Observance of the 175th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Connecticut

Observance of the 175th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Connecticut

Written, Filmed, and Photographed by: Caela Collins

On Sunday, January 14th at Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, we reflected on a significant milestone in our diocesan history: the 175th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in CT. We were filled with both gratitude for the progress we’ve made and a deep sense of responsibility for the work that lies ahead. This observance is a symbol of the beginning of a journey that calls our attention to Lamentation, Healing, and Celebration. The service does not mean to suggest that we have achieved a goal, but that we strive to seek visible and concrete ways to make amends with our history and our people.

Digital Storytelling Video Series

The Reverend Canon Harlon Dalton

“I am still basking in the afterglow.  The service was rich, honest, and deeply rooted in our faith.  Food for the mind.  Food for the heart.  Food for the road ahead.  La luta continua.” 


The Reverend Canon D Littlepage

“I was moved by the service, and grateful for the thoughtfulness that went into crafting the flow of music, prayers, scriptures, and meditations. As I prepare to join the staff of ECCT as Canon for Advocacy, Racial Justice, and Reconciliation, I was excited to see the collaboration among the Ministry Networks that were involved. The service was a wonderful reminder that I am stepping into a stream of intention and action that has already been flowing and filled me with hope that Episcopalians across Connecticut have not grown weary but instead are committed to the continued work of shaping the world around us more and more into a reflection of the Reign of God.”

How ECCT is Continuing the Work:

At the 2023 239th Annual Convention, Resolution 6 was passed, acknowledging the 175th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the State of Connecticut. This resolution led to an acknowledgement of the pain and injustice of Connecticut’s 200+ year legacy of slavery and the complicity of the leaders and members of The Episcopal Church.

Further regarding this: in “2020, the 236th Convention overwhelmingly passed Resolution 7, which directed the bishops to create a task force as to reparations by ECCT in partial compensation for 400 years of discrimination and bias based on race.” This led to the passing of Resolution 5, where the 239th Convention of ECCT requested that the Mission Council appropriate an additional $10,000 for a reparation fund.

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
Escuchar cuento en Español

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

Listen to Story in English
Escuchar cuento en Español

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

Understanding Juneteenth Beyond June

Written and Filmed by Caela Collins

Today marks exactly one month following the Juneteenth National Celebration. As of June 17, 2021, The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was passed by Congress with unanimous consent. This bill was passed over to President Biden whom signed it into law, making Juneteenth (June 19th) a federal U.S. holiday. Although Juneteenth is a fairly new addition to our list of U.S. federal holidays, it has been a core societal reset which flung the gates of God’s beloved community wide open; challenging the world to be the community God called it and needs it to be*. Stemming back to June 19, 1865, freedom from enslavement was embraced by more than 250,000 African Americans by executive decree.

For “Sacred White Folk,” a term used by Dr. Christena Cleveland, social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist who has collaborated with the ECCT Office of Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice, & Reconciliation, Juneteenth is a celebration that can be widely celebrated alongside your Black and Brown siblings in Christ due to the divine nature of diversity. From lush green forests to dry sandy deserts, or the luminous stars within the night sky to the pitch-black depths of the frigid ocean, we can note God’s intentionality of diversity. The extent of physical variation within God’s creation is a reliable citation for the Creator’s purpose of painting a beloved community on this earthly canvas.

