Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church for the World

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has issued the following A Word to the Church for the World. The video is available in English and Spanish here. Bishop Hirschfeld was a co-author of the Letter and appears in this video.

A Word to the Church for the World

Greetings from Detroit, a city determined to be revived.  Greetings also from the city of Flint, where we are reminded that the gift of water has for many of our brothers and sisters become contaminated.

Here we have been exhorted to set our sights beyond ourselves and to minister to the several nations where we serve and the wider world.

We lament the stark joylessness that marks our present time.  We decry angry political rhetoric which rages while fissures widen within society along racial, economic, educational, religious, cultural and generational lines.  We refuse to look away as poverty, cruelty and war force families to become migrants enduring statelessness and demonization.  We renounce the gun violence and drug addiction that steal lives and crush souls while others succumb to fear and cynicism, abandoning any sense of neighborliness.

Yet, in all this, “we do not despair” (2 Cor. 4:8.). We remember that God in Christ entered our earthly neighborhood during a time of political volatility and economic inequality.  To this current crisis we bring our faith in Jesus.  By God’s grace, we choose to see in this moment an urgent opportunity to follow Jesus into our fractured neighborhoods, the nation and the world. 

Every member of the church has been “called for a time such as this.” (Esther 4:14) Let prophets tell the truth in love.  Let reconcilers move boldly into places of division and disagreement. Let evangelists inspire us to tell the story of Jesus in new and compelling ways.  Let leaders lead with courage and joy.

In the hope of the Resurrection let us all pray for God to work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish God’s purposes on earth.

Writing Committee
Bishop Tom Breidenthal of Southern Ohio
Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington
Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles
Bishop Victor Scantlebury of Ecuador Central
Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real
Bishop Alan Gates of Massachusetts
Bishop Wendell Gibbs Jr. of Michigan
Dr. Scott Bader-Saye
Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester
Bishop Robert Wright of Atlanta
Bishop Rob Hirschfield of New Hampshire

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops met September 15 to September 20 in Detroit MI (Diocese of Michigan).

Death Penalty Repeal Highlighted at Three Upcoming Film Events

Three events will highlight need for repeal of the Death Penalty. A documentary about Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American on Death Row to be exonerated by DNA evidence, will be shown in NH this month. A discussion with Kirk Bloodsworth follows the movie.

"Bloodsworth:An Innocent Man's Journey Through Death Row" tells the story of Bloodsworth's eight years, ten months and 19 days in prison for a crime he did not commit, against the backdrop of the death penalty repeal fight in Maryland, the state where he was convicted and held.

These events will take place 

Tuesday, September 27, at 6:30 pm at Portsmouth Public Library

Wednesday, September 28, at 6pm at Hyde Hall, Plymouth State University

Thursday, September 29, at 6pm at Frost Hall, Southern NH University

The events are sponsored by the The NH Coalition Against the Death Penalty and local organizations at each location.

GUEST BLOG: Call for Artists to Support Prison Art Programs in the Church

Calling all Artists!  Prison Art Program – Diocesan Convention Art Sale Fundraiser

By Betsy Hess

The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, in collaboration with the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, sponsors art classes at each of the four prisons in New Hampshire.  Through the support of the Diocesan Outreach committee, one set of classes (8 hours of instruction) is covered for the four sites.

Last year we were able to add another set of classes at each prison by raising our own funds, and we hope to do that again Each set of classes costs $500.  This covers instruction, and the other costs are picked up by the facilities.  This year at Diocesan Convention, we are selling original art as a fundraiser.  

We ask those of you who are artists in the Diocese to consider donating a piece of art that we can sell at Diocesan Convention.  The proceeds will go to fund the extra class sets.  We want to keep the prices reasonable, and the process simple, so that as many who attend Convention as possible have the opportunity to share in supporting this great program.  Because of this, we plan to sell original art for $40 and prints for $10. 

Please let me know if you would like to donate art and I will post you the particulars. 

The inmates who participated in classes last year and this have created beautiful work.  As we all know, art lifts us – and this is true of the inmates as well.

The act of creating is a soul journey.  We are grateful that our church in New Hampshire is able to support this work.  We hope you will join in this soul journey with the prisoners, by allowing the blessing of your creativity to enable theirs.

