bits. This service allows you to hear the full story and put all the pieces together from the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel, to the birth of Jesus and the prophesies of Simeon and  Anna at the temple after his birth.

Adult Formation January 5: A look at the Three Kings in Matthew. What is different about Matthew’s version of the birth of Jesus and why? Join the adult formation class at 9:30 as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.

End of Year Pledge Catchup

As December comes to an end, it is important to complete your 2019 pledge so we can enter 2020 with as successful a year-end as possible. If needed, please contact the office tomorrow for status of your 2019 pledge (call 281-391-2785 or email Jennifer at jkuhn@stpaulskaty.org). All checks received by December 31, 2019 will be applied to this year. Any checks mailed and post-marked by December 31, 2019 will also be applied to 2019. Please contact the office tomorrow, if you plan to pay toward your 2019 in January so we can make any corrections. Have you spoken to your tax advisor? Some may benefit from pre-paying their 2020 pledge this year in order to claim more on their return. Did you know that if you are over 70, you may be able to pay your pledge directly from your IRA. You can also pay your pledge with a donation of stock-again check with your tax advisor. As always, thank you for your ministry to St. Paul’s!

December 22,2019

Today is the last Sunday of Advent. Regular services in the morning and the Blue Christmas Service is at 5:00. Details are below. Christmas Eve will be splendid with great music and a sermon that will feature a special guest. I hope that you will be able to join us. For those traveling, safe travels and I hope you found a great service to attend wherever you may be. Then the following Sunday the 29th we will have a Service of 9 Lessons and Carols at 10:30. This is a reading of most of the Christmas story from Luke and many of Christmas carols that we all love. Join us for this wonderful celebration of Christmas.

Greening of the Church: Sunday, December 22nd

Put on your Christmas Spirit and come help us decorate the church for Christmas. Stay after the 10:30 service and join the Altar Guild for fun, fellowship, and refreshments. We always have so much fun and the more the merrier! Come help make this our most beautiful Christmas ever!

Blue Christmas: Sunday, December 22nd at 5pm

I am offering a service at St. Paul’s this year that has not been offered in the past. Many priests and ministers around the country are aware that the Christmas season can be a challenge if in the past year or years, you have suffered any sort of loss, death, divorce, job loss. In a season where the focus is on joy, this can be hard if you are not feeling joyful. The Blue Christmas Service is designed to speak to that feeling, acknowledge it and help support you in your loss. The service includes readings, a reflection not a sermon, prayers and communion. Please consider joining me for this service at 5:00 p.m. this evening

Christmas Eve Services, Tuesday, December 24th

Join us this Christmas Eve to celebrate with birth of Jesus. We will be having 2 services (nursery open only 4:30-6pm):

4:30pm – Christmas Carols 5pm – Family Service, Rite II
7:30pm – Christmas Carols 8pm – Service, Rite I

December 15, 2019

GAUDATE SUNDAY: Today is known as Gaudate Sunday from the Latin Gaudete in Domino semper” which translates to “rejoice in the Lord always.” This is a Sunday where in the days when Advent was a very solemn penitential season this was the mid point and a day when any fasting was set aside. The color is rose (not pink). Rose is the color when you mix equal parts of purple and white. This is the Sunday that you light the rose colored candle on your Advent wreath. It is also appropriate that this Sunday will be our pageant and potluck Christmas party. See the article included for details. I hope to see you there for what will be a very enjoyable evening.

A JOB WELL DONE: Joyce Davis delivered the coats and the schools were thrilled. See her article below. Thank you to all for your generous support.

ADULT CHRISTIAN FORMATION: This Sunday we will look at Luke 1 and 2 to see how Luke treats the parallel birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus. We may be in the Conference Room because of set up for the Pageant and Christmas Party

December 8, 2019

Enriching Our Worship: For Advent we will be using the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer and Confession from Enriching our Worship at the 10:30 service. This is from a collection of prayers written after the publication of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and authorized for use on Sunday mornings by General Convention. A central theme of Advent is to wake up, stay awake, pay attention. Sometimes we let the words of our service just sweep over us and we really do not hear what is being said. Please be sure to follow along the words for the confession because there are a couple of changes. The Eucharistic prayer clearly includes the incarnation (birth of Jesus) in the prayers and that is the primary reason I use it for Advent. The post communion prayer emphasizes our sending out into the world to proclaim the gospel. How we pray shapes what we believe, and this Eucharistic Prayer is one I hope will make you pay attention. The eucharistic prayer is on the back of this insert.

