St. Thomas’ Welcomes the Rev. Alex Dyer!

St. Thomas’ is delighted to call the Rev. Alex Dyer as its Priest-in-Charge. Having begun his ministry as a missionary in Cairo, Egypt working with Sudanese refugees, he has since served numerous parishes in New York City and Connecticut. Alex has a heart for urban ministry beginning with his time at St. Luke in the Fields in New York City, where he oversaw outreach programs for LGBT youth and a program for people with HIV/AIDS. Upon moving to New Haven, he created an outdoor Eucharist that ministered primarily to people who were experiencing homelessness. He also served as the Executive Director of the largest food pantry in New Haven, CT, which served about 300 families each week.

Alex also brings experience in the wider church, which started with working for Episcopal News Service. Since then he has served as a Deputy to General Convention, a member of the search committee for the Bishop of Connecticut, a member of the Commission on Ministry for the Diocese of Connecticut and is currently the President of the Standing Committee in the Diocese of Connecticut.

For the past three years, Alex has been working on his Doctorate in Ministry from Virginia Theological Seminary. His project focuses on reconnecting churches to their neighborhoods, discovering what God is up to and how parishes can join God’s mission. He hopes to defend his thesis this coming spring.

While Alex was born in Tennessee, he spent much of his childhood in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is delighted to rejoin many members of his family who still live in the DC area.

We also welcome Alex’s husband, Ryan DeLoach, and their beautiful daughter, Savannah Gayle. Ryan has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and has most recently worked for a large nonprofit specializing in shelter and housing services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Alex’s first Sunday at St. Thomas’ will be on October 9. Please join us as we welcome our new Priest in Charge and Ryan and Savannah to our family.

Introduction from Alex Dyer on Vimeo.

Festivals! Backpacks! Birthdays! Farewells! Picnic! The weekend of September 12 and 13, 2015 was very big at St. Thomas’ Parish. A seemingly record crowd joined us for a “welcome back” gathering after summer holidays and travel. Our Rector, Nancy Lee, returned after a well-deserved August vacation.

2015-09 17st Festival 3The 17th Street Festival on Saturday, September 12

St. Thomas’ had a wonderful booth at the 17th Street Festival for our second year! The 17th Street festival is a community event celebrating the 17th Street Corridor from Riggs Place to P Street. This has been a fantastic opportunity to be a visible presence in our neighborhood community.

The Festival took place on Saturday September 12 from 12:00-6:00pm. Volunteers served 2 hour shifts under the excellent direction of Catherine Manhardt.

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Wow! Listen to the big choir!

We celebrated Adam Graham’s birthday with cake and song2015-09 Welcome Sunday 14 – and then with listening to our wonderfully expanded choir!

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Blessing of the Backpacks

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On September 13th, we kicked off our Children’s Ministry Fall Program with a blessing of backpacks — including diaper bags and briefcases!

We also collected back-to-school supplies for an extra special backpack that we’re donating to the Samaritan Ministry.

Welcome Back Picnic on Sunday, September 13

More than 100 celebrated our “welcome back” with a wonderful picnic – dancing, smashing a piñata, meeting new babies, seeing how much our young worshipers have grown, and enjoying the company of folks we may not have seen since summer began.

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The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson

St. Thomas’ Parish is privileged to be the home church of Bishop Gene Robinson, retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Gene generously shares is wealth of experience and spiritual wisdom with our Parish, and frequently preaches at our 11am service.

Bishop Robinson is famous internationally as a champion for human rights, and as the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination. He was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, having served as Canon to the Ordinary (assistant to the bishop) for nearly 18 years. He was consecrated a bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003, and was invested as the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004.

Gene Robinson was born in Fayette County, Kentucky. According to his biographer (Adams, 2006), Gene’s parents were poor tenant farmers who worked in the tobacco fields as sharecroppers. The family used an outhouse, drew water from a cistern, and did laundry in a cast-iron tub over an open flame. Their house did not have running water until Robinson was ten years old.

Robinson graduated from the University of the South in 1969 with a B.A. in American studies and history. In 1973 he completed the M.Div. degree at the General Theological Seminary in New York, and was ordained deacon and then priest, serving as curate at Christ Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey.

He is the co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, and has done AIDS work in the United States and in Africa (Uganda and South Africa). He has also been an advocate for antiracism training in the diocese and wider church. Robinson helped build the Diocese of New Hampshire’s close working partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, advocated for debt relief for the world’s most impoverished nations, and lobbied for socially responsible investment within and beyond the church.

