Rector Report

The Rev. Catherine Hicks 

This year’s report is shaped by how we, as the St Peter’s community,  carried out our baptismal vows throughout 2018. 

In 2018, the people of St Peter’s worshiped as this part of the Body of Christ in our corner of Caroline County.  We continued in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers in various ways.   Christian Education for children and adults (see the Christian Education report) was available throughout the year.  Fellowship continued with a monthly social on the first Sunday of the month following church, which in 2018 became a potluck lunch. Village Dinners were held on a monthly basis.  For the first time in a few years, the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper took place, with Chef Dave Fannon whipping out pancakes for an appreciative audience.  On the first weekend in May, some members of St Peter’s joined Shiloh Baptist for Shiloh’s MS Walk, and others went to Shrine Mont with Christ Church, Spotsylvania. 

Worship for the year did not begin until Sunday, January 14th.  The Epiphany Love Feast and the first Sunday after Epiphany worship services had to be canceled due to snow, frigid temperatures, and a power outage in Port Royal that lasted for several days.  On Sunday evening, February 11th, with temperatures in the 60’s, St Peter’s welcomed The Thirteen for a concert and a reception at the home of the Heimbachs.  Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day coincided.  The Holy Week services took place as usual, with the addition of a foot washing and pizza supper I did over at the trailer park before the Maundy Thursday service at St Peter’s.    Easter Day fell on April 1st.  I preached at the Community Sunrise Service as well as at St Peter’s.

After Easter, St Peter’s, Shiloh and Memorial held a potluck lunch and invited Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Moser to speak with us on the topic of church safety and to hear his suggestions for how to keep our people and church buildings safe from harm. 

Also in April, several members of St Peter’s went to Memorial Baptist Church for a gospel concert by The Miller Family.

Between Ascension Day and Pentecost, we joined with Christians around the world and participated in “Thy Kingdom Come,” a prayer initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. 

During April, we formed a discernment committee for Salli Hartman, led by Thomas Haun, from the Diocese of Virginia.  We affirmed her call to the diaconate.  She begins her training for the Diaconate in January of 2019. 

In August, we mourned the death of Marsha Dobson.  Many from St Peter’s attended her memorial service, held in the Covenant Funeral Services chapel in Fredericksburg.  I officiated. 

With Bishop Shannon’s permission, on the Sundays of September we observed Year B of the Season of Creation, delving more deeply into our interconnectedness with one another, with God and with all of Creation.  The Season of Creation ended on St Francis’ Day with the blessing of the pets at St Peter’s. Gospel on the River took place on the last Saturday of September at the home of the Heimbachs.  The stewardship campaign coincided with the Season of Creation.  We ended the stewardship campaign by taking home daffodil bulbs to plant. 

On the last Sunday of October, in addition to the 9AM Rite I Eucharist and the 11AM Rite II service, a third Eucharist designed for children was held in the afternoon, followed by a Halloween supper for those who attended the service.

On the first Sunday in November, we celebrated All Saints’ Day.  The following Sunday we welcomed Everett Huffman into the congregation through the sacrament of Holy Baptism followed by a time of fellowship after the baptism.

The ECW ended the church year with a time of fellowship at a tea held at the home of Cookie Davis. 

On the fourth Sunday in Advent the traditional Christmas pageant took place.  Christmas Eve followed the next day, and the calendar year ended with a service of Lessons and Carols on the 2nd Sunday of Christmas.

The St Peter’s choir has grown, and with the additional voices, our Choir Director and Organist, Brad Volland, has been able to bring some new musical dimensions into our worship.  Several instrumentalists have also shared their talents this year as well, enriching our worship together. 

Persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we sin, repent and return to the Lord.  In February, the ECW went to Belle Grove to learn more about the sin of slavery and about the lives of people who were enslaved on plantations before the civil war. 

The Vestry spent months working on a comprehensive safety plan for St Peter’s which is now operational and has been made available to all members of the parish. 

We proclaimed by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, and sought to serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and we worked for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being through our on-going outreach through the Village Harvest Food Distribution, in its fourth year.   During “Thy Kingdom Come,” we spent intentional time in prayer with those who came to the food distribution.   In addition, several people took lunch to the trailer park for the children one summer day in July.   We provided the food for the Port Royal Tree Lighting in December and several people from St Peter’s helped serve the food, along with Memorial Baptist Church and Shiloh Baptist Church. 

Thanks to the generosity of the people of St Peter’s, the Discretionary Fund continues to provide emergency assistance to those in need of help with rent, electrical bills, water bills and other financial crises. 

In May, Andrea arranged for Shred It to come to St Peter’s.  This service to the community is greatly appreciated and proceeds help fund the St Peter’s outreach projects. 

The ECM worked with Caroline County Social Services to provide help to local families both at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  People also donated money to Episcopal Relief and Development to help those affected by flooding from major storms that swept the eastern United States. 

Boyd Wisdom serves the St Peter’s representative to CERV, a coalition of churches in Caroline County who work to meet the needs of those in crisis.  In September, Boyd, Johnny Davis and I attended a meeting of CERV to learn more about food insecurity in Caroline County and to coordinate with the other churches in the county to best address the needs of those who suffer from hunger in our communities.  

