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News from The Parish of the Epiphany

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  • 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



  • 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!


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Phone: 781.729.1922
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