The Week of June 7, 2020
Riots Do Not Develop Out of Thin Air
This past week, I had an opportunity to participate in an Interfaith prayer service sponsored by the Stamford Interfaith Council, via Zoom. Representing Saint John’s Episcopal Church, as your current spiritual leader. I shared the poem below by an unknown author, and my own prayer which I’ve also included below. On many levels, it’s been an exhausting week with endless protests across the land in all the major cities of our country. Some of these protests have taken a turn for the worse, as looting and vandalism has broken out. To make matters worse, our president decided to do a photo op, holding a Bible in his hand, while standing in front of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. In order to do this, he had the streets cleared using tear gas and other means, to drive protesters away. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said Trump used "violent means" to clear the area and did not pray at the church or  offer "balm or condolence to those who are grieving ." Rev. Pat Robertson, an ultra-conservative Evangelical, also made his views public, and declared that what Trump had done, using the church as a backdrop, was wrong.  All of this took place while Covid19 remains a relentless backdrop. 

We’re all feeling the exhaustion and bewilderment. Back in 2014 I took the photograph I’ve added here, as I marched in protest with Rose, never quite imagining that things would get to the crisis point we’re living today. How not to give into despair? As people of faith, walking in a time of darkness, we march on towards the promised land, we can’t let that vision die. The following quote is very poignant:

"I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
- Dr. King

I intentionally didn’t mention Dr. King’s name earlier, because this seems like something that could have been written this past week, yet this is something MLK wrote over half a century ago. When will we heed to his inspired words?

As we continue to make our way through this time of darkness, let’s hold steadfast to our faith. I do believe in the coming Kingdom, even in the midst of the current pain and woundedness. At the deepest level, I believe this is all leading us to a new place of transformation, as agonizing as it may be. As we march, we continue to hold each other in love and prayer.

Poem by Unknown Author
Handcuffed.
Face Down.
Knee on his neck.
They did nothing.

He called the officer "Sir."
They did nothing. 

He begged for his life.
He begged for water.
He begged for mercy.
They did nothing.

His nose bled.
His body trembled.
He lost control of his bladder.
They did nothing.

He cried out, "I can't breathe."
They did nothing.

Twelve more times.

"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."
"I can't breathe."

They did nothing. 

One last time, he gasped, "I can't breathe."
They did nothing.

He lost consciousness.
They did nothing.
 
A firefighter demanded they check his pulse.
They did nothing.
 
Off duty medical personnel begged them to stop.
They did nothing. 
 
Deprived of oxygen.
His organs screaming.
His brain frantic.
They did nothing.
 
They watched George Floyd die.
His life fading.
A slow death.
They did nothing.
 
Murder on the ground.
They did nothing.
 
For eight agonizing minutes.
Four officers watched.

He cried out for his Mom... 
A grown man...
Crying out for the woman who gave him life....
As he feared joining her in death. 
And still

They did nothing...
 
Prayer Shared at Interfaith Service this Past Week:
Come Holy Spirit, come and transform your people of all colors, genders, ethnicities, languages and religions; Come Holy Spirit and lift us from our current darkness and despair. Come Holy Spirit and breathe the breath of life into our lungs, our lives, our very being. Come Holy Spirit and shape us into your image, and your likeness, that we may be a reflection of your LOVE, as we walk the face of the earth.  Amen.

Blessings and Grace to All,

The Rev. Wilfredo Benitez
Priest In Charge (PPIC)
All group activities at St. John's remain canceled until further notice, including outside groups and ministries using our facilities.
Here are some tips for viewing the service live online
this coming Sunday morning:

Non-Facebook Users - Go to stjohns-stamford.org on Sunday morning just after 10:30 am. The livestream will be on the home page. If you do not see it in process, wait a minute then refresh your page. You will see the screen with the play button. Press the button to watch the service live.

Facebook Users - Please go to https://www.facebook.com/StJohnsStamford/live at 10:30 AM on Sunday morning. Refresh your browser if you do not see the livestream in process.
St. John's Pentecost Service
St. John's continues to stream the services live via Facebook and on the home page of the website.

If you missed last Sunday's service you can watch the edited version here on the church's website.
Contemplative Practices and Centering Prayer
with Fr. Wilfredo
Friday, June 5 at 10:00 AM
Join us Friday mornings for Centering Prayer/Meditation, video presentations, and discussions on contemplative practices. Learn how to move beyond dualistic thinking into the greater mystery of God. This series will run through the month of June, every Friday at 10:00AM.  Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Topic: Contemplative Prayer Practice
Time: May 29, 2020 10:00 AM
    Every week on Friday, until Jul 10, 2020
Join Zoom Meeting: Click here
Meeting ID: 832 1570 3776
Password: 235245
Dial by your location: +1 646 558 8656
Click on the image above to enlarge
Children & Teen Video Chat
Sundays at 10 AM!
Further Resources for our Children and Youth
Here are some guidelines from the National Association of School Psychologists about COVID-19 . It was written before many schools started closing, but it still has a lot of helpful suggestions, particularly about lowering anxiety.


