28 October 2018
Today is Consecration Sunday! Today, we'll be invited, at both the 8am and 10a.m. services to prayerfully consider the portion of our income that God is asking us to give for God's work in the world through Christ Church in 2019. This is a spiritual question. The Rev. Scott Lee, a wise friend and valued colleague, will be on hand to help us through our prayers and reflections.
After completing our Estimate of Giving Cards, and placing them on the altar, we are all invited to the Celebration Lunch in the Parish Hall. Although this is a catered meal, Diana Stovall's team spent much of yesterday decorating the Parish Hall for today's lunch. I'm sure you will join me in thanking them for such splendid preparations!
Thanks to all of you who made reservations! This may be our largest Celebration lunch ever. We received reservations for 91 adults and ten children! Speaking of the children, Sunday School Director Laurie Varley will have a kid-friendly lunch and childcare/activities for younger children.
I hope yesterday's winds and driving rains did little or no damage to your home and garden, or to your route to participate in this morning's worship and celebration. Given the range of possibilities in the forecast, an abundance of caution seemed appropriate, and so yesterday's Halloween Howler was cancelled. I apologize for any inconvenience that cancellation may have caused. Perhaps I'll see you in costume during this afternoon's "Spooktacular Trunk-or-Treat," 2-4p.m., or on Halloween afternoon before dark.
On Saturday afternoon, when Bishop Douglas took the microphone at the Annual Convention of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, to share the heartbreaking news from Pittsburgh, his announcement and prayer was met with tears and stunned silence. That members of the Tree of Life synagogue should be so savagely attacked, with such deadly force, while they were at worship, poses a haunting irony. Genesis tells us that God planted the tree of life in the midst of the garden(2:9); the shooter entered a latter-day garden and chopped down a tree of life. Such appalling arrogance in the face of God's Providence! May God have mercy on the shooter.
And may God sustain our Jewish friends and neighbors, and us, in the face of such unvarnished evil. This would be a good time to check in with them, and to let them know that you/we care about their well-being. There will be a Prayer Vigil at 5p.m. today at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, 360 Amity Road, Woodbridge, CT. This is an interfaith event; the sponsors are offering an opportunity to stand together across religious, racial, ethnic, and ideological lines to denounce hate.
The Prayer Book offers us The Supplication for times of national disaster, war and "national anxiety." These are such times! So, in addition to praying for the victims, survivors and first-responders, the Supplication will conclude the Prayers of the People this morning.
This life is a messy assortment of grief and sorrow, gratitude and celebration. I am grateful to share it with you.
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. Friday's Service of Thanksgiving and Committal for Matthew Shepherd within Washington National Cathedral, was another tearful occasion of grief and sorrow, gratitude and celebration. Made me proud to be an Episcopalian and a member of the National Cathedral Society. The service, and its service bulletin, are available here.
20 October 2018
Reservation cards for our Consecration Sunday Celebration Luncheon were distributed last Sunday, and will be distributed again during worship this Sunday, October 21. Your reservation is all you need "to make" for the Celebration Luncheon which will conclude our Consecration Sunday observance on Sunday, October 28. Because the lunch is catered, your planning team needs to have an accurate number for the caterer.
Sunday School Director Laurie Varley will also have a kid-friendly lunch and childcare/activities for younger children. So, there's a place on the reservation card to indicate how many children from your household she can expect. This way Miss Laurie will have adequate staff and food.
Frankly, I think this focus on "hospitality" is one of the brilliant aspects of the Consecration Sunday stewardship program. We're invited to think, pray and respond in terms of God's "hospitality" to us. We ask for God's guidance regarding the portion of our income God is calling us to give in 2019 to fund the ministries of our common life as Christ Church. And then, we will celebrate our collective responses on Consecration Sunday in the Celebration Luncheon.
I've heard lots of positive feedback regarding Bishop Laura Ahrens' Episcopal Visitation with us on October 14 -- both from y'all and from the Bishop herself. In her talk with the children, I heard something new to me: Her explanation of what her mitre, her "hat" as she calls it, means to her. Bishop Laura sees her "hat" with its two descending bands, as a reminder that as a bishop she is sent out to tell the Good News of God's love from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Hope the adults were as quick as the children in naming stories from each Testament that tell of God's love.
