Christmas at St. Peter’s. Plus this week’s news.

A Note Regarding Public Worship from the Rector 

We are closely monitoring the spread of the Omicron COVID variant. Cases are rising in many parts of the country and public health officials expect cases to rise in Mecklenburg County in the near future. 

We wish to reiterate some important points as they pertain to public worship, and as many of us prepare to gather for Christmas observances at St. Peter’s:

  • We believe our protocols for public worship are safe. Masks work very well, but the kind of mask is important. Please consider wearing a N95, KN95, or a KF94 mask while attending worship. If you cannot acquire such a mask, double masking with a standard surgical mask and a cloth mask works very well.
  • When deciding whether to attend public worship, each individual and household should make the decision that is best for them and their family. No public gathering is without risk, though we believe our worship services pose very little risk. 
  • Should you choose to worship virtually this Christmas, the 10:00 p.m. Musical Prelude and the 10:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist “Midnight Mass” will be livestreamed from the St. Peter’s website and will be available for playback.

Early next week, we expect to receive more information from the Diocese regarding next steps to mitigate the spread of this new variant. 

As Mother Amanda reminded our Vestry on Tuesday evening, God does some of God’s most important work in the dark. The angel visited Joseph while he slept, in the dark. Christ was born overnight, in the dark. Christ rose before Easter morning, in the dark. Jesus was not born into a perfect world, but in a world much like our own, full of anxiety and uncertainty. 

This Christmas may we remember the words of the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as it so beautifully reminds us, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” 

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Rector 

This Week

Christmas at St. Peter’s. During the season of Christmas, St. Peter’s will offer a broad array of liturgies and music in celebration of this major feast of the Church year. 

Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24*: 
4:00 p.m. – Children’s Christmas Pageant with Holy Eucharist
7:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Choral Prelude at 6:30 p.m.
10:30 p.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II, “Midnight Mass,” Choral Prelude at 10:00 p.m.

Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite I. 

The First Sunday after Christmas, Sunday, December 26*
10:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist, Rite II. 

On the Second Sunday after Christmas, January 2, our regular Sunday schedule of Holy Eucharist at 7:45 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and 11:15 a.m. resumes. Formation for all ages resumes January 9. 

*The nursery is open on Christmas Eve for the 7:00 p.m. service only. The nursery is not open on Christmas Day or December 26. 

Greening of the Church, Thursday, December 23, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Anyone may join the altar guild in the annual greening of the church in preparation for Christmas celebrations. Cleaners and polishers, along with folks to help hang garlands and wreaths, and volunteers to place poinsettias, are needed. Cleaning will begin at 10:00 a.m. and end by 2:00 p.m. No experience is required. Drop-ins are welcome and parishioners of all ages and abilities are invited to attend. For questions, please contact Mary Virginia Woodall (704-351-1627, mava823@gmail.com).

Parish House Offices closed until the New Year Beginning December 24. In observance of Christmastide, the Parish Offices will be closed beginning December 24 through January 2. Morning Prayer will be offered by Zoom and the Weekday Holy Eucharist will resume January 5. For pastoral emergencies, please dial the clergy-on-call line, 704-749-6175.

Join us for Worship. Our safety procedures at each service allow us to welcome all those who feel that in-person worship is safe for them at this time. Many COVID-19 protocols, including mask-wearing, are in effect. Socially distanced seating is available in the chapel. Diocesan guidelines require masks indoors at St. Peter’s for all services and other gatherings, regardless of vaccination status. 

2022 Annual Giving Campaign

How will we answer God’s call in 2022? Guided by a strategic plan to care for our faith, our community, our home, and our world, our new vestry will begin to envision the answer to that question in early January. Your individual response to God’s call—through worship, prayer, service, and giving – will have a very big impact.

If you have not yet made your pledge of financial support for 2022, please make it today. Together, we have committed $851,300 toward our goal of $960,000. You can make a secure pledge online at st-peters.org/pledge, or by contacting Director of Stewardship Allison Elrod (aelrod@st-peters.org).

Learn more from your fellow parishioners about why pledging is important on the Giving page: st-peters.org/giving/stories-of-stewardship.

Worship and Music

Daily Office. Morning Prayer has resumed in the St. Peter’s Chapel on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. Zoom offerings for Morning Prayer are available every weekday as well. Coffee and fellowship in the Parlor follow right after the Tuesday and Thursday services of Morning Prayer. Evening prayer takes place every day online at 5:30 p.m. at st-peters.org/eveningprayer. On December 28 and December 30, Morning Prayer will only be offered online but will resume in the Chapel on January 4. 

Weekday Holy Eucharist on Wednesdays at Noon. Each Wednesday at Noon, St. Peter’s clergy offer a service of Holy Eucharist in the Chapel. This brief service of Holy Communion is a great way to spend the lunch hour in Uptown and to worship alongside a smaller congregation of parishioners. Please note that the Wednesday Eucharist is suspended for December 29 and will resume on January 5. 

The Feast of the Epiphany. On January 6, following 8:00 a.m. Morning Prayer, a service of Holy Eucharist will be celebrated in the St. Peter’s Chapel in commemoration of the Feast of the Epiphany. 

Marking your Home with Blessed Epiphany Chalk. “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, which means “to show, make known, or reveal.” Indeed, making known our faith in the world is a vital aspect of the Christian life. One place we spend much of our life is in our homes. There is an ancient custom practiced during the season of Epiphany of marking our homes with blessed chalk. On Sunday, January 9, chalk of all colors will be blessed and available for use in home blessings. Join us on January 9 to receive blessed chalk and a simple liturgy for blessing your home. On this day, the annual Burning of the Christmas Greens will follow the 11:15 a.m. liturgy in the churchyard.

