Category Archives: Social Justice

“We must not let fear become another closet. “

by the Rev. Calvin Sanborn
Rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, York Harbor, Maine

[Ed. Note: The Rev. Calvin Sanborn was invited to share his reaction to the Orlando shooting at a gathering earlier this week at Maine Street, a gay nightclub in Ogunquit. Pretty sure it’s where Jesus would have turned up.]

The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, center, marches with other Maine Episcopalians and hundreds from across the Church at a march against gun violence in Salt Lake City last year.

The Rev. Calvin Sanborn, center, marches with other Maine Episcopalians and hundreds from across the Church at a march against gun violence in Salt Lake City last year during the Episcopal Churches General Convention.

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to Jimmie, Eddie and Normand for organizing this event. As we struggle with myriad emotions in the wake of the horrific and terrifying act of hatred toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Orlando over the weekend, it is SO good to be together. Thank you!

I learned about the shooting in Orlando as I was just about to begin my first service at St. George’s in York last Sunday. A beloved member of the congregation who has a gay brother in Orlando shared the news with me.

My gut immediately clenched, and my heart began to ache. It was difficult to absorb the words. I had to begin the service, so I did my best to maintain my composure, succeeding up until it was time to lead the congregation in prayer. At that moment I found myself unable to speak.

Through tears I could no longer hold back, after a few moments, I managed to choke the words out.

As a priest and a person of faith, of course, prayer is meaningful and important to me, but I’m not here tonight just because I’m a priest. I’m also here because I’m a gay man. I’m here because I know why an attack on a gay night club is so uniquely painful to the lgbtq community, our community.

I’m blessed be a part of a faith community where I’m not expected to hide or be silent or afraid. In my tradition I’m reminded on a daily basis that I’m imperfect, yes, but beautiful and beloved and holy in the eyes of God as is every single person here.

In the past few days, memories of my own nights in my early 20s spent with my friend Stephanie going out to clubs in the greater Boston area have been flooding my mind. I was there to dance, to celebrate, to feel joy. I was there to be surrounded by people like myself and to know that I was safe in the company of people who understood me in a way that other people did not.

I didn’t grow up in a community where I could count on that. I grew up in a small town in rural Maine. While my friends and family there loved me, I knew that love required me to keep parts of myself hidden. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case, but in my 20s it was, and, in those clubs, I didn’t have to hide.

As we honor the memory of the 49 people who were brutally murdered in their own safe space, I think it’s important to remember that they were not only lgbtq people, but also people of color. Several news reports have noted that many were from families who came to know their child’s sexual identity only because of this tragedy. Many of them may have been at Pulse because they, too, needed a place where they didn’t have to hide.

As we contend with our grief and our hurt and our fear and as we rally our strength and our pride for action, it is vital that we resist any and all attempts to erase or deny reality. This crime was a hate crime. I refuse to let that fact be ignored. These murders were of lgbtq people and their loved ones because they were lgbtq, and that is damn scary!

And that’s when I come back to being a priest in the Episcopal Church. I recognize that my faith and my traditions may not be shared by everyone in this place, and I completely respect and honor that. But I feel that there are parts of my faith, and yours too, that have meaning for us all. I’m blessed be a part of a faith community where I’m not expected to hide or be silent or afraid. In my tradition I’m reminded on a daily basis that I’m imperfect, yes, but beautiful and beloved and holy in the eyes of God as is every single person here.

And I follow the teachings of Jesus, a man who reminded his followers over and over and over again, “Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid. I say those words to you now.

We must not be afraid. We must not be silent. We must stand up. We must be proud.

We must NOT let this act of hatred cause us to shrink back into the shadows. We must not let fear become another closet. We must let the power that is in us and within our community well up and revive our commitment to seek justice, to be advocates for every person in this world who is being told that they are worthless, and to demand that safety and security are basic human rights.

We must honor the 49 lives lost in Orlando, and in so many other mass murders that have occurred in our country, by using our voices to support our leaders who value women, children, black people, latino people, gay people and transgender people. And we must help pass legislation to change our gun laws. Assault weapons do not belong on the streets.

And we must keep on dancing, keep on celebrating who we are, and keep on marching. We must never lose our pride!

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Filed under Ministry Storytelling, Social Justice, St. George's York Harbor

Maine’s Committee on Indian Relations goes to school

by the Rev. Ted Kanellakis
Committee on Indian Relations

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

The gathering at the school on Indian Island

On Monday, April 4, 2016, the Diocesan Committee on Indian Relations hosted an event at the Penobscot Nation’s, Indian Island School. Forty-one people attended the three hour program. It was an introduction and exposure to the school facility with presentations on culture, art, history, language and education that are experienced by the Native children at the school.

