The official start of summer is still a month away, but it’s never too soon to stock up books for summer reading. Here are a few of the books that have stayed with me this year long after the last page was finished. And if any of you have great reads you recommend for long flights and days at the beach please let me know!
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff. A riveting story of courage, friendship, and family during World War Two. Nola, 16, is cast out in disgrace after she becomes pregnant by a Nazi soldier and forced to give up the baby. At a railway station she discovers a boxcar of dozens of Jewish babies bound for a concentration camp. Thinking of the child who was taken from her, Nola snatches one of the babies and flees. She finds refuge with a German circus, which has its own secret – some of their star performers are Jewish and the circus is offering them protection.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. This National Book Award finalist takes us to Texas in the 1870s, where Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels the region giving readings of newspapers from around the country and world to audiences so hungry for news they will pay to hear him. In his travels he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Their 400-mile journey through unsettled and lawless territory is difficult and at times dangerous. News of the World explores the concepts of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Kya Clark is known as the “marsh girl,” a young woman who basically raised herself alone in the marshes along the North Carolina coast, becoming an expert on the wildlife, flora, and habitat of the area. When the son of one of the town’s most prosperous and powerful men is murdered Kya is suspected. This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in years.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, is based on the true story of Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption agency, who kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. Local police, judges, and elected officials were all part of Tann’s network. Wingate tells the story through the plight of one family, 12-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings, who live on a shanty boat on the Mississippi River until they are kidnapped and taken to a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. Rill fights to keep her brothers and sisters together in a system that cares nothing for them.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone. One of the most important works of theology of our time, James Cone examines the links between the instruments of death that killed Jesus, and thousands of African Americans across the South. “Both the cross and the lynching tree were symbols of terror, instruments of torture and execution, reserved for the lowest of the low in society,” Cone says. “In both cases, the purpose was to strike terror in the community. It was to let people know the same thing would happen to them if they did not stay in their place…The lynching tree is the cross in America.”
Inspired by Rachel Held Evans may be the best book about the Bible I have ever read. Evans grew up as a fundamentalist well steeped in the stories of the Bible, believing that every word of that sacred book was literally true and inspired by God. As she grew older and began asking questions she quickly found that was not encouraged in her tradition. Eventually she made her way to the Episcopal Church. In Inspired, Evans wrestles with doubt and debates some of the stories she once took as literal truth. In doing so she discovers that the Bible is not a static work, but a living, breathing, and confounding book that equips us to be part of God’s loving and redemptive work in the world. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Becoming by Michele Obama. As New York Times reviewer Isabelle Wilkerson writes, Becoming is more than just a memoir of a former first lady, it is also an intimate look into the lives of working-class African Americans. “Obama is doing several things with this book,” Wilkerson says. “She is taking the country by the hand on an intimate tour of everyday African-American life and ambition, while recounting her rise from modest origins. She’s meditating on the tensions women face in a world that speaks of gender equality but in which women still bear the greater burdens of balancing career and family. The book is a Chicago coming-of-age story; a love story of a pair of opposites; and a political saga by a woman who was skeptical, if not outright disdainful, of politics.” It is also a very good, engrossing read.
Educated by Tara Westover. Tara Westover was 17 the first time she ever entered a classroom. Her family were survivalists and religious fundamentalists in the remote mountains of Idaho, almost totally isolated from mainstream society. Although she and her siblings were supposed to be homeschooled, any education they had was nominal. No one from the outside world ever checked to see if they were learning, or intervened in the violence that was a routine part of her family life. Her quest for knowledge drove her to educate herself well enough that she was accepted to Brigham Young University, and from there to Harvard and Cambridge. Westover’s remarkable story and beautiful writing combine to make this one of the most memorable and powerful reads of the year.
While I’m Away
As I think you all know, I will be on sabbatical this summer. May 26th will be my last Sunday, and I will officially be back on October 1. I have been busy planning not only my activities during this time away, but things for the parish, too.
Deborah Silver and Bill Deneke have agreed to be here for most of June, July, and August (with one Sunday during that time covered by Barry Griffin, who recently retired as rector of St. Alban’s in Monroe). Bill and Deborah (who are married) are well known to most of you. Bill is the retired rector of Holy Trinity in Decatur. Deborah is a pastoral counselor. Both of them love being at St. Dunstan’s. September will be covered by Maggie Harney (except for Labor Day weekend, when Stefanie Taylor, the chaplain at St. Martin’s school, will be here).
Whoever is the priest for that week will also be on call for any pastoral emergencies. Should one of those arise for you please notify Claudia or Harriett, who will know who is on call and how to contact them.