Learning

The Adult Forum, Sunday, 10:00 a.m. The forum takes a break for the weeks of December 26 and January 2, resuming on January 9. 

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will be on break December 26 & January 2, resuming on January 9. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd takes place on Sundays, 10:00 a.m.–Noon, in the atria located on the main floor of the parish house. All adults and children must be masked and adults are fully vaccinated. Frequent handwashing is being practiced. Registration is required and strict attendance records will be kept. Register online at st-peters.org/catechesis-registration.

Nursery. The nursery will be open for the 7:00 p.m. service on Christmas Eve. It will not be open on Christmas Day or December 26. The nursery’s regular schedule resumes Sunday, January 2, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., for children birth-age to 4-years-old. For more information, contact Anna Hurdle (ahurdle@st-peters.org). Learn more online at st-peters.org/nursery.

Sunday Book Group, January 9, 2:00 p.m. The Sunday Book Group will discuss Wendell Berry’s essays: “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” and “The Pleasures of Eating,” in The Art of the Commonplace, pages 305-327. Our next book is Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, which we will begin discussing on Sunday, January 23, 2022. Contact Deje McGavran (dhmcgavran@gmail.com) for more information. Join online at st-peters.org/bookclub-sunday.

Monday Night Bible Study, 6:30–8:00 p.m. The study is not meeting in December but will resume on January 3 via Zoom. We will study 2 Corinthians using N.T. Wright’s Study Guide, which is available on Amazon. There is weekly preparation and everyone is invited to attend.  For more information, contact Ruth Woodend (rbwoodend@gmail.com).

Wednesday Afternoon Book Group, 1:00–2:00 p.m. The book group will resume on January 5, reading Ladder to the Light, an Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage by Steven Charleston, an Episcopal Bishop and Choctaw Elder. Contact Ruth Woodend (rbwoodend@gmail.com, 704-661-4687) for further details.

Wednesday Night Bible Study, 7:00–8:00 p.m. Wednesday Night Bible Study is reading through the book of Isaiah. No preparation is needed, but contact Mother Amanda (astephenson@st-peters.org) if you would like to read ahead. Join through Zoom at st-peters.org/biblestudy-wednesday. We will not meet on December 29 but resume on January 5.  

Community Life

St. Luke’s Guild: Chronic Care Support Group, Thursday, January 13, 11:00 a.m. Father Keith Lane and parishioner Dan Busch, LCSW (retired), facilitate this fellowship for persons with chronic illnesses of any sort and those who are caregivers of family and friends. St. Luke’s Guild meets regularly on the second Thursday of the month. To learn more, contact the Reverend Keith C. Lane, Assisting Priest (klane@st-peters.org, 917-679-7285) or Dan Busch (danwbusch@gmail.com, 704-519-7417).

Contact Tracing for COVID-19 Infections. The Diocese of North Carolina requires worshiping communities to notify parishioners in the event of possible COVID transmission during worship or at other events. If you test positive for COVID-19 and have recently attended an in-person gathering at St. Peter’s, please contact a member of the clergy. Your name and information will not be shared and confidentiality will be maintained in all circumstances. 

Prayer Requests. As a community, we offer support to one another through prayer. Requests may be made in two ways: Submit your request online at st-peters.org/make-a-prayer-request or contact Clergy Assistant, Michael Talbert (mtalbert@st-peters.org, 704-749-6141). Persons who have given consent for their names to be printed will be read aloud and listed for four Sundays unless a more extended period is requested. Intercessions are offered during Sunday and weekday worship and daily by the Clergy and Pastoral Care Team. 

Pastoral Care: Sharing and Responding to Concerns. To alert the clergy regarding a pastoral concern, send an email to Father Jacob (jpierce@st-peters.org) or Mother Amanda (astephenson@st-peters.org). For pastoral emergencies such as hospitalizations, dial the Clergy On-Call Phone at 704-749-6175. This process is the best way to communicate pastoral needs and ensure a response from a member of the clergy or pastoral care team.

Outreach & Social Justice

Room in the Inn is in need of your donations, particularly the following items:  deodorant, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, chapstick, socks. These items are passed out to 12 guests every week, so the need is ongoing. There is a basket in the lobby under the parking ticket scanner to leave your donations. If you have questions or want to get involved in other ways with RITI, contact Bert Miano, miano204@gmail.com, or 205-222-7527. 

Episcopal Relief & Development Tornado Support. On Friday and Saturday, December 10 and 11, a line of severe weather spread across the central United States, spawning over 50 tornadoes. Many lives were lost in these storms, and homes and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Episcopal Relief & Development is in contact with the affected dioceses as they assess the needs in their communities and stands ready to assist in the coming days and weeks. Please pray for the people impacted by the deadly tornadoes. Donations to the US Disaster Fund will support Episcopal Relief & Development and its partners as they respond.

St. Peter’s Social Justice Facebook Group. For information about important Social Justice events in our parish and in the Community, please follow us online at facebook.com.

About the eNews

The weekly news for the St. Peter’s community is published on our website, on Facebook, and via email each Thursday morning. The same information is also printed in the Sunday leaflets and mailed to those who request it. The deadline for submissions is the preceding Friday by Noon. While we welcome submissions from across the parish community, items will be edited for content, length, and style. Send submissions to communications@st-peters.org.