When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.—Isaiah 43:2
This week has certainly been a rough one. I have been in touch with many of you. Thankfully, the damage done by the hurricane seems mostly to be to property, and I have not heard that anyone was physically hurt. I was heartened to hear some of you talk about how at the moments when Idalia was kicking up the worst of her winds and rain, you were able to find prayers and scripture to remind you that God is with us always, especially when we are feeling the most scared and vulnerable.
In difficult and stressful times such as these, remembering that God helps us pass through trouble is the balm for the soul. It can also help us to open our hearts a little wider to our neighbors who are in need. That feeling of having been through a difficult time together does tend to help dissolve differences and see strangers as fellow sojourners. And I am hearing some stories of that happening, too. As so many of you said to me, “We’ll get through this.” And we will. With patience, a touch of humor, helping one another and trusting in God, we will be fine.
If anyone is in critical need, please reach out to me or your vestry.
I will see you on Sunday. We’ll do some picking up of the campus and giving thanks to God that we still have each other to help us get through the tough times.—Rev. Susan
What a joy it was to have Bishop Frank and Victoria Logue with us last Sunday. And especially on a occasion where we confirmed six people and received another six into The Episcopal Church.
The Bishop met with the whole congregation after the service and fielded questions on everything from the role of a bishop to the role of the church in times of such polarized and divisive politics. He also touched upon the angst about aging church populations and ways in which St. Barnabas plays an important part as the self-described “Island of Misfit Toys” serving the need in the community of a church with traditional Episcopal worship that makes room at the table for those who are looking for a loving church family home.
He spoke encouragingly about the possibility of all three Episcopal churches in Valdosta finding some common projects to help the greater community.
The bishop will be back again in Advent of 2024 for his regular visit. We look forward to seeing him again.
Last Sunday, our congregation stepped up to collect backpacks, school supplies, and gift cards for The Children’s Place and Old Navy to give to children in need of assistance in the Valdosta area.
Vestry Outreach co-leader Diane Holliman delivered all the goods to the school system’s social workers.
Diane was thrilled to be the point person on this project.
“The school supply and gift card collection and blessing was a blessing for many in our area,” she said. “A foster mother with seven children in her home received backpacks filled with school items for four of her youngest children. Gift cards were delivered to the social workers of Valdosta City Schools for clothing and other needed items for children, and a bounty of school supplies and backpacks were given to school children identified as being homeless. We have made a difference, St. Barnabas!”
Our priest, the Rev. Susan Gage and her wife, Isabelle, went to France this spring to see Isabelle’s mother. They ended up seeing a whole lot more! On Sunday, Isabelle and Rev. Susan shared photos and stories of their experiences visiting several of the cities and villages in the Southwest of France near the French Pyrenees mountains. Isabelle grew up in the tiny village of Haut de Gan, which is about 50km from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, one of the points of origins for pilgrims walking the St. Jean de Compastalle.
They visited several churches, many of which were the central attractions in the places they went. The styles varied from extremely ornate Gothic to Romanesque.
Isabelle also shared stories of the history of the region. And while World War I is memoralized in some way in every city square, the history of World War II, and the way so many looked the other way as Nazis brutalized and killed Jews, is a stain on the country. Such history reminds us that we must be careful as we are always in danger of falling into indifference in the face of evil. It was a fascinating and educating presentation.
We had a terrific presentation by Jennifer Wingertsahn, the Opioid Prevention Specialist aka “Drug Girl” at the Georgia Department of Health office located in Lowndes County. She gave us the straight talk on the dangerous situation that is plaguing many communities in South Georgia, namely synthetic opioids such as fentaynl. Wingertsahn says it doesn’t take much of fentanyl to lay out a grown person and leave them unconscious. Even an amount as small as a couple of grains of salt can do it!
What can we do? Know the signs of an overdose. If a person is unconscious, if the skin around their fingernails or mouth appears bluish in color, they may have taken something laced with fentanyl. Wingertsahn advises to first call 911 and then stay with the person. If you can get them on their side, try using your knuckles to tap their chest on their sternum (a very sensitive area so just a firm tap with the knuckles should get their attention). And if you have the nasal spray Narcan (available for free from the health department), put a dose up one nostril, and possibly a second dose in the other nostril. You could be saving a life. And as Wingertsahn passionately explained, that person who has overdosed is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, aunt, uncle, son or daughter. We need to care that they live.
On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, with 2,000 federal troops to enforce the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation President Lincoln had signed on January 1, 1863. That Proclamation finally gave freedom to the slaves, but states such as Texas refused to comply until the Union Army came into the state to deliver the news of freedom. Now a federal holiday, Juneteenth has been celebrated in parts of the country as another Fourth of July, when blacks were freed from slavery. May we all continue to resist such evil and work toward a vision of love and liberation for all people.
A Collect for Juneteenth
Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image. Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression. Help us, like those generations before us, resist the evil of slavery and human bondage in any form and any manner of oppression. Help us to use our freedoms to bring justice among people and nations everywhere, to the glory of your Holy Name through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What a joy to have two baptisms and to add another ten people to the membership rolls of St. Barnabas. It was the best way to mark our patron saint day by bringing Prue Morecroft and Linda Lamie into the larger Body of Christ. We had some people return who were once members of the church youth group back in the late 1980s and 90s. And we had visitors checking us out because they’re looking for a new church. So much life and liveliness. Truly, there is a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.
June is the beginning of Pride Month and the Episcopal Church has been rolling out numerous memes to mark the occassion. In light of the increase in hate crimes and legislative efforts to deny healthcare and basic human rights to people who are LGBTQ+, it is important for the church to remain constant in its baptismal vows “to seek and serve Christ in all persons” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”
If you are in search of a place of health, healing, and hope with the unconditional love imebedded in these baptismal promises…you’re invited to be with us on Sundays at 11am on Bemiss Road.
The St. Barnabas Vestry met last Saturday and worked through a process of taking our Vision Statement–“A place of health, healing, and hope with unconditional love”–and putting some flesh on those bones to create a Mission Statement:
“St. Barnabas with God’s help will invite all people to a faith of prayer, worship, music, and outreach. We commit to providing a place of acceptance through engaging and listening non-judgmentally and following the model of Christ by building bridges to community and family.”
While the rest of the world has put away their bunny ears and Easter baskets, we continue to celebrate the joy and exhilaration of Easter. It is a season, not just a day. Over these next 50 days, we will hear the stories of how the early church began to spread and live into the mission of God as they learned it first from Jesus. More inspiring and incredible stories are coming our way. Stay tuned!