Masking policy change

We’ve updated our masking policy as of Sunday, May 14. Masks will be optional in most cases. Masks will only be required at the 8:30 a.m. Sunday service if we meet inside due to weather.

Church of the Advocate Masking Policy:

  • The 8:30 a.m. Sunday service will be outside, with optional masking. If weather moves us inside, masks will be required (extra masks are in the bell tower).
  • The 10:30 a.m. Sunday service will be inside the chapel and on Zoom, with optional masking.
  • The presider and Eucharistic servers will wear masks during communion.
  • Masks are optional inside the house or chapel (for example, during Sunday formation, Reader’s Roundtable, and contemplative prayer).

This change comes after discussion among the vestry, our most recent survey, and in consultation with Dr. Peter Morris, an Advocate, a career pediatrician, and public health physician certified in preventive medicine.

COVID numbers are very low in Orange County, and we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the state. This does not mean that we’re throwing caution to the wind. Our inside filters will continue to be used on Sundays (these work best with the windows closed). And if you’re not feeling well, or you’ve been exposed to COVID, please stay home and join us by Zoom that day.

And as we’ve all learned from living through a pandemic, things are subject to change. If cases increase, and there’s the need, we will go back to requiring masks.

We also know any change will not impact us all the same. Some will be happy with the shift. For others, this feels like a grief – we are aware of that, and we recognize your pain. Please feel free to talk to Marion or to a vestry member if you feel the need.

Thank you for your gracious spirits and willing hearts to adjust to something new.

Lent, Holy Week, and Easter 2023 Schedule

Join us for Holy Week!

Saturday, April 8: Holy Saturday
10 a.m. – Holy Saturday
7:30 p.m. – The Great Vigil of Easter

Sunday, April 9: Easter Sunday
10:30 a.m. – Easter service with Holy Eucharist inside
We’ll meet inside due to the recent heavy rains saturating the ground
No Adult or Children’s formation today

Holy Week, also known as Passion Week, is the week leading up to Easter Sunday. It begins on Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and ends on Easter Sunday celebrating his resurrection.

During Holy Week, we remember and reflect on the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We’ll remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his betrayal by Judas, his trial and conviction, his crucifixion, his burial in the tomb, and finally his rising in glory.

Holy Week

Sunday, April 2: Palm Sunday
10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist and Palm Sunday with confirmations and bishop’s visit
No Critical Conversation today

Tuesday, April 4
7 p.m. – The B-I-B-L-E (Bible study) on Zoom

Wednesday, April 5
6 p.m. – Contemplative Prayer

Thursday, April 6: Maundy Thursday
7 p.m. – A shared meal, foot washing and Holy Eucharist

Friday, April 7: Good Friday
12 p.m. & 7 p.m. – Good Friday service with veneration of the cross

Saturday, April 8: Holy Saturday
10 a.m. – Holy Saturday
7:30 p.m. – The Great Vigil of Easter

Sunday, April 9: Easter Sunday
10:30 a.m. – Easter service with Holy Eucharist outside by the pond (bring a chair!)
No Adult or Children’s formation today

Following Easter

Tuesday, April 11
7 p.m. – The B-I-B-L-E (Bible study) on Zoom

Wednesday, April 12
6 p.m. – Contemplative Prayer

Sunday, April 16
10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist with guest preacher: the Rev. Shawn Schreiner

Tuesday, April 18
7 p.m. – The B-I-B-L-E (Bible study) on Zoom

Wednesday, April 19
6 p.m. – Contemplative Prayer

Sunday, April 23
8:30 & 10:30 a.m. – Holy Eucharist with guest preacher: Dan LaVenture

Celebration of New Ministry


Join us Wednesday, May 25, at 5:30 PM for a special service by the pond to officially and liturgically celebrate the new ministry of the Advocate with its new vicar, Marion. The Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman will preside, and our guest preacher will be the Rev. Imogen Rhodenhiser.

If you attend in person, please bring a chair and a dish to share for the potluck.

