United Thank Offering

Final Julia Chester Emery Icon – from Paige Blair-Hubert

November 1, 2022
United Thank Offering

By Sherri Dietrich, UTO Board President

This year the UTO Board asked four artists to create images of Julia Chester Emery, a saint in The Episcopal Church and the founder of UTO. This month we are releasing the fourth and final image, created by the Rev. Paige Blair-Hubert, whom many of you know from her work for Forward Movement. She writes icons in the traditional Orthodox style. Unlike our other icon writers, Paige does not have a store where you can purchase prints; however, she has offered to allow us to create a limited printing of the icon with the proceeds benefiting UTO. Twenty-five prints of the icon shown above are available; you can order one by donating a minimum of $30 online at www.unitedthankoffering.org/give to either the Ingathering or the Memorial Trust Fund and typing “icon” in the notes section. We will send you an icon until we run out of them. (When we run out, we will update this page to let you know.)

I have the first three icons displayed in my office and often find myself looking at and thinking about them and Julia Chester Emery. Although very little has been written about her and her work for God and The Episcopal Church, she is still effecting change in the world 100 years after her death through UTO, daily prayers at the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society offices, and the cycle of prayer we use in our churches to pray for dioceses and parishes around the world. And I find that hugely inspirational—one tiny woman, without much fanfare or institutional support, changed hundreds of lives during her life and changed thousands more through the $140 million UTO has collected and distributed so far. That inspires me to keep working faithfully, and I hope it will inspire you, too.

About the Iconographer and Image:

Paige Blair-Hubert has been writing icons since she participated in a workshop led by Massachusetts iconographer Rebecca Taylor in Lent 1998. In 2002, she and Rebecca taught a class together, after which Paige began offering workshops in Maine, Florida, and now in California, where she is rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. Ordained and serving in parish ministry for more than 25 years, Paige has found iconography serves as a fortifying and liberating spiritual discipline, because at the heart of the work is surrender to an ancient process, and trusting the Spirit to lead us to a beautiful conclusion. Her icons have been featured on the cover of Forward Movement’s “Forward Day by Day”; and her Fred Rogers icon went viral in 2015 and continues to make delightful “cameo appearances” on formation and education websites.  Many of her icons may be seen on her blog, transformationiconography.blogspot.com.

The invitation by the UTO leadership to write an icon of Julia Chester Emery delighted Paige, and she spent several months meditating on photographs and paintings of Julia and reading first-hand accounts of Julia’s ministry before beginning the work of designing the template for this icon.  Because icons traditionally are written from life, she discerned that two photographs of Julia would be the foundation of the design—one photograph of Julia as a young woman just beginning her ministry with the Women’s Auxiliary, and another later in life. This summer, Paige enjoyed her post-pandemic sabbatical, with the writing of this icon as a touchstone of her sabbath journey. 

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

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