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Connections news • ideas • events May 2016

Issue 3 Vol. 3



meals t

his issue of Connections is about food. When we eat together, we connect. Our Fresh Expressions missioner, Jane Gerdsen, has been focusing on this in her “movable feasts,” which bring young adults and others together in different venues around a meal to share their spiritual journeys and questions, and to discern the presence of Jesus in the context of the Eucharistic feast. In my own ministry, I have learned that eating together is essential to spiritual discovery and growth. Why is this so? Perhaps it is the essential courtesy we show one another when we offer what we have. Perhaps it is because we cannot sit down at a table together without putting our weapons to one side. But these aspects of a common meal take us to an even deeper place: the realization that we are equally dependent on sustenance; equally embodied, equally mortal. It is profoundly significant that Jesus’ final act before his arrest and crucifixion was to establish a sacred meal as the ongoing location of our common encounter with him as his followers. The ritualization of this meal may lead us to overlook how much it constitutes our covenant with one another as well as with Christ. Having died and risen with him in baptism, our new life is defined by our willingness to share our life in Christ with one another unreservedly. The word “communion” literally means sharing, so Holy Communion is not only about our relationship with Jesus but our relationship with one another. And this comes right back to the sharing of food. Jesus gives himself to us in the act of our sharing a meal in his name. Ironically, the sacred meal Jesus instituted became ritualized because of human selfishness and thoughtlessness. Paul severely chides the Corinthian church for their behavior at communion. The rich people shared lots of food and drink, while the poor had little and were ashamed. “Eat your food at home!” says Paul to the rich (1 Corinthians 11: 17 and following). Paul’s admonition won the day: we long ago stopped celebrating the Eucharist in the context of a real meal (although some Fresh Expressions ministries are experimenting with reviving that practice (see

years researching what was The word “communion” literally means two really needed there. The unexBut what a shame if we lose connection between the Eucharist sharing, so Holy Communion is not only pected answer was all about food: to learn urban farming; and the sharing of food! Taking about our relationship with Jesus but our aa place place to learn how to prepare communion together should be relationship with one another. fresh and healthy meals; a place to like sharing a meal. In receiving gather around such meals; a place Jesus’ body and blood together, to train professional cooks; a place to incubate private enterwe should be recommitting ourselves to one another as fellow prise related to food. With the support of many partners, we disciples, mutually accountable to one another and mutually have established Gabriel’s Place on a sure footing. available for forgiveness and encouragement. This is just one example of what is happening all over our There is much that is happening in the Diocese of Southern Ohio around food. Congregations and intentional communities diocese, as we begin to connect the dots between relief of poverty, encouragement of local initiative, basic human felloware rediscovering the spiritual value of growing food to share; ship, care for the earth, and Jesus Christ – who after his resthere is growing awareness around care for our bodies and urrection made himself known, and continues to make himself our attention to what we eat as a spiritual discipline; and we known, in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35). are more aware of “food deserts,” that is, areas of poverty in Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and Appalachia where there is no easy access to fresh and healthy food. I cannot close without a word about Gabriel’s Place, a foodThe Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal is the Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact him at ministry center that is very close to my heart. Gabriel’s Place is located in Avondale, a very distressed neighborhood in Cincinnati. It occupies the buildings and land of the former St. Michael and All Angels, a parish that closed in 2008. We determined not to abandon ministry in Avondale, and spent


Julia I and


have always loved Julia Child. To be clear, my love isn’t about parroting her like the old Saturday Night Live sketch. I love to watch her cook. I love watching reruns of The French Chef on PBS and then later in her life when she did cooking specials with people like Jacques Pepin and Graham Kerr. Who remembers The Galloping Gourmet? Often at dinner parties, I’ll wax poetic about the wonder that was Julia Child. Usually, this entails my getting more and more passionate about my theories on how Julia changed everything in American cuisine. How in a post-1950s American world where many Americans were moving toward frozen dinners and instant coffee, this 50-year-old woman came out of nowhere and started preaching about her passion for French cuisine. I am often asked on these occasions what I think about Julie Powell’s book/movie Julie and Julia. I’m sure I get a look of horror on my face in response to that question and quickly point out I’ve never read the book or seen the movie and have absolutely no intention of ever doing so. The reason for this is that Julia Child was completely unimpressed with Julie Powell. Julia found her work to be nothing more than cheap exploitation, using her name not for the advancement of great food, but purely for her own profit. I am loyal to Julia and if Julia found Julie

Powell to be exploitative then I want nothing to do with her. (I’m nothing if not loyal.) To sound even more like a curmudgeon, I don’t watch that many shows on the Food Network either. I don’t need slick production, game shows or any other gimmicks in my cooking television. Just Julia standing behind the kitchen counter with a glass of wine in her hand, talking to the camera as she’s explaining how to degut a fish with one cut. With Julia, even though the food could be complicated, the show itself was relaxed, personable and engaging. Over the years, my passion for cooking has in many ways been about not just the food, but the culture, history and passion associated with the food. Food has been about engagement. Engagement not just with the ingredients, but engagement with others. Community. Eating with others. It’s no coincidence that Christ’s last mandate, that “You love one another; as I have loved you” happened over a meal (a meal that we’ve celebrated every single week for two thousand years). Nothing slick in our tradition. No rock bands, lasers or flashing lights. Just community kneeling around a common table with some bread and a shared cup. Or, as my rector, Roger Greene, likes to say, “We’re basically just a bread and wine operation.” We can let other people have the flashing lights, quick edits and loud sound tracks. I think we will be ok if we stay the course and gently bring others around the table with us. As the classic folk tale tells us, gathering together for a meal can be healing even if all we have is “Stone Soup”. It’s the act of gathering and giving ourselves over to each other that matters. It is about building a community that comes together around a common table. So, I think Julia has it right. Don’t focus on anything other than preparing a great table to gather around with others.

David Dreisbach serves as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact him at


! n e d r a g a w o r g el t’s

he Near East House, the newest Praxis intentional community in Southern Ohio, partnered in the Woodland Park neighborhood with the congregation of St. Philip’s, Columbus, is the proud recipient of a 2016 Young Adult United Thank Offering grant to start a new community garden. The Woodland Park Community Garden purposes to serve the residents of the neighborhood, both by (1) being a space for a stratified community to come together and work alongside one another toward a common goal, building fellowship among people with different backgrounds and (2) providing healthy, affordable food to a community that lacks access to fresh produce. The garden is purposefully a community garden, built and maintained by and for the residents of Woodland Park and is intended to attract and empower neighborhood gardeners to work and teach others in the space. The community garden aims to bring together the neighborhood residents around the care for creation, care for each other and care for the life of the earth in an urban environment. The garden will restore and safeguard not only the integrity of the physical earth of a vacant and overgrown city lot, but also that of the community that works to care for it. Being in an urban setting, this garden can remind those who witness it of the earth beneath the concrete streets and create a hopeful reminder of what the earth does naturally – grow and renew life. This is especially important in a neighborhood shot through with suspicion and fear of change. A thriving garden will be a symbol of hope and renewal, showing that change can

The vacant lot that will become the Woodland Park Community Garden

be positive and strengthen community relationships. Woodland Park is an overlooked residential area sandwiched between a highly developed suburb to the east and a gentrifying neighborhood to the south. Woodland Park itself has clear demarcations between incomes of households but a lack of physical barriers, i.e. rundown and vacant homes are one block over from mansions. So poor and wealthy people live very close to each other but do not have shared space or a cause to come together. The community garden will offer that space and cause. Both will work in partnership with one another and with other residents of Woodland Park to build and maintain the garden. St. Philip’s will employ neighborhood youth, who will be responsible for maintenance of the garden and harvesting produce in the summer, giving the opportunity to learn new skills, develop professionally and earn income. Finally, excess produce from the garden will be donated to the St. Philip’s food pantry, which serves 200 households (made up of mostly Woodland Park residents) each month. St. Philip’s and the Near East House are excited to work together in living out their call to love and serve the neighborhood of Woodland Park. Interested in getting involved? Contact Jed Dearing at 614.327.4299 or Jed Dearing is the director of the Confluence Year program in Franklinton and also serves as program coordinator at the Near East House.

: s n e d r a G n o t rF anklin

Franklinton Gardens produce stand, on St. John’s property next to the Hospitality House (where Confluence Year members live)

y it n u m m o c e h t in it u r f t e e w s g in r a e b


ranklinton Gardens is an urban farm in Franklinton, a poor inner-city neighborhood of Columbus. In West Franklinton, almost 44% of households earn less than $15,000. Nearly 22% earn between $15,000 and $25,000. This places two of every three West Franklinton households in an income range where attainment of basic needs and services is a challenge. Access to healthy, fresh food is hampered by the lack of a grocery store in or near Franklinton. Restricted access to transportation means that residents buy their food at corner stores, fast food outlets and gas stations. Raising awareness of the role of nutrition in health and providing access to healthy food can address the health challenges prevalent in the neigh-

borhood. A few families started Franklinton Gardens in 2007 as a lone community garden on a small vacant lot to address this need. By 2009, several young people had moved into Franklinton to live in intentional community among their neighbors in poverty. They were Christians who wanted to put their faith into action. They began to address the lack of adequate transportation and the lack of access to fresh food. Some of them started Franklinton Cycle Works, to provide bicycles and the knowhow to keep them in repair. Others developed the fledgling Franklinton Gardens, to grow and share healthy food. They happened to attend the Street Church service of St. John’s, Columbus, held in a neighborhood parking lot at 1 p.m. each

Sunday for the last ten years. The Rev. Dr. Lee Anne Reat opened the church’s arms to these young people and supported their efforts to meet the basic needs of Franklinton residents. As the relationship between Franklinton Gardens and St. John’s blossomed, the Gardens placed six raised beds and a produce stand on St. John’s property. In the early days, with no refrigeration at the stand, produce was stored in St. John’s kitchen. St. John’s was the fiscal agent for the Gardens before it had its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. St. John’s two deacons, the Rev. Craig Foster and the Rev. Meribah Mansfield, have served on the Gardens’ board of directors and helped to guide its development into a sustainable organization. St. John’s hosts Gardens’ meetings and community meals made of produce grown in the Gardens. In 2011, the Episcopal stars aligned to support Franklinton Gardens further. Ariel Miller, then director of the Episcopal Community Services Foundation, offered a VISTA position to Franklinton Gardens. Nick Stanich began as the Gardens’ first VISTA in June 2011. VISTA is a national service program of AmeriCorps. VISTA members work 40 hours per week for a year and receive a living allowance from AmeriCorps of about $1,000 per month that enables them to live very frugally, like the people in the communities they are serving. Almost five years later, Nick is still with Franklinton Gardens, as its first Executive Director. He re-upped as a VISTA for the 2012/2013 year, and then started as parttime director in October 2013. The Gardens has had three to seven VISTAs each year. It will have 10 capacity-building VISTAs for the 2016/2017 year, in addition to six summer associates to do direct service this summer. The VISTA seed that Ariel Miller planted in Franklinton is now a beautiful orchard bearing sweet fruit! The VISTAs work across several Franklinton organizations to provide a coordinated focus on providing access to fresh food. For more information about the Franklinton Food-Health-Wellness Corps or to apply for the upcoming program, go to Franklinton Gardens has grown over the years, but it Children from nearby Gladden preschool tend the “pizza garden” at Franklinton Gardens.

