Sing a New Song Pre-Convention Issue
Table of Contents 3
From the Bishop
Let Justice Roll: Climate, Race, and Gun Violence
What happened at the 80th General Convention?
An Agenda for Episcopal Bishops
“Church Better Together” The story of collaboration between Zion Lutheran and Church of the Reconciliation
H2H Interview: "I always leave the jail inspired."
Three Congregations Collaborate on Youth Service Trip
Deacon Goes Home to Uganda with Gift for Girls
In Their Own Words: Books by WMA Authors
Around the Diocese
Parish Administrators Connect: Wellness
Cover photo: Canva.com
ABUNDANT Times is the official news publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. The diocesan offices are located at: 37 Chestnut Street Springfield, MA, 01103-1787 Call us: (413) 737-4786 Visit us: www.diocesewma.org Follow us: @EpiscopalWMA
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher 9th Bishop of Western Massachusetts, Publisher The Rev. Vicki Ix Managing Editor Alison Gamache Layout and Copy Editor
At Diocesan House
The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson Canon to the Ordinary Susan Olbon Canon for Administration The Rev. Vicki Ix Canon for Communications
The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith Missioner for Spirituality and Leadership The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas Missioner for Creation Care The Rev. Christopher Carlisle Director, Building Bridges Veterans Initiative The Rev. Jennifer Gregg Missioner for Servant Leadership The Rev. José Reyes Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries
"I guess this article about a new song has become about an old truth. God is love and love is stronger than death (and everything else)."
Bishop Doug Fisher
Bishop Doug Fisher outside Christ Church Cathedral. Photo: Episcopal WMA
From the Bishop The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher 9th Bishop of Western Massachusetts
he theme of our Diocesan Convention this year is “Sing a New Song.” I believe it was John Lennon who said, “In the end everything will be ok, and if everything is not ok, then it is not the end.” To that I’ll add a quote from one of my favorite theologians. Walter Wink wrote: “History belongs to the intercessors who believe the future into being.” Everything is not ok in our world right now. The plague of gun violence in our country gets worse by the day. Climate change is not coming. It’s here now. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing unimaginable suffering. I could add so much more to this litany but I would rather turn to the wisdom of John
Lennon, Walter Wink, Michael Curry, St. Paul, and Mary the Mother of Jesus. Everything is not ok, so it is not the end. Remember Michael Curry gives us a definition of our mission: “We are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it.” St. Paul tells us over and over again that in Christ we are a New Creation. We are already a New Creation in a world that is a nightmare for so many. We are a new creation because we hold on to the dream, we pray the future into being. And our prayer leads to action. Statistics tell us that in many churches fewer people are coming to Sunday worship since COVID-19. And, of course, I think we need faith communities more than ever. We need to pray together and to be reminded that we are already a New Creation. We need to hear those
difficult but true words of St. Paul: “suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” We need to say with Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior… for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name.” I guess this article about a new song has become about an old truth. God is love and love is stronger than death (and everything else). But we need to sing a new song about that old truth to ourselves and to a world that longs to hear it. “Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever (Ephesians 3:20-21).” ♦ +Doug ABUNDANT TIMES
Back In-Person, New Venue Saturday, November 5th, 2022 From the Secretary of Convention Dear Friends in Christ, The 121st Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will be held on Saturday, November 5 beginning at 8:30 a.m. As noted in the first Convention mailing, we are pleased that, after two years of virtual conventions, we will gather in person at a new venue: The Conference Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
COVID-19 Protocol for Convention
• To moderate the number of people in the conference center
Wende Wheeler, Secretary of Convention Photo: submitted
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for the day, Alternate Delegates (who are not attending in place of a parish delegate) are asked to attend remotely. • We ask all who will attend in-person to take a rapid COVID-19 test at home that morning. We rely on your care for the common good to do so. If you test positive, or if you have any symptoms, please attend remotely. • Additionally, all delegates will be required to mask except when eating or drinking. • Virtual attendance via Zoom will be available for those delegates whose health concerns make in-person attendance difficult. All delegates attending remotely will have the ability to vote via Simply Voting and Zoom, and to have voice via Zoom. You will be asked to indicate your attendance preference at the time of registration.
Full details of the convention can be found on the convention website: www.conventionwma.com. As we approach the convention, you will find all necessary documents here.
Registration for Convention
The registration fee this year is $25 per person. Each registrant will be asked for their email address, status at convention, and any dietary or accessibility needs. Visit the convention website and click the registration button. Registration closes October 30.
Bring Your Parish Banners
If you have a parish banner, please plan to bring it to Convention when you come on Saturday for display in our Convention space.
Throughout our convention the Daughters of the King (DOK) will be offering prayers for Convention and all requested prayers. Please go to the FOR DELEGATES page of the convention site to record your confidential prayer request. All prayer requests will be passed on to the DOK prayer team.
Plan to bring your parish’s UTO offering to Convention.
Smart Device Needed for Voting
We will once again use the Simply Voting platform for elections and any additional resolutions. All delegates will need access to a “smart” device in order to access the voting platform.
