Rector’s Messages

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Saints And Angels: No, Not The Sport Teams!

Dear Parishioners,

As a boy, I sang in the men and boys’ choir at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Baltimore, Maryland.  Since he was our patron, his festival day, September 29th (or the following Sunday) was always a big occasion with special music and a big luncheon after the main service.  Naturally his stained glass representation in full armor, backed by a legion of angel warriors, and with a shield bearing the motto “Who is like the Lord?”, made a big impression on me.

When I taught the Confirmation class as chaplain of the Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, I asked the 9th and 10th grade students to think of a modern Christian “Saint”, and describe that person.  I had hoped for a description of Martin Luther King or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but instead, the students described a little old lady sitting on her porch rocking chair reading her bible.

Many people today, especially our children and youth, think of angels and saints as a bunch of wimps.  Angels are fluffy feminine things with white wings and long golden hair or children’s cherubic faces with wings instead of ears. Saints are folks from past generations quaintly depicted in stained glass or stylized stone figurines.  What a shame! Forget Batman and Superman!  Forget Wonder Woman and Spiderman!  Saints and angels are the true super heroes of the galaxy!

Angels are the personification of the most powerful forces that exist and impinge upon our lives.  In Psalm 104, storm winds and flames of fire are described as angels of God, his messengers and servants.  Michael is the general of God’s Army who defeats Satan and his angels in battle and expels them from heaven down to earth. Gabriel sounds the trumpet signaling judgment day when destruction will come to the whole earth and all human works.  Raphael embodies God’s healing power and so forth. In the New Testament, it is angels who break off the chains of St. Peter in prison, who roll the great stone from Christ’s tomb and proclaim his resurrection, who startle poor shepherds in the fields and send them off to search for a newborn child who will change history.

As for Saints, have you seen the Episcopal publication “Holy Women, Holy Men”, our church’s “canonized” list of saints and their special deeds and days?  Or have you ever looked at the calendar in the front of the new prayer book?  The 2007 edition lists such people as Polycarp, the courageous Bishop of Smyrna, martyred in 156, Thomas Becket, martyred in 1170, Latimer and Ridley, martyred in 1559 and Jonathan Daniels, Civil Rights martyr in 1965.  Brave and brilliant women are not forgotten such as St. Agnes, Roman martyr in 304, Monica, mother of St. Augustine, 387, Hildegard of Bingen, 1179, Dame Julian of Norwich, 1417, Queen Emma of Hawaii, 1885, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, Liberators of Slaves. Mother Teresa, recently canonized by Rome, will, I am sure, soon be added to our Anglican list.  Some “saints” we remember are famous, like John Donne, John Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Patrick and Francis.  Others are obscure like Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, Bishop of Shanghai.  All were imperfect humans, who by God’s grace let their lives and deeds count for something good and strong, something that we and our children should be taught to emulate.  “All of them Saints of God and I mean, God helping, to be one too!”, in the words of Hymn 293.  So when your kids or grandchildren talk of the latest “superhero” film, ask them if they know anything about an Archangel or tell them about a real person who we remember for being one of God’s heroes, a Saint.  And remember all of the above on September 29th, St. Michael and All Angels day and November 1st, All Saints’ Day!

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer

 

 

 

 

New Words For Basic Things

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Some of you may recall the Danny Kaye film with his comic routine “They used to call it dance; now they are doing choreography!” Lots of Christian terminology has changed over the years since Oliver Cromwell remarked “new presbyter is only old priest writ large!” Some of the change is helpful and some of is doubtful. We don’t say “Christian education “or “Sunday School” much any more, instead we refer to “Christian Formation” and even the seminaries use the term “priestly formation” to state their raison d’etre. I prefer to speak about “Christian growth and development” or “lifelong Christian learning,” because that’s what we’re really talking about, especially as we approach our new fall programs. And there is a valid point in changing our terminology.