Adult Christian Formation December 15: Bring your bibles and we will look at Luke 1 and 2 to see how Luke tells the story of the birth of both John the Baptist and Jesus.

Congratulations to Peter Parsons: Peter will be confirmed this morning as an Episcopalian at Christ Cathedral. He was out of town visiting family when the bishop was here.

Final Pleas for Pledges: We really need to hear from those of you who have not pledged. There are some opportunities that we would like to move forward with, but we cannot do that without the pledges to support them.

December 1, 2019

The Bishop is coming:

Don’t forget the Bishop will join us at the 10:30 service for Confirmation followed by a reception in the Narthex. I hope all of you will join us as we celebrate this wonderful day.

Happy New Year!

No, I haven’t gone nuts and skipped right past Christmas. Advent is the start of the new liturgical church year. The color is purple, the color of royalty as we prepare for the coming of Jesus. This is more than a preparation for Christmas, but for the coming of Christ into the world. That would be the “Christ will come again,” part of our statement of faith. Our world makes it so easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year with preparing for the secular part of our Christmas celebration that we can forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I hope you will pick up one of the Advent books from Living Compass and take the time to reflect each day on this time of preparation. We are in Year A which means the gospel of Matthew is the featured gospel. If you start now and read 1 chapter a day you will just about finish by the time you get to Christmas Day.

Last month of Capital Campaign:

As we finish off the calendar year, we are coming to the close of our Capital Campaign. If you have completed your pledge, THANK YOU. If you have not please consider completing your pledge by the end of the December. We will report the final results at the annual meeting in January.

November 24, 2019

Pastoral Care: I mentioned last week that we are restarting our Pastoral Care Team. Please send requests for pastoral care through Mark or Jennifer. Prayer requests go to Christie.

Meals: An important ministry that we are re-establishing is providing meals for people after a hospitalization, birth of a child, death in the family or other times when meals are needed. I am looking for volunteers who would be willing to make a simple meal, stew, soup, pasta that can be taken over to someone and easily heated up. In most cases this would be single or double servings. If interested in being added to the list, please email Jennifer. I am also looking for a coordinator who I would contact when there is a need and then they would organize the delivery to the person who is the recipient

Pledge Update: Please see the article about pledges below. It is really critical that you let us know what your pledge for 2020 will be. It is critical that we surpass last year’s pledge total for us to continue to grow and improve our offerings.

November 17, 2019

Moving Forward

As we move forward with the transition you will notice a couple of changes today at the 10:30 service. This is to modify the service because we do not have Gill. Dr. Oby and I will teach the congregation a short fraction anthem. A fraction anthem is sung after the bread is broken and before I say, “The gifts of God for the people of God.” This allows me to pour the second chalice and get the communion ready to be distributed.

Pastoral Care

I will be re-establishing our Pastoral Care Team. This is very important so that the pastoral care needs of the parish can be met. Team members will make visits on those occasions when we have people in multiple hospitals or assist when my schedule does not allow me to get to a downtown hospital, either for pre-surgical prayers or other needed pastoral care. They will also assist in staying connected with people in rehab and skilled nursing facilities. These are things I had planned to do and had talked with Gill about, we just need to move the timeline up. This week was already an example of how quickly these needs can arise when all of a sudden we had people in two hospitals and a surgery scheduled downtown. Please make sure you call the office or contact me when someone is hospitalized. That is critical for our team to get to work. My mobile number is in the parish directory.

Adult Christian Formation

This Sunday, our look at the Prayer Book concludes. Next week there will be no Christian formation classes but I would like to meet at 9:30 with those people being confirmed and received by the bishop on December 1 to go over some final details. Advent 1 and Advent 2 will be intergenerational Sunday’s (Advent Wreath and St. Nicholas celebration). Advent 3, we will pick up with a look at the first two chapters of Luke which tell the Christmas Story.

November 10, 2019

Farewell Deacon Gill

Please join us after the 10:30 service for St. Paul’s Farewell Reception in the Parish Hall. We will have fruit, cake and a champagne toast. We wish Gill all the best as she moves over to St. Martin’s!

Stewardship

Thank you to the 66 families and individuals who turned in their pledge cards last Sunday. This is a good start and I especially thank those who have generously increased their pledge from last year. However, we really need to hear from everybody. We have received pledges in the amount of $253k compared to $330k for 2019. It looks like we are on pace to be right around what we had last year and we really need to be looking for a little more to allow for growth in general expenses and compensation for staff. Some of our longest serving staff have not had a raise in several years.  We really would like to hear from everyone, even if you are unable to make a pledge this year. Nobody likes to make or receive that phone call in late November asking for your pledge card, so please turn your pledge in on Sundays or mail to the office.