Invited participants included local educators and students from the University of Maine at Orono; the Head of the Riley School in Rockport, and teachers from the St. George Public School in Tenants Harbor. Members of  St. James’, Old Town; St. John’s, Bangor; St. Peter’s, Rockland; St. John Baptist, Thomaston; and St. Paul’s, Brunswick; were represented as well as other members of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. Members of the Wabanaki REACH (Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change, Healing) ally group also attended.

At the Indian Island School we were cordially welcomed and given a tour of the school’s library by the Interim Principal Tracey Nute. The library is the heart of the school where its large, open, and light-filled space embraces not only a wealth of books but signs and symbols from ceiling to floor of Native art and culture: from banners that moved with the air currents, designed and painted by the school children, to a full-sized Penobscot Birch Bark Canoe, made by Penobscot Tribal artisans.

After taking in the beauty and symbolic connections to learning the library provided, we were guided by Principal Nute to a large classroom. She introduced our first presenter, Lee Francis, the Native studies teacher. Lee Francis is a very pleasant and jovial person who must be much loved by the children she teaches. She began by telling us about her own life. She had fond memories of life on Indian Island as a young child. She and her family moved away and as a young woman she moved to the West where she met a man from another tribe. After their marriage, she and her husband moved back to Indian Island because, now having experienced living away, she realized her true affection for what ‘coming home’ offered.

Her descriptions of the freedom and learning from nature and reuniting with her tribal community family were deeply moving. The room was silent, our eyes and attention fixed on Lee Francis as she spoke of her life and her commitment to teaching the ways of the Wabanaki people so that children of this new generation will have the appreciation of their heritage to support them in their lives ahead.

The second presenter, James Eric Francis, serves as the Penobscot Nation’s Tribal Historian and Director of the Nation’s Culture and Historic Preservation Department. He spoke with heartfelt passion and humor about his life on Indian Island as a boy and as a young man where he, supported by his tribal family, developed a love of the land and the Penobscot River which has surrounded and embraced the Penobscot people feeding the them in body and spirit for thousands of generations.

He told of his leaving to serve in the US Air Force and spoke of his longing to return to his Native ancestral land and people. Part of his talk touched on the life and experiences of Henry David Thoreau, the writer, philosopher, and naturalist. Mr. Thoreau’s experiences in his explorations of the Maine wilderness and traveling ancient canoe routes in the mid-nineteenth century were life-changing to his thinking. Much of that change was greatly influenced by the teachings and wisdom he received from his Penobscot guides,  Joe Polis and Joseph Attean.

A slide presentation showed depictions of the sacred mountain Katahdin and the Tribal peoples’ understanding of how it oversees and nourishes the land, supplying the Penobscot River with all that is needed to support their People and the natural surroundings. The spiritual relationship of the Penobscot Nation with Katahdin, the sacred mountain and the river, are inextricably connected. This belief, so wonderfully described, helped those of us listening to deeply appreciate their understanding that we are all connected to the earth and each other.

Some in the Diocese of Maine know James Francis as the co-creator of the film, with Gunnar Hansen and David Westphal of Acadia Films Video, titled Invisible.*  The 2001 documentary, funded in part by at grant from the United Thank Offering, explores some of the tragic history of the Wabanaki, caused by white racist actions intent on destroying their tribal existence. Particularly, this was done by consciously removing children from their families and ancestral communities and obstructing their ability to learn their culture, language and history. Those actions continue to impact negatively on Native Indians and all of us.

Comments received subsequently are overwhelmingly marked by continued interest in future offerings. Educators present expressed interest in connecting with the Penobscot School for the purpose of exploring joint educational experiences with their students. CIR will help facilitate those connections.

Our hope and motivation for this event and those planned for the future, is for the good that will come from helping to bring non-Indian people of Maine, especially those who live close to sovereign Native Tribes, to gain greater awareness of the possibilities for a wealth of blessings that friendly neighborliness with the Wabanaki can afford to all. Grateful thanks to Tracey Nute, Lee Francis, James Francis, Penobscot Elder Butch Philips, and Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis for their hospitality.

* A DVD of Invisible is available from the Committee on Indian Relations. Contact the author at ttk@roadrunner.com to order a copy.

