The Not Forgetting

by Anna Olson on October 27, 2016

Years ago, in a pastoral liturgy class at General Seminary, I learned what is still one of my favorite words. Anamnesis is the name for the part of the Eucharistic prayer where we tell the story of how we came to be saved through Jesus’ death and resurrection. An- is the Greek prefix for “not” and amnesis is a close cousin of the English word “amnesia.” Anamnesis is the “not-forgetting.” It is the not forgetting the price that was paid, the not wiping away the uncomfortable parts of the story, the not protecting future generations from how bloody the whole thing really was.

I spent several weeks in Germany this summer. It was mostly just a really fun family trip, full of adventures and good laughs and beautiful views and a certain amount of beer drunk before noon (totally socially acceptable in Munich, I swear). There was the time when my daughter was convinced there was a snack car on the train and it turned out to be a toilet. There were the creepily large day-glow paper mache bunnies wearing shorts and holding soccer balls that adorned our low budget rental apartment. So many family inside jokes to last us until we get to travel together again.

But Germany, even for tourists, is not all beer gardens and alpine glory. There are reminders everywhere of the weight of history, particularly the history surrounding World War II. Germans have undertaken a profound project of anamnesis. Memorials small and large pop up everywhere -- preserved concentration camps, graphic depictions of atrocities against the civilian populations of the former Soviet Union. In the heart of Berlin, just a couple blocks from the Brandenburg Gate and the Tiergarten (Berlin’s Central Park), there is an entire city block that memorializes the murdered Jews of Europe. Smaller memorials nearby remember murdered Roma and Sinti people and murdered gay men.

Continue reading...

Permalink  |  0 Comments Conflict, Discernment

One Bulletin, Multiple Services

by Greg Syler on October 26, 2016

This post is about efficiency, for sure, and it’s about a pretty small, seemingly insignificant part of congregational life, but I’m also a believer that paying attention to the little things – and with an eye toward greater efficiency – is a great way to pastor the whole community.

Here’s the problem we were facing: every week, our parish administrator, together with me and our music director, created drafts of the Sunday bulletin and got them to our inboxes by Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest. There was one bulletin for 8 o’clock, another for 10:30am. Both had announcements and information, the same calendar and same scriptures, of course. One had music, the other did not. When all the edits came in, bulletins were printed, folded, stapled, and set out for the various worship services.

Sounds like life in most every parish church, I’m sure.

But at the end of the weekend we’d toss lots of bulletins in the recycling bin. Even though I specifically invite folks to take their bulletin home – “It’s a weekly newsletter” I say most every weekend – at least half of those who worship at either service toss the bulletin on the entryway table on their way out. The sheer waste of paper, printed for one exclusive use at one hour on Sunday morning, coupled with the amount of time and energy that went into the creation, editing, and production of those documents encouraged me to come up with a different way.

Continue reading...

Permalink  |  0 Comments Administration, Change

Easier Evangelism: So, Tell Me Your Story

by Richelle Thompson on October 25, 2016

Our leading evangelist is not a Baby Boomer with conversational skills honed by the Dale Carnegie school of making friends and influencing people. It is not a latchkey Gen-Xer, earnest to please or a freewheeling Millennial breaking from social media to be social.

Nope. Our leading evangelist is a 92-year-old woman with white hair braided into a ring around her head.

I have never seen newcomers enter our church—on Sundays, at spaghetti suppers, for Bible studies, or community gatherings—without Fran making sure to welcome them. And somehow, she never makes her greeting seem forced or awkward. She gives a full-mouth smile, perhaps places her hand on an arm or shoulder, and introduces herself. Then, often, she asks, “So, tell me your story.”

Tell me your story.

What better way is there to get to know someone? Not “Let me tell you my story.” Not “What do you do? Where do you live? Who do you know?” But “Tell me your story.”

Continue reading...

Permalink  |  0 Comments Evangelism, Hospitality

Power of Spiritual Practices

by Linda Buskirk on October 24, 2016

"Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." Many Episcopalians strive to accomplish that with each use of our beloved liturgy. We enliven the treasured words with beautiful music that inspires us to, "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!"  

In between our soaring Sunday worship services, how is your congregation helping people become familiar with Individual spiritual practices designed to draw us closer in relationship to our triune God? The power of these practices was discovered hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years ago 

One spiritual practice rising in popularity while remaining a mystery to many of us, even if our own faith community has one, is the labyrinth. My parish (Trinity Episcopal in Fort Wayne, Indiana), recently hosted a workshop presented through Veriditas, a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to introducing people to the healing, meditative powers of the labyrinth.”   

Veriditas Master Teacher Kay Mutert invited workshop participants to experience a labyrinth as "a sacred space set aside for you to reflect, look within, pray, negotiate new behavior."   

Continue reading...

Permalink  |  0 Comments Discernment, Prayer & Reflection

When I Spoke, You Listened

by Linda Suzanne Borgen on October 21, 2016

Most of us have been taught to avoid triangulation in communication, but it can be a valuable tool for promoting peace and justice. Triangulating by asking Jesus to “re-speak,” through the power of the Holy Spirit, words we are unable to receive is good triangulation. The gift of learning at our Lord’s feet is always available to us through scripture and prayer, and daily life becomes a dialogue of faith when we give ourselves to God in this way. These dialogues of faith often become the foundation for raising voices of advocacy.

The diocesan Commission on Peace, Justice, and Racial Reconciliation is working to organize voices of advocacy that promote reconciliation, restoration, and healing, and I am grateful to be a part of this work. Seeking to better understand human systems that produce dysfunction and despair has been part of my training as an anthropologist. Now, as a priest, I understand that Jesus calls us to faith that sees beyond the landscapes our brokenness and sin have created. Christian advocacy is about seeing a horizon of hope through the eyes of our faith and asking Jesus to use us as his ears and heart and hands.

Public education is one of the landscapes where we, as the body of Christ, can listen to needs and seek places to serve. Education reform is not always about creating a new, better plan; it is about speaking love through action and manifesting God’s love to children in our communities by being present in their lives. In the 2010 documentary, Waiting for Superman, the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada, observes that we too often try to save children after they are already lost, instead of coming alongside them while they are still longing for help. We can do better.

Continue reading...

Permalink  |  0 Comments Advocacy, Outreach

Site by Bandwidth Productions