Inteview with Union of Black Episcopalians which concentrates on how the move came to be.
This is our record as a congregation in promoting unselfish love. Email your stories to Catherine – date, details and any notes. We will post them. Thanks!
The team that created the movie “A Case for Love” is beginning the “Month of Unselfish Love.” During the next month, everyone is invited to perform daily acts of selflessness and journal those moments.
Two options to document your efforts:
1. Download the 30 days journal
2. Download the single page you can date and use in MSWord or Google docs for a particular day
What to write?
1. Describe the act of love.
2. Describe how it impacted the recipient.
3. Describe how it impacted you.
Unselfish love is defined as an altruistic form of love characterized by selflessness, compassion and concern for the well-being of others, and placing the needs and happiness of others above one’s own, without expecting anything in return.
1. Decide to forgive. One of the most important aspects of the love walk is forgiveness. Choose to see people as God sees them.
2. Decide to hold your tongue. Love isn’t rude.
3. Decide to believe the best about people. Love believes the best about others.
4. Decide to not get offended by controlling your anger.
5. Decide to help those in your neighborhood that can use a hand. Be aware of opportunities to show the way of love.
6. Decide to recognize God’s presence in our everyday life
7. Decide to use the gifts you have been given in the world to make it a better place.
8. Decide to engage in Bible reading.
9. Decide to be like Jesus and retreat, especially when you are emotionally, physically and spiritually tapped out.
10. Decide to avoid the indulgence in food. The healthier our bodies (and minds), the better position we are in to walk in the way of love on behalf of the people around us.
1. From the book Love is the Way by Michael Curry
“Love is a firm commitment to act for the well-being of someone other than yourself. It can be personal or political, individual or communal, intimate or public. Love will not be segregated to the private, personal precincts of life. Love, as I read it in the Bible, is ubiquitous. It affects all aspects of life.”
“Love is a commitment to seek the good and to work for the good and welfare of others. It doesn’t stop at our front door or our neighborhood, our religion or race, or our state’s or your country’s border
Grace and peace.
This is the month when we consider how we’ll support St Peter’s financially in the coming year. We have an opportunity to consider what being part of a church means, and where we are in our commitments not just to God, but to this body of Christ of which we are a part. Are we a church rooted in love? And if so, how do we continue to grow into God’s love for our own good and for the good of the world around us?
To be a church rooted in love is to be a church that does two things well. The first thing is to be a church that opens its doors to any person who comes. This person may simply be curious. Perhaps this person may desire community with others, and/or desire a deeper knowledge of God. These desires may surface only after the person walks through the open door and finds a loving, accepting community within those walls, a community of people who model the meaning of loving God and one another.
The second thing that a church that is rooted in love must do well is to grow strong, faithful disciples, those who will follow Jesus, no matter the cost, and will support one another in their life in Christ. We do this together through worshiping, praying, studying, giving in support of the church, sharing fellowship with one another, and reaching out into the world to share God’s love. These strong faithful disciples are the ones who throw open the doors and welcome others in, hoping that they too will decide to join fully and to become disciples themselves. These disciples are the ones who worship, pray, study, give, share together in one another’s joys and sorrows, hoping to deepen their relationships with God. These are the ones who reach out into the world on God’s behalf.
Our ongoing challenge as disciples is to grow stronger and ever more deeply in our love for God and in our desire to follow Jesus, more giving, and more compassionate toward one another and toward those who may never walk through our doors, but who are desperately in need of God’s love—our ongoing challenge is to be more complete and more loving in our welcome.
For those of us who are on the fence, and that’s all of us at some point or another, torn by so many things that keep us away from God and halfhearted toward one another: Jesus asks us to decide to move beyond seeking, or being halfway committed, and to commit to becoming a whole hearted disciple, one with a new heart and a new spirit of love, ready to follow wherever Jesus calls us to go as this community of faith. And Jesus calls us to be patient with one another in our varying levels of commitment, to have compassion for one another, to encourage one another, and to help one another to be rooted in love as we grow together, and welcome the stranger in.
The new church year starts on the first Sunday in Advent, this year on Sunday, December 3rd. The Vestry has decided that the coming year’s theme will be Walk in Love.