Click here to join via Zoom

If joining on Zoom, you may wish to print out the liturgy and music guides: 

URGENT Christmas Schedule Change

Dear POTA,
It is with a heavy heart that I announce to you that we will not have any indoor services for Christmas Eve and at least through Christmastide (Dec. 26 and Jan. 2) due to the increasing concern over the Omicron variant.
As you have seen in the news, the Omicron variant is highly contagious and is already in our area. This variant is more contagious than Delta and the potential for spread is swift. Fully vaccinated and boosted folks have protection against the variant, but even then a vaccinated person can become infected and spread the disease.
However, this wave may only last somewhere between 30-40 days. I will continue to monitor this situation and will be in daily prayer for you, for our medical community, and for all those who are impacted by this virus.
The schedule for the next few days and weeks are as follows:
On Christmas Eve, there will be two opportunities for worship. At 4 pm, we will gather together outside at the Advocate for a service of Holy Eucharist with Christmas carols. We will celebrate the birth of our Lord and join our voices together singing hymns of joy and celebration. Because of the short notice and demand on our volunteers, we will not be able to offer this service via Zoom.
For those members of our community who prefer a virtual option, on Christmas Eve at 7pm we will offer a celebration of Holy Eucharist accessible via Zoom. There will be only a few people in the church at that time to ensure our safety, but the liturgy will be the same one that is offered at the earlier outdoor service. Come and gather together as we hear the story of Jesus’ birth that day in Bethlehem. Join with Christians near and far, through bits and bites, as we proclaim the Word made flesh.
Looking ahead to the next few Sundays, we will have one service via zoom at 10:30 am.
How you can help:
Volunteers are needed to help with the 4pm set up and break down to move heaters and chairs. If you have an hour to spare, please let me know.
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
In peace,
Christmas Eve Liturgy & Music Guide:
Christmas Eve Zoom link 7pm
Meeting ID: 438 568 2876
Passcode: Hybrid
Godly Play
Meeting ID: 890 0094 8399
Passcode: R6qrTT
Dec 26, 10:30 Worship
Meeting ID: 438 568 2876
Passcode: Hybrid
Dec 26 Liturgy Guide
Dec 26 Music & Psalm Guide

Changes in worship schedule and location

Dear People of the Advocate,

I come to you on Tuesday November 23, just a few days away from Thanksgiving and the liturgical season of Advent.

The season of Advent is marked by a mix of themes: longing and hope, fear and uncertainty, loss and sadness, and joyful anticipation. It is hard to take in all of these things at once, and perhaps you know what it feels to have a mix of emotions swirling around. We look around us and see a world still in pandemic, yet celebrate the vaccine availability to children ages 5 and up. We look around us and see a justice system that at its core privileges white supremacy. We cry out to God, how long, how long, at the same time grapple with how we can make a difference. We joyfully and tearfully said goodbye to Lisa, Lamar, and Becca and we, at the same time, look to a time with a new vicar and her wife. Advent contains all of this.

And Advent is when we are making a change in our worship at The Advocate. Beginning this Sunday, November 28, two services will be held inside the chapel: one at 8:45 and the other at 10:30 am. Both of these services are Holy Eucharist and the 10:30 service will continue to be hybrid. I know that some of you are more than ready to be inside our beloved chapel. However, I know that for some this means moving back to Zoom. I know that this is a hard decision for some to hear, but one in which I believe is best for our community as a whole. And while it may seem this decision was made hastily, I assure you that since I have been here at the Advocate this has been one of the main conversations we have been engaging. Lisa is fully supportive of this move inside.

Finally, l will link below to the guidelines that the Diocese of North Carolina lays out for our worshipping inside. We will be wearing masks while worshipping. We will have air purifiers running. Please be mindful of your own health and if you are not feeling well, please join that day by zoom. And I and others in the diocese meet weekly for a Covid briefing and we are watching the numbers. I am also meeting bi-monthly with Dr. Wesley Wallace and the clergy of Orange County. Dr. Wallace has been advising the clergy of this area since COVID began. With that in mind, here at the Advocate the following will be a guide: if we reach 7.5% positive test cases in our county we will be moving outside again. If we reach 10% we will move back to zoom.

I close with the collect for the first Sunday in Advent, please join me in prayer:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



Diocese of North Carolina guidelines

NCDHHS COVID-19 Response Dashboard

Vicar Transition Update

Dearest People of the Advocate,


As we anticipate the official moment of Lisa’s transition from being our Vicar to being retired, we must come to terms with one of the more difficult-to-implement parts of this transition, a real change in our collective and individual relationships with Lisa, Lamar, and Becca. This part is hard because it’s so personal and may be subject to the perspective that the changes I’ll outline below could be well and good in principle and for most of the People of the Advocate, but “surely this doesn’t also apply to me.” And yet the instruction from the diocese and the witness from others who have trodden this road before us indicates that this actually does apply to each of us, and is the best approach to help us to bond with Marion and appreciate her capable leadership. Many of us do indeed have unique and very special relationships with the Fischbeck-Bland household, and in spite of those relationships we are asked to submit to this instruction. Besides being the right thing for our church, we are assured that this is also the best approach to free Lisa and her family to begin to form new relationships and live into their next chapter as well.