Betsy Hess, Prison Art Program Art Sale Coordinator betsyhess@gmail.com   (603) 466-5718

ER&D and Islamic Relief USA Join to Fight Gender-Based Violence in Liberia

Episcopal Relief & Development (ER&D) and Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) have launched a partnership to increase engagement among Christian and Muslim faith leaders to end gender-based violence (GBV) in Liberia. IRUSA's support expands the ongoing GBV program that Episcopal Relief & Development launched in 2015 with a three-year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Implemented by the organization’s local partner, Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief and Development, ‎this program equips local faith leaders – including youth – to prevent violence and increase support for survivors through utilizing the Faith Leader GBV Prevention and Response Toolkit and other strategies. ‎

“It is very important that faith communities work together to support victims of gender-based violence or any other form of violence,” said Anwar Khan, CEO of Islamic Relief USA. “Our faith teaches us to respect and care for each other; to respect the rights and dignity of mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. It is very important that women have safe spaces to pursue their aspirations.”

In Liberia, 45% of women aged 15-49 have experienced violence during their lifetime, and 18% have experienced sexual violence. GBV is pervasive throughout Liberia, attributable in part to social and institutional breakdown during the country’s 14-year civil war. Christian and Muslim faith leaders through the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia and other groups helped to broker peace during the conflict, and in recent years these leaders have leveraged their influence and credibility to address GBV as well.

“We are working with faith leaders to examine religious texts that have been used to justify violence against women, and instead interpret them to encourage dignity and respect,” said Annette Musu Kiawu, the National Director for Episcopal Church of Liberia Relief & Development. “Christians and Muslims have worked together for peace and justice for many years, and there is tremendous power in our communities to promote and embody positive change on this issue.”

The GBV program trains a diverse group of stakeholders including pastors, imams, lay leaders, village elders, chiefs and youth group leaders on the causes and effects of GBV, how to support survivors and how to effectively and sustainably change attitudes and behavior regarding GBV in their communities. Active in six districts in Grand Cape Mount and River Cess counties, this program is part of a larger campaign of the Liberian Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to end GBV.

“Christians and Muslims have a shared commitment to care for those in need and challenge systems that oppress or exclude,” said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. “Our communities have great potential for mobilizing social action, and I celebrate this partnership with IRUSA to engage and empower faith leaders to end GBV.”

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters. www.episcopalrelief.org

Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States. www.irusa.org


New Christian Formation Network Holds First Meeting

Join others around the Diocese who are interested in Christian Formation as the Formation Network hosts its first meeting on Tuesday September 20th at 7pm, at St. Matthew’s, Goffstown. The Church is located at 3 North Mast Street in Goffstown.

The discussion will include the following topics:

1)      Sharing resources- please bring anything you have found that is helpful, or just interesting.

2)      Are there areas you are struggling with? Perhaps others can help.

3)      There is some discussion of creating a “Formation track” at a future Lay Leadership day (held on the first Sat. in May). What would you like to see included?

4)      How can we reach out to others? Do you know of people who might be interested in Adult, Intergenerational, youth or children’s formation? Is there something we should do for Diocesan convention in November?

5)      Are there programs we can do better as a larger group? Perhaps a Bible Study available over Skype?

Other ideas for consideration include a Summer Bible reading/activity program. Last summer Sparkhouse offered a summer Bible  reading program for kids, including activities. ( see herehttp://blog.sparkhouse.org/summer-reading-program-christian/ ). Next summer there will be a group paddling down the Connecticut river to focus on our care of creation. Are there ways we could support that effort? Perhaps with online meditations? Or activities?

