What's Happening at Calvary

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/first-black-episcopal-church-leader-will-continue-his-fathers-teachings/2015/10/14/bede82e2-72b2-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html http://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/lent-2016.html https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/episcopal-church-installs-its-first-african-american-bishop/2015/11/01/d9b7c44c-80d2-11e5-9afb-0c971f713d0c_story.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/episcopal-church-installs-its-first-african-american-bishop/2015/11/01/d9b7c44c-80d2-11e5-9afb-0c971f713d0c_story.html

READINGS AND GOSPELS: Second Sunday in Lent - Sunday, March 8, 2020

posted Dec 10, 2016, 12:55 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 9, 2020, 10:44 AM ]

Third Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Year (cycle):  A

The Collect: 

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament: 
Exodus 17:1-7

1 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Psalm 95

1 Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
       let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
       and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is a great God, *
       and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
       and the heights of the hills are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, *
       and his hands have molded the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
       and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For he is our God,
  and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
       Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
8 Harden not your hearts,
  as your forebears did in the wilderness, *
       at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
       when they tempted me.
9 They put me to the test, *
       though they had seen my works.
10 Forty years long I detested that generation and said, *
      "This people are wayward in their hearts;
       they do not know my ways."
11 So I swore in my wrath, *
      "They shall not enter into my rest."

Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

John 4:5-42

5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ 11The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

16 Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 17The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ 19The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ 21Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 25The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ 26Jesus said to her, ‘I am he,* the one who is speaking to you.’

27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ 28Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ 30They left the city and were on their way to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ 32But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ 33So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ 34Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’

The Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels readings are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Collects, Psalms and Canticles are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.


Daily Readings ...

posted Jul 4, 2016, 6:42 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 9, 2020, 10:46 AM ]

The daily readings expand the range of biblical reading in worship and personal devotion.  These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect on and digest what they heard in worship on Sunday; Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead.

Source:  http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/daily.php?year=C#id264

Note: For the readings after Pentecost: the first reading pairs with the semi-continuous strand of texts; the second, with the complementary.

Sunday, March 15, 2020: Third Sunday in Lent


Sunday, March 8, 2020: Second Sunday in Lent


Sunday, March 1, 2020: First Sunday in Lent


Sunday, February 23, 2020: Transfiguration Sunday


Sunday, March 1, 2020: First Sunday in Lent


Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the Daily Readings is available though Augsburg Fortress.

Calvary News and Announcements ...

posted Jun 15, 2016, 4:07 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 5, 2020, 12:53 PM ]

Lenten Services 

11:00   AM  Meditation Service  

Come join us each Wednesday during Lent
in the Church Sanctuary for
an 11:00 am service of
Meditation on God's Word, Confession, and Absolution


Registration opened this week for diocesan youth to attend
Episcopal Youth Event ’20 (EYE20) in July in Maryland. Registrations are due
into the diocesan office by January 3. You can find additional information
on the diocesan youth website here: http://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/youth.html


For the 1st Sunday of each month
Volunteers are needed to sponsor and present the Repast after service
Please see Robin Blunt or contact her at (843) 813-3754


The JOY/Crafts group will meet from
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm on Tuesdays
during the shortened daylight period.


The Gatherers Around The Table will meet from
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm on the FIRST Tuesday of each month


Coastal Carolina Fair Ribbons for crafts group at Calvary

A crafts and knitting group (formerly known as the JOY Group) that meets at historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston is celebrating the achievements of its members and the fellowship that their weekly meetings have fostered. The group gathered in December for an informal Christmas party and to view an array of handcrafts that their members entered for judging at the recent Coastal Carolina Fair.

Led by Veronica Sheppard and Pat Williams, who offer instruction to the group, Calvary members earned 22 ribbons at the annual fair.

The members also are taking on new projects to benefit others. Calvary's Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Matt McCormick, has connected the group with the Medical University of South Carolina to create special blankets to be used for the burial of infants.

​The group meets every Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm at Calvary, and is always looking for new students and members. They recently welcomed a new member from nearby St. Mark's Episcopal. For information contact group member Andrea Lawrence at redhatladyandrea@icloud.com.



House of Deputies Medal Awarded to Lonnie Hamilton

Lonnie Hamilton with the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings,
onstage with the rest of the South Carolina deputation and Bishop Skip Adams.

On July 10, 2018,  the House of Deputies Medal was awarded to Lonnie Hamilton III, a lay deputy for South Carolina. House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings presented the award, honoring Lonnie's leadership and witness in serving the Church through a time of division and the ongoing reorganization in our diocese. Our deputation and Bishop Adams accompanied him to the stage as he received a standing ovation from more than 800 people present in the House of Deputies.

Watch the video here - the presentation begins at about 17:00 minutes.

Here is the text of President Jennings' presentation:

Now, back in 2012, we had a little excitement at General Convention. ... At that convention, held in the great diocese of Indianapolis, some of those gathered among us decided to leave the convention and, ultimately, to leave the Episcopal Church. Just one loyal Episcopalian from the former Diocese of South Carolina remained, and he is a gifted educator, a civil rights advocate, and an astonishing jazz saxophonist and clarinetist who has also been a faithful member of our church for more than 60 years. And through it all, he has never stopped working and praying and hoping that the people of his former diocese will find a way to come back together so that we all may be one."

