From Rachel......


The first week parishes began cancelling worship, I participated in livestreams from St. James’, New London, and St. Mark’s, Mystic, before being a part of the Washington National Cathedral service at 11:00 a.m., featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as preacher. What I noticed is that, watching on my computer, it was oh, so easy to go into work and task mode: checking email, moving papers on my desk, engaging in social media.
The next week I posted an appeal for people to share images of their home altars and any other information about them that they would be willing to share.

Coincidentally, in his sermon on the same day, Adam Thomas told the story of coming home from his first time streaming worship in St. Mark’s, Mystic and discovering that his son had created a home altar as a way to connect with God while watching his father remotely.
Maybe we’re all searching for this sort of connection with holy space during this time of transitioning from in-person worship. Lori Sarkett, a parishioner in St. James’, New London, sent me this image (left) of an altar she set up to use while being a part of that parish’s virtual congregation. She wrote, “ I put this Home Altar together last night because I wanted to feel like I was at church while watching the services on my phone on Sunday mornings. This altar provides me with a sense of calmness that I so desperately need during these chaotic times.”
I discovered the FORMA Facebook page offered a few more images of how people have set up altars. Some are just making altars now in this time of spending different time at home; others have had such a space set aside for years. Here is my “Prayer Chair,” which includes a prayer shawl given to me when I left St. Stephen’s, East Haddam.
I can’t help but believe that this call to make holy space in our homes is a gift with the potential to connect us more deeply with God’s presence in our very lives. As we shift our focus, energy, and attention, from an altar in a building to the world where we live each day, God is inviting us to realize the truth of what we have always said: “Heaven and earth are full of God’s glory; hosanna in the highest.”
Indeed, as we approach Easter Day, God is inviting us to remember that, however and wherever we celebrate Easter Day, Jesus lives. The Spirit of the risen Christ lives in us and among us. The Spirit of the risen Christ makes all things new. It started on Easter Day at the empty tomb; it continues now, even in the emptiness of our buildings. Jesus lives: in our lives, in our homes, in our world.

[Alleluia!]

Rachel

Here’s a helpful article by Sharon Pearson about setting up altars at home: https://rowsofsharon.com/2020/03/24/making-an-altar-for-home/

Step By Step With A Pathway For Pollinators In New London

By Rachel Thomas in collaboration with Deacon Ellen Adams



Deacon Ellen Adams wrote in the January issue about creating a Pollinator Pathway. She and Judy Benson, who is from the Creation Care committee of St. James’, New London, were just beginning to explore the creation of such a path.

In the last months, they have been busy networking with others who share this vision, including, in some cases, with those who have already started working on it. These include Terri Eickel, from the Inter-Religious Eco-justice Network, and Art Costa, from Hodges Square Village Association and who represents Thames Valley Sustainable Connections.
In addition to building a group who will collaborate on creating a pathway, a steering committee has designed this route. The path was chosen because some work has already been done on it, including plan for a large section that has not been tackled yet.

The pathway starts at the Arboretum at Connecticut College and proceeds down Williams Street through Hodges Square, where planting has already been done. It then turns onto State Pier Road until it intersects with Crystal Avenue. There are two branches off here, one to Riverside Park and one to the Old Mill. Riverside Park has already done plantings, and there are plans to do some at the Old Mill.
The hope is to eventually extend the path all the way to Harkness Park.
This process of creating a Pollinator Pathway is a great image of us as church collaborating with our neighbors to restore God’s creation. It brings us out of our buildings and offers a connection with others who care about the earth and her creatures. And it is local, offering an opportunity for many different age groups to participate.

The preferred method is town by town: so if you and your parish are interested in working on a pathway, feel free to contact Deacon Ellen or check out the web site at www.pollinator-pathway.org . Also, check with your local garden clubs and parishioners who garden; they may already be well versed in planting for this.


The sun rises over the waters

Bare trees bud, breezes

Blow blessings through turbulent times

by Bev Olsen


Introducing The Region’s Leadership Team

David Kirpas
 
I am David Kirpas. I grew up in Old Saybrook, attending St. Johns Roman Catholic Church in Old Saybrook. My mom Sheila still lives in town, and my dad Richard lives nearby. Today, my Church home is Grace Church in Old Saybrook. I have a business degree from the University of Rhode Island, though I seldom use the knowledge in it was intended, but it’s still useful.
 
I was not a practicing Christian from 1980-2000. But it was then Jesus got my attention – eyes, ears, heart and all. An older friend, with whom I spent time at a local coffee shop, convinced me to “come and see” about Jesus and God again, and I did, at midnight mass 2000. That January at Grace, I joined in an Alpha Course: a course for churches but aimed at those folks outside the church; a course that focuses on the essentials of the Christian faith, that emphasizes the essentials that all denominations agree on, and that provides an opportunity to see lives transformed by the gospel. In the beginning, I didn’t get “it”; I didn’t get Christianity into my life. Then I started to understand the Prophet Ezekiel and the Gospel of John. And Jesus became my Lord and Savior over the summer. In the years following, I helped lead small groups within Alpha.

Early on at Grace Church, I began attending Intercessory Prayer meetings on Friday nights, which lead to being a Delegate at Convention and a seat on the Vestry. Then the Reimaging of the Episcopal Church in CT evolved, and I joined the Southeast Region Leadership team hoping to see if there was a way to make a difference, to make a positive change in our Christian life.