On Thursday, November 3, two preConvention meetings will be held via Zoom. • At 5 p.m., Diocesan CFO Kim Foster will hold a Budget Hearing. Please Note: This is not a formal presentation, but rather an optional opportunity for delegates to ask any remaining questions related to the 2023 Financial Plan, after having taken the time to review the plan. A formal presentation reporting on Diocesan Finances will be provided at Convention. • A New Delegate Orientation and Simply Voting Platform Orientation will be held at 6 p.m. ♦ Faithfully, Wende Wheeler Secretary of Convention
This year's convention will be our first at UMass Amherst. Photo: UMass Amherst
Chaplains to Convention
The Rev. Dr. Nina Ranadive Pooley
The Rev. Martha Sipe
The Rev. Anna Woofenden
Rector, St. Stephen's, Pittsfield
Pastor, Christ the KingEpiphany, Wilbraham
Rector, St. John's, Northampton
Diocesan Ministries for Lay and Ordained The Standing Committee
"The ecclesiastical authority of the diocese in the absence of a bishop. [...] The Standing Committee is elected by the diocesan convention. Half of its members are clerical, half lay. It serves as the bishop's council of advice. The Standing Committee is requested to give consent for all bishops elected in the Episcopal Church. It recommends persons for ordination. It gives the bishop advice and consent on the purchase, sale, or encumbrance of any property held by a congregation or the diocese. It gives the bishop advice and consent as to any judicial sentence given to a clergy person or concurs in allowing a clergy person to cease functioning as a member of the clergy. It investigates and reports to the bishop on the charge that a deacon or priest has abandoned the Episcopal Church. It also receives the bishop's resignation." - An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church
Photo: St. John's, Northampton
Synod deputies meet together with others from the various dioceses of Province I. Various subcommittees coordinate activities that can be shared among the dioceses.
Deputies to the 81st General Convention
The General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church. Every three years it meets as a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese. GC81 will be held in Louisville, KY in the summer of 2024. ♦
The Diocesan Council is a representative governing body that serves as an oversight between conventions. The Diocesan Council meets regularly to ensure the diocese runs efficiently and effectively.
The Disciplinary Board consists of four clerical members and three lay members. The Disciplinary Board is an adjudicatory body to hear and determine charges of offenses and misconduct against members of the clergy, all as defined in Title IV of the canons of the Episcopal Church. 6
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Photo: Episcopal WMA
Who Is Running For Election This Year This issue of ABUNDANT Times was sent to the printer on September 20, 2022. Additional nominees may be found on the convention website.
Position Disciplinary Board
• The Rev. Dr. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Williams College • The Rev. Patricia O’Connell
• Ms. Mary Martin, Christ Church Memorial, North Brookfield
The Standing Committee
• The Rev. Tanya R. Wallace, All Saints’, South Hadley
• Ms. Phyllis Larson, Christ Church Cathedral
• The Rev. Michael Tuck, Trinity Episcopal Church, Lenox
• Ms. Maggie Sweeney, Saints James and Andrew, Greenfield
Lay Deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church
• Mr. John Cheek, Grace Church in the Southern Berkshires, Great Barrington • Ms. Meg Galbreath, St. Mark's, East Longmeadow • Ms. Alexizendria Link, St. Luke’s, Worcester • Mr. Jimmy Pickett, Holy Spirit, Sutton • Ms. Amanda Watroba, Trinity Episcopal, Lenox
Clerical Deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church
• The Rev. Jason Burns, St. John’s, Northampton • The Rev. Charlotte Laforest, St. Andrew’s, Longmeadow • The Rev. Eliot Moss, St. John’s, Athol • The Rev. Dr. Nina Ranadive Pooley, St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield • The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson, Canon to the Ordinary • The Rev. Samuel J. Smith, All Saints, Worcester • The Rev. Michael Tuck, Trinity Episcopal, Lenox • The Rev. Tanya R. Wallace, All Saints’, South Hadley • The Rev. Meredyth Ward, retired
Let Justice Roll: Climate, Race, and Gun Violence The Rev. Vicki Ix Managing Editor, ABUNDANT Times
n April 9, 2022, people of faith gathered in downtown Springfield to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline that would run from Longmeadow through a residential neighborhood in the city.
The rally at the Courthouse was sponsored by the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and 57 local and statewide organizations, including these Episcopal and UCC faith communities: • All Saints Episcopal Church (Worcester) • Christ Church Cathedral (Springfield) • Environmental Justice Team (First Church, Longmeadow) • Grace Church (Southern Berkshires) • Grace Episcopal Church (Amherst) • St. John’s Episcopal Church (Northampton) • St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (East Longmeadow) • Social Justice Commission (Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts) “Local opposition to this toxic pipeline has been fierce,” writes Margaret Bullitt-Jonas in her blog (www.revivingcreation.org). “Arguments against the pipeline include its negative impact on public health, its risk of sparking fires and explosions, its high cost to ratepayers, and its acceleration of climate change—just when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared a 'code red' for humanity.” Since the action, the Springfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the state to halt the Eversource plan. Pictured top right, The Rev. Cristina Rathbone, Grace Church, Great Barrington; The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas; and The Rev. Thomas P. Synan (Grace Church, Amherst). To the right, Edith Adams Allison of Grace, Amherst holds her sign high. ♦
n June 18th, Episcopal clergy were visible at the Mass Poor Peoples and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington. The Presiding Bishop called for presence to show our church’s commitment to the core values of the Poor People’s Campaign. Led by The Rev. William Barber and The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, the Poor People’s Campaign is calling our nation “to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.” (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org) To the right, The Rev. Jason Burns, deacon at St. John's, Northampton, posted a selfie from the assembly. ♦
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Bishop Fisher takes a turn at the forge. Photo: Episcopal WMA
n June 25th Swords to Plowshares Northeast came to Springfield. The Rt. Rev. Jim Curry, retired Bishop of Connecticut, arrived with his portable forge for a demonstration sponsored for several local churches. After Sandy Hook Elementary School, Curry decided to do something. He decided to take the barrels from guns turned in to authorities and turn them into garden tools. This public witness of prayer and action not only reinforces God’s dream for non-violence, it also engages the participants in the physical act.
