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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."


  • 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.

    Faithfully,
    Sarah
    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,

    Miriam



  • 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.

    Faithfully,
    Sarah



  • October 04, 2019 2:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I don’t know about you but on Monday morning I hit the ground running, demands come from many directions, and it is sometimes difficult to carve out time to do the things that are really important. I am committed to attending the 7:30am Wednesday morning service. If my memory is correct, Epiphany had a 7:00am Wednesday morning service during Lent and Advent, which I started attending once my children were old enough to get out the door in the morning on their own. At some point and after some discussion, the time got changed to 7:30 am which was a bonus for me, that extra 30 minutes in the morning is a blessing. Currently, we have a Wednesday morning service at 7:30am every Wednesday during our program year. We are a small but faithful group, the service is in the beautifully refreshed chapel, and the service lasts only 30 to 35 minutes, if the 8:00am tower bells ring prior to the closing prayer, the preacher has exceeded the allotted time. After the service, we gather in Hadley Hall for fellowship, coffee, and a hot breakfast; it is a wonderful way to start the day. Having a mid-week service is something I really value, it is like pushing the pause button in the middle of the week and gives me a chance to reflect on the past two days of the week and the remaining days coming up. Have my interactions with others been as positive as possible, are there people in my life who need special attention, are there things that I have left undone that can be done in the next couple of days? All things to reflect upon even before we get to the homily! Often the preachers at the 7:30 am service are parishioners, the rota includes Mary Street, Jason Kinchen, Gayle Pershouse, Fred Rowland, Scott Street, as well as Miriam; soon Sarah our Interim Rector will be added to the rota. All are fine preachers each with their own style, I am particularly interested when the preacher weaves the scriptures into the life of the saint (or lesser saint) who is celebrated on that particular Wednesday.

    As you know, depending upon our Lectionary, the life of a saint or a lesser known saint is celebrated each day. Our own General Convention determines what women and men are commended in two books, Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the newer, A Great Cloud of Witnesses. I am inspired to learn about the ancient saints such as St Brigid of Kildare or a more modern person such as Dag Hammarskjold, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Their lives and good works help me to see how an everyday person can make a difference in the lives of many.

    Please join us on Wednesday mornings at 7:30 am for new friends, a hot breakfast, as well as inspirational preaching, and tomorrow maybe we will learn about locally educated social activist Vida Dutton Scudder.

    Faithfully,



    Faithfully,


  • September 19, 2019 10:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The choir started off the season with one of my favorite anthems. It has become a favorite not because of music, although it is a beautiful tune written by British composer Maurice Bevan, but because of the text written by Frederick Faber (1814-1863).

    Frederick Faber was a theologian best known for his hymn writing. He himself had an amazing spiritual journey. His family was of Huguenot descent, and their strict Calvinist beliefs influenced much of Faber’s youth. When he left home to study at Oxford he was exposed to the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement and its popular preacher John Henry Newman. During this time, he struggled to reconcile the beliefs of his youth with this radically divergent form of Christianity.

    In 1839, Farber was ordained in the Church of England and served the community Cambridgeshire. He soon found that there was a strong Methodist presence in his Parish, and many challenged his taking the congregation in a more Roman Catholic direction. So, in 1845 Faber left the Church of England to become a Catholic Priest. He was drawn to the way of life of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a group of priests and lay brothers with a decentralized authority and greater freedom of life. In 1850, Faber founded a community of the Oratory in London which eventually found its home in Brompton with the building of the Brompton Oratory.

    I have had my own faith journey that has led me from a childhood in the Evangelical Free Church, to the Presbyterian Church and eventually to the Episcopal Church, where I have found a home. I love that as Episcopalians we strive to welcome all who come through our doors. I find it refreshing that we want people to question what we believe, and that we allow ourselves to “agree to disagree” with others in our own congregation. I think that is why I find this hymn text so life giving. It is as relevant today as it was when it was written over 150 years ago. I hope you find it meaningful as well.

    There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;
    There’s a kindness in God’s justice which is more than liberty.
    There is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven;
    There is no place where earth’s failings have such kindly judgement given.

    For the love of God is broader than the measures of our minds;
    And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
    But we make God’s love too narrow by false limits of our own;
    And we magnify God’s strictness with a zeal he will not own.

    There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed;
    There is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the Head.
    There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this;
    There is room for fresh creations in the upper home of bliss.

    If our love were but more simple we should take God at God’s word;

    And our lives would be all gladness in the joy of Christ our Lord.