Quote: The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey W. Mello:

“Jesus is the gatekeeper, not us…I hope you will challenge the church to be the community God calls it and needs it to be, I pray this room will not rest until the church lives up to its promise of being a place of love, and support, and community for ALL…I ask you to join one another, join together, in flinging the gates of God’s beloved community wide open, so that all who seek God may find and know God. That, my friends, is your task, that is OUR shared task and we will keep doing it with God’s help until everyone has life and has it abundantly. “

How to Celebrate Juneteenth

  1. Learn more about the holiday.
  2. Teach others, including children, about the holiday.
  3. Read books about Juneteenth.
  4. Watch videos and documentaries about Juneteenth.
  5. Have a Barbecue Family Feast highlighting red colored foods like fruit punch, red meat, watermelon, strawberries, and red velvet cake, symbolizing the bloodshed, sacrifice, ingenuity, and resilience of enslaved ancestors.
  6. Support Black-owned businesses.
  7. Listen to music from Black artists. June is also Black Music Month.
  8. Visit an African American Museum.
  9. Host a Juneteenth information session at your parish and hire a speaker of color.
  10. Create a Juneteenth inspired Liturgy via hosting a Juneteenth Sunday Service and invite locals within your community to attend and learn.
  11. Learn more about your parish’s past by connecting with the Witness Stones Project.
  12. Collaborate with local Black churches to learn about Juneteenth and its tie to Christianity as a time of Jubilee.
  13. Connect with our Office for Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice, & Reconciliation.
  14. Write a card or kind note or prayer for your Black and Brown siblings in Christ, appreciating their contributions and spread the gift of love.
  15. Contact and coordinate with your local towns or DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) Leadership to find out what Juneteenth events are happening within CT!

A Great Example

On June 18th, 2023 St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Hebron hosted a Juneteenth Service. In creating this Juneteenth service, the parish did something groundbreaking by having the descendants of formerly enslaved persons by the parish’s 1st rector officiate the service.

Quote: The Rev. Ron Kolanowski:

“While I was away at a family wedding, I was confident that our lay leadership and others in the wider community would join hands to make this a memorable experience for all.  The descendants of formerly enslaved persons by our first rector took an active part in leading much of the service.  The family is half Muslim and half Christian, and both took active part in the service.  We’re especially indebted to Zakiyyah Peters Hasan for bring us a powerful word for that day and helping to shape the service to reflect the values of all.”

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?”

From Longing to Belonging

Interviewed & Written By: Caela Collins

What if I told you belonging was singular? Often times, we package belonging as a way to be accepted and folded into communal spaces outside of ourselves. But what’s community when you aren’t even home within the confines of your own body? Who is the representative that stands in the place of your true reflection? What masquerade ball has your soul spinning around eggshells, dizzying your identity in the process?

When you come to the realization that belonging doesn’t require any external deliberation and it is only you who has that voting right, you step into your power of belonging to self. I won’t sugarcoat this journey; belonging is a consistent act that takes courage. It requires you to stand alone and belong to yourself above all else. Being a person of color requires a daily practice of choice: choosing to unapologetically stand firm in who the Divine has beautifully and intentionally created you to be, even if you are cast against a stark background. 

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI for short), a time where we highlight communities with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries, consisting of approximately 50 distinct ethnic groups and speaking over 100 languages. I had a powerful conversation about cultural identity and the notion of belonging by coming home to oneself with Ranjit K. Matthews, our Canon for Mission Advocacy, Racial Justice & Reconciliation who is Indian-American.


Ranjit’s Cultural Roots:

My parents came here from South India, in the early 1970s. And they came separately. And they met here through mutual acquaintances, and they got married in around the Boston area. And you know, we’re from a part of India that’s called Kerala, which is in the southern part of India, which is a state where the Apostle Thomas traversed from the Middle East down to Kerala and evangelized. My spouse, Johanna and I, and my family, all of us are sort of a part of that Marthoma lineage and Mar Thoma means Church of Thomas. So, that’s where we’re from, we trace our lineage from Thomas.

Intergenerational Journey and ties to Priesthood:

My great grandfather was a Mar Thoma priest, and people from all over Kerala and I think South India would actually travel to go see my Veliappacha and my Veliammachi, that’s what we call them, to have my great, great grandfather pray over them, because he was known for his gift of healing. People would come and stay with them for a couple of days while he would offer prayers often times coming with tears. So that’s sort of the lineage. When my great grandfather died, my father wanted to be a Priest and follow my grandfather into ministry. That’s why he came to the United States. My dad would do lots of other jobs in the broader Boston community, like, working as a Therapist at McLean Hospital, in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was an executive director of the Asian American Resource workshop. He was a banker and an insurance agent. My mom held a steady job as a hematologist at Mass General Hospital.

