Pledge Drive for 2017


October 20, 2016

Dear People of the Advocate,

It is time again for the usual and necessary request to each and all for a financial pledge to the Advocate’s operating budget for the year ahead.

The Advocate’s operating expenses include maintaining the chapel and house, liturgical supplies, audit and accounting services, fellowship, Christian formation, and much more than we’ll attempt to cover here. The operating budget is also how we compensate our piano accompanists, our very part-time administrative assistant, our kids’ Christian education coordinator, our childcare providers, and Lisa, our vicar. (Nathan, our priest associate, is modestly paid by the Diocese.) We are fortunate to have many others volunteer their time and efforts to ensuring the Advocate is a wonderful place to be. And, as it has been since our launch, 10% of pledged and plate offering is given to those in need and to organizations that help those in need, through our Advocate Tithe.

It may seem we were just asking for your financial gifts, and we were—thanks to you all, we’ll be able to secure a generous matching donation and reduce the Advocate’s $180,000 debt by $80,000. Achieving this milestone is significant, and we’re grateful. But we’re also aware that this is one milestone on a long journey. We still have much more work to do by 2018 to raise the remaining funds to hit the $300,000 target for our Strength to Strength Campaign that seeks to retire our debt and make the house accessible and welcoming.

But while making progress on our multiyear Strength to Strength Campaign is important, just as critical is the need to make sure we continue to bring in enough each year for our operating expenses. Beyond maintaining what we currently do and provide, there ajre many opportunities to expand (e.g., through increased administrative support or additional kids’ Christian ed offerings to better support a range of ages), and we would love for 2017 pledges to allow us to plan for growth.

We need as many households as possible to pledge their financial support to the Advocate’s 2017 operating budget. Unanticipated donations in the basket on Sunday are helpful, but pledges are the foundation of our budget—they provide the basis for our decisions about what we can afford for salaries, stipends, and other expenses. The Advocate operating budget, like our liturgy, is truly the work of the people.

Know that your pledge makes a difference. A pledge form is available at church and online.

We ask that you make your pledge for the 2017 operating budget by the Sunday before Thanksgiving. November 20. We will celebrate God’s abundance with thanksgiving on that day.


The Advocate Vestry

Celisa Steele, senior warden (
Denisé Dews, junior warden (
David Pass (
Coleen Cunningham (
David McInnes (
Shannon Gigliotti (
Molly Sutphen, treasurer (


The 2nd Annual Autumn Unplugged at the Advocate!


NOTE: All day we will be collecting food and clothing for farmworkers at The Episcopal Farmworker Ministry. See more here.
img_6121-1 img_6113

1 – 1:45        The Dogwood Blossom Band

1:50 – 2:35   The String Beings

2:45 – 3:45   The Durham Ukulele Orchestra

4 – 4:50        The Hey Brothers

5 – 5:45        The St. Paul AME Voices of Inspiration

6 – 6:45        The North Carolina Jazz Ensemble


FAQ About the Weekly Schedule at the Advocate

signHere’s the Weekly Schedule for the summer:

10 AM        Discussion on The Sermon on the Mount. See more here.
11 AM        Traditioned Innovation (TI)* A 75-minute Holy Eucharist with songs and innovations.
12:20 PM  
   Lunch fellowship (food provided)

And on Wednesdays:
5:30 PM               A simple, quiet Eucharist, with readings from Holy Women; Holy Men
6:15 – 7 PM          Contemplative Prayer

NOTE: Sometime in late August/early September, a 9 AM Classic Episcopal liturgy, Godly Play and the Teachable Moment will return!

*Here are some emerging questions:

What’s Classic Episcopal is an experience of the basic worship in the Episcopal tradition, using the Eucharistic rite from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and songs from the Episcopal Hymnal 1982. It is the foundation of our liturgy and worship life.

What is *Traditioned Innovation? TI (Traditioned Innovation) According to the theologians at Leadership Education at Duke Divinitytraditioned innovation is a way of thinking as a Christian that engages the past for the sake of the future. At the TI Service at the Advocate, this means that we take each of the various elements of the basic worship of the Episcopal tradition and consider how it might be made new or interpreted in different ways in different seasons or places or by different people. We use prayers and songs from throughout the Church and take seriously the ancient word for worship, liturgy, meaning “the work of people” such that our worship becomes the work of this particular people at this particular time in this particular place.

What’s A *Teachable Moment? A Teachable Moment is a thirty minute occasion to reflect on an issue or event in the life of the congregation, the wider community, or the world. It consists of 10 minutes of presentation and 20 minutes of conversation. While we have a cache of subjects to draw on, we also are ready to spontaneously respond to something current.

What’s *Godly Play? Godly Play is an educational experience for kids, in which they are lead to engage with the stories of the Christian faith and participate in simple practices together. The Advocate offers Godly Play for kids age three and up. To learn more, please contact our kids Christian Ed Coordinator: Becca Bland <>

How can lunch be provided? Do I need to pay? The table fellowship of the Advocate is an expansion of the Eucharistic Feast. Food each week is provided by a rotation of 6 volunteer groups, each group providing the meal once in six weeks for the community gathered. The Advocate encourages participation in these food-providing groups. To volunteer, please contact Martha Wheeler <>.

Ambivalence and Faith. A Nathan Kirkpatrick Sermon

Following is a sermon preached by The Rev. Nathan Kirkpatrick, Priest Associate of the Advocate
on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 17, 2016. 

