From Rachel......

On Palm Sunday I worshiped in Holy Advent in Clinton. I am always nervous about sitting in “someone else’s pew.” So, I was delighted when a grandmother and her two grandchildren came in to sit with me. The children were well behaved, even when all the gummy bears fell on the floor and the little girl hit her head. 
 
The liturgy and worship was wonderful. Of course, I found myself thinking about the little boy putting stickers on a piece of paper that said “God’s Mission.” Stickers of cardinals – he told me it was also the name of a baseball team; stickers of other, more wintry figures. His grandmother had him read along with the Eucharistic Prayer.
 
I wondered, “What is he soaking up while he is here?” On the one hand, I know that becoming a disciple of Jesus takes more than sitting in a pew with stickers; on the other, there’s some gift there of peace, love, and hopefully a good image of Jesus to take away and build upon.
 
On Easter Day, I worshiped in St. Ann’s, Old Lyme. There, one of my pew mates was a woman on the other end of the age spectrum, perhaps closer to 90. She was with her husband, and was trying to keep up with pages in the Prayer Book and the Hymnal. “Fairest Lord Jesus” was the hymn after Communion. I looked over to see if she needed help finding it. She did not; she knew the words by heart. 
 
I wondered, how long had she been hearing and singing that hymn? Did she learn it when she was a little girl, the same age as the little boy I sat with on Palm Sunday? 
 
In between these two times of worship, I savored the beautiful Taizé music at St. Andrew’s, Madison on Wednesday night; the combined meal and worship of Grace, Yantic and St. James’, Poquetanuck at Christ Episcopal, Norwich on Maundy Thursday; an ecumenical walk to support Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries in Old Lyme; a simple Good Friday liturgy at St James’, New London, with a powerful sermon; and another fine sermon as the rain threatened the (not-so-sunny) sunrise service on the Connecticut River with St. John’s, in Essex. 

Through all of these times of worship, I wondered, “If I came here and knew nothing about the Christian tradition or what the Jesus movement was all about, what would I take away?” I can’t answer that, really, because I’m not in that position. At the same time, I can say that my pew-mates made the moments that touched my heart. I would have gladly talked with them about their life of faith, even if they were strangers. 
 
So maybe, this is a call to paying attention to the people in the pews around us; to dare to open our mouths and our hearts, and say what hymn or word of scripture strikes us. To ask, even of those whom we know well, “What moved them today in worship?” 

The Risen Lord goes ahead of us, maybe even sitting in the pew next to us. 

Happy Easter – Rachel



A New Regional Network Answers An Old Local Prayer
Carol Carlson
Vestry Outreach Liaison
St. Ann’s Church
Old Lyme, CT

 
It started as a first gathering of new people from the SE-ECCT region, meeting to join in prayer and sharing to celebrate their international outreach activities. Some knew each other through existing connections but most were new to each other. The common thread was the joys and challenges of international outreach. A conversation was started. Email addresses and stories were exchanged.

St. Ann’s Church in Old Lyme came to that first meeting with a problem. Children’s clothing destined for Haiti was not getting to its destination for lack of transportation and trusted recipients. St. Ann’s sewers were pleased to craft clothing for the most needy of children, but they were no longer able to do the mission work of delivery. New hands and feet to carry goods were needed.

A second meeting convened on January 31, new faces were added, and the lament from St. Ann’s was heard again. The shared connections were deepening and more hearts were joined. Suggestions were made and a follow-up by email was promised. The new ideas offered in the meeting were pursued but no opportunities resulted.
On February 28 at 9:49 AM an email message on behalf of St. Ann’s sewing workshop went out to the collected emails gathered from those meetings; a plea for assistance, a willingness to adapt, to change destinations, to serve children anywhere in the world who needed clothing.

Dear Outreach friends,
 
As many of you know from our last two meetings, St. Ann's sewing workshop is facing distribution challenges with its preschool children's clothing for Haiti. Grace and Dan have been wonderful about taking clothing to Ecuador, and we are very thankful for their ministry. We have been dedicated to clothing children in need for years, and our commitment to Haiti spans decades. Our regular couriers with the National Association of Episcopal Schools are not going to Haiti this year, and new contacts have yet to lead to transportation opportunities. We are turning to you for possibilities that might exist in your own outreach ministries for children's clothing.
 