Finding a Church Community in the U.S.

My dad had a yearning to follow God. He came to this country to go into ministry, and he completed his master’s in divinity at Princeton, but didn’t have a community around him. And so because of that, we went to a lot of different churches in and around Massachustte, because he was responding to his call, and then found a home in the Episcopal ChurchAnd at that point, I was 11 years old. I guess, felt home at a church and outside of Boston in Milton, where we were going, I felt really moved there by a sense of embrace that I found from, a Priest there now a colleague, and a dear friend of mine.

Unknown Untethering

I went to college in, Washington, DC, and there, I was looking for an Episcopal presence. And I remember going because I wanted to replicate that same experience that I had at St. Michael’s in Milton, and find an equally embracing community. I found a community that a first was community oriented; but the theology they were preaching and espousing was rigidly fundamentalist, and conservative. I was instructed to not hang out with people who were from different religions, this is what we call Purity Culture, and those are my friends. I had friends who were Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Jewish, really from all over. I had to really give up part of myself to be part of the space and that was really awful.  I gave up going dancing and even gave away my Hip Hop CD’s, which I was told, were not of God.

The Turning Point

But, it really came to the fore, in my sophomore year, when my family, and I, my dad, my mom, and my sister, we traveled to India. We did that every four years, and my parents hope was for my sister and I to be connected to our family’s heritage and keep my sister and also on a cultural level. I remember my father, who was now deeply within the ordination process within the Episcopal diocese of Massachusetts. He was very open and I was this guy that had these blinders on. I remember sitting with my father on my grandparents, veranda, one afternoon. I remember I was going through theological questions, of who was saved, who was not saved. My father, in his wisdom, said, you know, Ranjit, “Do you believe that everybody here in India, who are not Christian, do you believe they’re going to Hell? And then after a pause, he said, “Because that’s not the type of God that I believe in.” That questioned was a seed in my heart and it opened up my theological and spiritual imagination.

Two weeks later, my family and I were in a cathedral in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. We visited a city called Mysore, and the Cathedral which had trappings of British colonialism. But we walked down, we took off our shoes, and were wowed by the beauty of this spiritual place.  When we were heading back up, at the top of the stairs were two girls who had leprosy. And leprosy at that time was, I don’t know, was maybe a little bit more common. But they didn’t have any legs and they were pushing themselves around on like make shift skateboards and one of them very powerfully looked down at me while I was on the stairs, and, you know, she touched My Feet, which in India, within different cultures that are in India, it’s a sign of respect. You touch their feet, and you bring it to their mouth, or to the chest. And she did that to me. And I felt on a spiritual level, I felt like she was saying to me, Ranjit just be who you are, don’t judge anybody just being who you are. And I was seeing God in her and she was saying to me, you know, come and be here with me and India and fight for justice. And so that moment with her, that really opened my eyes. I think, that was my is a my most spiritual mystical moment was that moment, that was my awakening. And that moment led me into ministry, you know, in different work in South Africa, and Tanzania, and different places across the United States.


Ranjit K. Matthews with family in Kerala, India

How do you Honor the Belonging with Self?

I try to challenge the norms of White Supremacy by what I wear, my kurta’s, and things that I wear, even the foods that I eat, you know, even how I eat, it’s not just something that’s performative, it’s something that is who I am, right.