Psychological research has proven that our minds, emotions and personalities do not remain static when we reach 18, but rather that adults as well as children pass through developmental stages and changing perspectives throughout our lifespan. Some people do seem to get “stuck” at one level of feeling or understanding, but for most of us (as an example) the challenges of aging and an increasing consciousness of our own mortality cause profound changes in our thinking and overall outlook as we become “senior citizens”. Our understanding of what it means to be and live as Christians changes at different stages in our adulthood and prompts us to learn and practice new spiritual insights. What was once comfortable, familiar religious habit is often experienced by us as inadequate and unsatisfying. Many instances in Holy scripture show us how the stress and suffering of adult life caused prophets and saints to struggle spiritually and with God’s help and grace to reclaim their faith at a higher level and with new understanding and maturity. One Eastern Orthodox writer, in commenting on the lives of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, said that westerners don’t understand that a Russian can be a believer and a doubter at the same time! He was really talking about the constant battle we have between faith and skepticism that is only resolved by achieving a new stage of Christian growth and maturity, only to be challenged by an advanced level of spiritual conflict. James Fowler, a theologian and teacher at Emory University made this topic of ongoing religious growth and development the theme of his book “Stages of Faith”.

What does this have to do with us, here at Manakin Church? It means that our Christian Formation Committee is busy brainstorming, debating and planning a whole range of expanded programs and activities for this Fall and coming years, not only with the education of our children in mind, but with the needs and concerns of church members at every age level from cradle to grave. Our goal is to ensure that in the future all our members may find opportunities for growth in their spiritual lives to meet the changing conditions and challenges both in ourselves and in our society. Expect to be asked to join this discussion and to try new educational opportunities and worship experiences as we move into a new church year.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer

 

 

Getting to know you – A message from The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer, our interim rector

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Most of us remember the pleasant melody from “the King and I “ beginning “getting to know you, getting to know more about you . . .” Now I am not Yul Brynner, but I am a bit bald on the top where I don’t notice it (but you can), and I am the new boy on the block that you are getting to know. I am also doing my best to get to know you, and I have several hundred names and faces to learn while you have just one. My dear wife, Ann, if she were still living, would be of great help in this task at which she was much better than I am. However, I have begun to meet with both individuals and groups in my short time among you.

I will use this messenger column as an official “thank you” note to express my gratitude to Bob Pinkham, Linda and Brooke Doggett and Linda and Chuck Catlett for hosting me at their homes and feeding my body as well as my soul. I have met with Birdie Lighthiser and Paula Price to discuss pastoral needs and Stephen Ministry responsibilities. Tricia Kohlbeck and Pat Rock have enlightened me concerning the mysteries and ministries of the altar guild. (Note the spelling is “altar” – i.e. God’s everlasting throne and table, not “alter”, which would indicate perpetual worship changes).

On Monday, June 20th, I participated in a Christian Formation/Education Committee meeting chaired by Elizabeth Vaughan and Drew Wilson and Junior Warden, Holly Walker. I got to know members as they “brainstormed” concerning future Sunday School and Adult growth and development ideas. Chandler Williams and the Search Committee had me as their guest at an informative and productive Search Committee meeting. The Vestry likewise included me in their most recent deliberations. By the time you read this, I will have joined the Worship Committee in a planning session and met with your interim provider of pastoral care, The Rev. Martha Jenkins.

For the warm hospitality and welcome given to me on these occasions and following each Sunday worship service, I am thankful and honored, and I especially want to acknowledge and thank your wardens and Vestry members who have shouldered the task of leading the congregation since your previous rector retired. I hope and expect to meet and begin to know many more of you during the weeks ahead. We will soon have a computer, email address and a cell phone for text and voice messages to reach me personally. Meanwhile, let Wendy know if you would like to see me and she will put you on my calendar. I normally expect to be in the office Thursday afternoons, most Fridays and some Saturdays; God willing and my wayward spine cooperating! You are a fortunate congregation to have Wendy, Rita and Jo as a devoted, long-serving staff. With their able assistance, we will set our sails to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit and move together where God takes us, learning more about each other “day by day”.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Tom Bauer

 

Manakin Church welcomes interim rector

A Message from Roy McLeod, Senior Warden

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

This newsletter is, on purpose, being mailed later than usual so we may share some good news with you.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Bauer, who was our officiant on April 10th and May 15th, has agreed to become our Interim Rector effective June 4, 2016. The Vestry approved his contract on May 15th and he met with the Bishop the following week and received Diocesan approval. Dr. Bauer will lead our services on June 5th and be present for our Annual Picnic. This completes our Transition Team as we move forward in the search process.