Several people have asked me what will happen if there is a death in the parish while I’m gone. I pray that doesn’t happen, but if it does I would expect to come back to do the funeral. The caveat to that is that I will not change travel plans, but if the family can wait until I’m back in town I will do the service. And I also do want to know about any pastoral needs that arise.
The second most asked question is who will take care of Dunstan? His feeding needs are all met by staff, vestry (on Sundays), and volunteers who will come on Mondays and Saturdays, the days when no one is working. But everyone is the parish is invited and encouraged to give him lots of pets, love, and attention!
We also have some great special events planned for the summer. The theme of my sabbatical is finding God in nature. I’ll primarily be doing that through photography. A committee of Harriett Smith, Bob Longino, Misty Bentz, and Lori Westphal have come up with creative ways for the congregation to also focus on that theme. Here are the special events:
June 9 — Pentecost Sunday there will be a catered lunch on the grounds following the 10 am service. All are invited to spend some time enjoying the beauty of the nature surrounding us, including the nature trail and the Stations of the Cross.
July 27 – Parishioner and astrophysicist Misty Bentz, a professor at Georgia State, will host St. Dunstan’s night at Georgia State’s telescope at Hard Labor Creek State Park. Watch for more details.
August 17 – Parishioner Bob Longino, former film critic of the AJC, will be hosting a viewing and discussion of the movie Tree of Life.
September 8, 15, 22, and 29 – Sunday School resumes with a series on climate change and the Biblical imperative to be stewards of the earth. Guest teachers include speakers from Columbia Theological Seminary, Georgia Tech, and the Weather Channel. Watch for more details.
My first Sunday back will be October 6 for the Blessing of the Animals.
I am grateful to all who have helped with these plans and to those who will be taking on extra duties while I’m gone. And I’m especially grateful to the Lilly Foundation, whose $50,000 grant covers all expenses for the church while I’m away and allows me to have some once in a lifetime experiences!
Adult Sunday School
Sunday School will continue for the first two Sundays in May with our continuing discussions of the Passion of Jesus, his crucifixion and resurrection. Classes are led by Joe Monti. Join us in the Founders’ Room at 9:30 a.m. In the final two Sundays of Adult Christian Formation, will continue our study of the Passion of Jesus with discussions of his Crucifixion and Resurrection. We meet in the Founders Room at 9:30.
Our summer schedule begins on May 26 and continues through Labor Day weekend. Services will be at 8:30 and 10 a.m. No Sunday School until September.
Help Create Our Creation Tree
For the St. Dunstan’s Christmas tree this year, we are replacing most of the Chrismons we have used for many years, with grateful hearts for the (mostly) women who made them, remade them, and refurbished them for all those years. In discussing how to replace them, the idea arose of ornaments to honor the part of God’s creation that surrounds us right here.
We now have a creative group, with Priscilla Davis as convener, to come up with ways for all of us to join in the making of the new ornaments, using our own skills, be they great or not-so-great, to express what we see and experience. We have worked out guidelines to help you get started. Members of the group are Ginny Harris, Lucy Kaltenbach, Cathy Leake, Gilda Morris, and Michele Smither.
If this seems like too daunting an effort, fear not! Our Creation Tree group will act as an Idea Bank to talk about ideas, to exchange them, and to help you figure out how to bring your own idea to life. Some of us will be available after both services on May 5 and 12 to consult and by e-mail at other times. (And some by text as well.) Copies of the guidelines will be available at both services on those Sundays, and in the Parish Hall thereafter.
We have also scheduled three parish-wide working sessions for the fall: September 15 and 22, and October 13. For those who haven’t been struck with an inspiration, there will be work stations to get started on specific ornaments. There will also be supplies, space, and advice available for those who have a design in mind. A work station with supplies will be set up in the Parish Hall throughout the fall for anyone who wants to work on a project.
Our work will be rewarded with a joyful, parish-wide Trim-the-Tree Party and Pot-luck Lunch on December 22, when we will bring our ornaments to be blessed and hung on the tree.
The goal is for everyone in the parish, youngest to oldest, smallest to largest, to have a part in creating our Creation Tree, and to have lots of fun along the way.
Thanks to Tommy Hannah for providing the beautiful photographs of handwoven Stations of the Cross in Argentina, which hung in our nave during Holy Week. Look for them again during Lent next year.
Thanks to all who helped with the grounds’ work day on April 12. Daria Jones, Sandra Dobbs, Peachy Horne, Mary Jane Hannah, Mimi Gold, and Mary Katherine Wolfson spent hours weeding out by the main entrance. Billy DuBose, Leigh DuBose, Toby Raper, and Bob Wolfson installed crosses on the nature trail. Cas and Gabe Smith jumped into action to help pick up sticks and branches in the Beech Grove. Tommy Hannah served lunch, and Bruce Lafitte and Peachy Horne coordinated the action. Thank you, one and all, for your efforts!
