A Message from the Rector:

Slavery and God’s Freedom

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns…” Exodus 20:8-10

On Sunday the reading from the Hebrew Bible presented the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-20, the framework of the path to freedom that leads to abundant life. The Fourth Commandment, found at 20:8-10, says that God’s law is a gift to a people now free—free so that they may rest—and commands that all cease from labor on the Sabbath. This freedom is extended even to slaves.

After church, many of you were concerned and perplexed about the mention of slaves as also enjoying the freedom of a sabbath. Isn’t this a direct contradiction to the sentiment of freedom? Isn’t reading this passage a stumbling block to those who may be visiting, who are seekers, wondering what the Christian path of love has to offer?

The question of slavery in the church is a difficult and a critical topic. I am so glad that so many of you noticed the question, and are concerned about the topic. In preparation for the Saint Andrew’s pilgrimage to northern England, I’ve been learning a lot about slavery in general and slavery in the Bible in particular. The quest of the pilgrimage is centered on Christian values and the institution of slavery in Britain and America in the 18th and 19th centuries.*

It has been a revelation to me that slavery is found throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament, and nowhere is it directly challenged or criticized. Nowhere in the Bible is it suggested that the institution of slavery should be abandoned.

This is a reality not limited to the Bible. Slavery as an institution has been found throughout the ages and in virtually every civilization. For most of human history, slavery has been a given, considered normal and natural. The focus has typically been to avoid becoming enslaved oneself, not concern that slavery existed. The success of the abolition movement in the 19th century was truly prophetic, the work of the Holy Spirit, conscience, engagement with the Bible and teachings of the church, human reason, and the intense dedication of visionaries, most of whom were motivated by the Gospel, and had come to see that living according to Christian values meant that slavery had to be abolished.

This brings us to the Fourth Commandment and “…you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock.” The shock to us in the 21st century is that slaves are taken for granted. The shock to the first hearers of the Fourth Commandment was that slaves were also be given rest just like their owners.

This commandment was astounding to those of the ancient world: God commands that the humanity of slaves be recognized and slaves be given protections. Owners were obliged to allow them to rest. In other laws in the Hebrew Bible, slaves are protected from being treated cruelly and physically harmed. The harm caused a slave by a master could result in the owner being obliged to set their slave free. In the rest of the ancient world, the concern was only to protect the owner’s rights for damaged property.

The Hebrew people were unique and very intentional in wishing to severely limit the practice of slavery and its worst effects. Jewish law forbade Hebrew people from owning other Hebrew people as slaves except for a six-year bond slavery; those in bond slavery were to be released in the seventh year. The Hebrews, like everyone almost everyone else in the ancient world, made slaves of foreigners, especially those captured in war, and yet these slaves also had come legal protections in Hebrew law.

Through the centuries, slavery morphed into varied forms, but it continued right up into the 1800s. The slavery that wracked our country was in most respects much worse than that experienced in Biblical times because it was founded on racism. In the 1700s and 1800s, Christians who recognized in the Bible the liberating love at the heart of the teachings of Jesus led the movement that abolished slavery as an institution.

The Episcopal Church talks about our theology, our liturgy, and our commitment to action being drawing from three resources: tradition, scripture, and reason. At the very core of our denomination, we expect to be wrestling with received tradition and with scripture; we expect that God is still talking with us, that we are still learning; we see that the Kingdom of God is not yet here; we know it is our very work as Christians to see where human institutions are at odds with God’s vision for thriving, abundant life in relationship with creation, with God, and with each other. This is the core of what we are called to do, and to be. The Church’s shift from the acceptance of slavery to leading the call for abolitionism is a testimony of engaged Christianity through prayer, Bible study, and action in the world.

All Christians today, no matter their political affiliations, agree that slavery is neither justified nor sanctioned by Christianity. God continues to speak to us through the ages. When we read the Bible we see that God invites us to live abundantly; when we read the Gospels we see Jesus cross every line that separates people; when we read Exodus, we hear God claim God’s people as free people; when we learn descriptions of the abiding love of God we come to see that what was normal and natural in the past is not consistent God’s message. When we come to these conclusions, it is then our duty to insist on changing our social patterns and secular laws. The Abolition Movement convincingly demonstrated that while the Bible does not appear to condemn slavery, commitment to the path of Jesus does in fact call upon us to abolish it. A similar reconsideration is the basis for our church’s affirmation of LGBTQ people, of blessing same-sex marriages, and of the ordination of LGBTQ peoples.

I am so glad that you are listening, that you are “God-wrestling,” struggling with the meaning and application of the word of God, asking questions and challenging what you hear. The Holy Spirit is ever moving God’s people to becoming more merciful, more compassionate, more in line with the ideals of voiced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain, and throughout the Gospels.