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, Training and Education Events

March 12 Workshop: Engaging in Public Life as Christians

original-4636-10657629The Maine Episcopal Network for Justice invites Maine Episcopalians to faith-based advocacy workshop at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on Saturday, March 12, from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

“Engaging in Public Life as Christians: A Faith-Based Advocacy Workshop,”  will offer four interactive sessions. Topics include: examining assumptions about the relationship between religion and democracy, a walk through the Maine legislative process, case studies on issues that will appear on the 2016 ballot, and practical steps to engage as individuals and churches. Free refreshments and a boxed lunch!

Please find an outline of the day below.

Because attendance is limited to 40 and lunch is provided, registration  is required. Please register at www.tinyurl.com/March12workshop

Download a copy of the event flyer here, MENJ-March 12 workshop

10 a.m. – Dr. Elizabeth Parsons Elizabeth Parsons photo

Liz will examine some prevalent assumptions about the relationship between religion and democracy in the United States and propose a way of seeing the world that shows why thoughtful Christian engagement is vital to our public life.

Part 1:   Revisiting the founders’ thinking about religion and governance
Part 2:   Thinking like Anglicans in the public square today

Elizabeth C. Parsons is an educator, activist, former ECUSA missioner to Southern Africa, and a member of St. Luke’s Cathedral. She holds the M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and the Ph.D. in theology and development from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She currently teaches at Boston University School of Theology. 

joanne11:15 a.m. – Joanne D’Arcangelo – Former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House

By sharing engaging examples and defining terms, Joanne will unpack the legislative process in the Maine State House.

Joanne D’Arcangelo, owner of JD’A Consulting, Inc.is an advocacy, political, and organizational consultant with over twenty-five years’ experience in public policy development, legislative advocacy, voter education, and organizational planning, coaching and support. She served as chief of staff to the Speaker of the Maine House during the 122nd Legislature.

12:15 p.m. – Working Lunch with Case Studies from the 2016 Ballot:
These sessions led by campaign leaders will show how grassroots campaigns work.

      • Gun Safety  – Maine Moms Demand Action
      • Fair Wage Maine – Amy Halsted of Maine People’s Alliance

johnhennessy11 p.m. – John Hennessy

This interactive session will focus how to frame a message and narrative to demonstrate our values and how to taking action rooted in Christian practices. John will also share the scope, plans, and aspirations of the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice going forward.

John Hennessy is the Director of the MENJ. He has extensive experience advocating for non-profit social service organizations in Augusta and Washington, DC. His clients have included: Maine Community Action Association, Disability Rights Center of Maine, Maine AIDS Alliance, and AARP among others. In his new role, he is eager to help organize people of faith to enable them to contribute all of their unique gifts and resources to the broader movement for justice in our state.

Space is limited, so please register today!

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Filed under Maine Episcopal Network for Justice, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, St. Luke's Cathedral

Learning to listen in Brunswick

by Deacon Chick Carroll
St. Paul’s, Brunswick 
The Gathering Place volunteer

Chick Carroll

Chick Carroll

Have you ever been in a place that didn’t feel right? Perhaps not safe, maybe unfriendly. Or possibly it was okay, but you felt unwelcome? Like it was a little “off” for you. Or how about someplace where you felt you just didn’t know the rules? What was expected of you?

If you’re homeless or deeply poor, almost every place can feel that way. When you’re carrying everything you own in a backpack, you can stick out like a snowball in July. It’s impossible to feel safe– or even comfortable. Even in a town like mine. Where people can be afraid of you because you don’t look quite “right.”

How do I know this? Am I desperately poor or homeless?

No. But lots of my friends are. How do I know what it feels like to to be turned away, or turned down, or to have people in church or the grocery store look away, ask if they can help me- when what they really mean is how can they help me out of there, away from them.

Well, I have learned to listen. I can listen to and learn from my friends, my friends who are deeply poor, friends who are homeless, or were last month, or will be next week. Because they just received notice from the landlord. I can see what they live through when they don’t get the job for the tenth time in a row. Or when they just can’t keep the one job they got, at $7.50 an hour, because they have to get up every morning at 3 am in order to walk the four miles to work – -and they just can’t do it any more.

Do I know personally what it’s like to finally get a place to live even though it’s drafty and loud, and costs a pile to keep it warm? Or what it’s like to have an adult schizophrenic son that has to live with me– or die. But because he’s there I can’t work, because he can’t be left alone? No, I don’t. I don’t know personally. Because I’ve been lucky in life. No, I didn’t earn my luck; it happened to me. Sure, I’ve done my part, but good fortune has been a huge factor in my life. But not for many of my friends.

