The Texas Episcopalian the Occasi o t on ng i : s i
A Year of Change R
iew 2020 in Rev
3 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
THE TEXAS EPISCOPALIAN (SINCE 1874) IS AN OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF TEXAS. Our mission is to share the stories of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas; to inform, to inspire. PUBLISHER:
The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
EDITOR: Tammy Lanier, email@example.com DESIGNER: STAFF WRITER:
Angela Hider, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paulette E. Martin, email@example.com
Ellen Singer, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL SUPPORT: Kathy Hood Culmer
The Texas Episcopalian is published annually in January by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, 1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504. Periodical postage paid at Houston, TX. Address changes may be emailed to: email@example.com POSTMASTER: Address changes: The Texas Episcopalian,
1225 Texas St., Houston, TX 77002-3504 © 2021 The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Founded in 1838 by the Episcopal Church as a mission to the people of Texas, the Diocese of Texas has been led continuously by the Holy Spirit to plant ministries and congregations to partner with and serve the wider community. Today the diocese spans more than 46,000 square miles and encompasses 57 counties. We are headquartered in historic downtown Houston with offices in Austin and Tyler. Led by the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, the ninth Bishop of Texas, the diocese is more than 300 clergy, 165 congregations, 85 missional communities, 22 campus missions, chaplaincies, foundations, institutions, and 76,000 parishioners serving our neighbors. We embrace all people with mutual love and respect. We are one Church reconciled by Jesus Christ, joining God’s mission to reconcile others and build up the kingdom of God.
A Year of Change CONTENTS 06 08
Leading with a Purpose A Letter from Bishop C. Andrew Doyle
10 Updates from Our Bishops 16 Rounding the Globe 19
Empowering Missional Communities
22 Discerning the Call to Ministry 24
Campus Ministry Happenings
News in Ministry
Racial Justice Initiative
45 Ensuring Access to Healthcare and Serving the Community During COVID-19 51 Hispanic Congregations 57
Helping Churches Pivot
Parishes Serving Their Neighbors
Feeding the Hungry
Embracing Our Seniors
81 Guiding Our Youth 84
Working for You
Small Church Network and Online Community
Work and Accomplishments in Our Parishes
Institutions and Programs
Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:16-17
Leading with a Purpose
C. Andrew Doyle Bishop Diocesan C. Andrew Doyle The Rt. Rev. Doyle became ninth Bishop Bishopthe Diocesan Rt. Rev.ofDoyle became of Texas in 2009. The The ministry a bishop is tothe ninth Bishop of Texas in 2009. The ministry of a bishop is to represent represent Christ and his Church, particularly Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief as apostle, chief priestpriest and pastor of aofDiocese; and pastor a diocese; to guard the faith, unity anddiscipline discipline of of the to guard the faith, unity and thewhole church; to proclaim the word of God. whole church; to proclaim the word of God.
ff W. Fisher shop Suff ragan e Rt. Rev. Fisher was elected Bishop ffragan in 2012 by the clergy and urch representatives of the Diocese Texas. As Bishop Suffragan, in dition to other significant duties d responsibilities, he helps Bishop oyle perform confirmations and ists churches in the Eastern and orth Eastern Regions of the Diocese.
Kathryn M. Ryan Kathryn M. Ryan Bishop Suffragan Bishop Suff ragan The Rt. Rev. Fisher was elected The Rt. Rev. Ryan was elected BishopThe Rt. Rev. Ryan was elected Bishop Suffragan in 2012 by the Suffragan in 2019 by the clergy and Bishop Suffragan in 2019 by the clergy and church representatives church representatives of the Dioceseclergy and church representatives of the Diocese of Texas. As Bishop of the Diocese of Texas. As of Texas. As Bishop Suffragan, in Suffragan, in addition to other Bishop Suffragan, in addition addition to other significant duties to other significant duties and significant duties and responsibilities, and responsibilities, she helps Bishop responsibilities, she helps Bishop he helps Bishop Doyle perform confirmations and assists churches Doyle perform confirmations and Doyle perform confirmations and in the Eastern and Northeastern assists churches in the Western assists churches in the Western Regions of the Diocese. Region of the Diocese. Region of the Diocese.
Jeff W. Fisher
Hector F. Monterroso Philip M. Duncan BishopBishop Assistant Assisting Rev. Monterroso TheThe Rt. Rt. Rev. Duncan servedwas as Bishop of Costa Rica for 14 years bishop of the Diocese of the Central before he came to the Diocese of Gulf Coast (2001-2015). Following Texas in 2017 to help Bishop Doyle. his Monterroso retirement, visits he and wife Kathy 45his congregations moved to the Austin be closerinto during year,toprimarily the family and heRegion periodically assists Southern of the Diocese of visitations Texas. He also to grow with and works confirmations multicultural for athe Diocese ofpresence Texas. in our
The Rt. Rev. Duncan seerved as Bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast (2001-2015). Following his retirement, he and his wife, Kathy, moved to Austin to be closer to family, and he periodically assists with visitations and confirmations for the Diocese of Texas.
Christine M. Faulstich
Canon to the Ordinary Russ Jr.Faulstich was The Oechsel, Rev. Canon Archdeacon appointed Canon to the Ordinary in Th e Rev. Oechsel was appointed 2019. She mentors rectors, clergy Archdeacon in 2009.bi-vocational An new to the diocese, priests, transitional deacons, Archdeacon is a clergy person pastoral leaders, pastoral appointed by the bishop toleader provide interns, and interim clergy. administrative assistance and other leadership to congregations and church organizations in the diocese.
hristine M. Faulstich anon to the Ordinary e Rev. Canon Faulstich was pointed Canon to the Ordinary 2019. She mentors rectors, clergy w to the Diocese, bi-vocational iests, transitional deacons, storal leaders, pastoral leader terns, and interim clergy.
A larger geographical entity within the diocese is called a convocation. It is geographic and usually includes one metropolitan area with surrounding counties. Texas has ten convocations, the head of which, nominated by the bishop and elected by council, is called the "dean." The dean arranges meetings of the convocational clergy to provide fellowship, contiuing education, communication, moral support for clergy It and families and gather lay members to share ideas and projects. Deans are ex-officio hin theplanning dioceseand is called a convocation. is their geographic andtousually includes one members of the Executive Board of the Diocese. ding counties. Texas has ten convocations, the head of which, nominated by the bishop
he “dean.” The dean arranges meetings of the convocational clergy to provide fellowship, Galveston, The Rev. Jim Liberatore, St. Andrew’s, Pearland San Jacinto, The Rev. Gerry Sevick, Trinity, The Woodlands cation, planning moral clergy and their families and to gather Southeast, and The Rev. Keithsupport Giblin, St.for Paul’s, Orange Northeast, The Rev. lay Mitch Tollett, St. Francis, Tyler ects. Deans are ex-offi cio members of the Executive Board of the Diocese. Northwest, The Rev. Aaron Zimmerman, St. Alban's, Waco West Harris, The Rev. Josh Condon, Holy Spirit, Houston East Harris, The Rev. Victor Thomas, St. James’, Houston
Central, The Rev. Daryl Hay, St. Andrew’s, Bryan
Austin, The Rev. Bertie Pearson, Grace, Georgetown
Southwest, The Rev. Travis Smith, Holy Comforter, Angleton
tore, St. Andrew’s, Pearland
San Jacinto, The Rev. Gerry Sevick, Trinity, The Woodlands
n, St. Paul’s, Orange
Northeast, The Rev. Mitch Tollett, St. Francis, Tyler
mmerman, St. Alban's, Waco
omas, St. James’, Houston
West Harris, The Rev. Josh Condon, Holy Spirit, Houston Central, The Rev. Daryl Hay, St. Andrew’s, Bryan
7 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
A Letter from Bishop C. Andrew Doyle IX Bishop of Texas
Dear Friends and People of the Diocese of Texas, I am happy to greet you in this new year. Before we look forward, let us look back for a moment. Though it seems a long time ago, we began the year 2020 with regional pre-council meetings and a successful diocesan council where we celebrated the work we had done together. Council was capped off with the announcement of the $13 million Racial Justice Initiative. Lent began soon after with news of COVID-19 in Asia and Europe. By March, we had moved to online worship and began the process of ministering during the time of COVID. I am so grateful for how you, the clergy and leaders of the diocese came together in a time of loss and anxiety. You moved your parishes online for worship, bible studies, prayer and reading groups. You showed ingenuity. You have experimented and learned new ways to worship, new ways to work, and have taken deep dives into technology. These beginnings will create evangelism opportunities well into the future. They will change how we stay connected to the infirmed and homebound, as well as how we welcome new members into our communities. As time has shifted, you have maintained the safety and health of your congregations by guiding each through the rise and fall of your community’s COVID case count. You have followed the guidelines and kept one another safe. In the midst of a global health disaster, you found ways to meet the needs of your people and then turned your eyes to your neighborhoods and the wider world. Parishes have worked diligently to meet the needs of their communities by: keeping them safe with mask-making and distribution; feeding the hungry- hosting food giveaways and food drives; caring for the sick and elderly- doing what could be done from afar, given social distancing restraints. You have found ways to mourn, to celebrate weddings, and baptisms. Our efforts through St. Vincent’s House, El Buen Samaritano, and Episcopal Health Foundation were increased to ensure stability across our 57 counties – helping the poorest and least among us. We also continued to wrap up our Harvey response and rebuilding efforts. Special giving to ERD and the Archbishop and Anglican Communion initiatives was combined with other giving during COVID to ensure response globally by our church. At the diocesan level, we mobilized to support you through $5 million in grants and, more importantly, by visiting with you regularly. Here, we have borne witness to the grace each of you have given one another and the grace you have given your diocesan staff. 8 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
COVID was not the only trial we faced. We witnessed in 2020 more division and discourse surrounding politics than ever before - from the highest points in government to the walls within some of our homes. Arguments about science related to medicine and climate change, along with political debates, moved from homes into parishes. Your diocesan staff provided online resources for "Having Difficult Conversations." Meanwhile, job loss, because of COVID responses by businesses, created greater food insecurity, economic losses, an increase in numbers of people having to choose between trying to remain safe and keep their most vulnerable family members safe or putting themselves at risk through their necessary work on the frontlines. Throughout our uncertainty, our diocese has come together, remained engaged, offered solid leadership in our varied contexts, offered compassion, and stayed flexible as we entered these uncharted waters. As lay and clergy leaders of the diocese continued to gather with your diocesan staff, we have continued our work to plant churches, form missional communities, and strengthen campus mission work. Your diocesan staff has continued to work through boards, task forces, and committees, along with you, to revitalize churches, reinforce Christian formation, share resources and ideas, and collaborate on other important work. Together as a diocese, we celebrated the new location of a church that suffered unspeakable losses during Harvey. Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Houston purchased a new church in the midst of a pandemic. Regarding the Racial Justice Initiative, I want to report to you that the committee was formed. Scholarship dollars were given to Seminary of the Southwest to award the first scholarships and begin the work on campus of developing racial justice education and formation for future leaders of the Episcopal Church. The committee has created grant applications and, even now, the first scholarships and awards are being granted to students and churches. This is only part of a diocesan and institutional vision for the work. We have continued our work with congregations across the diocese through Episcopal Health Foundation’s congregational engagement and our own work through the Racial Justice Initiative and Intercultural work (see www.edotracialjustice.org). While we continue our efforts to diversify the staff, clergy of the diocese, and our boards, our work expanded into the wider communities. I, and other Episcopalians, participated in the Houston Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force, among other projects. Lastly, let me tell you how grateful I am for our ministry together over these last 12 years as I have served as your bishop. I completed my planned 360 review. We are going to post a video series for you to watch that will inform you about the process, the results, and how far we have come as a diocesan family. I have included in that video our future 5-year goals for the diocese and for your diocesan staff . Normally, I get out and visit with you about the results and our future. We have decided that because of COVID - assessment of the effects of COVID and recovery from COVID – I will get out and visit each convocation in person to talk about this work during the spring of 2022. I am looking forward to the next 5 years. I believe we have a lot of work to continue and other good work ahead of us. After visiting with leadership and undertaking over 160 phone calls, we see that there is a great deal of pride across the organization in the resilience of congregations. There is clearly an affection for each other. We have a deep appreciation for the importance of connection in our congregations and wider diocese. There is joy in the fellowship we have achieved. We see clearly and hear from you (as I mentioned) of the new permanence of digital technology in worship and the use of technology for the sake of mission. We are also challenged; this year has shown us a pastoral approach to stewardship as people have felt a need to be low-key. Yet, those congregations that have historically done well in difficult times had an easier year regarding stewardship. We have realized that strong and healthy stewardship practices on a regular basis make difficult years easier. There is need for maturing our stewardship practices for 2021 and the future. We have remained focused upon the prioritization of our fundamentals: worship, fellowship, mission. These will be challenged as we move forward online and in person. Our COVID experience reveals the continued need for formation around evangelism (theology and practices) and need of formation/engagement, specifically with young families, neighbors, guests and visitors. The Texas Episcopalian reveals some of the stories that highlight the amazing work we have done together. I hope you will read them and find them as inspirational as I do. When I was elected 12 years ago, I could hardly imagine the time we have had or the events that have transpired. I could not have known the honor it would be to walk with you during this time. I have seen true joy, abundant grace, expansive love, and a vision of hope from you, the people of the diocese, for each other and the wider world. We know the vaccine is here, and we have a long spring until its effects take hold. We will make this together. We will mourn our losses together and name the names of the saints who have perished because of COVID. We will be courageous together. We will take each day and week as a step towards God’s reign. We will embrace God’s mission and the work of Christian evangelism and service to the world. We will do so because Christ walks with us, buoys us with the Holy Spirit, and beckons us to follow. Indeed, we will go where Christ goes and walk in his well-worn footsteps in order to join him in transforming the world in which we live. I am grateful to take these next steps into our future with you. As I have prayed often this year, “God, we give you thanks for tasks, work, and mission that demand our best efforts, and we are grateful for a goodly fellowship with whom to do the work.” 9 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
Updates from our Bishops 10 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
AN UPDATE FROM BISHOP RYAN The Rt. Rev. Kathryn M. Ryan Bishop Suffragan - West Region The Interim Rector of All Saints, Austin, the Rev. Lane Hensley, recently pointed out that I have spent as much time as a bishop during pandemic as I did before the pandemic began. Like other crises we have experienced in the diocese, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped how we carry out our mission but has not altered our call to join in Christ’s work of reconciliation through evangelism and service. As your bishop suffragan, I have been privileged to experience the creative ways we have rediscovered this truth in 2020. Ministry moved with palpable momentum at the beginning of the year. Prior to March 15, I made nine parish visitations, presided at ordinations to the priesthood for the Revs. Cameron Spoor, Beth Woodson, Minerva Skeith, and Hannah Pommersheim, and dedicated the new construction at St. Alban’s, Waco. These headlines point to enormous dedication and generosity by lay persons and clergy who collaborate on building the Church so that Christ is known, worshiped, proclaimed, and served. At each gathering, I heard creative ideas and a passion to serve Christ in ways that transform lives. At the beginning of March, when the danger of pandemic was becoming known, that sense of momentum shifted. Grateful for the leadership of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, who led the difficult decision to move the March House of Bishops meeting online, and of Bishop Doyle, who led the difficult decision to suspend in-person worship in the diocese, I joined others across the Church as we learned to be present to each other and to God through Zoom and other digital technology. My visitation to St. Christopher’s, Killeen, on March 15 was the first to be disrupted. I was grateful for the Rev. Steve Karcher’s flexibility and quick work to allow for my remote participation. Looking back on my first self-recorded sermons, I became aware of the grace extended to me by those who watched from home! Though changed in format and focus after March, the work with clergy and congregations continued to be at the center of my ministry throughout this year. With the help of members of the Mission Amplification team, I received and approved plans for regathering worship and activities for the congregations and campus ministries in the four convocations in the west region. Additionally, I stayed connected with clergy and lay heads of congregations through Zoom calls to consider questions and needs arising in their contexts and explored challenges and blessings with vestries and bishop’s committees. These conversations explored the theological, spiritual, and practical implications of proposed courses of action. Similar conversations were happening in remote gatherings of the House of Bishops and remote gatherings of the Diocese of Texas bishops. By summer, we had adjusted, holding the graduations for Iona School and Seminary of the Southwest online and ordinations, on behalf of other dioceses to which travel was difficult, for two deacons and one priest with very limited congregations. I was honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity from SSW at their online graduation. By the end of 2020, I had participated remotely or outdoors in 27 unusual visitations. As the year came to a close, I was gathering with congregations for Sunday worship and building dedications, the installations of new rectors and confirmations, and returning to key ways bishops minister to the diocese as signs of unity, sharing authority, and the equipping of the people of God. Yet, we were worshiping and gathering remotely or outside, or both, wearing masks and observing physical distancing. This, too, reflects the heart of our mission. Out of love and concern for our neighbors and one another and out of our love for God, we wear our masks and worship remotely. When we are able to be together, the people of our congregations will carry with them learnings that can continue to be put to service for the gospel. West Regions Institutions and Ministries In addition to overseeing the west region, my portfolio includes several diocesan institutions and ministries. 11 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Continued... Each strived to modify and continue operations safely. The heads of the organizations and the executive chairs of the boards worked tirelessly to achieve this end. St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, led by Chris Gunnin, Headmaster, and Beth Ozmun and then Chris Oddo, Executive Chairs of the Board, shifted to remote learning and gracefully managed the needs of local day students and domestic and international boarding students spread across time zones. During the summer, the faculty undertook continuing education to enhance their digital teaching skills and be ready for a hybrid effort in the fall. Seminary of the Southwest moved to fully remote classes, worship, and community events in the spring and added some in-person instruction and outdoor worship on the Mot during the fall. Over the same months, the seminary celebrated a successful capital campaign to fund renovations and construction for a new learning center and library. Dean Cynthia Kittredge, Bishop Doyle, who chairs the Board, and Clarke Heidrick, executive chair, led the seminary to advance the vision even while adapting to remote learning. El Buen Samaritano’s board was in the middle of a strategic planning process in the first quarter of 2020. The EBS Executive Director, Dr. Rosamaria Murillo, led the staff to shift operations within two weeks of the governor’s stay-at-home order to meet the exploding nutritional needs of families in Austin arising due to school closures and employment losses. EBS partnered with the City of Austin and with other community agencies to distribute $1.5 million in emergency funds to support Austin’s neediest residents. Vickie Blumhagen, executive chair of the board, served as an able partner to Dr. Murillo and me, keeping the board informed and engaged in guiding and supporting Dr. Murillo and the EBS staff. The Iona School for Ministry, which offers local formation for ordained and lay ministries at Camp Allen 10 weekends a year, also shifted to a remote model in the spring. The Revs. Mark Crawford and Mary Lenn Dixon, deans, and Laura McAlister, administrator, and the instructors and students are to be commended for their flexibility and creativity. By the fall, Iona was able to offer a hybrid model, with students and instructors gathering at Camp Allen or participating remotely when necessary. I also coordinate and oversee post-seminary/Iona formation for our new clergy and clergy new to the diocese. The Curate Cohort and First Time in Charge programs for stipendiary priests in their first two years and two Beginning Well cohorts, one for bivocational priests in their first two years and one for clergy new to the diocese not serving as curates, aim to support clergy by establishing peer cohorts, relationships with senior clergy mentors in the diocese, and offering content helpful in developing priestly identity and effectiveness in ministry. Time together, both formal and informal, is a key component of these programs. With the efforts of Haley Townsend, my executive assistant who handles the administrative duties, and the mentor/facilitators: Katie Wright, Les Carpenter, Daryl Hay, Kellaura Johnson, Marcea Paul, John Johnson, Terry Pierce, Trawin Malone, and Angela Cortiñas, these programs also have continued remotely and in hybrid form. Appointed as Executive for Ministry Last fall, Bishop Doyle appointed me as Executive for Ministry to manage the ordination process for the diocese. A complete report on the Commission on Ministry and the numbers of aspirants, postulants, and candidates is contained in the Journal. The Rev. Francene Young, chair of the Commission; the Rev. Dean Calcotte, former head of the Examining Chaplains; the Rev. Patrick Hall, new head of the Examining Chaplains, and the Rev. Pat Richie, chair of the Committee on the Diaconate, as well as Ana Gonzales, COM administrator, have assisted me in stepping into that role and have done excellent service for the diocese. Other Highlights During 2020, I was honored to preach at Diocesan Council in Waco and at the Convention of the Diocese of Western Louisiana. I began my official bishop formation, attending the Living our Vows program of the College for Bishops with Tim in February and the College for Bishops “residency” remotely in June. For the broader church, I serve on the House of Bishops’ Planning Committee, busied this year with establishing norms and programs for remote sessions of the HOB. I also serve on the Board of Trustees, Sewanee. This year I served Sewanee’s Board of Trustees as Chair of Church School Relations Committee. I continue to be deeply grateful for the privilege of serving with Bishops Doyle, Fisher, and Monterroso, from whom I am learning so much, and with the other members of the executive team and the diocesan staff. Despite the many challenges of 2020, together with the faithful clergy and lay people of the diocese, we continue to move forward boldly in God’s mission. Tim and I give thanks that God has called us to serve the Diocese of Texas and her people. 12 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