We tend to make clothing for children living in tropical climates, aged 2 through 7, boys and girls. Photo of samples attached. We have an increasing inventory and would be happy to share it with your ministries if it makes sense. If you have specific needs and can provide specifications for what you need, we can try to address your requirements. Our sewers do prefer children's items and our materials are cotton. Other than that, we're flexible. We are happy to see our clothing go to other international destinations as long as trusted recipients are receiving them. We have a modest budget for shipping and can participate in delivery costs if needed. As a group, we are no longer able to make any mission trips, so our calling is sewing for distribution by others.
 
Thanks for any assistance you can provide.
 
Sincerely,
Carol Carlson
St. Ann's Sewing Workshop

At 10:27am, an email was received from Vianna McGugan, a member of Calvary Church in Stonington and president of the non-profit Teammates for Life ( www.teammatesfourlife.org ), offering to transport clothing to Uganda for children in need in orphanages and isolated villages.

In less than 30 minutes an answer was received through a new network designed to facilitate a shared mission. A group of regional peers resolved a challenge that had persisted for months. A prayer was answered and a connection cemented.

New Threads 
Vianna McGugan  
860-608-2668 USA
 
What a blessing from our Lord to button us together. After responding to Carol’s email, Carol then invited me to lunch at St. Ann's Episcopal Church to see the women working during their Tuesday sewing session. We went down to the basement of the church to see their beautifully organized, large scale, color coordinated sewing workshop and to learn about their International Women's Sewing Mission.

They explained to me that the Rev. Mark Robinson had made this workshop a reality. Miraculously, Mark had also made the Calvary Church Uganda Mission Team 20 years ago a reality.
I visit Uganda three times a year, providing support for many needy children other than my Teammates for Life girls. These clothes from St. Ann's will reach babies at the Sanyo Baby Orphanage in the capital area of Kampala, where women are allowed to leave their unwanted babies, and The Chain Foundation Orphanage in Mukono which services 300 blind and sighted children K - 18. I will carry some clothes to the most needy children of Nebbi Village, located on Uganda's eastern border with Congo, and then to the children in the Sudanese refugee camps in the far North where I stay, near the South Sudan border. 
 
How gracious of God to choose us, to  stitch  us together, providing us this time and the use of our talents of sewing, coaching and loving Him, to make an impact. Divine!  Let us be an example as to the power of Partnerships; we all now friend , follow and like each others pages on Facebook. Our ministry with St. Ann's is now on Calvary's website, and Calvary is organizing a collection of material, buttons, thread, etc. at our church for St. Ann's sewing group.

Just creating awareness serves as it own platform targeting those wanting to take action. I spoke of this to a friend in my Yoga class and the girl next to me said, "I'm a seamstress I have material to donate!" 
 
I am sure this is only the beginning of the next chapter in the book, "Sewing Faithful Partnerships."
 
"God is a circle who's center is everywhere and circumference nowhere"

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF SOUTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT LAUNCHES A COMMUNITY PRAYER TENT MINISTRY
Maren Schober, St. David’s Episcopal Church, Gales Ferry
 
The Walk to End Homelessness is an annual fundraiser event in New London to help turn around the lives of those who are without homes. Organized by the Homeless Hospitality Center (HHC) and students from Connecticut College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, this event raises awareness about homelessness in southeastern Connecticut, and the proceeds directly benefit the residents of the Hospitality Center in New London.

Although the walk was scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m., Sunday April 28 th , in front of the Homeward Bound Treasures thrift store at 35 Golden St., New London, the walkers began gathering for the event long before that. Despite the cold and the rain, a large crowd gathered awaiting the start of the walk. Enthusiasm and joy abounded. You could feel it and it was catching. Our own Prayer Tent team arrived at about 11:30, giving us plenty of time for this inaugural raising of the tent.

The idea for the Prayer Tent came from Episcopal Church members in the South Central Region of Connecticut, who hosted a tent like this for a 5K to raise money for opioid addiction issues. The SE Region Leadership Team liked this idea and started thinking about how it might work in the SE Region. With the hope for an ongoing, traveling Praying ministry, the team purchased an 8x8 Tent with a blue canopy, a tent that is lightweight and can be raised with great ease.
So we came to be standing inside that small pop up tent on a drizzly Sunday in New London. The tent was blessed. We asked God’s blessing on this new prayer adventure, and the sign in front of the tent sent out the invitation.