Scripture, tradition, and reason are the great gifts that we have to know God and to know how to be God’s people. God is still speaking—may we still be listening.

Jen+

*Note: The impact of slavery and the church and Bible’s place relationship to slavery are much discussed in the Episcopal Church today. A parish in our diocese is running a multi-week study of slavery in the Bible, and there are regularly 40 attendees in the zoom class. Our diocese offers “Sacred Ground” a multi-week course which grapples with race, racism, and the legacy of slavery in our church and in our lives, and every year we are asked on our parochial report to describe how the congregation is engaging questions about slavery, racism, and their legacies in our church. The neighboring diocese of Southern Ohio is offering a course about using stories to introduce the challenges of racism to children. And the Episcopal Church has lesson plans for Bible studies that specifically focus on slavery in the Bible, as well as an overarching commitment to the project of moving toward “beloved community,” that is, creating change as we realize the impact of racism and slavery on the way that we interact and the way that we are church. If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll help you connect.

Connect With Us

Rector’s Office Drop-In Time

Rev. Jen has set her office drop-in day as Wednesday of each week from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. for anyone who would like to stop in and visit. You are always invited to make an appointment for a time convenient for you. Mondays are her Sabbath day. NOTE: No drop-in hours Wednesday, March 13.

The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Sunday Morning In-Person Worship Service, Sunday, March 10, led by the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, 10:15 a.m.

You can stream the service via St. Andrew’s Facebook Page. Click on this link to view the Live Stream. We will start the Live Stream 5 minutes prior to the start of the service.

Click here for the service booklet for March 10.

The Latest Updates

ST. ANDREW’S ANNUAL MEETING 2024

On Sunday, February 25, 2024, St. Andrew’s held its annual meeting. Led by Senior Warden Brian Cox, the meeting was a year-in-review of the parish’s mission, activities, and planning. This document gives a picture of a busy and fruitful year.

The Annual Meeting is also the time for expressing gratitude to lay leaders whose terms have expired, and to welcome those stepping into new roles for the coming year. The body thanked outgoing Senior Warden Brian Cox, Junior Warden Kate Berry, and Vestry-at-Large member Harriet Moore. St. Andrew’s welcomed incoming Senior Warden Karen Hirt Mannon and Junior Warden Jim Ensley, and voted in favor of another two-year term for Vestry-at-Large member Pamalee Smith. The 2023 Vestry voted to reduce the Vestry size from 9 to 6; going forward two Vestry members will rotate off each year. Karen Hirt Mannon and Sue Murray were voted in as Diocesan Convention representatives for the Diocesan Convention November 8-9 in Plainfield.

The Annual Meeting also featured reports from the work of Ministry Groups, giving thanks for their faithful work and coordination of parish life of St. Andrew’s. Click here for Ministry Group and Committee information. For the Annual Meeting Rector’s Summary report, click here.

ADVENT HOUSE UPDATE!

Per Brian Cox, our Advent House community project is exciting and making great headway. The bathroom and new stairs are completed, and lighting is nearly finished. We now need your help to clean and paint the upstairs bedrooms and hallway. Join us, whether as a family or individual, for some good old fashioned fun. No painting expertise necessary; all supplies will be provided in the room. Let’s come together and make a difference for our St. Andrew’s family and community.

Click here to sign up.

TUESDAYS IN LENT

Most weeks, the Tuesday Bible and Book group meet at 4:30 p.m. On these Tuesdays, there is a service of Evening Prayer beginning at 4:00 p.m. Don’t be afraid to join in even if you come late! NOTE: No Bible Group on Tuesday, March 12 or Tuesday, March 26.

WEDNESDAYS IN LENT

This Lent we will have two series that alternate weeks, a movie series with discussion and an introduction to the devotional practice of the Stations of the Cross. A short worship service and a simple meal will be offered at each gathering. The offering will be duplicated at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. so that all have an opportunity to attend. March 6: A River Runs Through It movie and discussion at both times. March 13: Stations of the Cross: Applying Them to Our Lives at both times. Jim Mannon will lead the stations that day. No soup lunch or dinner served at this one, but feel free to bring your own brown bag! March 20: Bonhoeffer movie and discussion at both times. March 27: Stations of the Cross: Devotional Practice at both times.

A SERVICE OF LOSS AND LAMENT: SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 4:00 P.M.

