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News from The Parish of the Epiphany

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  • 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



  • November 08, 2018 2:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the 233rd annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts (meeting in Hyannis on Saturday, 3 November 2018) two among us were asked to attend to testify in support of a resolution encouraging faith communities to be advocates for immigration justice. Unfortunately during the deliberations the time for debate had elapsed, and neither Pam nor Roz were able to speak. What follows is the statement each would have made. On behalf of the entire parish I thank them for making the time, for engaging with our friends at Episcopal City Mission, and for making our church strong!

    From Pam Chester

    I’m Pam Chester from Epiphany-Winchester. We gather on the I-93 overpass so the ICE detainees can see us. They reach toward us through the bars and press their hands against the glass. We reach toward them. They hold up handwritten signs: WE ARE NOT CRIMINALS. WE LOVE YOU. With the Burlington cluster, we field requests from immigrants and attorneys. We coordinate “Jericho walks.” We circle the ICE office where the business of enforcement and removal is conducted. We pray for all those involved, and conclude with a trumpet blast & a hope: May the walls of division and violence come tumbling down! Through his attorney, one detainee thanked us for our presence, amazed that “all those white people are there for us.” We are mostly white, yet not oneof the undocumented people we’ve seen has been white. This injustice flies in the face of our Christian convictions and American values.

    A sanctuary parish asked us to partner. We needed two coordinators and our core immigration justice team was at full stretch. Yet two people who had never taken leadership roles stepped up.

    This work has become an energy source that allows parishioners to exercise our rights and freedoms, following the call that we discern in the teachings of our faith. Some of us are compelled by our religious and moral values to stand with the stranger and the alien. Yet all have the opportunity to stand together, even amidst our policy differences.

    Our world is torn by pain and fear, driving us to attack each other. This resolution allows us to come together across divisions, to see and celebrate our collective humanity, to form bonds that break down isolation, and live in the light of God’s love.

    From Rosalyn Nazzaro

    Pam Chester has spoken to the work our faith has led and inspired us to do through the Immigration Justice Ministry at Epiphany and beyond. I want to address some of the economic implications involved in immigration. Contrary to the messages we are bombarded with every day:

    Immigrants bring a diverse set of skills and educational backgrounds to this country. Rather than compete directly for their jobs, many immigrants complement the work of U.S. employees and increase their productivity.

    Immigrants are not a net drain on the Federal Government Budget. Taxes paid by immigrants and their children—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the costs of the services they use.

    Immigrants start new businesses thereby creating jobs.

    Immigrants are consumers thus contributing to the growth of the economy

    We are not condoning the exploitation of immigrants by highlighting the economic benefits for the United States. Many immigrants, and refugees seeking asylum, come here to escape violence and poverty. “Sending them back” is to return them to these inhumane conditions that we have escaped due to the good fortune of where we were born.

    Our family has fostered two “Unaccompanied Minors who lived with us while attending high school - Mou, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and Cheng, from China. Both graduated high school while working part-time at Stop and Shop and Burger King. Mou works two jobs, is married and contributes to building a school back in his village in Sudan. Cheng has a good job, is a homeowner and he and his wife have a baby. They are obviously contributing to the our economy. More importantly to us, they have bought joy and enrichment to our family, and humility. What a gift to be part of these fine men’s lives. Meanwhile, the agency that brought the boys to us has had their staffing level drastically cut due to the low number of refugees being allowed into the US under the present administration.

    Faith and economics cannot be separated – I urge you to support the Resolution.


  • November 08, 2018 1:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You heard late last week of Thomas’ nomination to be the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Maine. If for some reason you missed the letter, you can find it here. We are both very excited for him and proud that others have recognized in him the gifts we have known and enjoyed for almost ten years!

    The election is scheduled for February 9, 2019. What does this mean for Thomas’ presence among us between now and then? Thomas will need to be in Maine for a few days in mid-January for the customary “walkabouts” — what the Church world calls the introduction of the nominees to the people and clergy of Maine in face-to-face gatherings and via social media and the web— but other than those days he’ll be here among us. There is so much happening at Epiphany! We have ahead of us the ingathering of our 2019 pledges and completion of the budget, the dedication of our chapel, continued work toward the realization of our long-hoped-for elevator, the holy and beautiful seasons of Advent and Christmas, and the Feast of the Epiphany, as well as all the mission and outreach, formation, and children’s activities that go along with this season.