She was sure that he was the man for her.

After six years of dating, she knew down to her bones

that he was right for her, that they were good together.

But each time, she would hint around the marriage question,

she received the same answer:

“I’m just not sure that you’re the one for me.”


Six years. Six years of her certainty. And six years of his ambivalence.

Finally, she had had enough:

No more. She wrote him a letter.

She told him that she loved him, and that they

either they had to get married or they had to break it off.


Her friends cheered her.

“About time,” a few suggested. (Six years?)

But now, she waited for a reply.

Day after day, she would walk to the mailbox, and there was nothing.

Until finally, one day, a letter came.



To my ear, the question of the religious leaders to Jesus seems fair.

It seems reasonable enough. It seems honest … enough.

It might have even been the question on my mind or in my heart.

“Don’t keep us in suspense any longer.

Tell us plainly …

          Are you the Messiah?

Are you the One we have been waiting for?”


It’s not like Jesus hasn’t been asked this before.

Do you remember the story in St Luke’s Gospel

when John the Baptist sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask,

“are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Luke 7.19)?

When John’s followers asked, Jesus told them to go back and tell John what they saw —

and just then, Jesus goes on a tear of healings.

You’ve got a problem? Jesus has a healing for you.

Go tell John that, in Jesus, the blind can see,

that the lame are made to wake,

the deaf can hear,

and the dead are raised.

That was the answer.


But on this particular winter’s day

during the Jewish Feast of Dedication

— the holiday that we now know as Hanukkah —

Jesus’ reaction to the religious and the religious leaders

suggests that there must be something else going on in their question;

His impatience with them

tells us that, however charitably I want to hear their question,

there was something less than charitable in what they were after.


You heard what He said?

“I have told you, and you do not believe.

The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me;

but you do not believe,

because you do not belong to my sheep.”

You do not believe … you do not belong.

Jesus seems to hear something from them other than an honest question.


I wonder if what Jesus hears in them is

something akin to the boyfriend who, after years of dating,

still says, “I’m just not sure that you’re the one for me.”

Against the certainty of His love,

He hears in them ambivalence, apathy, and indifference.


He loves them. All the way down to His bones.


But they? They’re still asking, “are you the One?”


The Contemporary English Bible renders their question this way:

“How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”


Their question sounds honest, reasonable, fair.

Who wants to give their lives to something and then turn out to be wrong?

Who wants to follow someone only to find out that they’re just a cult leader

and not the Messiah?

But when you poke at it,

that’s not what they’re asking.

Theirs is not a question that comes from vulnerability.

They’re using the question

to hold faith at arm’s length.

They’re using the question to prevent finding an answer.


Now, let’s be clear.

There are plenty of good reasons to hold faith at arm’s length.

To examine it. To inquire into it.

To put to it the hardest and most meaningful questions of our lives.

And sometimes we have to do that at some distance.

We have to hold the thing up and look at it and really see it.


And there is no harm or judgment for those

who ask questions

about what they believe

or why they believe

or if they believe at all.


Those can be the most important questions of our lives —

to wrestle with those questions –

can be the most important wrestling we do.


It’s what the late writer Reynolds Price called “a serious way of wondering.”

And week-by-week we pray for all of us who do that work

when we pray for those who seek God

and a deeper knowledge and love of God.


But, Jesus seems to be warning us that

there comes a point

when the question itself can become a shield,

when the wonder itself becomes a defense,

when the seeking becomes an excuse from finding.


Here’s the thing:

If you’re going to ask the questions,

at some point, you have to be willing to be changed by the answers.

Faith doesn’t require that all our answers are the same,

but faith requires the vulnerability of relationship.

The religious ones of Jesus’ day were substituting the question for the relationship.



She went to her mailbox, and there was a letter — an invitation to dinner.

She almost didn’t go. There had been so many dinners.

But she needed to know.


He told her that he loved her.

But that he was afraid he would be a terrible husband.

He told her that he was scared.

That he didn’t know what it would mean for them to get married.


And she took his hand,

and told him that, from what she had heard,

no one knows what it means to be married. Ever.

But they would figure it out

— together —

across the rest of their lives.


So, take a hand. Ask the questions.

And we’ll figure it out together.






Sunday January 24: Change in schedule due to weather

L1008403 (1)Due to the weather event that has left roads icy and travel advisories in place, the Advocate will adjust the Sunday morning schedule as follows:

10:30 AM    The Rev. Mary Ogus, priest for the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina and mother of Advocate resident Rebecca Ogus, will celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Advocate Chapel. All ye who can trundle there from wherever you dwell, please do! (Note: We will not have child care, lunch, or the previously schedule program about the Church World Service.  Also, the parking lot and the sidewalks will be icy, so be careful!)

10:30 AM (as well)  All are welcome to go online to the Advocate’s GoToMeeting room to join in Morning Prayer with the Priest Associate. (Our GoToMeeting subscription is only good for 25 links, so if you can share a screen with someone else, please do). Morning Prayer can be found in the Book of Common Prayer on pages 75 – 102 , in the online Book of Common Prayer here, and with a rotation for our shared reading here.

Click here to access the Advocate GoToMeeting room.

5 PM        The Contemplative Eucharist is cancelled.

The vicar bids your prayers for safe travels on the road home from Sewanee, Tennessee on Sunday.

  • Hope to see you all in person next Sunday!

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 ( 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.