In Sunday School we are learning about Holy Currencies. It "...is a holistic model for stewardship and congregational vitality, moving beyond “time, talent, and treasure” to create missional and sustainable ministries. This model with its processes, enables church leaders to understand, develop, and utilize five other kinds of currencies besides money that are essential for creating sustainable and missional ministries. These currencies are: Time & Place, Gracious Leadership, Relationship, Truth, and Wellness. These currencies flow and recirculate to form a Cycle of Blessings which empower congregations to strengthen their internal relationships as well as reach out and connect with the diverse populations in their neighborhoods"
Susan's Book Recommendation
Praying Our Goodbyes, by Joyce Rupp, OSM
Here we are - moving into the Easter Season where we celebrate the possibility for new life...
I say possibility - because not everyone is experiencing that new & joy-filled life right now. Just this past month, I have journeyed with some of you who are grieving the death of a loved one, or the loss of a significant relationship, or the handing over of your freedoms due to health and aging issues. The story of gain and loss, of joy and sorrow, of life and death, of union and separation, is inside each of us. Who of us has not said "goodbye" to someone and felt a great and deep heartache?
This book by Sister Joyce is a book for everyone. If we haven't, we all will experience loss - in a job change, the end of a friendship, a move, or the death of a loved one. Not only does this book offer sound theological and psychological grounding - Sister Joyce's reflections using scripture help identify the "ache" common to humankind, and offer a healing process of letting go. The last half of the book offers 24 prayer experiences which incorporate images, symbols and rituals as sources of strength; offering a pathway toward new life on the other side.
Nick's Book Recommendation
DISCOVERING A LOST WORLD IN A 1938 FAMILY FILM
This recommendation arose out of a discussion concerning holiness during a Sunday faith forum. "Painstakingly assembled from interviews, photographs, documents, and artifacts, Three Minutes in Poland tells the rich, harrowing, and surprisingly intertwined stories of seven survivors and their Polish hometown before it was razed to the ground in the beginning of World War II. Originally a travel souvenir, David Kurtz's home movie became the most important record of a vibrant town on the brink of extinction. From this brief film, Glenn Kurtz creates a poignant yet unsentimental exploration of memory, loss, and improbable survival—a monument to a lost world. What remains is a sobering memorial dedicated to the town's three thousand Jewish inhabitants, where fewer than one hundred would ultimately survive." A holy piece of history indeed.
Bishop Peter Eaton from Southeast Florida shared the following letter from Philip and April Schentrup, the parents of Carmen Schentrup, an Episcopalian youth who died in the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"Our hearts are saddened for the loss of our beautiful little girl and the absence of her amazing presence, but we cannot be sad for Carmen. We believe that Carmen’s murder was not part of God’s plan and that God is saddened by the violence in this world more than we can know."
Statement of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
Camp Allen, Texas
March 7, 2018
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
At this critical moment young people of the United States are inviting us to turn away from the nightmare of gun violence to the dream of choosing life. The young people of Parkland, Florida are calling for elected officials to:
* ban the sale of assault weapons
* prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines
* close loopholes in background checks
Others are seeking to:
* ban the sale of bump stocks
* raise the age to 21 years to purchase firearms
* challenge the National Rifle Association to support safe gun legislation.
We, the bishops of The Episcopal Church, wholeheartedly support and join with the youth in this call to action.
At the same time, we acknowledge that black and brown youth have continuously challenged the United States to address the gun violence that they and their communities are experiencing. We repent that, as bishops, we have failed to heed their call.
As bishops we commit to following the youth of the United States in their prophetic leadership. To that end we will observe a day of Lament and Action on March 14th, one month to the day after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We pledge ourselves, and we invite our dioceses, to participate in the "March for our Lives" on March 24 in Washington DC and in cities and towns across the United States. We recognize the urgency of this moment and we recommit to working for safe gun legislation as our church has called for in multiple General Convention resolutions. In addition, we pledge ourselves to bring the values of the gospel to bear on a society that increasingly glorifies violence and trivializes the sacredness of every human life.
We will walk with the youth of the United States today and into the future in choosing life.
Feb, 19th, 2018
The First Monday in Lent – President’s Day
I am truly sad – but not without hope, over yet another mass shooting in one of our schools, this time in Parkland, Florida. To raise our awareness, I am posting the recent statement from the group, Bishops United Against Gun Violence. "Bishops United" is an association of approximately 70 bishops of The Episcopal Church.
