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News & Resources: Spiritual Spot

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

You'll find here occasional writings, a few rants, and hopefully some insights too, about Christian discipleship, the Episcopal Church, and on faith community's life at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts. At the Epiphany we understand ourselves to be "a welcoming Episcopal community, united in God, called to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to transform the world with love and generosity."


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  • October 06, 2022 8:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rev. Nick Myers performing baptism of a young child while parents look on at Parish of the EpiphanyThis past Sunday we were able to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism together. When the service began, I could already feel the energy in the room. The families and godparents sitting in the front rows. The choristers joining the choir for their debut after practicing for a few weeks with Jeremy. A full church singing “We Know that Christ is Raised” together for the processional. During the Baptismal liturgy, all of the kids came up to sit at the front. When it was Katherine’s to be baptized, she stepped up on the stool and then I heard from the kids sitting up front, “Go Kate! You got this Kate!”, as the water was being poured over her head.

    In all the baptisms I have been at, I had never heard this before. The kids who had already been baptized cheering on the newly baptized. There was something so sacred to have a literal cheering on and rooting for someone who was experiencing a formative and sacramental moment in the life of our church.

    I hope this image can be one that we carry forward with us as we enter this fall season. We get to be people who root for each other — through all the moments of life. I don’t know about you, but knowing that I have a community supporting me makes a world of a difference and gifts me with the courage to embark on the things God is calling me to. Let’s be that for each other, like those kids sitting up front cheering Kate on.


    Blessings,
    Janelle Hiroshige

  • September 29, 2022 2:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stewardship campaign progress graphic as of September 29, 2022On Sunday, September 18, we kicked off our 2023 Stewardship Campaign, “Living Faith & Life Together.” For many, this is a familiar part of the rhythm of our fall, but for some of us, it is either new or not yet a part of our personal financial stewardship. We’d like to challenge you to step into this critical aspect of our loving ministry to one another, of our community life together, and of our Christian ministry to the communities around us. Our life as a parish is funded by the pledges of each one of us, and our pledge is an integral part of our participation in Epiphany’s life and mission.

    Our $1.2 million campaign goal represents a 15.7% increase over 2022’s pledges and is the second step in last fall’s stated goal to increase Epiphany’s pledge income by 30% over a 2-year period to support new ministries and initiatives such as Midweek, Word and Table and welcoming Janelle Hiroshige as our Associate for Youth and Community Partnerships. While it is still early in Epiphany’s 2023 budget cycle, it is our hope that increased pledge revenue will cover:

    • $85K in new compensation costs including salary and healthcare increases for existing staff, a full year of Janelle’s ministry with us, and new administrative staffing to support increased marketing and communication in support of growing ministries.

    • $30K in new program and operating costs (net of reductions), primarily in growing and emerging ministries, and also including a $10K increase to the preventative maintenance provision which hasn’t been increased in many years despite the continued aging of our buildings.

    • $30K to rebuild the General Fund, which has been diminished by recent operating deficits, in an effort to provide a prudent level of support and flexibility in the face of current uncertain economic conditions.

    An additional goal this year is to increase the number of us who pledge and to reduce our reliance on a small (and very generous) portion of the parish for a significant portion of our budget. Last year 10% of those pledging contributed 50% of our pledge revenues. We can meet this goal if 50 of us pledge for the first time and if those of us who can pledge at a higher level. Many of you have asked what you should pledge. The answer is different for each of us but consider what it means for you to integrate your financial commitment with other aspects of your life in this community. If you haven’t pledged before, please consider making your first pledge of any amount. If you have pledged before, thank you. If you are able, consider increasing you pledge in support of the initiatives noted above. Please reach out to anyone on the Stewardship Committee (stewardship@3crowns.org) or Vestry if you have questions or would like to talk more about any of this.

    This Sunday (October 2), we will gather in Hadley Hall after the 10:00 am service for a State of the Church forum to share our priorities, hopes, and challenges for the coming year as well as to answer any questions that you may have. We will also plan to have a more informal discussion in Hadley Hall following the 8:00 am service. We hope that you will join us and be an active part of the discussion of where we are headed.

