From Rachel......

This is the time of year when I notice the murmuration of migrating birds: swallows, particularly, along the Connecticut River. They are so wondrously fun to watch: moving in sync, shifting directions, staying close enough together to sense the direction of the flock and far enough apart that they don’t collide with each other.

How does this happen? Once birds know how to fly, how do they learn how to pay attention to the greater whole and adapt, trusting the whole knows how to stay on course to safety?

In her book Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown writes about the importance of what she terms Intentional Adaptation:

“This is the process of changing while staying in touch with our deeper purpose and longing (p.70).”

She goes on to explain that in her work facilitating groups movements, she is finding that it is more important to pay attention to strategic intentions rather than strategic plans. “What are our intentions, informed by our vision? How do we bring those intentions to life throughout every change, every aspect of our work? (p.70)”

Our intentions speak to our deeper purposes and longings.
 
Her observations strike me as particularly relevant to our lives during this crazy year of 2020. So much has changed. So much has been revealed. So much has challenged our faith, our way of being Christians together, even perhaps our very existence as communities of faith. A lot of plans have been adapted time and time again. What have been our intentions as we have adapted our plans?

How do our intentions line up with God’s intention for healing, justice, and reconciliation of all people and creatures through our Lord Jesus?
A parish is a murmuration: Individuals flying together with a common intent to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, in a particular location. Each parish is also a part of a larger murmuration of Episcopal parishes in the Southeast Region of the Episcopal Church in CT. As with any murmuration, there is a “right” relationship, a “right” distance between those flying in a common intent: too close, and we crash into each other; too far apart, and we can’t pick up the subtleties of directional shift.
One of the great gifts of adapting our flight because we are in a murmuration is that it reduces our exhaustion. “No one bears the burden alone of figuring out the next move and muscling towards it (p.71).”

So perhaps this month’s writing to you is simply an appeal to remember that you are a part of a larger murmuration. Remember the words and presence of Jesus to stay true to his intentions; let go of everything else that doesn’t line up with that. Pay attention to your neighbors as you live with shifting plans and directions; you are not alone in flight. You are a part of a larger formation, a movement of God’s Holy Spirit that is meant to be a vision of wondrous joy, just like the swallows in their dance.

In Christ's love and grace,
Rachel

The Undeniable History of Homegrown White Privilege

By Maggy Gilbert
 
Based on a painful, largely unknown history of the region’s complicity in centuries of Black slavery in its financial rise, white privilege exists in New England to this day. This may come as a shock to people who believe in a color-blind society. But this was my major takeaway from the keynote speaker and our discussion at the 2020 SECCT Convocation held on Zoom Oct 3rd.

Other takeaways included:

     • “You can’t un-see what you’ve seen.”
     • “I don’t know why Blacks aren’t angrier.”

And perhaps most poignantly,
·        “Why did it take us so long to see this?”

Jennifer Frank, a 40-year veteran editor of the Hartford Courant’s Sunday section acknowledged it was a long time in the coming. Speaking at the invitation of the SECCT Regional Leadership Committee, Frank stated that she originally felt Connecticut had been history’s good guys; after all, we had a humming Underground Railroad and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lived here. As it turns out, though, Connecticut had the most slaves in all of New England, and was the last New England state to ban slavery, which didn’t end until 1848.
One of three co-authors of Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, Frank’s education began with a news story in 2001. A woman was suing the Aetna Insurance Company for Black reparations because it “knowingly benefited from a system that enslaved, tortured, starved, and exploited human beings.” Reporters discovered that the Hartford Courant ran ads for runaway slaves.