Perhaps strengthened by all the lovely goodies provided by the Vestry during the Coffee Hour, you all had many good questions for Bishop Laura. Given the follow-up questions I have fielded this week, I want to underscore what Bishop Laura said about the Cburch's response to Hurricane Michael. The Episcopal Church's agency for dealing with natural disasters is Episcopal Relief & Development -- some may remember its earlier name, "The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief." Relying upon funds given for its work, Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD for short) supports on-the-ground partners -- especially local dioceses, parishes and church institutions -- in addressing immediate basic needs, and provides staff for training and coordination.
According to an October 18 ERD press release, in addition to food, shelter and medical supplies, ERD's support in the Diocese of Georgia and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast (which includes the area where Michael came ashore) has also included providing generators! You can read the entire press release here, and make a donation to ERD's Hurricane Fund here.
There's plenty of time to dust off your old costume, and brush up on that talent you've been hiding under a bushel basket. Our Halloween Howler is coming on Saturday, October 27 at 4p.m. Performers in this costumed talent show can be of any age! Among his many talents, Music Director Mark Sullivan is the sort of gifted accompanist who can make even a meager talent look good. Don't hesitate to be in touch with him about how he might help you show off your talent!
Be sure and get your Reservation Cards in this Sunday, October 21, for next Sunday, October 28th's Consecration Sunday Celebration Luncheon!
In faith, hope and love,
This Sunday: The Bishop is Coming! CROP Hunger Walk in afternoon, Rhythms of Grace Special Attraction
I need to share some sad news before launching into this week's letter: Death came as a friend to Elliot Wilcox, husband of Nancy and longtime pillar of Christ Church, on Thursday evening, October 11. We will give thanks for Elliot's life and witness on Saturday, November 3, at 10a.m.
Children's Chapel, Sunday School and the Youth Gathering, -- which is to say our programs for youngsters Pre-K through 9th grade -- all return to their usual schedule this Sunday, and theRectory Forum will continue its discussion of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's book, Songs My Grandma Sang during the 9 o'clock hour in the rectory.
Remember Jesus' parable about the landlord who visits his vineyard to see how it is growing under the stewards' care? An Episcopal Visitation is something like that, and we're having one this Sunday, October 14! In particular, the Rt. Rev. Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut will preach and celebrate at the 10a.m. service, talk to the children at the Peace, join the parish for conversation during the Coffee Hour, and meet with the Vestry after that. Bishop Laura is coming to see how this "vineyard" is thriving in our care, and to encourage us in our life together in Christ.
It's not too late to register and/or donate for the Clyde Work Memorial CROP Walk scheduled for this Sunday, October 14!
October 14 being the second Sunday of the month, we will again offer a Rhythms of Grace service at 5p.m. in the Parish Hall.. Although designed for families with youngsters who have special needs, the service works just as well for folks who "need" to worship in the early evening.
A Special Attraction to this service will be the presence of Ms. Linda Snyder, one of the creators of Rhythms of Grace. Linda will lead one of the table activities that she designed. So, if you -- or some friends -- were thinking you might want to check out a Rhythms of Grace service, this Sunday's would be an especially good one.
Camp Washington has a number of excellent programs for adults that merit your consideration:
I look forward a busy Sunday with y'all and Bishop Laura!..
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. It's not to late to apply for our new, very part-time (4 hours/week) Communications Director position. Events of the past week pushed off beginning the interview process another week..
Blessing of the Animals to Honor St. Francis, Getting Ready for CROP Hunger Walk, Chapel on the Green Celebrates 10 Years
5 October 2018
Looks like we will have perfect weather for the annual Blessing of the Animals in Honor of St. Francis, Saturday, October 5! Please bring the creatures who bless your lives to the Green on leash, in crate, or in photo-form. We will again gather with our neighbors from First Congregational Church and St. George Church and all their friendly creatures at 11a.m. I think St. Francis would be pleased that we gather as fellow creatures to give thanks to our Creator for the wonders of Creation.