Children love to help out in the gardens and at the produce stand. Fried green tomatoes are popular in Franklinton.

remains true to its roots. It is still a non-profit urban farm dedicated to growing and sharing healthy food, creating beauty and building community with our neighbors. It now has 10 garden sites around Franklinton, with four hoop houses on them to extend the growing season. It owns two houses that are rented to repay the mortgage and loan on the properties, and it gardens in the yards of the houses. It has an 11-member board of directors, a full-time Executive Director and a full-time Farm Manager. Last year, it grew about 8,000 pounds of fresh food. Some food is donated to neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens, and some is sold at farmers’ markets in Columbus to help pay expenses. The produce stand at St. John’s is open from May to October. It sells produce at reduced rates. Residents can double their money through the Veggie SNAPS program, which provides $2 worth of food for every $1 spent. The produce stand also participates in the WIC and Senior Farmers Market programs. The Gardens sells Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and received a grant to subsidize the participation of some households. The Gardens now has a Mobile Market, delivering fresh food to neighbors. Franklinton Gardens hosts many community events, and provides neighbors the opportunity to have their own garden in the Avondale Community Garden. Franklinton Gardens is an integral part of bringing the kingdom of God closer in Franklinton. The Rev. Meribah Mansfield serves as a deacon at St. John’s, Columbus. For more information:, www.franklintongardens. org, or Franklinton Gardens on Facebook. Find links to resources on food, faith and farming online at


growing COMMUNITY together


his year I am participating in the Episcopal Service Corps Confluence Year and serving as a community organizer in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus. The church that I work for, St. John’s, Columbus, uses a methodology called Asset Based Community Development in its interactions with the neighborhood. The ABCD approach identifies a community’s assets and works alongside community members to build upon these strengths. One tremendous asset in Franklinton is the wonderful soil. It is fairly easy to grow things here. Since I arrived in Franklinton in August 2015, I have learned about so many garden and food-related initiatives that have drawn people together and built community. A few years ago, St. John’s started the Growing Place garden as a place for neighborhood residents to engage with nature. The students and teachers at Avondale Elementary School (across the street) are especially fond of spending time in the gardens. St. John’s Hospitality House – the house where Episcopal Service Corps residents live – is next to the Growing Place. My fellow Confluence Year members and I help maintain six of Franklinton Gardens’ raised beds in our yard. As a result of being present outdoors, we are able to connect with our neighbors and strike up conversations about gardening. Gladden, the neighborhood preschool, plants a “pizza garden” in two of the raised beds. The pizza garden contains most of the ingredients you need to make a pizza: tomatoes, bell peppers, parsley and basil. The preschoolers get to be outside and learn about where food

Hanna Kahler paints the face of a young neighbor at the first annual Fall Festival at Franklinton Gardens. comes from. In October 2015, Franklinton Gardens threw their first annual Fall Festival in the Growing Place. The goal was to build community around food and the festival was wildly successful – drawing around 150 neighbors. The festival included performances by local musicians, a face painting booth, a pumpkin toss game and even a food truck (Abe’s Kitchen) that specializes in healthy, low-cost foods. The highlight of the festival was definitely the fresh-squeezed apple cider that participants made themselves from a cider press.

The Franklinton Gardens also has a produce market that is hosted on St. John’s property, which sells produce from May to October. Selling produce at the stand is another great way to strike up conversations with neighbors and build community around food. Hanna Kahler is a community organizer and Episcopal Service Corps member who works and worships at St. John’s, Columbus. She practices Asset Based Community Development, bikes frequently, and works to connect people over food and gardening.

Shoppers make their selections at Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store in Dorchester, MA.



very weekday a van pulls up at the back door of Daily Table, and chef Ismail Samad looks through donations from farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and manufacturers – food that would otherwise probably be wasted. He makes a careful selection and is soon at work transforming the food into carryout meals to sell at this nonprofit grocery store in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The store was started in 2015 by Doug Rauch, formerly president of Trader Joe’s. Daily Table is an attempt to address two problems in American life: low-income people’s lack of access to healthy food and the massive amount of fresh food wasted by traditional grocery stores, growers, and manufacturers. Daily Table is part of a nationwide movement for food recovery which is responding to the fact that 40 percent of the food produced in the United States ends up in the nation’s landfills, where it releases 16 percent of the United States’ total methane gas emissions – the equivalent of putting 33 million cars on the road. Food waste is the largest source of garbage, larger than either paper or plastic. In addition to the problem of food being dumped, there is waste involved in the process of containing and transporting all the food that goes unused. A Natural Resources Defense Council report from 2012 pointed out that getting food from the farm to people’s tables requires 10 percent of the United States’ total energy budget, 50 per-

cent of land use, and 80 percent of fresh water use. As a part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which call for a 50 percent reduction in wasted food, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a Food Recovery Challenge aimed at “grocers, educational institutions, restaurants, faith organizations, sports and entertainment venues, and hospitality businesses,” urging them to participate in food waste reduction. Creative efforts are under way across the country. In San Francisco, one new business takes vegetables that have been rejected for their odd shapes and wrong sizes and sells them to consumers for a fraction of the price of those purchased in ordinary retail stores. In Orange County, California, the Waste Not OC Coalition works with the Yellow Cab company to pick up food from social events, store it overnight at cooperating 7-Elevens, and help food rescue organizations get access to the food during regular business hours. In Tennessee, the Middle Tennessee Food Bank has started working with local growers to preserve produce that they can then distribute. Grocery Outlet, a nationwide retail chain with 148 stores, sells food from closeouts or overruns. At Daily Table, Rauch is attempting not only to prevent waste but also to deliver high-quality food to people who need it. Ironically, even with all of the food going to waste, one in six Americans is still “food insecure,” unsure of where their Continued next page


next meal is coming from. Rauch notes one more irony: poverty in the United States doesn’t always mean a lack of access to food. It can mean a lack of access to healthy food. Rauch chose to locate the store in a neighborhood in Dorchester because of the diverse population and high concentration of low-income people. Daily Table is situated next to a health center, and he hopes to build on the connection. It’s also surrounded by fast-food restaurants that can sell unhealthy food cheaply because the basic ingredients – corn and soybeans – are well subsidized by the federal government. Daily Table is small for a grocery store. Its 10,000 square feet include storage and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The walls are brightly painted in green, tan, and orange. With its decorated chalkboards announcing daily specials, the place looks like a tiny Trader Joe’s. The floor is blond wood, the walls are lined with coolers, and in the center are massive bins of vegetables and fruits. The organization of the space says it

all: Daily Table is dedicated to fresh food. Then there are the prices: farmers’ market apples and “ugly” carrots for 49 cents a pound; brown rice, 79 cents a pound; cereal, 79 cents a box; organic yogurt, $1.99 a quart. In a letter to Daily Table, a new customer said that until she visited Daily Table she’d been a disabled person in a food desert. “When I got to the Daily Table and saw the prices, I started crying. A staff woman came over and said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said, ‘I can afford the food here. I can afford it! And you have prepared, healthy meals which are so helpful for me because of my health conditions.’” The key to Daily Table is its combination of low prices and high nutritional standards. There are no chips and soda aisles, and no freezers full of frozen treats. Rauch wants to attract people who are buying food in the neighborhood, but who may be making the difficult choice between buying healthy food or paying a doctor bill. On the day I visit, the prepared entrees include buttermilk garlic baked chicken with brown rice, fish soup, pot roast and rice with roasted vegetables, a beef and noodle stir fry, and a pumpkin-sage bisque – each at $2.49 a serving or less. The only dessert available is chocolate-covered raisins. If you are trying to buy more health food, you don’t have to think too hard here. Everything you put in your cart is healthy. How does Daily Table manage to sell fresh food at such low prices? Its business model revolves around many of the same networks and connections that food banks and soup kitchens use all around the country. It relies on several sources for donations, including food manufacturers. Rudi’s Organic Bread was an early contributor. Stonyfield Farms has been a key contributor, putting yogurt on Daily Table’s shelves at a third of the price of that available at other retailers. (The price is low because Daily Table accepts yogurt that is close to the expiration date on the label.) Another crucial source of fresh food is local farmers’ markets. Daily Table sends out a bus after the markets close to bring food back to the store.

Affordable and nutritious: The nonprofit grocery store Daily Table in Dorchester, Massachusetts, is able to provide high-quality food at low cost by using donations from several sources. Photo by Samara Vise for Daily Table.

