Religion News: March 2018

Liz Layman and Liz Buxton. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Batesville UMC: Building Community

At Batesville United Methodist Church, there’s a strong sense of mission to serve the whole community, and to have fun while doing it. The fun part is partly because of the “two Lizes,”—Liz Buxton, aka “Pastor Liz,” and Liz Layman––a church member of 46 years––who calls herself “the other Liz.”

There’s the Christmas tree, for instance. It’s too heavy to move, so it stays up year-round with appropriate decorations for every season. There are the many activities, celebrations, parties and children’s activities attended by the whole community, not just church members. “Everyone is always welcome,” said Buxton, from the “bounce house” during Batesville Day in the spring, to the Christmas bonfire at Page’s Field. The Lizes were laughing about a women’s retreat where a chocolate project involving balloons created some unexpected candy explosions. “We were supposed to freeze the water balloons first, we found out,” Layman said.

Often, the church will join forces with the Ruritans for projects such as cleaning up the old cemetery, an effort that also included schoolchildren, passers by, and members of the Waynesboro Mormon Church. The string section of the Crozet symphony practices there, taking advantage of the acoustics in the sturdy sanctuary first built more than 150 years ago. The church was the place chosen recently for Batesville citizens to discuss traffic problems: “We were a neutral place, not identified with a point of view,” Buxton said.

Currently, the church coordinates a massive recycling effort to channel the unwanted items of the area to places that need them. Backpacks, pencils, crayons, notebooks and learning-related items will go to the Afton Christian School. Clothes, sheets, dishes, paper products, gloves, scarves and socks are stacking up for the Shelter for Help in an Emergency. “These women sometime run away with only the clothes on their backs,” said Liz Buxton. “They need just about everything.

The soft, old towels, blankets and comforters that may seem too worn for human use go to the SPCA to line kennels and cat cages. Food dishes and scratching posts are also welcome, as are place mats, the perfect size and shape for cat cage liners. The church also collects miscellaneous items for the ongoing SPCA rummage sale and shoes for the massive Salvation Army shoe give away.

Normally, the collection of items is restricted to January, said Layman, when people are beginning to organize and clean out their homes. Recent donations of clothing racks, and some concentrated sorting and organizing has enabled the effort to continue year-round.

To donate items, email Liz Layman at [email protected]; or leave a message at 540-456-6214.

Celtic Eucarist at St. Paul’s Ivy.

St. Paul’s offers Monthly Celtic Eucharist

Each month, there’s a Sunday evening Celtic Eucharist service at St. Paul’s in Ivy. The lyrical melodies of hammer dulcimer and Celtic harp accompany what parishioners characterize as a contemplative experience, lit by candles and interspersed with periods of silence.

There’s been a renewed interest worldwide in centering prayer, but the St. Paul’s service has been going strong for more than a decade, said Debbie Scott, the director of spirituality and missions for St. Paul’s. She remembers when then-rector Rev. H. Miller Hunter returned from a Richmond Conference and formed a core group of people interested in welcoming people of all faiths to the traditional service of a restful and reflective nature, featuring hymns from the Celtic tradition.

The evening service is similar to the earlier Sunday Eucharist, said Karen Smith, who attends regularly, “but the pace is slower, somehow softer.” Another long-time attendee, Nancy Briggs, said the candlelight, music and stillness creates an ambiance that encourages contemplation.

The music is usually provided by harpist and dulcimer players Raven and Peter Hunter, who also love the service, and sometimes there are readings of poems, both contemporary and ancient. From a handful of people, the monthly service has grown to 65 or so, including many from other local faith traditions.

A smaller group meets each Sunday before the service to study Celtic spirituality, and there’s a reception afterwards. Childcare is available during the Eucharist, and older children are welcome to attend the service.

Tabor Funds Bricks for Hope House

During Advent 2017, Tabor Presbyterian Church sponsored a “Hope Tree” on behalf of Hope House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Hope House was established to provide a home for tribal children vulnerable to human trafficking. Contributions by Tabor and several of the community groups that use Tabor’s facility will help fund bricks for the boys’ dormitory at Hope House as they move into a new facility.

WARM Shelters Homeless

Well-supported by area churches, volunteers, law enforcement and non-profit agencies in the Waynesboro area, WARM (Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry) heads into the final month of its winter program with a sense of accomplishment.

Executive Director Debra Burns said the program has two parts: the emergency overnight shelter, which rotates through area churches to provide a safe place every night of the season; and Ruth’s Warm House, offering longer-term residency to homeless women and children. There’s a role for every church and volunteer, Burns said. A couple of churches that don’t provide sleeping shelter provide rides or serve as overflow when the primary site is crowded. Volunteers cook meals and provide other administrative tasks. “Of course, our goal is to find a more permanent solution for homelessness,” Burns said, and each client has access to whatever programs might be appropriate. A recent program at the Waynesboro Library, the daytime cold-weather headquarters for some of the WARM clients, offered lunch as well as hands-on help with some of the logistical challenges faced by the homeless.

In late February, the residents of Ruth’s Warm House asked to help out by cooking a meal for residents of the temporary shelter, Burns said, resulting in a wonderful meal on a chilly February night. Also important, said Burns, was allowing the recipients of community generosity to give back as they were able to.

A continuing focus for Burns is the population of homeless veterans. “In my opinion, no veteran should be without housing,” Burns said. Her knowledge of the local veteran population allowed her to return a confused veteran to his assisted living situation, and she continues to seek out alternatives for veterans on the streets.

Although WARM gives priority to Waynesboro homeless, “We don’t refuse anyone who fits our guidelines,” Burns said. For more information, visit


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