From Rachel......

I grew up in Jonesboro, Georgia, then a small town outside of Atlanta. It was the supposed site for Tara in Gone with the Wind . Folks were proud of this; still are. For the Centennial of the Battle of Jonesboro in 1964, we dressed in long dresses and paraded behind Confederate flags. We took membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy for granted.
And, to be honest, we looked down on Alabama and Mississippi. They were “backwards” and “different.” 
So this April, when I had the opportunity to go with the Greater New London Clergy on a pilgrimage to Montgomery, Tuskegee, and Birmingham, Alabama, I was intrigued. I had only ridden through Birmingham once. I had learned, over the years, that a lot had happened there in the struggle for Civil Rights. And I knew by reading Brian Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy , that that struggle is a reality even now.
What I was unprepared for was the stark contrast between the “childhood” of African American children and that of my own. Emmett Till was murdered just 23 days after I was born; children were marching for their rights in Birmingham, just before my 8 th birthday, and had attack dogs and fire hoses turned on them; four teenage girls were killed in the 16 th St. Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham just a month after my 8 th birthday. And on it went. And on it goes. In my childhood, I had no clue. Just a 2 ½ hour drive away.
We visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, and there I was brought face to face with the reality that I could not see in my childhood: three lynchings are recorded in the county where I grew up; at least one in my hometown. Georgia has the second highest number of documented lynchings. So much for being “different” from Alabama.
This stark contrast is how I’ve come to understand my own white privilege. I could be then, and can still choose to be, completely segregated from those who differ from me in skin color, class, or level of education. I could (and can) be blind to what was going on around me while being taught that we in Connecticut are “better”, “different”. 
There was a strong message in my childhood church not to be involved in earthly things like Civil Rights. And yet I also heard scriptures, sang hymns, and read stories of a God who loved the whole world, of the kingdom of God where all children were welcomed. I learned that song: “Jesus loves the little children of the world; red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight…” 
I am learning as we walk deeper in this Season of Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, that this work is a process – a lifelong process. I invite you to take whatever steps you can, to make sure that what we profess by our faith – the love of God for all – is what we show forth in our lives.
P.S. If you would like further reading, in addition to Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson:  
Adam Thomas has made 2 posts about the trip:
Complicity: how the North profited, Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery
The Cross and the Lynching Tree , by James Cone.

Plant a Garden
Julie Peace
Board of Directors for Common Good Gardens
Clerk of the Vestry, Grace Church, Old Saybrook
In the 1960 musical The Fantasticks , the two dads perform a duet lamenting the vicissitudes of raising children in their delightful song “Plant a Radish.” They sing the praises of vegetables, because vegetables are predictable. If you plant a radish, you get a radish; there’s “never any doubt.” However, if you plant a garden behind a church in Old Saybrook, you may end up growing more than you originally anticipated. 

The precursor of Common Good Gardens (CGG) sprouted in 2002, through the inspiration of Claudia Van Nes, a local newspaper reporter who saw a need for fresh produce for the guests of local food pantries. Grace Church donated land and water, local markets donated seedlings, and volunteers donated time and enthusiasm. 

My involvement with the garden began in 2008 when I wrote an article about the garden for the Harbor News . The following year I took on the tasks of soliciting local farm markets for their surplus produce and creating a schedule of drivers. 

Watching God work “out back” at Grace, I’ve witnessed His penchant for growth.
Our garden plot has grown in size over the years and currently helps feed the guests of the Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Niantic pantries. We’ve also helped sprout other gardens in the area and welcome visitors interested in starting their own gardens. 

Food for All Garden, located behind Holy Advent in Clinton, was created by Peter and Margaret Larom. Peter, at the time, was the rector of Holy Advent and his wife Margaret was a board member and dedicated gardener at the Grace Church garden. Food for All currently feeds the guests of the Clinton pantry.

Last summer folks from the Durham/Middlefield area visited us to gather information on irrigation, deer fencing, composting, planting rotations and record keeping. The Giving Garden of Durham/Middlefield is now beginning its first growing season.

I see God using CGG as partners in His miracles of multiplication and growth. Thinking of starting a garden to help feed those in need? Come visit us.

“Plant a garden, get multiple gardens, never any doubt” -- with God in charge -- can be our new song.

and the Many Benefits of Volunteering in the Food For All Garden
Alicia Sturgess
Church of the Holy Advent, Clinton
Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about gardening, and, truth be told, I don't really wish to learn. In my own yard I take the Gospel passage on the lilies of the field literally and delight in discovering the variety of green things that choose to grow there with absolutely no help from me. 
So, you may wonder, what led me to the Food for All Garden? 
First of all I knew the Food Pantry, then housed in the Holy Advent parish hall, was seeing a huge increase in the number of individuals applying for assistance. The vision for this garden was also huge. It was clearly going to take a village to work it, and the appeal for volunteers said "no experience required."
However, my motivation was also personal. People I love struggle with anxiety and depression. Over the years, I have tried to understand how to help them and also maintain my own health. What I've experienced can benefit anyone. 
The answer - exercise, fresh air, sunshine, socializing, and purpose.
I have found my happy niche as a weeder at Food For All, but all are truly welcome ... and needed! You will meet other wonderful, knowledgeable, dedicated gardeners and know you are making a difference in others' lives and possibly your own.

