Office hours generally are M/W 12 to 2:30 and T/Th 12 to 4:30  

Interim/ Supply Priest/ Morning Prayer Schedule:

Dec 4 – Morning Prayer

Dec 11 – Ron Johnson

Dec 18 – Robert Davenport

Dec 24 – Christmas Eve, 5:30 pm & 11 pm, Robert Davenport

Dec 25 – Christmas Service, 9:00 am– Robert Davenport

Jan 1 - TBD

Dear Friends and Members of Grace Church,

I look forward to being with you once again on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18th and the services on Christmas Eve and Day. I understand from your excellent Senior Warden, Anne Walker, that your search for a new rector is progressing along well, and that life in your beautiful surroundings is as nice as ever. In the meantime I feel I have been away for quite sometime and have written the following to update you on my whereabouts.

My daughter, Penelope, and I just returned from Embangweni, Malawi. It was her first trip to Africa. A twenty-year relationship with the Diocese of Northern Malawi, and one of seven years with the Embangweni Primary School for the Deaf has taken my wife, Lizzy, and me there a number of times.  One of the joys for me on this trip was to spend time with Penelope and to see her reactions. Another was that Lizzy’s son David, and his wife, Anna, had a daughter, Willa, born while we were away. Lizzy was with them and their other child, Felix.

There were other joys. One of the primary purposes of this trip was to work with the local leadership on their progress with the new Embangweni Secondary School for the Deaf.  It was gratifying to see that the first and only secondary school for the deaf in the country is thriving in its second year. It was started by local initiative and is supported locally and by the Malawian government, while started by funds we raised primarily in the United States. We were encouraged by the new life breathed into the primary school with their new Head Teacher, and by the good spirit at St. Matthews Anglican Church, Embangweni. With a new priest, Father Banda, they are joining a start-up congregation in Jenda, a nearby community, to form a new parish.

Penelope and I were busy. We went to services at St. Matthew’s Church, and St. Paul’s, Jenda where the Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Fanuel Magangani, joined us.  We attended classes at the Embangweni Secondary School for the Deaf and the Primary School for the Deaf. We practiced our Malawian Sign Language, and learned some Chechewa and Tumbuka phrases and words.  We took long walks with children and teachers, played football (American soccer) and basketball.  We dined on rice and beans, greens, fish, and mashed potatoes, and drank instant coffee and Malawian tea. We had a celebration and variety show with the secondary school. We went to dinner, introducing the Bishop to the new director of USAID in Malawi and his wife who are from Norfolk. We swam in Lake Malawi, viewed sea eagles and chased lake flies from a colorful, handmade wooden boat. We walked through the game park in the capital city of Lilongwe. We flew for hours in airplanes, and drove some more to get there and back. We washed in hot water that smelled like smoke, and often read by candlelight when the electricity failed. It was wonderful. It always is. 

On the way home, Penelope and I were talking about our visit.  We discussed why we went on such trips and whom were we really serving? Is this about some sort of benevolence work or is it a spiritual tourism that makes us feel better about ourselves? Or perhaps is something else at work?  Were we making a difference to anyone, or is that even the point? Should we be going so far when there is so much need outside our own front doors? Is it possible for us who are seemingly in power by virtue of our race, nationality, and wealth to be the guest, listeners, learners and receivers? Could we ever really be part of this community even if only for a short time?

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. We were in one of the poorer areas.  To be deaf in such an environment complicates dynamics even more so. Life is not easy for the great majority of Malawians. It is a subsistence lifestyle for most everyone. Towards the end of our discussions Penelope basically said, “I was ready for the poverty and the living conditions.  I knew that there had been droughts and that people were really on edge about it. With the deafness, sign language, and variety of cultures I knew that communication would be difficult. I knew that the traveling would be tedious, the weather hot, the accommodations and diet more stoic than our norm. I knew that Church services and meetings would seem endless.  I knew that almost all the people had no electricity, plumbing or much else. I knew that we would be in a very foreign culture. I knew it would be a challenge, but what I didn’t know is it would be so much fun!”

She hit the nail on the head. There is a certain “in spite of it” quality to life for people in Northern Malawi.  In spite of all the ambiguities and difficulties, there exists a joy that emerges for those who have the patience and eyes to see it.  

The American Book of Common Prayer has a thanksgiving for the Diversity of Races and Cultures. It states in another way what Penelope so clearly articulated in her way. It reads as follows:

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you

for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world.

Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and

show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until

our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all

your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 There is a certain “in spite of it” quality to life for all of us everywhere. In spite of all life’s discrepancies there exists a joy that emerges for those who have the patience and eyes to see it.  Bishop Magangani visits Norfolk often. He arrives in Norfolk once again this May. It will be wonderful. It always is.

A dear childhood friend of mine has died, so I will attend a memorial for him in Kentucky and then drive the six hours there on the 17th.  In spite of that sadness, it will be wonderful to see you the next day.



Message from the Search Committee

The Search Committee would like to thank all those who participated in the discernment exercises completed in October.  From the information gathered, the Search Committee and Vestry, aided by the Finance Committee, were able to create a draft "Ministry Portfolio." Ultimately, the Ministry Portfolio is viewed by potential candidates - a means to determine whether a candidate might be interested in serving as our rector. Our draft was provided to the Rev. Jonathan Harris, Office of Transition Ministry. The next step in the search process will be our receiving of names (a listing of potential candidates).  According to Rev. Harris, with the Holiday Season approaching, potential candidates may not declare an interest until early 2017. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the search process. I thank you for your patience and wish you all the best in the days to come.


Christmas Gift for Robert Davenport

Traditionally Grace parishioners contribute toward a monetary Christmas gift for our rector.  During this time of transition with Robert Davenport as our temporary interim, we would like to do something a little different. Because of Robert's long term commitment and service to the African diocese of Malawi we would like to make a donation to them in his honor.  As many of you know, Robert is presently on a short mission trip there now.  The article below describes his and Lizzy's service to the deaf in Malawi over the years. If you would like to contibute to this gift, please identify it as "gift for rector" and place it in the offering plate or send/take it to Grace office by December 21. We will present an acknowledgement of this gift to Robert at the Christmas Eve service.

Robert and Lizzy will return to Radford for the week of December 18-25.  We will have regular services with Robert on Sunday, December 18, Christmas Eve (5:30 and 11pm), and 9am Christmas Day.  

 Thank you,

Grace Vestry


Stewardship Update

As our stewardship campaign winds down we presently have only 60% of last year's pledges. To date we have 33 pledges of $93,440.  Thank you to those who have already pledged.  We hope that others will be moved to do so as well.  Having a realistic budget figure is vital as we look to the future with a new rector and continuing our present ministries at Grace. 

Any questions please call Tim Walker  639-9266.


Grace Rooms Update

Since David’s retirement and the congregational vote to continue with our homeless mission, a committee to oversee our program was established. The members are Jennifer Hand, Betty Lee, Lee Slusher, Margaret Sproule, and Ann Walker. We developed a new Guest Agreement Form, revised several rules, and agreed to host a maximum of two (2) guests while we are without a permanent priest. Following a team approach and sharing responsibilities, the mission continues to be successful; however, more involvement from the congregation will be required in the New Year. We need more folks to assist with simple jobs that require only a small amount of time, from as little as a weekly phone call or visit to 1 ½ hours once or twice a month. You have a strong group enjoying each other and would welcome more members. Please prayerfully consider joining us.

December Mission: WRC and Grace Rooms

Like last year, we will purchase Kroger gift and gas cards for the women and children at the Women’s Resource Center as well as do the same for our Grace Rooms guests. Please write December Mission on the memo line of your checks or feel free to purchase cards in $25 amounts. Please give the cards to me or leave with Christine in the office. All donations are due no later than December 19. Grace Church always awakens the spirit of Christmas to women and children in the New River Valley. I know you will this year, too. Thank you in advance for your generosity and helping those struggling to move toward independence and escape the fear of violence.

Please put “December Monthly Mission/WRC/Grace Rooms” on your donation check.

Christmas Blessings and Peace to all,

Lee Slusher

639-1327 if questions

Thanks from Elf Shelf!

With your help, 378 children received toys and gifts and 241 families received food vouchers this year.  Thank you for the many ways you helped make this happen!   

Saturday, December 17th - Keep the date – 10 am

We need volunteers to decorate the church for Christmas on Saturday, December 17th at 10 am.  The greenery needs to be hung and lights put on the tree.  The chrismons will be added by the congregation at the services on the 24th.  

The Altar Guild will be polishing the silver and brass and making swags for the doors.  

Come and help decorate our beautiful church for Christmas.  There will be coffee and cake!

If you have questions please call Diana Jordan.