AN UPDATE FROM BISHOP FISHER The Rt. Rev. Jeff Fisher Bishop Suffragan - East and Northeast Regions The year 2020 was a year of going back to basics. Through a year of pandemic, national elections, racial reckoning, and a loss of physical presence with one another, we have gone back to the basics: Jesus Christ. Living through a year of pandemic and through the death and disease of family and friends, we were painfully reminded of the fragility and uncertainty of human life. The Church is the people of God; the cornerstone is Jesus Christ. The basics are Jesus and his love. It was mid-March when Bishop Doyle met with me and the other bishops of the diocese over Zoom to discuss the need for our churches to meet virtually for the next few Sundays. At the time of that meeting, we had no idea how long those next few Sundays would last. During that time, I kept my Sunday visitation schedule, participating virtually in worship only with the congregation I was “visiting.” These Sunday “visits” were followed up with a Zoom meeting with the church’s vestry or bishop’s committee. Additionally, I have maintained communication with clergy in the East Region (San Jacinto, Northeast, and Southeast convocations) using Zoom, one-on-one phone conversations, open forums, and sometimes by just shooting the breeze over coffee outside in a church parking lot. Together, we went back to the basics. Our Retired Clergy and Spouses, like so many others, have experienced challenges during this time, which can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation. To assist me in pastoral care to these wonderful clergy and their spouses, we have a fantastic team of Chaplains to the Retired Clergy: The Rev. Janne Osborne, Pam and the Rev. John Bentley; Sam and the Rev. Nan Doerr; the Rev. Nancy and the Rev. Bill DeForest. In 2020, Joanne and the Rev. Bob DeWolfe retired from faithful service in the Northeast convocation, and the Rev. Cliff Rucker is now serving in that position. Our annual retreat for Retired Clergy, Spouses and Surviving Spouses was postponed until the fall of 2021. The Episcopal Seniors Foundation (ESF), that I chair, invites grant requests from congregations and ministries who seek to foster healthy living for seniors. In 2019, the board awarded its first grants to St. James, Austin; San Pedro/St. Peter’s, Pasadena; and St. Francis, Tyler. Given the pandemic in 2020, rather than solicit new grant requests, the board went back to 2019 grant partners to address greater needs in their ministries to seniors. ESF is currently in the midst of a multi-year grant to Camp Allen that assists with sponsorship of the annual Abundant Living Conference for aging adults and seniors. Small Church Network, made up of laity and clergy in congregations with an average Sunday attendance of 50 or fewer, usually gathers twice a year at Camp Allen. We were able to have an in-person gathering in early March at Camp Allen, where Stephanie Townes from the Mission Amplification team of the diocese presented on the topic of “Christian Education and Formation in Small Congregations.” The September gathering, however, was offered via Zoom. Its theme was “Online Community in Small Churches” and was led by Ellen Singer from the diocesan communications team. Throughout such a challenging year, the bonds between small congregations were strengthened as they have shared resources, supply clergy, on-line offerings, and provided a shoulder to lean on for one another. The World Mission Board, which I co-lead with the Rev. Meredith Crigler, coordinates our companion relationships with three dioceses: North Dakota, Costa Rica, and Southern Malawi. During 2020, the board offered grants and assistance to all of our companion dioceses and to other ministries around the world, as everyone is in significant need. In January of 2020, we welcomed Bishop Alinafe Kalemba of Southern Malawi for a visit with people in our diocese, beginning in Austin, then Waco, and ending with a visit to Tyler. Also, in January, my wife, Susan, and I made a pastoral visit to Bishop Orlando Gómez in our second visit to the Diocese of Costa Rica. 13 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Continued... The Diocesan Liturgical Commission, another commission that I chair, is made up of priests, lay persons, and musicians. In 2019, the commission drafted an alternative to the liturgy in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer for the Celebration of a New Ministry (Installation of a New Rector), as well as one for the LeaveTaking of a Rector. We also worked on revisions for Eucharistic Prayers A, B, C, and D for the Holy Eucharist to incorporate more inclusive language. Trials of these liturgies are being considered for some time during 2021. Pastoral Ministry As Executive for Pastoral Ministries in our diocese, I have had to respond to an increased need for pastoral care to our clergy and their families, some of whom have contracted Covid-19 themselves. The basics of a phone call or an email to just check in have been welcomed ways in which we have cared for one another. As a part of my pastoral ministry, I serve as liaison to the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) and the Daughters of the King (DOK) in our diocese, walking beside both groups of women as they have adapted to the challenges of this year. The ECW Annual Women’s Retreat was cancelled and rescheduled for October 2021. The DOK postponed their Spring Assembly and offered their Fall Assembly virtually, with fantastic attendance on-line. Via video, I preached at the opening Morning Prayer service at that assembly. The Tyler Diocesan Center is located on the campus of All Saints’ Episcopal School, where I serve on the board. In 2020, I presided at both of the school’s Ash Wednesday services. At the invitation of the Bishop of New Hampshire, Robert Hirschfeld, I preached at the January ordination of their new deacon, Stephen Ekerberg, a graduate of our Iona School and a former student of mine, who commuted monthly from New Hampshire to Camp Alen while attending Iona. Other Obligations The House of Bishops, scheduled to meet twice in 2020, held both of those meetings virtually. Meeting virtually actually allowed us to meet more frequently and to address pressing issues more immediately, especially those related to racial justice. As the postponements continued throughout the year, General Convention being planned for Baltimore in 2021 was rescheduled to July 2022. The Lambeth Conference, a meeting held every ten years for bishops from across the Anglican communion and their spouses, was rescheduled from the summer of 2020 to the summer of 2022. At the invitation of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, I serve on the Program, Budget, and Finance (PB&F) Committee of The Episcopal Church (TEC). This committee works on the budget for the wider Church, based upon the priorities for mission set by our Presiding Bishop and the General Convention. In January of 2020, I was elected to serve as vice-chair. In connection with my work with the PB&F Committee, I continue to serve on the Task Force on the Budget Process which was formed by our last General Convention. Because of my increased workload for the wider Church through PB&F, I will not be serving another term on two national boards: the Executive Board of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and the Board of the Gathering of Leaders. It is, for sure, a time to get back to basics. Teamwork Even in a year of challenges, accomplishments, disappointments, achievements, and loss, it has been a pleasure to work, as a team, with the other bishops in this diocese. Bishop Doyle, Bishop Ryan, Bishop Monterroso, and I meet regularly by Zoom. In addition to discussing the work of the diocese, we also spend time just sharing our lives. The Executive Team of the diocese meets every other week, and our collaborative work enables the diocese to support our congregations and our people. In one of the stories of the Bible, someone in the crowd asks Jesus about the basics, inquiring of him: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replies: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” That’s the basics. 14 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
AN UPDATE FROM BISHOP MONTERROSO The Rt. Rev. Héctor Monterroso Bishop Assistant - South Region During the weekly celebrations in our churches, people of at least 48 nationalities come together to pray, reflect, and live in communion. Families and individuals from many countries live, work, and contribute to the development of cities and towns where The Episcopal Church currently has a presence and where we will indeed have a missionary presence in the future. There are many reasons why these people have joined our church: hospitality, friendship, liturgy, music, tradition, and also because they have been welcomed as part of the great Episcopal family. Their incorporation has brought diverse forms of cultural expression, language, and vitality to the Church. Last year the Executive Team began a process of discernment on the importance of establishing a multiethnic and multicultural strategy for the Diocese of Texas. Since then, we have compiled information that has allowed us to map the diocese's multiethnic reality within organized groups, commissions, committees, the boards of directors of the foundations, the staff, and the diocesan clergy. We have also intuitively established the work in recent years to recognize, develop, and support multiethnic efforts throughout the diocese. With this information, we are developing a strategy that allows us to celebrate our diversity and strengthen and expand our missionary work. Some of the steps we will take in this strategy include: Create necessary materials in Spanish This is necessary to support those who aspire to the Ordained Ministry. It is essential to create a set of materials that facilitate the discernment process among the growing number of Spanish-speaking people interested in exploring the ordained ministry. Create and offer opportunities and training for lay leaders of color It is essential to motivate and encourage diocesan institutions in charge of formation and education to include diocesan formation activities, workshops, and events in their curricular contents, considering and involving leaders of color. Spread the word about scholarships and other available resources The Diocese of Texas strongly supports theological formation and education of all people. However, awareness about the possibilities of access to scholarships or various resources so that more people are trained and take advantage of this opportunity has not been broad. We will ensure a dissemination tool through which church leaders can learn more and have access to these available resources. Embracing Diversity We are a Church that unites and represents immense diversity. We believe that the multiethnic and multicultural presence in our diocese is a gift that God has given us, likewise a pastoral and missionary responsibility. I believe it is important that we always recognize the countries represented by those who make up our diocese including Cuba, Colombia, Nigeria, Uganda, Liberia, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, Saint Croix, Barbados, Trinidad, Indonesia, Taiwan, Guyana, Haiti, Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Chile, Cameroon, Ireland, England, Egypt, Venezuela, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Spain, Canada, India, Sudan, Belize, Iran, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador. I am grateful to our diocese for embracing such diversity. 15 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Rounding the Globe 16 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
BOARD HIGHLIGHTS Bishop Jeff Fisher and his wife, Susan Stephenson Fisher visit the Limon Region of Costa Rica
The World Mission Board Continues to Equip and Strengthen Leaders Around the Globe Amid the Pandemic Despite the global pandemic affecting many communities around the globe, the laity and clergy of the World Mission Board have continued to build and sustain relationships to help the most vulnerable. The main focus of the Board is to encourage and support mutually transformative partnerships in God’s mission between our diocese and its churches, communities and institutions, and those in the wider Anglican Communion. The World Mission Board also oversees grants to ministries around the globe and supports other global missional partnerships. The Diocese of Texas has a formal companion relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi in Africa, the Diocese of Costa Rica in the Anglican Church of Central America, and the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota. The Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi In early 2020, Bishop Alinafe Kalemba visited the Diocese of Texas for a week. During his trip, Bishop Kalemba toured several of our congregations in Austin, Waco and Tyler and met with Bishops Ryan and Fisher. Bishop Kalemba’s presence helped solidify the relationship between the two dioceses. As COVID-19 made its way to Malawi in early April, the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi (ADSM) began to experience many hardships. ADSM requested financial help from the World Mission Board to hire a medical expert to provide awareness of the virus to its communities. This effort Bishop Alinafe Kalemba joins the Episcopal Student Center in Waco allowed the population to learn about treatment, distribute masks, and dismantle myths about COVID-19. ADSM has been credited for community leadership during the pandemic. During the course of 2020, the World Mission Board provided over $44,000 in financial support to ADSM. The funds also supported seminarians at Leonard Kamungu Theological College, 17 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
allowed for training for the clergy, and helped them acquire helpful practices and responses to the pandemic. Additionally, they were used to provide replacement homes for clergy who lost their homes from flooding, and more. The Diocese of Costa Rica The World Mission Board continues to support the Rt. Rev. Orlando Gomez-Segura, bishop of the Diocese of Costa Rica, in his episcopate by providing funds for him to attend the College of Bishops and collaborate with bishops between Texas and North Carolina. In January 2020, Bishop Fisher and his wife, Susan Stephenson Fisher, made a pastoral visit to the region on Limon in Costa Rica. In recent months, COVID-19 cases have escalated, and they have become a threat resulting in shortfalls of approximately $100,000 to the diocese and institutions like Hogar Escuela. Plans are underway to assist the diocese with a better online presence—to help establish some virtual mission trips like CUSE and EYE, coordinate between Spanish-speaking congregations in Texas and Costa Rica in mutual online formation, and support Costa Rica theological formation and sustainability projects. The Diocese of North Dakota The World Mission Board has continued to provide support to the Diocese of North Dakota’s Standing Committee after the retirement of their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith. Additionally, the Board has supplied a requested grant of over $15,000 to assist their congregations with having an online presence—bringing internet, introducing Zoom and other technological capacities to congregations. Other Partnerships The Board has also funded other noncompanion project requests focused on addressing sustainable development goals. These include improving access to medical treatment through mobile clinics in Uganda, reducing barriers to education for young women through feminine hygiene kit distribution in Guatemala, improving access to clean water for refugees in South Sudan, and supporting environmental restoration and economic empowerment education for rural Dominicans.
Bishop Alinafe Kalemba visits St. James', Austin
To learn more about the World Mission Board, visit epicenter.org/get-involved/world-mission.
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Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 2 Kings 2:2
Empowering Missional Communities 19 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES ADAPT TO PANDEMIC CHALLENGES TO BETTER ENGAGE WITH THEIR COMMUNITIES Jason Evans Six years ago, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, began to articulate a vision for what he called “missional communities.” He frequently spoke and extensively wrote about this ecclesiastical innovation and the early adopters here in the diocese. Since then, the number of missional communities has more than quadrupled. What are missional communities, you might ask? They are spiritual and relational outposts for those that cannot, or will not, participate in a traditional Episcopal congregation. We have known for several years that disassociation from religious institutions is on the rise in the United States. Under Bishop Doyle’s leadership in the Diocese of Texas, we’ve chosen to respond to this exit by meeting people where they are and establishing new communities that allow people to gather in spaces where they are comfortable, engaging in works of charity and justice while learning about the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. In 2019, there were communities gathering in living rooms, cafes, prisons, gyms, art studies, schools, parks, community gardens, and countless other locations. Some of these missional communities ceased to gather during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of our communities consist of people without Internet access due to age, and who have physical limitations, health concerns and/or low-income status. For these communities, meeting in person served a critical purpose. It’s a painful reminder of the inequity within our counties, cities and towns. And, yet over 80 communities have continued to gather throughout the pandemic. In fact, many missional communities across the Diocese of Texas have thrived. Due to their flexibility and size, these communities moved their fellowship, worship, and formation online, while continuing to explore ways to serve their neighbors in meaningful and safe ways. What is consistent across those communities that have thrived is an emphasis on three values: engagement, brevity, and intimacy. They are paying attention, not just to online worship viewership but engagement and adapting their online offerings based on people’s responses. They understand that the Internet attention span is shorter and have, where possible, abbreviated services. They have recognized that to offer worship online is to invite themselves into one’s home and have accommodated their worship in aesthetic and use of technological tools to the hospitality of their viewership. This is not to imply a deviation from the rubrics of the prayer book. The type of services used across communities breaks down as follows: 32% Liturgy of the Word, 34% Morning Prayer, 21% Evening Prayer, and 13% Bible study. These leaders have typically recognized that while we cannot gather in sacred spaces, we can help individuals and households craft sacred time—moments set aside to acknowledge God’s presence in our lives. When the dining table has become the classroom, the office and holiday craft room all at once, Christian leaders that assist members in setting aside time for the sacred are more successful. Due to the economic constraints of this pandemic, many have had to adapt their work and school schedules and are not always available to worship—even if online—at the time they once were. Teaching others how to use those tools available to us for prayer, worship, and study, along with offering worship experiences that are available online so that people can participate asynchronously, has allowed more to participate. In short, they continue to demonstrate how to be faithful missionaries in a new frontier. The leaders of these communities recognize that the work of gathering a worshiping community is not only to attend to the inward spiritual practices of participants, but to prepare participants for the outward, facing the spiritual work of loving and serving our neighbors. These communities understand that the missionary task requires that they show up in times of distress and earn the trust of their neighbors so that as folks go back to their normal lives at some point, these will be the faith communities to which they choose to return. 20 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
NEARLY EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW Question: How many missional communities are there across the diocese?
Answer: There are currently 80-85 missional communities across the diocese.
Question: How many people are currently connected to
EDOT through missional communities who would not be if there were no missional communities?
Answer: There are over 1,400 people connected to EDOT
Question: Do they focus on spiritual formation? Answer: Yes, most attend to spiritual formation through
Bible study (using methods akin to Lectio Divina and African Bible Study) and teaching the offices- typically Evening Office or Compline.
Question: Do they celebrate the Eucharist? Answer: Less than half of our missional communities
as the result of our missional communities.
regularly celebrate the Eucharist, but those that do are using the “Communion for Missional Communities” instruction.
Question: Do people get baptized in missional
Question: What is the greatest tool for forming meaningful
Answer: Absolutely! Even though we didn’t have any
Answer: Sharing meals brings people together, so the
Question: How often do they meet?
Question: What percentage of our missional communities
baptisms during the pandemic last year, there were 33 baptisms in 2019 as a result of Missional Communities.
Answer: The majority of our missional communities now meet weekly. Three years ago, most met monthly.
Question: What is the average size of a missional community?
majority of our missional communities shared meals before COVID-19.
have received funding from diocesan foundations?
Answer: Only 13% of our missional communities
have received funding from diocesan foundations. An overwhelming 87% of them have not received any kind of funding from our diocesan foundations.
Answer: The average size of a missional community is 12 regular participants.
Question: Where do they meet? Answer: The majority of them met in homes before the
COVID-19 pandemic. Today, most are meeting online or safely outdoors.
21 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44
Discerning the C all to Ministry 22 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
FEB 19-21, 2021 | APRIL 9-11, 2021 | SEPTEMBER 17-19, 2021
God has graced us with many gifts. Do you know what they are? How are you using yours? Discernment occurs in community. Join us in Discovery Retreat to help discern your calls. You are encouraged to contact the Chair of the Commission on Ministry, The Rev. Francene Young, or Ana Gonzales May in the Commission on Ministry Office at 512.478.0580; 800.947.0580 to ask any questions. The Discovery series is a wonderful weekend opportunity to begin the work of discerning one's call to serve God in His church, community, and the world. Open to all in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Participation is mandatory for those discerning a call to ordained ministry (deacon or priest) in the Diocese of Texas. Participation in the retreat is highly recommended for those discerning a call to ministries as a Lay Leader.
Pray 23 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
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THREE CHURCH PLANTS TO EMBODY THE ROBUST DIVERSITY OF HOUSTON AREA The Diocese of Texas has once again met its annual goal of establishing three church plants within a year. This bold vision comes into reality after two lay leaders and a member of clergy have all answered the call to take on this mission. The following are the three church planters who helped the diocese reach its goal: Maria Bautista Vargas at Northshore, Houston (Harris County); William Llana in the city of Plum Grove (north Liberty County); and the Rev. Emeka Agim who will plant a church within the Nigerian community in southwest Houston (Harris County). “The Diocese has invested a significant amount of time and resources in assessing leaders as we seek out those called to start new congregations. These three leaders have demonstrated a passion for the gospel, the Episcopal tradition, and making disciples,” said Jason Evans, Missioner for Missional Communities, who also coordinates church planting for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Northshore, Houston Church Plant Prior to becoming a church planter, Bautista began her ministry in the Diocese of Texas as missioner associate for Houston Canterbury, an Episcopal Campus Ministry at Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and at San Jacinto and Houston Community Colleges. In January of 2020, Bautista took on the challenge to develop an Episcopal presence in the East Harris Convocation between Loop 610 and TX-8 Beltway. Northshore Houston CHURCH PLANT
Since January, Bautista has been working to rekindle relationships between Northshore neighbors and the Episcopal Church. During the midst of the pandemic, Bautista has teamed up with community organizations to provide necessary resources to families in need and has provided free meals to 75 children each week.
Plum Grove Church Plant Another active lay leader who accepted the call to become a church planter is William (Will) Llana. Llana started his new ministry in the fall of 2020. Llana is originally from Lima, Peru. After finishing his theological preparation, he served the Church by equipping pastors and Plum Grove CHURCH PLANT
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leaders in the rural areas of Peru to start new congregations. After his arrival to the United States, Llana worked for the United Methodist Church, founding two Hispanic congregations. He was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where he has had the opportunity to serve in the ministry by teaching and preaching.
Nigerian Community Church Plant The Rev. Emeka Ngozi Agim also started his new ministry in the fall of 2020. Agim was born in Nigeria. He was ordained deacon in 1997.
Nigerian Community CHURCH PLANT
During his six-year tenure with the Anglican Diocese of Ibadan, Agim was the vicar to three different churches until he relocated to Houston. Upon his arrival to the Lone Star State, he worked with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In 2004, the Rt. Rev. Don Wimberly, the eighth Bishop of Texas, approved his call to become vicar of St. Joseph’s, Houston.
