January 2021
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas Day, BCP pg214)
A Word of Encouragment from your NE Region Missionary
Hello dear siblings in Christ,

Happy Christmas! I'm writing to you from my home office on a very dreary day while watching the birds in my front yard. These new friends have brought me so much pleasure in a year that really challenged my ability to find pleasure in anything.

With the turning of the secular calendar, I'm thinking about what is essential in this life. If nothing else, 2020 has helped me to figure out what I find to be most essential to my well-being. To more accurately state this, what 2020 has shown is that the constant "busy-ness" and running around is not essential to my well-being. I have dwelled more deeply with God in these past many months, and have been shown that a more satisfactory life, for me, can be found in creativity, rest, and reflection.

I've also learned that it's not just about my well-being. As members of faith communities, we are charged with the care of our neighbor. So I find myself asking, what is essential for the well-being of my community? There are many communities we move through - some are affiliate groups (like church) and some are the communities we are part of because of where we live, our neighborhood or our town. Then, of course, we are part of a global community. One that has been on many of our minds as we watched the planet repair a tiny bit of herself as we stayed home because of the pandemic.

So, as we start a new secular year, I want to encourage you to think about what is essential - for you and for your communities. What will make these places better for everyone? What do we need to do? This is an opportunity for individual involvement and corporate involvement; these are conversations we can have with God, with our families, and with our congregations.

I would love ot have these conversations with you. In 2021, I will continue to host monthly "office hours" online, monthly opportunities to gather and craft via zoom, and I hope to create space for conversation and brainstorming. I hope that you will join me.

Photo by Maggie Breen
The Baptism of Jesus - January 6th
The feast for the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated on January 6th and is one of the great feasts of the Church year. It is also one of the oldest feasts, it was celebrated as the incarnation of the Christ three centuries earlier than when Christmas was first celebrated. The baptism marks when Jesus was first revealed as God’s Son, so we often refer to it as the Epiphany (Greek for revelation). A better name is Theophany which literally means a “revelation of God” in Greek (Θεοφάνεια; the Russian is Богоявление and means the same).

All three the persons in the Trinity are manifested here. The voice of the invisible Father is represented by the blue and gold beam that points to the Son. It is saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’”(Mt 3, 17). The Holy Spirit is represented symbolically by a dove on a medallion within the beam from the Father and hovering over the Son. In this way we see how the Holy Spirit unites the Father with the Son. The use of the word “hovering” is deliberate, and should be compared with Genesis 1:2, where “the Spirit of God was hovering (מְרַחֶ֖פֶת) over the waters.”

In accordance with iconographic convention, the river Jordan is framed by rocky countryside on both sides. The flowing water surrounds Jesus, but characteristically enough it does not cover his body. By walking down into the river Jordan, down into matter, Christ makes known the depth of his identification with man and creation. He allows himself to be covered in the water and thus fills it with his divine presence. Heaven is united with the earth. He blesses the water and gives it a sacramental dimension, just as he later blesses the bread and wine.

John the Baptist stands on the left bank, bending humbly forward to lay his hands on Christ’s head, however, his face is turned toward heaven as he observes the miracle in the sky. Near John, in the lower lefthand corner of the image, is a scrawny tree with an axe laid at the root, recalling John’s own preaching to those who came to him: “And now also the ax is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Obviously, this tree did not produce good fruit.)

On the opposite bank to John the Baptist, four angels wait to receive the newly baptised Christ. They cover their hands as a sign of adoration and reverence. I see correspondence between the colour of their robes and someplace else in scripture. 

Challenge 1: What do you think the connection is? [Hint: the Greek word χλωρός is often translated “pale”.]
Challenge 2: In the lower righthand section of the image, there is a sort of sea creature in the river, next to the bank. Why is it there?

Icon and photo created and submitted by David Clarke, St. John's, Vernon
Mark Your Calendars: Upcoming Events

5 - RM Monthly Digital Office Hour, 6pm, click here to join
5 - NE Region Wardens Gathering, 7pm
7 - ECCT Faithful Futures; 6:30pm
11 - NE RLT Meeting, 7pm
14 - NE Region Parish Liaions, 7pm
16 - Community Garden Ministry Network - Catch Up & Start Up, 10am, register here
17 - Crafting in Proximity, 4pm, click here to join
23 - Mission Council Workday
26 - Evening with the Bishops - Northern Region Parishes without Clergy, 6pm
26 - ECCT Parochial Report Orientation, 10am, click for tickets

*for more detailed information on ECCT events, please visit the calendar!


