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News from The Parish of the Epiphany

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  • March 08, 2019 11:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pilate’s question to Jesus, “What is Truth?” (John 18:38), resonates through the ages as we each stand before God wrestling with questions of meaning and identity. In our time, the idea of truth is under attack in new ways, challenging our coherence as a society and the witness of the church.

    This Lent, the annual preaching series at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston will feature bishops, scholars, a poet and a journalist engaging the question, “What is Truth?”

    "Hearing a wide range of voices from a variety of social locations is a critical aspect of living into our promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons," the cathedral's Dean, the Very Rev. Amy E. McCreath, said of the roster of preachers for the series.

    The series takes place on Thursdays through 11 April from 12-1:30 p.m., featuring a simple worship service with guest sermon, followed by a light lunch and conversation with the preacher. All are welcome.

    • March 14: Dr. Sally Haslanger—Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, MIT;
    • March 21: Regie Gibson—Poet, writer, educator and National Poetry Slam champion;
    • March 28: Dr. Jonathan Cavillo—Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Theology;
    • April 4: Matthew Bell—Reporter, Public Radio International’s “The World”; and
    • April 11: Bishop Alan M. Gates.

    Questions may be directed to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (617-482-4826, ext. 221 or kvetiac@diomass.org).



  • February 25, 2019 10:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

    When I first learned that Thomas was on the ballot for the Bishop of Maine, I got an uncomfortable knot in my stomach. What will we do? How will the wardens and vestry cope with all that needs to get done? The staff will feel unsettled, will they leave too? What is Miriam thinking? We will miss Thomas so much, what do I pray for… that Thomas is not elected?

    Now that the election is over and Thomas is indeed “Bishop-Elect,” I have had time to reflect and pray over what is in store for the Parish of the Epiphany, and my feelings have changed. I am very happy for and proud of Thomas, he will be a wonderful addition to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. In turn, Maine will be an energizing place for him. The knot in my stomach is gone, replaced by feelings of excitement and anticipation of walking together with all of you during this time of transition.

    Thomas was called to be our 10th rector in 2009. His leaving after almost 10 years is very normal in the life cycle of an Episcopal parish, although very few rectors leave their church to become a bishop. We can all expect some type of major change or transition in our lives every ten years or so, and our church life is no different. 

    As your wardens, Dave McSweeney and I are aware that Thomas’s leaving will affect us differently. I am keenly aware that some of our elderly envisioned Thomas presiding at their own or their spouse’s funeral, some of our newcomers may be thinking “I just got here, I hardly know Thomas, and I want to know him better,” our children may not know what all the fuss is about, and many of us fear a time of uncertainty. With grace and prayer, Dave and I will do our part to make this emotional time a Spirit-led journey.

    When I get overwhelmed with too much to do in too little time I turn to lists. The Diocese of Massachusetts makes the transition process a little easier for us by providing a fairly extensive “checklist” of the tasks that we'll complete during this time. One of the first things to do is to give Thomas a proper goodbye. We are currently planning a party on the evening of Sunday, March 24th to celebrate with both Thomas and his spouse Tom Mousin. On Thomas’s last Sunday, March 31st, we will have a luncheon after the 10:00 am service. We will have two opportunities to be together, so please put those dates on your calendar and let us know if you can help with organizing either of these events.

    This past Friday Dave and I met with our Regional Canon, the Reverend Martha Hubbard. The next action on the “checklist” is to discuss how to set ourselves up for a successful search. We are very pleased to report that the Reverend Miriam Gelfer, our Associate Rector, will serve as our “Bridge Priest” until we engage an Interim Priest. We also discussed with Canon Hubbard the process for calling an Interim Priest. An Interim Priest is specially trained to assist a parish to evaluate its mission and ministry and to help the parish prepare for the arrival of a new rector. Dave and I will have an opportunity to interview many Interim Priests, but Miriam’s time as a Bridge Priest could be as long as six months.

    During a time of transition, our diocesan canons (the rules and policies, not the staff persons) make it clear that the role of the Interim Priest is to supervise the staff and to perform the offices of a priest (baptisms, weddings, funerals, services, pastoral care). The wardens, with the vestry, are the chief lay officers and legal agents of the parish.

    You will have the chance to hear directly from Canon Hubbard on March 17th. She will preach at both services. At 9:00am she will describe in more detail the search process, so please join us for this important informational session.