Because of the erratic nature of food supply, Daily Table knows it’s engaged in what senior director Fredi Shonkoff calls a “treasure hunt.” One day the store may receive more Brussels sprouts than anyone can dream of eating; another day, it will have butternut squash by the hundreds. To create greater consistency, a third reliable source of food is the Greater Boston Food Bank, from which Daily Table purchases staples like pasta and canned tomatoes, which are sold at cost. Why does Daily Table sell food instead of giving it away? According to Shonkoff, Daily Table wants to treat its customers with dignity. “We want to be a steady presence in the neighborhood,” she said, “that is open every day so that people always have access to us.” Daily Table has created jobs in the neighborhood as well. Ninety-five percent of Daily Table’s 30 employees live within three miles of the store. Finally, the enterprise hopes that a revenuegenerating business model can be scaled to other places where a high concentration of low-income people have limited access to affordable nutritious food. There are limits to what this model can accomplish. It’s likely, for example, that choices will always be limited by the nature of the store’s supplies. Winter presents a test, with a smaller amount of seasonal food available. “We’re motivated to have a lot of choice in the store,” Shonkoff says. Yet one cannot come to Daily Table with a shopping list and expect to find everything one is looking for. The combination of health guidelines and donated food can stretch people out of their comfort zones. A buckwheat and veggie pouch for 99 cents is a great deal—but what is it? Food education is a part of the mission. Take the “sell by” dates that are stamped on most items sold in grocery stores: the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic report that “almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food.” Nevertheless, the average supermarket discards $2,300 worth of out-of-date food every day. Daily Table is working with the health department to create mutually acceptable parameters for selling food after the date that’s stamped on it. Although currently none of the items at Daily Table has an out-of-date display code, this could change with a reeducation of the public and an agreement with public health officials. Daily Table thrives on the random and wonderful. One day last fall the store received a call from Culture magazine, which had sponsored a cheese festival. “If you can be here in 90 minutes,” the festival managers said, “all the leftover cheese is yours.” The store received several hundred pounds of the world’s finest artisanal cheeses, a windfall for Chef Samad.

Suddenly, the macaroni and cheese entries were made with a blend of cheddar-like cheese from the Isle of Mull (Scotland) and Beemster cow’s milk cheese from northern Holland. The flatbreads were topped with top-quality Parmesan, and the store sold mix-and-match artisanal cheese for $1.99 a wedge. Samad says that decisions about what items to offer are different from those made at a for-profit grocery store. If he were to put chicken with a side of turnips on the menu next to chicken with black beans and rice, the chicken with black beans and rice would always sell faster, and he would be forced to throw the other food away. Consumer choice is sometimes in conflict with a fundamental value: avoid waste. So Daily Table ends up being part Trader Joe’s and part what Samad calls “your grandma’s kitchen.” “I want to give people options,” Samad says, “but I also want to maximize those options to minimize waste.” This challenge points to an issue noted by the Natural Resources Defense Council: even though the majority of food waste happens after consumers take the food home, retailers “are responsible, at least in part, for a much bigger proportion of total losses.” The NRDC notes that “the more food consumers waste, the more those in the food industry are able to sell.” Traditionally, says one industry insider quoted in the report, a store that reports low waste is one where “customer experience is suffering.” This is the dynamic Daily Table confronts, and it requires significant rethinking of sales. But when I asked Samad about some of his sales failures, he has trouble coming up with a lot of examples. One poor seller was a blackberry smoothie with too many seeds. “There was a time I put chunks of turnip in soup. But when we pureed them with potatoes, they were delicious. Our customers are very open,” he said. “Once you realize that you can feed a family of four for less than $12 with really good, healthy food, that really affects people.” In its first seven months of operation, Daily Table prepared 24,000 meals, had 32,000 transactions at the registers, and recovered 165,000 pounds of food. Shonkoff says that the store is considering a hub-and-spoke model for launching future stores. A kitchen like the one in Dorchester would serve as the hub or center for smaller locations. Daily Table won’t solve the problem of food waste and poor food options on its own. But it is offering solutions, and it’s a model worth watching.

Daily Table thrives on the random and wonderful.

Copyright © 2016 by the Christian Century. “Waste not, hunger not” by Amy Frykholm is reprinted by permission from the March 2 2016 issue of the Christian Century.

The real reason we are here Gardeners, farmers and foodies gathered at Gabriel’s Place for a continuation of the conversation around food and farming started at last year’s diocesan convention.

There was still a lot to do when I woke up early that rainy gray Saturday morning in March. In just a couple of hours I was to be at Gabriel’s Place setting up for a potluck and conversation with gardeners, farmers and foodies to connect and share our passion of growing, sharing and eating food. I felt my anxiety rise as I stared at the task list I had scribbled down the night before. One of the tasks “Make chicken and rice,” made me say aloud, “What was I thinking? I don’t have time for this.” As I began chopping shallots that Leslie had planted in our Brendan’s Crossing garden last spring, I noticed it was quiet enough to hear my own thoughts and more importantly the words of Wendell Berry and Brian Andreas that I would later share with the group. This morning silence is a rare luxury afforded to me by the fact that my three boys had spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and my wife, Brooke, was still sound asleep. I took a deep breath, slowed down and chose to focus intently on this task and the gift of this quiet morning. Though we had dried herbs in the cabinet, I decided a potluck

for gardeners and farmers required a walk out back to the backyard of the Riddle House to see what other gifts might find their way into the pot. I pulled on a jacket and my mud boots and headed out into the drizzle and a rare moment of greater awareness. I walked past the old garden the Mennonites tended for nearly a century before us. I picked two of this spring’s first asparagus spears that Jason and Emily helped plant over 6 years ago. I walked past the chicken that Chad gave us and that Johnna nursed back to health (Don’t worry! He stayed in the coop – for now.) I crossed the bridge that Te helped build. I picked some sage that Jane gave us. I opened the garden gate that Riley built as part of the fence that Darrell built to keep out the pesky deer. I picked the marjoram that Brianna planted from the soil that Carl and Paul helped her shovel. I picked the kale that Oliver loves to eat fresh each time he visits the garden. I picked the thyme that Mac planted. I brought it all back and threw it in the pot that was a gift from my parents.

Aaron Wright is the Director of Brendan’s Crossing, an intentional community program for young adults focused on service, formation and discernment. The young adults live in community at the Riddle House. Aaron and his wife, Brooke, live on-site in an apartment with their three boys, Mac, Te and Oliver. The cast of characters is rounded out with a crazy corgi named Twist, two cats, Clyde the gecko, and chickens (including a blind, deaf, mute, asexual rooster named Shadow). Aaron’s life is rarely quiet and never boring.

I added the stock that Brooke made. And most importantly – I sipped the coffee that Les, Ryan, Adam and Courtney roasted on Greg and Mary’s farm. On this one quiet morning, in this one dish, in this one moment of awareness, all these gifts and all these connections came together for me in this one pot. I thought about the words of Brian Andreas that we painted on the wall of the community house kitchen over a decade ago. They’ve remained a constant truth as eating together has been the one consistent act through all the “fits and starts” of community life. “There are things you do because they just feel right and they may make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good.” And on this morning in this dish I would add, “…to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good and realize it’s all connected.” My wife Brooke often “comments” on the fact that I can never recreate a dish because while I may reference a combination of recipes, I tend to make it up as I go. I’m pretty certain this dish will never be recreated, but here are the ingredients if you want to try:

and Rice: Riddle House Chickenity land for 100 years.

rd commun s. Mennonites to stewa d yearly for 12 year young adults rotate tic ias us th it. en d in ye ok -e Wide you co tch your kids while wa d an t po a u yo e Parents to giv h you to cook. A Grandma to teac eams thus the garden. many hopes and dr This and that from wn do ing ow m r fo de to the deer A moment of gratitu dients bility of other ingre eliminating the possi for rice. in the gas-guzzler One trip to Kroger One silent morning rt again, cold, throw it out, sta go e, fir Coffee on h tc ca , t it simmer, boil, burn Mix it all together. Le happens. mer and see what and simmer and sim


STEP 1 Get some black oil sunflower seeds and soak in filtered water for 8 to 12 hours. Rinse seeds 3 to 4 times a day until they kick out tails.

STEP 3 Stack flats on top of each other for 2 days (this helps seeds root in).

STEP 2 Fill some standard “1020” flats with a soilless growing medium (like PRO-MIX) Spread seeds evenly on soil so that seeds are not overlapping too much.

STEP 4 Place flats under grow lights or by a sunny window.

STEP 5 Cut the greens and enjoy!

OTHER TIPS • Greens are best young before their true leaves • If growing outside, raccoons will eat them! • Place in a bowl of water after harvesting; hulls will float to the top • Will keep well in refrigerator for 5 days

Luke Ebner is a chef at Gabriel’s Place. Learn more about the cooking and growing programs at Gabriel’s Place at Contact Luke at

HOMEGROWN MICROGREENS SALAD INGREDIENTS For the Salad: 1 cup of microgreens 1 blood orange, peeled and cubed 1/2 avocado, peeled and cubed 1/2 cup of shredded carrot or daikon radish 1/4 cup chopped walnuts For the Dressing: 1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 clove chopped garlic (optional) A dash of salt and pepper DIRECTIONS If your microgreens have some soil on them, give them a light wash and air dry them in a colander for a few moments. (They are very fragile so need to be handled with care). Place them in a bowl and add the remaining salad ingredients. Stir up your vinaigrette in a little jar and pour on top of the salad. Yield: 1-2 servings Recipe courtesy of

take back your life:

choosing healthy food


t Gabriel’s Place, we believe in the benefits of cooking and eating healthy. The food here ranges from a variety of fruits and vegetables and is grown in our own backyard. My name is Markisha Gandy, and I am a graduate of the Midwest Culinary Institute. My goal here at Gabriel’s Place as a new chef is to bring awareness to those in the community the importance of not only eating healthy, but cooking healthy as well. In culinary school I was taught a number of things, but the one subject that caught my attention and raised my awareness was a Nutrition course. Did you know statistics show that Americans are the number one group of people who are diagnosed with obesity? Not only that, we are being diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes Type 1 and 2, high cholesterol and the number one killer – heart disease. What I have researched and been taught is that processed food is one of the

main reasons why we are suffering with these diseases. Think about it – processed foods have been made for those who aren’t motivated to cook themselves a healthier option; rather it has to do with time management or not knowing how to cook. But the prepared meals we buy in stores contain an excessive amount of sugars, fats and sodium (salt). Eating two of those processed meals alone puts us over our Dietary Reference intake, which causes us to have health problems later in our lives. The American Heart Association states that we only need 2,300 mg of sodium daily and recommends that we reduce our sodium intake to 1,500 mg to reduce and prevent our chances of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, heart disease or hypertension. 1,500 mg of sodium amounts to 0.75 teaspoons or 3.75 grams of salt per day, while 2,300 mg amounts to one teaspoon or 6 grams of salt per day. Most people today are eating much more than that.

