December 2017

St Francis Bulletin

December 2017, Volume 24, Issue 10

From the Rector

Fr. Len Giacolone

The Advent season and Christmas will be upon us in a few days and it is fitting that we take a few moments to think about why this is so important to us. We will have a short Advent this year, just three full weeks. There are always four Sundays in Advent to represent the approximately four thousand years the people of Israel waited for Messiah. But since Christmas is on a Monday this year, the Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve. We will have our regular schedule of services on Sunday morning, December 24.  Our Christmas Eve service will again be at 8:00 pm. As is our custom, the first Mass of Christmas will be preceded by Traditional Lessons and Carols. This somewhat lengthy substitution for the Liturgy of the Word commemorates salvation history, up to and including the birth of Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God. These beautiful readings and music allow us to meditate on the tremendous gift of the Father to the world. If we haven't spent Advent doing this meditation, this is kind of a crash course that leads us into the celebration of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist.

As has been the case for the last several years, all of this will be preceded by traditional Christmas music selections arranged by our Music Director, Paula Blaha. These very talented musicians provide the introduction to the liturgy for which we are very grateful.

I know that many of you are not able to attend the Christmas Eve service and so we will also have a Christmas morning service at 10:00 am. Although much less festive than the previous evening, there will be music to accompany our morning Christmas Mass.

Having a brand new church building presents us with a new set of questions about how to decorate for Christmas. Everything we had in our previous two locations is now gone. It had served its purpose and had seen better times. I will be discussing this with the Vestry at the December meeting. Of course we will have the sanctuary decorated with poinsettias. However, what else we will do remains to be seen. I know it will look very nice.

As we always do, we will elect new Vestry members at our annual parish meeting in January. Since our incorporation into the Diocese of Fort Worth, the responsibility for selecting and vetting prospective Vestry members rests with the outgoing Vestry members, in this case John Hatley, Don St. Martin, and Ed Sandlin. They have brought forth six candidates who are willing to stand for election to the Vestry for a three year term. They are: Jim Britt, Jim Crandell, Matt Donnowitz, Donna Hunt, Nancy Jones, and David Kristo-Reinking. Between now and the annual meeting more information on these candidates will be forthcoming so that you may be able to make an informed decision about who should serve in this very important capacity.

Finally, Paula Blaha, our Music Director for the past ten years, has chosen to seek a position elsewhere. I would like to thank Paula for her very significant contribution to the music and the liturgy of our parish over that time. We are in the process of seeking a new Music Director for St. Francis which I hope will take place within the next few weeks. Please ask God to send us the right person.

Steve McCown

Adoption is one of the most deeply personal and relevant issues in the Church and yet one of the least often spoken of. We are the products of adoption—once lost to our sins; we have become God's Children and have been given the privilege of calling Him Father! What can we do to encourage and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion? Some possibilities include:

Prayerfully consider if you are being called to adopt

Celebrate birth parents who choose life for their children and comfort them when they miss the children they placed for adoption

Assist parents who adopted a child with special needs perhaps babysit to give them a respite from their 24/7 responsibilities

There are certainly many other options as well. If you seek God's will in this area He will surely point them out to you. Let us, as people adopted into God's family, open our hearts and our homes to adopted children.

Based on

Help Sponsor an APRC Family?

Every year the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center ensures that the needy families they served throughout the year have Christmas presents for their children. Our St. Francis chapter of Anglicans for Life is sponsoring one of these families and is collecting funds to buy their gifts.
If you would like to participate in this project, please give your contribution to either Steve McCown or Rory Motl or place it in the collection basket on the table outside the nursery. Checks should be made payable to APRC.


Update on the Church Bazaar

John Hatley

The Vestry decided to suspend the church bazaar. We will NOT be having it on Dec. 2. Instead, we may participate in a neighborhood garage sale in the spring. Stay tuned!