Children's Chapel, Sunday School and the Youth Gathering, -- which is to say our programs for youngsters Pre-K through 9th grade -- will not meet this Sunday, October 7, due to Monday's Columbus Day public school holiday. Nonetheless, childcare will be available in the Nursery, 9:45-11a.m., and the Rectory Forum will continue its discussion of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's book, Songs My Grandma Sang during the 9 o'clock hour in the rectory.
Folks who are interested in our parish life, will want to participate in the InReach Meeting, happening during/after Coffee Hour this Sunday, October 7.
It's not too early to get ready for the Clyde Work Memorial CROP Walk scheduled for next Sunday, October 14!
The Chapel on the (New Haven) Green will celebrate its 10th anniversary this Sunday, October 7 at 2p.m. There will be special music, including the Steel Drum band from St. Luke's Church, New Haven, and ice cream from Ashley's. Chapel on the Green was inspired by the Trinity Church youth group after they experienced the "common cathedral" on the Boston Common across Tremont Street from the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul. They looked around the New Haven Green, saw striking similarities, and wondered if the same sort of ministry could be offered there. And beginning 10 years ago, worship and a meal have been offered every Sunday rain or shine; like Boston's common cathedral, Chapel on the Green has grown to offer additional services, including a weekly "spiritual fellowship" of mutual support that meets at noon on Tuesdays in Trinity's parish hall.
Congratulations to all who labored in the TAG SALE vineyard here on Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday of last week. However early or late you arrived, your efforts were well-rewarded. There was a steady stream of would-be patrons even past the appointed closing hour. A whole lot of fine housewares, clothing and furniture found new homes. Folks were treated kindly, even in the face of some preposterous requests. From the items which didn't sell, you selected an array of items to handsomely outfit a kitchen for a new refugee family being resettled by IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services).
I look forward to seeing you, and the pets with whom you share your home, on the Green for the Blessing of the Animals..
In faith, hope and love,
p.s. I hope to begin interview this week for our new very part-time (4 hours/week) Communications Director position on Tuesday, October 9.. If you are curious, or interested, please contact me, and I'll send you the job description, and how to apply.
27 September 2018
The TAG SALE is here! Many of you are coming together to organize an amazing amount of merchandise for this Saturday's Tag Sale. I don't recall the contributions to the Sale previously taking over quite so many rooms! Although members of the Evening ECW have worked for months to organize this event, it will take many more folks to display all the items for sale! So, yes, your participation matters.
We can all participate in word-of-mouth PR for the sale! Please encourage your friends and neighbors to stop by and see what treasures await them! The forecast promises a lovely day for all Saturday's events on and around the Green.
Thanks so much to all the hardy folks who braved last Sunday's not-so-great forecast and grey skies to enjoy a fine "Picnic-Tables Picnic" All four of the new tables were filled to capacity, while other folks stood to visit, hovered around the grills and the buffet tables. This wasn't a dine-and-dash event; folks lingered to admire the handsome new tables, enjoy the fare, and catch up with one another.
Thanks to all who donated generously towards the cost- of-materials for the new tables; the labor was supplied by Mark McNamara and the Scouts he organized as part of his Eagle Scout project. (Organizing the picnic service crew of family and friends posed another leadership challenge for Mark.) As of the end of the picnic, almost $1,200 had been received, and we had almost paid for the materials for two tables. So, yes, your donation would help cover the cost of the other two tables. Please make your check out to Christ Church with "Picnic Tables" in the memo line.
