Abundant - Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

of 24 /24
Abundant Times A publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts Spring 2013

Transcript of Abundant - Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts


A publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Spring 2013

Abundant Times is the official news publication of the

Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts,

37 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA, 01103-1787,

(413) 737-4786. www.diocesewma.org.

Page 2 Abundant Times

Missioners The Rev. Christopher Carlisle,Missioner for Ministry in Higher EducationBruce Rockwell,Assistant to the Bishop for StewardshipE. John White,Missioner for Legacy StewardshipThe Rev. Jill Williams, Missioner for Christian Formation and YouthDeborah Johansen Harris,Communications Director and Missioner

Abundant Times welcomes ideas, comments and opinions and will make space for appropriate items.

Photos and news items may be submitted to editor

Deborah Johansen Harris, [email protected].

Deadline for the next issue, to be distributed in the summer,

is June 20. On the Cover:

Bishop Fisher at the Climate Revival on April 27.

Photo by Robert A. Jonas.

At Diocesan HouseThe Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher,Bishop of the Diocese of Western MassachusettsThe Ven. William H. Coyne,ArchdeaconSteven P. Abdow,Administration and Finance OfficerThe Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson, Canon to the OrdinaryEd Farrell,Transition Ministry Officer

B l e s s i n g s ...

Be a Western Mass. Missionary

Continued on Page 22

Russ Ro Photography

The Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher.

Follow the Bishop’s BlogThe Bishop’s Blog is fast becoming one of the most powerful means

to spread Bishop Fisher’s messages to members of our Diocese and be-yond — and for posting responses. Please copy and paste the following url: http://www.blog.diocesewma.org/

A fifth grade teacher asked his class what they would like to be when they grow up. One girl raised her hand and said, “I want to be a returned missionary.”

“Returned missionary” is ap-pealing. You get to go on tour to churches and Rotary Clubs and show a PowerPoint about all the exotic places you went to and all the good you did. That’s the easy part. The tough part is doing the work of a missionary—learning a new language and culture, some-times living in difficult conditions, staying faithful when the returns on your work are not immediate.

I invite you to consider being a missionary. It is challenging work.

You will need creativity, imagination, courage and lots and lots of hope. In our Diocese, we are blessed with wonderful missionaries who go to Ghana, El Salvador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Sudan. And now we need more missionaries. If you are up for it, I have a place to send you—Western Massachusetts.

By now, we all know the facts. The fastest growing religious ex-pression is the “nones.” Not a women’s faith community, but people with no religious affliation at all. In this century, church member-ship has declined by 23 percent across all denominations in the United States. That includes the mega-churches that were so popular in the 1990s. Even those who call themselves “spiritual but not reli-gious” have declined by that percentage. Locally, the decline is even steeper. Massachusetts is the fifth “most secular and least religious” state in our country.

Here is the good news, and it is very good. As I travel throughout this wonderful Diocese I keep meeting people who love their Epis-

Welcoming Spirit at theWardens, Vestry &

Leadership Gathering 2013

Abundant Times Page 3

Bishop Douglas Fisher greets Diocesan leaders at the Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Gathering 2013.

A record turnout of 279 Diocesan church leaders, presenters and staff gathered on a bright, chilly March 16 for the 2013 annual Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Gathering at the American International College in Spring-field. Innovation was the order of the day.

Rather than lining up for formal registration, attendees enjoyed a gener-ous gathering space full of welcoming spirit and a refreshments buffet.

The liturgy was also outside the box: impresario Erik Gladwin enacted Mark 2: 1-12, impersonating a man witnessing the gathering in Peter’s house to hear Jesus preach and heal a man who was paralyzed.

The narrative followed the man’s humorous cell phone conversation with his wife, commenting on the events at Peter’s house, ending with his very moving astonishment in witnessing Jesus’ miracle. It brought down the house.

New workshops introduced this year included “Tracking the Trustees,” “Trending toward Intergenerational/Innovative Liturgy,” “Greening your Church” and “Preparing for Hispanic Ministry.”

Above, a bird’s-eye view of the leadership gathering. Below, Susan Olbon and Esther Barker welcome


Photos by Russ Ro Photography

Page 4 Abundant Times

A Look at Our New Workshops“Tracking the Trustees: Stew-ards of the Diocese,” presented by Director of the Trustees Mick Kalber and Trustees President Sue Ellen Lovejoy.

At Wardens and Vestry Day in years past, discussion about the trustees was folded into the Trea-surers Workshop. This year, Trust-ees Executive Director Mick Kalber and President Sue Ellen Lovejoy presented a Trustees session unto itself that was attended by about a dozen treasurers and others who wanted to learn how the Trustees operate and about their plan of ac-tion under the new bishop.

The Trustees for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts is a separate corporation that was organized in 1902 to receive and manage funds of the Diocese and those parishes that have entrusted funds to the care of the trustees.

The Diocese’s original gift of $100,000 from the sponsoring Diocese of Massachusetts formed the investment base with the trust-ees which, with many additions and investment returns, has today grown to a portfolio exceeding $55 million. Today, the Diocese and the participating parishes each own approximately one half of the total assets of the fund.

The trustees’ 31 active and emeri-tus members oversee a portfolio in a prudent manner with regard to preserving principal while provid-ing a reasonable return. (The annu-alized return through March 2013 was 9.2 percent.) The trustees em-ploy an investment consultant, fund managers, custodian and sharehold-er accountant to help manage their balanced portfolio, consisting of growth, risk reduction and inflation

protection assets. Also, a portion of the trustees’ portfolio is invested through low-interest loans with nonprofit employment and housing organizations within our Diocese. (For additional information, please visit the Diocesan website at www.diocesewma.org, click on Parish & Clergy Resources and select Trust-ees for the Diocese on the drop-down menu.)

Among the various trustee com-mittees is the Community Invest-ment Committee, which Sue Ellen has chaired since 2009. This com-mittee collaborates with agencies throughout the Diocese to provide loans directed toward improving the lives of the underprivileged and

contributing to the economic health of our community. Partnering with HAPHousing, Worcester Communi-ty Housing Resources and Common Capital, to name a few, the trustees have accomplished important steps in the creation of low-income and elderly housing, financing for start-up companies and the restoration, revitalization and stabilization of urban neighborhoods.

Committee members, with back-grounds from financial services to academics and nonprofits, combine their knowledge and judgment in working effectively with partners and managing the due diligence required of their fiduciary responsi-bilities.