    In 2008, when the Parish of the Epiphany was preparing to call a new rector, we composed this prayer:

    “We pray that our new rector will provide long-term stability for us, allowing us to develop, articulate, and work together toward a shared mission for the parish. We hope above all else that every action of our rector will be rooted in Christ and Christian spirituality. We seek a woman or man of God who will embrace us completely and help us love others more fully.”

    Looking back at that chapter, I am struck by how blessed we have been. Thomas did bring stability. Our spirituality has grown both individually and as a congregation, and we certainly love others more fully as displayed by becoming a much more welcoming community than we were in 2008.

    Please join Dave McSweeney and me as we anticipate with joy, and as we share our joy in the next stage of our communal lives together.

    Faithfully yours,



  • February 01, 2019 3:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two big, green lights!
    Vestry’s actions from last month’s meeting

    Wednesday, 23 January was a significant day in the life of our parish. The vestry met, as it does every month, but this was no ordinary meeting. In fact, last month’s meeting might get recorded as among the most monumental in our lifetimes. First, upon the recommendation of the accessibility team, as well as a committee who is responsible for advising the vestry about capital campaign expenditures, we chose C.E. Floyd to construct our elevator. The firm is well-established, has an excellent reputation, including with religious organizations, and is already planning for ground-breaking, maybe as early as next month.

    Second, upon the recommendation of the elevator fundraising team (Eileen Marks, chair; Dave McSweeney, Suzanne Owayda, Gabrielle Stott, and James Gammill) the vestry established a new unrestricted designated fund, now known as “Together Forever Property Fund.” Together Forever was created by transferring $200,000 from our unrestricted endowment. In the long-longterm we hope Together Forever will grow considerably, be the object of our planned giving, and be the source for funding annual maintenance/property costs at the Parish of the Epiphany. In addition to the transfer of $200,000 from our unrestricted investments, the vestry authorized the transfer of $125,000 from the General Fund into the Together Forever Fund. These monies, along with what we already have in hand (about $500,000), what has been raised quietly in the last few months ($175,000) will be combined, and then spent to pay for the elevator. Additional fundraising, to get us to the $1,000,000 that we need, will be necessary. We look forward to launching this parish-wide opportunity very soon, so that every part of our church will be accessible to all people.

    Faithfully in Christ,

    Rich Bartels, Clerk


  • February 01, 2019 3:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Annual Meeting revealed three truths

    Last Sunday’s annual meeting reminded me of three truths about our church family. The first is that we are transparent about what’s great and what’s not great. This is true about everything, but especially regarding our finances; we believe that when we give each other the whole story we foster generosity of spirit and treasure. By the way, the delicious tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches netted $1153.00 for the teen trip to El Hogar.

    The second truth is that we laugh. From where I was sitting I could see tables of people smiling and chatting and LAUGHING. That’s a gift of the Holy Spirit, even if it’s not listed so in Holy Scripture!

    A third truth I witnessed at the annual meeting is something that’s harder to explain. I sensed among us an embrace of the future, a certain excitement, mixed with readiness to roll up our sleeves. The great and late rabbi, Edwin Friedman, wrote and taught about being a “non-anxious presence.” One of the characteristics of the absence of anxiety is being able to look forward to what’s coming next.

    I would love to hear where you see God leading us into God’s future.

    Scenes from annual meeting:

                              



    Click here to hear the Rector's address to the Parish.
    Click here to read the Rector's address to the Parish.


  • January 18, 2019 3:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Thank you all for your participation in the nominating process; we were blessed by getting wider participation from more of the Parish. In 2018, we had approximately 70 people nominated for leadership positions by only six parishioners. This past nominating cycle, we had approximately 56 people nominated for leadership positions and they were nominated by 35 parishioners. The Nominating Committee had a wide variety of parishioners nominated for Warden, Vestry, and Delegates to Diocesan Convention; our discernment about who should fill those positions was quite lively. Thank you to all who participated as nominees and to the thoughtful nominators.
    We are pleased to announce that the slate for the 2019 Annual Meeting will include: David McSweeney for Warden
    Carol Kellogg, Jason Kinchen, and Warren McFarlan for Vestry
    Laura Dike and Cornelia Newell for Delegates to Diocesan Convention
    Susan Almquist and Marion Dry as Alternate Delegates to Convention 

    Also included in our discernment is the Nominating Committee for the 2020 Annual Meeting: they are Gayle Pershouse (as chair), Josh Reynolds, Patricia Aldrich, as well as one Warden and the Rector. This concludes the work of the Nominating Committee.

