Religion News: November 2021

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Crozet Baptist Church members served 120 families in 2020 through the “Share the Blessing” mission. Submitted photo.

Share the Blessing

No One Goes Hungry, Thanks to Crozet Churches

People in Crozet have plenty to be grateful for this season, thanks to the local churches that show huge energy and commitment directed at feeding everyone who struggles to put enough food on their tables. It’s a year-round, ecumenical effort, but it comes into sharp focus during the holidays. 

At Crozet Baptist Church, providing the Thanksgiving meals for those in the area who are in need is an intergenerational project, said Chuck Miller, the director of children’s ministries. The project is led by the missions team, and the youth group and the children of the church get involved, especially in the packing and the distribution of food. The church, which has been providing this substantial service for 20 years, has found a routine that distributes the cost of this holiday mission among its members and those in the public who want to assist. The volunteers find out who’s most at need from their connections at the Crozet schools. Then, church members add a few extra items to their grocery carts each week: one week it’s green beans, the next week it might be macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes; and so on. Last year, the program served 120 families.

Crozet Baptist Church members served 120 families in 2020 through the “Share the Blessing” mission. Submitted photo.

The public is invited to help by bringing items by the church, or showing up while the volunteers are at the Crozet Market. This continues until the first Sunday in November, when volunteers take a look at the donations and figure out where they might be short. Finally, two packing marathons are scheduled at the church and families are invited to come by and pick up the ingredients for their Thanksgiving meals. Volunteers will be at Crozet Market Saturday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to encourage you to put an extra box or can in your cart, or to make a cash donation to this worthwhile project. The project, which is also supported by the Crozet Catholic mission, is presently most in need of stove top stuffing, large cans of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and instant mashed potatoes, said Brenda Johnson, one of the mission team leaders. 

In every season, Crozet Baptist Church serves the hungry with their “Love your Neighbor” food pantry, and everyone is invited to put non-perishable items in the box at the church.

Other churches do their part year-round and at Thanksgiving to put food on tables locally. Emmanuel Greenwood and Holy Cross Episcopal churches support the “bread fund” which gets groceries into the hands of the hungry twice a month, on the first and third Saturdays. The bread fund will distribute turkeys on Saturday, Nov. 6. The Crozet United Methodist Church offers groceries with grace every other Monday through its “Grace Grocery” service. Those who come Nov. 22 will get a Thanksgiving turkey along with the regular offerings. St. Paul’s Ivy also has a monthly food pantry, with turkeys offered at the regular drive-through, October 17.

Life-long Members Honored at Piedmont Baptist Church

At a festive outdoor ceremony at Piedmont Baptist Church, two of the church’s long-time members were honored by the congregation. The recognition was made at the church’s 151st anniversary celebration. Rev. Phillip Butler led the congregation in acknowledging the long service of Mrs. Anita D. Washington and Mrs. Rebecca V. Washington.

Anita Washington has served in almost every possible role: deaconess, trustee, memorial service coordinator, choir member and president of the women’s auxiliary. She celebrated her 90th birthday in August, surrounded by family and friends at her son’s house. 

Rebecca Washington has been a deaconess, a missionary and an usher at Piedmont Baptist Church. She returned to the area nine years ago after many years in Florida, and continued her service to the church. She celebrated her 95th birthday Nov. 2.

Piedmont now offers online services only, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays at 11 a.m.; Sunday School at 10 a.m. and Bible study Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Church members hope to return to in-person services soon.

“We Need to Tell the Truth”: Healing for Those Who Witness Pandemic’s Devastation

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church honored those dealing most intimately with the effects of the pandemic in a special service October 17. Titled “Healing for Medical and Educational Professionals,” the special liturgy and prayers were carefully chosen to comfort those who face terrible challenges that test their faith as well as their endurance and courage. 

“We were discussing how several of us had been hearing from folks in our parish who work in healthcare and education, specifically about their stress levels and total exhaustion,” said Rev. Amanda Kotval, St. Paul’s associate rector, “and we thought it would be good to offer something special for them, to acknowledge their difficulties and let them know that we are here to support them, and that God is, too.”

Under St. Paul’s spacious tent on a windy morning, Rev. Justin M. McIntosh, St. Paul’s rector, began the service by confirming that the past year and a half has brought trauma, struggles and challenges for everyone. “And we’re still in the midst of it,” he said. “We’re learning to live with a situation that’s always changing.” He noted that “pivot” has become his least favorite word.

Difficult as the reality might be, he said, “We need to tell the truth. If the truth can’t be told in church, then where can we find it?” He acknowledged that hearing about sickness, despair and death from those in the midst of it might be disturbing, but sharing these experiences honestly can begin mutual learning and mutual growth.

Dr. Kyle Enfield gets vaccinated at UVa. Dr. Enfield spoke about the experiences of health professionals during the pandemic. Submitted photo.

Dr. Kyle Enfield spoke, beginning by saying that his casual church clothes were a radical departure from his uniform of the last 18 months. “I’ve rarely been here,” he said, gesturing at the shady grounds. He’s an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine and associate chief medical officer for critical care at U.Va. 

As a scientist, Enfield said, he was comfortable with numbers and statistics, and there were a lot of them in the first draft of the talk he promised to give. But he made a decision, to part from that idea in favor of telling his story in more human terms. 

For more than a year, he and his colleagues have been stuck between two worlds, at times unable to make sense of the two. If he focused on his worries about his children, “I couldn’t do my job,” he said. If he only focused on the horrors of his long days and nights at the hospital, “How could I kiss my children at night?”

In the early days, his staff faced a shortage of equipment and had to find ingenious ways to protect themselves. “We were dealing with the sick and dying in numbers we had never seen before,” he said, “and at the same time, we knew that what we were doing could risk our lives, and that one misstep could infect ourselves and our families.”

He spoke about “Mrs. X,” a healthy young woman who progressed from needing nothing more than a little oxygen to needing a breathing machine and positioning on her belly. Still, she became worse. The next step was the ECMO, a heart-lung machine. “It’s fairly unique to U.Va.,” Enfield said. It removes the blood, oxygenates it and replaces it, and the hospital had pioneered its use for Covid patients. 

“That in itself caused moral dilemmas,” Enfield said. “If we have one machine, who do we allow to use it? What if a child came in who needed it?” With its use, he said, many survived who would not have without it.

“In the case of Mrs. X, that did not happen.” 

When it was clear she would die during his 36-hour shift, he, his nurse and the ECMO specialist entered her room with an iPad, so she could say goodbye to her family. “It was in a language none of us could understand,” he said. They held her hands and waited. In that instance, as in many others, he understood that they were not only her care team but surrogates for her family. 

There, standing under the Madonna her family had sent, Enfield realized that they had progressed from having right and wrong choices to only having “bad and less bad” choices. “That’s the way it has been,” he said. He confessed to being angry at times: angry at the media, who always have better ideas about treatment than the doctors and nurses risking their lives; angry about the time the ordeal has taken away from his family; angry at the way it has changed life for everyone he loves. 

He’s angry at the way it has changed him, too. “I don’t hug anyone outside my family,” he said, “and they’ve learned to give me a few minutes alone when I come home.” He said he doesn’t smile much; he cries more, and he’s sometimes only comfortable with other healthcare workers who’ve been through the same ordeal as him. 

“There are glass walls in the Covid room,” he said. “We can see through this barrier, and they can see us, but these people are very much alone.”

Please send news from your church to Theresa Curry: [email protected] 

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