Missy Bernard

Advent is here on December 3! The children will make Advent wreaths on December 3rd, and we will be celebrating the Advent service each week in the classroom. They also will take home Advent calendars and devotional booklets for celebrating Advent in the home. We hope that home Advent celebrations will help families connect in prayer and focus on the true Advent message. We will continue our study and celebration of Advent throughout December, and will conclude the season with an Epiphany lesson in January.

Sunday School will pause on December 24th and December 31, resuming January 7th. 

The children packed 71 boxes for Operation Christmas Child on November 19! They really enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone who donated gifts and funds for the boxes. The congregation really came through for us on short notice.  Your thoughtfulness and generosity in choosing items is so appreciated, and the monetary gifts are equally appreciated. 

Please pray for the children who will be receiving these gifts. It is wonderful how much joy they bring. Samaritan's Purse has published several videos on the Operation Christmas Child Program that may be of interest.

Operation Christmas Child Overview 2017

Building on Prayer

Operation Christmas Child - Full Circle Story

Next year, the plan is to start collecting shoe box items in late September and October.  The congregation did well with a 3-week notice, but advanced warning can really be given sooner.


On January 6, 2008, Paula Blaha started working at St. Francis as our second music director. At that time, we were at the 9th Street location. She moved with us to the Burnet Road site and then stayed to see us move into the long awaited current church location. To salute her 10 years as St. Francis' music director and to bid her farewell, the choir will host the coffee hour in her honor on December 19. Please plan to stay after the service to celebrate her sharing her music talents with us for the past decade and to wish her well in her future endeavors.
If you wish to make a donation for the Christmas poinsettias as a remembrance, memorial, or thank offering, please use an envelope from the table at the back of the worship space to enclose your donation. Fill the envelope front out as appropriate and place in the wooden box on the same table.
Christmas Eve
7:40 p.m., Prelude Music 
8 p.m., Lessons and Carols & Holy Communion 
• ~9:30 p.m., Christmas Reception
Christmas Day
10 a.m., Holy Communion, with music
First Sunday after Christmas, Dec. 31 
9:30 & 11 a.m., Holy Communion
Epiphany, Saturday, Jan. 6
6 p.m., Evensong and Epiphany Feast
November was designated as pledge month at St. Francis.  If you haven't already, fill out a pledge card  for the operating budget and the capital campaign and return as soon as possible so the Vestry can create a budget.

Diocesan Convention Report

Amy Crandell
The annual diocesan convention was held in Hurst the first weekend in November.  Fr. Len promised to report if anything of significance occurred. You will undoubtedly note he did not report on the convention.  As the lay delegate, I concur with his assessment that the meeting was uneventful.
The weekend began with an opening Eucharist at St. Vincent's Cathedral. Seeing all the clergy vested and processing in is not something one gets to witness very often. The sermon, by the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman was excellent.
After a lovely Italian-themed dinner on Friday evening at the Hurst Conference Center, the group reconvened for Morning Prayer and the business meeting on Saturday.
All the reports were quickly offered, (there is a huge timer set to 5 minutes next to each speaker) with some providing a hard copy. (Click here to see 31 of the reports Fr. Len and I were given.)
The most interesting report was from Bishop Iker. He always publishes his text on the web after the convention. Give this a read.
The person presenting the budget joyfully declared something he rarely gets to say - "Good Morning!" (A joke more amusing to those attending the meeting as his report - nearly the last on the agenda - is usually given after lunch).
The convention ended with a quick service for noon day prayers and a box lunch.  Overall, a pleasant experience for this delegate.  It was good to see the diocesan staff, the clergy from around the diocese and the other lay delegates.

Diocesan Men's Conference

The Diocesan Men's Conference, titled “Building Better Men's Ministries” with Canon David Roseberry will be on February 9 & 10, 2018 at Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Arlington. Registration is open! Click here to register. Click here to see the flyer.  

