From Rachel......

The last week of May I had the privilege of being a part of the canoeing and kayaking pilgrimage on the Connecticut River from Windsor to the Long Island Sound. A core group of Region Missionaries (Rachel Field, Erin Flinn, and myself), alongside a student from the Yale Divinity School, had been working with the staff of Kairos Earth since the first of the year to plan this trip.
 
Many gifts in my life right now privileged me to take this journey: the gift of time, financial resources, the support services of my husband (dog care and bringing items I needed at key points), and at least a minimal amount of physical capacity. 
What I ended up treasuring the most of all the privileges that I experienced in that week were the spiritual practices in which we engaged, and the connection with the Holy One that they provided. Twice a day our prayers included 20 minutes of silent contemplation: the time to listen, to observe the creation around us and ourselves as a part of it.
 
At other points, we stopped to honor particular gifts of the river, or to mourn the losses and places where creation suffered. This brought us into a deeper relationship with each site. We weren’t just passing by.
In the evenings, while staying at different parishes, we heard stories of trading, farming, shipbuilding, slavery, homelessness, racism, and the river’s relationship with the land and its people. This was a time to listen and respect the life that has happened and is happening as the river flows. In that listening and respecting, the presence of God as the source of the river of life was clear.
 
I have continued to use some of the spiritual practices even now, off the river: I would love the opportunity to share them with you in person in the coming weeks! After all, while the Christian tradition has honored special pilgrimages such as the Camino de Santiago or Lourdes, it also referred to our lives as a part of an earthly privilege.
And it is noteworthy to me that, of all the experiences that I had on the river, the ones that meant the most to me were ones that we can do day in and day out. We can stop to make time for silence; we can pay attention to different places we visit, and honor or grieve what we see there; we can listen to stories of people different from ourselves, and know we are all held by God through our Lord Jesus Christ;
 
We can… What would you add, as a spiritual practice that nurtures your earthly pilgrimage?
 
With thanksgiving for the river of life,

Rachel


The Little Church by the Sea…

By Stacey Kohl

In order to truly reflect on how transformative my time at St. Mark’s, Mystic, as parishioner, intern, and curate, has been, I first have to take you back much farther—almost ten years back, to a far different and far colder location.

My husband, Zach and I had moved from our home in Missouri to Minneapolis, Minnesota in order for me to attend seminary. We had left behind family, friends, and a church we loved. Our time in Minnesota was extremely challenging for many reasons. I, in particular, felt adrift. So much of what I thought to be “true” about Scripture, faith, God, and even life was crumbling down around me. I longed for the safety and security I had once known in the churches I’d grown up in, but no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t seem to find the right fit.

As we struggled to find a church home, an image began to form in my mind and heart—the image of the church I knew would be home. The image was crystal clear, and one tear-filled evening I described to Zach what I was so desperately looking for, but just couldn’t seem to find. Here is what I saw…

The building is small, nothing like the massive mega-churches I had spent most of my adult life serving in. It’s wood-shingled exterior is painted white and yet still showed its age in places. It didn’t look “old”, but lived in, or better yet, prayed in. There were simple stained glass windows and wooden pews. The white-washed interior was bright and welcoming, inviting you to sit and breathe in the presence of God. The doors stood open wide, welcoming anyone who passed by into the sunlight space and a holy calm spread over the church like a warm blanket.

It was five years before I would set foot into the church I saw in my heart during those dark days in Minnesota. But when I did, I knew what it was to be home again.

A Look Back at Vacation Bible School in Essex

Written by Chelsea DiDonato and Lexi Pepe
 



Aww yes - The shoreline region can get a collective high-five for this summer! This past spring, our Southeast Region Missionary, Rachel Thomas was approached by an avid member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Ivoryton, Laurie Burke. Laurie spent much of her career in the school system as a music and theatre teacher. She also has experience in producing theatre programs in the summer called, Vacation Bible School (VBS). She wanted to bring this program home, but open it to her Episcopal neighbors. Rachel felt the same need and immediately connected her to Becky Honan, who is the Christian Education Director at St. John's Episcopal Church in Essex. Becky understood Laurie's passion for bringing God into families homes this summer through re-enacting the Old Testament on an elementary-middle school level (grades 2-8). They also talked about opening the camp to other Christian denominations, and Becky already had a solid connection with Trinity Lutheran in Centerbrook. She and Pastor Brett Hertzog Betoski have tried to bring both their programs together for events in the past. However, VBS is now their most successful collaboration!
The churches began their casting calls in late June to early July. Laurie preferred the word "casting calls" over "auditions" because auditions sound scary, and she did not want the children to feel scared. VBS accepts all children and is a place where it is safe to show your enthusiasm for theatre and music. Also, the underlying hope from this experience is that the children can learn about themselves, and the families can see how God's love can spill into their everyday lives.
 
