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Education for Ministry (EfM)

As we approach the beginning of another year of EfM, I have given a great deal of consideration to what parishioners might want to know in order to consider enrolling in EfM for the 2018-2019 year.  As a result of this consideration, I have decided to start with telling you what EfM is NOT.

  • EfM is NOT only Bible study.  EfM students study the Bible but also learn how to understand the Bible within its historical context and literary setting.
  • EfM is NOT personal therapy or problem solving.  EfM groups do develop a close community in order to delve deeply into matters of faith and theology.
  • EfM is NOT a closed community.  The content of EfM materials and the processes we use for reflection are not secrets.
  • EfM is NOT an academic program leading to a degree or an ordination program.

Now that you know some of the things that EfM is not, it is important to learn what EfM is. Lay persons face the difficult and often subtle task of interpreting the richness of the church's faith in a complex and confusing world. They need a theological education which supports their faith and also teaches them to express that faith in day-to-day events. As the emphasis on lay ministry has grown, EfM has come to play an important role by providing a program that develops an informed and knowledgeable laity.

EfM is a four year program. The seminar group is the nucleus of the Education for Ministry program. A group consists of six to twelve participants and  trained mentor or co-mentors who meet weekly over the course of a nine-month academic year. Our meetings at St. David’s are 2½ hours.  Participants are given weekly assignments to study with the help of resource guides. (Year one participants study the Old Testament. Year Two participants study the New Testament. Year Three participants study church history. Year Four participants study theology). EfM students spend between two and four hours in study and preparation each week. In the seminars members have an opportunity to share their insights and discoveries as well as to discuss questions which the study materials raise for them.Through discussion and guided reflection, the seminars furnish an opportunity to deepen understanding of the reading materials.

More important is the development of skills in theological reflection. The goal is to learn to think theologically. By examining their own beliefs and their relationship to our culture and the tradition of our Christian faith, participants can learn what it means to be effective ministers in the world. In coming to terms with the notion that everything we do has potential for manifesting the love of Christ, we discover that our ministry is at hand wherever we turn.

The seminar is supported by a life of prayer and regular worship. EfM groups are encouraged to develop a pattern of worship appropriate to their situations. Liturgical materials are furnished with the course materials. Tuition is $375 and scholarships are available.  If interested, please speak with the co-mentors, Lynda Crowl/Earl Olson, or the Rector!

This month's blog was written by Lynda Crowl
Lynda is our Sr. Warden and EfM Co-Mentor

Advertising and Sales

Once upon a time I worked in retail management, a very cut-throat business.  During that time, I learned two important things regarding people:  you have to get them into your store (advertising), and then give them a reason to keep coming back (sales).  Although it is sad to think we have to deal with this in religion, well, we do!  For a congregation to thrive, people need to come in the door and see a reason to stay.

We advertise a number of ways.  We have space in the church directory section of the Topeka Capital Journal.  We are in the phone book.  You can find us online at sites like yellowpages.com and Yelp.  We have a presence on Facebook (I’m not so sure about Twitter or if anybody sends out any official tweets from our parish).

Another way to draw people in is our signage.  As most should be aware, we have taken a major step forward in that arena.  We recently replaced the antique wooden sign on 17th street that catastrophically broke over the winter.  This summer we will get rid of the old faded sign at the east of the building fronting Gage Boulevard and replace it with an electronic sign that will be at the corner of 17th and Gage.  All of this is nice, but signage is only effective if somebody happens to be driving by, or is not familiar with the area and is looking for us specifically.

Online presence helps, and we can track various statistics using those methods.  We have analytics that show us what drives people to our web site, including search results and social media campaigns.  This is useful information to help us tailor our approach, surely, but we are so far skipping the best form of advertising:  word of mouth.  Inviting people to come visit us.  I did a blog recently on evangelizing, and personal invitation is just that.  It is probably the most effective form of advertising we can do!



All this is the advertising – getting people through our doors.  Up next is sales – how do we bring them into our fold?  Retail is carefully designed to direct you through the store and maximize how much money can be extracted from a person without stopping them from coming back in the future.  That is not the sales we need to concentrate on when trying to bring people into our flock!