Camp Crucis News
Several flyers for Camp Crucis were distributed at the recent convention.  If you have any youth in your house, consider attending camp this year.  Camp Crucis is a jewel for the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth. Scholarships are available.
Flyers for volunteers and interns at camp.
Announcing the 2018 Camp Theme.
Diocesan Report.
Here is the camp website.

Diocese News

Amy Crandell
Over the years, I have accumulated prayer intentions for St. Francis.  These prayers are as valid now as they were in our other locations.  Please pray for St. Francis:
•   That the Holy Spirit will be active in our church
•   That wisdom, discernment and revelation of the Holy Spirit come upon us to show us what we as a church are to do;
•   That all may encourage one another and build each other up.  
•   That we always show love to each other
•   That we can continue to grow to be a praying church.
•   For the in-filling of the Holy Spirit
•   Show us any blockage - individually or as a church that is keeping our prayers from being answered.
•   Give us specific direction on where we are to go.

Last year, a small group of St. Francis members strolled through the Northwood Neighborhood around the church for a couple of hours of singing Christmas Carols. To continue and make this a tradition, this year's caroling is tentatively scheduled for 5 pm onDec. 17th.  Mark your calendar and join us! Music is provided.

December Birthdays

3          Brian Glenn 
14        Bruce Palmer 
18        Angie McCown 
19        Dinah Arce
31        Genevieve Hatley 

December Anniversaries

4     Ed and Ruth Ann Stilllman  
12   John and Veronica Armstrong  
21   Kyle and Leanne Read  
30   Arthur and Audrey Woodgate 

 Readings for December

 12/3 1 Advent
•         Isaiah 64:1-9a
•         Psalm 80:1-7
•         1 Corinthians 1:1-9
•         Mark 13:24-37
12/10 2 Advent
•         Isaiah 40:1-11
•         Psalm 85:7-13
•         2 Peter 3:8-15a, 18
•         Mark 1:1-8
12/17 3 Advent
•         Isaiah 65:17-25
•         Psalm 126
•         1 Thessalonians 5:16-28
•         John 1:6-8, 19-28
12/24 4 Advent
•         2 Samuel 7:4, 8-16
•         Psalm 132:8-15
•         Romans 16:25-27
•         Luke 1:26-38
12/24 Christmas Eve
•         Genesis 3:8-19
•         Genesis 22:15-18
•         Isaiah 9:2-7
•         Luke 1:26-38
•         Luke 2:1-7
•         Luke 2:8-16
•         Matthew 2:1-12
•         John 1:1-14
12/25 Christmas Day
•         Isaiah 9:2-7
•         Psalm 96
•         Titus 2:11-14
•         Luke 2:1-20
12/31 1st Sunday after Christmas
•         Isaiah 61:10-62:3
•         Psalm 147:12-20
•         Galatians 3:23-25. 4:4-7
•         John 1:1-18 
Notes on the Readings:
St. Francis follows the 1979 BCP Lectionary for the lessons (We are at the beginning of Year B) with the text read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
The Sunday collects and text of the psalms are from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
On the second and fourth Sundays, the psalm is chanted at the 11:00 service. The psalm markup is based on the Cathedral Psalter and is a part of the St. Francis Psalter - a multi-year project (i.e., not many are completed yet) to post the psalms for chanting on our website.

