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News Category : Ascension Church-Northwoods

A Letter to Vasco in South Sudan

November 12, 2015

by Deborah Goldfeder, missioner to Lui, Deacon at Church of the Ascension, Northwoods

Dear Vasco Tadu Daniel,
I greet you in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Your very name tells of your beginning. Vasco was given to you at your baptism but Tadu means “Last Born” and Daniel was your father’s name. You were the last child born to Daniel and you were so-named at birth because Daniel died before you were born. Last Born of Daniel, I owe you my confession.

#Ferguson: calling us deeper as followers of Jesus into the work of racial justice

June 01, 2015

The hardest part is the silence
It’s the middle of the first morning for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri’s Dismantling Racism training and for the first time, we get up and move. We arrange ourselves in two rows of chairs, facing each other, toe-to-toe. We’re paired up, gazing into each others’ eyes. Till now, we’ve held ourselves at arms’ length to the topic and each other. We’re known only by a name and church affiliation.

After this exercise, we will be a community of eager learners.

Here’s how it works: The moderator asks a question. Those of us on one side have 90 seconds to share our answer with our partner, who must remain silent. Then, the tables turn. Our partners across from us answer while we listen. Just listen. Then, we all stand, slide one chair to the left, and sit again, paired with a different partner for another question.


Ascension-Northwoods is Eating Smarter and Being More Active by Deb Goldfeder (Seek, June 2015)

June 01, 2015

On May 6, participants from Church of the Ascension as well as clients to Ascension’s Food Pantry completed an eight-week course called Eating Smart—Being Active taught by the University of Missouri’s Extension’s Show Me Nutrition program.

This program is grant-supported and free of cost to participants. Those who complete six of the eight classes receive a certificate of completion but, more than that, they will have been introduced to ways to live healthier especially when on a limited food budget. They have learned label reading, been introduced to new fruits and grains, and learned how to limit high fat, sugar and salt in a fun and interactive program.

The facilitator of the class, Elizabeth Warner, prepared tasting samples of healthy foods and then gave copies of the recipes to each participant. The first week we had Cheesy Tex-Mex Bean Dip that had only 30 Calories per serving. The problem was that it was so delicious that we wanted to eat more than one twelfth of the recipe!

If you are interested in this program, call the MU Extension’s Show Me Nutrition line at 1-314-652-9111. If you are interested in starting a garden, they can help you with that, too! They will teach new gardeners the ins and outs of gardening as well as soil testing and other services. They also have supplemental nutrition lessons specifically for pregnancy and for feeding babies and young children.

Show Me Simple and Healthy Recipe:
Cheesy Tex-Mex Bean Dip

15-ounce can black beans, drained
¾ cup salsa
¼ cup onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup low-fat cheese, grated
Baked taco chops (optional)

1. Wash hands and surfaces
2. Blend all ingredients except cheese in a blender or food processor, or mash with a fork. Pour into microwave-safe serving dish.
3. Heat in a microwave oven at medium power for 2 to 3 minutes. If not warm, heat 1 to 2 minutes more. Sprinkle cheese over top and cover. Let stand until cheese melts.
4. Serve with baked taco chips.
5. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Notes suggest rinsing the beans to remove some sodium and suggest serving with fresh vegetables or over a baked potato.

Across the divide: a conversation begins between north and south county churches

April 17, 2015

by Dan Handschy, rector of Advent Episcopal Church, Crestwood

In the immediate aftermath of the death of Mike Brown, I wanted to find some way of involving Advent in a conversation about race in St. Louis.  I called Marc Smith, the Vicar at Ascension (I think within a day or two of the shooting), and asked if our two congregations might find a way of doing something together, "once the dust had settled." [Ascension Church is in Northwoods, separated from Ferguson by two small North County municipalities.] We agreed to a series of meetings together during Lent of 2015.

In the event, we met for four Tuesday evenings this past March for a shared meal, and a conversation.  We used the book Mapping Decline to frame the conversation.  Crestwood is a near lily-white suburb (neither inner-ring, nor outer-ring), settled in the 50s and 60s as part of the flight from the city.  I hoped that people in my congregation could learn to see the systemic advantages that had made it possible for them to settle here, and the costs to the city.

About twelve to fifteen people from Advent (ASA ~75) drove up for the four sessions, and about eight to twelve people from Ascension (ASA ~50) attended each session.  The conversations were sometimes uncomfortable, but mostly very good and insightful.  More importantly for me, some of the conversations we have had back at Advent have been very transformative.  People are beginning to "get" white privilege.  Part of our frustration has been that we want to "fix" the problem -- a very white response.

Our last session, we celebrated Eucharist together, in which we offered our discomforts, our gifts, and our willingness to work together to God.  Everyone, from both congregations, who attended the meetings wants to continue the relationship somehow.  We are not yet sure what that will look like, but we will talk again after Easter to figure out what next.

On a recent Saturday, members of Advent and Ascension cooked and served the Peace Meal at St. John's Church in Tower Grove. We had too many people in the kitchen, but that's a good problem to have!

