The Epistle of St. Thomas

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church                                       Diocese of East Carolina

The Rev. Jeff Douglas                                       The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd

MAY 2007



Parson’s Corner


In the midst of life, we are in death; of whom may we seek for comfort, but of you, O Lord?

From the Burial Office, Rite 1, of the Book of Common Prayer


It seems my Easter “Alleluias!” have been sucked out of my voice, my lips are as dried as a potsherd and my heart is heavy, darkened and sad.  After one of the most horrific weeks of violence and death we have witnessed in this new millennium, I, and perhaps you, along with millions of Americans, am in grief for our nation and our world. I am grieved that so many young lives have been taken and others changed forever in the hail of bullets that rained down in the rampage of a depressed and deluded young man at Virginia Tech.  As heart sickening as this bloody massacre is, we must remember that this latest blow from our eternal enemy, Death, is merely the latest front and center scene in a play that is being directed on a much larger stage.  The spectacle of Death from Baghdad in which over 200 were killed and wounded in a marketplace came just as the shock waves of Virginia Tech rolled over us.  The tsunami of Death, the blood, bombs and bullets and the hatred from which they grow threatens all our hopes and dreams for peace.


Tears have been my food day and night, while all day long they cry to me, “Where now is your God?”  

Out of the Deep, have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!

Psalms 42 & 130


It is not easy to speak words of comfort and reassurance amidst the dark cries of those who mourn and the tears and fitful sobs of those who grieve such heavy losses. It is difficult to reconcile a God of love, who creates out of love, and who loves his creation and calls it very good, with a creation drenched in so much blood and with so many creatures that have blood dripping from their hands and still in their hearts.  Comfort seems nowhere to be found.  I cannot hear it in the trite and insipid platitudes about “God’s will” or “plan.”  There is no comfort in “God never gives us more than we can bear.” Many times, I have been confronted with unbearable losses. In those times, the walls close in, darkened chaos shutters the sun, and the cries of my inner child surface as the whimpers of wind, whispered in the midst of a cold desert night.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come?

 When shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

Psalms 121 & 42


My comfort is found not in words but in the Presence.  My peace is not in words that are too quickly spoken and immediately disperse in the breath from which they are born. Like the Psalmist and Job, as much as I demand answers to my “whys”, what I desire more and what sustains me through the night until the stars fade in the rising tide of the light of dawn, is Presence.  I need someone. I want to know that I am not alone and that I am real to another being.


My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my soul and my flesh for the living God.  Psalm 84

I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…  Job 42:5


Being with one another not only in times of grief and distress; but also in times of joy and happiness, being together is what counts. God has come to me, not only in prayer, but in the tear filled eyes and warm embrace of friends and neighbors when I have been in grief.  And through this I know, that God is there when I do the same for others.  Emmanuel – God with us, in tears of grief and happiness, our strength in times of need, our laughter in times joy, God is truly with us.  And is this not the promise of Jesus and the power of Pentecost that has broken the power of Death and the Gates of Hell.

“I am with you always, even to the end of time.” (Matt 28:20 paraphrased)






Vestry Notes



            The St. Thomas Vestry and Rector met for its regular meeting on April 17, 2007, in the Rector’s Office. 


Vestry Committees:  Committees were urged to schedule regular, year-round meeting times and expand their membership to incorporate all aspects of the parish.  Highlights of committee reports include the following:


Pastoral Care--From the past month, the rector reported 9 home visits and 1 hospital visit, 8 counseling sessions, 1 funeral, and 4 communions.


Christian Education—Topics for fall adult education include Bible History and Formation of the Canon and Christians Living in the West Bank & Gaza.


Mission & Outreach—Anne Tucker has agreed to serve as chair of the Kitchen Committee. 


Rector’s Advisory Committee—Lois Sawyer has agreed to serve with the current wardens as members of this committee.


Junior Warden’s Report—The water seepage project has been completed.  Bids are being secured for a generator that would power necessary operations in the parish hall in case of disaster. 


Mutual Ministry Review—The written report will be presented at the May meeting of the Vestry.


Treasurer’s Report—Total expenses for the first quarter, 2007--$37, 308.15

                                  Total income for the first quarter, 2007--     34, 170.95

                                 The difference is offset at this time by 2007 pledges prepaid in 2006.


