Mission Possible: The Reality of Duality

Mission Possible: The Reality of Duality

Intro Written By: Caela Collins

Journey of Discovery with Indigenous Peoples (JDIP) Native American Heritage Story from Vicki MarkAnthony (Senior Warden at Christ Church, Easton)

Listen to Story in English
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Thanksgiving, like many holidays, holds a space for both joy and grief. It’s an opportunity to appreciate those who are with you while being in remembrance of those who aren’t. It’s a time of reflection, holding loved ones close to you, and sharing food as a communal act of love while holding the Native and Indigenous peoples within your prayers and hearts.

Old stories about “Pilgrims and Indians” have traditionally carved out a singular narrative for this feast day, which in turn lacks respect for Indigenous perspectives and realities. At first glance, these conversations are uncomfortable because they force us to grieve what we once knew and wholeheartedly believed—narratives that once looked like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa become distorted like Pablo Picasso’s Seated Woman, a space where we reckon with disenchanted layers of new information.

Left: Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci, 1500s) —– Right: Seated Woman (Pablo Picasso, 1932)

Although difficult conversations feel heavy, you may find sincere peace in knowing that doubt is actually a door. I read in Spirit Wheel: Meditations from an Indigenous Elder by Steven Charleston “Faith is not the absence of critical thought, But thought put to the greatest question… Religion not a court but a laboratory. We were not made to conform but to explore.” The Episcopalian community is shifting as we learn to unlearn. Without questions, we do not learn new information, and without listening as a form of active worship, we do not grow into the inclusive community God wants us to be.

There is power in duality, friends; it is a pillar of faith because, in a world with individualized perspectives, environmental variables, and hereditary factors, the truth is that there are multiple truths when it comes to lived experiences. We must hold space for multiplicity, like Pablo Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror. Duality is a sacred experience that allows us to stand in the infamous world of “Both/And” thinking. Without it, existence would be one-dimensional.

Girl Before a Mirror (Pablo Picasso, 1932)

Where there’s duality, there’s God…

  • Jacob was a cheater
  • Peter had a temper
  • David had an affair
  • Jonah was avoidant
  • Paul was a murderer
  • Thomas was a doubter
  • Moses stuttered
  • Lazarus was dead

Having hard conversations around Indigenous experiences was a mission Vicki MarkAnthony embarked on during her visit to the Cheyenne River Lakota Reservation in South Dakota, where she met up with 17 like-minded Episcopalians from Texas to work on three churches badly in need of repair, spend time with the children, plan activities, and learn from the elders (which required a lot of active listening).

Each day began and ended with communal devotions, led by one of my fellow missioners. Then we headed off to the day’s project, under the supervision of a woman with extensive experience managing disaster renovations. St. Andrew’s in Cherry Creek was not quite a disaster but in need of serious repair: windows were broken, floors had been flooded and warped, cracks in the wall were so wide the light came through, and both the outside and inside walls were in need of a paint job. The churches on the reservation are not just for worship but also for community gatherings, especially after a funeral or a baptism. And there are many funerals. When my former Rector, Ellen Huber, and her husband Kurt, formerly Rector of St. Peter’s Monroe, first arrived in 2020, they conducted over 50 funerals in the first month. Poverty, hunger, addiction, depression, COVID, and distances from healthcare have taken a toll on the Lakota people. But there is also much resilience, hope, and joy in each community.

Following the completion of each project, we celebrated with a Eucharist and sang Amazing Grace in Lakota before having a community meal. Since I had been asked to bring my banjo, the children gathered around, and we sang with joy. What a wonderful way to get to know the young ones of Bear Creek! At Cherry Creek, some folks played basketball with the teenagers while books and clothing were distributed after the meal. We learned how much the churches meant to the families in each community. Spending time with the elders gave us insights into their boarding school experiences, family traditions, love of the land, and connection to the horses, which freely roam throughout the indigenous communities. We also learned of the ongoing prejudices they experience from the non-natives, who own large tracts of rich crop land and horse and cattle ranches on the reservation, while the natives live on small plots in close communities.

At St. Andrew’s, we replaced broken glass with plexiglass, caulked the cracks, scraped and painted interior and exterior walls (painted in the 4 Lakota colors of red, yellow, black, and white), built a kitchen area for serving after weddings and funerals, cleared overgrowth, moved and reinstalled a wood stove, connected broken electrical outlets, dug drainage ditches, and installed new moldings and flooring. Only a few were construction experts; the rest of us learned on the job with lots of prayer. At St. John’s Eagle Butte, we painted the entry way (not technically a narthex since it leads to a community room) and repaired an exterior wall to the kitchen that a truck had driven through earlier that year. At the end of the week, we were invited to the Huber’s Black Horse Ranch, where they hold 4-H programs (America’s largest youth development organization) for the children, host summer camp programs, and offer Equine Therapy sessions (healing with horses).

We were invited to talk about the grief and joy we experienced while we were there and to spend time with the horses and nature, a source of healing. Lakota women made star quilts to present to the representatives of the three new churches. Christ Church Easton has recently installed theirs in the nathex, a symbol of a journey of discovery and a lament for our colonial sins.


Aid and Resources

If you are interested in following the Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission and/or the Black Horse Ranch, you can follow them on Facebook: Cheyenne River Episcopal or BlackHorseRanchEB, and their website is www.cheyenneriverepiscopalmission.com. You can make donations via PayPal. If you want to send checks, their mailing address is Rev. Kurt and Rev. Ellen Huber, PO Box 552, Eagle Butte, SD 57625.

An Open Letter

Written by Caela Collins feat. the Hispanic Ministry Network

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Without saying where you live, what you have, who you know , or what you do… Who Are You?

