Dear Friends in Christ,

During all that may be happening in our personal, local, and global lives, the church calendar has a way of providing the certainty of continuity. All Saints Day and All Souls Day invite us to pause and remember persons, living and dead, who have impacted our lives in ways that offered holy illumination in word or action. As proclaimers of the Gospel, we rely on a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and left hints along the way. We do not journey alone. Looking back has a way of helping us clear a path forward. Maya Angelou once wrote, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”

In line with the Sankofa bird, the saints invite us to look back over our shoulders and carry forward what we resonate with. Sankofa “is a principle derived from the Akan people of Ghana that one should remember the past to make positive progress in the future.”

Teresa of Avila, Florence Nightingale, George Herbert, and a whole host of others lay and ordained have left behind a trail to follow the light of Christ. For this witness, we can be thankful.

November is the month of thanksgiving. This month, I am thankful to share that St. Bart’s is one of 177 congregations throughout the United States to receive a Lilly Endowment grant for clergy renewal! The application was submitted earlier this year, and I am grateful for the support of Margaret Jones, Michelle Hiskey, and Susan Boyer, who helped shape the direction.

I’m calling this season Sankofa sabbatical. The core focus of my time includes tracing the family genealogy of my great-great-grandfather James Shepherd and DNA ties to Jewish people, a pilgrimage to Magdala, Israel, the study of the intersectionality between first-century Jews and Christians, and other details to be shared later. Given St. Bart’s is approaching its platinum anniversary, the grant provides funds to support the archival preservation of important documents, an exploration of land acknowledgment of the Muscogee people, a speaker series to provide greater insight to our neighbors who are Orthodox and Reconstructionist Jews, and whether the land now home to St. Bart’s was used during the Civil War. There are also funds for additional clergy support.

During this month of thanksgiving let us come together as a community and give thanks for all God has done for us.

All Souls Day – November 2nd grief ritual 6:00 pm – 6:45 pm
followed by Evening Prayer with Holy Eucharist at 7:00 pm
All Saints Day (observed), November 5, 8:00 am, 10:30 am (incense), 6:00 pm
Thanksgiving Day – Holy Eucharist at 10:30 am followed by a meal in the Parish Hall.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow by caring for and supporting one another, guests, friends, and family.