With the start of these three new church plants, the Diocese of Texas has now deployed a total of 18 church planters within the last decade, underscoring the signs of a mission-oriented diocese.
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NORTHSHORE EPISCOPAL CHURCH PLANT HOSTS DRIVE-THRU BABY SHOWER FOR 80 EXPECTANT MOTHERS Over 80 expectant mothers in East Harris County were treated to a oneof-a-kind baby shower in a drive-thru event. Mothers were showered with baby clothes, fresh food, diapers, cleaning supplies, and other goods to help meet their needs during the pandemic. The collaborative effort was hosted by Church Planter Maria Bautista Vargas at Northshore Episcopal Church, Houston (a church plant within the Episcopal Diocese of Texas). Seven other non-profit organizations from the Houston metropolitan area, including United Healthcare and East Harris County Empowerment Council (EHCEC) joined forces on Friday, October 30, 2020 to help make this event a success. “I was happily surprised by the team and support we received for this initiative,” said Bautista Vargas. “It was a huge blessing how everything came together.” Together, Northshore Episcopal, United Healthcare and EHCEC packed over 400 different outfits for the soon-to-be-born babies. Prior to COVID-19, Connie Claros from United Healthcare explained that the healthcare organization held large baby showers in different parts of Harris County for low-income mothers enrolled in their program every quarter, but the pandemic put a halt to those events. As Bautista Vargas and Claros started to accumulate large amounts of baby clothes at Northshore Episcopal, Claros decided to reach out to EHCEC to see how they could best host a safe, yet enjoyable baby shower for moms in need. Their efforts resulted in putting together a successful event with plans for hosting another drivethru baby shower during the Easter season of 2021. “We appreciate the opportunity Northshore Episcopal Church is giving us to host this event for the moms in the area,” said Claros.
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Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Psalm 119:66
C ampus Ministry Happenings 28 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Due to their flexibility and size, campus missions across the Diocese of Texas fared well during the pandemic. They moved their fellowship and expressions of worship and spiritual formation online, while continuing to explore ways of serving their students in meaningful ways and keeping members safe. Campus missions responded to the crisis using a variety of tools and practices that matched context and technological capabilities. They were consistent in emphasis on three observable values: engagement, brevity and intimacy. Individuals who make up these communities paid attention, not just to online worship viewership but to engagement, and adapted their online offerings based on participants’ preferences. Understanding that their internet attention span is shorter, their services were abbreviated where possible. Recognizing that online worship relies upon an invitation into others’ homes, they worked to accommodate their worship aesthetically and in the use of technological tools to the hospitality of their viewership. While our campus missions are led by extraordinary leaders—both lay and ordained, it must be pointed out that our students have demonstrated incredible leadership as well. During this pandemic, they have financially assisted congregations working with low-income populations, fed the foodinsecure in our communities, and created safe spaces for fellow students wounded by other traditions. As a result, the Episcopal Church is growing as more students find their way into our tradition through campus missions! Participants in our campus communities understand that the missionary task requires they show up in times of distress and earn the trust of others. Perhaps then, when students resume their normal lives at some point, they will look to these communities as something worthwhile of which they wish to be a part.
Full Time Missioners
Charles Graves, IV
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“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Mark 16:15
News in Ministry 30 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
NEW TRANSITION MINISTER The Rev. Kellaura Johnson was named Diocesan Transition Minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in May 2020. Johnson was the rector of St. Stephen's, Huntsville, a parish with a long history of both campus and prison ministry. Johnson has served in the Diocese of Texas for 20 years and has been working hard to further advance the mission of the diocese. "I look forward to walking with communities, lay leaders, and clergy through times of transition. When engaged faithfully, times of transition can become times of transformation. I hope that I can be a resource as churches and clergy make the choices that will allow them to thrive in the future," Johnson said back in May. Johnson joined the diocesan staff in the summer of 2020 to fill the position previously held by the Rev. William Blake Rider.
NEW DEAN FOR BIVOCATIONAL PRIEST CLERICUS Bishop Doyle appointed the Rev. Beth Woodson, Vicar of St. Martin’s, Copperas Cove, to be the dean of the bivocational priest clericus. This is a new gathering intended to foster community among bivocational clergy in the diocese. Clergy are still encouraged to participate in their regional clericus groups as well. According to Bishop Doyle, “The Rev. Beth Woodson has shown over the years of her own development a capacity to bridge conversations of difference, bring people together, and all with a curious mind oriented towards meeting the pastoral needs of the local congregation. I am excited to have her on board as dean of this new clericus.”
10 DEACONS ORDAINED AT CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL IN A VIRTUAL CEREMONY, AUGUST 1 Following a rescheduled ceremony, because of the rising COVID-19 cases in Harris County, 10 new deacons were ordained at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Saturday, August 1. The event was live-streamed and closed to the public. After the sermon given by the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, bishop of Texas, each candidate to the diaconate answered a series of questions posed by Bishop Doyle during what is known as The Examination. They were asked to follow Christ and model their lives on scripture, and “to interpret to the Church, the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.” As each knelt in front of the bishop, he placed his hands on each individual’s head as he recited the Prayer of Consecration. The following are the recently ordained deacons to the Diocese of Texas: Jeffrey John Bohanski, Jacob Paul Breeze, Clint Edward Brown, Judy Beth Harris, Vicki W. Knipp, Luz Cabrera Montes, Lissie Rhoton, Marcia Sadberry, John Vancamp, and Christopher Anders Weis. Many of those ordained have served their churches and communities by assisting church plants, college ministries and as vestry members for many years. The ordination service concluded with each of the new deacons being vested and receiving a Bible as a sign of their authority to proclaim God’s word. 31 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
SCENES FROM 2020 DEACONS’ ORDINATION
10 NEW DEACONS ORDAINED BY BISHOP DOYLE AT CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL, HOUSTON.
CLINT EDWARD BROWN
JEFFREY JOHN BOHANSKI
JUDY BETH HARRIS
JACOB PAUL BREEZE
LUZ CABRERA MONTES
MARCIA SADBERRY LISSIE RHOTON
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VICKI W KNIPP
CHRISTOPHER ANDERS WEIS
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34
Racial Justice Initiative 33 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Racial Justice Initiative Update Since Bishop Doyle’s announcement of The Episcopal Diocese of Texas Racial Justice Initiative at Council 2020, the work of bringing the Bishop’s vision to fruition has been divided among two bodies: The Seminary of the Southwest and a Racial Justice Committee. The Seminary of the Southwest offers three scholarships to advance the Bishop’s vision.
Scholarships The Dr. Bertha Sadler Means Endowment for Racial Justice will fund, in perpetuity, a ministry to support visiting Black scholars, research in Texas slavery and racism, teaching racial justice, formation for empowerment of Black leaders, and encouragement for Episcopal Black ministries in the diocese and the Church. The Rev. Pauli Murray Scholarship Fund at Seminary of the Southwest is a scholarship to help students of color with living expenses while attending Seminary of the Southwest. The Rev. David Taylor Endowed Scholarship at Seminary of the Southwest was established for students of color working towards an MDiv. The Racial Justice Committee provides both a scholarship and funds as follows: Scholarship The Henrietta Wells Scholarship Fund is designated for scholarships for students attending Historical Black Colleges and Universities across the Diocese of Texas. The funds are to be used for choir scholarships and teaching internships in Episcopal schools while attending a Historic Black College or University (HBCU) in Texas. Scholarships have been awarded to seven students since the inception of the initiative.
Funds Two funds have been established to advance the goals of the Bishop’s initiative: The Rev. Thomas Cain Fund for Historic Black Churches was established to provide grants for the mission, programming, or maintenance of Historic Black Churches. The John and Joseph Talbot Fund for Racial Reconciliation was established to provide a gift to underwrite a program of church community racial reconciliation initiatives, bringing together the work of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Lynching memorial work and justice work in local communities. The Fund also seeks to celebrate the work of African Americans within the Diocese of Texas. 34 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Scholarships and Funds: A Historical Perspective About Dr. Bertha Sadler Means Dr. Bertha Sadler Means is a former successful educator, civil rights activist and educator. A well-known Episcopalian in the city of Austin, she was a true education pioneer. She worked in the Austin Independent School District before her retirement, having taught in both elementary and secondary education. Her specialty was reading education. Means also left an indelible mark in higher education, having taught at both Prairie View A&M College and the University of Texas at Austin and also provided professional development at Huston-Tillotson University in the area of teaching and learning. She is also known as a political activist and community leader and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Dr. Means is a 1945 graduate of Dr. Bertha Sadler Means Tillotson College, a predecessor institution to Huston-Tillotson University. With deep roots in Austin, she continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Means enjoyed a long career in education and retired from Austin Independent School District. She also served on the Huston-Tillotson Board of Trustees from 2004-2008, and is the owner of Austin Cab Company. In her honor on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University is The Bertha Sadler Means African American Resource Center located in the Anthony and Louise ViaerAlumni Hall. This honor was bestowed upon her as a result of her philanthropic support over the years. Dr. Means is a long-time, devoted member of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Austin.
About the Rev. Pauli Murray The Rev. Pauli Murray was the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. Moreover, she was among the first of all women to be ordained by the Church. With dreams of attending Columbia University, she attended Hunter College in New York City, after being denied admission to Columbia because the university was only open to men. After graduating from Hunter College, she attended law school at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Although she graduated first in her class, she was denied the opportunity to enroll at Harvard University for additional studies- again, because she was a woman. A successful lawyer and author, her experiences fueled her passion to advocate for women and play a role in the The Rev. Pauli Murray civil rights movement. Murray broke several glass ceilings that brought about rare opportunities for Black women during that time. In 1946, she was hired as California’s first Black deputy attorney general. As a civil-rights activist, she marched alongside the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ms. Rosa Parks. She, however, protested against discrimination- not only on the basis of race, but also gender. Murray worked in academia as vice-president of Benedict College, later becoming a professor at Brandeis University until she went to the seminary and was later ordained. The Rev. Murray was the first woman to celebrate the Eucharist at an Episcopal church in North Carolina. She eventually committed her life to one of mission reconciliation and focused on ministry to the sick in a parish in Washington, D.C. A woman before her time, Murray left a rich legacy of achievement, not only in the Episcopal Church. As just one example, Yale University posthumously named one of its residential colleges in her memory. The Rev. Pauli Murray was a forward-thinking force to be reckoned with.
About the Rev. David Franklin Taylor The Rev. David Franklin Taylor was the first African-American priest raised up by the historic Black churches in the Diocese of Texas. He was first licensed by Bishop Kinsolving in 1904 as a lay reader. He was later ordained and moved to St. Augustine’s in Galveston, where he had been a confirmand earlier in his life. Prior to returning to St. Augustine of Hippo, the Rev. Taylor had spent the first four years of his ministry at St. John’s, Tyler. The Rev. Taylor was ultimately ordained to the priesthood and served as vicar until 1912, when he was transferred to Louisiana. Prior to becoming a member of the Episcopal Church, he had been an African Methodist Episcopal minister.
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About Mrs. Henrietta Bell Wells Mrs. Henrietta Bell Wells was a social worker and educator who attended Wiley College. There, she was the first female member of the historic debate team, on which the movie, The Great Debaters, was based. Among several professional posts, she worked in higher education, having served as Dean of Women at Dillard University (a Methodist HBCU in New Orleans, Louisiana). The wife of the Rev. Wallace L. Wells, she was an active lay woman in the Episcopal Church. Although she lived in many cities, working in numerous churches as she supported her husband in his ministry, the Rev. and Mrs. Wells founded a church in Gary, Indiana that is listed in the National Registry of Historic Buildings. She was a devoted Mrs. Henrietta Bell Wells member of the Daughters of the King and very active in the 135th Street YMCA in New York City, New York. Mrs. Wells ended her life of ministry at St. James, Houston, located in historic Third Ward. She died at the age of 95 in 2008.
About the Rev. Thomas Cain The Rev. Thomas Cain was the first priest of color in the Diocese of Texas. He was born into slavery in Virginia, later arriving in Galveston as a missionary priest. He was made deacon and priest by Bishop Francis McNeece Whittle, the fifth Bishop of Virginia, and he was in charge of St. Phillip’s Church for colored people in Richmond, Virginia for many years. He was a graduate of the very first class of the Bishop Payne Divinity School (a school that was founded in Petersburg, Virginia in 1878 to train African Americans for ministry in the Episcopal Church). He transferred to the Diocese of Texas in 1888 and was placed in charge of St. Augustine’s Mission. Under his leadership, the congregation made great progress raising funds for a permanent chapel. By 1897, there were more than 180 active African American communicants, and a church was built in 1889 in the heart of Galveston. The first service was held on Ash Wednesday in 1889. Near the end of that year, a new chancel area had been constructed within the church, but on September 8, 1900, the Great Galveston Storm of 1900 washed away the church and rectory. Most unfortunately, the Rev. Cain and his wife both perished in the storm. During his time in the Diocese of Texas, the Rev. Cain represented the diocese at a General Convention, and he planted churches in East and Central Texas.
About Mr. John Talbot and Mr. Joseph Talbot These two gentlemen, brothers John and Joseph Talbot, were the first slaves mentioned in the historic baptismal books of Christ Church Matagorda, and they belonged to Judge Matthew Talbot who was a member of our first church, and leader of the diocese from its founding. In 2003, Evelyn Talbot, a descendant of the Talbots, visited Christ Church of Matagorda. Its vicar, the Rev. Hoss Gwin, found her and learned that she was looking for information related to her ancestors. These brothers were slaves, baptized in one of our churches, and their niece returned to that very church to give thanks for her own Christianity. She came to find where the gift of Jesus and the gospel had come from in her family’s life. She and the Rev. Hoss talked, and they connected with other members of the Talbot family who are still there. They had a meal and they worshipped together. Brothers John and Joseph Talbot are examples of a very complex history and story. The initiative now has a web presence at www.edotracialjustice.org that contains a wealth of information that highlights its various opportunities.
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Bell Ringing for a Civil Rights Icon St. Alban’s, Waco, honored the late civil rights leader John Lewis with a symbolic bell ringing the day of his funeral. The bells rang 80 times—each one to celebrate a year of Lewis’ life. Neighbors stopped in front of the church and took a moment to reflect. Churchgoers say as small as this may be – it’s important. Other churches across the country also participated and honored the life of the civil rights leader and long-serving congressman from Georgia.
First Recipients of the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship Announced In July, Seminary of the Southwest and the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship Committee announced the inaugural recipients of the Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship. The winners were Ryan Hawthorne and Maria Victoria Umana. Currently, both recipients are students at Seminary of the Southwest. Hawthorne is pursing a Diploma in Anglican Studies, and Umana began working toward a Master of Divinity degree. Both started in the fall of 2020. The scholarship was named after the civil rights era icon, famed poet, lawyer and first Black priest in The Episcopal Church—the Rev. Pauli Murray—and was established in 2018 to support seminarians of color at Seminary of the Southwest through an effort led by parishioners and clergy at St. James’, Austin.
The partnership between St. James’, Austin, and Seminary of the Southwest made it possible to provide “living expenses” scholarships to help make seminary education more accessible to low-income African American and women of color in The Episcopal Church. In February 2020, the Diocese of Texas announced the fund would be the recipient of $1.5 million as part of its $13 million racial reconciliation plan in the diocese. Hawthorne was a postulant in the Diocese of Texas and a parishioner at St. Luke the Evangelist in Houston. She served as youth missioner and school chaplain at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and School in Houston, challenging students to reconsider who God is, what equality and justice call us to do and be to one another, and what the kingdom of God could look like in the future. Hawthorne already holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Umana was also a postulant from the Diocese of Texas living in Houston. She was born and raised in El Salvador, and after raising her two children with her husband Ramon, felt a calling to the ministry of the priesthood. “People around me started to encourage me to Maria Victoria Umana dedicate my life to serve others and God throughout the ministry of the priesthood,” said Umana. “At first, I was unaware of God’s call to this ministry, but my spirit would rejoice and be filled with peace every time I thought about this possibility. The more I meditated, the clearer it became that this is what God is calling me to do.” 37 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Together Episcopal – Grappling with Difficult Conversations
By Denise Trevino-Gomez In the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, we strongly believe that each person and faith community have the power to affect real change. As we strive to improve ways to have difficult conversations around important issues, we have designed a new website specifically focused on learning how to have difficult conversations, dismantling racism, and bridging political divide. It’s called togetherepiscopal.org. The name says exactly what we hope it to be, doing God’s work together, not in isolation. By no means does the resource cover everything, but it does serve as a launching pad for anyone wanting to gain new skills and increase their understanding of complex issues. The www.togetherepiscopal.com website will be laid out in phases. Phase One started in the fall of 2020 and offered twenty-two free workshops and multiple resources that covered an array of topics. Hundreds of people from across our diocese immersed themselves in their learning on how to have difficult conversations around racism and political divide; others learned how to preach the hard truth of the Gospel. People learned about generational effects of slavery and internalized oppression, and they learned how to be allies in this important work. Additionally, they learned about colorism, studied films, held anti-racism book studies, and prayed together. We also had the great pleasure of having people join us from several states across the country. Participants learned, laughed and cried together, but even more importantly, they showed up for one another. Phase Two of this new website launches in late January 2021. It will offer even more resources to help us better understand issues surrounding Black Lives Matter, white fragility and privilege. It will also include family activities on how to have these conversations with our children, youth and young adult work, as well as many other important topics. A new resource, Fierce Conversations, will also be introduced as a tool for people to learn how to engage in healthy but difficult conversations…regardless of the issue. People have shared they are afraid or intimidated to have conversations around racial topics or political divide. And who can blame them? Everywhere we turn it seems we only hear the negative. But letting fear of someone else’s story, or maybe even where it didn’t go so well for you, stop you from engaging in this work, will only hold you back from the infinite possibilities of what God knows could be. I have a sign in my office that reads, “God never said it was going to be easy… just that it would be worth it.” I live by that daily. So, if you keep hearing that this work can be hard or messy, also hear that it is some of the most life-giving, imperfect-perfect work you may ever experience. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Jesus would want us to do, and He’s not looking for perfect. As a Missioner for Congregational Vitality with a focus on Intercultural Development, it has been my experience that no two people’s journey or experience around these issues has been the same, and it’s important for us to know that there is no right or wrong place to start. The stories highlighted here are but a few of the dozens of examples of communities around our diocese that are actively engaging in difficult conversations, dismantling racism, grappling with political divide and doing other important work. We hope you to be inspired by what they are doing, knowing you too could be the key to doing something to positively impact your community. I pray that you never hesitate to reach out to someone for a hard but important conversation, and I will hold sacred your journey in our liberating Christian life. May God bless you in your lives and ministries. 38 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
No More Missed Opportunities By The Rev. Paul Johnson, Episcopal Church of the Cross, Lake Travis “I think we may have missed an opportunity,” read the subject line of the email. It was right after George Floyd’s murder. In worship the previous Sunday, I had alluded to that moment, but had not addressed it directly. “I think we may have missed an opportunity,” the parishioner wrote me again afterwards. This person was trying to make sense of the racial injustice and violence that had come to a head in Minneapolis and of how others were trying to make sense of it as well. We concluded that we, the Church, didn’t have to miss the opportunity any longer and decided to engage the question more intentionally. As the Church, in all of our brokenness and ignorance and confusion, and with a yearning and desire for healing and wholeness, we knew that we needed to address a hard conversation together about race in America. That is how this journey at the Episcopal Church of the Cross, a new congregation in the Lake Travis area west of Austin, began. We spoke more directly to the issue the following Sunday. A couple of weeks later, several people in the congregation began meeting virtually to share and process and get to know one another, and wonder. We continued to gather virtually throughout the summer. We sought guidance with the Missioner for Intercultural Ministry and worked on norms for difficult conversations, and we developed a plan. We began by watching and responding to the Frontline series “Race: The Power of an Illusion.” It was a great start for us as it helped us to understand the historical pieces to racial injustices that we don’t often talk about. We learned so much from this series, reflected deeply on racism together, and learned more about ourselves as a community. But this was just one step, and we already have plans to continue the dialogue in the new year in new ways. We took that first step towards tackling a difficult topic, and because of it, we have grown as a community in ways we had not anticipated. We are branching out in new ways to go deeper in our conversations about how race operates within Christian history and the Church today. We’ll see where God takes us in all this and what new things God is revealing. We’re not having these conversations because it’s comfortable. It’s not. And, we’re not having these conversations because we know the answers. We don’t. We’re having these hard conversations because we are the Church, called to be engaged in what matters in our world. And right now, this matters. So, we listen and learn and bring curiosity, vulnerability and humility to the table, knowing that if we couldn’t solve the problems of the nation, we could still work on our own selves. And this, we’re learning, is always the best place to start.