And I listen to what they talk about, the stories they tell, the insults they endure, the endless lines they stand in. I squirm when someone tells me tell how she was treated when she tried to buy something at the store that’s so friendly to me, but not to her. How people give him a wide berth as he walks along Main Street, as if he were contagious. When the doctor doesn’t give him the attention he needs, or that she gives me, because he doesn’t have insurance anymore, because Maine Care decided to cancel him. I fume when I hear what has happened to her food stamp allowance, even though she is disabled, when what she gets for a month wouldn’t feed me for more than a couple of days.

Where do I hear about all this? Where is a place in town where folks feel comfortable enough to tell these stories? Where no one like me is going to give them a big load of well meaning advice that’s supposed to turn their life around? Where is a place they think of as their own? It’s called The Gathering Place, Brunswick’s daytime drop-in center. It’s been around for going on five years, just off Union Street.

I have volunteered there since the beginning. So have a lot of other folks like me. We’re coming to learn about what life is like if you’re desperately poor, if you can’t work because you got badly hurt on the last job you were able to get- ten years ago. What life is like when your husband went broke and left you all at the same time, and your monthly social security’s a few hundred dollars. What happens when your husband breaks his back just before summer, when he would have been able to earn enough from odd jobs to keep you all from becoming homeless. And so you come to The Gathering Place because you can’t stay alone all day, and there will be friends there- friends whose lives are like yours, or maybe not, but who will listen and understand anyway. And you come because it’s one place in town where you’re really welcome to stay a few hours.

I also have friends on the “right” side of the tracks. Good people. Many of them really get it. And some don’t. Many understand that their town is just the friendliest place for them, but not for the desperately poor. And some don’t get that at all! And for a long time, many years, I didn’t either. Maybe ten or 12 years ago, the light went on for me. I began to see I was among the lucky ones– not the smarter or the better ones. Just the fortunate. Why, why me, God? Who knows?

But I began to understand I could be of help. Could I change the world? No. Could I light a lamp for someone? Yes, sometimes, and sometimes the lamp just wouldn’t stay lit, and sometimes the person I lit it for turned out to be me. And sometimes the person I thought needed my help was the one I needed, instead.

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, St. Paul's Brunswick

Lewiston’s Center for Wisdom’s Women offers vulnerable women safety and strength

by Klara Tammany
Executive Director, Center for Wisdom’s Women
Lewiston

Klara Tammany talks with Maine Episcopalians at Diocesan Convention at USM in October.

Klara Tammany talks with Maine Episcopalians at Diocesan Convention at USM in October.

While hosting the Thistle Farm table at diocesan convention in October, I had a chance to talk with both clergy and lay people about the women’s center that is an outreach project of Trinity Church, Lewiston. One of several ministries that Trinity, a small congregation located in a neighborhood with a poverty rate of more than 40 percent, has spawned over the years, the Center for Wisdom’s Women is a week-day drop-in center that provides a safe and sacred space for the support and empowerment of women.

Sue is one of our long-time guests. She came to us as an angry woman who didn’t trust anyone.It is not surprising. She was the middle child of six sisters. When she was four, they were separated and put up for adoption. Hers was not a good home. By the time she was a teen, she was on her own. The sisters didn’t see each other again for 45 years. 

Sue is now part of a core group of volunteers called Sophia’s Circle. Their jobs are to staff the front desk and help with tasks like housekeeping and cooking. When a gal who has visited the Center was sentenced to three years in the Windham prison, we asked the women of Sophia’s Circle if we might support her by writing and visiting. Sue was the first person who raised her hand.

“I think I can understand what she’s goin’ through” she said. “I know what it’s like to be alone. No matter what she did, she needs a friend.”

Sue is one of over 1,000 women who have come through our doors since 2008. Many are initially drawn tocww3 the center because we offer much-needed hygiene products, (donations gratefully accepted!) but the welcome they experience brings many women back for support, strength, and friendship.  At the Center they build community and begin to help each other. Less alone and less afraid, everyone grows and changes and relationships are restored. It is an organic way of healing that tends to the inner spirit of women, something often missing in more clinical settings.

Since the Center’s first days, not a week has gone by when we don’t wish we could serve our guests better by providing housing. That wish seems poised to come to fruition in the next few years. We have a plan to start a residential project to serve both older women on fixed incomes and women who are healing from a life of prostitution, addiction, prison, and abuse. Modest apartments will be available to elders who desire to live independently, yet in community and with a purpose. The recovery part will be based on the model of Thistle Farms.

