FROM THE RECTOR February 16, 2017

In Thanksgiving for St. Luke’s Scouting Ministry, Troop 654


"We pledge by means of prayer, witness, and example to help our children grow in their capacity to serve Christ by loving their neighbors, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of every person. Scouting does all of that."

—Tuck Bowerfind, Rector, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Alexandria


"The God and Country program really made me think about my relationship with God and made me evaluate it."

—Harrison Smith, Scout, Troop 654


"Scouting reinforces the central principles of faith for my sons: Love God, and honor God through the way you treat others as you yourself would want to be treated."

—Amy Smith, Scout Parent, Troop 654


"Scouting has helped me discover the amazing works of creation while making true and lasting friendships!” Sam Meadows,Star Scout , Troop 654 


"Go forth into the darkness and place your hand in the hand of God.  It will be safer than a marked trail, and better than a known path.” Ed Harn, former Troop 654 Scoutmaster. As recalled more than 6o years later by Skip MacMichael, former 654 Scout, this was Scoutmaster Harn’s regular closing campfire prayer back in the day.



As you can tell from some of these personal quotes, Scouting is more than just an activity for our youth to learn about the outdoors. Scouting is truly a holistic ministry that provides spiritual growth through fun, fellowship, and training in practical life skills to youth in our community. It emphasizes honesty, self-reliance, and respect. Through a year-round program, it affects character, citizenship, personal fitness, and gratitude toward God.


St. Luke’s has chartered Troop 654 since the 1950’s. We provide space for Troop 654 to meet every Monday night, a home base for their outings, and worship space for their Eagle ceremonies. We renew the charter annually because of the wonderful spirit and character of the people who populate the program and make it work.  Like all church programs, the success of Troop 654 depends on faithful adult volunteers, who serve in a variety of leadership roles so that our young people may benefit from our Scouting ministry. Over 39 adult volunteers give their time so more than 50 boys in Troop 654 will be involved in a quality program. Merit badge counselors help Scouts learn more about vocations and hobbies. Volunteers serve behind the scenes on committees so that community organizations using the Scouting program can find the best leadership possible for the youth related to their organizations. Volunteers see that regional camps have necessary physical facilities and that all Scouting activities meet the high health and safety standards of their national organizations. 


We salute the splendid volunteers who mentor Girls and Boys in Scouting throughout the National Capital region and want to offer a special prayer and word of thanks for the leaders of Troop 654: Bill Hanna, Troop master, Randall Neal, Committee Chair, Bill Shute, St. Luke’s Representative, Brad Smith, prospective Troop master.




Relax, refresh, and renew! A free offering to the community....

St. Luke’s is offering a weekly one-hour class on meditation and contemplative prayer in the Library starting at 3:30 pm on Friday, January 13.  These free classes, open to members of St. Luke’s and the community at large, will be guided by Caroline Altmann.   Join us to learn and practice two forms of contemplation – mindfulness, which focuses on awareness, and metta meditation, which focuses on opening the heart to loving kindness.   Both can be therapeutic and contribute to a variety of positive health indicators including lower blood pressure and stress and a stronger immune system.  Everyone is welcome to participate once in a while or regularly. 

From the Rector: reflections on 2016 and some thoughts about 2017: Rector's Report 2016

God bless St. Luke’s Church and all who worship within its walls. With God’s help may we ever seek to grow this fellowship of love through our prayer, our friendliness, and our unceasing labor with Christ.  Thus may God’s will be done through us on earth as in heaven, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

As we come to the beginning of a new year, it is my pleasure to share some reflections on the past year and some thoughts about the year to come.

As for several years now, the 2008 Comprehensive Building Plan for renewing the physical fabric of our building an grounds, and the companion 2010 Learning Team initiative to renew the human fabric of the parish, provided direction for St. Luke’s in 2016 and should remain relevant for the coming year.

