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Social Justice: What Is Required of Us?
Okay, why does it feel like we are talking about Social Justice all the time? That’s right alongside of the question, Why do we keep talking about racism and racial reconciliation, voter access, and education? Aren’t these political matters that need to be answered in the courtroom or council chamber, and not from the pulpit, parish, parishioner, or priest?
Yes, these are all political issues but, more importantly, they are theological, biblical, and sacramental issues. As persons of faith that is where we are to start.
We all have responsibilities as citizens to be engaged in the processes that help us to have a stronger and better nation, state, and city. We have responsibilities as Christians to be engaged in how our community is defined and, perhaps most importantly, we have a responsibility to make sure that our community is defined by the sure knowledge that all are children of God. Separation of church and state is a political statement and a necessary expression of our American democracy (though we do not all agree what that means). As Christians there ought not to be any separation between our faith and our citizenship…if we say on Sunday that in Christ there is no East or West, male or female, Jew or Gentile, then the same applies in the marketplace.
The intent of Social Justice Ministry is to help us bridge that divide between church and courtroom, sanctuary and school, formation in faith and formation as citizen.
Yes, the lines may seem blurred at times. Social Justice helps us understand that we cannot sit back. If the consequences of racism are to be reversed, changed, transformed then it will be through the hearts, hands, and souls of the church. If there is going to be a healthy and equitable democracy then it is the people of God who will demand it (and know that in North Carolina, both parties do not have good records). Charlotte is last of fifty American cities for opportunity to upward economic mobility, which says, at least to me, that there are sisters and brothers in Christ who are being denied access to those basic tools of a better life—education, housing, health care, jobs.
Social Justice is about all benefitting from justice—those who have and those who do not. Social Justice is about a win-win understanding.
Consider the powerful proclamation from the prophet Micah (6:8): He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk numbly with your God? So why do we keep talking about Social Justice? Because we have been told what is good and is required of us.
—The Reverend L. Murdock Smith, Assisting Priest
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A Message from the Rector—Consider Morning Prayer: This morning, I had the privilege of joining others for Morning Prayer in the Chapel of the Saints at 8:00 a.m. If you work uptown or can find time in your schedule to pop in and out for this half-hour of prayer and reflection to start your day, I hope you will consider adding this to your routine during Lent. It was a blessing to me on this Lenten morning as I’m sure it would be for you. Morning prayer is offered weekdays at 8 a.m. Read more about worship offerings online , including more about engaging the Daily Office.
-The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector
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Welcome Staff Facilities Lead Brian Whitley. On Wednesday, February 17, the Clergy, Staff, and parish family welcome Brian Whitley as Facilities Lead. Brian brings approximately 18 years of construction, operations, and project management experience from Charlotte area institutions. Brian will collaborate with evening Facilities Assistant Willis Truesdale and Parish Administrator Leigh Dixon on the overall care and cleanliness of buildings and grounds. More about Brian will be communicated in the near future.
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Parish Hall Forum: On Sunday, February 21, the Parish Hall Forum will be an introduction to the Red Boot Coalition, a new initiative by Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run. Red Boot Coalition strives to get to the root of the “us versus them” mentality that is at least one factor in the hyperpolarized state of politics, religion, economics, and ethnicity in today’s society. Molly has traveled the country engaging in conversations with people across a wide spectrum and this conversation will address what is possible when people collectively give voice and action to love, compassion, and curious inquiry. Visit the Red Boot Coalition website to learn more about the origins of the organization. In the Parish Hall from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
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Adult Formation: On Sunday, February 21, experience walking contemplation during Exploring Contemplative Prayer will meet in the Parlor for week two of this study led by the Reverend Dr. Paul Hanneman. Contact Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a handout on Centering Prayer and a description of walking contemplation, which the group will participate in this week. In the Parlor, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
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20s and 30s Formation: This group will participate in the Parish Hall Forum on the Red Boot Coalition this week.
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Children’s Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Youth Journey to Adulthood: Weekly offerings are available for children and youth, infants through high school, 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. at various places throughout the Parish House.