The average intake of sodium is about 3,400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods. All of us need to make drastic changes in our food choices, starting by reading labels and actively restricting the amount of sodium in our diets. The body cannot function without sodium, period. But the more sodium we have in our bloodstream, the more water it binds. For this reason, sodium is thought to increase blood pressure. If our blood pressure is elevated, the heart has to work harder to push the blood throughout the body, causing increased strain on the arteries and various organs. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for many serious diseases, like heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. (See Once we make the decision to eat more fresh foods that we cook and season ourselves is when we can define how long we live. Excess sugar consumption has been associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, tooth decay and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (See We consume natural sugars from milk products and fruits – which are good. Where we go wrong is when we drink sweetened beverages that have added sugars as well as processed beverages. It’s best to make your own freshly squeezed or blended fruit drinks, adding honey or maple syrup to them for a healthier option. Choosing honey over sugar results in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, which is believed to help with hunger levels. Honey is also known to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and soothing effects. Honey is made up of glucose, fructose and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphate, sodium chlorine, potassium and magnesium. Honey also is believed to heal a number of infections, as it contains peroxide. (See The health benefits of maple syrup include a healthy heart and a healthier immune system. Maple syrup has antioxidant properties that protect our body from free radicals. (See Do your immune system a favor and pack more fruits and vegetables on your plate. Eating some of the foods listed below is great for your health, as they are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids can be found in apri-

cots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon. Vitamin C can be found in berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers; while Vitamin E is found in broccoli (boiled), avocado, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach (boiled), and sunflower seeds. These foods are rich in antioxidants: prunes, apples, raisins, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant and beans. Other antioxidants that can help keep you healthy include: Zinc (oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, some fortified cereals and dairy products) and Selenium (Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads, and other grain products.) Cooking tip: To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed. Don’t overcook or boil them. (See http://www. Remember it is best for you to grow your own foods, but if you don’t have access to growing your own food it is always safer and healthier to buy fresh produce and meats. Cook these foods using healthier cooking methods such as baking, roasting, braising, poaching, boiling and blanching. All lives matter. Take your life back and define how long you will live by choosing foods that you can benefit from eating – foods that have the power to reduce cancer, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, etc. Food can and should be medicine, not poison. It all depends on how you cook it and how fresh it is when you eat it.

Markisha Gandy is a chef at Gabriel’s Place. If you’re interested in learning more about healthy cooking and eating, visit Markisha at Gabriel’s Place every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. for the Share a Meal program. For this free community dinner, Markisha creates healthy menu options that benefit everyone who eats them. Gabriel’s Place also has a free cooking class for adults to teach basic knife skills and cooking techniques. Learn more at or call 513.221.2306 for more information.


Digesting Grace Why the food we eat matters to God


t’s Tuesday afternoon, which means I come home does he give? Food. from work to a kitchen counter filled with bags of veg“Behold,” God says, “I have given you every plant and gies and leafy greens. I dig through the produce: bok every tree. You shall have them for food.” choy again. I’ve eaten more bok choy in the past three Later, after the Flood, God adds animals: “Every movweeks than I have in the past three decades, but I suping thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave pose that’s sort of the point: When you buy into a CSA you the green plants, I give you everything” (Gen. 9:3). farm, you take what the land gives you. When properly understood as a gift, it becomes clear Eighth Day Farm is our local CSA, or Community that food is a tangible expression of God’s love for us. As Supported Agriculture, in Holland, Michigan. Simply put, theologian Norman Wirzba has put it, food is “God’s love CSA is a model of farming in which community members made edible.” It is one essential way that he shows his buy a share of a farm’s procare for us (see Matt. 6:26). It duce before the season begins. Food is a gift. In fact, food is the first gift. is a physical embodiment of This gives the farmer – in our In one entirely accurate sense, all things God’s common grace, given for case, Jeff Roessing – a guarthe good of his creation. And from God’s good hands are gifts, but I it’s one of the practical means anteed source of income, and gives CSA members a regular by which Jesus Christ susthink food is somehow unique. supply of fresh, local food. tains all things. So tonight it’s stir-fried bok choy, again, with kohlrabi, “Food is not a product,” writes gardener and author garlic scapes, onions, and you-pick peas. My family is eatFred Bahnson in Making Peace with the Land. “It is not ing our greens (fresh, organic, and about as local as they ‘fuel for the machine.’ It is not a commodity or a reflection come) because I see it as a deeply theological act. What of our technological ingenuity. It is before everything else my family eats matters to me because, like all aspects of an unearned gift from God, manna from heaven, a blessthis earthly life, food matters to God. ing.” Food is a gift. In fact, food is the first gift. In one entireBecause food is a gift, how we handle it – what we eat ly accurate sense, all things from God’s good hands are and how we eat it – is much more than a matter of congifts, but I think food is somehow unique. Open a Bible venience, taste, desire, or consumption. How I respond to to Genesis 1 and look at what God does in the creation a gift is an indication of how I feel about the giver. And story. More specifically, look at the verbs: God creates, he because food is a gift of God’s good grace, I respond by eathovers, he says, he names, he separates, he makes and ing – and supporting within my community – food that blesses and sees and declares it good. But it isn’t until the manifests God’s grace well. end of the chapter, in verse 29, that he gives. And what Which raises a significant question: Is it possible for

particular foods to better manifest God’s grace than other foods? I think so. Food that causes our bodies harm misuses and ultimately abuses his gift of grace. When food is healthy and grown with reverence for its environment and with care for those in our communities – precisely the type of food grown by Eighth Day Farm – it provides genuine nourishment, body and soul. Another question: Is it possible to eat this food in ways that better respond to God’s gifts than other ways? Again, I think so. God, Paul tells us, gives “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [our] hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Eating, then, should bring us satisfaction and gladness because, properly understood, food testifies of God and his goodness. I’ve learned over back-deck dinners with our closest friends that the finest way to eat is joyfully, in fellowship with others and, above all, with a profound sense of gratefulness – not only for the food and the hands that prepared it, but primarily for the God who has given us such flavorful gifts. We can fairly describe eating in this way as feasting, as a celebration not (as some might suppose) of excess and gluttony but one of pleasure and appreciation. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Our eating should remind us of God’s goodness, and make us uncommonly thankful for it. To be honest, I’m still not very good at this. You’ll find plenty of junk food in our pantry, and sneaking off alone

to Burger King is an almost daily routine when my wife is out of town (did someone say “bacon sundae”?). I too often eat quickly and without gratitude. But I’m getting better at it, one bite at a time. I’m learning to intentionally choose food that makes me more aware of, and thankful for, the grace of God, and to eat that food with an abiding awareness of God and his goodness. Which brings me back to Eighth Day Farm: I find it easier to see the connection between my dinner plate and my faith when I stroll past the farm a few blocks down the street. I look at the rows of vegetables and think of Psalm 65, which describes God’s active role in preparing crops, watering the soil and blessing its growth. We speak often of Christians as the hands and feet of Christ. When I see the hands and feet of Jeff and his volunteers sowing, cultivating and harvesting my bok choy, I can’t help wondering if they are instruments God is using to accomplish his work and distribute his common grace to a fallen world. Josh Bishop is a writer based in Holland, MI. This essay originally appeared on the website of Christianity Today and is reprinted with permission.


Farming to fund outreach

Whether it is managing the local S.O.C.K.S. (Spirit of Christmas for Kids) project, helping support the Well at Sunnyside, providing meeting space for community activities, or recognizing local students for their academic achievements, St. Andrew’s, Washington Court House, is very active in supporting outreach activities in our community. In order to help fund these projects, members of St. Andrew’s have created our “Come Grow With Us” project, growing corn or soybeans crops to sell. In 2016, our fifth year, the project will include growing 10 acres of field corn. This is how the project works: Members of St. Andrew’s form a committee to manage the project and land is secured to grow a farm crop. Agri-businesses are contacted to donate seed, fertilizer and other crop inputs to grow the crop. Then the corn or soybeans are harvested and sold. Since all expenses are donated, the total crop sales are profit. Various activities are planned around the field planting and harvest events, which include not just members of St. Andrew’s and our partner church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, but also other congregations in the area – especially St. Colman of Cloyne Catholic Church. Our activities include events such as a harvest celebration, hayrides and a cookout.

Bishop Breidenthal visits with St. Andrew’s parishioners at last year’s harvest celebration. Guests also enjoy riding the combine and grain trucks that deliver the commodities to market. Many of the younger members of St. Andrew’s have become very involved in the project. In addition to raising money for outreach activities, a goal of the project is to allow members to learn about safe farming practices and participate in the growing of small grains. Liz Rea is a parishioner of St. Andrew’s, Washington Court House. For additional information about planning a similar project for your congregation visit or contact Bob Rea at Robert. or 614.264.8883.

Lunch with God: Serving the community St. James, Piqua, has proudly served our community for the last 12 years by offering a monthly Lunch with God meal. At the beginning of the new year, long-time Lunch with God coordinators David and Evelyn Jones decided with many prayers and thoughts to step down from coordinating the meal. But the church quickly found another person to coordinate the meal, and we are proud to say parishioner Susan Davis directed Friends gather around food at Lunch with God at St. James, Piqua.

Not Your Mother’s Church Cookbook We all love a church cookbook, right? The church ladies always submit their best recipes and some delicious family traditions are born from those hallowed pages. But the recipes in most church cookbooks are usually not the healthiest choices – until now. The parishioners of St. John’s, Columbus, have created a cookbook with tasty, yet healthy recipes called Not Your Mother’s Church Cookbook: Healthy Recipes for Healthy Living. The book was born after the congregation adopted in 2013 a healthy environment initiative that set guidelines for any foods served at the church. (See April/May 2015 Connections article highlighting this initiative) As the congregation searched for healthier alternatives to the usual coffee-hour cookies and potluck casseroles, they found many yummy, healthy recipes and decided to compile them into a book, the proceeds of which benefit the many ministries of the church. The book sells for $7. To order a copy, send a check to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1003 W Town Street, Columbus, OH 43222. (Editor’s note: The church is charging $7 for the book – why not throw them a couple extra bucks for shipping?)