That question stumped you, didn’t it? Don’t worry; I’m pretty sure that’s a boat we can all collectively float in. When I first came across that question, it snatched away each and every safety blanket, leaving me exposed to fend for my identity in a way that required me to place my core under a spiritual microscope. It’s ironic, but the truth is, it’s easy to introduce ourselves through external things: job titles, favorite hobbies, who our close friends are, what town we live in, ect. But when those aspects are off the table, defining yourself, truly and internally, isn’t as easy. In order for other people to know who you are, you must do an internal inventory of the secret ingredients that make you, you and I can tell you, tracking down something as elusive as your core essence is courageous. To clarify: I’m not saying that the external things you connect with shouldn’t be important to you; anything that’s within your personal solar system holds value and is a great indicator of your orientation. I’m just painting a bigger picture, like René Magritte in La Clairvoyance, 1936.

The benefit of knowing the answer to the question above isn’t for yourself; it’s for the greater collective. When you know who you are at your core, you can establish the essence of your ministry and emit the very energy that represents your heart. That energy is what you want to contribute to the world as a means to aid all beings and free them from suffering. There’s beauty in knowing yourself because it is the very thing that helps build community beyond the surface, which is a journey one of our ministry networks has bravely embarked on.

With that said, let me re-introduce you to ECCT’s Hispanic Ministry Network:

An Open Letter:

From the Hispanic Ministry Network to the Diocese,

Our challenges are many, but we try to do God’s work with what we have. Our gifts are of love for one another, and our goal is to share that love with the larger community. Many of our parishioners speak monolingual Spanish. There are members who are monolingual in Spanish, some who are bilingual in Spanish and English, and some who are predominately English speakers. Some of the parishes are involved with a food pantry to assist those in need in the community. Many of our parishioners are working-class people who try to make ends meet to have food and shelter. Some work long hours to try to achieve this. The language barrier is overcome whenever diocesan events have translators from English to Spanish and when communications in social and electronic media are provided in Spanish. It opens the doors for the community and allows them to participate.

There are many cities and towns in Connecticut where there can be an Episcopal presence within the Latino community, which is a major opportunity for growth. The church has always been the number one source of social enjoyment for most families. It is usually the foundation that we get as children from our first educational lessons, beginning with learning our prayers. It’s where we are taught to have hope for medical and psychological healing and refuge. Religion encompasses every facet of our lives, as found in art and philosophy. The church plays a vital role in every community.

As the needs of the community transition, our hope is that the church can meet these new challenges. We are seeking potential leaders in our community to come and work with us and tap those who may want to discern in lay leadership and Holy orders, especially in the diaconate. There is currently one Latino deacon, one Latina transitional deacon, and five Latino priests: one Haitian Spanish speaker and two White Spanish serving in the eight parishes, ministering to the Latino community.

Amidst the challenges before us, we do try to find time for celebration for all God has given us through our various cultures in music, dances, costumes, singing, and, of course, food. Our music is rhythmic through our Spanish, Indigenous, and African influences. Our food speaks of an open invitation to the table, with all its cultural variety. Our costumes reflect our music: bright, colorful, and fun.

Ways to Engage with the Community: In order to engage the Community, we must engage in the resident’s lives.  We must invest in the Latino Community with tangible actions by implementing and offering…

  • Food Drives in front of Local Grocery Stores
  • Online Educational workshops via Zoom
  • Engage in Community Issues: homelessness, domestic violence, health care, ect.
  • Open Dialogue in safe spaces beyond Sunday for mass
  • Sharing Resources
  • Translation Services

We formally invite you to connect with your local communities and visit our community with questions, volunteers, and ministry. We are eager to connect with the wider ECCT collective and want to exchange ideas and resources. This letter is not only an opportunity for you to get to know us, but an invitation for us to connect on a deeper level as we continue to participate in God’s mission!

Primary contact for Ministry NetworkThe Rev. Dcn. Felix Rivera
E-mailfelix5312003@yahoo.com
Let’s Connect, Plan, and Brainstorm!

Cultural Identity

There is no one Latin America, or Latino or Latin American culture. We often hear the terms Hispanic and Latino used interchangeably; however, each term holds a distinct cultural nuance.

  • Hispanic: refers to individuals who speak Spanish as their first language. Typically, are from Spain or a country that has been colonized by the Spanish.
  • Latino/a/x: refers to individuals with Latin American roots/heritage. This term can be applies to those who speak a Latin based language such as Spanish, Portugese, and French. Typically, live in territories such as America, Haiti, and Brazil.

The heritage of Latin America blends indigenous, European, African, and Asian peoples, languages, and cultural traditions. Therefore, it is possible for those within this community to be considered White, Creole, Black, or Indigenous based on their unique ancestral lineage in which terms like Afro-Latino stem from.

What About Connecticut?

  • The Latino/Hispanic community in Connecticut makes up about 17% of the population.
    • A multi-cultural and multi-race community with origins primarily from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
  • Racial Makeup:
    • White (60%)
    • Black (15%)
    • Indigenous (5%)
    • Mixed also known as Creoles or Criollo (pronounced cree-oyo) between White, Black and Indigenous) (20%)
  • The largest concentration of Latinos (greater than 30%) are found in the following cities/towns of Connecticut:
    • Willimantic (47%)
    • Hartford (46%)
    • New Britain (43%)
    • Bridgeport (42%)
    • Byram (39%)
    • Waterbury (37%)
    • East Hartford (37%)
    • Poquonock Bridge (36%)
    • Meriden (36%)
    • New London (34%)
    • New Haven (30%)

Find Parishes

  • Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford
  • Church of Good Shepherd, Hartford
  • Trinity, Lime Rock
  • All Saints, Meriden
  • Saint John’s, Waterbury
  • Saint Luke & Saint Paul, Bridgeport
  • Saint John’s, Bridgeport
  • Betania, Stamford

Sin decir dónde vives, qué tienes, a quién conoces, o qué haces… ¿Quién eres?

