Category Archives: Articles

2017 Annual Parish Report

St. Mary’s Annual Report for 2017 is now available to read. The tradition for this document is to provide a historical record of the ministries and outreach activities for the church and to review church administrative milestones.

Click the Image to Read or Download the Report!


VOICE & The Dream Project to Present at 5/31/18 School Board Meeting

On May 31st, the School Board will hear recommendations about how better to protect and serve immigrant and refugee students. These are the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work inspired by VOICE and its ally, The Dream Project.
  • Please mark your calendar and come out the 31st to show the School Board and Superintendent that the entire community endorses the need for action and will hold them accountable for taking steps now.
  •  ↓ Download the Report to read recommendations by a Working Group of community members and APS principals and senior staff who spent months examining the current situation.
What:     School Board meeting
When:    Thursday, May 31st, 6:00 p.m.
Where:   Syphax Education Center, 2110 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22204. Note: This is a new location!!! Free parking is available in the garage connected to the Syphax center on levels LL, B1, and B2.

Questions?  Email Majorie Green,


A Letter from St. Martin’s West Acton

April 24, 2018

Dear St. Mary’s,

Thought I would pass along some pictures from an opportunity I had in mid-April, to visit and attend the Sunday morning Eucharist service of our companion parish in London – at St Martin’s West Acton.  I was in Europe for two weeks for work – and had to stay the weekend in London.  It occurred to me that one of the parishes we pray for each Sunday was somewhere in London, and would be great to visit – especially for a Sunday service.


After some research (the links on our St. Mary’s website were very helpful), found St Martin’s was an easy ride on the Tube from my hotel.

Everyone was warm and welcoming.  The service was great, and of course, we prayed for the Queen!

As you may have heard, Rev. Henderson just retired, having presided over his final service at Easter.  Their vestry has begun a search for their new “Vicar” as they call it.


It was nice to see the framed picture of St. Mary’s and letter signed by Fr. Merrow in February 1993, displayed when you first walk into the church building.  St. Mary’s is referenced in some of their literature, and on their Website.


As you would expect, I encouraged those whom I met to stop by and visit St Mary’s when traveling to Washington DC.


Greg Giesler

Evening Discussion: The Call in East Africa

Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.

St. Mary’s Committee on Tanzania Mission Trips invite you for dessert and conversation about our global mission efforts. Special guest speaker the Rev. Pearson Nhayo from the Diocese of Ruaha, Tanzania, will present some of his key research findings on the topics of cross-cultural ministry and communication within East Africa and beyond. What questions might St. Mary’s need to ask as we think about responding to the needs of our brothers and sisters within the Anglican Communion? All are welcome to attend!

Fogo Island: A 5-Part Series on Finding Spiritual Inspiration

1) Fogo Island: An Invitation

One day a little over a year ago, a photograph of Fogo Island Inn popped up in my Facebook feed. The photo showed a white, modern-looking structure perched on the rocky edge of an island off the coast of Newfoundland, just yards away from the wild North Atlantic. I knew I wanted to visit this place immediately.

I chuckled to myself, wondering what it was in my search history that had triggered Facebook to send me the ad.  How on earth did they know I would love this? I showed the photo to my husband, who agreed that Fogo Island was a perfect destination for our upcoming empty-nester phase (our youngest child was heading off to college that fall).

After doing some research, however, my husband voiced a concern: “Do you know how expensive this place is?” Expensive, and difficult to reach—two plane flights, a five-hour-drive, and a ferry lay between Washington D.C. and Fogo Island.  But my enthusiasm did not dim. I felt strongly that I wanted to go there.  I was attracted to the Fogo Island Inn, in part, because of its remoteness.  Physically, and metaphysically, it is far from home.

National Geographic describes Fogo Island as “not so much a place as a state of mind.”

The landscape is ruggedly beautiful, all rocks and low-lying bush and small pools of water. The ocean is strong and turbulent, and the constant sound of wave against rock was hypnotic. Small fishing sheds (called stages) dot the coast, and customary Saltbox homes are sprinkled across the landscape. You cannot escape the feeling that you are standing on the edge of the earth, looking out across the sea at infinity.

During our three-day stay last October, strong sustained winds swept across the island.  We hiked in the hills, and then on a path alongside the ocean. Eventually, we went back to our room at the Inn and to a welcoming fire.  As my toes and fingers thawed, I allowed myself to settle into the sense of calm that surrounded me.