A couple of years ago, shortly after joining the Leadership Team, the night following the Diocesan Convention precisely, I had a dream. It woke me up at about two in the morning, and I could not return to sleep. I was partially afraid, but also energized. The Dream: go visit all the churches in the SE region. It was a command; I really did not want to. But that day I attended the 8am service at St John’s Niantic, then back to Grace in Old Saybrook for the 10am, and then to St. James, New London, for a quiet 5pm service. Over the next 16 weeks, I visited all the other parishes, finishing at All Saints, Ivoryton, on Easter Sunday. At each church, I only got a small taste of their church lives. It seemed as if the larger parishes loosely resembled my home church: different calls of ministry, different strengths, different energy within the congregations worshiping together as one. The smaller Churches felt more like teams with more focus and cohesiveness about their Christian life. I did not know many people in any of the churches, but I had some great, too brief, conversations and nice coffee hours after services. It was a very nice thing to have done, and I would like to do it again with some friends.

Moving forward in the SE-ECCT, I am now more open to how God can lead us, and maybe I have a greater understanding of God’s plan for us collectively and individually. It may even mean being more evangelical and helping persons seeking a fuller relationship with their God.

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
Website: http://www.holyadventclinton.org/

The Season of Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation continues

By Rachel Thomas

The Mission Council of the Episcopal Church in CT gathered by Zoom on the morning of March 21 st . It was my 9 th zoom meeting of the week; I’m sure that by the end of this, I’ll be glad to never meet by zoom again. But for now, it’s what we have.

We opened with Dwelling in the Word and talked about how our parishes and regions are responding to COVID-19; we received reports on property, budgets, grants, and Annual Convention.

What I want to focus on is the report made to us by Kelli Rae Gibson, the Racial Justice Resource Coordinator for ECCT. Kelli Rae has compiled the information submitted by parishes from this year’s Parochial Report Addendum, describing what people have been doing as a part of the Season of Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation.

She gave us an overview of ECCT, and noted which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were unique to each Region and to us as a whole.

What I noticed:

·        71% of our Southeast Region parishes participated in the survey.
·        What worked best in moving conversations and action about racism forward in the SE
Region was our attention to Community Engagement. For example, St. Mark’s has an
intention.
·     Our chief weakness, as compared with most other regions, was designated “Environmental” factors: “We don’t know where start”; “We’re not racists; we just have no people of color here.” Surely we’ve said and/or heard these words, right?     
This weakness names an opportunity for us to dig a little deeper and consider the structural elements that result in reinforcing the racism that infects our world, whether we want it to or not: How do our local, statewide, or national policies continue this segregation that we name as “no people of color living here?” How do we practice deep listening to people of color as they tell us what they experience as they move through the world, believing them instead of trying to defend ourselves?

The threat, of course, is that we will just continue in isolation and refuse to look at ourselves, our towns, our cities, our parishes, our counties, the states, and this nation. As it happens, in 1987 the Episcopal Church in Connecticut convened a Task Force on Racism. Many of the items named there (e.g., worshiping with people of the same racial group) are still present today.

Maybe this time we can receive the newer report and change the way we have engaged what it reveals.
April Events

Responding to COVID-19: Stay in touch with the ECCT webpage for the best overview of what is going on, letters from the Bishops, links to self care and livestreaming ( https://www.episcopalct.org/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/ )
 
Making masks, gowns
Many people are doing this and there are several patterns available. Contact any of the following people to learn more.
Beverly Olsen, St. Mark’s, Mystic, vestry@stmarksmystic.org
Susan Anderson, St. Ann’s, Old Lyme, hamburgcove@aol.com
Katherine Brightly, St. James, New London, BrightKat@snet.net

Continuing ministry with homeless and food insecure: 
Clearly this is a work in progress as try-ons are tested and limitations are being set. Keep in touch with the following groups for the best information.
Homeless Hospitality Center of New London: Contact Deacon Ron Steed at ronaldsteed@gmail.com  He is looking for food to be given to those who need to be in a 2-week quarantine; funding is always needed and well-used. 
Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries: They are continuing to host pantries (including at St. John’s, Niantic), and are beginning to re-start the soup kitchens with meals to go (including at St. John’s, Essex). Full information as it evolves can be found at https://shorelinesoupkitchens.org/
St. Vincent DePaul, Norwich: They are continuing to host pantries, and supporting lunches for schools. Full information is on their website -- https://www.svdpp.org/
 
Christian Formation:
St. John’s, Niantic:  Here’s a link to their page for children and families to register for “Church days in PJ’s”:  https://www.stjohnsniantic.org/church-days-in-pjs  If more explanation is wanted, Faithe Emerich, St. John’s Director of Youth and Education Ministries, has written more, including a way of involving older children and teens, as well as sharing her graphics for others to use here -  https://www.stjohnsniantic.org/church-communication/church-days-in-pjs-connecting-kids-with-each-other-and-the-church-during-covid-19-cancellations
St. Stephen’s, East Haddam:   They have a page for people to request notifications for all of their zoom and educational events -    https://www.ststeves.org/2020/03/14/covid-19-changes/   For children and families, they also have a YouTube channel with Lynda Hickey, their Director of Christian Formation, doing stories from Godly Play   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7ROcV_ihTf1tvHV4_y6MDm5DETG9LRzY
St. David’s, Gales Ferry:  Contact their office for information on Christian Formation offerings – a staff member is in touch weekly with children enrolled in Sunday school.

Other offerings for adults: please contact the offices or websites directly for the zoom links and updates:
Calvary, Stonington: Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. Bible Study with the Rector (calvarychurchstonington.org)
St. Mark’s, Mystic, Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. Hangout with Pastor Adam Thomas
(stmarksmystic.org)
St. Stephen’s, East Haddam: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. and noon, Morning and Noonday Prayer; Fridays at 1:00 p.m. Book club
(ststeves.org)
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