Rhode Island’s Source for Episcopal News 2017 RISEN — An annual publication of The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island 275 North Main Street Providence, RI 02903 Phone: (401) 274-4500 www.episcopalri.org Publisher — The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island Editor — David Seifert Copy Editors — The Rev. Canon Linda L. Grenz, the Rev. Gillian Barr, Ruth Moulton, Ann Rheault Design and Layout — Anne M. Stone Writers — Manya Chylinski, Kim Hanson, Joanne Pope Melish, the Rev. Stephanie Shoemaker, the Rev. Robert P. Travis Photography — Ron Cowie, Faith Keay Printer — TCI Press, Seekonk, MA Subscriptions — RISEN Magazine is a free journal published by and for The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, or need to change your mailing address, send an e-mail with your name and address to: email@example.com. Photo Credits All photos are used by permission. Cover — Willson Cummer/NewYorkPhotography.us (taken at Grace Church, Syracuse) Page 2 (top & bottom) — Ron Cowie Page 2 (sign) — Episcopal News Service Page 2 (presiding bishop) — Nancy Henahan Page 2 (flowers), page 28 — St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Page 2 (kitchen) — Janice Grinnell Pages 3 & 9 — Ron Cowie Page 4 — Zach Allen Pages 6 & 7 — Episcopal News Service Page 8 — Faith Keay Page 10 — Jorge Paricio Page 11 — The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York/CC0 License Page 12 — Betsy Aulisio Pages 13 & 14 — UrbanPromise, Camden, NJ/CC 2.0 License/www.flickr.com/photos/ shannonoberg (page 14 has been cropped) Page 16 — Brett Betkoski Page 18 — St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Page 20 — Doug MacFall Page 21 — Jamestown Press Page 22 — Susan Halvarson Page 23 — Faith Keay Page 24 — Saltful/CC0 License Page 26 — Steve MacAusland Page 27 (top) — Jonathan Coffin Page 27 (bottom) — Johanna Douglas
In this issue “At its core, the Gospel is about the restoration of right relationships” Reconciliation: At the heart of all we do as Christians
4 Bishop Knisely on our role and relationships as ambassadors in Christ
Reconciliation to God
6 8 9 10 11 12
Evangelism in the Episcopal Church St. Thomas tackles The Bible Challenge Prison ministry at the ACI in Cranston Reaching out to newcomers by mail Confession isn’t just for Roman Catholics Worship for those on the autism spectrum
Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Working to achieve racial justice Good Shepherd reaches out year-round Connecting at the Center for Reconciliation Wakefield parish partnership emerges The community market at St. Peter’s St. Mary’s Home helps children in need Partnering with local police Ecumenical collaboration in Jamestown Summer fun at City Camp Redeemer reaches out to neighbors
Reconciliation to Creation 24 The Christian imperative to care for our environment 26 Emmanuel Church builds sustainability 27 Bishops to go on river trip 28 Community gardens feed nearby neighbors 29 Oil purchasing pilot offers big savings
Around the Diocese
30 31 31 31
ECC receives accreditation Building a strong campus ministry ‘Rev Dev’ retires (Philip Devens, at right) Diocese receives several important grants
Welcome to the 2017 ‘RISEN ’ Welcome to the newest evolution of RISEN! Our diocesan magazine has had many forms over many years, from the Rhode Island Churchman to a traditional quarterly news magazine to quarterly themed issues and a twiceyearly themed publication. These forms all had advantages and disadvantages. As the magazine evolved, the role of print was changing due to the rapid development of digital alternatives. Yet, although the diocese has a twice-monthly electronic newsletter and an improving website, the need for print continues. A communication audit last summer found a continuing desire for print communication — combined with an acknowledgment that print
is expensive, resource-intensive and declining in use by younger people. Although a sizeable portion of respondents rated print “slightly or not important,” even more called it “very or extremely important.” Those findings led us to conclude that print should continue as a part of the diocesan communication strategy, but perhaps take a different form. This version of RISEN — a once-a-year, more forward-looking magazine — is that different form. Other dioceses have had success with this approach, most notably our neighbors in the Diocese of Connecticut. As you’ll see, this new approach continues the themed issue method — reconciliation, in this issue — but
also restores a former practice: telling the stories of what Rhode Island Episcopalians and Episcopal churches are doing to live out their ministries. Now that RISEN is complete, we want to continue to tell those stories through the rest of the year, so watch the diocesan website (www.episcopalri.org). And, please let us know about the good work that’s going on in your church. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue by telling us their stories or assisting in the writing, design and photography. We hope you enjoy this new approach to our magazine and that it helps deepen your relationship with God and your neighbors. — Dave Seifert, editor
Loaves & Fishes Rhode Island brings food and prayer to Woonsocket Every Saturday, Loaves & Fishes Rhode Island (LFRI) visits the city of Woonsocket and delivers food, clothing and toiletries to people living on the margins. Now, the volunteers have added one more service: a prayer station where people can add their names to an ongoing prayer list or talk to a volunteer (pictured at top of previous page). LFRI, formerly part of the national Mobile Loaves and Fishes program, has a new name given its incorporation as its own local nonprofit organization. It’s part of a group of 12 churches in Rhode Island from multiple denominations. Participating Episcopal churches include Emmanuel, Cumberland; St. John’s, Barrington; St. David’s on-the-Hill, Cranston; St. Paul’s, Wickford; and St. Luke’s, East Greenwich. ¬ RISEN Magazine
Reconciliation: At the heart of all we do as Christians
At its core, the Gospel is about the restoration of right relationships between the Creator and the Creation. It’s about how God has acted in the person of Jesus to restore us to the relationships God intended for us in the beginning. These relationships are primarily between us as a gathered body and God who created us, but also — as Jesus reminds us in the summary of the Law — between us and our neighbor. The action of restoring the proper relationship, one characterized by a self-giving love (agape), happens as we are reconciled to God and to each other. We are made one with God and each other through the events of the cross, death and resurrection by which Christ accomplishes our atonement (at-one-ment). In the summer of 2015, General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Salt Lake City, passed several resolutions and commended them to the wider Episcopal Church. Although much of General Convention’s
work focused on restructuring the Episcopal Church Center and organizational structure, the remainder of the resolutions fell into three broad categories: evangelism, anti-racism and environmental stewardship. Looking these over, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, our new presiding bishop, realized there was a common thread running through all three: reconciliation. We as a wider church decided to focus our common life into the areas of our reconciliation to God (evangelism), our reconciliation to each other (anti-racism) and our reconciliation to God’s creation (environmental stewardship). I have to admit that even though I was involved in all three initiatives and was excited they were to form the focus of our common life for the next three years, I had not made the breathtaking connection they all shared with the fundamental work of reconciliation, which is the true mission of God’s church (“The Book of Common Prayer,” page 855). Why is it that we claim that
reconciliation should be at the heart of all we do as the people of God? Look at what St. Paul writes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: “. . . If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5: 17-20, New Revised Standard Version). It’s the last bit that should draw our attention: We are ambassadors for Christ, and God is making the appeal and proclamation of reconciliation to the world through each one of us. And that’s why I’m so energized by Bishop Curry’s insight. It gives us the structure for the biblical mandate that we will be carrying out over the next few years. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Reconciliation to God Did you know that the formal, legal name of the Episcopal Church is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS)? Perhaps you learned that in confirmation class, and perhaps having learned it, you have not needed to remember it since. But that full name for our church is a reminder of what our purpose originally was meant to be — to take the Good News out into the world. Evangelism is the proclamation of the Good News that Jesus has come into the world and has redeemed the whole world from the hopelessness and despair that threatened to overwhelm it. Reconciliation
Reconciliation to God, Our Neighbor and Creation And then God entrusted us with that message. In the early days of the church, the apostles and missionaries journeyed to the farthest reaches of human civilization to share this news. And people responded! Today we are being given similar opportunities to share this news, but we are not being asked to travel very far. Rather, we are being encouraged to go out into our local neighborhoods. And just to be clear, when we go out into the neighborhood, it’s more about taking the church into the neighborhood than it is about trying to drag the neighborhood into the church. Remember how after the resurrection, Jesus tells the disciples that he is going ahead of them to Galilee? Today our neighborhoods are our Galilee. Jesus is already out there, and we are being invited and called to go join him in that work of restoring us and our neighbors into a right relationship with our Creator.
Reconciliation to our neighbor At our most recent diocesan convention, by formally including the Center for Reconciliation as a program area of the Diocese of Rhode Island, we reaffirmed our common commitment to working through the divides that separate us from our neighbors. At the moment, this work is happening by inviting congregations and individuals around the state to learn about our history in the American enslavement industry and the unexpected ways that history affects our common life today. General Convention has called for a specific confrontation of the systemic racism that has kept us from living into our goal of being a reconciled society. In our local context, we will live into that challenge as we both learn about the incredible challenges we and others faced and are facing, and recognize the Reconciliation
many heroic ways they are responding. This work by the Center for Reconciliation, as it collaborates with other organizations at state universities, other denominations here in the state and many community organizations, is vital and timely. You’ll read more about the specifics in this magazine. I hope you’ll recognize the importance of this work and the incredible resource we have been given to accomplish parts of it.
