From Rachel......

For the first five weeks of this time of social isolation, my husband and I had the profound gift of having his son, wife, and 2 grandchildren – aged 3 ½ and 15 months – living with us. As a household we adjusted to toddlers being toddlers, different dietary needs, Dino Dan and other new-to-us TV shows, and my stepson’s working over telephone and laptop to keep his connections going in NYC Commercial Real Estate.

Because we live in a house with an open floor plan, “distancing” was not a real possibility. We could each retreat to our bedrooms, but that was it.
 
In the mornings as I walked our dog, I got into the habit of praying for the stillness I saw in the creation around me to dwell in me, and for me to rest in it. Even on windy days, trees stand and plants are rooted and the earth grounds us; this is stability that can be grounding for us in the midst of chaos. It can also be a way to remember that we are not alone, that we share this creation with other created beings; God holds it all together.

What I found is that, when I went forward through the day, there were moments, even in the tantrums and squealing, where I could claim that same stillness and stability. I could choose to get wrapped up in the craziness around me, or I could choose to breathe deeply, be still, and know God holding all of us together, know our rootedness in Christ.

Our family returned to Manhattan in mid-April. I’m on my own in the house all day while Eric continues to work. It is much quieter. Even so, it is so easy to give into the urge to “keep busy.” I hear that phrase a lot. How are you doing?“ I’m keeping busy.” I know I can keep busy to keep from diving into the deeper anxieties or fears or sadness or grief that I am feeling.
 
So I know I continue to have to make the choice: to breathe deeply; be still; know myself to be a part of God’s great earth; know myself and all of us to be held by God in Christ Jesus.
 
One of the first chants we learned as Region Missionaries when we started on this road three years ago was “Be Still and know that I am God.” Before they left their roles as Region Missionaries last year, Rachel Field, Eliza Marth and Carlos de la Torre joined Maggie Breen, Erin Flinn and me in recording it for our own joy. I found it this week; and I share it with you, for your joy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCk7E8kfpN8

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.
 
May we find God anew by embracing stillness each day.

In Christ, Rachel

Making Masks

Rachel Thomas
 
Susan Anderson, a parishioner in St. Ann’s Old Lyme and member of the Anglican Singers, was on her way home from some family time in Hawaii early in February. She remembers seeing a few people with masks on; she remembers hearing people cough; she remembers worrying about getting sick. Susan has a background of working with nurses and in hospice settings, and knew instinctively that masks would be an important element of preventing the spread of viruses.
She knew other parishioners, and others through the Anglican Singers, who were skilled at sewing. And she knew that they would need to stay at home. Her thought was: “Why not get the word out to all the churches?” Let’s enlist the help of the many who could stay at home and make masks

Her Anglican Singers contacts in St.James’, New London, especially Katherine Bright, took up the call with great enthusiasm. They searched for patterns and styles and elastic and alternatives to elastic.
One woman, Marcia Pierce, has made at least 300 of them. Fellow parishioner Patty Anderson asked Marcia if she would like to make some masks. She said she would think about it. “I went to bed and I felt God was calling me to do this. When I woke up, I texted Patty and found a pattern; and off I went, making masks…I will continue making them as long as there is a need. God knows I will always be there when he calls me.” 


Susan – and now others, who have heard about this and joined in – arranges a time to pick up the masks, and then arranges a contact-free drop-off. Where? She has a long list of places, from the Homeless Hospitality Center in New London to at least five different nursing homes, as well as urgent care centers, drivers for Meals on Wheels and hospitals from Westerly to Yale New Haven.
“God probably put the thought in my head. I always find that situations are better with God in the picture. And I hope that if people are helping people who are helping people, our world will get better.”
 
Her question to everyone who reads this would be: “Could you talk with someone in your parish about sewing masks?” We know that there are people sewing masks in several other parishes in the SE Region. If you’re not already doing it and are interested, feel free to contact her for patterns, or for making a connection to pick up or drop off any masks you have already made: Susan Anderson
 
Maybe you’ll end up being recruited to sing with the Anglican Singers, too.  