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. Stay tuned for the specifics, or email them later in June. 

It's That Time Again!

Click Here To Access the Camp Washington Summer Camp Info:

Visit the Camp Washington website by clicking the link below:

Meet Laurie Burke: Bridging the Gap Between Shoreline Faith-based Churches with Bible in Theater by Chelsea DiDonato

“I would like to see how we can encourage families to think of church as part of their community,” she said as she sat down to discuss her new program, Bible in Theater (VBS).
For years, Laurie taught choral music at the elementary and high school levels, and also as a music director for youth and adult groups in Connecticut. She received a B.M. in music education in vocal performance from The Hartt School of Music and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from CCSU. Through her experiences as an educator of the arts, felt a need to create a space during the summer months to build a community theater for children (grades 2-8) and parents to depend on so their schedules can steadily maintain. She taught and produced a Bible in Theater program in Middletown, and wanted to create a similar program by the shoreline where she resides.
As an avid member of All Saints Episcopal (Ivoryton), she asked, The Rev. Rachel Thomas if she thought churches in the shoreline area would be interested in a collaborative theater education program to help families find engaging youth programs within their church family.
From this, “My little idea expanded beyond one congregation,” and through this initial conversation sparked the friendship of three dynamic pillars in each of their communities for a collaborative effort between All Saints Episcopal Church, (Ivoryton); St. John’s Episcopal Church, (Essex); and Trinity Lutheran, (Centerbrook). Laurie will be using her years of teaching, and guidance from two of her collaborators, Becky Honan, Christian Education Director, and Pastor Brett Hertzog. They will tap into the skills and talents of youth in their congregations, and hopefully welcome other shoreline church communities for casting opportunities that are being offered on Sunday, June 2nd and Sunday, June 9th at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Children can expect to be carefully placed in roles where they can shine through with their skills and talents while stretching their comfort levels a bit, as Laurie explained, “Every child should get something out of this or else I have failed.” There are also opportunities for children who would like to learn more about the production side of the theater, “There are stage crew roles. We have cubes for scenery, and there will be twelve cubes that will get moved around four times, which means that it will be forty-eight jobs right there!” Not only, is Bible in Theater offered for grades 2-8, but they are looking for high school junior staff who can take on leadership positions during rehearsals and think out-of-the-box when the occasion arises.
Laurie hopes that families who are considering signing up their children for casting that the children who participate, “Grow as a person, grow in skill and talent, and to love being a part of Judeo-Christian community. To also know that church is a place you can have fun, but there is also a lot to learn about, and take in God’s love.”
For more information on the program to sign-up for casting, please reach out to Chelsea DiDonato, 860-767-8095 ext. 10,, or

June/July Events, 20

Saturday, June 8 th , Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Old Lyme, 6:00pm : Annual Spaghetti Dinner to benefit New Life Ministry of SE CT
Saturday, June 8 th , Evans Hall, Connecticut College, 7:30pm:  New London Community Orchestra spring concert; $10 suggested donation. More info at
Wednesday, June 12 th , Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, Baker Auditorium, 7:00pm.  “Gun Violence as Public Health Issue.” Presentation by Dr. Megan Ranney, Chief Research Officer of AFFIRM Research a non-profit committed to solving the American gun violence epidemic through innovation and evidence. Light refreshments will be served; event is free, but please register at . Sponsored by the Greater New London Clergy Association and L& M Hospital.
Saturday, July 13 th , 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Walking Tour on the History and Legacy of Slavery and Slave Trading, in the neighborhood of College Hill, Providence, RI led by the Center for Reconciliation. Bus departs from Trinity Church, Brooklyn. Sponsored by the Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation Ministry Network. Cost $45 per person. For more info. and to register contact Suzy Burke at

Interfaith Peace Potlucks (Three Wednesdays at 6:15 ), 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

  • June 19th - Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, Chester
  • July 17th - UCC Chester
  • Aug 28th - House of Peace Mosque, Meriden
Thursday, June 20 th , 7:00pm Liz Harris Memorial Cannonball Run: 1 mile to benefit St. James’, Poquetanuck “Kids to camp” Program. $20 registration fee ($17 if register online by 6/19).
Thursday, July 18, St. Paul’s, Westbrook, 5:00pm:  Ham & Bean Supper includes Ham, beans, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, dessert and beverage. Music will be provided by Bernie’s Band and there will also be a demonstration of the Allen Organ by Rick Fowler, Organist. $14.
July 19 th –21 st , St John’s, Niantic : Annual Carnival in conjunction with "Celebrate East Lyme.” 
Saturday, July 27, St. David’s Gales Ferry, 6:00pm : Community dinner and movie followed by a campfire with s’mores.
Vacation Bible Schools:
July 15 – 26, St. John’s, Essex and Trinity Lutheran, Centerbrook, 9am – 3pm:  Musical Theatre Vacation Bible School for grades 2 -8; $25 for 2 weeks; more info and registration at; Laurie Burke from All Saints, Ivoryton, Directing.

August 12-16, Saint David’s, Gales Ferry, 9-11:30am:  Free Ecumenical Vacation Bible School.
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