A feasibility study by the Genesis Community Loan Fund has determined our plan is very possible and that rental income would cover the cost of running the house. However, in order to confidently proceed with the Sophia’s House project, we must first fully fund the work of the women’s center.

cwwOver the fall I gave some thought to how we might better reach out to the wider faith community in Maine, especially our Episcopal brothers and sisters across the Diocese. While we have eight partners from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and Lutheran traditions, our only Episcopal connections are with St. Michael’s across the river and the Episcopal Church Women groups in Rangeley and Hallowell.

On deeper thought over the holidays, larger questions emerged…

How might we better support each other in innovative, mission-oriented work in our diocese? 

Are there ways we could share our ministries and collaborate to further the work we all do to meet needs of those living on the margins?

Yes, there are grants available in the diocese, but they are limited and competitive.  And yes, in emergencies like floods or fires or broken septic systems, we all jump in to help. But there must be more direct ways – as individual Episcopalians and as congregations – we can regularly engage in the outreach we all do with the least among us right here in Maine. 

As small as Trinity Church is, we have found powerful ways to faithfully meet large needs with much creativity and boldness, despite limited financial resources. We are happy to share our successful model with other congregations that dream of doing vital ministry in their local communities. But we could also use some support from Maine Episcopalians to keep doing what we are doing.

Here is a proposal: Let’s talk about how we might promote, support and share the baptismal ministries we have all been called to in our neighborhoods. We could learn from, inspire and encourage each other, pray for specific needs we have, make a list of contacts, share wish lists and resources etc. I bet it would help us be more effective and also lighten the burdens.

Meanwhile… As we expand to offer housing with Sophia’s House, our regular program of meeting the needs of vulnerable women requires all the help we can get.

Sue came to us and grew and changed. She is now tending to the woman now in prison. That woman may be our first resident at Sophia’s House. It goes full circle.

If you are interested in knowing more about our work, I would love to hear from you. I would be happy to visit your congregation and share our story. If you are in or near Lewiston, please come visit and see what we are up to. And if you are able to offer support, please do. Thanks so much.

___

www.wisdomswomen.org

Email Klara at cww@oxfordnetworks.net 

Watch a new video about the Center for Wisdom’s Women and the difference it makes in women’s lives.

Click here to go to the Sophia’s House fundraising site.

Download a brochure with ways to help

MPBN story on Sophia’s House

 

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Filed under Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice, Trinity Lewiston

Maine Episcopal Network for Justice: How did we get here?

by Heidi Shott
Canon for Communication and Advocacy
Episcopal Diocese of Maine

MENJ Director John Hennessy (Photo by Jeff Kirlin)
MENJ Director John Hennessy
(Photo by Jeff Kirlin)

Last week at our 196th annual diocesan convention, we announced the news that the Diocese of Maine will receive a $30,000 grant from The Episcopal Church to launch the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice (MENJ). Those funds will be combined with $8,000 from the 2016 diocesan budget to hire John Hennessy, a member of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, as the part-time director of MENJ. John has vast experience in advocacy work in Maine, most recently as the policy director of Maine AARP, as well as strong relationships with leaders in Augusta and Washington, D.C.

“I am excited to help lead the MENJ as we engage people of faith throughout the diocese to talk about and work on the important public policy issues of the day. Maine Episcopalians are uniquely positioned to make impact with both our citizen legislature in the state as well as our very accessible federal delegation,” he said upon learning of the award.

In making this grant, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, which runs the Episcopal Public Policy Network, has shown confidence that the Diocese of Maine is well-suited to lead the way for other dioceses in the creation of a grassroots network that helps Episcopalians exercise voices of faith about issues of urgent concern in our communities, our state, our nation, and our world.

At this point you may be asking, like the Talking Heads’ lead singer David Byrne, “Well, how did we get here?”

t-stop
David Byrne c. 1983

Last December Diocesan Council created a Public Policy Advisory Group to assist in deciding which issues – among the many that come across our desks – the Diocese of Maine should take on in a meaningful and sustained way.

Over the past seven years Bishop Lane and I have enjoyed a great working relationship around public policy and advocacy. It usually involves me bursting into his office in a pique of enthusiasm and asking, “Hey, are you busy? May I ask you something? Should stick our noses in this [current] issue?” Or he will shoot an email or text to me about a timely subject and say, “I think we need to do something about this.” We use as our guide two measures: issues we know about something about – we’re not policy wonks – and the Gospel imperatives laid out in Matthew 25:

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the kind will answer them, “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the lease of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

That’s pretty clear, right? Poverty, hunger, and housing, refugees and asylum seekers, healthcare, restorative justice, and giving voice to our vulnerable neighbors whose voices often go unheard. It’s easy to hear the echoes of the prophet Micah to “love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly” with our God.