This, I thought, was the inner peace that God intended each of us to experience; this was the sensation I craved, that I knew I would find on Fogo Island.  I marveled again at the serendipity of having received an ad for this particular place, just when I was most open to this experience.

Moments of serendipity such as this are rarely random.  The Holy Spirit gives us more guidance than we know; we often simply don’t heed the call.  The Facebook ad had been, I realized, an invitation: “Meet me here.” I am glad I accepted.

Leslie Ann Gerardo and her family have been members St. Mary’s for more than 20 years.  Currently, she volunteers with the Sr. High Youth Group and as a member of the Healing Prayer Ministry.  She can be reached at

2) Fogo Island: Responding to the Call

This is Part 2 in parishioner Leslie Ann Gerardo’s series about spiritual lessons learned from her visit to Fogo Island in Canada. 

Zita Cobb clearly heard the Holy Spirit’s call and responded to it.

I say this without knowing whether Cobb identifies as a person of faith; her story speaks for itself about God’s ability to use each of us for a greater purpose.

Cobb was born and raised on Fogo Island. Like most islanders, Cobb’s father was a cod fisherman.  When commercial fisheries depleted the cod supply, he left Fogo Island and resettled his family in Ottawa.

Zita Cobb attended Carleton University, eventually became the CFO of a successful fiber optics company, and retired in her early 40s as a multi-millionaire. But Cobb had never stopped thinking about Fogo Island.  She knew that the community in which she had been raised was dying a slow death from the lack of cod fish.

Cobb returned to Fogo Island, determined to turn its fortunes around. She donated $40 million of her own money to a non-profit foundation she and her brothers created, Shorefast, and began the process of creating a new economic base for Fogo Island.

She envisioned something that would supplement—not supplant—the island’s traditional, but inconsistent, fishing activity.

Cobb hired the world-renowned architect, Todd Saunders, who had summered on Fogo Island as a child, to design the Fogo Island Inn using local structures as a reference point. Through the Shorefast Foundation, Cobb also hired an international team of designers to create unique furniture reflective of the island’s culture and then hired local carpenters to build it. Local women stitched hundreds of rugs, quilts, and cushions used in the Inn.

Cobb envisioned more than a temporary financial reprieve; she laid the foundation for an enduring economy. Shorefast continues to fund the island’s young furniture industry, along with a cooperative for handicraft workers to sell their goods.  Island residents staff the Inn and its five-star restaurant and also serve as community hosts to provide informative, personalized tours of the island to hotel guests.  Shorefast finances artists who come to Fogo Island for inspiration and a quiet place to work.  Cobb even started an annual boat race to revive the island’s boat-building trade.

Every dollar earned by the Fogo Island Inn goes back to the Shorefast Foundation and is used to finance new ventures.  This means that Cobb will never see a financial return on her investment; however, the spiritual returns (though incalculable) are real.

Through her inspired vision—and her trust to act on that inspiration—Cobb has helped the Fogo Island community adapt to changing realities without sacrificing their cultural traditions.

The faithfulness responsible for revitalizing Fogo Island holds great meaning. I look forward to sharing Part 3 of this five-part series next month.

In gratitude,

Leslie Ann,

3) Fogo Island: Ways of Knowing

This is Part 3 in parishioner Leslie Ann Gerardo’s series about spiritual lessons learned from her visit to Fogo Island in Canada.

The phrase “ways of knowing” usually refers to the methods through which we acquire knowledge; i.e., things like language, emotion, imagination, intuition, and faith.

Zita Cobb uses the phrase differently. In her lexicon, “ways of knowing” refers to the body of crafts and skills, accumulated over centuries, that local residents developed as they struggled to survive in the island’s extreme environment.

In envisioning the island’s economic future, she strove to honor and preserve these local skills by adapting them to modern uses.

Thus, on Fogo Island, a boat became a chair.

Historically, Fogo Islanders used small fishing boats, called “punts.”  To build a punt strong enough to navigate the rough waters of the North Atlantic, islanders knew to start with the right wood, a specific type of tree that was sufficiently mature, with a particular bend at the root.  They knew how to cut that tree at just the right place.  They knew how to carve the root into a boat’s ribs.  The boats they crafted were small but mighty.