Deputy Lonnie Hamilton of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has been a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston for 57 years and served on the vestry, as choirmaster, and in many other leadership roles. He has served on the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council in South Carolina, and this is his sixth General Convention as a deputy or alternate. He is a retired administrator with the Charleston County School District and served his community as a member of Charleston County Council for more than 20 years. He was the first African American to serve on that body and was twice elected as its chairman.

The House of Deputies is not, as you can imagine, the first organization to honor Lonnie’s faithful ministry. When he received the Dean’s Cross Award from Virginia Theological Seminary last year, the citation noted that Lonnie has “a reputation not only as a gifted educator but also as a charismatic figure who was popular with students and who could help ease tensions at Bonds-Wilson and other North Charleston area schools resulting from the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. In the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, he led the diocesan Community Housing Development Organization, which has converted dozens of properties into affordable housing units.”

As if all this weren’t enough, Lonnie toured with the Jenkins Orphanage Bands in the mid-1940s and played with his own band, Lonnie Hamilton and the Diplomats, which was the signature jazz band in Charleston for decades.

For his distinguished service to the Episcopal Church and to the community we serve in Charleston, South Carolina, I am honored to award the House of Deputies medal to Deputy Lonnie Hamilton.


Our own Mr. Lonnie Hamilton III has been awarded the prestigious DEAN'S CROSS award by the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Established in November 2008, the Dean’s Cross award recognizes outstanding leaders who embody their baptismal vows to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”  Selected annually by the Seminary Dean in consultation with the Chair of the Board, the Honorees receive a handmade silver cross, modeled after the Seminary Chapel cross, and a certificate.  

“Our work here at Virginia Seminary is formation,” said the Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary, “and this award celebrates the well-formed life, which involves living out the values of the baptismal covenant and making a difference in society.”

   Past Recipients of the award include:

   December 7, 2014
  • Ms. Madeleine Albright from Washington, D.C.
    Former (and the first female) Secretary of State of the United States of America

   December 6, 2015
  • Mrs. Barbara Bush from Houston, TX.
    Former First Lady of the United States of America

ECW  FISH FRY on February 23    
The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) will host a  FISH FRY on Friday, February 23 from 4 - 6 pm.
Tickets are $10

Location: Calvary Church Parish Hall, 104 Line Street, Charleston SC 29403

The Episcopal Church Women will host their annual Oyster Roast on April 7, 2018 from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm. 
Tickets are $20 adults and $10 children ages 6-12 years.
Location: Calvary Church Parish Hall, 104 Line Street, Charleston SC 29403

EpisComm18 is coming to Kanuga April 17-20

The national Episcopal Communicators Conference will be April 17-20, 2018 at Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center near Hendersonville NC. Registration is now open, and I am planning to attend this as well.  

Please consider attending (or sending someone to) this important national conference - both for the excellent workshops and speakers, and for the opportunity to meet people from all over The Episcopal Church who are doing this kind of work, too. You will come home with fresh inspiration, exciting ideas, and new friendships. 


Our own Mr. Lonnie Hamilton III has been awarded the prestigious DEAN'S CROSS award by the Virginia Theological Seminary.

Established in November 2008, the Dean’s Cross award recognizes outstanding leaders who embody their baptismal vows to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”  Selected annually by the Seminary Dean in consultation with the Chair of the Board, the Honorees receive a handmade silver cross, modeled after the Seminary Chapel cross, and a certificate.  

“Our work here at Virginia Seminary is formation,” said the Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary, “and this award celebrates the well-formed life, which involves living out the values of the baptismal covenant and making a difference in society.”

   Past Recipients of the award include:

   December 7, 2014
  • Ms. Madeleine Albright from Washington, D.C.
    Former (and the first female) Secretary of State of the United States of America

   December 6, 2015
  • Mrs. Barbara Bush from Houston, TX.
    Former First Lady of the United States of America

Fr. Joseph Smith, Rector, and Members of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Wayne, PA  were in the Charleston area on July 23 for a mission trip with a group called Home Works. They worked primarily on John's Island, bringing around 22 youth and adults. Calvary extended our warmest welcome to these travelers to worship with us that Sunday. 



This was a return visit for the Youth Group and group leaders of St. Mary's to do their mission work on John's Island. 
Follow the link below to see pictures from last  year's visit.


NEWS BLOG - AROUND THE DIOCESE - Events, Resources, Services

posted Jun 15, 2016, 2:30 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 3:01 PM by joan bonaparte ]

In a nearly two and a half hour hearing Tuesday morning at the Orangeburg County Courthouse, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson heard arguments on both sides for a variety of motions currently before his court relating to the South Carolina Supreme Court majority decision in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (also known as The Diocese of South Carolina) on August 2, 2017.