In November we welcomed Melanie Karpinos, from Heifer International, to speak with us about the work of Heifer International.  In addition to the other donations made to Heifer during the Season of Giving, Mary Peterman donated three watercolors of “charming cows” which we raffled off and in doing so raised almost $200 additional dollars for Heifer International. 

Both the ECW and the Vestry donated outreach funds to support God’s work through local, national and international groups at their last meetings of the year. 

Thank you to Ben Hicks.  Ben supports me in my ministry to St Peter’s in ways too numerous to count.  Most of you know that he formats the bulletin each week, shapes the monthly newsletter and runs our more than comprehensive website, as well as our Facebook page. This year he created an Advent course based on the canticles found in Luke which is posted on our website. Ben has the gift of looking and planning far ahead, which balances my “in the moment” mode of existence.    I am so grateful for his support and for all he does for all of us.  And we all know that St Peter’s is truly at this point the most photographed church in America. 

Thank you to the St Peter’s Vestry.  This Vestry has worked hard throughout the year and each person has been supportive of everyone else in the group. The Vestry voted to get two major painting projects done, and we spent quite a bit of time on the St Peter’s Safety Plan, which has finally been completed and made available to all of you.  We have placed an AED in the Sacristy in case of medical emergencies.  Helmut Linne von Berg capably led the church during my absence during the sabbatical.  As you know, our treasurer, Eunice Key, has automated our bookkeeping, which will make the transition to a new treasurer much easier when the time comes. 

2018 contained some experiments.  For children, we offered several special events throughout the year.  Most, though not all, were well attended. We did not have Vacation Bible School this year, due to a number of factors.  Hopefully, VBS will return in 2019.

In an effort to encourage visiting and pastoral care among church members, I put together a visiting program called OneDay, which began with some helpful hints about paying visits to parishioners.  Then we prayed together, and went out to visit and then returned for a time of conversation and prayer.  This experiment did not catch on and will be discontinued in its current form. 

Worship committee formed—This group helped make sure that worship ran smoothly while I was away.  Some of the ideas that this group had for St Peter’s will be put into place during 2019.  I’m hopeful that this group will continue to meet with me in the year ahead. 

Continuing education

In January 2018, I started learning Spanish.  In August I spent two weeks in Antigua, Guatemala, doing a language immersion.  In September I shared some of my experiences of my time in Guatemala and people tried some typical foods of the region in a program called An Afternoon in Guatemala.  I’m grateful to St Peter’s for allowing me time for a sabbatical to travel and study. 

In June of 2018 I became a preaching fellow in the year long preaching enrichment program called Deep Calls to Deep, sponsored by the Lily Foundation and held at VTS.  I spent one week at VTS in June for the opening of the program and then have met monthly since then with a small group to work on preaching improvement.  The program will conclude in June 2019 with another week of continuing education at VTS. 

To make sure that my spiritual life stays strong, I’m once again meeting with a spiritual director who has been a great help to me. 

Other duties as assigned

My service as the Dean of the Fredericksburg Region continues.  I make sure that our regional Clericus meets regularly and support the President of the Region as he organizes the quarterly regional meetings that I also attend.  I also attend quarterly meetings with the other Deans in the Diocese with the Bishop.  The Fredericksburg Region hosted two listening sessions to gather information for the Bishop Suffragan search which in the end was terminated.  In March, I attended the funeral of The Rev. Norm Siefferman at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in King George.  In October, the Fredericksburg Region hosted a reception for Bishop Shannon at Aquia Church in Stafford ahead of his retirement.  I served on the Resolutions Committee for the 2018 Diocese of Virginia Convention held in Richmond in November.  Johnny Davis, our delegate, Cookie and I attended the Convention.  In November I also attended the Celebration of New Ministry for the Rev. Nick Szobota, the new rector at St Mary’s, Colonial Beach. 

I attend meetings of the Interfaith clergy group in Fredericksburg periodically.  At one of those meetings, I met the chaplain at the ICE detention center, and have signed up to take the volunteer training, which will be held in February of 2019. 

Changes in the parish—Much to our sorrow, Marsha Dobson died in August.  Virginia Bowen has moved and is now in an assisted living facility in Maryland near her daughter.  Susan and Tom Tilt have returned to St Mary’s in Colonial Beach.  John Gilliland has stopped attending St Peter’s. Much to our joy,  Robert Bryan has returned to us after a long absence. John Hess has begun attending and is serving on the Altar Guild.    Mary Peterman, Denise Gregory and Thom Guthrie have joined the choir.  And we welcomed our newest member, Everett Huffman, when he was baptized at St Peter’s in November. 

Our congregation is aging.  Several families are looking at major changes over the next few years.  Our challenge is to support one another in the changes and the chances of this life as we continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers in the year ahead.  Our prayers and support for one another with God’s help will help us work through the tough times and to continue to be excited about the new life that God has got in store for St Peter’s.  As we pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, may we always be seeking as a congregation to make space for God’s kingdom in our midst here and now.  God is with us, and because of that fact, we can look ahead with confidence. 

I am always grateful for your input, and so thankful for each one of you. 

Your grateful servant,