St. Francis December Calendar

  • 9:30 a.m. Said Holy Communion (even on the morning of 12/24 and 12/31)
  • 9:30 a.m. Sunday School (except 12/24 & 12/31)
  • 10:00 a.m. Choir Practice
  • 11:00 a.m. Holy Communion with music (on the first Sunday, the liturgy includes Morning Prayer.  Services will be held even on the morning of 12/24 and 12/31)
  • 7:00 p.m. Evening Prayer
1st Friday, December 1
  • 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Games Night
1st Saturday, December 2
  • 9:00 a.m. Prayer Service for our Nation
2nd Monday, December 11
  • 6:00 p.m. Vestry Meeting
3rd Friday, December 15
  • 12:00 p.m. Mothers' Prayer Group
Dec. 17 
  • 5:00 p.m. Christmas Caroling
Dec. 24, Christmas Eve
  • 7:40 p.m. Prelude Music
  • 8:00 p.m. Lessons and Carols & Holy Communion
  • ~9:30 p.m. Christmas Reception
Dec. 25, Christmas Day
  • 10:00 a.m. Holy Communion, with music
5th Sunday, December 31
  • ~12:30 p.m. 5th Sunday Potluck Luncheon
  • 3:30 p.m. Hymn Sing at the Retirement and Nursing Center
Epiphany, Saturday, Jan. 6
  • 6:00 p.m. Evensong and Epiphany Feast
Diocesan Activities are promoted on this blog. You can subscribe and have updates emailed to you.
The Diocesan calendar is here.
The Bishop's page is here

St. Francis Activities

Our parish has many groups to carry out our mission. Here are more details on most of the activities. The contact for each group is listed for questions.

Acolytes - Contact: Fr. Giacolone
An acolyte serves at the altar during the Sunday services - lighting the candles, carrying the processional cross, helping prepare Communion, and assisting the Priest. Under the direction of Fr. Len, we have a team of five who serve periodically.

Altar Flowers - Contact  Angie McCown or Nancy Critchfield-Jones
Associated with the altar guild are the altar flowers. In general, every two weeks (exceptions are during Pre-Lent, Lent and Advent), fresh flowers are placed on the altar. (The set being replaced is taken to the Retirement and Nursing Center on Burnet Lane for the residents to enjoy.) Anyone can make a remembrance for a loved one or a thank offering with the altar flowers at any time during the year, by simply filling out an envelope from the table in the back, enclose a donation, and leave it in the box on the right side of the back of the Nave.

Altar Guild - Contact: Becky Hunt
This group of 14 is responsible for assisting the Priest in preparing for services at St. Francis. They are divided into teams and set up and clean up the altar (among many other duties) for all the services that week. New members are always welcome. Email Becky Hunt to volunteer and with questions.

Anglicans for Life - Contact: Rory Motl
Formed in April of 2009 and affiliated with the global organization, the St. Francis chapter generally meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 12:30 pm. Anglicans for Life is the global Anglican ministry that educates, equips, and engages the Anglican Church in fulfilling Scripture's mandate to protect the vulnerable, defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Rory Motl leads the group.  All are welcome to attend.

Choir - Contact: Amy Crandell
The all-volunteer choir was formed in 2008. Amy Crandell organizes the music and leads the rehearsals. Currently, seven St. Francis members devote 45 minutes each Sunday to rehearsing. Our goal is to enhance the 11:00 service with music sung to the glory of God. New choir members who enjoy singing are always welcome. Email Amy Crandell for more information or to volunteer.

Along with the choir, instrumentalists and smaller vocal groups occasionally offer music during the 11:00 service or other special services. Let the music director or Amy know if you have a talent to offer.

Christian Education for Youth - ContactMissy Bernard
Sunday school classes for the youth of St. Francis are held each week at 9:30 between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Classes always center on Biblical stories with activities designed to help the students live the lessons. Missy Bernard leads the program and, along with Denise Gentsch, Sue Orr and Doug Cooper teach the classes. Email Missy with questions or for more information. All parents are encouraged to bring their children to Sunday school.

Christian Education for Adults - Contact: Fr. Giacolone
Periodically, Fr. Len leads a class for adults. Typically held on a weekday evening, in past years, the class has been on prayer using Pray in Faith and on the Holy Spirit using The Holy Spirit and You. Class is open to anyone.

Evening Prayer - Contact: Jim Crandell
A weekly Evening Prayer service has been said at St. Francis since at least 2006. Currently led by Jim Crandell with 7-9 in attendance, the service is held at 7 pm each Thursday, using the order of service from the 1928 Prayer Book. Prayers and lessons are said, but Hymns, the Gloria and the canticles are sung without accompaniment. Contact Jim with questions. All are welcome to attend.

