Bulletin Insert – November 4, 2018

United Thank Offering Ingathering Sunday

Today many churches will celebrate the feast of All Saints’ Day, when we remember the lives, work and ministry of all of the saints of the Christian faith. In many congregations, parishioners will also observe the feast of All Souls’ Day or All the Faithful Departed, by reading the names of those who have died who are not recognized as saints by the church, but are saints in the lives of those who knew and loved them.

The tradition of remembering the saints began in the early fourth century as a way to lift up the example of the lives of the saints for the support, encouragement and emulation of believers. For those of us gathered together in worship today, All Saints’ Day is a reminder of the great cloud of witnesses encouraging us to follow the teachings and example of the Jesus of the gospels in our daily lives.

Today is an important day in the life of one of our oldest ministries in the Episcopal Church, the United Thank Offering (UTO). UTO was founded in 1883 as a way to encourage people to commit to a personal spiritual discipline of gratitude. Recognizing that all good things that happen in our lives are gifts from God, UTO encourages Episcopalians to make thank offerings to God in gratitude for the blessings of our lives. In the early 1900s, as the United Thank Offering became a ministry of the whole church, the women leading the ministry decided that the collection of individual mite boxes – known today as Blue Boxes – should be held on All Saints’ Day. The women felt that All Saints’ Day was a time when the church stopped to give thanks for the blessings of the lives of the saints, big and small, and is thus a wonderful time to gather up all of our blessings, so they might go on to bless others.

UTO now encourages congregations to have an ingathering of UTO Boxes during the month of November. November has become a month to reflect on all of the things we are thankful for in our lives, from the saints of the church and our lives at the beginning of the month, right through Thanksgiving at the end of the month, it is a beautiful time to reflect and give thanks for all the good God has done in our lives.

If your congregation doesn’t participate in UTO yet, we hope you’ll start this month. Please visit our website, episcopalchurch.org/uto, to learn more or find resources to help teach about gratitude in your congregation or home. 100% of what is donated to UTO through the annual ingathering is granted the following year to support innovative mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

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Bulletin Insert – November 11, 2018

Consecration of Samuel Seabury

On November 14, the Episcopal Church commemorates the consecration of Samuel Seabury in 1784 as the first American bishop and first bishop of the Episcopal Church.

On March 25, 1783, a meeting of 10 Episcopal clergymen in Woodbury, Connecticut, named Seabury to be the first American bishop, following the American Revolution. (The Rev. Jeremiah Leaming was elected first, but he declined the nomination because of failing health.) Since there were no Anglican bishops in America to consecrate Seabury, he sailed to London to seek consecration there.

The Church of England, however, reasoned that it would be impossible to consecrate Seabury as a bishop because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to King George III.

Seabury then turned to the Scottish Episcopal Church, whose bishops at that time refused to recognize the authority of King George III. He was consecrated in Aberdeen, Scotland, on November 14, 1784, by the bishop and the bishop coadjutor of Aberdeen and the bishop of Ross and Caithness, and in the presence of additional clergy and laity.

The one condition of the Scottish Episcopal Church was that, in the matter of the Holy Eucharist, Seabury was to study the Scottish rite and work for its adoption rather than the English rite of 1662. To this day, one of the rites for Holy Eucharistic in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer adheres to the main features of this Scottish rite.

When Seabury returned to America, he was recognized as bishop of Connecticut on August 3, 1785, at Middletown, Connecticut.

Collect for Samuel Seabury

Eternal God, you blessed your servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America: Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Bulletin Insert – November 4, 2018

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 28, 2018

All Hallows' Eve

October 31, the night before All Saints’ Day, is All Hallows’ Eve, or as it is more commonly known, Halloween. Although All Saints’ Day is one of the major holy days on the church’s liturgical calendar, All Hallows’ Eve is not as widely celebrated in the Church as it is in secular culture.

However, for Episcopalians seeking a Halloween liturgy, The Book of Occasional Services (Church Publishing, 2004) does offer a service for All Hallows’ Eve (pp. 108-110).

It begins with a rite taken from the Service of Light in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 109), using the Prayer for Light appointed for the Festivals of Saints: “Lord Christ, your saints have been the lights of the world in every generation: Grant that we who follow in their footsteps may be made worthy to enter with them into that heavenly country where you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 111).

Suggested scriptural readings for All Hallows’ Eve include: “The Witch of Endor,” 1 Samuel 28:3-25; “The Vision of Eliphaz the Temanite,” Job 4:12-21; “The Valley of Dry Bones,” Ezekiel 37:1-14; and “The War in Heaven,” Revelation 12:(1-6)7-12.