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Sunday Evenings at St. Peter’s: This week’s 5:00 p.m. service is a Service of Light and the Holy Eucharist in the manner of Taizé, a monastic community in France founded in 1949 and devoted to prayer and reconciliation within the church and the human family. This service features contemplative song, prayer, candle-lighting, touching blessed water, and times of silence, in addition to the Holy Eucharist.
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Next Week’s Formation Hour: On Sunday, February 28, in addition to the continuation of Exploring Contemplative Prayer for Adult Formation, the Parish Hall Forum topic will be How Do You Pray? Different Forms of Prayer, led by Jim Dudley with the Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer.
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20s and 30s Oscar Viewing Party: All 20s and 30s are invited to an Oscars Party on Sunday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the home of Matt and Erin Chantry. There will be an Oscars Award Ballot contest (with fabulous prizes, of course) and plenty of movie-themed snacks. Please bring your beverage of choice. Children are welcome! RSVP here.
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Youth Car Wash Fundraiser: Take care of your car and support St. Peter’s Youth by participating in their car wash fundraiser. Beginning on Sunday, February 21, you can purchase Auto Bell Car Wash tickets for $16.00 in the Parish House Lobby and at the North Tryon Street entrance to the church. Youth will be have a table in the Parish House Lobby this week, but tickets will continue to be on sale throughout the year.
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Community Garden: Volunteers with St. Peter’s Community Garden worked hard harvesting the rest of the crops before the intense cold last weekend and here are the results: The efforts of many increased our yield by 217 pounds in 2015, for a total of 1400.9 pounds of food for Friendship Trays. This number included 292 pounds of sweet potatoes, 239 lbs. of greens, 117 pounds of green beans, and a cabbage harvest of 153 pounds. Stop by the Parish House Lobby bulletin boards on Sunday for a look at the significant contributions from our Community Garden. If you want to be part of this service to our community, contact Nancy Duncan (email@example.com) or turn out on Saturday, February 27, and Saturday, March 13, from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.
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Help Needed for Coffee Hour: Help is needed on the third Sunday of the month during coffee hour. Volunteering for this hospitality ministry involves coming to church between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.; helping the other volunteer make urns of coffee and lemonade; bringing goodies—cookies, sandwiches or fruit, for example; and helping to clean up afterward. If you’re interested in being part of this fun ministry and have questions, contact Susanne Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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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.
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Men’s Lenten Book Study: Even if you missed the organizational meeting, consider joining this Lenten book study in the Parlor on Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (note the revised time). Rob Smith and Michael Koppenal will lead this study of retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer for the men of St. Peter’s during Lent. Email Rob Smith (email@example.com) for details.
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Poll Monitoring Training: Democracy NC, a non-partisan group, offers a training session on poll monitoring Saturday, February 20, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Charlotte for volunteers who want to be poll monitors on Primary Election Day, March 15. You don’t need to be an expert to be a Vote Protector Volunteer, but you do need to attend a training session. You will learn about recording complaints, conducting exit surveys, and using the hotline. You will receive a T-shirt and other materials, and you will be teamed up with another volunteer. Sign up online or call 1-888-our-vote to sign up for the volunteer workshop on Saturday, February 20, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Charlotte.
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Q&A with Former Congressman: Islam, Radicalism & Jesus: Is There Hope? is the topic for a Q&A with former Congressman Mark Siljander on Tuesday, February 28, noon until 2:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 1510 East Seventh Street. RSVP to Gary Waldron (704-450-4057, G.Waldron@BridgesToCommonGround.org).
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Looking Ahead – Mark Your Calendars
- March 3: Pub Theology
- March 11-13: Happening #62 for Youth – Camp Walter Johnson (Denton, N.C.)
- March 19: St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Fellowship on the Lawn
- March 21: Center City Concert – Lake Norman Choral Artists with NC Baroque Orchestra Chamber Players – Noon
- March 20: Palm and Passion Sunday
- March 21-March 26: Holy Week
- March 28-April 1: Easter Break – Parish Offices Closed