The Apostles’ Teaching
Being a Christian is not an easy task. Truly living a Christian life is more than merely espousing a list of beliefs or doctrines. It means being a part of a community of faith, being regular in worship and prayer, letting one’s entire life be shaped and formed by faith.
Our baptismal covenant (found on page 304 of the Book of Common Prayer) spells out what it means to live as a baptized Christian. We talk a lot at St. Dunstan’s about three of the promises we make each time we renew that covenant – to seek and serve Christ in all people, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.
To me, those promises are at the heart of what it means to live a Christian life.
But there are other promises we make in that covenant, too, and I’d like to focus on one of them.
The question is asked: “Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?” And we answer, “I will, with God’s help.”
Some of those things are obvious – fellowship means being part of a faith community, the breaking of bread means partaking regularly in the Eucharist, the prayers mean being part of corporate prayers on Sunday and individual prayers throughout the week.
But what does it mean to continue in the apostles’ teaching?
It means we continually study and learn about our faith. There is a body of knowledge that Christians need to know. That includes scripture, of course, but it also includes history, and theology, and ethics. It means being knowledgeable about what is going on in the world, and how we as Christians should respond.
That is why I believe Christian education and formation is so important. This month, on September 10, we begin a new year of classes and study. I urge you to participate, to join with us in the apostles’ teaching.
Here are our offerings this fall:
The Religious Roots of White Supremacy in the American South. This class for adults and teens will be framed by Charles Wilson Regan’s book, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause. We will be discussing the contemporary manifestations of this tragic heritage, centered most recently in the events of Charlottesville. The book is available through Amazon, but reading it is not necessary for attending the class. The series will be led by Joe Monti, professor emeritus of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology. It will meet at 9:30 in the Founders’ Room, beginning September 10.
Confirmation Classes. These classes are for people new to the Episcopal Church. We will focus on the liturgy, theology, and history of the Episcopal Church in general, and St. Dunstan’s in particular. The classes will prepare those who would like to be confirmed (becoming an official member of the Episcopal Church) by Bishop Rob Wright when he visits St. Dunstan’s on November 19. The classes will be led by Tricia, and will meet around the table in the office area, beginning at 9:30 on September 10.
Godly Play. For children ages 2.5 through first grade. Godly Play encourages children’s innate sense of the presence of God. Children will explore their faith through stories to gain religious language and to enhance their spiritual experience through wonder and play, following Maria Montessori’s observation that “play is the work of children.” They will meet in the Godly Play classroom off of the parish hall at 9:30 beginning September 10. Gilda Morris and Jessie Leyden will lead these classes.
Tuesday Morning Study Group. This fall we will begin with a video series: The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your (Muslim) Neighbor as Yourself. Much of what passes as information about Islam is weed-like disinformation rooted in stereotype and watered by fear. In The Jesus Fatwah, Islamic and Christian scholars offer reliable information about what Muslims believe, how they live their faith, and how we all can be about building relationships across the lines of faith. The classes begin Tuesday, September 26, at 10 a.m. in the parish hall.
Presiding Bishop Visits Atlanta
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the symbolic head of the Episcopal Church, will be in Atlanta in October. There are two chances to see and hear him speak.
On Wednesday, October 11, at 7 p.m., he will speak on moral leadership at Candler School of Theology at Emory. His address will be followed by a panel discussion with him, Bishop Rob Wright, and the Rev. Kim Jackson, associate rector of All Saints (and a friend of St. Dunstan’s). The evening, which is open to the public, begins with a reception at 5 p.m.
At noon on Friday, October 13, at Bishop Curry will preach at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as part of the annual vergers’ conference (St. Dunstan’s does not use vergers, who act as sort of a liturgical emcee). The service is open to the public.
If you can make either of these, I urge you to attend. Bishop Curry is a dynamic, exciting preacher.
Here are some dates to mark on your calendar. You don’t want to miss any of these events.
September 10 – Return to program year schedule. Services at 8:30 and 10:45. Sunday School begins at 9:30.
September 24 – Pulpit Swap. Alexis Chase, rector of Holy Comforter, and Tricia will swap pulpits for the day.
October 1 – Flying Pig Barbeque. More details coming soon.
October 8 – Blessing of the Animals, 10:45 service. No Sunday School this day.
November 19 – Bishop Wright visits St. Dunstan’s. Only one service at 10:45.
December 10, 4 p.m. – Advent Lessons and Carols
March 10-11 – Lenten Lecture Series featuring well-known author Diana Butler Bass. More details coming.
We Need You!