Forming an advisory group made sense. But here’s the truth, the group we pulled together has had exactly one meeting and that was a conference call. However, during that one conversation last February, the idea for a statewide Episcopal public policy network emerged.

The point is that unless our advocacy around issues we people of faith care about has both a focused legislative effort and a life as a local, grassroots movement, then we are not doing all the work we should to engage the people in our congregations in matters of justice.

So I started to roll the idea around in my mind about what such a network might look like. How could we possibly pull it off when I would be the only staff person and I already have a full-time job? Also, I was starting my sabbatical in a few months. Arrrgghh! How could we possibly put this on the back burner until September?

A week before my sabbatical began, I called the Social Justice Missioner at The Episcopal Church, Chuck Wynder, to ask for help. He was very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea and said he was already speaking to bishops in other dioceses about statewide public policy networks. However, he said, networks are hard to pull together because many of the dioceses that want to do create one are in states where there are multiple dioceses. The rub: to create an effective statewide network means all the dioceses have to work together.

“We don’t have that problem in Maine,” I assured him. “Our state and our diocese are one and the same.”

And then he told me the staggering news that caused me to practically fall out of my chair. “We have grants available to help you fund it; up to $30,000 a year, renewable for up to three years.”

I immediately called John Hennessy, a member of the Public Policy Task Force. Earlier in the spring Bishop Lane and I had asked John to step in as a consultant during my sabbatical to assist the Bishop in following several issues that we were tracking, including the state budget process and various bills still in play in the Legislature.

“John, there’s money to do this thing.” I think I said – loudly. “A lot!” I asked him to be in touch with Chuck to find out about the application process while I was away. I would be stepping out of sabbatical to return to work during the ten days of General Convention in Salt Lake City, so I asked him to check back in with me in late June.

I was sitting in the quiet press room in the vast Salt Palace Convention Center when John’s email complete with a well-crafted draft of a grant application arrived. A little yelp of happiness escaped my lips. I turned to some of my bemused communicator colleagues sitting nearby and whispered, “I think I might cry.”

This fall John and I buffed up the grant app and asked the Finance Committee and Council to consider upping the Advocacy budget line for 2016 by $8,000 to prove to The Episcopal Church that Maine has skin in the game. Bishop Lane contacted the bishops of Vermont and New Hampshire to see if they would be interested if Maine were to expand its network in the second year of the grant to include their dioceses. Bishop Ely of Vermont and Bishop Hirschfeld of New Hampshire responded with enthusiasm and are waiting to learn how things go in the first six months. 

So here we are: ready to engage the members of the Public Policy Task Force and, with the addition of a few people with various types of expertise, turn it into a MENJ Steering Group. We have our first meeting with Bishop Lane next week. John says it well: “We need to be strategic in our work and recognize where our leadership, our voices and our actions will make a difference. We can’t be everything to everybody but we can certainly do our best to make (progressive) voices of faith part of the civil discourse.”

Together, with John taking the lead, we will venture into new territory with two major goals ahead of us: maintaining a strong advocacy presence in Augusta while nurturing partnerships with other denominations and organizations that hold the same values as the Episcopal Church, and building local networks of people in our congregations empowered to give voice to their faith by learning to advocate for Gospel issues of local, state, national, and international concern.

Stay-tuned, there’s more to come. A lot more!

Join the MENJ group on Facebook for news, updates, and ways to connect. www.facebook.com/groups/maineenj

Visit the MENJ home page.

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Filed under Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Maine Episcopal Network for Justice, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice

Jubilee Ministry – A Primer

Jubilee window at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lewistown, Pennsylvania

Jubilee window at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Lewistown, Pennsylvania

By Rev. Shirley Bowen, Executive Director/Chaplain
Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Biddeford

During last week’s Diocesan Convention a great question was asked from the floor, and from several individuals along the way, “What are the Jubilee Centers?”

Could you answer the question?

Did you know we have three in the Diocese of Maine?

Here is a brief primer to bring everyone up to speed on one of the many varieties of ministry happening in our state.

Jubilee Ministries are one of several ministries that fall under Domestic Poverty Initiatives, which are part of Justice and Advocacy Ministries of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Approved by General Convention in 1982 and establishing eight Jubilee Ministry sites in 1983, the Jubilee movement has now grown to more than 600 ministries.