Reconciliation to creation We are living in an era when we are hearing more about global climate change and the significant impact it is expected to have in our ocean state. Many of our congregations are in shore communities, and there are some in particular, such as St. John’s in Newport, that will be facing challenges during the next decades as we see the forecasted rise in mean sea levels. The expected changes to our coastline and the implications of warmer waters for our bay are examples of issues the diocese will have to respond to as they progress. We may have to relocate congregations and buildings. We may see some islands in the bay disappear and new ones emerge along the present shoreline. We may see a significant demographic change as people in other coastal regions in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are forced to move to find stable housing and work. My sense is that this is going to be the great challenge for us in this new century. A response is going to have to be multifaceted. We’re going to need to think about the practical implications and the impact a changing coastline will have to the physical assets of the diocese — and more importantly to the communities that we serve. We’re going to have to think about how we respond pastorally to those who may see a way of life disappear. And we
need to think theologically about our place and role in all of this. This year we’ll be starting with a simple response of pilgrimage. The Connecticut River Pilgrimage is a cooperative event being organized by all the Episcopal dioceses of New England as well as the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Our hope is that this will be both a chance to reflect on our place in God’s creation, and our roles and responsibilities as stewards, and a chance to remember how our actions have already made a major impact on the environment — particularly in the Connecticut River basin as the wildlife is returning and the natural beauty is being restored through conservation efforts. eee
Reconciliation is at the core of all these efforts, and I hope our God-given mission of reconciliation will be at the heart of all we do as a diocese, and as a network of faith communities and congregations across this state. Please pray for the common work we share, remembering Jesus’ promise that he is going with us and is leading us into the fullness of his kingdom. — The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of Rhode Island
Read the bishop’s blog on entangledstates.com
facebook.com/ episcopalRI @episcopalRI @episcopalRI @wnknisely RISEN Magazine
Sharing the good news that God loves us
Evangelism. You know, the “E word.” The one Episcopalians shy away from. And the one that’s really the core of our Christian life. “The job we have is to be evangelists — to spread the good news that God loves the world and God wants to be in relationship with the world,” said Bishop Knisely in his address to the 2016 Diocesan Convention (bit.ly/ RIConvention2016). “We want people to have the same kind of joy and excitement in their everyday life that we get to have.” Evangelism is a popular topic for Knisely. In fact, in 2012 when the candidates for bishop of Rhode Island were asked to write about which part of the baptismal covenant most excited them, he chose evangelism. “So much of what I get teased about for being the ‘tech bishop’ is an outgrowth of my desire to share the Good News in whatever medium and with whatever tool I find available to me. I learned how to use email as a way
to share the good news. I learned how to do websites to share the good news. I became one of the first experts in the Episcopal Church on social media as a way of sharing the Good News.” That same kind of enthusiasm for evangelism — or reconciling us to God — is becoming more and more visible across the Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls himself the “chief evangelism officer” of the Episcopal Church. In 2016, he talked about what he told other bishops and archbishops around the world about the Episcopal Church’s 2015 General Convention: “We worked on evangelism. We are really talking about participating in re-evangelization of the West. And re-evangelization in a way that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth and not like cultural accretions around Jesus of Nazareth. And that’s an important distinction to make. “And I have to tell you the room changed. One bishop actually asked,
‘The Episcopal Church is actually doing Evangelism?’ And I said, ‘My brother, that’s what we’re about. I wouldn’t be a presiding bishop if we weren’t doing that.’ The room, the conversation changed and focused on evangelism.” The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation (pictured on next page), has called on the church to “make evangelism the new normal.” In response to a General Convention resolution, Forward Movement (www.forwardmovement.org) helped to sponsor the first-ever Episcopal Church evangelism conference. The slogans on the conference’s “swag bags” read: “Episcopal Evangelist. It’s not an oxymoron.” Participants were inspired, finding camaraderie and learning new ways to live up to that slogan. The Rev. Scott Gunn, Forward Movement executive director (standing, above), said his hope in co-sponsoring the conference was to begin to change the conversation in our church. “We need to become ready and able to share our faith with the world,” he said. “In particular, we live in a culture whose messages are about fear, and so it is vital for us to proclaim gladly the good news of God in Jesus Christ. “My hope is that we could get people excited about Episcopalians practicing evangelism regularly and, eventually, effortlessly,” he continued. “I wasn’t sure how many people we’d get, but in the end, we had to cap sign-ups at about 420 due to building capacity. How exciting is it that more than 400 Episcopalians gathered to talk openly about Jesus Christ?” And in 2017 and 2018, the national church is working with diocesan teams to organize a series of Episcopal Revivals, six major events Reconciliation to God
Reconciliation to God to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement. “I love the surprised response when people hear we’re organizing Episcopal Revivals,” said Spellers. “Why wouldn’t we? A revival is a movement of the Spirit among the people of God, a concrete sign that we want to share God’s love out loud with each other and with new people. That sounds like the Jesus Movement.” The six revivals will vary in design, but most will be multiday events featuring dynamic worship and preaching, offerings from local artists and musicians, personal testimony and storytelling, topical speakers, invitation to local social action, engagement with young leaders, and intentional outreach with people who aren’t active in a faith community. What does that mean for Rhode Island? Knisely emphasizes that “we have something to share. We have something to ground people in — the stories and the vision of the gospel and of the kingdom of God.” He suggests that the first step in being an evangelist — especially in today’s world where there seems to be so much anxiety — is to shut up! “The power of social ministry and technology is to listen as much as it is to talk because you hear in people’s voices the anxiety and the concerns that they are carrying,” he said. “Remember the story of Paul when he goes to Athens. He listens to people and begins to have conversations with them. Be quiet and listen, and don’t just listen to your neighbor.” He notes that it’s OK to also listen to God — to sit in silence to be able to hear what God is saying in our hearts: “What is God calling you to do and how is God calling you to share good Reconciliation to God
news with the people whose anxiety we are all witnessing?” What’s next? How about prayer? “So many times after I have truly heard a person’s concerns, I’ve found myself essentially speechless, not knowing how to respond,” Knisely said. “My best response is to sit quietly in prayer and take what I have heard to God. Sharing isn’t me telling someone what to do. Sharing is beginning a conversation where we start to talk. ‘Tell me about what you’re thinking. Tell me about this. Tell me about that,’ listening quietly, hearing and responding, and then building that conversation, building that relationship and, finally, making an invitation.” What has happened in your life that made the church important? Invite someone into that story, and maybe your invitation will lead them to a path that brings them to baptism or reconnection with their faith. To do that effectively, Knisely said, requires some preparation. Pick up your Bible. Read one — or two? — of the gospels. Read some psalms. And above all, remember that the point of sharing — of evangelism — is not about growing the church, or increasing church attendance or balancing the budget. “Whatever God is doing with people’s gifts and lives as they are reconciled to God is going to be about what God has in mind for them, not what we want for ourselves,” Knisely emphasized. “Evangelism is about doing what God has commanded us to do in a world that desperately needs us to go out and sit and listen and be present in moments of great anxiety and have something to share in prayer. “If we get one person who ends up in a renewed relationship with God because of the work we are doing, then it is all worth it,” he continued.
“Doesn’t the Bible have something to say about the way the angels rejoice when one person is restored to right relationship? If just one person is restored to right relationship, then everything we are doing as a church, everything we do as a Christian community in this state is worthwhile. It’s great that we do all this cool stuff with technology and everything else, but that is only about this: helping people draw closer to the cross and draw closer to God.” Learn more about how this is happening around the diocese in the pages that follow. — Dave Seifert, with excerpts from Episcopal News Service
St. Thomas members learn that reading the Bible can be fun! Last fall at St. Thomas, Greenville, a group of men were chatting while cooking for a church dinner. But the topic of the day wasn’t the Red Sox or the Patriots. It was the Bible. Using the Rev. Marek Zabriskie’s guide, “The Bible Challenge,” (bit.ly/ TheBibleChallenge) nearly 100 members of St. Thomas — and others from the community — have read the entire Bible during the past year. And they’ve enjoyed it. “There’s been a lot of positive reaction,” said the Rev. Susan Carpenter, rector. “People feel more empowered to decide what they think about scripture, something many of them were tentative to do.” Carpenter introduced The Bible Challenge to help deepen spiritual growth in the congregation, which is the fastest-growing church in the diocese. “We have had tremendous growth, but it’s very important that we go deeper into our faith,” she said. “The Bible is the place to start.” The challenge also helped St. Thomas create small groups for discussion and fellowship. Participants read three
Old Testament chapters, one New Testament chapter and one psalm every day. By the end of the year, they had read the entire Bible through once and the psalms twice. Daily reflections and study questions deepened the dialogue. Participants ranged from age 21 to 91. One group weighed in via
Facebook, including a shut-in parishioner and her daughter. “Everyone wants to read the Bible,” Carpenter said. “They just don’t know how to do it. The groups provided a structure. In fact, the week before starting, five people came to me and said they couldn’t wait — they started early. A man who’s been a church member his whole life said ‘I start to read at 8 p.m., and before I know it it’s midnight! I go further than I should, because it’s so exciting for me.’ ” Carpenter, and assisting priest Don Parker, helped people prepare for the challenge with a series of meetings where they offered resources and suggested areas of focus — such as looking for the foods mentioned. The challenge began at the start of Lent in 2016, and it concluded this year with an Agape Meal in February, featuring biblical foods cooked by parishioners. The study program also became a way to practice evangelism and hospitality. When the Valley Breeze, a local tabloid, featured the program, a handful of non-members from other denominations joined in. “In the article, we invited anyone interested to join us, and several people did,” Carpenter said. “I love it! I want to get our members out into the world, open our doors and invite others in. It’s been great.” The Bible Challenge helps reconcile people to God, she said, because it helps them “to not be afraid of God. The daily questions are things like ‘what do you think?’ or ‘what does it mean to live your life as a Christian?’ “Participants develop a much clearer idea of who God is for them. Some people have had life-changing moments and have come to talk about it. There have been insights within families,” she added. “For a lot of people, this has been a really big deal.” ¬ Reconciliation to God
Prison volunteer opportunity answers call for retired priest This story of reconciliation speaks to the kinds of evangelism and reconciliation to which Bishop Knisely called Rhode Island Episcopalians at the 2016 Diocesan Convention. It’s the story of involvement by the Rev. Stephanie Shoemaker (pictured below at right, with the Rev. Dr. Joyce Penfield, who coordinates this ministry) with a volunteer ministry opportunity at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) in Cranston.
Dear Bishop Knisely: Retirement can sometimes feel like a place of wilderness or exile. An email from a colleague inviting me to join the Amazing Grace volunteer ministry team at the ACI was a burning bush in my desert, a call to turn aside to see and to answer a call to a place in need. Having finished the requisite training and screening, I went to the prison to participate in my first service with Father William. That was in March 2016. Every Tuesday evening since, I have headed to the ACI minimum security chapel for a time of spiritual exploration and worship with the several inmates who come. Turnover is high in this inmate population, but those who come when they can have told us it is a safe place to talk, a sanctuary and valuable lifeline for them, a time for forgiveness of things past, acceptance of present realities and hope for their future life. In other words, these gatherings are times of Amazing Grace and reconciliation. This happens in a community “inside the walls.” Inside the bricks and mortar and grilles of the building, but also inside the walls erected within each prisoner to defend themselves against the hurt of damaging early wounds, inside the emotional barriers created by fear and anger and loss, and inside those hearts longing to have the courage to be open to trust and to be free for relationship. It occurs in worship and in the exchange of telling and hearing stories — each other’s and the biblical stories. Faith and compassion penetrate these walls and liberate the spirits held captive within. This is powerful for all of us who participate in any way in
Reconciliation to God
this congregation — giving and receiving, growing and changing, giving thanks and hoping for new life outside those walls. Reconciliation with a world that has dismissively set you aside, locked you up, removing the danger you represent and forgetting about you is difficult. It is not impossible, but its darkness requires openness to the light. The Rev. Joyce Penfield leads a 12-week class called “Houses of Healing,” which guides a group through steps to know themselves and to reconcile with themselves and their pasts. It is followed by another eight-week “Boundaries” class in which participants put those newly learned skills into practice — learning to create healthy boundaries with themselves and others. As Joyce has been training me to lead these classes, I have gained far more than any time I have given. Worship on Tuesdays and learning together on Fridays act together to do the work of reconciliation that broken lives cry out for. Several of the men have told me that telling their stories to one another and having them heard with care and respect has been one of the most powerful elements of all that we do with them. To bring the love of God into their struggles for healing is what Amazing Grace is all about. Thank you for your support of this program, Bishop. It really seems to be having a positive impact on those lives with which we can connect at the prison. It certainly has had a significant impact on mine. Faithfully, Stephanie Shoemaker
Personal notes make connections with new residents Saints Matthew and Mark in Barrington is harder to find than you might imagine. It’s tucked away on a small street in a quiet residential neighborhood, about a block off the main road — only a half-mile from a church that’s on that main road, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. “People just don’t know we’re here,” said the Rev. Patrick Greene, rector. “A woman once told me that if she had known about our church when her family moved to town, they would have come here. But they had no clue. Every other church in town is on a main street. We’re hidden.” So in October 2015, Greene decided to do something about it. He began sending welcome postcards to anyone who moved into the area. At the very beginning he set an intention for the project: the goal was to let people know about the church. “My initial objective was just to let people know we are here. My hope was that someone would come to the church because of it.” He doesn’t know of any new parishioners because of the postcards — no one has mentioned it to him and he doesn’t recognize the names of any of the new people in the parish from the mailings. And that’s OK. “Reaching out to new residents is the critical first step,” he said. “I made it clear when speaking with the vestry: If we get new members, that’s great. If not, down the road when someone needs a church they might remember we are here.” Even though he cannot tie any new parishioners to the mailings, Greene knows that people are receiving the postcards and that the cards are making an impression. One of his wife’s co-workers moved to Barrington last year, and she displays the postcard on her refrigerator.