Resources for kids - Yoga at home!
Rev. Gena Davis is the priest who led the yoga mass at St. John’s. She’s been offering online classes, including a new yoga nidra for kids age 2-12 for $5/family! For all class details, please e-mail her at 
genadaviswholeness@gmail.com   to be added to her mailing list.

Thank you for sharing these Mattie!
Food Bank Update
Dear Parishioners,
UPDATE
Kathi and Ron Bacchi set up a Drive-Thru food collection at St John’s last Saturday. We then delivered 201 lbs plus $1190 in checks to Kate Lombardo @ the Food Bank.  Last week I delivered 10 lbs.
Many thanks to Kathi, Ron and all those who participated in the Food Drive. The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield remains in desperate need for donations.  Please continue to help in any way you can.
I will personally come to your house or a mutual destination to keep their shelves filled. 

Thank you
Sunny Stearns
203-249-0393
Medicaid Coverage for Uninsured During COVID-19
Public Health Emergency
NEW! Department of Social Services preparing Medicaid coverage for uninsured during COVID-19 public health emergency 

The Connecticut Department of Social Services will provide  COVID-19 testing coverage for uninsured children and adults in the HUSKY Health program  as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

This will include:
  • Medicaid for the Uninsured/COVID-19: Uninsured state residents of any income level may be eligible for free Medicaid coverage of COVID-19 testing and testing-related provider visits.  This new federally-funded Medicaid coverage group will cover both citizens and qualifying non-citizens for testing and testing-related provider visits incurred between March 18, 2020 and the end of the public health emergency. HUSKY Health providers are advised to retain records regarding COVID-19 testing and testing-related provider visits for eligible individuals, starting March 18 and through the duration of the public health emergency, for purposes of Medicaid reimbursement. The Department of Social Services expects to issue more detailed guidance on this new coverage group, including processes for enrollment and claiming, by mid-May.  At that point, individuals who received care on or after March 18 and were eligible for coverage at the time services were provided will be able to receive retroactive coverage.
  • Emergency Medicaid for Non-Citizens/COVID-19:  Connecticut residents who meet financial eligibility requirements but do not qualify for full Medicaid due to their immigration status, including undocumented individuals, are eligible to receive Medicaid to treat an emergency medical condition. COVID-19 testing and testing-related provider visits are emergency visits that will be covered by Emergency Medicaid.  Emergency Medicaid is not a factor in federal immigration 'public charge' determinations. The Department of Social Services expects to issue more detailed guidance, including processes for enrollment and claiming for testing and testing-related services, by mid-May. At that point, individuals who received care within the prior three months and were eligible for coverage at the time services were provided will be able to receive retroactive coverage. HUSKY Health providers are advised that coverage for hospitalization will be handled through existing processes for Emergency Medicaid coverage. 
A Prayer in a Time of Coronavirus
Click on the banner below to read the prayer
Giving
Dear Parish Family:

Faced with the unfortunate circumstances of having to keep our church closed, in order to help curb the spread of Covid-19, it is imperative that your pledge be either mailed to the church, or better yet, that you make your donations electronically . Please see the instructions below on how to do this. 
Our expenses won’t go away even if we’re not having live worship, so I ask that we all be mindful of this. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Ms. Kathy McBride, our Parish Administrator. Our vestry, and parish family, will be much appreciative for your efforts.

God’s Grace and Peace,

Fr. Wilfredo+
NOTE: You can simply mail in your check to the church office if you would rather not use the online giving tool. Our Parish Administrator, Kathy McBride, is receiving the mail and doing the banking as usual.
Tuesday Bible Study: Gospel of Matthew
Join Fr. Sandy on Tuesdays at 2pm online via Zoom for a Bible Study on the Gospel of Matthew. Below is the info:

Meeting ID: 243 991 8700
Comforting Music For Challenging Times
Our Director of Music, Dr. Chris Shepard, is recording comforting piano repertoire for the St. John's community to enjoy during this challeging time. Click here to see what has been already uploaded and check back daily for more! Thank you Chris!
Have You Seen These Services?
Click on any of the images below to watch and listen
Pentecost Sunday
-May 31
Seventh Sunday of Easter
- May 24
NOTE: The Community Thrift Shop is closed to the public until further notice due to COVID 19.  
Weekly Calendar
All group activity at St. John's is cancelled until further notice including outside groups and ministries using our facilities.

Stay updated with meditations, readings, music and sermons by visiting our Facebook page or our website .
Announcements
St. John's Office Hours 
 The Church office is currently closed to public access.
However you may leave a message at 203-348-2619 x10 -
our Parish Administrator, Kathy McBride is checking the messages
many times a day and will respond right away!

Prayer List  
Please send all prayer list requests for the bulletin to the Parish Administrator, Kathy McBride, at  kmcbride@stjohns-stamford.org .
   
FORWARD DAY BY DAY
This is the Episcopal Church's own discipleship publication! As disciples, followers of Christ, daily prayer and reflection grounds us in God's love and gives us strength and clarity to confront our weaknesses, put our trust in God and listen to where God is calling us to serve. Available online  for-free! 

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