Bishop Douglas Fisher, far right, second row, joins the Trustees for the Dio-cese. Back row: Dick Billetter, Tom DeRose, Chris Berglund, ArthurCurtis, Steve Lewis, Steve Symes and Rich Spurgin. Third row: Frank Mi-nasian, Executive Director Mick Kalber, Al Symonds, Dan Mylott, VirginiaStanton Smith and Don Robinson. Second row: Crawford Lincoln, DickJackson, John Hockridge, President Sue Ellen Lovejoy, Bishop Fisher. Frontrow: Tricia Metcalf Shermeta, Bonnie Katusich, Cinda McKinney, PrincyStotz, Wally Rodger and Peter Pappas. (Not pictured: Bill Blankenship, Carl Breyer, Gordon Clem, Bill Fisher, Don Hannigan, Priscilla Kerr, Sheila Mammen, Tom O’Hara, and Molly Scherm.)

Photo by Steve Abdow

Abundant Times Page 5

“Greening Your Church,” presented by Jim Nail, president of Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light.

Has your church created heat-ing and cooling zones that match use patterns? Are the parish hall thermostats programmed to a temperature that is compatible with use? Do you know the return on investment once you have installed new solar panels on the parish hall roof? These and myriad questions were ad-dressed and discussed at this environmentally focused work-shop.

Asked about the payback pe-riod for energy-saving appliances, Nail replied, “Our churches are not generating a profit for shareholders. We need to think beyond the corporate model and look at the long term.

“Every church should develop an energy-efficient program for lighting, heating, cooling and water consumption,” Nail said. “Let every parish have an “energy barn raising!”

“Trending toward Intergenerational/Innova-tive Liturgy: Providing Families Space for the Sacred,” presented by the Rev. Jill Williams, Diocesan Missioner for Christian Formation and Youth.

In light of declining numbers of churches and par-ticularly dwindling church school attendance, how are we addressing the needs of today’s families? Too often we, the church, blame sports, parents or secularism for this loss. To address this reality in our churches today, Jill presented another reality that hopes to engage families, children and youth.

Use the gifts of those in your congregation. Engage artists, musicians, photographers, actors, writers and singers. Create an innovative liturgy that includes dramatic readings or storytelling. Try an interactive Eucharist. Alter the service times, plan shorter services and create family friendly parish halls. Let new music enliven your worship spaces! To view a children’s Eucharist, copy and paste the following url into your browser: http://www.you-tube.com/watch?v=a2nqBytwVPc

Energy Check List

• Aerated faucets• Low-flow toilets• Hot water on-demand water heat-ers• Propane rather than oil heaters• Top-of-the-line water heaters (97 percent energy efficiency)• Smart thermostats that vary room temperature seasonally• Vacancy-sensing lights for rest-rooms• LED rather than incandescent exit signs (10 percent cost savings)• Energy Star appliances

Wardens and vestry members gather and review the day’s program.

Russ Ro Photography

Page 6 Abundant Times

“Preparing for Hispanic Ministry,” presented by Bishop Douglas Fisher.

Learn-ing how to welcome a Hispanic community to our Episcopal churches is becoming increasingly important as

the rate of immigration rises each year. When he was rector of Grace Church in Millbrook, New York, the then-Rev. Fisher found himself ministering in a largely rural area where recent Hispanic immigrants worked at local horse farms. In reaching out to this community, Rev. Fisher learned that it had some very basic but critical needs: learning English, setting up bank ac-counts, finding a place where they could socialize and locating affordable housing. When workers were wary of applying for a driver’s license for fear that it might lead to their being deported, members of Rev. Fisher’s

church helped the workers through the red tape. Many drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, so Grace set up an alcohol awareness program.

“When we gathered together at church, we did not perform any liturgy,” said Bishop Fisher. “Instead we evolved to that from first providing services that they needed. Because they worked on Sundays, Grace Church offered evening services in Spanish. We would have me-morial services for relatives who died back in their coun-tries of origin, celebrations of special feast days such as Virgen de Guadalupe and the posada rituals near the time of Epiphany (Tres Reyes). That grew and grew, melding into both social service and liturgy in parallel fashion.

Bishop Fisher cited several parishes in our Diocese that include Hispanic members: St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield; Good Shepherd, Clinton; and Christ Church Cathedral, Spring-field.

In summation, said Bishop Fisher: “Step One is char-ity—giving away food and clothing. Step Two is service where you are opening yourself to others. Step Three is advocacy where you are standing with them in their cause.”

Lesson learned? “They will flock to where they feel welcome.”

Bishop Fisher prepares the Eucharist, assisted by the Rev. Deacon Jane Griesbach of St. Luke’s, Worcester.

Abundant Times Page 7

Bishop Fisher preaches at the Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Gathering.

Leading in Jesus’ Name An excerpt from the second sermon by The Rt. Rev. Doug-las Fisher at Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Day

Mark: 2:1-12: And when he re-turned to Caper’na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. [2] And many were gath-ered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preach-ing the word to them. [3] And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. [4] And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic

lay. [5] And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” [6] Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, [7] “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [8] And immediately Jesus, per-ceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? [9] Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? [10] But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to for-give sins” -- he said to the paralytic -- [11] “I say to you, rise, take up

your pallet and go home.” [12] And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Come back with me to September 1961. I was 6 years old, and it was my first day in first grade. We had 60 children in the class – not the grade, the one class. The teacher told us to take out our workbooks and open to the first page. On the page were drawings of two crayons. She told us to make the top crayon green and the bottom crayon red.

Continued on Page 23

Russ Ro Photography

Page 8 Abundant Times

Missionaries Head Into the Field

Continued on Page 20

Missionaries Tom and Dianne Wilson. Dianne (in blue dress) and parishioners attend Easter service.

By Lynette WilsonEpiscopal News Service – San Salvador, El Salvador

For missionaries Tom and Dianne Wilson, the most challenging part of service in El Salvador thus far has been learning Spanish.

The couple, from Rutland, Mass., and members of St. Francis’, Holden, arrived on March 4 and have spent the first six weeks of missionary service in the Anglican/Episcopal Church of El Salvador, studying Spanish at the Center for Exchange and Solidarity and liv-ing with a host family, completing the Spanish-language immersion experience.