Fighting COVID-19 on April 20, 2020
  by Barbara Barrett

I go around the house with my Clorox wipes
High touch areas
Knobs, door handles, railings, more knobs
Key boards, light switches
I wonder if these wipes really work
Is it necessary?
Curves are flattening
Few cases of the virus in Mystic
People are social distancing and wearing masks
Mostly
 
Doug went to the grocery store this morning
Everyone was wearing a mask
Except for one
What was that person thinking?
Perhaps he didn’t care
Perhaps he felt self-conscious
Perhaps he couldn’t breathe through a mask
A prayer, and move on.
 
This afternoon Doug will go to the dump with a third load of leaves
He has made an appointment and must arrive at 2:30—no earlier!
No socializing
It’s almost funny—if it weren’t deadly serious
 
I will drive to New London to pick up my seedlings grown by FRESH
No browsing. No hugs with FRESH friends
But a bag on the sidewalk with my name on a popsickle stick
And hopefully a wave of gratitude
 
This is life on April 20, 2020
 
Thank you God for those who stock the shelves
And those who work the cash registers
And those who check us in at the dump
And those who grow seedings
 
Amen.

Tim O’Leary interned with St. Mark’s, Mystic over this last year— his final year at Yale Divinity School. In the midst of distance learning, Tim finished his degree, and he will begin his ministry at St. James, West Hartford. Below is a link to his farewell to St. Mark’s in an interview with the Rev. Adam Thomas.




 Addressing Food Insecurity during COVID-19: A few examples

The Rev. Ron Steed, Deacon in St. James’, Preston and Grace, Yantic, did some crowdsourcing to find a shopping list for a two-week supply of nutritious food. In his work with the Homeless Hospitality Center (HHC) in New London, this crisis has challenged him not only to find housing, but to provide them with food and even kitchen furnishings to last for a 2–week quarantine.
 
Marlene Going of St. John’s, Essex, used the list that Deacon Ron found, and shopped for one week’s worth of groceries on that list (photo). She then arranged a drop off at HHC. St. David’s, Gales Ferry, is also providing groceries for HHC, as well as for the Ledyard Food Pantry.

Dylan McGuire, an Eagle Scout connected with St. James’ Preston, completed his Eagle Scout Service project (the construction of a 340 meter Track at the Middle School) and had $500.00 of his funds remaining. He donated these funds back to the Preston school system lunch program in an effort to feed the children of Preston in this uncertain time of COVID-19 Pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Vestry of St. Stephen’s voted to donate $3,000 towards the East Haddam Food Bank. They plan to use it to challenge local congregations and individuals to also donate.

These are just some of the ways that parishes in the SE Region are keeping up God’s call to feed the hungry. Below, please find links to the sites where food is available; I know many of you support these places directly with donations, and they are a gift to many.
 
Please be in touch with Deacon Ellen Adams if you have more connections to add for our mutual edification.

New London County Feeding sites: 

Shoreline area: 

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


“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”
There are many artists in our region who are also Episcopalian. In these days of lockdown, we thought it would be uplifting to hear from them on the connection they see between Art and Faith.

 Alison Ives
St. Mark's, Mystic

My art and my faith are deeply connected. I create a Christmas image every year with the message of John 1:5: "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it." It is impossible to imagine what the energy of that star looks like, but I try anyway. There is no preconceived image, it comes as it will, inspired by nature and other images I've repurposed. The gift of creativity comes from God and, increasingly, my work has become my witness to my Faith. The image I've here is from 2019 and is titled "Star of Wonder."
 


Amber Bierkan
Grace, Old Saybrook

Amber Bierkan spends half the year in Pittsburgh, PA, where she and her husband Dean attend the church and where she met Rev. Charlie Hamill, who served there as assistant rector for five years. A piece of her work, a wall hanging, hangs in Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook. This quilt, called “Paying Attention,” reflects the conversation I had with this with artist. This quilt was created to stress the need to pay attention to the beauty in or world. The border represents the beauty that surrounds; the water in this scene represents our life’s journey.

Amber uses her gift to work with homeless in the Pittsburgh, encouraging the folks she works with to pay attention to the beauty around them and in themselves – a beauty others might not see.