November 3, 2019

We are growing and we need your help

Last Sunday one of our members who had been away for several months was back at St. Paul’s for the first time in a while. She commented about all the new faces that she saw at worship. We have had a very good few months with visitors and newcomers choosing to be members of our parish. If you have been visiting for a few weeks or even months and have decided this is the place for you, then please let Christie know in the office (call 281-391-2785 or email chensley@stpaulskaty.org) so she can get a membership form to you. If needed she can ask your previous church for a transfer of your church letter. Also please remember to wear your name tag so our newer members can get to know those of us who have been around for a while. If you don’t have a name tag let Christie know so she can make one.

Which brings us to our fall Stewardship Campaign. Below is an article about our in-gathering of pledges for 2020. This year’s pledge campaign is critical to the success of our parish. You have heard from our treasurer, from me and from our senior warden. I want to take another opportunity to ask you to be generous. We must respond generously to fund a budget that will need to grow for 2020 to sustain the great progress we have already made. Like Andy, I am confident that you will pray about your pledge and then bring your card this Sunday to help us continue to grow.

LEM help needed at the 8:00 service

We are very short of LEMs, those who serve the chalice, at the 8:00 service. We only have a few and need to add at least 4 or 5 to keep the communion portion of the service flowing. This is in part because of Gill’s departure since she did half the rail at each service. Please let Mark know if you would be willing to help serve in this vital role.

October 27, 2019

The First 90 day

90 days ago I started as your new rector and it doesn’t seem possible that much time has gone by. I have been working with the vestry and members of the search committee on a 90 day plan that the Diocese expects all new rectors to complete. I have met with ministry leaders reviewed finances and programs, been down to the Beacon and had numerous meetings with diocesan personnel including Bishop Monterroso. This Sunday the vestry will meet for a look back at the first 90 days and begin to look forward for next year. This is the last thing on the 90 day plan. I am as thrilled as ever to be here with all of you and am really excited about what is yet to come. I hope you will join us for the Celebration of New Ministry on November 7th @ 7:00 p.m.

Clergy Conference

I attended my first clergy conference at Camp Allen. What a fantastic facility compared to all the other camp/conference facilities I have stayed at for meetings. Incredible energetic group of clergy and lots of valuable workshops and key note speakers. I attended several about growth and building congregations. I also had the chance to reconnect with many clergy who I knew in seminary. Bishop Doyle cast a powerful vision as well as showing an understanding of the challenges that we face in our congregations. I will be meeting with the vestry Sunday after church to brief them on what the diocese is providing for us. There was also a very helpful introduction to the diocese for all new clergy. There were 35 new clergy attending for the first time. I don’t ever remember seeing that many new clergy in any diocese where I have served.

October 20, 2019

Vestry and Council elections

There is a small change in plans for our vote on new vestry and council delegates. There are ballots in your bulletin this morning. We simply need a vote to affirm the slate as presented, we do NOT need to have a meeting so Christian Formation will go on as normal for all ages. The three vestry nominations are, Craig Henderson, Stephen Adcock and Peter Parsons who will all serve three-year terms. For Council Delegates we are presenting three candidates. Rod Keyworth for a one-year term, Ann Blalock for a two-year term, Gaye Lynn Talley for a three-year term and Flint Risen as an alternate.

Adult Christian Formation

This week we will finish up the series on the sacraments with some time spent on our service at the time of death and for funerals. Next week we will move to a session on the history of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. Again for those who wish to be confirmed or received these classes are part of your preparation for the bishop on December 1.

October 13, 2019

Confirmation and Reception on December 1

Anyone who wishes to be confirmed or received when the bishop comes December 1 is asked to stay after the parish meeting for a few minutes to talk to Mark.

Wendy Update

We have all enjoyed Wendy’s trumpet playing and presence with us for the past couple of months. Wendy will be working for The Rev. Canon Blake Rider for October and November and this will involve some supply work for parishes without a priest.

October 6, 2019

Vestry and Council Delegate nominations

The vestry approved a slate of candidates for vestry and Diocesan Council. The three vestry nominations are, Craig Henderson, Stephen Adcock and Peter Parsons who will all serve three-year terms. Because we got out of sequence with Council Delegates we are presenting three candidates. Rod Keyworth for a one-year term, Ann Blalock for a two-year term and Gaye Lynn Talley for a three-year term and Flint Risien as alternate for one year. This will get us back into a proper rotation for council. Thank you to these six faithful members for being willing to serve in these important roles. A vote to approve the slate will be on Sunday Oct 20. Thank you to the nominating committee, Andy Zone, Ralph Talley and Lonnie McConnell.