Reaching out to new residents is the critical first step. People . . . know that we are thinking about them, praying for them and caring for our community. That’s because the wishes of blessings and peace for new homeowners arrive on a card with a beautiful image on the front — a watercolor painting of the church, painted by a parishioner, Jorge Paricio, an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design. The idea to send postcards in the first place came out of something Greene had seen as an assistant at another church. That congregation mailed postcards to new residents with information about the church such as address, hours for worship services, etc. For this project, he wanted to do something more personal. He gets publicly available information about new residential transactions in the area from the Barrington Times. He identifies new
residents in the three ZIP codes the church serves and writes a personal note to each new resident. It is, in fact, the same note for everyone, since people are only likely to see it once. That makes it easier to write and to keep up with the notes. He sends about 10 most weeks, and many more per week in the summertime. “Some people might find their way to our doors,” he said. “Others won’t unless we reach out. This is an easy way to say welcome. If we get new people coming to the church, that’s awesome. If we don’t, people are still hearing from us and know that we are thinking about them, praying for them and caring for our community.” — Manya Chylinski Reconciliation to God
Prayer book rite helps light of God shine in, liberate us On page 447 of “The Book of Common Prayer,” readers will find a valuable but often overlooked tool: the rite for the reconciliation of a penitent. Episcopalians often shy away from this sacramental rite. It provides a way for individuals who repent (“to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”) to confess their sins to God in the presence of a priest and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution. The Rev. Nathan Humphrey, rector of St. John the Evangelist, Newport, called the rite “a way of keeping it real . . . of being honest with God and each other and ourselves.” Humphrey has heard individual confessions for the past 15 years. When people come to him to inquire about
making their first confession, he tells them “it’s a process, and what it really entails is the courage to be honest with God, and thereby honest with yourself. You tell God the truth. You know it’s true, and God already knows it’s true, but you’re too afraid to say it out loud. “It’s like the little boy or girl at night in a storm, thinking the shadows under the bed are monsters who will come and get you. Confession is like turning on the light, seeing that the shadows are just dust bunnies. It’s a way of shining the light of Christ on our lives that lets God in.” What Humphrey has experienced — and others have told him — is that far from being an experience of fear, making a confession turns out to be liberating and joyful.
“It comes as a great surprise the first time,” he explained. “People think they will feel shame and guilt, but instead, that shame and guilt is lifted from their shoulders. They leave as freer people, knowing that God loves them, Christ redeems them and they are free to live a redeemed life and love others more deeply — as Christ loves us.” The heart of the rite, Humphrey noted, goes back to the third chapter of Genesis. “The rite is about restoring right relationship and overcoming the estrangement Genesis 3 first speaks of as the human condition, allowing us to live as redeemed people — people who are made more fully human through Christ’s resurrection.” The rite also has a more cosmic dimension that goes beyond the pastoral needs of the individual. “Are we treating our world with the respect, reverence and care it deserves?” he asked. “In Genesis 1 and 2, God puts people in the Garden of Eden to be caretakers of creation. In Genesis 3, the first sin occurs. Reconciliation helps us do what God put us on the earth to do in the first place.” The oft-quoted observation about the rite in the Episcopal Church is “All may, some should, none must.” Humphrey would amend that to something more like “All should try it, but none must.” He sees it as another tool in an individual’s discipleship toolkit, believing that “it’s difficult to be a disciple of Jesus in the world if no one is there to call you on it.” — Dave Seifert, with excerpts from Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Episcopal Church website To explore making your own confession, arrange an appointment with your parish priest. Learn more in “Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church” by the Rev. Martin Smith.
Reconciliation to God
Rhythms of Grace: A church like you’ve never seen before Part of the beauty of Rhythms of Grace is that it honors children in the autism community for who they are . . . It creates a worship environment that allows these children to be who they were meant to be. Rhythms of Grace is church like you’ve never seen it — because most people have never been to a service that uses a shaving cream table to help reach worshipers. That’s just one of the innovative methods used by this program of Church of the Advent, Coventry, to help connect with what had been an underserved part of their community: individuals on the autism spectrum. The program began about three years ago when the Rev. Dennis Bucco, priest-in-charge, was thinking about how to serve all members of the community. One thing that helped lead him in this direction was meeting Betsy Aulisio, a Christian educator who has a son on the autism spectrum. They began to investigate options for ministering to this community, and that led them to Rhythms of Grace. This program was founded by the Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan and Linda Snyder in 2003 when they both worked at Trinity Episcopal Church in Torrington, Conn. They were asked to develop a worship service by a family with a son on the autism spectrum. The original program is written as a once-monthly service, but Advent Coventry modified it to be weekly. The primary audience consists of children on the autism spectrum and their families, though a mix of people attend. There is one young family with three children under the age of 6, who
find that Sunday morning isn’t always the best time for them to go to church. So they attend the Tuesday evening Rhythms of Grace service. The service has elements of a traditional Sunday morning ceremony, including communion and stories from scripture. The nontraditional activities are designed to reinforce messages from the scripture readings, while working on sensory skills and encouraging movement — such as a parachute,
bean bags, a rice table and a shaving cream table. There is also a quiet space, for those times when a child or family member is not up to being part of the service. Everyone who attends — parents, typically abled children, kids on the autism spectrum — gets a lot out of it. One family, who was not in the habit of coming to church, wanted to do something for their child. So they began to attend Rhythms of Grace. It was the first time anyone in the family had heard Bible stories. Another family who has been part of the program awhile shared a video from their vacation. It showed their children on the beach playing Rhythms of Grace — one child played the role of Father Dennis and another played the role of Betsy. Even when the children don’t seem to be paying attention, one of them will surprise you by pointing out something in the service that isn’t right. “One night Bishop Knisely was celebrating Rhythms of Grace with us,” said Bucco. “He did something with his hands that I don’t normally do. One of the kids started yelling: ‘You’re doing it wrong!’ ” Traditional church services are welcoming to all, but not necessarily accessible to all. Part of the beauty of Rhythms of Grace is that it honors children in the autism community for who they are. Instead of trying to get the kids to fit into the environment of church, Advent does it the other way around on Tuesday nights. It creates a worship environment that allows these children to be who they were meant to be. — Manya Chylinski
Interested in finding out more about Rhythms of Grace? The congregation worships every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Church of the Advent, 1395 Nooseneck Hill Road, Coventry, R.I. For more information or to contact the priest, go to adventri.org.
Reconciliation to God
Called back to our Baptismal Covenant The Episcopal Church has staged anti-racism training as well as racial justice and racial reconciliation initiatives for a long time. In fact, more than 30 resolutions have been passed at General Conventions, dating back to 1952. And yet, we recognize that racism persists in our society. Events like the racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and the racist murders of nine unarmed black men and women in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., continue to occur. In 2015, the 78th General Convention affirmed yet another resolution. This one gave the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies what has been called an “extraordinary mandate” to lead, direct, and be present to assure and account for the Church’s work of racial justice and reconciliation — especially targeting systemic racial injustice. The church also is investing $2 million toward racial reconciliation and justice initiatives. Efforts are emerging across the church to tackle these important and complex issues. In Rhode Island, Church of the Ascension in Wakefield has an ongoing collaborative relationship with a nearby African-American and AfroIndian church. In Providence, people are working with police to form a Community Chaplain Corps whose volunteers could go onsite after a racial incident. In Pawtucket, a Pentecostal congregation that’s predominantly African-American worships each Sunday at Church of the Good Shepherd, and the two congregations collaborate on a feeding program. And the Center for Reconciliation is becoming an important resource in helping Rhode Islanders learn more and take action in support of dismantling the long history of racism, particularly in New England. Nationally, the 2016 Trinity Institute at Trinity Church Wall Street Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
in New York City focused on “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice.” The Diocese of Atlanta ramped up long-standing efforts by calling out action in renaming its Diocesan Anti-Racism Commission the “Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism.” “The commission is clearly focused upon the task of dismantling racism because it is a force that stands in the path of building God’s intended beloved community,” said Dr. Catherine Meeks, chair. “The commission intends for the name change and the efforts to engage all of the parishes of the diocese in the work of being able to see God’s face in everyone, to create new paths upon which God’s light and love can shine in ways that make us a beloved community.” Perhaps the most visible demonstration of Episcopalians acting on behalf of racial reconciliation and justice occurred in the fall of 2016, when the Episcopal Church community on the Standing Rock
Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
Sioux Reservation in North Dakota issued a call for the church to stand in solidarity and witness with those protecting water there. That issue emerged because the construction route of the Dakota Access Pipeline would run under the Missouri River, which provided the Sioux Nation’s water supply. Clergy and laity from around the church came together to stand in witness and solidarity against what they believed to be increased repression of non-violent water protestors. Their presence was rewarded — at least temporarily — in December when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its decision to deny an easement for the pipeline’s construction, but neither situations like Standing Rock nor racism in general is over. More action is inevitable, and it’s called for as part of every Episcopalian’s discipleship. The Atlanta “Beloved Community” emphasizes that, “Because racism works against our baptismal call to love others in the power of the spirit and to strive for justice and peace RISEN Magazine
among all people, we seek to heal this chronic illness in our faith community through education, developing greater awareness of its existence in our ongoing spiritual formation. We will use prayer, intentional action, continued dialogue and the sharing of our personal and collective stories to help in facilitating the healing, transformation and reconciliation that will make it possible for us to truly see the face of God in all others.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says our work of racial reconciliation is part of what he calls “The Jesus Movement.”