January Clothing Bank Volunteer Sign Up

It is that time of year again!!!  We need volunteers to cover the clothing bank in January.  

There are 2 shifts on Thursday, 

10AM to Noon

4PM to 6PM.  

On Friday and Saturday 

10AM to Noon.  

Hours to suit all schedules!  There will be a sign up sheet in the Parish Hall.  We are small in number but big in mission!


Time to Order Christmas Poinsettias

It’s Time again! Time to order the Christmas Poinsettias for Grace Church.

If you would like to contribute to this part of our celebration in memory of, in honor of, or in thanksgiving for, a person or presence in your life, please fill out the order form and return it to the church office or leave it in the offering plate. 

All contributions received over and above the actual cost of the flowers will go to support the mission of Grace Episcopal Church. Order forms need to be turned into the office by Thur., Dec. 15th

For more information call Diana Jordan (540-639-0809) 





Can You Help?

If you can do one of the following, please contact the office:

o   Someone to take over the Acolytes


Coupon Exchange Box – Now in the Parish Hall

Allison Willey has set up a coupon exchange box in the Parish Hall.  She has discontinued the coupons for Baby Products and Pet Products since it did not appear that any were being taken.  Feel free to add to the coupon collection and to take what you need from the coupon collection.  If you have questions contact, Allison.


Newsletter – January

Grace Notes is published weekly by email and blog post. The Monthly January Newsletter will be published the last week of December or the first week of January.  If you have news, local events, recipes, humor or other items you would like to contribute to the Newsletter or the weekly Grace Notes, please send it in to the office. 


Weekly Roles

Thank you to all who participate in the weekly roles on Sunday. Weekly Roles are on the bulletin board and in Grace Notes.  A calendar of weekly roles is also kept online.  If you are unable to serve during the dates and/or times listed please see if you can trade dates or times with someone and let the office know of the change.

 We have several Sundays coming up that have no Coffee Hour hosts.  Please contact the office if you are willing to host Coffee Hour. 

December 2016


Coffee Hour       

Dec 11 – Bette Wright            

Dec 18 – Ann Walker              

Dec 25 – Group Effort           

Jan 1 - TBD         

 DECEMBER Altar Guild:         Phyllis Semple, Sherri Carper, Jennifer Hand, Beth Gaspard

 JANUARY 2017 Altar Guild:         Penny Sweet, Louise Johnson, Joy Hottenstein


December 11th – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Ron Johnson

Chalicer               8 am Bob Himmel                    11 am – Sarah Himmel

Lector                  8 am – Paula Downs               11 am – Ann Walker

Server                  Hannah Brockway

Acolyte                 Mark Johnston

Counters              Bette Wright & Hank Johnson


December 18th – 4th Sunday of Advent

Robert Davenport

Chalicer               8 am - Michael Cluver             11 am – Tim Walker

Lector                   8 am – Bob Himmel                11 am – Mark Carper

Server                  Mark Johnston

Acolyte                 Hannah Brockway

Counters              Ann Walker & Diana Jordan


December 24th – Christmas Eve – 5:30 pm & 11 pm

Please call the office if you can fill one of these slots

Robert Davenport

Chalicer               ___________________5:30      Mark Carper                  11  

Lector                  ___________________5:30   Beth Gaspard                   11  

Server                  ___________________5:30   _____________________11        

Crucifer               ___________________5:30      ____________________11     

Acolyte                 ___________________5:30      ______________________11     


December 25th – Nativity of Our Lord (one service @ 9:00 am)

Robert Davenport

Chalicer               9 am - Tim Walker

Lector                   9 am – Sarah Himmel

Server                  Hannah Brockway

Acolyte                 Mark Johnston

Counters              Terry Nester & Tyler Will


January 1st– The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ


Lay Reader           8 am & 11 am – TBD

Lector                   8 am – Bob Himmel                11 am – Sarah Himmel

Server                  Mark Johnston

Acolyte                 Hannah Brockway

Counters              Penny Sweet & Lee Slusher 

 If you can’t serve that day, please find a substitute and contact the office with the change.  People are often willing to switch or fill in given enough advanced notice. If you would like to serve and are not on the lists, please contact Ann Walker about how to participate. (Adults can also be Servers, Crucifers and Acolytes.)


Flowers for the Altar

The Flower 2016 Sign up is on the bulletin board next to the Altar Guild Room in the Parish Hall or you may call the office.  

