Community Lenten Series
As it has done for 88 years, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is once again presenting its Community Lenten Series.
The lunch and preaching services begin next week, on the 17th, Ash Wednesday.
Adams-Riley: We have two seatings of lunch on either side of our preaching service, which begins at 12:30.
The Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley is the rector of the historic church across from the Capitol.
Adams-Riley: Our theme for this year is a gospel for the 21st century. And we have preachers, some local, some coming from far and wide. We have Bonnie Anderson, for instance, who is the chief lay leader of the Episcopal Church, she’s President of the House of Deputies, so we are very excited and honored to have her. We have Jack Spong, formerly of St. Paul’s, who is definitely known as and recognized as one of the most creative, original theologians of our era. And so we are honored to have Jack back with us. We have Jim Forbes, until rather recently the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, that’s of course one of the most prominent pulpits in America and he is certainly one of the leading preachers of our generation. Who has, by the way, some Richmond roots, I understand.
The ecumenical nature of the series, he said, is among the things that make it so popular.
Adams-Riley: We have also some, if you will, rising stars, fresh voices. Derik Jones, who recently ascended to the leadership of First Baptist Church, South Richmond, after his father was elected mayor. Derik is a passionate and gifted preacher and we are honored to have him with us this year. And, likewise, again a rising star, a fresh voice, in Richmond, Jim Somerville, of First Baptist, Richmond. Again, a very talented preacher. We are very excited to have all of them. And then to finish out the list, our own Bishop, Bishop Shannon Johnston, this will be his first time preaching during Lent since becoming our Diocesan bishop. And then, Amy Butler, who is a Baptist pastor in Washington, D.C.
Lenten series, Adams Adams-Riley said, is one of the defining ministries of this downtown church.
Adams-Riley: Key to it is our motto, “Proclaiming Christ in the heart of the city.” We are right down here at Grace and 9th right in the shadow of the Capitol, the courts and the business. And we are just so committed to that, to being a witness downtown that we just, we keep working at it, keep bringing in that great preaching and I think, you know, that we 85,000 people eating lunch here every day, there is an audience.
The preaching is free. Lunch costs $7.00, dessert $2.00, and the proceeds go to charity.
Adams-Riley: In 2008 we were able to give away $27,000 and in 2009 $28,000. I’m confident that we will be giving out something in the range of $30,000 in the coming year.
Twenty-seven different organizations received funds last year, including the Daily Planet and the William Byrd Community Center, Art 180, the Positive Vibe Foundation and Midwives for Haiti.
Adams-Riley: When people walk in that door we are just glad they are here, period. We do pass an offering and that helps us provide this series. But certainly that’s just those who would make a gift. In terms of the lunch, you are seated, people bring you the meal, we have a different menu each day of the week.
Nearly 500 volunteers from more than 80 area churches prepare and serve the meals. Childcare is available and there is limited free parking in the St. Paul’s garage.
John Ogle, WCVE News