“Language is the biggest chal-lenge,” followed by the heat and the mosquitoes, said Dianne Wil-son, 65, a retired municipal govern-ment tax assessor.

Before they arrived, Tom Wil-son, 50, said, “We had a million concerns” related to being “for-eigners in a foreign land,” but that the church has done a great job of welcoming them and helping them

to acclimate.The Wilsons’ first involvement

with Episcopal Church missionaries came when they were members of St. Andrew’s, Martha’s Vineyard, and part of a support team for a friend who was serving in Kenya. When they moved to St. Francis’ in 2007, the church had just recently established a relationship with Foundation Cristosal, said Dianne Wilson.

St. Francis’ had committed to tithing 10 percent to the human rights-based community develop-ment organization with roots in the Anglican and Episcopal churches operating in El Salvador, but Cris-tosal didn’t want the money unless church members planned to visit, she said.

“When we got there, they were just planning their second trip to El Salvador, and I wanted to see the other side of it [missionary ser-vice on the ground],” said Dianne Wilson.

Tom Wilson, a former finance director for a nonprofit organiza-tion, however, wasn’t immediately

sold, he said, because the trip didn’t include building anything. Rather than construct “projects,” Cristo-sal works to empower the poor to act for justice and development as equal citizens in a democratic society, and Tom said he didn’t care to have a “kumbaya” moment, but in the end he decided he couldn’t let his wife go to Central America alone.

“Human rights-based develop-ment is a hard concept, until you see it,” said Tom Wilson, who later became the chair of St. Francis’ mission committee.

It was the passion, however, of Cristosal’s executive director, Noah Bullock, that set the Wilsons on the path to missionary service, they said.

That was the first of the Wilsons’ three visits to Cristosal and El Salvador. Their fourth visit came in August 2012, when they spent two weeks living in El Maizal, a small community, two-and-a half hours

Abundant Times Page 9

Musician, Church Help Homeless Vets

By Anaridis Rodriguez, WWLP-TV 22

A Northampton street musician is teaming up with a Northampton ministry to help homeless vets.Many people know him as Down-

town Daniel. His name is Daniel Evans. He’s been playing music on the streets of Northampton for over a decade.But what they may not know about

him is that his father was one of the Tuskegee Airmen. And that at one point in his life he was homeless. Because of this, he’s teaming up with the Rev. Christopher Carlisle to help homeless veterans.Carlisle co-founded Cathedral

in the Night, a street ministry that meets once a week and serves homeless veterans. Carlisle and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Mas-sachusetts want to build a transi-tional shelter for homeless women vets. Evans says he’ll host musical bazaars featuring live music and a raffle.“It’s not only creating the facility,

it’s also sustaining staff to be able to effectively serve the needs of a female vet,” said Carlisle. “Every-thing that gets raised will go to the facility.”Evans told 22News, “People who

were willing to give their life for us to live free should come home and us make sure they have a place to

live with the freedoms they were willing to die for also.”The first bazaar was held on Patriot’s Day at the WWII Veterans Club on

Conz Street.To learn more on how you can help or get involved, you can call Down-

town Daniel at (413) 923-4680, or the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton at (413) 584-1757.Reprinted by permission of WWLP-TV 22.

Cathedral in the Night ministry held

once a week

“It’s not only creating the facility, it’s alsosustaining staff to be able to effectively serve

the needs of a female vet. Everything that gets raised will go to the facility.”

- The Rev. Christopher Carlisle

Page 10 Abundant Times

Liberating Generosity

Celia Twomey.

Continued Next Page

By Bruce Rockwell, Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship

“There are no more 80-year-olds being born!”

The Rev. Michael Piazza made that claim at “Liberating Generos-ity: Because Generosity is Liber-ating!,” the title of the steward-ship conference sponsored by the Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council. Almost 20 people from around the Diocese attended the two-day conference held in Box-borough last March. Piazza made the claim about 80-year-olds as he encouraged his audience to ad-dress the needs of newcomers and younger Christians.

Piazza, who heads the Center for Progressive Renewal, con-tinually stressed that the Church cannot continue to function as it has, or its days will be numbered. The Church, he said, is not float-ing serenely down a river. It is in the midst of the foaming rapids of constant change.

“Unless the Church can develop a genuinely adaptive form of leader-ship and move past being quaint,” he declared, “we will be relegated as an institution that is not only a museum of the past but that is toxic to the future.”

Piazza urged the 200 clergy and lay leaders from around New England who attended the confer-ence to adopt and commit to a compelling vision for ministry, not only one that is flexible enough to adapt to the shifting realities but one that carries a sense of urgency. In a world filled with need, he said, there are manifold situations that cry out for aid. “What do you care enough about to sacrifice?,”

he asked. “Is it children? Is it the homeless? Is it peace?”

Encouraging his listeners to become a servant church, he said, “Take off your bib and put on your apron.” We are “hosts, not guests.” We are “producers, not consum-ers of the faith.” The Body of Christ is, he said, the ultimate host, and we must become the Body of Christ, if we are to serve as Christ calls us to serve.

Episcopalians, who represented over 40 percent of those who at-tended, were the largest denomina-tion at the conference that is held every two years. Bruce Rockwell, who serves as Convener of the Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council, noted that those who at-tended, in addition to hearing Piaz-za and attending uplifting worship services also had the opportunity to attend workshops. These 20 gather-ings included “Unleashing the Power of Gratitude: Living the Life of Generosity,” “Creating a Season of Generosity—A New Approach to Annual Stewardship,” “What’s Age Got to Do with it?—Dealing with Generational Differences and Stewardship” and “Liberating your Congregation from Whining for Dollars.”

Please contact Bruce Rockwell to learn about how you can strength-en stewardship in your church: [email protected] or 413-575-7342.

Portions of this article were tak-en, with permission, from “Reviv-ing Hope—Reviving Generosity,” written by the Rev. Eric S. Ander-son, Minister of Communications and Technology for the Connecticut Conference UCC; the article ap-peared on CTUCC.org.

By Celia Twomey, St. John’s, Williamstown.

“Stewardship? I’m just writing notes. I don’t think of it as stewardship, and I’m not doing this for the glory of God. I’m just being myself.” If you know Carol Perkins, you can hear her saying this.

In her pre-St. John’s days, when Carol was attending the North Adams UCC Congregational Church, she noticed a wall there with lists of ministries tacked on it, lists with pencils dangling from them, tempting passers-by to dally, consider and sign up. One of the ministries was writing notes to shut-ins. “That’s a ministry? I can do that!” she said to herself. And she was off.