Each season will have a particular focus. The focus of the Advent and Christmas season will be Walk to the Manger. The season after The Epiphany will be Walk in the Light. The seasons of Lent and Holy Week will be Walk to the Cross. The Season of Easter will be Walk in New Life. The season after Pentecost will be Walk in the Way. Catherine and the Vestry will be working on what we do together as the church with these themes in mind. We need a planning committee!
If you are interested in helping with the fun of planning the new year, please complete contact Catherine at (540) 809-7489 or complete this form. Thanks for willingness to help plan!
“You know, the Lord didn’t put you here just to consume the oxygen.”– Bishop Curry
“A lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Great teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read?’ And the lawyer answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus then said to him, ‘You have answered rightly. Do that. Love God and your neighbor, and why you’re at it, yourself, and you will find life.’” Life as God intended. Life that lifts humanity up to the highest possibility of our nobility. Do that. Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself, and you will fulfill God’s dream for all of God’s children.
Now Jesus didn’t say all of that. I added a little bit, but that’s what he meant. I was probably, I’m guessing, 12 or 13 years old when I had a conversation with my father, or better yet, it was a monologue. He spoke, I listened. He wanted me to do something, and I don’t remember what it was. I’m 69 years old now, so it was a long time ago, but he wanted me to do something, and I have to tell you, I didn’t want to do whatever it was. But of course, I didn’t say anything to him, but somehow my facial expression betrayed my innermost thoughts. And he read my mind, and he blurted out as parents often do with pre-adolescent children, “You know, the Lord didn’t put you here just to consume the oxygen.”
Now I don’t think that was a philosophical, theological thought. I think it was purely a parental response. And I have two grown daughters so I know how parents do that. But the truth is there was wisdom in that statement. The Lord didn’t put me here, didn’t put you here, didn’t give any of us the breath of life, however long or short it will be, just to consume the oxygen.
Now there are students here who have clearly studied the life sciences and know about the process of photosynthesis. Am I right about that? You can’t see them, but they’re nodding. They know about photosynthesis—that process built into God’s biological creation whereby mammals, animals, exhale, if you will, carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen. The plants and vegetation take in the carbon dioxide that we have exhaled—unless we are waiting to exhale, as Toni Morrison taught us. They take in that carbon dioxide and they release the oxygen. Does anyone think that’s an accident?
It’s this symbiotic relationship. This relationship between animals and plants, between human beings and the rest of the creation is how God made the world and intends for it to function. We are here not just to consume the oxygen. We are here partially to consume it. We have a biological and ecological purpose, but we are not here just to consume, just to acquire, just to get. We are here to consume the oxygen and then to give carbon dioxide in plants and trees and those wonderful British gardens that I have seen all over the world. Our plants and vegetations give thanks that we are here, and we must give thanks that they are.
No, we are not just here to consume. We’re here to give. We’re here to give back to this world, give back to each other, give back to the God who made us. And the Bible tells us, though, in the Hebrew Scriptures, for example, Moses said it this way, “Man does not live by bread alone.” Of course you need bread, but you do not live by bread alone, “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The prophet Micah said it this way, “What does the Lord require of you?” Every human being. Micah said it this way, “The Lord requires of you to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” And Jesus of Nazareth said it this way, quoting Isaiah who’s the first lesson that we heard a few moments ago when he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty all those who are oppressed by anything, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, the great religions of the world. The Dalai Lama would tell you this. The Lord didn’t put us here just to consume the oxygen. He put us here to live and to give and to serve, and as Ignatius Loyola said, and not count the cost. Are y’all with me so far? Can I get an amen out of y’all? Could you say amen? Yeah, we are here today to give God thanks for someone who did more than consume the oxygen. That’s why we’re here. You can clap for her. Go ahead. It’s all right. It’s all right. I know we’re in the National Cathedral, and we have to be on our best behavior, but it’s all right. Clap inwardly. Oh, it’s all right. Yes. Yes.
Her Majesty in 1953, the year I was born, vowed that she would dedicate her life to the service of her people, and indeed, of humanity. And you know what? She kept her word. She kept her word. We are here to give God thanks that it is possible to serve and to keep your word. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said at the abbey the other day, “She served out of her religious faith. She served and dedicated her life to God and God’s service, seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth and His way of love as her way of life.”