Over time, large commercial trawlers displaced the punts, and the tradition of punt-building threatened to be lost. Cobb tasked the team employed to design furniture for the Fogo Island Inn with finding new uses for old ways.

The design team recognized that the method for building a punt could be adapted to a new purpose—the base of a chair. Hence, the punt chair (shown at right) was born.

But Cobb didn’t stop there.  In partnership with local builders, her brainchild, the Shorefast Foundation, created a heritage collection of wooden boats, then a boatbuilding program at the local high school, which led to The Great Fogo Island Punt Race Festival. This annual event is designed to nurture an appreciation for and enjoyment of the craft of punt-building.

The core of Cobb’s approach to preserving “ways of knowing” is respect for her homeland’s culture and heritage.  Fogo Island needed to adapt to the modern world, but Cobb and those who worked with her recognized that in moving forward, the heart and soul of the island’s culture could easily be lost.  Rather than stay mired in the past, or abandon it entirely, Cobb looked for and found a middle ground, one that honored traditional skills by finding modern uses for the “ways of knowing” behind them.

To me, it is not a stretch to suggest that we might learn from this example. How might the church keep our foundation strong by examining our traditions and employing reason? What can we do to preserve ways of knowing for the next generation?

Thank you for following this Fogo Island series. The next installment, Listening to the Community, will appear in the May newsletter (and in this blog).

In gratitude,
Leslie Ann,

4) Fogo Island: Listening to the Community

I was drawn to Fogo Island by the photograph of the Inn overlooking the sea that appeared in my Facebook feed.

But beyond the physical beauty of the place, the experience of community on Fogo Island made the journey complete.

I had read about the Fogo Island Inn’s Community Host program, and when we were asked at check-in if we would like a host, I immediately said yes.

The next morning, “Helen,” arrived after breakfast, with her station wagon and bottles of water (reusable aluminum).

She reminded us to bring hats and gloves; it was shaping up to be a windy day.  Knowing nothing about her, we climbed into her car and off we went.

Fogo Island “Saltbox” house

Helen, we learned, grew up in Tilting, a community on Fogo Island.  She took us there and showed us her grandmother’s Saltbox home (shown at right).

Several hundred years old, the home was still occupied.  On Fogo Island, Helen explained, houses had value and were carefully maintained.  Land, on the other hand, was considered valueless.

To this day, many Fogo Islanders do not have deeds for the land on which their homes sit. Helen showed us the cove where she and her friends had learned to swim.

Though the water only reached 57 degrees, the children plunged in each summer, because learning to swim was essential.

Helen told us that as a child on Fogo Island, she never knew she was poor; at least, not until electricity arrived in the 1980s and with it, TV.  She told us she eventually left the island to follow her only son to British Columbia, but she returned when she heard about Zita Cobb’s project.

Helen was proud to be participating in the rebirth of Fogo Island by serving as a community host. Helen showed us the best hiking paths, picked berries with us, and pointed out the island’s landmarks.

She told us about the icebergs that float by each summer, and that polar bears sometimes travel on the ice.  She explained how the fishermen cured their cod, and the kind of vegetables islanders typically grew in their gardens. Helen shared details of life on the island with us; we responded by sharing details about ourselves.

When our four-hour tour ended, a friendship had been born.  She promised to visit us again; she was at the Inn the next morning and greeted us with hugs and a smile.

Fogo Island Inn’s Website notes “people and place are inextricably tangled up with one another on Fogo Island.”

Hearing about the island’s culture and history from someone who had lived it was essential to understanding this unique place.

Beyond that, the opportunity to grow a friendship with someone whose life experience was so different from my own made the trip to this unusual place more meaningful than I had anticipated.  Connecting with people, sharing stories, finding commonality – this is how community is built, and through community, we become closer to God.

Thank you for following this Fogo Island series.

The final installment, “Artful Living as a Way of Life,” will appear in the June newsletter.

In gratitude,

Leslie Ann,

Dr. Sabella Palestine Lecture

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Begins at 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s

Come hear a first-person account about present-day life in Israel from the Dr. Sabella, a Palestinian Christian, and professor of Sociology at Bethlehem University.

He will share his witness of living in a conflict zone and his commitment to promoting peace through understanding.

Dr. Sabella most recent book, A Life Worth Living, is now available in paperback. Join us!