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News & Resources: Spiritual Spot


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."

  • February 28, 2020 3:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For the past several years, we have been printing occasional hymns and service music in the bulletin from the Wonder Love and Praise Hymnal. This hymnal, published by Church Publishing, is meant to be a supplement to the 1982 Hymnal that we have in our pews.

    Wonder, Love and Praise has many wonderful texts set to tunes that are both familiar and new. While we have been enjoying many of these hymns, copyright laws don’t allow us to reprint all of the music that is in Wonder, Love and Praise. In order to be able to take advantage of all of the music that this hymnal has to offer, we have decided to buy copies of this hymnal. Thankfully, the print version of the hymnal is compact, and it will fit nicely right next the 1982 Hymnals in the book racks in the pews.

    We will be buying these new hymnals with money that has been donated to the music program over the last few years. If you would like to help offset some of this cost, you are invited to give a hymnal in memory or in honor of a loved one. Each hymnal costs $25.  Please send or drop-off your check to the Parish Office, made out to Parish of the Epiphany with "WLP hymnal" written in the memo line. Remember to include a note with the name of whomever your are honoring so a bookplate can be put in a hymnal acknowledging the name.

  • December 20, 2019 2:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Does anyone else feel a bit surprised that Christmas Eve is tomorrow? As Dr. Seuss’s Grinch declares, with some dismay, “It’s practically here!” Unlike the Grinch, I love Christmas, but for me it always brings a sadness that Advent is over. This is both because I love Advent best of all the Church seasons, and because I always hope to do more, and be more, during the weeks leading up to Christmas. More cookies. More cards. More service. More hymns. More peaceful reflection and spiritual growth. Couldn’t we all use a few more weeks before Christmas?

    As our young family sprinted through this season, I’ve had to let go of some expectations (sending Christmas Valentines is a good idea, right?). One practice I’ve clung to, however, is a Jesse Tree reading with my ten- and seven-year olds. The idea of the Jesse Tree, in a nutshell, is to trace God’s plan for the world through Old Testament stories up to the birth of Christ in the New Testament (made simple thanks to amazing storybooks like McCaughrean’s The Jesse Tree and Marcellino’s Jesse Tree Ornaments).

    This Advent practice is illuminating. It shows me that perhaps what is truly amazing about Christmas is how very long it is, indeed. The coming of the Messiah, the birth of Christ the Savior, the incarnation of God, this was not a single moment in history. It is not the four weeks of Advent and the twelve days of Christmas. From God’s creation of humanity, through the birth of Jesus and his death and resurrection, God’s plan was always, and will remain, to walk closely with His people. From the Garden, to Mount Sinai, to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, to the cross and Emmaus, to the work of the disciples, and into this very place today--God is with us.

    In the beginning was the Word. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God dwells among us still. Rejoice, not only for Christmas Day, but everyday, full of God’s presence, redemption, compassion, and peace. May you have a joyful and merry Christmas.


  • December 12, 2019 11:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Beloved Community,

    In the fall of 1994 when I was first at Epiphany as a newly ordained transitional Deacon, I offered “An Advent Service of Remembrance” during the first week of December. Having experienced several significant losses in my own family at that time made me acutely aware of how difficult the holidays would be for many parishioners at Epiphany. Each year at this time I am reminded of this great sense of loss that many of us feel whether our grief is for a loved one we lost very recently or even decades ago. There are also feelings of grief and loss associated with growing older – perhaps a sense of loss over our physical bodies no longer able to do the things we once found so easy, or an “empty nest,” or we may have retired and feel a lack of purpose in our lives. Whatever the sense of loss or grief, our feelings are real and at times we may feel out of sync with a culture that portrays families smiling around a Christmas tree laden with gifts, or gathered at a large table resplendent with candlelight and lots of festive food and drink. Everywhere we go we hear holiday music that proclaims, “Have a holly, jolly Christmas.”

    Once again, on Wednesday, 18 December at 7:00pm in the Chapel, we will offer an Advent Service of Remembrance. It is a simple service of prayers, hymns, candlelight, and quiet meditation. It will be a time to remember those whom we love and see no longer, a time to gather as a community and just BE. If you know people who would might find this service comforting, please invite them to join you.

    In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and your feelings during the holidays. You might give something or do something in memory of your loved one. Click here for a link to a website that contains several strategies to help cope with the holidays. Simply talking about your feelings with a close friend, family member, or one of the clergy at Epiphany can be helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Sarah Conner, or Gayle Pershouse.