    Thank you,
    Suzanne Owayda for the Nominating Committee
    Laura Aldrich, Jonathan Foot, Martha Lewis.



  • January 18, 2019 3:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Vestry Meeting held 19 December 2018 
    Tom Pavilon led our prayer and provided a Recollection.

    Suzanne Owayda remarked that this month there is no Dashboard in the Packet. She will try to include a full year analysis next month.

    The Consent Agenda: Minutes and Financials
    : Motion to accept the 11.14.2018 Minutes and November Financials was made, seconded and Approved Unanimously.

    Housing Resolutions
    for Thomas J. Brown and Miriam Gelfer as follows were: Moved, seconded and Approved Unanimously.

    Budget
    The proposed budget as revised was moved, seconded and Approved Unanimously.

    Leslie Aitkin reported on the Christmas Fair and its outstanding results. This will be a large hole in Other income if not held in 2019.

    Suzanne Owayda reported on the Nominating Committee. On January 23rd the full report will be revealed and will be voted at the Annual meeting on January 27th.

    Dave McSweeney reported that the Inaugural Meeting of the Elevator Gap Funding Committee was held.

    John McConnell reported that while we do not have a Construction Manager yet, things are going very well.

    No Rector’s report considering the lateness of the hour.

    Tom Pavilon closed with the St. Ignatius prayer the Daily Examen.



  • January 04, 2019 1:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    submitted by Ashley and Holly Stevens

    With the recently enacted tax reform package, many more seniors will take the standard deduction and won’t itemize their deductions when filing their federal tax returns in 2018. The reasons for this are the coming together of two components of the tax reform package that the President signed into law on December 22, 2017.

    The first of these components was raising the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly from $12,700 to $24,000.

    The second component was limiting state and local tax deductions to $10,000, well below the average $12,590 real estate tax bill in Winchester.

    As a consequence, since most seniors have generally paid off their mortgages and hence have no mortgage interest deduction, and since only medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) are deductible, unless a couple’s charitable giving exceeds around $14,000, putting their total itemized deductions over $24,000, they will be better off taking the standard deduction than by itemizing their deductions. As a result, they will not be able to take a tax deduction for their charitable giving, including their pledges to Epiphany.

    However, there is still a way for seniors to make charitable donations, including fulfilling their Epiphany pledges, in a tax efficient way, with very little effort.

    Once you pass 70½ years of age, you must take Required Minimum Distributions (“RMD’s”) from all your retirement accounts each year (apart from Roth IRA’s and apart from your current employer’s retirement plan if you are still working for that employer). The RMD starts at 3.649% of the value of your plans on December 31 of the year before you turn 70 and goes up each year after that. Most importantly, these RMD’s constitute taxable income to you.

    However, you can take up to $100,000 of your RMD’s as Qualified Charitable Deductions (“QCD’s”). To make a QCD, you simply ask the Trustees of your plans to issue checks directly to the charities to which you wish to give – say Epiphany – for however much you chose to give. You can make as many QCD’s as you chose, to as many charities as you chose, as long as the total does not exceed $100,000 in any year. The Trustee will generally send the checks to you, made out to the individual charities, and you will then send the checks on to the charities of your choice, so that the charity knows that the money came from you and not, say, Merrill Lynch.

    The big benefit to the donor is that the number of the QCD’s reduces their RMD by the same amount and hence reduces their taxable income by the total amount of their QCD’s. They therefore don’t pay any tax on the amount of their donations, whereas they would have paid tax on their donations were they to have made the donations by writing checks from their regular checking accounts.

    The process is very simple. You simply write to your financial advisor or plan custodian identifying the amounts you wish to give, to whom you wish to give them, and when you wish the payments to be made. Every financial advisor and every plan custodian knows what a QCD is and can make a QCD for you. Allow a week or two for the advisor / plan to process your request – you may have to sign a form, either electronically or in person confirming your instructions, so don’t wait until December 28 to initiate a QCD. That’s it.

    We only came on this idea in late summer in an article in Monday’s “Investing in Funds” section of the Wall Street Journal. We immediately realized what a benefit it would be for us and, among other charitable donations, we fulfilled our Epiphany pledge this year this way, plus we were able to add on our donation for the Chapel refurbishment, and we’ll certainly make all our charitable donations this way in the future.

    We prepare our own taxes using TurboTax, so obviously, we haven’t filed our 2018 returns yet. If we discover any complexities in handling QCD’s in TurboTax, we’ll write a follow-up note for Three Crowns later in 2019.