Prayers offered during the service include:

Almighty and everliving God, you have made all things in your wisdom and established the boundaries of life and death: Grant that we may obey your voice in this world, and in the world to come may enjoy that rest and peace which you have appointed for your people; through Jesus Christ who is Resurrection and Life, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen (Book of Occasional Services, p. 108).

O God, you have called your people to your service from age to age. Do not give us over to death, but raise us up to serve you, to praise you, and to glorify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Occasional Services, p. 109).

It is also recommended that “suitable festivities and entertainments may take place before or after this service, and a visit may be made to a cemetery or burial place” (Book of Occasional Services, p. 108).

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Bulletin Insert – October 21, 2018

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Applications

Applications are being accepted for Episcopal delegates to represent the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the 63rd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York City, March 11th – 22nd, 2019. The priority theme for this meeting is: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”

The Episcopal delegation will consist of one delegate from each province of the Episcopal Church as well as a delegate from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The intent is to have the delegation as a whole reflect the diversity of the Episcopal Church, with priority given to those whose life experiences and advocacy speak most directly to the theme.

While in New York, Episcopal delegates will observe the official UNCSW meetings at United Nations headquarters and represent the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church through advocacy at the United Nations. They will be expected to participate in conference calls prior to the UNCSW meeting and evaluations, reports and follow-up actions once back home.

Delegates may be of any gender and at least 19 years old. They should be able to speak to the priority theme and willing to participate in advocacy at UNCSW. Anyone considering applying should have a relevant role at the parish, diocesan and/or provincial level, be accountable to a diocesan or provincial authority, and have a process for reporting back to the local community after participating in UNCSW.

Youth (ages 15-18) may also apply. Each youth must be accompanied by an adult chaperone, preferably a parent or legal guardian.

Delegates are expected to be in New York City March 8 – 22 for the UNCSW meeting or as close to the entire stay as possible. Delegates are responsible for their own travel, housing, program expenses and fundraising. A limited amount of scholarship funding may be available to support candidates who might not otherwise be able to attend due to financial constraints.

Following a review of the applications, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will choose the delegates. All applicants will be notified by the end of November. The application is available here: bit.ly/episcopalUNCSW. The deadline is October 26th. For more information contact Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church Representative to the United Nations, at lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

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Bulletin Insert – October 14, 2018

Diocese of Western Massachusetts Revival

On October 21st, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts will host revival events in Pittsfield and Worcester. The revival will consist of two services, along with several opportunities for Episcopalians to serve the wider community.

The first of the two services will take place at First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield. At 1:00 pm Eastern, the Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher will preside and the Presiding Bishop will preach at the Holy Eucharist. The second service will occur at 5 pm Eastern at the Hanover Theater in Worcester. This service will feature music and testimonies, along with preaching by Bishop Curry on the Way of Love.

Episcopal revivals, far from singular events in the life of a region, are preceded by focused community service from Western Massachusetts Episcopalians. In Worcester, the faithful will focus on cleaning up a neighborhood park, beautifying and blessing the area, and gathering people for worship. During the month of September, Addiction Awareness Month, Episcopalians on the western side of the diocese have worked to educate their communities about the scourge of drug addiction and the hope and health available to them through ministry and treatment. The entire diocese has also undertaken the Bible Challenge, reading the entire Bible over the course of a year.

Please keep the Western Massachusetts Revival, its participants and planners, and the people of the diocese in your prayers. Selected portions of the revival will be live-streamed on the Episcopal Church’s Facebook page. For more information, including future revival locations and events, please visit bit.ly/episcopalrevivals.

A Prayer for the Western Massachusetts Revival

God of the living, your faithful love has made us a people of hope. This hope is your gift to be shared. We wonder how to share Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope in this time, in this place. We hear voices that cry out for your justice. We see children who long for bread. We are waiting for your Word to spark our imagination. We are trusting that you will lead us to a deeper praise that touches hearts and lifts up those who are bowed down. We know that if we wonder, listen and wait, you will revive your people. We thank you for guiding our way and for what we, as yet, cannot see. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.

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Bulletin Insert – October 7, 2018

Young Adult and Campus Ministry Grants

Episcopal ministries (or ecumenical ministries with an Episcopal presence) with dreams of launching a ministry or program for young adults are invited to apply for an Episcopal Church Young Adult and Campus Ministry grant. Eligible applicants include dioceses, congregations, or college/university ministries that are currently engaging in or seeking new relationships with young adults on and off college campuses. Grant information and applications are available here: bit.ly/YACMgrants.

“These grants help the Episcopal Church live into an expanded understanding of what it means to be in ministry with young adults on and off college campuses,” said the Rev. Shannon Kelly, Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “This is a growing ministry, one that shows the church how to engage mission and the Jesus Movement in new, innovative ways.”

