Episcopal 101: What is this Episcopal Church?

images-1Advocate | Episcopal 101 |

Winter and Spring 2016

Are you interested in learning more about the history, theology, liturgy, and structure of the Episcopal Church? If so, join us on Wednesday nights for “Episcopal 101,” a conversation-based introduction to the church.
Each week’s topic will be posted beforehand (see basic plan below). Any and all are welcome to join in any or all sessions.
Note: for these preparing for confirmation or reception in the Episcopal Church at the Bishop’s regional visitation on April 19, participation is expected.
Classes will generally be held at 7 PM at the Advocate, though some parts may be online interactive.
If you are interested in being a part of the conversation, be in touch with Nathan Kirkpatrick (nek@duke.edu) so that we can prepare for your presence.
Episcopal 101, general plan:

Jan 20: Introductions and Church History to the Nicene Creed

Jan 27: Early Church Controversies and a Developing Orthodoxy
Feb 3: Christology.
Feb 17: The Creed: The Spirit and the Church
Feb 24: The Church in England up to the English Reformation
Mar 2: The English Reformation and the BCP
Mar 9: The Anglican Church in America.
Mar 16: The 1979 Prayer Book.

Mar 30: The Church in England to The Church of England

Apr 6: The English Reformation and the first BCP

Apr 13 (online): The Anglican Church in America.

Apr 20: No class because of regional confirmation the day before

Apr 27: The 1979 Prayer Book.

May 4: Baptism.

May 11: The Holy Eucharist.

May 18: The Advocate!

May 25  More on the Eucharist!

Plans to Re-Purpose the Advocate House This Summer!

deer at the houseRepurposing the Advocate House

This summer, the Advocate plans to re-purpose our house for be used as an ADA-compliant space for office and gathering. Currently, the house is a private residence and is not up to code as a public gathering space and office. Funds have been raised that will allow doorways and the large bathroom to be brought to ADA compliance. to add an access ramp and small deck off the Chapel side of the house, and to convert the living room/library’s east window into an accessible doorway.

In addition, the current office space will be converted more fully to a kids space, and one of the back rooms will become the office. Recessed lighting will be installed throughout the house, the linoleum floors will be replaced, and the exterior trim will be restored. If funds are available, the fireplace with be fitted with a gas log insert.

To complete our obligations to the Town of Chapel Hill for development of the site south of the pond, funds raised will also be used to finish a parking area with ten parking spaces behind the house, to add and additional handicap parking place, to bring sewer to the house, and remove the existing septic system.

All of these things will allow the People of the Advocate better to care for our children, to learn, pray, break bread and welcome the stranger more faithfully and graciously, and will be done at the same time as our preparation for three Pee Wee Homes adjacent to the House.

At some point in the future, we hope to extend a deck around the house, and perhaps transform the carport into a finished meeting space….

Online donations can be made here.

Checks written to The Episcopal Church of the Advocate with a Memo to Building Campaign may be sent to:
8410 Merin Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516

Click to view the Advocate House plan with deck.

Prayer After the Shooting of Innocents in Charleston, SC.

Offered at the Vigil at St. Paul AME Church in Chapel Hill, NC, June 19, 2015
by the Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, Vicar of the Advocate.

Prayer After the Shooting of Innocents in Charleston, SC.

Almighty God.

We come before in this hour with hearts that are torn

yet again,

because of tragic loss and senseless violence,

because your people, your children, have been wounded and are hurting,


We come before you in this hour with hearts that are torn

yet again,

because tired old wounds of racism in our nation still fester,

mean and ugly

they fester.

We are weary, we are sorrowful, and we are angry.

And so we come before you in this hour and we pray for your healing.

We pray

that those whose lives have been forever changed

by the violent deaths of those they love,

would know the healing power and the comfort of your love,

We pray that

that same healing power would work its way into the hearts of those whose hearts are hardened,

that in their hearts they might come to know

the dignity and the beauty of all your children,

created in your image,

created for your love.

And we pray

that just as you have the power to turn our swords into ploughshares,

so you would turn our sorrow and our anger

into a courage to will and to persevere,

that we may be instruments of your healing and your justice in this world in which we live.

Give us Peace in our time O Lord.



An Invitation to Memorize the 23rd Psalm

The 23rd Psalm, especially, it seems, the King James Version, is a source of comfort and prayer for Christians throughout the centuries and throughout the world. It is good to have in our memory bank in times of need. This Good Shepherd Sunday, Easter IV, is a good time to read it once again, and even memorize it, if we haven’t already.