Attorneys for the disassociated diocese focused primarily on the Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction and Other Relief they filed on March 22, 2018, with a supplement filed in September 2018. They sought clarification on the Supreme Court’s majority opinion that the 29 parishes named in the lawsuit did “expressly accede to the Dennis Canon,” and told the judge that if he ruled on that motion, all of their other motions before the court would be “moot,” including the Betterments case.
Mary Kostel, Chancellor to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, pointed out the evidence provided in the original state trial which supported the assertion that the 29 churches did in fact accede to the Dennis Canon, and that the South Carolina Supreme Court used in rendering their majority opinion that agreed to the same.
As Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. noted, on the issue of parish property, the majority of the Supreme Court – Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Pleicones, and Justice Hearn – held that the parishes that acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon (within the Church’s Constitution and Canons) hold their property in trust for the Church and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. And, furthermore, that Chief Justice Beatty concluded that the parishes’ written accessions were “sufficient to create an irrevocable trust” under South Carolina law.
Chancellor Tisdale focused his arguments primarily on the Enforcement Petition filed in May 2018 (the Amended Petition from May 16, 2018, can be viewed here) and offered case law to support that since the case was sent on remittitur to Judge Dickson, it cannot be reheard, relitigated, or reconsidered. While the attorneys for the disassociated diocese made much of the 2-2 decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court not to rehear the case in November 2017 as being ambiguous or unclear, Chancellor Tisdale read aloud the statement signed by all four justices in announcing this denial saying: “Therefore the petitions have been denied, and the opinions previously filed in this case reflect the final decision of the court.”
Judge Dickson asked many questions of both sides throughout the hearing, and in the end, he requested that both sides submit proposed orders on the Motion for Clarification. He asked that these orders address “how we got here,” the law of the case, and findings specifically supported by court records. He asked the attorneys to decide together the timeframe to submit the proposed orders.
 “That was the most substantive hearing we have had to date with Judge Dickson on this case,” said Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. 
During the 229th Diocesan Convention today, the following people were elected:
Standing Committee
Lay: Alison Davidow, Taylor Skardon
Clergy: the Rev. Courtney Davis-Shoemaker, the Rev. Tom Wilson

The Standing Committee met immediately after convention and elected the Rev. Cn. Caleb Lee as its president.
Diocesan Council
Lay: Carol Grish, Ginny King
Clergy: the Very Rev. Wil Keith, the Rev. Dr. James Yarsiah
Delegates to the 80th General Convention (2021)
Lay Deputies: Andrea McKellar, Mark Szen, Thomas Miller, Deb Harris
Lay First Alternate: Christina Donovan
Clergy Deputies: the Very Rev. Adam Shoemaker, the Rev. Dr. Wilmot Merchant II, the Rev. Roy Tripp, the Rev. Cn. Caleb Lee
Clergy First Alternate: the Rev. Bill Coyne
Trustee, University of the South
Jane Hart Lewis
The Diocese of South Carolina filed a petition in federal court late yesterday requesting enforcement of the Court’s Order and Opinion and Permanent Injunction issued on September 19, 2019. The petition cited numerous examples that prove continued violations of the Injunction by the disassociated diocese as it “hold(s) itself out to be the Historic Diocese in many respects,” including using a name that is “confusingly similar” to that of the Diocese of South Carolina.
Among the cited violations, the Petition to Enforce the Injunction notes that although U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel pointed out in his September 19 ruling that “The Disassociated Diocese is an organization formed in 2012,” the disassociated diocese continues to advertise on its website and social media pages that it was “Founded in 1785” and displays on its website convention journals and materials of The Diocese of South Carolina as if they are their own, even though many are from prior to the organization’s formation in 2012. 

The filing outlines various other violations of the Permanent Injunction including redirecting the web address of the Diocese of South Carolina to their new web address, and that the disassociated diocese’s new name, “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina,” is in fact “confusingly similar” to “The Diocese of South Carolina” as Judge Gergel’s ruling had issued the Injunction to avoid. As noted in the filing, “The Injunction places a heavy legal burden on the Disassociated Diocese not to choose a confusingly similar name, because the Court has already found that Defendants infringed Plantiff’s marks.” Yet, the new name contains the entirety of the historic diocese’s name, adding only one word, “Anglican,” which aptly describes the historic diocese – a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion as part of The Episcopal Church.
After explaining the various violations, providing screenshots, photos, and other evidence, the petition asks the Court to take the necessary action to assure compliance with the order, including requiring the disassociated diocese to select a new name for the organization “under the safe distance rule that is so far removed from any characteristic of the Historic Diocese so as to put the public on notice that the two are not related.”
In filing the petition yesterday, Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. expressed a hope that this matter can be settled soon. “We very much agree with Judge Gergel’s ruling on September 19 that ‘the time has come for this dispute to be resolved,’” said Tisdale. “But as we continue to move forward, we also want to bring an end to the confusion caused by the disassociated group claiming the history of the Diocese of South Carolina to be its own.”
In the ruling on September 19, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (now recognized as The Diocese of South Carolina) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) on a trademark infringement and false advertising lawsuit filed in 2013, declaring that the group that disassociated from TEC in 2012 (and all affiliated churches) can no longer use the name “Diocese of South Carolina” nor use the “diocesan seal” or “Episcopal shield.”

In his 73-page opinion, Judge Gergel summarized that “the Defendants have every right to disassociate from the TEC and pursue their doctrine and community as they see fit, yet they may not leave with the Plaintiffs' goodwill and marks generated over the course of over two centuries.”

Calendar of the Church Year

posted May 23, 2016, 3:48 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Feb 27, 2020, 6:54 PM by joan bonaparte ]

Calendar of the Church Year

The calendar (BCP, pp. 15-33) orders the liturgical year of the Episcopal Church by identifying two cycles of feasts and holy days-one dependent upon the movable date of Easter Day and the other dependent upon the fixed date of Christmas, Dec. 25. Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after Mar. 21. The sequence of all Sundays in the church year is based on the date of Easter. Tables and rules for finding the date of Easter Day, and other movable feasts and holy days are provided by the BCP, pp. 880-885. The date of Easter determines the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the date of Pentecost on the fiftieth day of the Easter season. The Sundays of Advent are always the four Sundays before Christmas Day. The church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent. The calendar also identifies and provides directions concerning the precedence and observance of principal feasts, Sundays, holy days (including Feasts of our Lord, other major feasts, and fasts), Days of Special Devotion, and Days of Optional Observance. The calendar lists dates for celebration of major feasts and lesser feasts by month and date. Appropriate Sunday Letters and Golden Numbers are also provided. (see BCP, pp. 880-881). The calendar also lists the titles of the seasons, Sundays, and major holy days observed in the Episcopal Church throughout the church year, including Advent season, Christmas season, Epiphany season, Lenten season, Holy Week, Easter season, the season after Pentecost, holy days, and National Days.


