Earlier this year, St. Mary’s 35-year-old platform lift finally failed. The loss of the lift has made access to our undercroft level fellowship rooms and restrooms difficult, dangerous or impossible for many members of our community. Because the lift is so old, and because we installed that lift before the Americans with Disabilities Act codes, it cannot be repaired.
The Vestry explored alternatives, but it became apparent that a lift was the only practical solution to maintaining full access for all to the undercroft. After months of prayerful deliberation, the Vestry has determined that we need a lift to respect the dignity and full inclusion of all members and guests of St. Mary’s.
The new platform lift will cost over $39,000. Thanks to the generosity of our members and contributions from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, St. Mary’s is proceeding with the Access Lift Project! We are counting on your continued generosity to help us complete this major capital improvement to our beloved church.
Won’t you make a gift today to ensure that all persons are fully included in the prayer life and fellowship of St. Mary’s?
Gardens are important to our understanding of God and our experience of Christian faith. As you enjoy the created beauty of the world, take a moment to reflect on our relationships with the whole of creation. Below are some reflections on those relationships by others.
Psalm 1Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond their greed
and have put an end to their hatred
and no longer nourish illusions.
But they delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
Gardens have been much on my heart and in my mind of late. Perhaps this is because of the vibrancy of the colors of the late summer flowers; perhaps because of the lushness of the fruits and vegetables of the summer harvest. Whatever the reason, I know that gardens are important to our understanding of God and our experience of Christian faith. Human existence begins in a garden. Jesus prayed in a garden the night before his crucifixion. The empty tomb of the Resurrection was in a garden.
Like a garden, our souls need tending and nurturing. Prayer, meditation, the Sacraments and the word of God in Scripture all nourish our souls. We are created beings who are more closely linked with creation than we often realize.
We are fortunate at St. Mary’s to be in the midst of magnificent gardens and amazing natural beauty. The historic Afton Town Square Park, Carpenter Nature Center, Afton State Park, St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park and even our own Memorial Garden offer beautiful trees, flowers and landscaping to reconnect us to God and creation. And I know that many of you have attractive yards and gardens at your own homes.
Take some time this summer to “stop and smell the roses.” Explore the gardens and landscapes of the St. Croix Valley, or the natural beauty of the state and regional park system. Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows of your home or automobile to let in the sounds and smells of creation. Tend your soul so it too may grow and flourish in the love of God and the glory of God’s creation. Store up the energy of the sun for the fallow season of winter that is all too close at hand.
As you enjoy the created beauty of the world, take a moment to reflect on our relationships with the whole of creation. Below are some reflections on those relationships by others. Perhaps you will be able to add your own experience of nature to the list. Enjoy, and God bless you.
“The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.”
— Thomas Moore
“There is a little plant called reverence in the corner of my soul’s garden, which I love to have watered once a week.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav
“I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”
Recently, we were appalled to learn that the former chair of the Hastings school board and her family were forced to move to another city following vicious social media attacks--attacks originated by adults--against one of her children. The attacks were launched in an attempt to unseat the mother from the school board.
When Bishop Craig Loya learned of this story, he was moved to respond with a powerful and compassionate op-ed letter to the Hastings Star Gazette. We commend his letter to you as a witness to the power of Christ's unremitting love in the face of unwarranted abuse and cruelty against one of God's beloved children.
Opinion letter published December 10, 2021 in the Hastings Star Gazette
I was saddened to hear recently from the Episcopal congregations in your community, St. Luke’s on Vermillion Street and St. Mary’s in Afton, that Hastings has recently become the latest flashpoint in the painful and highly charged division that characterizes so much of our public life these days.
I was heartbroken to learn that at the center of the controversy was a child and that child’s treatment at the hands of adults in the community.
I have the honor of serving as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. In that role I am called, first and foremost, to follow and emulate the One who came not to be served but to serve; to, with God’s help, reflect and embody the love of Jesus in a world that is starving for it.
I know that many in our country believe, with good reason, that those who call themselves Christian are aligned first and foremost with the powerful, with white nationalism, with anti-democratic movements in our midst, with intolerance, and with violence.
The Episcopal Church has its own sinful history of perpetuating oppression. However, as a follower of Jesus, my allegiance is always to those whom Jesus came to love and to serve. Make no mistake: while Jesus does not prefer political parties, Jesus does choose sides.
The politics of Jesus are about embracing the poor, loving our enemies, feeding the hungry, lifting up the oppressed, reforming the unjust structures in society, seeking good for the other instead of insisting on our own way, disregarding the boundaries of social exclusion, calling out our own self-interested hypocrisy and that of our religious and civic leaders, making room at the center for those who have been pushed to the margins. Those are the things that Jesus actually did. These are the marks of what it means to be his followers in the world.
The Episcopal way of following Jesus is unequivocal in affirming that all of God’s children, including our trans siblings and including those with whom we ardently disagree, are beloved, accepted, worthy of dignity and welcome to fully participate in the life of the church.
We as a people are better when our churches, and all our public spaces, both affirm and reflect the wonderful diversity of humanity, which together more fully reflects the very image of God.
The Rt. Rev. Craig W. Loya, X Bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota
The percentage of white mainline Protestants in the general population is HIGHER than the percentage of white evangelicals.
I don’t have the exact numbers at hand, but I am fairly certain that there hasn’t been a time since 1980 when the percentage of white mainline Protestants in the general population was HIGHER than the percentage of white evangelicals. That’s at least four decades – maybe longer. But this is a genuine shift away from white evangelicalism toward mainline Protestantism. | Diana Butler Bass
Fr. Scott is hosting Wednesday Morning Worship and Kaffeeklatsch at 9:30 each week.
Fr. Scott is hosting Wednesday Morning Worship and Kaffeeklatsch at 9:30 each week. We’ll gather for a simple service of Holy Communion followed by coffee and conversation. Topics will include current events, Bible study, local happenings, or anything else we decide to bring up. Stop by and join us when you can!
Bishop Craig Loya will visit St. Mary’s on Sunday, June 20th. Bring your lawn chair for a special baptismal liturgy in the Memorial Garden at 9:30 AM to welcome him. The Bishop will host a town hall style conversation at a reception following the service. Join us to give Bishop Craig a genuine St. Mary’s welcome!
We are following a plan to safely reopen our doors and worship in person.
Welcome back to indoor worship!
We are following a plan to safely reopen our doors and worship in person. Our first priority remains the spiritual and physical wellbeing of our parish community. We are confident that, as Bishop Craig Loya has said, we are “learning to negotiate risk with love.”
Masks are recommended for all worshipers regardless of vaccination status. We encourage worshipers to use personal discretion and to respect the space and choices of those around them. People who are sick or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 should stay home.
We recognize that everyone is not yet ready to resume indoor activities. For those choosing to stay safe at home or are otherwise unable to attend, we will continue to livestream the service on our YouTube Channel each Sunday.