Spring 2018
NC REGION CONVOCATION – A REFLECTION
A community of theological imagination, fed by word and sacrament, forming disciples and apostles in God’s mission, connected to the wider Body of Christ – this is definition of a parish in the new missional age. For me, the key words in this definition are imagination, mission, and connected. During the convocation we focused on mission and opened our imaginations to God’s vision for creation, as we endeavored to foster connections between our parishes. 

At the beginning of the day our hearts and minds were opened to the work of listening and prayer, the foundation of inspiration and imagination. We began the day with Taize worship, led by Rev. Tim Squier of Old Saint Andrews, Bloomfield. After worship we entered into a discussion about the missional age through the wisdom and guidance of Bishop Ahrens.

Connections, individual and collective, were key to the movement of the Spirit throughout the day, and we found these connections through the sharing of personal stories. At one point paper airplanes carried our stories through the air. Spirits at play, written on paper wings, soared through the air to an unknown destination and into the hands of a stranger. The personal story I heard touched my heart so deeply, truly a moment that was God-inspired, a heart laid bare and so vulnerable that the only possible response was a silent embrace and tears.

In the afternoon cups of brightly colored M&M’s were spread out on the tables. Each color represented a question. Each answer a symbol of the diversity within the region. Yet for all our differences in experience and opinion we often found commonality across more than 60 people, representing 19 parish communities. 

Throughout the day we tried things on that drew us together, ultimately becoming a spiritual family where differences are respected, where the hope for the future lies in finding God’s mission among the discovery of “something new”, and a common bond to respond and serve where the Spirit points in the community. All of this points to forward movement, to a place where existing barriers become shared stories and resources are relationships. The future potential is great: mentorships, clergy exchanges, parishioner visitations, as well as finding new ways to communicate and to respond as a region to social justice issues, including but not limited to all forms of violence, to addiction and the opioid crisis - the possibilities are limitless when the Spirit of imagination keeps us connected in God’s mission in our parish, region and beyond.  

- Trish Leonard, St. Paul's, Southington
- Photos by Judy Moeckel, Epiphany, Durham
Greetings from your Region Missionary
Happy Spring! It has been a long and drawn out winter to be sure, but signs of new life are popping up everywhere. Just this weekend I saw dandelions in my backyard and heard the roar of lawn mowers starting up at one neighbors house and then another and another. I feel confident in declaring spring's arrival.

While witnessing the arrival of a new season, I have been drawn into contemplation about the different seasons and rhythms of the church. In particular, I have been reflecting on the importance of the gestation period. That seemingly dormant time that we often mistake as procrastination, a waste of time, or worse still - nothing at all. At a time when the world, and the church, is changing at what seems to be an ever accelerating rate it can be frustrating to honor this time as necessary; and yet, it is this time of quiet nurturing that ultimate brings forth new life. A gardener will tell you that seeds need time to mature. Artists boast that art takes time and cannot be rushed. And mothers know that the gestation period is essential for a healthy baby.
At times we may look around and wonder if anything is happening at all, but just under the surface new life is about to spring forth when the time is right.
Erin Flinn
NC Region Missionary eflinn@episcopalct.org
Mobile: 860-966-3742

Region Office Location
This time of contemplation has reminded me that while we must move forward with urgency, we need not act with haste. There is time to discern, reflect, and nurture new ways of being in the world. There it time to pray, and wonder, and dream. After all, it is not just change that we seek -- it is lasting transformation.
God's Mission in North Central Connecticut
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:
Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church,
and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20,21
We gathered! We prayed! We marched! 3/24
March 24th was planned as a simple celebration of women and women’s ministries in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) in commemoration of the United Nations’ International Day of the Woman. Yet, what unfolded was a day of the communal support of women for each other and their communities and the public witness of love in action in conversation, worship and rally!  

More than 80 women from across the diocese, both lay and ordained gathered for a day that was held in the context of the Eucharist beginning with Dwelling in the Word facilitated by Bishop Suffragan, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Laura Ahrens in the Cathedral House. Bishop Laura invited us to discover God’s invitation to us both as individuals and as women in ECCT using our text for the day, Luke 18:1-8. Following Dwelling in the Word, we were engaged by a group of fascinating panelists composed of Rose Fichera Eagen, the founder and co-convener of the Church Street Eats program at our Cathedral, Ashley Makar, the Outreach Coordinator for Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services, and The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Priest and Chief Justice and Reconciliation Officer at Trinity Wall Street. Each woman shared information about her ministry and some of her challenges and joys!

