News Releases

St. Mary’s Packs 10,000 Meals for the Hungry - 12/13/2015

35 volunteers came together at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock on Sunday afternoon, donned caps and gloves, and packed 10,000 meals in the church’s Parsh hall.  The meals, consisting of vitamins, dehydrated vegetables, textured soy protein, and rice, will be delivered to schools, orphanages, and disaster-relief projects around the world through the Raleigh-based organization Stop Hunger Now.  Fr. Rick Lawler, rector of St. Mary’s, says the church has packed over 30,000 meals over the past several years because of Jesus’ words, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”

The volunteers, ages 9 to 78, included adult parishioners, and high school and school-age children from the St. Mary’s youth program.  Stop Hunger Now asks that participating churches provide not only the volunteers to package the meals, but also the money to purchase the food and supplies and ship the meals overseas. 

Stop Hunger Now was organized 16 years ago to coordinate food and other aid to crisis-burdened areas around the world.   Last year’s meals from St. Mary’s were sent to the Philippines following dangerous storms and flooding there.  

Event coordinator Michelle Curry points out that Stop Hunger Now is a 5-star-rated charity, with the vast majority of its budget paying to actually feed the hungry, and very little going to administrative costs. Each meal costs about 30-cents and provides protein to prevent malnutrition and vitamins to combat blindness, while encouraging children to stay in school to be able to work their way out of poverty.  The meals are distributed through organizations that have proven they can handle transportation, storage, and distribution challenges in 28 countries, including the U.S., while meeting stringent reporting criteria for accountability.  The meal-packaging program is designed to educate participating churches and civic organizations about the problem of hunger here and abroad in an engaging and very personal manner, while feeding some of the one-and-a-half billion hungry people world-wide.

The 'Stones will Sing' at Organ Concert Sunday Oct. 11 at St. Mary of the Hills

A "Summer of Recitals" comes to a close this Sunday, October 11th at 3 pm at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock with a concert given by noted organist Dr. Joseph Causby on St. Mary's magnificent Lively-Fulcher organ.  The instrument was designed specifically for the acoustic and style of music at the historic church, and was completed and dedicated a year ago, following the complete renovation and restoration of the church nave in a project aptly named "The Stones Will Sing".  This concert is the culmination of that project.

Dr. Causby has chosen a stunning program for the afternoon - Crown Imperial: A Coronation March by Sir William Walton, Handel's Organ Concerto in B-flat major, Sonata I by Paul Hindemith, Hear ye Israel (from Elijah) by Felix Mendelssohn withsoprano soloist Amanda Horton, the Rhapsody in D-flat major, Opus 17 by Herbert Howells, and Final from Vierne's Symphonie No. 1.  

Causby is Director of Music and Organist at historic St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas.  He has traveled to Durham, U.K. twice as the organist with the choir of St.Mary of the Hills during two of their residencies at the Cathedral there, and was the first American organ scholar at Durham Cathedral in 2008-2009.  He holds a BMus in organ performance and sacred music from Appalachian State University, an MMus in organ performance from Rice University, and a PhD from the University of Durham (England) under the supervision of leading British scholar, Professor Jeremy Dibble.  More recently, he studied with Dame Gillian Weir and Wilma Jensen.

This summer's recital series has brought several gifted musicians to St. Mary's.  This celebratory concert is the culmination, not just of that series, but of the four-year project called "The Stones Will Sing".  The project strengthened the structure of the nearly 100-year-old church, made it significantly more energy-efficient (to give it a smaller environmental footprint), and improved the acoustic in the church to welcome a new organ designed specifically for that improved space.  It was made possible by the significant gift of an anonymous couple, and supported by the generous participation of the entire congregation.  This concert is the official celebration of that historic project, and recognizes the help of everyone who made the project possible.  However, the Rector of the church, the Rev. Rick Lawler, points out that this concert is actually the beginning of St. Mary's increasing efforts to "reach out to the larger community in offering and service and, above all, to 'praise God from whom all blessings flow'."

The organ was designed and built by Lively-Fulcher organ builders of Rocky Mount, Virginia and presented a unique challenge to provide the versatility of a cathedral organ in a small, intimate worship space.  It consists of 24 ranks, 22 stops, and over 1500 pipes, plus a chimes gallery, to support not only the breadth and variety of French, English and German organ literature, but also the warmth and color needed to support vibrant hymn singing and choral accompaniment.
 

St. Mary of the Hills Packs 8,000 Meals for the Hungry - 11/9/2014

Sunday afternoon was a busy time at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock as 47 volunteers came together, donned baseball caps or “stylish” hairnets and gloves, and packed 8,000 meals in the parish hall.  The meals, consisting of vitamins, dehydrated vegetables, textured soy protein, and rice, will be delivered to schools, orphanages, and disaster-relief projects around the world through the Raleigh-based organization Stop Hunger Now.  Fr. Rick Lawler, rector of St. Mary’s, says the church has taken the project on for the past several years because of Jesus’ words, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.”

The volunteers, ages 7 to 75, included parishioners, college-age volunteers from the Presbyterian/Episcopal Campus Ministry, and school-age children from the St. Mary’s youth program.  Stop Hunger Now asks that participating churches provide not only the volunteers to package the meals, but also the money to purchase the food and supplies and ship the meals overseas.  Youth Director Stephanie Stahle says this kids who participate like the hands-on aspect of the project.

Stop Hunger Now was organized 15 years ago to coordinate food and other aid to crisis-burdened areas around the world.  Each meal costs about 29-cents and provides protein to prevent malnutrition and vitamins to combat blindness, while encouraging children to stay in school to be able to earn their way out of poverty.  The meals are distributed through organizations that have proven they can handle transportation, storage, and distribution challenges in 28 countries, including the U.S., while meeting stringent reporting criteria for accountability.  The meal-packaging program is designed to educate participating churches and civic organizations about the problem of hunger here and abroad in an engaging and very personal manner...and judging from the laughter and energy in the Parish Hall Sunday afternoon, the model works.