Another opportunity for Christian Formation leaders is Province 1 .  More information is found at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ed54i5lw13c7eb40&llr=zei84bqab The Episcopal Church of NH  is offering five $100 scholarships for this event. For information about the scholarships, contact Tina Pickering tpickering@nhepiscopal.org


GUEST BLOG: ChIPs--Strengthening Families

GUEST BLOG, by Margaret Mackie-Ciancio

Wouldn’t you know, the Christmas season seems to start earlier every year? The toy commercials are already ramping up. Yes, we’ll be seeing images of evergreens and holly soon enough. Now, maybe advertising jingles aren’t our favorite way to celebrate the coming season, but in their clumsy way they do point back to the reason we so emphasize Christmas. The stress of the holiday, and the drive to prepare early, comes from wanting it to be perfect, so that everyone is happy, everyone enjoys the surprise of getting exactly the gift he never knew he wanted until the moment he opens it, the food is plentiful, the laughter is bright. And we want that for the people we love because they are the people we love. And, Christmas is a holy celebration of Love.

Well, we are not perfect, and the world is not perfect. And we don’t want to hear about people having a destitute holiday when we’re preparing frantically to make our own joyful. But we know these people exist around the world, and even in our own community. There’s a group here I’d like to talk to you about right now. They are families separated at Christmas by a member’s incarceration.

When a loved one goes to prison, the abrupt ripping of the family fabric is tremendously traumatic. The children still need that parent in their lives. They feel lost and abandoned, as well as grief-stricken and anxious for their father’s or mother’s safety. The inmate also feels the fear, shock and sorrow. He worries that his family will move on and forget him. She worries that they won’t be able to make the rent without her. And as each person orients away from the breach, emotional ties become harder and more painful to keep.

But keeping those ties is tremendously important. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and we all need Love in order to live. If an inmate feels abandoned, she loses the security that she can come home when her time is over. She leaves prison with nowhere to go, no emotional or financial support as she tries to get back on her feet. And, she is far more likely to end up arrested again. She needs to know that her family is still there, and still wants her. If a child feels abandoned, he begins to think he is no longer of value. Without a sense of self-worth, he is more likely fail classes, to get involved in drugs or alcohol, to harm himself or others, and to end up in jail himself. He needs to know that his parent is still there, and still cares.

The ChIPs Program is designed to strengthen these family connections, for the sake of the children and the prisoners both. Grateful letters from so many inmates and families have testified to the effectiveness of our efforts. ChIPs aims to spread the Christmas message of Joy and Love to those among us who need it the most.

Here’s what you can do to help:

You may drop off gifts or monetary donations at your church.  The delegates to the Diocesan Convention will bring your gifts to the Convention on November 5th where they will be transported to Blass Clubhouse at St. Paul’s School for sorting.  The dates for sorting are tentatively set for early November.  (Call 432 7679 for more information)

There are other ways you can help as well:

1.     You can purchase a gift directly or contribute $20.  If you decide to make a monetary donation, please make out your check to the Diocese of New Hampshire with ChIPS written on the memo line of the check.

2.     You can volunteer to collect gifts and serve as your parish’s contact.

3.     You can help sort the gifts at St. Paul’s School.

4.     You can help with wrapping of the gifts at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord.  (The date for wrapping has not yet been set but is usually in early December.)

5.     You can collect note cards for use in the prisons .

For more information, or if you wish to volunteer, please contact me, Margaret Mackie-Ciancio, at 603 432-7679 (home) or 867 4590 (cell) or at maggie.ciancio@gmail.com. 

Gift Guidelines

We group gifts according the following age groups:

birth to 1; ages 2 to 4; ages 5 to 7; ages 8-11; and ages 12-15

Gifts should not exceed $20 (original retail value).

One $20 gift is preferable to four $5 gifts as it is difficult to group items together to equal a $20 gift.

If you don’t want to purchase a $20 gift, any monetary donation will be gladly accepted. 

Books are a separate category and our goal is to provide each child with a gift and a book.  (both hard cover and paperback books are appropriate)

If you purchase a gift that requires batteries, please purchase those as well and attach them to the gift.  It’s so discouraging to receive a gift with no batteries.

Consider buying a gift that would be appropriate for both boys and girls such as balls or board games. 

Don’t forget the older children.  It is often easier to buy gifts for younger children.  There is always a shortage of gifts for older children.

No used items, homemade items, or gift cards can be accepted. 

The following items are NOT acceptable: jewelry, balloons, crayons, play dough, glue.  bubbles, make up, long sticks, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or paint brushes, glass items, clothing, sharp tools or toy weapons of any kind.

Thanks for your help.


