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Holy Week 2021 Schedule

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St. Philip Invitation – January 2021

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St. Philip Invitation – December 2020

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Worship Events

Postponement of Indoor Worship

Dear beloved St. Philippians:

We are writing to inform you that at the November 10 meeting of the St. Philip Church Council, the leadership body voted to postpone a return to indoor worship.

This decision was not made lightly, as numerous communications have already gone out and preparations had been made for the planned November 15 return date. Unfortunately, since council met and approved the November 15 plan at the October meeting, the coronavirus situation in our Roanoke area has changed. Roanoke and much of Southwest Virginia are now “hot spots,” and our local positivity rates are now running between 10-12%. Roanoke Memorial Hospital has its highest numbers of Covid19 patients yet and now has two floors dedicated to treating Covid patients. 

This was a weighty decision. Council is aware that every single one of us longs to be back to worshipping in the sanctuary. We are certainly all feeling the frustration, fatigue, and sadness of not being able to gather in our traditional ways. But, we are called to care for our St. Philip community and our neighborhood community and gathering in groups in an enclosed space, even briefly, risks those we love. Again, this decision was not made lightly. We – your pastors and your church council – very much miss worshipping as we did prior to this pandemic season.  We miss you and eagerly await the time when we can gather again!

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, remember always that we continue to be a community of faith. Our mission has not and does not stop – we will always seek to Live Like That, like Jesus, as we love, feed, and serve. At this time, we plan to continue to worship in creative ways using our online resources and conference calls, as well drive-up options. While worship brings us much comfort and joy, worship is primarily about God, who is the audience. So while worshipping in these formats may not be our preference, we are indeed still giving thanks and praise to God. If you have not yet connected with the worship options available, we do encourage you to do so.

As we continue through this season, feelings of isolation and loneliness are so prevalent. We all very much need each other and ask you to connect with one another. The St. Philip family is such a gift and we encourage you to check in with one another. We, your pastors, also want to connect with you and encourage you to connect with us. Most importantly, as challenges and disappointments are prevalent, remember always you are not alone. Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. 

In God’s Promise,
Pastor David and Pastor Laura

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Council Notes

Announcing Congregational Meeting – September 27

Dear Fellow St. Philippians:

This letter is to inform you of a Congregational Meeting, which Council has schedule for Sunday, September 27, after the 9:30AM “parking lot” worship service.

The meeting will take place in the parking lot.

The purpose of this meeting is to vote on Council’s recommendation for changes to the St. Philips Constitution.  This will be the sole item on the agenda, and approval of the recommendation will require a majority of the voters present at this meeting.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that we have a quorum present for this meeting, so PLEASE make every effort to attend.

The changes being proposed are mostly to align our Constitution with the Congregational Constitution currently in effect in the Virginia Synod of the ELCA.  The Virginia Synod Constitution has had seven (7) updates since St. Philip last updated its Constitution in April 2013, so we need to get current.  The most important provision in the update to us right now would allow St. Philip to conduct Congregational Voter meetings digitally, without having an “in person” gathering.  The lack of this provision in our Constitution is beginning to hamper Council’s ability to effectively manage the affairs of our congregation.

It is NOT Council’s intent to adopt digital voter’s meetings as a preferred practice.  I think most would agree that in-person gatherings remain the preferred practice because it allows effective communication and important exchanges of ideas and viewpoints in a meeting.  However, we have learned that the ability to conduct a digital voter’s meeting is indeed an important option to insure effective management of congregational business in extreme circumstances.

A copy of the recommended updates can be found below.  Please review prior to our meeting on the 27.

God’s Peace to all of you,
Gary Sahm, Council President

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News

Drive Up Worship for July 12

Dear St. Philippians, 

We miss you all! While we give thanks for the gifts of technology that have allowed us to gather virtually every Sunday during this Pandemic, we lament not being able to connect in our traditional ways. This time certainly has not been easy for any of us. Once a month on the second Sunday, rain or shine, you are invited to drive to the church parking lot where we will worship together and share in the sacrament of communion. The next drive up worship is July 12 at 11:00am. Please note that Open Doors online worship will continue to be offered at every Sunday, including the drive-in Sundays. The drive-up service will be an abbreviated version of that Sunday’s Open Doors worship. 

Please note while we are looking forward to this worship opportunity, social distancing will still be observed. Below are some guidelines for the service. 