To keep them coming back, we need a fully engaged welcome.  Greeters at the door with a smiling face, ready to answer questions, and/or provide them with a welcome bag.  Somebody to ask them (nicely) if they would be willing to fill out the welcome card and what to do with it afterwards.  Ushers to provide them with orders of service and answer any questions regarding what happens once the service starts.  Parish members who will engage the newcomers with smiling faces and welcomes.  Depending on what service we are speaking of, walking them down to breakfast, and sitting with them and engaging them is a huge thing!  Let them know of all the ministry opportunities we present so they can consider what best fits them!

When I first came to Topeka, I found local Episcopal churches on the Internet.  I attended Grace Cathedral and felt snubbed as nobody seemed to want to speak with or recognize me.  The next weekend I came to St. David’s and was greeted no less than 3 different times.  I was hooked.  I had found my new spiritual home.

So let’s remember that advertising may get somebody to visit us – but SALES is up to us.  We need to engage to keep them coming back week after week, and that will be a key to keeping our parish thriving!

Bryan Irvine
Website Adminstrator
Building Manager



“He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”  And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”  - Mark 6:1-7 (NRSV)

This is an important part of the Gospel, yet something that makes many very uncomfortable.  In this passage of Mark, Jesus sends out the apostles, two by two, to carry out his work.  Looking at the passage, this makes sense, as the people in his hometown were hostile to his ministry.  This was the beginning of evangelism, a topic that may clear a room when brought up.  We seem very uncomfortable with this concept and carrying it out.

What is evangelism?  The passage in Mark shows the apostles being sent out in pairs, with the authority over unclean spirits.  In our modern telling, they healed the sick and cast out demons in the name of Christ.  A dictionary definition tells us that evangelism is the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness, or  the zealous advocacy of a cause.  Perhaps it is the second part of that definition that gives us pause – most people don’t want to be labeled as a zealot!  Basically, evangelism is simply talking to others about Jesus and spreading the good news, or speaking with others about your faith and why you believe.

Many adults seem to fear evangelism, and this seems to stem from many causes:

  • Being afraid they will look or sound stupid.
  • Being afraid they will forget what to say or will say the wrong thing.
  • Being afraid of confrontation – they will be met with hostility.
  • Being afraid to start what they perceive may be an awkward conversation.
  • Being afraid others will want to fight what is being delivered.

I hold one of the adult seats on the Diocesan Youth Commission and at our last meeting, all youth and adults on the commission underwent a workshop in evangelism.  During that training, I was discussing with one of the other adult members how quickly adults seem to shy away from the subject, which is a shame.  The youth dived right into the training, we all had a good time, and we were reminded, time and time again, that by sharing the stories of our faith with each other, we were evangelizing.  What we can do with each other in that room, we should be able to do outside that room in society – even with those we do not know.  The apostles surely did not know those in the countryside they were sent out to serve!

Some have viewed that the Anglican Communion produces nice, civilized and reasonable people who do not feel very deeply about their religion, that Anglicans seem so afraid about getting excited over the wrong things that we do not get excited over the right ones.

We should not be afraid of evangelizing!  We hear Presiding Bishop Curry talk about us being the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, which is evangelizing in motion!  He shared his vision of a whole church freshly oriented toward the proclamation and embodiment of the good news of Jesus Christ.  A practical definition of our movement can be quickly stated:  “We seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people – then invite everyone to MORE.”  This is the length of a tweet, and for good reason:  evangelism should be practiced using modes people use to communicate.
I could easily continue on this vital practice, but I need to close this.  For more practical hints on evangelizing and the Episcopal Church, you can visit the ECF Vital Practices page which contains a wealth of information on the topic. 

So let’s spread the word!

This month's blog was written by Bryan Irvine, the site adminstrator



Easter is here!!! 

We all know that on Easter we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior after his crucifixion and descent to the dead.  However, we celebrate Easter longer than one Sunday.  Beginning Easter Sunday, we celebrate the 50 days of Easter, known as Eastertide, lasting from that point through the Day of Pentecost.  During this season, we change the liturgical color from the Lenten Purple (or in some churches, the deeper burgundy red of Holy Week - but that is a topic for another time), to our Festival White color.  The Christus Rex, and cross the Crucifer carry, are both unshrouded.  These are some of the overt physical things you see.

