February 10, 2016

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[av_toggle title=’40 Days of Responding to God’s Love and Abundance’ tags=”]
40 Days of Responding to God’s Love and Abundance

When I wake every morning, I am immediately aware of and grateful for the total gift of life, and excited about God’s new day. Recently, my parents commented that I have started each new day in such a way since I was an infant (and added that I would also annoy others with my morning energy!). My wife Ellie, college mates, fellow seminarians, and others also remind me of this. We all have our own ways of responding to God’s love and abundance and this is a window into my own personal response.

In my prayers, I always include profound gratitude for my blessings, while asking God to give me courage to do what I must, in response to the unconditional love and abundance that envelopes me. In the name of Jesus with whom we walk in Epiphany, and now will walk through the forty days of Lent, each of us, indeed, is called to ponder how we will respond to our Creator. I know each of us will do so as uniquely as we are created.

Episcopal Christians are invited to observe a holy Lent by self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, reading and meditating on God’s holy Word, and sacrificing time, talents, and treasures to the glory of God. In the name of the One who promises us eternal life, we are called to respond through increased presence in worship and formation offerings (time), sharing talents to support the work of parish ministry areas (talents), and pledging generously with money to benefit the parish operating budget (treasures).

It is my prayer that Lent 2016 will be the most rewarding 40 days in our life together at St. Peter’s, namely because of how we each might respond to God’s love and abundance.

Godspeed and blessings on the journey.

– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector
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St. Peter’s Sermon Series for Lent: For the five Sundays in Lent, the clergy of St. Peter’s will preach on the five questions of the baptismal covenant:

  • Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?
  • Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
  • Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
  • Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
  • Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

Lent has always been a season to prepare for and to be reminded of our baptism and this sermon series will help each of us focus on how we are living into our baptismal covenant.
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Souper Bowl Donations: St. Peter’s Youth collected $566.14, to be donated to the Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry, during last weekend’s Souper Bowl.
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Parish Hall Forum: On Sunday, February 14, the Parish Hall Forum will be Outreach and Social Justice: Being a Beacon of Hope in Center City Charlotte, led by members of the Social Justice Committee and the Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer. We will celebrate the life and ministry of the Reverend Absalom Jones, the first African-American Episcopal priest, and make connections between his story and our own. In the Parish Hall from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
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Adult Formation: On Sunday, February 14, begin your Lenten journey with Exploring Contemplative Prayer, a five-week study led by the Reverend Dr. Paul Hanneman. The practice of contemplative prayer helps us grow more responsive to God acting in and through us. This study meets this week in the Town Hall Choir Room.
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Next Week’s Formation Hour: On Sunday, February 21, in addition to the continuation of Exploring Contemplative Prayer for Adult Formation, the Parish Hall Forum topic will be an introduction to Red Boot Coalition, a local organization that meets Wednesdays at St. Peter’s to create places where people feel safe, connected and loved. The 20s and 30s Group will participate in the Parish Hall Forum on the 21st.
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Social Justice–Voting Rights: Learn more about voting rights, voter registration and training to be a poll monitor at the Social Justice Committee table between services and during Coffee Hour on Sunday, February 14, in the Parish House Lobby. The deadline to register in the North Carolina primary elections is February 19 and you’ll be able to learn about photo ID requirements and more.
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Introduction to Servant Leadership: Using books by Henri Nouwen and the Reverend Killian Noe, this six-week study on Thursday evenings begins this Thursday, February 11 and continues through March 17. It will focus on being empowered for productive and effective lay leadership. The Reverend Dr. Paul Hanneman will lead discussion about responding to God’s call to serve one’s church as part of the spiritual journey. Sessions will be 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in the Library. RSVP to the Reverend Dr. Hanneman (phanneman@st-peters.org) so plenty of books will be available.
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Chronic Illness Support Group: Those living with chronic illness are invited to attend the next meeting of this group on Friday, February 12, 11:00 a.m. until Noon in the Parlor. St. Peter’s new Assisting Priest, the Reverend Keith C. Lane, will lead this month’s meeting. Because it is likely that the regular monthly meeting will move from Fridays to another day/time, please come and bring your calendars to determine when future such gatherings will be offered. If you know of others who might appreciate this offering, please either bring them or send their names and contact information to the Reverend Ollie V. Rencher.
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Men’s Lenten Book Study: Rob Smith and Michael Koppenal will lead a study of retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer for the men of St. Peter’s during Lent. The five-week study will be in the Parlor on Tuesdays, 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., beginning February 16. The book is available in paperback and as an ebook.
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The Choir School Evening of Big Band: The Choir School’s 2016 Serenade gala will take place Saturday, February 13, at Charlotte Country Club. Come enjoy a seated dinner, outstanding choral performance, and silent and live auctions. Tickets and more information available on the Choir School website or contact Allison Elrod (704-749-6157, aelrod@thechoirschool.org).
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Center City Concert: Back by popular demand, the A.W. Duo with guest soprano Ariadne Greif will present a free program of chamber music exploring themes of romantic love in music of the 19th century on Monday, February 15, at Noon. A native of Russia, pianist Alyona Aksyonova lives and works as a chamber musician and collaborative pianist in New York City. Cellist James Waldo is founder and artistic director of the Listen Closely Inwood Chamber Music Initiative, a collective of musicians in uptown. The New York Times praised soprano Ariadne Greif for her “luminous, expressive voice.” Center City Concerts at St. Peter’s is a free monthly musical offering in uptown Charlotte.
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Senior Class Lunch: The February Senior Class Luncheon will be held at Leroy Fox (formerly the location of The Hotel Charlotte) at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16. The Senior Class is made up of St. Peter’s parishioners and friends age 55 and up. Contact Jay or Barbara Partington (704 523-1831) or Hannah Craighill (704 334-6278).
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A Message from Father Murdock: No, I am not leaving St Peter’s! I will continue my involvement here at St. Peter’s while also taking on an additional role at Church of the Redeemer in Shelby.

I will be Interim Rector at Church of the Redeemer for a period of time (probably 12 to 18 months), starting February 14. I will be there on most Sundays and two days during the week. There are changes and decisions to be made by the leadership and members of Redeemer, and my ministry will be to assist them in this process.

A primary point in taking on this ministry was to be able to continue the connection with St Peter’s. This means that I will continue to be involved with the Outreach and Social Justice ministries, leading in depth Bible study, occasional preaching, and other opportunities as appropriate and possible. A Sunday, every other month I will be back home at St Peter’s either in the pew or in the pulpit. I value working with Father Ollie, Mother Joslyn, and all the great staff at St Peter’s, and wish to offer whatever value and wisdom that I can.

If you have questions, then please be in touch with me. ~ The Reverend Murdock Smith (msmith@st-peters.org)
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Beyond Our Doors–10th annual Moral March on Raleigh: This voter education rally takes place Saturday, February 13. Buses and vans will depart from the parking lot of the Action NC offices at 5500 Executive Center Drive Charlotte. Transportation information is online.