St. John’s, Portsmouth, offers a series of Celtic Evenings

Candlelit evening services of Celtic music, poetry and reflection on offer at Seacoast Church

Starting this September, St. John’s Episcopal Church will offer a series of meditative evening services based on the timeless traditions of Celtic spirituality.  The first St. John’s Celtic Evening will be held on September 18th, 2016, at 5:30 pm in the St. John’s sanctuary, 101 Chapel Street, Portsmouth, NH.  The theme for this first evening will be ‘Creation’ and will feature Celtic spiritual readings, Celtic vocal and instrumental music and periods of meditation and prayer.  Refreshments will be offered in Thaxter Hall after the service.

With its emphasis on the divine in nature and personal intimacy with God, along with inspirational Celtic art and music, there is a ground swell of interest in Celtic spirituality across the United States.  Many church congregations from a wide range of denominations, as well as those who do not practice organized religion, are finding the very ancient themes and practices of Celtic spirituality relevant for 21st century life. 

Associate Rector of St. John’s, the Rev. Anne Williamson, said she first enjoyed Celtic worship on a trip to Iona, part of the Inner Hebrides off Scotland, several years ago and returned to Iona this spring for a pilgrimage with John Philip Newell, the former warden of the Iona Community.  ‘I am drawn to the simplicity, but also the challenge of worship on Iona, where our connectedness and care of creation, hospitality, and justice and peace are at the heart of the Iona Community’s working and worshipping life.’

After observing the increasing popularity of Celtic services in other states, including in Massachusetts and Maine, St. John’s hopes that the Seacoast community will welcome the opportunity to spend a candlelit hour of personal reflection and communal participation facilitated by poetry, prose and music.  

St. John’s will offer additional Celtic Evenings on the third Sunday of October, November and December, 2016.  For more information on St. John’s Celtic Evenings, contact Anne Williamson at anne@stjohnsnh.org  or 603-436-8283 x125. 

Bishop Blesses Solar Array at All Saints' in Wolfeboro

WOLFEBORO, NH —During his parish visit to All Saints' in Wolfeboro on September 11, The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, braved threatening skies following a torrential rainstorm to bless and dedicate the newly installed solar photovoltaic system at All Saints’ Church,  258 South Main Street, following 10 a.m. worship. The Bishop blessed the panels from 20 feet off the ground thanks to a lift provided by the Hunt Family, members of All Saints’ and owners of Bradley’s Hardware in Wolfeboro. The installation contractor was Frase Electric of South Tamworth, a company that has completed nearly 300 public and residential solar installations throughout New Hampshire.

“Stewardship of the Earth” was a major component of a recent successful capital campaign at All Saints’ Church. The congregation sees addressing their campus footprint on the earth and seeking ways to reduce consumption of the earth’s resources as part of their mission. Efforts completed in 2016 include an energy audit to identify and implement practical efficiencies in the building envelope, heating and cooling, lighting; and the installation of a 25.2 KW solar photovoltaic panel system on the southeast and southwest roofs of the main church building. “The solar installation completed on Sept. 6, 2016, will support our stewardship and be a visible witness for Wolfeboro residents and visitors,” says Senior Warden Don Holm.

Rector Bill Petersen opened the dedication with these words, “The sun is the source of life and warmth, seasons and food. In recent decades, however, the reality of global warming has made us realize that our behaviors can alter the impact of the sun on our planet. We rejoice today that this new solar array will reduce our carbon footprint as a church, caring more effectively for God’s good creation, the work of our generous and gracious God.” The Bishop then blessed the 88-panel array saying, “Christ calls us to be disciples, to serve with love and compassion, to serve Earth by caring for creation. May all who look upon these solar panels that reflect the sky, be reminded of our constant prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

Stewardship of creation is something all Christians are called to do. Therefore, All Saints’ leadership determined that the community of faith should be playing a lead role in modeling better energy conservation and addressing climate change. “Our solar array is one component of our caring for our corner of creation,” says Petersen. “This stewardship is central to who we are and who we strive to be. It is a faithful response that flows from our gratitude for the abundant beauty and blessings of creation.”

