On the evening of Shrove Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting with the Vestry of St. James’, Keene. Afterwards we shared desserts as a way of celebrating “Mardi Gras” in advance of our Lenten fast.
During that time of fellowship, I had a chance to speak with Dr. Rudy Fedrizzi, Director of Community Health Clinical Integration at Cheshire Medical Center. Rudy has been doing amazing work to promote health and wellness in Cheshire County through Healthy Monadnock Champions.
Rudy showed me a pamphlet that advertised a new initiative for gun safety that represents a partnership among St. James’ Social Justice Ministry, the Police Chiefs and departments of 15 area towns and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an organization that has long supported gun rights and happens to be located in Newtown, Connecticut. This unusual, even unlikely partnership, promotes gun safety by making safety kits and gunlocks available at police stations, “no questions asked.”
I was impressed and amazed to see the list of these partners working for the safety of children. A collaboration between a gun rights group and St. James’ Church, the home of the martyred Jonathan Daniels, for the sake of children represents a thin but important thread cast across one of the great chasms in our society.
And then Ash Wednesday in Parkland, Florida. We saw the searing image of a mother holding another mother as they waited to learn if their children had escaped the carnage of yet another mass school shooting in America. On the mother’s forehead was the distinct cross of ashes where she was earlier told, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” On Thursday, I was told that members of Canon Kevin Nichols family knew those killed as classmates and teachers.
I join with the survivors of this mass shooting for a call to courageous action and resolve for change in our hearts and in the laws of our nation, blood soaked by these acts of massacres. A statement from my sister and brother Bishops Against Gun Violence is attached.
May Christ, the Prince of Peace, give us courage to meet the challenges of this present age.
Here is a link to the statement by the Bishops Against Gun Violence: HERE
The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire is honored to partner with The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire to offer a collection of short readings on little known historic figures from New Hampshire’s African American community for the Episcopalians’ 2018 Lenten Program. To read today's story, click HERE
The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is honored to partner with the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire to offer a collection of short readings on little known historic figures from New Hampshire’s African American community for the Episcopalians’ 2018 Lenten Program, beginning Ash Wednesday, February 14. To read today's first story, click HERE.
February 8, 2018
Dear Friends in Christ,
The Holy Spirit is often a disruptive force in our lives. Today we are greeted with the announcement of the inclusion of the Rev. Canon Kevin Nichols on the slate of nominees for Bishop in the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Below please read Kevin's message to us.
As Kevin is fond of saying, "this is a moment." Indeed. It is a moment that calls for our prayers and support of Kevin, Patti, and their family, as well as for the Diocese of Bethlehem as they seek to listen and follow the Spirit's bidding. May God supply them, and all of us, with the grace to meet the months ahead with the openness and courage to follow Jesus, in the knowledge that Jesus accompanies and guides us into peace and freedom.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
A Message from the Rev. Canon Kevin D. Nichols
Dear Fellow Servants of the Church of New Hampshire,
This morning the Diocese of Bethlehem, PA announced their slate of candidates for their 9th Bishop. I am humbled and honored to find my name on that list. The Electing Convention will be April 28, 2018. For more information about the Diocese of Bethlehem Bishop search click here.
A respected colleague who knows my strengths and hopes for the Wider Church stated to me this past August - "if you have any sense of call to be a Bishop - you need to consider the Diocese of Bethlehem." I responded that I love my work as Canon for Mission Resources in the Church of New Hampshire. Yet, throughout my life - just when I have become comfortable and sure of God's plan - I have been thrust into new moments of mission and ministry. I then read their Profile. The invitation be a part of "building something that we cannot see or know" brought me immediate curiosity and excitement. What followed was more reading, reflection, prayer and checking in with Bishop Rob and others whom I trust and respect. An emerging sense of call to this process grew deeper and more profound.
Perhaps God is calling me to use my gifts to serve the Church as the next Bishop of Bethlehem. I would be equally honored if I am called to continue to serve as COO / Canon for Mission Resources here in the Church of NH. Whatever the outcome, the process has been a spiritual journey of great learning and growth.
I invite you to join me in praying for the Diocese of Bethlehem and all of the candidates who have offered themselves during this time of discernment.
