From Rachel......

Community.

One of the gifts of this time of physical distancing has been the way it has somehow allowed for a new sense of community to emerge in parishes. 

Perhaps it has been as folks have gathered over Zoom week after week and lived through that Sunday when the network went wacky, or finally learned to manage the mute button well or shared a particularly touching moment and yet couldn’t touch.

Perhaps it has been as you’ve entered your prayer requests into YouTube or Facebook Livestreams – requests you would have never thought about making aloud in worship! Perhaps it has been in Zoom Coffee Hour, as you visit in each other’s homes.

I suspect that the tone of your time together was different for the first three months than it has been since the murder of George Floyd, the ongoing cries to finally challenge racial injustice, the renewed awareness of our complicity, the deepening economic inequities, all amidst spikes in the Coronavirus. 

At least I hope it has been, because I believe the real test of who we are as a community of followers of Jesus is determined by how we respond to the world in which we live, the world of which we are a small part, sowing seeds of God’s grace or seeds of division.

We may wish that we could live in our bubble and avoid any trouble or division or unpleasantness, just one big happy “Brady Bunch,” but I think that is only because we don’t know what we’re missing. Jesus’ vision of community is so much bigger than we can imagine.

In week 2 of our SE Region Read of Complicity , my colleague and partner in ministry, Deacon Ron Steed, offered this as a way forward:  “Listen to those who suffer: listen to what they have to say. It will provide clues to what needs to be done differently.” We may think that we can’t do that very well in our present physical isolation. And the suffering of others is not always obvious. But we never know, until we listen. Until we take the extra time to listen to checkout clerks, wait staff, delivery people, parishioners who live alone. 

I saw a woman sitting in a lawn chair near the dock in Essex throwing sticks and treats for her dog. I wondered what her story was. I wondered if she did this every day; if she had family; what stories she had. But I rushed off to continue my bike ride; next time, I’ll put on my mask, and listen. It may open me up to a glimpse of Jesus’ Beloved Community, greater than I could ask or imagine.

In Christ, Rachel

I ’ll be away through July 25 th , so there will be no BLT this week. If YOU have a Blessed Little Thought you would be willing to share with your fellow Episcopalians in the SE Region, please let me know! Always willing to travel to interview and to help share the stories of God’s great work in our region. Email me at rthomas@episcopalct.org
A Plea For Justice

Deacon Ellen Adams

Faith Behind Bars and Beyond (FBBB) is the criminal justice network of ECCT, with many members from other faith traditions sharing in this work. At our July meeting, we decided to send a letter to the thirteen State of Connecticut Attorneys’ offices expressing our concerns about how their work affects the lives of Connecticut citizens who are accused of a crime.

Up until now, their department has had a lot of power without the accountability of having their decisions and actions scrutinized by the public. Their exemption from the Freedom of Information Act has recently been withdrawn by the General Assembly. They will now need to report on the decisions they make about plea deals and sentencing lengths to the citizens of Connecticut.

Only 5% of those accused of a felony go to trial. Only .05% of those accused of a misdemeanor go to trial. Plea deals have replaced trial by one’s peers. This is done behind closed doors with no record of the negotiations that take place. How are innocents’ rights protected? Why do people who ask for a trial, and are then found guilty, receive sentences from two to eight times greater than the sentences they are offered in the plea-bargaining process? Why are people asked to sign away their rights to appeal in the future as part of the plea-bargaining process?

A quarter of the prison population in CT is made up of people who have not yet been found innocent or guilty. The time between someone’s arrest and the resolution of their case is getting longer, and is making it impossible for people to keep their jobs and care for their families. This puts more pressure on the accused to accept a plea.

We in FBBB as well as our partner groups have analyzed the arrest records reported by the state. There is racial disparity between those arrested and those who are serving time in our prisons. Whether this is due to a person’s ability to pay for a lawyer or whether it is because of racial bias has yet to be seen.

Everyone involved in a crime is affected by the prosecutor’s decisions: victims, the innocent, and those justly accused of a crime and their families, and the taxpayers who pay the cost of trials and incarceration. We are asking the State Attorneys to be sure that justice is served for all of our citizens. We all have equal rights under the law.

What you can do:

Join us in writing a letter to the New London or Middlesex State Attorney’s Offices expressing your desire to assure transparency in the process of follow up to arrests, plea-bargaining, and sentencing lengths.