Our Faith Formation group had been talking for some time about how to more effectively tell our story to one another and to the broader community, especially about our programs for Faith Formation, e.g. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Acolytes, and Middle and High School programs. While Mark Sullivan manages our parish Facebook page and web site, individual program leaders are responsible for posting in the Courier and in other social media. Once upon a time, an attractive listing in the Yellow Pages would do; not so today. The Faith Formation group came to the conclusion that the entire range of our parish's programs would benefit from a more coordinated, regular and wide-ranging communication program. With that in mind, they wrote a job description, and a benefactor came forward to underwrite a very part-time (4 hours/week) Communications Director for one year. Although I was in on these conversations from the beginning, they saw this proposal through while I was away in August, presenting it to the Vestry. The Vestry has affirmed their support for this new staff position, accepted the gift (from an anonymous donor) for this one-year experiment, and authorized YFNR to seek someone to fill the position. If you are curious, or interested, please contact me, and I'll send you the job description. I hope that we can begin interviews after October 9.
I'm writing to you from Sewanee, Tennessee, where the School of Theology's Alumni Lectures concluded yesterday. (Today's my travel home day.) This year's lecturer was Prof. Charles Marsh from the University of Virginia; those of you who are reading Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Songs My Grandma Sang, may recognize him as the author of a highly recommended biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Strange Glory...Bishop Michael' quotes Marsh's biography to tell about the powerful impact of the African-American spirituals and Gospel hymns that Bonhoeffer first encountered while studying in New York City in the early 1930's. In his Sewanee lectures, Marsh expanded on that story and told about a 7-week spring road trip that Bonhoeffer took with some classmates through the Deep South. Bonhoeffer's intransigent opposition to "Hitlerism" was shaped, says Marsh, by his experience of American racism and the redemptive faith of the African-American church.
And, No. I did not escape a deluge of rain! Sewanee, and its environs, have also experienced major rainfall and spectacular thunderstorms every day this week. Between yesterday's storms, I was entranced by the flock (yes, flock) of hummingbirds at the feeders on my host's back deck. I've never seen the like!
I look forward to seeing y'all during the Tag Sale, and then as we rejoice on what y'all accomplished, during Sunday's worship.
In faith, hope and love,
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On Sunday, September 23rd we'll celebrate the beginning of our fall season with a picnic; but our usual "Welcome Back Picnic" will have a new spin. That spin is the completion of the four new cedar picnic tables on their pads of cedar chips. These handsome additions to the parish backyard are Mark McNamara's Eagle Scout project. And now we need to raise the funds to pay for them. So instead of bringing salads and desserts, please bring large bills or checks (made out to Christ Church)!. The menu for this "Picnic-Tables Picnic" includes hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, beverages and desserts.
On Monday evening, September 24 at 7p.m., Jennifer Huebner and I will gather with our young folk in grades 10-12, to begin a new venture. Since these folks are considered "adults" in The Episcopal Church, we're seeking to support these young adults in finding their places as adults in the life of the Church. We aim to offer this Young Adult Gathering on most "Last Mondays, with the occasional gathering or event at other times that the group decides to schedule..
The Picnic-Table Picnic and the Young Adult Gathering will complete the roll-out of our new school year. Our Choir returned to the balcony on the 9th; Sunday School (Pre-K to 6th grade), Youth Gathering (grades 7-9) and Rectory Forum all began their new year on September 16. Also on the 16th, the InReach Committee organized our Annual Ministry Fair. Susan Leonard and her team organized it beautifully! I understand that those sign-up, or inquiry sheets, will be available again on the 23rd regarding ways to engage in fellowship, formation, and service offerings within the life of the parish!
Speaking of our Sunday School, we received good news this week from St. Luke’s School & Church in Martel, Haiti -- the beneficiary of our Sunday School Helping Hands for Haiti fundraiser for three years! Earlier this month, the school had its first day of classes in their new three-classroom building, and worshiped there on Sunday. You can see a photo showing the children in their first-day uniforms on new building's front steps here! The Rev. Sam Owen was there and sent the attached report.
The devastation that followed behind Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Virginia kept me from complaining about the heavy rain we experienced from the tail-end of that storm system. (Happy news: We experienced no water incursions along the Sunday School hallway!) We are gratified and amazed to learn parishioner Suzanne Rogers and her family were able to return to their home in New Bern, NC, and found that the only damage to their home was caused by 50 loose shingles. The Rogers family is very grateful for our prayers and concern!
