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!

Serving God – Altar Guild

By | Adult Ministries, Worship | No Comments

Mission:  The Altar Guild prepares all the things necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist or any of the other sacraments and offices of the church.

Liturgy begins and ends with the work of the Altar Guild. Caring for the sacred vessels, the bread and wine, the fair linens and hangings, and the candles and torches used for worship in the Sanctuary is far more than a task, it is a true ministry.

No particular skills are needed — just a willingness to serve. If you have 2-3 hours a month, you can help prepare the Sanctuary for Sunday services, funerals, and weddings. Each team serves one weekend a month.

The Altar Guild is a ministry – a gift of time and talent to serve God in His house. It is a privilege to serve God in this way. The housekeeping and decoration of God’s house should be done with sincere devotion and dignity and good taste. The rector is the head of the guild, but he or she cannot do all that must be done in preparation for all of the services. The Altar Guild plays an important role and must be reliable and dependable.

The rector sets the rules, the style, and the tone of the services by his or her preference for flowers, placement of the vessels used in the services, and whether to use incense or not. The rector appoints the head of the Altar Guild to organize and schedule work assignments. The contribution of each Altar Guild member is important; together those contributions are a devotion to the greater glory of God.

If you are interested in joining this wonderful group, contact Alana Woods: alana005@yahoo.com or Barbara Simon: bsimon10@satx.rr.com.

Formation and Fellowship

By | Adult Ministries, Children's Ministries, Fellowship | No Comments

What is Formation?

Christian formation is the life-long journey that we each take as we grow in faith and become closer to Jesus. Through prayer, study, worship, and reading the Bible, we can further our path on this journey.

What is Fellowship?

Fellowship is about coming together as members of the body of Christ for support, sharing, gathering, and participating together in the life of the Church. Through fellowship we build the bonds that allow us to do the mission and ministry of the church.

Backpacks and School Supplies for the Community: Larkspur Thank You

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Dear Julabeth,

On behalf of our students and their families, THANK YOU!!! The uniforms you provided could not have come at a better time. I was getting multiple requests for uniforms on a daily basis and I still am. Almost all of the clothing has already been distributed to a family in need. And don’t think I forgot to mention the supplies – My goodness! You all donated so many! Let me just tell you that not only our students are benefiting. Our teachers were thrilled to learn that they can count on the supplies you donated to equip their classrooms. So many of our staff spend out-of-pocket on supplies that they depend on to have a successful learning environment (because their students can’t afford to buy them). Your generous donations have truly made a campus-wide impact. Please extend our gratitude to everyone involved.

Attached is a picture of a student who was sent by his teacher this morning because he was hungry. Once we got to talking he mentioned he needed supplies too. Just an example of how our partnership benefits students on a daily basis.
Have a wonderful day and !!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!

Ana de la Tejera
Larkspur Elementary
Family Specialist

Children’s/Youth Ministry Spotlight

By | Children's Ministries, Community, Youth | No Comments

Hi! My name is Happy Wilson, and I am so blessed with the privilege of serving as the Director of Family Ministries and love being a part of the amazing things that happen here at St. George! My love for children’s ministries began many years ago when I was a stay-at-home mom and volunteered in many roles throughout the church from Sunday school teacher, children’s chapel leader, VBS station leader to VBS Director.

In 2011, I became an official member of the staff when I accepted the part-time position of Children & Family Ministries Coordinator. As the children’s program grew, so did my role and I was named Director of Family Ministries. In this role, it has been my goal to equip every child with the knowledge and desire to reflect Christ through their lives. It is important for every child, no matter their age, to recognize that God wants to use them for His purpose and glory each and every day; at church, at home, at school, when they are with others and when they are alone. It is an honor to continue this work in a place that has been a loving church home for me and my family for the past 21 years! My husband, Bart Wilson, and I have 15 yr. old twins, Sophie & Sully, who have grown up in the church and recently graduated from St. George School in May of 2018. They are now paving their own paths at 2 different high schools: Tom C. Clark & Antonian College Preparatory High School! While our lives are crazy busy, our family continues to be deeply involved in the life of this wonderful St. George community! When I am not working at the church, you can find me volunteering at Sophie & Sully’s schools or cheering them on at their team events! I am a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, where Bart and I met, and hope to one day see Sophie & Sully follow in our footsteps and become proud Aggies themselves! My family and I love our Aggies and attend as many A&M games as our schedule allows! We also enjoy traveling, hiking, taking our sweet beagle Bo for walks, and spending time with family in Port Aransas! I gives me great joy to share our lives with the family of St. George!

Parent and Child Serving Together

By | Called to Serve | No Comments

Submitted by Jessica Miller

I joined the pastoral care ministry when I was just a child. I would go with my mom when she would take flowers, a meal, or communion to someone. She taught me that being in God’s flock didn’t always happen in the church.After becoming part of the St. George Home Eucharistic Ministers, I realized what an important role my mom and I had. Now that I am a mother, I take my six-year-old daughter Brinkley with me to visit and take communion to Ms. R.

My daughter enjoys going over to her house, especially to see all the cats and dogs. The joy this little girl brings is all over everyone’s faces when we walk through the door. Ms. R. loves seeing my daughter. She takes such delight in watching Brinkley grow, talking with her, and seeing the beautiful works of art she brings her.

Since doing this, my daughter asks to pray for Ms. R. at bedtime, so we do. It’s always the same prayer, “to help Ms. R. feel happy.” So whenever we go for a visit, I know it helps Ms. R. feel happy, but it also helps us feel happy, too.

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.