The Spirit is Alive and Well in the Episcopal Church

IMG_2035The Spirit was undeniably present.

I have been blessed to be a part of many experiences where the Spirit was palpable… but I will forever remember being in the moment of the House of Bishops when longtime friend and colleague Michael Curry was elected.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

– James Weldon Johnson

Fasten your seat belts brothers and sisters… the Spirit is alive and well in the Episcopal Church!

We Live in a Needful World

FullSizeRenderIt was electrifying. My good friend Charles was leading the gathered young people in an acoustic version of “Jesus Christ is Waiting” and on cue between verses I offered a prayer and a brief reflection on the gifts that Jesus might be waiting for us to use. After a couple more verses, I asked if any of the youth would like to share. What followed was nothing short of completely inspiring. Young people were not only sharing their readily apparent gifts, but other gifts “outside their box.” Like the athlete who is also a poet, the mathematician who is also good with animals, and the musician who also loves to build.

All-a-glow as the youth headed to their next activity, I checked my phone to see if I had any emails or other messages, and my heart sank as I saw for the first time the tragedy that had taken place in Charleston. It was such an incredibly stark contrast from the Spirit-filled reality I was living in. And as I began to learn more of the details – that this, too, was a warm, welcoming faith community – I felt a deep sense of loss. I felt this loss for the victims, their families, their faith family, all of our faith communities, and for the young man who had inflicted such atrocities. 

Amidst the ongoing activities of the youth I was with, I could not stop thinking about what had taken place, especially about the young man who had committed such a violent act. This only became magnified when I learned that he was discovered relatively close to where I was.

Here I am surrounded by over a hundred young people, all of whom have their own stories of joys and tragedies. All have been warmly welcomed into a very intentional safe community; a space where they are loved and affirmed, and are given multiple opportunities to lay down their burdens and to seek healing from those places of brokenness in their lives. And all I can think about is how I wish the young man who brought such pain to a faith community would have connected with one that would have provided him a place of love and healing.

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)

Dear friends, we live in a needful world. Needful of the basics such as food, shelter, and a place to use our gifts. Yet also needful of love, compassion, and affirmation that we are all children of God, and as such, due the respect of our dignity.

Please continue to pray for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Please continue to pray for young Dylann Roof. Please pray for all our faith communities that we may be safe, loving spaces that affirm the dignity of every human being.

Meeting of Elected Bodies and the Upcoming Invitation for Nominations

A photo from Saturday's MEB

A photo from Saturday’s MEB

ECMN gathers every September for our yearly Convention. This serves as the official beginning of our program year. We will hold our first Meeting of Elected Bodies (MEB) in October, after delegates to ECMN Convention have elected Trustees, Standing Committee members, and Commission on Ministry members, and after Mission Areas have elected their representatives to Council. This is followed by three other meetings in January, March, and at the end of the program year in June.

The elected bodies are: Council, which is made up of two lay and two clergy from each Mission Area and has the responsibility of resourcing mission, ministry, and management in ECMN; the Commission on Ministry, which is made up of elected and appointed members and has the responsibility of resourcing discernment, formation, and sending of all the baptized; the Standing Committee, which is made up of elected individuals and has the responsibility of resourcing our Canons; and the Trustees, which is made up of elected individuals and has the responsibility of resourcing our properties and Pooled Investment Fund. 

MEB begins with time together in mixed table groups for prayer and Gospel Based Discipleship. This time is followed by presentations and discussions on present missional focus such as ending hunger in Minnesota. After a shared lunch, the elected bodies meet in their individual groups for their specific work. Each elected body also has subcommittees that often meet in between the MEBs. The Meetings of Elected Bodies take place at our ECMN Retreat Center on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

Each one of our elected bodies is charged with doing critical work with the primary focus of assisting our faith communities in getting the resources they need to engage God’s mission in their context and their culture. ECMN is significantly blessed to have a strong cadre of individuals serving on our elected bodies. Soon, information will be available inviting nominations for Council, Standing Committee, and Trustees. Council members are elected at the individual Mission Area Gatherings. Please consider your gifts and passions and the possibility of serving on one of our elected bodies.