Episcopal Relief & Development is on the ground with local partners coming to the aid of those who are experiencing more severe loss and dislocation from Florence, and from Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines.. The Philippines? Yes, Episcopal Relief & Development partners with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines own E-CARE relief agency. You can learn more about, and support, the Church's worldwide witness to God's steadfast concern by going to ERD's website here.
Our Faith Formation group has been talking for some time about how we might more effectively tell our story to one another and to the broader community about our programs for Faith Formation, e.g. Sunday School, Acolyte, and Middle and High School programs. While Mark Sullivan manages our parish Facebook page and web site, individual program leaders are responsible for posting in the Courier and in other social media. Once upon a time, an attractive listing in the Yellow Pages would do; not so today. The Faith Formation group came to the conclusion that the entire range of the parish's programs would benefit from a more coordinated, regular and wide-ranging communication program. They wrote a job description, and a benefactor came forward to underwrite a very part-time (4 hours/week) Communications Director for one year. Although I was in on these conversations from the beginning, they saw this proposal through while I was away in August, presenting it to the Vestry. This week, the Vestry affirmed their support for this new staff position, accepted the gift (from an anonymous donor) for this one-year experiment, and authorized YFNR to seek someone to fill the position. If you are curious, or interested, please contact me and I'll send you the job description and try to answer any questions.
Last week I reported about the "Swords Into Ploughshares" program organized by the Newtown Foundation, YaleNewHaven Hospital and the New Haven Police Department. For Bishop Jim Curry, this is the story of his pectoral cross from the Mozambique civil war, come home to Connecticut. This week, parts of firearms voluntarily turned over to the Police Department were destroyed, and reforged as gardening mattocks. Bishops Ian and Jim were there, and you can find the story in the New Haven Independent here.
I look forward to seeing you in worship, at the Rectory Forum, and at our "Picnic-Tables Picnic."
In faith, hope and love,
A message from the Rev. Sam Owen, founder of the New York Haiti Project, with Good News from St. Luke’s School & Church in Martel, Haiti!
Good News from St. Luke’s School & Church in Martel, Haiti! For three years, Christ Church Sunday School has donated their Haiti Fundraiser proceeds to building and starting this school in the little town of Martel, Haiti. Photo is from St. Luke’s School first day in their new building, just last week! The Rev. Sam Owen was there and sent the attached report:
I am eager to share stories with you of our trip to Haiti. Mr. Laurent Louis, a farmer and resident of Martel, told me that many people in Martel believe that we have been sent by God to help them. Perhaps he’s right. I think they have been sent by God to help us.
Thank you to all who kept us in prayer last week. I could feel your support.
I wish you could have been there, to see the joy and hope on the faces of the children as they started their first day of school. Click here to see a clip showing the school in Martel. We hope to put together a short film soon. Stay tuned.
Below is a summary of our trip. For those who want more detail I am attaching a longer version.
Once again, thank you for your support. Your prayers and presence and material support mean more than you know.
The Rev. Sam Owen
Our Sunday morning Christian Education/Formation programs begin their new year this Sunday, September 16!
If it's mid-September, it's also time for our Annual Ministry Fair during Coffee Hour this Sunday, September 16. The range of opportunities for going a little deeper in the life of the parish with fellow parishioners will be on display; and, friendly folk will be on hand to talk about what's up in the range of ways to engage in fellowship, formation, and service offerings within the life of the parish! And there'll be goodies at each table to sustain you!
The devastation being wrought by Hurricane Florence is all over the news! Whenever such a disaster approaches, Episcopal Relief & Development starts getting ready to come to the aid effected communities. You can learn more about, and support, this important witness of the Episcopal Church to God's steadfast concern by going to ERD's website here. Our prayers for those displaced by Florence include parishioner Suzanne Rogers and her family in New Bern, NC; they're in temporary housing elsewhere. Our ECW will be keeping in touch and letting us know how we can be of assistance.
