Archives for March 2015

Bulletin Insert: 2 Easter (B)

Program Budget and Finance Committee Seeks Input

April 12, 2015

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The Episcopal Church Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) is seeking comments and input on the draft budget that will be presented to the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, June 25 – July 3.

“As General Convention 2015 approaches, Program, Budget, and Finance would like to hear comments and suggestions from all corners of the church,” commented the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd from the Diocese of Massachusetts, co-chair of the Program, Budget and Finance Committee. “This is an opportunity for everyone to have a say in the budget before we arrive at General Convention.”

The Program, Budget and Finance Budget Explanation; the Executive Council budget narrative; the Draft Budget; and instructions are all available on the General Convention website.

The website explains:

“The opportunity to post comments and questions will remain open through June 21, 2015. After that, the hearings at General Convention will also provide an opportunity for input into the budget. The Committee will be diligent in reading comments but will be unable to respond to them. Please know that we will take all into consideration. In commenting please consider that the budget presented to General Convention must be balanced, so if you are offering a suggestion to increase or add an expense, perhaps you might consider offering a cut in another expense or an increase in revenue, and vise versa.”

Important budget dates at General Convention:

Hearing on Budget Income, June 26, 2015, 7-9 p.m.
Hearing on Budget Expenses, June 27, 2015, 7-9 p.m.
Joint Session to Present the Budget, July 1, 2015, 2:15-3:15 p.m.


Download bulletin insert as PDF:
full page, one-sided 4/12/15
half page, double-sided 4/12/15

black and white, full page, one-sided 4/12/15
black and white, half page, double-sided 4/12/15

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Hospitality and healing

Thistle Stop Cafe empowers women

“The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage From Its Violent History.” Becca Stevens. New York: Jericho Books, 2014. 240 pp.

“The Way of Tea and Justice: Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage From Its Violent History.” Becca Stevens. New York: Jericho Books, 2014. 240 pp.

“The Way of Tea and Justice” (Jericho Books, 2014) by Becca Stevens is the story of dreaming a cafe into existence. In 1997, Stevens founded Magdalene, a residential community for women who have survived abuse, trafficking, prostitution, addiction and prison. Thistle Farms is an outgrowth of Magdalene, a social enterprise that offers employment to women making natural bath and body products as they learn business skills. Thistle Stop Cafe opened in June 2013, another social enterprise of Magdalene and Thistle Farms that offers hospitality to the community as well as employment to women.

Stevens, the Episcopal chaplain at Vanderbilt University and author of several books, outlines the principles that guided the vision of the cafe: hospitality, healing, chado – or the way of tea, leading to harmony – and story.

The book is written as a journey toward opening the cafe: a spiritual journey through the calendar and liturgical years, through memories and stories, through the healing and recovery of women who have been abused, trafficked, addicted and imprisoned. Stevens’ passion for her work is evident. For her and her women, love heals. “We are not serving tea to strangers just because we love tea,” she writes. “We are serving tea because we love women, and the way to continue loving women is to serve tea” (p. 109).

Stevens describes her concept of the Shared Trade Alliance, a plan that she wants to launch with the café. The intent of the Shared Trade Alliance is to go beyond Fair Trade to focus on the workforce as the primary mission: “a coalition of organizations focused on women and dedicated to bringing women permanently out of poverty through sustainable employment” (p. 77).

The priority of Shared Trade is to increase the wages of working women by closing the gap between producers and consumers. Tea pickers, she writes, are traditionally women with no political or social status. “Even in fair trade operations, workers live on land owned by companies … the people still live in poverty” (p. 79).

Stevens’ goal is both to foster healing for women survivors and to create conditions where these women can increase their economic leverage.

The subtitle “Rescuing the World’s Favorite Beverage From Its Violent History” announces an ambitious and not entirely successful vision for the book. Stevens has attempted an overview of the history of tea growing and distribution, how the tea industry has taken advantage of laborers, as well as accounts of visits to tea plantations, enterprises in Africa devoted to the tea business and sustainable employment, personal memories related to tea, stories of her fundraising efforts for her social programs, and the frustrations and obstacles to opening the cafe. I found the book uneven, the writing repetitious and sometimes puzzling. Each chapter begins with a tea recipe. Some of them are charming; some of them are difficult to follow. I would read a chapter such as “Medicinal Tea” with its poignant stories behind the many teacups donated to the cafe, and then turn the page to discover that ginger and ginseng have been confused in the recipe at the beginning of the next chapter.