    As we noted in our letter last week, regardless of the outcome on February 9th, God will continue to nourish the Parish of the Epiphany for the ministry we have been given. Thomas is both happy and willing to continue to serve as our priest and pastor, should the outcome of this election be a call to remain at Epiphany. Should the result be a new future for Thomas with the Diocese of Maine, we will rejoice for him, and for Tom, and also for the blessing and promise of our own future ministry here in Massachusetts.

    Maine’s 10th bishop will be consecrated on June 22, 2019. The full search timeline, with details of planned transition activities during the spring, can be found here.

    Please continue to pray for Thomas and Tom, for the people of Maine, for the Parish of Epiphany, and that God’s will alone will be done.

    As always, we are available and happy to hear your questions or concerns.

    Faithfully,
         

    Jane & Suzanne
    Wardens


  • November 08, 2018 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Ever since my wife and I started coming to Epiphany I have enjoyed observing the families of the congregation. Even before we had children of our own, seeing our families manage the energy of their small children, or line up a crew of tweens and teens, fills me with warmth, admiration, and a little amusement.

    I suspect this is a result of my childhood. Every Sunday morning, my parents would stuff the five of us into the family wagon, drive to church, and then stuff us into a pew. On more than a few Sundays, somebody at one end of the pew would start giggling about something, and the whole line of us kids would start shaking with suppressed laughter. It didn’t matter if we actually knew what started it all—just feeling of the pew shaking would be enough to set us off.

    Families are a crucial component of a strong congregation. In recent years, we have seen a revitalization of this segment of Epiphany. Since joining our staff, Carolyn Hughes has been reinvigorating the church school and creating new programs for parents. Families are responding by showing up Sundays and the parent-toddler play group on Fridays, for example.

    When our oldest was in middle school, he happily and actively attended Epiphany events because he connected with our youth minister at the time, Valerie Bailey Fischer. A woman of great warmth and compassion, she impressed our son so much, he served as an acolyte at her ordination.

    More recently, our youngest has been an active member of the high school YPF program, because she connected with our previous youth minister, Jacob Athyal. I know that many of the church’s teens felt the same way about Jake, a charismatic young man, and YPF attendance grew under his ministry.

    Currently, Epiphany does not have a youth minister. Jake left last year to continue his pursuit of a career in acting. This is the nature of youth ministry. The people who are successful at it are often young, and they soon feel called to move on with their lives, perhaps in other aspects of ministry, or in entirely other fields. We are hoping to hire another youth minister sometime next year. Filling this position with an energetic, successful candidate is important to keeping Carolyn’s good works going.

    Of course, the position of youth minister requires funding, and next year’s budget forecast is challenging. We ask all members to prayerfully and intentionally consider their pledges, and help us continue the good works the church has started with the younger families. If we provide a home for our parish’s older youth, the halls of Epiphany will continue to reverberate with their energy, and their families will remain a strong segment of our congregation. Maybe the pews will even shake a little on Sunday mornings, too.

    Faithfully,
    Thom Fries



  • October 29, 2018 2:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For information on Epiphany's 2019 Annual Commitment Campaign, Bread for the Journey, please click here.
    The ingathering of pledges will be on Sunday, 2 December.  The Parish is invited to a celebratory reception in Hadley Hall following the 10:00am worship service. 

  • October 26, 2018 1:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Parish of the Epiphany needs leaders who are committed to growing their faith in Jesus Christ, excited about this Parish community and the Episcopal Church, willing to roll up sleeves, pray, and oversee our common life.

    In 2019, we will elect three vestry members, one warden, two people to attend the 2019 Diocesan Convention, and two people to represent the Parish of the Epiphany at meetings of the local Deanery (the 13 parishes in the Mystic River Valley).

    Email your nominations for any of these positions to nominations@3crowns.org or use the cards found at the back of the Church to write in your nomination and place it in the box next to the cards. 


  • October 12, 2018 11:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Jason Kinchen

    Disaster scenarios seem to be happening all around us. From the heartbreaking reports of hurricanes Florence and Michael, just a few hundred miles south of us, to the horrible gas explosions that recently rocked our close neighbors to the north, we are reminded that God has blessed us with a beautiful, but chaotic Creation. And as members of that Creation, we are not always the most conscientious stewards – having sometimes put our own concerns above those that God would have for us. Indeed, the most precious blessing God has given us in the face of disaster is each other. We see the face of God in those who are affected by, and those who respond in a disaster.