Frank and her colleagues dug through primary source documents to research the story of a slave owner whose slave Aetna had insured against loss. As they wrote, the authors realized that slavery — and the white supremacy that supported it — has continued to affect all of us no matter our background. Two special Sunday editions later, the idea for a larger history was born. And there it was: history hidden in plain sight, largely ignored by our educational system, and certainly unseen by me.
“Complicity” was published in 2005. Reactions ranged from whites exclaiming: “This doesn’t pertain to me” and “my ancestors came after the Civil War.” To Blacks saying: “This is the book we’ve been waiting for.” Nevertheless, denial is the customary first response. Frank noted that her Russian Jewish ancestors had nothing to do with creating the racial divide. Yet she acknowledges her own duty to expunge white privilege. 
In dialogue at our Convocation, fifteen break-out groups came up with the following thoughts: We need to educate ourselves, form relationships with BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) individuals, develop curriculum on this topic, and sponsor personal sensitivity training to enable teachers to teach this very emotional and difficult material.
A special thanks to Grant Underwood of St. Andrew's, Madison, for providing us with gathering music, including some new to us tunes to favorite hymns.
We concluded our Convocation with a renewal of our Baptismal Covenant, a reminder that all are equally loved by God, and that we are called to seek and serve Christ in ALL people. The Rev. Stacey Kohl provided this video image of the living water of God's Spirit, greater than our fonts can contain.
Middlesex Habit for Humanity: Building in the Time of a Pandemic

Sarah Bird, MS, Executive Director

We at the Middlesex Habit for Humanity (MHFH) have been fortunate the pandemic has not derailed our building plans. Construction was deemed essential, which allowed for the site work in the spring. Staff and volunteers began working on site in Westbrook in July, and the progress has been outstanding.
 
The project is currently ongoing. We are decreasing our volunteer numbers to eight, as we are now inside the home. If COVID-19 numbers begin to rise in the state, and if the Governor begins to restrict gatherings, we will limit who is allowed on site. A large majority of our volunteer group is in the at-risk category and we would not have them on-site. We are hoping this does not happen; however, our number one concern is the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and partner homeowner.
 
The pandemic did put a stop temporarily to finding the partner homeowners, as we had just begun the search when the state shut down. However, we just signed a partnership agreement with a lovely family of six (parents and four children). We will be working on a plan to help them complete their 400 hours of sweat equity in a timely manner, as we believe their home in Westbrook will be completed before they fulfill their required hours.
 
This year has not been easy for Middlesex Habitat For Humanity (MHFH), but we are moving forward. The pandemic has shown a light on the importance of safe, decent housing, and in the state of CT there is a lack of affordable housing. The need for Habitat for Humanity is greater than ever, so we have to keep moving forward.

We are currently building the home in Westbrook, as well completing a renovation in Middlefield. The public can volunteer their time and talent, and donate if they have the capacity to do so. As we try to keep building through these trying, we are taking precautions will you take to keep volunteers safe.

You can read more about volunteering and our safety precautions during COVID-19 on our website, through the Volunteer Portal.
What’s going on in the SE Region with Christian Formation these days?

We asked a few of our faithful Christian Educators to share how they’ve been forming disciples and apostles in days of physical distancing.
St. David’s Gales Ferry

Diane St. Laurent, Director of Christian Formation

Our main goal at Saint David’s has been to make certain that the youth feel connected to the church, even though we are not able to worship together. While everyone was still “grounded,” we sent cards, some presents and books, while also staying connected with FaceTime and Zoom. When restrictions eased a bit, we had our Ecumenical Vacation Bible School, praising God in a parking lot. Later, we gathered in the Grove to paint rocks, which now add a bit of color to the gardens. All activities included social distancing. The children all loved being part of the surprise “Thank you parade,” where we drove in decorated cars shouting and waving our thanks to our worship leaders.

We had service projects for the youth also, including one about The Lord’s Prayer. The finished projects were sent to members of the congregation. One note included thanks for the gift because, “As I aged, I found I couldn’t remember the Lord’s Prayer and now I can pray it again.” We had a drive-thru school supply donation where the youth collected and organized the gifts, which were later donated to Stanton School in Norwich. We gathered to celebrate “Easter in September” complete with kazoos instead of trumpets and praising God with our masks on. 
At times, just the members of one family gathered to do a small project, such as sharing the history of Saint David’s or sharing a musical contribution during our “Live Stream” service. Some of the youth have visited with their families for an outside swim at my house.
I give a Children’s Sermon twice a month and follow up with mailings related to the lesson. I write “Learning for all God’s children” for the weekly Epistle. It is a busy time and thinking outside the box” has become the norm.