Games Night - Contact: Amy Crandell
On the first Friday of each month (with some exceptions), a small group of St. Francis friends (generally 4-8 folks) gathers for a light potluck supper followed by a time of a board game or two. All are welcome to join the group for an enjoyable social evening.

Home Groups - Contact: Fr. Giacolone
The St. Francis Home Groups were formed in 2005 and are still meeting nearly 12 years later - some with the original members! We currently have two home groups with between 4 and 12 members which meet bi-monthly at the private home of one of the members. The format of each group's sessions varies, but prayer, Bible reading, discussion and support are typically present. Currently Claire Ducker and Doug Cooper each host a home group. Anyone can form a home group. Let Fr. Len know your plans and visit the current home groups to see how they are organized.

Hospitality - Contact: David Norris
Having a bite to eat while visiting after the services has been a St. Francis activity ever since the church first formed. Kim & David Norris volunteer the coordination of the coffee hour, potluck luncheons, and other receptions and gatherings, but a variety of volunteers are needed to supply the snacks. There is a sign-up notebook on the table that always has openings for someone to bring some snacks.

Intercessory Prayer Group - Contact: Fr. Len and Nancy Giacolone
Prayer is the top activity at St. Francis. Towards this, St. Francis has an active Intercessory Prayer Group. Fr. Len and Nancy Giacolone maintain the church's prayer list, receiving requests in a variety of ways - discussions, email, telephone calls and written requests left in the prayer box. Members of the group receive updates via e-mail and all vow to pray each day for each person on the list. Contact either Nancy or. Fr. Len if you wish to be an intercessor. There is a prayer intention box in the back of the Sanctuary if you would like to submit a prayer request.

Mothers' Prayer Group - Contact: Char Ready
On the 3rd Thursday of each month, this group of mothers meets to offer prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Petition - with the petition prayers concentration on the families. Contact Charlotte Ready for more information. All mothers - even if the "children" are grown - are encouraged to attend.

Newsletter & Bulletin - Contact: Amy Crandell
The St. Francis Bulletin is published each month. This newsletter is distributed primarily via email, with some copies mailed. A service bulletin is prepared for each service held at St. Francis to use in the worship service. Send announcements and newsletter articles to Amy.

Nursery - Contact: Missy Bernard
St. Francis is blessed to have children who love to play in the nursery during the Sunday services. Nursery coordinator Missy Bernard makes sure that there is always an attendant to watch the children. We are blessed to have Tonia Wu and Gabi Velasco as our attendants. The nursery has a downstairs location for infants and an upstairs room for the older children. 

Prayer Service for the Nation - Contact: Amy Crandell
On the first Saturday of each month, a prayer service for our nation is held at 9:00 am in the fellowship area. This group of 4-8 St. Francis members and friends  begin the service with a gospel-style hymn and opening prayer. The main portion are collects, Bible readings and extemporaneous prayers centering on Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church, and Family. We end with the singing of another hymn All are welcome to join us.

Prayer Shawl Ministry - Contact: Char Ready
This group of men and women work to knit or crochet shawls. Prayers are said while the shawl is being created and then are blessed by the Priest before being given out to anyone who is sick. The recipients are astounded at the power from the shawl when it is wrapped around the shoulders. Volunteers are needed to knit or croquet the shawls as well as to help with supplies. Contact Charlotte with questions and to volunteer.

Readers or Lectors -Contact: Fr. Giacolone
At most of the services, a member of the congregation reads the first lesson and the Epistle. Mark Rambin schedules the five readers who take turns reading at the 11:00 service.

St. Claire's Guild - Contact: Eileen Cole
While we all hope that life goes smoothly, St. Clare's Guild is a group of women whose ministry is dedicated to serving our parish family in times of celebration, need, illness or loss. Eileen Cole leads the group.

