October 29, 2021 by Luisa Elena Bonillas

This article is also available in English here. Este artículo está disponible en ingles aquí.

Cuando era chica, yo iba a la iglesia en México con mi mamá y mi hermana mayor. La misa era en español y en la frontera de Arizona, EE. UU. y Sonora, México. A los años, empezamos a ir a la iglesia en los EE. UU. y mi papá y mi hermana mediana nos acompañaban. Esta misa era en inglés y aunque conocía a otros jóvenes en esta misa por que íbamos juntos a la escuela, el idioma de inglés me constaba en la iglesia. Soy criada en los EE. UU. y toda mi educación ha sido en inglés, pero mi idioma con Dios es en español.

Cuando llegué a la universidad en el noreste de los EE. UU., buscaba oportunidades para oír español. Iba a la mesa donde se hablaba español durante el almuerzo, al grupo de Latinas los jueves en la noche, donde muchas hablábamos español, y oía la música en español en mi residencia. Cuando mi comprometido y yo decidimos casarnos en el noreste de los EE. UU., al fin de mi carrera en la universidad se nos complicó el proceso porque los dos fuimos criados en la iglesia en español en México y el oeste de los EE. UU. ¡Dios proveyó por nosotros un clero que hablaba y cantaba en inglés y español en mi universidad! Era un clero de la Iglesia Episcopal y él fue quien celebró el rito de nuestro matrimonio. ¡Hasta cantamos “De Colores” durante nuestro servicio! ¡Qué gusto!

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October 29, 2021 by Luisa Elena Bonillas

This article is also available in Spanish here. Este artículo está disponible en español aquí.

As a girl, I went to church in Mexico with my mother and my older sister. The mass was in Spanish and on the border between Arizona, USA, and Sonora, Mexico. Some years later, we began attending church in the U.S. and my father and middle sister would go with us. That mass was in English, and although I knew some other kids in that church because we went to school together, the English language was hard for me in church. I was brought up in the U.S. and all my schooling has been in English, but with God, my language is Spanish.

When I went to college in the Northeastern U.S., I sought out opportunities to listen to Spanish. I sat at the Spanish table at lunch time, on Thursday evenings I attended the Latina group, where a lot of us spoke Spanish, and I listened to music in Spanish at home. When my partner and I decided to get married in the Northeast after I completed college, the process got complicated because we had both been brought up in the Spanish-language church in Mexico and the western U.S. God provided us with a clergyman who spoke and sang in English and Spanish at my college! He was a clergyman from the Episcopal Church, and he was the one who presided at our wedding. We even sang “De Colores” during our marriage service! It was so great!

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October 25, 2021 by Michael Carney

A few years ago, I had a disagreement with a colleague about the Bible. To him, the most defining moment in the life and ministry of Jesus was when he turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple. (Mark 11:15) That outpouring of righteous anger and his passion for justice were expressions of the power of Jesus to change the world. No doubt about that.

What speaks most powerfully to me, however, is the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before his Crucifixion. He’d just enjoyed a last supper with his disciples, saying as he blessed the bread and wine, “this is my Body… this is my Blood.” (Mark 14: 22, 24) He knew that one of his closest friends would betray him to the Roman soldiers. In that last hour before his gruesome fate unfolded, he went off by himself in the garden to pray.

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October 20, 2021 by Cathy Hornberger

This month we offer five resources on multi-cultural congregations. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers, blogs, and the monthly digest.

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October 18, 2021 by Maria Teresa Bautista-Berrios

"Lead me where people need your words, need my enthusiasm for life; where hope is faint, where joy is scarce, just because they do not know You. I give you my sincere heart to express without fear your greatness, Lord. I will have tireless hands, your story between my lips, and strength in prayer." Alma Misionera is a Spanish song from the Flor y Canto hymnal, and this is part of the English translation. These words were fundamental in cultivating my family's spiritual identity as a whole and my understanding of what it means to mean to a baptized person within this community of faith.

My story begins with my father, Rev. Simon Bautista Betances, an Episcopal priest, alongside my remarkable, devout, trailblazing mother, Amarilis Vargas Bautista. Who together built a loving, fun, creative, respectful, faith-filled, justice-oriented family who were raised to be proud of our Latino heritage and African descendants. Church for the four Bautista children wasn't a bore or a thing we "had" to do just because our father was the Priest. Instead, we marveled at being part of different diverse communities of faith where we were so loved, cared for, and welcomed. We were known as the "missional family," wherever my Dad was called to serve, the Bautista party of six served alongside him. Early on, my curiosity towards the Holy Trinity's mystery and who God was calling me to be settled in. God's calling began when I served as an acolyte at the age of nine years old, and in the moments where with my family, we would pray for the healing of one of our beloved church members. In those moments, I felt a yearning to learn more about this gracious and Holy God. When I could share God's Good News with the campers at City Camp in Philadelphia, I was left restless with how I am called to be part of God's hands and feet on Earth.

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October 14, 2021 by Sandy Webb

Some things just don’t mix: Oil and water, bleach and ammonia, churches and debt. Or, so I have always believed.

We have all heard stories about churches that got in over their heads with debt. We have all heard stories about churches that planned on resources becoming available, either because of congregational growth or forthcoming generosity, only to find themselves disappointed and overleveraged. Churches just need to stay out of debt. Or, so I have always believed.

My own congregation recently completed a major capital restoration project. We said from the beginning that we were not going to spend any more than we raised. And, while we did make some exceptions along the way, we generally stuck to it. The overall gap between our actual capital expenditures and our total pledged revenue was only about 5%.

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October 11, 2021 by Annette Buchanan

We have all been on many Zoom services over the last year, either at our own church or other congregations near and far, and the observation is there were few to no youth on these Zoom services.

Further, in discussions about the challenges congregation face in the new virtual or hybrid (in-person and virtual) environment, the lack of youth presence is highlighted as a major issue that had not been adequately addressed.

Concerns were as follows:

Sunday School Teachers and Youth Leaders need new or updated skillset for this virtual environment to better engage with the youth. They need resources to share issues confronted and receive best practices to move forward successfully.

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October 5, 2021 by Michael Carney

Pregnancy can be miraculous. When through an act of love a woman and a man join with the Creator in bringing new life into the world, it’s a gift from God. Advances in the science of fertilization, which can extend this process to more people, reinforce the breathtaking wonder of it all.

The manner in which a fertilized egg develops into a living, breathing person draws together a thousand tiny miracles: rapidly dividing cells specializing into fingers and nerves and a beating heart and so much more. Science can document this amazing growth: the first grainy images my wife and I saw of our grandchildren were sonogram photos, taken on their mothers’ bellies. While it wasn’t obvious what we were seeing, the awesome significance was clear.

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