SWEET POTATO HUMMUS 1 18-oz. sweet potato, baked, with skin removed 1 4-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained, with blackened skin removed 3 tablespoons lemon juice ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, finely diced ½ teaspoon ground cumin Pinch cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoon salt In a food processor, puree the sweet potato, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt. Process mixture until it is fairly smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

the transition without any notice to anyone from the outside. Susan has great ideas to move this mission forward. First, tables are set with tablecloths, napkins and flatware. Real, rather than disposable dishes are used, and volunteers serve each person as if they are dining in a restaurant. Each meal consists of an entrée, vegetable and or fruit, dessert and a drink. Children who attend receive a coloring page with crayons and a couple pieces of candy and are told they can color their pictures there and we will display them for everyone to see, or they can take them home to color. Any food that is left over goes to the

Piqua Fire Department. Lunch with God serves between 20 and 35 people through the winter months and as the weather changes, the attendance rises as well. Krista Abernathy serves as secretary of the church and vestry of St. James, Piqua. Contact her at and be sure to check out the church on Facebook at StJamesPiqua



hurts T

here are many ways to be hungry. And they ALL hurt. The organization Bread for the World estimates that 12 million children and 19 million adults in the U.S. go hungry each day and cannot afford the food they need to maintain physical health.

I am the Deacon-In-Charge of In The Garden Ministry, housed at Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square. We are a community consisting of homeless, minimally housed and low-income friends gathering every Sunday afternoon for worship, sharing and a good meal. About a third of our community live ‘on the land’, and some of them do not have the resources to purchase their own food. We occasionally see families with small children who haven’t eaten (on Sundays there are not the soup kitchens serving that normally serve during the week). If you have ever encountered a hungry child up close and personal, you will never forget it. All these people know hunger because they live with the physical hurt of hunger every day. For thousands of years, bread has been the symbol of necessary food and the sustenance of life. It is easy to understand why. It is nutritious, providing carbohydrates, starch and protein to the body. It is easy to make and, in some form or other, is a part of every culture. Bread is essential. Our problem in this overdeveloped nation tends to be that we get too much to eat. How ironic, that in a nation with two TV channels devoted entirely to food, obesity for children and adults is a growing national problem. And yet we have millions going hungry each day? And people are dropping dead in the Sudan for want of food? For most people in the world, most of the time, the problem is that they have too little to eat. They may subsist on only one meal a day, often less than that. Mahatma Gandhi once said: “There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” And the only thing that can remedy that hunger is bread – physical bread. And bread is more than nutrition. It’s comfort. The texture, the weight, the taste, all combine to make bread both the staff of life and the number one comfort food. People are starving to death, literally and figuratively – in Sudan, in Yemen, in Syria, in Appalachia, in Columbus Ohio – while often we do everything in our power to make it someone else’s problem, often blaming those very ones who are hungry.

It’s a radical thing we are called to do in the Christian faith. We are instructed to: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned. (Matthew 25:35-36) We, as the body of Christ and as individuals, call upon one another to care for others, to share our earthly goods; to support the church, food bank, missions and/or missionaries; and to work for social justice in our cities, state and world. It is not light work or easy work, but the Church and her people are often the last refuge for those who are sad, angry, alone, sick and worried about whether they will be able to survive one more month. We are a refuge for the elderly and the sick, those who may be alone, for children who have lost their parents, for the disabled who need a

How ironic, that in a nation with two TV channels devoted entirely to food, obesity for children and adults is a growing national problem. And yet we have millions going hungry each day? helping hand and acceptance, for the abused, addicted, the lost, the strayed. Each of us must undertake this work, not only out of the goodness of our hearts, but as builders of the Kingdom of God here on earth. And at the same time, we must care and feed each other with love, hope, joy, compassion, and community. For through this work we come to emulate Christ, and to know the heart of Jesus, who is the ‘bread for eternal life’. The Rev. Deniray Mueller serves her diaconal ministry at the In the Garden Ministry at Trinity, Columbus, and as the legislative liaison for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at


CAIN volunteers and interns Sabina Schwanzer, Lynne Free and Pam Matson

Oasis in a food desert


AIN is an oasis in the food desert that is Cincinnati’s neighborhood of Northside. It is building community and extending caring to neighbors in need of food, shelter and other essentials and living out its calling to love God and neighbor. In Greater Cincinnati, poverty and food insecurity have serious negative public health consequences for the physical and mental health of residents, especially the vulnerable populations of children, pregnant women and seniors. Neighborhoods are a key determinant of health. Not having enough food is a problem compounded by not having access to healthy food. Since September 2013, the 45223 area is considered a food desert because there is no grocery store. The persistence of food deserts triggers a sequence of negative outcomes for residents of these underserved communities. These include increased incidence of obesity and diabetes among children and adults, followed ultimately by higher mortality rates. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009) CAIN is committed to increasing food access and providing nutrient-dense food to

Northside residents who are food insecure. Its award-winning Rainbow Choice Food Pantry is the largest provider of fresh produce in the neighborhood. Thanks to strong Episcopal support and partnership, CAIN is a local leader in the quest to bring healthy food for all in the following ways: • St. Philip’s, Cincinnati (now closed) provided CAIN its own facility centrally located on Hamilton Avenue – Northside’s “Main Street” • St. Timothy’s, Cincinnati, helped with in-kind supplies and people-power to establish the Choice Pantry. The pantry adopted the “Rainbow of Colors” system developed by the Ohio State University Extension, which arranges shelf items to educate and encourage pantry guests about healthy food choices. • An on-site garden is harvested for pantry guests. • Guests receive take-home container gardens of tomato and peppers each Spring. • CAIN’s first display refrigerator was funded by an Episcopal Appalachian Ministries Grant • CAIN’s Phil’s Place is a free community weekly dinner that provides food, fosters a sense of belonging and builds community for 80 people a week. Christ Church Glendale, Church of Our Savior and St. Timothy’s have served and provided many meals to Phil’s Place. • The Northside Farmers Market (NFM) was one of the first neighborhood markets with SNAP (food stamp) acceptance and is a leader in the double-up incentive “Produce Perks” program. ( • NFM shoppers and vendors share “Another for a Neighbor” and donate items that are made available the next day for families in need. • Northside is striving to open a full-service cooperative grocery, Apple Street Market. CAIN has enrolled low-income households as inaugural members by registering and processing the subsidized share memberships for nearly 200 households to date. • Episcopal Community Services Foundation funding has helped each year along the way. • A nutrition demonstration and sampling area in the pantry are continually being improved and refined.

• Last year, CAIN launched a kitchen item section in the pantry so families can receive needed utensils and equipment to encourage cooking. • Calvary, Clifton and Christ Church Cathedral are member churches of CAIN and support with board leadership, funding and volunteers. Long-time volunteer and produce champion Karl Miller says, “Best of all we see our guests eagerly choosing from a wide selection of fresh produce. We hear lively discussions about the best way of preparing yellow squash, greens, eggplant, etc. Previously unfamiliar vegetables and fruits are sought after. A lot of learning is going on. Times are tough, but the smiles I see at CAIN are like the happy ending to a fairy tale.” Episcopal roots run deep in Northside and continue to blossom in many ways. To learn more about CAIN, visit www.

MiMi Chamberlin is the Executive Director of CAIN. Contact her at


never stop planting


ever stop planting seeds. You can take this as a motto, a philosophy, a practice, even a spirituality. To stop planting seeds is to give in to despair. According to Søren Kierkegaard, despair is a condition of the soul and despair is sin. Never stop planting seeds. This is my mantra when rain slowly rots a tomato crop in the field and pumpkins get sick in their pots because the ground is too wet to transplant. The first thing I do, before I let myself indulge in sorrow, is go to the greenhouse and plant new seeds. Then I let myself get sad, then I water and plant more seeds. Seed. Sad. Water. Plant. When the new sprouts come up, hope returns, with reinforcements. Procter Center Farm grows vegetables from seed in our soil, on our land. As a small farm we strive to model sustainability, among other things, by how we steward the land – using sustainable rotations, cover crops, tillage methods, organic fertilizers and (very limited) organic pesticides. We market our vegetables directly to our Community Supported Agriculture network and at North Market in Columbus, stimulating local economy. But Procter Center itself, in its mission to model sustainability, is a seed in the community of London, Madison County, Southern Ohio and the Church. Procter Center is modeling sustainability with its Wetland initiative. A couple goals of that initiative are to create habitats for native species and pollinator habitats. And as a Center, we model sustainability by encouraging our neighbors to do what they can to model sustainability in their own practices, philosophies, spiritualties, and so on. Procter and her guests are mutually blessed by every encounter. Guests leave this hub and touch their own commu-

nities, as good pollinators do. And so by existing like Procter does as an exchange for thoughts, prayers, foods, games, camps, (ad infinitum) we are modeling sustainability very literally like bees and flowers. Procter Center succeeds at its part only as far as we serve our mission and bear good fruit for our guests. For its part, the Farm has its sights set high for the quality and quantity of the fruit it provides for our guests. Fill your plates, people. And, of course, we have CSA shares available for those who want to take that plate to their home communities. Also, I’ve heard whispers of homegrown, pasture-raised, non-GMO, no nitrates-added, BACON (and other pork products) on your plate at Procter Center this fall. Reservations are being taken for whole/half hogs. The Farm is looking forward to working more closely with our youth and camping ministries this year, by having the summer campers visit the farm for spiritual formation, harvesting food they will eat, and, yes, planting seeds. And this is the message I want to communicate to the kids who come to summer camp this year. Never stop planting seeds. Keep doing good. Seedlings are coming up and pigs are on the way. We’ll see you in the harvest. “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 Conor Gilliland serves as Garden Coordinator at the Procter Center. Contact him at procterfarm@


