News Uncategorized

COVID and Mask Updates at St. Philip

Greetings St. Philippians:

After new recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) encouraging both vaccinated, as well as unvaccinated persons, to resume wearing masks indoors in public places, St. Philip Church Council voted to reinstate the expectation of wearing masks indoors at St. Philip, beginning this Sunday, August 15. This decision was made in consultation with our regional health officials, advice from doctors, and in caring discernment of how God is calling us to love and serve the community. 

We continue to pray for the health, safety, and care for the community; our congregational community, our neighborhood community, and our global community. As always, connect and worship in the way that is best for you! We are called together to Live Like That (Christ): loving, feeding, and serving.

In God’s care, 
Pastor David and Pastor Laura

News Newsletter

Generosity Matters: It’s a Spiritual Thing

The Stewardship Team and the pastors invite you to read this article about stewardship and the spiritual act of Giving to God. Once you have read this article, comment below your thoughts so the congregation might have shared conversation about the joy of giving.

Congregational Life News

Holy Week 2021 Schedule

All online worship services
News Newsletter

St. Philip Invitation – January 2021

News Newsletter

St. Philip Invitation – December 2020

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

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


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. 

Pastor David and Pastor Laura


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.


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