Esa pregunta te dejó perplejo, ¿no? No te preocupes; Estoy bastante seguro de que es un barco en el que todos podemos flotar colectivamente. Cuando me encontré con esa pregunta por primera vez, me arrebató todas y cada una de las mantas de seguridad, dejándome expuesta a defender mi identidad de una manera que me obligó a poner mi núcleo bajo un microscopio espiritual. Es irónico, pero la verdad es que es fácil presentarnos a través de cosas externas: puestos de trabajo, pasatiempos favoritos, quiénes son nuestros amigos cercanos, en qué ciudad vivimos, etc. Pero cuando esos aspectos están fuera de la mesa, definirse a sí mismo, verdadera e internamente, no es tan fácil. Para que otras personas sepan quién eres, debes hacer un inventario interno de los ingredientes secretos que te hacen, tú y yo puedo decirte, rastrear algo tan difícil de alcanzar como tu esencia central es valiente. Para aclarar: no estoy diciendo que las cosas externas con las que te conectas no deban ser importantes para ti; cualquier cosa que esté dentro de tu sistema solar personal tiene valor y es un gran indicador de tu orientación. Simplemente estoy pintando un cuadro más amplio, como René Magritte en La Clairvoyance, 1936.

El beneficio de saber la respuesta a la pregunta anterior no es para tí; es para la comunidad. Cuando sabes quién eres en tu esencia, puedes establecer la esencia de tu ministerio y emitir la misma energía que representa tu corazón. Esa energía es la que quieres aportar al mundo como medio para ayudar a todos los seres y liberarlos del sufrimiento. Es hermoso conocerse a uno mismo porque es precisamente lo que ayuda a construir una comunidad más allá de la superficie, que es un viaje en el que una de nuestras redes ministeriales se ha embarcado con valentía.

Dicho esto, permítanme volver a presentarles la Red de Ministerio Hispano de ECCT:

Una Carta a la Comunidad:

Nuestros desafíos son muchos, pero tratamos de hacer la obra de Dios con lo que tenemos. Nuestros dones son de amor mutuo y nuestro objetivo es compartir ese amor con la comunidad en general. Muchos de nuestros feligreses hablan solamente español. Hay miembros que son monolingües en español, algunos que son bilingües en español e inglés y algunos que son predominantemente angloparlantes. Algunas de las parroquias participan con una despensa de alimentos para ayudar a los necesitados de la comunidad. Muchos de nuestros feligreses son personas de clase trabajadora que intentan llegar a fin de mes teniendo comida y alojamiento. Algunos trabajan muchas horas para intentar lograrlo. La barrera del idioma se supera cuando los eventos diocesanos cuentan con traductores del inglés al español y cuando las comunicaciones en los medios sociales y electrónicos se brindan en español. Abre las puertas a la comunidad y les permite participar.

Hay muchas ciudades y pueblos en Connecticut donde puede haber una presencia episcopal dentro de la comunidad latina, lo cual es una gran oportunidad de crecimiento. La iglesia siempre ha sido la fuente número uno de disfrute social para la mayoría de las familias. Generalmente es la base que obtenemos como niños desde nuestras primeras lecciones educativas, comenzando por aprender nuestras oraciones. Es donde se nos enseña a tener esperanza de curación y refugio médico y psicológico. La religión abarca todas las facetas de nuestras vidas, como se encuentra en el arte y la filosofía. La iglesia juega un papel vital en cada comunidad.

A medida que las necesidades de la comunidad cambian, nuestra esperanza es que la iglesia pueda enfrentar estos nuevos desafíos. Estamos buscando líderes potenciales en nuestra comunidad para que vengan a trabajar con nosotros y reconozcan a aquellos que quieran discernir en el liderazgo laico y las órdenes sagradas, especialmente en el diaconado. Actualmente hay un diácono latino, un diácono de transición latino y cinco sacerdotes latinos: un sacerdote haitiano hispanohablante y dos sacerdotes blancos que hablan español que sirven en las ocho parroquias, ministrando a la comunidad latina.

En medio de los desafíos que tenemos por delante, tratamos de encontrar tiempo para celebrar todo lo que Dios nos ha dado a través de nuestras diversas culturas en música, bailes, disfraces, cantos y, por supuesto, comida. Nuestra música es rítmica a través de nuestras influencias españolas, indígenas y africanas. Nuestra comida habla de una invitación abierta a la mesa, con toda su variedad cultural. Nuestros disfraces reflejan nuestra música: brillante, colorida y divertida.

Formas de interactuar con la comunidad: para involucrar a la comunidad, debemos envolvernos en la vida de los residentes. Debemos invertir en la Comunidad Latina con acciones tangibles implementando y ofreciendo…

• Colectas de alimentos frente a las tiendas de comestibles locales

• Talleres educativos en línea vía Zoom

• Participar en cuestiones comunitarias: personas sin hogar, violencia doméstica, atención  médica, etc.

• Diálogo Abierto en espacios seguros más allá del domingo para la misa

• Compartir recursos

•Servicios de traducción

Lo invitamos formalmente a conectarse con sus comunidades locales y visitar nuestra comunidad con preguntas, voluntarios y ministerio. Tenemos ansiedad de conectarnos con la comunidad ECCT más ampliamente y queremos intercambiar ideas y recursos. ¡Esta carta no es solo una oportunidad para que usted nos conozca, sino también una invitación para que nos conectemos a un nivel más profundo mientras continuamos participando en la misión de Dios!

Contacto principal de la Red MinisterialRev. Dcn. Félix Rivera
Correo electrónicofelix5312003@yahoo.com
¡Conectémonos, planifiquemos y hagamos una lluvia de ideas!

Identidad cultural

No existe una sola América Latina, ni una cultura latina o latinoamericana. A menudo escuchamos que los términos hispano y latino se usan indistintamente; sin embargo, cada término tiene un matiz cultural distinto.

Hispano: se refiere a personas que hablan español como su primer idioma. Por lo general, son de España o de un país que ha sido colonizado por los españoles.

Latino/a/x: se refiere a personas con raíces/herencia latinoamericana. Este término se puede aplicar a quienes hablan un idioma de base latina, como el español. Habitualmente viven en territorios como Sudamérica, Centroamérica y el Caribe.

