Sunday, February 28, 2010

Community Meeting

Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends,

I want to remind you of our Urban Abbey Community meeting on Saturday, March 20, from 10 am - 3 pm. This will be an important meeting in the life of our Community as we'll elect a Leadership Council and work on some of the issues raised at our January meeting. We on the Transition Team will be working on the agenda for the meting in the next few weeks, but welcome your thoughts and ideas as well.

The purpose of this note is to ask each of you in the Abbey to spend some time in quiet reflection about how you are called to serve the Abbey Community and whether you are called to be part of the Leadership Council. As a reminder, there was a consensus in the Community that we should have a 3-person Leadership Council and that each member would serve a 2-year term, with a member rotating off every 8 months to ensure some continuity.

I also ask each of the Listening Groups to spend some time during their March meetings addressing service in Community and the call for leadership. If during this reflection time you feel called to a leadership role, please let one of us on the Transition Team know. If you feel that God is calling you to raise up another Abbey member to a leadership role, please first consult with that person. Then, with that person's blessing, let one of us on the Transition Team know.

I envision our leadership selection process will be similar to that which we've used to call an Abbot/Abbess in the past. It will be steeped in silence, allow for time to discern as a Community, and require consensus by all Abbey members present.

We look forward to seeing all of you on Saturday, March 20. Please RSVP to Laurie Lewis [] so we can plan for adequate supplies and refreshment.

Shalom and many blessings,

Your Transition Team -- Angela, Laurie, and George

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SEville Allen

Dear Abbey Members and friends,

I just saw a notice that a long time St. Georgian and one of our founding Abbey members, Seville Allen, passed away this afternoon. I will miss her. Penny & I met Seville when we first came to St. George's. She always impressed me with her fierce independence, her love of life, her compassion, and her spirituality. seville was a very private person..and only let a very few into her intimate circles. We served together as Stephen Leaders for a number of years when St. George's had an active Stephen Ministry program. Seville took on the task of assigning Stephen Ministers when someone in need called. Seville had a wonderful insight into people and helped match he most appropriate Stephen Minister to the person in need. Seville was active in our Abbey, though mostly behind the scenes. She was one of the motive forces in the Abbey's Intercessory Prayer Group (IPG) and served as the focal point for those needing prayer. I had the pleasure of being in an Abbey Listening Group with Seville and experienced first hand her rich spiritual insights and reaffirming words and presence.

I saw a poem from Weavings this evening that sums up some of my feelings and thought I'd share it with you:

Winter Sunset by Jennifer Lynn Woodruff

The Sky is blue and rose tonight
the clouds paint trails across the sun
the dark comes swiftly down the road
and all the day is left undone.

These are the colors that I claimed
the blue for darkness, pain, and loss
the rose for joys as yet unborn
and blossoming at countless cost.

These are the choices we make
here in the shadow of the night
to know our ambiguity
and yet live into the light.

Not knowing when the light will come
nor what will blossom from the pain
of roads that cannot be gone down
and days that will not come again.

Shalom, Seville, one of God's saints called home.

George DeFilippi

Urban Abbey Quilt Retreat by Angela Churchill

Dear Urban Abbey members and friends,

I wish you all could have joined us for an amazing Lenten Retreat exploring the artwork "Quilt". On Saturday, Feb 20, Karen Rowe expertly led 9 members of St. George's (6 members and 3 non- members) in an amazing journey of Quilt. We learned first of Kate Rasanoff's inspiration for Quilt which is an icon of St. Michael who's symbols are both the scales of justice and pole with the devil on the end. In exploring this icon Kate really begin to question what this could possible mean and as she sat with these hard questions of how these two aspects are in our world simultaneously the first piece of Quilt was born. Quilt now consists of six or seven panels each exploring an injustice such as violence against women, the relationship between rich and poor or the rapid loss of people, languages and diversity in the world. And at the same time she sews, glues, embroiders hope love and justice into each piece. Having the entire morning to explore and respond to Quilt barely gave us time to embrace two or three of the "books" as Kate calls each panel. We spent the last hour together expressing our response to quilt by creating our own piece using a wide variety of materials such as yarn, felt, paper, lace, materials, and ribbons. To conclude the morning we each offered our own piece of quilt to God for a specific person, need or injustice to the world. We placed our piece prayerfully on the alter. After seeing the beautiful piece created and the issues that were offered to God in prayer, our simple response was "Let it be. Amen. Let it be."

It was a very powerful and meaningful experience for me personally. If you have not done so already I highly recommend you stop by St. George's church any day of the lenten season and experience Quilt for yourself. It is probably best absorbed when there are not hundreds of people around. Keep in mind Lent is a time where we reflect on the sins and challenges in our lives as we cleanse our hearts in preparation for the great gift of Easter. We are more likely to value the gift of Easter when we have spent time exploring our own internal pockets of resistance to union with God. Quilt is a corporate expression of many evils in the world that separate us from God but every loving stitch is also an expression hope and love that God provides to heal us as individuals and as a people. Please take advantage of having this piece in our midst. I look forward to spending time with the piece on many occasions during this season. Karen Rowe will be sharing more about Quilt on March 7th at the Adult Forum (10 am at St. George's). Please mark your calendar. Knowing and understanding Quilt makes it all the more powerful.

Blessings on your Lenten journey, Angela

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Lenten Retreat sponsored by St. George’s Urban Abbey

St. George’s Urban Abbey is sponsoring the following Lenten Retreat: 
Quilt: Art to Mend the World
Looking, Listening, Reflecting, Making 

Quilt fosters conversation, dialogue and reflection to create a more peaceful and accepting world, a world that honors the multitude of differences between people and cultures. 
Quilt is art that bears witness to words not safe to speak; to truths hidden in silence; to the power of beauty to awaken, mend and heal.
Quilt will be presented by Karen Rowe, a retreat leader, spiritual director, artist and musician who collaborates with Kate Ransohoff, the creator of Quilt.   <>
St. George’s Episcopal Church
915 North Oakland St., Arlington
Sat., Feb. 20, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Cost, to include retreat materials & light breakfast: $10.00
To register, contact Laurie Lewis: or (703)528-2589
All are welcome! 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts on Prayer

Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends,

Following is today's meditation from Fr. Don Talafous, St. John's Abbey. I think this is a wonderful commentary on the power of prayer and its value in our lives. As Abbey members, the first tenet of our Rule of Life (Pray daily using the Book of Common Prayer or another Christian format and worship regularly in community) recognizes the importance of prayer in our daily lives. I hope this will be of value in your prayers today.

Shalom, George

Even the most devout Christian must have questions at times about prayer: how it works? how effective is it? why pray at all? One of the most trustworthy signs of a believer is just the willingness to pray. Our beliefs and our morals are in many ways less convincing signs of our following of Jesus than is our praying. Belief can, at times, be simply a mental thing; the morals we practice are often duplicated by non-believers. But prayer shows a profound confidence not just that there is a God but that this God is concerned about and able to act in our lives. Prayer makes no sense apart from a genuine trust in God. Though it remains true that none of us may have a sure grip on how prayer works, a belief in it defines us as Christians. When illness strikes, when someone loses a job, when a marriage is in trouble, when a teenager seems headed for disaster, when an accident worries us, we pray. We trust that in some way and some how God will help. Our trust does not mean we have to expect God to change the laws of the universe; it may be something much more subtle. Perhaps as a result of prayer I or someone for whom I pray learns how to deal with some disaster or huge worry. We are probably better off in the long run not trying to figure out what God might or should do and instead trusting that God has ways of which we know so little. Jesus says: "I give you my assurance. Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).