“Practicing the way of tea” is an oft-repeated phrase. For Stevens, the way of tea is a way to overcome fear, find a new path, know we are loved, find community, find gratitude. There are some beautiful and inspiring thoughts: “I want our teas to heal the mind, body, soul, spirit, and heart. These kinds of teas … also heal human inequality” (p.115) is typical. Yet tea as a metaphor for everything becomes tiresome. The stories of the women involved in the cafe are the best part of the book: “It is not just the way of tea that is precious; it is the women in all their stunning blessedness serving it” (p. 110). As I read, I yearned for more stories, less vague tea wisdom.

All of that said, the book does make the reader long for a cup, or a pot, of tea. I wanted to sit at a table and chat with friends or strangers over a pot of tea, to drink spiced hot tea by a warm fire in winter, or iced tea in a garden in summer. The book made me remember tea with my grandmother and my mother’s bone china teacups. I wanted to help with the dream of the cafe, to host a fundraising tea party at my parish, meet the women at the Thistle Stop Cafe.

Becca Stevens wants tea to nourish the cafe’s guests and servers, and the women who harvest tea all over the world. Hospitality, healing, chado and story nourish and empower us all.


(Susan Butterworth is a Master of Divinity candidate at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. Her area of special competency is Anglican, Global, Ecumenical and Interfaith Studies. She is a professional writer and teaches English at the college level. She is interested in university chaplaincy and sings with the Threshold Singers, a group that sings at bedside in nursing-home and hospice settings.)


A Religion, A Culture, A Society

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society.” Bill Schwartz. Leicester, UK: Christians Aware, 2014. 133 pp.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society.” Bill Schwartz. Leicester, UK: Christians Aware, 2014. 133 pp.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society” (Christians Aware, 2014) by the Ven. Dr. Bill Schwartz, OBE, is intended to help Christians understand Islam on a personal level. Schwartz, who has lived among Muslims in the Middle East for more than 40 years, presents his perspective that studying Islam simply as a religion, or simply as a culture will result in a less-than-authentic understanding of Islam as Muslims themselves practice their faith. Unlike the way Western secular society segregates religion from other aspects of our culture, Islam, culture and society are all interrelated.

Schwartz writes about Muslims who are serious in their religious practice and who are greatly affected by religious trends in their midst. The text not only draws on sources of Christian scholars who have studied Islam, but heavily draws on Islamic sources beyond the Qur’an and Hadith to include books and journal publications by Muslims who themselves debate the true nature of Islam in modern society.

Christians, who too often know Islam only from tragic headlines and inappropriate stereotypes, are introduced to complex Islamic traditions through parallels and comparisons to Western culture. Subjects such as holy war, human rights and the nature of revelation are given clear and approachable explanations. This book provides much food for thought, and insight for those who hope to develop friendships or dialog with Muslims.

“Islam: A Religion, A Culture, A Society” can be ordered here.

“Written from his perspective as an American Christian of the Anglican tradition, [Schwartz] takes the reader beyond a discussion of the five spiritual foundations of Islam to grasp how Arab Muslims view their world, their religion and the influences of the secular world upon their approach to life. Through his conversational style, he helps the Christian reader to reflect upon the basic principles of our own thought and how that approach differs from how Arab Muslims see the world and one another. … Bill’s book is a welcome addition to helping to remove the very filters which cloud our vision.” — The Rev. Canon Robert D. Edmunds, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Middle East Partnership Officer

Bulletin Insert: Easter Day (B)

An Easter Message from the Presiding Bishop

April 5, 2015

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CC photo by Myri Bonnie

CC photo by Myri Bonnie

It’s still dark when Mary ventures out to find the tomb. The graveyards around Jerusalem don’t have much greenery today. The earth is mostly rock and stone, and it is far from easy to make a place to secure a body. Jesus’ body was put in a cave-like space, with a stone rolled across the opening to close it up. Mary has made the journey from wherever she’s sheltered over the last day, through darkened streets, perhaps hearing cocks begin to crow and townspeople start to stir.

She nears the place, but somehow it seems different than they left it – this can’t be it, can it? Who moved the stone? A trip begun in tears and grief now has added burden – confusion, anger, shock, chaos, abandonment. His very body has been stolen.

She runs to tell the others. The three tear back to the tomb – no, the body is not there, though some of the burial cloths remain. Who has torn away the shroud and stolen him away? Why must the cruel torture continue, sacrilege and insult even after death? Who has done this awful thing? The men run away again, leaving her to weep at even greater loss.

She peers in once more – who are these, so bold appearing? “Fear not, woman … why do you weep?” She turns away and meets another, who says the same – Why do you weep, who are you looking for? This gardener has himself been planted and now springs up green and vibrant, still rising into greater life. He challenges her to go and share that rising, great news of green and life, with those who have fled.