Altar Flowers from Northside Flowers:

          One Sunday - $25

          Two Sundays - $40

Contact Northside Flowers (540-639-9351) to order flowers and contact the office to place the dedication in the bulletin. 


 St. Nicholas Day Appeal:

This year, twenty percent of donations made will be given to help complete the Sharon Bryant Memorial Garden at St. Paul's, Bear Mountain, in our diocese. Before her death in 2015, Sharon served as Chief of the Monacan Nation and was a Candidate for Holy Orders. Eighty percent will be given to the Episcopal Deanery of Central Plateau in the Diocese of Haiti. Many of our parishes support schools and mission in this area, and two deputations from the diocese have visited this year. 

As you know, this appeal makes it possible for our diocese to annually make substantial financial grants to a variety of ministries and missions. I would ask that parishes participate in the success of this annual appeal by verbally announcing it, even this Sunday, and including the bulletin-ready materials received next week in service leaflets and newsletters during the remainder of Advent and through Epiphany leading up to our Annual Convention.

Invitation to the Ninety-Eighth Annual Convention  

January 27--29, 2017   

Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center
110 Shenandoah Ave NW, Roanoke, VA 24016

November 28, 2016


Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry regularly describes our baptized call to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as a "movement." This emphasis reminds us that following Jesus is not a spectator sport. Christians are to be on the move for sake of the Gospel and for the sake of others. Each year at our annual gathering in convention, I have focused on our becoming the missional church. Joining the Holy Spirit's ever-expanding mission into the world is our work.

As a diocesan family, we must continue to build networks of relationship with each other so that we widen our circles of engagement with new neighbors. Our guests this year will be the Rev. Noé Bernier and the Rev. Dwight Zscheile. Noé is the Archdeacon of the Central Plateau in the Diocese of Haiti. He will be our preacher on Friday evening and a workshop leader on Saturday. The Rev. Dwight Zscheile,our 2016 keynote speaker, will be with us again this year as a coach and workshop leader in our new initiative of Living Local: Joining God.

As always, our work in building common mission will happen in the midst of joyous worship and good Christian fellowship. I look forward to celebrating our annual family reunion.


The Rt. Rev. Mark A. Bourlakas

We're looking forward to seeing you at the Ninety-Eighth Annual Convention!

Links to online Convention registration and the form for submitting a resolution are posted on the diocesan website. Other Convention-related materials will also be posted there as they become available prior to the January convocation meetings.


If you know of other events that might be of interest to other parishioners please let the office ( know the details and they can appear right here.

Mondays/Fridays – AA meets at 8 pm

Christmas Cantata – December 18th, 7 pm

You are invited to hear the choir of the Radford Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saintssinging the Christmas Cantata by Bruce Naylor at 7 pm on Sunday, December 18th at 900 Pendleton Street, Radford, VA.  Following the program, refreshments will be served.

The Parish Secretary and her daughters will be singing with the choir.


Pulaski High School Presents “Elf, Jr.”

December 16 (7:30), 17 (7:30) & 18 (2:30)

December 29 (7:30), 30 (7:30) & 31 (2:30)




 Now until Dec 14 – 16 Hands, Art Museum, Covington


Dec 8 – RU Jazz Ensembles Concert, 7:30 pm, Covington

Dec 9 – RU Choral Ensembles Benefit Concert, 7:30 pm, St. Andrews Church, Roanoke

Jan 31 – Feb 9 – GASA Show, RU Art Museum Downtown

Feb 2 – Mar 3 – Ed LeShock: A Retrospective

Feb 7 – Faculty Recital, Robert Trent, Guitar, 7:30, Covington

Feb 9 – Faculty Recital, Dayl Burnett, trombone & Wayne Gallops, piano, 7:30 pm, Covington

Feb 13 – Spring Honors Recital, 7:30 pm, Covington

Feb 14 – 23 – Student Drawing Show, RU Art Museum Downtown

Feb 22 – Faculty Recital, Kwan Yi, piano, 7:30 pm, Covington

Feb 27 – RU Mid-Winter Choral Concert, 7:30 pm, Covington

Feb 28 – Mar 16 – Student Watercolor Show, RU Art Museum Downtown


Trading Fours, February 26, 3 pm

With the Virginia Tech Symphony Band and Enloe High School Wind Ensemble. Featuring Carol Jantsch, tuba, Alan Weinstein, cello & Jason Crafton, trumpet.