For more information, contact on Holm 569-3096, donholm4@gmail.com, or The Rev. Bill Petersen 569-3453, pastorbillpetersen@gmail.com.


Guest Blog: 2016 Annual Faith Formation Leaders Conference, October 6-8

GUEST BLOG: Province I


Faith formation leaders from across Province I gather each fall for informal networking, resource sharing, and continuing education (2014 The Once and Future Church, Lisa Kimball and Tricia Lyons; 2015 Faith @ Home, Wendy Barrie).

For 2016, the planning team decided to look local. Our goal was to identify practitioners that are facing shifts in children, youth, family, and adult participation in faith formation and finding creative models to meet their needs and interests. This year's format blends longer, interactive presentations with short, structured ways to learn from one another. The presentations include

  • Messy Church: Creative Worship for Busy Families - Learn how two Massachuttes churches have partnered to offer an innovative intergenerational way of being church for all ages and stages.  Part of the Fresh Expressions movement in the United Kingdom, Messy Church is a growing model for worship and faith formation in the United States. It is a montly gathering of creative play, celebration, and dinner around a christ-centered theme. The Rev. Laura Goodwin, St. Andrews, North Grafton, MA and The Rev. Lisa Green, St John's Sutton, MA, will share experiences and resources from their successful first year.
  • Going Where the People Are - Formation for Tiny Congregations - Wonder how to engage folks when there are not enough people, time, or resources for a "regular" program. Linnae Peterson, NH Coordinator for Christian Formation, will lead our conversation on how to use existing groups and gatherings as places to create learning opportunities.This process works well in many settings, particularly very small parishes.
  • Online and Hybrid Faith Formation - Emily Keniston, ME Coordinator for Christian Education, will lead the conversation about ways technology can support and enhance one's ministry.  In addition to supporting families at home, the conversation will explore administrative shortcuts, using technology for collaboration between churches, and preparing volunteers to teach. This interactive workshop include an invitaiton for you to share your experiences and lend your voice, particularly sharing strategies that work.
  • Learning with Legos - Sometimes a small Sunday school allows for more creative teaching methods.  Amy Cook, DioMA Missioner for Education, Formation and Discipleship, shows how one small church creates movies of Bible stories using legos, an iPhone, a computer, and the creativity and talent of the one to eight children who happen to show up that Sunday.  
  • Living Compass - Amy Cook, DioMA Missioner for Education, Formation and Discipleship, is an enthusiastic champions of this faith-filled approach to wellness that helps churches become centers of wellness and healing in their communnities.  It can be used both for formation and discipleship of church members as well as outreach to the community,  This session introduces the wide variety of programs available for adults, parents, and youth that include 6-week small groups, 4-week parish classes, Lenten and Advent programs and online resources.  Materials are flexible, inexpensive and well laid out. 
  • Understanding Our Contexts and Colleagues - Julie Lytle, Executive Director of Province I, will introduce faith formation as a living system using Margaret Wheatley's "Two Loops." We will literally map our contexts, recognize the strengths and challenges of differing perspectives, and use insights from the mapping exercise to explore ways to overcome obstacles to change. 

There will also be

  • Resource Spaces - share what you have, take what you need
  • Social - time to reconnect with established friends and meet new faith formation colleagues
  • Speed Dating - short interactions to share stories about our ministries and whats working (whats not) with one another


    There are two options for participation.

    OPTION A: The full workshop begins with dinner at 6 pm at Barbara C Harris Camp and Conference Center on Thursday, October 6 and concludes with lunch on Saturday, October 8.  All meals are included with a range of lodging options including a private lodge room, shared adult cabin (4 per building) or the bunk house (16 in the building).

    OPTION B: For those who can only get away one night, you can join us for dinner at 6 pm on Friday for half the cost. 

    We have attempted to keep the cost for this offering low. All conference costs are being paid by a Province 1 Sowing Seeds of God's Mission Grant. Still, our goal is to eliminate obstacles to participation.  If you or your community can help offset costs for someone else to participate, please consider a donation. If you need help, please contact Julie Lytle, executive.director@province1.org, about the potential for a partial scholarship. 

    Participation is limited; there are 30 spaces.  Sign Up Now!!