At first she wrote simple little notecards. But soon she began mulling throughout the month about what topic might be good for next month’s card, asking the

Carol and Her Notecards

Abundant Times Page 11

Do You Have a Will?By E. John White, Missioner for Legacy Stewardship

The following article by Bob

Shaw appeared in the April News-letter, The Epistle, St. Mark’s, East Longmeadow. Bob has been the “Shepherd” of St. Mark’s Legacy Fellowship since 2006, when it was started with 11 charter members. At the 107th Annual Diocesan Con-vention, in 2008, St. Mark’s re-ceived the Citation for Leadership in Legacy Stewardship.

Do you have a will? If you don’t, why not? Do you think you are too young? You don’t have any assets. You are not married. You do not have any children or other relatives. I can do it later. All these things, and many more, can give you a “reason” for not having a will.

Then, there is the matter of stew-ardship. We are told that we should be good stewards; taking care of the things God has given us. In order to do this, we should manage these gifts. Reflect on what you have, and

Holy Spirit to “tell me what you see that you want shared.” At times she is sparked by something she sees on her daily walk and then writes about it for people who are no longer able to go out and be in nature themselves.

In February, when Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day were back to back, she wondered how these two—the somber beginning of Lent and a light-hearted consumer-driven holiday—might be related. After some dry days, what arose in her mind was the classic tiny, hard Valentine’s candy in the shape of a heart that says: BE MINE. Of course! There it was, the same message tucking itself deep inside these seemingly unrelated days. And so February’s card was born.

She writes to her 24 current card recipients much about the beauties of the world that we all know and share. But she doesn’t hesitate to write about the gray, rainy days and those hard times that cannot be avoided.

“As I get older I can identify with the aches and pains and the isolation,” she said. “They are all part of what it is to be alive. And some of it isn’t fun. How good it is, especially if you’re sick or tired, not to be cheery for someone else’s sake. Rather, here is someone willing to come into your bleak day with you, bringing the sweet coziness of company.”

When Lay Eucharistic Visitors take communion to homes or nursing homes, the people they are visiting often show them the latest card—kept within arm’s reach—that Carol has sent them.

The preciousness to them of this beautifully conceived, hand-written, extended message that can be held in their hands and re-read again and again is exquisitely clear.

And when they discovered that Carol, herself, was going to bring communion, the excitement and joy of meeting this woman who, though she did not “know” them, had become an unfailing friend and a source of warmth and care and connection, gave them a sense of anticipation about her visit that is usually reserved for a dear gaggle

of visiting grandchildren. “For me, this is all about

connecting, so I am never lonely. My journey doesn’t need to be someone else’s journey. It’s just that we are all journeying.”

Maybe Carol’s sense of simply being and expressing herself as she writes her monthly notes can open us to the breadth of meaning of stewardship and to how much closer it is to us—as we are now—than we imagine.

NotecardsFrom Previous Page

what your goals are for these gifts. And, when you die, where you want them to go. Without a will, or other suitable instrument, any deci-sions you would have made are out of your hands.

Reflect on what you have, and what your goals are for these

gifts. And, when you die, where you want them to go. Without a will, or other suit-able instrument, any decisions you would have made are out of

your hands.

Continued on Page 20

Page 12 Abundant Times

A Moment of Reckless Abandon

Above: Parishioners of Trinity, Shrewsbury, stand by boxes of meals they have packed for STOP HUNGER NOW. Below: Preparing to pack boxes of meals.

By the Rev. Erin Kirby, Rector, Trinity, Shrewsbury

In contemporary news about the Church, faithful people hear all the time how the Church is losing its relevance; how we are shrinking in numbers. Researchers frequently cite the myth that the Church has become a mission unto itself, valuing buildings and traditions over service and God’s mission in the world. In all of my experience these citations are just that—myth. Perhaps true of another time but not true of the Episcopal Church since I’ve been a member. And … definitely not true in this Diocese. Since coming here I’ve seen and heard about parishes throughout this Diocese which are doing some tremendously life-giving work and have been blessed to be a part of a Church that lives the Word with, yes, reckless abandon, daily here in Shrewsbury and in the Worcester Deanery.

But of all the things we’ve done at Trinity, the STOP HUNGER NOW was my favorite service program so far this year. It struck a chord in a community that is at its best when coming together in fellowship for a common cause, whether that cause is the semi-annual thrift sale or the tremendous outpouring of spirit and fellowship at one of our town’s ecumenical services. It was my favorite because we were almost all able to be there together, since we held it during our 9 a.m. service on Sunday.

This past March as part of our First Sunday All Together worship Trinity hosted a STOP HUNGER NOW event. We began with the

service of the Word as usual but changed our perception of what it means to share God’s Word, processing to the parish hall immediately after the Gospel to become a living homily. We raised enough money to pack 10,250 meals (at 25 cents a meal). This food goes to children in schools and churches in areas of the world where the need is greatest. The STOP HUNGER NOW initiative supports the Millennium Development Goals of ending hunger in our lifetime not just by providing meals, but by providing them to schools and churches that are tied to education for women and children in the hope we can change the cycle of poverty.

The process took less than two hours and at the end, we included the meals in our offertory prayers and concluded with one of the most meaningful Eucharists I’ve ever experienced.

The Gospel of the Day was Luke

13:1-9, the parable of the fig tree—terribly relevant to the new life we are experiencing by returning to living out of the rich soil of the Gospel. Relevant also to the hope the world needs and that we can provide when we promote that life

Continued on Page 20

A Moment of Reckless AbandonA Moment of Reckless Abandon

Abundant Times Page 13

From the Archives

Continued on Page 21

By Karen Warren, Diocesan Archivist

In 1974, as our nation was moving toward its Bicenten-nial Celebration, Canon A. Pierce Middleton, Rector of St. James’, Great Barrington, set out to find the chalice and paten that had been used by Gideon Bostwick, the early missionary who travelled through-out the region on horseback in the late 18th century. It is believed that Bostwick carried these articles with him in his saddlebags, and Middleton was determined to locate them—later writing The Quest for the Chalice and Paten of Gideon Bostwick.