In God's Love,
GUEST BLOG by Br. David Vryhof, Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE)
As we prepare for our Lenten journey, and the launch of our offering Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, I am pleased to share with you a theological reflection by my brother Keith Nelson: Behold What You Are: Seeing Jesus & Ourselves in the Gospel According to John.
In this profound and personal reflection, Br. Keith traces how reading and praying with John’s Gospel can allow each of us to see the ordinary, challenging, and even painful events of our lives as signs imbued with meaning.
"In John’s prologue, we hear whispers of Christ’s cosmic role: ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people’ (Jn 1:3-4). This suggests that meaning is literally hidden in plain sight, and that Life and Light are never far beneath the surface of things. This is part of what makes John an especially illuminating path toward seeing Jesus and seeing ourselves as we read and pray with the Fourth Gospel. John wants to give us the Rosetta Stone to decipher that divine language, to make us light-bearers and life-revealers in a world hungry for meaning and thirsty for grace." Read more >
We hope this reflection will whet your appetite for reading and praying with John's Gospel together over Lent. Click here to read more and to download the free pdf article.
For more information on the six-week offering, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, click here.
Bishop Rob Hirschfeld is pleased to announce the Rev. Gail Avery will be our new Canon for Transition and Community Engagement in The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. He announced this new role, saying, "Gail's passion for building communities of love and justice is evident. She enjoys the admiration of the clergy of this diocese and brings the right assortment of gifts to carry the Jesus Movement forward in New Hampshire. We're looking forward to the bright energy she will bring into Diocesan House."
From the onset, the Rev. Gail Avery has been immersed in ministries that have crossed cultural, religious and economic barriers—expanding the boundaries of parish reach and giving voice to the most vulnerable in our midst.
Gail earned her M.Div. at the Episcopal Divinity School with special competency in Anglican, Global and Ecumenical Studies and was noted by the Boston Theological Institute for her excellence in International Mission and Ecumenical Engagement. Subsequently, she spent sevens years as maritime chaplain, bringing her face-to face with the daily struggles of seafarers far from home who frequent our New England ports.
Gail has served three parishes in New Hampshire and spent the past three years as interim rector at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Dover. Since 2008 she has acted as the Diocesan-appointed clergy delegate to Province One. She also chairs the Reconciliation Commission that supports statewide social outreach and the Angola Committee spearheading parish partnering with on-the-ground global need within the diverse Anglican Community. She was elected to the 2018 General Convention clergy deputation and serves as president of the board for William Lawrence Camp in Center Tuftonboro, NH.
Throughout her priesthood, Gail has shared her work in the wider community, modeling a ‘coming alongside’ approach that she believes is intrinsic to all successful ministries. Working inside and outside the institutional church, Gail has expanded her understanding of what it means to be church and deepened her love of what church is becoming. She brings this perspective to her new appointment as Canon for Transition and Community Engagement as she creatively engages with congregations and wider church community.
Gail grew up in the Boston area and received her B.S. in Business Administration and Family Services from the University of New Hampshire. She is married to Kirk Trachy, and they have three grown sons Samuel, Miles and Todd, and two young grandchildren Noemi and Lincoln. Miles and Todd are serving in the United States Air Force based in San Antonio, Texas and Fussa, Japan, respectively. An avid runner for the discipline it instills, a strong advocate of daily prayer for the guidance and wisdom it brings, and a lover of travel for the broader perspective on self it provides, she is committed to innovating the role church can play worldwide, starting locally.
For each day in Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 14th, the Episcopal Church ofNew Hampshire will offer a short reading/reflection on little known historic figure from New Hampshire’s African American community who are part of our history.
Their stories will help to educate us all about what we have never been taught. They will help us to see the impact and contributions of people of color who have shaped our lives together as a community.
We hope these reflections will help us to use Lent as a time to broaden our knowledge, to say our prayers in a way that helps us to repent (change our mind) and appreciate the contributions of those named. For, if we are to make steps in becoming “A Beloved Community” we cannot remain ignorant of our history, both our contributions to oppression and to the brave souls who sacrificed so much.
As is always the case: “the truth shall set us free.”