    In this holy season of Advent, I pray that each one of us will take some time out of our busy schedules to just sit and pray, even if only for a few minutes, and offer to God whatever is on our hearts.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,

  • December 06, 2019 8:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I experienced an internal chuckle when I learned my article would appear during Advent, this period of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Do you feel as though we’re in a perpetual state of waiting, anticipation, and preparation? I’ll confess it feels that way for me at times. Whether its measured in years, months, or weeks, waiting can feel uncomfortable and stressful for me. Yet, once the waiting is over, I’m left with a sense of gratitude. Why is it that I struggle with the ability to trust that all will be well? As Miriam often reminds us, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well,” from Julian of Norwich. And during our waiting, in Advent and otherwise, we can be watching for God’s presence in our lives.

    We’ve been waiting for years to have an elevator. During that time the following questions were turning over in my mind: Will we ever raise enough money? Will the construction completely disrupt everything? Will we encounter a cost overrun? How long will it take? And, so on. Well, the waiting is over, God has provided for us, the elevator is here, money fully raised, and construction costs right on budget. I am both relieved and grateful.

    We are entering into the 9th month of preparing for a new Rector. Similar questions have been swirling out of uncertainty. Well, once again, God is providing for us. I’m grateful for our immensely capable and faithful Search Committee, for the grace-filled spiritual leaders we have in Sarah Conner and Miriam Gelfer, our wonderful staff and committees who make so much happen behind the scenes, and for the steady support of our Vestry and my Co-Warden, Suzanne Owayda. Our spectacular Parish profile is complete (click here if  you haven’t seen it), and while the waiting may at times feel uncomfortable and stressful, my faith tells me to have no fear, God is with us in this journey. We just have to notice.

    We’re in the follow-up weeks of our 2020 Commitment Campaign. Together, as we finalize our budget for 2020 this month, we may have periods of doubt. Again, our faith tells us to have no fear, to trust in God, and to show our gratitude for the blessings we have.

    And so, my friends, as we wait together, let us lean on each other when there are times of doubt, uncertainty, and worry, for surely God is with us, as promised. We just have to be watching.

  • November 27, 2019 10:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear friends,

    One church year came to a close on November 30, and we have just begun another year on December 1st, the First Sunday of Advent. Advent invites us to make a journey of the heart, clearing a spiritual path so that we may travel to the manger in Bethlehem, there to adore Christ our Lord at Christmas. Epiphany is also making another journey this year, clearing a spiritual path so that we may travel to a new season of ministry and welcome a new rector. We are doing a lot of journeying!

    At every service now we pray a prayer for the parish written by our rector search committee. There is much wisdom in how the prayer concludes: “In every stage of our journey, may we rest in God’s abiding love.” That’s the key, isn’t it? No matter where we are on our journeys – as individuals and as a parish – we can find an oasis of divine love where we can rest as we travel on. The rest God offers us is not an interruption of the journey but an integral part of it.

    In this season of Advent, and in whatever season you find yourself in your own life, I hope you are finding the rest and refreshment you need. I’m so glad to be with you on this journey.

    Interim Rector

  • November 21, 2019 11:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Thanksgiving is almost here! As we approach the holiday, Darren and I are already planning the menu and thinking of activities in Boston that we can do with our guests who will be arriving tomorrow. Throughout our lives, we have both loved family holiday celebrations.

    As many of you know, Darren and I both grew up in Northern California and have bounced back and forth between San Francisco and Boston during our adult lives. When we are in San Francisco, we spend holidays surrounded by parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Unfortunately, we have no relatives on the East Coast. But as I thought about the seven people who will be gathered around our table this Thanksgiving, I realized that they have all been part of our church family at some point in our lives.

    One guest was a 6th grade chorister at a Presbyterian Church in San Francisco when I arrived as music director many years ago. Over the years we watched her grow up and go away to college. Little did we know that she would end up in Boston for graduate school not long after we arrived here. What a joy it was to help her get settled in a new part of the country and be there to help her in her new adventures.

    Two other guests were active at St. Luke’s in San Francisco when I was working there. One sang in my choir and the other worked as the church administrator. They moved to New York just before we returned to Boston. We were thrilled to be able to see each other and enjoy the best of what both cities have to offer.

    We met our last two guests at a church right here in Boston over a decade ago. We quickly found that we had many things in common: the arts, cooking, entertaining, and traveling just to name a few.

    Over the years this group of friends has been an important part of our lives. We have celebrated with each other, helped each other, and consoled each other. The wonderful thing is that through this process these people have become more than friends. They have become our East Coast family.

    One of the things that I find wonderful about Parish of the Epiphany is the way that people here care for one another. This congregation is always ready to welcome someone new but best of all, people truly care for one another and are willing to form deeper bonds. You are there for each other when people are in need and you are there to celebrate with each other when things go well. You want to get to know people and have them know you. Through this process, I’m sure that there are many of you who think of each other as family. I have no doubt that that is what God wants the church to be, and I know that it is one of the things that I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

  • November 15, 2019 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    There are moments in our lives that we call memorable – something that happens in our lives that we say we will remember. And there are defining moments; a point in one’s life when you are urged to make a pivotal decision, or you experience something that fundamentally changes you.