    Nelia Newell, warden

  • September 22, 2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Laptop computer displaying livestream of Parish of the Epiphany's worship serviceAnd let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10: 24-25

    In late August, I was “on” as Video Steaming Engineer for our Sunday 10:00 am service. We have a terrific streaming “rota,” robust enough that each of us is on once every five or six weeks. I very much enjoy doing it, but I do find myself focused on the logistics of managing the camera system instead of being an active participant in the service. It reminds me of my experience in church choir, focused on the logistics, ensuring the next bit of music is ready to go, wondering how my posture and breathing impact vocal production, and so on. Welcome to some aspects of my personality! But in all seriousness, both ministries make it difficult for me to be present for worship.

    Back to the late August service. The first part of the worship service, from the prelude up until the sermon, has many different activities, and that’s the most technically challenging part for me. Once we get to the sermon, I breathe a sigh of relief as the rest of the service seems easier to manage. One of the cool things about the video streaming station is that you can view the “next camera” shot and the “live camera” shot side by side. During the sermon, I noticed how cool it was to see Rev. Nick from different perspectives. So, I took the photo above and posted it to my Facebook account with the caption “Current Situation.” I didn’t think too much of it and went about the rest of my day. I was not expecting such a random Facebook post to result in an appreciation lovefest from our remote participants. A half-dozen comments from parishioner friends appeared, posting things like “I watched you from Berkeley, CA this morning!”, “Couldn’t have felt remotely (pun intended) a part of things for the past three years without all of you!” and “Thank you for making Epiphany available to us when we are away.” It was delightful to see. 

    I am so grateful that Epiphany is my faith community. Grateful that Rev. Nick arrived in January 2021 with the energy, creativity, and wisdom to help us regather in many successful ways: outdoor services, Midweek, and the gradual relaxing of restrictions aligned with our local context while ensuring high-quality remote access to our services. These are all concrete examples of his leadership. Grateful that we are so blessed to engage in conversations about future growth as we continue our journey together. 

    There has been so much writing and conversation about regathering our faith communities. We read stories about a frustrated rector who tossed out all the streaming equipment (partly because it was too challenging to maintain and partly to get folks back into the pews); we read opinions stating the pandemic has accelerated the issues facing shrinking congregations by ten years; we hear anecdotes about congregations amid a clergy transition struggling to discern their next step, and so on. I am truly grateful that these stories are not our stories; what a blessing to us. 

    As we enter our stewardship season, I invite us all to reflect on our blessings and to show our gratitude however possible. Thank you.


    Dave McSweeney, warden

  • September 15, 2022 2:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Green couch in Janelle Hiroshige's office at Parish of the EpiphanyThis past week, I finally got around to actually setting up my office. I’m excited to say it’s almost there — some art on the walls, some books on the shelves, and some plants on the window. Nick and I brainstormed on the best placement of the couch, and settled on the wall facing West.

    Of course it’s fun to think about how I want to design my office space, but it was more than that. I was thinking of you all, and making a space that would be hospitable for people to enter into.

    Even though I am the newest staff member, I was not the only one thinking about spaces. Bryn was putting art from the children’s formation curriculum, StoryMakers, up on her bulletin board. I heard the noises of chairs moving around in the Upper Parish Hall as Jeremy was preparing a space for Choristers. Nick was excited about getting a table in his office to create a more collaborative environment for meetings. Brian was the one who actually put together my couch. And Kathryn was moving here and there making sure everything was set for Sunday.

    It was fun to be a part of a team that was all thinking about preparing spaces… for you.

    With the literal moving of furniture or the brainstorming about the upcoming program year, it was all about creating spaces for community to gather and deepen connections.

    There’s the you we know and the you that all of us have yet to meet. Who are we preparing these spaces for? What will be happening? We don’t fully know, but what we can do, is set the space. To keep setting tables, and getting some extra chairs just in case. Is this not what it means to follow Christ? To examine the literal spaces in front of us and the spaces in our hearts in order to make more and more room.

