A publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
Walking Together on Sacred Ground
God Is Alive In the World Reflections on walking together on sacred ground
“Hey, that’s the guy from Channel Three.” That’s what some elderly gentlemen Russ Ro gathered in Photography a corner at a Dunkin’ The Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher. Donuts® said when they saw me. I guess carrying a shepherd’s staff (from a shepherd of real sheep) gave me away as the subject of a news report the night before: “Bishop Walks Worcester County.” The pilgrimage received a lot of attention from the media and they got most of the facts right – although, Betsy and I were both very surprised to read in Worcester Magazine that we have three grandchildren. Who knew? (We feel badly we missed so many birthdays.) There were great pictures on our diocesan Facebook page of the people I met along the way and the prayer services we held in the streets. And, there were affirming and funny comments on those pictures - e.g., my sister-in-law, commenting on a prayer service in which we are all standing in a parking lot, said, “Do you have to pray standing up? Can’t you ever let him sit down?”
After Morning Prayer at Trinity, Milford, the Bishop is ready to hit the road. After all that attention on what we were doing for those four days, let’s reflect on what it all means. Here are a few of my thoughts: The Spirit is at work in our work. The pilgrimage gave me the rare opportunity to visit our church members where they work, instead of where I work. Doctors, nurses, medical staff, the sheriff, addiction counselors, social workers, librarians, farmers, college teachers and students showed me what they do and how God is alive in that work. Church is not the place where we find God. Church is the place where we celebrate that “aliveness” of God’s dynamic Spirit, which is around us all the time. God is found in conversation.
Walking and talking does not seem very profound, but the gospel writer Luke tells us something life-changing happened as three people walked seven miles to Emmaus. Engaging each other in meaningful dialogue is an experience of the Holy. That might be why the words “conversation” and “conversion” have the same root. And it is why the Church needs to listen as much as it needs to proclaim. My walk was not a preaching tour but a listening tour. There is great hope in public witness. A moment that will always stand out for me was gathering with members of St. Matthew’s Church in Worcester, many of whom are Liberian, on the street in front of
At left, Bishop Fisher with Episcopal staff from UMass Medical School; center, Midday Prayer outside the diner in Upton; and, at right, after prayer at St. Matthew’s, Worcester, for those enduring the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. the church. My friend, the Rev. Nancy Strong, hijacked the name of the pilgrimage and on the church’s message board called it “The Bishop’s Ebola Walk.” In that prayer on the street, with cars slowly driving by in city traffic, we lifted up the names of friends and relatives who died from the disease, we asked for God’s healing power and for God’s protection. We asked for an end to the stigma being attached to West Africans in this country. And we asked it while holding one another’s hands. God calls us to reinvent ourselves (religious word: transformation). From the start of the pilgrimage at Trinity, Milford, (our most eastern parish) to the ending at Christ Church, Fitchburg, I kept seeing evidence of reinvention (transformation). Milford was once a prosperous factory town because most of the looms bought throughout the world were made there. The Draper family ran that business and surrounded the factory with very nice homes for the thousands of workers. (The Drapers came from the Utopian movement popular in the mid 1800s and had a strong sense of
social obligation.) The factory has long since closed but is still there, and it is huge. Larger than many of the closed factories I have seen in Massachusetts. Here is the good news: Milford has come back from that loss. It is once again a vibrant community. Why? They reinvented themselves. And there is much evidence of a reinvented, transformed city of Worcester. I went to the Community Harvest Project, which supplies fresh food for so many in need. They told me of the many changes they made there in addition to what they do and how they do it. More stories of reinvention in health care at UMass Medical School. Ascentria (formerly, Lutheran Social Services,) is in the midst of major change in how they do mission. I heard numerous personal stories of transformation at Dismas House, at Clark University, and at the Worcester County House of Corrections. At that jail, there is an innovative and life-changing program for incarcerated people suffering from addiction. In conversation with staff members
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At top, the Revs. John Edgar Freeman and Ron Crocker at prayer; above, the Rev. Michael DeVine walked 15 miles with Bishop Fisher to assist in greeting Hispanic/Latino neighbors in Worcester. Page 3
Facing Reality Brings Openness to God’s Power at Work By the Rev. Canon Pam Mott Glory to God whose power in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. The Rev. - Ephesians 3:20 Canon Pam Mott. Nothing is more limiting to a group than the inability to talk about the truth. - Peter Senge I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. - Isaiah 43:19 Myth: Our annual fair is the time when everyone comes together to help. It is a whole parish effort! We’ve got to keep doing it because it is the one time the whole parish works on something together. Reality: Organizers from the past 25 years talk about the frustration of getting anyone to help. It becomes a bigger and bigger event with fewer and fewer people to help. No one comes to a meeting the senior warden calls to begin to renew the effort. What new community effort is God calling you to? Myth: This is just a “down year” for stewardship. We’ll try harder next year. Reality: Pledging has gone down
for several years; no new effort or education has been developed. Trying harder is not what is called for. How do we gain a deeper understanding of stewardship and God’s call to community and generosity? Myth: We are a real family; everyone is welcome! I don’t have to wear a name tag because we know who everyone is! Reality: Visitors experience a “closed system.” They don’t know where the bathrooms are or who the person sitting next to them is. How can we actually invite people in? Myth: We will focus on mission when we can get the bills paid and finally get the building in shape. Reality: We won’t get the bills paid if there is no sense of mission beyond making sure “our congregants” are comfortable. In what ways can we go out into a world that badly needs the message of God’s love? These are actual conversations from my experience in ministry. The realities may sound like a downer. Facing a declining church can be a fearful and anxious task— so much in our world is changing! But here’s the thing: Yes, the church is eternal! God is eternal. BUT the forms within which we worship and serve most definitely are not. In fact, facing the realities of our circumstances can actually
be freeing. As old forms pass away, God gives us new ones that are begging to be explored and developed. We are a death and resurrection people; sometimes we can know new life in our congregations only when the old forms pass away and new ones are given room to emerge. So, while we speak of a decline in the church, it can actually be a time of great hope—hope in the power of God in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, a time when we can learn anew to commend the faith that is within us! Last year at a Diocesan Council meeting, as we were discussing several congregations that were struggling, a member asked, “Isn’t there anything we can do to help congregations before it gets to this point?” From that question arose the move to develop a “vital congregations” survey. As a beginning, we asked colleagues in other dioceses for their ideas, and, out of what others have done and our own ideas and needs, Barbara Groves, John Cheek, and I created the document that was presented at Diocesan Convention. (The “Marks of Congregational Vitality” survey is housed on the diocesan website under, “Parish and Clergy Resources.”) The questions we must ask are hard; they require an honest look at today’s reality; they require letting go of the myths to which we hold fast. This kind of self-examination can be fearsome, but it can also
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St. Peter’s Attends World Council of Girls’ Friendly Society By Carol A. Bushman Two young members of St. Peter’s, Springfield, Azhané Mitchell and Ashley Hutchinson, traveled to Swansea University, Wales, for the World Council of the Girls’ Friendly Society July 25—Aug. 4. Sheila Hall and I accompanied them as sponsors from the St. Peter’s branch of the Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS). The trip began with a three-day stay in London to see the sights and 11 days in Wales at Swansea University for World Council of the Girls’ Friendly Society. GFS is an international nonprofit organization of girls from ages 5-21. It was founded in England by Mary Elizabeth Townsend in 1875. Townsend’s purpose was to provide a network of women (sponsors) who would offer a safe haven for girls, many of whom had left home to work in the mills. Even though times are different today, we continue to support girls through worship, service, study and recreation. Our motto is Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” The World Council of GFS occurs every three years in a different country. Prior to that, the USA conducts an assembly that our members attend to prepare for the council. The council was declared open with a warm greeting from the GFS World President, Glenys Payne of Wales. The theme was “Inspirational Learning Together.” Our logo for the conference was “We can do all things through Christ.” The opening service was at Brecon Cathedral with the Rt. Rev.