So how do Episcopalians in Rhode Island — many of whom live in mostly- or all-white communities and attend mostly- or all-white churches — participate in the Jesus Movement on behalf of racial reconciliation? A first step could be to make an effort to learn more about the issues and ways to respond. The Episcopal Church (www.episcopalchurch. org) offers a long list of resources — referemces tp books and articles, websites, videos, study resources, and formation and training organizations (bit.ly/TECResources). The new
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (also on previous page) “The Jesus Movement is about evangelism and reconciliation, and more,” he said. “It’s the work of redeeming this creation. It’s the work of helping justice to roll down like a mighty stream. This Jesus Movement — following the word of Jesus — will set this world free; set us all free. I didn’t make that up; it’s in the Bible. And, for the Episcopal Church to reclaim that is to reclaim who we are. That, my friends, is a game changer.”
Center for Reconciliation (www.cfrri.org) is also building a list of online resources. At the 2016 Trinity Institute, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author and sociology professor at Duke University, offered “A To-Do List for White Folks.” “First, recognize there is a system of racial domination that you may not have created, but you benefit from it — it’s beyond your control,” he said. “Then, if you agree, what are you going to do to challenge, fight and — hopefully —
change that system?” Bonilla-Silva acknowledged the need to start slowly, trying to begin a more inter-racial life. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I am anti-racist but I live in an all-white neighborhood, my kids go to all-white schools, all my friends are white but I’m a good person.’ ” Instead, he said, we’ll have to change our lives, probably through involvement in a social movement. National church leaders acknowledge that making a difference in racial reconciliation and justice will take a broad approach, involving every diocese — and every church. “We need to get this in the pews,” said the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. That effort began with what was described as “unexpected ways” — with church leaders deeply listening to each other rather than immediately asking staff members to develop new programs. Bishop Knisely has identified opportunities that already exist: “The Center for Reconciliation, learning our stories and learning how to be reconciled across ethnic and racial and religious lines, working with the community police and first responders and working with prison ministries are things I think we as congregations can all do as part of our reconciliation with God and our neighbor.” Bishop Curry calls it “the church engaging on a deeper level,” saying it’s at that deep level where change will take place. “Taking time to listen to the stories of each other’s experiences both inside the church and in the world,” he suggested, “in the long run may bear fruit both for our church and our country and for the countries in which the Episcopal Church is located.” Read on to learn more about the work going on in our diocese. — Dave Seifert, with excerpts from Episcopal News Service, Diocese of Atlanta and Trinity Wall Street Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
Neighborhood church and school benefit from Good Shepherd collaborations Reconciliation is an ongoing priority at Good Shepherd, Pawtucket, through long-standing relationships with the Harvest Hope Church of God in Christ and the Henry J. Winters Elementary School. Harvest Hope Church, a Pentecostal congregation that’s predominantly African-American, has rented space from Good Shepherd for several years. The congregation worships in the sanctuary on Sundays at noon and holds weeknight events on Tuesdays and Fridays. Its members also staff a food pantry out of Good Shepherd’s building on Saturday afternoons. Although Good Shepherd collects food for the pantry, it’s entirely staffed and administered by Harvest Hope. People only need to present identification to receive food once a month. “Every Sunday we collect some sort of tangible offering in addition to our own money, for some agency in Rhode Island,” said the Rev. Gillian Barr, priest-in-charge at Good Shepherd. “Many times, we’re collecting what the food closet anticipates or needs.” Throughout the summer, Good Shepherd collects supplies for the Winters School — markers, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, Kleenex, etc. — stacking them in the back of the church. The congregation also welcomes cash contributions, to pay for items such as cases of colored copier paper. And every fall, the kids at the school reciprocate by collecting food for Thanksgiving baskets. The Thanksgiving project begins with the school librarian reading “Stone Soup” — the old folk tale about a stranger who gets townspeople to share their food when they’d been Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
Every Sunday we collect some sort of tangible offering in addition to . . . money for some agency in Rhode Island. hoarding it — to groups at the library. Children and teachers contribute food. The drive culminates just before Thanksgiving with what Good Shepherd Outreach Committee member Caryl Frink called “a grand procession.” “The kids in the fifth grade feel honored to be the ones selected to bring the food across the street,” she said. “In 2016 they hauled more than 1,500 items in milk crates. It’s wonderful goodwill.” The Good Shepherd Outreach Committee chips in by purchasing $10 and $15 Stop & Shop gift cards, so recipients can buy turkeys; Harvest Hope members bag and distribute the food — to 65 people in 2016. Good Shepherd also hosts “Fun Friday” once a month during the school year — two hours of board games, simple craft-making and dinner. It’s staffed by parishioners and funded from the outreach budget, and does not include any religious component. “Kids have to come with an adult, so it’s family time,” explained Frink.
“It began 15 years ago, when the Good Shepherd interim rector saw a similar program in Worcester and decided to try it with the Winters School.” People grow to love the program. Barr related the story of one man whose grandchildren went to Winters School. First, he brought them to Fun Fridays, serving as a chaperone. Then, when the kids moved on to middle school, he began volunteering in the kitchen and with clean-up. “He’s also active in an Alcoholics Anonymous group that meets at Good Shepherd and is our ‘go-to’ person for that group,” Barr said. “Now he’s suffering a health crisis and is on our prayer list. “It’s an example of how these efforts put our parishioners in relationship with other people on a regular basis,” she emphasized. “Although a few people have joined the church as a result of Fun Friday, it’s not an evangelism program — it’s a way of connecting us to the neighborhood, and giving children and parents an opportunity to spend some time together.” ¬ RISEN Magazine
Center for Reconciliation listens, collaborates to make a difference
When is a “center” more than just a place? When that center is a resource that creates necessary and healing opportunities for dialogs on race and American history. The Center for Reconciliation (CFR) serves as a catalyst, a convener and a collaborator around difficult but important topics. “The CFR creates opportunities that allow people of different races and beliefs to talk with one another,” said Elon Cook, CFR program manager and curator. “We are starting with listening, to hear the voices of people who have not been heard.” Bishop Knisely calls it “learning our stories and how to be reconciled across ethnic and racial and religious lines as part of our reconciliation with God and our neighbor.” The Rev. David Ames, who convenes the CFR’s coordinating committee added, “You can’t understand the reality of someone who’s different from you unless you truly hear their stories. Practicing the art of listening is what builds relational bridges that enable us to work together. Otherwise, we end up speaking for other people and acting
on their behalf, doing what we think is right — and that often has negative, unintended consequences.” During the past year, volunteer leaders have worked with Cook to stage a range of events that will grow in 2017. They include Gallery Nights — discussions of artistic interpretations of race held in collaboration with the Rhode Island School of Design; neighborhood walking tours to highlight Providence places that were instrumental in the slave trade; study groups using “The Cross and the Lynching Tree,” a book by James H. Cone that explores the connections between the “universal symbol of Christian faith and the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America”; and special events, such as an annual Martin Luther King Day celebration. Many of the events begin by focusing on history, because “many Americans are very confused and concerned about where our problems with race started,” Cook said. “Most of us learned very little about slavery or where racial ideologies came from in school or from our families. Without understanding the
importance and impact of slavery on our nation’s history you cannot fully understand what is going on right now or how we can truly move forward,” she added. “Given the prominent role that Rhode Islanders, many of whom were Anglicans and/or Episcopalians, played in slavery and the slave trade, we recognize the need to start the research, learning and discussions within our churches and ourselves.” Or, as the Rev. Mark Sutherland, rector of St. Martin’s, Providence, said at the 2016 Diocesan Convention, “It’s when we forget our past that we become destined to repeat it. There’s no reconciliation without memory.” In 2017, Rhode Island Episcopalians will see the work of the CFR become more visible as renovations progress on the lower level of the Cathedral of St. John in Providence. Pending successful fundraising, the cathedral’s Synod Hall will reopen within the next year as a new space to hold programs, exhibits and performances, and where Knisely can gather the church and the community together in times of crisis. Details of the renovation have yet to be finalized. CFR leaders plan to invite neighbors from the community, along with museum experts and architects to help envision the best uses of the space. The work will occur in phases, including hopes of turning the former kitchen into a café so people can spend time, see an exhibit, chat and build relationships. Later phases will convert the cathedral library/chapel into a small conference room and, finally, renovate the main sanctuary for use by the diocese and for large events. The evolution of the Martin Luther King Day event is perhaps the best example of the kind of difference the CFR hopes to make. “Rhode Island has many disparate groups that work in areas of social justice, but they Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
traditionally have not collaborated,” said Del Glover, who organized the event. “As a church-based organization, we have a unique ability to bring these groups together.” That collaboration has helped the event grow from attracting about 40 people to one that in 2016 attracted nearly 200; the 2016 event — held at Temple Beth-el in Providence — was co-sponsored by 12 organizations and planned by the Episcopal diocese. This
year, six groups planned an event at Calvary Baptist Church (pictured on page 16), with another dozen co-sponsoring. An alumna of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School (a new partner) composed a piece specifically for the event. “We’ve brought together unusual and interesting partnerships and people,” said Cook. “We’re building bridges that will enable people of faith and good will to work together.” ¬
Finding friends in Christ at the Church of God Last summer, the Church of the Ascension in Wakefield initiated what it hopes will be an ongoing collaborative relationship with the Peace Dale First Church of God, a largely African-American and Afro-Indian church in the Wakefield community. Here’s the story of that relationship, from leaders at Ascension. Relations between races in our society seem to be particularly troubled in these times, and our Outreach/Mission Committee concluded that one of the reasons is that most whites and most people of color do not know each other, or know much about each other, even in the communities they share. We believed that beginning to confront this issue in our community in our own small way was important and would be responsive to the Episcopal Church’s call for racial reconciliation — nationally and, especially, in our diocese. We began with some of our parishioners attending a couple of Sunday services at the Church of God; their congregation was very welcoming and reached out to us. So far, we have shared in four programs: Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
• In June, members of Ascension participated in a pig roast at the Church of God. The members there were trying to raise money to renovate the church kitchen, so this was partly a fundraiser for them, but they also sent us free tickets for children and anyone who could not afford to buy a ticket. • In July, we invited the Church of God parishioners to join us at Ascension for a mid-afternoon potluck dinner followed by our regular 5 p.m. service, during which Pastor Angela Sagesse of Church of God served as guest preacher. • In August, Church of God invited us to join them, the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale and other community resource groups in putting on a cookout and family activities event at Champagne Heights, a largely African-American and Afro-Indian low-income housing project in South Kingstown. Some Ascension members provided chairs, desserts, help with activities for the kids, setup and cleanup.