Food & Faith

ating. It’s the most basic function of all living creatures. If you don’t eat, you die. But have you ever thought about the fact that eating to live involves the death of other members of God’s creation? In Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating, theologian Norman Wirzba says that even though more information about food and nutrition exists than ever before, today’s eaters are the most ignorant about where food comes from. In today’s consumer culture where food has become a commodity to be brokered, the main focus on food is that it be cheap and convenient. But when we take the time to think theologically about food, he says, eating “reminds us that we participate in a gracesaturated world, a blessed creation worthy of attention, care, and celebration.” Food and Faith: A theological approach to eating enables A Theology of Eating “the perception of food within a context that Norman Wirzba stretches through the many ecological and Cambridge University Press, social relationships of this world to the divine 2011; 266 pp. creator and sustainer of it,” he writes. “To approach food with a concern for its theological depth is to acknowledge that food is precious because it has its source in God.” Creation is a collection of many members, You can purchase this and other humans included, and all of these members books of interest at the new have a life cycle. Eating, Wirzba says, is a Connections Amazon store. daily reminder of creaturely mortality. “We Find the link at eat to live, knowing that without food we will under starve and die. But to eat we must also kill, the Resources tab realizing that without the death of others – microbes, insects, plants, animals – we can have no food.” As humans we must learn to receive this gift of life, and death, with grace and with respect for the sacrifice of other members of creation. This means that we, created as God’s image on the earth, have the responsibility to honor God’s creation through thoughtful eating. “Thoughtful eating reminds us that there is no human fellowship without a table, no table without a

kitchen, no kitchen without a garden, no garden without viable ecosystems, no ecosystems without the forces productive of life, and no life without its source in God,” Wirzba writes. The Gospels frequently mention Jesus eating with others – sharing fellowship around a common table. It was at a meal when Jesus asked his friends to remember him whenever they ate together in community. What, Wirzba asks, would eating that ‘remembered’ Christ look like? “In Paul’s view, it would be eating that strengthened the community of his followers,” he writes. “The Eucharist is a common, participatory event in which Christ’s followers exhibit Christ through the memberships they live. Through the daily meal Christians learn what it is to be present to and responsible for each other. When Jesus broke bread and shared the cup as the giving of his own body and blood, and then asked his followers to ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ he instituted a new way of eating in which followers are invited to give their lives to each other, to turn themselves into food for others, and in so doing nurture and strengthen the memberships of life.” Supporting sustainable farming that does not injure the earth and humane and ethical raising of livestock, paying living wages to the people who grow and harvest the food and buying locally to reduce the amount of fossil fuel energy spent in transporting food long distances are just a few ways that we, as the body of Christ, can nurture those memberships and eat in remembrance of Him.

Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at


Continue the conversation Check out

Welcome to Southside Abbey, a non-traditional worshiping community in Chattanooga, TN, that that engages in justice Bishop Michael Curry's ministries and gathers for a meal andsermon, worship on Friday evenings beginning at 6:11pm in a not-for-profit art gallery. Listen for a Change: Sacred

Conversations for Racial Justice, the 2016 Trinity Institute.

videos of interest on our new v

Why eat local? Food journalist Michael Pollan encourages buying local food to conserve energy, I Am Not Black, Youpreserve are Not support farmers, and theWhite natural landscape.

Viral video by Prince Ea.

w video page

performance piece about their differences at Brave New

Voices 2012. (Warning: Contains a small amount of profanity. )

Unprocessed – How I gave up processed foods (and why it matters) Food magazine editor Megan Kimble talksMatrix about thedirector impact of eating unprocessed Lanawhole, Wachowski food.

talks about coming out as a transgender person at the HRC Visibility Awards.


The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers: Americans love hamburgers – we eat about three burgers a week. But women's excellent whatTwo are theyoung hidden environmental costs?


“There’s a mouse under the table:

Do you see it?” T

he conversation was a high-level one. It was filled with lots of legal jargon, theoretical propositions, and possibility conjectures about the obstacles and realities of getting the job done. The topic concerned the presence of School Resource Officers, SROs, adult enforcers of law, in the nation’s public elementary and high school classrooms. The argumentations centered on a proposal that I lay before the discussants there present – public interest legal scholars possessing the knowledge and skills for analyzing and creating public policy. Not being a lawyer myself, all I had were the research reports that I read on the pros and cons of SROs in schools, coupled with some scenes from online videos stuck in my head of young children in handcuffs and a female high-schooler being flipped over in her chair and dragged by an adult male serving as an SRO. Since then, another video captured serious abuse at a Baltimore school. lists the Sixth Amendment rights possessed by any individual arrested in the United States. Even if they are not citizens, anyone arrested in the United States possesses the right of access to a criminal defense lawyer or a public defender and the right to cross-examine the witnesses giv-

ing testimony against them. Although age was not listed as a limiting factor, can young citizens, toddlers to teens, correctly interpret the semantics of Miranda warnings that should precede school police questioning? Can youngsters, without fear or shyness, successfully assert their Fifth Amendment right to be silent and the right to have an attorney present? Who will coach them? Thus far, the conversation had reached general agreement that where children in school are daily subject to on-the-spot arrests by the official presence of law enforcement personnel in school buildings, such underage citizens simultaneously are entitled to on-the-spot official access to legal representation in protection of their citizen rights. But then, the discussion bogged down into a skeptic debate on personnel funding and the mission goal timelines necessary to achieving nation-wide establishment of school-based legal offices. A rapid consensus was being formed; one that more strongly argued against immediacy of taking action, and suggesting, rather, that while the notion of school-based legal offices is a worthy undertaking, it should become an ingredient of some future agenda. And that’s when the pandemonium broke out.

daily subjected to sexual assault. The report served as a handout for the Cathedral’s Academy series on Mass Incarceration. Moreover, Dominican University Professor David M. Perry, using the subtitle “Rise of zero-tolerance policies strips school officials of the ability to exercise common sense,” gives three examples of abusive school compliance practices: A 6-year-old girl in Georgia was arrested for having a tantrum. In Virginia, a 4-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder was cuffed and shackled. An autistic 8-year-old in Tennessee was placed in a straitjacket and charged with assault. So there is no doubt. There indeed is a mouse under the

See links to resources used in this article at table. It’s called Kids Behind Bars. Prisons for Profit. Ohio Lockup Quotas. School to Prison Pipeline. Jailing Kids for Cash. Tough on Teen Crime. Zero Tolerance Policy. Failing Public Schools. The Prison Industrial Complex. Mandatory Minimums. Juvenile Life without Parole. Systemic Injustice. “No matter what these children were doing,” writes Perry, “anytime the solution involves placing a child in shackles, the people in charge have grotesquely failed.” All across this nation, says the Center for Public Integrity, children are suffering severe punishments, especially if they have disabilities and are nonwhite. Yes. These narratives do illustrate the importance of forging long-term solutions. But only after the unremitting threat of violent assault on the bodies and minds of children has been alleviated can the conversation then turn to diverse protracted analyses. In the meanwhile, the spotlight must be on the immediate liberation of children from the potential peril to which they are subjected in schools at any hour and on any given day – criminalizing kids acting like kids. The development and establishment of on-site, school-based legal representation for children accused of ‘crime’ can substantially stem the flow of school to prison pipelines. Mouse disemboweled.

Merelyn B. Bates-Mims is a member of Christ Church Cathedral Cincinnati and is a former educator.


“There’s a mouse under the table!” I heard myself say. This unplanned announcement suddenly escaped my lips as I found myself peering intently down at the area beneath the table. All the people seated at the conference table excitedly reacted, immediately pushing back their chairs and bending down to search the floor space under the table. “There’s a mouse?” “Yes,” said I. “And just as the mere possibility of its presence has not only grabbed your full attention, it has roundly aroused your expectation for immediate action toward extermination of the critter. You won’t wait until next week to solve the problem.” Factually, the image of the mouse is simply a personification of the dilemma that children daily encounter in school. Within what immediacy timeline would the presence of the mouse be eradicated? What levels of economic and skilled exterminator resources would be applied to the problem? What volume of ‘what if’ postulations would be fashioned? The bottom line was that the ‘mouse’ captured the imagination of the persons at the table – including mine. Yet, the image of the mouse under the table had never before cropped up in my mind or speech – it was a spontaneous creation. Its message spurred not only an excited reaction from the table; it effectively conveyed the immediacy of the need to address the at-risk peril children suffer daily. The people at the table “got it.” Incredulously, they got the message. “What a prototypical image,” said one young black male lawyer in amazement. I knew that there was a 2009 ACLU White Paper stored in the bowels of my briefcase, entitled “Policing in Schools,” written by Catherine Y. Kim and I. India Geronimo, advising that SRO governance documents should delineate “the contours of students’ rights” specifying the details under which an underage citizen should be questioned or searched, the Paper citing the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court’s Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist. conclusion that students do not shed their constitutional rights at school. I knew, too, that the July 2015 Episcopal General Convention Resolution #D068 was listed in the White Paper prepared by the Organization on Procedural Justice (OPJ) brain trust of scholars commissioned by the Diocese of Southern Ohio, calling for the abolishment of the School to Prison Pipeline. I also remembered an online article on Children in Prison, appearing at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) website, making known the statistic that nearly 3,000 American children have been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole; and that the 10,000 children housed in American adult jails are




Make it personal

embers of the Confluence Year community recently joined Episcopal Service Corps communities from Chicago, Memphis, and St. Louis for a Midwestern regional retreat in St. Louis, MO. On Sunday morning we attended St. John’s Church-The Beloved Community and listened to guest preacher Rahiel Tesfamariam powerfully speak on empire. After the service, St. John’s church members served us amazing soul food. While we ate, local university students shared their experience protesting in Ferguson and organizing for racial justice on campus afterwards. As we left the church, the caretaker of the Michael Brown memorial challenged us – “When you visit the memo-

rial, let it be personal. Let it touch you.” We arrived at the memorial and stood in silence for 4.5 minutes, to symbolize the 4.5 hours Michael Brown lay in the road after being shot. As we stood there in the cold, I thought about books I had read about racial injustice and about the systems that perpetuate structural racism in America. Once the 4.5 minutes had passed, we crossed the street and looked down at a memorial plaque. Through the slush on the ground I read Michael’s birth and death dates: May 20, 1996-August 9, 2014. In that moment, Michael Brown’s death became personal for me. My own little sister was born in 1995. Looking down at that plaque, the only thought I could think was, “Wow. My. Word. He

was even younger than Sara.” Maybe the caretaker was right, and we need to open ourselves to the emotional impact of tragedy and injustice. Maybe mentally acknowledging that injustice has happened and is happening now and will continue to happen unless we all get involved isn’t enough. Maybe we need to embrace the caretaker’s words and let ourselves be personally moved by tragedy, and let this move us into action. Hanna Kahler is a member of the Confluence Year community in Franklinton.

