Bulletin Insert – December 3, 2017

Preparing to Become the Beloved Community

A newly developed Advent resource is now available to help Episcopalians everywhere to take up Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation and healing. Every congregation will soon receive in the mail Preparing to Become the Beloved Community, a multi-fold poster and resource pack with prayer, reflections and activities for each week of Advent. The resources can also be downloaded at http://bit.ly/belovedcommunity.

Preparing builds on the Becoming Beloved Community vision document and resources, which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and their supporting officers introduced earlier this year. The document lays out the Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation and justice.

“During Advent, Christians focus on how much we need Jesus to bear light, healing and hope in a broken world,” noted the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care. “This is a mysterious, vulnerable time. We’re opening to Christ. We’re opening to different neighbors and strangers who are Christ among us. We hope these resources meet the real hunger among Episcopalians to live like Jesus Movement people.”

Throughout Advent, an Episcopal Church social media campaign will also stir hope, reflection and action around racial reconciliation; join or follow using the hashtag #adventbeloved.

Advent begins on Sunday, December 3 and concludes on Christmas Day.

Preparing to Become the Beloved Community was developed by the Episcopal Church’s Racial Reconciliation Team. The resources are designed for group use among all ages, including Adult Forums, Sunday School, Women’s and Men’s groups, Advent preparation, Vestry meetings, Confirmation studies and more.

Each of the four weeks in Advent features Bible readings, reflections and activities focused on one part of the spiraling journey toward racial healing, reconciliation and justice:

  • Advent 1: Telling the Truth about Our Churches and Race
  • Advent 2: Proclaiming the Dream of Beloved Community
  • Advent 3: Practicing the Way of Love in the Pattern of Jesus
  • Advent 4: Repairing the Breach in Institutions and Society

The original Becoming Beloved Community vision lays these themes out visually around a labyrinth. “It’s a different way of approaching this work,” said Heidi Kim, Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation. “It’s truly an invitation to spiritual formation and social transformation.”

For more information, contact Emily Gallagher at egallagher@episcopalchurch.org or 212-716-6242.

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Bulletin Insert – November 26, 2017

What Are the 2017 AdventWords?

For the fourth year in a row, AdventWord gathers prayers via the global, online advent calendar. The Anglican Communion Office and Virginia Theological Seminary, with assistance from Society of Saint John the Evangelist, is pleased to offer 23 meditations during this holy season. #AdventWord begins on Sunday, December 3. Images and meditations can be experienced via email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Join this international community in prayer as we explore the mystery of Advent!

Invitation

AdventWord is a global, online Advent Calendar that invites Christians around the world to share images and their own brief reflections on each of this year’s 23 Advent Words.  We invite you to:

  • Sign up to participate from December 3 through Christmas Day
  • Use social media to share your own image for the word of the day
  • Help create a global, online Advent Calendar

How to participate

Go to http://adventword.org and sign up to receive a daily email. Each day of Advent, there will be an invitation to read a very short email reflection for that day’s assigned word, and to then share your own image or short reflection via social media using #AdventWord and a hashtag for the word of the day. Make sure there is a space between the tags, for example: #AdventWord #Celebrate.  On Facebook, go to the AdventWord page and post to the Timeline using #AdventWord and the tag of the day, making sure that your post is set to “public,” or we can’t see it! On Twitter, simply include the hashtags in your reflection or with your image.  On Instagram, post to the AdventWord feed.

  • Visit: instagram.com/adventword
  • Visit: twitter.com/AdventWord
  • Visit: facebook.com/AdventWordOrg

In Advance: 

If you want to get your images ready in advance, here’s a cheat sheet. Remember to share this with friends and family who would enjoy participating – Advent Word is an ecumenical project!  We welcome posts from all persons using images and phrases that resonate with #AdventWord and:

  • 3 December #Awaken
  • 4 December #Journey
  • 5 December #Gather
  • 6 December #Simplify
  • 7 December #Heal
  • 8 December #Mend
  • 9 December #Focus
  • 10 December #Prepare
  • 11 December #Messenger
  • 12 December #Watch
  • 13 December #Voice
  • 14 December #Wilderness
  • 15 December #Trust
  • 16 December #Among
  • 17 December #Light
  • 18 December #Dazzle
  • 19 December #Open
  • 20 December #Embrace
  • 21 December #Renew
  • 22 December #Greeting
  • 23 December #Child
  • 24 December #Believe
  • 25 December #Celebrate

During each of the days of Advent, it is hoped that everyone who participates will deepen their understanding of the coming of Jesus into the world, and will come to know that every aspect of their life is the stuff of prayer.