To learn more about CFR events or to donate to CFR programming or the Cathedral Preservation Fund, visit www.cfrri.org.
We believed that beginning to confront this issue in our community in our own small way was important [both] nationally and, especially, in our diocese. • Last fall, Ascension members helped collect gently-worn shoes at the Church of God for a shoe-repair teaching project to benefit Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew. We expect to continue to build our relationship with the Church of God by collaborating with them on additional programs and projects. Our efforts to date have been richly fulfilling experiences, and we look forward to finding additional ways in which our largely white parish and people of color in our community can to come to know and love each other in Christ. – Joanne Pope Melish, Mission Outreach Committee, and the Rev. Robert P. Travis, head pastor RISEN Magazine
Open to all seeking food: The community market at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need help. In the summer of 2012, while the rest of the world was working toward pulling out of the Great Recession, two individuals at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea in Narragansett were inspired by Sarah Miles’s book “Jesus Freak” to expand their church’s more traditional food pantry. Sarah Johnson, then junior warden, and Dante Tavolaro, then the church’s director of ministry, convinced the church’s vestry to expand the pantry from a small, cramped closet that gave out the occasional bag of groceries on request into a full-service, weekly community market. In the new approach, those in need of food would have more dignity, more choice and more access to nutritious shelf-stable food, for themselves and their families. Since then, every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., a community market pops up in the parish hall at St. Peter’s. Staffed completely by volunteers — not only parishioners but also community volunteers, Boy Scouts, University of Rhode Island students and fraternity/ sorority members, local high school students and health workers — the market creates a way for anyone seeking food to select it, for free, from tables in the parish hall. It’s a true community effort: all the funds needed to keep the market going come from donations — from foundations, individuals and local companies. The parish donates the space to store the food and hold the market each week. John Lord, the dedicated, part-time executive director of the community market, manages the administration and spearheads all fundraising. Belmont Market, a Wakefield grocery store, donates a case of fresh produce every week; the local Dollar Store holds two food drives
each year and donates more than 3,000 pounds of food and condiments; two Boy Scout troops donate the proceeds of annual canned goods drives; Episcopal Charities and the Women’s Club of South County provide grants; local fraternities provide volunteer hours; and two local schools — Quest Montessori and Monsignor Clarke — encourage students to volunteer. Local elementary schools hold food drives for milk and diapers; Arrowhead Dental donates 100 toothbrushes and toothpaste. And support from the community continues to grow, with organizations such as the Ocean State Waves baseball team and local restaurant Crazy Burger holding events on the market’s behalf, and the St. Peter’s Brother’s Keeper Concert Series contributing funds from its events, all to keep the food coming. In the last year, the market has grown significantly, with the number of families seeking help rising more than 43 percent. Food insecurity continues to be a huge problem in Rhode Island. One out of seven
families in our state are affected significantly by hunger, and onethird of the people served at a state community market, food bank or pantry are under age 18. Food for the market is purchased through the Rhode Island Community Food Bank (where the market is the only registered food bank for the Narragansett community), and supplies are supplemented by the food shopping/ hunting skills of two parish volunteers, Diane and Judy Landry. Volunteer extraordinaire Jerry Bouchard often brings in extras like diapers, baby wipes, and the occasional box of “luxuries” such as shampoo and body care products. Six trained managers-of-the-day rotate schedules each Friday, keeping everything, and everyone, on track. Six other volunteers — Becky Johnson, Bill Phelps, Jean Graham, Tom Hanson, and Diane and Judy Landry serve on the Market Steering Committee with Lord, co-chairs Kim Hanson and Sue Tassone, and the Rev. Craig Swan, rector of St. Peter’s. Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
The Community Market at St. Peter’s by-the-Sea is a great example of Jesus’ command to feed his sheep and is an ongoing testament to the adage that it “takes a village.” To learn more about
how to help alleviate hunger in your community or how to start your own community market, contact John Lord (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just stop by on any Friday. You will be
amazed by the cheerfulness and the dedication of all involved; extra hands and hearts are always welcome. — Kim Hanson
St. Mary’s Home offers important help to children in need Set on a leafy street in North Providence is an institution with a long history of reconciliation work with children and adolescents in need: St. Mary’s Home for Children. St. Mary’s and the Episcopal Church go back together to the 1800s, when the rector of St. Mary’s Church in East Providence took in seven children who were orphaned. By 1880, 18 children were living in the church’s former rectory, and in 1879 St. Mary’s became a diocesan orphanage. When Episcopal Charities was founded in 1952, St. Mary’s Home was one of the seven grantees it was designed to support. Today St. Mary’s serves all children, but the link to the Episcopal Church continues, and Bishop Knisely chairs the home’s board of directors. The Shepherd Program debuted in 1985, providing outpatient individual, family and group counseling for children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse or have sexual behavior problems. The program employs clinicians with expertise in sexual abuse assessment and treatment. It’s the most comprehensive treatment program of its kind in Rhode Island, offering counseling for children as young as three through adults, and it’s funded in part by a long-standing annual $40,000 grant from Episcopal Charities. “The support of Episcopalians is invaluable, because they provide funding for a gap that’s not filled,” said
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Susan DeRita, development officer. “Many people are without insurance. Many others have insurance, but it doesn’t cover what we provide — for example, our equine-assisted psychotherapy, which is funded by Episcopal Charities.”
Additionally, DeRita says, Episcopal churches help in other ways, by donating school supplies and Christmas gifts for children. One of the specific services that operates under the Shepherd umbrella is the Supporting Teens and Adults at Risk (STAAR) project. It serves male and female survivors of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, up to age 25, high-risk youths up to age 18 and their families. “The goal of STAAR is to help our patients break the cycle of trauma, substance abuse and running away,”
said Jessica Clark, assistant director of outpatient services. “Many are recruited by traffickers — online or even in local shopping malls. Our hope is that after being in our program, coming off substances, and meeting with a clinician and case manager we can engage them to get to a safe place. Many go back to family homes as long as their family is safe — for example, not actively abusing substances or involved with gangs.” The Shepherd Program is one of three program focuses at St. Mary’s: residential, a special education school and outpatient. The school also dates to the early years and was named the George N. Hunt Campus School in 1994. Hunt served as the Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island from 1980 to 1994. “About 95 percent of the residential children attend the campus school, in addition to 20 day students from surrounding communities who attend the school because they cannot be maintained in their public schools due to behaviors usually related to trauma experiences,” DeRita explained. You can support this work of reconciliation by clicking the “Donate” button at the top of the St. Mary’s website (www.smhfc.org). To support Episcopal Charities, which gives grants in crisis and counseling as one of its primary areas, click “Make a Gift” at the top right of the diocesan website (www.episcopalri.org). ¬ RISEN Magazine
Reaching out to police pays off in local communities At the 2016 Diocesan Convention, Bishop Knisely called on the diocese to become more involved with local police departments. “God forbid we need to serve as ambassadors between a community and the police in a moment of great tension, but if that should happen we need to be ready,” he said. “The police have indicated interest in working with communities of faith, and I hope Episcopalians around the state reach out. “You could just adopt a police or fire station and ask, ‘What do you need?’ Sometimes it’s as simple as a stuffed animal to have in a patrol car, so that in a moment of crisis an officer can give it to a child,” he continued. “Sometimes they need us to make introductions into the community so they can have a relationship with people that would pre-date having to work their way through a very difficult and tense situation.” Episcopalians in the diocese are doing what the bishop urged. In Providence, the Rev. Dr. Joyce Penfield, priest-in-charge at St. Peter’s and St. Andrew’s, is a member of the Police Advisory Council. After the 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Mo., Penfield volunteered to work on ways to prevent something similar from
happening in Providence. Other leaders from the police, community, churches and synagogues, and the United States attorney’s office joined her and began a dialog group. “We wanted to figure out what to do,” she said. “It led to the creation of four task groups — faith, police training, media and legislation.” She co-led the faith group with the Rev. Jabulani McCalister, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church; the group held an interfaith vigil and a series of conversations between Providence residents and the police that attracted nearly 100 people. “After those discussions, we concluded it was vital to have a faith presence on the ground,” she said. “We got some funding from Thrivent Financial and have created a ‘Community Chaplain Corps.’ It’s a multiracial group of pastors and laypeople who will be available to go on site after a racial incident. We trained ourselves and will make adjustments as needed.” With the training successfully completed, the corps members will begin ride-alongs with Providence police. “They’re ready to receive us,” she said. “Once people complete ride-alongs, their names will be
Susan Samson of St. Andrew’s and Buzzy Marion, Little Compton police chief
placed on a list for the commissioner to call as needed.” Others are noticing Penfield’s work. In January, she was honored with the 2017 Community Service Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission in recognition of her contributions to the state and her support of King’s vision. Her vision doesn’t stop with the creation of the chaplaincy corps. “We are our own faith people,” she said. “My vision is that there should be a cross outside a church for every kid who’s killed; we should be praying in church, going to the incident sites and praying. I also hope we can start another dialog group, perhaps moving into additional issues beyond race and police.” In Little Compton, parishioners at St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea learned that sometimes what you’re already doing is the best thing possible. When Susan Samson went to see the local police chief, he told her that St. Andrew’s was already doing “the most important thing in this town” — hosting Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. “He said it gives him a place he can take people who need that kind of counseling,” Samson said. St. Andrew’s has been hosting AA meetings for about 16 years, with meetings currently happening every day of the week except Sundays. The four groups meeting at the church, plus a new Al-Anon group, touch about 120 people’s lives. Participants come not only from Little Compton but also from Tiverton; Westport, Mass., and as far away as Barrington. “There aren’t a lot of Episcopalians in Little Compton,” Susan noted. “That makes it difficult for us to enter into the community, and hosting AA meetings has been a great thing for our church as well as for the participants.” ¬ Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
Collaboration and cooperation drive Jamestown ecumenical covenant John Donne said: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” Donne could have been talking about Jamestown, which is made up of a series of small islands in Narragansett Bay. Those islands have a rich history: In the mid 1600s, one of them was named Dutch Island by the area fur traders; in 1678, the main island, then known as Conanicut, was incorporated as the “town” of Jamestown. The bridge connecting the islands to the mainlands is named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who visited Narragansett Bay in 1524 and was the first documented European explorer to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River. The population of Jamestown’s islands ebbs and flows with the tourist tides — many houses are seasonal. And yet there is a core population that lives there all year, providing community services to those in need. Many of those services come from the three main churches in Jamestown: St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church and the Central Baptist Church. And all three have been linked, for decades, by a fund that helps those in need in the area. Last year, during a Good Friday service, those churches went one step further on the road to reconciliation and mutual understanding by signing an ecumenical covenant. The pact has helped to foster closer relations, extend community services and develop future projects, all to better serve Jamestown. Other churches in Rhode Island have long-standing ecumenical relationships, such as the one between St. Peter’s by-the-Sea in Narragansett and Congregation Beth David, congregations that have been holding annual combined services for more Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
L to R: The Rev. Ron Brassard, the Rev. Kurt Satherlie and the Rev. Kevin Lloyd than 25 years. However, this is the first time that all the primary churches in one community have come together in one common covenant relationship. The impetus for this new covenant was a recent change in leadership, both at St. Mark’s and at Central Baptist. “As the new pastors at those churches were transitioning in, I contacted them,” said the Rev. Kevin Lloyd, rector of St. Matthew’s, “and it quickly became apparent they were not only open to ecumenical relations, but enthusiastic about the possibility.” Lloyd; the Rev. Ron Brassard, pastor at St. Mark’s; and the Rev. Kurt Satherlie, pastor at Central Baptist, now meet regularly to discuss the needs of the Jamestown community and how best to collaborate. “One of the first fruits of our meeting together was to talk about the Kit Wright fund, established by long-time Jamestown resident Katherine Wright,” Lloyd said. “The fund is housed at St. Matthew’s but is shared by all three churches, and we use it to provide financial assistance to Jamestown residents in need. We hoped that by working together we could raise more funds.”
