Home » Faith »Lifestyle » Currently Reading:

Faith, Food and Fellowship

December 1, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Faith, Lifestyle No Comments
St. Pauls2 Dec

By Sue Thompson
The television sitcom ‘Cheers’ ran for 11 seasons, earning 27 Emmy awards and ranking number 18 in the top 50 greatest TV shows of all time. Every week a core group of colorful characters made their way to their favorite local bar to commiserate. Perched on wooden stools, nursing a cold one, they shared their troubles, offered bad advice, traded a few good barbs and hoped for an epiphany. The little bar in Boston existed in a season of perpetual advent, expectant of something good that never quite arrived. Cheers fans everywhere fondly remember the words to the show’s theme song: “Sometimes you want to go – where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see – our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”

I recently had the privilege of visiting a ‘Cheers’ of sorts, out on Harpers Ferry Road in Purcellville, Virginia. Unlike their Hollywood counterpart, there’s no bar where you can lose your troubles for a time in a cold one. Instead you’ll find a simple fieldstone church building hugging the road in quiet repose. Framed by sprays of wildflowers behind a wrought iron fence, with its cemetery nestled close beside, Christian Community Church at St. Paul’s is a place where everybody knows your name.

Linda Sutler was there cutting the grass on the day I visited. Linda was born nearby in Lovettsville. Her mother’s great uncles did the stonework on the church, and the Mt. Olivette Church in Lovettsville too. Her mom was the organist at Mt. Olivette for 30 years. Linda isn’t a member of St. Paul’s but she comes regularly to cut the grass and tend the little cemetery. She knows Pastor Roland England real well. He’s been there for her over the years as she struggled with the grief of losing her seven- year-old son to a drunk driver, and he’s there for her now in a fresh season of grief for her son Randy who died a few months ago. Linda feels loved at St. Paul’s. “There’s comfort in tending the grounds here,” she says.

The Reverend Roland England has pastured this little flock since1998. “I just minister to people where I find them. I help with dental work, keep people out of jail and just love on them. These are the kinds of things I like to do. Church isn’t just the members. It’s the larger community of families connected with the church, he says.

The Reverend explains that he doesn’t aspire to a big congregation. “I’ve always pastured a small church. I like to visit my people. If you have a big church you can’t do that. I’m able to share Christ’s love and that’s what matters,” says the Reverend. He works as a security guard full-time but ministering to others is his where his heart is. He’s already seen his 70th birthday come and go. “I plan to keep on doing what I’m doing, good Lord willing, for quite some time,” he says.

He excuses himself for a few minutes to meet with a family who have come to plan a funeral, leaving me in the cool of the stone sanctuary to take in the simple beauty of this humble building. St. Paul’s began to meet here in 2000. The building stood empty for 30 years prior. Reverend England and his congregation approached the Lutheran Synod with an offer and bought the building for $1.00. Carroll Crim and his wife Doris prayed for 10 years for a new church in the Purcellville area. “This church” Carroll said then, “is the answer to those prayers.” Prayer is a big part of the life at St. Paul’s. It’s in the very walls of the building.

I’m roused from the quiet of the sanctuary to join the Reverend next door in his office so he can introduce me to the couple he’s meeting with. There’s talk of Doris Crim’s coleslaw and other important ‘family’ business. Roots go deep in this little church. Relationships are cherished. Everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came. I start to feel a bit like family myself, sitting among these dear folks as they share their joys and sorrows.

Seems there are about 50 people in the congregation, not including all the folks in the community who aren’t officially members but make up the ‘family’ that is St. Paul’s. The core group is in Lovettsville and the rest come from Maryland and West Virginia. For three nights in December their numbers swell to over 100 people for their special Christmas services. “We light the oil lamps. It’s a traditional service,” says Rev. England. “We’ll mark the end of Advent with hymns as we welcome the Christ Child. People are drawn to tradition. It helps anchor them.”

This little church seems to know a thing or two about anchoring the community. The first Sunday of every month is Communion at St. Paul’s followed by a pot-luck dinner after the service. And breakfast is served every Sunday morning before worship. Then there’s the annual Cruise-In – a time of food and fellowship when church families and the community come together. And their “Galilean Service” on the Clatterbuck Farm every spring, when they worship outdoors before enjoying a picnic lunch. Faith, food and fellowship they call it. “Feed the body and the soul,” says Reverend England. A person could get used to this.

Eventually it’s time for me to take leave of this little family. Linda waves good-bye as I follow the well-worm gravel path through the flowers to my car and head back to town, past the shops and the restaurants with their bars. Unlike the characters in the little Bar in Boston who were always moving through a season of advent, expectant of something good that never quite arrived, the folks at St. Paul’s know the One who has come. Linda Sutler knows him in the gentle embrace of the people of St. Paul’s as she tends the grounds. Doris Crim knows him as she lovingly adds a heaping bowl of her melt-in-your-mouth coleslaw to a table already groaning with food at the annual Cruise-In. Reverend England knows him as he tends his flock in the midst of the searing grief of death and the soaring joys of life. These folks at St. Paul’s know that advent is a place in the heart where life collides with faith every day, and that the expected one always comes.

Christian Community Church at St. Paul’s can be found at 12623 Harpers Ferry Road, Purcellville, Virginia. Sunday school and worship begin at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday.

Susan Thompson, a writer and photographer and a native of Virginia, lives in Purcellville with her husband Tim and a Schipperke named Rocket.