  1. Parking attendants will help direct worshippers to a parking spot. Please park in a way that allows you to see the font entrance of the church. This is where the worship leaders will stand. 
  2. Worshippers may attend the worship service while seated in their cars. All cars may roll down their right-side windows. This will allow for cars to have fresh air, but maintain distance between one another’s open vehicles.  
  3. Worship will be streamed on the frequency 92.9FM using an FM transmitter so that all worshippers will be able to tune into the service audio from their cars. 
  4. A worship bulletin will be emailed to the congregation the Thursday prior to worship that they are invited to print at home and bring to worship. For those unable to access email, bulletins will be provided at the church.
  5. During the passing of the peace, worshippers who are wearing masks are invited to exit their vehicles and stand by them to wave a greeting of peace to the community. Social distancing is to be maintained during the passing of the peace. Worshippers not wearing masks should not exit their vehicles. 
  6. Communion will be celebrated at the drive in worship service. Worshippers are asked to bring their own communion elements with them to worship. Worship elements include bread or gluten free bread or cracker and either wine or grape juice. 
  7. The pastors will lead the service and walk by cars to greet worshippers. The pastors will practice social distancing while leading and interacting with worshippers. 
  8. Parking attendants will guide cars in exiting the parking lot after the service.
  9. The church building will be open for emergency bathroom visits. You may enter the building, masked, one person at a time, through the side entrance and follow the cleaning protocols listed in each restroom. (For bathroom protocols, please see here.)

We are looking forward to celebrating this service together. To experience the joy of seeing one another’s faces and to give thanks to God for abiding with us in this difficult season. If you have questions about this service, please contact one of the pastors. 

Peace, 
Pastor David and Pastor Laura

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News

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge Challenge

Starting July 1st you are invited to join Pastor Laura and Pastor David in doing the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge Challenge. This challenge is particularly designed for white people to consider issues of race and racism in a purposeful way. After 21 days, we would love to unpack that experience with those who participated. For people of faith who value all of God’s creation, the systemic presence of racism painfully contradicts God’s kingdom promises. This challenge is one way we might be a part of healing for our hurting world.

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News

Response to the Murder of George Floyd and Systemic Racism

Dear, St Philippians,

As faith leaders, we are heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd, but we know that people of faith cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. As part of the baptized community of faith, we are called to renounce the devil and all forces that defy God. We are called to renounce the powers of this world that rebel against God, and the ways of sin that draw us from God. The white supremacy present in our society defies the world God intended. Racism rebels against God. Our knowing or unknowing complicity in systemic racism draws us from God. 

As we celebrate the festival of Pentecost today, the celebration of the Holy Spirit being breathed into creation, the hard irony is that we, as a community and a nation, are grieving the murder of George Floyd, a black man who repeatedly said I can’t breathe while he died under the knee of a police officer. Our hearts break for the Floyd family, for communities of color who continually live in fear, and for how deeply racism is embedded in our society. While our service was recorded before the tragic events this week came to light, we still wanted to speak to the sins of racism and white supremacy from the perspective of Pentecost.

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, a black EMT worker killed in her own bed, and Ahmaud Arbery a young black man killed on a jog in Georgia, are truly heartbreaking and infuriating, but perhaps the most painful aspect is that there are so many more Ahmauds, Breonnas, and Georges whose stories go untold. 

Racism is a deep rooted sin in our world and in our country. It is not a past historical concept, it is not something we have moved on from, but a painful, ever-present daily threat for our siblings of color. It may have been brought to bare for us this week in the national news, but people of color know this to be a daily reality. 

The festival of Pentecost celebrates the wondrous moment of people of all kinds of languages and cultures coming together, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, they are able to understand one another. This is a powerful lesson for us in our present time. We are called to listen. Despite our own reluctance or discomfort, we are called to truly listen to the voices of people of color. Hear their experiences of systemic racism and oppression in this country. 

Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to commit ourselves to the kingdom work of first acknowledging the racism we hold in ourselves, to ask God for guidance and forgiveness. We are called to pray for our siblings of color and for the dismantling of systemic racism.

As faith leaders, we felt that it was important to speak to these tragic deaths, and the racism that caused them, because we believe that all people are created in the image of God. Tragically, due to the sins of racism and white supremacy, not all bodies are seen as God-created. We commit ourselves to the proclamation that Black lives do indeed matter. We commit ourselves to hard conversations about racism, and learning more about ourselves. We know the complications of COVID and social distancing makes all of these things more difficult, but as people of faith, we are called to be about this work. As on that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is indeed blowing and moving the church to more fully proclaim God’s love for the world.

