Parish Email for Friday, 11 December 2020




Dear St. Thomas’,

This weekend we celebrate Advent 3, also known as “Gaudete Sunday.” In some parishes, the church (or at least the priest) will be dressed in pink on this day, a more cheerful color than the somber blue or purple of Advent. We rejoice with the Blessed Virgin Mary in her response to the Annunciation, that song from Luke 1.46-55 that we refer to as the Magnificat. Mary knows that she has been chosen by God for a special task, unique to her. She feels the weight of her responsibility, the esteem of God’s trust, and the sheer delight of God’s loving care.

You, Christian: do you think you are any less chosen, any less esteemed, any less loved by God than the Blessed Mother? Do you feel any less responsible?

No! It’s all a package, and it all springs not from any claim to personal worthiness on your behalf or mine, but wholly out of the nature and person of God.

Gaudete Sunday, not to mention Christmas or Easter or any other holiday, is not in the slightest bit diminished by the coronavirus or any other circumstance. Long after this virus has receded into history, a story we tell the next generation, we will continue to celebrate Gaudete Sunday together. If our ecstasy is tempered this year, it is only a temporary condition. The truths behind each of these holy days remain sure and solid. They, too, spring not from circumstance but from the nature and person of God.

You are loved just as much as the mother of our Lord. Even now. The Magnificat is your song. Sing out with joy!




Grungy Sunday was a great success! Thank you to those who raked, blew, vacuumed, picked up, and brought snacks! Our campus is beautiful and welcoming even as we continue to meet outdoors!

Sunday the youth will be building Gingerbread Houses, observing all pandemic precautions according to our agreement with the Diocese. Please share a word of thanks with our Sunday School leaders, Barbara K. and Gretchen O.!

Youth Group will meet Sunday night at 6pm online. Talk to Daniel O. for connection details.

Intermediate Pledge Drive Report: We have received 54 pledges so far for a total of $141,612. Of the 54 Families, 23 have increased their pledge over last year (by a total of 110%) and 6 are families pledging at St. Thomas’ for the first time. Thank you to those who have already pledged. If you haven’t turned in your pledge yet, it’s not too late!

The Kitchen of Hope ministry has been working hard: and needs more workers! If you would like to help out, please contact Vivian Hanson.

Advent Vespers is a service of Evening Prayer. These services will feature homilies by young preachers from our congregation. Come hear them in person or watch for them to appear on our website within about 24 hours of the liturgy taking place. Join us on Tuesday nights at 7pm or see the recordings on the church website. RSVP suggested.

The Longest Night Mass or “Blue Christmas” is an annual offering at St. Thomas’ which recognizes both the actual longest night of the year (the winter solstice) and the figuratively long nights of sadness when personal grief and tragedy finds itself highlighted against a backdrop of seasonal gaiety and expectations of family togetherness. 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. The Christmas holidays in particular bring sadness for many, and this quiet, solemn liturgy is a time to acknowledge that fact. Join us on Wednesday night, 16 December, at 7pm. RSVP suggested.

The Wednesday, 5.30 Eucharist will be combined with the Longest Night Mass at 7pm this week.

Christmas Eve will look different this year. The 4pm & 11pm services will be outdoors where we can have unlimited attendance and the singing of carols. The 7pm service will be indoors in the Parish Hall and live on Zoom and will feature the children’s pageant for its sermon. Attendance in the Parish Hall is limited to 23 “pews” (a “pew” holds up to two people from the same household). RSVP’s are suggested for the 7pm service.

Whether indoors or out, St. Thomas’ is taking steps to express our love for one another with safety precautions to prevent the spread of Covid. But no precautions are perfect. If you are especially vulnerable, around someone who is vulnerable, or just feel worried, you will not be judged for staying home this week or any week. Listening to those concerns and acting prudently is exactly what you are called to do in this season. If gathering in person is not the right thing for you, join us for worship online instead!

Bishop Stokes is releasing weekly recorded versions of his sermons. New sermons are usually released Saturday evenings on Youtube. Tune in to hear a great preacher who is in touch with the pulse of our life together as the Diocese of New Jersey.

Every day you can join St. Thomas’ as we observe Morning Prayer together. You can listen in on the St. Thomas’ website Monday through Saturday, and join us live on Zoom on Sundays, with a sermon, at 8am.