The Reconciliation Commission also encourages parish study groups to read together Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in American, edited by Catherine Meeks, to learn more abut the origins and meaning of “the Beloved Community” and many ways the Spirit draws us closer to its realization.
Please join us in prayer:
Becoming Beloved Community Prayer
Creator of All,
When you send your Holy Spirit to us in baptism,
You invite us into deep communion with you and with one another.
In this moment, as we work together to Become Beloved Community,
inspire us to tell the Truth about the Church and Race,
that we may persevere in resisting evil, and come to you,
and to one another, to repent and be forgiven.
Strengthen us to engage with our words and actions,
And our careful listening, the Dream of a Beloved Community,
Where God's Good News is proclaimed and fully lived.
Flood us with your love, that we learn to love ourselves,
And each other; and become reconcilers who seek the
face of Jesus in our neighbors, and ourselves.
Teach us to practice your way of love,
that we will strive for justice and peace in our Churches,
our neighborhoods, our institutions and our systems.
Bless us, that as followers of Jesus Christ,
We may work together to realize your dream for us:
Your children united in thought, word and deed, in You.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus our Redeemer,
and the Holy Spirit who moves within us to sanctify us. Amen.
~The Rev. Teressa Gocha, Chair of the Diversity Committee
May we fulfill our baptismal vow of promoting justice, peace and love by entering this Holy Season of Lent with an openness to listen, to wait, to pray and to open our eyes and ears.
The Reconciliation Commission
Online filing for the 2017 Parochial Report for all Episcopal Church congregations is active and user-friendly.
“The annual Parochial Report has traditionally played a major role as the Church plans its mission and ministry,” noted the Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention.
Barlowe pointed out that by now all congregations should have received the 2017 Parochial Report Mailing. The Parochial report mailing included an explanatory letter along with the congregation’s Unique Episcopal Identifier (UEID) and Personal Information Number (PIN).
Congregations unable to file online can utilize a printable form, available on the websitehere.
The canonical deadline for the 2017 Parochial Report to the Executive Office of the General Convention is May 1.
Congregations that did not receive the 2017 Parochial Report mailing should immediately contact their dioceses or Iris DiLeonardo, Data and Research Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-716-6159.
Instructions and workbooks are available here.
“I am grateful for the considerable effort clergy and congregational leadership put into the careful preparation of the Parochial Report,” Barlowe added.
The Parochial Report is the oldest, continuous gathering of data by the Episcopal Church. By tradition and canon, the reporting requirements are developed by the House of Deputies’ Committee on the State of the Church, using a form approved by the church’s Executive Council. Seen as an annual rite of passage throughout the Episcopal Church, and overseen by the Executive Officer of General Convention, the Parochial Report touches every congregation of the church. Together with other data, including that of the Recorder of Ordinations and the Registrar of General Convention, the Parochial Report provides an insight to the state of the church.
“Our church must examine its history and come to a fuller understanding
of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment,
exploitation and abuse through the years.”
January 22, 2018
Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:
In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture: the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.
For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using amanual published by the Tamar Campaign they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?”
It is, as the old-time preachers say, a convicting question. As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent. We must commit to treating every person as a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect. We must also commit to ending the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church just as they corrupt our culture, institutions and governments.
Like our African siblings in faith, we must create contexts in which women can speak of their unspoken trauma, whether suffered within the church or elsewhere. And we must do more.
Our church must examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. When facts dictate, we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men—who have been sexually exploited or abused. And we must acknowledge that in our church and in our culture, the sexual exploitation of women is part of the same unjust system that also causes gender gaps in pay, promotion, health and empowerment.
We believe that each of us has a role to play in our collective repentance. And so, today, we invite you to join us in an Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer on February 14 devoted to meditating on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment and to consider, as part of our Lenten disciplines, how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Neither of us professes to have all of the wisdom necessary to change the culture of our church and the society in which it ministers, and at this summer’s General Convention, we want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future. May we find in our deliberations opportunities to listen to one another, to be honest about our own failings and brokenness, and to discern prayerfully the ways that God is calling us to stand with Tamar in all of the places we find her—both inside the church and beyond our doors, which we have too often used to shut her out.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President of the House of Deputies