The four grant categories include:

  • Leadership Grants establish a new, restore a dormant, or reenergize a current campus ministry. Grant will range from $20-30,000 and can be used over a two-year period.
  • Campus Ministry Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current ministry. Grants $3-5,000.
  • Young Adult Ministry Grants provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative young adult ministries or to enhance a current ministry. Grants $3-5,000.
  • Project Grants provide money for a one-time project that will enhance and impact the campus or young adult ministry. Grants $100-1,000.

A total of $133,000 is available for this cycle, with a total of $400,000 available this triennium. These grants are for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“Ministry with young adults on and off college campuses is one way the church is raising up the leaders of now and the leaders of the future,” added Kelly. “It is an honor and a privilege to walk alongside these ministries as they seek to do ministry in ways that engage their communities in such unique ways.”

Episcopal ministries or ecumenical ministries with an Episcopal presence engaged in or seeking a new relationship with young adults on or off college campuses are invited to apply. Completed applications may be submitted beginning Thursday, November 1; the last day to submit a grant application is Monday, November 19, 2018, at 10 pm Eastern time.

If you have further questions, please contact The Rev. Shannon Kelly, Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministry (skelly@episcopalchurch.org) or Valerie Harris, Formation Associate (vharris@episcopalchurch.org).

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Bulletin Insert – September 30, 2018

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

On October 4, the Church celebrates the life and witness of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan and Clarissine Orders, advocate for the poor, and friend of the animals.

Born in the late 12th century, Francis was the son of a wealthy merchant and his high-born wife. Despite living a life of general comfort and ease, he found himself called toward a life in pursuit of “Lady Poverty”. After a series of humbling interactions with the poor, Francis devoted himself to the care of the sick and poor, giving up his business interests and material possessions (much to his father’s chagrin). It could not have been easy, but Francis’ faith demanded that he trade in his fine clothes for sackcloth and financial security for scarcity. In the words of the prayer attributed to the saint, he found that “it is in giving that we receive.”

Francis founded the Order of Friars Minor, which demanded a strict vow of poverty, in the belief that worldly goods too often proved distractions from a sanctified life. With Clare of Assisi, he would form the Poor Clares, a religious order for women similarly dedicated to service. A Third Order would follow close behind, for those men and women who would live out Franciscan values in the context of everyday life. In Francis’ thought, to fully embrace one’s poverty was to embrace reliance on God alone; to physically suffer was to identify with Christ’s own suffering. According to A Great Cloud of Witnesses, this made Francis, “the most popular and admired [saint], but probably the least imitated.”

We may perhaps remember St. Francis best for his devotion to nature and animals; in several hagiographies, or stories of the saints, Francis is depicted as preaching to and otherwise communicating with fish, birds, and even a wolf. He believed that the Creator is praised through all his creatures and, indeed, creation itself. It is in this spirit that many Episcopal churches offer blessings of pets and other animals each year on Francis’ feast day.

Collect for the Feast of St. Francis

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Bulletin Insert – September 23, 2018

Responding to Hurricanes

From our friends at Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief & Development invites you to partner with us as we support dioceses that are preparing to respond to hurricanes and other tragic storms.

Right now, your contribution to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will support impacted communities as they prepare for and mobilize storms like Hurricane Florence. Your donation will meet urgent needs by providing critical supplies such as food, water and other basics and will help us to provide long-term assistance as needed.

We respond to storms in the United States through partnerships with Episcopal dioceses. Our US Disaster team offers resources and training to help people prepare for disasters and provide emergency support so those most impacted can make a sustained recovery after the storm. The benefit of our partnership with Episcopal churches is that these congregations are already deeply integrated within their communities – they are there before responders arrive and will remain long after the news cameras have gone.

To make a donation, please fill out the coupon below and mail it in with your check or credit card information. You can also contribute online to our Hurricane Relief Fund at https://support.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-relief .

Thank you for your compassion and prayers. With your partnership, we are working together for lasting change.

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Bulletin Insert – September 16, 2018

Holy Cross Day

On September 14, the church celebrated Holy Cross Day in honor of Christ’s self-offering on the cross for our salvation. This feast day is also known in some churches as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. It was one of the 12 great feasts in the Byzantine liturgy and remains a major feast day for the Episcopal Church.

The celebration of the Holy Cross occurs on September 14 to commemorate the consecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on that day in 335 by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, is said to have discovered the True Cross during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of her discovery. A portion of the Cross is said to have been placed inside the church.

The legend also tells of Persians carrying away that portion of the cross in 614 and that it remained missing until 628, when the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius recaptured it and returned it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

As “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church” (Church Publishing, 2000) points out, “Although the authenticity of alleged relics of the cross may be questionable, Holy Cross Day provides an opportunity for a joyous celebration of Christ’s redeeming death on a cross.”

Collect for Holy Cross Day

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, p. 244

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