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The Elephant in the Room By The Rev. Keith Pozzuto, Episcopal Student Center, Waco Political conversations are difficult. We are told to keep our politics and religion private, but at the Episcopal Student Center in Waco, we recognize the importance of bringing our whole lives to Jesus. And in the fall of 2020, politics was undoubtedly on all of our minds. Back in October, Building Bridges, a workshop through the Kaleidoscope Institute and the Diocese of Texas, taught a dialogue process for taking on the tough topics that we don’t normally feel comfortable delving into. The students at ESC decided to put that dialogue process into action around political divide and race. It was just a beginning; it was an opening to a conversation that will take us a long time and plenty of grace, mercy and love for our neighbor. The discussion was, and will be, a great form of discipleship because as we conversed about our thoughts on voting rights and race, we could clearly see our differences, but also our mutual care for one another. The students practiced the tools taught in Building Bridges: how to practice respect, new ways of listening, how to break down topics so we don’t walk away overwhelmed, and other practical tools that help us live more fully into taking on difficult topics safely and sacredly. The Building Bridges difficult conversation process allowed everyone to be able to share and speak with sincerity about their thoughts and hopes without being judged. It was a great beginning. The Episcopal Student Center is a welcoming and gracious community of students who long to be in community with and in service to their neighbors. We learned together that we have to start the conversation here and now or we may never talk, or worse, we will allow the dialogue to be led by our secular tribalism and not through prayer, discernment, and the hope of the incarnate Word! Building Bridges offers tools to start a hard conversation, and at ESC we will continue to practice the use of those tools and remain committed to continuing our hard conversations as God so calls us to do.
St. James’, Austin, Responds to Vandalism of Historically Black Cemetery In September 2020, headstones at Evergreen Cemetery, Austin’s first major municipal graveyard for Black residents, were vandalized. In response, St. James’, Austin, and the Union of Black Episcopalians, Myra McDaniel Chapter, gathered a group for an outdoor prayer vigil after the tombstones were vandalized. The Rev. Eileen O’Brien, rector of St. James’, wrote, “For centuries, the defacing of gravesites has been a form of cultural violence against black and other minority communities. Such efforts to erase memory, dignity, and home cannot and must not be allowed to stand. The removal of paint from the headstones will not close the wounds opened wide by this action, and so we must give ourselves all the more to this healing work of honoring memory, dignity, and home.”
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Reconciling Difference in a Conflicted World By Kathy Wiggin, St. Michael’s, Austin Over the last year, Archbishop Justin Welby brought together leading global thinkers and peacemakers to create a five-session course called Difference that explores what it means to follow Jesus in the face of conflict. This course was offered in the Diocese of Texas, and at St. Michael’s in Austin we were eager to make it available to our congregation. With escalating rhetoric around both the Black Lives Matter movement and the national election, we felt this was a good time to explore God’s call for us to be reconcilers in a broken and hurting world. We started with gaining insights into the power of the Three Habits of Reconciliation: Being Curious by listening to other’s stories with genuine interest and respect, being Present by sharing our own values and stories openly and with authenticity, and Reimagining by hoping and believing that any relationship can be healed. Our offering attracted a large group of participants who joined the dialogue in a proactive way or who used the course to cope with their own tensions. As we practiced the three habits of disagreeing well (curiosity, presence and reimagining), we remembered what we already knew - that reconciliation is hard, but anything is possible through Christ. Now we have new tools and a support group to help us continue to engage and have powerful conversations. We also had an opportunity to meet with other Difference hosts from around the country, who have a diversity of views and experiences. We have exciting plans to co-facilitate dialogue between our groups to practice crossing the divides which separate us. This work requires humility and courage, and at St. Michael’s we are up to it! By making a difference in our own relationships, we make a difference in the world. I would encourage other congregations to take up this work, too.
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Walking the Walk: Pilgrimage in Longview By Kathy Culmer In 2012, Kevin Wittmayer, Chaplain at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler, walked the El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, an ancient path through the cities and countryside of portions of northern Spain. It took him thirty-three days to complete the 500-mile walk, but the walking didn’t stop there. In a chapel that Wittmayer visited while on pilgrimage, he found a Pilgrim’s Prayer that said, “If you’ve shared your goods with fellow pilgrims, and if you’ve received hospitality from other people on the Camino but don’t bring the Camino back home, then you haven’t walked the Camino.” These words challenged him to look for a place where he might walk a spiritual pilgrimage back in the U.S. Pilgrimages in the Middle Ages were to a shrine or church where the bones of a martyr were entombed. As Wittmayer continued to pray and seek the answer, his thoughts turned to the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement. When he considered that, however, and the number of martyrs involved, he realized that would cover far more than the 500 miles walked in Spain. So Wittmayer, who is a native of Iowa, started researching Civil Rights martyrs of East Texas to see if he could do something more locally. Research led him to the story of John Earl Reese, a 16-year-old African American boy killed in a drive-by shooting. On October 22, 1955, John Earl Reese was shot by White men who went on a shooting spree in retaliation for a school being built for Black children in the Mayflower community. The shooter fired into a Black owned cafe between Longview and Tatum hitting Reese, who died the next day. Kevin found himself captured by the tragic nature of the story, but also by the fact that he was born in the same year the murder took place. Reese’s death took place just two months after the death of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, MS. Kevin was just two months old at the time of Reese’s death. The 19 mile walk in memory of John Earl Reese took place on October 23, 2020, the 65th anniversary of his death. The day began at 8 am with Wittmayer receiving a prayer and blessing from Fr. Bill Carroll at Trinity, Longview, the church where Wittmayer served as rector from 2003-2017. The official walk began at what is now Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, formerly the Gregg County Hospital, and ended at Reese’s gravesite in the Smith Chapel cemetery in the African American community of Mayflower. Wittmayer was accompanied on a portion of the walk by Clent Holmes, the grandson of the bus driver who drove for James Earl Reese and other Black children, as well as residents of the Mayflower Community. For the last 5 miles of the walk, they were joined by Annisa Centers, a reporter from KLTV in Tyler. At Reese’s gravesite, the pastor of 42 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Smith Chapel and her sister met them for final prayers to end the walk. Wittmayer worshipped at Smith Chapel the Sunday prior to the walk where he met members of Reese’s family and received the blessing of the community for the upcoming walk. Part of Wittmayer’s motivation was his own spiritual journey, but also felt “this was a way to bring attention to the fact that this is part of ‘our’ history that needs to be remembered so it is not repeated.” “Some of the richness of the experience,” Wittmayer admits, “were the conversations I had with Clent and Annisa. These are conversations we should have so we can learn from each other and care about one another.” Wittmayer looks forward to continuing “the walk” after retirement in a few years. Since Camino, he has been visiting sites with relevance to the Civil Rights Movement and hopes to include many of them in future walks.
Associated Press Article Featuring Diocese of Texas Racial Justice Initiative Reaches Readership of Over 244 Million People Globally According to a sophisticated and dynamic media tracking service, an Associated Press (AP) article—featuring the Diocese of Texas and its commitment to fund racial justice projects addressing reparation and racial healing—reached over 389 media outlets with a collective readership and viewership of over 244 million people globally. The piece was featured in some of the largest media markets, including broadcast networks and newspaper outlets such as CBS, The Washington Post, Daily Mail, and USA Today. Also, NPR interviewed Bishop Doyle for its statewide newscast to discuss the Racial Justice Initiative and for the momentum it has created throughout the nation. The Bishop of Texas first made the announcement while presenting a Missionary Vision for a Racial Justice Initiative at the 171st Diocesan Council held in Waco, Texas, February 7-8, 2020. The initiative includes a $13 million commitment toward racial reconciliation projects and scholarships for the future training and education of people of color. The money for the Missionary Vision for Racial Justice Initiative funds the Bertha Means Endowment, the David Taylor Scholarship, the Pauli Murray Scholarship Fund, the Thomas Cain Fund for Historic Black Churches, the Henrietta Wells Scholarship Fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the John Talbot and Joseph Talbot Fund for Racial Justice, and Episcopal Health Foundation Congregational Engagement. According to the AP article, more churches of different denominations across the United States have followed the Diocese of Texas initiative’s lead, to follow suit. Within the Episcopal Church, several dioceses—including Maryland, Long Island and New York—have also launched reparations programs in the past year, while others are preparing to do so. 43 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
A Reflection Piece by Kathy Culmer Moving Forward in Truth: Giving Voice to a Voiceless Past
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King’s quote suggests that there is power in the sharing of stories to facilitate a more peaceful co-existence among us, in spite of our differences. At the very least, honest telling and earnest listening can create common ground. Stories offer the key, or at least a key, to overcoming the barrier of not knowing one another, which hinders us from loving one another as Christ commanded. Stories have the power to do that even when, and perhaps especially when, they are hard to listen to or when they challenge us or provoke us, when we find them hard to believe as true or when we don’t want them to be. Sharing our faith stories, personal stories and stories grown out of our cultural expressions and histories can, at the very least, prompt conversations that will deepen our understanding and appreciation for one another. Truth is, we do not fully know what possibilities may be unbound by the sharing of our stories with those who appear unlike ourselves, but, if nothing else, sharing gives us greater opportunity to learn of our shared experiences and our common humanity. At the 171st Diocesan Council held in Waco, Texas in February of 2020, Bishop Doyle presented a “Missionary Vision for a Racial Justice initiative” that aims to repair and commence racial healing for individuals and communities who were directly injured by slavery in the diocese. “The goal is to support the people of our communities who were actually injured by our past actions,” the Bishop said. “Moving Forward in Truth, an article series exploring the history of race in the Diocese of Texas, was initiated in February of 2020 to help bring to light the experiences of African Americans in this diocese - the struggles, the triumphs, the neglect, the celebrations, and more - with a light that not only leads to discovery but that clears a pathway for moving forward. Though not chronological, because they are still being discovered and told, the stories begin with a past that is rooted in slavery, as is our nation’s. Slavery has divided this country from its beginning and has likewise impacted the church. It has been deemed by some to be the central event in shaping this nation’s historical consciousness. There are remnants of the dilemma posed by this institution that counted some human beings in part rather than as a whole in order to perpetuate itself that still haunt us until this very day…that still impose themselves upon us affecting how we regard one another, interact with and react to one another, and, yes, even how we worship with one another. The stories have had as their source, diocesan records, individual church histories, newspaper accounts, and the voices of those who have lived the experiences or who have heard the stories told. They have been shared with the hope that through listening with open hearts and minds, we can confront some of the truths of our past, overcome some of our differences and move forward, together, in truth. “It’s about mending the racial divide in our communities,” Bishop Doyle said in his address. “It’s about naming the past but moving forward together.” What better way than to give voice to the stories and experiences of those whose stories have gone unheard and unacknowledged, and to lend them an open and listening ear. Stories in this series appear in the bi-weekly e-news publications of the Diolog and Out of the Ordinary. Previous stories are archived at edotracialjustice.org.
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If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10
Ensuring Access to g in v r e S d n a e r a c h t l Hea the Community
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EHF COVID-19 Grants Support Efforts to Improve Health and Not Just Health Care in Texas
As COVID-19 began to hit Texas, Guadalupe knew there would be big changes coming. She planned out meals to cook, stocked up on cleaning wipes, and began working from her home in Fort Bend County instead of going into the office. But weeks later, she says her world stopped. “I lost everything,” Guadalupe said. “How was I going to survive?” Guadalupe hadn’t tested positive for COVID-19. She had lost her job. After 19 years working as an accounts payable clerk for the same company, she was laid off. The thought of no more paychecks was scary enough, but the stress of losing her health insurance was almost too much to take. “I was desperate,” she said. “What was I going to do without my medicine? Where do I start? What do I do next? The anxiety was terrible.” Guadalupe is a grandmother of 10, who battles chronic asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. She depended on health insurance to help pay for regular trips to the doctor and monthly prescriptions. She couldn’t afford the sky-high COBRA premiums to keep her current insurance, and all of her other bills were accumulating. That’s when Guadalupe decided to apply for food and medicine assistance from Fort Bend County. She ended up with several boxes of groceries and a referral to AccessHealth, a federally qualified health center in Richmond. “I’ve never been so blessed than the day I walked into that clinic,” she said. Employees, nurses and doctors at AccessHealth were able to see Guadalupe, set her up with consistent check-ups, and maintain her regular medicines. They also provided counseling to help her deal with the mounting stress. All of this they did for a price Guadalupe could afford. “Never did I ever dream I would need this kind of help, but they lifted me up from rock bottom,” she said. AccessHealth is just one of many clinics and other organizations supported by the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) that is impacting families across the diocese during COVID-19. From the beginning of the crisis, EHF’s focus was keeping these important organizations alive and resilient during what became a growing public health and financial emergency. 46 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
“Public health events like COVID-19 are experienced even more deeply by low-income communities or those living in a neighborhood that doesn’t have access to many different services needed to be healthy,” said Elena Marks, EHF’s president and CEO. “To do this important work, we know that the organizations, clinics, and congregations working in these communities and supported by EHF must remain strong and effective both now and in the future.” That’s why EHF invested $6 million in grants to help 64 nonprofit clinics and other organizations that serve at-risk communities in Texas on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. These grants supported community clinics serving lowincome Texans, behavioral and mental health organizations, nonprofits offering enrollment in health insurance and other benefit programs, organizations promoting early childhood brain development, and groups raising community voice on health inequality issues. All of the organizations that received COVID-19 grants are current EHF grantees working within the foundation’s strategic plan to improve health, not just health care in Texas. They are working to find solutions to address the underlying causes of poor health that go beyond medical care alone. “COVID-19 has highlighted how non-medical, community factors are often the root causes of poor health,” Marks said. “Certain groups are seeing more deaths and serious complications from the virus because they’re more likely to already suffer chronic conditions related to where they live that make them more susceptible. The urgency to address these social and community factors has never been greater.” The grant funding was part of EHF’s $13 million overall COVID-19 response plan. The plan included a $2 million grant to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, a $4.8 million emergency loan program for grantees, technical assistance to help organizations apply for government aid programs, and an extensive research survey to help government and philanthropic efforts know what Texans need to recover from the pandemic. EHF’s statewide survey found that half of Texans say they have suffered financially as a result of COVID-19 and more than one-third say they or someone in their household skipped or postponed needed health care since the pandemic began. The comprehensive survey asked Texans about everything from their likelihood to get a COVID-19 vaccine, to the experiences of essential workers, to how prepared Texans think all levels of government are for another wave of COVID-19. The report highlights how the pandemic is affecting Texans differently depending on household income, race, whether they have health insurance, and many other factors. “From being uninsured to not having internet access for online school, Texans say these non-medical factors are not only shaping how they’re dealing with the pandemic, but they could also seriously affect their future health in many different ways,” Marks said. In addition to the statewide report, EHF released results from regional surveys in Harris County and Central Texas. The surveys were featured in more than 50 news reports across the state, and they are also being used by government and philanthropic efforts to help reach those most in need with the help they need the most after COVID-19. EHF is doing all of this work with the understanding that while short-term crisis relief is crucial, for many who face health challenges as a result of social and economic conditions prior to a disaster, their crisis doesn’t end. Staying the course for EHF does not mean business as usual. It means doubling down on our efforts to focus on health and not just health care, address the non-medical causes of poor health, and engage communities to address systemic economic and social issues that affect health. Those in our communities who are most vulnerable during COVID-19 will continue to be vulnerable after the pandemic unless we work to address the root causes of health disparities. Guadalupe knows that reality all too well. While she was battling her own health and financial concerns, much of her family became sick with COVID-19. Her brother and cousin died. Meanwhile, her worries for her and her family’s future don’t go away. If anything, the pandemic has demonstrated that closing the gaps in health and safety net efforts is crucial. That’s why supporting the clinics and organizations doing this critical work is so important. However, if we don’t also address the non-medical problems that caused these gaps in the first place, the health of Texans won’t improve. That’s why EHF’s work doesn’t change course, it moves forward with the hope that the “new normal” after COVID-19 is a renewed focus on improving health, not just health care across Texas.
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On August 2020, PBS NewsHour aired a five-part universal health care series featuring Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks.
EPISCOPAL HEALTH FOUNDATION FEATURED ON PBS NEWSHOUR PBS NewsHour correspondent William Brangham and producer Jason Kane, in partnership with Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard Global Health Institute, begin the series in Houston. Houston, known for providing some of the most cuttingedge medical innovation as well as for having one of the largest uninsured populations in nation, represents both the best and worst of the current U.S. health care systems. The first episode also mentions that although Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, “the biggest medical city of the world,” just several miles away, there are low-income, largely minority neighborhoods with many residents lacking basic health insurance who die, on average, 20 years earlier than in other parts of Houston. The series also examines health care in other countries such as Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Australia, highlighting three very different ways of achieving universal health coverage and lessons the U.S. might consider going forward. The last episode of the series also explores how these nations have handled the COVID-19 pandemic and the role their health care systems play. The series can be found at PBS NewsHour YouTube page.
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For many Episcopalians in our diocese, Ash Wednesday was the last major feast or fast before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. February 26 was a cold day in Houston, and most people downtown stayed huddled inside for warmth, but a ministry team from the Houston Diocesan Office and Christ Church Cathedral spent midday outside, imposing ashes on the foreheads of passerby. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” said the Rev. Rebecca Zartman as she imposed ashes on the forehead of a young Houstonian. The ashes, burned remnants of last year’s Palm Sunday leaves, represent penance, mourning and mortality. Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season, but in 2020 it also happened to mark the beginning of a new season for the church: one of social distancing, virtual fellowship, and for many, isolation. However, just as the Lenten season prepares our hearts for glory of the Easter resurrection, so too has ‘COVIDtide’ guided us into new ministries. This year has certainly been a time for ashes, and yet, hope shines through. Multimedia specialist Ellie Singer recorded the ashes-to-go ministry in this photo series.
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HOUSTON RELIGIOUS LEADERS EXPRESS MESSAGE ABOUT KEEPING HOUSTON SAFE In May, 2020, six Houston-area religious leaders came together to deliver an interfaith message about faith, unity and keeping Houston safe. Their message reflected on reasons why they waited to perform in-person worship and about following local guidelines in avoiding community spread of COVID-19. Featured religious leaders included: Andy Doyle, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas; Shariq Abdul Ghani, Director of Minaret Foundation; Lynn Hargrove, General Presbyter & Stated Clerk for Administrative Process of the General Presbyterian New Covenant; Rabbi David Lyon, Congregation Beth Israel Houston; Scott Jones, Bishop of the Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, Houston; and Pastor John D. Ogletree, First Metropolitan Church of Northwest Houston. The video shares an important ecumenical message about waiting to gather to keep Houston safe. The leaders emphasized they believe in religious freedom. “We believe this includes the right to worship at our churches, synagogues, mosques and homes without interference from government,” the leaders said in the video. You can view the video at tinyurl.com/y5avncfo. 50 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Porque donde están dos o tres reunidos en mi nombre, allí estoy yo en medio de ellos.” Mateo 18:20
Hispanic Congregations 51 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Q&A WITH LUZ MONTES: FIRST LATINA BROUGHT UP IN THE DIOCESE OF TEXAS SHARES HER EXPERIENCES OF BECOMING CURATE by Paulette E. Martin PEM: Tell me a bit about your background. Where is your family from? Did you have another profession? If so, what was it? LCM: I was born and raised here in Houston; I’ve actually only ever lived in Texas. My parents came to the United States in the 1980’s during the civil wars in El Salvador. I also consider El Salvador an important part of my life, as growing up, I spent most summers there with my siblings who lived there. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study after high school or if I would be able to attend college. As a first-generation college student, I decided that because I enjoyed what I was doing at church as a part-time youth minister, I would become a teacher. I loved working with children and thought I would also be able to give back to my community in this way. Before attending seminary, I taught elementary school for five years at Houston ISD. PEM: How did your involvement in the Episcopal Church (San Mateo, Bellaire) start? LCM: I always say that my parents accidentally joined the Episcopal Church. My mom’s sister, Carmen, is who initially invited us to San Mateo. There we found a supporting community, and I started asking questions about the church. Sandra Montes and Ewart Jones were just two of many, many adults who at the time made sure I was connecting with others in the church. From the parish and community of San Mateo, I started attending youth events and conventions and began participating in different capacities within the wider Church. PEM: Looking back, tell me about the moment you realized you wanted to follow priesthood? How did you discover that God called you to this ministry? LCM: I don’t think there was a specific moment. I loved what I was doing prior to seminary, and it felt right at that time, but I was also comfortable. I did not grow up seeing many female priests, so this was one of the reasons why it was not something that I felt I was called to. I knew I wanted to serve the church but was not sure in what capacity. PEM: How does it feel to be the first Latina brought up in the diocese and now serving as a curate in the Diocese of Texas? LCM: It is truly a blessing! San Mateo is truly a special place, and the history of this parish is quite unique. I also love this diocese, this church, and the awesome God I get to serve. But, if I am completely honest, sometimes it is also challenging. On a good and healthy day, I know that God calls me for who I am and celebrates the differences of my 52 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
story as a Latina. On the not-so-good days, it is hard. I find myself feeling lonely with too few role models who reflect my journey. There is a lot I still do not know about serving as a priest, but I also now know that we all serve the same God and that there is value in my experiences. PEM: Have you faced any hurdles? If so, what are they? LCM: I think for all of us 2020 has been nothing but hurdles! Seminary really uncovered a lot for me; I thought I knew who I was and what God was calling me to, but my last year of seminary was a turning point. I realized how much I had conformed to a culture that was not mine. There was a lot of shame and with that came a lot of pain. I had to have many difficult conversations with myself and many loved ones about what was being brought up to the surface for me. And most recently, when we moved back to Houston in June, I found out that my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Navigating the healthcare system and processing this type of diagnosis was a major event, to say the least. It was a time of uncertainty and lots of fear, but today, my mom is completely healed, and I look forward to continuing celebrating when quarantine is over. PEM: You have a lineage of family members who have and are doing great work for the Diocese of Texas. Share a little about that and how they have contributed to where you are now? LCM: I get this question asked often, and my answer is always different. I continue learning from them, their love for God, their leadership skills, their ability to always be the church, and their welcoming spirit, just to name a few. I met Alejandro (former rector at San Mateo, Bellaire) as my pastor; Alex (currently vicar of Saint Mary Magdalene, Manor) as my youth director, and Sandra as a friend, before marrying Thanh, so our relationship is always evolving. They have all, in their own ways, contributed to me being where I am today.