St. Thomas’ offers weekly Sunday School for children online Sundays at 9am. Youth Group is offered for teens on Sunday evenings at 6pm: contact Daniel O. (or leave a message at the church office) for connection details for teens.

Join us online for Centering Prayer on Mondays at 4pm.

Coffee Hour will be online Tuesday at noon.

Join the Diocese of New Jersey and Episcopal Community Services at an online Summit on Building and Equipping the Beloved Community on Saturday, 12 December, from 10-11.30am. Register at

Announcements for the bulletin or parish email are due into the office by noon on Wednesday of each week. You can email them to or call the office at 856-881-9144. Announcements are subject to editing due to limited space.

Lectionary readings for this week: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, John 1:6-8,19-28, Psalm 126, or Canticle 15

Lectionary readings for next week: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38, Canticle 3 or Canticle 15, or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

Please continue in your daily prayers for: Dennis, Marge, Joann, Sandy, Kelly, Andrea, Joan, Bryan, Dot, Tracey, Julie, Bob, Kathy, Bob, Kathryn, Christopher, Rachel, Jim, Jimmie, Scott, Stephanie, Asa, John, Rob, Eileen, Bob, Brooke, Lois, Kathy, Deano, Nicole, Kyle, Dean


This Weekend at St. Thomas’

Weekdays at St. Thomas’

moved back to 7pm this week for the Longest Night Mass

Online events hosted by St. Thomas’ are accessed via Zoom: instructions here.


Advent & Christmas Special Events

  • Tuesday 15 Dec 7pm Advent Vespers with Young Preachers* Feast of St. Nino of Georgia featuring Scott C.
  • Wednesday 16 Dec 7pm Longest Night Mass*
  • Tuesday 22 Dec 7pm Advent Vespers with Young Preachers* Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle featuring Rachael O.
  • Thursday 24 Dec 4pm Christmas Eve Eucharist with Carols Outdoors
  • Thursday 24 Dec 7pm Christmas Eve Eucharist with Pageant* In the Parish Hall and live on Zoom with pre-recorded Children’s Pageant
  • Thursday 24 Dec 11pm Christmas Eve Midnight Mass Outdoors at the Lych Gate
  • Friday 25 Dec 10am Christmas Day Mass*

All events subject to alteration according to the demands of public health. See the church website for the latest information.

*Indoor events can fill up: RSVP on the church website.



Join the Diocese of New Jersey and Episcopal Community Services at an online Summit on Building and Equipping the Beloved Community on Saturday, 12 December, from 10-11.30am. Register at





Join the church school in a “Reverse Advent Calendar” providing food for people in need through Kitchen of Hope!


During this season of coronavirus infections, when attending events on campus at St. Thomas’, please demonstrate your love for your friends and neighbors by:

  1. Wearing a mask (covering both mouth and nose)
  2. Remaining six feet apart from anyone you don’t live with
  3. Refraining from touching, hugging and shaking hands – even during the Peace
  4. Singing is only permitted outdoors, six feet apart, wearing masks
  5. Service bulletins you have touched must be taken home
  6. After the service everyone must disperse with no lingering
  7. No sharing of common objects such as pens, paper, etc.


See a calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church.
Which Saint will you remember today?


See the official St. Thomas’ calendar or a list of upcoming events.
Are you serving in liturgy? Check the rota!


Saturdays, 6pm: Holy Eucharist
in the Nave: limited to 12 pews of up to two people each

Sundays, 8am: Holy Eucharist
in the Parish Hall and online

Sundays, 9am: Sunday School
online: for children

Sundays, 10.30am: Holy Eucharist
outdoors, rain or shine

Sundays, 6pm: Youth Group
online: for teens
not meeting 6 Dec

Mondays, 4pm: Centering Prayer

Tuesdays, Noon: Coffee Hour

Wednesday, 5.30pm: Holy Eucharist
outdoors, rain or shine

Wednesdays, 7.00pm: Bible Study with the Bishop

Daily on Weekdays: Morning Prayer
online: recorded



Office telephone:

Emergency Pastoral Care:
Call this number if you have a pastoral emergency, such as an alert about an ailing parishioner, a hospital stay, a death in the family, or to request last rites. Leave a message and with a phone number for your call to be returned.


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