Emma Palzere-Rae
St. James', New London

For me, art and spirituality are deeply connected; inseparable, in fact -- whether I am conscious of it in the moment or not. Being on stage, particularly as a solo actor, there is a connection with the audience that can be transcendental. In Eastern practices, one focuses on perfecting a form, whether it is T'ai Chi or Kabuki, until the spirit enters. Similarly, I feel the first job of performing is to learn the words and blocking; then comes the time when you no longer need to focus on the technical aspects, and you become a channel. That's when the spiritual magic of live performance happens.
 
In addition, I believe the arts are healing. This happens in many ways: when an audience laughs and is entertained; when art facilitates a catharsis or 'a-ha' moment; and on a very personal level when one engages in creating, no matter the medium. In working with adults living with mental illness at Artreach, Inc. (Norwich), we see first-hand the impact that art has is not simply enhancing one's life, but in providing a grounding that allows for self-expression in a way that transforms lives.

Peter Liebert
St. James', Preston

Some aspects of art, particularity ceramics, have a direct relationship to spirituality: “The Lord God formed man from the dust [clay] of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). “We are clay” stated Isaiah (64:8). It is also quite interesting to note that chemically the body of man differs very little from the chemical makeup of the earth (clay) in its purest form, Al203 - 2SiO2 - 2H20. Outside of the materials involved with the visual arts, the spirituality connection comes from the artist’s inner core and the personal relationship to his/her God.
 
I am not sure how one affects the other. For me, perhaps a quote from Kahlil Gibran says it all: “Who is the Potter, pray, and who is the Pot.”

Devil Pot .   This is a stoneware saggar fired pot, which means it was fired in my down-draft high fired kiln up to about 2100 F degrees. Magic.

Roxanne Steed
St. James', New London

So, my connection between art & faith: I don't see differentiation between them; it all fits into me as part of who I am and how I live in the world. It's like breathing… I don't stop to think about it, it just is .  
 
In my work I do like to portray the natural world -- my view of it. My faith is like a continuing conversation with God. These aren't really separate things from each other. 


The Rev. Kim J. Litsey
St. James Preston & Grace, Yantic
 
Art becomes spiritual when the viewer is transformed in its presence. As an artist, I have come to believe that the connection between art and spirituality is found in inspiration. Many artists, even artists without a conscious relationship with God, recognize that the source of their inspiration is something larger themselves. Art then can be seen as a manifestation of the artist and the creator. 
 
A viewer who is drawn to a particular period, style or artist, may also be drawn to the communion with the divine manifested in the work. If you believe that each viewer and artist is created by God and there is a connection with divine inspiration, it is breathtaking to imagine the transformational aspect of art for human beings throughout history.
 
Currently, I am an icon writer in the Byzantine tradition. The icon is considered to be written because it is a narrative of the Kingdom of God. The tradition invites the writer to copy the early works. The Byzantine tradition uses the medium of egg tempera, which uses egg yolks and raw pigments.
 
Interestingly, in an intensive workshop setting, icon writers using the same template and the same paint, mixed by the teacher, will produce a variety of images. This not only reflects of the various skill levels in the workshop, but also the variety of relationships with the divine. My master reminds us always that this is holy work.
 
Icons are considered windows to the divine, and are used by some in their daily devotions. Some find praying with icons allows them to settle into a place to be open to God. As an artist, I have the privilege of being transformed in the making of art or writing an icon. Viewers of art have the opportunity to see the divine in the artwork.

 Meeting the Southeast Region’s Leadership Team: Lori Sarkett
 
My name is Lori Sarkett, and I was born and raised in a small coal mining town in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where my two sisters, nieces, and nephews currently reside. I was a member of a small Presbyterian church when I was younger and regularly attended Sunday services with my family. My hobbies include playing the cello, as well as honing in on my culinary skills whenever time permits!
 
When I was 20 years old I moved to Connecticut after receiving my Associates degree, and have since worked as Union construction worker for the past 34 years. I have been employed by various bridge companies as well as Nuclear power stations in the state.
 