    At a global, national, regional, and local level we are called by our faith in Jesus Christ to respond to those in need. We need to consider two answers to this call. First, what if our Parish were directly affected by a disaster – how could we prepare ourselves to continue our important work of prayer, worship, outreach, and community support. When we are stricken by unexpected ministries, that is precisely not the time to suspend our ministries. Second, what if a regional disaster struck, but our Parish was not directly affected. We are blessed with many resources – physical and human – that could be very helpful in such a situation. Let us begin the dialogue of how we might respond in either extremity.

    Two years ago, I was trained as a Disaster Chaplain by the National Disaster Interfaiths Network and for the past year have been working with the Red Cross as part of their Disaster Spiritual Care function. I feel particularly moved to encourage our Parish to begin this important work. I humbly ask for some help. Two to three volunteers who are willing to begin activating disaster preparedness for our Parish would be a terrific start. Thanks so much for your consideration.

    This is an important and exciting new ministry that I'm willing to lead. If you feel called to join me please contact meSuzanneJane, or Thomas. Thank you!


  • October 12, 2018 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The vestry reaches milestone and moves toward full accessibility                                             


    Editor's note: The following is from vestry member John McConnell, who is also the chair of our parish's accessibility team. In addition to John's words, the letter contains quotations from other vestry leaders. 


    This past Wednesday your Vestry took another decisive step towards the installation of an elevator for the Parish of the Epiphany. Following a presentation by Robert Taylor, a principal of Taylor & Burns Architects, and a heartfelt discussion of three semi-final designs, the Vestry members voted to select one of the designs and move forward with it.


    The elevator will be located in a corner of the Cloister Garden, to the right of the Office vestibule entry.

    The elevator will, for the first time in our history, provide barrier-free access to the three principal floors of the Church. Among other side benefits of this will be the future use of the Upper Parish Hall for public functions, and also give us complete access to the lower level, the Myra Higgins Formation wing. 

    The architects had advanced the drawings sufficiently to obtain an initial detailed estimate from a cost-estimating consultant, a factor in the Vestry’s decision. The option chosen was not only the least expensive of the three, but was thought to be the most aesthetically pleasing.


    The Accessibility Team has made several presentations to the vestry and has worked for a few years now moving this project forward with regular meetings and conference calls. The Parish benefits from team members with significant expertise in construction law, architectural design, and construction management.


    The next steps will include the hiring of a Construction Manager who will work with the team to further refine the cost estimate, the completion of working drawings and specifications, bidding, and construction next spring and summer.

    John McConnell, chair

    Epiphany Accessibility Team & Member of the Vestry


    In their own words: what individual vestry members are saying:


    Kate Reynolds
    Back in 2010, when the Together Now campaign was launched, Epiphany, in collaboration with the Diocese, committed to supporting many Diocesan-wide outreach and property programs, as well as outreach missions El Hogar and St Stephens, adding to our organ's pipes, improving accessibility into our church and an elevator.  Over the past 8 years the vestry has carefully managed the funds to fulfill all of these commitments.  Tonight, I was pleased we voted on a way forward for the elevator.  Getting to this point has required a great deal of thoughtful and careful work from many people and I am glad we went with the most economical option, so we can start making Epiphany an even more welcoming, equitable and inclusive community. 

    Rich Bartels
    It was a truly educational process to reach our decision. I really appreciated all the time and effort so many put into reaching the decision to install the elevator and make our campus truly accessible! 

    Eunice Aikens-Afful
    I'm proud to have been part of the prayer-filled deliberations about how to meet a need of our parish community in the form of the elevator.  I look forward to connecting with fellow members of the parish to talk about the process during our capital campaign and beyond. 

    Suzanne Owayda
    Through the hard work and dedication of our Accessibility team, the vision of making Epiphany accessible to all is that much closer to becoming reality! 

    David McSweeney
    This represents a significant milestone for our parish. We have an elevator design and we are moving forward with making it a reality. I was immediately drawn to option A for its look and was thrilled that it turned out to be the least expensive design.  