Including the abiding sense that, despite the many challenges to accomplishing it, God is calling us to grow into a program size congregation of about 225-250 ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) with 200 households contributing to our operating budget.  We currently remain on the plateau between pastoral and program size, about 180 ASA with about 150 households contributing to our budget.

Our belief in God’s call to grow is not simply about getting bigger.  One of the things so many of us love about St. Luke’s is that we are a small enough community that we can actually recognize most people if we make the effort.  In fact our enjoyment of life in our current context is probably the biggest obstacle to growth.  We like the way things are.  Life is good at St. Luke’s.  But life as it is falls short of what we should be able to accomplish, what God is calling us to accomplish.  Our recent Stewardship Campaign is an example.  The campaign was fabulous.  Through Tom Hargrove’s leadership and the work of the stewardship Committee, Vestry and staff, we articulated a clear case for why we needed more resources: Grace, Kate, and Susan.

What wonderful new energy and vision have been brought to us through Grace Pratt, Kate Weber-Petrova, and Susan Bentley.  The joy they each take in their work increases our joy as a parish.  Keeping joy in God’s service alive and bright is perhaps the single most important work of every Christian.  It is essential spiritual work for all parish leaders and members.  

Being able to more nearly compensate our clergy and lay staff for the work they do posed a great challenge.  And nearly 150 households stepped up to that challenge because, I believe, they share joy in God’s love and the desire to expand that joy into the lives of others making the world and our lives better.

St. Lukers don’t need to grow in numbers to do this work.  We already have many wonderful vital ministries that give full expression to God’s purpose among us.

The scope and vitality of our Outreach ministries under Zelda Shute’s joy filled leadership is unparalleled. Our ministries are hugely important to so many in our community.  Many of our ministries include people recruited from outside of St. Luke’s.  And I hope we all appreciate the importance of this.  For as important as it is that we help those in need, there is no work given to human beings that is not better accomplished with friends than it is alone.  It is so important that we expand friendship with God and each other and help others find their purpose as active, contributing partners in God’s community of love and prayer. 

Our Christian Formation, Fellowship, and Worship ministries, including Choirs, Worship Guilds, Sunday School, Day School, and Boy Scout Troop, study groups such as St. Catherine’s Guild, Saturday Bible Study, Thursday Morning Prayer, Old Town Irregulars, Historical Jesus, Life, Community, and Faith, Ladies First, Men’s Steak and Beer,  Fish Groups, flower and meal delivery teams attest to our ability and desire to organize around our faith that God wants every person to be supported in a safe, loving environment and to grow into the full stature of Christ: in the knowledge of God and in fulfillment of their promise as a human being made in God’s image and set in a community. 

Even so, many of our ministries struggle to find the people necessary to fully accomplish their goals.  A few more Sunday School teachers and a few more students would make Sunday school less of a duty and more of a joy.

$50,000 more in our annual budget would allow us to give health care to our organist and secure the help of a part time sexton to help with some of the elements of managing our building and grounds.

Another $50,000 would enable us to fulfill a 10% pledge to the Diocese, 1% for our local Episcopal Mission, and 1% for theological education without compromising on the compensation of our staff.

We could certainly ask existing members to dig deeper for that money.  To give more of their time and talent.  But the better solution is the one God is challenging us to achieve – include more people within the fellowship of love we share at St. Luke's, expand the circle of friends.

50 more active households in the parish would provide the human and capital resources to more fully accomplish our ministries, and with some intentional effort we could still recognize, know and care for each other. 

The single most important factor in parishes that grow is the broadly shared commitment among the members and leaders of the parish to consider and care about people who are not currently members without neglecting to inspire, organize and care for those who are.  

Once we have done the heart and soul work that refocuses our attention on people who are not already here, the growth that inspires and eludes us might be as simple as a broadly shared commitment from every small group of friends and every existing ministry team to reorganize to include one or a few new members, especially members who are new to St. Luke’s, and to keep an opening in the system, an open chair at every gathering, and open eye and heart for the person that might be willing to join the group if asked and encouraged and made welcome.