“While in seminary, it was hard being the only Latina in my seminary class. My experiences and those of my classmates were so different. I assumed that I had nothing to offer them, but I was wrong.”
PEM: What has been one of the biggest accomplishments you have been proud of so far? LCM: I am extremely proud of the person I have become today. It has not been easy, but I am finally learning to be comfortable in my own skin. I have had to be very intentional about this, but I have learned that nobody else will do this work for me. While in seminary, it was hard being the only Latina in my seminary class. My experiences and those of my classmates were so different. I assumed that I had nothing to offer them, but I was wrong. I had my experiences as the daughter of immigrants. I had a lot of insight to offer about community involvement, and not because I knew these on my own, but because of all those who made this possible for me. The different communities I belonged to taught me these things. PEM: How do you hope to serve as curate for Trinity, Midtown? What excites you the most? LCM: I am still learning to step into my new role as curate at Trinity. I am not sure what this means during a pandemic, but I look forward to meeting everyone in person. Currently, I am getting to know Trinity through virtual involvement. Some of the feedback I received while in seminary was that I was not always vulnerable or willing to take on leadership roles. Growing up, vulnerability was not modeled for me. I grew up translating documents for my parents and assuring those around me that things would get better. Being in constant survival mode did not allow for some of these skills to be developed. So, I have taken this information and now use it to help me prepare sermons. Given our circumstances, the best way for Trinity to get to know me and create relationships is through my preaching. I keep this in mind when preparing my sermons. PEM: Do you have any role models? If so who?
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LCM: My parents. Orlando has taught me everything about life, and Dina has taught me everything about love. My parents came to this country to work and haven’t stopped since. Both left El Salvador in the 1980’s, sacrificing their families and dreams for their children. There is absolutely no way that I would be where I am today if it were not for them. PEM: Do you regularly invite other women to reflect on ordained ministry? If so, how do you invite them? LCM: Yes! I try to be transparent about my personal experience in the church and encourage others to get curious about ordained ministry. I have a lot of friends who do not attend church or have had negative experiences in the church. I use these opportunities to have conversations about getting involved and being part of the solution. I engage in these conversations when I’m invited as a guest preacher, by participating in church conferences, as well as through social media. I think that the best way for me to invite others is to be intentional with what I do, but most importantly, by allowing God to lead. PEM: What is your advice for women in particular who would like to seek priesthood? LCM: Let’s talk! Ask questions. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask around. That’s one of the wonderful gifts of our church; there is always someone who is wondering the same things. PEM: How do you think your leadership and ministry will benefit Latinos in the Diocese of Texas? LCM: I hope that it will encourage others to feel comfortable in their skin, to know that there is room for all in the church, and to know that our theology may be different from other cultures, but it is needed. Our Eucharistic celebrations on Sundays are a sign of our own small victories; our “hymns,” filled with drums and guitars, are our offerings to God, as is our Sunday cooking. PEM: Anything else you would like to share? LCM: Please keep having difficult conversations! Difficult conversations about race in our church and in our diocese are needed more than ever. This pandemic continues to highlight racial injustices and, as a Latina, I can tell you how true this is. It’s uncomfortable but creates an opportunity for healing, both communal and at an individual level, allowing those marginalized to feel seen and recognized in this world. Que Dios les bendiga y encuentre exactamente donde estén. May God bless and meet you exactly where you are.
Severely Damaged by Hurricane Harvey Hispanic Congregation Celebrates New Space The wait finally came to an end as members of San Mateo, Houston (Bellaire), gathered for the consecration and dedication of their new classrooms and playground. The Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, bishop of Texas, and the Rt. Rev. Hector Monterroso, bishop assistant of the diocese, performed the blessings on Saturday, February 1, 2020. San Mateo was one of the churches in the diocese that was severely affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The parish hall, classrooms and altar were flooded. It has taken more than two years for the construction and renovations to be completed. 54 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Santa Maria Virgen, Houston, Celebrates Grand Opening of their First Parish Hall Assistant Bishop Monterroso joined the Rev. Uriel Osnaya-Jimenez on October 4, 2020 to dedicate and bless the grand opening of their anticipated parish hall, located at Santa Maria Virgen Episcopal Church in West Houston. Around 45 people gathered in the new space, all of them standing six feet apart. It was the first in-person Eucharist since the pandemic broke out. Osnaya-Jimenez is grateful for the new space as this marks the congregation’s first parish hall. He’s grateful for his congregation, the Episcopal Foundations, the Bishops’ support and God. “This is a dream come true,” said Osnaya-Jimenez. “Twenty-three years ago, we dedicated the parish and now the parish hall. This will give us the opportunity to keep growing as a congregation, better serve the community and hold more activities. There’s more space, more parking, a hall and a kitchen—something we have always longed for.” Santa Maria Virgen, Houston, is one of seven Hispanic congregations within the Houston metropolitan area.
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SCENES FROM SAN MATEO HERITAGE MONTH
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We know that all things work together for good and for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Helping Churches Pivot 57 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
TECHNOLOGY GRANTS FOR CONGREGATIONS 2020 Stronger Together, Churches Pivot to Digital Ministries By Ellen Singer The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way our churches gather, worship, and serve the community. Although we could not gather this year in close proximity, leaders across our diocese worked hard to innovate. Zoom meetings, live streams, phone trees, and Discord servers hosted communities when parish halls and coffee shops could not. Many congregations even found new life in digital ministry, welcoming new community members and serving those who could not attend gatherings in person as before. Our diocese came together to meet the challenges of 2020. One beautiful example is in the Small Church Network, a group of leaders in small churches that meet regularly and support each other’s ministry. The SCN stayed in contact this year through a vibrant Facebook group and met on Zoom for their annual gathering. Bishop Jeff Fisher commented on their resilience and the joy of collaboration: “The Small Church Network in our diocese gathers laity and clergy from congregations with 50 or fewer in average Sunday attendance. Usually, the gatherings are an overnight retreat, offered twice a year at Camp Allen. We try to provide useful information, best practices, and substantial takeaways, in such areas as music and liturgy, outreach, stewardship, and Christian Formation. Different people from congregations are attracted to different gatherings, based on the scheduled topic. Over the years, it has been my joy to watch people grow into a true network, collaborating with one another to break down the isolation that can sometimes exist. During this year of pandemic, the fruits from these relationships have been invaluable, as our smaller congregations continue to impact their communities, inside and outside their walls.” At this year’s SCN gathering, a virtual workshop on digital community building, attendees reflected upon the season of 'Covidtide.’ From video production to caring for the isolated, much has been asked of congregational leaders this year. “2020 burnout” was an experience felt by all. By sharing resources, advice, and experience, small churches supported each other and even thrived during a difficult time. Coming together amidst adversity provided a ray of hope in 2020. Thanks to the generosity of our foundations, the Diocese of Texas was able to approve over $150,000 of multimedia grants for small and medium parishes. The grants included equipment and coaching to ensure every community can connect digitally. Congregations are using this equipment to update their Wi-Fi connectivity, livestream events, and fulfill their mission as the body of Christ in 2020. The digital age is here to stay, and the hard work our leaders contributed this year, with generous support from the community, will leave a positive legacy for years to come.
AUSTIN AREA CHURCH PLANTS OVERCOME ADVERSITY
Despite significant challenges confronting church plants in the west region due to the pandemic, communities adapted and overcame. Before the pandemic, Church of the Cross, Lakeway, and the SoCo Episcopal Community met for worship in public schools. These schools have been closed to outside groups since March. In response, church planters innovated. Church of the Cross has entered into a creative arrangement with an outdoor wedding venue. SoCo has found its congregation being nurtured through the use of Zoom. Church of the Incarnation, Austin, with Brin Bon, has focused deeply on forming disciples of Jesus who find their faith sustained by Episcopal worship and a rule of life. 58 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Luke 3:10-11
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Blessed to Bless: St. Christopher’s, Austin, Responds to the Needs of Its Neighbors In the fall of 2020, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Austin was moved by the profound need in the Austin community resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Many small local nonprofits were especially struggling, and many have had to shut their doors, cutting off vital services to the community. Thanks to the stewardship, foresight, and frugality of past vestries, St. Christopher's found itself in a position to help. The lay leaders and the vestry identified five small local nonprofits to receive grants. They chose organizations consistent with the church's core values, some with whom the church shared a prior outreach relationship and some that were new organizations with Episcopal connections. A $10K gift was made to Neighbor2Neighbor, a ministry of St. James' Episcopal Church, Austin, to support their work feeding seniors and vulnerable adults in East Austin. A $10K gift was given to Casa Marianella, a local homeless shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers. A $14K gift was given to Sammy's House, a school for medically fragile children. A $10K gift was given to Foster Village to support its work helping foster families. A $6K gift was given to the Travis County Community Center to support its work helping seniors. Lastly, a $5K gift was given to El Buen Samaritano to support its work feeding neighbors in need. In total, the congregation distributed $55K worth of gifts from its cash reserves, a total that is about 1/5 of the church's operating budget. These gifts were given in a spirit of abundance, knowing that God calls all of us to share what we've been given for the life of the world. The parishioners of St. Christopher's gave these funds to serve the mission of the church in the world, and these grants were sent out on their behalf.
Foster Village vulnerable family recently:
sent a short note of how St. Christopher's gift allowed them to serve one
"Just one of many examples of children who we recently had the chance to care for, thanks to St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church… A sibling group of five children ranging in age from 4 years old to 17 years old was removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. These siblings were so bonded to each other, but sadly, CPS was unable to find a foster home that could take all of them together. So rather than separating them and adding further trauma to an already traumatic situation, CPS was able to bring them to our Oak Haven resource center where they had a safe and comfortable place to stay while the search for a suitable home continued. When a home was eventually found, the foster parents felt overwhelmed with the task of needing to purchase five beds and all of the other basic necessities for that many children. With the funds you provided, we were able to supply this family with new beds, car seats, clothing, and all of the other critically needed items, allowing them to focus their energy on helping the children to adjust and connect. And through our continued support and trainings, these caregivers feel equipped and confident in their ability to continue caring for these siblings for as long as the children need them." 60 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
St. Cyprian’s in Lufkin Responds with Masks for First Responders
Dr. Lisa McLane, a Lufkin family practitioner, pleaded with St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church’s St. Clare’s Guild member, Suzi Powell, about making masks for a hospice center in town before they ran out of supply. St. Clare’s Guild is a group of crafters and stitchers at St. Cyprian’s. Powell and 11 ladies researched and found the appropriate pattern to sew over 600 masks for health care workers at Angelina Pediatric Clinic, Hospice in the Pines, various physicians in the community and the 117 employees at the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department. “As we all know, there aren’t enough protective masks to protect folks from COVID-19. This is particularly the case in the heart of the Piney Woods of East Texas. Health care workers and the Angelina County Sheriff’s Department needed masks and washable N95 mask covers, and there were none to be found,” said Terri Morgan, the rector’s wife, parishioner, and St. Clare’s Guild member. Additionally, fellow guild member, Sue Ross, who is a retired nurse practitioner, had already devised a mask pattern which called for masks to be sewn out of woven cotton fabric and lined with a piece of flannel for a filter when used as a cover- similar to the N95 masks. Each mask also had either elastic straps or cloth ties. After the city of Lufkin called for everyone to wear masks in public on April 2, the St. Clare’s Guild also made masks for church members and families.
St. Julian of Norwich, Round Rock, and Soco Episcopal Community, Austin, Help Keep Neighbors Housed The Revs. Miles Brandon (St. Julian of Norwich, Round Rock) and Paul Skeith (SoCo Episcopal Community, Austin) are key participants in Central Texas Interfaith. Central Texas Interfaith is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-issue organization of 43 congregations, public schools, and unions who work together to address public issues that affect the well-being of families and neighborhoods in our community. Their work was instrumental in securing protection from evictions for families in Travis County in the early months of the pandemic.
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Houston City Council and Houston Food Bank Partner with St. James', Putting Community First
Houston City Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz (District D) shown in yellow holding box
In September, St. James’, Houston, hosted a multi-faceted community service event to help meet the needs of its neighbors during the pandemic. Over 1200 boxes and bags of food were distributed. Many parishioners donated non-perishable items—canned goods, pasta, sauce, peanut butter, jelly, rice, dry beans, cereal, oatmeal, grits, fruit cups, almond milk, ramen noodles, soup, and more. Working with Houston City Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz (District D) and the Houston Food Bank, twentytwo pallets of fresh produce—lettuce, celery, onion, potatoes, apples, carrots, cantaloupe—were delivered on the morning of the giveaway. There were also donations of much needed fresh meat. Boxes and bags were packed to feed families of 4-6 people. Included in the boxes were face coverings, necessary for protection against the coronavirus. In partnership with Masks for All, each distributed facemask was placed in a sealed plastic zip-top bag with care instructions and an informational leaflet. District D Houston City Council officials, onboard with all hands-on deck, not only assisted with food and mask distribution, but also promoted the 2020 Census and offered education about the importance of every person being counted for the betterment of the greater community. If that wasn’t enough, the Houston (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a community service organization, was on site with voter registrars to register residents to vote, update voter information, and to apprise residents of their voter status. At the conclusion of the event, leftover food items were loaded onto trucks and into vans and were taken to Cuney Homes, which became a new distribution site for a food and mask giveaway for its residents. Cuney Homes is a public housing complex in Third Ward located near Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. 62 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Austin Priest Runs Marathon Around His House to Keep Neighbors Safe They often say that good leaders lead by example. When City of Austin officials implemented their stay-at-home order, not only did the Rev. David Peters obey it, but he also made sure that it didn’t hinder him from engaging in one of his favorite hobbies: running. In an interview he did with CBS Austin, Peters shared he ran a full marathon around his house. That’s right, 26.2 whole miles. "I was just feeling a lot of anxiety about running out in the streets with other people and being around other runners. So, I just said, I'm going to focus on what I can do," he told the local TV station. It took Peters over 5 hours and 600 laps around his house to finish. "As a spiritual leader in this community, I need to model the kind of behaviors that I hope other people will follow," said Peters. Peters is currently vicar at St. Joan of Arc Church Plant in Austin.
St. Mark’s, Richmond, Donates Masks to Local Organizations A large mask donation was made to St. Mark’s, Richmond, from Mask-It-On, which parishioners decided to donate to several needy organizations. Lou and Harris Cloninger said, “It is our goal to secure many more masks for our church to distribute. We wanted to get these quickly because Dr. Vu with Mask-It-On has had many requests.” Dr. Vu personally paid for all of the masks because of his own business success and his desire to give back to those in need. The Rev. Greg Seme of Christ Church Cathedral does outreach at the school and works directly with the Beacon and its homeless population. Seme, along with the Beacon, distributed 2,000 of Vu’s masks to persons who are homeless, poor and indigent. Additionally, The Attack Poverty Group of Fort Bend County was given 1600 masks to distribute at eight distribution points within the county. Of the remaining masks, 200 were each given to Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army of New Orleans. Galilee Baptist Church in Brazoria also received 300. Pictured left to right: Fort Bend County Commissioner, Vincent Morales; Bettye Newberry; Lee Leaman, Senior Warden; Rev. Susie Comer, Rector; Jeannie Reaves, Salvation Army of New Orleans; Isobel Gotschall, Meals on Wheels; Lou Cloninger, parish member and recipient of the masks; and Brandon Baca, Attack Poverty CEO. 63 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
COVID-19 Changes How Peach Street Farmer’s Market Operates
Like many other businesses, the Peach Street Farmer’s Market had to shut down in mid-March due to COVID-19 and for the safety and health of the Angleton community. The market, which was created in August 2017 by members of Holy Comforter, Angleton, provides the opportunity for small businesses to get their start and connect with the community by selling healthy, locally-grown food. Vendors voiced their concerns shortly after the shutdown, fearing they would be forced to have to start throwing away food, which seemed not to be the best solution during a time when people were in such need. Additionally, the market was the sole source of income for 50 percent of the vendors. Peach Street leaders and vendors collaborated for a safe way to reopen by having a one-way, drive-thru market with safety measures in place. “Just watching the way the drive-thru market evolved was such a testimony to their trust and the loyalty of the relationships that have already been established,” said Ellen Eby, Peach Street Farmer’s Market manager. “It was just amazing! The market just organically took on a new form. It’s a true testimony to the relationships people have built and the trust they have to reach out and continue taking care of one another in an extraordinary, unprecedented time. That they have cultivated enough of a relationship of loyalty and trust to do that is just really goose-bumpy and amazing.” 64 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
“I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. Jeremiah 33:6
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St. Thomas the Apostle, Nassau Bay, Provides Monthly Food Distributions St. Thomas the Apostle, Nassau Bay, began a monthly fresh food distribution in April to help neighbors in need throughout the Nassau Bay, Pasadena and Webster communities. A Galveston Food Bank transfer truck parks at the church on the first Saturday of each month, and volunteers package pallets of food into serviceable quantities. Volunteers spend about an hour placing onions, oranges and potatoes into small bags to be given out to 150-plus nearby families. The church distributes at least eight different types of food to those in need each month. In the words of organizers KariAnn Lessner and Karen Kraycirik, “Friendships were forged, hands got dirty, and God’s presence was felt by all.”