It takes many people to prepare and carry out our worship services each Sunday. Some of the Sunday morning ministries are up front, and some are behind the scenes. Here is a list of all the different ministries which go into making Sunday morning happen. There is something for everyone. Please join in.
Acolytes – Carry the cross in the procession and help set the altar for Eucharist at the 10:45 service. Right now all of our acolytes are youth, but adults may also serve. Contact Steve Mark.
Altar Guild – Members of the altar guild prepare the church for worship, setting out the linens, chalice and paten, bread and wine, and scripture readings, and making sure the right banner is hanging. They also clean up after the service, and make sure that all the liturgical materials are cared for with love and reverence. Contact Cathy Leake, or Pam Weed.
Bakers’ Guild – This is a ministry you can do from home. The bread for each Eucharist is baked by a member of St. Dunstan’s. Lori Westphal will provide the recipe and instructions on how much to bake. Contact Lori.
Choir – Our fabulous choir sings at the 10:45 service and special services throughout the year. They rehearse on Wednesday evenings. Contact Tom Gibbs.
Coffee Hour Hosts – Our hosts provide hospitality after the 10:45 service, preparing coffee (provided by the church) and bringing simple snacks. Sign up on the sheet by the kitchen or on SignUpGenius.
Flower Guild – Members buy and arrange flowers (paid for by donations) for the Sunday services and other services throughout the year. Some members enjoy working in pairs and learning from each other, others like to work alone. Either is fine. Contact Gilda Morris.
Greeters – Greeters have two main tasks – to welcome people as they arrive for the service and to keep an eye out for visitors, making sure they are welcomed and introduced to people after the service. Contact Elizabeth Wong Mark.
Lay Readers – At the 8:30 service, lay readers read the scripture lessons and prayers of the people and assist at communion. At the 10:45 service they read the prayers and help with communion. Contact Bruce Lafitte.
Lectors – Lectors read the scripture lessons at the 10:45 service. Contact Bruce Lafitte.
Ushers – Our ushers also welcome people as they arrive for worship, hand out the service bulletin, take up the offering, and direct people to communion. Contact Keith Latimore.
- Our sympathy goes to Jeff and Jenny Kimbrell on the death of Jeff’s mother, our parishioner Ruth Mitchell.
In a recent issue of The American Organist (the monthly publication of The American Guild of Organists) there is an article titled, “What Difference Can Music Make/” by Don Saliers, retired professor of Theology and Worship at Emory’s Candler School of Theology.
Don situates the question in the current reality of great human suffering – Syrian refugee camps, or starving thousands in South Sudan. He might have gone on to mention gun violence in our cities, poverty, and homelessness. He notes the paradox of making “beautiful” music in the face of such ugliness. As he approaches an answer to the question, he writes, “Music itself cannot solve the human dilemmas we face; yet what we sing and play can make all the difference in how we live in the midst of enmity, conflict, and suffering.”
Don has written extensively about the role of music in liturgy and worship, and I’ve read a great deal of what he had written. I find that he always asks important questions, like this one, but I sometimes find that his answers are less than persuasive.
For me, I’d like to know how, practically speaking, does music “make all the difference.” Perhaps he is hinting here at a valuable insight, that is, while music can’t change the world, it can and does change us. Would you agree with this? What do you think? I’d enjoy hearing from you.
Atlanta Chamber Players Concert
St. Dunstan’s will host the Atlanta Chamber Players in concert next Sunday, September 17, at 4:00 p.m. The program includes Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and it features David Coucheron, Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and other stars of the ASO. Tickets can be purchased online at the website of the Atlanta Chamber Players, or at the door. This is a great opportunity for us to hear the very best chamber music in our own beautiful, acoustically-fine setting.
Angel Yoga meets on Mondays at 6 p.m., offering gentle stretching to improve breathing, balance, and flexibility. Even non-flexible people can benefit from practicing yoga, and can see over time that one becomes a little less tight and a little stronger.
Group leader Gilda Morris calls the class “Angel Yoga” from Harold Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner says when we are suffering God comes to us in the form of human angels who may be friends or strangers.
Classes are a $10 donation to the rector’s discretionary fund.
A Prayer for Autumn
God of all seasons, we thank you for Autumn.
We thank you
for the touch of coolness in the air that gives us a new burst of energy,
for the coloring of trees that shows the creativity of the Divine Artist,
for the falling leaves that reveal the strength of the branches,
for the hues of fields that bring peace to our souls,
for the smiles on pumpkins that bring joy to children,
for the fall harvest which that brings us gratitude for the bounty of our land,
for this change of seasons that reveals the circle of life.
God of all seasons, as you transform the earth, transform us by your Spirit.