The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

King James Version (1979 Book of Common Prayer on page 476)

“The Authority of the Laity” by Verna Dozier

UnknownFirst published in 1982, Verna Dozier’s “The Authority of the Laity” still provides a positive, powerful and challenging call for the ministry of the laity in the world.

Sunday, January 18 and Sunday, January 25, all are welcome to join in a conversation about this compelling work and how we can respond.


Here’s the link to the front page of Verna Dozier’s Authority of the Laity (reproduced with permission from Church Publishing):

laity 1

Here’s the link to

Chapter 1: The People of God Diverted


Chapter 2: Between the Biblical Lines

Laity Chapters 1 and 2

Here’s the link to

Chapter 3: The New Reformation


Chapter 4: The Ministry of the Laity

laity chapters 3 and 4




Prayers of the People — a Weekly Devotional for Advent


This Advent, the people of the Advocate are contributing toward weekly devotionals of prayers they value in their personal and season lives. Each week’s devotional will be posted here as a “pdf” on each of the Sundays of Advent.

If you have a prayer, song, or reading you would like to contribute, please send it to Paul B. Marvin <pmarvin64@gmail.com>.



Prayers of the People — Advent 4 — 2014

Prayers of the People — Advent 3 — 2014

Prayers of the People — Advent 2 — 2014

Prayers of the People — Advent 1 — 2014





Conscientious Projector East Presents: Harvest of Shame; Harvest of Dignity. Wednesday, November 5



The Advocate’s Conscientious Projector East* series continues with a pair of 50 minute documentaries, the Harvest of Shame and Harvest of Dignity.

These two films, produced fifty years apart, reveal how little has changed in the lives of migrant farmworkers in our country in that time, and challenge us to be mindful of,  and to respond to, their dignity and their needs.

To learn more about migrant farmworkers in North Carolina and the Episcopal Church’s mission and ministry in Newton Grove see: harvestforhospitalty.org


Unknown-1 Wednesday, November 5

7 PM

in the Advocate Chapel


Invite a friend!

All are welcome. 


All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, launched Conscientious Projector, a free monthly documentary film series, in 2004. The Advocate offers this East Coast edition in the spirit of that series.