Following the panel discussion, we gathered at the Cathedral to be fed by Word and Sacrament. The Rev. Winnie preached. We sang, prayed and worshipped joyfully. Participants in the service included members of the Girls’ Friendly Society as ushers, female members of the Choir School of Harford led by Music Director, Jack Merrill, intercessors from the Episcopal Church Women and Daughters of the King and in the congregation both lay and ordained women of every diversity imaginable. God was praised!

Over lunch we were treated to a presentation and conversation by the National President of the Girls’ Friendly Society, Lois Frankforter, Esq. who recounted her experience as one of the Presiding Bishop’s delegates to the United Nations’ Conference on the Status of Women. Then promptly at 12:30 pm we gathered outside on the sidewalk in front of the Cathedral House for the dismissal, commissioning and blessing where we were joined by other ECCT members to walk over to the Capitol to support our youth and participate in the March for Our Lives rally.

Reflecting on the day, I continue to be inspired by God’s gift of companionship along my journey, new friendships, partners, mentors, and companions along the way. It was truly a day to celebrate women who gathered, prayed, marched, provided companionship, and acted in public witness of Christ’s love. I’m glad I was there!
- The Rev. Rowena J. Kemp
Priest-in-Charge, Grace Episcopal Church
Member of the Women's Ministry Network
Good Friday - Carrying the Cross in Community
Asylum Hill Ecumenical Good Friday Procession - Every year Hartford's Asylum Hill congregations observe Good Friday with a 2-mile, 3-hour pilgrimage through the neighborhood. Beginning at Trinity Episcopal Church, founded in 1859 to meet the spiritual needs of the rapidly developing neighborhood, participants worship at each location, then walk with a large wooden cross carried in procession through the streets to the various churches.

Second comes St. Joseph’s Cathedral, home to the Archdiocese of Hartford. Then the historic Asylum Hill Congregational Church, founded in 1865 (once the parish of Mark Twain.) Fourth is Asylum Avenue Baptist, 1872, a historically black congregation. Fifth is Glory Chapel, a primarily Hispanic Pentecostal congregation associated with Youth Challenge, a faith-based, residential drug and alcohol recovery program. Our sixth location is Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA, a congregation formed in the 1950’s by the merger of three pre-existing German Lutheran congregations. The following church is Immanuel Congregational, also UCC, which came to be in 1914, a merger of two former downtown Congregational Churches. Last comes Riverfront Family Church, a non-denominational inclusive evangelical congregation founded in 2008.

Some 200 people in all, the procession and the congregations involved represent one of Hartford’s most diverse neighborhoods. Inter-denominational, multi-generational, of many races, genders, sexual orientations, and economic locations, the Asylum Hill Congregations gather each Good Friday to mark the Passion of Christ, and to affirm that at the foot of the Cross, each of us, and all of us together, stand on level ground, equal before our God.
- The Rev. George A. Chien
Assoc. for Digital Ministry at Trinity, Hartford
Good Friday Stations of the Gospel in Portland - On Good Friday worshipping communities in Portland joined together to walk the path that Jesus walked together by offering the Stations of the Gospel. The service started at noon at Church of St. Mary. We processed through Portland from St. Mary’s to Grace & Mercy Family Ministries, United Methodist church, True Vine Holiness Church and Trinity Church. In addition to members of the worshipping communities that provided space for the stations, First Congregational and Zion Lutheran also participated in this ecumenical worship. As we processed through the streets we were led by adults and children proudly carrying our cross and leading us together in Jesus’ path. In addition to worship we shared fellowship as we walked together from station to station forming a community of God’s people and sharing our unique gifts with the group as a whole.

- The Rev. Deacon Jessie Karpf
St. Paul's Mission for the Deaf: Saying Goodbye
St Paul’s Mission of the Deaf first opened 1909 in Hartford, CT by Reverend Light. Several years later when Rev Cam Desmarais took over he brought St Paul’s to St John’s in West Hartford. Under Rev Raynor Anderson leadership they moved upstairs to the library and have been there since. Melissa Render and Antonette (Vic) Crosta have led the community for the last 5 or 6. St. Paul’s closed on February 14, 2018. Below are reflections from Melissa and Vic.