Growth might be something as simple as each of us taking the time to meet one new person each month and really care about who they are, what makes them tick.  It might be as simple as inviting one friend, neighbor, or family member to church with you with enough persistence that one day they say yes, and then you ask them to come again with enough persistence that they say yes. And to ask them because you truly believe they will make St. Luke’s better and St. Luke’s has something to offer that will enrich their lives as well.

Earlier I mentioned the 2008 Comprehensive Building Plan which provided the basis for the last Capital Campaign, the renovations of our Kitchen, Day School Classrooms, and the building of the beautiful reredos. The Building plan is rooted in the belief that beautiful, gracious, useful, efficient, safe and secure facilities are a great strength from which we perform God’s ministry and inspire others to participate in God’s work.  

We have long known that the next steps in the plan include the Parish Hall renovation to provide more appropriate and gracious spaces for the many groups that want to meet for work, fellowship, and celebrations at St. Luke’s.  Upgrading building envelope, lighting, heating and cooling systems will ensure continuity of ministry and efficient use of resources.  Lighting our parking areas and grounds will make the facility safer, more attractive and inviting for our many evening programs.  Redesigning and resourcing the median in the parking with power and water will support existing programs and inspire new ones. And I agree with our Vestry that it is time this year for us to seriously consider taking these next steps.

Finally, a word about the Sabbatical. The Sabbatical ahead of us is for deepening our experience and reservoir of joy.  My time away, beginning the day after Pentecost, June 5 and concluding All Saints Day Sunday November 4, will include the opportunity to take a couple of silent retreats to reconnect with God who waits in the silent solitude of our souls.  I will take time to loll around with my family, my wife and children.  I will spend nearly a month in Jerusalem, my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  And through all this I will be keeping my mind open in search for living saints, people in everyday life who seem activated and alive to the joy of the love of God. 

It is my deep hope that every member of St. Luke’s will likewise stay awake to and reconnect with their joy in knowing and serving God. Let’s encourage one another to discover and follow joy.  And let’s continually look for ways to include others in our joy in worshipping and growing in understanding and service of God’s love.  St. Luke’s is populated by so many living saints – exemplars of contagious joy, including Grace, Kate, Susan, and people like vestry members Judy Bryan and Joe Manous, outreach chair Zelda Shute, stewardship chair Tom Hargrove, wardens Don Hazen, and Cathy McPeek.   There are so many others.

Rooted in the joy of God’s love, I know we can realize God’s call to us to revitalize our mission of faith and incorporate vital new members into our historic fellowship of love, prayer, and service.  In 2017 let’s recommit ourselves, and our lives to connecting with and expressing the joy of God’s love and finding ways of including new friends in the work we love.

May God continue to bless St. Luke’s Church and all who worship within its walls. With God’s help may we continue to grow this fellowship of love through our prayer, our friendliness, and our unceasing labor with Christ.  Thus may God’s will be done through us on earth as in heaven, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



Renewal Works: A Great Conversation to join

Dear friend,

God knows we need help to become the people we want to be.  The Holy Spirit gathers the church as a community of friends to help, cooperate, and support one another in becoming more like our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Jesus was about the least “churchy” person imaginable.  But he was a great friend, companion, help, who challenged his friends to love God and love one another and their neighbors, and to show that love in down to earth human ways - by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted, and enjoying all manner of good things together. At heart enjoying this down to earth, loving, life-long walk with God and one another is what church and spiritual life and growth is all about.  

While exploring ways to use this Sabbatical year to help us enjoy our relationship with God and one another, the Vestry discovered Renewal Works.  Forward Movement developed Renewal Works for the Episcopal Church to help congregations grow spiritually. Renewal Works is not a “churchy” program, study group, or worship service. Renewal Works is an exploration of spiritual life and growth to help congregations identify next steps for enjoying our life long effort to experience and live the love of God together.

