Belonging and Membership: Finding Connection and Community at St. George

By | Baptism, Community, From Fr. Ram | No Comments

A short essay by Fr. Ram Lopez

Baptized member. Baptized, communicant. Baptized, confirmed, communicant in good
standing. All of these are technically definitions of “membership” in an Episcopal Church.

Technically correct but not really helpful to someone new to Episcopal ways and making
their way along one’s spiritual walk.

So, what does membership mean in an Episcopal Church? More specifically to the
reader of this essay is this question: How do I become a member of St. George? Over the
next few paragraphs, I want to unpack that question in ways that might help us make sense of
the canonical categories. My main goal, however, is to help the reader make some
determinations of how they will nurture their ever unfolding faith life and how the community at
St. George can support that growth.

Before we can get there, we need spend time reflecting on the notion of “belonging.”
“Belonging” is a basic need. All humans have a need to belong. We belong to our parents. We
belong to our schools. We belong to clubs and other groups. To belong is to become a part of
something larger than just our own individuality. We understand and grow in our own sense of
self-identity as we mix and mingle with others.

Belonging to a faith community has one key difference to other types of belonging. We
make a choice to actively participate in a group that may or may not share our specific affinities.
In fact, we can say with assurance that when we are at Church we are often in proximity to
people who are very different from us: we hold different political ideas, we have different life
circumstances and commitments, we come from different cultural or generational backgrounds.
The folks right next to us in the pew—as unfathomable as it may seem—might be Lakers fans
and not Spurs fans! Yet, in spite of our external differences, we choose to belong to the same
church, share the same bread and wine and share the same call to serve our Risen Lord by
worshipping, learning, and growing together as part of the same faith community.
Belonging—that is, claiming our place as ones who belong to St. George, who are a part
of this faith community—is the first step on this particular phase of our spiritual journey. If you
are reading this, it is likely you are new to St. George. If you choose to belong to this vibrant
community, you need only express your desire and say that you belong. And know that once you are a part of the St. George family, you are always a part of the family—even if life moves you from here.

YOU belong. As such, you are a member of the Body of Christ in this place.

After a time of belonging (and this is different for each of us), we find it a logical next step
to be baptized (if we have not been already) or be confirmed. The Canons provide different
ways for us to connect to the larger Body and the Prayer Book gives us rituals to mark those
moments of passage to more intentionally responsible categories of membership. As we
worship, learn, and grow we discover that God has invited us to be baptized (or, if we have been
baptized already, to reclaim our baptism) in ways that allow us to share with our sisters and
brothers in receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus. This makes us a “baptized communicant,”
meaning we are a baptized person who receives communion. To receive communion at a
minimum of three times per year, we become a “communicant in good standing.” After a time
of connection and conversation with others who are seeking to reaffirm their faith, we can be
confirmed. This makes us a “baptized, confirmed communicant.” If we are a “giver of record,”
that fact and our “membership” status” is listed as “baptized, confirmed, communicant in good
standing,” then we have opened to us opportunities to lead and serve in the local and wider
Church—Vestry, ministry leadership, Diocesan participation and leadership, and ordination. The
priest of the congregation or the Bishop can baptize. Only the Bishop can confirm and ordain.

It is important to note that baptism, being a communicant, and confirmation are deeper
manifestations of “belonging.” These levels of “belonging” balance our giving and receiving.
Early in our life of belonging, the Church might have many offerings that meet our needs—or
the needs of our family—for learning, growth or healing. As we move through the sacraments of
Baptism and Confirmation, we balance our receiving with increasing levels of giving (financial
and time) to meet the needs of others both inside and outside the congregation. Obviously,
everyone’s experience is different, but this is a general sense of the movement from belonging to
membership.

If you desire to belong to St. George, then please contact the priest of the congregation
and that can be done. If you wish to take your belonging to deeper levels of service and
responsibility, please speak to the priest about baptism (if you are not already baptized) or
confirmation.

We are delighted that you have chosen to belong to this vibrant community and are
eager to see what God brings to St. George in you!

A Call to Prayer

By | Community, From Fr. Ram, Worship | No Comments

Please join us on Thursday, August 31 at 7 pm for a time of prayer for all those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. We will gather in the Sanctuary to say the prayers of the Church, hear and respond to God’s Holy Word and say our prayers. This prayer service is open to all so please feel free to invite family and friends.

Note: Parent Orientations will also be occurring on Thursday evening. Parking is available both off West Avenue and off Castle Lane including the area behind the two small houses.