With 28 mass shootings in schools across the country since January 2018 (1.5 months!), we do not concede that such tragedies can ever be permitted to lapse into “routine.” For starters – I hope each of us would really ponder this issue, not dismiss it as someone else’s problem, and see if we have some role to play in moving forward to improve our collective safety.
Like many of you, I am so impressed by the very courageous and compelling response from the students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. This is not an easy issue, as our nation tries to come to terms with the persistent reality of gun violence besetting our social fabric. But for these teens, who were attacked, they now have clarity. Even in their pain, God is no doubt, already redeeming some of the loss – by giving them voice and stirring our hearts. May these lives sacrificed be the seed and catalyst for real change. Perhaps this is the watershed moment for America in re-evaluating our relationship with assault rifles again. How might we protect our right to bear arms, and at the same time, protect our children; ourselves? My spirit is expectant… Can this particular shooting help us turn a corner toward humility and consensus? We can certainly pray (and we have), but it is my hope that we will do more. Read what our Bishops say – and then let’s see how the Spirit of God moves us in reflection, action and advocacy. Ultimately - we are all connected.
Your Sister in Christ,
Rector, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church
Bishops United Urges Assault Weapons Ban, Prayers of Lamentation
The heart of our nation has been broken yet again by another mass shooting at an American school.
We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We mourn with particular sorrow Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old student at the school and leader in the youth group at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs, who died at the hands of the gunman. We pledge to work with the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida to lend whatever material and spiritual comfort we can to all those who have suffered such a devastating loss.
The phrase "thoughts and prayers" has been devalued by politicians whose prayers seem never to move them to act against their self-interests or the interests of the National Rifle Association. Yet, as Christians, we believe deeply in the power of prayer to console, to sustain and to heal, but also to make evident the work that God is calling us to do. We pray that all who have been touched by this violent act receive God's healing and solace.
In the wake of this massacre, we believe God is calling us to understand that we must not simply identify the social and political impediments to ending these lethal spasms of violence in our country. We must reflect on and acknowledge our own complicity in the unjust systems that facilitate so many deaths, and, in accordance with the keeping of a holy Lent, repent and make reparations.
Specifically, we ask you, members of our church and those who ally yourselves with us, to:
Dr. Brené Brown sermon at Washington National Cathedral on Jan 21, 2018 with a very relevant message about love and the connection with others in today's world.
Mother Susan's Book Recommendations: Ordinary Grace -
by Award-winning author William Kent Krueger
This month - I want to recommend a book which I haven't yet read - but it's what I am going to read while on vacation in Hawaii in January. Barbara White has recommended this book to me many times. I'm excited to read it - as it has a compelling story with a mix of murder mystery and a boy coming of age. In Ordinary Grace, Krueger looks back to 1961 to tell the story of Frank Drum, a boy in a small town on the cusp of manhood. A typical 13-year-old with a strong, loving family, Frank is devastated when a tragedy forces him to face the unthinkable - and to take on a maturity beyond his years.
Told from Frank's perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is apparently a moving account of a teen, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. Barbara says it's an unforgettable read - about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. I think this might be a good book for all ages. The book is available for purchase on Amazon for S8.80 - and it's also in audio form (Audible) if that's easier for you.
Nick's Book Recommendation: Meeting God in Mark
As we move into year B in the Sunday lectionary we will spend a substantial amount of time with the Gospel of Mark. It has been a personal - practice of mine to read a sort of primer on whatever Gospel we are moving into for the upcoming year in Advent. While William's book is geared more towards a lenten reflection, it is nonetheless one of the most concise and accessible introductions I know of I commend this little gem heartily. Published in 2015, "Meeting God in Mark explores the essential meaning and purpose of Mark's Gospel for beginners who may be curious about the Gospels and want to learn more, as well as for those who've read the Gospel many times before and want to see it in a fresh light." Enjoy!
The "real" 12 days of Christmas are important not just as a way of thumbing our noses at secular ideas of the "Christmas season." They are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world he made, in the form of a baby.
Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author, teacher, and Episcopal priest. Her first memoir, Leaving Church (2006), won an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. Her last book, Learning to Walk in the Dark (2014), was featured on the cover of TIME magazine.
Click here to view a list of her award winning books.