2 - NE Region Wardens Gathering, 7pm
3 - ECCT Parochial Report Orientation, 6:30pm, click for tickets
4 - ECCT Faithful Futures; 6:30pm
10 - RM Monthly Digital Office Hour, 6pm
10 - NE RLT Meeting, 7pm
11 - ECCT Parochial Report Orientation, 3:30pm, click for tickets
13 - ECCT Clergy Day, 9am
15 - NE Region Parish Liaisons, 7pm
16 - Crafting in Proximity, 1pm

*for more detailed information on ECCT events, please visit the calendar!
Register Now for the Community Garden Ministry Network: Catch Up and Start Up Event!
How has your garden been growing amidst a pandemic and a drought? We know the need for your produce has likely greatly increased; and we know you've been working hard to keep your garden fruitful. Join other gardeners throughout the Episcopal Church in Connecticut on January 16, 2021, from 10 am - noon over Zoom, for a chance to share stories (what worked, what didn't?) about this year, as well as any words of wisdom for those who might be looking to start up a garden next year.

Questions: contact The Rev. Virginia Army (
Companions in Mission for Publishing & Communication (CMPC) Offering Technology Upgrade Grants
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has compelled us to explore new ways to share Christ’s love virtually. At the same time, many of our parishes and worshipping communities are ill-equipped for such a transition. In order to help facilitate this new way of being, CMPC has designated the remainder of its 2020 grants and all of its 2021 grants to help fund improvements to the technological infrastructure of parishes or worshipping communities across ECCT. Grants of up to $2000 are available and can be used for new equipment purchases or upgrades to current equipment.

Applications are now being accepted with grants awarded on a “first come, first served” basis. Learn more and apply online.
FORMA 2020 - A Great Conference Opportunity
Are you a church school leader? Are you a lay leader? Do you want to learn how to bring some Spiritual Practices to your congregation? If you answered YES to any of these questions, consider registering for the 2021 FORMA Conference. You can find out LOTS OF INFORMATION HERE. The conference is fully online, and you can see the schedule before you register - so you can decide what looks and what you might like to attend. This is not only for people involved with forming you folks in our congregations - we are all called to help form each other! I hope some of you will consider joining me for this conference in January.

GUESS WHAT?!? There are 40 FREE REGISTRATIONS available. FILL OUT THIS FORM to apply for the free registration code!
Anti-Racism Resources
If you are looking to get involved with Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation and/or Anti-Racism work but aren't sure where to start, below are a few good resources for you to check out that have been curated by either myself or the good folks involved in the Racial Healing, Justice & Reconciliation Ministry Network:

  • Our Cathedral hosted a poetry night last month! A recording of this moving testimony to both the pain or racism and the hope of reconciliation can be found HERE.

  • If you are a PBS Passport member, there is a documentary on John Lewis called Get In The Way that sounds really good - just under an hour, and available until Feb 10, 2021. This was originally aired on Feb 10, 2017.

  • If you are interested in checking out another GREAT resource, THIS PODCAST called How to Citizen is fantastic and offers practical experiments anyone can try at the end of each episode.

  • Our Cathedral is also recording a series of meditations you can use. You access the one done for the 3rd Sunday of Advent HERE. The rest can be found on ECCT's YouTube Channel.
Resources, Webinars & Other Important Things
  • Check out Prophetic Indigenous Voices on the Planetary Crisis videos of worship with members of the Anglican Communion from around the globe. These are deeply moving worship services. You can access them at the Green Anglican YouTube Channel, HERE.

  • CT's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has a program available to help establish community gardens. Information can be found HERE. I know it says it expired July 2020, but word on the street is that this will be continued in 2021. So just something to think about as we look forward to Spring.

  • If you would like some parish resources for preparing your 2021 operating budget, please contact Maggie Breen and she can send you some documents that are in lieu of the Treasurers Newsletter.

  • The Episcopal Church has a new podcast called "Tell Me Something Good" and the current episode is all about an initiative called Imagine Church in Atlanta.

  • Pauli Murray continues to inspire Black, queer Episcopal leaders in our church. TEC published a wonderful article which you can find HERE.
You can find the most recent COVID-19 update from our Bishops HERE (lots of info here, with access to archived things, too)

The State of CT is offering small business grants through CT Cares. Churches qualify for this, but there are parameters. CLICK HERE for more information.

In case you missed the NE Region Convocation, HERE is a link to the slide deck we used!
Let's Have Fun!
Here are some things I've found interesting in the past week: music, projects, art, articles, etc. May they be of service to us so that we can be in service to others.

  • The Painter's Gallery in California is running some online exhibits. "For the Birds" is the exhibit for January. Check it out HERE.

  • The Washington Ballet put together a very charming event called The Nutcracker Tea Party at Home - a free, 30 minute presentation of The Nutcracker and other festive things. Check it out HERE.

  • In case you can't leave Christmas music just yet, check out THIS VIDEO of Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss doing The Wexford Carol. A personal favorite of mine.

  • Bonus Content - I've been reading a lot of poetry lately, and stumbled upon Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot, a book I purchased for about 25 cents at the library some many years ago. Within the pages, I found a treasured poem called Journey of the Magi which I recited on FB during Advent. You can watch it HERE.
You can reach Maggie Breen, NE Region Missionary, the following ways:
PHONE: 203-639-3501 x154