A Note From Fr. Ram – Worship Tomorrow

By | From Fr. Ram | No Comments

Dear St. George Family:
This is a reminder to you that tomorrow, Sunday, August 27th, St. George will have ONE SERVICE of Holy Eucharist at 10 am. There will be no other regularly scheduled activities held.
As you are no doubt aware, many residents in the Coastal Bend area have sustained devastating damage due to Hurricane Harvey. Information continues to slowly emerge through various news media avenues – much of it disheartening. Many of those affected are our own family members and friends. Please keep all those affected by this massive storm in your fervent prayers.
Please continue to monitor the local weather conditions. Large amounts of rain totals and widespread flooding continue to be in the forecast. Your physical safety, and the safety of your loved ones, is my primary concern. So please, if you are in doubt, err on the side of caution. Below you will find a link to the City of San Antonio website where you can see emergency street closures.
I have also provided the link to the Diocese of West Texas website. There you can find an up-to-date section of ongoing developments as the diocese responds to Hurricane Harvey and to make a financial donation for relief efforts during and after the storm.
May God bless you and those whom you love this day and always.
Peace,
Ram+
San Antonio Road Closures:
http://www.sanantonio.gov/Public-…/Emergency-Street-Closures
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas:
http://www.dwtx.org/

Hurricane Harvey- St. George Church Announcement For This Sunday

By | From Fr. Ram | No Comments
Dear beloved in Christ:
You are all by now aware that the weather this weekend is going to be severely affected by now Hurricane Harvey.  Weather forecasters are warning that it will likely intensify to category 3 by the time it makes landfall late tomorrow or early Saturday.  Bexar county is included in a number of severe weather warnings and watches being issued by the National Weather Service.
Local rainfall estimates may be potentially dangerous and flooding will be an issue.  I am certain that many of you have family and friends who may evacuate to San Antonio.  Helping your family and friends and tending to other pressing matters brought on by the weather will, rightly, be your main concern.
Therefore, in consideration of all this and to ensure the safety of you and your family, I am going to make the following changes for this Sunday:
1.  The Blessing of the Backpacks and Educators will be rescheduled to Sunday, September 10th.  We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to celebrate Back to School time safely.
2.  There will be only ONE SERVICE this Sunday at 10 am.  I want to make sure that everyone has time to ensure safe travel to worship.  All other Sunday morning activities will be cancelled.
I will keep you posted as things develop.
Please join me in praying for all those in the path of Harvey and for those who love them:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us:  Preserve us from all fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hid from us the light of your gracious love.  Be with all those who are in the path of Hurricane Harvey and shield them from harm.  Strengthen us all to respond to those who will need our help in the storms aftermath; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit live and reign for ever.  Amen.
Peace,
Ram+

Welcome!

By | Community, From Fr. Ram, Worship, Youth | No Comments

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. I am happy to announce that the St. George Community has called Frances Caroline “Cookie” Harris as our next Youth Minister, Sacred Studies Teacher and School Chaplain. Cookie is super excited to be joining our team and becoming a part of this community.

Cookie is a detail-oriented and gifted communicator. She has years of nonprofit administrative and leadership experience. She graduated from The University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Elementary Education and a Master of Curriculum and Instruction. While at Ole Miss, she served as a Recruiter for the School of Education. Returning to her native San Antonio, Cookie served as Youth Director Intern for her home parish, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and School.

In 2014, Cookie felt the call of God tugging her to move to Haiti. While there she founded and directed the English as a Second Language Program for Respire Haiti in Gressier, Ouest, haiti. She also served as the lead teacher of the English Immersion Homeschool Classroom at Respire Haiti Christian School in Gressier.

While in Haiti, Cookie adopted Robi and Sherly. They are in 9th and 10th grades and are boarding at TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas. Cookie will begin her ministry at St. George mid-July. Currently, she is working very closely with Daniel Forman as they both work to ensure a smooth transition. Please join me in welcoming Cookie to the St. George Community!

Holy Week Worship Services Invitation from Fr. Ram

By | From Fr. Ram | No Comments

Dear St. George Family:

I want to invite you and your loved ones to be a part of our Easter Sunday festivities.

Worship on this high feast day of the Church will be at 8:30 am and 10:45 am.  In between services we will have an Easter Brunch, Easter Egg hunts (by age) for all the children; and the Flowering of the Cross (symbol of the new life that bursts forth in the world at Jesus’ resurrection).