And so I have a lot of joy, and even what, you know traveling to India a month ago, people might consider going to be a vacation, but for me, it was, you know, it wasn’t really a vacation, but an real opportunity to deepen my connection, reconnect with my roots, and then help our boys, who are American through and through really connect to their foremothers, their extended family. It’s so deeply critical that we went on that trip, so that they can experience the beauty of our culture, of our food, of our clothing, of our language, of the noise, the color, just all of that beauty that I’m so proud of now. I didn’t have much appreciation of my culture growing up, from my name that teacher’s and others would struggle to pronounce, the aroma of mom’s delicious Indian cooking in my house when friends would come over, but it’s something that I’ve come to really embrace as part of me, so deeply a part of me.

What does your Absolute Unapologetic Full Self look like?

Just someone that is free. That doesn’t cater to the norms of society, that would allow me to be unapologetically me and not, not diminish myself. My great uncle Alex, who had many vocations as a physicist, a psychotherapist, like meditation guru who. I remember one time on the T in Boston, as we were heading for my father’s ordination. I remember seeing him dancing, without any inhibitions. All of us, his relatives are sitting on the train, a little embarrassed but our great uncles, he dancing because he’s free. He’s was unencumbered by the fact that people were staring at him how other people are looking at him that he’s free. And so remembering that and bringing him into my, into my mind space into my heart space, and realizing that he is part of my ancestry.

What Antidote can you give to those Seeking to Belong to themselves?

My real medicine is silence you know, and the quiet. That’s my prayer time when I can go so fully internally with God and that is such a real important gift to me to be able to do that. It allows me to space my to be authentic self. Reminding myself of my food, or language and culture, those nourishing spaces that that again, remind me of who I am. But we do have a thing, create our own space, and God has given us agency. So what has been important for me, is in whether they are groups of Beloved’s in my life, have friends in my life, that have nurtured me and connected with me. Sending me affirmations of love, irrespective of the institution or place, it’s just a space to be me, a space to be free and to take down your mask. Rest, being in touch with your body, if my mind, if my body, if my soul is rested, then it might be a space to dream and think with some theological imagination.

When you enter into a place that doesn’t necessarily look like you, those are the things that give me spiritual and mystical strength from God, you know, to, to show up unabashedly to show but some boldness, and with some strength.

Oral History: Anne Rowthorn

An Interview with Anne Rowthorn: Environmentalist, Author, and Religious Lay Leader

Transcribed & Interviewed By: Greg Farr and Published By: Caela Collins

QuestionAnswer
Greg FarrAnne Rowthorn
Fun Fact: Anne’s husband is The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey W. Rowthorn, Episcopal Suffragan Bishop of CT that was later appointed U.S. Bishop in Europe

I was very impressed though with the scope of your dissertation, the topic was on the development of recreational therapy in the United States, right? And you looked at the early 20th century all the way up to the present day. So that must have been very formative in how you thought about things in your later career endeavors?

Well, you know, I like the historical process and I enjoyed doing it. And I liked that recreation therapy really came out of the settlement houses in Chicago and New York, and it was helping a great deal in hard times. And there was a historical thread – I was a delegate to the diocesan convention. I was a New Haven deanery delegate and at that time that the church was organized not in regions but in deaneries. And we had a small suburban church in Hamden, where we lived, and we had a general annual general meeting where they elected the vestry members. And there was the delegate to the deanery [position] to the diocese, and nobody would take that position. So, they said, “Well, how about you Anne?” And, you know, I was just trying to finish this PhD, and I’m working part-time…

And the 3 kids!…

Yes, three kids! And so they said, “yeah, just go ahead and do it!”. And so actually, I did do it. We had 19 churches in and around New Haven. They were marvelous priests, marvelous lay people. It was very, very involved in the community.

Some of our members were instrumental in forming Columbus House, the first homeless shelter in New Haven, and their after-school programs. There were soup kitchens, feeding programs. We were probably, along with the Bridgeport Deanery, the most active deanery in the diocese. And we were very good at getting diocesan money to run our programs.