Mr. Michael L. Regan, New London Judicial District, 70 Huntington Street, New London, CT 06320;

Mr. Michael A. Gailor, Middlesex Judicial District, 1 Court Street, Middletown, CT 06457

Contact me ( deaconellen98@yahoo.co m ) to join in this work for justice.
S.E. Region Bike Group

Lori Sarkett, S.E. Region Mission Leadership Team.
 
The newly formed S.E.Region Bike Group will meet in the parking lot of Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Ct. at 10:00 A.M. on August 1, 2020.
 Everyone in the S.E. region is welcome to join in the fun of riding bicycles, getting some fresh air, and becoming acquainted with other Episcopalians (and friends!) within the region.
We encourage all bike riders regardless of age or skill level to come out and enjoy the beautiful woodlands and scenic shoreline water views that Bluff Point has to offer!
A different bike trail will be explored each month, and we hope that you will ride with us while developing lasting friendships with other members of our church community!
 
For more information please contact Lori Sarkett at : ( lorisarketthne@gmail.com ) or 860-287-5500.

Bluff Point is located at 55 Depot Rd., Groton, CT
The Pandemic, Reflections …  

From The Rev’d Dr. Anita Louise Schell
Provisional Priest-in-Charge, St. Ann’s Parish  
 
Saint Ann’s, Old Lyme returned to in person worship with one service on July 5th. The re-opening committee met twice and established protocols suggested by the Governor and ECCT. We actually had a role playing session before service to see what we had missed- 12 feet for priest without mask at sermon, announcements of how to depart etc. There was one service, Rite One, Ante Communion with in person organist and recorded choir, no singing. Ushers and lectors were part of committee, and they assisted with seating. All pews were marked, for singles, couples and families. Sign in sheet, service bulletins and alms basin were on counter at entrance. Masks were required, and hand sanitizer offered at the entrance. It was also live on Zoom and recorded for later viewing; our priest and organist learned the format during Compline a month earlier. ALL went extremely smoothly. We had almost capacity crowd of 25%. All waved at each other at end of service and left; we had no gathering but many smiles. Parishioners found it peaceful and comforting to worship in person with each other in our little gem of Saint Ann’s! Thanks be to God!
  From Chris Murtha, Christ Episcopal
 
As an Elder of the Mohegan Tribe our care and well-being are foremost. It is our tradition to honor, respect and protect our elders. Phil is under treatment for cancer (2 forms), it is because of his health that we have elected to continue to quarantine, other than medical appointments and twice weekly rides through the countryside. We are blessed to live in our Mohegan Elder Community Complex, without the services that are provided we would most certainly need to be somewhat exposed. Groceries, prescriptions etc. are ordered and delivered right to our door.
 
Several years ago we had visited our National Cathedral, unfortunately the day we were there services were not being held but instead were graciously given a tour by a parishioner. As I tune in to the Sunday morning services offered through YouTube I have delighted in receiving the word of God through a varied group of clergy including Bishop Budde, although the Cathedral's pews remain empty, the soul of the Church is surely felt.
 
Our church remains closed, at least for the present. I feel this has been a wise choice since Christ Episcopal’s congregation is quite elderly, my age of 72 years puts me in with the younger set. As long as my husband's health is compromised, and until a vaccine is available, we will continue to receive God's word through reading, prayer and meditation and of course YouTube.

 
From Dan Hall, St. Mark’s Mystic

My wife, Karen, and I spend most of our time together anyway, even before the Pandemic, so our biggest issue has been the lack of contact with our social circles. I need to reach out and touch or hug those that we love.


  A Prayer for Time Off

Father of all Mercies, God of all Comfort:
sanctify these moments of quiet and rest,
to lift my burden, to ease the weariness,
and to restore my soul;
that I return to the world renewed
and filled with hope and light,
through Jesus our Lord, Amen


In case you missed it!
Faithful Futures, July 9, 2020 –
Racial Justice in CT:
Police Accountability, Legislative Advocacy, and the Role of the Church
Panelists: Anthony Campbell – Assistant Police Chief Yale University
Bishop John Selders - Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT, and Assistant Dean of Students, Trinity College, Hartford, CT and one of the leaders of Moral Monday CT.
Carol Reimers - President, League of Women Voters of Connecticut
Dave Reyes – Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs Office of The Secretary, Office of Policy and Management
Reverend Teran Loeppke - Coalition Organizer, Common Cause in Connecticut
Hosts from the Episcopal Church in CT:
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan
The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan
Kelli Ray Gibson, Racial Justice Resource Coordinator
Resources from the
Healing, Justice and Reconciliation Ministry Network
You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument
The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them?

