An Open Letter

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

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.

A reflection from the Rev. Dr. Linda Spiers

What would make people say “yes” to an ECCT commitment that has taken one and a half years of intensive work that often felt like a fulltime job? I believe that folks, with the help of God, were encouraged to offer their gifts for the Bishop Transition Committee (BTC) in many and varied ways.

Visibly Christian in the Public Square

I didn’t want anyone to dismiss me as being performative. Posting publicly on social media is always a bit of a gamble, after all. It felt like a risk to post a photo of me wearing my collar and holding a handmade cardboard sign at a rally in New Haven.

An Old Remedy for a New Cure

A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out my books to set up my new study at Trinity Church in Brooklyn, CT and I ran across a book by John McKnight and Peter Block called The Abundant Community.

Holy Week.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) Holy Week is upon us. I don’t know how you all do it. But I’m about to find out.

My name is Marc, and I prefer Lent.

The Rev. Marc G. Eames, Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s, Vernon

It seems a strange thing to admit, rather like confessing to a class of sixth graders that you enjoy homework, but Lent is my favorite liturgical season.  Other seasons are beloved with good reason, and many of us tell stories of Easter egg hunts, the singing of Christmas Carols, or even visiting diocesan camps or seaside chapels during summer’s ordinary time. I do love Advent, but it is a season continually squashed by the behemoth of Christmas.  Christmas is full of joy, but it also carries a lot of materialistic baggage and gives free rein to the antics of a patron saint, the legalistic troll known as the Elf on the Shelf.  I love Easter Sunday, one of my favorite days of the year, but I will never forget the disappointment I felt during my curacy seeing a nearly empty church the following Sunday.  Easter, as a season, never seems to live up to its promise. 

So, despite its lack of flash, I appreciate the depth of Lent. Lent is humble and unassuming.  It preaches simplicity to a culture steeped in excess.  While I exult in joy, and I was spiritually raised with the great Anglo-Catholic lesson that “anything worth doing is worth overdoing”, Lent advises restraint.  The season guides us to choose less instead of more and counsels teaching through silence over erudite elocution.  The truth is that I need Lent.  Lenten Sundays combine the message of preparing for Easter while celebrating the reality of Easter in the Eucharist.  This practice suits our time.  We live in a period that is already and not yet, the kept promises of God surrounding and uplifting us while other hopes remain unfulfilled.  

I confess to needing the seriousness of Lent, focusing on something deep and true to avoid becoming a thoughtless dilettante of the liturgical world.  I need to reflect on those old commandments that I have read thousands of times and consider:  What idols have I exchanged for the ancient Asherah and Baal? 

St. John’s in Vernon, my new call, uses Lent as its primary Stewardship season.  I have never experienced this arrangement before, but it has challenged me to devote more thought and prayer to how I am spending my money.  What charities am I supporting, and what products am I buying?  Do they align with the values that I find in scripture and teach in my parish?  Can I find a simpler, more local option, or find a way of reusing something or going without?

Lent is challenging in its simplicity. It calls for focus and reflection.  It demands something of me, and it has become my favorite season.  

A Whole Bunch of Thoughts That Took 5 Minutes to Think

A Whole Bunch of Thoughts That Took 5 Minutes to Think

The Rev. Matt Handi, St. Luke’s, South Glastonbury

It’s 4 am. Too soon to be awake, too late to fall back asleep; I keep fading in and out. I went to bed with tomorrow on my mind and now tomorrow is today, first day jitters. Finally, at around 6 am I rise and head to the shower, my imagined leap out of bed is measured by a lack of sleep and the anxiousness I feel about starting a new call, my first call, a new priest in a new church.

I drive the half hour from home to Glastonbury, the morning light brightens the edges of a thin cloud with a wonderful array of oranges and yellows, a welcomed display as I head northeast on 84.

I arrive at the church. I place the key in the lock.

It doesn’t work.

I try shaking it and pushing my shoulder to the door and shaking the handle while turning the key just so and! Nothing.

First day. I’m stuck outside the church and it’s early yet and the key just won’t budge. This is frustrating.

While fiddling with the lock, my mind wanders. Frustrated thoughts mix with a rehash of the years, an appreciation of time past.

Today is the dream fulfilled. A faint call that grew louder over time, over years; I thought the act of walking into a small parish church after many years away was me answering that call. But the urge for more persisted, the urge to do more lingered. I joined the vestry, I became the Treasurer, I taught kids in J2A, I even started working for the church and still the call persisted. Impossible.

I try bracing my hip against the door, relieving any pressure on the lock that might be holding it back. One more time into the breach, I try to turn the key and! Nothing.

