Parish Email for Friday, 24 June 2022

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Dear St. Thomas’,

Linda Foster Rainey is my father’s first cousin. Following her husband’s murder during a mass shooting at a church potluck at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama last week, Linda and her family released the following statement:

The family of Walter Bartlett Rainey (Bartlett) wishes to thank every person who has reached out to offer prayers and a thousand different kindnesses to ease the loss we all feel acutely today while still finding it so hard to believe. Bartlett was a husband of 61 years to Linda Foster Rainey, and we are all grateful that she was spared and that he died in her arms while she murmured words of comfort and love into his ears. We also feel a sense of peace that his last hours were spent in one of his favorite places on earth, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, a place that welcomes everyone with love. We are proud that in his last act on earth, he extended the hand of community and fellowship to a stranger, regardless of the outcome. Bart Rainey was strong in faith and secure in the love of his family and friends. He made everyone he encountered feel special. We hope you will honor him by extending your hand to those around you who are in need. We — his wife, children, and grandchildren — will miss him. (source)

I can’t claim to be know to Linda and Bart: I may have met them at a funeral when I was a child. But I am impressed by their family’s sense of perspective and deep trust in God as expressed in the statement above. I believe these are the values and integrity that a lifetime of Christian practice are intended to impart.

Gun violence is a plague that reflects a particular kind of idolatry. I believe America is special in many ways: I hope that someday our willingness to accept this kind of violence is no longer one of them.

In the meantime, we can celebrate the faith of my father’s cousin and her late husband, Linda and Bart Rainey, and the community of St. Stephen’s, Vestavia Hills, that has so manifestly succeeded in its work of nurturing a faith to meet any moment. May we do likewise!



The CDC COVID-19 Community Level is MEDIUM. This means masks are not required but still not a bad idea! COVID exposures (being around someone who has COVID but doesn’t realize it yet) are still happening, including at church.

We want to hear from you!  This is the last weekend to submit your Strengths and Interests Survey!  We have extended the deadline for the survey until 27 June!

The Strengths and Interests Committee is conducting a survey so we can learn more about our parishioners and what you would like offered at St. Thomas that doesn’t currently exist.  We also want to know what are your talents?  What are your interests?  The survey is streamlined and takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

  • Each family member should complete the survey individually
  • Easily completed on a computer, mobile phone, iPad
  • A summary of responses will be shared (anonymously) after survey completion
  • Survey Link:
  • You may scan the QR code below to access the survey
  • If you require a paper copy to complete the survey, please contact Jo-Ann T. or Devin D.
  • Paper copies will also be available at worship services

This Sunday we continue our celebration of Pride Month. Come at 9am to participate in a special adult formation offering led by Sarah T. and based on reading Scripture together.

The overwhelming message of the Bible, in story after story, is that of God’s radical love and welcome. Every time we think we know who’s in and who’s out, God does something to challenge those assumptions, to unbind our hearts and minds from old ways of understanding, and to draw the circle ever wider.  This is setup in a fun, informal reader’s theater – no costumes or props!  Readers needed!  Every Sunday in June at 9 AM in the Lower Level Parish Hall.  Find this week’s script here.

The Diocese of New Jersey once again offers Anti-Racism Training (ART) online this summer Sign up for this important program here!  Scholarships are available: contact Fr. Todd if you need one. This training is required for clergy, important for all congregational leaders, and valuable for everyone.

Are you good with numbers?  We are looking for 2 or 3 volunteers to join the Audit Committee.  Experience preferred but not required!  Contact Tal K. if interested.

Do you have a freezer taking up space that you don’t use anymore?  Kitchen of Hope is in need of one to replace a failing unit.  Contact any board member if you would like to contribute one – it’s a tax write off!

Do you have a green thumb?  Get on board of the ground floor of St. Thomas’ new Gardening Ministry.  Get your hands dirty and help keep our campus beautiful.  Interested?  Contact Donna F. for more information.

Our annual Church Picnic is scheduled for 20 August from 12 noon to 6pm at Camp Sun-n-Fun!  Eucharist is scheduled for 3pm at the picnic.

George Hyde & John Kazantks

Despite having very different beginnings, George Hyde and John Kazantks are almost always noted together in history.  Hyde was born in Tennessee and raised in a Southern Baptist family.  A seminary dropout, Hyde would later meet Kazantks, disgraced bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church because of his sexuality.  In 1946, they founded a new church, “the first Christian congregation in the United States to minister openly to and with openly homosexual parishioners” in Georgia.  Within a year, the “Orthodox Catholic Church of America” boasted 200 members.  Hyde would go on to finish his education and become an ordained bishop himself.  He assisted in establishing a second church in New York City specializing in outreach to the gay community.  Hyde’s other most notable achievement was the foundation of the “society of Domestic Missionaries” which “took the church to where the people were” in secular jobs (like a chaplain stationed in a college or other non-religious workplace) Kazantks returned to Greece in 1957 where he passes away, after developing another church in Georgia.  Hyde retired as a metropolitan archbishop in 1983.  He led the “Autocephalous Orthodox Catholic Church of America” in Florida until his death in 2010.

Our COVID protocol is following the CDC guidelines for Gloucester County. Masks are not presently required. But they are still simple and effective protection. Please be sure to stay on top of your recommended vaccinations to protect all those you love.

If you would like to contribute to the work of Episcopal Relief & Development serving refugees from Ukraine, you can donate here.

Lectionary readings for this week:  2 King 2:1-2, 6-14, Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62

Lectionary readings for next week:  2 Kings 5:1-14, Psalm 30, Galatians 6:(1-6)7-16, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Please continue in your daily prayers for: Dennis, Marge, Joann, Jennifer, Lou, Mary Esther, Donna, Jim, Kass, Kathleen, Tyler, Carl, Linda, Ed, Jackie, Katie, Shannon, Brandon, Vivian, Suzy, Kelsey, Margaret, Kim, Jacqueline, the Schofield family, Logan, Chris, Cheryll, John, Sandy, Don, Aldin, Jackie, Carl, Butch, Sarah, Linda

Announcements for the parish email are due via email by noon on Wednesday of each week. You can email them to

The church calendar can be seen at for a list of upcoming events. Please help us keep it current (and avoid hurt feelings) by sending updates to the church office (

Are you serving in liturgy? Check the rota!

Prayer requests can be sent to

Watch our livestream here Saturdays at 5:30pm and Sundays at 10:30am!

Full-text of the liturgy is available at


Pentecost at St. Thomas’

  • Hearts Unbound Adult Formation: LLPH in-person every Sunday in June, 9am
  • Holy Eucharist Outdoors and Streaming online: Sundays, 10:30am
  • Holy Eucharist in the Nave and Streaming online: Saturdays, 5:30pm



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