The solemn tone of Lent - the penitential order and confessional at the start of the service, for example - are removed from the service.  In fact, during Eastertide, the confessional is usually not included in the service at all.  Alleluias in the liturgy, omitted during Lent, are restored.  The dismissal at the end of services usually ends in Alleluia, Alleluia!  It is clearly a time of celebration at the joy of the resurrection of Jesus!

Some little known facts about Easter: 
• Prior to the 1969 revision of the calendar, the Sundays after Easter were known as the First Sunday after Easter, Second Sunday after Easter, etc.  When the Anglican and Lutheran churches implemented a lectionary reform in 1976, the reference changed from the "Xth" Sunday AFTER Easter to the "Xth" Sunday OF Easter.
• Eastertide begins with the Easter Vigil and concludes after Evening Prayer on the Day of Pentecost.
• It is hard to compute the date of Easter, as it is on the Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox.  This is further complicated by the fact that the astronomical equinox can fall on 19, 20 or 21 March, but the ecclesiastical date is fixed on 21 March. 
• The United Kingdom passed the Easter Act of 1928, fixing the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April; however, the legislation was never implemented.


Ever wonder where the tradition of hunting Easter eggs comes from?  The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth.  Christianity has associated this with the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection, and as a symbol of the empty tomb.  The tradition of dyeing the eggs come from the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained them red to remind them of the blood of Christ, shed while he was on the cross.

Happy Eastertide!  The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia, Alleluia!!!

This month's blog/reflection is provided by Bryan Irvine

The Triduum

As I write this we are fast approaching the halfway point of Lent.  What is Lent?

"Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The season now known as Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days) has a long history. Originally, in places where Pascha was celebrated on a Sunday, the Paschal feast followed a fast of up to two days. In the third century this fast was lengthened to six days. Eventually this fast became attached to, or overlapped, another fast of forty days, in imitation of Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (BCP, p. 265).1"  Baptisms are unusual during Lent, although those wishing to be baptized are being prepared for that sacrament during those 40 days.  This seems especially true in the Orthodox church.

We hear about Lent quite a bit, so this month I wanted to move on from the period of Lent, to the ending of Lent - most specifically to the last three days of Holy Week prior to Easter - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and The Great Vigil - the Triduum.  The Triduum is described as "The three holy days, or Triduum, of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are at the heart of the Holy Week observance.  Holy Week ends at sundown on the Saturday before Easter, or with the celebration of the Easter Vigil."I have heard the Triduum described as one service, split up into three days. 

Maundy Thursday (29 March) observes the night on which Jesus was betrayed.  The rituals often observed include washing of parish member's feet after the gospel and homily.  Consecration of bread and wine may occur for administration of Holy Eucharist on Good Friday.  Following the Eucharist, the altar is stripped and all decorative banners and linens are removed from the nave.3

Good Friday (30 March) commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.  Although we hear the Passion Gospel from Mark on Palm Sunday, Good Friday presents us with the account of the Passion from John.  Solemn collects (which date from ancient Rome) are read.  Some fast or perform special acts of discipline and self-denial.4  Many parishes present the Stations of the Cross prior to this service. 

The Easter Vigil (31 March) concludes the Triduum.  This liturgy is the first (some would argue the primary) celebration of Easter and consists four parts:

  1. Service of Light, when the new fire is lit, the Paschal Candle is lit from the new fire, and the Exsultet is read or sung.
  2. Service of Lessons, where Hebrew scriptures are read, with psalms, canticles and prayers mixed in.
  3. Christian initiation, including baptisms and Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
  4. The Eucharist.

The Easter Vigil links the meaning of Jesus’ death and rise to the understanding of Baptism.5

For those who have never attended the Triduum, I would encourage you to do so.  Attending all three services has always left me with feelings of the awe and wonder of the death and resurrection of our Savior.


  1. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/lent
  2. http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/109399_14524_ENG_HTM.htm
  3. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/maundy-thursday
  4. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/good-friday
  5. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/easter-vigil


This month's Blog/Refelection was provided by Bryan Irvine

Winter Musings

Winter Musings

A lot has been happening here at St. David's.  Have you noticed?