The closer we looked at Renewal Works the more intrigued and excited we became until we decided to take the plunge.  So here we go!  

Beginning Sunday, January 29 and closing Sunday, February 19 each of us will have an opportunity to complete a private 20-30 minute Spiritual Inventory. This is quite different from the demographic survey many of us took last year.  First of all, this spiritual inventory has been developed by the Episciopal Church and used by over 2,000 congregations and 500,000 individuals.  It has proven very successful at helping congregations identify core beliefs, practices, and virtues such as joy, kindness, love, gentleness and peace.  But most importantly, this Spiritual Inventory is designed for us to enjoy exploring our life together.  Highly Recommended: When taking the SI, dedicate 20-30 minutes, get a glass of wine or other beverage of choice, close the door, log on to your computer (not your phone or tablet) and spend half an hour uninterrupted completing the SI.  Be honest: no one else will ever know your responses so you may be as honest as possible.  Trust that something really good will come out of this for you and for people you care about.

After February 19 no more responses will be accepted. Renewal Works will first analyze all the data from all the inventories completed by St. Luke’s members and produce a report.  Then a team of 18 St. Lukers who have agreed to spend several weeks focusing on their own spiritual growth will focus on where St. Luke’s members are in terms of prayer, belief, discipline, and those virtues such as joy, kindness, love, gentleness and peace. Sometime shortly after Easter (April 16) our St. Luke’s Renewal Works Team will produce some proposals for next steps that we might be willing and ready to explore together during the rest of the Sabbatical year.

I believe we are all going to thoroughly enjoy this process.  I know it will be successful if every adult (16 years and older) participates.  I am so grateful to the members of the Vestry and the Renewal Works Team who have made spiritual growth a priority for the Sabbatical year and who have committed time and talent to reflecting on how to help us grow in our enjoyment of life with God and each other. 


Tuck Bowerfind

Remember St. Luke’s in your estate planning


From the Rector, August 4, 2016

Dear friends, 

This Sunday at 10 am we will celebrate the baptism of Hannah Harding.  One of my favorite prayers is the prayer we say at the conclusion of every baptism.  

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon this your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised her to the new life of grace. Sustain her, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give her an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.

I especially appreciate the prayer for the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works.  We often associate joy and wonder with childhood, and because we so often baptize infants, it might be natural for us to assume that this prayer for the gift of joy and wonder is especially fitting for children.  But the gift of joy and wonder is for all of us at every age and stage of development.  

It is critical to our Christian life that we each reconnect daily with the joy and wonder of God’s works, not just for our children, but for ourselves.  First and foremost reconnect with the mercy and love of Jesus, through whom we know that God is always present with us and more ready to help us that we are to to ask or pray.

It is easy to lapse into the habit of noticing and feeling more keenly what is wrong with life that what is right and good and joyful and wonderful. Sin and grief are real, but the grace, mercy, compassion, and justice of God outshine them as the sun outshines every cloud in the sky.    So let us try to quickly repel any thought that some other power is greater in this world than the power of the love of God that has been poured into our hearts, and let us ask and pray especially for this gift of joy in God’s goodness to keep us on the path to eternal life that we have been set upon through baptism. 

May God give you this day an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and love God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works.


