February 28, 2024

Saint James the Less Weekly News & Updates

YouTube Page
Facebook Page
Visit our Website

A Note From Father Rock

Dear Church Family, 

I hope that you have plans to be with us this Sunday, coming to the 8 or 10 o'clock service, but making sure that you will join us for our Annual Meeting beginning promptly at 9 am. This will be in the Parish Hall. What should you expect? Several of us give reports on Finance, the Diocese and its convention, the State of the Church, etc. Also, we elect our new Vestry candidates for three-year terms. In our polity, our Vestry makes most of the decisions, so it is a representative democracy. We elect the Vestry who represent the congregation's interests. 

We work hard to try and make each class of Vestry members as diverse as we can. In recent years, we have gotten the exact number of members who are needed. In the years I have been working in churches, there are few things more divisive than to have people "lose" an election at church. It really hurts. Because of that, I try very hard to have a full slate of candidates or have twice the number needed plus one. So, in our situation, I would rather have 4 (exact) or 9 (200% + 1). If one has to lose at church, it is better that the number of those not winning is greater than the number winning. Some of you have asked my rationale behind this. Finding 9 willing candidates has been very difficult in recent years. This year we have a very strong slate of candidates with a mixture of long-time and newer members, and I am pleased with each of them, even more so collectively.

We have lots of good news to share, and some growth areas for the coming year. Also, all the information on what is happening on my sabbatical. I do hope we will see you this Sunday!




Wednesday, February 28, 2024

  • 7:30am- Eucharist Rite II (with bagels & coffee to follow)
  • 10:30am- Vinyasa Yoga with Lorie

Thursday, February 29, 2024

  • 6pm- Hand Bells Choir
  • 7pm- Parish Choir

Sunday, March 3, 2024

  • 8am- Eucharist Rite I (no music)
  • 9am- Annual Meeting
  • 10am- Eucharist Rite II (music)

Monday, February 26, 2024

  • 10:30am-Good Grief
  • 10:30am- Vinyasa Yoga with Lorie
  • 7pm- Dream Group (Harrisons)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

  • 10am-Book Group
Click Here to Watch Services Live or Later

March Calendar

  • 2/21- 3/20- Lenten Program (Wednesdays 7-8pm)
  • 3/3- Annual Meeting 9am
  • 3/10- Daylight Savings
  • 3/10- The Rev. Bo Millner here for 10am service
  • 3/10- End of Life Program 11am
  • 3/16- Supper Club
  • 3/17- Blood Drive 8am-12pm
  • 3/17- Contemplative Service 5pm
  • 3/28- Maundy Thursday Service 7pm
  • 3/29- Good Friday Service 7pm
  • 3/30-Noon- Holy Saturday Service,
  • 3/30- 7:30pm- Easter Vigil
  • 3/31- Easter Service (8am outside, 10am inside)
  • 3/31- Easter Egg Hunt 11am

What a beautiful weekend in community together. Miriam supports our children and youth so well. They learn and grow in faith while having a blast doing it! Thank you to our hospitality team for their faithful efforts every single week. You make everything so warm and inviting!

2023 Pledge Statements

Thank you so much to all who gave in 2023. Your kindness is so appreciated. We've had some trouble with the statements getting to you in the mail, so Susan has kindly reprinted them. You have a copy waiting for you on the table in the hallway, in an envelope with your name on it. Please pick yours up next time you are here. We will put them in the mail again 3/15 if they have not been picked up.

Annual Meeting March 3rd 9am

Please join us for our annual meeting THIS Sunday, March 3rd at 9am (between the services) to hear an update on all facets of the Parish in our Parish Hall. We are a thriving and dynamic community. Come hear some of the inner workings.

There will be no adult Sunday School that day. We will have children's Nursery starting at 8:50am for children ages 10 and under. They will do crafts, but not the normal Sunday School lesson so that our teachers and join the meeting. Children's church will happen normally for the 10am service.

Lenten Series

This Lent, the Diocesan Community is invited into a journey to commit in new ways to becoming Beloved Community and growing loving, liberating, life-giving relationships across the human family of God. We make the journey not only as individual Christians and congregations, but as a whole church, seeking to make a commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice. We will be meeting 5 weeks on Wednesdays 7-8:30pm. February 21st will be the first class. There is no class Holy Week. Our Seminarian, Dr. Bart Natoli will be leading us for this incredible series.

In the ministry of racial healing and justice, none of us walks a straight line. We enter the labyrinth wherever God has provided an opening – telling the truth about our church’s story around race; discerning and proclaiming God’s dream of Beloved Community where we are; learning and practicing Jesus’ way of healing and love; and bravely working to transform systemic racial injustice. We keep moving from one quadrant to another and back. No one is ever really finished. That is the way of ongoing spiritual formation. And so, this Lent, we will “walk” sections of this labyrinth, gathering as a group, engaging with the scriptures, and reflecting on our experiences. 