    On November 10th, our day at Epiphany was marked by two events: the first occurred at the 8:00 and 10:00am services in which some of our young people reflected on their experiences at El Hogar from last August. It was clear that for some of them it was a defining moment; they now view the world in a different way. They have “new lenses” with which they see their own privileged lives in stark contrast to the lives of the children and youth of El Hogar in Honduras. By entering into the lives of the kids from El Hogar, they were able to see how much they have in common. They observed, they listened, and they played together. What separated them was their life circumstances and our teens were changed in a profound way. Their witness to all of us was profound and I hope that it confirmed in them the power of accompanying another person and walking in another’s shoes. Click here to listen to their reflections.

    At 5:00pm on that very same day, many of us witnessed a defining moment in the life of this Parish and our Diocese. Our Bishop, Alan Gates, made a public confession for the wrongs done by one of his predecessors, which prevented Gayle Pershouse from being ordained a priest over thirty years ago. The act of repentance on behalf of the Institutional Church and Gayle’s beautiful act of forgiveness made the words of Holy scripture ring in my ears: “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Can you not perceive it?”

    Our Bishop’s willingness to listen compassionately to Gayle’s story and by listening, perceive that she indeed has been living out a priestly vocation all these years in numerous ways. God worked something in him that is remarkable and signals, not just to our Diocese but the wider Church, that the sins of our past can be dealt with in an open and honest manner. Bishop Gates continues to exhibit courage, humility, and compassion - all qualities of a great leader. My prayer is that those who were present at Gayle’s ordination and those who will hear about it will find in that act some hope, and perhaps some healing.

    What followed Gayle’s ordination service was a pure act of love! The reception that was so lovingly put together by so many of you was Epiphany at its best – Hadley Hall was resplendent with beautiful decorations, food, and drink! A million thanks to all of you who contributed your time and love to make the reception so festive and welcoming to Gayle’s family and all those who came to witness this historic occasion.

    I give thanks to God for these defining moments of our lives; moments that teach us and show us that God makes all things new and the Holy Spirit is active in our journey of faith, urging us on to do what is good and right and true.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,


  • October 25, 2019 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What does good stewardship mean? Simply, it financially supports our beloved community of the Parish of the Epiphany in many ways. It ensures that the assets of the Parish are preserved and appropriately maintained. It ensures that long term, the inflows and outflows of cash stay in balance so the programs of the Parish can be maintained and reshaped as appropriate. In short, it ensures we have a future.

    Different committees have responsibility for various aspects of Stewardship.

    The Property Committee, for example, is responsible for the physical condition and maintenance of buildings and the surrounding land. The Investment Committee is responsible for endowment management. The Finance Committee, through its budgeting and monthly reporting processes, ensures that operating expenditures match revenues and that we not invest more in facilities and programs than we have money for.

    What is the role of the Stewardship Committee in this context? Very simply, it is responsible for raising money from annual parishioner pledges to support the ongoing operations and mission of the Church. How important is this? The answer is VERY! 95% of all operating revenue of Epiphany in 2019 comes from parishioner pledges. The Episcopal Church is not like the Catholic Church where money from a central diocese is allocated to the individual parishes. (In fact, in the Episcopal Church local parishes like us pay the Diocese a tax). Almost everything we do as a Parish is supported by our pledges which are made each year. If we were to have a 50% shortfall in pledges, that would mean a necessary 50% reduction in expenses over a year or two. Pledging is vital to the health of Epiphany. The role of the Stewardship Committee is to make sure pledging happens in abundance.

    Fortunately, Epiphany is one of the strongest and generous Parishes in the Diocese. As Co-Chair of the last Diocesan Campaign, I can personally testify to our strength knowing the situation at over 150 other Parishes. Epiphany was in the first wave of collaborative Parish and Diocesan fund raising. No Parish was more supportive and effective in this initiative of Bishop Shaw's.

    The biblical story of the fishes and the loaves resonates. If the Parish is threatened by unexpected fiscal challenges, we are blessed that there are those in the wings with resources who can and will help with special projects and challenges (in the absence of a crisis, they deploy the funds elsewhere). Look no further than the recent elevator project, which was deemed unfinanceable at one time, and now funded and almost completed.