The first season of the church year, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continuing through the day before Christmas. The name is derived from a Latin word for "coming." The season is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming celebration of our Lord's nativity, and for the final coming of Christ "in power and glory."


In the BCP, Christmas Day is one of the seven principal feasts. The Christmas season lasts twelve days, from Christmas Day until Jan. 5, the day before the Epiphany. The season includes Christmas Day, the First Sunday after Christmas Day, the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and may include the Second Sunday after Christmas Day. In many parishes, the main liturgical celebrations of Christmas take place on Christmas Eve. The BOS includes a variety of resources for use during Christmas, including a form for a Station at a Christmas Crèche, a form for a Christmas Festival of Lessons and Music, and seasonal blessings for use during the Christmas season.


The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The winter solstice was kept on Jan. 6 at some places during the first centuries of the Christian Era. In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or "epiphanies," of Jesus' divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called "The Feast of Lights." Celebration of the Son of God replaced celebration of the sun. Baptisms were done, and a season of preparation was instituted. It was later called Advent. The solstice was kept on Dec. 25 by the fourth century. Jesus' birth was celebrated on this day in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on Jan. 6. In the east the day was called "Theophany" (manifestation of God). The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the BCP. The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.


Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).


The feast of Christ's resurrection. According to Bede, the word derives from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Christians in England applied the word to the principal festival of the church year, both day and season. 1) Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, the pascha or Christian Passover, and the eighth day of cosmic creation. Faith in Jesus' resurrection on the Sunday or third day following his crucifixion is at the heart of Christian belief. Easter sets the experience of springtime next to the ancient stories of deliverance and the proclamation of the risen Christ. In the west, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Easter always falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25 inclusive. Following Jewish custom, the feast begins at sunset on Easter Eve with the Great Vigil of Easter. The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Easter on the first Sunday after the Jewish pesach or Passover (which follows the spring full moon). Although the two dates sometimes coincide, the eastern date is often one or more weeks later. 2) Easter Season. See Great Fifty Days.


The season after Pentecost, according to the calendar of the church year (BCP, p. 32). It begins on the Monday following Pentecost, and continues through most of the summer and autumn. It may include as many as twenty-eight Sundays, depending on the date of Easter. This includes Trinity Sunday which is the First Sunday after Pentecost. The BCP provides proper collects and readings for the other Sundays of the season. These propers are numbered and designated for use on the Sundays which are closest to specific days in the monthly calendar, whether before or after. For example, Proper 3 is designated for use, if needed, on the Sunday closest to May 25. Proper 29 is designated for use on the Sunday closest to Nov. 23. Prior to the 1979 BCP, Sundays in this long period of the church year were identified and counted in terms of the number of Sundays after Trinity Sunday instead of the number of Sundays after Pentecost. This period is also understood by some as "ordinary time," a period of the church year not dedicated to a particular season or observance, as in the Roman Rite adapted after Vatican II. See Ordinary Time.

Ordinary Time

This term is used in the Roman Catholic Church to indicate the parts of the liturgical year that are not included in the major seasons of the church calendar. Ordinary time includes the Monday after the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and the Monday after Pentecost through the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. A vigil or other service anticipating the First Sunday of Advent on the Saturday before that Sunday would also be included in the season of Advent. Ordinary time can be understood in terms of the living out of Christian faith and the meaning of Christ's resurrection in ordinary life. The term "ordinary time" is not used in the Prayer Book, but the season after Pentecost can be considered ordinary time. It may be referred to as the "green season," because green is the usual liturgical color for this period of the church year. The BCP provides numbered propers with collects and lectionary readings for the Sundays of the Season after Pentecost. The Epiphany season includes the Epiphany, the First Sunday after the Epiphany: the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Second Sunday through the Last Sunday after the Epiphany (BCP, p. 31). In view of the Epiphany themes that are presented throughout the Epiphany season, it should not be considered ordinary time. However, many parishes use green as the liturgical color for the Second Sunday through the Sunday prior to the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and sometimes the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. Epiphany season and the season after Pentecost vary in length depending on the date of Easter (see BCP, pp. 884-885).

Liturgical Colors

"Liturgical Colors" in Episcopal worship signify our place in the Church Year:

WHITE, the color of Jesus’ burial garments, for Christmas, Easter, and other ‘feasts’ or festival days, as well as marriages and funerals.


RED is used in Holy Week, the Day of Pentecost, and at ordinations.

GREEN is used during Epiphany and the ‘Ordinary Time’ after Pentecost.

On New Website, Task Force Seeks Participation in Liturgical Revision

December 16, 2019

A new website launched today at EpiscopalCommonPrayer.org provides Episcopalians with opportunities to participate in the liturgical revision called for by Resolution A068 of the 2018 General Convention. The site is available in English and Spanish.