Earlier today, I was part of the Christ Church contingent attending the South Central Region's Convocation at St. Peter's Church in Cheshire. Chris George, director of New Haven's Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services, brought us up to date on the current challenges and opportunities which IRIS seeks to address. Although Chris is a great speaker, the highlight of the morning for me was Bishop Jim Curry's announcement of the upcoming "Swords Into Ploughshares" program organized by the Newtown Action Alliance and the New Haven Police Department. You may recall Bishop Jim's story about his pectoral cross, given to him by an African bishop; the cross was made from firearms given to the Church following the end of hostilities. In the New Haven program, firearms voluntarily turned over to the Police Department are going to be destroyed, melted down, and reforged as garden tools! Bishop Ian Douglas will be joining in the hands-on work. Bishop Jim asked us to watch for details about days and times.
I look forward to our conversations about the songs of Bishop MIchael's grandmother, about our opportunities for ministry together as Christ Church, and about our first day of Sunday School!
In faith, hope and love,
Open letter from a collective of Shoreline interfaith clergy to coordinators of Guilford and Madison youth activities
18 August 2018
First of all, thanks to all who made last weekend's celebrations so powerful!
Don't wash your car this week! Let the Acolytes, and their friends and helpers, wash your car on Saturday, August 25 by the Red Barn at Bishops' Orchard Farm Market. Bring your car for a thorough washing between 10a.m. and 1p.m.; the "charge" is a free-will donation.
You may remember that our Annual Parish Meeting in February 2017 came within days of the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Some current and former Wardens and Vestry Members presented me -- to my surprise and delight -- the book about the Broadway musical "Hamilton" with instructions to order a ticket as a gift from them on behalf of the parish. Well, I thought the book was a lovely gift and procrastinated ordering tickets (they're outrageously expensive!). This winter former Senior Warden Pat Daunic said, "here's a check; we're serious; buy a ticket: so, I did as I was told and got serious about finding a good seat at a price that wasn't too overly outrageous. Finally, I found one, and last evening I sat riveted by the performance! Wow! I mean wow! I know the music and, thanks to the book, had read a good bit of the text. But nothing prepared me for just how amazing the music, choreography, set and lighting design all are, or how they all work together so brilliantly. Thanks so much to all of you who participated in making this experience possible! I am so very grateful!
Early in the musical, we meet the Rev. Samuel Seabury who is portrayed as a simpering stooge, blindly loyal to King George III. That's the same Samuel Seabury who would later be consecrated by the Episcopal Church in Scotland to become the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Hamilton's creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, used his creative license to adapt historic events for his narrative and comic purposes. As it happens, Samuel Seabury was nobody's stooge, but like the majority of folks in New York City and Westchester County, where he served before the revolution, a loyal subject of King George. Ordained deacon and priest in England, Seabury had vowed loyalty to the King as head of the Church "in all things termporal."
In the days before Instagram and Twitter, people conducted debates in pamphlets; pamphlets that people actually bought! Seabury and Hamilton wrote a series of well-received pamphlets arguing against and for the revolutionary cause. For his, Seabury, then the well-established rector of St. Peter's Church, Westchester, adopted the pen-name "A. W. Farmer" for "A Westchester Farmer." Hamilton was an undergraduate at King's College (today's Columbia University). Both wrote plainly, forcefully and to great effect for their side of the debate about the Continental Congress. After the war, Seabury moved to Connecticut and supported the new country. As a native of the British West Indies, Hamilton was a lifelong Anglican -- becoming an Episcopalian as American parishes of the Church of England became part of a new Episcopal Church.
Guilford resident and friend of Christ Church, the Rev. Mary Anne Osborn, will preach and celebrate on Sundays August 19 and 26. Were I in town, I'd want to gather with you all and hear how Mary Anne continues Bishop Seabury's work of bringing the Bible to bear on the challenges of our lives and times. I'll be thinking of, and praying with, you from a crowded pew in the Church of St. Mary of the Harbor, Provincetown. The harbor is quite literally out the backdoors of the parish buildings, and this is still their busy season.
In the meantime, I'll look forward to joining you for our preparations for Chapel on Green, on Saturday, September 1.
In faith, hope and love,
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!