From that conversation, the three covenant churches planned and held a joint Christmas concert on December 4. The concert was a great success, with more than 200 attendees, and it raised an additional $2,000 for the emergency assistance fund. “We are now exploring how we can expand the food pantry at St. Mark’s to be more of a joint effort,” Lloyd explained. “We believe we can do more for the Jamestown community if we join forces.” Lloyd noted that the conversations and activities involving the three churches focus on outreach to the community, such as a Joint Blessing of the Jamestown Police and Fire Departments held each summer, and mentioned that future efforts could involve the churches’ youth groups. “Our hope is that this ecumenical covenant will bring people together — parishioners, volunteers, young people — into a common circle of service, while also providing additional income for our community missions,” he said. “We know we are stronger together, and together we are confident that we can do much more.” — Kim Hanson RISEN Magazine
Woonsocket kids have more summer fun thanks to City Camp High-school-aged campers from the Episcopal Conference Center (ECC) will help make summer a bit more fun for some young people in Woonsocket. It’s all part of City Camp Woonsocket, a free program that debuted in 2016. ECC manages the program, which was modeled after an existing successful version in Olneyville; St. James Church hosts the Woonsocket version. In the first year, participating youths, many of whom were Latino and Spanish-speaking, spent mornings at St. James, and then picked up a lunch and boarded a bus for afternoon field trips to places such as Rhode Island beaches, ECC and the Providence Children’s Museum. “The families were incredibly grateful,” said Heather Pirolli, City
Camp Woonsocket director. “Many parents, especially those of campers who attended both sessions, thanked us for everything and told us how much they wished we had more sessions. “One grandmother arrived with five campers,” she continued. “After getting everyone registered she proclaimed, ‘Más niños mañana.’ The next day she had three more, and their family became the core of camp for both sessions.” High school students paid for a week of camp at ECC that included making City Camp Woonsocket happen, said the Rev. Meaghan Brower, ECC director. “It was their favorite week of the summer,” she noted. “They loved being part of making camp happen for someone else. I’m pleased we’re doing this again in 2017.”
Based on last year’s success, City Camp Woonsocket is expanding to three weeks this year. St. Thomas, Greenville, is joining the collaboration to provide lunches for one of the weeks. The 2016 program was funded largely through a restricted fund from a bequest made several years ago to St. James; the church’s members also made lunches each day for the children. A fundraiser sponsored by the Blackstone Valley Deanery featuring the “Fisherman’s Follies” group from Emmanuel, Cumberland, also generated $1,700 for the program. The Rev. Peter Tierney, vicar at St. James, said City Camp is an example of reconciliation between communities. “A Providence Journal article highlighted the reality that summer
Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
recreation opportunities are quite different from one community to another,” Tierney explained (bit.ly/ ProJoSummer). “The article made it clear there was a real opportunity to supplement existing programs in Woonsocket — and perhaps the Olneyville experience could be replicated. “It’s been my experience that Woonsocket is kind of isolated from the rest of Rhode Island. For the Episcopal Church to be bringing something successful to a city that needs some wins is, I think, the biggest piece of reconciliation,” he continued. “Some forms of reconciliation are personal; this one is more about boundary lines being crossed.” Finally, the program helps St. James be more vocal about its community involvement. “We had been thinking about things the parish could do to have more visibility in the community, beyond our existing food pantry and thrift shop,” said Tierney. “We’re telling our story on local radio; we held a blessing of the animals service last fall in collaboration with a bilingual Pentecostal church; and we have City Camp. Now we’re looking at where there might be other opportunities. “We couldn’t have done City Camp on our own,” he emphasized. “We needed ECC and the deanery, and we needed administrators in the schools to recruit participants. All of this is helping our church discover how we’re woven into the fabric of the city.”
Redeemer reaches out to neighbors Reconciliation has become a way of life for parishioners at The Church of the Redeemer, Providence. Prompted by reading and talking about “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” during Lent 2016, parishioners have found new ways to connect more closely with the surrounding Mount Hope community, which spans multiple races and economic levels. One of the first opportunies was at a local food pantry sponsored by Camp Street Community Ministries. “Our members had collected food for a long time, but instead of just dropping off the food, they started volunteering,” explained the Rev. Patrick Campbell, rector. “Now we have a commitment to staffing one Saturday a month at the pantry.” The congregation also is becoming more involved in building relationships with other communities of faith and nonprofits in the neighborhood, including Temple Emanu-el. Last fall, Redeemer hosted 100
neighbors for a potluck dinner to build stronger relationships. And an ongoing series of “Friendly 8” dinners created a way for eight neighbors to come together in a home for dinner to talk about racial injustice and how to work toward reconciliation. “We share food and get to know each other,” Campbell said. “It engages a very diverse cross-section of people.” After the initial involvement, a Redeemer parishioner joined the planning committee to help create additional events and opportunities, including a second potluck. The church also hosts a cooking program for teens in the community, using vegetables from a community garden grown by neighbors — with the help of the teens. “Our members continue to find ways to make their own commitments to discipleship and communitybuilding,” Campbell said. “It’s been a real experience of transformation for some of our folks.” ¬
City Camp Woonsocket is financed by a restricted fund administered by St. James Church, with help from the Blackstone Valley Deanery and gifts from other churches. City Camp in Olneyville, which has operated for more than 20 years, still relies on donations from ECC friends and other supporters. To support City Camp, visit www.eccri.org/citycamp or send a check to ECC, 872 Reservoir Rd, Pascoag, R.I. 02859.
Reconciliation to Our Neighbor
Stewardship grounded in God’s charge to humanity • Teach, baptize and nurture new believers; • Respond to human need by loving service; • Seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation; and • Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
No matter how you scour the Bible, it’s a safe bet you won’t find anything about energy-efficient lighting, cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, cleaning up toxic waste or calling for an end to fracking. You might read about climate change (remember Noah and the ark?), but you won’t hear about air quality, carbon offsets, deforestation or genetically modified crops. So you can be excused if you’re wondering whether the Episcopal Church went a little off course when it named environmental reconciliation as one of three key priorities for our common life together. But the work of environmental reconciliation is unmistakably grounded in God’s charge to humanity, found in the very first chapters of Genesis, to be good stewards of the earth, and is precisely the sort of work the church needs to undertake in the world today. In our lifetime, energy conservation, access to clean water and healthy food, and other environmental concerns have become moral issues — Christian
issues — because of the disproportionate extent to which they impact the powerless and the poorest of the poor. “Environmental changes affect first and worst those who are already economically compromised,” said the Rev. Dr. Anita Schell, rector of Emmanuel, Newport, and president of the board of Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light. The Episcopal Church began expressing strong explicit support for environmental reconciliation around the same time climate change first became a topic of concern in the mainstream media. In the mid- to late 1980s, the Anglican Consultative Council developed the Five Marks of Mission, still in use today. The marks provide, as the Episcopal Church frames it, “a practical and memorable ‘checklist’ for mission activities” at the parish and diocesan level. They call on Christians to: • Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
In 2000, leaders from around the world drafted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aimed to cut world poverty in half by 2015, in part by ensuring environmental stability. The Episcopal Church was quick to pass resolutions at General Convention, first to endorse and later to uphold the MDGs as a mission priority, and asking parishes and dioceses to set aside a portion of their budgets for international development, as well as to support worldwide environmental and social justice programs. The MDGs and Five Marks of Mission continue to guide the church’s environmental efforts today and have been integrated into our presiding bishop’s current tripartite focus on reconciling with God, our neighbors and creation. “Naming it clearly helps us be mindful,” said Schell. “It’s a way of helping to focus our politics, practices and decisions about economics within the structure of our faith.” One challenge with environmental reconciliation is the sheer scope of the work. It encompasses everything from simple household strategies (reduce, reuse, recycle), to renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal), greening our investment strategies, economic and food policy, international trade policies, political advocacy, and more. For churches, Reconciliation to Creation
Reconciliation to Creation it also means teaching and talking in community, examining these topics in ways that express and nurture our perspective as people of faith. “We are all called to be environmentalists,” explained Schell. “This work concerns every decision we make: How do we decide about bottled water, heating our homes or the kind of food our children will eat? How do these things inform our spiritual practices and the way we lead our spiritual lives? We don’t have to travel anywhere to do this work: We can practice it right here in our local community, our own houses or houses of worship, our own cities and towns.” Churches looking to embark on the work of environmental reconciliation need not start large. Although you might dream of purchasing a solar array, as the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont recently did, and using it to power your entire physical plant, in the short term you may be better off creating an action plan to reduce your current energy consumption. You might hope to establish a large community garden but could begin by soliciting home garden donations or offering to gather unsold produce from a farmers market and deliver the goods to a local food pantry. Or you might decide to eat primarily local foods to limit the gas required for transport. The important thing is to get started with something here, now, today. A range of local and national resources can help you figure out how to proceed in your own setting, and grants may be available to help accomplish more ambitious goals. For instance, the Episcopal Church Advisory Council for the Stewardship of Creation offers grants of up to $10,000 to fund “local faith-based projects for mitigating climate change and safeguarding the integrity of Reconciliation to Creation
creation.” Visit www.episcopalchurch.org/ blog/EcoJustice for information about the application process and timing. Other helpful resources are: Worship and Prayer. It costs nothing to talk about the environment at forums, in Sunday school or from the pulpit. If you need some inspiration, you might look for “The Green Bible” (New Revised Standard Version), which highlights in green passages that address creation and our connection to the environment. The Rev. Jennifer M. Phillips, formerly of Rhode Island, wrote a handy resource called “Preaching Creation Throughout the Church Year,” connecting each week’s lectionary readings with environmental themes. Materials are available free online if you are interested in observing a season of creation or participating in a Lenten carbon fast. Climate Change. The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (acen.anglicancommunion.org) has a wealth of solid resources, from both the Anglican/Episcopal and an interfaith perspective. For a local perspective on global environmental issues, try ecoRI News (www.ecori.org). And Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light (www.ri-ipl.org) offers a lending library of 22 environmental films that you might consider for a discussion group, formation program, or community awareness event. Energy Savings. If you’re just starting out, you might want to download “Getting Started on the Genesis Covenant” from the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Practices blog (www.ecfvp.org/tools/gettingstarted-on-the-genesis-covenant). It’s an excellent, detailed, free PDF guide to implementing an energysavings program in your church or home. People’s Power and Light