Developed by the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision, the website includes draft documents that outline plans and principles to guide work on new liturgical texts. It also serves as a clearinghouse of all liturgies already approved for use by General Convention.

“We have posted our first three draft documents on the site, and we hope that Episcopalians from all parts of the church will read and comment on them,” said the Rev. Dr. Nina Ranadive Pooley, vice-chair of the task force from the Diocese of Maine. The documents include an outline of the task force’s direction for liturgical and prayer book revision; principles for new liturgical texts that are intended to assist diocesan liturgical commissions; and guidelines, developed with the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, for expansive and inclusive language in liturgy.

“General Convention heard great longing for new liturgical texts that include inclusive language about humanity and expansive language for God,” said the Rev. Deon Johnson, a member of the task force from the Diocese of Michigan. “Creating liturgy with expansive language isn’t just about replacing pronouns; it is a prayerful process that expands our ideas both about God and God’s relationship with all humanity. We hope that our work advances that work across the church.”

The website includes a submission page designed to collect feedback on the draft documents, ideas for liturgical revision, and liturgies that have been developed by dioceses and local congregations.

“General Convention called for bishops to ‘engage worshiping communities in experimentation and the creation of alternative texts,’” said the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee and chair of the commission. “We want the richness of these liturgical experiments born out of the needs of local communities to inform our work toward liturgical revision.”

Before its next meeting in April 2020, members of the task force request that bishops, liturgical officers, and diocesan liturgical commissions study both the draft documents it has produced and the provisions of Resolution 2018-A068 and respond via the website. The site contains a list of diocesan liturgical commissions; those not listed can be added by emailing the task force at tflpbr@episcopalchurch.org.


posted Mar 13, 2016, 11:55 AM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Jan 19, 2020, 6:40 PM ]







Lenten Season Around the Diocese

posted Feb 1, 2016, 4:42 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 5, 2020, 1:11 PM ]

Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday Services

Shrove Tuesday, February 25, 2020

All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper & Races, 5-7 pm
The clergy and staff are excited to be your hosts for the annual Pancake Supper & Races! First, we will have a delicious dinner, then the pancake races will begin! There is no cost to participate in and enjoy in the evening's festivities. All are welcome!​

Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper & Compline, 6-8 pm
Enjoy pancakes & sausage, beads & masks, New Orleans jazz, and lots of fun surprises!  Held again this year at Good Shepherd!!  Please RSVP to church office:  goodshep.summerville@gmail.com or 843-225-7590. Service of Compline to follow meal & festivities.

Church of the Messiah, Myrtle Beach 
This year the church is offering a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Lunch at 12 noon! The lunch will be held in Wingard Hall at St. Philip Lutheran Church. All are welcome; children eat for free and there is a suggested donation of $5 for adults. 

The Episcopal Church in Okatie, Ridgeland
All are welcome to this Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper from 6-8 pm at 231 Hazzard Creek Village, Okatie, SC.

Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston
The youth of Grace will host the annual Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday (February 25) from 5:30-7 pm. There is no cost to attend, but donations to support youth ministries at Grace are always appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact Nick Kohlmann at nkohlmann@gracesc.org

Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island 
All are welcome and invited to a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper beginning at 5:30 pm.

St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Conway
The church will celebrate the annual Mardi Gras celebration at 5th and Main Street (the old post office/Horry County Museum) in Conway from 6-9 pm. Find more details here.

St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, Florence 
Joint Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper with Cross and Crown Lutheran at 6 pm (3123 W. Palmetto, Florence, SC)

St. George's Episcopal Church, Summerville 
The Men’s Ministry will be serving from 6-8 pm in the CE Building.  Everyone is invited!  The cost is $6.00 per person ($15 per family). Tickets may be purchased at the door (please sign up in the narthex so we will know how much bacon to prepare) or in advance on our website at:  www.stgeorge-sc/web-store. 

St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Charleston
The church will offer a free Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday from 6-8 pm with sausage and bacon in the Parish House at 16-18 Thomas Street. The event is sponsored by the Saint Mark's Men's Club.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, North Myrtle Beach 
The ECM will host the annual pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday (February 25) from 5 to 7:00 pm in the Parish Hall. Tickets for the dinner are $5 at the door and include pancakes, bacon, sausage, and drinks. All are welcome!

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, St. Stephens
The Annual Pancake Supper will be held from 5-7 pm at the St. Stephen's Episcopal Parish House.  The cost is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 12 and under. Proceeds will benefit Oasis, the church's Alzheimer's Respite Care Program. All are welcome!

Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville
Holy Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes - 7 am and 6 pm
An early morning service at 7 am will supplement our usual evening service this year, for those who may be working or otherwise unable to attend at 6 pm and also to reach others beyond our own congregation.

Church of the Messiah, Myrtle Beach 
Services of the Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes will be offered at 12:15 pm and 6:30 pm at St Philip Lutheran Church, 6200 North Kings Highway.

The Episcopal Church on Edisto, Edisto Island
Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes will be offered at 6 pm.

Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston 
Imposition of the Ashes at 7 am, 12 noon, and 5:30 pm
At 5:30 p.m., 4-6-year old children are invited to attend a program while their parents and older siblings attend church (followed by the Community Supper). Children will meet in Room 107 right after the children’s choirs sing to begin the service in the church.

Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island 
Services will be held at 7 am. (with Eucharist and Ashes); 12 Noon (Imposition of Ashes only); and 7 pm (with Choral Eucharist & Ashes).