As part of this ongoing work, on Sunday, June 21, we will hold a service commemorating the Emanuel 9, the members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC who were murdered in a hate crime during Bible Study. We invite you to join us online for that service, to reflect on the lives of these saints, and how God is calling us to live more fully into anti-racism work together. 

Even as tears flow, as they have for us, the promise of the resurrected Christ is that new life is not only possible, but is inevitable.  It is the Spirit of the Living Lord breathed onto, and into, and through us that makes the work ahead work that is steeped in hope.

In Christ, 
Pastor David and Pastor Laura

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COVID19 News Uncategorized

Newest Pastoral Update from St. Philip

Dear St. Philippians, 

In consultation with health agencies and the Virginia Synod, ELCA, on March 13, 2020, all in-person gatherings at St. Philip were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The St. Philip Church Council later extended this practice through May 17, 2020. We acknowledge that this time of physical distancing has been hard. We grieve the lack of in-person connections. One of the gifts of living in a community as St. Philip is being with one another. But even as we have missed being together physically, we give thanks that we have never ceased being the church! God has walked with us through this season and will continue to guide and comfort us in the days and weeks to come.  

As we are now entering the time of a phased reopening approach, St. Philip will operate under the following guidelines and practices. Please know that these practices were thoughtfully prepared in consultation with the relevant health and government authorities. We want to return in the very best way possible, and as frustrating as it might be, we need time to prepare to do that well.

As always, our mission as disciples of Christ is to live out the love and grace shown to us by God. We understand that mission during this time of pandemic to be one of love and care for our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable among us. While these plans are intended to be carried out, they may be revised at any point in response to new relevant information.

Phase One: Starting May 15

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 1: Limit gatherings to those that can be held virtually”

St. Philip’s Practices 

  • Continued suspension of in-person gatherings for worship 
  • Open Doors digital worship will be offered at 8:30 and 11:00am on May 17 then at 9:30am starting May 24. Additionally, the worship video is posted to Facebook and the church website. 
  • Conference call access offered for both services. 
  • Church Council is forming a COVID Preparedness Team to plan for, resource, and implement restrictions for in person gatherings of faith communities.

Phase Two: Beginning 2-4 weeks after the start of Phase One, to be announced by Governor Northam

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 2: Consider continuing to hold gatherings virtually… for vulnerable populations and consider video streaming or drive-in options for services.”

St. Philip’s Practices

  • Open Doors digital worship will continue to be offered at 9:30am. Additionally, worship will be posted to Facebook and the church website, as well as access via conference call 
  • Drive In Worship will be held in the church parking lot on a monthly basis, while still following important social distancing guidelines.
    • Worshippers may attend the worship service while seated in their cars with windows rolled up. Through a radio transmitter worship will be broadcast using the FM radio in the vehicle.  Windows must stay rolled up throughout the service to prevent the spread of the virus between closely parked cars. 
    • A worship bulletin will be emailed to the congregation in the week prior to worship that they are invited to print at home and bring to worship. For those unable to access email, bulletins will be provided at the church.
    • During the passing of the peace, worshippers who are wearing masks are invited to exit their vehicles and stand by them to wave a greeting of peace to the community. Social distancing is to be maintained during the passing of the peace. Worshippers not wearing masks should not exit their vehicles. 
    • Communion will be celebrated at the drive in worship service. Worshippers are asked to bring their own communion elements with them to worship. Worship elements include bread or, gluten free bread or crackers, and either wine or grape juice. 
    • The pastors will lead the service and walk by cars to greet worshippers. The pastors will practice social distancing while leading and interacting with worshippers. 

Phase Three: Will start at a later date to be announced by Governor Northam

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 3: Limit gatherings to those that can maintain social distancing and consider video streaming or drive-in options for vulnerable populations.”

St. Philip Practices

  • The pastors and congregational council will continue to consult state and federal health guidelines before making decisions about Phase Three operations. 
  • The sincere hope is to resume in-person gatherings in Phase Three. The pastors and St. Philip Council will consult the Bishop’s Office and all relevant state and federal guidelines about gatherings at the time. 
  • Online worship will continue to be offered in some form to serve the whole community. 

We know that this time of pandemic has not been easy. We miss worshipping with our St.Philip family and spending time with one another. We give thanks that this hard time will not last forever. In the meantime, we give thanks for one another, for the ways we are connecting during this time, and the love of God that holds us always. 

In God’s care, 

Pastor David and Pastor Laura 

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News

Easter Greetings from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton