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Abundant Times

A publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Winter 2015


Blessings

Mark and Martin: Prophets of Now 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

Missioners

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. communications@diocesewma.org On the Cover: Clockwise: Second birthday for Grace Church; distributing blankets and coats in Springfield; Cathedral's 12:15 Choir; banner at St. James', Greenfield.

The more birthdays I have the more I appreciate the Gospel of Mark (the gospel in this lectionary cycle). There is an urgency in Mark’s telling of the Jesus story. He uses the words “immediately” or “right away” 56 times in a book of 16 short chapters. The time to follow Jesus is right now. We don’t have forever to make up our minds or respond to the Spirit’s call to action. The first line of Mark’s Gospel is “The Russ Ro Photography Beginning of the Good News of Jesus The Rt. Rev. Douglas Christ, the Son of God.” Some scholars Fisher. say Mark meant that to be the title of his work—as in “The Beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by Mark.” Right after that first line Mark “immediately” tells us whom Jesus is following. (There is no nativity story in Mark. As Bishop Michael Curry puts it, “Mark has no time to show us the baby pictures.”) We hear the words of the prophet Isaiah and the prophet John the Baptist. Jesus will be in the prophetic, not the priestly, tradition of the Hebrew people. Prophets look at the world the way it is and say, “This has to change. This is not the way God intended it to be.” The prophets issued that challenge, and the prophet Jesus embodied it. Jesus transforms everything he touches. The sick are made well. Sinners are forgiven. The timid become courageous. The poor are lifted up. The oppressed are set free. Scarcity (think the Feeding of the 5,000) becomes abundance. Bread and wine become Body and Blood. The early church embraced their prophetic, transformative role as followers of Jesus. Here is how Dr. Martin Luther King described the early church in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “There was a time when the church was very powerful. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas of public opinion. It was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the power structure immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction

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that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment.” Now skip to the end of Mark’s gospel. Wait a second…there is no ending to Mark’s gospel. The last story in Mark occurs on Sunday morning after the death of Jesus. Three women go to the tomb to anoint his body. “A young man, dressed in a white robe” sitting on the right side of a rolled away stone that had blocked the entrance to the tomb says: “Don’t be afraid. Jesus has been raised. He is not here. Go tell the disciples he has gone ahead of you to Galilee.” Then the last words of the Gospel are, “They said nothing to nobody, they were afraid because…” That’s it. Later editions of the gospel added on a “shorter ending” and a “longer ending” so Mark would have a resurrection account like Matthew, Luke and John. The language, however, is obviously not that of Mark. Someone was just uncomfortable with the ending Mark gave it. Bu t we s hould not be that “someone.” Remember the first line (or the title) of Mark: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The beginning! In a book that does not end. Mark is

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Above left, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., and above, “St. Mark,” by Lorenzo di Bicci.

a Spirit-inspired genius. The good news of Jesus Christ continues. Where? In us. In a people sometimes too afraid to say anything to anyone. But we can be a people transformed in Christ to live a resurrected life here and now as prophetic witnesses to the dream of Jesus for a kingdom of mercy, compassion and hope. This edition of Abundant Times is filled with real stories of real people and real churches continuing the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Stories of a Spirit-filled people who know they are part of the Resurrection story. Maybe even a “colony of heaven,” “small in number but big in commitment.”

Again, let’s turn to the wisdom of Martin Luther King: “Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless effort of men and women willing to be co-workers with God. And without the hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” I think Mark would agree. n +Doug

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The Bright Sadness of Lent Alexander Schmemman, one of the leading liturgical scholars of Orthodox Christianity in the 20th century, was the dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York from 1962 until his death in 1983. Five or six years ago, I came across his little book about Orthodox Lenten Practices, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, which I commend to you if you don’t already know it. I love the logic and the rhythms of liturgical Christianity as I have come to know it through our more western cultural traditions. The hymn (#135), “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise,” nicely summarizes where we traveled since the Feast of the Epiphany, with the arrival of those magi from the east on Jan. 6. Since then we have since traveled to the Jordan River for the Baptism of our Lord and then on to consider some of various ways that God is made manifest in the world. This leg of our journey culminated on the Mount of the Transfiguration, the greatest “epiphany” of all, where the post-Easter Jesus is glimpsed in all his glory. And then, because the disciples are told that they cannot build booths there, but must come down from that mountain as Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem, so we have joined Jesus and his disciples on this Lenten journey. Taken together, this powerful metaphor links the Incarnation with the Mystery of the Cross, suggesting that once we fully grasp that Jesus truly is the Son of God, we must follow him all the way to Golgotha and beyond to the empty tomb. What I’ve learned from Shmemman, however, is that Orthodox Christianity doesn’t

Canon Rich Simpson. follow this same script. Among Orthodox Christians, the Feast of the Epiphany is an even bigger deal than it is in the west, but the days leading up to Lent are different. Before the Lenten Journey begins, the Orthodox prepare by focusing on five themes: Desire for God (the story of Zacchaeus), Humility (the Publican and the Pharisee), Return from Exile (the parable of the Prodigal Son), Last Judgment, and then finally, Forgiveness Sunday. It is the last of these that I want to focus on here: Forgiveness Sunday. The liturgy for this day involves an elaborate dance as each person in worship says to every other person gathered there: “Forgive me, for I have sinned.” Most of us know how hard it can be for us to forgive someone who has hurt us very badly and even perhaps to pass the peace with such a person on a Sunday morning. Across our diocese, the odds are very good on any given Sunday morning that if we replicated this dance, there will be someone in the congregation who has been hurt

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by someone else and maybe even very badly hurt. Forgiveness takes time, but not just time, because we can get stuck. So at the very least, even when we aren’t yet able to forgive someone, we can remember that God forgives all who confess their sins and are truly penitent. And so (as I have learned from Shmemman) the correct liturgical response to the one who says, “Forgive me, for I have sinned” is not “I forgive you.” Because, to be honest, that might not yet be true; even if we are working on it. Rather, the correct liturgical response is: “God has forgiven you.” Even as this dance is unfolding, as each member of the congregation confesses and pronounces absolution, Schmemman suggests that the choir sing Easter hymns to remind the gathered community that Lent is not an end in itself, but the pathway to the empty tomb. This is the journey to Pascha—a journey of living into this ministry of reconciliation. Perhaps in the west, we might find ways to recapture the deeper meaning of Shrove Tuesday, beyond the pancakes and jambalaya, in some similar way. I wonder what it would look like if we celebrated Forgiveness Tuesday before we were marked by those ashes that remind us that we are dust? In any case, from east to west, this season of Lent upon which we have now embarked is a time to work on forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not a time for self-flagellation but of healing. When it comes to forgiveness it’s a given that God gets there before we do. This may be especially true when

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By the People: Parishioners Reflect on New Leadership By the People” is a new, regular feature of Abundant Times. The series features reflections on the presence of new leadership in a congregation by a member of that community. If you’d like to write about your rector or priest-in-charge, please submit your reflection to Victoria Ix, Communications Director. Contact information can be found on page 23.

Holy Trinity priest-in-charge a ‘keeper’

New faces at Grace

By Tamsin Lucey, Senior Warden

By Kathy Clausen, Senior Warden

Fr. Richard Signore’s first Sunday at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was part of the interview process; our needing supply priests lent itself to an “on the job” interview opportunity. Over the years we have welcomed many supply priests, some for just one Sunday, some for several. Fr Richard was welcomed in just the same way. Though, it is true to say after this service, as parishioners were leaving their comments included “Can we keep this one?” “This one is good”. So it was that the search committee soon found themselves unanimously recommending to the vestry that we call Fr. Richard. That was late fall 2013, for various reasons it would be some eight months later before Fr. Richard would become our priest-in-charge. Those months offered the parish and Fr. Richard a unique opportunity. We were able to create a rotating schedule of two months with Fr. Richard as supply priest followed by one month of other supply priests or Morning Prayer. We welcomed this unique opportunity: A God-given opportunity to Break Bread together while transitioning to, not only new clergy but also from full-time to halftime clergy. The parish had much work to do, not least, listening to God and hearing what his plans were for us, working on our aged building, nurturing our parish community and continuing our Partnership for Missional Challenge engagement with our neighborhood community. Fr. Richard Signore welcomed the opportunity to listen to all that we had to say, to be part of our community, and share in everything that is parish life at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. The eight months were a true blessing; affording the vestry time to work on policies ranging from, social media to financial and to put in place best practices, to allow the parish time to define parish goals, which the vestry would use as a basis to create a position description for our half time clergy in mutual ministry. This time allowed the

The Rev. Dr. Janet Whaley Zimmerman became Priest in Charge of Grace Church, Great Barrington, in September 2014. Grace Church is the church “without walls,” which means “no building.” It takes a very special priest to have the vision to answer a call to such a church, and it has been very clear to the people of Grace that Janet is just that kind of priest. Her clear voice, calm manner and inspiring presence bring a real sense of sacredness into the worship space created each Sunday at Crissey Farm, a banquet hall just behind the local brewery in Great Barrington. She has embraced this unique situation with enthusiasm. Grace does have an office and chapel, so she does have an office, and a place to greet visitors and lead a mid-week Eucharist. Janet seems right at home already; her warmth of spirit has enabled all members of the parish to embrace her. She is also comfortable taking our worship “on the road,” as we have had two services on the grounds of one of our missional partners, Taft Farms. Christmas Eve saw her amongst the trappings of a working greenhouse, complete with bunnies in the corner, celebrating Eucharist with members of the church and curious shoppers to the farm store. Her passion to be involved in mission has been evident as she dove right into the Community Network Dinners Grace Church held over four months this summer and fall. She is getting to know members of the community through many other venues as well, reaching out to established interfaith organizations and making new friends for Grace as well. She is open and inviting, caring and generous, fun and funny. Janet ccame to Grace from St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and Day School in Washington, D.C., where she served as chaplain and associate rector. Before St. Patrick’s, Janet worked as a teacher and later a university professor in Maryland and Texas. Following her ordination

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Holy Trinity From Page 5

parish to welcome the challenge of understanding Mutual Ministry and the need for a three-part position description that would set goals and expectations for not only our half time clergy but also our lay leaders and our congregation. This living document will be the basis for yearly mutual ministry reviews. Fr. Richard’s transition from supply priest for two months and one month off to permanent half time Priest-inCharge has been almost seamless. Fr Richard has been Priest-in-Charge now for eight months and it seems as if he has been here—well not quite—forever but for much longer than he actually has. Just over two years ago we were told that our transition would be over when it seemed as if our “new” priest had always been there—we look forward to June when we start our first mutual ministry review and the process to welcome Fr. Richard as our Rector, after which we can truly say, this transition is over… and Fr Richard Signore will be welcomed to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 446 Hamilton St. in Southbridge. n

Fr. Richard Signore welcomed the opportunity to listen to all that we had to say, to be part of our community, and share in everything that is parish life at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Bishop Doug Fisher with Fr. Richard Signore and XX.

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Bright sadness From Page 4

Celebration of New Ministry: Surrounded by clergy from the Berkshires and the Rev. Canon Pam Mott, the Rev. Dr. Janet Whaley Zimmerman is on Bishop Fisher's right.

Grace Church From Page 5

Her clear voice, calm manner and inspiring presence bring a real sense of sacredness into the worship space created each Sunday at Crissey Farm. in 2009, Janet served as curate at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. Janet and Sey, her husband, a recently retired attorney and novice novelist, have three adult sons.Patrick and his wife, Katherine Carroll, live in Morristown, New Jersey, with their three children, Luke, Beth, and Ian. Thomas lives and works in New York City, and Frank, a student, lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A very interesting fact and a strong connection to this area is that Sey, all three sons and their daughter-in-law graduated from Williams College. In his sermon on the day we celebrated Janet’s new ministry, the Rev. Peter Elvin, St. John’s, Williamstown, said: “This new pastoral union calls you to present yourselves as bearers of encouragement and support, bearers of grace, as you keep recognizing where and how God is active in this world, as you keep growing what you’re doing, as you keep shaping a circle ever wider, workers at work in fields of grace.” We at Grace are so thankful Janet is here to help us shape our widening circle of God’s love. n

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forgive ourselves. But we do well to remember in these 40 days that God is already waiting with open arms, like the father of that prodigal son. For all Christians, the Season of Lent is a time to live more fully into that embrace. This is what the journey to Easter/Pascha is about. From east to west, Lent is about forgiveness and new beginnings, not about guilt and shame. There is an atmosphere created in Lent, Schmemman says, a state of mind that our worship creates, that he calls a “bright sadness.” He says that this is the message and the gift of Lent: that we are invited to enter this season of “bright sadness” in order to experience that mysterious liberation, a liberation that makes us “light and peaceful” by illuminating an inner beauty. He compares this season to “an early ray of the sun which, while it is still dark in the valley, begins to lighten up the top of the mountain.” As our journey through Lent continues, I offer you this image and its call to accept God’s forgiveness and to allow it to unleash in us the calling to become ambassadors of reconciliation. This has everything to do with what congregations are for. So from Milford to Great Barrington, from North Adams to Southborough, may we find this holy season to be a time of “bright sadness” that calls us to do this work God has given us to do. Forgive us, for we have sinned. God has forgiven us. n Yours in Christ, Rich

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At top left, the exterior of Crissey Farm in Great Barrington, and at left, the folding sandwich board sign that denotes the entrance to Grace Church. At right, the community gathered around the table.

The ‘Pop-Up’ Church in the Berkshires By Victoria Ix, Communications Director/Missioner There are “pop-up” restaurants now. Social media alerts tell interested diners where to go and they miraculously appear for one evening in some formerly empty storefront. Grace Church—an Episcopal community in the southern Berkshires—is a “pop-up” church. Every Sunday at Crissey Farm—a popular catering establishment in Great Barrington—the members build their church and then take it down. Why? Because they have no church building. Grace is barely two-years-old. In fact, they were celebrating their second “birthday” the Sunday I visited the community. Two parishes—St. James’, Great Barrington, and St. George’s, Lee —came together to form a new

Christian community. The “why” and the “how” make for a very interesting story. In short, these two communities chose life together. That life exists beyond the constructs and constraints within which most parishes operate. Is it working? You bet it is. I decided to visit Grace Church to see how this community comes into being on the Lord’s Day. When we arrived after 9 a.m., the choir was rehearsing by the huge stone hearth. It’s a beautiful sound— remarkable in tone and quality given the size of the banquet hall. Several folks are at work on the altar—a portable, rectangular folding table. Janet greets us warmly and returns to her preparations. As I take in the space I see there are several subgroups at work. In the entrance a table is set up for welcoming. Lots of good stuff appears—brochures,

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publications, ministry information, a sign-in book for newcomers. Members leave bags of groceries by the door that will go to the Food Pantry. In the back a gathering space is prepared. Another table is dressed and birthday cake emerges with the Grace Church logo on it. Another mantle is adorned with the picture of the bishop. That has to travel, too. There are buckets filled with churchy things on a cart with wheels. Out it comes from somewhere. The buckets are unloaded and the sacred vessels are placed on a table near the windows. Linens appear and are lovingly laid out. Things are looking good—candlesticks, a beautiful bowl for the water that will be blessed and sprinkled on the assembly. The lectern is adorned and the wine poured out. These are not unusual pre-Eucharist preparations, but these things don’t

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normally happen in a place that had a wedding or Bar Mitzvah the night before. It is a total transformation of space—a dedicating for a holy purpose. Most parishes have to build their church just once—and it’s a herculean task, to be sure. But there is something wonderful about this weekly building. The people constitute this church—not the stones or stained-glass. They gather weekly to pray the prayers and break the bread—much like the apostles did at the very beginning—and then they are expelled from the space and challenged to be the church wherever they go for the next six days. The real work of Grace is happening in the local community —at Taft Farm where members and volunteers tend “Gideon’s Garden” — a ministry that brings garden fresh food to hungry families. The real work is at the Food Pantry in Lee begun by the people of St. George’s. The real work is relationship-building and networking with potential ministry partners. When Grace was searching for a new priest-in-charge, the community needed to express this unorthodox worship environment to prospective candidates. John Cheek described the “pop-up” phenomenon for the parish profile as well as some of the distinctive characteristics of worship at Grace. “When the priest is seated for the service, a Tibetan singing bowl is rung indicating the start of our liturgy. The people become quiet, gather and seat themselves... After the sermon, the Tibetan bowl is rung again, and we sit together in silent contemplation until three strikes of a finger cymbal.” The music, too, is eclectic and rich. At Grace the tradition is upheld and it is enriched with the global. “Beauty” and “vigor” accurately describe the Eucharist at Grace Church. It doesn’t feel less “holy” than worshipping in

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Above, the Rev. Dr. Janet Whaley Zimmerman prepares the altar book as the choir rehearses. At right, it takes many hands to make church each Sunday morning.

a traditional stone and mortar church. In fact there is something extra here. In the dining room of a catering establishment, energetic Episcopalians can make one forget the real function of the building. Visitors are enveloped by the warmth of their hospitality and the passion of their prayer. I was left wondering: After the Eucharist and Coffee Hour are over…after the ad hoc meetings take place in small circles about the space and all the holy things go back in their boxes and disappear, I wonder if the events that happen during the rest of the week might just be a little different because faithful Christians have gathered in that place? Does the grace of Grace remain there? I don’t know but the parish ethos is real—just what it says on the website. “Step into Grace where strangers become friends.” Will Grace Church continue to pop up at Crissey Farm? I don’t think the community can answer that question yet, but it will be wonderful to watch this congregation grow up. At two years Grace Church is not finished becoming. But I don’t think this vibrant community of believers will ever be done. It is a work of God’s Spirit among us in Western Massachusetts. A church without a church, Grace is free to engage God’s people in surprising places—to pop-up week after week. Something we believe and hold dear is made evident here. The Church is the people of God. n

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A Refuge for Seekers at Nativity Holy space By the Rev. Len Cowan, Rector In Genesis 28, the Patriarch Jacob encounters God in a dream of a ladder with angels. The Lord stands beside him, calls Himself I am, and restates the The Rev. Len promise given to his Cowan. forbears that Jacob and his numerous descendants would inherit the land on which he was lying and would bless all the families of the earth. Then Jacob heard one more unconditional promise from God: Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. When Jacob woke he said, surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it! How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Throughout the rest of the Scripture God’s people encounter Him in all kinds of places, as He fulfills His promise to be with them to keep them and never to forsake them.  In locations both natural and manmade God shows up, such that those environments, become like the house of God and the gate of heaven. And so it seems to us, the people of the Church of the Nativity, as if

The Refuge has a Christian labyrinth on the grounds. we and others who visit us seem to encounter God powerfully on the plot of land located at 45 Howard St. in Northborough. Whether it’s because our space is, in and of itself, holy, or is made holy by people who gather here to claim the promise of His Presence, we have come to believe that this place which God has given us is an important tool in His hands for opening eyes and ears to see and hear Him more clearly and nearly. Therefore, about 10 years ago, as we were seeking the Lord for a clearer vision of who He wanted us to be and what He wanted us to do, centering in on helping one another and others to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we began to find ways to more clearly mark our buildings and grounds as a place to Him and grow in Him.  We wondered what it would be like to work with God to create a place which more directly led members and guests

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into the Presence of the God, beyond the weekend worship experience. As we prayed about this, one of us got a word from God, or rather, a question: Why should the clergy get all the best real estate?  As we looked at our facility, we realized that the main floor was largely occupied by staff, and that these rooms could be repositioned to become spaces for prayer and encountering God by individuals, pairs, and groups. Further, the first floor Nave, which had earlier been used for all of our worship gatherings, was now no more than half full for two smaller services. And it was one of those places in which people powerfully felt the presence of God even in non-worship times.  We realized that it, too, could be reconfigured to provide more open space to encounter God in nonworship gatherings.  And so began a

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Holy Hospitality By Hallie Cowan, Spiritual Director at The Refuge A key to creating sacred space for others is the ministry of hospitality. Hospitality is both a spiritual gift and a ministry we are all commanded to Hallie Cowan. practice. My husband, Len, has that gift—and I don’t! But after 37 years of marriage, I have learned a few things! Hospitality cannot be massproduced. It must come from the heart.  Cheap hospitality is of no value; the value of true hospitality is in the sacrificial cost to the giver of a gift given freely, with no expectation of return. Jesus showed us the ultimate gift of hospitality when he rose up from his rightful seat at the right hand of God the Father—and opened the door to the Holy of Holies for us— extending His arms and his body to hold the door open for us; saying to us—“Here! After you! Take my seat! This one’s on me!” You know that hospitality was a huge value in Biblical times, and still is in the Middle East. We see Abraham welcoming the three visitors—who turned out to be messengers to him from God! And the writer to the Hebrews says we should extend hospitality to strangers, “for by so doing, some have entertained angels, unaware.” Rahab, in Jericho, is spared from the massacre because she welcomed the enemy Jewish spies and hid them. (Joshua 2)  Elijah expects the

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More can be found on Nativity’s website. starving widow to take him in and care for him—and when she does, she experiences a life-saving miracle. (I Kings 17) We read about Mary and Martha in Luke 10—and we can learn much about hospitality from this little passage! Martha wants so much to please Jesus that she makes a menu and a to-do list that is beyond what is needed, or possible. She wants to do the right thing, but she has taken her eyes off Jesus, and her whole attention is on getting the job done right—on looking good. Karen Burton Mains, in her book, Open Heart, Open Home, distinguishes between hospitality and entertaining: Hospitality is compassionate care for another’s real needs, where entertaining is putting on an event to impress the other, and to compete for social pride.  Jesus (with his whole gang of disciples) didn’t need a seven-course meal!  Mary offered the hospitality that He desired, that He always desires: She looked at Him, welcomed Him, sat attentively at His feet and listened to Him.  She saw Him as a person, not just a mouth to feed. She was in the moment, offering what was needed,

which was not stuff, or action, but a personal welcome and receiving Him. Many years ago, Len and I used to go to a wonderfully hospitable church called “the Barn” in Simsbury, Conn., where there was a retreat center with a river, woods, meadows and a retreat house. We would go once a month for a quiet day with God. Dear lay people from the church would welcome us, put on water for tea, show us a room and then ask what we wanted God to do. We would share briefly, they would pray for us, often giving us a Scripture to reflect on and then they would come back in the afternoon to debrief and pray with us before we left. While they were away at work, they would hold us in prayer. It was very simple, but I felt safe, welcomed, loved and expectant that Jesus would meet me there—and he did. On one of those retreats, I asked God what He wanted to say to me, and I heard, “Hallie, make your home a Refuge!” I spent the day praying and listening, asking God what that

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Holy Discussion The Christian practice of spiritual direction By the Rev. Stan Bohall I am often asked if I enjoy providing spiritual direction. In response, I smile and try to express the sense of joy and fulfillment that comes as I sit with individuals who The Rev. Stan want to discern Bohall how God is working in their lives. Those times of discernment often become “holy conversations.” Of course the point of spiritual direction is not my enjoyment. Rather, the point is to provide holy space and time so that men and women can listen more fully to God’s voice and sense more deeply God’s prodding. Listening and sensing take place during spiritual direction sessions so that they will continue in daily life. My experience as a spiritual director began in 2010 as I was moving out of my role as the pastor of a Baptist church. During that transition, I sensed the Lord leading me into the Episcopal Church, but I did not anticipate becoming a priest. When I asked my spiritual director what I could do vocationally, he responded, “Why not do this? Why not become a spiritual director?” Honestly, the thought had never

“Discovering God’s work in our lives is always a possibility, for God is always at work.” - The Rev. Stan Bohall occurred to me. (See what a spiritual director can do?) At first I resisted, thinking that spiritual direction would be tiresome. As far as I knew, it was a lot of listening to peoples’ problems. Fortunately, I discovered that spiritual direction is far more delightful and profound than I had imagined. So as I sought God’s wisdom, the idea of becoming a spiritual director took root. I enrolled in a two-year training program in the fall of 2010. More than anything that program transformed my perspective on prayer. It became less task-oriented and more about being in God’s presence. I began to listen. I used fewer words. Meditating on the scriptures, rather than studying them, nourished my prayer-life. Indeed, I have discovered that the best way to prepare to meet with people as a spiritual director is to spend time with God and His Word in solitude and silence—and what a peace-filled experience that is! While I was in training, I also discovered that spiritual direction was an early Christian practice. In ancient times, ordinary men and women went into the wilderness to meet with the desert mothers and fathers—those who had spent time alone with God. Today there seems to be a misconception that only “professional” religious people— priests, pastors, nuns or monks— have a spiritual director. Yet, there

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seems to be a growing number of men and women who sit in climatecontrolled rooms with those who have spent time alone with God. Many ordinary people search for a spiritual director during times of transition, pain, loss or sorrow. Those relationships sometimes continue indefinitely. I have been a spiritual director for almost five years. During that time, the meaning of this ministry has unfolded. As a pastor, I enjoyed being “the answer man.” I relished explaining the Scriptures and clarifying theology. I was the preacher, the teacher and the motivator. And yes, there were those administrative tasks. Now, as a spiritual director, my role is to listen and to ask questions that help people consider, and experience deeply, God’s promptings. Discovering God’s work in our lives is always a possibility, for God is always at work. A spiritual director may help you notice, more profoundly, what God is doing. So if you would like to add that dimension to your life, consult the list of qualified spiritual directors in the diocese and give one or more of them a call. Consider discussing how their experience as a spiritual director could enhance your awareness of what God “is up to” in your life. n

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God is Using Us The Rev. Deacon Terry Hurlbut All Saint’s, South Hadley Several weeks before Christmas, we put out an invitation to “get involved, outside our four walls,” not knowing what to expect. We should not have been surprised, but we were! God touched the hearts of over 25 members, who came to make food two days before Christmas. Our members gathered together to make a hot meal, deserts, collect gloves, hats, mittens, sleeping bags, blankets for homeless people in Northampton. The 12 members who visited the Cathedral in the Night service held on Christmas Eve at noon served food, participated in worship, assisted in handing out gifts of warmth. Many others donated food and articles of warmth. Another group—made up mostly of younger parishioners—delivered packages to the Westfield Detention facility for young people on Christmas Eve morning. This group collected, grouped and delivered items that those incarcerated could use. Our hope in going beyond our walls was to let those inside those walls—or who have no walls at all— know that they are not forgotten and that they are loved by God. n

All Saints’ members preparing the meal.

The meal is shared with Cathedral in the Night attendees on a cold, damp Christmas Eve. Abundant Times

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An infant from the Mampong Babies Home in Ghana, left, and the Rev. Betsy Fisher, center.

‘Change the Babies’ A new parish initiative for Ghana By the Rev Betsy Fisher This past January, the Rev. Anne E. Ryder represented the diocese at the blessing of the new teaching kitchen at the Women’s Vocational Training Center. This diocese raised $30,000 for its construction. Now, the young women have a proper “classroom” in which to learn cooking skills. I want to thank the many generous women and men who contributed to this effort and made that blessing day possible. It is with our past achievements in mind that I invite you to consider our next Ghana project—one that will require mindfulness and perseverance if we are to change the life of one poor child. At any given time there are between 35 and 40 babies at the Mampong Babies Home. The babies

are there because their mothers have died and they will remain there until their families can care for them— usually until around age 4 or 5. We are hoping to get 40 congregations to support one child for those five years—to faithfully send spare change which, for them, becomes food, clothing and care—then, we will have shared our daily bread. One congregation—one baby—five years. How will this work? It’s very simple. Place a large glass jar in the sanctuary where everyone can place loose change on the way to Holy Communion. Why there? Why create a noisy distraction from the choir? When we hear the change we remember that we are more than just the people present. We are connected to God’s people all around the world. We are fed to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and that is exactly why it’s appropriate to collect spare change at this moment sacred encounter. My parish, St, Thomas, WHERE,

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has done a program like this for the last seven years. It has been a transforming experience for us. It has empowered a small church to see that they can make a difference. And it has confirmed our faith in the abundance of our God. Perhaps you are worried that there won’t be enough change in your jar, that your congregation will fall short. In my experience, there is no such thing as falling short. Every penny counts. And, even when my parish consisted of only 16 people at the start, there was, miraculously, enough in that jar. When we invite the Spirit in, amazing things are done with the little we have to offer! And if you are a large parish, think of the difference you could make in the life of these children! No matter who we are as a parish, it is an opportunity to have faith in God’s Spirit moving us to live what we believe. n

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If your congregation makes this five-year commitment to change the babies: • The diocese will have the jar sent directly to your parish. • A packet with the label and program instructions will follow. • The parish may elect to do a fundraiser or bake sale in addition to the collection of spare change. Smaller coin collection cans are available at Diocesan House—while supplies last—if families wish to help at home. • The monies raised or contributed should be converted from coin quarterly so the parish can send a check to the diocese with “Babies Home” in the memo. Four checks per year equals $1,500 total. • You will receive the digital newsletter of the Mampong Babies Home, which will
give your community regular updates about the joys and struggles of this small orphanage
 • Becoming aware of the excess of our lives and the great need in theirs will nurture
gratitude and humility. Thank you for considering the needs of these holy innocents. If you decide to help us “Change the Babies,” let us know and we’ll send everything you need to get started. We are about to begin our Lenten season. What better time is there to reflect on our relationship with Christ and how we can make that real in the lives of our fellow humans across the globe, one baby at a time? Blessings, Betsy Fisher+ “...learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan...” Isaiah 1:17

Personal Refuge From Page 11

meant. I heard Him say that my home should be a holy place, first, for me —where I could be safe in the Lord’s presence. Second, it should be a refuge, or holy place, for Len. Third — for our children—and lastly, he said, “for everyone I will send to you.”  Nine months later, much amused, I looked at our guest book and counted about 30 different people each of whom had contacted us and asked if they could come and spend the night, or a weekend, etc.  God was teaching me hospitality! But it began with—“make my home a refuge”—for me! I saw that I did not have any space in the house that was “mine”; “my” desk was in the small porch/TV/guest room.  So I designated a prayer chair there and established a safe place where I could come with expectancy that the same Lord, who met me here yesterday, would meet me again today.  That concept of Refuge followed Len and me to Nativity, as the Nativity Refuge came to life. Henri Nouwen used the term, “making space for God.” I can’t make anyone encounter God —but I can create an atmosphere where that is more likely to happen. “Making Space” is a good image, because it has to do with what is NOT there—my agenda, my clutter.  I like to say that what we do in the Refuge is to “Set the Table, and Guard the Doors.” When you come, the preparation has been made for you to dine in intimacy with Jesus. And so that you don’t need to keep looking over your shoulder to make sure that your enemies are not sneaking up on you, we “guard the doors” by praying for your protection.  Someone said of the 23rd Psalm, that the reason I can eat in the presence of my enemies, is that the Lord has bound and chained them, disarming them completely. The meal is a victory feast of God’s triumph over evil.  That’s my hope and prayer when folks come to the Refuge. n

Editor’s note: Betsy’s invitation was sent to rectors and priests-in-charge for their consideration. Congregations that discern participation will be listed in the spring issue of Abundant Times. If individuals wish to contribute to “Change the Babies,” you may do so via the diocesan website. Click on the “Giving Opportunities” icon found on the homepage. n

Abundant Times

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Taking it to the Streets

Cathedral ministers to the city By Victoria Ix Communications Director

It would be easy to write something cute about the partnership of the Very Rev. Jim Munroe and the Rev. Canon Tom Callard—to call them God’s “dynamic duo.” Dynamic they are but in a way no comic book heroes could ever be. Jim and Tom are engaged in a lively, urban ministry—one that pushes the edges of their “parish” ever wider into the downtown mission field of Springfield. Partnered for just two years, Jim and Tom have launched new initiatives together that require courage, faith and hope. On a regular basis they leave the confines of the cathedral—often with members of the congregation but sometimes alone—to witness to God’s love for the people who need it the most. First, they offered Ashesto-Go—a practice in many of our parishes. The Peter Pan Bus Station became a sanctuary as they made the sign of the cross on foreheads big and small. Their next idea was to offer prayers during Holy Week. They took to the streets vested with a giant sign that read, “How may we pray for you on Easter morning?” I heard about this and decided to follow them discreetly and see what would happen. I watched as they smiled and spoke with strangers. Some, as you might expect, didn’t take them up on their

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The weekly lunch run.

Jim Munroe knows this city and loves its people. Tom is unafraid—eager to climb beneath the overpass of 91 or under memorial bridge—to seek out the homeless Jesus. offer. But the ones who did? They seemed moved and grateful for the brief encounter with grace. Next came the weekly lunch runs. Every Wednesday a group started taking sandwiches and bottled water

on foot to the streets and alleys where hungry folks might be. I watched the interactions. Most were hungry but many wanted prayers and blessings, as well. Food made by the faithful at Christ Church Cathedral was

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The Very Rev. Jim Munroe and the Rev. Canon Tom Collard distribute ashes at the bus station. delivered with sensitivity and care. Jim often called people by name. Relationships were being built one sandwich at a time. Most recently Jim and Tom have led groups of cathedral members into the city at night to bring warm coats and blankets to the women and men who sleep on the street. After many years of ministering to the homeless and to veterans, in particular, Jim knew where to go—where the sleeping spots in the city could be found. I went along one night because Bishop Fisher was joining the Cathedral group. Gathering for instructions and prayer beforehand, the small band loaded up the Cathedral van and headed out into the cold night. Jim Munroe knows this city and loves its people. Tom is unafraid—eager to climb beneath the overpass of 91 or under Memorial Bridge—to seek out the homeless Jesus. Together, Jim and Tom have begun good works that will long outlive their service at the cathedral. They seem good for each other—very affirming of the other’s unique gifts. I asked Tom what it’s like to work with Jim Munroe. “He’s like the best friend you’ve ever had—supportive, enthusiastic, wise,” Tom replied. God has used this wonderful pairing of ministers. Christ Church Cathedral is bigger than ever now. The city is our cathedral. May it ever be! n

Abundant Times

The Cathedral van filled with coats, blankets and people who care.

They took to the streets vested with a giant sign that read, “How may we pray for you on Easter morning?”

Jim and Tom offer prayers during Holy Week.

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Unfrozen

Parish taps culture to minister to families at Christmas By Eileen DeMings

Loosely based on the ever-popular movie “Frozen”, “Unfrozen” (a product of Children’sMinistryDeals. com) starts with God’s promise to us all that a savior will be born unto us. With the help of an all-star princess and prince, two sisters have to find the key to unlocking the miracle of God’s love. In-between each skit there are readings of the Christmas gospel story and beautiful, familiar hymns. What set this in motion was a true sense that God was calling us to do something new and creative. In fact, no one hesitated. We can’t really do this can we? There’s not enough time! We don’t have sets, costumes, everyone is too BUSY. Don’t you know we have shopping to do? None of the typical holiday fears emerged. We began preparing in November (yes November!) for a worship service /play during Advent. We decided to have the service in the afternoon to support the mission to families - to reach those that might not have church going experience but want a “magical” holiday experience. We had 7 weeks to prepare… We rehearsed, we set up. The local grocery store allowed us to give away hot cocoa and cookies to advertise the event.

Unfrozen is a trademarked children’s ministry program that costs approximately $100. This Advent service was a wonderful success. The congregation was in awe of our wonderful cast: Lana Pieczynski, Cat Reith- Lowery, and Nate Lowery and our narrated, Josh Spooner. Yes, they even memorized their lines and used battery-powered microphones! The service set in motion a new beginning for us - to set our expectations high for engaging the community with creativity, with welcome and with the power of God’s love as it is revealed to us in the Word. Stay tuned for unTangled – an Easter story! After all, doesn’t everyone love a happy ending? n

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The cross we made during the healing services. We prayed over the parts of our lives whre we felt brokeness and assembled them in a mosaic on this cross. The end result? A new vision of the body of Christ.

Winterlight 39 What it means to get lost and be found By the Rev. Hilary Bogert-Winkler Interim Missioner for Christian Formation There once was a lost sheep, whose shepherd left the 99 behind and went to look for the one that was lost... There once was a woman who had lost a coin, and she rejoiced with her neighbors when she found it... There once was a young man who took his inheritance early, squandered it, and fearfully returned home, only to be received with his father’s rejoicing...

Abundant Times


Hiking in the woods around Kanuga’s Lake. These stories formed the center of Winterlight 39, a week-long youth event held every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day at Kanuga in Hendersonville, N.C. This year, 13 youths and three adults from Western Massachusetts traveled to Kanuga to participate in a week full of music, games, worship, bible studies and small group time. Our theme was “Lost and Found,” and we spent our week talking and praying about what it means to get lost, be lost, come to ourselves and be found. We all came away with a deeper appreciation for the stories of Luke 15, and for the ways we can rely on our faith and our faith communities to help us in those times when we are lost. Aside from this small group work, we experienced some incredible worship services. Kanuga’s Chapel of the Transfiguration is an amazing worship space and formed the spiritual center of our time “on the mountain.” We were able to participate in a healing service mid-week, and we

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The Western Massachusetts group in front of the Chapel of the Transfiguration. Pictured left to right: Cameron Lapine (All Saints’, North Adams), Heather Macfarlane (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Lauren Norcross (All Saints’, North Adams), E.J. Rice (St. Peter’s, West Springfield), Rev. Hilary Bogert-Winkler (Interim Christian Formation Missioner), Michela Laurin, St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Trevor Ciempa (All Saints’, North Adams), Bob Norcross (All Saints’, North Adams), Sam Sperlonga (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Kaitlyn Thomas (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Jennifer Filiault (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Skylar Reynolds (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Pam Pixley (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Liz Chapman (St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield), Travis Ciempa (All Saints’, North Adams) and Zack Senecal (St. Stephen’s,Pittsfield).

closed out 2014 with an absolutely fantastic Eucharist on New Year’s Eve, before heading in to the dance where we welcomed 2015. Other activities that week included lots of singing and games, workshops and a scavenger hunt. We also participated in a service project, in which we made picture frames for the families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Duke University Hospital. Even more important and lasting

than all of these wonderful activities, though, were the friendships we made. Youth from Florida to Louisiana, North Carolina to Kentucky, Virginia to Massachusetts gathered and spent a week of their winter break together to talk about their faith. Out of this came incredible relationships that will last beyond that week in North Carolina. We can’t wait to head back for Winterlight 40!n

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‘I Feel Happy When I Give’ An interview with Meg Schoenemann facilitated by Bruce Rockwell, Bishop’s Assistant for Stewardship Meg, was there a particular point in your life when you began to see stewardship in a new way? If so, tell us about it. There was a particular time actually. I had always associated stewardship with the monetary contributions I made to whatever church I was attending. I had always given of my time and money to church, right from childhood when we had children’s envelopes. So as I grew into adulthood, it was something I did just because “that’s what we do.” I don’t actually remember when I started completing pledge cards, but when I did it wasn’t with too much thought, and I know there was no prayer involved. I was giving what I thought was a pretty good amount. Sometimes I even looked at the proportional giving charts that accompanied the annual letter/pledge card. So, what changed that? When I came to St. Mark’s and met you! And don’t be embarrassed by that, and readers—don’t think that this was a set up. We are always asking if there is someone who made a difference in our spiritual lives and you are one of those people in my life. I heard and grew to believe that stewardship envelopes all of God’s creation and, by being good stewards, we are giving thanks to God for all that God has entrusted to us. When we feel the tremendous love that God has for each of us and acknowledge that all our blessings come from God, our natural response is THANK YOU!

Meg Schoenemann.

I feel happy when I give. When I make a monetary contribution I do so within a few themes that have meaning for me— church, hunger, housing and education. And we show thanks by being good stewards of all that God has created and entrusted to our care, monetarily and otherwise but Stewardship is so much more than a money matter. So I now believe that stewardship is ALL that we do.

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What role does stewardship play in your spirituality? I am experiencing a closer connection to God as I grow in understanding that everything belongs to God. God created everything, and we are entrusted to take care of all of God’s creation. That’s a big responsibility and requires a lot of faith that we will be able to meet the challenge. I find that I pray more about how to use my financial resources, how to use my skills in the most meaningful way, and how to give back to the world in a way that will make an impact. And how does giving enrich your spiritual life? I feel happy when I give. When I make a monetary contribution I do so within a few themes that have meaning for me—church, hunger, housing, and education. When I give to any of these causes I feel that God is rejoicing and I have helped bring God’s kingdom closer to earth. How do you decide what to give? For my church pledge, I start with 10 percent of my gross income and then sit and look at that number for a while and wait to see what other number my hand writes down! The tithe is always my starting point and does not require thought or prayer —it just is. It’s the amount beyond the tithe that takes some thought and prayer. Then my linear brain takes over and I round it to a nice number. So, I haven’t exactly calculated what percent of my earnings I give to the church! n

Abundant Times


Legacy Stewardship: Inspirational Giving By E. John White, Missioner for Legacy Stewardship Robert’s death was not a surprise as he had been sick for many months. What was a surprise was his legacy gift to his parish. Robert, a lifelong parishioner, did not have money to spare, so his gift of a few thousand dollars caught everyone off guard. The parish was filled with gratitude for all of Robert’s many contributions over the years, but it was his Legacy Gift—his witness—that inspired them to support a Legacy Giving program. If Robert, a man of humble means, believed in the importance of making a Legacy Gift, they could make one, too. Robert’s gift brought “life” to the endowment, for he was someone they knew who actually made a gift in their lifetime. No longer did parishioners see it just as a rainy day account, but rather as a gift to do God’s Plan from many generous, caring parishioners, like Robert, who came before them. The rector and the lay leadership, through planning for a Legacy Stewardship program, began a process of rethinking the mission of their endowment. In the past essentially it was a safety net for emergencies, major building issues and occasionally “bailing out” the yearly budget. Because of the newfound interest in the parish’s endowment, the rector and lay leaders began to share more openly the role of the endowment, its mission, its investment policies and decisions about distribution. They moved beyond thinking of their endowment as a pot of security and broadened the endowment’s mission

Abundant Times

E. John White.

... The new basic driving attitude became one of, “We can never have enough funds—there is always something we can do in service to God.”

This story is based on a parish I have known about. During their time of renewed Legacy Giving, not only did the endowment grow in size, but stewardship awareness, including the fall focus on the annual fund, grew as well. Parish leaders who are clear and open about the mission of endowments and about the importance of giving are parishes that have vitality helping to implement God’s plan in their community. We offer our gratitude to all those who have made legacy gifts making endowments possible and inspiring us to support our parishes to do God’s work in our Diocese now and in the future. Feel free to contact me any time about making a legacy gift or about working with your parish to set up a legacy stewardship program. Contact me at 860-9283705; ejwhite@diocesewma. org. Go on line to diocesan web page www.diocesewma.org for more information about Legacy Stewardship. n

to fund ministries of outreach, of mission, and of social justice. In other words, the new basic driving attitude became one of “We can never have enough funds—there is always something we can do in service to God.”

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Treasures from the Archives Historic windows with diocesan seal rendering By Karen Warren, Archivist Have you visited the administrative offices for the diocese recently? If not, an aesthetic treat awaits you! The windows pictured at right were recovered from the attic of our Cathedral, reclaimed by Canon Steve Abdow for installation in the long corridor at 37 Chestnut—not as windows, but as historically significant art! The windows, covered with decades of dust when found, have been cleaned and carefully restored by Charlie Larson. They have been installed, suspended from the ceiling, with overhead illumination, by Tom Schieding. Each window is 48 inches high and 25.5 inches wide. The Diocesan seal is painted in an upper central panel of each window. It is not known for certain where these windows were originally installed, but it is our belief that they may have been at the 1154 Worthington St., Springfield, property that was purchased in 1906 by the Trustees for the Diocese, to serve as a residence for our first bishop, the Rt. Rev. Alexander Vinton. Convention journals and diocesan histories show that of the many issues of importance to Bishop Vinton, two were: the centralizing idea of a home for the bishop; and an official seal for

Restored windows hanging in the interior corridor of the diocesan offices. At left, the seal of the diocese. the diocese. It was Bishop Vinton’s hope that each of these issues would serve as a symbol to encourage unity among the many scattered parishes of the early 1900s. During his residence at the Worthington Street property, Bishop Vinton had a chapel built in the home. It is feasible that he also installed these windows. Regarding an official seal for the diocese, Bishop Vinton appointed a committee in 1903 to choose an appropriate design. However, following three years without consensus among the committee, the choice of the seal’s design was left to the Bishop. The Diocesan Seal that we now know was meticulously thought out by Bishop Vinton, with great symbolic detail, and declared by an expert to be “sound heraldry.” Mr.

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Pierre de Chaignon la Rose drew a rendering of the Bishop’s vision for the seal, and it was adopted as the official seal of the Diocese at the 1908 Annual Meeting of Convention. Although the rendering of the seal painted on these windows is presented in muted colors (it was intended to be viewed from the outside of the home) the colors of the original design are significant. According to the 1908 Journal of Convention, Bishop Vinton began with the Arms of the Pynchon family as the foundation for the seal, as William Pynchon was the founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, the “see” city of the Diocese. The “argent,” or silver/white background of the chevron sable represents the field ready for harvest; within this field are the “wells of springing waters” (represented by the wavy lines within three circles). The azure (bright blue) border was chosen because it is the color of the shield of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The five counties within the Diocese are represented by the five “escallop shells,” symbols of the pilgrimage from the mother country. In heraldry, an escallop shell represents the badge of a pilgrim. Lastly, according to the Journal, “the shield is ensigned with a mitre and resting on a key and a crozier in saltire (cross).” Clearly, heraldry has its own language! So, although the true colors of the Diocesan seal are not presented as true on these windows, the windows are a thing of beauty, and historically significant. If you find yourself in the area of 37 Chestnut St., please drop in to see our windows. Further information on the terminology of heraldry can be found at www.heraldsnet.org. n

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From the Editor Need headline

It’s been a year since I joined the staff at 37 Chestnut Street. I have loved meeting many of you at diocesan and parish events. The ministry of communications is all about people—connecting, sharing and telling our stories. It has been a joy to receive and edit stories from around the diocese. In fact there is so much good news to share that keeping it all to 24 pages has been tricky! We love the challenge, and we want you to keep sending us stories of faith and mission—moments in your congregational life that have touched people deeply or moved the community to growth and change. Here are a few ways we can stay connected: • Have you “liked” our diocesan Facebook page? Yes, it’s a “page” not a “group.” The diocesan FB group remains strong and active, but the FB page is our officially WMA news feed. You’ll find photo albums of recent events, news that feels more “real time,” and advertising for what’s ahead. www.facebook.com/ episcopaldioceseofwesternm. • Are getting Mission Matters— the digital newsletter from the diocese? MM is published every other Thursday now and delivered via email. It is the most important communication platform for us. To subscribe simply click on the

subscription box on the homepage of the diocesan website. Give us your preferred email address, and we’ll do the rest. Note: if you unsubscribe from our email provider, Constant Contact, you will lose Mission Matters, announcements from the Bishop’s Office and “21st Century Congregations”—a wonderful series from our three canons. So if you unsubscribed and you’ve missed us, just subscribe again and the news will begin to flow your way. • Have you visited our website lately? A diocesan website is first and foremost a repository of important information. If you need a form or a document, try looking under “Parish and Clergy Resources.” If you can’t find it there, we have a “search” box on the homepage. Call or email me if you still can’t find it. Sometimes, a new Webmaster can put things in silly places—until they get a sense of the logic of the site and what’s most important. It is part of my ministry to help you find what you need. This is good start. If you “like” our FB page, get Mission Matters via email and periodically visit our website, the flow of communications between you and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will be healthy and secure. Thank you all for your welcome and support of our communications ministry. It is a joy to serve real people in real churches who are about “Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope.” n

Got news? Contact Victoria at: communications@diocesewma.org or 413.737.4786, ext. 124.

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The Refuge From Page 10

yearlong project of rearranging our space to provide what we came to call “The Refuge,” a “house of God” in which every piece of furniture, every piece of art, every shaft of light, is designed to be used by God to lead people to Himself. We also worked on the exterior space, both buildings and grounds, to create locales where visitors could pause in the presence of nature and devotional elements to meet God: a labyrinth, stations of the cross, a memorial garden, benches, patio sets and wooded trails.  The fruit has been obvious. We have seen more people encounter God more regularly in these places since we did what Jacob and countless others after him have done, marking and defining and arranging holy space to note and highlight the Presence of God in our midst. A recent comment from a guest tells the story.  He says, in years past, this was always a bustling place; now it’s a peaceful space.  We who work and visit and worship in this place regularly seem to meet Him more regularly, powerfully, and fruitfully. The transformation hasn’t been without its problems.  It sometimes seems as if we swing between seeing our space as a shrine to seeing it as a campus, neither of which are particularly oriented toward encountering the Living God who sends us away from this place in mission.  We don’t yet know whether the congregation of Nativity as a whole owns this vision of a sacred space which transforms.  But we have seen God at work in this.  Some of us have taken this concept into our world, inviting God to create a Refuge in our homes, offices, schools, backyards and neighborhoods, so we can meet God and invite others to meet Him. n

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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 Nativity Refuge

‘No walls’

Downtown Ministry

The Rev. Len and Hallie Cowan tell the story of the Nativity Refuge.

A church without a church.

Bishop Fisher joins the Cathedral ministry to the people of downtown Springfield.

Pages 10, 11

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Pages 16, 17

Donations for the cost of Abundant Times are being accepted this year. The cost per household per year is $10. Gifts can be mailed to Diocesan House at 37 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA, 01103-1787.

Abundant Times -- WINTER 2015  
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