La herencia de América Latina combina pueblos, lenguas y tradiciones culturales indígenas, europeas, africanas y asiáticas. Por lo tanto, es posible que aquellos dentro de esta comunidad sean considerados blancos, criollos, negros o indígenas en función de su linaje ancestral único del que provienen términos como afrolatino.

¿Qué pasa en Connecticut?

  • La comunidad latina/hispana en Connecticut constituye aproximadamente el 18% de la población.
    • Una comunidad multicultural y multirracial con orígenes principalmente de Centroamérica, Sudamérica y el Caribe.
  • Composición racial:
    • Blanco (63%)
    • Negro o afroamericano (12%)
    • Indígena, nativo de Alaska (1%)
    • Asiático (3%)
    • Mixto también conocido como criollo o criollo (pronunciado cree-oyo) entre blancos, negros e indígenas) (3%)
    • Hispano/Latino (18%)
  • La mayor concentración de latinos (más del 30%) se encuentra en las siguientes ciudades/pueblos de Connecticut:
    • Willimantic (47%)
    • Hartford (46%)
    • New Britain (43%)
    • Bridgeport (42%)
    • Byram (39%)
    • Waterbury (37%)
    • East Hartford (37%)
    • Poquonock Bridge (36%)
    • Meriden (36%)
    • New London (34%)
    • New Haven (30%)

Buscar parroquias

  • Catedral de la Iglesia de Cristo, Hartford
  • Iglesia del Buen Pastor, Hartford
  • Trinidad, roca de lima
  • Todos los Santos, Meriden
  • San Juan, Waterbury
  • San Lucas y San Pablo, Bridgeport
  • San Juan, Bridgeport
  • Betania, Stamford

Refugee: a Synonym for Christ

Written, Filmed, and Interviewed by Caela Collins

Listen to Story Here

“What’s your idea of a perfect day?” I quietly scanned the question, tracing the black font typed on a small strip of white paper that was neatly unfolded & laced between my fingers. The weight of this question was disproportionate to the thin sliver of paper it was printed on; so light that even a feather could outweigh it. Yet, there I was, calculating the formula for my perfect day that could fit in the span of 24 hours.

What do I like to do? What makes me happy… like really happy? What does “perfect” even look like? That heavy question on the thin piece of paper, gentle in its gaze, seemed to beam up at me, wide-eyed like an inquisitive child, eagerly waiting for my answer. With a few deep breaths, all the superficial things that once clouded my head, dissipated and the things that brought true joy to my soul shined bright like the sun.

So what did my perfect day look like?

Well, it was the ease of waking up to the absence of an alarm clock, a long hug from a loved one, putting my playlist on shuffle and every song being as good as the last, no skips required. It was getting a random compliment, not the kind of compliment that strokes an ego, but the kind of compliment that makes your inner light feel seen & appreciated. It was getting an extra donut free of charge at the drive-thru, meeting a kind stranger, finding the $20 bill you forgot about, deeply tucked into your wallet that your mom advised you to do in case of emergencies. Then it hit me, mom. It’s her, my dad, brother, grandmother, and every family member by blood or chosen that pours love into me.

At first, a perfect day was an accumulation of small simple moments that warmed my heart and grounded me in gratitude. However, the more granulated it became, I realized that it always led to sharing moments with the ones I loved most.

The above sentiment reigned true for the Karimi’s, a refugee family of seven, whom tightly held onto the notion that family was the most important remedy for turning even the most imperfect of days into something perfect.


“Jesus was born in a makeshift shelter, too — A place not really meant for human dwelling — And yet it was there that he met us, in the lowliest refuge. Two thousand years later, it’s good to remember That Christ is still being born, here and now, Most especially in places we’d rather not go,
Places from which we’d rather look away. God of illumination and incarnation, Open not only our eyes, but our hearts, That we may open, too, our hands And make generous offerings of love, As your holy light reflects from nylon tent flaps, Your holy song rises from a crackling campfire, Lit against the cold, against the night.
Amen.”
Prayer Written by Cameron Bellm
-Art Created by Kelly Latimore

We all know the Nativity story but as we explore diversified sacred images in our upcoming Annual Convention, we’re able to identify & reframe that story for what it truly is: a refugee story. Mary with child (Jesus) and Joseph were forced to flee, escaping persecution, from their homeland, a place that held everything they knew, but much like the Karimi’s, not everything they loved.

The Holy Family is still among us currently, in the faces of the refugee, the migrant, the immigrant, the poor and the oppressed. Many individuals are often in need of more clothing, blankets, food and better shelter; and much like the stable, Holy Advent, Clinton, opened their hearts and doors to a family seeking refuge.


The Karimi Family’s Journey, like tens of thousands of Afghans, began with the urgency to flee out of fear of persecution and escape from the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group whom took over Afghanistan in August 2021 after waging a twenty-year insurgency. For families like the Karimi’s, The Taliban targeted those who worked for the original government structure. After being badly beaten and hospitalized, the patriarch of the Karimi family, Mohammad Karimi, decided to find refuge, leaving the only home he has known.

The family escaped to Brazil, managing to live in a church basement for 3-4 months, then trekked to Tijuana, crossed into California, only to be arrested and placed in a ‘camp’ there. Unlike many refugees, the Karimi family was blessed to have contacts within the states, Saba and Mahdj, who opened their home to the Karimis. Without acquaintances who have gone before them and offered aid, there is a likely chance that the family would still be in that camp today.

Fast forward to December 2022, the Sunday before Christmas, the Karimi family attended a church service at Holy Advent, Clinton. From that point on their lives were forever changed:

Want to Help?