St. Polycarp's Guild - Contact: Jim Crandell
Originally formed over 10 years ago as an opportunity for the men to gather to smoke meat together for the congregation to enjoy on Memorial Day and Labor Day, the group currently "meets" virtually to organize these events. Jim Crandell has ended up being the organizer, but is looking for other men to step up to actually have events where the men can meet in person. All men are welcome to participate.

Ushers - Contact: Al Parker
Service as an usher is an important lay ministry of our parish. By their service, the ushers help to establish a welcoming and reverent atmosphere for worship, they assist in the orderly conduct of the service and they perform record keeping vital to the ongoing operation of the parish. Contact Al Parker if interested in serving.  

Vestry - Contact: Fr. Giacolone
Our vestry is our governing board and comprises 9 member,s 8 of whom are elected to a 3-year term. The elections are staggered so that we elect 2-3 members each year at the January annual meeting. The Vestry meets on the 2nd Monday of each month at 6 p.m. In general; the Vestry is responsible to make decisions on behalf of the parish. Anyone can come to observe a meeting. Current officers are: Senior Warden, David Norris; Junior Warden, John Hatley; Secretary, Kevin BurnetteTreasurer, Grady Collins

Vestry Members
Fr. Len Giacolone; Class of 2018: Don St.Martin, Ed Sandlin, John Hatley; Class of 2019: Brendle Glomb, David Norris, Kevin Burnette; Class of 2020: Missy Bernard, Dinah Arce

Webmaster - Contact: Jim Crandell
The St. Francis website serves as a portal of information to the outside world. Times of upcoming services, our location and the main activities are listed. Most importantly, recordings of sermons are available from the most current recorded Sunday back to January 2002 for anyone to listen to. 

Women's Bible Study - Contact: Becky Hunt
From time to time, Becky Hunt conducts a women's Bible study during the day. The Bible study has in the past studied several books of the Bible, mostly in the summer in 8- or 9-week sessions, as well as a couple of Barbara Mouser studies, such as Knowing God and Understanding Men, a study of Genesis and the Patriarchs. All women are welcome to join.

Women of the Church - Contact: Susan Rambin
Led by Susan Rambin, all the women of St. Francis are members of this group. Currently, it functions as the parent group of the St. Francis smaller groups, such as St. Clare's Guild, Altar Guild, and Women's Bible Study. All women of St. Francis are welcome to participate with this group.

5th Sunday Nursing Home Service - Contact:  Amy Crandell
For the past 10 years, St. Francis has presence at the Retirement and Nursing Center on Burnet Lane. On the afternoon of the 5th Sunday, a small group - currently, Amy & Jim Crandell, Martha Freeman and Claire Ducker - meet the interested residents for an hour of hymns, prayers and Bible readings. All are welcome to join. 

Newsletter Delivery

- Receive the newsletter via e-mail with a printable version attached 
- Pick up a printed copy on the table at the entrance to the church
- Have a copy mailed to your physical mail box (cost to the church is 49 cents)
- View newsletters on our website.
To change how you receive the newsletter, contact Amy Crandell in person, via e-mail at


St. Francis Anglican Church of Austin

A parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Diocese Office:  2900 Alemeda St. 
Fort Worth, TX 76108

The Rt. Rev'd Jack L. Iker, D.D
The Rev. Canon Len Giacolone
Music Director 
Paula Blaha
Parish Administrator
    Mark Rambin
Church address: 
3401 Oak Creek Drive 
Austin, TX 78727
Phone(512) 472-7514
We're on the Web!
Follow us on FaceBook: St.Francis Anglican Church, Austin, Texas 

Newsletter Submissions

Newsletter articles are gladly accepted for inclusion in the next month's newsletter. E-mail to by the 20th of the month.
Copyright 2017 St. Francis Anglican Church, All rights reserved.