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Bulletin Insert – November 19, 2017

For Such a Time as This: Climate Resiliency

The Episcopal Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continue our united call to Pray, Fast and Act in support of good policies that provide opportunities for and respect the dignity of people struggling with poverty. As the earth’s climate continues to transition and threaten communities, we answer the call this month by supporting action for federal investment to make our nation, communities, and public services more resilient and better prepared in the face of increasingly common and destructive natural disasters and changing weather patterns.

This month, leaders from government, religious institutions, non-profits, and scientists gather in Bonn, Germany, to highlight the importance of international commitments to work together to address environmental challenges. As Anglicans, we must ensure that we advocate not only for ourselves, but for our fellow Anglicans, Christians, and humans, like those who see their island and coastal homes threatened by increasingly severe flooding and possible destruction.

 On November 21, join the EPPN and the presiding bishops of The Episcopal Church and the ELCA as we:  

PRAY for our nation’s elected leaders to invest in sustainable recovery and preparedness infrastructure designed for an uncertain and dangerous future.

“Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” For the Conservation of Natural Resources, The Book of Common Prayer

FAST to remember the damage wrought for so many around the world by environmental degradation and natural disasters.   

Share on social media using #PrayFastAct and @TheEPPN. On the 21st, post a picture of a dinner place setting with the reason you are fasting this month. We fast on this day in solidarity with people whose lives are threatened by rising sea levels, increasingly destructive storms, extreme droughts, and fires. If you are unable to fast, consider participating by abstaining from carbon or fossil fuel based resources.

ACT by urging our elected leaders to support strong policy solutions that address the increasingly urgent preparation and reconstruction needs of communities threatened by extreme and unpredictable weather. Prepare for action on the 21st by reading the one-pager on climate and resiliency from the Office of Government Relations: bit.ly/FSATNovember.

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Bulletin Insert 2 – October 29, 2017

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

October 31, 2017, marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In this text produced by our full communion partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, you can learn about how they are undertaking the ministry of reconciliation.

All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has giving us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

For Lutherans, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation has provided a welcome occasion to learn more about Martin Luther and the Reformation, while strengthening our understanding and commitment to our ministries. But the date is important not only for Lutherans; its religious and cultural impacts have reached to the entire Church and beyond.  Where for centuries there had been distrust and condemnations, this commemoration offers counter-cultural narratives of growing in mutual understanding and common action.

As the first centennial in an ecumenical and inter-religious era, this anniversary occurs in a spirit of reconciliation, for the whole world to see. In our broken world, this ministry of reconciliation is a faithful response to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the commemoration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) seeks to lift up and honor all of its ecumenical and inter-religious relationships. Together with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, inter-religious neighbors and all full communion and other ecumenical partners [including the Episcopal Church], in this year the ELCA gives thanks for all relationships working together toward reconciliation—toward unity among Christians and healing of the deepest social ills that plague our world.  In the spirit of these reconciliations, the ELCA looks with confident hope toward the future.

“Christians live not in themselves, but in Christ and in their neighbor. Otherwise they are not Christians. They live in Christ through faith, in their neighbor through love.”

– Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation commemoration emphasizes Martin Luther’s belief that the promise of God’s love makes possible a life of “a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.” In the face of many cultural suggestions that initiative and responsibility for relationship with God rest on the wavering strength of each individual, there is liberating strength in the Lutheran movement’s insistence that we rely on the faithful initiative and persistence of God’s Holy Spirit, who makes us right with God and renews our hearts. It is through God’s grace that Christ’s life flows through faith into a life of service to the neighbor.