When talking to the youth, they do share that they miss being together. They miss the normal routine of church including acolyting or sharing a high-five with the rector at the end of the service. I am currently working on adding a Sunday School lesson for each age group using “Google Classroom,” which the youth indicate they like better than zoom. In my weekly email to the youth and their parents, I make certain they know they are always in my prayers.
St. John’s, Essex

Becky Honan, Children & Youth Education Director

It seems superfluous to say that 2020 has been a challenging year. Amidst all of it we have tried to find creative ways to "be" together. On April 5th at 9:00 a.m. Zoom School was born. With different audiences and even some visitors, we met in this format until we went to our traditional summer schedule, when we came together once a month, still virtually.
In September we resumed weekly Zoom School. And slowly we have begun coming together in person. In July and August we piggybacked on Essex Village's Alfresco Thursdays with a food collection site in front of the church. Both times we were able to fill an SUV with food we donated to local food pantries. We plan on continuing with these monthly service opportunities until the snow falls, and hope to include as many of our families in this neighborhood mission as possible.

During a zoom parent meeting we were asked to try having the youth group meet in person, outside. Perhaps utilizing our amphitheater for inter-generational time, and/or social distance hiking incorporating contemplative prayer. Service opportunities could be held outside as well. We plan on continuing our monthly food collections, and hope to find other ways to serve, such as helping the community garden behind Holy Advent church in Clinton on a Saturday morning.

The future is uncertain, and we are trying to balance safety and community, while still fulfilling our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ while loving our neighbors as ourselves.

St. Mark’s, Mystic

The Rev. Adam Thomas, Rector

St. Mark's normal kickoff Sunday called "Balloon Sunday" went virtual this year. Following the YouTube Live Morning Prayer service on September 13th, children and adult mentors gathered on Zoom to participate in a Godly Play story. They will be doing so for the foreseeable future. Also, a surprise: Godly Play mentors went all over southeast CT delivering balloons to all the Godly Play kids. We lament that we can't meet in person right now for Godly Play, and we celebrate that we have the technology to remain together in love any way we can. St. Mark's is still discerning how to bring the middle and high school youth together, given the fact that they are spending all their school days looking at screens.

St. Andrew’s, Madison

Shelby Auletta, Director of Children Christian Formation
 
We are using Zoom for socially distant Church School from 9:15-9:45 (before the 10:00 Family Worship via Zoom). We have divided the kids into two age groups: preK-2nd and 3rd-8th. Each age group has a separate Zoom session. The younger kids are using the Holy Moly! Curriculum and the older kids are using the Connect Curriculum. Both have a short, spirited video to kick off the lesson. We have purchased Holy Moly Storybook bibles for each student in that group and have made available for purchase by each family, the Connect Bible. The beauty of the Connect Bible is that it is made to be written in and physically engaged with. Several families have purchased Bible highlighters and pens in fun colors! We are hoping this will help to keep our kids engaged during this disconnected time in our lives. I have been leading the older kids and have used interactive polls during the lesson conversation to keep the kids tuned in. The younger kids continue to be led by their "regular" Church School teachers.
 
We have a “Signup Genius” set up for volunteering to lead and co-lead for each age group. I send out a weekly email blast to Church School families via Constant Contact with the necessary Zoom links and supporting curriculum materials. It has been a learning curve for sure! Getting to see the smiling faces of the kids has been a great reward! We had 17 kids show up on the first Sunday and 18 on the second Sunday and 17 again on the third. Hoping the rest of our Church School families join the Zoom fun! We are aiming to come together as one group once a month for musical fellowship/church school. Our first date for this is October 4. 
 
I am hearing from families that it is hard for kids to add another virtual learning experience to their week. And, the younger they are, the harder that is.
 
Looking forward to hearing what others are up to in the region 😊
St. John’s, Niantic
Faithe Emerich,

Director of Youth and Education Ministries
 
At St. John’s our children and youth are continuing to meet online for Fall 2020.
 
Ages 4-5th grade meet together for church school on Zoom each Sunday. We begin with an opening prayer then have a short lesson read by a volunteer parishioner. Following the lesson, a craft project is led by one of our youth. Then we close in prayer and say goodbye. In preparation for these church school meetings, a craft project is mailed out to each child every week and the lesson is given to the volunteer parishioner to prepare.
 