  • October 11, 2018 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Job Descriptions and Parish of the Epiphany Vestry Policies taken from the 2018 Vestry Orientation Book

    The most recent Parish of the Epiphany By-laws can be found here

    VESTRY JOB DESCRIPTION (3-year term, unless completing a term underway) The work of the vestry has two faces, leadership (both spiritual and temporal) and management. The vestry engages in short and long range planning and reviews the congregation’s mission, programs, staff and facilities. The vestry strives to ensure adequate resources and effective stewardship to accomplish our mission. The vestry keeps the congregation informed about their work and encourages clear and direct communication. The vestry is also responsible for the congregation’s visible presence in the wider community. Vestry members are encouraged to see themselves as spiritual and evangelical beings and as co-creators of ministry with the rector and other staff members. Vestry members should be able to make the following time commitments: vestry meetings (generally the third Wednesday of each month), committee work, vestry retreat, annual meeting, weekly worship services, and congregational events (taking care to seek out old friends and new). Vestry members must generously give of their time, talent and treasure if they expect other members of the congregation to do so.

    WARDEN JOB DESCRIPTION (2-year term; up to 3 consecutive terms) The wardens are elected members of the vestry and provide leadership to the vestry and to the congregation. In addition to presiding at vestry meetings and the vestry responsibilities noted above, the wardens meet regularly with the rector to review the life and work of the congregation, plan ahead, anticipate and resolve problems. Frequent emails are common. Wardens are available to discuss any and all concerns with the rector and with members of the congregation. Wardens are expected to attend services and most church events. Wardens also support and assist the rector, doing whatever needs to be done, and they take special care for the personal well-being of the rector and his family. Wardens are accountable to both the rector and the parish. The wardens sit on the executive committee.

    CLERK JOB DESCRIPTION (1-year term; up to 5 consecutive terms) The clerk is an elected member of the vestry with the responsibilities and time commitment noted for vestry. In addition, the clerk distributes agendas and minutes from previous meetings prior to each vestry meeting, takes minutes at each vestry meeting, corrects and finalizes the minutes, and sees to it that they are signed and appropriately posted. The clerk also posts the notice for the annual meeting and takes minutes and recaps vestry meetings for the 3 Crowns newsletter and writes official notes from the parish when directed to do so. The clerk sits on the executive committee. 

    TREASURER JOB DESCRIPTION (1 year term; up to 6 consecutive terms) The treasurer is an elected member of the vestry with the responsibilities and time commitment noted for vestry. In addition, the treasurer is responsible for the weekly oversight of collections and deposits, periodic payment of bills, and monthly generation of accounting reports. The treasurer must ensure that the congregation’s financial operations are in accordance with canons, bylaws, state and federal laws, and that bills are paid in a timely fashion. The treasurer chairs the finance committee and oversees budget development. Monthly reports are submitted to the vestry and an annual financial report submitted to the congregation at the annual meeting. The treasurer sits on the executive committee.

    ASSOCIATE TREASURER JOB DESCRIPTION (1-year term; up to 6 consecutive terms) The associate treasurer is an elected member of the vestry with the responsibilities and time commitment noted for vestry. In addition, the associate treasurer is a member of the finance committee and assists the Treasurer with the duties described above. The associate treasurer sits on the executive committee.

    CONVENTION DELEGATE JOB DESCRIPTION (1-year term) The two convention delegates represent Parish of the Epiphany as voting members at the annual Diocesan Convention and the occasional special convention. Convention is held on a Friday-Saturday at the beginning of November, often in the Boston area, sometimes farther away. Prior to convention there are evening forums held in various locations at which delegates can learn about and discuss the elections and resolutions to be considered by the convention. If one of the convention delegates is unable to attend convention then a convention alternate will be asked to attend as a voting delegate. The two convention alternates may choose to attend convention as non-voting members.

    Vestry Policies

     These Policies have been adopted and modified by the Vestry to supplement the Parish Bylaws (to see the Parish's By-laws please click here) and to provide an orderly basis for Vestry and Parish operations. The Parish Bylaws and the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese are the governing documents under which these Policies exist, and conflicts between Vestry Policies and those documents will be resolved in favor of the latter. These Policies may be amended or supplemented at any time by Vestry vote. It is recommended that all Policies be reviewed periodically, at least every five years, to ensure that they remain consistent with Parish practice and the governing documents.