Left to right, Albertina Whitaker, Autumn Buck, Jr., the Rt. Rev. John Davies, Sheila Hall, Carol Bushman, Azhane Mitchell and Ashley Hutchinson. John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon presiding. Besides the many meetings, listening to delegates from the 17 countries and strategy sessions to discuss projects and issues around the world, our days were filled with activity and worship. The Archbishop of Wales, The Most Rev. Dr. Barry Morgan, conducted the final worship service at the Brecon Cathedral. There were bus trips to the National Assembly for Wales Schools, where we listened to the Commissioner of Children, to Cardiff to visit the heritage attraction, and to see St. Fagans National History of Welsh life. We listened to greetings from the Rev. Rose Wilkins, the Queen’s Chaplain and Chaplain to Parliament, and Lynne Tembey, Mother’s Union Worldwide President, who spoke on the family. Our evenings were filled with concerts by various musical groups such as the Dunvant Male Choir, a famous Welsh Choir of
60 men who put on a spectacular concert singing a medley of songs, and “Tipyn o Bopeth,” a Welsh Folk Group, who also provided a concert. Our 11-day conference concluded with a reception and Gala Dinner with the Lord Mayor of Swansea. When asked to reflect on their experience, Azhane and Ashley had good things to say. Azhané was impacted by the diversity of the GFS gathering. She believes, “Communication is the key. Listening to understand where people are coming from is so important. I met many people from different cultures and backgrounds, and I learned from being around people that we’re alike in so many ways, yet different. This was truly a learning and fun experience.” Ashley said, “Not only were my eyes opened to the rich culture of Wales and the other countries in attendance, but the World Council also helped me to grow in Christ. n
Global mission presentation.
The Church Convened Diocesan Convention 2014
The 113th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts was convened on October 25, 2014 at Chez Josef in Agawam. Delegates—lay and ordained—gathered at 8:30 a.m. for the celebration of the Eucharist— to do the thing that makes us one. Following the liturgy the convention continued with the introduction of invited guests, Special Orders, the consideration of resolutions and the passing of the budget. All the moving parts remain the same from year to year, but we are different. We come to Convention with the wisdom of our past experience and the hopes and dreams we have for the mission ahead.
Central to the ethos of any convention is the Bishop’s Address. In the context of the Eucharist, Bishop Fisher addressed the convention delegates who represent the Church in Western Massachusetts. (The full text of the Bishop’s address follows on Page 8, and the video can be found on the convention webpage on our diocesan website: www. diocesewma.org.) In his address Bishop Fisher set forth his vision for the diocese—his conviction that we are “walking together on sacred ground.” The address was also the vehicle for announcing his pilgrimage through the diocese on foot. (See pages 2 and 3.) Bishop Fisher walked the first leg—the
Worcester corridor—Oct. 28 to 31. The next pilgrimage will be in the Pioneer Valley corridor just after Easter. Bishop Fisher will finish in the Berkshires just before the heat of summer sets in. The first 60 miles are done and the next 120 will yield new insights and blessings for all who join him on the road. Convention is always enriched by the exhibitors who spend the day in our midst. Among them were the Global Mission Committee, the Daughters of the King, Ascentria Care Alliance, the Third Order of St. Francis’, the Episcopal Church Women, the Social Justice Commission and “Change the Babies”—a new diocesan effort
to raise funds for the Mampong Babies Home in Ghana. The Special Orders of the Convention are always a source of inspiration and gratitude. The delegates heard about new initiatives, global mission efforts and projects that have come to fruition in a year’s time. • “Change the Babies”—The Rev. Betsy Fisher • Global Mission: Dominican Republic Mission Trip, Uganda Mission Trip, Ghana, Haiti & El Salvador • Church Without Walls—The Rev. Derrick Fetz • “EYE”—The Rev. Hilary Bogert-Winkler • Lawrence House Service Corps —The Rev. Tanya Wallace • Legacy Giving—John White • Creation Care—The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas • “Marks of Congregational Vitality”—John Cheek & Barbara Groves • Massachusetts Council of Churches—The Rev. Laura Everett Part of the work of being Church is the respectful dialogue that leads to new policy. The passing of a resolution by this body indicates the full support of its members and its importance in the mission of the Church. The Diocesan Convention passed a resolution to encourage the Episcopal Church to divest from investments in fossil fuel holdings and invest in clean energy issues. The resolution asks the Episcopal Church to do what the Trustees of our diocese have already agreed to do. (The text of this resolution is also available on the Convention 2014 webpage of the diocesan
We need to find ways to help ourselves and our church members to express the faith that is within them. website.) The resolution adds our voice to a larger debate anticipated at General Convention 2015. Diocesan Convention delegates received an online survey about the day. We are very grateful to all who submitted their suggestions for Convention 2016. A sacred tradition and ever-new, Diocesan Convention is our gift and our responsibility. We are grateful to the Rev. Scott Seabury who has faithfully served as Secretary of Convention for four years. The day is made possible by the Secretary, his support staff and efforts of many “behind the scenes.” Convention allows us all to celebrate what God is doing in Western Massachusetts through the ministry of the Episcopal Church. n
The Bishop’s Address 2014 Let us pray with Christ who is within us and among us. Fourteen years ago I was called as rector to a church that was in sharp decline after a tumultuous time. I was blessed to be part of a great reversal in which that church came back to abundant life. We can study all kinds of reasons for that, including, dear to my heart, the embracing of immigrants, many of whom were living in fear and isolation. But perhaps the biggest reason the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully…I coached the sports teams of our three children. It was there, in conversations before and after games and practices, and sometimes at halftime or between innings, that parents would bring up questions of the soul and questions about church. And would it be okay if they came some Sunday and checked it out? The church grew from those interactions. And oh, yes, from our youngest child, Gracie, who was anything but shy and would say to her first grade classmates “you should come to my daddy’s church.” There are so many church growth ideas out there. And they are worth trying—if we believe with all that is within us that Jesus has a dynamic, creative, transforming vision of this world in which God’s will is to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Remember this is the diocese where we are told “do not be afraid to fail” in the multitude of ways we try and express that vision, that abundant life. Behind all those church outreach plans, the healthy church needs good liturgy,
Bishop Fisher delivering his address. inspired preaching, outstanding pastoral care, generosity of Spirit, meaningful mission to the neighborhood and to the world. But my experience, which just happens to line up with the gospel of today, is the Gospel message is meant to “go out” of church and to be expressed where people live. “The Lord appointed 70 others and sent them on to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” Where they go, they not only bring grace but they find grace. They find homes that already are models of hospitality and kindness and abundant life. The 70 are welcomed into that. Remember these homes are alive with generous spirit, and Jesus has not been there yet. Just as we can go out and find God at work in all manner of nonchurch settings. Because God is active in the world, and we need to recognize that action and celebrate it. Personally, I have found God’s
spirit thriving in those working to save our world from climate disaster, from gun violence, from disease, from cruel rejection of immigrants and refugees…I forgot one, oh yeah, casinos. Vote Yes on Three. And we find God’s Spirit alive in those who courageously embrace the myriad of human struggles from addiction to caring for elderly parents or difficult teenagers. Jesus told the 70, “God is alive out there. Go and discover what God is up to in the world.” We have a powerful example of Luke Chapter Ten at our own Cathedral. Every Wednesday Dean Jim Munroe and Canon Tom Callard and several church members go through the streets of Springfield, handing out sandwiches and gently offering to pray with whomever requests prayer. They inspire me. With Luke Chapter Ten, and the witness of the Cathedral, resounding in my soul, I have made a decision to get out of my office and get out of my car—which is frequently my office—and walk the diocese. We are calling this adventure “Walking Together on Sacred Ground.” The sacred ground is Western Massachusetts and the “together” is anyone who wants to walk with me for any part of the journey. I want to hear the stories of our church members and those who have no church at all. We will stop along the way and have prayers services in parking lots and street corners. I’ll visit prisons and colleges and farms. And I will pray as I walk, lifted up by the beauty of God’s creation in this blessed region and one with all our
churches who are taking part in this Creation Season. The plan is to do this one corridor at a time, each pilgrimage taking four to five days. The first one will be the Worcester corridor beginning at our most eastern church— Trinity, Milford, and ending up at Christ Church, Fitchburg. We start Tuesday Oct. 28 and end on Halloween. The walk through the Pioneer Valley Corridor will be the week after Easter and before Momentum Sunday. The Berkshires leg will be sometime in late May or early June. I am enormously indebted to Vicki Ix, Cozette Haggerty, Pam Mott and Rich Simpson, who are handling a million details. I’ll walk with this staff. It is a genuine shepherd’s staff given to me by Bishop Wissemann. Bishops carry staffs to symbolize the Good Shepherd of us all and there is another reason. In the early church the bishop used the staff as a walking stick because the bishop was meant to be on the move as the living embodiment of the connection between the churches. Nowadays some bishops use motorcycles… I am going to go old school and use the staff as a reminder once again that silo ministry is over and we live in a new/old age of collaboration between our churches. Not only does Jesus send the disciples out, he does that himself. Jesus never stays in one place for long. The Gospels are basically a travel log of Jesus. Mark’s gospel has him in 17 different named cities. Luke only names a few—Nazareth, Capernaum, Nain, Jericho, Bethany, Jerusalem and adds several times “went out to all the towns and villages.” To every
The Rev. Katherine White, the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rev. William Coyne and the Rev. Dr. William Bergmann. place Jesus brings a revolutionary message of God’s love and a compelling hope that God’s reign of mercy, compassion and hope is happening now. Some of you have heard me preach already about his walk into Jericho. As he approaches the city, a blind man sitting outside the walls shouts out to Jesus. You all know from Sunday School what happened in Jericho 1,000 years before Jesus. “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and….(the walls came tumbling down). But here is the part of the story that you did not hear in Sunday School. After the walls came down, Joshua ordered the death of every man, woman and child. Except for the prostitute Rahab, and that is another story. After that he cursed the city and said if it were ever rebuilt, the person responsible would have his sons die. Five hundred years later that curse was fulfilled when a
rabbi rebuilt the city. And we know that Jericho geographically was situated in an area that was cooler than many other places in Israel. It became a resort for the wealthy. We know this because Mark Anthony built a palace for Cleopatra there. And King Herod had a summer mansion in Jericho. Jericho—a city of destruction. Jesus goes there and heals the blind man. Jericho—a city cursed. It is a city where Jesus blesses. Jericho—a city of the wealthy and powerful. It is there that Jesus hears the cry of a poor man and listens to him. Jesus brings a newness to this old world. He recreates it. He sends us out to do the same. That is our mission. To heal where there is destruction. To bless where others
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curse. To hear the cry of the poor in a world that suppresses their voice. I find that mission to be incredibly engaging and life-giving. I bet you do, too. Now we need to find the ways to articulate it. We need to find ways to help ourselves and our church members to express the faith that is within them. Jesus is not irrelevant in this world. Jesus makes all the difference in this world. Jesus could only do that because he “prayed constantly.” Jesus did his inner work, and that gave him the Spirit to do the outer work. I invite us all to do the inner work of prayer. The great musician… Arthur Rubinstein (you thought I was going to say Bruce Springsteen, didn’t you), Arthur Rubinstein was asked why he practices the piano so much. He replied, “If I don’t practice one day, I know it. If I don’t practice two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice three days, everybody knows it.” If we don’t practice the presence of God, we know it. And then our families and friends and the church know it. Prayer shapes who we are. Communal prayer and private prayer may be the way the words of the prophet Isaiah can be fulfilled: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their faith. They shall soar on eagles’ wings. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” One more dimension of these words of Jesus to the 70 in Luke Chapter Ten. They are almost the exact same words as he said to the 12 apostles in Luke Chapter Nine. “Jesus called the 12 together and sent them out…Take nothing for your journey, no bag, no bread, no money—not even an extra tunic.
E. John White, missioner for Legacy Stewardship, the Rev. Heather Blais, rector of St. James’, Greenfield, and Dennis O’Rourke, member of the Vestry. St. James was awarded the Legacy Congregation Commendation for exceptional leadership and achievement in legacy stewardship. Whatever house you enter, stay there…” Chapter Nine is for the apostles. They do what Jesus says. When they return from preaching and healing, they feel good about themselves. But then immediately they start to mess up, as they so often do. In one chapter, Luke gives us a litany of their mistakes. In the favorite story of yours truly, the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus asks them to feed the people and they respond with, “We don’t have enough. Send them away.” At the Transfiguration vision on the mountain, Peter wants to build tents so they can just stay there. Let’s build a church and stay in it. No more being sent out. They come down from the mountain and
they start to argue about who is the greatest. Then the disciples try to stop someone “who is casting out demons in Jesus’ name” because they “don’t know him.” Then they want to throw down fire on a town that rejected them. Clearly Jesus needed help beyond these twelve to get God’s message out there. So the Lord appointed seventy more but stays with the exact same mission. Go. Take nothing with you except your souls that are alive in God’s abundant grace. Go find God at work in the world and join in. And where you find destruction, bring healing. Bless the cursed places. Hear the shout of the poor. The 12 became 70. And they kept moving. You see Jesus came to
bring a revolutionary movement to this world. Not a church. Nothing as static as that. A movement that will carry everyone along with it. Oh, yes, the movement seemed to stop at the Cross. The disciples all fled. Thank God the women stayed at the foot of the cross. But death could not hold Jesus. He returns, not as a resuscitated corpse, not as a ghost, but as the Christ. As the Crucified One who is now breathing God’ own life- the Holy Spirit- into any willing to receive it. And they are invited to carry that Spirit to others. And that they did. In their own bumbling, stumbling, courageous way. The Spirit moved from Mary Magdalene and the Apostles to the early church. It kept moving to the early church fathers and mothers. And to Agnes and the martyrs. It moved to Augustine and Benedict. That Spirit moved to the monks who saved civilization in the Dark Ages and it moved on to Francis and Clare and gave us a love and responsibility for all God’s creation. Julian of Norwich received the Spirit and told us “all will be well, every manner of thing will be well.” That Spirit kept moving and was given to Martin Luther who recognized the Church is always in need of reformation. The Spirit moved to Thomas Cranmer that we might have prayer in common. The Spirit moved on to Galileo to tell us the cosmos does not revolve around us. Ignatius of Loyola received the Spirit so we could approach God with our minds as well as our hearts. The Spirit was received by the martyrs of Japan. The Spirit kept going and going and was given to Jonathan Edwards who woke us up. That Spirit brought us democracy and the recognition that all are created
The Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and the Rev. Laura Everett, Massachusetts Council of Churches, address the convention; the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Chaplain, looks on. equal. The Spirit came to John Wesley who brought warmth back into worship. The Spirit came to Florence Nightingale and showed us the holiness of healing. The Spirit moved with Sojourner Truth as she preached and traveled. The Spirit went on to Damien of Molokai who embraced lepers. And on and on to the Freedom Riders and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New England’s own Jonathan Daniels. The Spirit came to Thomas Merton to show us how contemplation and social justice come together. The Spirit went on to El Salvador to strengthen Oscar Romero and the four church women in their witness unto death. The Spirit arrived in Philadelphia forty years ago to ordain the first women in the Episcopal Church. The Spirit
went to Uganda as Bishop Janani Luwum told the truth to power. The Spirit moved through society bringing long-denied rights to gay people. The Spirit kept moving through Western Massachusetts and all the church leaders upon whose shoulders we stand. And now the Spirit lands on us at Chez Josef, gathered in prayer and hope, on Oct. 25. May we move with that Spirit. Because God, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus forever. Oct. 25, 2014. Amen. n
Left to right, the Rev. Karen Safstrom, the Rev. Randall Wilburn and the Rev. Nathaniel Anderson.
Episcopal and Lutheran: What full Communion looks like By Victoria Ix, Communications Director/Missioner The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are in full communion. What does that mean? According to “Called to Common Mission,” the concordat signed by both churches, it means that we acknowledge the authentic, apostolic faith of the other and accept each other’s ministers as ministers of Christ’s Church. “Called to Common Mission” is an inspiring document that emphasizes the beauty of diversity and the blessings of working in God’s vineyard together. “Neither church seeks to remake the other in its own image, but each is open to the gifts of the other as it seeks to be faithful to Christ and his mission. They are together committed to a visible unity in the church’s mission to proclaim the Word and administer
the Sacraments.” Full communion has been the canonical reality since Jan. 6, 2001. At the institutional level, we are just beginning to unpack the meaning of this bond of unity. It is gratifying to see major statements from our Presiding Bishop co-signed by the Presiding Bishop of the ECLA. It is right and good that our bishops are present at respective diocesan conventions and assembly synods—willing witnesses of each other’s struggles and joys as church. It is, however, the height of collegiality when our priests and pastors tend one flock —when Lutherans and Episcopalians share one table of Word and Sacrament. We are living the mission of the Gospel together here in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. This article is both an exploration and a celebration of what full communion looks like 14 years after the joint document, “Called to Common Mission.” Christ Church Episcopal/ Trinity Lutheran, Sheffield have been conjoined since 2007—
one building, one rector/pastor, two congregations that worship together using both Episcopal and Lutheran rites. According to the CCE/TLC website, the decision to come together “allowed both congregations to remain healthy and strong and for all of us to join forces as Christ’s followers.” The Rev. Anne E. Ryder has been the midwife of something new in Sheffield. She has seen both congregations move from separate governing bodies—a vestry and a council—to a unified “vestry council.” The Sheffield congregations are now referred to simply as, “Christ Church Trinity.” We have several Episcopal congregations being served by Lutheran clergy. The Rev. Karen Safstrom has served at St. Francis’, Holden, since the spring of 2012. Karen is bi-vocational and serves the community as both pharmacist and associate rector. When asked what she loved about ministering in an Episcopal church, Karen replied, “Most of all I love the Book of Common Prayer, both the beauty
Bishop Fisher addresses the New England Synod Assembly of the ELCA.
Lutheran and Episocopal clergy doing small group work at Fall Clergy Day.
of its language and the fact that it gives Episcopalians a prayer for almost every occasion one could think of. And Episcopalians have style in their liturgical practices and garb that I think we Lutherans have lost a bit as we have pushed away from our pre-Reformation roots in an effort not to be “too Catholic.” For example, where in most Lutheran settings an alb and stole are enough to get me by, at St. Francis’ I have learned to love to wear a chasuble, and I am now the proud owner of a cassock, surplice and tippet for those times when more than my trusty alb and stole are called for liturgically.” The sharing of ministers may come as a radical change for a congregation or a natural evolution of ecumenical efforts. St. Francis’, Holden, was already primed to engage a Lutheran pastor. “Long before my arrival, the former rector at St. Francis’, the Rev. Canon Rich Simpson, and the senior pastor at Immanuel Lutheran in Holden, the Rev. Dan Wilfrid, got the congregations together to do programming together, such as
Bible and book studies. Since my arrival, we have done some events together with our youth groups and our men’s ministries occasionally work together on building projects out in the community. I think the biggest thing they have done, though, is to welcome me and invite me to be who I am as a Lutheran. When I arrived, members of the congregation encouraged me not to simply learn to do things in the traditional Episcopal way but to hold onto my Lutheran ways and share what my Lutheran tradition has to offer.” At Trinity Episcopal Church, Ware, the Rev. Dr. Randall Wilburn is serving as Interim Rector. Randy has served several Episcopal parishes in our diocese: Grace Church in Amherst, Trinity Episcopal in Lenox and, most recently, St. Francis’. Randy said, “When my Lutheran colleagues poke fun and ask me, ‘Now that you’ve gone over to the dark side, how is it in the Episcopal Church?’ I respond, “I love poetry and attempt to write poetry, but I have found a new poet...” They
ask, ‘who is your new poet?’ I reply, ‘Thomas Cranmer.’ I love the Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy, and the loving people.” How do we know that the sharing of ministers brings blessing? “By the fact that being Lutheran serving an Episcopal congregation has not been an issue,” Randy said. “By their action, prayers for our shared ministry, and our working together, we embody our Call to Common Mission. Our ministry is ‘mission driven’ and what we hold in common is the Gospel, respectful liturgical worship and compassion. We act out our faith in ways that attempt to love kindness, do justice, and walk humbly with our God.” Epiphany Episcopal, Wilbraham, has entered into a unique relationship with Christ the King Lutheran in that same town. Since June of this year the two distinct congregations have had the unifying ministry of one person—the Rev. Nathaniel Anderson. Nathaniel is both pastor
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Beauty and Advocacy: Season of Creation By the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care The diocese is reaching the end of its first-ever Season of Creation, celebrated from Oct. 4 (St. Francis’ Day) through Nov. 30 (Christ the King Sunday). An anecdotal and completely unsystematic survey of Facebook pages, emails and personal conversations suggests that a good number of churches found ways during this season to lift up the sacredness of the natural world and our God-given call to protect it. • The Rev. Rick Bellows shared on our diocesan Website a stunning series of photographic reflections entitled “A Season for Creation,” which gives viewers an opportunity both to admire God’s glory in the natural world and to absorb thought-provoking facts about Creation’s health and well-being. Beauty was also a theme at St. Mark’s, East Longmeadow, where parishioners were invited “to put on the eyes of St. Francis” and to look for God in the created world and in each other. Parishioners then emailed their photos, notes, sketches or poems to the rector, the Rev. Peter Swarr, for sharing with the whole congregation. The images I saw included a warm, crackling fire, a beloved dog and brilliant sun shining through autumn leaves. • Many churches—including St. Francis’, Holden; St. John’s, Ashfield; St. James’, Greenfield; and Grace Church, Amherst, to cite just a few—celebrated St. Francis’ feast day with a blessing of the animals. St. Andrew’s, Longmeadow, included blessing
Photo by the Rev. Rick Bellows
Pilgrims to the People’s Climate March carry the diocesan banner. animals in its festive event, “Pumpkins and Pets on the Hill,” and at all three services the Rev. Derrick Fetz preached a sermon called, “Why the World Needs St. Francis.” • Churches experimented with new forms of worship to deepen our awareness of God’s presence in redeeming and sustaining the natural world. For instance, St. Stephen’s, Westborough, marked Creation Season with special collects, prayers and blessings, and organized Sunday services around such themes as Forest, Land, Wilderness and River. Christ Church, Rochdale, created an experimental, Creation-focused liturgy taken entirely from worship resources posted on the diocesan website. The service received such an enthusiastic response that by popular request it was used on a subsequent Sunday. • Some folks rolled up their
sleeves and focused on the essential, practical tasks of increasing energy efficiency and conservation. St. Mark’s, East Longmeadow, posted on Facebook in early October: “Just replaced 18 incandescent bulbs in the Great Hall area with LED bulbs...that will save us 657 watts of electricity whenever the lights are on... Just think what will happen when Nov. 1 rolls around, and we replace the rest of the Great Hall bulbs...all told that will be a savings of 4599 watts!” Not to be outdone, diocesan staff-members at 37 Chestnut St. expanded their recycling efforts (check out the neatly labeled containers the next time you visit), and are replacing the incandescent light bulbs in their desk lamps with more energy-efficient models. • Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light offered a Sustainable House of Worship (SHOW)
workshop in early November and stands ready to help congregations save money and increase energy efficiency and conservation. For a modest financial pledge, scaled to your church’s budget, your church can join MIP&L (http://www. mipandl.org/), receive help with environmental stewardship and build the religious environmental movement. • Several churches in the diocese are actively exploring the installation of photovoltaic panels on their roof or grounds. I look forward to the diocese’s first ceremony to bless solar panels. • Churches created opportunities to learn about the science of climate change and the theology of Creation care. At Christ Church, Rochdale, St. James’, Greenfield, and St. Andrew’s, Longmeadow, I presented and discussed the slideshow “God so loved the world” (available for free download at RevivingCreation.org). • Many of the diocesan faithful got an early start on Creation
Season by participating in the historic People’s Climate March held in New York City on Sept. 21. Some of you rode the special bus, “Episcopalians on a Journey of Hope,” and celebrated a Eucharist on wheels during the journey from Springfield to Manhattan. Others rode by train or car-pooled to New York to join 10,000 people of faith and a total of 400,000 people who took to the streets in a peaceful, sober and joyful call for effective action on climate change. I wrote a blog post about the march on my website, RevivingCreation.org. • Our brothers and sisters in Christ also participated in a second climate march, this one held on Oct. 20 in Springfield, as an extraordinary coalition of Hispanic, African-American and immigrant communities joined together to push for a climate action plan for the city. Two hundred people from within and beyond Springfield joined the march to City Hall, including members of Grace Church, Amherst; Trinity, Ware;
and St. James’, Greenfield, as well as the Very Rev. Jim Munroe, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral. The Rev. Tom Callard, the cathedral’s Hispanic Missioner, launched the rally with an opening prayer, and Bishop Doug Fisher was one of the speakers. Shortly thereafter, City Council members discussed the resolution and passed it unanimously. Making a swift transition to a more sustainable way of life is urgent and daunting work. With only a single degree rise in average temperatures worldwide—and with more heat on the way—the earth is already melting, flooding, drying, acidifying and burning in ways that no human being has experienced before. 2014 is on track to be the warmest year in history. Species are going extinct at record rates. Never before has our voice as Christians been so needed in the public square as we bear witness to a God who loves every inch of Creation and who longs for healing and justice and to make all things new. As we come to the end of our first Creation Season—and look ahead to the next—I am thankful for the ways that our diocese is beginning to mobilize to protect life as it has evolved on earth. Our new diocesan banner, “Love God, Love your neighbor: Stop climate change” has already had quite a workout! I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is at work among us, and that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). A few days ago, after we held a conversation about Creation care at St. James’, Greenfield, I received
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One Pilgrimage to Uganda Four stories of the journey Edited by the Rev. Kathryn White “Leave Shoes and Silence at the Door, please.” This might have been the sign outside the brand new Library on the Connect Africa campus in Jogo, Uganda. On the steps before the entrance were scores of flip flops belonging to the kids from the village who came for their Saturday morning classes. And inside, no silence to be found, just excitement, the laughing of eager students choosing books, chatting a mile a minute, eager to read to each other and to us. This was fun! Each one of us brought 50 pounds of books, gifts from parishioners of St. Luke’s, and St. Matthew’s, Worcester; Good Shepherd, Clinton; and St. John’s, Sutton. On Saturdays, when the children are not in school, they come for educational enrichment, porridge and play. On this Saturday, we were the lucky ones to invite the children into the library for the very first time. They sat with us on the floor or at the table, reading books, looking at pictures, sounding out words. We introduced the children to the basics of reading a book, turning the pages and re-shelving it. Many had never before held a colorful picture book. Squeals of joy vibrated through the room especially when a Pop-Up book was discovered. I read with Peter, a 5-year-old. He held the board book, one word and one picture to a page,
The Rev. Deacon Jane Griesbach with children. sounding each word out. After four tries, he was able to read the entire eight-page book, and his smile was a mile wide. I am so thankful for such a wonderful moment! No smile here, just eyes filled with joyful tears. A gift of God’s grace. E. John White Grace certainly happened with the band of seven pilgrims from four congregations that traveled to Uganda in September. We went as longtime supporters of the “Connect Africa Foundation,” and on this journey, we were able to see up close how co-directors Dr. Lynn Auerbach and Kalule Charles work tirelessly to improve the future of children in this central region of Uganda. “Connect Africa”
currently sponsors 56 children in many different schools, from kindergartens to universities. Many of the children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. They are being brought up by grandparents or other extended family members, and the adults struggle to feed and clothe them all. There is often no money to send them to school. “Connect Africa” supports these children by paying school fees and giving them all they need to attend (uniforms, shoes, books, pencils, paper, etc.). We had the pleasure of visiting many of these schools, meeting the children and their teachers and also spent time with several bright, young students who have reached university level. Sinoga John studies at Makerere University—
one of the top universities in East Africa —and is supported by a grant from our diocese. Banji is studying law and follows the politics of the U.S. closely. Omar and Emmanuel are majoring in electrical engineering. We discussed the challenges and joys of Ugandan culture and traditions with them. We also met several recipients of CAF’s no-interest micro-loans. The Jogo village nurse received a loan to outfit her pharmacy. Diana, with a college degree in business administration, helps her mother raise pigs and chickens to sell. One man received money to buy a motorcycle (a “boda boda”)— one of the main modes of “taxi” transportation in Uganda. Annette, our wonderful cook, was able to attend culinary classes. They each receive a small loan, pay it back on a regular basis and learn how to save money for the first time. Once the loan is repaid it revolves to another person in the community. Nearly every recipient pays back in full. The Rev. Deacon Jane Griesbach Now that we are home, images flash in rapid succession across my cerebral cortex: schools without roofs, carefully written black board lessons for the day, red clay dusting bare feet, a soccer ball fashioned from plastic bags and bits of twine, bicycle tire hula hoops and an unending sea of faces. Children, teachers, mothers, grandmothers, university students; all with bright eyes and open hearts. In a simple small church near the home of Deacon Beatrice Kayigwa, the elders stand to greet and welcome us, bidding us to do the same. A
The Bergmanns, the Whites and Marialyce Worden with children. field mouse runs across the kneeler as I stand, already overcome with an incredible sense of privilege for the moment. Any words I might speak pale in comparison to what goes unsaid by those gathered; those who have nothing but offer everything. Looking to the rear of the room, the worn but carefully mended school uniforms of many young girls blur into a sea of pink as tears fill my eyes. Suddenly and acutely aware of the abundance of my life, the opportunities given me and staggered by the disparity, I struggle to speak. The words form, yet they feel inadequate, as I implore the girls to study their science lessons, that the world might be opened to them as it was for me. Blinking to clear my eyes that I might see theirs, in that instant I feel connected to them and their unfailing hope of what joys tomorrow might hold. If only with God’s grace we can help to make it so. Marialyce Worden Wonderful. Inspiring. Life-changing. There simply are not enough words to fully express what we experienced in Uganda. This is a wonderful country, and its people are warm and beautiful. There are levels of poverty no Westerner can fathom, and yet Ugandans radiate a generosity and welcome that made every encounter a gift. Those we met work hard, but their lives are characterized not only by struggle but also by hope and joy. I saw children smiling and giggling, excited to have the opportunity to learn; children offering plates heaping with food to the visitors, waiting patiently until all are served and grace is said to enjoy their own plate; day-long worship with brothers and sisters, estranged but “knit together in one Communion and fellowship”; laughter and tears and sighs too deep for words. What was Uganda like? We saw the face of God and shared the fellowship of Jesus Christ. We were and are continuing to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. There just aren’t enough words. The Rev. Dr. Will Bergmann Note: To learn more, visit connect-africa.org or speak to Maria and Will Bergmann and Beatrice Kayigwa of Good Shepherd, Clinton; Jane Griesbach of St. Luke’s and St. Matthew’s, Worcester; or Kathryn and John White and MaryAlyce Worden of St. John’s, Sutton. n
Living Our Faith
Tom and Dianne Wilson, missionaries in El Salvador
Faith is where your feet are
By Deborah Johansen Harris At the midpoint of their threeyear mission in El Salvador, Tom and Dianne Wilson returned home to what they called a “working vacation” to see family and friends. They also attended services at St. Francis’, Holden, over the weekend in late September. Tom preached, and he and Dianne gave a video presentation of their work over the past 18 months in the Episcopal community of El Maizal. The church reception for Tom and Dianne also included a generous buffet lunch of rice, tortillas, chili, bean soup and other Salvadoran fare while children played at cracking open a candy-filled piñata. From Tom’s sermon and the video, it’s clear that Tom and Dianne serve a community of extreme poverty. Most people have a second or third grade education and earn the equivalent of about $3 to $4 per day. But Tom and Dianne are undaunted in their service. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many needs of the people,” said Tom. “But we go to where the spirit is working and maximize that spirit. We work a lot with the kids since they are the future of the community.” In addition to teaching English and Bible studies to children and adults, Tom and Dianne attend meetings showing their support of youth groups who come to
The following are excerpts from Tom’s sermon.