Rector’s Continuing Education, Diocesan Responsibilities, and Vacation:

Continuing Education—May 6-11, 2007

Vacation—June 18-July 9

                 June 24—Josh McKenzie, Celebrant

                 July 1—Josh McKenzie, Celebrant

                 July 8—Morning Prayer

Camp Trinity—August 6-12

                       August 12—Phil Craig, Celebrant


Sarah Davis

Clerk of the Vestry








Senior Warden: Jim Shotwell     Junior Warden: Clyde Hughes

Clerk: Sarah Davis     Treasurer:  Ernie Carter

Bill Blanchard (1)............................ Claudia Griffin (2).............................. Scott Benson (3)

Sarah Davis (1)............................... Clyde Hughes (2).............................. David Shields (3)

Larry Overton (1)............................. Jim Shotwell (2)................................ Mike Steczak (3)

Bea Vaughan (1)............................. Martie Tayloe (2)................................ Nonie Turville (3)








The Committee on Evangelism and Outreach asks that the following prayer for the mission of St. Thomas be prayed at each service in The Prayers of the People and that each parishioner include the prayer in his or her own daily prayers.

Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you

through your Son Jesus Christ: 

Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness

and the hope of his resurrection;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.    Amen.










NAME THAT TUNE:  The Worship Committee will be taking hymn requests to incorporate into worship where appropriate during May, June, July, and August.  Call the church office at 332-3263 to leave the name and number of your favorite or sign up on a sheet provided in the narthex.  We ask that hymns be chosen from one of our three hymnals--Hymnal 1982, Wonder Love & Praise, or Lift Every Voice and Sing, all found in the pew racks.


PRAYERS & INTERCESSIONS:  The prayer list has taken on a new format.  Sheets are available in the narthex to take home if you so desire.  A new prayer list will be published each month containing birthdays and anniversaries and names of all those for whom prayers should be offered.  On a master list—not to be removed from the narthex--extra lines are provided for you to add names.  Lay readers must take note each week to include newly added names, and not the entire list, in the intercessory prayers of the people.  After two months, all names will be deleted unless you handwrite them again onto the master list or contact the office directly.






2007 Altar Guild Schedule

Julie Shields, Altar Guild Chair

January:  Linda Shotwell & Gretchen Simons

February:  Becky Hoggard & Mary C. Pierce

March:  Patsy Jones & Carolyn Peele

April:  Nelle Burgess, Tomma Jenkins, Jerrie Taylor, & Julie Shields--EASTER

May:  Sarah Davis & Ann Hughes

June:  Becky Johnson, Anne & Tommy Tucker

July:  Mari Mileur, Karen Rowe, & Nonie Turville

August:  Dawn & Ernie Carter & Lois Sawyer

September:  Vicki Blanchard & Cheryl Steczak

OctoberBriley Hedrick & Susan Joyner

November:  Brenda Hewitt & Betsy Overton

December:  Julie & any members who would like to help


Don’t forget:  The group decides who will do the altar each weekend and Julie will set up for each 10:30 service.  Instructions are always in the sacristy.  Linens are to be done by the members on schedule each month. Brass does not need to be polished.  Handle with gloves.  Polish silver only.  THANKS FOR SERVING ON THE ALTAR GUILD!




May Sunday School for Children & Adults

9:30 am

ADULTS (in rector’s office)

During the remaining Sundays until summer recess, timely topics will be presented for lively discussion.


CHILDREN (upstairs in parish hall)


            April 29th—Anne & Tommy Tucker

            May 6thBeth Douglas

            May 13th—Anne & Tommy Tucker

            May 20th—Rogation-no Sunday School

            May 27thJeff Douglas






Weekly Events at St. Thomas

1st, 3rd, & 4th Sunday               8:00 AM                  Holy Eucharist--Rt. I

2nd Sunday                               8:00 AM                  Morning Prayer

Sunday                                     9:30 AM                  Sunday School for adults & children

Sunday                                     10:30 AM                Holy Eucharist--Rt. I

1st Sunday                                10:30 AM                Children’s sermon