In addition to sharing with the Vestry his extensive Interim and Parish Priest experience at various parishes in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Bermuda, he has written the following more personal introductory biography to share with you.

Please join the Vestry in welcoming Dr. Bauer to Manakin.

Roy G. McLeod

Senior Warden

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Dr. Thomas William Bauer was born in Pittsburgh PA, but moved during World War II to Connecticut. His father’s company built defense factories and his mother was a schoolteacher. Moving from Connecticut to Maryland in 1947, Dr. Bauer’s family attended the Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Baltimore, where he was a choirboy and acolyte. He attended the McDonogh School, graduating in 1954, and received his B.A. from Yale University four years later. After studying at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, he was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in Maryland by Bishop Harry Lee Doll in 1961. He returned to Yale for masters degrees in Religious Sociology and Urban Studies awarded in 1965. He obtained his doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology and Moral Education from Harvard in 1986.

Rev. Tom served parishes in Maryland, Connecticut and New York City, during which time he did much pastoral counseling. Dr. Bauer then entered chaplaincy work at the Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, and St. Albans School in Washington, DC as counselor and teacher. He was headmaster of Grace & St. Peter’s School in Baltimore, and subsequently taught ethics and psychology courses at the College of William & Mary, while serving as rector of Westover Church in Charles City and St. Paul’s Church in Petersburg. Following Interim Ministry pastorates in Massachusetts and Maryland, Dr. Tom and his wife Ann spent two years at St. David’s Chapel of Ease in Bermuda. His wife of 47 years passed away in 2008. The Bauers had two children, Tom Jr. who manages multiplex theaters in Florida, and Margaret, who is a well-known graphic designer in DC. Dr. Bauer enjoys singing as a member of the Yale Alumni Chorus and has traveled with them worldwide including Cuba, Russia, Armenia, Turkey, the Baltic States and the UK.

In 2006, Dr. Bauer received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Baltimore. For the following seven years he counseled students in Baltimore Public High Schools and Middle Schools. Prior to accepting a part-time position with Safe Harbor Christian Counseling, LLC, he worked a year as a Family Life Counselor for Magellan Corporation, serving military bases at Fort Meade, Maryland (serving also as a chaplain) and in DC.

He is excited and pleased to be able to serve the congregation of Manakin Parish during this important interim period.

 

Note: As Manakin moves through this transition period, members of our congregation will be contributing to the Rector’s Message section of our web site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interim and search updates as we give thanks for the good work of the Manakin family

A Message from Roy McLeod, Senior Warden

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

Two important topics seem to be on your minds these days—when will we get an interim and how is the search for a new rector going? The search question is addressed by Chandler Williams, Chair of the Search Committee on page 2 of the newsletter. As for the interim status, the Vestry has interviewed a candidate and is now engaged in the process of checking references, reviewing contracts and negotiating an employment agreement before the end of May. Our efforts are conditional not only on reaching an agreement on the interim’s conditions of work, compensation, housing and benefits but also upon approval by the Bishop. We will keep you advised of these efforts.

As we approach the end of the school year and prepare to go into a less active summer schedule, it seems appropriate to thank all of you—too numerous to name—who have volunteered to support our ministries over the past months—Outreach, Pastoral Care, Parish Life, EfM, Stephen Ministry, Church School, Altar Guild, Coffee Hour, Huguenot Luncheon, etc. Space does not permit a complete listing of all the areas and individuals—so perhaps a simple “thank you” will suffice.

Special thanks go to one individual for service that many of us may not be aware of– John Mills has just completed a three year term on the Board of Chanco on the James. Chanco, the Diocesan Camp and Conference Center, was founded as a summer camp in 1967 and is situated on 125 acres, along the James River in Surry County. It was honored by Virginia Living Magazine in its “Best of Virginia” edition as the top summer camp in Virginia in 2015. Last year, 574 campers attended camp and generated $353,377 in fees (see page 4 for the 2016 summer camp dates). John, thank you for representing Manakin in this important Diocesan Ministry.

Lord look favorably upon your people,

Roy McLeod

Senior Warden

Note: As Manakin moves through this transition period, members of our congregation will be contributing to the Rector’s Message section of our web site.