Still rising, still seeking union with Creator, making tender offering to beloved friends – briefly I am with you, I am on my way. Go and you will find me if you look.

The risen one still offers life to those who will look for evidence of his gardening – hope, friendship, healing, reunion, restoration – to all who have been uprooted, cut off, to those who are parched and withered, to those who lie wasting in the desert. Why do we weep or run away when that promise abides?

We can find that green one, still rising, if we will go stand with the grieving Marys of this world, if we will draw out the terrified who have retreated to their holes, if we will walk the Emmaus road with the lost and confused, if we will search out the hungry in the neighborhood called Galilee. We will find him already there before us, bringing new and verdant life. The only place we will not find him is in the tomb.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Download bulletin insert as PDF:
full page, one-sided 4/5/15
half page, double-sided 4/5/15

black and white, full page, one-sided 4/5/15
black and white, half page, double-sided 4/5/15

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

‘Reclaiming Your Soul’

Wisdom from the Gospel of Luke

“Reclaiming Your Soul: Wisdom from the Gospel of Luke.” Daniel Schroeder. BeneVentura, 2015. 276 pp.

“Reclaiming Your Soul: Wisdom from the Gospel of Luke.” Daniel Schroeder. BeneVentura, 2015. 276 pp.

Daniel Schroeder’s “Reclaiming Your Soul: Wisdom from the Gospel of Luke” (BeneVentura, 2015) is a collection of reflections on the entire Gospel of St. Luke. It was initially written for monastics to enhance the Sunday gospel readings, but can be used by laypeople and clergy as well. As current guardian of a monastic Episcopal community, Schroeder works to build a formation journey based on the power of prayer, reflective study and personal service to others.

“Reclaiming Your Soul,” a resource for one’s spiritual journey, offers insights into discovering one’s true inner self, reclaiming what may have been lost or covered up by the demands of secular living. As we go through life we are shaped by many things that cause us to lose our way, our purpose and our happiness. The gospel wisdom found in St. Luke provides a foundation to begin the journey toward spiritual health and well-being. Readers will see how the teachings of Jesus apply to us even today.

Schroeder is the founder and current guardian of the Community of the Gospel, a Christian community officially recognized by the Episcopal Church. He holds a degree in Hebrew Studies from the University of Wisconsin, an M.B.A. in finance from Concordia University and a master’s degree in Adult Education Psychology from Northern Illinois University. His other book is “Reclaiming Eden: Taming the Serpent Ego” (Westview, 2009).

“Reclaiming Your Soul” can be ordered here.

Carol Morehead

Carol Morehead, a candidate for holy orders from the Diocese of West Texas, is in her second year of study at Seminary of the Southwest, in Austin. Before seminary, Carol engaged in ministry in many ways for many years, most recently as the lay ministry coordinator at her home parish. She is a poet, writer, and sometimes musician who loves to travel and ask questions. The mother of three sons – two in college, and one in middle school – and wife to a psychodynamically oriented psychiatrist, she also has two cats and two big dogs. She and her family enjoy Led Zeppelin, jazz, soccer and pizza!

Read Carol’s comments on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for 4 Advent (B).

Rae Hadley

Rae Hadley is completing her first year of seminary at the Episcopal Theology School at Claremont, Calif., and attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fullerton, Calif. She is a psychologist and works as a clinical case manager.

Read Rae’s comments on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for 3 Advent (B).

Joel O. Atong

The Rev. Joel O. Atong is currently an M.A. senior student at Virginia Theological Seminary. The Rev. Atong is a priest from the Anglican Diocese of Mombasa, Church of the Province of Kenya, and vicar-in-charge of St. Paul’s Kiembeni Parish. Since becoming vicar eight years ago, his parish has grown from about 400 members to over 1,600. He also serves three other daughter churches with an average attendance of 500 people. He intends to go back to Kenya once he finishes his studies in May 2012.

Read his comments on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the Last Sunday of Pentecost / Christ the King (A).

Jabriel S. Ballentine

Jabriel S. Ballentine is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, from the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands. He is also a writer and preacher.

Read Jabriel’s comments on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Proper 28 (A).

Kyle Oliver

Kyle Matthew Oliver is a senior at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he coordinates the Forum Hour. Trained in engineering physics and technical communication, his interests include the conversation between theology and science and the ethical implications of technology. He administers the resource site Into All the WWWorld.

Read Kyle’s comments on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Proper 25 (A).