I'm not talking about our ordinary activities, which we seem to grow numb to.  Look at our monthly calendar and you can see how active our building is in both our church and outside community.  From various support groups, sporting activities (pickleball, anybody) and interest groups (a quilting group just chose to start meeting in our building) to internal uses such as bible groups, Education for Ministry, and Daughters of the King, many people use our facility - and that is a GREAT thing even if it keeps me busy.

January brought a high profile diocesan youth event to St. David's when Miqra arrived during MLK weekend.  This year, due to construction at Grace Cathedral, we hosted both Senior and Junior high groups in a "megamiqra."  We may have had a fair bit of snow that weekend but it did not stop the fun.  The participants made it through the entire bible and even read from the apocrypha before the event ended on Monday morning.

When adult education started this year, it quickly outgrew the conference room so had to be moved to the St. Phillip's Room (SPPR).  Although it provided the necessary space, the seating in there left a lot to be desired, and the room provided no audiovisual support for the lectures and lessons being presented.

January saw the purchase of a 55" flat screen TV for use in that room.  It was put to use almost immediately once I managed to get it mounted and the various cables ran.  We now have the ability to do presentations in that room, via computer (although the presenter will need to bring the computer or laptop) or DVD.  It would be nice to have a computer in there full time, but that likely is down the road a bit.

Speaking of the seating in the SPPR, the Vestry has authorized the purchase of several tables and chairs to replace the plastic folding tables in there now, and provide more comfortable seating than the plastic chairs and heavy pew chairs in that room now.  Hopefully all that will be installed soon, but I don't have any dates for that as of this publication.

The web site is also humming along.  I often wonder how many people look at our site.  I try to put new things on it frequently.  The news feed, accessed from the "Recent News" button (along with the "Church News" entry in the the Socialzone toolbar button) is usually updated three to five times a week.  As information on services change, I will post that as soon as possible.  When weather is a factor, information regarding that will usually be found on our home page.

The web site also contains information on our leadership, and how to reach them.  All our regular publications, including Vestry minutes, ATTs, Messengers, and Annual Meeting information are there for your viewing pleasure.  Please check the site frequently for the latest information that effects our parish.  If you wish to suggest things for the web site, please  webadmin [at] stdavidschurch [dot] com (email )me!

We are approaching Lent and then Easter.  Spring is coming! 

Peace be to you all!

This month's blog is from Bryan Irvine
He is our building manager and web site administrator

Outreach Plans for reaching out even more in 2018

As we begin a new year, Outreach Ministry has new and exciting plans.  Of course, we will continue with our monthly lunches every fourth Wednesday at Let’s Help, monthly collections in the bins in the narthex, and sales from the Servant Shop. 

In January, we will continue our long tradition of supporting Doorstep by joining with three other congregations to fill the food pantry and help in the clothing bank.  For more details and to participate, contact Sharon Koepke at 478-1329.

Also in January we will be holding meetings to discuss building on our ministry for children in need.  2017 was our first year to serve for six weeks as a site for the Summer Lunch Program with USD 501 as sponsor.  We are recommending that this not only be continued but that we explore expansion during the summer and, possibly, after school during the school year.  Keep on the lookout for the meeting dates and times.

We have recommended that St. David’s join 20 other congregations in Shawnee County and become a member of Topeka JUMP.  The Vestry will be considering this when it meets in January.  For more information about Topeka JUMP, go to topekajump.weebly.com

We have several other new activities that will be considered when we meet during 2018. Our meetings are at the church on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm.  ALL ARE WELCOME!

This month's blog is from Larry Buening

Larry chairs the Outreach Committee

Junior Warden Insights

Do you notice all the things that need to be repaired, cleaned, replaced, and straightened up when you are in St. David’s? Like many other things in my experience, the Jr. Warden has a whole lot more work to do than I ever noticed when someone else had the responsibility. Hiring someone to scrape the parking lot and sidewalks when it snows, turn off the sprinkler system, arrange to have the fire safety and security systems monitored and repaired, get parishioners together to clean, have the carpets cleaned (have we ever done that in this building?), schedule the electrician to have bulbs and ballasts replaced, evaluate the work done and deciding if we need to change vendors - this is just a small sample of what Junior Wardens do. 