Well, at one point, the Bicentennial of the Episcopal Church was coming up, and we always needed more money. So, I thought, well, I’ll write their bicentennial biography of Samuel Seabury, our first bishop, and then, you know, see if we can arrange some tours so that maybe Episcopalians of means could go to Scotland where Seabury was ordained Bishop.

And actually, that was the first thing I thought – if I could find more about this guy, then we would have a little bit historical basis for planning these tours. But then I thought, wow, this is so good, and he was such an interesting character, I would just write a book. The book did become the bi-centennial book of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and it was my first book – and it was a lot of fun doing it.

And I discovered his journals. and I edited those adding illustrations by a really marvelous woman named Jane Hooker, who was this New Haven artist. And so that kind of got me started.


So, the media has recognized you as a writer specializing in Eco-Spirituality. Tell me a little bit about that recognition if you would and about your understanding of the way theology and ecology, and the practice of those disciplines, intertwine.

What shall I say? Well, I’ve was very influenced by John Muir. And John Muir, as you know, grew up in biblical tradition. He had memorized all of the Old Testament by the time he was 12, and most of the New Testament. Yet going out to Yosemite, which was particularly his epiphany, but he had other nature trips. First, he really realized that this is where God is present – this is sacred land, this is my cathedral. And, and I feel that way too. Because I feel, truly going back even perhaps to my past, that I might have had a dysfunctional family but nature was always there.

Nature was always beautiful, though violent at times, but always regenerative. And, in fact, the land we walk on is really sacred ground. And, I saw, going back to my experience with the Lakota people, that they thought of the world of the land differently than we did. They thought that it was sacred, they thought that the sky was sacred. This is just built into their DNA, the sky, the winds, the animals are sacred. And it’s been my feeling, and that others very much like me, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker at the Yale Forum for Religion and Ecology, that the churches need to open themselves up to the natural world as really a primary teacher. And I hope it’s not good sounding heretical to say that, that we have the Trinity of three persons – and God, the Creator … well, things have changed, we’ll have to say … is very much being eclipsed in the face of Jesus, the Redeemer.

And so, the three aspects of the Trinity are not treated equally. And, now is the time and our planet is truly suffering, as you know. And so the churches have a great role in opening up their doors and seeing that sacredness extends beyond the beautiful windows and the church … and even the community and even the people. Churches have a role in saying, “Well, who is my neighbor?” Well my neighbor is not just the neighbor sitting beside me in the church or where I live, but my neighbor is the animals, the ground, the plants, the sea, the sky. My neighbor is all of creation, and to widen their prayers and widen their spirituality to that idea of that my neighbor is the world – my neighbor is creation.

Which is including many people, many cultures.

Absolutely.


So, please allow me one last big question. You know, I was thinking about ‘healing’. Healing seems to be one of the primary themes that runs through most of your work because, you know, we’re not the Garden of Eden anymore. We have got problems and we’ve got things that need healing. How do you understand that concept or that process today? I know that we started out talking about lament. What does that look like for you today? Is it the same or different?

I think that we need to acknowledge what hurts. We need to acknowledge the causes of lament. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the work of Joanna Macy? Joanna Macy is very much influenced by Buddhist tradition. And she kind of got her name through naming the dangers of nuclear build-up and nuclear weapons. And one of her conclusions – and she’s basically moved over to [writing about] the environment – was that we need to acknowledge the hurt, we need to acknowledge the danger, and only in acknowledging danger can we build ourselves up?

We have to break down the barriers. We do have to have to acknowledge the hurt. And, I’d say the other thing with healing, is if you want to talk about healing – I get healing every day. See there’s a field there [gesturing out through the window]. I wake up at six every morning and I take a little hike through the woods to that field. Then I’ll take a hike in the afternoon. So, creation is very hurt. We have many hurt people and hurt communities. The only way I combat that – just speaking for myself – is by a good dose of nature every day. The Japanese call it “nature bathing”. I just call it, “just taking a walk in the woods”.

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?

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