The Rev. Laura Goodwin’s retirement began with a bus ride to DC. On her Facebook page, Laura posted a photo taken when she bumped into UCC clergy colleagues amid the sea of marchers.
After Jim explains the process, people line up, put on fire-safe gloves and goggles, and then wait their turn to hammer away. All the powerlessness we feel as our government sputters and stalls, the sorrow that fills our hearts with news of another elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and the anger that courses through our bodies as we long for an end to gun atrocities—all of it can be brought to the anvil. It is a new kind of liturgy for our time. I was changed by what I witnessed and my soul felt deep joy. Swords to Plowshares will be visiting the Berkshires on November 12th. ♦
hile descendants of enslaved Africans have marked “Freedom Day” for many decades, diocesan offices were closed in observance of Juneteenth for the first time on the Monday following the newly established Federal Holiday. A Sunday in 2022, the bishop encouraged congregations to mark the holiday within the Sunday celebration. The Beloved Community Commission of our diocese curated liturgical resources for celebrating Juneteenth. In an informal Facebook survey, 82% of respondents said that their Episcopal congregation celebrated Juneteenth “and it was great!” ♦
The Rev. Cristina Rathbone (right) with two members of Grace Church, Great Barrington. They went home with new tools for Gideon’s Garden. Photo: Episcopal WMA
(L-R back row)The Rev. Phillip Shearin, The Rev. Samuel Smith, Mr. John Cheek, Bishop Doug Fisher, and The Rev. Eliot Moss. (L-R front row) Mr. Andrew Piper, Ms. Alexizendria Link, Ms. Meg Galbreath, The Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud, and The Rev. Tanya Wallace. Photo: submitted
What happened at the 80th General Convention?
Broad strokes from a virtual attendee The Rev. Vicki Ix Managing Editor, ABUNDANT Times
he 80th General Convention was held in Baltimore, MD July 7-July 11. Due to rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, plans for a typical 10-day gathering were scrapped in favor of a shorter, leaner agenda. A select planning committee moved resolutions that spurred little or no dispute to the Consent Calendar. This expedited the shortened process and allowed sufficient time for deeply concerning matters to be discussed on the floors of both houses. Thanks to great coverage from the Office of Public Affairs, Episcopal News Service and Deputy News, I was able to track progress on the most critical resolutions. The livestream from both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops meant constant discernment. Each day I found myself in and out of both assemblies, though more often, I tracked the program in the HOD.
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Our deputation worked from early morning through lunch and into the early evening. Led by the Rev. Tanya R. Wallace, lay and ordained deputies convened daily with the bishop to process the work of the convention. Tanya fed me images throughout and responded to every text. It was “the next best thing to being there.” The values we espouse, pray into being, and sustain by grace, were well in evidence in the 415 resolutions considered at GC80. Here is a very short list of resolutions that matter deeply to me and to many in our Church. • A127 Resolution for Telling the Truth about The Episcopal Church's History with Indigenous Boarding Schools • A003 Uniform Paid Family Leave Policy • A050 Support collaborative efforts with Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to place historical markers • A060 Endorse Guidelines for Expansive
and Inclusive Language • A140 Urge The Episcopal Church and Constituents to Designate Indigenous Peoples’ Day • B003 Regulating Ghost Guns and 3D Printed Guns (Proposer: Bishop Doug Fisher) • B008 A Call for the Cessation of Conflict in Ukraine • C004 Inclusion of June 19th, "Juneteenth" in the Church's Liturgical Calendar in Recognition of the End of Slavery in the United States • C030 Addressing Anti-Semitic, AntiJewish, and/or Supersessionist Interpretations of our Lectionaries • D019 Acknowledgement of Indigenous Lands There are so many more! If these intrigue you and you want to know more about what our Church deliberated and decided in the power of the Holy Spirit, visit: www.generalconvention.org/about-gc80 ♦
Bishop Fisher blogged each day of the General Convention. Below is his final post which emphasizes how the Church is meant for a time such as this.