Since October 31, 2016, ELCA congregations and ministries have lifted up and lived out Luther’s belief through various activities that reflect the ELCA’s commitment to be a church for the world. We invite you to explore the ELCA’s commemoration in the following ways:

  • Visit ELCA500.org, the ELCA’s Reformation anniversary commemoration website.
  • Explore the ELCA.org pages dedicated to Ecumenical and Inter-faith Relations.
  • Explore Living Lutheran.org/reformation, the ELCA’s official magazine’s website page dedicated to sharing the Reformation anniversary stories from around the church.

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Bulletin Insert – October 29, 2017

Martin Luther: Monk to Reformer

October 31, 2017, marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, inaugurated by Martin Luther’s actions in Wittenberg. In this text produced by our full communion partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, you can learn about the scholar, monk, and reformer.

We live in an era when fame is highly desired. Whether it’s getting hits on social media, getting invited to desirable gatherings, or making it big in Hollywood or Nashville, people want to be known, to be memorable— often for the wrong reasons. It’s noteworthy, then, that in 2017 the Lutheran church—and the world—marks a big anniversary involving one of our own (our founder, actually). Martin Luther didn’t intend to become famous, and yet he changed the world, helping to usher in the modern era.

This little sheet doesn’t have room to detail Luther’s life and accomplishments, and you will probably be hearing a lot about them from many sources, so this will just provide a brief overview.

Martin Luther was born in 1483 in what is now central Germany but then was a separate principality called Saxony. His parents tried to give him a good education and hoped he would become a lawyer. Instead, when he was twenty-one he became a Catholic monk. He wanted to earn God’s love but was tormented by the sense that he could never be good enough. He punished himself mercilessly until finally a wise mentor sent him to study and teach Bible at the then new University of Wittenberg.

Not long after he arrived there, he became incensed by the church saying, in effect, that if people bought a certain document—an indulgence—it would provide God’s forgiveness for their (or a loved one’s) sins. Being a university professor, he wrote a list of ninety-five sentences to debate about the topic. That list, the Ninety-Five Theses, stirred up a hornet’s nest in the church and began the Reformation. He made them public on October 31, 1517—coming up on five hundred years ago.

For challenging the church and refusing to back down, Luther was called before the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V, at a meeting in the imperial city of Worms. Asked to take back what he had written, he refused and was declared an outlaw. Anyone could have captured him and killed him or turned him in to authorities, in which case his death was likely. Fortunately, his own prince protected him, hiding him out in a castle where he began translating the Bible into German. In the process, he helped create the standard German language.

Luther wrote many influential books, most of which are still valued today. He created the Small Catechism to guide ordinary people in learning about God. He wrote hymns such as “A mighty fortress is our God.” He was a passionate, sometimes crudely mannered man, and in later life he wrote terrible, cruel things about the Jewish people, statements for which the Lutheran church has apologized.

Yet Luther was a remarkable man, helping to create the modern notion of what it means to be an individual, not just an atom in a sea of molecules, and, of course, reviving and reforming the church. He is a man worth celebrating!

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Bulletin Insert – November 12, 2017

San Joaquin Revival

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church will co-sponsor a three-day Episcopal Revival on Friday to Sunday, November 17 – 19, with an emphasis on sharing a bold, inclusive vision of faith in action.

“This wonderful event marks a new chapter in the life of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin,” noted Bishop David Rice of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

“The Holy Spirit is moving across the Episcopal Church, and these Revivals are just one sign of our desire to go public with the love of God and the dream of God in our communities,” said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care.

Presiding Bishop Curry has stirred the whole church to take its place in The Jesus Movement: the community of people who follow Jesus and form loving, liberating and life-giving relationships with God, their neighbors and the environment. Episcopalians in San Joaquin are following that call and opening their hearts, minds, and doors to the concerns of the Central Valley, especially people who feel vulnerable and unwelcome in today’s cultural climate.

All San Joaquin Revival events are free, open to the public and will be live-streamed.

On Friday, November 17, beginning at 4 pm at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, hundreds of Episcopalians, faith partners, and civic leaders will join for a rousing time of prayer, singing and testimony focused on immigration and DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

On Saturday, November 18, beginning at 1 pm at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Fresno, ministry leaders and partners will take a Neighborhood Prayer Walk through the surrounding urban community. The prayer walk concludes at the church doors, and leads into the installation service formally installing Rice as Bishop in San Joaquin’s Cathedral.