Thanks to outgoing vestry members Ellen Taratus and Mark O’Connell for your three years of faithful service.
Thanks to all who helped with Family Promise, providing a home for three families for the week: Vivian Siggers; Mimi Gold; Ellen Taratus; Lucy, John, Jace, and Wallis Kaltenbach; Shirley Morgan; Peggy Rogers; Misty Bentz; Elise MacIntyre, Harriett Smith; Nancy Dillon; Lori Westphal; Mary Jane and Tommy Hannah; Elizabeth Wong Mark; Debbie Jones; Pam Weed; Gilda Morris; Fair Sutherlin; Jill Knight; John Gimson; Mary Hunter Maxwell; Billy DuBose; Deb Dee; and Katie Turner.
Thanks to Gilda Morris for faithfully teaching our children in Sunday School for the past year. And thanks to Joe Monti, who taught much of the adult class this year.
Quinn Changus graduates from Woodward Academy on May 11. She will be attending the University of Texas to major in music.
Joseph Henry Monti will graduate from The Galloway School on May 23. He will be attending the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he plans to study architecture.
Grace Hancock graduates from Tulane University School of Law on May 18. She will take the Louisiana Bar exam in July and plans to practice criminal defense. Grace participated in Mock Trial and was an Interschool Moot Court Competition winner in 2018, with her name added to Tulane’s marble panel. In her final year of law school Grace participated in Tulane’s Criminal Justice Clinic as a student attorney and plans to build on her experiences pursuing work with, or akin to the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Meet the Vestry
At our annual parish meeting on April 28 Lucy Kaltenbach, Bruce Lafitte, and Jackie O’Connell were elected to three-year terms on the vestry. Here are short bios on our vestry members.
Misty Bentz (second year) is an astrophysicist and associate professor at Georgia State University. She is passionate about fundamental research, science literacy, and equal rights and respect for women, issues that she believes can help create a more just and equitable society for everyone. Misty grew up in Spokane, WA and came to Atlanta in 2010 with her husband, James Tran. They share their home with two cats, Scotch and Tiger. Shortly after the January 2017 inauguration, she decided to commiserate with the neighbors across the street (because they still had a Hillary sign in their yard), and so met the Rev. Patricia Templeton. She came to St. Dunstan’s the next day, and was confirmed in fall 2018. After growing up in the evangelical church, Misty is thankful to have found a welcoming and supportive home at St. Dunstan’s, where nature and science are valued, questions are encouraged, and “I don’t know” is an appropriate answer.
Deborah Dee (third year) has been a member of St. Dunstan’s for several years, and coordinates the ministry schedule. As a Navy brat, Deb has lived in a number of states, and has lived in Atlanta since 2007, when she began her job with CDC. Deb’s educational training includes master’s and doctoral degrees in maternal and child health, with a minor in epidemiology, all of which were earned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Go Tar Heels!) Outside of work, Deb enjoys spending time with her family (husband Eric and daughter Liv), traveling, and being at coffee hour at St. Dunstan’s!
Jessy Briton Hamilton (second year) and his partner Adam Steinke have been parishioners at St. Dunstan’s since 2017. Jessy serves as our social media director, a lay reader, and volunteer for Family Promise. He is a teacher at Chamblee Charter High School and works as an occasional consultant for the Diocese of Atlanta, progressive faith communities, and political candidates. Jessy moved to Atlanta from Denver in 2016. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida, and is working toward an Educational Specialist Degree in Instructional Technology at the University of West Georgia. His interests include travel, church history, Braves baseball, and taking his dachshund, Lord Russell to the park. Earlier this year, Jessy entered the discernment process for the vocational diaconate.
Susan Howard (third year) graduated from Furman University as a vocal performance major. She has enjoyed all the singing opportunities she’s had over the years. She has three children and grandchildren. Cas, 6, and Gabe, 5, live with her. “It’s a fun, wild time.” Susan has worked for law firms and in property management, but being “Nanamama” is her best job. She says St. Dunstan’s “is the church I’ve been looking for all my life.”
Lucinda Friede Kaltenbach (first year) is married to John Kaltenbach and proud mother of Wallis and Jace Kaltenbach, rising freshman at North Atlanta High School. The Kaltenbachs have been members of St. Dunstan’s for the past 14 years. Wallis and Jace were baptized at St. Dustan’s. Lucy has taught Sunday school for many years, has been involved with Family Promise since its inception, and most recently joined the newly organized Fulton County Remembrance Coalition. She is delighted to be joining the vestry as the outreach coordinator.