In his pursuit Middleton found evidence that the items had been exhibited during St. James’ 175th-anniversary celebration in 1937. Middleton wrote in The Quest that parish files at St. James’ contained

a handwritten note dated July 1937 from the Rector of Zion Church, Manchester Center, Vt., stating that he would “bring or send down … the chalice and paten which Mr. Bostwick used here.” Middleton was unable to locate a picture of these articles. Thus, the determined Middleton began correspondence with the then-Rector of Zion Church, Canon Robert Clayton; and a retired priest in Woodstock, Vt.—the Rev. John Norris. Unfor-tunately, neither of them had any knowledge of the Bostwick items.

It was suggested that Middleton contact the Bishop of Vermont and the Dean of the Cathedral Church in Burlington, Vt. The resultant letter from Dean Boyer stated that he, too, had no knowledge of the items, adding that if they had been deposited at the Cathedral, they were likely destroyed in a 1971

The chalice and paten of Gideon Bostwick.

Canon Clayton holds the Bostwick chalice; Canon A. Pierce Middleton shows the paten.

fire. Bishop Kerr, as well, wrote that in his 30 years at the Diocese he had never heard of the existence of the Bostwick chalice and paten. Following these correspondences Middleton wrote that his “hopes were dashed.” Bishop Kerr gra-

In pursuit of

the Bostwick chalice and paten

Page 14 Abundant Times

Empowering God’s Teachers

Sharing stories+passing the twine=creating community. Retreat participants created this network of string by passing a ball of twine as they told stories about their experiences as Christian Formation directors.

By Rev. Jill Williams, Missioner for Christian Formation and Youth

Thanks to the proceeds from the sale of Bement Camp, the Diocese was able to help fund a Christian formation directors retreat last February.

Fifteen Christian formation direc-tors and teachers gathered from 13 churches around the Diocese to share ideas, study God’s word and build relationships. The Holy Spirit was alive and active during our three days at Angel’s Rest Retreat Center.

We used The Awakened: Devo-tional Study Guide for Christian Educators by Angela Watson to begin our discussions. Divided into three parts, the book helped us to

explore the foundation for a healthy mind in teaching, breaking free from bad teaching habits and cultivating a positive classroom.

We also shared ideas about student recruitment, intergenerational ministry and helping families find their way back into church. Teachers left feel-ing refreshed and rejuvenated for their ministries. The Diocese of Western Massachusetts is blessed to have such a wonderful group of educators working with our children, youth and adults.

Divided into three parts, the book helped us to explore the foundation for a healthy mind in

teaching, breaking free from bad teaching habits and cultivating a positive classroom. We also shared ideas about student recruitment, intergenerational ministry and helping families find their way back

into church. 

Get all the latest news, feature articles and links to videos about Diocesan parishes! Sign up for Mission Matters biweekly Diocesan newsletter by emailing Deborah Johansen Harris at [email protected].

Abundant Times Page 15

One of the Vestry Papers* I read the other day struck a chord with me. It was about creating

transformational churches through vestry leadership and coincided with our Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Gathering in March. It also coincided with Bishop Doug Fisher’s encouragement to enliven our gift of missional leadership, examples of which you can read about in this issue of Abundant Times. It is about allowing greater time and resources for developing a culture of discipleship formation in our churches so that people will be equipped to serve the world in the name of Christ.

“First, choose to exist for your mission field, not for yourself. In Reclaiming the Great Commission, Bishop Claude Payne calls this moving ‘from maintenance to mission.’ This is a major shift, but any church can do it. So many churches spend all of their energy internally – every resource is used to keep things going. . .

“In transformational churches, the energy flows toward mission. Who is God calling us to serve? What can we do to make an impact on the community? Who can we reach? . . . This commitment to

From the Editor: Building Leaders + Building Communities = Transformational Churches

transformation extends outside the walls of the church.”

We see this in our Diocese through Clearstory Collective with Church without Walls, a ministry of St. Andrew’s, Longmeadow, that meets in downtown Springfield. We see this with Cathedral in the Night, a ministry of St. John’s, Northampton. In the winter of 2008, some St. James’, Great Barrington, young people started dreaming. That is how Gideon’s Garden, now a ministry of Grace Church in Great Barrington bloomed.

We need to see more churches like these reaching out and enacting God’s mission in the world.

“Second, focus on letting God transform lives. . . . Our Catechism gives us the mission of the church: ‘to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ’ (BCP, p. 855). Our churches are organized around the expectation that the Holy Spirit will work in the lives of everyone we touch. This is true

for both our long-time members and our first-time visitors. It is true of the children we encounter at the schools we have adopted and the people we help on our foreign mission trips.

“Third, identify and raise up leaders that keep the movement going. . . . Leaders in transformational churches are permanently on the lookout for their replacement. They celebrate and empower new leaders, equipping them for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12). Transformational churches have leadership communities that are open, creative, growing and dynamic.

“Our world is looking for more than just a place to belong or a place to find peace. People are looking for changed lives.”

* By Mike Michie and Clay Lein, part of the Vestry Papers issue on Cultivating Leaders (March 2013).

Transformational churches have leadership communities that are open,

creative, growing and dynamic.

Short videos of homilies by members of our clergy are now posted every Monday on the Home Page of the Diocesan Website (www.diocesewma.org). Full of inspiration, insight –and often wit, these three- to four-minute reflections offer a “compass” for your weekly journey in faith. Please let us know what you think by using the Comment tab. Check it out!

Announcing Mini Homily Videos on the Diocesan Website

Page 16 Abundant Times

By the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

In one historic week, the Epis-copal Church participated in two significant ecumenical events about climate change. On April 27, the Climate Revival in downtown Bos-ton gathered clergy and hundreds of Christians from across New England for two worship services of lament and hope. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached an extraordinary sermon about the raising of Lazarus, and a statement committing to concerted action to address the climate crisis was signed by or on behalf of the national leaders of three Churches – the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches USA – as well as by a diverse group of other denomi-national leaders.

Only a few days later, on May 1 and 2, the Episcopal Church took the lead in a second major ecumenical event. Co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden, a climate summit convened in Washington, D.C., entitled “Sustaining Hope in the Face of Climate Change: Faith Communities Gather.” A second strong ecumenical climate state-ment was signed, this time by the national leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden.

Episcopal News Service pro-duced several articles about the conference, including videos and texts, which would reward congre-gational study. Rather than repeat the content of these articles, I’d like

to offer some reflections elicited by the climate summit, which I attended as one of the leaders of a round-table discussion about how local churches can respond in hope.