1st & 3rd Sunday                       5:00 PM                  EYC

2nd Monday                              5:00 PM                  ECW Book Guild

3rd Monday                               5:00 PM                  Daughters of the King

Tuesday                                    5:30 PM                  Weight Watchers

3rd Tuesday                              7:00 PM                  Vestry

Wednesday                               12:00 Noon              Lenten Bible Study

Wednesday                              6:00 PM                  Evening Prayer

Wednesday                               6:30 PM                  Soup Supper

Wednesday                               7:00 PM                  Lenten Bible Study

Thursday                                   6:30 PM                  Choir practice

Saturday                                   7:30 PM                  Alcoholics Anonymous





Daughters of the King


The Order of the Daughters of the King, a religious order for Episcopal women, is open to all women in our parish and meets once a month (except June, July, & August) for prayer and spiritual reflection.  This is a prayer and service organization whose three big projects this year are 1) visitation; 2) participation  in a self-denial fund; and 3) participation in the “never spend a dime” fund.  Inquiries may be directed to Bea Vaughan, president, at 332-4464.  A Daughters of the King prayer box is located in the narthex.  Prayer request cards are nearby to be filled out and placed in the box. Prayers for that person will be offered for one month.


Daughters of the King will lead an hour of prayer on Tuesday, May 8th from noon to 1 PM. This is a time to pray silently and to hear readings from the writings of Julian of Norwich, St. John Chrysostom, Thomas a Kempis and others along with prayers from around the Christian world and our own tradition.  Everyone is invited to join us any time during the hour or for the entire hour.


Officers of Daughters of the King

President:  Bea Vaughan     Vice-president:  Brenda Brooks

Secretary:  Pam Muller       Treasurer:  Anne Tucker

Program chairman:  Carolyn Peele





Please use the enclosed envelope for your donation and place it in the offering plate or give it to Claudia Griffin on or before May 13, 2007.  Your support is an essential part of this ministry!!!    The CPC provides grants for seminarians, congregations and other Episcopal groups to assist them in purchasing written and musical resources they could not otherwise afford.  CPC is supported solely through voluntary donations.


Please help keep this important ministry alive, with a generous offering on May 13.


Claudia Griffin

CPC Chairman










If things continue to fall into place, the Episcopal affiliated Benjamin House, Inc., in Elizabeth City would like to lease the Bazemore House, once it is restored, from us on a long-term basis to use as their office in Hertford County for case management.  As you may know, The Benjamin House itself is a residence for mentally challenged young adults, who otherwise could not live independently.  The Benjamin House has been supported financially from its inception by individuals from this church, as well as our ECW, and vestry.  Benjamin House, Inc., is a much larger umbrella organization that offers case management for people of all ages.  It is the only non-profit organization of its type east of Raleigh


Accordingly, two sub-committees of the overall Bazemore House & Garden Committee are springing into action.  A grants and funding committee is chaired by Tom Schwartz, who (along with wife Kim), has great expertise in this area.  It is our desire, and part of the original directive from the vestry, to seek outside funding for the adaptive restoration project. 


A building and design committee is chaired by Jim Sullins, with great assistance from co-chair Fred Liverman.  The NC Department of Cultural Resources is supplying us during the summer with a design intern free of charge.  Fortunately though many things like roof, siding, & porch need replacing because of deterioration, the most minimum structural changes will be required to bring the building up to code and meet the needs of the Benjamin House. 


The Bazemore House, located to the right of the church, was left to St. Thomas’ by will a few years ago.  Both the house and church are part of the newly expanded Ahoskie Historic district.  The house is a 1920’s bungalow, compatible with other dwellings on both sides of church street, and was built within the decade prior to the

church’s construction.  Interior woodwork is a good example of the style with striking mantels and pocket doors.  The kitchen and baths have period fixtures.  A very fine garden is full of interesting and in some cases unique shrubbery, unusual for Ahoskie in comparison to other gardens of comparable dwellings. 


With the capable and dedicated leadership from these committee chairmen, plus our wonderful and invaluable consultants from The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the NC Department of Cultural Resources, The American Boxwood Association, Preservation North Carolina, and our own landscape design authority Judson Newbern,  we are beginning the careful and painstaking process of making our dream and vision for the Bazemore House & Garden a reality.  The next full committee meeting is May 7th at 5:00 PM in the parish hall.  All interested and/or visionary people are welcome!!!!!