Day 5: An agenda for Episcopal Bishops July 12, 2022
key moment at the House of Bishops meeting at General Convention began with a question. Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows asked Presiding Bishop Michael Curry this: “What should the agenda of Episcopal Bishops be?” Michael thought for a moment and then spoke from the heart. Here is part of what he said: “I’m very concerned about this country that I love, potentially being on the verge of living out the opposite of unselfish, sacrificial love. How can we help this country to bind up our wounds, to learn to live democracy, and to be truly a country where there is liberty and justice for all. That’s at stake…If we can help our people to find their voice and claim the values and ideals that most
people probably believe…we can help to heal this land, and help this country join with others and heal God’s creation…I believe this House, the people in this room, you are so smart, so capable, and faithful. There may be the capacity to find our voice – not a partisan voice, but a follower of Jesus voice- that might help our people and our churches, and then, maybe in turn the sensible center that is in this country, and in this world, to find its voice… I can’t sit back and watch this country self-destruct, and neither can we.” His statement came from his soul and speaks to the present moment in our country. One example of following up on this call to heal was the statement we adopted two days later called, “Climate and Our Vocation in Christ.” The statement says “Climate change and environmental degradation are manifestations of our tuning away from God.” Then it lists the many ways that so much is made worse by climate change. And then calls on us to act: “If we hope to treat all migrants with dignity, we must address climate change so droughts, floods, and extreme weather don’t force people to flee.
If we hope to build peace, we must address climate change so that competition for scarce resources doesn’t drive further violence. If we hope to ensure that every child of God has enough to eat, we must address climate change so that the bountiful earth can continue to support and sustain food systems that nourish people and the soil.” (House of Bishops: Expressing the Mind of the House on Climate and Our Vocation in Christ) The statement continues with our belief in the Resurrection of Jesus that gives us a message of hope to tell the world. “Climate and Our Vocation in Christ” serves as an example of finding our voice and calling for healing in our country and our world. But we have more to say and, more importantly, more to do as Church. For many reasons, I think the 80th General Convention will be a significant one in The Episcopal Church. Thank you for reading my reflections in these daily blogs. It’s been good to share this experience with you. ♦ God bless you. +Doug
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry addressing the House of Bishops. Photo: screenshot
Bishop Fisher, Bishop Hazelwood, and the Bastians at the Celebration of New Ministry. Photo: submitted
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“Church Better Together” The story of collaboration between Zion Lutheran and Church of the Reconciliation Paula Clark, Zion Lutheran Church, Oxford Isaac Gilliard, Zion Lutheran Church, Oxford Cindy Osowski, Church of the Reconciliation, Webster Mark Rogers, Church of the Reconciliation, Webster Pastor Michael Bastian, Zion & Reconciliation This piece is reprinted with the permission of the New England Synod, ELCA.
t is always a stressful and diﬃcult time when a priest or pastor leaves a church. For Zion Lutheran of Oxford, MA and Church of the Reconciliation in Webster, MA this was pointedly diﬃcult in 2020. Both of the congregations had to deal with the resignations of their pastors, and both came to the painful realization that they could no longer aﬀord a full-time clergy person. The questions this realization raised were existential. Each had to ask whether the congregation could thrive or even survive with a part-time pastor. What would having a part time pastor look like? Would we need to close the doors? The leadership of both the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the New England Synod ELCA raised the idea of the two churches sharing one full-time pastor. By definition, one of us would be under the leadership of a pastor from a diﬀerent denomination. This sparked lots of conversation between congregants of both parishes. Both Zion Lutheran and Church of the Reconciliation are churches with between 130 and 150 years of proud history. Both have a small and very close community. Both are very comfortable with who we were, the way we did things… and all were comfortable with our regular pews! In short, two churches with great traditions. However, tradition can be stasis. It can be paralyzing. It was a challenge for both congregations
to come to grips with the idea of not being independent or completely selfsuﬃcient. We had to ask whether it was pride that was making us hesitant. The Council and Vestry met together on many occasions, sometimes jointly and sometimes separately but always prayerfully. Under the guidance of Rev. Sara Anderson (Associate to the Bishop) and Rev. Rich Simpson (Canon to the Ordinary) discussions progressed and it was agreed we would jointly call a Pastor/Priest-in-charge to serve both congregations. This all happened while COVID-19 restrictions were in place, so the interview process promised to be very diﬀerent than the norm. Finding candidates was challenging. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit intervened and brought us the application of Pastor Michael Bastian. This situation was diﬀerent indeed. Pastor Michael is a German-born dual citizen of his birth country and the U.S. He was serving a parish in Germany at this time of our search. He has spent considerable time in parish positions in the U.S. with his American-born wife, Susan. He was finishing up a three-year call in Germany and wanted to return to the U.S. The entire interview process, negotiations and eventual call were done via Zoom. Pastor Michael was called and accepted the call without any of us ever meeting in person! It should also be noted that the two churches have diﬀerent call procedures, which also needed to be navigated. While the decision to call Pastor Michael was an easy one, the fact that he would
be splitting his time and that he is a Lutheran clergy person by ordination took prayer and an open mind for the parishioners of Church of the Reconciliation to, well, reconcile. We established a joint relationship committee made up of members of both congregations’ leadership and general membership. There were practical matters for consideration: How much does the new pastor get paid? Who handles the pension payments, health insurance, etc.? When will services be held? Will there be joint services? What about Holy Week? There were a myriad of other questions to be answered. Under Pastor Michael’s leadership we moved forward by adopting a new way of being church as we decided to be “Church Better Together”. This was our joint vision. This took prayer, open hearts and open minds. It also took full transparency of the process and openness with both the questions and the answers. Pr. Michael began his ministry at both churches in October 2020. The partnership between Zion Lutheran and Reconciliation has evolved by celebrating our faith in outdoor services at both sites; many, many Zoom meetings; joint Bible studies; and several in-person fellowship events. Despite the challenges of the pandemic with all its limitations, something started to blossom under the detritus of fear and worry that both congregations had been experiencing. During 2021, we offered joint services at Continued on next page ABUNDANT TIMES
Easter, Pentecost, at the end of August, the Blessing of the Animals in October, as well as Blue Christmas and the joint service of Lessons and Carols in late December. And, finally, after twice having to postpone it, in June 2022, we held our service of installation/celebration of new ministry for Pr. Michael. Both Bishop James Hazelwood and Bishop Doug Fisher (Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass) led through the celebration worship service.