(www.ripower.org) is a local nonprofit with the mission of making energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable. It features buying clubs that can bring prices down, as well as details on switching to renewable electricity sources, finding discounts on heating and oil, and other ideas. Advocacy. Make the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s forum on climate change (advocacy. episcopalchurch.org/climatechange) your first stop when you’re ready to add your voice to bipartisan policy at the local, state or national level. This trusted site features a wide range of resources about the Episcopal Church, crucial climate policies, local and diocesan actions and much more. Making a Difference with Your Dollars. Finally, if you feel the need to make an immediate difference in the world, check out Episcopal Relief and Development’s Gifts for Life program (www.episcopalrelief.org), where you can help alleviate suffering and offer both economic and environmental assistance to hurting communities all around the globe. It’s entirely possible to be an environmentalist without being Christian: One must only care about the sustainability of this fragile earth. But the reverse is not true: As Christians, we have a mandate to work toward environmental healing and justice. Said Schell, “My hope would be that we all continue to see the environmental crisis as the No. 1 moral issue of our day and that we work toward decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing our commitment to celebrating all God’s creation.” Read on for some innovative ways that is happening in our diocese. — Anne Stone
Emmanuel Church is building a path to sustainability The Rev. Dr. Anita Schell is a staunch believer in the power of small decisions to make big differences for the environment. Since she arrived as rector of Emmanuel, Newport, in May 2010, the parish has slashed its energy consumption and become known as a local leader in environmental advocacy. “It’s about finding the little things that we can all start doing,” she said. “That changes how we see things, changes the way we think. We become more mindful, and then we become aware of what else we could be doing.” Take recycling, for example, an easy first step that requires only sorting into trash or recyclables. As we sort, we begin to notice how much material we put into trash or recycling each week. And that attunes us to other things we should be doing, such as reusing items and reducing what we buy. One small step sets us on the path toward sustainability. “Changes in our behavior often make economic sense,” Schell explained. At Emmanuel, she began by looking at the buildings in an energy-saving, cost-saving way. With relatively few changes, the church realized huge benefits. For instance, when Emmanuel switched from incandescent lights to light emitting diodes (LEDs), its initial electricity bill was cut nearly in half. Adding insulation to the third floor dramatically cut energy usage again. And the savings have continued. This year, the church is focusing on “Building the Path to Sustainability” through three main channels: education, advocacy and action. So, for example, teachers set up a rain forest to help preschool students learn about the environment. The church has held classes to teach people about food and food systems. It has hosted community events on topics such as rising sea level, and
screened movies on decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels. Every week, the e-newsletter contains at least one link to a substantive article about the environment, and Schell frequently addresses environmental issues from the pulpit. Advocacy means learning about bipartisan local, state and national policies, and teaching people how to make their voices heard on the issues they find important. “Because
“One of the real joys,” says Schell, “is partnering with other organizations and meeting other people engaging in this work.” Channing Memorial Church in Newport, Newman Congregational Church in Rumford, Westminster Unitarian Church in East Greenwich and St. Augustine’s on the University of Rhode Island campus are all doing interesting environmental work and serve as models for what churches can accomplish.
sometimes the way to make change is to require it,” she said. “You address the behaviors first, and then you hope that people’s beliefs will follow.” Emmanuel is always looking for more ways to conserve energy. Schell recommends picking the low-hanging fruit first: Request an energy audit from National Grid. Change your light bulbs to LEDs. Get new, more efficient power strips. Add weather stripping, caulk and insulation wherever possible, and install programmable thermostats. Trim your trash and recycling budgets by banning bottled water on campus, and using real plates and cutlery for functions. Emmanuel is proof that such small changes make a big difference to the budget — as well as the environment.
Schell also enjoys the input of the youngest members of Emmanuel’s community. “We are learning so much from the children in our preschool and Sunday school,” she said. “Children don’t think practically. They think morally. So they have all sorts of interesting ideas, because they don’t get caught up in what can’t be.” Emmanuel has a long-range plan to get off the electrical grid entirely, with proposals in mind for solar panels on the roof and possibly a solar carport in the parking lot. “Bigger buildings are bigger challenges,” Schell observed, “but I’d love to get us to no dependence at all on fossil fuels. That can happen here at Emmanuel. That can definitely happen. We are on the path!” — Anne Stone Reconciliation to Creation
Bishops river trip: Paddling in proclamation to reconcile with God’s creation
If you’re anywhere near the Connecticut River in June or early July, look carefully. You might see an Episcopal bishop paddling a kayak or a canoe. The bishops of Province 1 (New England) and counterparts in the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are undertaking a 40-day journey of reconciliation, paddling from the source of the Connecticut River to the sea. And Episcopalians from all over the province have been invited to join them in this first-ever river pilgrimage. “What we’re envisioning is paddling in proclamation,” said Bishop Knisely. “It’s a form of evangelism, as well as creation care. We will stop along the way to talk with community members about the importance of clean water, reclaiming green space and cleaning up the environment. “As we get into more industrialized areas, we’ll have a chance to talk about issues of justice, of education, of violence in our inner cities — and we will be spending the nights in church basements, camping alongside the river banks, finding hostels, whatever.” The “River of Life” pilgrimage embarks May 31 from northern New Hampshire and concludes July 9 where the river flows into Long Island Sound. Kairos Earth (kairosearth.org) is joining the bishops in sponsoring the event in partnership with local, Reconciliation to Creation
statewide and regional organizations along the river. A core group of “river pilgrims” will journey the full length of the river, being joined by daily pilgrims as they traverse individual stretches/ communities, and by pilgrims in prayer —those who aren’t able to paddle along or join in events but want to participate in the 40-day spiritual practices that correspond with the pilgrimage dates. Locally organized shore-based events will draw attention to the beauty and challenges — ecological, social, economic and spiritual — along the waterway. People of all faiths, beliefs and paths are welcome for any or all of the pilgrimage. The Rev. Stephen Blackmer, executive director of Kairos Earth, said the pilgrimage is “a chance to slow down, become more aware of God’s presence within and through the natural world, to celebrate the actions that have conserved and restored many parts of the river and watershed, to mourn those places that remain in need of protection and restoration.
Most deeply, though, the very act of pilgrimage is intended to transform — to bring us closer to God’s presence and God’s creation — that we may become agents of healing, of love, of life rather than of destruction.” Steve MacAusland from Emmanuel, Newport, a long-time canoeing enthusiast, is helping to plan the adventure. “This is not the same kind of reconciliation as is happening with the Center for Reconciliation, other racerelated work, etc.,” he noted, “but there is an opportunity for an individual to reconcile with the spirit of water. “I have been aware of environmental issues for as long as I can remember,” he added. “I know climate change and related developments are a huge threat, not just to us as individuals but to civilization, humanity, even to all of nature. I have some repentance to do on that score. I hope that in the time I spend on the river with my brothers and sisters in Christ, we build our own spirit, our own little community out there between our faith and creation.” ¬
Community gardens at churches feed nearby neighbors
Hunger never goes away in our communities. Thankfully, Rhode Island Episcopalians work to minimize its effects. At some churches, community gardens help make low-cost food available to people in need. Churches all around the diocese have different forms of community gardens. They include St. John’s, Barrington; Epiphany, Rumford; St. Mary’s, Portsmouth; and Good Shepherd, Pawtucket. At St. Mary’s, Portsmouth (pictured this page), a new ministry emerged in 2012: a community garden with the goal of donating fresh products to local food pantries and working to alleviate hunger. The original garden had two parts, food and flowers, and was lovingly tended to by Bob Gessler, a parishioner with a passion for gardening. During his tenure at the garden, the church donated about 1,000 pounds of food a year to help reduce hunger in the surrounding community — primarily to the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport, Lucy’s Hearth and the Salvation Army.
When he moved away, the program transitioned toward individual plots, with a few areas still tended by groups. Today, volunteers include first-year students at Roger Williams University who work in the garden as part of their community service, a local Boy Scout troop and local Girl Scouts, too. Indeed, anyone who wants to do community
service in the garden is welcome. The current garden is smaller than the original, and the church rents plots — allowing others to have individual seasonal sections. People can grow food for themselves to take home and eat, with many donating their surplus to the food donation program. Now, the church donates about 500 pounds to food pantries in the area. The flower garden is used for pastoral care, to take flowers to someone who is sick or homebound. Or for the church or office staff. Or just to take. There are scissors in the garden so anyone can cut the flowers — which include sunflowers, zinnias, snapdragons and dahlias — for themselves. “I love to garden,” said the Rev. Jennifer Pedrick, St. Mary’s rector. “I have a patch, and it is fun to meet the people who come to garden here. Gardening is hard work, but it builds a lot of hope. Even when there is snow on the ground, people are planning for next year.” At Good Shepherd, Pawtucket, the community garden enters its
Reconciliation to Creation
Oil purchasing pilot yields big savings second decade this year. It’s the legacy of Ken Lagerquist, an Episcopalian who ran a garden center retail store in Seekonk, Mass. At Good Shepherd, Lagerquist was active in outreach ministries and was dedicated to Episcopal Charities, which honored him in 1983 with the Bishop Higgins Award (bit.ly/BishopHigginsAward). In 2007, Lagerquist led an effort to install raised planting beds in unused border space on the edges of Good Shepherd’s property. Good Shepherd members and some neighboring families rent the 21 spaces for $5 each summer, and the University of Rhode Island (URI) Extension Outreach Center, through its Master Gardener program, provides free seeds and mulch. Every few years, parish volunteers refresh the soil in the plots. The garden is so popular that Good Shepherd typically sells out, with a small waiting list in place. “People tell us they want to garden,” said Caryl Frink, outreach committee member. “At least one of the original gardeners is still involved, in fact. We advertise it at our Fun Friday events, through word of mouth and through existing gardeners. People grow whatever they want to — even flowers as well as vegetables.” Through the years, the initiative has benefited from various kinds of help, most notably from the URI Center (http://web.uri.edu/ceoc). And Lagerquist, who was known as someone who would get done what was needed, is still remembered today. “When Ken died, the parish created a decorative garden area in memory of him at one end,” said the Rev. Gillian Barr, priest-in-charge. “It includes a stone bench, some extra plantings and a plaque to honor him.” — St. Mary’s: Manya Chylinski; Good Shepherd: Dave Seifert Reconciliation to Creation
Reducing the annual cost of heating oil by more than 20 percent is no small cut, but it’s what the diocese achieved at five properties in 2016 thanks to a pilot program with People’s Power & Light. That non-profit organization’s mission is “to make energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable.” People’s negotiates a discounted price from suppliers for its members — and even waives the usual membership fee for churches and church-based organizations. “We were trying to get our costs down,” explained Dennis Burton, diocesan chief financial officer. “We have a $24,000 oil bill, so double-digit savings is significant.”