All Saints. A Sermon by Nathan Kirkpatrick, Pastor-in-Residence

All Saints’ Sunday |November 2, 2014
Nathan Kirkpatrick, Pastor-In-Residence
One Sunday, soon after I had graduated from seminary,
while I was serving my first churches,
            I included in the sermon
                        quotations from both
the 5th century bishop Augustine
and the 20th century martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
At the end of the liturgy that morning,
one woman in the congregation met me at the back door,
            thanked me for the sermon, and then asked,
                        “Augustine, Bonhoeffer … whose kin are they?”
                                    It was her rural North Carolina way of asking
                                                whose family Augustine and Bonhoeffer belonged to.
                                    It was her way to figure out whether they were worth listening to at all.
                                                I think she expected me to say
“Oh you remember lil’ Auggie – he’s a Johnson from over in Boonville” – or
                                                            “Oh, Dietrich – he’s Nellie’s boy.
                                                                        Pure Casstevens.
You know, his sister went to the prom
with your cousin.”
                                                Instead, I told her exactly what I told you –
                                                            Augustine was a fifth century bishop in North Africa,
                                                            And Bonhoeffer was martyred during World War II.
                                                She told me that she didn’t know their people.
“Augustine, Bonhoeffer … whose kin are they?”
Whose family do they belong to?
Today I have a better answer for her.
Poor woman. She had to wait more than a decade
            for me to have a better answer for her
than a fifth century bishop and a twentieth-century German pastor.
But today I have a better answer for her.
Because today answers her question beautifully.
            Whose kin? Whose family?
                        All Saints’ Sunday tells us.
They’re yours, and they’re mine.
                                    They belong to us. And we belong to them.
Together, we a part of a single family —
 a family that spans chronology and geography,
                                                a family made up of Revelation’s
                                                 vision of that great multitude
                                    from every nation, tribe, people and language.
            See, today, on All Saints’ Sunday,
                        we acknowledge that part of what happens in the waters of baptism
is that we are made part of a great extended family.
As St John put it, “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”
                        In baptism, we are given our place in a family tree that includes
                                    seekers and servants, poets and prophets,
                                                mystics and medics, lawyers and lovers,
contemplatives and charismatics.
                                    And in the waters of baptism, under the Name of God,
we take our place in that family
                                                that seeks to live in love and to love in peace.
                                    In baptism, we are incorporated into that family that has sought to live
                                                with God’s priorities as its own, with God’s dream as its own,
                                                            that family that depends on grace, relies on mercy,
                                                                        and is guided by the Spirit.
In baptism, we become part of a family
That reaches farther back than human memory,
            Part of a family that embodies a promise
that extends into the future beyond even time itself.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now.”
Augustine, Bonhoeffer.
Whose kin are they? Well, they’re yours, and they’re mine. And we are theirs.
Today, we gather to celebrate the connectedness of our Christian family.
            Today, we come together to remember how we are bound together.
That is foundational to our identity as the Body of Christ,
     to our being the family of God in the world.
Now, like every family,
Ours has known loss and grief.
            We’ve said some goodbyes too early –
                        And we have stood beside gravesides and wondered where the years went.
We’ve loved and lost, not entirely convinced that we believe the poet
that that’s better than never having loved at all.
And so if today is, in part, a day to celebrate the connectedness
of the family born in baptism,
            then it is also a day to remember
                        All those who have taught us and shown us
what it means to belong to this family.
Today, we remember them,
     and remember that the bonds which hold this family together reach beyond the grave.
Some of their pictures decorate this place –
            Each one is a memory. Each one represents a story that is worth telling and worth sharing.
                        Each one is a person we celebrate today.
                                    Each one is of blessed memory.
                                                Each one is a saint of God.
Now, some of you may chafe at my use of the word saint to describe them.
            You may object: “She was just grandma.” “He was just my brother.”
               “She just taught me middle school English.”
So often when we use the word saint
We use it to mean the self-sacrificing or the perfect.
            We use it to refer to those of heroic virtue or astonishing faith.
Why wouldn’t we?
            Most of the time that we see saints in our society
                        They peer out at us from the painter’s canvas
                                    Or the sculptor’s marble.
                         In art, they are their perfect selves.
            And they look as comfortable under their haloes
as I feel in a baseball cap.
So, when we think about grandma or our brother or our child or our teacher or our friend,
            The word saint may sit awkwardly on their lives.
                        We knew them in their complexity, in their humanity.
We knew that her love had rough edges,
that he could be snarky or sarcastic.
Of course, the complexity of their lives helps us to nuance what we mean by saint.
We do not mean the perfect.
            We do not mean only the heroic.
                        We do not mean just the self-sacrificing or the extraordinary.
When we speak of the saints we mean the people who
who have taught us something of the way of Jesus,
who have shown us in their lives what justice and joy;
what redemption and reconciliation look like.
We mean all those people who have reminded us
            at our best and at our worst –
                        “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”
They are a complicated, human lot.
            Remember the story of Teresa of Avila?
                        One day as she was riding along, her horse threw her to the ground.
                                    There, as she looked up, she saw Jesus.
                                                And he said to her, “This is how I treat my friends.”
                                                She retorted, “Lord, perhaps this is why you have so few.”
All but the most talented of artists flatten her into a pious postcard,
when in truth, she’s a feisty saint who said that, if God picks on you, you pick back.
That’s the image I want of a saint –
Something human, something honest.
The saints of this place decorate these walls …
            And they are human and honest and playful and wondrous.
                        They taught us something of the way of Jesus.
                                    They reminded us that “Beloved, we are God’s children now.”
Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote that she understand her vocation as a priest
To be one of “recognizing the holiness of things and holding them up to God.”
It’s a nice definition for a priest, but it’s a better definition of a saint.
A saint is a person who recognizes “beloved, we are God’s children now”
and holds us up to God as part of the family.
Now, there is a caveat in all of this, a word of caution –
And some of you will quarrel with me at this point, and I welcome that conversation.
There are some whom we have lost
that we might be tempted canonize – that we might be tempted to paint into saints –
            not because of who they were but because of our guilt or fear or shame.
I will never forget the courage of a woman in my first parish
Who came up to me after my first funeral there and said,
            “Nathan, do you have to say the nice things?”
                        “What do you mean,” I asked.
“I go to these funerals,” she said, “and everything is always about how wonderful the dead person was. So what I’m wondering is, if my dad dies while you’re my pastor, do you have to say nice things about him because none of them would be true?”
On All Saints’ Sunday,
In the midst of our celebration of all of those members of the family
who have taught us the way of Jesus,
            It is perfectly legitimate to remember
a few whose memories we should let go of –
            the ones whom we have lost
who didn’t teach us about grace or love or peace
who didn’t show us the shape of mercy or forgiveness or gentleness.
                        There are a few whose voices we should no longer heed,
                        Whose example we should not seek to follow,
                                    Whose witness in our life is counterproductive to our own growth and healing.
Like every family,
there are those in this one whose memory is a source of pain not peace.
     It is okay today to trust them to God and to let them go.
“Augustine, Bonhoeffer … whose kin are they?”
            They’re yours, and they’re mine.
               And I am grateful that we are family together.