Stewardship Campaign begins

It is that time of year when we launch our Annual Stewardship Campaign. I pray you will thoughtfully and prayerfully consider your annual gift to this wonderful parish. Please pick up the letter from our treasurer in the narthex today and save us the postage.

New Candlesticks for the altar

This morning we will dedicate new candlesticks for our altar. They were given in loving memory of Larry Revels by his family. We greatly appreciate this loving gift.

September 29, 2019

STORYTELLING GOSPEL THIS WEEK

Today, I will tell the gospel story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. At the 10:30 children are invited to come down front during the gospel hymn to hear the gospel and then go to Children’s Chapel with Miss Julia.

Blessing of the Animals is this Sunday

Just a reminder that this is the Sunday for the Blessing of the Animals at 5:p.m. We will hold the service rain or shine. Details are below. Just one last reminder this is a great event to invite friends to attend.

Vestry Shepherd Program

We are launching something new. The parish has been divided up among our 9 vestry members. Each of you will be receiving or may have received a letter from your shepherd. The idea is to give each of you a specific contact on the vestry if there is something you need from the church or someone to share a concern or a compliment about our parish. Another important benefit is that in times like last week with a hurricane or tropical storm this gives Gill and I a simple way to keep in touch with you. It is helpful for us to know if people have evacuated or are in need of assistance during a major storm and your vestry shepherd can help you.

Pastoral Care

Speaking of keeping in touch, please make sure that if you need pastoral care or are going to be in the hospital, having surgery or anything like that to let us know. My cell number is in our directory. Gill and I are happy to make a pre-surgical visit with you the morning of your surgery if you would like that, but we cannot do that if you do not let us know that you have a surgery planned.

September 19, 2019

NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR:

I am delighted to announce that the vestry approved calling Dr. Jason Oby Ph.D as our new music director. Dr. Oby is currently The Chair of the Music Department at Texas Southern University and Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences. He earned a Ph.D in Voice and Choral Conducting from Florida State University and Bachelor and Master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He has served as music director at several churches and most recently was a soloist at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Houston. He was the Artistic Director of the Houston Ebony Opera Guild and has a long list of performances in opera and oratorios as well as being a published author. Dr. Oby is involved with Singing from the Soul a group dedicated to preparing high school singers prepare for college level study. We are looking forward to him joining us at the beginning of October.

NEW MEMBERSHIP/COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR:

We are also welcoming Christie Hensley as our new Membership/Communications Coordinator. This position is a redesign of the position that Katie previously held. She will be responsible for our membership database, assist Gill with assigning lectors, acolytes, chalice ministers for Sunday morning. What will change is a new focus on expanding our website and social media presence including establishing an Instagram account for the church. Christie is married with three children, lives here in Old Katy and is a member of a new Lutheran congregation.

September 15, 2019

Click here to read the article in the Katy Rancher featuring my interview with Karen Zurawski.

September 1, 2019

Bishop Monterosso will be visiting us this year on December 1, the first Sunday of Advent. One of the things bishops usually do on their visitation is Baptize, Confirm and Receive people into the Episcopal Church.

What is Confirmation and Reception? Many people were baptized as an infant and Confirmation is an adult profession of faith. Baptism makes us Christian; Confirmation and Reception bring us officially into the Episcopal Church. There are several jobs in the church that require a person to be Confirmed or Received. Chalice minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Vestry Member, Council Delegate, Worship Leader all require people to be Confirmed or Received as members of the Episcopal Church.

Should I be received or confirmed? If you were confirmed in any of the churches with bishops in what is called Apostolic Succession, then you would be Received into the Episcopal Church. These include Roman Catholic, any of the Orthodox churches (Eastern, Russian, Greek) and the ELCA Lutheran church. If you are coming from any other tradition, Methodist, Baptist, UCC, nondenominational, then you would be Confirmed.

Not sure? Then ask Mark and he will let you know. If you would like to be Confirmed or Received when the bishop comes, email Mark or give him a call and he will set everything up. There will be some classes in preparation, and we need to start those sometime in October. If you’d like to go ahead and let us know of your interest—please signup on the Episcopal 101 signup sheet in the Narthex.

One more option: There is one other option and that is Reaffirmation. This is for a person who has been Confirmed but would like to restate their faith. Sometimes this can be the spouse or parent of someone being confirmed or received.

Mark+