    Speaking of the books on my shelves, one of them is entitled “To Believe in God” with words by Joseph Pintauro and art by one of my all time favorite artists, Corita Kent. I was skimming through the book the other day, and these words stopped me in my tracks and brought some tears to my eyes. It says this, “To believe in God is to drink wine, it is to eat bread, not by yourself.

    Not by yourself.

    Isn’t this the point of all of this? That being a part of a church community is that we do not have to do this thing called life on our own. Together, we make room for each other. For the joy and grief, the hope and discouragement, the coming together and the being sent out. Perhaps the next time you come up to receive Eucharist, take a look to your right and to your left; these are the people you get to journey alongside. In the community of God, you are not alone. Let’s keep showing up, setting tables, and making spaces for all to be welcomed.

    With gratitude,
    Janelle

  • September 08, 2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Parish of the Epiphany bell tower with construction to forecourt belowThe past two weeks have been a flurry of activity at the church. From resurfacing of floors and cleaning up classrooms to making space for new choristers robes and folders and readying the Upper Parish Hall for Sunday School sessions — things are in motion. You may feel the same way right now. The summer pace has changed or is changing — things are in motion. Kids are back to school, perhaps the speed at work is increasing, energy and expectation or excitement and anticipation. This time of year is always touched by a shift in and outside us.

    Perhaps the most in-your-face sign of this flurry of activity and energy on our church grounds is the forecourt and Cloister Garden construction. So loud was the jack-hammer that we moved our staff work-day and planning session to a conference room at the Winchester Library. The sights and sounds of the past two weeks at church have made it real: We are under construction. Here at Epiphany, just like it is for each one of us, things are under construction. Our lives are always in transition, change is a constant, and we are reminded of this in sometimes unexpected, glorious, or even painful ways. As a parish, we are becoming something new, yet deeply rooted in who we have been. 

    This year will be a time of traditioned innovation as we try new things, but also a season of staying rooted in the shape of our life together that has always given us an anchor or touchstone amidst the changes and chances of life. That's one of the deep gifts about you and our life together — having a touchstone in this life. And, we know, deep down, that the only anchor that can truly hold us close is God and God's gracious love. So, as we put ourselves together, as we become, as we remain now and likely, forever, under construction as both people and a church — let's be sure to keep our eyes on the blueprints that matter, which is the central story of Jesus Christ, God's love made real.

    We look forward to this Sunday, Rally Sunday, as we celebrate our life together and the start of this program year. Join us for a festive catered lunch provided by Bella Isla, as well as games, crafts, a bounce house, and a dunk tank. I hope you can join the party as we celebrate our mission and life together as the people of Epiphany. We're throwing a party — and all are invited. So, invite a friend, a neighbor, a new acquaintance and let's draw the circle wider. All are welcome to what God is building.

    See you Sunday,
    Nick

  • September 01, 2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Associate Rector Janelle Hiroshige and her fiancé PeterGreetings Epiphany,

    This week for me marks one month at Epiphany and also one month of living in Boston!

    I have never driven so many rotaries in my life and I have learned that it is important to have a winter hobby in order to have something to look forward during the cold days. I am currently taking suggestions for winter hobbies so that I can prepare for my first New England Winter.

    I am so grateful for the welcome I have received from those of you whom I have met and I look forward to continuing to meet more of you. It’s already clear to me that Epiphany is a special church and I have enjoyed hearing your sacred memories of these people and this place. I also sense an energy and excitement about you all for what is to come. That is something that excites me as well. It feels like a gift to be at a place that is looking forward to the days ahead as we continue to grow together in community.

    As I get to know you all, here is a little bit more about me:

    • I am from San Diego, CA and am very proud of my California roots.

    • I come to Boston from Atlanta where I went to seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

    • I spent this past year as a hospital chaplain, specifically in a rehabilitation hospital, skilled nursing facility, and behavioral health units.

