Homecoming Sunday is a tradition at St. Paul’s, Richmond. For years, you have gathered on the Sunday after Labor Day to celebrate your heritage as a community of faith in downtown Richmond. If we have learned anything in our short tenure at St. Paul’s, it is the fierce attachment and devotion most of you have for your church home on 815 E. Grace Street. We hear the aching and longing in your voices when you say, “I miss my church!” It is indeed a painful time of exile from our church home as we have known it.
Not even a pandemic, though, can stop the tradition.
We will celebrate Homecoming Sunday at St. Paul’s on Sunday, September 13th at a 10:00 a.m., live-streamed service. Even though we won’t be able to gather physically, we trust that this Homecoming Sunday is a holy opportunity to re-imagine our church home not only as a physical location, but as a spiritual center out of which we exercise our individual and collective calls to be bearers of Good News.
We are reminded of Jesus’ reply to his would-be followers: “’Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Matthew 8:18). Jesus was homeless. He was an itinerant preacher, who went out into the world and sent his disciples to do the same. Whether in a stable, the desert, the stormy seas, on the mountain top, down by the river, wandering city streets, in the city or the countryside, Jesus was at home in every place he visited and with each person he encountered—including the poor, sick, outcasts, criminals, oppressed and marginalized. Jesus would not be pinned down to a single location. Christ’s home, then, is made real wherever and whenever we lean into Christ’s commandment to “love others as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
Let this strange homecoming, then, celebrate the life-giving, liberating presence of Christ that has animated St. Paul’s for 175 years. We miss being together with you in our church and, in God’s good time, we will gather in the sanctuary at St. Paul’s for a glorious homecoming. Until then, know that we are here for you. Know, also, of our deep appreciation for the opportunity to serve as your team of clergy.
We are thankful for you and for the ministry that we all share.
Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation in the church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.
Blessings and peace,
The Rev. Charles Dupree, Rector
The Rev. Gwynn Crichton, Associate for Pastoral Care
The Rev. Rainey Dankel, Associate for Parish Life