St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Conway
The church is offering services at 12 noon and 6 pm together with (and at) First United Methodist Church in Conway again this year. Services will be offered at 12 noon in the Hut Chapel (the brick chapel on the corner of 5th and Main) and then at 6 pm in the main church located at 1001 5th Avenue in Conway, SC.

St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, Florence 
Ash Wednesday service at Noon with Fr. William Coyne.

St. George's Episcopal Church, Summerville 
Ash Wednesday services are at 12 noon and 6:30 pm.  

St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Charleston
Ash Wednesday services will be offered at 12 pm (with music) and 5:30 pm (said service).

St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Port Royal
Holy Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes at 12 noon and 5:30 pm.

St. Stephen's, Charleston
Ash Wednesday services will be held at 12 pm and 5:30 pm.

St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, North Myrtle Beach 
Services will be offered at 7 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, North Charleston
Ash Wednesday services will be offered at 12 noon and 7 pm.

Lenten Studies, services and worship
round the Diocese

Inquirers' Classes and Confirmation Studies
Many churches offer opportunities during Lent for people to prepare to be Confirmed, or received into the Church, or to reaffirm their baptismal vows. Please contact any of our churches to learn more.

Lenten Studies

The Meaning of Jesus Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston 
Each Sunday at 10:10 am, this team-led study with Fr. Bryce and Chris Greenwell is inspired by the book by Marcus Borg and Bishop N. T. Wright entitled, The Meaning of Jesus.  Presentations will highlight different visions of who is Jesus of Nazareth. Our goal will be to inspire a discussion about Jesus through different visions of meaning. Topics will include the birth of Jesus, the divinity of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the return of Jesus. Plan on joining us in a study that seeks to deepen our understanding of Jesus and his mission for the world and all who follow in his name.

Living the Resurrection - Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville - Sundays from 9-10 am
Traditionally Lent has been a time of preparation for Baptism for catechumens specifically and a preparation for Easter for all Christians generally. This year, beginning Sunday, March 1, our Adult Christian Education class will be using the book “Living the Resurrection” by Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart as our Lenten class. While participants do not need to read this book to gain much from this class, reading the text will definitely enhance the learning. This class will be led by Father Mike Szymanowski. If you have any questions, please email him at michael29485szy@gmail.com or call or text him at (843) 998-5920. 


Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville
Join your Good Shepherd friends for this Lenten tradition of Soup & Sandwich Suppers and Bible Study every Tuesday evening at 6 pm during Lent, beginning on March 3. A simple supper is followed by informal discussion of the Daily Lectionary. Look for the sign-up sheets in the church.


All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island
Once again, the congregation of the Southern Deanery will share a common program during the Lenten season. Beginning on March 4 and continuing through April 1, Wednesday evenings start with a simple supper at 6 pm before a different clergy member from throughout the deanery offers a presentation on several signs and symbols in our worship. 

Church of the Messiah, Myrtle Beach 
Wednesdays in Lent - “Sing the Song and Tell the Story” 
Join us at 5:30 each Wednesday during Lent for a Simple Supper followed at 6:30 pm by Evening Prayer with the Great Hymn of Faith and Telling the Parables of Jesus in St Philip Lutheran Church at 6200 North Kings Highway.

Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston 
Characters of the Passion, Wednesdays at 12 noon
Led by the clergy of Grace, this is a six-week study on the characters of the Passion story. The hope is to contemporize the experience of those around Jesus during his Passion to lead to a deeper understanding of his Passion, of those who played a part in it, and to draw ourselves into the experience of being a part of Jesus’ Passion. The final session on Wednesday of Holy Week will involve a liturgy in the cathedral chancel which draws on aspects of Archbishop Stephen Cottrell’s liturgy revolving around his book, The Nail. The book could be a good resource for leaders and participants over all six weeks. Characters will include Peter, the Centurion, Simon of Cyrene, Pontius Pilate, Pilate’s wife, and Judas. We will begin with a light lunch at noon and move onto the study shortly thereafter.

St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, Florence 
On Wednesdays during Lent (March 4, 11, 18, 25 and April 1), St. Catherine's Episcopal Church and Cross and Crown Lutheran will hold Simple Suppers at 6 pm followed by a service at 7 pm.

Lenten Days, Special Events, and Retreats

Silent Weekend Retreat with the Order of St. Helena
March 13-15 in North Augusta, SC

The Order of St. Helena, a women's monastic community in The Episcopal Church, offers Silent Weekend Retreats at the convent in North Augusta, SC, with the next retreat planned for March 13-15. Silence begins after Compline on Friday and continues through Eucharist on Sunday. A donation of $160 includes all meals and one optional spiritual direction session. Three more retreats are offered later in 2020. Find details and registration here.

Lenten Offering on End of Life Planning
The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross: Palmetto Chapter invites all in the Diocese to a a special Lenten program, End of Life Planning: Essential to New Life on Saturday, March 14. The Rev. Courtney Davis-Shoemaker, Assistant Priest at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Charleston, will lead the discussion sharing theological reflections on death and her own experience with the importance of end of life planning. Click here for more information.

Lenten Day with the Dean of Canterbury
Saturday, March 21, 9-1 pm
Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, SC
 Join the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury, as he leads a Lenten Day.  The day will begin with coffee and conversation, followed by a number of presentations by Dr. Willis, and end with time for reflection and questions.  Lunch will be provided.  Please call (843) 723-4575 to reserve your spot.