500 cans of pasta last fall and another 601 cans of soups during a Souper Bowl of Caring drive in January. All were delivered to the local ecumenical food pantry.
Serving two congregations in two synods/dioceses requires adaptation,
In early 2022 our two parishes joined an Afghan Resettlement Neighborhood
From December through March, we gathered hats, gloves, mittens, socks and scarves for the local library. They are on the shelves for young families, elderly, the homeless and anyone who needs them! The response has been amazing.
Under Pastor Michael’s leadership we moved forward by adopting a new way of being church as we decided to be “Church Better Together”. This was our joint vision.
good communication and collaboration. Our partnership continues to grow. While there have been some growing pains, we continue to overcome and learn from them.
As we explore common mission with each other, our efforts continue to be marked by faith, flexibility and creativity. We are two small congregations, but we are resilient and we are generous. This has become evident in the area of our joint outreach ministry. Both Zion Lutheran and Church of the Reconciliation decided early in their evolving partnership that joint outreach efforts would be a great way to work together, get to know each other and support our communities near and far. While each congregation had established outreach ministries, we were committed to explore and support new efforts together. Over the past two years, our joint outreach and social ministry program has grown into something active and present in our communities. In two separate events our parishioners donated
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Support Team (NST) under the umbrella of Ascentria. Our family was a household of ten people from Afghanistan and included two parents and eight children with a baby soon to be born. We are assisting the family during their resettlement to the U.S. In the beginning, this included members providing support to the parents and two eldest children to write a grocery list as part of an ESL lesson. The time spent together always includes tea together. The gift of a children’s tea set proved a big hit! Before too long, Cindy, one of the NST team members, became the family’s “American Grandmother”. In April during school vacation we assisted another volunteer in taking the mom and seven children to the EcoTarium Science museum in Worcester for an outing! Even though they spoke/ read very little English they had a great time! The playground there was a great outlet for their boundless energy. During May, Zion Lutheran and Church of the Reconciliation sponsored a baby shower through an online registry and help from other NST member churches.
There were a couple of trips to Walmart with Mom to decide what items she needed for the baby. May ended with a combined baby shower and engagement party for the oldest son! The family provided a goat entrée and NST members brought side dishes. The event was a wonderful testament to what can be accomplished when many hands are available and churches collaborate. Volunteering has continued with weekly ESL for the dad and eldest son as well as for the mother and eldest daughter. The baby was born in June and is a constant joy for all. One of our NST supporters sums up her experience with the following quote: “I turned eighty this spring and cannot believe how excited I am to be on a journey with this Afghan family of eleven who are learning about life in America! I am proud to be their American Grandmother!” Our next effort at collaboration is to host “Building Bridges”, a community veterans’ group. Zion Lutheran and Church of The Reconciliation will offer a hot meal that is shared with those attending and provide fellowship for veterans in the Worcester corridor. We have a good thing going and we want to share the good news! There are many other small triumphs we could share, but the point is we could not be as effective without one another! We are small, but we are resilient and we are generous. Our congregations support one another spiritually and socially. We challenge one another to do better, to be better in collaboration! What it means to be Church is changing and we will all be changing with it. This will result in diﬀerent courses of action for individuals and organizations. For Zion Lutheran Church and Church of the Reconciliation it means living into “Church Better Together” and we are! ♦
Mary D'Alessandro, Episcopal Chaplain, outside the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center. Photo: screenshot
"I always leave the jail inspired." Mark Rogers Acting Director, Human to Human
"Mary is a wonderful example of 'being church' outside the walls of our sanctuaries. Human to Human is privileged to support Mary in this mission." - Mark Rogers
n early 2018, Bishop Fisher appointed Mary D’Alessandro as the Chaplain for the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee. Since that time, Mary has been supporting women in that facility with group meetings, individual meetings, prayer, classes, reentry assistance, and more.
Mark Rogers (MCR): Can you tell us why you do what you do?
Mary’s ministry is partially supported by Human to Human. It has been over four years since Mary began this ministry as the appointed chaplain. Mark Rogers, acting Director of Human to Human, had a conversation with Mary. She shared where the program is right now and where it may be going.
MCR: Why is that?
Mary D’Alessandro: Well, there is a need and I feel called to help ﬁll that need. I love listening to the women. I hear about their past, I feel their resilience, learn about their hopes and their desire to do better. I never leave the jail uninspired.