El Buen Samaritano Acts Quickly to Fight Food Insecurity El Buen Samaritano is an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas serving the Latino community of Central Texas, committed to ensuring equity to food access in our community. In 2020, the organization retooled its operation within two weeks of the March shutdown and provided more than 20,000 weeks of food to individuals and families facing food insecurity before the end of the year. EBS, with the extraordinary leadership of Executive Director Dr. Rosamaria Murillo, also partnered with the City of Austin to distribute 1.5 M dollars in aid to families to pay for household needs and rent. 66 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Honoring George Floyd by Giving to His Neighbors
Cuney Homes is walking distance away from 100 year-old St. Luke the Evangelist and blocks away from St. James', Houston. George Floyd is a Black man who was killed by police officers on the side of a busy street this past summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a convenience store. The clerk who called the police would later deeply regret making that phone call. The unexpected outcome is that millions of people around the globe would repeatedly witness this heinous act as video footage of the incident was released and inundated news cycle after news cycle for days and weeks on end. The absence of compassion and humanity by those who murdered him remains unfathomable. Even sadder, due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders in so many places, some of the most impressionable humans—children—bore witness to the brutality of the police officers. The vicious killing of Mr. Floyd traumatized communities the world over, and for weeks—and in some places months—in the midst of a global pandemic, millions took to the streets in protest over the murder of Mr. Floyd. He did not deserve to die and certainly didn’t have to die was the sentiment felt by many. Mr. Floyd grew up in Cuney Homes, in historic Third Ward, just blocks away from St. James’ and St. Luke the Evangelist Episcopal Churches. Cuney Homes is a longstanding housing project in Third Ward located near Texas Southern University, a historically black college and university (HBCU), as well as the University of Houston. During the pandemic, like every other community, church, institution and entity within the diocese, St. James’ has served and continues to serve its neighbors in a variety of ways. It has hosted several successful food drives, giving away an abundance of fresh produce, meat, canned and dry goods, among other edibles. With each food giveaway the parish hosts, it also distributes masks and hand sanitizer to help ensure the health safety of those in need. With much left to share, at the conclusion of one of its food giveaways, parishioners visited Cuney Homes, the very location where Mr. Floyd grew up and where he remains very well known by many of its current residents. St. James’, Houston, St. James' parishioners unloading boxes of fresh meat, produce, dry goods and canned foods (along with items to help stay safe parishioners distributed a truckload of boxes of food, chock full during pandemic) to housing project where George Floyd lived and is fondly remembered of healthy food items throughout this food desert community. The population of Cuney Homes is a vulnerable one. Aside from the residents being low income, many are elderly and in poor health. The parish remembers the life, and unfortunately the death, of Mr. George Floyd. Like so many, members find his death horrific, yet remain hopeful, because of the awareness his unnecessary death brought to the forefront of world events. It didn’t have to happen, but prayers for change and equality continue. 67 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
St. Isidore’s, Spring, Opens Abundant Harvest KitchenNew Non Profit Food Pantry and Gathering System - During Pandemic
While people were quarantining at home, a new nonprofit food pantry and gathering center, The Abundant Harvest Kitchen, opened in the Spring area. Founded by the Church Community of St. Isidore’s, the kitchen provides meals to local residents who are unable to buy food because of the coronavirus. Located at 24803 Oakhurst Dr. in Spring, the 8,000-square-foot building opened March 30, 2020 and has distributed more than 88,000 pounds of food and 4,000 meals. The gathering center, which consists of a café, lounge and meeting areas, will open once the coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted. Executive Director Jeremy Hall said that while the kitchen has been in development for years, the organization has had experience running its Abundant Harvest Food Truck since 2016. “The connections with community members and other local nonprofits helped the pantry adapt through its launch in the midst of a crisis,” Hall said. The Abundant Harvest Kitchen website now allows individuals to place a meal-to-go order and use curbside pickup every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit harvestkitchen.org.
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San Pedro, Pasadena, Feeds Thousands During Pandemic Thousands were fed through the feeding and assistance ministry at St. Peter’s/ San Pedro, Pasadena, after COVID-19 impacted the area. San Pedro’s nonprofit, North Pasadena Community Outreach (NPCO), partnered weekly with the Houston Food Bank for its food pantry. The NPCO normally distributed food to around 200 families each week along with benefits assistance, however, COVID-19 increased that number approximately 250 percent. The day organizers saw the increase, a total of 446 cars were in a mile-long line. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Celia Curiel, site manager. “Normally we see a couple of hundred families, but many of these people have never been here before. I’ve even seen friends and fellow parishioners here for the first time. So many people are struggling.” “Many of our families are especially vulnerable because they work jobs without wage protection and job security. When so many employers cancel on their housekeepers or workers, families lose their income,” said the Rev. Pedro Lopez, vicar of San Pedro. “The situation is even more devasting for refugees and undocumented immigrants who will not be eligible for financial assistance from the government.” The feeding ministry was possible with the help of over 20 volunteers. They were required to practice social distancing, wear masks and gloves, and avoid close contact with clients while on duty.
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ST. PETER’S, BRENHAM St. Peter’s, Brenham, located just between Houston and Austin, is another parish that had to redefine their efforts to help local families during the pandemic. Although Washington County has a small population base, with approximately 34,500 residents, according to Peterson, 25% of the county is considered to be food insecure based on their annual income. The Rev. Carol Peterson shares that St. Peter’s has helped thousands of people since the start of the pandemic. Peterson also shares that St. Peter’s has always had a heart for the community and that their on-site pantry has existed for about 10 years. Three years ago, St. Peter’s played a pivotal role in starting a county level food security coalition, where they have invited other local churches to participate. Organizations such as the local Boys and Girls Club and the regional food bank have become key players.
ST. PHILIP’S, HEARNE Just outside of Bryan/College Station, you can find St. Philip’s, Hearne, another micro parish—with average attendance of 20 before the pandemic—that offers an abundance of support to their community. “Our tiny parish offers a calming presence in the midst of uncertainty,” said the Rev. Melva Charlotte Love, vocational deacon at St. Philip’s. In March, 2020, St. Philip’s and the Hearne community faced an unpredictable hardship when Hearne ISD went into lockdown. School closings forced many children to stay home, leaving them without access to school breakfast and lunch. This didn’t become an impediment to Rev. Love. She contacted Rhonda Cloud, head of Hearne ISD Food Services and offered assistance to make meals available by home delivery. They managed to provide a safe protocol against COVID-19. From March to June, members of the parish took turns delivering meals to the children. By May, they were delivering 60 meals to 24 homes, twice a week.
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Parishes Ensure Food Security to Their Communities During Uncertain Times St. John’s, Sealy; St. Philip’s, Hearne; and St. Peter’s, Brenham, are all small parishes with huge hearts. Prior to and during the pandemic, these three congregations have fused their efforts with local organizations to help feed those who are facing hardships. These endeavors have only gained momentum during these uncertain times.
ST. JOHN’S, SEALY St. John’s, Sealy, located just west of Katy, TX, has expanded their food programs as they work alongside Sealy Meals on Wheels by distributing food to the neediest. They also contribute funds to the Sealy Ministerial Alliance program and support individuals who request aid directly from St. John’s. During the pandemic, St. John’s parishioners have distributed approximately 1,000 meals as part of the Meals on Wheels program. The parish also purchased and distributed approximately 126 weeks of food for residents in need at the Sealy Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facility.
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Grace Episcopal Church, Alvin, Provides Food for Thousands with Drive-Thru Food Bank
Each week since the beginning of the year, a mobile pantry has handed out food in the parking lot of Grace, Alvin. The church partners with the Manvel Community Outreach and Houston Food Bank to bring fresh food and produce to Alvin. The Houston Food Bank brings out a refrigerated truck containing 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of fresh food and vegetables. Volunteers from Grace and other community organizations help unload and bag the food. With more than 50 percent of Alvin ISD students qualifying under Title 1 for free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch, the Rev. Suzanne Smith believed it was more important than ever to help families in need as students were doing school at home because of COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, the church had to switch the food pantry to a drive-thru service, which allowed food to be given in a safe way. Volunteers would box up the food and place the boxes in the trunks of cars lined up for food. The first week of the drive-thru service saw 281 families, and each was given about 40 pounds of food. Smith believes around 1,000 people were fed that week because of their efforts. Although some families waited in line up to two hours, they were extremely grateful for the food.
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Thanksgiving Food Giveaway at St. James’, Houston The pandemic has caused the Third Ward neighborhood food pantry to close its doors, and St. James’ has stepped up to fill the gap. Community outreach and the Thanksgiving spirit both remain alive and well at St. James’ during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In an effort to serve the wider community this holiday, St. Jaxmes’ hosted a Thanksgiving Food Giveaway event on Saturday, November 21, 2020. The event was free, and it was open to all. Cars began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and the line weaved down Southmore Boulevard and onto several side streets in the neighborhood. Other safety protocols were in effect with everyone wearing masks, getting temperature checks, and COVID-19 screenings were administered. Social distancing was enforced, and gloves and hand sanitizer were readily available for use. All Praise to God, over 500 boxes and bags of food were given out, helping countless families this Thanksgiving. Thank you to the community partners that assisted in the giveaway. The Office of State Senator Borris Miles donated vouchers for turkeys. Houston City Council District D Office – Carolyn Evans-Shabazz coordinated the delivery from Houston Food Bank. Several office staffers and Council Member Evans-Shabazz volunteered to hand out the food boxes. The Houston Chapter of Charms, Inc., a social organization, donated the candied yams and marshmallows and assisted with packing boxes. Several church ministries participated as well. The John D. Epps Chapter of Union of Black Episcopalians provided the cranberry sauce, green vegetables, desserts, and mac n’ cheese. St. James’ chapters of Episcopal Church Women and Daughters of the King brought stuffing and gravy, and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew gave turkeys, hams, and gift cards. Special thanks to the Watson and Wesley families for the canned green vegetables. And to all the volunteers – the event was successful due to your selflessness and willingness to serve the people of God’s Kingdom. St. James’ Episcopal Church, Houston – “Bringing People Together and Helping Them to be Christ-like.” 73 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Overcoming Disaster 74 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Thanks to generous multi-year grants from Episcopal Relief & Development and our diocesan Quin Foundation, the Diocese of Texas Hurricane Recovery team has partnered with our congregations to assist our under-resourced neighbors in recovering from Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda, Hurricane Laura, and Hurricane Delta.
It is fair to say that if some of us had known what would await us in the new year when we turned the last page of 2019, we might not have had the courage to show up. As 2020 presented one disaster after another, our most vulnerable sisters and brothers were trying to navigate the effects of previous crises. For example, hundreds of Texas families affected by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 were still trying to rebuild their lives and homes on New Year’s Day in 2020. Faith-based organizations are found at the forefront of disaster response, and the Diocese of Texas began 2020 with a robust corps of Episcopal volunteers in the Hurricane Harvey mission field. Among them were Doug Eisele from Church of the Holy Apostles (COTHA) in Katy and The Rev. Brad Sullivan from Emmanuel in Houston. Each brought teams of volunteers on multiple Saturdays to repair homes and enjoy fellowship with grateful homeowners in a northeast Houston neighborhood. Farther east, the diocesan Hurricane Recovery team learned of a Port Arthur family still displaced after Hurricane Harvey. Moved to action when they heard the family’s story, four churches linked arms with the diocese to bring this family home: St. Mark’s and St. Stephen’s in Beaumont, Holy Trinity in Port Neches, and Good Shepherd Church in Austin. But when the pandemic hit, the contractor hired to lead the repairs could not complete the work. Through a trusted network of ecumenical partners, Billy Graff with iConnect Outreach agreed to lead the project to completion. The story should end happily here, but in August, Hurricane Laura damaged the family’s roof beyond repair. A new partnership with the Disciples of Christ relief arm, “Week of Compassion,” and Holy Family HTX sponsored the new roof, and a family worn weary by the long road to recovery finally returned home, renewed with hope for the future. ”We still can’t believe we’re going home,” the daughter said. “We never thought it would happen. Please thank everyone who helped!” When the pandemic struck, St. Andrew’s in Pearland also faced an interruption to their Harvey home repair outreach which was funded by our diocesan program. Flexibility provided by the grant, however, helped them respond to new community needs in new ways. As co-founders of Brazoria Responds, this new collaboration of churches and non-profits swiftly provided mobile food pantries, education, and training for disaster response coordinators. As multiple storms formed in the Gulf of Mexico, member organizations stood prepared to render aid. Regarding the role of the local church in community work, Associate Pastor Debbie Allensworth said, “There’s a place for each and every one of us,” and collaboration with community partners is the key. Kécia Mallette, Program Manager for the diocesan Hurricane Recovery program describes how “the flexibility of our program empowers congregations to respond to local needs, underscoring our baptismal covenant of respecting the dignity of every human being.” Agile and sensitive response to struggling neighbors is important both for those needing assistance and for the health of congregations. In disasters of all types, we can find meaning and purpose through appropriate action, no matter the magnitude of the gesture. Furthermore, it is often in the whirlwind that Christ invites us to enter into new and deepening relationships that can be the catalyst for transformation. “I sat with each family and listened to their stories,” said Ted Smith, rector of St. Stephen’s in Liberty, who provided gift cards for emergency supplies to Hurricane Laura survivors. “What we had to offer seemed so trivial compared to their losses. I realized that it was not so much the money that the cards contained, it was the hope contained in the listening and the giving. Someone actually cared and wanted to help.” Sometimes God calls us to serve without any warning, and other times we prepare to respond well. The Rev. Steven Balke, rector of St. Stephen’s in Beaumont, is leading his
Members of Emmanuel Church in Houston, Church of the Holy Apostles (COTHA) in Katy, and St. James in Conroe joined our diocesan team for another Saturday of "food, fellowship and service" by rebuilding previously flooded family homes in Houston
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congregation to vision 2021 as a year of “reframing their mission and ministry.” Balke recognizes that theirs is a church situated within a traumatized community. Since 2017, the region has weathered multiple storms, and in 2018, the church experienced a bomb scare. In response, Balke put to work his Mental Health First Aid training, and he also trained others, so that this family of faith may contribute to the healing and wellbeing of the wider community. Like Balke, Licensed Professional Counselor Marisol Salgado believes that the Church is ideally situated to teach and model that it’s okay not to feel okay, and it’s healthy to seek help. Through our diocesan program, Salgado was hired by San Pablo in Houston to provide culturally competent counseling to Harvey survivors whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the hurricane. For folks to desire counseling, however, she would first need to destigmatize mental health by normalizing how people are affected by stress. Through Salgado’s work, hundreds have learned and are practicing beneficial coping skills, and those benefits in turn ripple out to family members and beyond. Fatigued by weather-related catastrophes, a prolonged public health and economic crisis, and the nationwide reckoning of racial injustice, it is possible to lose hope. Chap Edmondson of Holy Family HTX finds hope in seeing congregants continue to show up amid personal trauma and tragedy. Resilience rooted in faithfulness is a gift our faith communities can share with those buffeted by life’s many storms. Personally, Edmonson finds himself leaning on the groundedness of liturgical practices as he continues to find his footing in new contexts. When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry toured our diocese shortly after Hurricane Harvey, he proclaimed that, “The Church is uniquely equipped to do long term disaster recovery, because when everyone else leaves, we’re still here.” Three years later, most disaster recovery organizations have left this mission field to serve in others, but since Bishop Curry’s visit, increasing numbers of Episcopal communities have cultivated flourishing networks that helped them nimbly and creatively respond to community crises. In many ways, 2020 generated more questions than answers, but what remains known and unwavering is the beauty that emerges when congregations boldly link arms with others in the face of adversity. Hard times reveal our vulnerabilities, yet Balke reports how adversity has also summoned up surprising gifts in the members of his church. “We didn’t know our own strength until pressed upon,” he added. Our sacred scriptures teach that God calls us outside our comfort zones to be both the agents of transformation and the transformed. The year 2020 was indeed such a summons. Heeding the call to look beyond our safe routines, acts of mercy both great and small were offered to neighbors still recovering from previous storms. We have been given glimpses of heaven on earth amid disasters! This heaven may not be lined with streets of gold, but it is filled with neighbors whose names we now know and who know our names, because we walk together. The Diocese of Texas Hurricane Recovery team was led by The Rev. Stacy Stringer, Director; Kécia Mallette, Program Manager; and Suzanne Hollifield, Volunteer Coordinator.
ST. LUKE’S ON THE LAKE, AUSTIN, PROVIDES HURRICANE RELIEF St. Luke’s on the Lake responded to the summer hurricanes in Port Neches and Lake Charles by helping the Episcopal Churches in those places with emergency supplies and with Christmas angel gifts. Volunteers drove to affected areas and partnered with four families in need. In an August 28th call for donations, St. Luke’s reminded us that “Disaster relief is a marathon, not a sprint, and we must prepare to be Christ to the world more than once or even twice.”
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Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31
Embracing Our Seniors
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WELCOME TABLE MADE AN IMPACT WITH EPISCOPAL SENIORS FOUNDATION GRANT BY LIZZIE CAIN CLARK Welcome Table's Neighbor 2 Neighbor program has built its reputation on relationships and the foundational belief that everyone brings gifts to the work we do. Many of our neighbors in need of food or other services also help with program operations, and COVID-19 hasn't changed that. When our service model switched to phone calls, texts, and home deliveries, neighbors jumped in to find out how they could help. Neighbors are actively engaged in spreading the word about opportunities and looking out for each other. "Bobbie" has been particularly effective as a call center volunteer, helping her neighbors enroll in programs, sharing information, and keeping staff informed about where attention is needed. We belong to each other, we are in this together, and dignity is fortified in the fellowship of community. Partnerships are essential to the effort. Joining up with the “Stay Home Stay Healthy” initiative enabled us to expand service volume and add produce and delivery services for our senior and/or immunocompromised neighbors for whom COVID exposure would put them at extreme risk of severe health complications. The program has made over 22,000 deliveries (the balloon pic was from a few months back) since the beginning of COVID, and we are closing in on 500,000 meals delivered to neighbors in need. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the tangible resources we provide have been a Godsend. "Natasha" (name changed to protect privacy), age 62, was especially grateful for the rolls of toilet paper which we were able to share with her. She described that previously she had visited multiple stores, most of whom did not have single rolls available. She could not afford to purchase the large packages of tissue that were for sale, and each store visit was a potential health hazard to her and to her 80+ year old mother with whom she lives. Neighbor 2 Neighbor filled a need and helped her protect her family’s health. Our connection to neighbors and their stories is important fuel that continues to stoke Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s efforts among seniors in our East Austin community. As one of our volunteers describes the experience of involvement with the program, we observe and have opportunities to be instrumental in “the opposite of collateral damage,” when the positive effects of abiding trust and deeper relationships dovetail so beautifully to help in very specific and real ways. As one example of this effect, one of our call center volunteers discovered that our neighbor “Maria” was suffering from infection after a knee surgery. The volunteer embarked on a series of phone calls, leading to the doorstep arrival of a borrowed wheelchair to help Maria travel to and from her medical appointments. Participating in such moments is a gift to all involved and supports our belief in the power of community to help our senior neighbors thrive.
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PANDEMIC FORCES EAST HOUSTON CHURCH TO PIVOT THEIR SERVICES FOR SENIORS With the pandemic raging, the lives of senior citizens continue to be in peril. As they once sought an escape and an opportunity to convene every week, the senior community at St. Peter’s, Pasadena, is one that is heavily impacted by COVID-19. After the CDC reported that the elderly population was and continues to be the most vulnerable, the new way of life forced seniors to alienate themselves from others, including those who help them. The Rev. Pedro Lopez, vicar of St. Peter’s, shared that they had to pivot their services to the seniors who gathered every week at the church’s campus. Lopez who has always been very hands-on when it comes to helping individuals in need, contracted COVID-19 and has suffered from complications in his lungs ever since. He explains that their in-person lunches were converted to drive-thru pantries and personal food deliveries. Approximately 12 volunteers have taken the task to deliver food boxes and to check in with seniors every week by phone. Prior to the pandemic, Lopez said the Episcopal Seniors Foundation would assist seniors by repairing their bathrooms. They would make an assessment of their needs, and in some instances, would install handrails and automatic light switchers, replace the floors, and make the bathrooms handicap accessible to prevent seniors from slipping and falling. During the pandemic, that money has instead been used to help them pay their utilities and rent. Volunteers also buy and deliver medicine to them. St. Peter’s continues to help approximately 40-60 seniors through this ministry. “We need to pray for our senior community because they are the most vulnerable,” said Lopez.
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SENIOR THANKSGIVING COMMUNITY LUNCH The traditional Alvin Senior Center Community Thanksgiving Lunch couldn’t have been executed without the help of volunteers from Grace, Alvin. Generous donors from the community and local caterer Slice of Texas Catering Company also helped pull off the drive-through event, serving over 300 individual meals, thus keeping this decadeslong community tradition going.
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At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in Guiding my name r u O welcomes me. Matthew 18:1-5
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SPIRITUALLY TOGETHER, PHYSICALLY APART By Jenny Campbell
In 2018, in response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Episcopal youth ministers Suzy Spencer and Alex Hillis started Episcopal Strong (ES), a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Episcopal Strong brings together Episcopal youth and adults from throughout our diocese and the country. Participants represent a wide assortment of churches, from small rural congregations to large urban parishes. In 2019, Suzy and Alex formed the Episcopal Strong Leadership Team with youth ministers and youth volunteers: Meghan Hillis, Jenny Campbell, Margaret Martin, and Jordan Dietz. Each team member took on a role in Program, Communications, Meal Prep, and Worship, respectively. In 2018 and 2019, Episcopal Strong relief work included home repair and service projects around Houston. In typical mission trip fashion, our missioners sweat in the sun and slept in a gym at night. In 2020, our new leadership team (John and Lisa Lewis, Meghan and Alex Hillis, Suzy Spencer, Jenny Campbell, and Margaret Martin) started gearing up for the same. When the COVID-19 crisis began, we knew there was work to be done. We couldn’t safely travel from different cities and stay in close quarters, but could we serve our respective communities together? Our 2020 Leadership team got to work. Episcopal Strong took place online during the month of July. This new format brought us some unexpected joys. A number of youth sang, recorded and edited videos of themselves leading songs for Sunday worship. One youth even joined the calls while he was in Colorado on vacation! Each Sunday night, missioners prayed Compline together, sang songs, and explored faith, hope, and love in a time of pandemic. Discussions began in our hour-long Sunday night meetings and then carried over to a service project of the same length on Wednesdays. Missioners were encouraged to do projects on their own time or to join Wednesday night zoom calls to create and serve together. We were delighted when almost every missioner who attended on Sunday came back for Wednesdays.