a purchasing agreement based on the People’s contract rate. If it’s your existing supplier, your price drops. If it’s a different supplier, you drop your existing agreement.” Maintenance contracts are negotiated separately with the oil supplier, which guarantees its most competitive price. The program worked so successfully that it will be offered to churches in the diocese this year, with a detailed announcement planned for Leadership Day in April. “We wanted to make sure it would work,” said Burton. “We’ve had no complaints so far, so we’re expanding it for oil purchasing. The
The renewable energy programs . . . fit in perfectly with our call to reconciliation with God’s creation, conserving fossil fuels by using renewable sources. Burton began by leading a study of five properties owned by the diocese — Church of the Advent, Coventry; Church of the Beloved, Pascoag; the Episcopal Conference Center; and May House and May Cottage in Wickford. The analysis projected a 12.2 percent savings by converting to the new program, so the diocese enrolled last February. Through the end of 2016, savings were nearly double the projection, at about 22 percent — more than $4,600 — compared to Rhode Island average heating oil prices published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And it was easy to implement. “You enroll in the program, People’s contacts the oil company and that company contacts you,” Burton explained. “Then you sign
maintenance agreement depends on a church’s circumstances. There is no obligation to commit to a maintenance agreement with the new provider. An independent boiler maintenance company may be selected.” Churches also would have the option to join one of two programs People’s Power & Light offers to purchase renewable energy (wind and solar) for electricity. “The renewable energy programs might not save money yet, but should become more competitive in the future, especially as the cost of solar panels drops,” Burton said. “But even without cost-savings, they fit in perfectly with our call to reconciliation with God’s creation, conserving fossil fuels by using renewable sources.” ¬
Accreditation confirms quality of ECC programs For more than 50 years, young people in Rhode Island have known the Episcopal Conference Center and Summer Camp (ECC) as a safe and sacred environment where they can play, worship, work and make friends. Now ECC’s excellence has been confirmed well beyond our state. ECC earned national accreditation last fall from the American Camp Association (ACA), meeting standards in policies, procedure and practices. The ACA accreditation process is intended to assist the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards, as well as educating camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation. “This is a big deal,” said the Rev. Meaghan Brower, ECC director. “We started talking about it at least 10 years ago and finally achieved it in 2016. It’s a big undertaking, with hundreds of standards to be met. It took a wide range of support from the extended diocesan family, and that was very much appreciated.” “The biggest impact of accreditation,” she continued, “is that we can highlight it on our website, on site and in marketing materials for parents looking for extra security for best and safe practices.” Multiple generations of Rhode Islanders have come to ECC and walked past the rock that reads “He who enters here is a stranger but once.” Brower said a participant survey last year confirmed that experience. “We asked people to tell us in one word how they would describe ECC,” she explained. “More than 30 respondents (out of 226) said ‘love,’ and more than 10 each said ‘home’ and ‘family.’ ” Another part of the survey allowed respondents to elaborate on their
feelings. They made comments such as: “Simply put . . . I wouldn’t have the faith I have, wouldn’t have gotten through what I went through, wouldn’t know love of Christ and of others the way I love and above all, I wouldn’t be able to teach my children all of what I know about love, Christ and faith without ECC.”
“Camp has allowed me to discover my faith. I have seen amazing work happen here which proves to me God is with this place all the time because without him nothing could be this magical. I have met my best friends at ECC and we have stuck together since our camper days, and are now working together for the fifth summer in a row.” Brower and the staff (both paid and unpaid) manage 11 programs each summer — nine on the ECC grounds and two outreach day-camp programs, in Providence and Woonsocket. They range from Little Explorers Day Camp (ages 4 – 7) to Music and Creative Arts Camp (young people entering grades 8 – 12). Other programs focus on younger children, middle schoolers, high school students and families. At one level, ECC is a typical summer camp experience — campers go to the lake, have talent shows, do arts and crafts, and complete work
projects. But ECC has something else many camps don’t have. Each day — in every program — begins with Eucharist or Morning Prayer, and each day ends with the service of Compline in the barn. “By beginning each day inviting God into our midst, and ending each day in thanksgiving to God for our many blessings, we create an environment that is nothing short of magical,” Brower said. “People who come to ECC learn they are loved and celebrated for being their true selves — just as God created them to be.” The 186-acre facility traces its origin to the Sayles Homestead in Pascoag. The property was bequeathed to the diocese in 1979 by Judge James Harris. Current camp capacity is 125 campers in 16 cabins. A house on the site has another 15 rooms (27 beds) and is available year-round as a conference center. ECC is growing in popularity, with camp registrations up by nearly twothirds since 2010. Weekly and family fees are below regional and national averages; daily fees are comparable. “We work hard to live out our mission statement of nurturing authentic connections with God, one another and ourselves that transform lives,” Brower said. “Our vision is to evolve, within 10 years, to a year-round vibrant diocesan camp and lodge. “I’ve found that it’s difficult to put the camp experience on a brochure or explain it at a camp fair,” she concluded. “We have tremendous ethnic and socio-economic diversity at ECC. People find a connection that breaks the barriers in their lives. We want kids to have a moral compass and a place where they feel they belong. At ECC, people develop friendships that last for a lifetime, and they experience the love of God.” ¬… Episcopal Conference Center
Ministry to campuses offers opportunities for diocese Nearly 80,000 undergraduate students attend colleges and universities in Rhode Island. And the Anglican/ Episcopal tradition has a history of developing relationships and offering opportunities for students, faculty and staff to gather in a safe space. This diocese has reached that audience in a number of ways during the past several decades — some more successfully than others. Now, the planned renovation of St. John’s Cathedral in Providence may provide a new opportunity for the diocese and college students, faculty and staff. “I’d like to see us create an innovative ministry based at the cathedral that draws young adults and college students from the campuses on College Hill and in downtown buildings and engages them in the work of reconciliation,” Bishop Knisely said. “That would be a way for us to connect with that age
demographic and would be a ministry that I think would attract them to the church in new and creative ways.” A task force commissioned by Knisely in 2015 recommended to Diocesan Convention in 2016 that the diocese develop and adopt a plan responding to the needs of highereducation institutions in Rhode Island, as well as faculty and students who are engaged in study, research and teaching. Campus ministry in the diocese today is a mixed picture of growing, ending and seeking: • St. Augustine’s — Episcopal Center at the University of Rhode Island (URI) has revived its mission to serve the URI campus, energizing its members and students to do creative outreach, hosting a food pantry and opening its space to student groups.
‘Rev. Dev’ supported student efforts for nearly a quarter-century In June 2016, faculty, staff and students of Bryant University gathered to say goodbye to the Rev. Philip Devens, who served as chaplain there for 24 years. “Rev. Dev,” as he is affectionately known, was involved in many aspects of campus life including advising the women’s and men’s rugby teams, singing in the Bryant Singers chorus, and hosting a campus radio program. “His faithful ministry at Bryant University is a witness to the importance of campus ministry,” said Bishop Knisely. “He retired with accolades from students, faculty and staff whose appreciation for his ministry in their midst was evident in the farewell party.” Campus Ministry
Devens (pictured at the bottom of page 2) began work as the part-time chaplain at Bryant College in 1992. He said the best part of his vocation as chaplain was “using the positive gifts given to me by God, particularly in music and art and being able to be present to the community while forming relationships with staff, faculty and students.” Mailee Kue, executive director of the PwC Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Bryant said: “If there is a service event involving students, one can be sure that they will find Phil there applauding and supporting student efforts.” ¬
• St. Stephen’s, Providence, has been sharing an active college ministry at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design for many years. The diocese had a chaplaincy at Brown for many years — first full-time and then part-time; the university now has its own chaplaincy department. • Bryant University has funded a part-time Protestant chaplaincy staffed for 24 years by the Rev. Philip Devens until his retirement in the spring of 2016 (see below). And Bishop Knisely continues to receive requests for chaplaincy services at other campuses, including Roger Williams University and Rhode Island College. The challenge ahead is to identify effective and sustainable models of ministry that meet the needs of both college students and young adults. ¬
Diocese receives important grants The Development Office is pleased to report that we have received the following grants: • $10,000 from Thrivent for the CFR to hire a development consultant. • $10,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation for museum/exhibit hall planning at St. John’s Cathedral. • A three-year grant ($10,000, $8,000, $6,000) from a donor for a church to start an outreach ministry also designed to grow the church.
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2017 Diocesan Calendar March 18 — Learn & Lead, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s, Portsmouth
“But we’ve never done it that way before — understanding generational differences in our churches.”
April 29 — Leadership Institute, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. John’s, Barrington
Practical workshops and vital information for wardens, treasurers and property chairs.
May 13 — Eastertide Confirmations, 10 a.m. at Emmanuel, Cumberland
Diocesan-wide service for those being confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church.
May 21 — Episcopal Conference Center Open House, 3:30 to 7 p.m.
An opportunity to learn about summer camp programs, youth ministry during the year, the Grant Retreat House and other programs — plus register children for camp or just visit!
November 3 & 4 — Diocesan Convention, at St. Luke’s, East Greenwich
Annual business meeting of the diocese, preceded by a festival Eucharist open to all.
The 2017 edition of RISEN, the annual publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. This issue's theme is "Reconciliation."
Published on Mar 17, 2017
The 2017 edition of RISEN, the annual publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. This issue's theme is "Reconciliation."