  • Help Financially: Checks can be written to Holy Advent Church, with ‘Refugee/ Asylum Seekers’ clearly written in the memo line.  All funds received will go directly to the Karimi Family.
  • Employment Opportunities (must be in Clinton or Remote): Please contact jrwagner04@gmail.com or maryetwagner@gmail.com

Continuing Community for 150 years

Interviewed by Caela Collins feat. The Rev. George Roberts, Rector of St. James, Farmington

What does it mean to be a church that has lasted 150 years and is continuing to last, through so many different changes throughout time? and What is unique to your parish that you feel has aided in being able to have such longevity?

  • There is a real weight and I mean that in the very best sense. A weight to responsibility maybe is privilege to be living into the reality of what started in 1873 October of that year, and that the life of this community that has grown, expanded, ebbed, and flowed over 150 years, holding that responsibility in 2023. To me it is a real privilege and blessing.
  • What has helped us endure for all those years is, and I think, is probably true for any church that’s been around for a really long time is our people themselves. They are incredibly spirit filled and dedicated people who have in various ways channeled the hope, the expectancy, the love of Jesus through the generations of this church. Through the extension of hospitality, primarily to be in the place where we stand still, are a vibrant community that is a real period of energy and growth.

Can you tell me about the history of St. James?

  • We had at one time in this church, four generations of the founding family or one of them, of the parish, The Mason family. Henry Hall Mason and his father, Charles Mason, were the primary architects and builders of the initial church sanctuary, which is still our worship space. Charles was an immigrant from England, who came to the Farmington valley in the 1850s, I think, and he and his son have built this church from native stone and lumber mainly from this mountain. They hauled it with a horse and cart to this site, and did a lot of the work themselves with of course with other people.
  • When I first arrived, Henry Mason’s grandson, another Henry, was an aging member of this parish, and his son, Henry, who we call “Skip,” is a member of our choir, an active member of our church, a member of the vestry. He came on this year, partly to help us usher in this 150th. Henry’s daughter, Anne Marie is a member of this parish, and his grandchildren were both baptized in this parish during my time here, and so there is still a living, active legacy of the father and son who built and helped begin this worshiping community 150 years ago, and started the construction of this church in 1898. And so, we’ve been in this physical space for 125 years this year.

How would you describe the Spiritual Atmosphere of St. James?

  • There’s all this legacy and you can feel it, really, when you go into the worship space. There are these echoes of nurturing, and welcome and invitation and love, that really permeates the fibers of the pews and the walls of the church and the altar, which was installed in 1910 by Henry Mason, who built it, and it was dedicated in that year. So there are all these really wonderful reminders of a distant past, but it’s not so distant that we don’t still feel connected to it.
  • What we are trying to do to honor that legacy of Eucharistic and congregational blessing is to continue that history and legacy of welcome. Everyone really who comes to me, and has decided to join St. James over the last 10 or 11 years, they just feel welcome here. They felt like this was home for them spiritually, and they were seeking, they were looking, and they found a home here because they felt that blessing of welcome here. It’s a really welcoming church physically and spiritually. That’s a legacy that was established long before I came here. It’s one that we want to continue to honor by the way that we conduct ourselves and the way that we open ourselves up to the people who come to us.

Can you just tell me a little bit about the welcoming energy of your church? Like if you had to put it into words, what aspects about your church, make it both physically and spiritually welcoming?

  • Physically, it feels like a welcoming place, which I know is hard to describe. But I came here from serving as an associate at a large, brand new worship space in Columbia, South Carolina, and kind of pristine, stained glass filled church that was beautiful acoustically, and just a physically beautiful church. I quickly discovered that this very simple New England style Episcopal Church just had a physical warmth that you feel when you come into the worship space. All the dark wood, and the carved very simple, detail to the lectern, and the pulpit, and the altar, and all of it has a very kind of homey sort of feel to it, a personal feel. So is there is that welcome that you feel from the physical space when you come into it. I believe we’ve worked really hard over the years, and certainly, since I came here, to be a church of noticing, so we notice people and sayings; so when people come into our space, we kind of gravitate toward them. I’d like to think in the best possible sense not overwhelming them, but noticing that they’re they that they’re here.

Let’s dive deeper into a culture of “Noticing” Can you explore that in more detail?

  • This isn’t just me, it’s from the ushers to the people in the pews, noticing that someone is new, noticing that someone is seeking, and coming to that person and talking to them. The same is true for lemonade on the lawn in the summer or coffee hour during the program year. That not having people come in and just kind of be feeling disconnected and wandering around but really noticing that they’re here and connecting with them in what I believe is a warm and inviting way, channeling the Spirit of Christ’s Welcome to people as they come through our doors.
  • When I had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with them in person, they’ve all mentioned how welcome they feel here, how invited and blessed they feel here; not in some kind of a generic sense, but they really feel a real spiritual, Christ centered connection. Feeling really connected to that open welcome that I think Jesus intends for all of us to experience in our worship communities.

Outside of the immediate Episcopal community how do you/ or do you connect with your local community, the neighborhood that the parish resides in?

  • Yes, we are in kind of a village, a primarily residential area and we’re surrounded by the boarding school, Miss Porter’s school, that is the girl school that’s right down the street from us, and has existed since before we did. We have a real what for us, and I think for them, too, is a really important connection. When COVID Initially came about, they asked us if we maybe had some space that they might be able to use, they were just trying to spread out, more social distancing, etc. So we invited them to use our parish hall during the week for classes. They were live streaming the class via video to the girls who were learning from home who had decided not to come back to campus, at least at that time.
  • We’ve had lots of connective energy, like that we had this past year, for the whole year, we’ve had Porter’s, intern; they have an intern program for juniors and seniors, where they can do real work in the community and learn something. One of the girls in the fall and two of them in the spring, working on specific projects related to our 150th. There was a girl in the fall, who designed our logo for the 150th in conjunction with our 150th committee. Then we had two girls in the spring that worked with me and created a video that is now on our main page. Really wonderful, kind of professional looking video, where they interviewed members of the parish about what they loved about St. James.
  • We’ve talked about doing like a Women’s Summit that would be hosted here, but essentially run by Porter’s that would do empowerment seminars for young women. And we always have a faculty member or two from Porter’s that are part of our community who’ve worked on those kinds of projects in the past.
  • I am the chaplain for the fire department fire houses. We have some church members from the Fire and Rescue Service in Farmington. We have cooperatively done first aid treatment days, CPR classes, we’re going to do another one of those in the fall that we host here but are actually done by members of the first responder community in Farmington.
  • The elementary school across the street, we’ve done some volunteering as story readers, etc. there and they have participated in our Thanksgiving basket collection that we do for the town of Farmington at Thanksgiving every year. Usually a kindergarten class will bring over one basket worth of stuff, and they’ll pull it over with a little wagon, and the whole class will come over and pull it over here.
  • We’re also involved heavily involved in New Britain with the Friendship Service Center, which is a full service. Homeless and substance abuse Center that provides residential treatment, residential housing, job counseling and coaching and then segue into apartments.