Bruce Lafitte (first year) is an Atlanta native and life-long Episcopalian. He grew up at the Cathedral and has been a member of St. Dunstan’s for 25 years. He is a choir member and lay reader, and has served several previous terms on the vestry. Bruce retired in November after 23 years at Nordson Corporation, as a mechanical engineer. Since retiring, he has been spending a lot of time in the all-natural garden around his house and doing various building and grounds tasks at church. Bruce has been married to Daria Jones for 41 years. They have two married sons and two grandchildren. Besides “playing in the dirt” at home, Bruce still enjoys camping at times. He is an Eagle Scout and has served as a Scout leader in some capacity for 25 years. His hobby is collecting and trading Scout patches and other related memorabilia.
Jackie O’Connell (first year) is known to most people at St. Dunstan’s as “Reese’s mom.” She is also wife to Mark. They moved to Atlanta in June 2014, buying a house next door to Tricia, Joe, and Joseph Henry. “We’ve been attending St. Dunstan’s ever since.” In her five years here she has been active in Christian Education activities and Family Promise. Jackie was born and raised in Michigan and attended Western Michigan University for undergrad, then graduate school at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she studied school psychology. She works part-time as a licensed psychologist, testing children, adolescents, and adults. She enjoys spending time with my family (including our two cats), traveling, running, playing tennis, and relaxing (sleeping!)
Harriett Smith (third year), a lifelong Episcopalian, has been at St. Dunstan’s for four years. During her time as parishioner, Vestry member, and Senior Warden, she has experienced the unique love practiced in this church community. Her time at home is spent with a book or a dog leash in hand. Her Buster dog, husband Whit, children and grandchildren comprise the balance of her time….and not necessarily in that order.
Lori Westphal (second year) found St. Dunstan’s by way of a chance encounter with Tricia, who happened to be on the same private school tour for prospective parents. Instead of finding a new school that day, she found a new church. Lori grew up in Boca Raton, FL, home of the lead-footed retiree and the early bird special. She has a BA from Smith College, MPH from Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and a PhD from Vanderbilt University. She is married to Max Changus with whom she has two children, Quinn and Alexander.
Congratulations to Cas and Gabe Smith, grandsons of Susan Howard, who were baptized on April 20 at the Easter Vigil.
All are invited to a one-hour concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5, featuring our newly-rebuilt Steinway grand piano. We will hear music performed by young parishioners as well as special guest performers. We will also have a brief liturgy of blessing for the piano.
St. Dunstan’s has a new choir! Our five and six year-olds will meet on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. beginning May 7. They will continue with weekly rehearsals, and on Sunday, June 23, they will sing in church. Thanks to parents and grandparents for wanting this to happen!
Join us Mondays at 6 p.m. for an hour of chair and spiritual yoga focused on healing and breathing. Gilda Morris leads this group.
Time & Talent – Want to be more involved?
Sundays at St. Dunstan’s are not possible without a large number of volunteers. There are plenty of opportunities to lend a hand. Feel free to contact the following people to get more information on ways you can help.
Coffee / Hospitality
Lay Readers / Lectors
Vestry 2019 – 2020
Harriett S. Smith, Sr. Warden; Bruce Lafitte, Jr. Warden;
Deborah Dee; Susan Howard; Lori Westphal;Misty Bentz;
Jessy Briton Hamilton; Lucy Kaltenbach; Jackie O’Connell
The Reverend Patricia Templeton, Rector
The Reverend Maggie Harney, Priest Associate
Dr. Thomas Gibbs, Parish Musician
Claudia Gimson, Parish Administrator
Billy DuBose, Seminarian
A Prayer for Summer
God of creation, God of the seasons,
bless your creatures with seasons of delight
Lord of the Sabbath,
you have established the rhythms of life,
establish in us also the rhythms for human prospering;
grant us the good sense to enjoy Sabbath rest in this season
Grant us, moreover, wisdom to know that there is a time to play,
a time to cease from our labors,
a time to sense majesty in a blue sky,
richness in green grass,
love in faithful friends,
and joy in our being.
Grant us, then, blue skies this summer, and green grass;
grant us faithful friends and the time, strength, and spirit for play.
Grant us the wit to know the goodness of creation,
which, blind, defiant, or ungrateful, we despoil.
Send our roots rain; send our hearts ease,
so that we may show in our lives
that we can live rightly in this season of our lives
and see it as if for the first time,
in wonder, in awe, and in a spirit of thanksgiving.
–James Vanden Bosch