“Need Prayer?
For healing for yourself?
For someone you love?
For someone you don’t love?
-The Episcopal Church in SECT”

Manning the tent were members of the Leadership Team Ron Steed, deacon of St. James Church in Preston, Bev Olsen from St. Mark’s Church in Mystic, David Kirpas from Grace Church in Old Saybrook and myself.  We chatted together, shared our prayer concerns with each other and prayed for each other. Two individuals from the street took advantage of the offer of prayer and asked for prayer. We feel blessed to have had this opportunity to prayer for others. We know God is here and at work in this community.                         
After the mayor of New London, Mike Passero, welcomes the participants of the Walk as well as some of the Conn College students involved, the walkers set off on their route. We pack up the tent, which folds easily into a duffel bag the size of a Pack and Play.

We share our joint hope that this is just the beginning of joining God at work in our communities at special events such as this one and offering prayer for daily needs. We look forward to more prayer opportunities under the Prayer Tent at future community events! We are thankful to God for this prayer experience that draws us close to Him and to each other.
                                                                        

Wonder is the Beginning of Wisdom
The OWL Lunch Program at St. James’ Poquetanuck
Sylvia Correia

The OWL Lunch program at St. James Church in Poquetanuck was created by Gail Rigney and Maureen French in 2012 – 2013 under the leadership of Rev. Ron Kolanowski. These lunches take place on the second Thursday of every month, we invite any senior living in the area to join us to enjoy a noontime meal and socialize. In 2014, Sylvia Correia joined the church and was invited by church members to join them in an OWL Lunch, and the rest is history.


On the St. James marquee during the summer of 2017 were the words: Wonder is the beginning of Wisdom. That was the message that turns out to be very true for me. In late summer of 2015, I asked a curiosity question of Father Ron Kolanowski: “When the phone rings and you answer, what are people looking for? Food, utility assistance, cash?” His answer was, “No, the most common request is for disposable diapers.” I was very surprised.
 
So now the mind goes to work. Is there a way to help? There sure is. Space will not allow me to elaborate as to the wheeling and dealing I did with Fr. Ron to accomplish the following. I asked if it would be possible to set up a donation box at the monthly OWL Lunch. This idea was shared with the OWL’s and met with their approval. Proceeds would be used to reimburse anyone donating food, if they wished, and the remaining funds would be used to purchase diapers. Discussions took place as how to distribute the diapers. In December of that year, I shared this information with a friend of mine, and the next day I received an E-mail from her with a copy of a notice from the front page of the New London Day, a notice requesting diapers for Madonna House in Norwich. Remember, that was 2015.
Fast forward to April 2019. The OWL donations have now provided over 7,500 diapers to Madonna House in Norwich and they are very grateful.

In case you are wondering , the OWL acronym stands for Older Wiser Leaders.  See what can happen when you wonder, ask and then use the wisdom. Thank you OWL’s. And many babies with dry bottoms thank you. 

May Events, 2019
 
Saturday, May 4 th , 8:00am – 2:00pm: St. Stephen’s, East Haddam: Tag Sale
 
Sunday, May 5 th , 11:30am, St James’: New London: “Embodied Justice InterPlay,” exploring images of race and/or privilege through movement, voice, story and stillness.” More info at:  www.Move2Joy.life
 
Saturday, May 11 th , 9:00am – 2:00pm: Christ Church Cathedral: Kelly Brown Douglas speaking on “What does it mean to be church in make America Great Again” times. Register here
 
Sunday, May 19 th , 3:00pm: Christ Church, Cathedral: Celebration for those who have been married 50 years or longer (save the date).
 
Friday, May 24 – Friday, May 31: Come to the River of Life! CT River Pilgrimage beginning in Windsor and ending at the mouth of the CT River. To Register, go to http://kairosearth.org/connecticutriver2019/
 
Looking Ahead:

June 4 th , 10:00am: SE & NE Region Clericus at St. Peter’s, Hebron https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northeast-southeast-region-clericus-gathering-june-4-2019-tickets-48277432099 .  
  
Vacation Bible Schools:
June - 24 -28: St. Andrew’s Madison with First Congregational Church in Madison, pre-K – 8 th
 
June 8 -12, 9:00am – 3:00pm:  St. Andrew’s Madison Art Camp. To register, contact www.tinyurl.com/artscamp2019
 
July 15 – 26, 9:00am – 3:00pm Monday –Friday:  Vacation Bible School organized by All Saints, Ivoryton; St. John’s, Essex; and Trinity Lutheran, Centerbook. Grades 2 -8; musical production directed by Laurie Burke of All Saints. More information 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
Chelsea DiDonato