  • December 21, 2018 7:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Parish of the Epiphany is committed to deepening our prayer lives, and we continually work to expand our capacity to pray with and for each other.

    We do this on Sundays primarily in two ways:

    • During the prayers of the people, when we pray for global and local concerns, and for people on the parish’s prayer list. The person who leads these prayers always invites the congregation to add additional names out loud.
    • At the prayer desks in front of and at the back of the church there are ministers prepared to pray with you, anoint you, and to keep completely confidential your prayer requests. These prayers, offered by the healing ministers, are not shared with the clergy and staff, and the healing ministers will not follow-up with you by asking questions. You may go to a healing station either before or after you receive Holy Communion.

    We do this during the week, too:

    • On Tuesday evenings, all are invited to the Chapel at 6:00pm to pray for the people on our Parish’s prayer list. The format is simple: somebody says aloud the name of each person, a period of silence is kept, a bell is rung, and then the next name is read. You are invited!
    • We ask each other to pray. If you have a prayer concern please ask others to pray. “My mother is sick, and needs prayers for peace. Would you pray for her? Her name is Marjorie.”
    • We submit online prayer requests at 3crowns.org. These are processed by lay people who lead our Tuesday night prayer group. If you wish, we will also include the person’s name in the Parish’s prayer list that’s read on Sunday mornings.


  • November 26, 2018 2:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An online Global Advent Calendar from Virginia Theological Seminary https://www.adventword.org

    The Rector’s spouse, the Reverend Thomas Mousin, composes a poem and designs an Advent calendar each year. Here is 2018’s Advent Calendar. In addition to the calendar Tom sends a daily meditation. To subscribe to his daily meditations email Tom. If you have received his Advent meditations in previous years you do not need to re-subscribe.

    A free subscription Living Well Through Advent 2018 by various leaders in the Episcopal Church who are part of a network of formation experts known as Living Compass:
    https://www.livingcompass.org/advent

    Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations offer a series of three one-hour webinars, Walking in Welcome: An Advent Series with Episcopal Migration Ministries on
    December 5 at 4:00pm
    December 13 at 4:00pm
    December 18 at 12:00pm
    Details and registration information here


  • November 16, 2018 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Diocesan Convention Report

      Dear People of God,

    Thank you for the privilege of representing the Parish of the Epiphany at the Diocesan Convention of 2018. It was exhilarating to witness the example of our Diocese’s representative governing body conducting its affairs with respect, dignity, and fairness. The courage of our fellow Episcopalians in addressing some of the most troubling moral problems in our world today was an inspirational contrast to the integrity of our current national legislative leadership. Our own witness by members of the Parish of the Epiphany stood out above the crowd, with Lisa Garcia, outgoing treasurer of the Diocese, speaking firmly and courageously about the budget; Thomas Brown calling us to consider the issue of updating the language in our Book of Common Prayer; and, Roz Nazzaro and Pam Chester standing at the microphone ready to support the resolution seeking immigrant justice. Erika Almquist affirmed how much the Diocesan Youth Council had meant to her as a youth from the Parish of the Epiphany.  

    The most controversial item on the agenda was the budget for 2019. The Budget Committee had invested much time and effort into a restructuring of the way the budget is put together. There were complex and controversial issues, which the committee tried to address in the pre-conference forums, but there was still considerable discussion and dissatisfaction on the floor. Although the budget was finally passed, it was clear that a good deal more work needs to be done before there is a consensus.

    We were thrilled to experience the diversity of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. We were not a homogenous group, and many voices were included and honored. At the Eucharist, the first lesson was read in Yoruba. The Gospel was read in Portuguese. A moving testimony was given in Spanish by a member of St. Luke’s, Chelsea, imploring us to support endangered immigrants. LGBTQ members had the courage to share a few of their stories to emphasize how important our support and witness really is. One of our newest missions (St. Peter’s Church, Waltham) treated us to Ugandan song and dance by the children of the Sunday School. Another new mission, Grace Chapel in Brockton, shared the success of their youth program, modeled after a Nigerian youth program and the IEP process of our public educational system. Their marching band played a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Members of the Diocesan Youth Council shared stories of the impact DYC has made in their lives after graduation. And a motion was passed to strike the age limitation from the canons so that lay delegates may not be excluded from the election because of their mature age. Our church is rich and diverse in so many ways!

    For complete information on the Diocesan Convention please click here

    Your friends in Christ,
    Carolyn Pershouse and Gayle Pershouse



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