That message became their foundation as they started to navigate rehearsals at St. John's during the middle of July. The campers jumped through time learning the Old Testament from creation to Lamentations. When not rehearsing, the kids spent time making bracelets, choreography, waving ribbons outside, painting scenery, and a riveting game of Simon Says with Brett!
 
Becky became the arts and crafts coordinator with her student volunteer, Lexi Pepe. They spent much of their time coordinating and creatively thinking about how to design set props, like a 1920's camera! Lexi spent many of her morning's painting scenery and receiving help from the kids. This was her first time working as a VBS Theatre Camp volunteer, and she felt it was an enriching experience due to the community atmosphere that was promoted. VBS is unique from other theatre camps being offered due to creative freedoms and providing a safe community for children to explore Christianity. It was shown by seeing, "How enthusiastic they were about learning the routines, participating with arts and crafts, and leaning on each other for support," Lexi said. One of Lexi's favorite parts was letting the kids help her paint and design props. She felt it was a great way to "let your imagination and creativity run wild!"
 
The day of the musical the children came in at 1 PM to Trinity Lutheran to rehearse and have a pizza party. They did a phenomenal job remembering thirteen songs, choreography, and lines. One of the best parts of the performance was a secret surprise at the end of the show. Laurie let them in on this secret the day of the show so, they wouldn't spoil it for their families. At the end of their performance, they ran down from the altar to each pew as they released confetti packets from their hands and giggles erupted throughout the sanctuary.



Maggie Breen, NE Region Missionary and Rachel Thomas, SE Missionary will be exploring some of the towns that border our Regions where there are not (GASP!) Episcopal parishes. They hope to have a hike or walk and share a brown bag lunch and worship – and get to know a bit about what God is up to in these places.  





Sacred Paths at Hammonasset:
Rejoicing in Creation by the Sound

By Norman MacLeod





Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious
hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation,
they may honor thee with their substance, and be faithful
stewards of thy bounty.

(Prayers of the People, Rite I)

Hundreds of thousands gather year-round at Hammonassett State Park, where sea, sand, marsh and sky create the gentle landscape of Long Island Sound’s north coast.

At 2 p.m., Saturday, September 21, leaders from Southeast and South Central Region Episcopal communities will gather at Hammonassett State Park’s Meigs Point Nature Center in a spirit of Christian pilgrimage to lead those present in giving thanks for the sacred beauty of God’s Creation. On that afternoon, we will process from beach to rock-formed point to salt marsh. At each place, we will praise the beauty surrounding us, learn more about the wonders of God’s works before us and give thanks for those who protect and nourish those gifts. We will lament the harm done through human actions. We will pray for the restoration and healing of Earth through God’s Spirit and human hands.

On this day, when the turning of Earth leads summer into autumn, people from all traditions are invited to join in praising God’s works and praying for humanity’s efforts to care for “this fragile Earth, our island home,” as expressed in the Book of Common Prayer .

Registration is not required. It will be helpful, though, to know who will be coming, so all are invited to register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sacred-paths-at-hammonassett-rejoicing-in-creation-by-the-sound-tickets-65371837927

For those who are physically challenged, the walking will be light and nearby parking will be available. Entrance to the Park is free that day.

Offered by the Episcopal communities of Madison, Clinton, Guilford and North Branford.
Taking God to Camp
An interview with Rev. Diana Rogers

 By Eileen Perron
 
  Camp Washington Camp and Retreat Center, a place of acceptance, joy and renewal, for all God’s people.” Camp Washington’s Mission
 

Rev. Diana Rogers heard the call to become an Episcopal priest eleven years ago, and after holding various positions she joined Holy Advent, in Clinton, CT, as their Provisional Priest in Charge in September 2018. Two years before arriving in Clinton, she felt another call to volunteer as the Chaplain for ECCT’s Camp Washington’s Mini Camp Program. This program is held for youth ages 5 - 10 years old and includes a two-night stay at the camp. It is a great way for youth to “try on” overnight, and away from home, camp!