Church is good for the

heart O

Continued next page


ur rector, John Agbaje, often thanks us for coming to church. One of his refrains in his sermons is that coming to church is good for the soul. I want to show you, with a little help from science, that church is also good for the heart. I’m going to share with you a short vignette, ask you to think about the anatomy and physiology of the heart and the brain, and then talk about the effects of stress on the heart. That will lead us to a few tips for minding the heart – in less than ten minutes. For those of you who know me as a psychiatrist, I may appear to be an impostor talking about the heart, since my field is the mind and my organ is the brain. Let me explain how a psychiatrist ends up preaching about the heart. About twenty years ago I started wondering how it happens that people with depression die younger than people without depression. This question turned into a four-year long project with a mentor of mine, George Vaillant, and my epidemiologist wife, Victoria, which resulted in our publishing a review in 1999 called The Mortality of Depression. The main finding of this review was that depression roughly doubles the rate of early death, and most people with depression die from early heart disease and other chronic illnesses, much more often than from suicide. Since then a lot of research by others has clarified the pathways by which depression and other forms of chronic stress lead to the early development of heart disease, and how depression accelerates the rate at which existing heart disease leads to early death. I published a book in 2007, Treating the Aching Heart: A Guide to Depression, Stress, and


Heart Disease, to spread the word to non-medical readers about this research. More recently it has become clear from sound epidemiologic studies that all the major chronic mental illnesses cut about 20 years off the expected life span in our country. That is, if you have the good fortune to live into your 80s, your brother or sister with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or severe depression is more likely to die in their 60s. How does this happen? Now for the vignette, a reading from the Gospel according to Lawson (actually from my above-mentioned book): Chapter 1, p 1-2: Paula Volk (not her real name), sixty-two, spends most of her time in the front bedroom of her two-bedroom house near the flood plains of the Ohio River, watching the clock, as she says. Her father died at sixty-two from his second heart attack. Her mother died at sixty-two of a stroke. For eight years Paula Volk’s heart has been troubling her with chest pains, shortness of breath, and exhaustion. She’s sick enough now to need a heart transplant, but too sick to be eligible for the operation. How did she, the daughter of a nurse and an engineer, come to this? Her mother ate too much, drank too much, and spent too much time in bed with depression, Paula says. Determined to defy her mother’s genes and her example, Paula skipped the booze, and worked hard as a social worker and later as the owner of a small courier business. Aside from carrying some extra weight most of her life, Paula usually felt pretty good and considered herself pretty healthy. She smoked a couple of packs a day for forty years and quit in the spring of 1995, when she was fifty-five and the chest pains began. Within the year she developed congestive heart failure and (like her father) diabetes. And then she had a coronary bypass operation. After the operation she slid into a funk, stopped taking care of her house, kept to her bed, and ruminated about suicide day after day. For most of the next eight years she remained depressed and disabled, untreated for anxiety or depression in spite of frequent treatments for her heart disease.

Dr. Lawson Wulsin presented this talk to his congregation, St. Andrew’s, Evanston, on March 6, 2016. It has been adapted slightly for print. His book, Treating the Aching Heart: A Guide to Depression, Stress, and Heart Disease, was published in 2007 by Vanderbilt University Press.


These pathways between depression and heart disease are partly genetic, but they also include some high-risk health behaviors, like smoking and overeating and insomnia and slouching on the couch all day, which are common habits of the chronically depressed. Depression also contributes to the risk for arrhythmias of the heart by reducing heart rate variability, a measure of resilience to stress. In some people depression disrupts the whole stress response system, making them feel fragile not only in their minds but in their cardiovascular systems too. In the six months after a heart attack, depression doubles the rate of sudden death, mostly by arrhythmias because of reduced heart rate variability. And depression disrupts diet, exercise and glucose regulation, accelerating the onset of diabetes, which also contributes to heart disease. And feeding this vicious cycle, heart disease can increase the risk for depression, as it did for Paula Volk. One way to understand how stress and depression wear and tear at the heart is to think about how the central nervous systems and the cardiovascular systems are anatomically connected. The heart and all the blood vessels are enervated by two kinds of nerves that balance each other – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches of our autonomic nervous system. Our heart rate and our blood pressure are the result of the balance of activity between these two branches, the accelerator and the brake. One serves the fight-or-flight response and the other the conservation and relaxation response. When we get excited, like here at church when Jerome Johnson and our Gospel Choir belt it out, our adrenalin kicks in and our sympathetic nerves light up and our heart rates rise. Later when we’re kneeling calmly during communion, some of us yawning, that other branch, the parasympathetic branch, takes over and we feel quiet and at peace. It’s a good sign when someone in the congregation yawns – a sign of that peace of mind and body. During the rest of the week, when we’re not attending church, most of us lead lives that are overly stimulated and relentlessly activated. Excitement and stress are easy to come by. They seem to seek us out. On the other hand, deep relaxation and a quiet mind and a sense of safety are harder to come by. For many of us church offers a place to practice restoring the balance. Think of our church service rituals and their effects on our nerves. The sense of harmony when we sing together, the resonant vibrations as we read the Psalms responsively. The physical contact when we pass the peace. The deep knee bends we call genuflecting. The lulling effects of our communion rituals. The counting of our blessings. The affirmations of affection from God and from each other. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what our average resting heart rates are at the end of the service compared to the beginning? No wonder churchgoers tend to live longer. One of the functions of church is to help us clarify our spiritual purposes. No wonder people who have a clear sense of purpose in life have fewer cardiovascular disease events and live longer. Think of church at its best as a gentle but sophisticated mind, body, and soul workout. So I want to leave with a few key points. First, the heart and the brain are tightly connected. How we think and feel has a powerful effect on how resilient our hearts are. Second, as with building our faith, building our resilience against the toxic effects of stress requires practice. Stress management works if you practice it most days: make time to sing, dance, pray, shake hands, shake a leg, bend your knees, laugh, count your blessings, affirm your affections, reconcile and forgive. And third, the components of our church service are good not only for our spiritual growth but also for tuning up the connection between our central nervous systems and our cardiovascular systems. Church is good for the heart.

35 35


Reflections on clergy health He, who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see it grow, believes in God.


f I had a penny for each time I heard my grandmother say that when I was a child, I would never have had to work! With that mantra of spring mulling inside our minds, we always got outside this time of year to clear flower beds, seek perennials making their way towards the sun’s warmth, and pruning the dead foliage away so that new life had a chance. Since we now journey in post-Eastertide, it all boils down to new life and hope. Way back in the day, Taylor Caldwell wrote a book entitled Dear and Glorious Physician. At the age of 14, and being a voracious reader even then, my mother gave me the book to read during summer vacation. It was, for me, an instant love affair with Luke, the physician and gospel writer. I was hooked, and still am! Luke, the champion of the least, the last and the lost has

always fed my spirit. His respect for and treatment of women in Scripture is a lovely perk! However, that being said, I have been sitting with the parable of the barren fig tree from Luke 13:6. The gardener tells the owner of the vineyard, “Give me one more year to tend to this tree, spreading manure and nurturing it. If in a year, it does not bear fruit, it shall be cut down.” This parable is teeming with food for thought! We lived for a long time in northern Shelby County. Big farm lands up yonder! This time of year, the farmers are itching to get out and start plowing. The soil there is rich and fertile, a luscious black. It puts me in mind of a local priest from Cincinnati, a city boy who was transferred to a very small, rural town where we resided. (This will lose something in the telling, as I cannot affect the screech of the voice, the bulging, watery eyes and hands waving in angst. One of those, “you had to be there moments.”) However, this young priest choked out, “What is that ghastly smell?” (You see, for a couple of days, the fragrance in the town and surrounding areas was rather ripe.) His congregant, a hard-working, BIG German farmer replied, “Remember that smell Father when you eat your Thanksgiving dinner.” Lest we forget that there are a whole lot of phases between seed and feast, gratitude for hard work, long and laborious hours and true dependence on the Almighty might be in order. As well as that wonderful prayer of “Thank you!” Getting back to Luke 13.6, I happen to be reading a book by Henry Cloud entitled Necessary Endings. Cloud is a psychologist with a Christian bent, leadership expert, author and speaker. This book puts Luke 13.6 in a modern perspective of how we live our lives through the seasons of change. Change is constant. To not change is to stagnate. But most of us push against change like it is a bad thing. (As an aside, I would highly recommend this book for personal as well as vestry reading! Stimulating themes for discussion may ensue.) Cloud discusses the “pruning away” of things in our personal lives, relationships, work situations and other miscellaneous areas, which no longer give life or deplete vitality being funneled towards other aspects of our living life to the fullest. What are old, dead, and long overdue areas requiring

pruning out of our lives? What do we need to consider pruning, yet are not ready to discard, perhaps seeing if a little more time and attention might salvage life therein. (Is there enough manure in the world to give it proper CPR?) What are those parts of life that are truly life giving? What makes you thrilled to be alive and doing those things? What would attract/draw others to you because you are so in love with the living of life? (It is contagious you know!) My prayer is that we have not dwelled with dry bones so long we have forgotten how it feels to be thrilled with life! Guess we can label that seed, “joy.” How are we going to plant it? Clergy tend to live inside their heads a lot. We spend a lot of time with the “ologies” of life – theos, eccelsia and techno – it might be nice to loosen our collars and let our heads bobble a bit in other directions of life-giving matters. It is after all, spring! If it is good for the “red, red robin,” it is good for us. Perhaps it is the season to put snippets of parsing aside. We could shorten that endeavor to parsnips! (Yes I know that pun was bad, but the devil made me write it!) Pruning unleashes many hard questions for most folks to address. It is especially difficult for clergy who attempt to deal with changing congregations. The handwriting is and has been on the wall. We change or we become dinosaurs. We have lived in ruts and the “same ole” for so long, we have forgotten how to dream. Yet, dreaming, hoping, anticipation is what spring is all about. It is really what Easter is all about! Like creation/nature, we can only spend an allotted time in a season for it to be healthy. Energy is currency. How much of what you do gives you energy? If it doesn’t, then why keep doing it? What does it take us all to invest in creation? This is the year! Let us tend to those barren fig trees in our lives, haul out some manure, prune and have at it. I pray we will all be bearing fruit and not barren fruit in the seasons to come.