Listen to what she said. This is Christmas 2014. “For me, for me, the life of Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and anchor to my life, a model of reconciliation, of forgiveness. He stretched out His hands in love, acceptance, and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek, to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”
A lawyer came to Jesus. I know there are lawyers in this room. A lawyer came to Jesus, as lawyers often did if you read the New Testament. And he came to him and he said, “Jesus, what is the secret to eternal life?” Which was a way of saying, what is the key to a life that matters now, and that as it matters now temporally will last unto eternity? And Jesus said, well, look, brother, you the lawyer. What does it say in the law of Moses? What did Moses say? And the Lord replied in Deuteronomy, Moses said the Shema, “Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And in Leviticus, he wrote, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said, you have just passed the heavenly bar exam. Do that. Love God and your neighbor, and you have found the key to life. Live and serve God. Live and serve your neighbor. Serve each other, and you have found the key to life that not even death can take away from you.
But this was a lawyer Jesus was talking to. Now I’m going to sit down in a minute; don’t worry. This is a lawyer Jesus was talking. And he said, this is good, Jesus, but you are a preacher and I’m a lawyer and we work with words. So can we define neighbor? Can we narrowly define neighbor? And Jesus didn’t play the game. He told a story and you know it as a parable of the Good Samaritan. It was a story of one person who helped another person who was of a different religion, who was of a different nation, who was of a different ideology, who was a different political party, who was a… Oh, I’m getting in trouble now. Who was from a different country, a different person. Jesus told the story of somebody who helped somebody else, over-transcending their differences and helped them just because they’re a human child of God. And therefore, my brother, my sister, my sibling. And He said, do that and you’ll be the neighbor, you’ll be the human that God intended.
God put you here to do more than consume the oxygen. But let me bring this to a conclusion. I was in the airport yesterday on my way here. And I was in line, and I had the collar on, and a man came up to me and he said, “How are you, bishop?” And he asked me, “Where are you going?” And so I told him, and he said, “That’s nice. She was a lovely lady.” And then I asked him, “So where are you going?” And he said, “My wife and I are on our way to Ukraine.” And I said, “What are you going to do?” He said, “We’re part of a medical team. My wife is from Ukraine and we’ve gone several times. But my faith teaches me I’ve got to do everything I can to help.”
I never asked him what faith he was. Never asked him what ethnicity he was. I never asked him was he gay or straight? I didn’t ask him any of the questions. I just simply opened my wallet and gave him the money I had in it. And those of you who know Episcopalians, you know that was a move. And then I thanked him, and he went on his way, and I went on mine. That’s why the Lord put us here, to honor God by caring for each other, loving and serving each other.
At the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, the great Mahalia Jackson stood up and sang one of Dr. King’s favorite songs that epitomized why he sacrificed his life. It said very simply:
If I can help somebody along the way, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody they’re traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.
If I can do my duty as a good person ought, if I can bring back beauty to a world of rot, if I can spread love’s message as the Master taught, then my living will not be in vain. Then my living will not be in vain.
Dear friends, the God who loves Her Majesty and receives her into the arms of that love created each one of us out of that fountain of love. And we are at our best when we live in that love. God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love. Amen.
1. A Change in generations
From Gay Jennings – “But what I am proudest of are the people I have had the opportunity to call into leadership. There has been a generational change in our church. The houses of General Convention are more racially diverse than they have ever been. A new generation of young leaders is on the rise in our legislative committees, thanks, in part, I would like to think, to the creation of additional leadership positions which I filled exclusively with younger deputies. At this convention we are focusing special attention on the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, which was composed almost entirely of millennial leaders.”
2. Videos from the Episcopal Church – the GC Show. Here is an example
Looking at Congregational Vitality in a different way – “that goes beyond average Sunday attendance, and really in terms of how lives are being transformed and how we can walk in God’s footsteps out in our community.
Another example from NC
3. Navigating the changes during the Pandemic
Six resolutions came about to help The Episcopal Church adapt to changes in society and find new ways of supporting the church’s mission and ministry, from experimenting with creative uses of technology to rethinking how congregations report membership and financial data.
