Have faith: Remember you are dust

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Reverend Vincent G. “Chip” Seadale blesses the two rooms in the basement of the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish House. —Teresa Kruszewski

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown hosted an open house for its newly renovated basement at the parish hall last Saturday. It’s where the church hosts the Houses of Grace shelter several nights a week, and the new space is a most welcome update. There’s always something happening at St. Andrew’s.

Father Chip Seadale has thought of an interesting way to observe the Lenten season this year. He’ll host a book discussion at St. Andrew’s on “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America,” by Jim Wallis. In lieu of giving up chocolates or that second slice of pizza for Lent, Father Chip suggests, “Let’s give up racism for Lent!”

March 1 is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent in many of the churches of the Christian tradition. The 40 days of Lent recognize the time Jesus fasted in the desert, and this year it ends on Easter Sunday, April 16. I know, it’s not really 40 days. That one puzzled me for a long time, especially when I was growing up. The Sundays during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days. Talk about complicating things. Anyway, some really do try to spend those 40 days in reflection and focusing on ways to increase their devotion. Honestly, it’s just a good time to take a step back and look at all the ways we don’t always act out all that loving kindness that’s supposed to come with practicing any faith tradition.

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On Ash Wednesday, Good Shepherd Parish will offer an 8 am Mass with the distribution of ashes, noon liturgy with ashes, and will do the same at 6 pm. At 7 pm, a Portuguese liturgy will be celebrated, along with the distribution of ashes, all at St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven. Throughout Lent, the parish will host the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 6 pm at St. Augustine’s. Daily Mass will take place at the chapel at the parish center on School Street in Oak Bluffs at 8 am Monday through Friday.

Father Mike Nagle said the parish is using an online Lenten program this year titled “Best Lent Ever,” available at dynamiccatholic.com.

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The Federated Church in Edgartown begins the season of Lent with a noon service on Ash Wednesday that will include the dispensing of ashes. The church is on South Summer Street, and just a short walk if you’re working downtown.

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Church administrator Maureen O’Malley tells me that Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven offers ashes at a 5 pm service on Ash Wednesday.

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Congratulations to the Rev. Bob Barnett and his wife Theresa. On Jan. 29, his Faith Community Church congregation in Edgartown voted unanimously to name him their long-term pastor. The Rev. Barnett has been serving at Faith Community Church since July 2013, but his contract was up in July 2016. He stayed on for six months in hopes of receiving an extension or renewal of his contract. I’d say he went above and beyond expectations. I look forward to talking with the Rev. Barnett and Theresa about their ministry in more detail at a later date.

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While Rabbi Caryn Broitman is away on sabbatical, the regular Wednesday Talmud course at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center is being led by a wonderful young woman, Guilia Fleishman. I met Guilia while working at the West Tisbury library, and she was always ready to help when I had that clueless look on my face, which was more often than not. I can only imagine that she’d be terrific guiding the reading and discussion. Hebrew isn’t required, and no previous training is necessary for the class. The course runs from 8 to 9 am on Wednesdays, and you can even sign up to attend remotely. Call the Hebrew Center to find out more: 508-693-0745.

Sunday, Feb. 26, 11 am to 12:30 pm, rabbinic intern Daniel Schaefer will hold a seminar on Modern Challenges, Ancient Wisdom with the topic “Race Relations in America: Black, White, Jewish.” The teen group meets later that afternoon at 3 pm for learning and activities related to the upcoming holidays.

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The Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard hosts a Knit-a-Thon Party: Knit for a Cause, a Friend, or Yourself, on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 1 to 5 pm. Knitters (and crocheters — not all of us have mastered the art of knit and purl) are welcome to join the Rev. Judy Campbell at the UU church on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. Hats, mittens, and scarves can be donated to the Food Pantry or the Red Stocking Fund, or you may want to knit one of those fashionable hats all the ladies are wearing these days. Patterns and plenty of yarn will be available, but bring your own needles.

Rabbi Lori Shaller sent the information via email, and it reads, “Bring snacks and drinks to share, if you want to. Bring stories to tell. Bring a friend. This is about hearts and hands working together. Everyone is welcome, including men out there who knit and crochet … However … This is NOT instructional; you do need to know basic knitting or crocheting.”

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I also heard from the Rev. Roberta Williams this week, from Trinity United Methodist Church at the Campground. Her congregation will be busy sewing “Little Dresses for Africa” next month, and she invited me to stop by. I’m going to take her up on that; maybe some of that crafty talent will rub off on me when I’m there.