In a variety of settings, we see stark racial disparities, ranging from criminal justice to health care to education. This USA Today article has good charts that highlight some existing disparities.   https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/06/18/12-charts-racial-disparities-persist-across-wealth-health-and-beyond/3201129001/

In this one minute video, educator Jane Elliott asking a room full of white people, If you, as a white person, would be happy to be treated the way our society treats our Black citizens, please stand . Her observations that follow are powerful.
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s support of the  Poor People’s Campaign  hasn’t wavered since the ecumenical initiative was launched in 2018 to rally Americans behind the moral cause of fighting poverty – 50 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made an appeal for economic security in the  original Poor People’s Campaign .

This year, with Americans’ attention newly focused both on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the pervasiveness of systemic racism – the systems, structures and procedures designed to disadvantage African Americans – the church is deepening its engagement with the Poor People’s Campaign, through in-person calls to action and online organizing. In one recent example, nearly 500 people gathered online June 10 for an inaugural Episcopal Justice Assembly organized by the church’s  Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care .

And on June 20, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of the  national faith leaders who offered prerecorded remarks  for the virtual gathering of the  Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington . The Poor People’s Campaign reported more than 2.5 million views of the livestream and various broadcasts of the event.
 Read the full article and click to a video of part of the event here .
The 236th Annual Convention of the
Episcopal Church in Connecticut,
Call to Convention
October 14 - 18

Do you have a question that you would like your fellow Episcopalians in CT to consider when we gather? NOW is the time to submit them, on the ECCT Annual Convention Website: ECCTConvention.org


Any Episcopalian in Connecticut can submit a single question for consideration at one of the three “world café” sessions that will take place on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Convention. Questions can be submitted electronically now until Monday, July 27, using the form found here . Everyone who submits a question must attend an online workshop on Saturday, August 1 to refine your question in conversation with others who have also submitted a question.
Resolutions and reports are due by September 4.
Please read the Call to Convention and check out the website
for updated information, and we will see you virtually on October 14!


Save the date and time:
Saturday, October 3,
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
SE Region Convocation
Place: your choice! All of us will be together virtually through Zoom and spiritually through the
grace of God in Jesus.
More information to come!
Dennis Culliton, the Executive Director of the Witness Stones Project , is inviting a “few observers” to the installation ceremony of a Witness Stone in honor of Lettuce, a woman who was held as a slave and then emancipated – twice – and lived in Madison. Students from the Country Day School researched her life and developed this booklet, Searching for Lettuce , to convey their images of her.

The Witness Stone will stand as a reminder of her life. The service will take place August 1 st at 9:00 a.m the lawn at the entry of the Congregational Church in Madison (wear a mask). For more information about the Witness Stones Project, you can contact Dennis directly. He is willing to work with parishes who would like to explore the slaves held by those who worshiped among us in years past. 
If you have any questions, please reach out to George Black or Adam Yates at  gblack@episcopalct.org  and  ayates@episcopalct.org .

Becoming Beloved Community NOW
July 28-30, 2020
Racial justice and healing leaders and practitioners across The Episcopal Church will gather to build community, craft strategy, and equip each other for action during a series of Becoming Beloved Community NOW online gatherings at 4-6 p.m. EDT on July 28-30. 
Convened by the Presiding Officers’ Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation, the three gatherings will focus on three urgent themes: Truth (Tuesday, July 28), Justice (Wednesday, July 29) and Healing (Thursday, July 30). Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings will offer prayer and reflections throughout the sessions.
Please see this page for more information and to register for each session.
Come save some trees and/or pick up litter at one of our favorite state parks. Our fall invasive plant cleanups will be held on Saturday, September 26, 9:00-12:00 noon (raindate October 3 )and Saturday, October 10(raindate 17)) at Haddam Meadows State Park. The September event will be held in conjunction with the CT River Conservancy’s Source to Sea annual cleanup.

As required by the state and CT DEEP ,those attending must register ahead of time. There will be a limit of 25 persons at each cleanup. Attendees shall remain six feet part, including family members, caretakers and household members. Masks shall be worn within six feet of those not in the same household.

Participants are asked to meet in the middle picnic area. Adults and youths, under 16 years of age accompanied by an adult, are encouraged to participate in removing oriental bittersweet and other invasives and/ or picking up litter. Please dress for the weather, wear waterproof boots, bring garden loppers or saw, insect repellent, sunscreen, water , snacks and first aid supplies. Snacks will not be provided. Do not bring pets. Volunteers with dump trucks and Haddam stickers are needed.