Thank goodness someone stepped up to get rid of that ugly storage shed that we haven’t used in a few years.  We still need to find someone to haul off that ugly, faded sign at the east end of the church.

We now have several security cameras monitoring entrances and movement at doors and in hallways, while being sensitive to the privacy of those who use our building.

All of this requires input from and approval from the Vestry! 

One last note - our parking lot is in need of repairs or refurbishment.  The Vestry and I are aware of this and are looking at various options for this work.

This month's blog is from Lynda Crowl
Lynda is our Jr. Warden

Parish Life

St. David’s is a caring community that has roots in the community, but also is always seeking ways to reach in to the parish as well, finding ways for parish members to engage one another.  Our Inreach Ministry is charged with this.  Steve Crowl chairs this committee.

The Inreach Ministry’s mission is to insure that parishioners have opportunities to care for one another, share with each other and continue their spiritual journey.  It is divided into several groups, including a very active Parish Life committee led by Barb Waters.

Parish Life organizes our St. David’s Day luncheon, as well as other meals during the year such as the annual Lenten Soup Suppers.  They have also sponsored other meals throughout the year, ice cream socials, and so much more.

A major event put on by Parish Life is the annual Holidy Bazaar.  It is now in its eighth year and is the major fundraiser for our parish family.  The Bazaar offers numerous handmade gifts, stocking stuffers, and includes a bake sale.    This year’s Bazaar will be on November 4th from 8am through 4pm. Breakfast will be available for purchase that morning as well.

Parish Life always welcomes anyone who would like to be a part of the team, and always appreciates extra hands during the Bazaar. If interested in helping out, or if you would like to join the Parish Life team, feel free to contact watersrptgtopeka [at] aol [dot] com (Barb Waters)!


Barb Waters

This month's blog is by Barb Waters.
She leads the Parish Life committee


I've been attending St. David's pretty much since I arrived in Topeka in February of 2010.  How did I find this place?  I went on to the Internet and looked at what Episcopal churches were in Topeka.  Many people use such resources to find places of worship in new areas.  However, one thing has not changed in the seven years I've been here - the St. David's web site.

Yes, our site had the basic information on it.  However, in this digital age, you don't want to stagnate.  Things need to be kept fresh and up-to-date.  Information has to be easy to find.  Communication about the parish is paramount.  People generally want to be "in the know."

I've been doing web master duties for about a year now, and frankly have pushed our site as far as I could using the technology and software at hand.  What we had was a hodgepodge of Wordpress with Dreamweaver generated pages thrown in.  When updating that site, you had to login to a Wordpress back-end, use an FTP program, and also use Dreamweaver.  It was a chore, and the result was sets of pages that often did not share a common theme.

For the last several months I have been working on a new site based on a different software platform.  Everything is now contained within that platform; it has no separate back-end and does not require other software to maintain and update.  This streamlines updates and makes all the work much quicker and easier.  Further, since everything is contained on one platform, it presents one common theme.

So, Welcome to our new St. David's web site!

A number of things have changed.  The menu structure at the top is different.  Our leadership pages have photos of all the clergy, staff and Vestry members and brief bios so newcomers can get an idea of who is who.  The home page contains everything a new person would want to know - who we are, when services are, how to find/contact us, etc.  It will also contain important information about short notice changes.  All of the various ministries are now represented with easy to reach pages.  The Social Zone menu contains links to our news feed, photo galleries and Master Calendar.  The blog feed will rotate through various ministries and leaders to share their thoughts with the parish.  All publications - the weekly ATT, monthly Messenger, Vestry Minutes, and Annual Meeting reports - are now collected in one place, quickly accessible through the main menu.  The background color will rotate colors as the liturgical seasons change.  Important items have dedicated hot links located underneath the main menu.

As time passes, we may add or subtract various features that are available as discussions are had as to what we wish our site to do.  More will follow about those changes.

I welcome feedback regarding this work.  I hope to continue to evolve our Internet presence.  If you have suggestions, feel free to email me at webadmin [at] stdavidschurch [dot] com!

Bryan Irvine
Website Administrator


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