Resolution A080, which established Jubilee Ministry, did so as “a ministry of joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people, wherever they are found, to meet basic human needs and to build a just society,” concluding that this “is at the heart of the mission of the church.” (TEC website, “30 Years of Jubilee Ministry”).

Although funding for Jubilee ministries at the national level has declined, there is still the opportunity to receive small grants (Seeds of Hope received one in 2015) and to receive support and encouragement from TEC staff. The Jubilee Ministry of the Episcopal Church Facebook page helps our ministries share our stories, programs, and dreams for a more just nation.

Maine has three Jubilee sites: Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center in Biddeford, and St. Elizabeth’s Jubilee Center in Portland.

Trinity Jubilee Center’s founder and ministry partner Trinity Church donates its entire ground floor to TJC ministry serving a diverse underserved population by providing day shelter, hot meals, health clinic, food pantry, Resource center, and Refugee Services. TJC’s long-time benefactors are Christ Church in Exeter, New Hampshire and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut. Local Episcopal and Protestant churches, Bates College, St. Mary’s and CMMC hospitals all provide regular donations of food and funds. Program funding is provided by corporate, governmental, and charitable grants and individual gifts.

Seeds of Hope, also a Mission Enterprise Zone of TEC, partners with five southern Maine Episcopal congregations and three other community churches to serve its community’s unemployed/underemployed, variously-disabled residents, seniors on fixed incomes and recently incarcerated. We offer breakfast/lunch, free clothing, educational programs, warming and cooling center, free flu shots and health clinics, non-food essentials pantry, and a staffed Career Resource Center. Primary funding is from local businesses, city and federal government, service organizations, foundations and individuals.

St. Elizabeth’s is hosted by the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and supported by eight area Episcopal congregations. Offering non-food items that are not covered by food stamps yet are very costly to a family’s budget, free clothing, back to school back-packs and resource referrals, St. Elizabeth’s serves a very diverse clientele and receives additional outside funding through grants and gifts.

All three operate on the foundational principles of mercy and justice – meeting immediate need when possible and striving to help break barriers that contribute to poverty, isolation and despair. The common element in each of these ministries is the forging of community that is counter-cultural: the commitment to building relationships with those we serve so that our work is a shared partnership of mutual respect and dignity. Our work is along-side the poor, not to or for the poor. Our commitment of seeking and serving Christ in all people compels us to welcome all manner of stranger until there are no more strangers.

In her 2010 address to the “Called to Serve” Domestic Poverty Conference, the Presiding Bishop stated, “We’re here to do justice, and love mercy. We’re here to walk humbly with God and bring good news to the poor. That good news of justice and mercy looks like the ancient visions of the commonweal of God where everyone has enough to eat, no one goes thirsty or homeless, all have access to meaningful employment and health care, the wealthy and powerful do not exploit the weak, and no one studies war any more. It includes the work of building community and caring for the earth, both of which are essential to the health of a spiritually rooted person, in right relationship with God and neighbor.”  (TEC website, “Called to Serve”)

Maine’s Jubilee Ministry Centers were initiated as an outpouring of compassion of Episcopal parishes for the communities they serve. They are a positive reflection of the Baptismal Covenant which grounds our Church and calls us to action. We invite you to get to know us better. We would love to hear from you.

Each Jubilee ministry site is very different in the programs and services offered, basing its work on the needs of the surrounding community. I encourage you to check out the websites and other social media locations for each of these important efforts.

http://www.trinityjubileecenter.org/

https://www.facebook.com/trinityjubileecenter?fref=ts

http://www.seedsofhope4me.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Seeds-of-Hope-Neighborhood-Center-202612812602/

http://stlukesportland.org/pages/general/st-elizabeths 

If you would like to take a look at what Jubilee Centers are doing across the country, check out the links below:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/domestic-poverty-ministries

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/jubilee

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Day 4 of General Convention – Bishop Lane’s daily update

Sorry for the delay, faithful viewers. We had a little Dropbox issue. Here’s Bishop Lane’s update on Sunday’s gun violence march, the UTO festival Eucharist, and the ongoing work of the General Convention.

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Mainers joins hundreds to march against gun violence

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Members of the Maine deputation march with several hundred others on Sunday morning.

Updated 11:55 p.m. June 28

Bishop Stephen T. Lane and the members of Maine’s deputation joined many hundreds of Episcopalians and Utahns in a Sunday morning march across downtown Salt Lake City to make witness to what Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland called the unholy trinity of poverty, racism, and gun violence.