• We live in an unprecedented moment in human history. In just 200 years, human beings have pumped so much heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air that atmospheric levels of CO2 are higher today than they have been for at least 800,000 years. “We are breathing from an atmosphere that none of our ancestors would recog-nize,” commented climate scientist Dr. Kevin Noone.

• The body of God’s Creation is rapidly deteriorating. Count-less species are going extinct, and the air, earth and oceans are being degraded before our eyes. The ongoing existence of life on earth is not at stake – as in past extinc-tion events, life will find a way to rebound over the long span of

geologic time – but the future of human civilization is uncertain.

• It is difficult to face the grief, helplessness and fear that our situation evokes. Most of us are not climate skeptics; most of us do not deny outright the conclusions of science – but, as Dr. Willis Jenkins pointed out, most of us do engage in a kind of everyday denial: we try to avoid the anxiety of thinking about climate change, so we change the subject and focus on more man-ageable things.

• Churches and people of faith have a crucial role to play in con-fronting this crisis.

—As individuals and congrega-tions, we can find ways to pray that melt our apathy, break through our numbness, and allow us to experi-ence and express the depth of our anger, fear and grief within the embrace of a loving God.

Hope, in the Face of Climate Change

Continued Next Page

Clergy processed from Old South Church, near the site of the Marathon bombings, to Trinity Church. Daffodils were placed on the memorial site.

Photo by Robert A. Jonas

Abundant Times Page 17

Climate changeFrom Previous Page

— As individuals and congre-gations we can explore forms of contemplative prayer that invite us to find God in periods of darkness, emptiness and impasse.

—We can offer a moral perspec-tive. Climate change is not simply a scientific, political or economic issue – it is also an issue of justice. Its devastating effects are felt first and most strongly by the poor, who are least equipped to adapt to it. As keynote speaker Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker remarked, climate change also raises the acute moral issue of biocide and genocide.

—We may have power to open political gridlock. Jose Aguto, who works on sustainable energy and the environment for the Friends Committee on National Legisla-

tion, told us that lobbying from a faith perspective can change the dynamics of a stuck political sys-tem. When we speak to our elected officials about climate change as a religious and moral issue, we have a chance of reaching them; unlike the Sierra Club, we are not the “usual suspects.”

—We can reach out in love to our neighbors, building the connections that make a community resilient. Many congregations and dioceses, and even an entire Province (Prov-ince 4) are preparing for how to respond to the natural disasters and extreme weather events that are a consequence of a warming world. After experiencing tornados and a hurricane, our own Diocese has learned a great deal about how to respond effectively.

—We can participate in and help to lead the grassroots climate justice movement that is springing up around the country. In August 2011, in the largest act of civil disobedience in a generation, 1,253 people were arrested in front of the White House to protest the Key-stone XL pipeline, which would develop the second largest carbon deposit on earth. In November 2011, 10,000 people encircled the White House to protest the pipeline. In February 2013, 40,000 to 50,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the largest climate rally in U.S. history. Episcopalians were among those arrested and among those attending the rallies. Within our lifetimes we need to make

Continued on Page 21

In photo above left, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas with the Rev. Henrik Grape. Above right, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, left, Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori show off the statement pledging concerted environmental action that they signed during the climate change gathering in Washington, D.C.

Photos by Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News

Of note...Core team Climate Re-

vival organizers included the Rev. Dr. James Antal, Conference Minister and President of the Mas-sachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ; the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Priest Associate, Grace Episcopal Church, Am-herst; the Rt. Rev. Roy F. “Bud” Cederholm, Retired Bishop Suffra-gan of the Diocese of Massachusetts; and the Rev. Stephanie Johnson, Province One Energy Stewardship Minister.

Page 18 Abundant Times

Stations in the StreetsOn Good Friday, March 29, Bishop Douglas Fisher and Dean James Munroe led Stations of the Cross/Stations in the Streets. Beginning at Christ Church Cathedral, the procession stopped at locations in downtown Springfield to honor the homeless and vic-tims of violence. To view the video by Charles Larson, please copy the following url in your browser:


Bishops’ Legacy Fellowship Gatheringa Success

Members of the Bishops’ Legacy Fellowship gathered on May 5 for a reception and musical selec-tions sung by the All Saints’ Choir of Men and Boys and St. Cecelia Choir of Women and Girls. Formed in the late 1800s, both choirs are the oldest continuing choirs of their kind still functioning in New Eng-land. Graeme McCullough, organist and director of music at All Saints’, Worcester, led the choirs.

“Grateful thanks to the choirs of All Saints’, Worcester, for their beautiful music at Christ Church Cathedral for The Bishops’ Legacy Fellowship dinner,” said Legacy Stewardship member John Cheek. “It was a powerful reminder of the beauty of our Anglican musical tra-dition and the spiritual gifts it offers to listeners and performers alike.”

Bishop Douglas Fisher at the Bish-ops’ Legacy Fellowship dinner.

Dean James Munroe talks with Latino seminarian Jose Reyes as they lead the stations.

Photo by Charles Larson

Abundant Times Page 19

Photos by Reynolds Winslow

Clockwise from top: Bishop Fisher addresses Legacy Fellowship members; Bruce Rockwell, Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship, left, chats with E. John White, Missioner for Legacy Stewardship; E. John White presented daffodils from his own garden to Diocesan staff Lainey Hurlbut and Coz-ette Haggerty, thanking them for their assistance with the dinner; and All Saints’, Worcester, Choir of Men and Boys.

Page 20 Abundant Times

MissionariesFrom Page 8

Reckless AbandonFrom Page 12

drive from San Salvador and 20 miles from the Guatemalan border where the church has a guest house and a farm. The Wilsons will serve out the missionary commitment in El Maizal, and will move there in the coming days.

The Wilsons’ main priority, they said, is to teach English as a sec-ond language to the community’s children and interested adults, and to manage the guesthouse which, when up and running, can host 12 people.

There are about 30 cinderblock homes in the area, and also an Epis-copal school. It’s an area that was destroyed by earthquakes in 2001 and rebuilt with the help of Episco-pal Relief & Development.

In the 1980s, El Salvador suffered a brutal civil war, fought mainly over inequality. And in the years following the 1992 United Nations-brokered Peace Accords, the small-est, most densely populated country in Central America has experienced a number of devastating natural disasters. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Inequal-ity continues to persist, with some 50 percent of adult population un-employed and 47 percent of people living in extreme poverty.