    1. Vestry Role and Responsibility

    A. Membership The vestry of the Parish of the Epiphany comprises those officers elected to represent the members in governing the affairs of the Parish in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and the By-laws of the Parish, plus the rector. As many as three of the fifteen elected members of the Vestry may be at least sixteen years and less then twenty years of age at the time of their election. Vacancies will be filled following provisions of the Parish Bylaws, Article III, Section 3, Elections. Approved November 20, 2013

    B. Expectations The vestry seeks to promote full communication between parishioners and the clergy and officers of the Parish, to model responsible participation in all aspects of Parish affairs, and to develop a fair and informed view on Parish-wide issues. During their terms of office Vestry members will: attend monthly Vestry meetings and serve on at least one Parish committee; participate in key activities of the Parish, including worship services; participate in annual pledging of their financial and human resources, including stewardship activities; participate in special events during the church year; bring concerns of Parish members and their respective committees to the attention of the vestry.

    C. Responsibilities In addition to the responsibilities of the vestry and its members set forth in the Bylaws, the vestry will hold and annual retreat at which, among other matters, the roles of the Wardens, Treasurer and Associate Treasurer, Clerk, committees, and Vestry are discussed.

    D. Meetings Except in cases on emergency, notice of Vestry meetings will be provided to all Vestry members at least forty-eight hours in advance. All Vestry meetings are normally open to members of the Parish. A quorum for conduct of business is defined in Article XI of the Bylaws. It is policy, however, that at least one of the following be in attendance: Warden, Treasurer, or Clerk . A lesser number may adjourn a meeting. Members may attend meetings and vote by telephone, provided that only the members physically present will count toward the quorum.

    E. Electronic Votes Electronic votes may be taken between physical meetings of the Vestry for the purpose of resolving discrete time-critical issues — either previously discussed in a physical meeting of the Vestry or not requiring discussion — that need to be addressed between meetings. Electronic votes are called at the discretion of a Warden or by any officer of the Parish with the concurrence of a second officer. Multiple electronic votes may be active concurrently, but an electronic vote may not be active during a physical meeting. The motion to be voted on shall be distributed to the entire Vestry by the party calling the vote. That information shall contain, at a minimum, the text of the motion and the name of the person proposing the motion. The starting date shall be the date that the vote is called and, unless otherwise specified, the ending date shall be 10 calendar days after the starting date. The first voter to respond with an affirmative vote to the motion will be listed as the second for the motion. All votes shall be sent to the person proposing the motion, with a copy to the Clerk. The quorum for and number of votes needed to approve an electronic vote shall be the same as for an in-person meeting. If the required number of votes to assure the result of the vote has been received, the officer calling the vote may then announce the result. All votes will remain open until the end date of the vote or until all eligible voters have voted, whichever comes first. The final tally of votes shall be recorded and announced by the party calling the vote; however, specific votes by individual members shall not be included. Results of all electronic votes between physical meetings will be recorded in the minutes of the next Vestry meeting. Approved January 18, 2011

    F. Executive Session From time to time, specific circumstances (e.g., sensitive personnel or legal matters) may warrant that some portion of a vestry meeting be conducted in executive session. Executive sessions provide a venue for handling issues that are best discussed in private, for fostering robust discourse, for strengthening trust and communication, and for ensuring confidentiality. Executive sessions enable the vestry to manage itself. They are, by definition, exclusive to vestry members, but others, such as professional advisors, may be invited to join for part or all of the session. The minutes of the regular meeting state when the vestry goes into executive session and when it comes out. Separate minutes of an executive session are maintained and include votes to convene and adjourn the executive session as well as reports of any action taken, with names and details omitted, as appropriate, to protect the confidential nature of the action. Executive session minutes do not include details of deliberations. Executive session minutes are not approved as part of the regular minutes, nor are they posted publicly. Instead, they are reviewed by two additional members of the vestry, usually the wardens or a warden and the rector, and maintained in a secure file in the rector’s office. Approved July 16, 2014

  • September 28, 2018 12:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A reflection on multiple Sunday morning offerings
    Richard Goldhor, Co-Chair, Adult Christian Formation Committee

    I’ve been thinking about the fact that more and more frequently, Epiphany Parishioners have a choice between multiple attractive offerings after church on Sunday. In addition to the usual Adult Forums, interesting and attractive presentations are frequently being sponsored by other groups within the Parish: the Welcoming Committee sponsors Fellowship Sundays; the Family Formation team presents activities for families with young children; and so forth.