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COVID-19 challenged our team to plan activities for any sized group. Service projects needed to be easily adaptable to changing circumstances, and to use materials available in the home or contactfree at a local grocery store. We created kits for our homeless neighbors, including things such as protein bars, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as other hygieneproducts.Missioners wrote letters of encouragement and included them in the bags. They also created no-sew masks for those in need, wrote letters to essential workers, and created “hope signs” to encourage neighbors and individuals who needed a little love. Our motto this year was “however we serve, we serve together. Spiritually together, physically apart.”
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All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. Isaiah 54:13
Our Schools 84 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
All Saints Episcopal School Donates Face Shields Around East Texas and Nation
Photo: Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph
Thanks to a 3D printer at All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler, students and staff were busy creating protective face masks for patients and healthcare workers in May. The printer, housed in the school’s fabrication lab, called the Fab Lab, made these top-of-the-line N95 protective face shields. These unique shields, that use interchangeable filters and that are washable and high quality, were shipped to six cities in five states, including several facilities in Tyler. All Saints’ Head of School, Mike Cobb, said they made over 1,000 shields with the help of the printer. The shields have been very helpful for patients and healthcare workers. After the coronavirus started spreading, the five-person team decreased to just Cobb and his daughter, Cailey, who was home from college because of the pandemic. Cobb said they already had the material at the school and wanted to give these shields out free of charge. Smiller@tylerpaper.com
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St. Stephen's School Orchestra Performs Virtual Concert Students at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Upper School in Austin were treated to a virtual concert by the school’s orchestra in mid-April. Orchestra members performed their rendition of “La Cumparsita,” a popular tango by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez. Matthew Kim, a Junior, served as the concertmaster. He chose a specific tempo for the piece and provided notes on how it should be performed. “I also specified that everyone wear headphones and listen to a metronome, so everyone would be on the same beat,” he said. “Since we are all self-distancing, it’s a unique approach to having a spring concert,” Kim said. He said the hardest part about putting on a virtual concert was having to edit 17 videos to make sure they were all on the same beat. “It took me six or eight hours to put this together because I had to first learn how to build it in iMovie,” Kim said. “Moving everyone’s sound and video around to match was also challenging.” His hard work on the video did not go unnoticed, and he looks forward to making more in the future. “So many people have responded with positive comments, and the video has had a lot of views. That’s something I didn’t expect,” he said. “I am interested in creating more in the future, because I realized that people enjoy listening to them.” To view the virtual concert, visit tinyurl.com/ststephensvirtualconcert 86 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
A Boarding School That’s Close to Home
Learn More. Live More. Become More. Austin, TX • www.sstx.org/boarding • 512-327-1213 ext. 210 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Four Calvary Episcopal Students Compete In Virtual Thespian Competition The coronavirus pandemic canceled many end-of-year competitions for students; however, four Calvary Middle School students were still able to compete after the National Thespian Convention decided on a virtual competition. Sixth grader William Broussard continued the school’s grade level tradition as he received a superior rating in solo musical theater. His song was “Just to Get My Name in Lights” from the musical The Boy from Oz. Judges remarked on his animation and how his character shone through. Carolyn Farris, also a sixth grader, surpassed expectation on her song “I Love Play Rehearsal” from Be More Chill. She used the school closure to take extra voice lessons. The judges were impressed with her accuracy and storytelling. This was the second year in a row for Kenzi Patton to qualify, and she received a superior rating for her performance from Be More Chill. Her believable characterizations, voice and animated performance are what the judges enjoyed. And finally, Rachel Lazarou is now known to be the only middle school student in Fort Bend County to qualify for nationals three consecutive years and medal each time. This year, she performed “Watch What Happens” from Newsies. Judges mentioned that her voice was mature beyond her years and has an award-winning characterization. All four students continued rehearsing for the competition until the video submission date, despite the trials from COVID-19. 87 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Having Race-Centered Conversations Creates A Stronger Bond Within The Episcopal High Community
Wayne Jones conducts in-service event held on October 14, 2020 for new faculty and staff doing diversity, community, and inclusion training. Courtesy: Episcopal High School
Paulette E. Martin PEM: What has been the most rewarding aspect working as the director of community and inclusion for Episcopal High School? WJ: One of the most rewarding aspects thus far is having the community embrace diversity, community and inclusion and their willingness to be open to all aspects of what we are attempting to convey. It is a true indication of the outstanding community that makes Episcopal the incredible place that it is. PEM: How has COVID-19 impacted the way you have collaborated with students and the goals you had planned on achieving? WJ: One of the successes that we have had in this unprecedented year, COVID-19 has not stopped anything that we were planning on doing. The optics may have changed, but the foundation and process have not. The main reason for that success is the vision of our Board of Trustees and our Head of School, Ned Smith. While many Independent Schools have had to put DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives on the back burner because of the landscape of today, our board has commissioned us to continue to move forward with all efforts that we had underway. As far as collaborating with students, we have had to use technology in different ways. Meetings and interactions have been different, but we have gotten used to it and seem to be better for it. PEM: Given that this year has been a challenging one when it comes to race relations, how have certain events that have occurred in our country had an impact on your work? WJ: As we have navigated the two pandemics of the year (race being one of them), my work has changed in numerous positive ways. We have seen an enlightenment in so many different areas of our community around race. Students, parents, faculty/staff and administrators have been opened to listening and wanting to understand different aspects around race. We have had workshops, parent meetings, conversations in classes and student meetings that revolve around race, and they have been wonderful! Our community is listening and taking steps to be better, not only for themselves, but for all. PEM: What types of conversations have you had with students during this year? WJ: Most of my conversations with students have been based on grasping and attempting to understand why we are in the place we are today around racial issues. Being a historian, I usually talk to students about how we got here and the systems that are in place to keep us here. It is one of the most rewarding parts of my day, educating our student body about differences and how those differences will make the whole stronger. PEM: Anything else you would like to add? WJ: We would not be making the progress that we are without the help of my trusted team. The other two members of the team are Ayesha Spooner and Emily Barron. Without the two of them, we would not have made any of the strides that we have. Ayesha and Emily are great with the students as well as the faculty/staff, and I lean on them daily for collaboration. 88 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF EPISCOPAL SCHOOLS FEATURES EPISCOPAL HIGH SCHOOL STATEMENT OF CIVILITY After feeling some distress, a group of Episcopal High School (EHS) students approached chaplains, the Rev. Beth Holden and the Rev. Art Callahan, regarding how their fellow classmates would respond to the outcome of the 2020 Elections. Holden and Callahan gathered with a group of students, staff and faculty to help alleviate this concern. They developed an EHS Statement of Civility, a summary, a reminder to the school community of its collective identity and core ideals during the crucial and heated time. This EHS Statement of Civility received national attention, and it was featured in the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman’s piece “Amplify Civility,” which is part of a Weekly Meditation series by the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).
STATEMENT OF CIVILITY
Especially during the election season, as members of the Episcopal High School community, we commit ourselves in word and deed, to honor, respect, and treat every member with dignity and maintain a culture of civility.
Knights STAND UP for civility.
Supportive: Knights build each other up. Thoughtful: Knights consider how they express themselves. Aware: Knights recognize that words and actions impact others. Neighborly: Knights listen and seek to understand before being understood. Dependable: Knights show up and take part.
STATEMENT OF C The Statement of Civility from EHS were turned into posters which were displayed throughout campus.
Knights remain unified despite disagreements. Knights take pride in extending God’s love and grace.
ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL as during the election season, TAKES ACTION FOR DIVERSITY AND ol community, we commit ours INCLUSION ect, and treat every member w ivility. St. Stephen’s Episcopal School performed a diversity audit and has created a Diversity in Education task force to continue its commitment and work to be a community open to and respectful of people from all backgrounds and to forming students who will be leaders in the work of welcome and justice in the world. These are important steps in realizing the goal of establishing the Bishop Hines Center for Social Justice.
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May he give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4
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A Church Living Fully into Its Name: God Was and Remains with Emmanuel, Houston Emmanuel has faced more than its share of pain and losses over the past several years, but the church was never alone. Following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Emmanuel flooded due to the release of water from a nearby reservoir. Then, in 2019 it sustained major devastation and structural damage from Tropical Storm Imelda. It was inevitable that the congregation would have to seek another place to worship. In between those two disasters came the worst news of all: Congregants learned that their leader, the Rev. Andy Parker, had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Emmanuel was in one of its deepest seasons of wilderness and sorrow. They had, however, established a relationship that remains strong today with a Houston-area synagogue, Temple Sinai, whose kind and empathetic leadership allowed them to hold Sunday worship there. With hearts of gratitude to have a place to worship, the congregation still longed for a place to call their own. For many months, questions had loomed as to whether or not they could restore their structure or would they have to start anew? When most probably couldn’t imagine things getting worse, they did. The Rev. Parker passed away in December of 2018. How much could one church family bear? At that time, Emmanuel didn’t know its strength. It would persevere. Through the sadness, and after so much pain and disappointment, the church warmly welcomed the Rev. Lance Ousley from the Diocese of Olympia in Washington state as their new Priest-in-Charge in March of 2019. 91 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
(photog)/© Houston Chronicle. Used with permission. Godofredo A. Vásquez
In April of 2019, things began to look up as the congregation was able to relocate to an office space. Finally, they had a place they could call their own. Later, they put their flooded property up for sale, and soon located a church to purchase: Covenant Lutheran. But after agreeing to purchase the property and even placing it under contract for sale, the interested developer backed out of the deal, leaving confident selling parties more than disappointed. In the spring of 2020, this time in the midst of a pandemic, once again, the people of Emmanuel would see God’s hand at work in the life of their parish and ministry. Through creative financing methods, the empathetic spirit and understanding of both Bishop Doyle and members of the various diocesan foundations, along with the acumen of the diocese’s business team, Emmanuel was able to proceed to finalize the purchase. Diocesan business staff kept everything on track, quickly working to put a plan together to help Emmanuel close on the property. Ousley says he is extremely proud of the members of Emmanuel, Houston. Adding, “They are amazingly faithful, resilient, and caring people that have endured many challenges these past several years. My hope for them as we move into our new church and neighborhood is that they realize God’s faithfulness and their own through all of this in a way that strengthens them to embrace the blessings of the new possibilities and partnerships that God is placing before us.” Despite the many downward spirals for Emmanuel and its parishioners, their faith and resilience have determined their triumph during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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St. Luke The Evangelist Celebrates 100 Years Of Ministry And Service
Scenes from the 100 Year Celebration held in Oct. 2020
On Sunday October 18, 2020, St. Luke the Evangelist, Houston, celebrated its 100th anniversary. About 40 people participated in outdoor worship, and a more significant number followed the event online. The history of St. Luke's is full of outstanding achievements and, at the same time, struggles against discrimination. The organization of this mission represented the third Episcopal Church for African Americans in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the first work among African Americans in Houston. From its beginning in a basement, it took the church 40 years to build the building where they now meet. From this place, they have served many people in the African American community. In recent years, they have fostered young disciples through Houston Canterbury, the Episcopal college ministry. Many leaders have emerged from this Church, including the Rev. Marcia Sadberry, who now serves as Deacon-in-Charge, and Francene Young, who serves as Sacramentalist. Bishop Assistant Hector Monterroso, reflecting on St. Luke’s legacy, notices “the joy that we share with the entire diocese for 100 years of ministry and service.”
Former Diocese of Texas Bishop Suffragan, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., Appointed Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., former Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, has been appointed Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, the Rt. Rev. David M. Reed, Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, announced Monday, October 26, 2020. His appointment in West Texas will begin on Monday, February 1, 2021. “Returning to the Diocese in 2021 will make my journey in ordained ministry full circle. It was here that it all began with Bishop Everett Jones’ affirmation of my call in 1963 and his ordaining me to the Diaconate in 1966. His actions set me on the path to serve Christ and his Church; now Bishop Reed’s crozier pulls me back. It is here that I will continue my service to our Lord,” said Bishop High. 93 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
After spending his childhood in Houston, Bishop High received his undergraduate degree from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. As he wrestled with a call to ministry and what path to pursue after graduation, he confided in his priest, the Rev. Stanley F. Hauser, Rector of St. Mark’s, Houston, who recommended him to the Rt. Rev. Everett H. Jones, IV, Bishop of West Texas. Bishop Jones directed the postulant to Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio as his sending parish. He served as rector in two Diocese of West Texas parishes, then as rector of a parish in the Diocese of Texas, serving for a combined total of 32 years before becoming Canon for Pastoral Ministries in Texas. Along with serving as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, Bishop High, also served as the Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth. Following his retirement in 2015, he continued ministry as an Assisting Bishop to the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop High and his wife of 50 years, Pat Mosley High, had three children and six grandchildren. After the death of his wife in 2015, Bishop High and the Rev. Canon Ann Normand, DMin., married on August 12, 2017 at St. Paul’s, Waco, where they both had previously served. Together, they have eleven adult children, 14 grandchildren, and Bishop, their yellow lab. A retired Canon to the Ordinary, who served alongside Bishop Andy Doyle in the Diocese of Texas, Ann remains active in her own ministries as a dynamic teacher, supporter of lay ministry leaders, and mentor to active clergy. She will accompany Bishop High as he visits congregations. The Highs will live in the San Antonio area throughout this appointment.
Retired Rector and Lieutenant Colonel Recognized for His Service The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M saluted their senior member for his dedicated service, the Rev. Ed Sterling, class of '42, who is also about to turn 100 years old. Sterling’s bloodline includes the DNA of Texas AMC (Army Materiel Command), as well as two previous generations of artillery officers and servants of the state and the nation. Much of Sterling’s AMC experience was centered around St. Thomas, College Station. St. Thomas began as a Mission to serve the AMC students and community in 1938. Sterling served in leadership positions on the Student Vestry and as a Junior Warden. After 12 years in the Army, Sterling resigned his commission to answer the call to ministry that began at St. Thomas in Aggieland. He attended Seminary of the Southwest in Austin and later became rector at the recently established St. Mary’s, West Columbia, on June 16, 1957. Though Sterling loved his ministry at St. Mary’s, he missed the army and felt the call to serve as chaplain. He then served as chaplain for 16 years. He became Diocesan Canon after serving as full-time rector at St. Andrew’s, Tacoma, Washington for over 30 years. He was married to Margaret Marie Taylor for 53 years and produced four children, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. He’s been widowed for 17 years and is approaching his centenarian year. He keeps pushing on with his opportunity to continue to serve.
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Fostering Deacons and Aiding Communities in Need: Ministry Focus of Former Archdeacon After more than 12 years of service as Archdeacon for the Diocese of Texas, the Venerable Russ Oechsel, Jr. is saying goodbye to that position. During his ministry, Oechsel has not only helped amplify the growth in the formation of deacons, but he has also helped the most vulnerable after being devastated by natural disasters in Texas and across the country. “It has been a joy to work with Archdeacon Russ. I first met him as part of the first formation of deacons. We worked closely to respond Former Archdeacon Russ Oechsel, Jr. to Hurricane Ike which hit in the fall of my first year after election as coadjutor bishop,” said the Bishop of Texas, Andy Doyle. “He was a great choice as archdeacon, and he has shaped our diaconal community. He is always an advocate for the vocation of deacons and the voice of deacons in the wider diocese.” Oechsel, a cradle Episcopalian, worked in an automotive business until attending seminary and being ordained as priest. After college, he taught grade school before moving into human resources work, first for building material companies and then for oil companies, where he spent nearly 30 years in various positions. He attended the Iona School for Ministry and was ordained a deacon in February of 2007. He was appointed archdeacon in October of 2008. “In the 12 years that I have been archdeacon, the most amazing thing has been to watch the number in our diaconal community grow and prosper,” said Oechsel. “I describe my work as creating and fostering a community of deacons that truly values and loves each other.” In addition to serving as archdeacon, Oechsel supervised the rebuilding work of Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. The work lasted for two-and-a-half-years and involved over 2,500 volunteers from colleges and universities who wanted to give back to society. “We learned of the huge needs for cleaning out homes and for rebuilding,” shared Oechsel. “We created a steering committee where we met often and participated in the long- term recovery committee for Galveston County. It was very rewarding work.” Oechsel was also involved in the relief work following the Bastrop fires and the repeated flooding around the greater Houston area. His vast experience in relief and rebuild work throughout the years qualified him to be part of Partners in Response and Resilience—a group within Episcopal Relief and Development that sent him around the country as disasters occurred to consult with bishops and their staffs and other clergy and to assist in getting them emergency grants. Without a doubt, Oechsel’s service and ministry have been an immeasurable asset throughout. 95 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
St. Thomas the Apostle, Nassau Bay, Celebrates 55 Years On Sunday, December 20, 2020, during the feast day of St. Thomas, St. Thomas the Apostle, Nassau Bay, celebrated 55 years as a church in Nassau Bay and the Clear Lake area. Additionally, the Rev. Mike Stone added to the celebration by burning the mortgage on the renovation of the main hallway. A $540,000 debt was paid off in two years due to a very successful capital campaign. This positions the church to accomplish even more wonderful things in the coming years as they reach out to all people to serve others.
Heartfelt Thank You to the Rev. Dean Calcote In August 14, the Bishop of Texas, Andy Doyle, wrote a letter recognizing an extraordinary individual—the Rev. Dean Calcote. Calcote, who has served the Church for sixty-two years, enjoyed a long career in Episcopal education. In 1974, Calcote, came to the Diocese of Texas and in 1996, Bishop Payne appointed Calcote as chair of the diocesan Board of Examining Chaplains. After 24 years of faithful service, Calcote stepped down. His retirement marked the end of an era for the Diocese of Texas. Bishop Doyle said in the letter addressed to Calcote: “We are profoundly grateful to Dean for his years of faithful service to our diocese and his generous investment of time and energy in the formation of our new priests. He has made an indelible mark on the Diocese of Texas. He has fiercely advocated for the importance of intellectual rigor in ministry, and he will be dearly missed. We wish Dean all the best in his life in Beaumont and his continued ministry at St. Mark’s.”
Latino Church Plant Celebrates First Year All of the Episcopal Churches in Waco are thrilled about and supportive of the new Latino church plant, Misión Episcopal, Waco, led by the Rev. Oscar Huerta. He celebrated Christmas Eucharist with the new congregation, marking not only the holiday but the one-year anniversary of the new church plant. The Rev. Huerta was commissioned for this mission On November 22, 2019. 96 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
GENOVEVA PUGA: TEXAS WOMAN OF THE YEAR Farmworker Rights Advocate Leaves Legacy of Resilience By James C. Harrington
Personal tragedy can dramatically transform a person’s life journey. That happened to Genoveva Puga, who, at 92 years, died in November of 2020 in a poor colonia in the Rio Grande Valley. The horrific death of her son changed her life in a way that bettered the lives of tens of thousands of Texas farm workers. Her son Juan Torrez, in his early 20’s, was killed in 1977 while harvesting citrus for Donna Fruit Company. The company forklift malfunctioned as he was hoisting a large wooden bin, full of oranges, onto a flatbed truck. The half-ton bin fell back and crushed him to death. Juan died alone in the orchard. His body was not found until hours after his death. One can only shudder at the excruciating pain he suffered. Mrs. Puga at the time was working as a migrant farm laborer out of state. She had spent – and was to spend -- much of her life in the nation’s seasonal migrant streams and harvesting crops in the Valley. The tragic news about her son’s death arrived late to Mrs. Puga, and, by the time she arrived back home, she learned her son had been buried in an Edinburg pauper’s grave. There is a haunting photograph of her, weeping at her son’s grave, when she finally located it. No parent wants to have a child predecease them, and, when fate dictates otherwise, a parent wants to bury their child, with appropriate religious and social rituals. Not being able to do so only deepened her agony and kindled her anger toward her son’s employer. When she filed for worker’s compensation against Donna Fruit for financial support for Juan’s wife and their child, the company denied the claim, saying he was an independent contractor who had “volunteered” to harvest the citrus. Indeed, that was the agricultural industry’s standard subterfuge: field laborers were not actual employees, but were independent contractors or working for one. Under Texas law at the time, agricultural employers, unlike most other Texas employers, were exempt from providing workers compensation, even though agriculture vied with construction as being the state’s most dangerous occupation. This left local charities and already hard-pressed families with having to support injured, disabled farm workers and the families of those who perished. The Valley is already one of the country’s poorest regions without having this extra burden. 97 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Mrs. Puga had had enough of this injustice and sued Donna Fruit. The trial judge threw out her case, which only made her resolve fiercer. She won in the Texas Supreme Court. That judgment, though, only applied to her case. Far from satisfied, she set herself on the path with the local United Farm Workers Union, AFL-CIO to change the law altogether to protect her fellow laborers. The struggle lasted seven years, and Genoveva Puga was at the forefront, organizing workers and supporters. Another lawsuit was filed, and the workers compensation exclusion was declared unconstitutional under the Texas Equal Rights Amendment, the judge ruling that it intentionally discriminated against an ethnic group, Mexican Americans. Then came the struggle in the legislature for a new statute. She stood next to Gov. Mark White when he signed the new law in front of farm workers in San Juan, and she beamed a broad smile when both White and Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby spoke at the next UFW convention in Pharr, alongside César Chávez. This petite, passionately-dedicated woman with a beguiling smile lived her heart and courage, and many thousands of farm workers, and the Valley economy, are much better off. Genoveva Puga is indeed the Texas Person of the Year in their book.