The couple has committed to three years of service, and they understand that the journey will not be easy.

“This is a hard life, not to men-tion what you are going to witness – people live in abject poverty,” said Dianne Wilson. “It’s an incred-ibly hard life: We are visiting it, they are living it.”

Follow their blog at http://tom-caticus426.blogspot.com/.

in our churches. Members of Wellspring

Methodist Church, who worship in our upper hall, joined in by joyfully shouting, “Praise God” each time they heard the gong ring that announced 1,000 meals had been packed. They had a special service and only a few could physically join us but told us to make as much joyful noise as we could! By way of background, Wellspring Methodist Church, which needed to release their church building in 1996, had been meeting in Shrewsbury school and business spaces. It had meant packing and unpacking their altar, crosses, candles, vestments, etc. in and out of a small trailer every week. My predecessor, the Rev. Betty Long, and our vestry offered them a worship space that they could call their own.

They moved permanently into Trinity’s Lawrence Hall. Our two faith communities worked out a covenant for shared space, and they

have been here ever since. Trinity and Wellspring share teachers for church school and occasional fellowship events. As is the case with Methodist tradition, they have changed pastors a couple of times since the covenant was enacted. Their new pastor, Jennie Thrash-Crichlow, has been in place about nine months longer than I have. We are looking for opportunities for ecumenical sharing as we each become more established. She works at the church part time and lives in Boston, so our ability to put our heads together is a challenge but we are working on it!

(For the story of Wellspring Methodist Church, please type this url into your browser: http://www.wellspringumc.net/%20Us. Also, visit STOPHUNGERNOW.org.)

Family is important to you, and I am sure you will provide for your fam-ily as best you can. For some, our church family is important too. That is why Marge and I have remembered St. Mark’s in our estate planning. At one time there were 14 family units who had provided for St. Mark’s or the Episcopal Church with some sort of remembrance. With the passage of time, the number of members in St. Mark’s Legacy Society has decreased to 10 people. There is always room for more!

To learn more about setting up Legacy Stewardship Fellowships in your parish or about making legacy gifts, please feel free to contact E. John White, Missioner for Legacy Stewardship, at 860-928-3705 or [email protected]

Legacy StewardshipFrom Page 11

Learn more about Legacy Stewardship at diocesewma.org.

Abundant Times Page 21

Chalice and PatenFrom Page 13

ciously advised Middleton that he would make inquiries as he trav-elled throughout the Diocese.

In March 1976, following many months of anguish, Middleton received a call from Canon Clayton advising him that a long-unused safe in the parish house at Zion Church had been opened and contained a pewter chalice and paten that possibly dated to the late 18th century. Middleton ar-ranged to view the items at once. It is speculated that the unusually shaped chalice, uncharacteristic of Anglican chalices of that period, might have been easier to carry in a saddlebag. The chalice is engraved Episcopal Church Manchester—a church started by Bostwick in 1782. Middleton, thrilled by this find, enlisted aid from the Ben-nington Museum in Vermont to identify the Pewterer’s touchmark on the bottom of the chalice, which confirmed its late 18th-century origin. Middleton wrote in his final paragraph of The Quest: “And so, feeling as though victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat, I rejoice that the quest for Gideon Bostwick’s chalice and paten has, at last, succeeded.”

Bishop Kerr ... wrote that in his 30 years at

the Diocese, he had nev-er heard of the existence of the Bostwick chalice and paten. Following these correspondences Middleton wrote that

his ‘hopes were dashed.’

Climate changeFrom Page 17


Climate Change Resources, including websites, videos and articles, may be found at www.diocesewma.org>Diocese in the News. Scroll down to “Climate Revival 2013” and click on the Continue Reading tab.

mountain-top removal, fracking and drilling for oil as unthinkable as it would be to own slaves. The battle to stabilize the climate has begun.

In a moving address that opened the climate conference, the Presiding Bishop described our world’s collapsing life-systems and asked, “Can you hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse? We know that famine, drought and pestilence often lead to conflict and war. The ensuing death and destruction are immense and tragic.” But perhaps those apocalyp-tic horses can become vehicles of grace. As the Presiding Bishop went on to say, if we choose to “remember who we are, whose we are and why we are here,” we can “ride to the aid of others, responding to the disaster already emerging.”

In this decisive moment of human history, we need divine guidance, protection, and inspiration. I take heart that in the space of less than a week, so many Christian leaders gathered to speak with one voice and to commit to the mission of limiting climate change. I take heart that so many people of faith are rising up to bear witness to the Risen Christ. As I found myself saying at the end of the roundtable, “It is an exciting time to be alive.”

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas serves as Priest Associate at Grace Church, Amherst. Her forthcoming article in Anglican Theological Review reviews the history of the Episcopal Church’s response to climate change.

On our cover: Climate Revival procession from Old South Church to Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston. From left: Bishop Douglas Fisher and Thomas G. Carr, Baptist minister and Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Board of Inter-Religious Eco-Justice Network; the Rev. Laura E. Everett, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches; and the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.Photo by Robert A. Jonas.

At right, left to right, His Emi-nence, Metropolitan Methodius,

Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston (representing His All Holi-

ness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bar-tholomew); Bishop Douglas Fisher;

the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas; the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal (Conference Minister and President, Massachu-setts Conference, United Church of

Christ).Photo by Robert A. Jonas

Page 22 Abundant Times

BlessingsFrom Page 2

copal Church. The word I keep hearing is “family.” I ask, “Why do you go to this church?” The consistent answers are: “Everyone is so welcoming.” “I found a home here.” “It was a brutal time in my life, and these people helped me find Jesus.” And I keep finding church leaders and volunteers dedicated to loving God and loving neighbor. You are an inspiration to me.

We have a great starting point—people committed to following Jesus’ way of mercy, compassion and hope. Now is the time to get beyond the loving family we found in our churches. Now is the time to launch a missionary effort that takes the altar to the street. As I tell our vestries, “Your mission is not to your mem-bership (of 50 or 200 or 500). Your mission is to the population of this town (such as 9,000 in Clinton or 40,000 in Fitchburg).

Here’s is some of what missionaries do:• They find out who is in their community. If

the community is now Latino, they explore ways of outreach to that culture. If the community is college students and faculty, they reach out there.