Tuck Bowerfind

From the Rector

Dear friends,

It seems appropriate that in the week after Pentecost, when we celebrate the empowerment of the first disciples by the Holy Spirit for the work of spreading the joy of the Gospel and building up the communion of the Church, we also celebrate commencement for many students matriculating out into the world from their various schools.  Thursday, May 19, at the same hour I presided over commencement ceremonies for St. Luke’s Day School, Dean Markham, the Faculty and the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary gathered to bestow degrees upon their graduates, including the Rev. Dr. Ketlen Adrien Solak who received her DMIN.  Ketlen’s thesis Cultivating Faith through Storysharing is based in part upon work she did with students and parents of the J2A program while serving as associate rector of St.Luke’s. This Trinity Sunday, May 22, Ketlen will reflect upon her thesis with us at the 8am and 10 am services and during the Adult Forum.  I hope you will join us to give thanks to God for the fullness of the gift of the incarnation in which we participate by the power of the Spirit and to celebrate with Ketlen this milestone accomplishment.  May all our graduates at every level, Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High, Undergraduate, Post-Graduate go to the world and live with us the redeeming grace of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

From the Rector

Dear Friends,

The Day of Pentecost brought the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in a form like a mighty wind, and like a flame, and empowered them to speak and others to hear the gospel of Christ in various languages.  Because of this association with wind and fire and miraculous communication we sometimes think of our spiritual life as something separate from our bodies like the air around us. But the essential witness of the Church is to Jesus Christ in whom the Spirit is joined to the human body.  It is the interaction of the Spirit with our blood filled bodies that makes the difference. So the hope we proclaim is for the resurrection of our bodies within a new creation, not for a disembodied congregation around a heaven that is not of this world.  And the work that we have been given to do by God is to live the love modeled for us by Jesus in his real, mortal, embodied life.  We are likewise called to mortal, embodied acts of care and friendship – actually feeding, clothing, visiting, comforting, one another and striving for actual justice and peace among all real living oppressed and suffering people.  We should avoid magical or other worldly thinking.  It is not for someone else to do for us. There is no other time or place for this work to be done. The Spirit is with us to help us know what it is to live the love of Jesus.

So I encourage you to actually bring some cans of food for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors food collection.  And I encourage you to actually teach your children and grandchildren to pray.  And I encourage you each to engage in conversations about how best to take the next steps toward justice and peace beginning here and now, in the world as it is, with the neighbors that you have.  And I encourage you to do the works of the Spirit in other ways that you are best suited to discern in cooperation with your families, friends, and neighbors.

The Day of Pentecost stirred up the disciples to go out and begin building the church in all nations.  And we celebrate the truth that we have been brought into this work in the way that wood is brought into the spreading of a fire, but that instead of being consumed and destroyed by that fire, we become more wonderful versions of ourselves, life bushes that burn but are not consumed.  And we celebrate the truth that this work of the Spirit has never yet been interrupted, and will never be stopped. It is our great blessing to have been brought into this work of burning with the Spirit, and to have this opportunity in our humble lives to share in the glorious work of redeeming the world by the power of God’s love made flesh in Christ Jesus.

Dear Friends,

Sis Mather, a long time member of St. Luke’s who died nearly three years ago, used to have a Bible verse on a banner in her family room: Love One Another.  I remember I laughed the first time I saw it because I thought it was so true to Sis and so appropriate for any family room.

In Sunday’s Gospel, John 13:31-35, Jesus thrice repeats this fundamental commandment of the Christian faith: Love one another.

Christians have debated nearly every element of our creeds, rites, and canon of scripture.  But every Christian of every time and place would surely agree that everything we say and do as Christians is shaped by this single commandment given by our Lord and repeated at least 24 times in 10 different New Testament texts : Love one another.  

Jesus' clearly refers to love as something we do, not something we say or feel.  He isn’t commanding our emotions to feel warm and fuzzy toward our enemies. But he is commanding us to treat our enemies with dignity, respect, to render them justice, food, health care, and in other ways treat our enemies with love.

As you prepare for worship this Sunday, and as you go forth into your service of God in your public and private life, keep this commandment before you.  Talk about it with your children and your colleagues.  Consider what it demands of you in your dealings with clients and strangers.  We surely fall short of it, but there is no doubt that this commandment is the standard that is meant to rule and govern our lives, and the one by which we will ultimately be judged.  Love one another.