    2020 is a very important year for Epiphany as we search for our new rector. We are making a decision that will profoundly impact our next decade. It is important in this context that we present our best face to potential new rectors. That means preserving and keeping our major ministries flourishing with all their vibrancy and energy. It means we deliberately set our Annual Fund pledge target the same as last year to keep our momentum. A candidate should not worry that she/he will be immediately challenged with fund raising. It will be not easy to meet our goal for 2020 because many of us will need to do more than we have in the past. In the transition of rectors, inevitably some people will leave the Parish and other potential joiners will want to wait until they see the new rector, so our pledging unit numbers may drop.

    The Wardens and the Parish leadership have all personally stepped up. When I make the formal announcement of the Campaign launch on October 27, I will announce 100% participation has already been achieved by the Vestry, the Search Committee, and the Stewardship Committee in the "Building for Tomorrow" ~ 2020 campaign. Additionally, many have already substantially increased their pledges from that of 2019 (in addition, of course, are the thousands of volunteer hours, given by our parishioners. Good stewardship requires large amounts of volunteer time as well as money to do all that we aspire to).

    In conclusion, we need your support at this critical juncture as we move confidently forward as a community of faith. Our campaign title is "Building for Tomorrow," and aims to provide a firm fiscal foundation for the Parish's growth and transformation. As a result we will welcome a new rector to a thriving active and financially healthy beloved community!

    Warren McFarlan, Chair of Stewardship Committee 

  • October 18, 2019 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    Over these last several weeks I have been very moved by your level of engagement at Epiphany. The Rector Search Committee has been working very hard providing listening sessions on Sunday mornings as well as other times. All the committee members have been given “homework assignments” and have reached out to the many groups and ministries that make up the fabric of this Parish. They even came to one of our staff meetings to listen to our take on all of the questions in the Self-Study packet.

    As we move through the fall, I hope that you will continue to be engaged here at Epiphany. Often during an interim time in a parish, it can be tempting to disengage and wait to see who the next Rector will be, or how the Parish may change, etc. And yet, one parishioner remarked to me on Sunday that she has found interim times to be times when lay people really take ownership for the Parish. That is my prayer for all of you.

    Epiphany has a long history of gifted and committed lay leadership and that is the case now with our Wardens, Vestry, members of the Search Committee, and the chairs of the many ministries in this wonderful Parish. Let us continue to support everyone who gives so generously of their time and talent. Let us pray for each other in the days and weeks to come, that we will stretch ourselves and introduce ourselves to someone we may not know very well, that we will support the Vestry’s efforts in connecting each other through “virtual neighborhoods” or fellowship groups, and that we will come together to worship whenever we are in town. Our common worship grounds us in everything else that we do and informs our life and ministry. Worship lies at the very heart of the Christian life along with prayer, and reading and reflecting on the Holy Scriptures.

    St. Benedict, the great religious reformer of the late 400s and early 500s and known as the “father of Western Monasticism” said, "Always we begin again.” What a wonderful quote to remember in this time of transition at Epiphany. We begin another program year together, full of promise and opportunities to grow deeper in our faith and deeper in our relationship with Christ and each other. We begin again as we launch a search for our next Rector, excited for what the Holy Spirit has in store for us. We begin again as we prepare to launch another Stewardship season, pondering our commitment of time, talent, and treasure. We begin again as we open wide the doors of this wonderful Parish and the doors of our hearts to all who enter here.

    Always, we begin again, reassured every day that we are God’s beloved. Let us share that love with everyone we meet, wherever we are, wherever we go.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,

  • October 11, 2019 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear friends,

    Thank you for your warm welcome at both services on October 6th! I’m delighted to join you as your interim rector as you prepare for a new season of ministry. In the short time I’ve been with you, it is abundantly clear that Parish of the Epiphany is a place of great depth and generosity of spirit. This is a parish alive with a desire to pray, to grow in faith, to reach out to neighbors near and far, to bear one another’s burdens, to care for this beautiful house of God. It seems there is always something happening here.

    I have been thinking of Tom Shaw, Bishop Alan Gates’ predecessor as bishop of our diocese. As you know, Bishop Shaw was a monk as well as a bishop; for decades he was a life-professed brother in the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge. He once wrote, “The monastic life, with all its trappings of the Office, community, and vows, is essentially our search for God.” I would say the same is true of parishes. Everything that is happening at Epiphany – worship, prayer, reaching out to others, meetings and gatherings of all sorts – all of this, taken together, is our search for God. In everything we do with and for this parish, we are seeking to know God more deeply. Perhaps we are not always aware of seeking God in this way. But I believe that our search for God is woven throughout our life together as a parish.

    And of course, to seek God is to have already been found by God, for it is God who moves us to seek him in the first place. Epiphany is a place where together we seek God and are found by God, over and over again. I am grateful to join you in seeking and finding the God who made us and who loves us more than we can imagine.

    You are in my prayers.


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70 Church Street
Winchester, MA 01890
Phone: 781.729.1922



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