On Sunday, November 19, beginning at 10 am at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bakersfield, Presiding Bishop Curry will preach, preside and commission members and guests to love God and love their neighbors. Following worship and brunch, participants will take up the “1000 Yellow Bags Challenge,” stuffing 1,000 yellow bags with toiletries, socks, and other necessities for the homeless and then sharing them with homeless people.

The San Joaquin Revival is one of series of Episcopal Revivals launched in early 2017. Each revival includes advance training in evangelism and reconciliation, a major public revival event, and follow-up strategies to keep living the Jesus Movement. For more information about the San Joaquin Revival, contact Anna Carmichael at canonanna@diosanjoaquin.org or 559-439-5011.

Please keep the San Joaquin Revival, its participants and planners, and the people of California’s Central Valley in your prayers.

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Bulletin Insert – November 5, 2017

All Saints' Day

All Saints’ Day, celebrated November 1 or the nearest Sunday afterward, is characterized by the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) as a Principal Feast, “taking precedence over any other day or observance” (BCP, 15). The day is set aside to remember and commend the saints of God, especially those who are not recognized at other points in the church year.

According to Holy Women, Holy Men, in the tenth century, it became customary to recognize on a single day “that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown in the wider fellowship of the Church” (Holy Women, Holy Men, 664). Over time, the day became associated with special remembrances of an individual’s family and friends.

While several churches abandoned the commemoration during the Reformation, the Feast of All Saints was retained on the Anglican liturgical calendar. All Saints’ Day began to assume the role of general commemoration of the dead: all Christians, past and present; all saints, known and unknown.

Because of the day’s association with the remembrance for the dead, many churches publish a necrology. This reading of the names of the congregation’s faithful departed may include prayers on their behalf. Such prayers are appropriate, as the Catechism reminds us, “because we still hold [our departed] in our love, and because we trust that in God’s presence those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until they see him as he is” (BCP, 862).

The day is often characterized by joyful hymns, including such favorites as “For All the Saints,” “Who Are These Like Stars Appearing,” and “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.” These hymns share motifs of rest, fellowship, and continued, joyful service to God—salient indeed on this day, as we remember “those of dazzling brightness, those in God’s own truth arrayed, clad in robes of purest whiteness, robes whose luster ne’er shall fade”!

Collect for All Saints’ Day

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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Bulletin Insert – October 22, 2017

A Word to the Church from the House of Bishops

The bishops of The Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness.

We came because:

  • “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers”(Psalm 24:1-2). God is the Lord of all the earth and of all people; we are one family, the family of God.
  • “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are … members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The residents of interior Alaska whom we met are not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.
  • People have “become hard of hearing, and shut their eyes so that they won’t see with their eyes or hear with their ears or understand with their minds, and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them”(Matthew 13:14-15). We are blind and deaf to the groaning of the earth and its peoples; we are learning the art of prayerful listening.

 What does listening to the earth and its people mean? For us bishops, it meant:

  • Getting out and walking the land, standing beside the rivers, sitting beside people whose livelihood depends on that land. We had to slow down and live at the pace of the stories we heard. We had to trust that listening is prayer.
  • Recognizing that struggles for justice are connected. Racism, the economy, violence of every kind, and the environment are interrelated. We have seen this reality not only in the Arctic, but also at Standing Rock in the Dakotas, in the recent hurricanes, in Flint, Michigan, Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the violence perpetuated against people of color and vulnerable populations anywhere.
  • Understanding that listening is deeply connected to healing. In many healing stories in the gospels, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” That is, he listened first and then acted. 

What did we hear?

  • “The weather is really different today,” one leader told us. “Now spring comes earlier, and fall lasts longer. This is threatening our lives because the permafrost is melting and destabilizing the rivers. We depend on the rivers.”
  • The land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where the caribou birth their calves is called the “sacred place where life begins,” so sacred the Gwich’in People do not set foot there. “Drilling here,” people said, “is like digging beneath the National Cathedral.”
  • After shopping together, a native Episcopalian told one of us how hard it is to even secure food. “We can’t get good food here. We have to drive to Fairbanks. It is a two-hour trip each way.”