Rev. Diana had such a great time working with the kids at this camp that she continues to volunteer each year, adding two sessions this season. “Each morning we play Wake Up, Shake Up, Raise Up, also known by campers as WUSURU” - just try pronouncing that! Every day, after breakfast, Rev. Diana prepared a song to teach the campers followed by a story read from the Bible. After this she asks some questions about the story that was just read and also asks the kids, “Where did you see God today at camp?”

The theme during the week Rev. Diana worked was “The Beloved Community,” and to carry out this theme she used Bishop Michael Curry’s “The Way of Love; Practices for a Jesus Centered Life”. Each day she focused on one of the following practices: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless and Rest. She chose a song to represent each one of these seven principles to teach the children and delved into some new and old hymnal books and even some scout songbooks! Some of the songs taught were “Tis A Gift to Be Simple”, “Make New Friends”, and a few songs that she adapted apply to camping, like “Bless This Camp”! She believes, “music teaches more than the spoken word”. The songs were upbeat and fun and she even taught the kids the ASL signing for friend when they learned the Girl Scout song. The mini camp ends with a eucharistic celebration for the campers and the Friday celebration is held in conjunction with two other chaplains working with the weeklong campers.
 “I am so impressed by how mature in their faith and how spiritually rich these children are! I think something happens to us between childhood and becoming an adult that reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Then I became an adult, I put the ways of childhood behind me. We all have this depth of spirituality in us as children that fades through our life experiences as older teens and adults. We see this in a lot of college students as they stop going to church and let God fall by the wayside. Their focus is naturally on getting a job, living independently and making money. Then when we hit about 50 years of age and our life plan didn’t go the way we envisioned, we start to wonder, what does God have planned for me now? Is there a second act for me? We come to realize we need God and we need to find holy time in a holy place.”

Rev. Diana plans to volunteer as camp chaplain at Camp Washington again next year as she loves working with the children. “Teaching the children to worship every day and teaching them to connect worship to nature helps them to deepen their relationship with God and each other while they are having fun at camp. Working at Camp Washington as a chaplain really helps me to take God out of the physical church building and also helps the kids to see God is not just in a building but everywhere. It is rewarding to teach them to be quiet and listen for God wherever they are.”
Aqua Mat Madness and Much More at Camp Washington!

Isabelle and Heather Meachen

by Eileen Perron
 
Sometimes as parents we need to literally push our children off the couch and off their cell phones! That’s how mom Heather Meachen came to force her wonderful childhood experiences at Camp Washington on her daughter Isabelle Meachen. Heather remembers all the new friends she made while at Camp Washington and all the fun she had. “It’s a safe place for kids to socialize and make friends and I like that it’s connected to the church.”
 
Time for Isabelle to get off the couch and get to camp! Though Isabelle was not too happy, she had no choice other than to pack her things and be off to the camper’s life where there were to be no computers, cell phones or even couches! Mom had signed eleven-year-old Isabelle up for one week of Wilderness Camp, and unbeknownst to Isabelle, she was about to be pleasantly surprised and have the time of her life! Not only did she have a great time, enjoy the food and activities while making new friends, she begged mom to send her back again the next two years!
What is more fun than cell phones, computers and laying on the couch for the summer? How about Improv Classes, Canoeing, Festival of the Arts (a talent show put on by each cabin), Volleyball, Lacrosse and Get to Know the Counselor! “It’s not just sport activities Camp Washington offers. Isabelle says, “they have so many other activities to choose from that there is really something to make everyone happy. My favorite was Aqua Mat Madness where a cheerleading competition was held on a thin mat floating on the water of the camp lake. It was so funny because it ended up being a bunch of people rolling around the mat, unable to show the handstands they practiced together, much less even stand up!” Swimming was another favorite of Isabelle’s because “they have different levels you can work up to and this year I made Sharks, which is the expert level! I don’t know how I got to that level but I’m happy I did!” And don’t forget the great food! “The fried chicken was my favorite at Camp Washington, and the grilled cheese is better than my Dad’s grill cheese!” Isabelle especially liked singing songs and hearing stories in the mornings with Josh Brown and also the Chaplain in the Night gatherings with song and prayer. On Friday, the last night of camp, a Eucharistic Service was held campers.
Isabelle said she is on the shy side but easily made new friends during her camp weeks. She looks forward to going back to Camp Washington again next year! Heather added that, like most camps, children are not allowed to communicate with family during their stay, but really loves that Camp Washington posts pictures on their Facebook page, throughout the week. So, parents are able to see their child participating in various activities and witness all the fun they are having and that is reassuring.