St. Andrew’s will be hosting a community service to reach out to those who have lost children, infant or adult, whether through miscarriage, abortion, still birth, SIDS, illness, addiction, accident, or alienation. This is a service for lament and healing, and will be crafted to be accessible to and comfortable for people with various faith backgrounds. Rev. Jen and community leader and grief counselor, Jai Miranda, are the coordinators. Please reach out to those you know in the community who have suffered loss.

SECOND SUNDAY DISCRETIONARY COLLECTION

Monies in the loose plate collection on the 2nd Sunday of each month go towards Rev. Jen’s Discretionary Fund used to help the less fortunate in Putnam County. NOTE: Sunday, March 10, loose plate offerings will go towards Rev. Jen’s Discretionary fund.

THIS WEEK’S SHOPPING LIST FOR NON-FOOD PANTRY

Please add Adult Pull-Ups Size Large, 4 and 5 year old Children’s Pull-Ups, and boxes of Laundry Sheets to your shopping list for the NFP. The laundry sheets are more popular and desirable especially for the older folk as they are much easier to handle than the bottles of liquid. Meals and conversation in Hamilton Hall are going well. Patrons are now able to pick out items they most need. Your contributions help our budget go farther in helping meet the needs of those in Putnam County. The next Non-Food Pantry will be Saturday, March 30 from noon – 2:00 p.m. Please let us know if you are able to help out in any way. FYI: Baskets at church are now dedicated for the NFP and not the food pantry.

FREE DAILY DEVOTIONAL

We have some large print Day by Day daily devotionals in the sanctuary that you are free to take home for your personal devotions–and if we know that people would like copies, we can order the right amount. Many of you may also appreciate the on-line version of Day to Day. Click here.

ON-GOING COVID PROTOCOL

We continue to respond to both our county’s current CDC designation and to the current variant. Masking is optional. Those who serve bread and wine will mask so that anyone who comes to the altar can feel secure. Decisions on COVID policy have moved from the Reconvening Committee to Rev. Jen and the Wardens.

Prayers and Reflections for This Week

We have heard that the daily reflections and scripture readings provided during Lent were appreciated. The meditations are written by persons from Gobin UMC and Beech Grove UMC. They will be in the newsletter each week and go from Wednesday to Tuesday, except for Sunday. Whether you enjoy these every day or as the Spirit moves you, may this resource continue to bring you spiritual food for the journey. Blessings!

Click here to view the readings and accompanying links.

Non-Food Pantry Latest

Saturday, March 30

• Noon to 2:00 p.m.
There will be a distribution in Hamilton Hall and light lunches will be served inside. We are grateful for all those who have worked so hard to obtain supplies for the Non-Food Pantry. Items are having to be purchased from a variety of sources making it much more expensive. Donations to help offset this extra cost will be gratefully accepted!

Top 3 Needed Items
  • Adult Pull-Ups Size Large

  • 4 and 5 Year Old Children’s Pull-Ups

  • Laundry Detergent Sheets in boxes

Your prayers are asked for:

Haile Bane, grandson of Joanne Haymaker
Beth Benedix, friend to many of us at St. Andrew’s
Sharon Bone, friend of Emily Knuth
Chance Charters, friend of the Majors family
The family of Mandy Charters, friend of the Majors family
Adam Cohen, friend of St. Andrew’s
Clara Copeland, friend of Jen+
Anita Edenfield, friend of Skip Sutton
Sharon Ellett, friend of Joanne Haymaker
Bob Fatzinger, brother of Barbara Pare
Carole Greenawald
Thad Jones, brother of Steve Jones
Lisa Breese Kincaid, daughter of Bob & Mimi Breese
Don Marple, brother of Martha Rainbolt
Mary Mountz
Tom Mullen, father of Patti Harmless
Marilyn & Leo Nelson, sister & brother-in-law of Joanne Haymaker
Sarah Oldstone, sister-in-law of Jen+

Elizabeth & Natalie Sheffler, daughter & granddaughter of Page & Narda Cotton
Gloria Smith
Skip Sutton
Karen Swalley, friend of Thom & Gwen Morris
The family of Sydnor Thompson, brother of Harriet Moore
The family of Marion Visoskas, sister of Pat Baylis
Deb Wilder, sister of Connie Macy
Dwight Ziegler, uncle of Stephanie Gurnon
Kat and family, friend of Jen+
& Chris

Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: St. Paul’s, Evansville: the Rev. Holly Rankin Zaher and the Rev. Sue Gahagan.

Our companion dioceses: The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil: The Most Rev. Mauricio Jose Araujo De Andrade, Primate of Brazil and Bishop of Brasilia. The people and Diocese of Haiti and Saint Andre’s in Mithon.

Anglican Cycle of Prayer: The Episcopal Church.

Birthdays: None.

Anniversaries: None.

Special Events and Services

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