In regards to community engagement you’ve mentioned embracing failure through trial and error: Do you have any advice for other parishes who have had a failure, and trying to reorganize or create something new?

  • Yeah, I think that there has to be lay buy in, a group of people in your congregation, meeting with the leadership of any entity that you want to, in an area where you think you might want to exert some energy, and seeing what they need and asking them what they need, and how they envision a partnership working. So we got involved in the beginning in the area where they felt they had the greatest need, and as we got more involved, we realized there were other needs that they had as they were growing and expanding and we tried to be flexible and meet those needs, while at the same time continuing to come back to our community and saying, is this meeting our needs? And it’s okay to say okay, we believe this is part of our mission and ministry. And this is an area where we want to exert energy in. It’s also exploring what are the organizations that are doing this kind of work, and being willing if an organization no longer we feel is it is meeting that need that we have to exert energy. It’s being willing to pull back regroup, and say, Okay, do we need to explore other organizations and areas, that might be a better fit for this ministry?
  • Communication is tremendously important; and when it’s absent or lacking, it makes it hard to do the things that we need to do. So, openness, communication, being true to your mission, and being willing to reevaluate, I think those are the primary things that has been successful for us just in this one particular instance. But I think in all of the other things we’re involved in as well.

ECCT Iconography Project with Kelly Latimore

Interviewed & Voiceover by Caela Collins

Listen to the Story


With the support of Bishop Diocesan, The Rt. Rev Jeffrey W. Mello, on Tuesday, June 20, the Racial Healing, Justice & Reconciliation Network and the Office of Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice, and Reconciliation created an Art Exhibition (on display until Convention; all are welcome to come and view) at The Commons, Meriden which diversifies sacred images as an embodiment of our collective spirituality followed by a lecture with artist, Kelly Latimore.

Kelly Latimore is one of the most celebrated artists of contemporary religious icons, that’s dedicated to prayerfully creating art depicting “God in plain sight.” Latimore’s modern take on the centuries-old practice of iconography in recent years fuses bible imagery and modern cultural resets. He substitutes well-known biblical figures for those who represent the marginalized and oppressed. For instance his piece, “Mama,” a pietà icon, which represents the 13th station: ‘Jesus is taken down from the cross’. In this image, Jesus is depicted as the late George Floyd, an image that was carried by Black Lives Matter marchers.

The below artwork was purchased by ECCT in June 2023

Mama

Kelly Latimore 


St. Joseph

Kelly Latimore 

Artist Statement:

As an artist, I’m entering into this improvisation or this dialogue, which I think doesn’t happen in a lot of artists’ work. Working on this artwork with churches can be very hard. But what is so gratifying and is a gift to me is that part of the work: the communality, the conversations about images that mean something to them and that want to push them toward communities and push them toward new ways of being in the world and new ways of relating to one another. I wouldn’t be able to enter into that if I wasn’t doing this work specifically, so I think it’s just about receiving those gifts and doing the best I can to translate that gift [of commonality] into the work.

The Benefits of Silence

“We are just constantly inundated with images. What happens, especially with the social media world, TikTok, Instagram, whatever, is that we can be so quick to speak about something. I hope my art has the potential to teach us not to speak into something but to learn how to observe, to be still, and observe something. And that’s my hope for these images, that they can potentially create dialogue. Not only an internal dialogue but also a dialogue between each other. And that just observing and not speaking into something, I think, is the first part of connecting to the piece of art, whether it’s art in churches, in this iconography, or elsewhere.” -Kelly Latimore

Food for Thought

“What is our church art for? Is it glorified wallpaper, or can it be something that can help us see each other, see in new ways and see God in new ways?”

Reflection: Invitation to Holy Lent 2023

February 22nd marks the beginning of the season of Lent

If you’re reading this, you’re likely not a stranger to the season of Lent. And yet, if you’re a human with life demands and commitments, Lent seems to sneak up every year, surprising us with how far into the calendar year we are. Perhaps even tempting us to double down on not-yet-enacted-upon New Year’s resolutions.

Crucifix

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.” The Book of Common Prayer, 265, Liturgy of Ash Wednesday

These words from the Ash Wednesday liturgy give us some anchors: anchors that provide more than just a chance to double down on resolutions, anchors that give us insight into how Lent might be less a season “to do” (or, “to don’t”); and more a season “to be” with God in a potentially deeper and intentional way.

What might the invitation for “self-examination and repentance” look like?

Our siblings in 12 step recovery programs are some of the experts, here: the fourth step in recovery calls for making a “searching and fearless inventory of ourselves”. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions offers this caution: “Without a searching and fearless moral inventory, most of us have found that the faith which really works in daily living is still out of reach.” For those of us feeling stuck in our faith journey, this is a space for curiosity, giving us the chance to sit with our deep selves and with God. This is an invitation to ask about where our resistance and “stuckness” sit, preventing us from moving closer to God and our siblings in Christ.

What does the invitation to prayer, fasting and self-denial look like for you this Lent? How and where are you making space for the Holy?