Many hands for Ferguson and North County

April 16, 2015

Do you have expertise with business in planning and operations? Do you have some time to volunteer?

Last fall, the diocese received a $40,000 grant from Episcopal Relief and Development and the Episcopal Church. A portion of the grant is to assist with the economic stabilization and recovery of North St. Louis County and City businesses following the violence in Ferguson and Dellwood.

These past three months, pastors of the four churches nearest Ferguson (Steve Lawler at St. Stephen's Ferguson; Michael Dunnington at All Saints in north city St. Louis; Renee Fenner at St. Barnabas' in Florissant; and Marc Smith at Ascension in Northwoods) have been working with not-for-profit civic, business, and educational organizations. Their goal was to identify specific "at risk" businesses that could benefit from individualized planning and consulting support, as well as from financial grants directed toward their needs.

They are now hoping to identify members of the diocese with business expertise who are willing to offer some volunteer time. Marc Smith said, "We anticipate that longer-term mentoring opportunities also may develop."

This handout describes the initiative and also the areas of business expertise needed. Please share it with members of your congregation. Should you have questions, please contact Marc Smith at (314) 452-3378.

St. Louis Christian Unity Ecumenical Prayer Service: 1/25

January 07, 2015

  • January 25, 2015, Sunday evening at 7:00 PM
  • St. Justin Martyr Parish (11910 Eddie & Park Road, Sunset Hills, MO 63126)

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus' prayer for his disciples that "they may be one so that the world may believe" (John 17:21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

In the era of Christendom's demise, three signs of the Church's life

November 21, 2014

Bishop Wayne Smith
Convention Address and Sermon at the Eucharist
175th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri

November 21, 2014


I used to think that Christianity in North America, across the board, was slowly dying. There are after all only two bodies showing any growth at all, the Assemblies of God and the Mormons. Southern Baptists are shrinking; big box churches everywhere are shrinking; the Roman Catholic Church is shrinking; and yes, the Episcopal Church is shrinking. It looks like Christianity on our continent is slowly fading away.



November's Ordinands

November 08, 2014

In their own words, those to be ordained Deacons share a bit of their history, their calls to the diaconate, and what “Deacon” means. 

Kevin McGrane, Sr.
I live with my wife Catherine on a 10 acre homestead we call Windy Hill. We have three adult children, all married, and have 5 grandchildren, with #6 on the way.

My “Eureka!” moment came during a short “We Believe” course at my home parish Emmanuel Church in Webster Groves. I listened to a video of Bishop Smith’s convention sermon and realized that I was meant to go deeper, go outside, and be sent.

A deacon is called to a life of diakonia, kerygma, and koinonia: sacred servant-hood, proclaiming the Gospel, and creating community.

It all starts with servant-hood: preaching the Good News by our actions, which helps create community. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words!”

$40,000 grant from Episcopal Relief and The Episcopal Church: background and where the money is committed

September 17, 2014


August 25, 2014. The fatal shooting of an apparently unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9 sparked the outrage of a community in which racial tensions have simmered for decades.  The underlying causes are many, complex and not unique to the St. Louis metropolitan area, including: “white flight” and thede factosegregation of residential housing, public schools and commerce; wide disparities in educational resources and academic performance among area school districts; significant unemployment within the black community, especially among young men; limited economic investment in predominantly black neighborhoods; distrust of local law enforcement and the judicial process; and inadequate access to appropriate health care and social services for the poor.

Although most of our nation’s urban centers are confronted with the same issues, the St. Louis region (the City of St. Louis and eight surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois) is remarkable not for its historic inability to address them, but rather for the naïve and often self-serving belief that they do not exist.  Unlike other cities which experienced significant racial turmoil and violence during the 1960’s, St. Louis remained relatively calm.  Thus, several generations of residents have come to believe that we are a “post-racial community” or that whatever vestiges of racism remain are limited to individual behavior rather than institutionalized in our community’s social, political and economic fabric.

Ferguson Timeline: an Episcopal community responds

September 17, 2014

August 9 felt like the last weekend of summer, a sunny Saturday before many area schools began. News filtered out that afternoon of a shooting in an apartment complex in a north suburb of St. Louis. An apparently unarmed teenager, male, African-American, was shot dead and the shooter was a white police officer. There were reports that the shots that killed Michael Brown were fired as he held his hands up, reports of a scuffle at the police car, that the body of Mr. Brown lay in the street for over four hours during the subsequent investigation and that grieving parents and family were unable to cross police lines to identify him. All of this happening in the middle of the day in the amphitheater of the apartment grounds.

“I think I first learned of it that Saturday afternoon on Facebook, as many of us did,” said the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Mike Kinman. Traci Blackmon, Pastor of Christ the King UCC Church in Florissant and a leader in the St. Louis metropolitan clergy coalition, issued a call to area clergy. Blackmon also serves on the board of Magdalene House St. Louis, of which Kinman is board president. Both were at the prayer vigil organized for Sunday afternoon at the Ferguson Police Department.


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