My name is Melissa Render and I have lived in CT all my life. I went to several different churches before I finally felt at home at St. Paul’s Mission of the Deaf, partly because there was no interpreter or deaf priest in the other parishes that I attended. Growing up in both the Deaf and Hearing world was a struggle! I moved to West Hartford in 2008 and one day I heard there was a church called St. Paul’s Mission of the Deaf with a deaf priest! How cool was that? I thought I would give it a try, and I fell in love with it! I was able to understand more than I ever did before. As years went on I learned a lot and grew with it. The day the priest resigned from St Paul’s was a sad day. So, my good friend Vic Crosta and I agreed to keep St. Paul’s operating with the Bishops’ approval. (They have been so supportive.) At that time I joined St. Paul’s, the participants were few. Eventually, numbers of attendees decreased to that of the time before I started attending. As time went on Vic and I joined St John’s Episcopal Church with the help of an Interpreter. We then joined their choir. They were very supportive of us, and didn’t see us as just deaf people but as their family as well.

Vic and I sat down one day and decided to close St. Paul’s, as faith had changed our path, again the Bishops were very supportive and understanding. I really do thank everyone for the support, I didn’t want it close but knew it had to be. I moved to Bethel CT and I’m sure wherever I go next God will lead me.
- Melissa Render, member of St. Paul's
Photo of Melissa Render and Antonette (Vic) Crosta, members of St. Paul's Mission for the Deaf, signing with the St. John's Episcopal Church Choir in West Hartford.
Before I joined St. Paul's Mission for the Deaf, I had been to various churches of different denominations and in various states, in which I could not fit in or feel comfortable with. One day an acquaintance suggested St. Paul's. It was like a light bulb lit up! I learned a lot, and then I was a delegate for the Episcopal Conference for the Deaf. Then our priest had to leave his position, Melissa and I continued, using the livestream from the other deaf church located in Alabama. Unfortunately, the St. Paul’s parishioners were not comfortable with livestreaming service, and the membership dwindled. Then it was just me and Melissa. So we decided to suspend St. Paul's unless we found a suitable priest. We joined St. John's located on the first floor, and then we joined the choir, which we sign while they sing. Then Melissa had to move an hour away. "The Cheese Stands Alone." That's me. I now continue to worship at St. John’s with the help of a translator, and I continue to sign with the choir.
 
- A ntonette (Vic) Crosta, member of St. Paul's
St Andrew's Sojourns thru Lent at The Commons
In January St Andrew’s Church of Meriden , Connecticut experienced a broken pipe. In an 1866 building a single problem can quickly multiply. This caused us to pursue temporarily relocating for worship. Thanks to the generosity of Bishop Ian, Bishop Laura, and all The Commons’ staff we were graciously welcomed into The Commons for our services. 

We moved from a historic Gothic brown stone to a repurposed ball bearing factory both having historic roots within our city. The fresh contemporary space offered a beautiful simplicity. Our first service was bathed in sunshine from the east facing wall of unadorned windows. Even on the darkest of winter days it was still wonderfully light filled. Its intimate space moved our church family into close proximity to each other promoting more conversation before and after service. The handicapped accessibility allowed all to easily attend. Readers spoke without the use of amplification with clarity to all. There was great flexibility of seating with chairs easily available as attendance seemed to grow. New faces as well as faces that had been long absent were attending. As the Gospel was read our rector was truly among us as we all surrounded. God’s table was easily reachable without elevation so none of God’s people where held back. With the lack of rails the table and its simple dressing seemed to highlight more the gifts that it bore. 

St Andrew’s worshiped at The Commons from January through Holy Saturday. This time together seemed to denote the true embodiment of church family guided by history but not encumbered by it.  
- Susan Varanka
Member of St. Andrew's, Meriden
Church Street Eats
For many years, Christ Church Cathedral has offered its facilities for a weekday feeding program sponsored by Hands On Hartford. But there was another need. In its downtown business location there were neighbors who were homeless, sheltered or trying to stretch a tight budget. There were no free weekend meals nearby.  