In Pursuing God’s Will Together, Ruth Haley Barton gives us this helpful description of discernment: “Discernment, in a most general sense, is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God – both in the ordinary moments and in the larger decisions of our lives.” Maybe the invitation to prayer, fasting and self-denial looks like giving up chocolate. Yet, Barton’s description, and the invitation of Lent bids us look past chocolate or wine or too many visits to Starbucks, to see how God is active in the mundane and ordinary slivers of our lives.

Finally, what does the invitation to God’s holy Word look like for you this Lenten season?

What a gift we have in Scripture and in our liturgical life that steeps us in Holy Scripture week after week! Yet how invested are we in the capacity for Scripture to be the lens through which we see the world?


At the end of it all, the invitation to a holy Lent is a gift the church extends to each of us, inviting us to seek and see the spaces where we might move ever-so-closer to God and one another. If you’re overwhelmed by all that this invitation might mean for you, take a deep breath, light a candle and make space for the Holy. Start there.

Written By: Rebekah Hatch

Is She Not a Carpenter’s Daughter?

Interviewed By: Caela Collins

On Monday, January 30th The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey W. Mello. received a gift, an exterior portrait of Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, from Cathedral artist, Deborah Simmons which led to us learning more about her story as an artist. Nothing prepared us for the eclectic interwoven aspects of visual arts, music education, and mathematics that cohesively danced to the heartbeat of a rich lineage. Nothing prepared us for the spiritual intergenerational journey that laid down the literal and metaphorical foundation for boatbuilding.

Deborah Simmons, originally from Greensboro, North Carolina is a current Christ Church Cathedral attendee and a Music Professor & Program Coordinator of the Music Studies Associated Degree program at Manchester Community College, soon to be CT State Community College-Manchester. Her notabilia does not end there, she’s also a digital artist that created works coined as “enhanced photographs,” a process in which she draws directly onto photographed images, similarly to the art piece gifted to our Bishop Diocesan, and you probably guessed it, she is also a boat builder!


What’s fascinating about Deborah Simmons is her deep intergenerational connection that spiritually led her to the craft of boat building:

I have a genetic connection to boat builders and shantymen* (African sailors who sung using songs of hymnal & gospel descent to synchronize the pulling of their nets). My father, William Otto Simmons, Jr., was an electronic technician for the post office in Greensboro.  Using the G.I. Bill from his time in the final years of WWII, he enrolled at North Carolina A & T University.  His degree in commercial engineering gave him the skills in carpentry, plumbing and electrical. When I was little, he would teach me how to use tools to build things.”

How Simons arts discipline served as a basis for her boat building:

“My father was my first music teacher. By 4th grade he purchased a plastic guitar that could be tuned and a guitar method book. He had taken a semester of music theory in college. I flipped a coin to determine if my major would be visual art or music so I attended Winston-Salem State University and majored in music-bass clarinet with a minor in piano.  In 1979, I received scholarships to attend Teachers College Columbia University.  Completed degrees in Music Therapy Special Ed, Masters of Ed in Music Education, and a Doctorate in Music Education.”

Deborah Simmons first Episcopal experience via her Music Theory Special Ed Degree:

“I did an internship in Southbury, CT. My roommate, Patty Visk, was from Fishkill, NY.  Visiting her folks on the weekends, we attended church.  Her family were members of the Episcopal Church. I was raised United Church of Christ.  Learning about her church was an eye opener.”

How her Doctorate in Music Education led to Visual Arts:

“To achieve the doctorate in music education, I had to leave the music therapy field and return to traditional teaching.  It took my mother, grandmother and godmother passing in 1985-1986 to arrive at the conclusion that I had to leave NY. Meeting an administrator from the Hartford School system on one of the flights home led to my being employed at Fox Middle School. I work there for 7.5 years before taking the position at Manchester Community College. In 2016 we became an accredited institution by the National Association for Schools of Music. A benefit of working at the college is being able to take courses for free.  Since my employ in 1995, I have taken numerous visual art courses.  The courses included ceramics, 2/3D design and two studio drawing courses.”

Simmons calling to water:

“For many years I lived in the West End of Hartford. Teaching in Hartford and working in Manchester I had to cross the river every day.  I began to see the river.  Living so near the CT river, I begun to doing map art.  I would take nautical charts of the river and coastline and enhanced them using inks and gold leaf. Around 2010, I was invited to exhibit in a group show with the theme about water.  I had a crazy idea to build a boat and incorporate the river map design down the center console.  The exhibition was cancelled due to a curatorial change with the gallery, but I learned how to build a boat.”


With no formal boat building knowledge, Deborah managed to pull from her childhood upbringing around music, art, and math that aided her in constructing her very first live boat, The Mende Libertè which translates to “Mende Free.” That same boat she crafted with her own hands won 1st place in 2015 for both ‘small craft dingy,’ which is maritime lingo for “small boat,” and judge’s choice award at the Mystic Seaport Exhibit.

“One thing lead to another and I decided to exhibit the boat at the 2015 Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport. I won 1st place judge’s choice and 1st place small craft dinghy.  At the end of the weekend I was given a piece of Iroko wood used for the decking of the Amistad replica.  I was told by Quentin Snediker, at the time Director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.”

What’s interesting is that she was able to infuse actual wood from The Amistad, an infamous 1839 sailing vessel which illegally captured enslaved people who managed to regain control of the ship. A case well-known to the New Haven, CT community that shook the legal & diplomatic foundations of the nation’s government and brought the issue of enslavement to the forefront of American politics. Resulting in the Africans winning their freedom before the US Supreme court in 1841 and returned to their homeland.


MATTHEW 13:55

54 He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

Deborah Simmons’ story is a powerful one within our Episcopal community and is a beautiful tale that exhibits the power of our intergenerational roots. We highlight her as Black History month comes to a close. She is a great addition to #EpiscopalBlackHistory and jumpstart to Women’s History Month. There are not many POC or women within the current maritime industry and Deborah’s story reminded us of the above bible verse: Although many were astounded by her wisdom & craftsmanship as a newcomer to boat building she leaned into her lineage and gained the nautical knowledge from her ancestors and carpentry skillset from her father. In response to those who may have questioned her belonging, Is she not a carpenter’s daughter?