Dianne Wilson helps a young parishioner aim at the piñata at the reception for her and Tom. the 45-acres to participate in an agricultural education program funded by the office of Episcopal Relief and Development. Tom has also worked with the men, helping them plant acres of corn—all by hand. As lay missionaries they perform services in churches located in nearby villages as well as in El Maizal. Life in the village, however, is not all work and no play. Highlights of the year in which Tom and Dianne participated included celebrations for the day of the dead, Easter vigil, and, of course, Christmas, for which Tom played Santa Claus much to the delight of the children. “We don’t try to measure what we have done and have yet to do,” said Tom. “Our mission is not about Tom and Dianne. It’s not about results. It’s about faith, about manifesting your faith. We do what we can do and feel blessed every day we are here.” n
Your salvation is not by faith alone. You have to act. It’s not about going to church or Bible study. It’s how you live your faith…. It’s about giving love, kindness and mercy to others as God has given love, kindness and mercy to us. Mission is about being with the people, talking with them, living with them. Mission is all about your feet – are your feet in front of the people you want to serve? In our mission, we need to be able to receive as well as to give. As poor as these people are, we receive so much from them – their love, mercy and kindness. Whether it’s at Dismus Farm or Mustard Seed, we need to interact with those we serve, to be able to receive the love of Christ from them. You don’t need to go to El Salvador to do mission work. As soon as we step out of the door every day we are serving in God’s mission. We should be expressing God’s love to others when we are at the Big Y or Dunkin Donuts. That’s what God wants us to do – to live our faith daily. n
A scene from the Springfield Climate March.
From Page 15
an email from a parishioner and long-time environmentalist, Elise Schlaikjer. She wrote, “How good it felt to have a sense of a community [of people] who care about the same issues. At times it has felt quite lonely, although giving up was never an option.” She added: “[It feels] like the wind of the Spirit [is] blowing through this diocese and the church at large, ridding us of old outworn patterns and uncovering new life ready to spring into full bloom. That has been my heart hunger for a long time. Although, like Moses, I probably will not see ‘the promised land,’
just being a part of the process is a real joy!” I feel that Spirit, too, and I feel the joy. Even after Christ the King Sunday, I hope that we will continue to weave themes of Creation into everything we do – into our worship services and prayers, our Sunday School and adult education, our outreach and advocacy – so that we praise and serve the Lord of all Creation not only during a special season, but every day. n Did this article neglect to mention a Creation-centered ministry that your parish has initiated? Please post your news on the diocesan Facebook page! If you would like to invite Margaret to preach and/or to give a presentation in your congregation, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to join our diocesan Creation care network, please give her your name. You may also sign up to receive her blog posts by visiting RevivingCreation.org.
Episcopal/Lutheran From Page 13
and priest-in-charge. It took a year of dialogue between the leadership of the two congregations. The Rev. William Coyne, interim rector at Epiphany, helped to shape the vision of this experiment. “For Epiphany and CTK to enter into a partnership that both respects one another’s confessional tradition while also carrying out a unified ministry. CTK and Epiphany will not only share a pastor, but also collaborate in carrying out God’s work wherever possible. Now, six months in to this “experiment,” Epiphany and Christ the King are sharing much more than their priest. “The thing I love most about serving two congregations of different traditions,” Nathaniel reflected, “is how complimentary they are. That is how the strengths and weaknesses of each seem to fit together so that we learn and grow in faithfulness. The Episcopal parish is being exposed to the gifts of the Lutheran theological tradition while the Lutheran parish is being enriched by the prayer book and the Anglican liturgical tradition. I love seeing members learning and exploring all that is wonderful and good about each other’s traditions.” Nathaniel referred to the concordat, “Called to Common Mission,” and the difference between saying what we are to each other and living it. “CCM was just a nice news story for some people. Now it is an increased hunger ministry, a thriving Sunday school and a shared pastor/priest in Wilbraham.” It should be mentioned that Bishop Fisher and Bishop Hazelwood have been equally
enthusiastic about the living out of this agreement. In October the diocese invited all Lutheran clergy here to share in the Fall Clergy Day—an annual gathering for prayer and on-going formation. Bishop Hazelwood attended and gave a reflection during the closing prayer. At our Diocesan Convention, Bishop Hazelwood was invited to preside at the Eucharist. This was an ecumenical first—a living sign that our churches are united in Word and sacrament. The bishops have been speaking regularly and working together on issues that affect the poor and disenfranchised. Notably, the New England Synod Assembly held in Springfield this past year passed a resolution to oppose casino gaming in all of New England. Those who spoke in favor of the resolution cited Bishop Fisher’s advocacy. Our churches share a heritage of care for the poor here and around the world. Just as Episcopal Relief and Development has worked to improve the lives of people through direct action and advocacy, the ELCA has its own social services ministry— Ascentria Care Alliance. During his walk through the Worcester corridor, Bishop Fisher visited Ascentria Care Alliance. Over lunch Bishop Fisher learned about the ways Ascentria is bringing a person-centered approach to social services in Worcester and throughout New England. One of the many blessings of being in full communion is the freedom we have to be partners in ministry – to work together to achieve the justice
I have benefitted in many ways from taking part in activities and events of the NE Synod and have wonderful, bright young colleagues.
- The Rev. Anne E. Ryder
and dignity all people deserve as children of God. This is what full communion looks like in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. We are committed to deepening the shared ministry between our churches. This is evidenced by the successful sharing of ministers and the bishops’ purposeful inclusion of one another. As we continue to engage one another in meaningful conversation, to share the mission mandate of the Gospel together, the conclusion reached by the writers of “Called to Common Mission” is realized in that relation. “Recognizing each other as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered, we receive with thanksgiving the gift of unity which is already given in Christ.” n
Facing Reality From Page 4
lead to an openness to the power of God that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Six suggestions for using this survey:
Christ Church, Fitchburg, was the finish line. After a Eucharist of thanksgiving, Bishop Fisher joined members for lunch and tales from the road.
