Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Deacon Craig Accepts Position in Kansas

NEWS RELEASE: Deacon Craig Klein Accepts Position in Kansas

This week the Rev. Deacon Craig Klein announced that he has accepted a position at Washburn Technical Institute, the technical training unit of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He will be serving as the program director of a community-wide vocational training program, one of the areas of academic administration he loves.

The good news: Craig has a job! The bad news: Craig is leaving this weekend in order to take up his duties on Monday, February 2. This means that the congregation will not have an opportunity to thank Craig in person for his service to us, but we will find a way to express our best wishes and blessings in the near future. The two-plus years that Craig has been serving as Deacon at St. Mary's Church have been a great blessing.

Craig’s wife, Mary Beth, will remain in Utah for the remainder of the academic year in order to finish her M.S.W. at the University of Utah.

Because of the brief time in which we have known about Craig’s leaving there have been no conversations with the Bishop of Utah about next steps. The Rev. Canon Mary June Nestler, the Bishop’s Executive Assistant, will be meeting with the Bishop's Committee on
Sunday, February 1, and part of her conversation will concern this issue.

Please keep Craig and Mary Beth in your prayers as they face the months of transition and separation.

The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook
January 28, 2015

A Letter from Deacon Craig
Hello everybody! Deacon Craig here. I'd like to tell you a story. In mid-2102, I was a university administrator living in central Missouri who was offered what seemed to be like my dream job at Utah Valley University, being a vice president of community college programs. Since I was the Dean of Academic Affairs at two 2-year schools prior to coming to Utah, things seemed perfect. After arriving, though, I was to find that my position was to be eliminated in an academic restructure. Thus, I was out of a job in early 2014. I have searched for many months since then, but the work available for a 2-year degree administrator in Utah is quite limited. In fact, there is only one true community college in the state in Salt Lake City.

Soon after arriving (just a few days) I looked at our diocesan website and found two parishes that were equidistant from where I was living, St. Mary's and St. James. Reasoning that I should probably be in church near the same town where I worked, I chose St. Mary's and called Father Peter. The rest is history. What I found was a generous and loving congregation, and some UVU peers, too. Plus, for me as a deacon, there was the opportunity to work at Food and Care, a servant ministry dream. Since then, I have assumed a number of additional diocesan duties, including serving on the Commission on Ministry and producing the e-newsletter.

All of which brings me to today, Tuesday  January 27th. As of today, I have over 200 applications still pending in the state of Utah but-as I said-with very little opportunity at the one best-fit school. Imagine my surprise when a school called me just a few days ago about being a 2-year degree program administrator!

Exactly what I know, and at a good salary. At last!!! (And none too soon.) The twist of course is that the school is out of state (by about 1,000 miles.) So, after much prayerful consideration and discussion with my wife, I have accepted the position. Doing so is simply what I needed to do, and do now. This offer could not have come too soon. Still, leaving and essentially starting over is never ever easy, but do this I must. I so wanted to tell you all of this either last Sunday or at our annual meeting. Alas, things weren't finalized until yesterday and today. So, just I walked into St. Mary's without prior announcement, so too I leave in the same way. From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to say all of this directly to you, not as an email. Sometimes circumstance says otherwise, because I'm due at my new job this coming Tuesday, February 3rd! I am leaving this last Sunday in January early in the morning for a long 2-day drive.

Since my wife is staying here in order to finish her MSW degree at "The U", you know I'll be back to visit. That visiting will most certainly include St. Mary's whenever possible. I already miss you all, and will for quite some time. You are the best! Really, you are! Thank you for your kind and consistent treatment of me over the past few years. It has been wonderful!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Annual Meeting Summary

St. Mary's Church held its 127th Parish Annual Meeting on Saturday evening, January 25. With thirty-five people attending, the attendees enjoyed a selection of home-made soups, accomplished the necessary parish business, and heard an entertaining presentation.

The evening began with dinner, which featured the St. Mary’s Soup Cook-off—ten different soups and stews brought be parishioners on which votes were cast for the “best” soup in several categories. (Jim Meador’s Road-Kill Stew was a particular favorite.)

The Annual Meeting began with a review of the written annual reports, including the Annual Parochial Report, the statistical summary required of all Episcopal congregations. Elected to three-year terms on the Bishop's Committee were Serena Kanig Benish and Kirk Hepburn. Elected as Delegates and Alternates to the Diocesan Annual Convention were Michelle Despain, Kirk Hepburn, and Kiffer Card. Thanks and appreciation were given especially to Robert Redd for his service in the past year as the Bishop’s Warden.

The Rev. Deacon Libby Hunter gave a spirited and entertaining overview of the upcoming General Convention of The Episcopal Church in June. Special emphasis was given to the opportunities for volunteers to serve at the convention. Robert Redd and Mary Allen are the Parish Contacts for St. Mary's Church.

  • Texas Sheet Cake Recipe 
  • We will add other recipe's as they come. Please email them to

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Candlemas | Louisa Heiny

Last Sunday the children of St. Mary's learned about Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. 

The Gospel of Luke tells us that, 40 days after Jesus's birth, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple and offered sacrifices. At the temple, they met a man named Simeon. Simeon had been told by the Holy Ghost that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. When Simeon saw Jesus he held him, blessed God, and said what is now known as the Canticle of Simeon: Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

This event is celebrated on February 2 and is known as Candlemas. Candles are brought to church to be blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world. 

February 2 also happens to be the halfway point between the darkness of the winter solstice and the light of the spring equinox. As the Old English poem goes, 
If Candlemas be fair and bright, 
Come, Winter, have another flight; 
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, 
Go Winter, and come not again.
You may recognize the sentiment behind this poem-- we now know it as Groundhog Day!

One beautiful symbol of Candlemas, and hope for the coming light and warmth, is the appearance of the Candlemas bells. A beautiful white flower, it is a perfect symbol of purity. 

In preparation for Candlemas, the children of St. Mary's made stained glass votive candles. If you missed it, instructions are available here.

Kids should plan to bring their candles to church on February 1 for Candlemas!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Epiphanytide | Peter, our Pastor

One of the traditions of the church is to invite the priest to visit and bless your home during Epiphanytide, the church season we are in now. This can be done once, as when you have just moved in to a new place, or annually. If done annually it is customary that the priest writes the date in chalk over the inside of the front door. (Actually, a house blessing can be done any time, but it is an Epiphany tradition.)

 A house blessing can be simple or elaborate. I have simply stood in the entryway of a home with a candle and said a prayer and blessing, and I have walked through a house with a crowd and a thurible [incense pot] billowing with smoke. I have celebrated Holy Communion, or not. The only requirements are a candle and a mutually agreeable date and time. Contact me at to schedule a time.

Also, while writing, I wanted to give my thanks to all those who attended, helped with, or participated in the Epiphany Pageant and service on Tuesday night! (Especially Louisa Heiny and Kristin Smith for their organizing abilities.) Thirty-two people enjoyed the making of the Three Kings Cake, the pageant (particularly the Shepherd and his facial expressions), the Eucharist assisted by the children, and the party following. The hope is that this will become an annual tradition. (Next year it is on a Wednesday—put it on your calendars now!)