Mary: These women simply want to be listened to in a non-judgmental way. When that happens, they open up and begin to articulate things about their life. They talk about their fears, their challenges, and their hopes for the future. As they say, if you can mention it,
you can manage it. It is truly inspiring to see that happen. MCR: What services do you oﬀer the women and how has that changed over the years? Mary: One of the most popular things I provide to them is a book called Free on the Inside: Finding God Behind Bars by Gretta Ronningen. Before COVID-19, I used to do a lot of group meetings and classes. I would give rides to a woman’s new location on release and things like that. I do more one-on-one meetings now. The most frequent question I ask is, “May I pray with you on that?” I am beginning to provide transportation again and am leading a class called Self Discovery. We discuss values, strengths and weaknesses, and relationships. Through a program called Love in a Continued on next page ABUNDANT TIMES
Backpack, started by St. John’s in Ashfield, we are able to provide a backpack to women upon their release that has things like toiletries, snacks, underwear, feminine products, etc. What I have come to realize is that Love in a Backpack is about a lot more than the “stuﬀ” in the bag. This backpack is often all they have in the world upon release from the prison. It is theirs—all theirs. It represents a new beginning for them. I had one woman once say to me, “This is like Christmas morning! No, this is better than any Christmas morning I have ever had.” MCR: Do you offer religious services for the women? Mary: Yes, on occasion. Sometimes it happens spontaneously. When I visit the units on Sunday mornings women may ask to meet as a group on the rec deck and we will join together in prayer. It’s always striking to me that they seldom pray for themselves but they consistently pray for one another. It’s a humbling experience. MCR: Do you have any success stories you can share? Mary: A success is anytime that these women and I talk, connect, and learn about each other as human beings. I don’t often have a lot of contact with the women after their release, but one moment stands out. I was in the parole oﬃce with a newly released woman when someone I had worked with came in. I had not seen her in the year since her release. She was there to have her ankle bracelet removed after successfully completing parole. She was so happy. We hugged and she told me she was drug free, working, and getting her kids back. She shouted, “I’ve done it!” MCR: That kind of meeting must make it all worth it. Mary: It does, but I can honestly say I have never had a day I spent with these women when I wished I had not come. MCR: Mary, thank you for all that you do. It cannot be easy, but we all see your commitment and the value you bring to these women. Mary: I am in a unique position. I am not a corrections oﬃcer, I am not a counselor, I am not even their friend. But when they are listened to by someone who does not deﬁne them by their worst day or their addiction, it truly matters. They are women. They are sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. My hope is that they can begin to articulate that what they want is a better life for themselves and their families, and that they can start to believe it is possible. ♦
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Human to Human is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts committed to resourcing emerging frontline ministries within and beyond the walls of our churches.
Human to Human supports organizations to do Gods justice by sharing Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion & hope in the world. Find out more: www.humantohuman.org Ready to give? Scan here
Mark Rogers Photo: H. Simpson
Three Congregations Collaborate on Youth Service Trip Reynolds Whalen Saints James and Andrew, Greenfield
n August 20th, the youth groups of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield, Grace Church in Amherst, and St. Michael’s on-theHeights in Worcester saw God in many ways, and with many new people. The Greenfield youth and their leader Reynolds Whalen started the day early, leaving from Saints James and Andrew at 7:15 a.m. with donuts provided by 7th grader Desmond and his family. They parked at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, where they met Grace’s priest associate, the Rev. Megan McDermott, and members of their youth group and
piled into a rental van together.
helping with diapers and packs of literacy materials and the Greenfield crew taking After an hour-long drive, the group charge of giving out backpacks. With arrived at their first destination, St. the beginning of school coming up, Michael’s on-the-Heights in Worcester. Marie’s Mission had collected dozens They were greeted by the rector, the Rev. of backpacks filled with school supplies. Dave Woessner, and introduced to one of There was a range of exciting options, their church’s most important outreach including Spiderman, Disney princesses, ministries Marie’s Mission, named in butterflies, unicorns, and camouflage. memory of a parishioner’s daughter who they lost as an infant. Every month, the The group met many families throughout ministry serves around 75 families and the morning, and saw joy in the eyes of distributes 4,500 diapers. many children, as they got to pick out their own backpack for the school year. After a brief orientation, the group split up the work with the Grace youth Continued on next page Logan and Desmond from Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield setting up the backpack distribution table Photo: submitted
During Noonday Prayer in the sanctuary of St. Michael’s on-the-Heights, the group reflected on their morning of ministry. They noted that most people being served by Marie’s Mission were people of color, and how important it is to remember that our society is full of institutions meant to keep people in
Venezuelan cachapas. It was a blazing hot afternoon, and several kids sought out the shaved ice carts for some sweet relief as they walked around visiting booths. After tossing a frisbee, the group got back in the van for their final stop, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer.
listening to Brother Mikah as he showed them around the cloisters and introduced them to his Cistercian monastic way of life, which focuses on two main endeavors: work and prayer. The contrast of the simple, peaceful contemplative environment with the chaos of our dayto-day lives was striking, and you could see the fascination in the eyes of our young people.