What we bishops saw and heard in Alaska is dramatic, but it is not unique. Stories like these can be heard in each of the nations where The Episcopal Church is present. They can be heard in our own communities. We invite you to join us, your bishops, and those people already engaged in this work, in taking time to listen to people in your dioceses and neighborhoods.  Look for the connections among race, violence of every kind, economic disparity, and the environment. Then, after reflecting in prayer and engaging with scripture, partner with people in common commitment to the healing of God’s world.

God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed. It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the earth itself will be healed.

Please note: A prayer from the bishops can be found here.

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Bulletin Insert – October 15, 2017

For Such a Time as This: Homelessness

The Episcopal Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America continue our united call to Pray, Fast, and Act in support of good policies that provide opportunities for and respect the dignity of people struggling with poverty. As the seasons transition and the days become colder, we answer the call this month by supporting action for people facing homelessness, unaffordable heating utility bills, and extreme housing insecurity.

On October 21, join the EPPN and the presiding bishops of The Episcopal Church and the ELCA as we: 

PRAY for our nation’s elected leaders to stand with those who struggle to secure safe and affordable shelter.

“God of compassion, your love for humanity was revealed in Jesus, whose earthly life began in the poverty of a stable and ended in the pain and isolation of the cross: we hold before you those who are homeless and cold especially in this bitter weather. Draw near and comfort them in spirit and bless those who work to provide them with shelter, food and friendship. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.” – For the Cold and Homeless, from the Church of England

FAST to call attention in our own minds and actions human plight that eviction, poverty, and homelessness create.  

Share on social media using #PrayFastAct and @TheEPPN. On the 21st, post a picture of a dinner place setting with the reason you are fasting this month. We fast on this day in solidarity with people who must choose between paying their utility and housing bills and buying food for their family. Consider participating in an electricity or heating fast by turning it off in your home for the day.

ACT by urging our elected leaders to support strong policy solutions that address affordable housing needs and homelessness.

Prepare yourself for action on the 21st of October by read the Office of Government Relations’ one-pager on advocacy and homelessness at http://bit.ly/FSAToctober. You can also read up on Episcopalians’ commitment to provide affordable housing for the poor, address domestic poverty, and support care and fellowship for veterans. Look out for the #PrayFastAct action alert on Friday, October 21, and join us as we pray, fast, and advocate together.

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Bulletin Insert – October 8, 2017

UTO Young Adult & Seminarian Grants

Are you a young adult or seminarian interested in making a difference in your community?

The United Thank Offering (UTO) Board is pleased to announce that they will accept applications for up to ten Young Adult Grants and up to ten Seminarian Grants for 2018.

Grants, which are only awarded within the Episcopal Church, will be made up to $2,500 each to fund start-up costs for new ministries. The focus this year is The Jesus Movement: Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care, including the following themes:

  • proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom,
  • teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers,
  • responding to human need with loving service,
  • transforming unjust structures of society and pursuing peace and reconciliation,
  • and safeguarding, sustaining, and renewing our environment.

Young Adult Grants are available to Episcopalians age 19-30. Their applications, available at http://bit.ly/uto-yasgrants, should be submitted to their diocesan offices for screening and selection, as bishops may select one application per diocese. Applications without a bishop’s signature cannot be accepted. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application following the meeting of the Executive Council in January 2018.

Seminarian Grants are intended for the start-up costs of new ministries at the seminary, in a seminarian’s field education parish, or in his or her home diocese. In order to be eligible, seminarians must hail from one of the accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church or from the Commission for Theological Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CETALC). Seminarians should submit applications, also available at http://bit.ly/uto-yasgrants, to their dean (or CETALC chair) for screening and selection. The dean may select up to two applications per seminary; applications without a dean’s signature cannot be accepted. As above, applicants will be notified of the status of their application following the meeting of the Executive Council in January 2018.

The United Thank Offering is a gratitude ministry of the Episcopal Church, supporting innovative mission and ministry in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering awards grants for new projects and programs that address inventive approaches to ministries within their communities that meet the stated focus for the year.

For more information, please contact Kayla Massey (kmassey@episcopalchurch.org).

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