“Little did we know when we began this work that a global pandemic would place the church in the midst of the greatest adaptive challenge of our lifetimes,” the Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, chair of the committee, told deputies …“The pace of congregational decline across the country has been accelerated by the pandemic, and there is great uncertainty about the future and financial viability of many of our churches
“We are truly navigating off the map. With the depth of challenges, the solution is not clear,” he said. The resolutions the committee proposed were intended “to position the church to address adaptive challenges and evaluate the experiments that are necessary to create our future.”
- A097 calls for an evaluation of the 80th General Convention’s use of technology to hold all of its legislative hearings and meetings online, possibly offering a model for future church governance meetings.
- A098 creates a task force to study how communication and collaborative tools can enhance the work of the church’s interim bodies.
- A099 relates to the church’s capacity to collect and study data on its adaptive efforts. The resolution specifically cites the need to fund “significant professional research expertise and capacity.” This is the only resolution of the six that wasn’t adopted, as the House of Deputies instead voted to refer the proposal back to an interim body to study further, for consideration at the 81st General Convention in 2024.
- A132 creates a task force to study “indicators of 21st century congregational vitality and how The Episcopal Church can collect data that measures those indicators.”
- A155 creates a task force to revise the financial page of the parochial report, filed every year by dioceses and congregations. Updating the parochial report form to better summarize congregational life was a top priority of the Committee on the State of the Church.
- A156 creates a task force to consider ways The Episcopal Church can re-evaluate how it counts membership to better align with how people today connect with the church including “a wide range of cultural and regional contexts.”
4. Bishop Curry
Preaching on the Book of Isaiah and its descriptions of the Babylonian exile, Curry compared that age of disorientation and turmoil to the past few years in the United States and the unprecedented disruption they have wrought
As a response to that , the Church was preparing evangelistic campaign reaching into the secular, non-Christian culture of America. “It was an attempt to take the way of love that we’ve been living with and working at and share this with the wider culture beyond the red doors of the church, to share something of the reality of this Jesus and his way of love, to share something of the reality of the possibilities that his way of love opens for all of God’s children
‘But as we were getting ready to do this, someone stopped us and asked, “Have we asked people in the society, who do you say Jesus is?” Maybe have we asked ourselves that? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that may be one of the most important questions even for the Christian. Who is Jesus Christ for you today? So we contracted with the Ipsos group, a global marketing group that does this kind of research. We partnered with them, and they conducted a poll of the American population. It was a comprehensive poll, which actually gave us a snapshot into the American population across all races, ethnic groups, all religious groups, all political groups, across geographical territories.
Eighty-four percent of the American population says that Jesus is an important spiritual figure worth listening to. Eighty-four percent across all groups
Then we asked them, “What about Christians? What about the church?” Well, they answered. Among non-Christians in particular, those who are not Christian, 50% associated Christians with the word hypocrisy; 49% with the word judgmental; 46% with self-righteousness; and 32% with arrogance. And then, nearly half of non-Christians in America—hear this—nearly half of non-Christians in America believe that racism is prevalent among Christians in the church.
Remember, 84% of the people surveyed across the board find Jesus attractive, something about him compelling. Eighty-four percent. The problem is there’s a gap between Jesus and his followers. Are you with me? And it’s that gap that’s the problem. It’s that gap that undermines our efforts to commend this Jesus and his way of love to a wider culture, to those who don’t have a religious background. Walking the way of unselfish, sacrificial love as Jesus taught us, closes the gap. Following the way of this Jesus, until his footprints and our footprints become indistinguishable, begins to close the gap
The study will be used to inform an upcoming social media evangelism campaign designed to bring Jesus’ message into secular American society – “to share this with the wider culture beyond the red doors of the church,” he said.
5. Stats! Stats! Stats!
Two women will lead the House of Deputies for the first time in history
Julia Ayala Harris is the youngest person to be elected president of the House of Deputies. She is also the first Latina to be elected to that post.
The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton of Olympia is the first ordained woman and the first Indigenous woman to be elected vice president of the House of Deputies.
The Hon. Byron Rushing of Massachusetts is the longest-serving deputy — serving in 16 conventions since 1973. At this convention he concludes serving as vice president of the House of Deputies.
The senior bishop here is Arthur Williams, Diocese of Ohio, who was consecrated bishop suffragan 35 years ago on October 11, 1986.
In the House of Bishops, there are 122 bishops and four bishops-elect. Of them, 38 are first-time bishops at a General Convention and 34 are women. Three of the four bishops-elect are women