• They make a difference in their community. In New York we used to ask churches, “If you closed, would anyone notice?” What is your outreach mis-sion?

• They have a clear message and identity, and they express that creatively and imaginatively so their community can hear it. St. Patrick evangelized pagan Ireland by taking their culture seriously and using it to express Christianity in a new way that they could hear.

• Missionaries know we have a message: In Jesus we have met God and found a Way that is life chang-ing and world changing. And missionaries will use every communication tool possible to proclaim that message. You and I live in a time that is exploding with communication tools. We are so blessed. Do you know that 80 percent of people who visit a church for the first time visited the website before they entered the church? How is your website looking? And the Facebook page? And we need missionaries to tweet, “I just heard a great sermon at…”

• Missionaries engage the issues of their time. Check out Holy Men, Holy Women: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing). Bishop Jackson Kemper stood up for the rights of Native Americans. Thomas

Bray was all about education. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement as a church leader. Julia Chester Emery, born in that other Episcopal Diocese in Massachusetts, wrote how she went forth “with hope for enlargement of vision, opening up new occasions for service, acceptance of new tasks.” Our issues are many, but missionaries will not ignore climate change and gun violence.

• Missionaries give witness. Episcopalians are not ag-gressive evangelists, and we probably never will be. But in your own polite, respectful, Episcopalian way can you say, “This church makes a difference in my life” and tell your story of faith? That is the best church growth method out there.

The Book of Common Prayer has a prayer for almost every occasion. If you are ready to become a missionary this prayer is for YOU:

“Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant (put your name in here), whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Western Massa-chusetts. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

At the end of it all, when God’s mission of mercy and compassion and hope has led to a “new earth,” we can all be at peace as returned missionaries.


Now is the time to get beyond the loving family

we found in our churches. Now is the time to launch

a missionary effort that takes the altar to the street.

Abundant Times Page 23

Bishop’s SermonFrom Page 7

That’s easy. I have this brand new box of crayons in front of me so I went to work.

I went to the top crayon draw-ing and made the front part and the back part of the crayon green – you know, the parts that are not covered by the paper wrapping. Then I did the same with the bottom drawing – making it red just like I was told to do. But I still had all these cool new crayons in my box. So I took them and started making that paper wrapping on the drawings all sorts of colors. Yellow followed blue and then some brown and purple. I thought it looked great.

The teacher was walking up and down the aisles, looking at our workbooks. Suddenly she said, “Someone in this class has not followed instructions.” I thought, “What fool couldn’t follow those instructions? Make the top crayon green and the bottom one red.” And then she picked up my workbook and held it up and said, “This child did not follow instructions.” I was mortified. And then she made me color over the paper wrapping with green for one and red for the other. And that just made it all look like mud.

My 6-year-old self made a vow that day. I would always give the teacher exactly the answer she wanted. And I did for the rest of my education. At every level. Grade school, high school, college, seminary. I always gave the right answer, and I was rewarded for it, always getting the best grades. But there was a price for that. I never did anything creative. I never thought outside the box. It was only as a young priest that my terror of giving boring sermons demanded

that I use the imagination God blessed me with.

Let’s turn to our Gospel for today. Remember how the four friends carried the paralyzed man to the house where Jesus was preaching. A house so packed that they could not get in through the door. If my young self had been there that day, I would have said, “Well, we can’t get in. We either bring our friend lying on the mat back home, or sit out here and wait until Jesus comes out.” I would have been horrified to hear one of my companions say, “I have an idea. Let’s lift the mat up to the roof. When we get him up there, we can listen to where we think Je-sus is. Then tear the roof apart and lower him down in front of Jesus.”

Talk about getting creative. It was not the usual answer, and it was risky. Not easy carrying someone up to a roof. And what a social risk. Remember this was probably Peter’s house, a man known for a gruff temper. What would he do when he saw his roof pulled apart? And how would Jesus respond if he was in the midst of point two of a three-point sermon?

But the plan worked. The para-lyzed man walked home. And everyone was amazed.

Don’t you wish you had those four friends on your vestry? We never know their names, and we never hear from them again in the Gospels. But I bet Jesus wished they had stayed around. He could have used their creative problem-solving minds and their can-do spirit. In my short time in Western Mass., many of you have already heard me preach about the Feeding of the 5,000. You know the story. Five thousand hungry people and

Jesus tells the apostles to feed them. The apostles say, “We can’t. We only have a few loaves and fish.” At that moment I bet Jesus rolled his eyes and thought, “Where are those four people that tore the roof open that day in Capernaum?”

Jesus would not allow conven-tional thinking to stop him. Several times people in need of healing came to Jesus on the Sabbath and the nearby Pharisees would say, “You are not allowed to heal on the Sabbath.” And Jesus said, “Watch me.” Sounds a little like our times: It’s Sunday. Don’t you know it’s time for soccer? We can’t go to Church on Sunday.

In the time of Jesus, rabbis would stay in one place. People sought them out for their wisdom. Jesus was a rabbi – a teacher. But Jesus broke the mold on rabbis. He did not stay in one place. He was con-stantly on the move, going out into the world. And he told his followers to do the same. Pack light and go. Christianity was unique at that time in history because it was the first truly missionary faith movement. We need to rediscover that mission-ary zeal.

It’s Wardens and Vestry Day. You are our leaders. Bless your souls. I invite you and me to lead like Jesus and those four friends of the paralyzed man. Tap into the endless creativity that is our God. It’s risky, but we don’t have a “play-it-safe God.” Amen.

For the complete sermon, please visit the Diocesan Web site at www.diocesewma.org>About Us>Bishop Douglas Fisher>Bishop’s Sermons.)


Pages 3-7 Page 13Page 12

Leadership Day From the ArchivesReckless Abandon

A record turnout of 279 Diocesan church leaders, presenters and staff

attended the annual Wardens, Vestry & Leadership Gathering.

Trinity, Shrewsbury, participated in a STOP HUNGER NOW

Eucharist and service.

Canon A. Pierce Middleton set out to find the chalice and paten that

had been used by Gideon Bostwick, the missionary of the 18th century.

The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts37 Chestnut St.Springfield, MA 01103-1787

Please send address corrections or deletions to: Carol LaPlante37 Chestnut St.Springfield, MA 01103-1787

Donations for the cost of Abundant Times are being accepted this year. The cost per household per year is $10. Gifts can be mailed to Diocesan House at 37 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA, 01103-1787.