    • I am in the ordination process which means that you all get invited into this journey with me. I will be ordained to the transitional diaconate this December in Atlanta and next summer to the priesthood. My first call is with you all and that is really meaningful to me.

    • I studied Graphic Design/Art in college.

    • The primary reason for moving up here (besides you all!) is to be closer with my fiancé, Peter, who is about to start his second year of law school at BU. We are getting married October 8th in Atlanta!

    As we come to the end of summer and prepare for the upcoming fall, I find this time of year to be fertile ground for reflection.

    One of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner, passed away a few weeks ago. To me, his words often felt like coming home. In his book Now and Then he says this: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

    Perhaps the invitation in these winding down summer times and in this season of ordinary time is: to listen. To reflect on this year and acknowledge all the ways that God has gently been guiding us to this time and to this place.

    I am excited to journey alongside you all,
    Janelle

  • August 25, 2022 12:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Horse in a field of wheatOn our family road trip through Canada this summer, we listened to the audiobook of Tolkien's The Hobbit (unabridged). This was my and my children's first time reading Tolkien, believe it or not. We loved it. (Our family really identified with second breakfast.) One line stood out especially to me. Early on in the quest Bilbo Baggins realizes that "adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine."

    Living a life of faith has its moments of May sunshine as well as its dark forests: the lovely and the scary, the rest and the labor. All of these, the apostle Paul tells us, are used by the Lord to grow us into faithful followers of Christ, those who will strive to build God's kingdom of love, grace, and peace on Earth and in Heaven. (Romans 5)

    As summer comes to a close, I’m wondering what adventures our new year will bring. These last few years have certainly had their adversity, as well as immense beauty and blessing. This fall will bring new adventures, to be sure—in school, at work, here at church. Some adventures, I trust, will be pony rides in May sunshine. And some may feel like we are facing dragons. God is in them all, and with us in all. We see that faithfulness and love again and again in the stories of our faith and the words of our Holy scriptures. 

    I pray for a year of grace, blessing, and growth in all that comes our way, and I look forward with immense gratitude to taking these adventures with you all as my beloved companions. Let us use all our coming adventures to God’s glory.

    With love,
    Bryn

  • August 10, 2022 11:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One hand passing black construction paper heart to anotherAnd Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:35-38) 

    One thing is clear in the scriptures and our Christian tradition. Jesus demonstrated that we were to follow in his footsteps to provide healing and compassion to those among us who were in need. These verses from Matthew’s gospel point out that without someone to shepherd (which could easily be understood as offering caring ministry), people would feel “harassed and helpless." Jesus goes on to say that the harvest of those who might benefit from caring ministry is plentiful and we should not hesitate to be sent out as laborers to offer caring support and ministry to all who are in need.

    At Parish of the Epiphany, this call to provide caring ministry to the harvest of needs among us has been heeded over the last decades with a wealth of opportunities to serve or to be someone who can benefit from the compassion of other parishioners. While in many parishes the ordained clergy provide the bulk of caring ministry, at Epiphany there is a strong partnership between the Rector and Assisting Clergy and teams of trained lay members who fill various caring ministries according to their calling.

    It seems somewhat trite to say, “No one who has any kind of need for caring ministry should suffer alone." But the truth is that no one should! You may be someone who could benefit from a friendly visit, or home communion, or laying on of hands for healing, or attend a prayer service at Gables, or enter into a longer-term Stephen Ministry relationship. Parish of the Epiphany has responded to the call of Jesus to go forth into the harvest with over 50 trained volunteers eager to care for anyone who may desire short term or longer-term support through a challenging time in their life.

    Over the next six weeks, the 3 Crowns Newsletter will be describing these seven Caring Ministries:

    • Epiphany Visitors                           

    • Friends In Deed                              

    • Prayer Ministry                                         

    • Healing Ministry  

    • Gables Prayer and Communion Service   

    • Lay Eucharistic Visitors    

    • Stephen Ministry

    It is the purpose of these descriptions, personal testimonials, and request for referrals that every single parishioner at Epiphany will be well informed about caring ministries so that if a time arose when they might need one of these ministries, they would know where to turn.  