Harrington, retired founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project, was Mrs. Puga’s lawyer. He is now a priest with Proyecto Santiago at St. James’, Austin.
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“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26
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We Remember The Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, Former Assistant Bishop of The Diocese of Texas The Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, assistant bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, peacefully entered into eternal rest on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at his home in South Carolina, surrounded by his family. During his retirement, he continued to serve his dearly loved Episcopal Church in many different capacities—including, serving as Assisting Bishop Diocese of Texas (2004-2006). Bishop Buchanan was preceded in death by his parents Ella Virginia Buchanan and Dock Jones Buchanan, his brother, Kenneth Orin Buchanan, and his son-in-law, Charles Thomas Bryant. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Peggy Brown Buchanan; two daughters, Mary Ryan Buchanan Aimar (Alton) of Savannah, GA and Margaret Clark Buchanan Bryant of Mt. Pleasant, SC; sister, Linda Buchanan Hardwick of Walterboro, SC; and grandchildren, John Clark Bryant and Mary Ella Bryant. A private family service at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston took place on Saturday, April 18, 2020.
Death in the EDOT Family Gail McGuire, former EDOT employee, passed away Sunday, August 30, 2020 after a lengthy illness. Gail worked for the Diocese for seven years (2010-2017) and was involved in Council work, Finance, and Technology. The service for McGuire was held Friday, November 13, 2020. May her soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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UBE Pays Tribute to Life Member, James Barron In April, the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) said goodbye to one of their own. James Barron, who died on Easter Day, April 12, 2020, was described as a charismatic leader who was able to draw people to him and win them over to his way of progressive thinking. Raised in the Baptist Church, he joined the Episcopal Church after marrying his wife Lou Barron, his wife of over 50 years. While a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Houston, Barron assumed leadership roles with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, the vestry (as both Junior and Senior Warden), as head of the ushers, and as chair/organizer of the Annual Chicken Dinner fundraiser. He also served on the Board of St. James’ School and organized many successful fundraisers for many years. In addition to his dedicated service on the parish level, Barron has, James Barron over the years, held several leadership positions on the diocesan level. He served on diocesan committees and as a delegate to several Diocesan Councils. During the mid 1980s, Bishop Maurice Benitez appointed him to the newly formed Commission on Black Ministry. In 1983, Barron learned about the Union of Black Episcopalians and became determined to charter a chapter at St. James’, Houston. While on a diocesan trip with the Bishop, he seized the opportunity to lobby for support to start a chapter. His proposal was a success, and The Rev. John Dublin Epps Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians was chartered in 1984. Barron served as president and treasurer of the Epps Chapter, and he served one term as Regional Director of the Southern Region. In recent years, Barron and his wife have been members of Trinity Episcopal, The Woodlands, where Barron ‘transferred’ many of his leadership positions. He introduced the men of Trinity to the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and became a charter member of the chapter established there. Barron is survived by his loving wife, Lou Barron, (shown left in group photo), his son, James Barron II (Jimmy), and daughter, Bridgette Barron-Aliniece. He is also survived by his grandchildren, James Barron III (Trey), Britney Cook, and his brother Horace Barron. He will be truly missed by so many, and we pray that he will rest in peace and rise in glory in the arms of the Lord.
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Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
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NEW DIOCESAN STAFF
Iona School Administrator/ Receptionist Austin Office
Assistant to Chief of Staff Houston Office
The Rev. Kellaura Johnson Transition Minister Houston Office
The Rev. Amy Chambers Cortright Missioner for Congregational Vitality - Systems Houston Office
Social Media and Multimedia Specialist Houston Office
Senior Graphic and Creative Designer Houston Office
Tabinda Asim Financial Services Manager Houston Office
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Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
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SMALL CHURCH NETWORK AND ONLINE COMMUNITY
St Joseph’s, Salado, celebrated the beginning of Fall with a pumpkin patch.
St. Paul’s, Freeport, hosted a drive-thru Blessing of the Animals and Food Drive on October 4, 2020.
St. Matthew’s, Henderson, invited the community with a Blessing of the Animals on October 3, 2020.
St. Paul’s, Navasota, held a blood drive on Sept. 19, 2020. 105 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
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Nearly 50 Years a City, Never a Zip Code The city of Prairie View was established in the 1960s, but never had its own zip code. Prairie View’s St. Francis of Assisi, the Rev. Rhonda Rogers and parishioners are working together to obtain the city’s own zip code. By not having its own zip code, it has created racial disparities on varying and essential levels, such as taking away citizens’ most basic rights. Without having a zip code, the city does not benefit from sales tax proceeds or receive appropriate funding for K-12 public education and census outcomes. Another issue impacted is the voting process for residents and students from Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU).
The Rev. Rhonda Rogers St. Francis of Assisi
Rogers is working alongside Prairie View A&M University Student Affairs Administrator, Herb Thomas, a parish member, who is in charge of coordinating town hall meetings.
The current zip code is shared with neighboring towns which causes problems with mail delivery. Residents’ voices are almost never heard or given a say in decision-making. Although the university has its own zip code, students are often led to the wrong voting location because of the zip code the city uses. Rogers is committed to concerns of the community, such as having its own zip code, for many reasons. Not only will it help the residents, but it will also affect the university students who call Prairie View their home away from home. Many PVAMU students attend her church and are involved in the young adult and college ministry. What further complicates this issue is that a city can only submit an application once every 10 years for a zip code. While efforts to resolve this had no impact on the 2020 election, if successful, the community will have its own zip code in 2021.
Western Region Dedicates New Buildings St. Alban’s, Waco, dedicated a new parish hall and parking lot with a port cochere in February 2020. The parking lot and port cochere have become the most widely used parts of the new construction as they adapted in 2020 to bring beautiful and safe worship there. St. James, La Grange, completed a new school, office, and choir space, a long-time dream of the congregation and its clergy. The design beautifully continues the unusual aesthetic characteristics of the earlier construction. Bishop Ryan and the congregation dedicated the new construction on December 13th with an outdoor procession and Eucharist.
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St. Alban’s, Waco, Launches Capital Campaign to Revitalize Their Sacred Space Since 1953, the year St. Alban’s, Waco, was completed, thousands of people have filled the church to pray, to sing, to listen, to be baptized, to be joined in marriage, to bid farewell to loved ones, and to drink from the cup and feast on the bread of Holy Communion. Now, St. Alban’s, has the opportunity to preserve and enliven their sacred space for the future as they have launched their Renew & Restore capital campaign to renovate and restore their narthex, nave, sanctuary and organ. More information and details about this initiative can be found at: www.stalbanswaco.org/renewrestore
Live Music Brings Joy at Peach Street Farmer’s Market Holy Comforter, Angleton, and the Peach Street Market held their first music festival in the spring with many live acts. The Peach Street Night Jams Singer Songwriter Festival brought two nights of socially distanced fun to the community and gave local musicians a time to shine. Recordings of performances can be found on the Peach Street Market Facebook page.
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St. Andrew’s, Pearland, Receives Prestigious Regional Award The Rev. Jim Liberatore proudly accepted the Member of the Year Award given to St. Andrew’s, Pearland, during the Pearland Chamber of Commerce banquet held in January of 2020. The distinctive recognition highlights the outreach work St. Andrew’s has done for the city of Pearland and Brazoria County. St. Andrew’s is known to have a very active role within their community and beyond, as the term “outreach” is part of their culture. Mosaic in Action, St. Andrew’s nonprofit, founded by Liberatore and Debbie Allensworth over five years ago, has built and repaired homes for over 250 homeowners. Mosaic in Action also helped many victims of Hurricane Harvey during the recovery process. Last year alone, Mosaic in Action logged over 5,000 volunteer hours.
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St. Mark’s, Austin, Forgives Over $500K of Medical Debt In hopes of alleviating the financial burden of some families, St. Mark’s, Austin, forgave over $500k of medical debt with a gift of just over $5,000. Inspired by St. Luke’s, Mountain Brook in Alabama, who forgave more than $8.1 million in debt and by RIP Medical Debt featured in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a TV series, St. Mark’s vestry decided to donate the surplus of their 2019 operating budget to help fight the same cause. “We presented this to the parish as a gift from all of us at our annual meeting. Our people were blown away and pumped. It’s probably not the last time we’ll give to RIP Medical Debt,” said the Rev. Zac Koons, rector of St. Mark’s, Austin. RIP Medical Debt is a tax-exempt charity that buys and abolishes medical debt by working with donors to abolish debt for a specific target population. The money given to this organization can make an impact of 100x, thus converting St. Mark’s contribution of $5,000 to $500k. Medical debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy in America. It disproportionately affects society’s most vulnerable, including Texans. RIP Medical Debt uses donations to buy up medical debt for pennies on the dollar, targeting the neediest cases (those who are insolvent make less than half the federal poverty line, or they are military veterans), and then forgives it completely. “Being the recipients of a radical act of forgiveness that has removed a burden we could never have hoped to pay ourselves, setting us free to live new lives of abundance and grace, is kind of what we’re all about as Christians. This was a no-brainer,” said Koons.
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Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. Acts 20:28
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HOPE is Alive on Galveston Island New Executive Director Paula Tobon-Stevens Onboard An Update from St. Vincent’s House With great pride and confidence, St. Vincent’s House (SVH) welcomed Executive Director Paula Tobon-Stevens in February 2020. In March, COVID-19 reached Galveston County bringing devastating health and economic effects. With more than 25 years of leadership and experience in executive health care management, Tobon-Stevens applied her expertise and reputation as a results-oriented strategic, collaborative leader to build a team equal to the COVID-19 challenge. SVH streamlined its programs, processes and procedures while strengthening its interagency alliances, enabling a vigorous response. The mission of St. Vincent’s House is to provide essential services and resources to empower families and individuals to become selfsustaining and contributing members of our community. COVID-19 vastly increased community need for SVH services. Individuals who never required help in the past suddenly found themselves unemployed, dealing with food insecurity and with reduced access to essential medical and social services. Surviving the pandemic related issues of financial shortfall, staffing deficiencies and challenges of safely delivering services has left many non-profits in jeopardy. Incorporating two trademarks of TobonStevens’ management style (inter-agency collaboration and fiscal awareness), changes were already made which would help ensure SVH was prepared not only to survive, but to thrive in the face of COVID-19. St. Vincent’s House partners with the University of Texas Medical Branch, Family Service Center, Lions Club, local dentists, the Galveston County Food Bank, local churches, Lighthouse Charity Team, United Way, and many other organizations to offer medical, dental, and social services. Rather than offering those services individually, Paula and her team developed a comprehensive and integrated care service model. The model uses a collaborative team addressing medical needs, mental health, and social service needs. After each case is evaluated in its entirety, appropriate services are offered in a coordinated approach to meeting individual or family needs, while improving quality of care. SVH’s Comprehensive Care includes a medical component including 11 multi-specialty clinics, a chronic disease clinic, physical, speech and occupational therapy, and dental extractions. SVH partners with Family Service Center to provide on-site, full-time mental health services. In addition to comprehensive service delivery, these other program changes increased efficiency to provide better care: • Food Pantry moved to a larger location, allowing drive thru, contactless pick-up. • Pantry availability extended from once/month to once/week.
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• Pantry inventory expanded to include masks, cleaning supplies, hygiene items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, laundry detergent, diapers for children and adults. • Homebound Pantry Delivery Program includes contactless porch drop-off food program. (Over 800 home deliveries were made in September.) • Homelessness Prevention program created as a core focus for SVH, especially during pandemic crisis. SVH team members negotiate rents and utilities to keep clients in their homes and explore all possible resources, provide funds and education to this fragile population.
“Great Clothes Out” event held in November 2020. The clothes were donated to SVH by St. Thomas the Apostle’s, Nassau Bay, “Nearly New Resale Shop”
According to the Galveston County Health District, COVID-19 cases spiked to more than 5,000 active cases in August. Moving forward, the SVH team was prepared to meet projected future needs related to COVID-19. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has been a fiscal mainstay allowing SVH to provide assistance to families and individuals of every demographic and ethnicity since 1954. COVID-19 Homeless Prevention efforts continue
to be sustained through EDOT support. Galveston Episcopal congregations, St. Augustine, Grace and Trinity, continue their on-going support for St. Vincent’s with volunteer and financial contributions. SVH is blessed with additional financial support from multiple grants and donations statewide.
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Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute at Galveston Donates a Transport Bus to St. Vincent House St. Vincent’s House will continue to expand its efforts in Galveston County, thanks to a generous donation by the Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute. On December 9, 2020, St. Vincent’s House received a Ford E350 Super Duty Bus. The keys and title were presented to representatives of the St. Vincent House by Robert A. Prehn, Ph.D., President & CEO of Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute. For over 30 years, Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute has provided traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, education and assistance to patients from Galveston and throughout the United States. In a similar way, St. Vincent’s House has provided physical, mental and spiritual services to residents of Galveston County. According to Paula Tobon-Stevens, executive director of St. Vincent’s House, the new transport bus will enhance food distribution and clothing collection.
Seminary of the Southwest Furthers Commitment to Racial Justice and Kicks Off Capital Campaign Seminary of the Southwest (SSW) admitted the first Pauli Murray Scholars, Ryan Hawthorne and Victoria Umana. The goal of the scholarship is to expand opportunities for low-income African American students and other students of color to attend SSW in preparation for priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The scholarship provides financial support for living expenses for these seminary students, in addition to a full tuition grant and other assistance provided directly by SSW. The Board of Seminary of the Southwest passed a resolution in the fall of 2020 articulating the ways it is committing to its own work on racial justice. Every area of SSW is investing time and heart in deepening its understanding and habits of welcome and justice for all people. SSW also celebrated remarkable progress on its $20M capital campaign in October and is preparing to break ground on a new library and learning complex in spring of 2021.
Iona School for Ministry Pivots in Response to Social Distancing and Strengthens Pedagogy In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iona School for Ministry transitioned to remote and hybrid learning, conducted its graduation online, and admitted eight new students into its ordination track programs for the fall of 2020. In addition, The Iona School invested a significant focus on strengthening pedagogy to meet the learning needs of adult students and on diversifying the pool of instructors to reflect the diversity of our diocese and communities. 114 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
Resources 115 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
RESOURCES for these TIMES FOOD INSECURITY
Houston Area Houston Food Bank https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/ Need food helpline: 832-369-9390 Find food by food bank partner locations using map resources https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/agency-locator/ Austin and Central Texas Cities and Counties Central Texas Food Bank https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/about-us Find food now by partner locations using map resources https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/food-assistance/get-food-now Telephone: 512-282-2111 Tyler/East Texas Area East Texas Food Bank https://www.easttexasfoodbank.org Find Food Near You: Click Yellow Tab at top of page that says FIND FOOD Upcoming events already scheduled: October 2 through October 23 Visit website for upcoming Food Bank events Smith County Food Security: https://www.smithcountyfoodsecurity.org/community-food-resources
EMPLOYMENT- VIRTUAL JOB FAIR AND OTHER RESOURCES Houston area https://www.volunteerhou.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=17935 https://www.besthirecareerfairs.com/job-fairs/houston-job-fairs/ https://www.eventbrite.com/d/tx--houston/job-fair/ https://www.nationalcareerfairs.com/career-fairs/houston-career-fairs/ Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs Austin area https://www.besthirecareerfairs.com/job-fairs/austin-job-fairs/ https://10times.com/austin-job-fair-austin Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs Tyler/East Texas area Job postings listed: https://www.facebook.com/WorkforceSolutionsEastTexas/ https://www.simplyhired.com/ search?q=job+fair+tyler&l=tyler%2C+tx&job=NIGczmqLYVc351mOdEyFIhBpa5NqGRNRvFHtter0j9A9IF1x7PU9hw Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs
Houston Area Houston Food Bank https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/ Need food helpline: 832-369-9390 Find food by food bank partner locations using map resources https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/agency-locator/ Austin and Central Texas Cities and Counties Central Texas Food Bank https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/about-us Find food now by partner locations using map resources https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org/food-assistance/get-food-now Telephone: 512-282-2111 116 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
Tyler/East Texas Area East Texas Food Bank https://www.easttexasfoodbank.org Find Food Near You: Click Yellow Tab at top of page that says FIND FOOD Upcoming events already scheduled: October 2 through October 23 Visit website for upcoming Food Bank events Smith County Food Security: https://www.smithcountyfoodsecurity.org/community-food-resources
EMPLOYMENT- VIRTUAL JOB FAIR AND OTHER RESOURCES Houston area https://www.volunteerhou.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=17935 https://www.besthirecareerfairs.com/job-fairs/houston-job-fairs/ https://www.eventbrite.com/d/tx--houston/job-fair/ https://www.nationalcareerfairs.com/career-fairs/houston-career-fairs/ Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs Austin area https://www.besthirecareerfairs.com/job-fairs/austin-job-fairs/ https://10times.com/austin-job-fair-austin Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs Tyler/East Texas area Job postings listed: https://www.facebook.com/WorkforceSolutionsEastTexas/ https://www.simplyhired.com/ search?q=job+fair+tyler&l=tyler%2C+tx&job=NIGczmqLYVc351mOdEyFIhBpa5NqGRNRvFHtter0j9A9IF1x7PU9hw Texas Workforce Commission: https://www.twc.texas.gov/virtual-job-fairs
EVICTION PREVENTION RESOURCES- STATEWIDE
Houston, Austin, Tyler and East Texas areas https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/texans.htm ALSO: Check with respective county judge’s office and housing authorities.
THE FAMILY VIOLENCE PROGRAM- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE FOR SPOUSES, CHILDREN, OR ANYONE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP OR SITUATION 1-800-799-SAFE Telecommunications Device for the Deaf 1-800-787-3224 www.thehotline.org
This program promotes self-sufficiency, safety, and long-term independence of adult and child victims of family violence and victims of teen dating violence. Through a network of service providers, the program provides emergency shelter and supportive services to victims and their children, educates the public, and provides training, and prevention support to various organizations across Texas. All services are provided for free and there is no income verification for eligibility.
TEXAS ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES FOR THE ELDERLY AND CHILDREN 1-800-252-5400
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
To speak with a mental health professional for help dealing with stress and other emotions, please call the toll-free COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-986-1919. • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 • 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text TX to 741741 • Texas 2-1-1, Option 8 • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Suicide Help): 866-488-7386 or text START to 6786780 117 | Texas Episcopalian 2021
About THE 2021 PAULI Murray F E A S T The Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship Committee invites you to celebrate the Pauli Murray Feast this summer on Sunday, June 27, 2021. The celebration is usually held July 1, but this year, it will be held the week before due to the July 4 weekend. Congregations are encouraged to use liturgies as they deem appropriate. Join in a Eucharistic Liturgy, Morning Prayer Liturgy or Evening Prayer. Sermon by Bishop Phoebe A. Roaf, Diocese of West Tennessee, will be made available. The sermon can serve as an opportunity for coffee-hour discussion. Stay tuned to the Diolog, Out of the Ordinary, www.epicenter.org, and social media as additional details about Pauli Murray and the feast in her honor are forthcoming!
ALL FEAST CELEBRATION MATERIALS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE IN SPANISH. The Texas Pauli Murray Scholarship Committee helps raise living-expense scholarships to assist low-income African American seminarians and seminarians of color at Seminary of the Southwest. The Diocese also helps to financially support this effort, which seeks to expand the diversity of our clergy.
sav e t h e dat e
PAULI MURRAY F E A S T t o b e c e l e b r at e d
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1225 Texas Street Houston, TX 77002-3504 www.epicenter.org