    I’ve heard quite a range of comments from Parishioners about the existence of “competing” events. Many rejoice, because the choices are rich and varied. But sometimes the existence of another enticing event can feel like “unfair competition” to a group that has, say, worked hard to prepare a presentation around an important topic at the Adult Forum. There are some patterns in the comments and reactions that indicate “the law of unintended consequences” might be in play. For instance, it’s clear that people notice which event the Rector attends (and which one he doesn’t) and draw conclusions from that choice. Also, because of the physical layout and limitations of the Epiphany facility, we have been using the Upper Parish Hall more and more frequently. This comes with an important set of accessibility issues: people with limited mobility find it difficult or impossible to get to the UPH. We have a number of attractive small meeting rooms, but meetings in those rooms often present difficulties for Parishioners with hearing deficits.

    Some twenty or thirty years ago (which is as far as my memory stretches), “after church everyone came to Hadley Hall.” Of course, this one-sentence summary needs some unpacking. For much of that time, Sunday School for children was offered after church, and a wide cross-section of the Parish adult population gathered in Hadley Hall for “Adult Ed,” as it was called, while the children were in Sunday school. The Rector often attended Adult Ed, and not infrequently led the presentation.

    The Upper Parish Hall was very rarely used on Sunday morning for Parish gatherings, and, indeed, it was quite unusual for any existing “competition” for the Adult Ed presentation—with one very interesting and prominent exception. During the season of Epiphany we have “always” had Epiphany Mini Courses which consist of four or five alternative offerings lasting through the weeks of the Epiphany season, all meeting simultaneously after church. To my knowledge, nobody thought this was odd. The common understanding was that different courses were offered because people had varying interests, and the opportunity to pick and choose was regarded as a good thing.

    These days, the Adult Forum regularly attracts a much more limited demographic. Attendees are mostly older, long-term members of the Parish. Young adults and parents of young children are particularly noticeable by their absence. The Sunday School program is now offered during church, not after church, so parents of Sunday Schoolers are not waiting around for their children.

    At the same time, Epiphany is now offering a wider range of events after church, such as Fellowship Sundays. Many of these events attract participants who would not, or do not, attend the Adult Forum. The Family Formation Program, formally referred to as Children’s Ministry, has expanded. Under Carolyn Hughes’ exceptional leadership, a much wider range of events is offered. Many of these are intentionally designed for both parents and children, and hence are scheduled for after the Sunday service.

    Many attendees of the Adult Forum are “regulars.” They attend every week no matter what the topic.

    Accessibility of the Upper Parish Hall is a pressing concern. The much-discussed elevator has failed to materialize. Although A/V support is available in the UPH, that fact is not commonly known, and setting up the support requires advance planning and a special effort.

    Currently, we have multiple events on some Sundays, and only a single offering on other Sundays. This variation itself has been the source of problems. Some people have indicated that they believe that anything that is presented on a Sunday with multiple events is inherently less important than an event that is the only offering on a particular Sunday.

    I would suggest that we are moving into a moment in Parish life in which we are regularly offering different opportunities for people with different interests, family situations, etc. In many ways this is a blessing and a cause for thanksgiving.

    But there is a price to be paid. I have heard many people lament, “We’re not all together!” This is a valid expression of a genuine cost. But this objection is less compelling than it might have been twenty years ago because “we all” aren’t as “all” as we used to be, even when only one event (the Adult Forum) is being offered.

    In my opinion, there are some adjustments that need to be made in how people think about what’s going on after church on Sunday. I call these adjustments my “Just Because” list:

    • Just Because multiple events are happening simultaneously doesn’t mean that any of them are unimportant;
    • Just Because only one event may be scheduled for a particular Sunday morning doesn’t mean that event is extra important;
    • Just Because Thomas attends an event doesn’t mean that event is extra important.

    We need to continue our work to improve accessibility, although in fact much more progress has been made to improve audio and visual accessibility. For instance, we can provide assisted listening support to any location on the Epiphany campus, and even to events taking place at other locations, such as Parishioners’ homes. However, additional work and investment is needed. Better education and training around accessibility and what we can offer is also needed.

    I offer these thoughts in the hope that readers will feel invited to join the conversation:

    • As a participant, how do you feel about having to choose between multiple offerings?
    • As someone organizing an event, or planning to do so, how do you feel about the possibility of “competing” offerings?
    • What do you think the rules should be that control how many and what kinds of opportunities are offered on a Sunday morning?
    • How can we maximize access and participation in our events?

    Please do raise your voice, and let the Staff and Vestry know what you think!


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Phone: 781.729.1922
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