St. Peter's Episcopal Church
St. Peter’s Mission Statement:
“God is calling the community of St. Peter’s Parish to live, worship and serve according to Christ’s word and example.”
The following is a list of our current active ministries. We encourage everyone to consider how you might participate, whether you are a member of our church or not. We strive to identify and address a variety of real needs in our community, from hunger to clothing to prayerful reflection. If you are interested in joining these efforts, please contact the church at [email protected].
Front Porch “Take a Coat, Leave a Coat”
For years, St Peter’s has addressed the need in our community for warm clothing from September through April. We encourage the community to donate coats, hats, gloves, and shoes, especially during these cold winter months. The clothing rack is located on our Cloister and available to the public 24/7. We have had great success in getting these items to those in need and are grateful for the many donations.
We are members of the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council. We work with people from other faith communities on local and national concerns: homelessness, racism, poverty, and in 2022 resettling Afghan families in our town.
In collaboration with other members of the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council, we sponsor and prepare “Sunday Suppers”. These suppers provide meals that are served weekly from the Second Congregational Church to the needy in our community. During COVID these meals are “take-out”’ rather than served in person.
The Pause Place
In 2020, St Peter’s built a small shelter on our front lawn for the community to pray, add prayers, and take prayer cards. These prayers from the community are gathered and we include them in our Sunday services.
A group of yarn lovers knit or crochet for the glory of God throughout the year despite not being able to gather the majority of COVID-tide. This group has made hats, mittens, chemo hats, preemie hats for developing nations, baby blankets, and prayer shawls. These items carry God’s love and caring in situations of pain, joy or sorrow. Shawls are blessed by our priest during a service. It is estimated that over 400 prayer shawls have been knitted and distributed to date by this devoted group. Knitted items are available on request.
“We See and Thank You” Cookies
The bakers of St Peter’s have reached out to essential workers during COVID to express appreciation for their work supporting and protecting our community. Cookies and cards have been distributed to teachers, firefighters, bus drivers, healthcare workers, and others.
During the pandemic, we mourn the loss of so many. Once the nation reached 500,000 fatalities, we felt the need to create a memorial and a lasting reminder to the community of the great toll COVID has taken on us. We installed a sign on our front yard which is updated weekly with the number of deaths from COVID and it also includes a message of hope.
Our community values inclusion. In 2020, we started a variety of efforts to educate, converse, learn, and share the impacts of racism in Bennington. We have offered book club and film discussions, neighborhood walks and vigils, and signs to promote the messages of anti-racism. Last year, members of St Peter’s participated with the wider community during the painting of the Black Lives Matter mural on South Street. In addition, we have held two all-day African American hair braiding salons in our parish hall, led by a stylist from Brattleboro. Since there are no local stylists who can do this, these salon days helped to make several of young community members feel confident and beautiful.
In 2020, St. Peter’s joined the national Stephen Ministry organization and sponsored two people to complete the course to become Stephen Ministers. Stephen Ministry provides the structure, resources, tools and training to guide lay caregivers to provide care for those who are hurting. You learn to walk with a person in a hurting situation such as grief, loss of a job, divorce. Training is available.
St. Peter’s supports a wide Outreach Ministry by providing financial support to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund (ERD), and other world wide ministries. In addition, a number of local community efforts are financially supported.
Daughters of the King
Daughters of the King is a religious order of women who take a life vow to live by the Rule of the Order. The Rule of the Order requires a spiritual discipline of daily prayer, service and evangelism. The mission of the order is the extension of Christ’s Kingdom through prayer, service and evangelism.
St Peter’s has an active congregational life, offering meaningful opportunities for leadership in fellowship and worship. We offer a creative liturgical philosophy that responds to the life of the people. Parish members serve regularly as intercessors, lectors, ushers, Eucharistic ministers, Altar Guild members and more. Our youngest members are welcome to become serve as well.
Members of this team participate in worship training and receive licenses to lead worship. Some attend Sermon Camp and are licensed to preach. The team has provided the congregation with a variety of services in the absence of a priest – Celtic service, Morning Prayer, Ante Communion services, and Healing services.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE AT ST PETER’s
Acolytes carry candles, light and extinguish candles, carry banners, carry the cross, hold the Book of Gospels, serve the celebrant during the Holy Eucharist, and become leaders for the congregation in worship experiences. Recruiting and training of new acolytes occurs throughout the year. These are wonderful opportunities for children over eight years old.
Intercessors and Lectors
Lectors/Intercessors are lay people who read the designated scripture and lead the Prayers of the People during worship.
Eucharistic Ministers are lay people who administer the chalice of wine during communion. Eucharistic Ministers are licensed by the Diocese.
The Altar Guild assists the clergy in preparation for liturgical celebrations. Members of the Altar Guild are responsible for the care of the vessels, candles, linens, hangings, vestments, and decorations for the Holy Eucharist and for special services. Altar Guild members serve on a rotating schedule.
Our Pastoral Care ministry supplements the pastoral care given by our Priest. This is an opportunity for baptized Episcopalians to live out their baptismal vow that makes each person a minister. From preparing food to prayers, there are many areas to serve.
Ushers and Health Officers
The ushers of St. Peter’s are responsible for assisting people in finding seats for services. They distribute the service bulletins to people who come to attend services. The ushers collect the peoples’ offerings and bring the offering plates to the altar during the service. Men and women are ushers at St. Peter’s, and young people often assist the adults in this ministry. During COVID, people serve as Health Officers to ensure people are masked and maintaining safe distances.
In early 2022 the Bylaws of St Peter’s were changed to state the Vestry shall consist of not fewer than three (3) and no more than twelve (12) members serving a 3-year term on a rotating basis. Election(s) shall ordinarily take place at the Annual Meeting, but whenever it is deemed necessary or desirable, such election may take place at a special Parish meeting, properly convened, of which due notice has been given to the voting members of the Parish.