"With the beginning of school coming up, Marie’s Mission had collected dozens of backpacks filled with school supplies." poverty, especially people of color. From there, the group went to the Worcester Latin American festival on the town common. A huge stage blasted Latin beats, and the common was filled with vendors. Everyone ate delicious food, including arepas, beans and rice, chicken skewers, fried plantains, and
As they drove up the hill and the abbey came into view, time seemed to shift. One of the monks, Brother Mikah, met them in front of some stone arches and led them quietly around the side of the chapel and through a private door into the dark and sacred hall leading to the monks’ enclosures. They spent the next hour in hushed silence, following and
The day culminated in amazing homemade brownies, made for the group by the monks, which they enjoyed before piling back into the van for the ride home. Everyone ended the day exhausted, and yet definitely more spiritually full than when they started it. The three parishes are hopeful this might be the start of more collaboration and community among youth from their communities and from across our Diocese of Western Massachusetts. ♦
Marie's Mission is also supported by Human to Human.
The group visiting St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA. (l-R) Brother Mikah, Logan, Abigail, Amory, Reynolds Whalen, Henry, Tom, James, Julia, The Rev. Megan McDermott, and The Rev. Dave Woessner. Photo: submitted
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Rev. Beatrice Kayigwa in Uganda. Photo: submitted
Deacon Goes Home to Uganda with Gift for Girls The Rev. Beatrice Kayigwa St. Paul's, Gardner
n July 2022, I traveled to Uganda to deliver 2521 packets of reusable sanitary kits to Ugandan girls and to encourage them to continue their studies. I am always glad for the chance to visit my home country. The idea of getting reusable sanitary kits for the Ugandan girls started as a dream two years ago. We heard stories of some girls who stay home from school when they get in their monthly cycle because they could not afford sanitary products. Staying home for a week adds up to 12 missed weeks of school each year, which makes it difficult for them to keep up with school. The idea continued to grow within our deacon family, and we started talking to people about it so that they could join us to raise funds to buy 2,521 kits. We teamed up with organizations and community leaders in Uganda to find schools where the girls were finding it hard to afford sanitary products. The
students in tailoring classes at a Connect Africa Foundation vocational school made 3,000 kits for us at a reasonable price which served 1,000 girls. From AFRIpads, an organization based in Uganda, we purchased 1,521 packets. We negotiated a price with them which came to about US$4 per packet of four pieces. We visited 26 schools in two different archdeaconries and dioceses. One of the schools was Muslim founded, and the school administration was very happy to be included in our program. My joy was elevated when we visited Kiwawu, my childhood elementary school. The schools are quite a distance from each other over bumpy roads. For eight days, from morning to sunset, we travelled from school to school. Our journey was not disturbed by any rain, although it was needed as there hadn’t been rain for several months and the crops were drying up. At each school, we gathered with students and teachers in a hall. We prayed
with every school. After this holy time, the boys and the younger girls would go back to their classrooms while the older girls would remain with us to learn how to care for their kits. The kits are reusable for 12 months, so they needed to know how to keep them clean. After this short training, we gave the kits out. The smiling faces of the girls testified how happy
they were to receive these kits. No more missing school anymore! I want to thank everybody in our diocese for making this trip possible. As a deacon, I was very much humbled to take your gifts of reusable sanitary kits across the globe to the needy schools. ♦
In Their Own Words: Books by WMA Authors
ere are a few of the newest books from WMA authors. Some have written several titles and, for others, this is their first. In addition to works that are theological and formative for the Christian life, this round-up includes a novel and a children’s book. We are happy to introduce you to the writings of six local Episcopalians whose faith is at the core of their work. ♦ - The Rev. Vicki Ix, Managing Editor
Seeing the Unseen: Beyond Prejudices, Paradigms, and Party Lines The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith
Missioner for Spirituality & Leadership “In our increasingly polarized world, there are forces and voices that want us to limit our vision and take refuge in our political, ideological, and spiritual silos. Using stories, scripture and personal reflections, the book explores opportunities for people to see in more expansive ways—and to find common ground in the midst of tension—which happens to be in the DNA of our 500 year old Anglican tradition.” ♦
Photo: Episcopal Diocese of Newark
The Creation Care Bible Challenge The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas Missioner for Creation Care
"The Creation Care Bible Challenge includes 50 short passages from the Bible, each one accompanied by a brief meditation, a few questions, and a prayer. This book—almost small enough to slip into your pocket—makes a fine companion for individuals or small groups interested in daily prayer and in considering what Scripture has to say about the natural world. I enjoyed composing a meditation on the story of Adam naming the animals—the other contributors chose passages ranging from Exodus, the psalms, and the prophets to the Gospels, Romans, and Revelation." ♦
Photo: Tipper Gore, 2014
For Theirs Is the Kingdom The Rev. Chris Carlisle
Founding Director, Building Bridges Veterans Initiative “Ben Cabot, a millennial Boston lawyer is deployed to Montreal, where he chances on “Cathedral in the Night” and its renegade priest, Luke Hale. In a bankrupt time of ambition and greed in and outside the church, Cabot embarks on a spiritual journey through the privileged life he is living.” ♦ Photo: buildingbridgesveterans.org
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My Dear Far-Nearness: the Holy Trinity as Spiritual Practice