What are old, dead, and long overdue areas requiring pruning out of our lives?


The Rev. Ruth Paulus is a registered nurse and serves as rector of St. Christopher’s, Fairborn. Contact her at


Seraphim and cherubim and all the company of Heaven


elsey and I are studying the Revelation to Saint John. We’ve studied the Bible together for almost four years, starting when she was a sophomore at OSU. It was a relief to me when she got into OSU medical school, because I value our weekly time together. We’ve read bits and pieces of the Old Testament, particularly Genesis and 1 & 2 Samuel, plunged through Matthew’s Gospel, and spent more than half a year on Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Book of Acts. We like to say that we’re reading the Bible very slowly, often no more than two chap-

ters at a time. And a few weeks ago we decided to turn towards one of the most confusing, tangled, abused, and majestic pieces of poetry in all of scripture – John’s Revelation. Ah, that throne in heaven and the strange winged beasts that surround it. They send us flipping back through our Bibles to Ezekiel and Isaiah. Eugene Peterson, whose book Reversed Thunder has been our guide through the imagery of the Revelation, says that the seraphim and cherubim represent the totality of the natural world, all of those creatures whom we presume to

If you’re going to presume to pray on behalf of something, you should try to understand it.

his own eyes. Watching his slides, we were among the second group of people to do so. As she was leaving, the new student remarked that it was the first time she’d ever discussed science in church. We assured her that we discuss it all of the time. Why? Because of the seraphim and cherubim, of course. If you’re going to presume to pray on behalf of something, you should try to understand it.   God has gifted the world with a startling diversity of life. I’m reading Diana Butler Bass’s newest book, Grounded: Finding God in the World, a Spiritual Revolution. She quotes the journalist Kristin Ohlson, who writes, “I was stunned by what I learned about life in the soil, that when we stand on the surface of the earth, we’re atop a vast underground kingdom of microorganisms without which life as we know it wouldn’t exist. Trillions of microorganisms, even in my own smallish backyard, like a great dark sea swarming with tiny creatures.” Katie, a graduate student in entomology who’s a member of our little Sunday night group, would point out that there are also millions of tiny creatures above the surface of the earth, whizzing by our ears and alighting on our arms and settling on the trees and flowers. There are so many different kinds of life that we can’t hold all of it in our minds when we pray. But life in all its diversity peeks out from behind the language of our prayer, and we lift our voices with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, looking out with many eyes, both inside and outside, and unfolding innumerable wings as we pause to listen to the sanctity of the earth.

The Rev. Karl Stevens serves as Missioner to Campus Ministries for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact him at


speak for when we raise our voices in prayer. Lions and oxen and eagles, of course, but also bacteria, and nematodes, and octopods, and insects. The sum total of all the creatures of the earth, represented in those weird figures with six wings and eyes all around and inside (4:6-8). In John’s vision, these creatures sing “holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” That should sound pretty familiar to anyone who’s ever attended an Episcopal Eucharist. We usually sing those words, or some version of them, to settings by Schubert or William Mathias. How often do we pause and think about the ultimacy of what we’re doing? Do we even understand that we’re singing on behalf of that vast majority of living creatures that don’t have human voices? For me, singing the Sanctus is a profound moment of creation spirituality, lived out in our worship. When we sing it, we reveal that the seraphim and cherubim are expressions of the earth and all that lives on it, not abstract heavenly beings. I think about this as I lead the Eucharistic Prayer during our Sunday evening services on campus. Most of the people who come are involved in the sciences. Before the service three Sundays ago, Jared and Peter were telling me about botulism, and why babies get it. Apparently, there aren’t very many bacteria in a baby’s stomach to start out with, and without bacteria, we can’t digest correctly. An infant spends its first year trying to get the bacteria balance in its stomach just right. So introducing foods that might carry bad bacteria can upset the balance. That night, we prayed on behalf of the bacteria that allow us to digest food and live.   Last Sunday a new student joined us for worship, and then ate dinner with us afterwards.  At the end of the meal, Jared pulled out his computer and showed us new images he’d captured of muscle growth in zebra fish. The day before he had, quite possibly, become the first living person to witness this particular kind of growth with


Christ D has risen!

Where is He now?

uring this Eastertide I can’t help but reflect on our risen King and what it means for our world in the here and now. We live in a world full of ugly news brought to reality by ugly people – people that have lost sight of what it means to love our neighbor as we would like to be loved. Any given day there is more news about a bombing, a plane hijacking or another black life lost unjustly. Easter is supposed to bring good news and hope for us, and yet when we read the headlines and live out our lives it feels pretty hopeless. In February, the Latino Ministry Center

Detained children being transferred to another trailer within the Dilley Family Detention Center.

in Whitehall sponsored my trip to Dilley, Texas; population 4,000. In this small town there is a Family Detention Center for immigrant women and children that are seeking asylum. These are women that are fleeing countries in Central America such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These families encounter many trials along their road to America, however all of these trials are worth risking for the life they are leaving. Most families are fleeing from gang violence that is ruining their life and their countries. Women business owners are exploited and charged extortion money so that the gangs will leave them alone. Even more are abused and receive no help from the local authorities, because the authorities are the gang. Those women face the reality of their sons getting recruited into the gangs whether they want to be or not. These families face the same uncertainties of many of the refugee families around the world. They live in a world where the only help, relief or hope they can find is in another country. These women are leaving their home country, a place where their parents saw a future for them. Now when they look at those same streets that they grew up on they can no longer see a future for their children. They come to the United States not seeking a job. They come solely seeking a future, a life with some sort of hope to hold on to. When I look at the headlines and issues that we face as a country it’s hard for me to imagine that we as the United States of America have any hope to offer these families. The reality is that we do. We live in a country that is run by the people and for the people. I know that there are people that care about these fleeing families. I know because I’ve worked with them through the CARA Project in Dilley, Texas, at the other Latino Ministry Centers in the Diocese of Southern

Ohio and have met a handful of other people along the way. And that is where the problem lies. This country that was built on immigrants seems to only have a handful of people that care about our generation’s immigrants and all that America has to offer them. I’m not writing this article as a means to make you care, I’m only writing so that you might read and understand how you might contribute to this story. Christ has risen; he forgave us of our sins. Christ then ascended and asked us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. We are Christ’s witnesses here in America, to all people – in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras… to the ends of the earth. How do we do that? There are many ways to show the love of Christ in this world. I find that the most important way in this election year is to consider whom we support with our vote. And that doesn’t mean just the presidential election, but our state leaders and city leaders. All of these people come together to make decisions that greatly affect the lives of immigrants and decide the hope that they can receive. It can be shown in smaller ways too. When you run into someone at the grocery store and they don’t speak English, give them grace that they haven’t quite picked up this language that they never planned on needing until they were forced to flee their home country. Consider what these families have gone through before being frustrated that they have come into ‘your’ country.

There are many ways to show the love of Christ in this world. I find that the most important way in this election year is to consider whom we support with our vote. And that doesn’t mean just the presidential election, but our state leaders and city leaders.


Katie Guy is a Confluence Year resident and serves the Latino Ministry Center located at St. Edward’s, Whitehall.


Celebrating 20 years


of partnership

n 1996, the Diocese of Southern Ohio was invited to join a radical program after the end of the Cold War with Russia. Fueled by citizen diplomacy, Episcopal Churches across the United States were asked to support the burgeoning re-opening of Russian Orthodox churches. More than 80% of Russian Orthodox churches had been destroyed or desecrated during 70 years of persecution under Communism. A group of Episcopal churches in Dayton became founding members of this movement and formed a partnership with St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Sablino, Russia, a rural community 30 miles south of St. Petersburg. Twenty years later, the partnership is still going strong! MVERN (Miami Valley Episcopal Russian Network) was formed with the leadership of dedicated volunteers in Dayton, led by Chris Saunders of St. Paul’s, Oakwood, and Fr. Nikolai Aksenov at St. Nicholas, with the help of Dr. Igor Tolochin, professor at the University of St. Petersburg. The 11 Episcopal and two Orthodox parishes of MVERN, the largest parish partnership in the country, have provided cultural exchanges, youth mission trips, education and financial support to strengthen both communities. Through the support of MVERN, volunteers have helped Fr. Nikolai build a community center that has become an anchor of support for the Sablino community. American and Russian youth enjoy a game of volleyball in front of the Sablino Youth Center.

The center has created afterschool and summer programs for children in religion, art, music, sports and theater. It is a haven for families in times of distress, providing temporary housing. Fr. Nikolai and his parishioners provide meals to the community, especially the elderly and infirmed. The doors to the center are always open and welcoming. Fr. Nikolai initiated mission trip opportunities for our diocesan youth to help with the summer camps and create intercultural understanding. Adult travelers from our diocese have been welcomed into the homes of the parishioners in Sablino, to break bread together and create lasting friendships. Lives have been enriched and changed. As a celebration of 20 years of a cultural and spiritual relationship between the two communities, MVERN has planned a Russian White Nights Celebration dinner on Sunday, June 26 at St. George’s, Dayton, at 4:30 p.m. Former travelers and friends are invited for a Russian dinner, entertainment with Russian dancers and your chance to meet Fr. Nikolai and Dr. Igor Tolochin, as well as a joyous reunion for hosts and travelers alike. We look forward to renewing our friendships and celebrating our many accomplishments. On Saturday, June 25, there also will be a Pizza Party for former MVERN youth travelers and Episcopal youth for pizza and conversation with Fr. Nikolai and Igor. Come for a 5 p.m Vespers and stay for pizza at St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church, 4451 Wagner Rd, Dayton. Reservations are not required. For further information about either event, please contact Bee Tanner at 937.454.5141 or tannerb@woh. For more information on MVERN check out our website at Anne Griffiths is a member of MVERN and a parishioner at St. James, Cincinnati. She has traveled twice to Sablino through MVERN cultural exchanges.

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May 2016 Connections  

News, ideas and events from the Episcopal Church in Southern Ohio

May 2016 Connections  

News, ideas and events from the Episcopal Church in Southern Ohio