Organized by Bishops United Against Gun Violence and led by bishops from dioceses where gun violence has taken a great toll – Connecticut, Chicago, Maryland, and others,the rally “Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence” featured the Rev. Gayle Fisher, a former 20 year veteran of the Washington, D.C police force, who spoke about her right to carry a gun but her choice to have her home be gun-free, and Carolyn Tuft, a Utahn who was the victim of the 2007 mall shooting here that left five people dead, including her 15 year-old daughter, Kirsten. Tuft spoke movingly about living with the painful effects of her wounds and the loss of her daughter. A video of her remarks is available here.

Bishop Sutton of Maryland, Bishop Knudsen who will soon serve as assistant bishop there, and Bishop Curry.

Bishop Sutton of Maryland, Bishop Knudsen who will soon serve as assistant bishop there, and Bishop Curry.

Other speakers included Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi, spoke of his personal experience of being a gunshot victim and the effect on his life and his family. At 19, while working in a record story, he was shot in the abdomen during a robbery. He spent two months in the hospital and watched his father’s hair turn gray over the course of his recovery.

Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry offered a rousing speech at the close of the march. He said, “Black live matter. Black lives matter because all lives matter.”

A video of the march from may be found here.

Bishop Lane joined 60 other bishops in the march.

Bishop Lane joined 60 other bishops in the march.

A photo album may be found here.

A comprehensive news article and additional photos may be found in the Deseret News.

Full coverage of the march from Episcopal News Service may be found here.

A recap of General Convention resolutions that address gun violence may be  found here.

In the video clip below, Missioner for Social Justice of The Episcopal Church Chuck Winder speaks to the importance of the march and the power for change unleashed when people to stand together in solidarity. Chuck will visit Maine this fall to walk with Maine Episcopalians about developing our new public policy network.

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Deputy of the Day – Calvin Sanborn

by the Rev. Calvin Sanborn
Rector of St. George’s, York Harbor

Calvin celebrates the Supreme Court's decision in downtown Salt Lake City this afternoon.

Calvin celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision in downtown Salt Lake City this afternoon.

Today was a joyfully distracting day for me, I must admit.

By now, of course, you’ve almost certainly heard the news that the Supreme Court has legalized marriage equality across the country. When word began to spread throughout the Salt Palace here in Salt Lake City, the various groups gathered in legislative committee meetings burst into jubilant applause. For many of us, it was a moment of profound joy and deep personal meaning.

One part of my duties here is to follow the work of the special legislative committee on marriage. They are considering all resolutions that have been submitted to General Convention about potential canonical changes, prayer book changes and marriage liturgies, and perfecting them for consideration by both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

The night before last the Very Rev. Ben Shambaugh, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, and I both testified in support of a resolution that would change the canons of the church to make it possible for same-sex couples throughout the Episcopal Church to receive the sacrament of holy matrimony, and tonight we heard testimony in support of a resolution that would make the marriage liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer (with minor adaptations) and other marriage liturgies that have been developed available to all couples, including same-sex couples.

My testimony last night was deeply rooted in my own personal experience. Ten years ago, my husband Dan and I exchanged vows in a ceremony solemnizing our covenant with each other. We specifically avoided use of the word “marriage,” as we knew that marriage within the church was not available to us. We also knew that our vows to each other, while full of meaning for us, carried no weight with the state in which we lived.

It was seven years later that we watched election returns roll in and saw that Maine had legalized marriage for couples like us. It was a moment, like yesterday, of incredible elation. Our state, along with two others, became the first set to legalize marriage equality by popular vote. Our friends and neighbors had turned out to support families like ours. We decided to get married again, but with rights this time.

To join into a civil status recognized as equal meant the world to us. Dan barely maintained composure from the minute we walked down the aisle with our children, and wept openly when Bishop Stephen pronounced us married. (Admittedly, he is apt to cry at a well-scripted cat food commercial.) Having the same legal status as everyone else means more to us than we could possibly say.

But General Convention is all about recognizing the important, even necessary work that the church does in the world, too. Civil recognition is unmistakably historic, and a deep injustice has been corrected today. But access to the sacramental meaning of marriage is justly ours, as well. I join all couples celebrating this weekend, that their love and commitment are valued by the state just as much as anyone else’s. I work and pray here in Salt Lake City for the church to show these loving couples that it delivers God’s love and blessing equally to them, also.

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