Tuck Bowerfind

Rector's Weekly Message, March 24, 2016

As we gather for the proper liturgies of the Great Three Days of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection [Maundy Thursday March 24 at 7:30pm, Good Friday March 25 noon and 7:30pm , Easter Vigil March 26 7:30pm, and the Day of Resurrection March 27] we may sometimes wonder what good it does to celebrate in a world so perpetually torn by human hatred, violence, injustice, and strife, let alone disease, pain, and suffering.  Attacks in Brussels, refugees of Syria, demagoguery in politics, are not unique to any language, nation, people or generation.  Likewise, despite our best efforts and intentions, good people of every faith, including Christianity, continue to err and stray like lost sheep from the Holy ways of God, even in Holy Week. 

Nevertheless, it makes a difference that we gather to remember, proclaim, and celebrate the love of God poured out for the world through the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.   This love is the truest revelation of reality.  More real and true by far than the distortions and perversions we sometimes fear may be taking over the world.  God’s love is real and true, even though I am prone to forget it.  And these Three Days provide a reality check I need.  They call me to attention, and wake me up again.

God loves the world.  All of it, though not the hatred, violence and strife we allow and sometimes foster.  God loves us. Each of us, though not our failures to appreciate and be true to the reality of that love that constitutes our truest selves.  It matters more than anything that the Son of God gives himself for us to know and receive and live in the reality of God's love just as much as we are able.  It matters immeasurably that we give ourselves to try and love one another as God loves us.  And it matters that we gather together to remember, proclaim and celebrate the truth of God’s love.  

When I look out over the household of God in all its sorts and conditions including some who are dying, sick, lonely, poor, or lame singing Alleluia right along with the carefree children, the strong, the rich and the able, I get the reality check I need.  We cannot see who we are when we are not together.  Yet even when we are far apart, Love binds and makes us one, whole, real.  I know this, even when I forget that I know it.  I only wish we could all know this immortal, omnipotent love of God more clearly, love God and one another more dearly, follow the light of God’s love in Christ more nearly.  May it be so for you and yours this Easter and always.


Today’s gospel lesson from John 12:1-8 shows Mary anointing Jesus with costly ointment six days before his crucifixion. The title Christ means anointed.  And the fact that every Gospel shows a woman anointing Jesus prior to his crucifixion, and Jesus himself defending her authority to do so, may tell us the early church stood in uniquivocal solidarity around the equal authority of women in the church.   Sadly, as we know, the authority and equal treatment of women continues to be challenged, the witness of our Lord notwithstanding.  

The gospel also raises the question of how the church should understand and respond to poverty.  Sadly, the poor are often politicized and even used to manipulate us into acts of charity that end up enriching those who manage the money more than the poor themselves.  Judas uses this tactic when he criticizes Mary for wasting money on this costly perfume rather than giving it to him for the relief of the poor.  

Just as sadly, sometimes Jesus’ response – you always have the poor with you – is sometimes used suggest we are justified in pouring resources into worship vestments, architecture, and fixtures to honor Christ rather than responding to the needs of the poor.  But this isn’t what Jesus means.  Jesus is calling all of us to eradicate poverty by properly honoring the image of God that belongs to every human being starting with him, the true image of God and man.  If we treated each person as Christ, (see Matthew 25) we would eradicate poverty through true charity, compassion, and equality.  After all, poverty is not the problem, the problem is the way we harden our hearts against the poor in order to protect our wealth and power, rather than realizing the power of wealth to extend compassion, healing, and justice. 

Today’s gospel confronts stark differences between the world as it is – a place where women and the poor aren often denied the honor due to them as children of God, and the world as it should be – a place where all people are richly anointed because we share in the image of God.  The answer to this is a new creation – one that begins when the old one is put to death on the cross, and springs to new life through the Holy spirit, a creation in which the same woman who anointed Jesus will become his first witness, and in which true wealth is derived from the power of the Holy Spirit, not through force of arms and money and the politics of division.