He is a past member of the Board of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health, which works for access to health care for the uninsured, and he currently serves as a trustee of the Church Pension Fund. He holds two honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards from national civil rights organizations. His story is featured in the 2007 feature-length documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” and his book In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury Books, New York) was released in 2008.

Bishop Robinson has been particularly active in the area of full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Working at the state, national, and international levels, he has spoken and lobbied for equal protection under the law and full civil marriage rights. He has been honored by many LGBT organizations for this work, including the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GLAAD, and the Equality Forum.

Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.

In 2012, he authored God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage, and a feature-length documentary on Bishop Robinson’s ministry, “Love Free or Die,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that same year.

Robinson enjoys entertaining and cooking, gardening, music, and theatre. He is the father of two grown daughters and the proud grandfather of two granddaughters.

Much of this biography references the Center for American Progress website – with thanks!

St. Thomas’ Vestry Adopts Mission Statement

During a one-day retreat held at St. Thomas′ on Saturday, May 5, 2014, the vestry adopted the following mission statement for the parish:

As St. Thomas′ Parish, we are followers of Jesus
striving to see Christ in each person
and to be Christ in our community, our city, and our world.

Pastoral Letter from Rector Nancy Lee Jose (audio and text)

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Something Happened in America
A Pastoral Letter from The Rev. Dr. Nancy Lee Jose
Rector of St. Thomas’ Parish at Dupont Circle
The Fifth Sunday in Lent in the Year of Our Lord 2014

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ: I bring to you this morning a pastoral letter as your Rector in response to widely reported public comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who—deeply moved by attacks upon the LGBT community in Africa and attacks upon Christians there seen as their allies—has stated his conviction that this violence is itself the consequence of the very advances in human rights for gays and lesbians made in recent years by the Episcopal Church in America. He appears to suggest that less concern for justice for LGBTs in our church and country, and in his own, would bring about more justice elsewhere. These claims, I believe—while obviously driven by his concern that we take responsibility for the consequences of our actions—are provocatively unhelpful in a world longing for more, not less, prophetic courage in the face of the rampant violence and intolerance afflicting so many today.

In a broadcast interview this past week; Archbishop Welby stated, “He had seen first hand, at a mass grave in Africa, the lethal fallout from a decision on sexual equality taken by Christians in another country.” He continued: “I have stood by gravesides in Africa of a group of Christians who had been attacked because of something that had happened in America.” His hearers were left to infer that if not for the Episcopal Church’s consecration of Gene Robinson, who is a faithful member of this parish and our honored Bishop in Residence, and Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles, and the same-sex blessings and marriages of many of you sitting in this room, innocent people would not be dying.

Something happened in America, according to the Archbishop—the Episcopal Church’s ordination and consecration of gay and lesbian priests and bishops, and our support and encouragement of marriage equality for all, whatever their sexual orientation—that he does not think should be allowed to happen in other places, such as in the Church of England. In his words, “the impact of that on Christians far from here, in South Sudan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic.” In other words, we should beware actually doing justice, lest it incite the unjust. This is fear-mongering of the worst sort, blaming the victims of intolerance for the intolerant violence of others. As your pastor, I know that each of you deserves more. And while I join you in solidarity with the suffering of the LGBT community worldwide, I do not think that their cause is better served if we waver in our active promotion of justice in our own land.

The Rev. Susan Russell from All Saints’ Church in Pasadena, who sat right here next to Gene Robinson this past Sunday, has written that Archbishop Welby has gone from “the prophetic to the pathetic.” I take his words to be a challenge for us as a congregation to renew our own unwavering prophetic voice and to refuse to be blackmailed into silence or inaction by threats of the costly consequences of proclaiming our Lord to be a God of extravagant love, not violence—a God of compassion who sees us all equally as God’s beloved children and was willing to die that we may live. In Lent we remember a God who went to the cross, and suffered death, in order to defeat the power of violence and death over us. How else can we follow Christ, unless we too, dare to love with prophetic courage in the face of hate and intolerance that must not be allowed to prevail?

Thank you, Bishop Gene, for being a moral and spiritual beacon for us all; now may we find in our own hearts the courage and compassion to be such a beacon of hope for the world, so that future generations may look back at us and say, “Through them, once again, something indeed happened in America.” And it is good!

Nancy Lee+