In 2003, our Cathedral decided to offer a Sunday lunch and reached out to other churches and groups. With an overwhelming response, the Church Street Eats (CSE) program began in 2004. Today CSE operates with the faithful involvement of more than 40 Episcopal parishes (including at least 11 from the North Central Region), other churches and groups. We also realized yet another need for those who came for meals: clothing and toiletries. Mother Rose’s Boutique is open every Sunday to distribute such items.

As the reach of CSE grew, we decided to go out and meet God in our neighborhood. Every Saturday a communion service known as Church By The Pond is held in Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford. After the service CSE distributes bagged lunches. In additional support of Hands On Hartford, CSE serves a monthly dinner on a Tuesday at the Cathedral. To sustain our ministries, we receive donations from individuals and groups. Through such generosity, we provided 9,982 meals and 4,123 boutique visits in 2017.
In living out our baptismal vows, we seek to serve Christ in all persons, honoring the dignity of every human being. We participate in God’s mission as apostles of Jesus and encourage others from across ECCT and beyond to embrace their apostleship as they serve those in need. Jesus is calling us daily to step out in audacious faith, welcoming the stranger and offering love and grace to all whom we encounter. We are all Church Street Eats!

- Nancy Jacobs and Rose Fichera Eagen
Coordinators for CSE


For more information on how you or your parish can become involved with CSE visit their website or email churchstreeteats@cccathedral.org
Upleft and clockwise: Trinity, Collinsville; Trinity, Hartford; Trinity, Tariffville; Region Missionaries.
Upcoming Events
Parish & Ministry Network Events:
4/26 - 5/31 - Seven Part Bible Study on Thursday at Trinity, Wethersfield from 10:30 am - 12 pm.

5/3 - Episcopal Church Women's Annual Meeting. Must have registered by April 19 to attend.

5/5 - Celebrate Grace, Hartford's 150 years with a Dance Party. There will be salsa/merengue/
ballroom dance instructions with live music. The party starts at 5:30 pm and goes to 8 pm.

5/19 - All the Tunes You Can Eat, retreat for those who love to sing in church. Hosted by St. Paul's, Southington, from 9 am to 3 pm. Click here for tickets.

5/19 - A Celebration of the Holy Spirit through Fire, community potluck with bonfire at Trinity, Portland, hosted by members of Trinity, Portland; Epiphany, Durham; St. James, Higganum; Holy Trinity, Middletown. Starts at 6 pm. More information coming soon to the NC Region Facebook Group.

5/20 - Vital Connections Through Music: The Promise is Hope, community concert at Trinity, Portland.

ECCT's Deputies to General Convention Open House
June 8 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at The Commons
Join the ECCT Deputation to General Convention for an open conversation about General Convention. Ask questions, share thoughts, and learn about the deputies and what they bring to General Convention as representation of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. 
To Share your thoughts with the deputation, offer up questions and conversation topics by emailing ecctdeputation@gmail.com
Communications for the North Central Region
The question was raised at the North Central Region breakout session: How can we get more information about the Region and how can we become better connected? Below are a few ways to link into the Region.
* Join the North Central Region Facebook Group, a community bulletin board for the region. This is your place to share parish/community events, photos, videos and more.

* Like and follow the North Central Region Facebook Page. This is where the Leadership Team will post news of upcoming Region events, gatherings, conversations, resources, etc.

* If you want to know what your Region Missionary is up to, like and follow her Facebook Page.
* Subscribe to this Quarterly to have stories from the Region delivered straight to your inbox

* Reach out to your North Central Region Leadership Team members

* Check out the Region Calendar on the ECCT website. Submit your parish events to the Region Calendar here and they will be added to the ECCT Weekly eNews. Be sure to select 'North Central Region' under category.
Please note that all of these links can also be found on the ECCT North Central Region webpage.
INTRODUCING A NEW POD CAST:
Coffee Hour at The Commons
Episode 5: Karin and Alli talk with three of the six Region Missionaries, Erin Flinn, Rachel Field, and Rachel Thomas!

Almighty God,
You have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

'79 Book of Common Prayer p. 100.
Would you like your community or event to be included in the next North Central Region Quarterly? Contact me , your North Central Region Missionary, and let's set up a time to chat so that I might hear your story and be a witness to God's work in your community. The next Quarterly will be sent out at the end of July.