As a young adult I kept my distance from many types of religious activities, for new friendships and a full time job took precedence over everything else in my life. It wasn't until I was 40 years old that I knew that I needed to return to the church, for my Mother had been recently diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and only had months to live. Depression was becoming the norm for me and I found myself starving spiritually. Accustomed to attending Presbyterian churches, I sought out many in the area but didn't find any that suited me very well. A friend suggested that I "try out" an Episcopal church, where I soon stumbled upon St. James in New London, and have been a member there for over 15 years.
 
Walking into St. James for the first time was very intimidating, but I knew that I wanted to be there. Almost immediately, a woman named Millie welcomed me at the front door. She acted as if I " belonged " to this particular parish. Millie also invited me to sit and have a conversation with her after the service. Her kindness was the reason that I chose to return to St. James many Sunday's afterwards. In a few weeks I found myself joining every committee that the church had to offer, which included the Altar Guild, Buildings and Grounds, the Budget committee as well as the Diocesan delegate to the convention. Being a delegate eventually led me to a position on the Vestry. My proudest moments came when I was asked to serve as the Junior Warden in 2015, as well as the Senior Warden in 2018. 
 
 I currently organize the Fellowship committee at St. James, which provides opportunities for parishioners to socialize outside of the church. Monthly dinner outings, book group meetings, as well as other events occur on a regular basis. I believe these social gatherings help our parishioners to become more at ease when volunteering for other church activities. 
 
 One of my greatest joys in recent years has been visiting different Episcopal churches in the state. I really enjoy talking to parishioners from other parishes, especially at coffee hour. I like the challenge of trying to find out what ministries motivate a particular parish.
 
Very often I have thought how wonderful it would be to have my own parish collaborate on a project with another Episcopal church in Connecticut. 
 
In January of this year, The Rev'd Rachel Thomas asked me to join the Mission Leadership Team. I was informed that one of the committee's objectives was to promote collaboration between the parishes of our region, so I couldn't have been more elated, knowing that my goals and the S.E. Region's goals were one in the same. It seems as though God's plan for me was obvious! With the guidance of Rachel and the hard work of the Mission Leadership Team, I am sure the collaboration process will move forward successfully in the very near future!
Calvary Book Club presents:

As part of the Adult Christian Education program, Calvary Church offers carefully curated books to read and discuss. Book Club sessions run on Monday evenings from 6 - 7 p.m.
The next book will be  Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, by Eli Saslow. It tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man, Derek Black, who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost.
Contact Tom Verde at writah@gmail.com if you would like to participate. Meetings are held on zoom.
Anyone in the SE Region is invited to participate, May 4 – June 15; please contact Tom Verde for Zoom info. 

May Events


Zoom meetings:  For the following, please contact Rachel Thomas to get information about joining the meeting.  

May 5, 2:00 p.m.: Conversation about our global partnerships in Mission .
May 5, 4:00 p.m.  Christian formation leaders
May 7, 1:30 p.m.  SE Clergy meeting
May 7, 6:30 p.m.  SE Region Leadership Team Meeting
May 13, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m . SE Region Wardens meeting
May 14, 8:00 a.m . Women Clergy meeting
 
SE Region Wardens meeting:  This is a check in with any Wardens in parishes in the SE Region to hear what is going well as you have adjusted to the changes we’re living with in this pandemic. There will also be time to talk about how we can support each other as leaders in the church. 
 
ECCT Resources:

Our Bishops and staff have been working hard to pull together resources for parishes. 

If you haven’t made your way to the COVID-19 page on https://www.episcopalct.org , here’s a link. 

There you will find links to:
·         Financial Resources , including information on PPP applications
·         Self-Care resources: breathing, reading, resting, connecting
·         Digital Communications , including the recordings of weekly conversations with our
Bishops and Parish Wardens
·         Livestream Worship opportunities
 
And be sure to subscribe to the ECCT Weekly Enews: https://www.episcopalct.org/enewsletters/
 
May 8 th , 10:30 a.m.: Zoom forum about Health Disparities, put together by Kelli Ray Gibson, ECCT Resource Coordinator for Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. More details to come. 
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