Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Paul's Cross awards 2010

Earlier today, at our annual meeting, I began what I hope will be an annual tradition at St. Paul’s: An award to a few people who have given extraordinary service in the previous year. I want to call it the St. Paul’s Cross, and it will be a medallion that looks like our cross over here.

This cross, by the way, is the design of an artist from Earlysville, Anne Breaud. Her design is uniquely ours, no other church has it. She designed it several years ago for the seats in the chancel, and she recently created a new processional banner marking our centennial year. It truly is the St. Paul’s Memorial Church Cross.

But there is one catch about the award this year. We haven’t finished making St. Paul’s crosses. Medallions will come later to the recipients of the St. Paul’s Cross.

There are also two caveats to this award. Members of the staff are not eligible for this award, and this award is granted only once per lifetime. You may pick up another when you get to heaven.

This afternoon, I awarded first the St. Paul's Crosses to seven people for their extraordinary service of ministry this past year. There are many others I could recognize, so please consider these seven servants as representatives of each of you.

They are:

She has given many decades of humble service to St. Paul’s. She always has a smile and a good word to say about everyone. She is one of those “behind the scenes” people who make our worship celebratory and reverent. She has worked in our sacristy in good weather and bad, on Saturdays and Sundays, and many a weekday, ironing linens, cleaning chalices, changing candlesticks and organizing a cadre of wonderful people who follow her gentle example. It is with a profound sense of gratitude for her many years of service and leadership of the Altar Guild that I give the first St. Paul’s Cross to Jean Barnett.

He has a huge and compassionate heart. He has dedicated countless hours and many miles of travel to represent this parish in the councils of the Church. He carries with him extraordinary knowledge about the inner workings of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia. He was recently elected to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia, which carries great responsibility not just for this diocese, but also for the church at large, as he will be voting on the confirmation of bishops throughout the Episcopal Church. He has guided our Centennial celebration with inspiration and creativity, and he has served as junior warden this past year. It is with thanks that this St. Paul’s Cross goes to Paul Brockman.

She has shown faithful and graceful commitment through her professional work, her example of life, and her courageous commitment to the full inclusion of all people in God’s kingdom. She has guided with compassion the students she mentors, and challenged us to think deeply about ethics and to act with integrity. She led a delegation from St. Paul’s that met regularly for months with a delegation from St. John the Baptist Church to wrestle with the hard issues of inclusion, especially of gay and lesbian people who have been left out by the church. She is one of the founders and guiding forces of our Integrity chapter this past year, and she was wonderfully warm, thoughtful and skillful as the moderator of our public talk with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in the Rotunda in January. It is with admiration and gratitude that I present this St. Paul’s Cross to Margaret Mohrmann.

He has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the life and well being of this parish, and to the students of the University of Virginia. He is a prophet among us by steadfastly reminding us that the vision of the founders of St. Paul’s was to serve the students of the University, and that their vision must be our vision. He has led our university commission with aplomb, and shown personal compassion for the many students who walk through our doors. It is with thanks and deep respect that I give this St. Paul’s Cross to Ben Ray.

She has brought her extraordinary professional skills to the service of St. Paul’s, giving many hours, and collegially worked with other professionals our congregation. She and her team have gone back to the drawing board more than once to create an extraordinary gift to this parish and to the neighborhood around us. With great political skill, she has maneuvered through the labyrinth of Charlottesville City Hall to win approval of a design for a multi-use meditation garden that will be built this spring on our grounds once the snow melts. It is with gratitude that this St. Paul’s Cross goes to Joan Albiston.

This past year, St. Paul’s ventured off our corner and began cultivating a new relationship with the predominantly African American neighborhood a few blocks away. Many hands, much sweat, and a lot of topsoil went into building a community garden on 10 1/2 Street with the purpose of building friendships and giving the food away to neighbors and those the most in need. No one was more dedicated, more inspired, more eloquent, or showed more attention to the details than this individual, who somehow managed all this while a student at the University of Virginia. It is with great thanks that this St. Paul’s Cross goes to Michael Mahoney.

She has been a witness for justice and equality in her life, in the way she teaches her students, in the books she writes, and the friendships she makes. She is a giant among us, a truth-teller, while somehow always being calm in the eye of the storm and a compassionate friend to all who have the privilege of knowing her. And for me personally, she is a wise counselor, a gracious presence, and a wonderful friend. It is with tremendous thanks and great admiration that this St. Paul’s cross goes to our senior warden, Mildred Robinson.

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