I will offer an Easter Message at both services and adhere to my yearly practice of inviting the children forward to participate in the sermon at 10:45 am.

I also invite you to attend our Holy Week services:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 pm
  • Good Friday, April 14 at noon and 6:30 pm
  • Holy Saturday, April 15 at 9:30 am  (refreshments will be offered to all who come and stay to help the Altar Guild decorate the Church for Easter Sunday)

Kendra, Christopher and John Michael look forward to being with you and your loved ones this Easter.  Come and worship the One whose Resurrected Life has the Power to change your life and the life of the World!!!

Peace,

Ram+

New Year’s Day Worship Followed by The Rector’s Black-Eyed Pea Throwdown Challenge!

By | Fellowship, From Fr. Ram | No Comments

Please join us for Holy Eucharist on 4:00 on New Year’s Day, and stay for…

Rector‘s Black-eyed Pea Throwdown Challenge!!

black-eyed-peasFr Ram will be cooking up a batch of his black-eyed peas to share after the 4 pm Holy Eucharist on New Year’s Day afternoon.  All you cooks are invited to boil up some peas and bring ’em out for all God’s people to sample!

Everyone else is invited to bring their favorite New Year’s Day snacks (cheese trays, tamales, relish trays – you name it) and we will enjoy fellowship and start the year with Jesus and each other.

Black-eyed pea cooks:  Please email our Director of Operations and Management, Maricela Graciano-Ramos (mgracianoramos@saintgeorgechurch.org) so we will have a place to plug in your crock pot.  Small serving cups and spoons will be provided so that you can share your culinary artistry!

 

Christmas Gift to Our Sister Community in Haiti

By | From Fr. Ram | No Comments

December, 2016

haiti-dec-16-emailMerry Christmas to our brothers and sisters at St. Benoit! This week we sent a gift package to our sister community in Haiti, St. Benoit.  Included in this gift were school supplies, printing supplies, homemade pencil pouches from last year’s 5th grade, some soccer balls, and even some Chain of Love shirts to share with the children and community.  A loving donation of a Communion set to the church was included in the gift, as noted in Fr. Ram’s letter to our friends below.  Construction of the new church is developing nicely and the building will be ready soon with the scheduled dedication to take place on the feast of St. Benedict this year! Please keep our brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers as we move through this season and remember how our prayers and love help sustain this beautiful partnership.

-Keith Earlehaiti-2-dec-16-email

Fr. Ram’s Note:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your friends at St. George are sending you a chalice and paten that came to us some years back.  It is what is left of a United States Army Chaplain Communion set.  While we do not know its history, the set was commissioned to serve those engaged in carrying out various missions.

As I reflect on this initial intent I am aware that once again these vessels will be once again used to serve those on a mission.  In this case, a Kingdom of God mission to proclaim the resurrection hope and life of Jesus Christ to all people.  And we both share in this most important mission of all to seek and serve Christ in all persons.  May this chalice and paten be a sign between of us of our continuing friendship and support of each other’s mission and ministry to the glory of God.

May God grow our partnership and may we be blessed to share the blessing of God to us – His only Son.

Faithfully,

The Rev. Ramiro López

A Letter from the Rector

By | From Fr. Ram | No Comments

Dear Friends in Christ,

Life at St. George is vibrant and moving!  God’s Spirit is roaming freely tending and shaping our common life!

I want to share some dates with you so that you can circle them on your calendars.  Some of these dates represent changes to previous calendars.  So where there is a conflict with older calendars, please use these dates instead.  And look for articles that will give more detail.

October 30 – Promise Plan Ingathering at both worship times followed a Picnic on the Green with opportunities to have some All Hallows’ Eve fun with our children.

November 6Sunday after All Saints’ Day with Holy Baptisms and Daughters of the King Corporate Communion.

November 13 – Bishop Robert Hibbs, retired Suffragan, for Adult Confirmation, Reception and Renewal of Baptismal Vows.

November 20 – St. George Community Thanksgiving Celebration with turkeys courtesy of our Dragonslayers Men’s Group to complement your favorite Thanksgiving side dish or dessert.

November 27 – First Sunday of Advent and blessing of our new Advent Altar hangings and accouterments.

Please read your eSpear and Sunday bulletin closely.  There are many opportunities for each one of us to grow closer to God and to one another in Christ Jesus.

Many blessings abound here at St. George!

Ram+