God is alive From Page 3
who run the program, they told me of the many times they made big changes in the program to better serve the real needs of the participants. Transformation seems to be God’s way in the world. Will we let it be God’s way in the Church? God’s creation in New England is awesomely beautiful. Even though it was far past peak foliage season when I walked, the many lakes, streams and forests we are blessed to enjoy here are God’s gift to us. In prayer I felt united with all our churches that engaged our “Creation Season” and with all who passionately work to stop climate change. When the House of Bishops met last in Taiwan, we were encouraged to “expand our apostolic imagination,” and we were shown how by our Asian brothers and sisters. In this four-day pilgrimage my “apostolic imagination” was expanded by the faithful people and the ever-changing landscape of our Worcester corridor. I am already looking forward to the next two pilgrimages—Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires. I look forward to hearing about our church: “Hey, that’s the Church that celebrates God’s aliveness in the world.” n +Doug
1. Look at one section a month in a vestry meeting. Assign members to explore different aspects of the questions and report back. 2. Spend a day of retreat exploring the questions; identify one or two areas on which to focus in the coming year. Identify resources to assist you (see below). Watch for workshops at leadership day in the spring that speak to your discoveries. Together we can find ways to allow God’s imagination to inform our common life. 3. Ask a neighboring parish to ask the questions of YOUR parish - sometimes someone else can see us with clearer eyes! Offer to do the same with your neighboring parish. Come together to partner in identifying and acting on a way forward. Consider a neighboring congregation that is not Episcopalian! 4. Once you have identified the areas that you want to pray about and act on, make sure they are a priority on your vestry agenda each month. 5. Ask for assistance and resources. Offer your assistance and resources! 6. Finally, rejoice in what your congregation does well! Rejoice in the ways in which you allow God’s power to do more than you can ask or imagine! As we look to the future, our ability to thrive as God’s people relies on our willingness to face reality and offer it up for God’s transformation, recognizing that it may not look “like we have always done it before!”n
Treasures from the Archives Convention 19011903: A look back By Diocesan Archivist Karen Warren Times have certainly changed since the turn of the 20th Century: Technology, industry; our very culture has changed dramatically. Does Convention 2014 look very different from the earliest Conventions? What kind of business was conducted then? Here is a peek at the initial stages of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. After several years of debate over the separation of the western part of our state from the “Eastern Diocese,” Bishop William Lawrence of Massachusetts stated that the diocese of Massachusetts was “too large to serve in the most efficient way the spiritual welfare of the church and the people of the Commonwealth.” On Nov. 19, 1901, the Primary Convention to officially organize the Diocese of Western Massachusetts was held at Christ Church, Springfield. Two months later, on Jan. 22, 1902, a Special Meeting of the Convention was held, wherein the Rev. Alexander H. Vinton was elected as our first bishop. Just three months later, on April 23, 1902, the First Annual Meeting of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts was held, also at Christ Church in Springfield. At this
The seal of the diocese, at left. Above, the gavel used at every diocesan convention since 1902. First Annual Convention Bishop William Lawrence presented the new Diocese of Western Massachusetts with the very gavel with which all subsequent bishops have called our Conventions to order. In his first annual address to Convention, Bishop Vinton thanked the Standing Committee, which had assumed its canonical duties of Ecclesiastical authority pending the Consecration of a bishop. He also thanked the Diocese of Massachusetts for the endowment given to the western region for its formation. Bishop Vinton thanked Bishop Lawrence for his support and assistance during this seminal time and stated that his first mission was to acquaint himself with the diocese, saying “I want to know and be known by all my clergy and laity.” Additionally, Bishop Vinton addressed the needs of supporting the missionary interests of the diocese, reducing expenditures, raising up lay leaders and the question of restructuring the Archdeaconry system. Sound familiar? Convention included many familiar items of business: committees were appointed; reports
were given. The bishop’s annual salary was set at $5,000. The Treasurer’s report noted $2,376.32 cash in the bank. There were 48 parishes and missions reported in union with Convention, and a total number of baptized in the diocese reported as 10,413. Bishop Vinton appealed to delegates, saying “We are in our constructive period… which presents many opportunities for...heart-searching, planning, generous giving and abundant service.” Bishop Vinton’s second annual address to Convention, held at St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield, on May 6, 1903, reported the appointment of a Board of Examining Chaplains, and an increase in the number of candidates and postulants for Holy Orders. Bishop Vinton thanked the Trustees for their tireless work in safeguarding the property and investments of the Diocese and asked that vestries keep in mind the “extraordinary increase” in the cost of living, with attention to clergy salaries. In addition, Bishop Vinton addressed the need for a house for the bishop, imploring Convention to pursue the search and purchase of same. He stated his willingness “to relinquish in salary the equivalent of house rent.” Bishop Vinton also brought to Convention the matter of there not being an official Diocesan seal and suggested the appointment of a committee to attend to the design of one. Much like today, things take time to happen. The issue of a house for the Bishop was not resolved until 1907 with the purchase of a property at 1154 Worthington St. Springfield. The diocesan seal was adopted in 1908.n
From the Editor ‘That’s what we do’
The prophet Isaiah was given many privileged insights from God about the coming deliverance of Israel in Christ. Those prophecies are very powerful, especially in Advent as we consider how God is still coming into the world. In preparing for our Diocesan Convention, Bishop Fisher asked us, as a staff, to sit with this verse from the prophet Isaiah: “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).” It was easy to see how this passage fit with our convention theme, “Walking Together on Sacred Ground,” but after watching Bishop Fisher walk 60 miles in four days, this verse had deeper meaning. These walks are not about physical achievement, although 15 miles per day would be a feather in any cap. He’s walking to meet people where they are everyday – to listen, to engage, to wonder and to allow the Spirit to work through these walks to bless us. As Communications Director I got to ride along – literally – ahead of Bishop Fisher and behind him in places. I got to watch the expressions on peoples’ faces as the man in the purple shirt walked along the roadways carrying a shepherd’s staff. I got to meet amazing people who bring their faith to work with them every day. I got to pray in funny places and be grateful when I thought I’d lost the Bishop, and he suddenly appeared in my rearview mirror. The proximity to Convention was something, too. One minute we were gathered in Agawam to consider resolutions and celebrate the ministry done in a year’s time. The next minute I was watching a dozen members of Trinity, Milford, walking with Bishop Fisher north to Grafton. Could Bishop Fisher have walked this day alone? Of course. But they walked with him nonetheless because that’s what we do. We walk together as Christ’s body in this world. In between the logistical concerns and my periodic panic, I watched them soar together like eagles. I watched them walk and not grow faint. n Bishop Fisher will walk the Pioneer Valley Corridor the week after Easter and the Berkshire Corridor in late May.
Got news? Contact Victoria at: email@example.com or 413.737.4786, ext. 124.
Abundant Times is the official news publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, 37 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA, 01103-1787, (413) 737-4786. www.diocesewma.org.
At Diocesan House
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts The Rev. Pamela J. Mott, Canon to the Ordinary The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson, Canon to the Ordinary Steven P. Abdow, Canon for Mission Resources
Bruce Rockwell, Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship E. John White, Missioner for Legacy Stewardship The Rev. Canon Tom Callard, Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministry The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care Victoria Ix, Communications Director/Missioner The Rev. Hilary Bogert-Winkler, Interim Missioner for Christian Formation The Rev. Jennifer Gregg, Missioner for Servant leadership Abundant Times is a quarterly publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. Articles may be submitted to the editor, Victoria Ix. firstname.lastname@example.org On the Cover: Bishop Fisher walks the Worcester corridor with members of Trinity, Milford.
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts 37 Chestnut St. Springfield, MA 01103-1787
Please send address corrections or deletions to: Carol LaPlante 37 Chestnut St. Springfield, MA 01103-1787
ALSO Inside On a Mission
One Walk Down
Bishop Beatrice Kayigwa leads a mission trip to Uganda.
Learn about Bishop Fisherâ€™s walk through the Worcester corridor and his plans for two more walks.
Read what happened.
Pages 16, 17
Pages 2, 3
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