Grades 6-12 meet on zoom immediately following church on Sundays. We check-in with each other, read through a scripture passage, and discuss what it means and how it can be applied to our lives. We meet at the same zoom meeting as coffee hour so that the youth have a short time at the beginning to interact with the adults before we break into different breakout rooms.
 
Finding a way to do church with the young people online has been a challenge but also a fun opportunity to be creative. 
St. Stephen’s, East Haddam

Lynda Hickey, Director of Christian Formation

What's going on with the youth at St. Stephen's? Well, it's definitely been a challenge to say the least! Over the past six months we have connected with our youth in many different ways. At the beginning of the Pandemic, we turned our monthly Youth Group meetings into virtual movie nights and then decided we wanted to be a little more interactive and did some virtual game nights, which turned out to be a lot of fun!

Our weekly Sunday school lessons also became digital. I have been recording lessons which have been posted on our website as well as YouTube. Along with each lesson are links to arts & crafts, activity sheets and parent resources. I've also texted out bible verses of the week to our older youth that i hoped would offer them some peace and comfort during this time. I am really looking forward to our upcoming In-person Youth Group gathering which will be held outside. (with social distancing & masks, of course!) 

In addition…

While these have focused mainly on children, youth, and perhaps intergenerational ways of forming disciples and apostles, we know that learning and growing as Christians never ends, because God’s mercy and love never end! God is always shaping us, inviting us deeper into a heart and mind and body that lives in love with God, our neighbor and ourselves.
If you, as an adult, are looking for a way to respond to that invitation, you may want to consider this new offering from the Episcopal Church in CT.
Scholarships and grants are available. For more information, contact Marcus Halley, Dean of Formation for the Episcopal Church in CT.

There are three informational sessions offered:
October 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm
October 24, 2020 at 9:00 am
November 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm
Deacons Day is being sponsored by the Deacons Council. It is on October 20 @ 6:30 pm and is an opportunity for folks around ECCT to hear about the ministry of deacons and perhaps discern it as a vocation. If in the course of your work you run across someone who might be interested, please direct them to that event.

 Collect For Return to the World

Almighty God, creator and redeemer, in these coming days,
give each of us wisdom as we become part of the process to select our leaders, and guide those leaders to make the hard choices for the good of your creation and human community, bringing together such disparate voices in conversation and debate that our world, our country, and our community may prosper and be at peace.
Bev Olsen

More resources from ECCT,
 as well as webinars and offerings from friends and neighbors
From our Bishops:

The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has just released a very significant study on the reality of white supremacy in our nation and in the church. This paper, entitled “White Supremacy, the Beloved Community, and Learning to Listen” is a must read for all Episcopalians and we commend it to you and your parishes for study, prayer and action. It can be found here.
Covid Impact On Parishes Financials (Q1 & Q2 Assessment

ECCT is inviting each parish to participate with this online survey to assist us in adequately assessing and preparing for how best to continue to assist you. Please visit the link below. All it takes is your quarterly statement and approximately 10-15 minutes of your time. Due by Friday, November 6th. We appreciate your participation.

ECCT Annual Convention is this week!
Please pray for our common life as Episcopalians in CT. And be a part of worship on Sunday, October 18th, at 10am via YouTube. Here’s the Playlist for Convention

Walktober in the Last Green Valley
Yes, there are still be walks and events.

Also, there are several virtual walking tours, especially of Norwich. These look great: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/walktober/virtual
CEEP Workshop: New Realities of Worship
October 14, 3:00 p.m.
We will specifically cover:
· Continuing meaningful on-line only worship;
· Avoiding burnout with both on-line and in-person worship; and,
· Creating compelling opportunities for parish engagement in worship

The Inter-Religious Eco-Justice Network (IREJN) is sponsoring a series of webinars in the next three months. More information about each of the presentations can be found when you click on the "register here" links below.

