St. James' Episcopal Church in Leesburg received a $45,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment's National Clergy Renewal Program. The program seeks to strengthen congregations by providing opportunities for pastors to step away from daily parish life for periods of renewal and reflection. St. James's rector, the Rev. John Ohmer, will travel with his family to Europe this summer to research a historical novel and retrace the footsteps of certain "faithful witnesses" who were killed: the martyrs of Nero's Rome in the first century, Thomas Cranmer of Reformation England and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in World War II Germany. (Cranmer was burned alive; Bonhoeffer was hanged.)

While Ohmer is traveling, the congregation also is taking time for reflection and renewal through an all-parish retreat, a women's retreat and a six-week series of discussions based on Philip Yancey's book "What's So Amazing About Grace?"

Ashburn Presbyterian Church will host the Kids' Konnection Choir at its 9:45 a.m. contemporary worship service and 11:15 a.m. traditional worship service on Sunday. Kids' Konnection is a nonprofit organization that combines many aspects of ministry to reach needy children in Washington. Among other activities, the group collects and distributes school supplies each fall. Ashburn Presbyterian is collecting these supplies throughout July. Items needed include backpacks, erasers, rulers, filler paper, boxes of 16 crayons, pencils, pens and bubble gum, as well as donation checks payable to Kids' Konnection, with "School Supplies" written on the memo line.

Supplies and donations can be dropped off at the church, 20962 Ashburn Rd. 703-729-2012 or www.ashburnpresbyterian.org.

Sunday's service at the Unitarian Universalists of Sterling, "Parenting and Children with disAbilities," will explore how children are included and welcomed in the community and what it is like to parent a child with a disability.

UUS meets at 10:30 a.m. Sundays at 22135 Davis Dr., Suite 104. 703-406-3068 or www.uusterling.org.

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church will hold a safari-theme vacation Bible shool, "Serengeti Trek," from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through July 29 for age 4 through rising fifth-graders. $25 for one child, $35 for two, maximum $40 per family. Includes dinner. 201 E. Frederick Dr., Sterling. 703-421-6310 or www.stmatthewssterling.org.

Mount Olivet United Methodist Church will hold an ice cream and cake social 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Donations accepted. 11791 Mountain Rd., Lovettsville. 540-822-9117.

Bethel United Methodist Church will hold a ham and turkey dinner 5-7 p.m. Sept. 17. The menu also includes dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, deviled eggs and desserts. Donations accepted. 41799 Stumptown Rd., Lucketts. 703-779-7745. A dinner also will be held Oct. 15.

-- Compiled by LESLIE SHEPHERD

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