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"Years of prayer and study have convinced me that the God we know in three Persons—as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—can be experienced directly in our daily lives as three facets of our awareness. My Dear Far-Nearness: The Holy Trinity as Spiritual Practice takes its title from the name that a 14th century mystic, Marguerite Porete, used for God. Drawing from Scripture, the creeds, Christian mystics from the 2nd century to the present, and contemporary psychology, My Dear Far-Nearness shows how we can attune ourselves to God’s presence and live in union with God, who dwells within and among us. For more information, visit the book’s website, www.mydearfar-nearness.org." ♦
The Adventures of Chirpy Tanya S. Lewis
Trinity Episcopal Church, Shrewsbury “Nature gives me inspiration to use my imagination, to create a story of how fascinating nature is and the life cycle it provides to our universe. For children, giving a voice to the creatures enables them to understand the real relationship we have with creation.” ♦ available exclusively from Apple Books Photo: tanyaslewisbooks.com
This is God's Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls The Rev. Anna Woofenden
Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Northampton "While This is God’s Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls is about a particular model of church (outdoors in an urban farm), in a particular place (an empty lot in the outskirts of Los Angeles), my prayer is that it is a story for here and now. As readers walk through the liturgical year with the Garden Church community, they are invited to see how the Holy Spirit might be inviting you to find church beyond the walls in your community here and now." ♦
Photo: St. John's, Northampton
Around the Diocese wvw
Welcome to Western Massachusetts The Rev. Julie Carson Holy Spirit Episcopal Church Sutton
he people of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Sutton have called the Reverend Julie A. Carson to serve as Interim effective September 6th. Julie's first service will be Sunday, September 11th.
The Reverend Laura Goodwin, the first Rector of Holy Spirit, led her last service on June 5, their patronal feast of Pentecost. Laura walked with the people of St. Andrew's, Grafton and St. John's, Sutton toward a new community of shared faith and resources. Holy Spirit emerged with a new name and thriving mission in 2017. Julie comes to us from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Framingham where she has served as Rector since 2007. Prior to that she served as Assistant Rector for Family Ministry at St. Andrew's, Wellesley from 2000-2007. Formed for ministry at Andover Newton Theological School, Julie was awarded the M.Div. in 2000. She was ordained priest by Bishop Thomas Shaw on June 5, 2004. Julie is married to Phillip Carson and they are the parents of twins, age 16. ♦
The Rev. Julie Carson Photo: Phil Carson
A B U N D A N T TIMES
Parish Administrators Connect:
Karen Warren Administrative Assistant to the Canon to the Ordinary
arish administrators are an integral part of the work of our diocese. How much work could be done without them? And the work is not easy. The term “multi-tasking” is a misnomer. Studies have shown that juggling numerous tasks concurrently is not truly more productive. Juggling is likely less productive than focusing on one task at a time. Given an admin’s workload and responsibilities, working on one task at a time is nearly impossible. Everyone needs support on a regular basis. But before I say more about that, it’s important to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on our work and in our lives. As of this writing pandemic has been part of our lives for 30-some months. We’ve adapted--getting through the shock, shut downs, disappointments, losses, and adjustments to our lives— very difficult times. There have also been new learnings, surprises, flexibility, and reminders of how precious life is. I wonder, where are we now in this new way of living? In early 2020 most everything shut down and this made life very confusing. Now how do we do our work? Zoom appeared on the horizon (it was there all along, but underutilized) and we found new ways to do the work. There were shifts and adjustments. We experienced losses in both our personal and work lives, and I wonder if we recognize those losses and are working through the grief.
Working in the administrative offices of the diocese, I don’t get out to the parishes, and only meet our admins through emails or phone calls. I wondered how they were doing, and offered them a way to connect with each other via Zoom. A handful responded, and we checked in with each other, discussing how work-life had changed. Some admins were working in isolation either at home or in an office. Discussion included coping strategies and making connections. It was an informal, friendly discussion. Milford’s Magee Lambert was there with us, and she is dearly missed. During that first stressful year, my coping strategy included filling my life with books and DVDs outside of work—giving thanks for our fabulous library system. Free stuff! Daily walking and exercising are also my “go-to” for survival. Phone calls to friends became ever more important. Video calls with out-of-state friends was truly a gift.
voice. Journaling is a great means of expression. No one else ever has to read what you write. You don’t even need to re-read it. Just lay it down on paper. So as we adapt to what we name as “new normal” please ask where you are now. Take the time to recognize what you personally lost during pandemic, and grieve. We move forward only after we bid farewell to what we leave behind. Life continues to be stressful. Some is unrecognized. Take a break; take a walk. Recognize how adaptable you truly are. Breathe. See what’s good in the “new normal.” For me, Zooming across the states with those I love, and the ability to work hybrid hours, inoffice and remote—these are the best. Treat yourself well; you deserve it. Your contribution to the diocese is essential, recognized, and holy. Find quiet time. Stay connected. Be well. ♦
Everyone adapts and manages stress in different ways. Recently someone mentioned the word “depression.” It made me wonder if we are acknowledging those things we lost during this long-endured time. I thought about my personal disappointments in early 2020 when everything I looked forward to was cancelled or shut down. The way life used to be. Giving this some serious thought, I turned to my journal. I named each loss that was so important to me at the time, and gave them
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