With that somewhat ominous and sober introduction, here are the guidelines for our journey into a changed relationship in the coming year:


  1. Lisa will no longer be able to function as our pastor or priest. It will no longer be her role to officiate at our baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
  2. Lisa, Becca and Lamar will be withdrawing from social interaction and other parts of the “life of the Advocate” in all forms, in-person and online.
  3. Lisa, Becca and Lamar will be absent from the life of the Advocate at least until late November of 2022, after which time they may come back only at the invitation of Marion. At that point any participation by Lisa will be as our former pastor.


Of course you know that Lisa, Lamar, and Becca have valued, and will continue to value, their friendships and relationships with the People of the Advocate. This part of the leave-taking is difficult all around. But a year is only a year. So let us accept this discipline in hope and with peaceful hearts, knowing that we all have work to do to form new bonds and establish new routines, and in our certain knowledge that all shall be well.


In peace,

Dear People of the Advocate,

I write, on this octave of All Saints, to tell you about plans and guidance for our life ahead.

The bottom line is that we will be separated. I am retiring from parish ministry, you are continuing as the People of the Advocate with a new and good Vicar, Marion. My relationship with you, and yours with me, will change.

As of November 21, Christ the Kings Sunday, I will step aside, and Marion will be your priest, your pastor, your chief liturgist, your guide. The wisdom of the church and the guidelines of the Diocese teach us that the healthiest and most effective way for that new relationship to form is for the retiring Vicar, and her family, to separate from the church and its people physically and digitally. It’s painful, and I want to say that “the Advocate is different!”, but wisdom is wisdom, and I see that wisdom in our case.

So starting November 22, Lamar and Becca and I will not be at the Advocate, neither on the land nor in the chapel, neither on the Zoom nor by email. This will be true for at least a year.

Where will we go? For starters, we will all be in Tucson for the first week of Advent, and will fly to Toronto for a Christmas in Canada. After that, Lamar and I will continue to live in Durham. In the year ahead we will enjoy the freedom from the clock and calendar that retirement offers. We will travel as safety allows. I hope to be a visiting preacher and teacher in the wider church, and to do what I can to work for the election of representatives in our state who share the values I cherish. Becca will be in Tucson, pursuing her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. When we are in Durham on a Sunday, we will explore other churches, and perhaps settle in at one of them. It will be different, that’s for sure!

In true Advocate form, we will embody all this in the context of our liturgy. November 21 will be a day of sadness and of joy, of celebration of what has gone before and what lies ahead. I do hope that you all will join in – the liturgy will be what it will be because of who is gathered, in person as much as is possible, and on Zoom.

Any words I might come up with to express my gratitude and love feel pale and inadequate. Please know that my feelings for you all are strong and robust.

God grant you many years.



Dear People of the Advocate,

As you have read in the letters from Lisa and from Donya, the time is quickly approaching to say good bye to Lisa, Lamar, and Becca. I know this is a difficult time for many as Lisa has been your priest, pastor, confidant, and friend. You have celebrated together, you have grieved together, and the relationship you have developed through the years is an important one: one in which you have seen God in the other.


I give thanks for the time I have had in getting to know Lisa. We have laughed and prayed together, walked the beautiful land together and, most importantly, shared in holy food and drink around God’s holy table with all of you. God has richly blessed this community with Lisa – her gifts and talents, her dedication to God, and her love of you. The Advocate would not be The Advocate as we know it today without her listening to where the Holy Spirit was leading. Thanks be to God!


During the liturgy on November 21st, we will pray with and for Lisa, Lamar, and Becca, and Lisa will complete the final “passing of the baton” to me. At that point I will be the Vicar of The Advocate. I am deeply humbled by this. Humbled to be your priest and your pastor. Humbled to be with you in joy and sadness, to pray with you and for you, and humbled to share in word and sacrament in this holy place with you, God’s holy people.


As we prepare for this time, please be in prayer for Lisa, Lamar, and Becca.
Please be in prayer for the Vestry of The Advocate.
Please pray for each other.
Please pray for yourselves.
Please be in prayer for Amanda and me.


God’s blessings be upon Lisa, Lamar, and Becca and upon you, the People of the Advocate.


Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20, 21)