Camp Washington was founded in 1917 by Rev. Floyd Kenyon and was originally a summer camp for boys. Over the years and with some impressive renovations to the campus, it became a major residential summer camp for both boys and girls. The camp is located on three hundred pristine acres located in beautiful Lakeside, CT and also hosts other events, like programs for youth and families and spiritual gatherings. If you, or someone you know is interested in finding out more about Camp Washington and the Summer Camp Programs they have available, click the following link to access their website: https://www.campwashington.org/camp-programs .
August Events

Free Ecumenical Vacation Bible School -August 12-16 at Saint David’s. 9:00 am -11:30 am.
Hiking Holy Borders with Maggie and Rachel: Three Tuesdays in August -- Please let Rachel or Maggie know if you plan to attend. 
 
August 6 th , 10:00 a.m.:  Not a hike, but a presentation by Drew Crandall, the President of the Friends of the Prudence Crandall Museum about Prudence Crandall. She embraced equal education for all races in 1831 – before slavery was abolished in Connecticut. Come to First Church of Christ, Canterbury, to hear more (Note: the Museum is not open on this day, though you will be able to see the exterior easily).
 
August 13 th , 10:00 a.m.:  Utley Hill Trail, Columbia (entrance at Columbia Rec Park, Hennequin Rd). 
 
August 20 th , 10:00 a.m.:  Airline Trail in Lebanon
 
“Wild Worship” in two forms:
August 14 th , 5:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main St., Old Saybrook – Summer service, dinner, concert, get-together. A brief service of Holy Eucharist followed by a potluck meal (please bring a side, entrée or dessert to share) in the yards of Grace Church. Then we’ll walk over to the Long Island Sound concert on the Town Green right next door. Contact Charlie Hamill or Rachel Thomas for more information. 
August 21 st , 5:45 p.m., Hadlyme Ferry Landing, Route 148, Hadlyme, CT: Join in fellowship and communion with others in the midst of God’s Creation . We will take time to seek perspective through prayer and contemplation, listen for the voice of the Holy One, and remember the connection open to all of us between the Creator and His works - including ourselves. A potluck cookout will follow, with hamburgers and hotdogs provided by St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Register here:  https://connecticut-wild-worship-2019.eventbrite.com
Interfaith Peace Potlucks – One remaining: Sponsored by the Valley Shore Clergy Association, this is an opportunity for all of our communities to talk, eat and grow together, and will include texts and teaching from each faith tradition. RSVP to interfaith.dinners@gmail.com
Aug 28 th , 6:15 p.m. - House of Peace Mosque, Meriden
 
August 31 st , 4:00 p.m., Holy Advent, Clinton:  4 th Annual Holy Smokin’ BBQ; $12 Adults; $6 Children.

September Events: 2 dates – save your spot now!
 
 
September 15 th , 2:00 pm SE Region Convocation: “One Region, One Body” – Holy Advent, Clinton. There will be singing, praying, conversation, and light food. Please register to let us know you are coming – and bring a friend! Register here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/one-region-one-body-tickets-67234673719
 
September 21, 2:00 p.m. Sacred Paths at Hammonassett: Rejoicing in Creation by the Sound. A collaborative offering of prayer and reflection on sound, marsh, moraine and the land’s history, put together by the Episcopal communities of Madison, Clinton, Guilford and North Branford. Light walking, with parking nearby. Please register to let us know you? are coming:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sacred-paths-at-hammonassett-rejoicing-in-creation-by-the-sound-tickets-65371837927
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
Chelsea DiDonato