Taking a PAGE from Page Pelphrey’s Devotional

Written By: Caela Collins

Parishioner from Christ Church, Guilford has been selected to write the February entries for Forward Movement

Page Pelphrey, originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, now a parishioner from Christ Church, Guilford, has been selected to write the February entries for Forward Movement, a devotional booklet they publish called Forward Day by Day. Page has a beautiful backstory that led her to take the leap and submit her writings to Forward Movement.

Page is a self-proclaimed Pre-cradle Episcopalian, “All 4 of my grandparents were Episcopalian…they went to the same church. My parents met at church.” She can remember the Forward Day by Day publication as long as she can remember. Her maternal grandmother, also named Page, was an avid reader of the Forward Movement; so much so that it was part of her morning routine, paired with coffee of course!

“My grandfather would bring her coffee… She started her morning with the Forward Day by Day and her Bible.”

Page began reading the publication herself six years before submitting her writing samples. What’s powerful about Page’s story is that her submission was a leap of faith.


“What if they don’t like it?” she thought.

With witting as a hobby and not being formally trained as a writer, the teacher of 25 years, drummed up the courage to submit her devotional writings that she wrote 2-3 years ago. So what gave her that push you’re probably thinking?

“Timing, and you hear that still small voice, that nudge, I think when things don’t go away, when that small voice, when you listen, and it doesn’t go away, and it doesn’t change, it’s time to act on it.”


The inspiration we’d like you to gain from this story is to trust in yourself. God gifted all of us with intuition and speaks to us through our thoughts. You may be feeling hesitant to make a change or embark on a new direction. The path less traveled is a bumpy one but it is so full of promise once you decide to forge it. An unknown path means endless opportunity. If Page decided to leave her devotional writings in her drafts folder, we would never have the opportunity to gain insight from her talent as a now published writer. So Take the Leap, you never know where God is trying to lead you.

“Pray, pray, pray. Follow and listen for that voice. The voice isn’t going to tell you to do anything illegal. Follow your intuition. For me, for me, it’s that still small voice of God. Just let your heart and your gut lead you. You have to get over the fear of rejection, that’s the one thing that stopped me a lot of times. If they say no thankyou, know that something else is coming along.” -Page Pelphrey



Reflection: Puri(fire)

February 2nd is the Feast of The Presentation of Our Lord

Previously, we discussed the conversion of St. Paul, the Apostle who was blind, not just of sight, but blind of heart. After regaining his sight, he was able to look at people he held bias against differently than before. From this story we learned what it means when our faith lacks love. When we hold space for love within our faith, we can see God in others.

This week as we venture into February we reflect on the presentation of baby Jesus, when Mary and Joseph took him to the temple. Luke 2:22 narrates the purification ceremony, required by the law of Moses, that takes place 40 days after a 1st born son is brought into the world.

During this ceremony a burnt offering occurs: a symbolic representation of commitment & surrender to God. A burnt offering, which translates to “ascent” or “stairway” in Hebrew (olah), is a way to atone for sin and show appreciation for the Lord.

Much like the burnt offerings given during the purification ceremony at the temple, this is a time when we offer ourselves to the Lord and surrender to His refining fire; creating in us a pure and clean heart, removing any impurities that blind us, similarly to Saul. There may be periods of discomfort as God purifies us from within to gain clearer sight but let this process encourage us, as it is his overriding commitment to grow us closer to Him.

The Presentation of Our Lord poses a larger theme about ascending to love through God’s light of revelation, Jesus Christ. As our hearts and minds become illuminated by the purifying light of Christ on this day, let it further reveal the significance of acting in harmony as God’s creation, not only within ourselves, but also with others around us. When we activate the spirit of unified love, we enter an expansion that reflects spiritual growth.

When we give unconditional love to our siblings in Christ and compassion to ourselves, it creates a cycle of love that flows back to us, allowing us to truly see the light, God’s grace, and the love of Christ, in everyone. The only way we can truly be siblings in Christ is to love like Christ which will bring about a new way of belonging.

The Season of Refinement is about showing up and making a conscious effort to grow our hearts in the light of Christ and expand our experiences to a boundless loving mindset so we may present ourselves to God in a way that Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple. Consider your community and what needs to be tested by refiners’ fire to look more like God’s Kingdom.


You have a deep knowing that when you pray, meditate, or simply sit in stillness that you open a channel of connection to God, where loving energy and information flows to you and through you.

Meditate on these Affirmations for Balance:

“I am calling in Harmony as God Refines me:”

“Purify my Body.”

“Purify my Heart.”

“Purify my Mind.”

“Purify my Spirit.”

Written By: Caela Collins


Reflection: From Saul to Paul

January 25th is The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

Paul the Apostle

Before Saint Paul was the Apostle, he was Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of those who followed and believed in Jesus Christ.

When he set out to find and persecute Christians in Damascus, a bright light blinded him, which was the risen Jesus himself. After that moment his heart was forever changed and he became Paul the Apostle.

Similar to Saint Paul the Apostle, we’ve all experienced having a change of heart, which is part of God’s refining process. For gold to become pure, it must be tested in fire. Much like the bright light of Jesus that blinded Saul, there will be fires sent to test the genuineness of our faith.

This encounter is significant because it reveals to us how Jesus has the power to create in us a sincere change of heart.


We Encourage you to explore The Conversion of Saint Paul and discover ways in which your heart has changed and can still be changed in a season of refinement.

Meditate on these Affirmations for a Renewed Heart and Spirit:
“Burn me Beautiful.”
“Burn me Lovely.”
“Burn me Righteous.”
“Burn me Holy.”

Written By: Caela Collins


Paul the Apostle