Betsy Overton, co-chair

Bazemore House & Garden Committee







Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia


            Hallelujah! The Alleluias are back. 


            As an important part of our Lenten observance, we silence the Alleluias.  For six weeks, we worship without them as we prepare for the glorious moment of their return.  Most of our preparation is individual and spiritual, but we also engage in corporate and physical preparation.


            On Holy Saturday, after awaking to cold, icy and even freezing rain, we then drove through snow to the church in order to begin the final preparations that would be revealed at the Easter Vigil.  The snow was beautiful and fit with the cleaning that was taking place inside the church; it seemed as if the air itself had been purified.


            With so many groups working at once—acolytes in training, altar guild, flower guild, ECW cleaning crew (which in some cases included husbands dispatched as surrogates), EYC egg-dyeing crew, and yard crew—St. Thomas’ parish was very much alive, symbolic of the new life that we would greet the next day when we welcomed the happy morning. 


            Whereas each of us prepares for Easter in an individual way, because our parish is a small one, each of us also has the opportunity to join in the corporate preparation.  Each of us then, having contributed his or her own part to the feast, is ready to bury the silence that has buried the alleluias and once again shout with joy, “Praise ye the Lord!”


            Hallelujah, Alleluia, Hallelujah indeed!


Upcoming Dates to Remember:

May 13—CPC Collection Sunday

                 Second Sunday After Service Social, Linda and Jim Shotwell, hosts

May 20—Rogation, Green Plains, Covered Dish Luncheon

June 10—Second Sunday After Service Social, Gretchen and David Simons, hosts



Sarah Davis, ECW President






Message from Anne Tucker:

If members of your family have not given the Church your anniversary and/or birthday dates, please do so immediately. We would like to remember you at these special times. Send your dates to the church office or to me or write them on a sheet provided in the narthex. Thanks.





April 27-29         Annual Parish Retreat at Trinity Center with The Rt. Rev. Chip Marble

May 6               Worship at New Ahoskie Baptist Church, 11 AM

May 7               Bazemore House & Garden meeting, 5 PM

May 8               Daughters of the King: Sweet Hour of Prayer, noon until 1:00 PM in nave

May 13             Church Periodical Club collection

May 14             ECW Book Guild:  Carolyn Peele will discuss Talking Back by Andrea Mitchell.

May 15             Vestry, 7 PM

May 18             Piano recital, 4 PM

May 20             Rogation

May 21             Daughters of the King, 5 PM

May 27             Pentecost; guest preacher:  seminarian Stephen Mazingo

August 15         Diocesan ECW meeting, Trinity Center August 16-19 Diocesan Music Conference at Trinity Center; David Flood of Canterbury Cathedral is lead clinician; Jacqui Horner of Anonymous 4 will offer private      voice lessons.






Congratulations to Michael Shields, son of David and Julie Shields and brother of Stephen, who will graduate from N. C. State University and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on Saturday, May 12, 2007.  Michael sent an invitation to the church, and it is posted on the bulletin board in the parish hall.  He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science.  We are so very proud of your accomplishments, Michael!


Congratulations to Bill Blanchard  who was honored by the Roanoke Chowan Shrine Club on April 17th and given recognition for 25 years of faithful service.


Congratulations to Briley Johnson, daughter of Johnny & Claudia Griffin, who has been accepted to the Graduate School of Human Ecology at East Carolina University.  Briley will pursue a Masters Degree in Child Development and Family Relations.  She will begin classes in August, 2007.  Lindsay Griffin began a new job with the North Carolina Education Lottery.


Wow!  Steed Johnson, son of Becky and Jamie Johnson, is now ranked in the top ten tennis players in his age group in N.C. and in the top 73 players in the South (a ten state region, including Georgia, Tennessee, & Louisiana).   


Betsy Overton and Sarah Davis attended the 119th annual meeting of the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of East Carolina, held at Holy Trinity, Fayetteville, on Tuesday, April 24.  On the previous day, they participated in the board meeting, Betsy as UTO chair, and Sarah as  Mission & Outreach co-chair.  Details of the meeting will be available in the June newsletter.