End of Life Program

Please join us for our Annual End of Life Program on Sunday, March 10th at 11:30am. If you have questions about wills, estate planning or just want to set up a few details for funerals, hymns, and scripture selection, we have good information for you.

Blood Drive 3/17

We will be holding a blood drive in our Parish Hall on Sunday, March 17th from 8am -noon. If you would like to sign up for an appointment, you can do that HERE. If you have donated before and are in the system, you can call the office to sign up for a time. (We just can't register first time donors). We have filled 12 of the 37 appointments. Spread some "luck" on St. Patty's Day and save some lives.

They have updated their guidelines so that more folks can donate. Check HERE to see if you are a candidate.

All who come to give will receive a $10 e-gift card to a pet supply merchant of choice. Plus, they’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a $3,000 gift card. There will be five lucky winners! Details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Pets.

2024 Vestry Candidates

in alphabetical order

Beth Baxter

Hi! I am relatively new to Ashland and began attending SJtL at the start of Covid after moving to Ashland from Glen Allen. For the majority of my life, I was a practicing Methodist as I was raised by my parents in Knoxville, TN. I have been touched by the kindness and caring of this community and have felt His love and presence through the amazing, dedicated staff and wholehearted kindness shown to me by many members. I decided to make SJtL my home and was confirmed by Bishop Stevenson after attending confirmation classes.


As a child, my parents instilled the value and importance of Sunday school and regular service attendance, and as I aged youth group proved to be a lifeline through those challenging teen years. Afterwards, I attended the University of Tennessee and resided in FL, GA, and VA. In my adult years I have taught Sunday school classes, led women’s study groups, worked many church fundraisers, and headed up Easter festivities. I have also been an advocate and active volunteer in the TAA (Tourette Association of America). I served on the Mid-Atlantic chapter board as secretary for two years and led our local Richmond TAA support group for four years.


I am fortunate to be the mom of two wonderful sons! - Cameron who is married and attending law school at U of R and Ben who is a senior at Va. Tech majoring in computer science. Hopefully, you will have the chance to meet them, when their schedules allow.


I adore my church family here at SJtL and was humbled that this family has nominated me to consider serving as a Vestry member and I would be delighted to offer my assistance and faith to help SJtL move forward with its goals, and to maintain the Christ centered and welcoming community, which I have grown to cherish and love. 

Tripp Hudgins

Thank you for considering me to serve on the Vestry. Though Trish, Elias, and I are quite new to the shared life of St. James The Less, my connections go back a half century to 1970 when I was baptized at the parish by The Rev. Hill Riddle. My parents lived in Ashland at the time and briefly made the parish their church home. They moved away shortly after. 


I attended Patrick Henry High School (Conde Hopkins was one of my teachers) and the University of Richmond, where I received my BA in Religion, met Rock and Stephanie, and spent an inordinate amount of time in the choir room. I found Christ in the choir loft of the University Chapel through a Baptist lens. I would attend Baptist Theological Seminary (Rock’s+ alma mater) at Richmond for one year. I lived at Richmond Hill for four years. During that time, I served as a soloist at First Presbyterian and Church of the Holy Comforter. 


Eventually, I moved to Chicago where I met my wife, Patricia Austin. We attended North Shore Baptist Church. I attended seminary at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (the Episcopal seminary in the Midwest), and was later ordained in the American Baptist Churches, USA. After planting an “emergent” church and serving a more traditional congregation as pastor, we moved to Berkeley, CA so that I could pursue a PhD in Liturgy and Ethnomusicology at The Graduate Theological Union/University of California. In 2015, I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church, a return to my denominational home, and we attended All Souls Parish where I served as a musician. I also taught homiletics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary in the Bay Area. 


We moved back to Virginia from Berkeley, California in 2020 as the COVID epidemic was starting. That first year, like so many, we kept to ourselves. In 2021, we eventually found our way to St. James The Less through the Bluegrass Mass and have been enjoying getting to know everyone. 


Presently, I work as a hospice chaplain with Bon Secours/Mercy Health. Trish, Elias, and I live in the Bellevue neighborhood. 

PK Kinser

Ashland has been my home community for 35 years, and St. James the Less has been my church community for 22 years.  Before joining SJTL, I had been volunteering as a Middle School Youth Group leader since 1999 at a nearby church, and when my own children began approaching middle school age, I began searching for a church with their peers in the youth program.  

In 2002 I began attending SJTL because of the vibrant youth program lead by Jane and Yancy Jones, Susan Hubbard, Valerie Lee (now Althoff), Richard Grosse, Aleta Meyer, and many others.  

By 2004, Aleta and I were married, and together we volunteered in various ways with the SJTL Youth programs for the next 16 years.  The Covid pandemic and a work-related move to Albuquerque interrupted our participation at SJTL for 3 years, but we are back in Ashland now!  