Comment on this article


By commenting, you agree to abide by our Terms of Service.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Trump Effect

noerpel_new

“Corals are marine magicians. As colonies of the tiny ocean organisms grow, they transform the calcium that circulates in seawater into enormous limestone reefs. These reefs—which can extend for more than 1,000 miles and provide homes for crabs, eels, sea …

Six Tips To a New Year and a New You in 2017

drmikenewpic

By Michael Oberschenider, Psy.D. Research has shown that as many as 45 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only about eight percent are actually successful in achieving them. And it seems that age is a factor: about 39 …

Investing in the Family Stock

Smith0035

Family relationships are usually not considered under the rubric of “investments”. Yet, the personal gain and loss from family relationships is much more significant than economic return from stocks and bonds. Taking time out to relate to a person without …

Choosing a Different Lens

moore-sobelnewmug

We have all heard, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” maybe even said it aloud while perusing old photo albums or scrolling through Facebook timelines. Sometimes words fall short of adequately describing an emotion encapsulating a distinct moment. Pictures fill …

Freedom Park

freedom park

A great name for a great place, this public space shows us – in my opinion – what’s best about Leesburg, Loudoun County and our country. Freedom Park – just off the Dulles Greenway on the South side of Town …

The Grim Reaper and the Great Barrier

grimreaper

(to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in January) “The recent frequency and intensity of mass coral bleaching are of major concern, and are directly attributable to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases.” [1]

Pearl Harbor

flag

By Nicholas Reid Seventy-five years ago this December 7, to quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” It will have been 75 …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

grads_woodgrove

Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

(Be the first to comment)

Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

buckland

Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

(Be the first to comment)

Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

adamspromoted

Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

(Be the first to comment)

Calendar

January 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Family New Year’s Eve Celebration

January 1, 2017

New Year's Day Musikabend

Restore & Renew

January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017

Core Purpose, Core Practice Yoga

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

January 8, 2017
January 9, 2017

AUDITIONS - SEUSSICAL

January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017

Beale Street Puppets: Dig Those Dinosaurs

January 12, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017

THE IMMORTALS

January 15, 2017

Come Paint with Us at Breaux Vineyards

January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017

Virginia Opera: Deep River- The Marion Anderson Story

January 19, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 20, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

January 21, 2017

DANNY KNICELY CONCERT

January 22, 2017
January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017 January 29, 2017
January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

February 5, 2017
Current Print Issue:
Sign up for our email newsletter:

Recent Comments

Steady and NoBull

Lifestyle

Upcoming Waterford Concerts Feature St. Lawrence String Quartet and Four Other Acts

18 Jan 2017

waterford

Subscriptions and tickets are now on sale for five upcoming concerts, the Waterford Concert Series announced. All concerts begin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the Waterford Old School auditorium, 40222 Fairfax Street in Waterford. The concert series begins March 19 with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, known for exalted performances and joyful connection with audiences. First violinist Geoff …

(Be the first to comment)

Historian Rich Gillespie Speaks on Haunts on the Loudoun Landscape

12 Jan 2017

The Mosby Heritage Area Association announced an event in conjunction with the Purcellville Library on January 29, at 2:00 p.m,. which will feature Rich Gillespie, Historian Emeritus of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, speaking on the “Haunts on the Loudoun Landscape.” The stories are all from the personal experiences of long-time local historian and teacher Rich Gillespie, or from close …

(Be the first to comment)

Help Joseph … and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

4 Jan 2017

blueridge2

Blue Ridge Middle School’s PTO is seeking help with its drama department, working diligently on the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat. The children in the show are enthusiastic and very talented. And, the school has a long history of first class productions with recent shows such as The Lion King, which won 11 National Youth Arts Awards …

(1 comment)

Editorial

Grief and Greed

blueridge2

By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

blueridge2.jpg

– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

blueridge2.jpg

– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

catesbyproposal

We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

It’s Our Right

catesbyproposal

On December 6, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a “Minor Special Exception” proposal we submitted earlier this year concerning our Catesby Farm property. Unfortunately, our limited …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

blueridge2

By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

image002

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

(Be the first to comment)

Rep. Comstock’s Key Top Priority Legislation Initiatives

barbaracomstock

Signed into Law in Her First Term Rep. Barbara Comstock, who serves the 10th congressional district in Virginia, recently reviewed the achievements of her first term in office, identifying 17 legislative initiatives that she supported that were adopted. She said: “My staff and I have met with stakeholders, local elected …

(Be the first to comment)

Man Killed Walking To Gas Station on I-95

police_tape

Virginia State Police Trooper M.J. Kryznefski is investigating a fatal pedestrian crash in Prince William County. The crash occurred at approximately 4:10 a.m., on Monday, December 26, on Interstate 95 near Exit 158B. Three males were traveling south on Interstate 95 when their Honda CRV ran out of gas. They …

(Be the first to comment)

Sports

Ida Lee Spring NFL Flag Football Registration Filling Fast

18 Jan 2017

NFL_Flag_Football_at_IdaLee

Deadline for the House League registration is February 13. Registration for the Spring 2017 NFL Flag Football League at Ida Lee is currently open and filling fast. We are excited to offer again two great leagues: Ida Lee NFL Flag Football House League and the Ida Lee NFL Flag Football …

(Be the first to comment)

Woodgrove Grabs First at Glory Days

10 Jan 2017

Woodgrove Gymnastics

The Woodgrove Varsity Gymnastics took first place in the red division of the Glory Days Invitational at Park View High School on Saturday, January 7. Woodgrove competed against Rock Ridge, Potomac Falls, Loudoun Valley and Heritage high schools. Host team Park View came in first in the lower blue division. …

(Be the first to comment)

Archives

  • +2017
  • +2016
  • +2015
  • +2014
  • +2013
  • +2012
  • +2011
  • +2010
  • +2009