Lenten Evensong at Bishop Gadsden
Sunday, March 22, at 4 pm
All are invited to attend this Evensong at Bishop Gadsden with the choirs of Grace Church Cathedral and the Very Reverend Dr. Robert Willis.
Each year at Lent, people worldwide participate in Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which 32 saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. Calling itself the world’s most popular online Lenten devotion, Lent Madness brings together cut-throat competition, the lives of the saints, humor, and the chance to see how God works in the lives of women and men across all walks of life

Holy Week and Easter 2020

APRIL 5-12
A listing will soon be available here

​The Way of Love in Lent

Visit our Facebook page and Instagram feed to see our daily posts from The Episcopal Church's "Way of Love in Lent" calendar. Download the calendar and find other Way of Love resources here.

Way of Love Daily Calendar

This calendar, based on Mary Bea Sullivan’s Living the Way of Love (Church Publishing, 2019), offers a daily practice and scriptural reference throughout Lent. Individuals may choose to use this resource to make a daily special intention to turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, or rest.

​Resources available in English and Spanish here. Way of Love resources can be used across all seasons.

Looking for a Lenten program of study, prayer or reflection for a group or for yourself? The Episcopal Church has posted a page filled with resources and curricula.

Included is "Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent," based on the Way of Love introduced by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the last General Convention.

The journey through Lent into Easter is a journey with Jesus. We are baptized into his life, self-giving, and death; then, we rise in hope to life transformed. This Lent, communities are invited to walk with Jesus in his Way of Love and into the experience of transformed life.  Together, we will reflect anew on the loving actions of God as recounted in the Easter Vigil readings. Together, we will walk through the depths of salvation history into the fullness of redemption.

Join the Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne, Penn., as she introduces weekly lessons from Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent. These eight videos -- one for each of the Life Transformed sessions and an introduction -- can be used with your congregation, as part of a small group, or for individual learning and meditation.

Additional Resources for Lent from
​The Episcopal Church


The Episcopal Church has posted a page filled with resources and curricula, including "Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent," mentioned above.
Visit the page here.

Episcopal Relief & Development: Lent 2020

Episcopal Relief & Development offers daily meditations for the season of Lent, available in print, or as a daily email. Find out more and subscribe to the daily meditations at this link.


posted Oct 26, 2015, 8:07 AM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Jan 19, 2020, 6:42 PM ]

Upcoming Events Around the Diocese: Events, resources & services

posted Oct 23, 2015, 9:04 AM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 2:58 PM by joan bonaparte ]



Fall Youth Retreat

October 4-6, 2019 at Camp St. Christopher
Save the date for a diocesan-wide youth event for middle school and high school students. Watch for details at our Youth Page.

229th Diocesan Convention

November 15-16, 2019 at the North Charleston Marriott
The annual business meeting and family reunion of The Diocese of South Carolina. Watch for details on our  Convention Page.

The Gathering at the Table Group meets on First Tuesdays 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

posted Sep 28, 2015, 2:19 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Jan 19, 2020, 6:41 PM ]

The Gathering at the Table group was formed in October, 2015, through the initiative of Judith Ewing, an Episcopal deacon who served at East Cooper Episcopal Church at that time.  She sought out the Rev. Michael Burton, a supply priest at Calvary, about setting up an initial gathering.  Members of Calvary Episcopal Church and members of East Cooper Episcopal Church meet in the Calvary Church Parish Hall each Tuesday evening to share their perspectives on matters of race - past and present. 

Originally scheduled to meet for four weeks in October, 2015, the group has bonded and grown in their commitment.  They continue to meet today, entertaining lively and healing discussions.  All are invited and encouraged to attend.

  • The Gatherers presented an evening of enlightening conversation and hors d'oeuvres on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 from 4:30 - 6:00 pm. at Calvary's Parish Hall.

    Our guest speaker was Dr. Mellicent Brown, an independent consultant with Lightbright, LLC.  Dr. Brown spoke on  the planning of the International African American Museum in Charleston. The discussion was lively and informative. It left the group's members and their guests yearning to learn more.
  • The Gatherers visited the National Museum of African American History in Washington, DC on August 28 - 30, 2017.
  • The East Cooper Episcopal Church has a new home. They now hold Sunday services at 10:00 A.M. at the J. Henry Stuhr Mount Pleasant Chapel at 1494 Mathis Ferry Road, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
  • The Gatherers attended the dedication ceremony at the Penn Center in Beaufort, SC and were excited to speak with The Honorable James Clyburn after his presentation.
    Members pictured here left to right: Wallace and Joan Bonaparte, Congressman Clyburn, Hannah Heyward and Masha Britten.

  • The Gatherers viewed the movie 13th and are holding ongoing discussions.


'Gather Around the Table'

Friday, June 17, 2015 was the night a gunman took the lives of nine people at Emanuel AME Church. As we remember this anniversary, may we pause in prayer for the people who died, for those who still mourn, and for every life that was irrevocably affected by the tragedy of that night in 2015.

The following article represents one way in which people in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina are responding after Emanuel to seek a path toward understanding and reconciliation. In the days ahead, we encourage others to share their stories, too.

O God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace. Let the design of your great love shine on the pains of our woundedness, confusion and great sorrow, and continue to bring peace to our community, peace to your Church, peace among peoples, and peace in our homes. And may the balm of your reconciling love lived out among us continue to soothe our suffering hearts. All this we pray in name of our wounded and risen Savior, God with us, Jesus Christ. Amen.