On Thursday, November 12, from 7 - 8:30 PM, a webinar on how to propagate native wildflowers and expand your native plantings inexpensively by growing them yourself from seed. Presenter is Jim Sirch. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/propogating-native-wildflowers-from-seed-tickets-117606625583
Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities

Friends, if you want to share in the gritty, practical, front-line work of racial healing, consider volunteering at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center. NLHHC has a very diverse staff, and our guests are disproportionately Black and Brown. As a volunteer, you will share in the suffering and joy of our guests and be a witness to the suffering and resurrection of Christ in the world; you will be the hands and feet of Jesus in this place. Clergy might find that the NLHHC experience is enormously grounding and refreshing. Our COVID protocols are robust, but you should not volunteer if you have particular vulnerabilities. For more information, contact Deacon Ron Steed ronaldsteed@gmail.com, (860) 326-9576.

CROP Walk in Gales Ferry – and beyond

Representatives of four Gales Ferry/Ledyard churches met recently and confirmed plans to have the 32nd annual Gales Ferry/Ledyard CROP Hunger Walk. The group unanimously agreed that in this time of COVID, the problem of hunger is even greater than before, both locally and globally. The walk is scheduled for Sun., October 18. Registration will be outside the United Methodist Church 12:30 - 1:15 p.m. To avoid a large group gathering, small groups of walkers will be released every few minutes. Masks are also required.

CROP Hunger Walks, which began in 1969, were the first walks that used this means of increasing awareness and raising funds. Now, many organizations have copied CROP. While many of the walkers are from the four churches, St. David Episcopal, St. Luke Lutheran, United Methodist, Ledyard Congregational, persons from other churches and the community are encouraged to join us. 25% of donations received goes towards local needs through Gemma A Moran Food Bank, and local food pantries; 75% to states and global needs via Church World Services.

Those who do not wish to join others, whether due to safety or schedule, may walk in their own neighborhood and submit any funds, in addition to online contributions, to the United Methodist Church by Nov. 8.

Date: October 18, 2020
Registration: staggered from 12:30-1:15
Start and End Location:
United Methodist Church, 
10 Chapman Ln, 
Gales Ferry, CT 06335
 
On-line registration and donations: www.crophungerwalk.org/galesferryct
What is Hybrid Church?

Does technology offer us the possibility to be a church that is participatory and engaged? Join us for a three session conversation on Hybrid Church. Speakers include Stephanie Leathe, CEO and Co-founder of Altar Live, and The Rev. Timothy Hodapp, Canon for Mission Collaboration. It will be a fascinating conversation. You will hear lots of data, learn about trends, and perhaps your assumptions may get affirmed or challenged. Join us, and please spread the word, all are welcome to attend: https://www.airmeet.com/e/bb536c70-01e4-11eb-a1c0-ed5492c6c8a6 Please note that Airmeet does not work on cellphones and tablets. On laptops and desktops it prefers Google Chrome Browser.

See you October 11. Please register! Link for the event and registration is: https://www.airmeet.com/e/bb536c70-01e4-11eb-a1c0-ed5492c6c8a6

Contact for Retired Clergy

The Reverend Diana Rogers 

Clinton Church of the Holy Advent
 81 East Main Street
P.O. Box 536
Clinton, CT 06413-0536

Email: holyadvent@sbcglobal.net
Prayer for the SE Region
Almighty God, Creator and Redeemer, in the midst of the noisy din of the world and these changing times:
We lift our prayers to you for your Church, especially for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and for this, its Southeast Region.
Surround us with the clear assurance of your loving presence,
That we may grow confident in our faith and trust in your will;
Guide and teach each one of us to live in your word and walk in your ways,
That we may be a light of the living Word;
Expand the space in our hearts and in our lives,
That this region may be filled with your love and mercy for all;
inspire us; send your Holy Spirit upon us to fire up enthusiasm,
Create in us willing hearts and hands to serve you.
We pray for our Missionary, Rachel Thomas, that you give her the ears to hear
and the heart to discern your will for the Region.
Hear our prayer.
 We pray for the Leadership Teams to aid in your mission.
Hear our prayer.
 We pray for the priests and deacons in each of the churches in our Region and Diocese.
Hear our prayer.
We pray for each vestry and the leadership of every church in the Region.
Hear our prayer.
We pray for the Bishops and Diocesan leadership of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
Hear our prayer.
 Almighty God, we pray that we may proclaim your kingdom in this this Region and beyond, and become ambassadors for your dream of reconciliation and healing, the gift and calling you have given us through your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we offer these prayers.  Amen
Editorial Staff

Beverly Olsen
Eileen Perron