I also occasionally sing Bass in Choir, and I was very fortunate to have a father who was an Episcopal Priest. He taught me important lessons like to only allow vestry meetings to run for one hour, which is a lesson I hope to help facilitate!

My lifelong avocation has been computer related work, and I currently serve as a defense contractor for US Space Force, doing cool stuff involving satellites. Perhaps my best quality is that my wife is even cooler than I am!

Sylvia Spagna

We moved to Ashland in 1986 when George began teaching at Randolph-Macon College and we began attending St. James the Less the very first Sunday we were in town. That has never stopped – even attending virtual services during the Covid shutdown. Our two daughters were raised in this church. The Rev. Amy Spagna is the rector of St. James Church in Woodstock, Vermont. Kim Cruz is an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia, where she lives with our son-in-law Mike and our grandson Evan.

I have served on the Vestry twice before, am a long-time member of the Altar Guild, and was Parish Administrator for 7 years, working with Ed Tracy, Charles Joy, and David Anderson. I have also taught Sunday school and served on various committees including Chenery, Property, and Parish Life.

I look forward to serving again on the Vestry.


Sunday Schedule:

  • Children's Sunday School- Sundays 9am
  • Nursery- Sundays 9am
  • Children's Church- during the 10am service

Children's Supplies -Help us get ready for the annual Easter Egg hunt and Lent preparations. Click the link HERE to see the needs for our youth and children’s programming. Thank you all so much for your continued support!!!


  • Sign up to bring meals for the Clinic Volunteers HERE
  • Help stock our Emergency Food Pantry (outside the clinic)
  • Send in your Pop Tops for McDonald House
  • Bring in Hygiene or laundry items for Peter Paul
  • Donate to ACES (Click HERE for current needs)


Lord, we lift up this nation struggling with itself these days. Encourage us to faithfulness, righteousness, and compassion for all God’s Children. We lift up Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael, our Presiding Bishop, Mark, Dabney & Gail, our Bishops, Rock+, our priest, and Dawn+, our Deacon. We pray for Bart, our Seminarian, in his formation May they be strengthened and encouraged as the work with us to proclaim your Good News in this world. We pray for Joe, our President, Glenn, our Governor, and Steve, our Mayor, and all our elected officials. Guide them to lead us to the common good. 

We ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all people. Remembering especially Gus Miller, Erin Yagla, Meredith Moon, Meghann Batten, Dennis Folsom, Court Warfield, Andrea Alexander McCallum, Janet Taylor, Joy Stevenson, Andy Newchok, Rebecca Hottman, Haden Hopkins, Kim Keene, Pam Bowers, Hilda Kelly, Harry Hassell, Joel Blunk, Holly Rison and family, Bower family, Gavin Yonce and family, Smith family, Lyde Longaker, Mary Ann Harris, Michele Parks, Gini Dryden, Bob & Mary Lou Brown, Kay Kemper, David Bandas, Trinity Episcopal Church, Rone Deas, Wilson Loving, Phil Edmonds, Diana Timberlake, Kristi Elles, Sharon Street, Betz Martinez, Pam Gillette and Margaret Belyea.

We ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison. We also ask your prayers for those serving in the diplomatic corps, the military, and as missionaries: Larson Flanagan, Kemper Jones, Greg Ericksen, Matthew Thomas, Philip Morison, James Ashley, Ellie Deas, Andrew Brunson, Liam Higgins, and Katherine Murphy. 

We ask your prayers for those who have died. We ask your prayers for those who grieve.  

Our citizens who live in Hanover County, the Board of Supervisors, School Board, and Manager. The print and broadcast media. The churches of metropolitan Richmond: members and clergy. All who live in poverty. All who suffer from mental illness. Our citizens who live in Ashland, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg, the town and city Councils and Managers. All who work in banks and finance; all making financial decisions for greater Richmond. Prisons and jails of metropolitan Richmond: prisoners and staff. All who are unemployed or underemployed. All public servants.

For all those who seek peace in the world and for ourselves, that we may bring about God's Kingdom here on earth. For our enemies, and for those who wish us harm.

Praise God for those in every generation in whom Christ has been honored.

Lent 2 Homily

Click HERE to read the sermon


March 2

Emma Toscano

March 3

Ian Sutton

Anabel Shifflett

March 4

Liam Penland

Aidan-Thomas Smith


Saint James the Less Episcopal Church

125 Beverly Road

Ashland, VA 23005

(804) 798-6336

Staff: (click on the name to email them)

The Rev. Rock Higgins, tssf Rector

The Rev. Deacon Dawn McNamara Deacon

Reggie Long- Organist/Music Director

Miriam Smith- Christian Formation- Children & Youth Director

Kasey Buckland- Parish Administrator

YouTube Page
Facebook Page
Visit our Website
Weekly E-News Deadline:  If you have an announcement to be shared with the parish, please get the information in no later than noon on Monday.