The event is being planned by CT DEEP Adopt -a -Park volunteers, Cherry Czuba, Mary Lou Heger, David Stiles and Jamie Burgess. Please register by emailing Cherry Czuba at cherylczuba@comcast.net .
                                          Cherry Czuba is a parishioner in St. Stephen’s, East Haddam

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

The Education for Ministry group at Church of the Epiphany, Durham has openings for the September 2020 class. Please contact victor.friedrich@mac.com . We anticipate beginning the year as a Zoom class and transitioning to in-person meetings once it is safe to do so.

Remember to check out all the great resources on the COVID-19 page at episcopalct.org . You'll find resources on:
·     Finances
·     Digital and Online Communication
·     Self-Care
·     Recordings of Bishops and Wardens zooms
·     Listing of Livestream worship
·     Materials presented by Robin Hameal Urban and Lee Ann Tolzmann on Effective Leadership during Anxiety & Pandemic.

Midweek opportunities for worship and study
 
Daily Noonday praye r:    St. James’, New London  https://www.stjamesnl.org
 
Sundays
St. Ann's, Old Lyme, 9:00 p.m. Compline  https://www.saintannsoldlyme.org
 
Tuesdays
St. Stephen’s, East Haddam   , 8:00 a.m.
St. Ann's, Old Lyme,  10:00 a.m. Morning Prayer via Zoom
St. James’, New London   , 10:00 a.m. Bible study via zoom – details at  https://www.stjamesnl.org
St. Andrew's, Madison  , 7:00 p.m. Compline  http://www.standrewsmadison.org/online-worship

Wednesdays
St. John’s, Essex;       9:00 a.m    Link to YouTube channel at  https://www.stjohnsessex.org
Grace, Old Saybrook:   10:00 a.m.   Healing prayers  https://www.graceoldsaybrook.org
St. Mark’s, Mystic, 11:00 a.m.    St. Mark’s Live - a grab bag of classes and conversations
 
Thursdays
St. Stephen’s, East Haddam 8:00 a.m. https://www.ststeves.org/020/03/14/covid-19-changes
St. James’, New London   10:00 a.m.    Fellowship, sharing, visiting time. 
Grace, Old Saybrook   7:00 - 8:30 p.m   .   Zoom bible study of John's Gospel on 1st and 3rd Thursdays. Contact  gracechurchrector@gmail.com  for zoom link.
St. Paul’s, Westbrook, 7:00 p.m . Zoom Bible Study of the book of Acts. 
St. James', Preston and Grace, Yantic,   7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Dwelling in the Word and Compline  Join Zoom Meeting  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/662330272  ;password 246835 Meeting ID: 662 330 272
One tap mobile +16465588656,,662330272# US (New York)
 
Fridays
Deacon Ron Steed  is hosting a weekly, guided healing-prayer meditation on Fridays at 8:00 am on zoom."I lead you into a safe and quiet space with silence and storytelling, then guide us through some healing prayer for whoever is on your heart.We should finish in about 30 minutes with a little time for reflection."  Contact Ron  for the link. 

  Worship in the SE Region

Calvary, Stonington:  
 
Grace, Old Saybrook:
Saturday Evening Prayer outdoors at 5:30 p.m. Bring lawn chairs and prayer books.
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite 1; 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite 2
 
St. Andrew's, Madison:  
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Outdoor worship with spiritual communion
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. in-person worship with spiritual communion in sanctuary
(both of these require advanced registration by calling the church office.)
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. worship with spiritual communion via Zoom.
 
St. Paul’s, Westbrook:
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. Spiritual Communion in person and via Zoom.

Holy Advent, Clinton: 
Sunday, 8:30 a.m. Morning Prayer via Zoom
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. “Worship and Wave” outdoor service; wear mask and bring a chair.
 
St. Ann's, Old Lyme:   
Sundays, 9:30 a.m. Worship with ante-communion in person and available on Zoom https://www.saintannsoldlyme.org

St. Mark's, Mystic:
St. James', New London :
Sundays, 9:00 a.m. Zoom worship info at http://www.stjamesnl.org )
 
St. David's, Gales Ferry:
Sundays, 10:00 a.m. Facebook page info at https://www.saintdavidsgf.org
 
St. James', Preston & Grace, Yantic:  
Sundays, 9:00 a.m. in person and on Zoom and Facebook Live page of St. James’, Preston:  https://www.facebook.com/St-James-Episcopal-Church-Preston-108575605832085/
 
St. John's, Essex:
Sundays, 10:00 a.m.
St. Stephen's, East Haddam:
Sundays, 10:00 a.m. Morning Prayer https://www.ststeves.org/020/03/14/covid-19-changes
 
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