  • July 28, 2022 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Four open-mouthed baby robins in nestI have to admit, I’m a bit distracted these days. It’s the birds.

    Weeks ago, I spotted a robin’s nest high up in the tree just outside our living room window. I later observed the mother sitting dutifully, presumably incubating her newly laid eggs. At some point, I spotted the father, and continued to keep an eye on things out of curiosity. One evening there was an extra flurry of activity outside the window; I’m not sure what happened, but that was the last time any birds have been seen at that nest.

    A bit worried and disappointed, I was pleased and surprised to spot yet another robin’s nest, this time just outside one of our Upper Hall windows at Parish of the Epiphany. It, too, had a mother presumably incubating, and a father making regular visits. This time, however, things progressed very differently, as I later spotted two heads and open mouths bobbing up for food! In the days following, I was able to observe the coordinated feeding routine of the two parents, and to watch the amazingly fast growth of these two young nestlings. Today as I write this, only one of the two hatchlings remains in the nest; I’m hopeful that the other has become a fledgling, and that this one simply has cold feet.

    “The sparrow has found her a house, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young…”  Psalm 84:2a

    I remain in awe of a bird’s ability to construct such a protective and well-built home, in a carefully chosen location shielded from sun, wind, rain and (hopefully) predators. I am equally impressed with the determination and fortitude of these two parents, the sole purpose of their existence dictating every action they take. I hope to take inspiration from this during the coming months as we continue to brainstorm, make decisions, and start building our own nests in advance of the arrival of the new season, of both new and familiar faces, and a full and rich year of programming.

    The comparison of the two bird nests also serves as a comforting reminder to me: ultimately, we are not in control, of anything really, not at all. Two very similar occurrences, initially, can have such dramatic and opposing end results. Why is this comforting? I feel that it gives us permission to dream — to risk building the nest in the manner we think best, knowing upfront that the specific results (or any results, for that matter) cannot be guaranteed. At that point we will be tasked with taking a step back, trusting God, and observing the flow.


    Jeremy

  • July 14, 2022 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

    Romans 8:28, The Message

    At our State of the Church forum on Sunday, April 24, we shared with you what we see as emerging priorities, and the following discussions served as terrific input to our vestry retreat at the end of that month. My last article in the Three Crowns covered some aspects of our vestry retreat, and this one continues that thread.

    As a quick recap, our priorities for 2022 have been reconnecting with each other, increasing our staffing capacity, and expanding our digital ministries. While those priorities continue, our emerging priorities are:

    • Supporting a renewed culture of welcome and invitation to newcomers

    • Creating capacity and resources to enable small groups to help connect us to God and one another

    • Building awareness and commitment to grow our endowment so that its interest funds all our property needs, and 100% of our annual pledge dollars are directed toward growing our ministries.

    During our retreat and in the ensuing time, the vestry has been engaged in a visioning exercise to create “Provocative Proposals” for each of these emerging priorities. Adapted by Rev. Nick from materials and techniques developed by The David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry, Provocative Proposals is an effective technique to stretch us to think beyond our current constraints and to imagine what could be. The proposals we created are available for you to read here.

    Rev. Nick, Nelia, and I discussed these proposals earlier in the week. While on the surface, they may appear to be separate, they are interconnected. I volunteered to create a first-pass graphic to illustrate the interconnected aspects of the proposals.

    We’re attempting to show that if we can (1) create and sustain a renewed culture of welcome, enable staffing to improve marketing and communications, and (2) provide support resources, technology, and training to enable small groups that deepen spirituality, serve the community, and strengthen fellowship, we’ll (3) grow our giving capacity to sustain our campus and expand our ministries.

    Thank you for taking the time to read about our visioning efforts. They are helping to ground us as we look ahead. And we hope to engage with you in further conversation around these efforts in the coming months as we launch our 2023 stewardship campaign.

    With blessings to you all and continued gratitude for your support,
    Dave McSweeney, warden
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