​It’s a June evening in Charleston, and the back door of the church is unlocked. People come in at their own pace, embracing, smiling, setting down plates of cookies on the big table in the parish hall.

No one speaks of it yet, but on everyone’s mind is a June evening in Charleston almost one year earlier, when nine people were shot dead just a mile away at Emanuel AME Church, in an African American congregation that opened its doors and invited the killer into their weekly Bible study.

The horror of June 17, 2015 and the days that followed gave way to deep grief, and deep questions. How could this have happened? What could I be doing to change that? How can we find bridges across the barriers of race?

Every Tuesday night, a small group from two local Episcopal churches, East Cooper and Calvary, have been meeting to see if they can find some answers. The name they have given themselves reflects the simple agenda for the group: “Gatherers Around the Table.”

After the massacre at Mother Emanuel, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina accelerated its plan to offer anti-racism training for the diocese – training that is required by Episcopal Church canons, but was never offered until a rift in 2012 brought new leadership. Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg, who took office in January 2013, immediately put anti-racism training on his  short-list of needs for the reorganizing diocese, and the first one was on the calendar when the Emanuel tragedy struck.

In September 2015, Calvary hosted one of four “Traces of the Trade” conferences offered around the diocese. Each event encouraged people to open their minds and hearts to conversations about the legacy of slavery and racism.

Judith Ewing, an Episcopal deacon who serves at East Cooper, was at the Calvary program. “I realized how ignorant I was,” she said. “I realized the importance of relationships, of just getting to know each other. I just knew we needed to gather at the table.”
She quickly sought out the Rev. Michael Burton, a supply priest at Calvary, about setting up an initial gathering. The first one happened in October: Six people from each congregation, who committed to meeting every Tuesday for a trial run of six weeks.

Like Emanuel, Calvary has deep roots in Charleston’s history, founded in 1847 for “religious instruction” of enslaved African Americans. For years, it housed the only preschool and kindergarten for African American children on the Charleston peninsula, and many leaders passed through its doors. The first black jurist to serve on an appellate court in the United States, Jonathan Jasper Wright, was buried in its churchyard in 1885.

By comparison, the East Cooper Episcopal Church is in its infancy. Approved as a new mission congregation at Diocesan Convention in 2014, it serves the predominantly white suburbs across the Cooper River from Charleston. It was formed by Episcopalians who were left without a place to worship when churches in that area went with the breakaway group that left The Episcopal Church in 2012.
With widely different backgrounds, the two groups shared one common characteristic: Curiosity, and a desire to learn about each other.
Their first meeting was planned as a simple Bible study, “because that would be sweet and safe and nobody would say anything that will upset anybody,” Ewing said. “But I said, ‘Maybe we need to say things that upset people.’”
Artist and educator Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook was there, and had the same reaction. Ewing recalls her saying: “I’ve been to many Bible studies, and nobody ever mentions the elephant in the middle of the room. Why can’t we mention the elephant in the room?”
Eight months later, the elephant is still loose. Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray. The challenges of growing up in a mixed-race family. Assumptions about intelligence. Co-workers who act friendly, but never get close. The Spoleto production of “Porgy and Bess.” Ethnic foods they like and dislike. It’s all on the table when they gather.
“We’ve never put aside anything, or say ‘We mustn’t talk about that.’ We talk about everything,” Deacon Ewing says.

Along the way, others have joined. One member recently moved from New York after years in churches that were active in social justice issues, looking for a community in Charleston where that could keep happening. Another regular Gatherer is a social worker from another church who came with an East Cooper friend.  “I thought I knew almost everything about black culture, especially in Charleston,” she says, laughing. “But I don’t.”

Dr. O’Bryant-Seabrook, a Calvary member in her 80s, has become the group’s matriarch and historian. On the recent Tuesday night in June, she gave them all an assignment: Come up with a personal statement about why they came to be “Gatherers Around the Table,” and then create a small journal-quilt to illustrate it. A few skeptical looks were exchanged around the table, but the group quickly warmed up to the task of explaining why they come to the meetings week after week.
The Tuesday before the Emanuel anniversary, they were putting the final touches on their letter-sized pieces of fabric art filled with color, symbols, and words like Curious, Sharing, Understanding, Love, and Hope. Beside an image of Emanuel, one proclaims: “Hate Will Not Win!”
As a child growing up in Charleston, Dr. O’Bryant-Seabrook says, “I could not go three blocks without passing a church. I remember asking my mother, ‘I would like to know what they’re praying for.’ With all the inequities and oppression, I wondered, were they praying for something that black churches were not praying for?”
Decades later, those questions persist. “I wanted to be a part of this group because for a long, long, long, long time, I wanted to be comfortable in a group of caucasians and blacks where we can actually, openly, honestly and safely discuss what happens, and why it happens,” she says.

As the members of the group went around the room, the words “safe place” came up again and again.
“When we started, we said we weren’t’ going to judge, or say “You shouldn’t be saying that,” Deacon Ewing says. “We were going to accept each one in our knowledge and our ignorance, and love each other anyway.”
As the gathering wraps up, the group continues to share their ideas as they pass the plates of cookies around the table. “When you eat with somebody, it changes the whole dynamic,” one woman says. “It gives me a lot of hope.”
In the words of Anne Nietert’s journal quilt: “Anger exploded into the Palmetto night, but, in the shadows, a new day is dawning as we Gather at the Table to learn, to listen, and to love.” 
Holly Behre, Director of Communications
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

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