Jack Tayloe spent a lovely few days in Augusta watching preliminary play-in rounds of the Masters Golf Tournament.  He and his buddies did a little sight-seeing as well!!


Tom, Margaret, Miles, and Ben Newbern spent Easter vacation with Margaret’s family at Disney World.


Tom and Kim Schwartz spent Easter weekend with Kim’s brother and family in Leesburg, VA.  To make sure they got  good seats in a standing room, jam-packed Catholic church, they sang in the choir—that’s always the best view of church events.


We rejoice with Charles and Mary C. Pierce, son Grainger and daughter-in-law Briana, and grandson Charles Grainger Pierce, III, upon his baptism at St. Thomas’ on April 22nd.  We sang our song to the saints of God, as one more little saint was welcomed to God’s kingdom on earth.


Several of our own have participated variously in Chowan University’s Academic Forum, held the week of April 20-25.  John Davis, Professor of English, presented “The Perspective of Two Southern Authors:  Race, Slavery, and the South in the Writing of Mark Twain and William Faulkner.”  Stephen Shields, freshman, starred in the play “Wiley and the Hairy Man.”  Beth Douglas and Colin Jones sang in a program entitled “Music of the American South.”





Located at 424 W. Church; mail delivered to PO Box 263, Ahoskie, North Carolina 27910








Remember this project supports St. Thomas’, Episcopal Relief & Development, the MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS and coffee growers in the developing world.  We have all varieties available for purchase in the parish hall--whole bean, ground, caf, decaf, and cinnamon.  Cost is $10 per bag.


St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church

Ahoskie, North Carolina

May 2007


            LAY READERS--10:30 AM                                  LAY READERS--8 AM

May      6         Larry Overton

            13         Jim Shotwell                                          Nonie Turville

            20         John Davis                                            

            27         Clyde Hughes


June     3         Colin Jones

            10         Vicki Blanchard                                     Nonie Turville




May      6         Crucifer:  Larry Overton; Torches:  Alexis Urquhart & Josh Boyd

            13         Crucifer:  Jerrie Taylor; Torches:  Hanes Joyner, Dante Wright, & Steed Johnson

            20         Crucifer:  Hinton Carter; Torches:  Sarah Davis & Ben Newbern

            27         Crucifer:  Miles Newbern; Torches:  Nelle Burgess, Cecelia Jones, & Travaughan Tripp


June     3         Crucifer:  Charles Sawyer; Torches:  Edward Blanchard & Delton Wright

            10         Crucifer:  Josh Boyd; Torches:  Larry Overton & Alexis Urquhart




May      6         Ms. Briley Hedrick

13                 Mr. & Mrs. Mike Steczak

20                 Open

27                 Mr. & Mrs. Bill Muller


June     3         Dr. & Mrs. Julian Taylor

            10         Ms. Nonie Turville



            FOOD PANTRY

May      2         Dicky Hoggard

9                   Peggy Vann

16               Jim Shotwell

23               Patsy Jones

30               John Cornwell


June     6         Dicky Hoggard

13                 Bubba Peele



            ***YARD SCHEDULE

May      6         Bubba Peele* & Clyde Hughes

13                 Julian Taylor* & Larry Overton

20                 Julian Taylor* & Larry Overton

27                 Charles Sawyer* & Beth Douglas


June     3         Charles Sawyer* & Beth Douglas

            10         Dicky Hoggard* & Johnny Griffin                         


***Yard debris such as leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs should be bagged up and put on Main St. (or Church St.).  Larger branches, of no more than four feet long, should be put on the street no later than Tues. night for pick up by the city on Wed.  DO NOT put yard debris of any kind in the large roll out containers because the Waste Disposal Company will not pick them up.  The large containers are for normal garbage pick up and are to be placed on Main St. each Tues. for pick up on Wed. AM.




            USHER TEAMS

May      Dicky Hoggard*, John Davis, Stan Jenkins

June     Larry Overton*, Johnny Griffin, & William Miller



            ALTAR GUILD

May      Sarah Davis & Ann Hughes

June     Becky Johnson & Ann & Tommy Tucker





May      6          TBA

May      13         Martie Tayloe (10:30)

May      20         Nonie Turville (8)

May      27         TBA