While fiddling some more, I realize I am standing on the shoulders of giants. Commission folks who gave me their time, their help, sat with me in conference room conversations and library chats, their calm touch and their listening ears provided support. Committee folks who gave up Saturdays to listen to my nervous rationalizations around my call to be a priest. Bishop folks who were so dedicated to guiding me through, whose words and letters and lunches were a gift of reassurance and correction.

So, I’m thinking if I press my knee against the door and my hand just above the handle while pushing on the door at the same time, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to turn the key. I do so and! Nothing.

Frustration grumbles. It’s my first day and I can’t even get into the door. I’m not even sure I belong here. What about those others? Those giants? The ones who walk into the room and you think, wow! That woman is a priest! And she carries herself with such confidence and owns the room with knowledge and care, the collar is optional. How do I measure up? And doubt, well. Let’s put away doubt.

I am out of ideas. Until. Well, I’ve been standing outside this locked door for not too long now, there are other doors. The undercroft! I can get in through the basement! And so, I head around the corner.

I look once more towards the sky; the darker indigos of early dawn are giving way to the brighter blues of daylight. The colors though, remind me of a different sky in a different place.

The sky recalls my childhood yesterdays and the brook that flowed at the bottom of my street. I would build dams down there, ingenious constructions of the 10-year-old kind. Kid things that paused the flow but stopped nothing, those dams lasted no longer than Thomas doubted.

Hearing my mother’s voice calling into the dusk it was time to head back. I walked my bike up the hill from the brook. I saw home. Bright yellow lamplight shown through the bay window of our tiny raised ranch, white with black shutters and a red door. Walking up the driveway, I dropped the bike near the shed. I walked inside.

“Hey Mom”, I said. “I’m home. I heard you calling.”

I reach the undercroft door; the key turns and the door opens.

I step inside.

There are thresholds to be crossed.

The world is a fragile place.

The world is a fragile place.

The Rev. Dr. Anita Schell, St. Ann’s, Old Lyme

Years ago while team teaching a course at Southern Vermont College in Bennington VT, I was struck by what one of the professors said about the critical role our imaginations play in our life as people of faith. In the Tuesday evening Comparative Religions course, my team teacher invited us to look at the imaginary games we played at ages 3 and 4. These games would give us clues as to the pursuits of our later adult years. What games did you play that highlighted your dreams? It’s such a great question!

And, our imaginations are more than pondering our own dreams. Our imaginations can help us to envision how others live, and by imagining, can increase in us greater compassion and the courage to work for change in making a better, just world for all, no matter what the consequences to our comfort levels.  Such imagining a better world for all and striving to create concrete steps toward that goal were in evidence last fall at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as “COP26.”

24 lay and clergy delegates from the Episcopal Church representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and The Episcopal Church  were led by Bishop Marc Andrus of California. Part of the delegates’ mission was to learn about the state of the climate crisis and efforts to address it, and to bring what they learned back to the wider church.

During COP26, the Episcopal delegates (as well as their Anglican counterparts) communicated their priorities to U.N. member states, participated in meetings and discussion forums, shared updates on social media and hosted events, including a “Liturgy for Planetary Crisis” and morning and evening prayer services. Episcopalians participated virtually from the United States, Europe and South America. Good intentions and work notwithstanding, advocacy to reduce the negative impacts of climate crisis is not felt equally among communities in the United States and around the globe. Fragility is not a uniform experience. As our   Presiding Bishop Curry said in a Nov. 12 ABC News interview., “The most impacted [are] Indigenous peoples, people who are tied to the land, poor people.”  And “We will see more mass migrations of people looking for food. … These will have an impact on the poorest of the poor.”

Added to the reality of such injustice is the Covid-19 pandemic. As the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote during COP26,

“The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the world to look at how we have been living and operating, when so much of what was considered ‘normal’ was not possible. We have been confronted by our behaviour: by our sin; our greed; our human fragility; our exploitation of the environment and encroachment on the natural world. For many this uncertainty is new. But many more around the world have been living with uncertainty for decades as the grim, real and present consequence of climate change.”

The Creation Care resolution #3 adopted at ECCT’s 2021 Convention specifically addressees this moral crisis with concrete action steps for every single one of us. As with addressing Covid-19 and racism, these resolves are intentional and mindful practices we as people of faith in CT can take in our Christian discipleship. While we know these unjust realities exist, concrete data received from the resolve steps of this resolution will enable us to better serve and support every community of our beloved ECCT, especially and particularly those for whom fragility is exacerbated by these multiple crises.

The world is a fragile place.  It has always been so. How can we confess where we have contributed to this fragility and turn to repair brokenness especially for those beings for whom fragility has always been a way of life?