Religion News: August 2022

St. Paul’s asks the community to donate backpacks and school supplies for students at Henley and Western. Submitted photo.

St. Paul’s Gathers Backpacks and School Supplies

Just in time for the beginning of the school year, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church invites everyone in the community to help children at Henley and Western. Thanks to St. Paul’s parishioner and retired teacher Janet Boyd, the church has a checklist of school supplies from the schools that accurately reflects student needs. 

Henley Middle School has requested backpacks in solid, neutral colors like blue, black and gray, all with laptop compartments. Henley kids also need reusable water bottles with hooks or other ways to attach them to backpacks.

Western Albemarle High School asks the community for school supplies of all kinds for their supply closet, where students can find items they need throughout the school year. Pens, pencils, highlighters, notebook paper, notebooks, composition books, binders and dividers, pocket folders, index cards, Sharpies, hand-held pencil sharpeners, earbuds, flash drives, post-it notes and composition books are all needed.

Members of the community can deliver items to the church on Sundays, August 7 and August 14, from 8:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you are not staying for the service, you may hand your donation to an usher outside the church. Otherwise, you’ll find collection baskets at the back of the church during those hours.

The church also welcomes everyone Sunday, August 21, to attend the annual Blessing of the Backpacks at the 10:30 a.m. service. All the donated supplies will be blessed, and the public can bring their backpacks, laptop bags, and briefcases to be blessed for the school and work year ahead. 

Was it OK to have been me? “Aging and Spirituality” at The Lodge

Although those in the middle of their life’s last decades often experience physical and mental decline, retired professor and minister Ed Piper believes older people also have a unique opportunity for spiritual growth.

Drawing from lifespan development theory and world spiritual traditions, Dr. Piper will teach a five-part course, “Aging and Spirituality,” at The Lodge at Old Trail, beginning in September. The course is offered during the Fall 2022 semester of the OLLI program.

A class on aging and spirituality will be offered at the Lodge at Old Trail in September. Submitted photo.

Piper said this subject combines his life-long interest in both religion and psychology, and the many places where the two disciplines intersect.

Anyone who observes the cycles of nature understands that life is transient, and religious traditions don’t fail to remind us, Piper said. “People sometimes say that aging is a kind of ‘compulsory Buddhism,’ because that’s when we become most aware that all life must pass.” The class will also examine teachings on aging from Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Taoist and Native-American spirituality. “No one tradition has all the answers,” he said. 

Other insights into the stages of life come from psychologists and writers, including Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, and Gail Sheehy. Erikson identified the essential struggle of old age to be between integrity and despair, as elders look back and ask themselves, “Was it okay to have been me?”

Piper will give his class some tools to answer that question. One of them is to conduct an honest and compassionate life review: sooner in old age rather than later. It’s essential to seek wholeness and reconciliation before there’s a health crisis or rapidly approaching death, he said. 

There’s another tool that’s particularly useful for people who are aging or have other physical challenges. “In youth, mindfulness is a tool of enlightenment. In old age it’s a tool of survival,” he said. “Give up on the idea that you can multi-task, and pay careful attention to one thing at a time.”  He noted that this kind of singular focus is not only spiritual but extremely practical for elders, helping them to complete both small and important tasks of their lives while avoiding injury. Wholeness, mindfulness, reconciliation, compassion, wisdom—all are part of the growth we call spiritual maturity.

In addition to years of ministry and teaching psychology, Piper served as a hospice volunteer. In the course of his work with hospice, he became familiar with the process of dying and helped people through the transition between life and death. He said he’s seen instances where people with tough circumstances and sad experiences have healed themselves in later years and felt ready to die. In one case, a woman with many disappointments spent her final years in service to others and died in peace. 

“Aging and Spirituality” is offered Thursdays, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Sept. 22 and 29; and Oct. 6, 13 and 20 at the Lodge at Old Trail. Register (there is a fee) at 

‘Music for Meals’ Fundraiser at Pro Re Nata

The non-profit Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals program has planned a fundraiser featuring Chamomile and Whiskey at Pro Re Nata Brewery September 28. There are only 120 tickets available for the event, and those who can’t attend in person are invited to support the program by bidding on the raffle baskets that will be online at Look for the pop-up that will 

ead you to the pages promoting the baskets after August 22.

Robin Goldstein, the program’s director, said the agency is preparing for the “silver tsunami,” hitting the world as baby boomers age. Many of them are not able to rebound from health emergencies, financial disasters, or the loss of a partner. For this reason, Goldstein said, the program has developed a strategic plan for adapting services to a wider range of circumstances and clients.

Mary Dunnigan, 101, has benefited from the Meals on Wheels program. Tickets to a fundraiser benefiting the program and an online raffle can be found online at after August 22. Photo submitted.

The program has already made some adjustments to acknowledge the difficulties many of their clients face. They now distribute some shelf-stable meals to supplement the home deliveries in partnership with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s REACH program. Before the end of the summer, they’ll use a grant to buy a commercial refrigerator for storing fresh produce from Loaves and Fishes, just in time for the late-summer harvest. 

Meals on Wheels clients pay a small fee for the meals, but by using donations from the community, the service is provided to those more than 150% below the poverty line for no charge.  

Each day volunteers pack and deliver more than 250 meals and provide safety and wellness checks to our homebound neighbors. The safety checks will be easier for the volunteers, Goldstein said, thanks to a new specialized app developed in conjunction with Willow Tree Apps. This technology will make delivery instructions more accessible for volunteers. It also provides a checklist of safety observations that drivers make during each visit. 

The Music for Meals fundraiser has found sponsors for both the event and the raffle baskets, which will have valuable products and surprises. Find out more, or buy tickets after August 22, at; volunteer right now to be a driver.

Small Blessings

Hillsboro Baptist Church is starting a “GriefShare” program, a weekly meeting for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. The group meets every Sunday at 5 p.m., beginning August 14. The group’s coordinator, Chris Erwin, invites the public to attend for the full 15 sessions, or one or two. “You can jump in at any time,” he said. Each session is self-contained. There’s a small fee, and scholarships are available. Find the meetings by going through the front door to the main sanctuary of the church at 6406 Hillsboro Lane. For more information, call Chris Erwin, 434-484-2204.

White Hall Meditation now meets weekly at Tabor Presbyterian Church, 5804 Tabor Street, and new members are specifically invited to join the practice, which includes guided meditation, study, and a question-and-answer period. White Hall Meditation meets at 7 p.m. every Wednesday, not 7:30 as previously reported. The meetings are also available through Zoom. The topic at the next meeting, August 10, will be a continuation of the “hindrances” series, and will examine doubt as a hindrance. Find more information at 


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