  • September 13, 2019 12:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beloved Community,

    Yesterday, we officially began a new Program Year with our annual Rally Day worship service and picnic. There was an energy that was palpable in the sanctuary and in Hadley Hall. Smiles abounded as we greeted each other,young and older, and everyone in between! Newcomers and faithful parishioners who have contributed to the life of this Parish for years gathered and greeted and   
    re-connected.

    Epiphany continues to be a vibrant, welcoming community of faith and I know that God has wonderful things in store for us this year! Our Interim Rector, Sarah Conner, will be with us in a few short weeks. She will bring a wealth of wisdom and caring to her position and years of experience as an Interim Rector. It is her calling to walk beside congregations in transition. Her deep listening and pastoral presence, along with her strong leadership skills will guide us as we seek a new Rector.

    All of us, Staff, Vestry, Search Committee, and every parishioner needs to make a commitment to the process and to this program year. We need to be “all in” and ready to say at every turn, “What can I do? How can I help?” That is what it means to be a member of this faith community. There are many, many ways you can help and pitch in. The most important one is that you show up on Sunday mornings. All of us are busy and there are many activities that vie for our time and attention. I hope that in this year of transition you will make Epiphany a priority in your life and the life of your household. Here are some simple things you can do:

    • Come to the Rector Search Committee’s information-gathering sessions that will be on September 22, 29, and October 13 at 11:15. In small groups, the Search Committee will pose various questions about where you think God is calling us as a Parish and what you are hoping for in the leadership of our new Rector. There will be childcare provided each week, as well as activities for elementary age children.
    • Pray for this Parish and for the members of the Search Committee as they meet weekly to accomplish the enormous task of creating a Parish Profile, receiving resumes, and prayerfully discerning the best candidate for the position of Rector.
    • Pray for Suzanne Owayda and Dave McSweeney, our Wardens, who have taken on the lion's share of leadership in this transition year.
    • Step up and volunteer! As we search for a Director of Faith Formation, we need people to help lead Children’s Worship, teach Church School, etc. You do not have to be a parent to help out! If you would like the opportunity to get to know our children and youth and their parents, this is a wonderful opportunity!
    • Connect with people you may not know! Deepening our ties with one another helps to build community.
    • Read your emails from the Parish! We will be sending out important information in the life of the Parish. Staying informed helps you stay connected.
    • Look around you on Sunday. If there is someone you haven’t seen in a while, give them a call or send them an email. Tell them you have missed seeing them in church.

    Together, we can make this a joy-filled, faith-filled year together. Make a commitment to God that you will be a part of this holy adventure in this amazing, blessed, and grace-filled Parish. We need you and God needs you!

    Faithfully yours in Christ,




  • June 07, 2019 9:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
    I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert."        Isaiah 43:19

    Beloved Community,

    We just celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the ending of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, and the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and to each one of us. The Spirit was truly present here at Epiphany on Sunday when we baptized seven children and welcomed them into the Household of Faith. Our sanctuary was bedecked with red, yellow, and orange balloons and many of us wore brightly colored clothing. The music and liturgy was uplifting and inspiring as we gave thanks for so many members of the Parish who have served so faithfully during the Program Year.

    Yes, we have much to be grateful for in this time of transition. We are especially grateful for the leadership of our Wardens, Vestry, and Staff who continue to serve so faithfully and with such commitment and integrity. We now have a Search Committee in place and they will begin the holy work of forming themselves into a prayerful community tasked to find our next rector. Each one of them is a person of deep faith and commitment and they love this Parish.

    As these summer months approach, my prayer for all of us is that we will enter into a deeper relationship with Christ, “in whom we live and move and have our being,” and into a deeper relationship with each other. The Search Committee will be contacting each member of the Parish in the fall as they begin to gather information in order to compose our Parish Profile which will be seen by prospective candidates for Rector. What are your deepest desires for this Parish? What do you need from the next Rector in order to continue your journey of faith and inspire others to be ambassadors for Christ? What do you think God is dreaming for this community of faith?

    In order to answer these questions we need time to pray, time to think, time to just BE with God and just listen – listen to that “still small voice” within us to help us discern our future as a Parish. I hope that this summer you will set some time aside, get away from your computer, your phone, and whatever else may distract you and commune with God, whether you are in your garden at home, at the beach, the mountains - wherever it is you go to rest and just be. Breathe in deeply all the love God has for you and know that God is about to do a new thing here at Epiphany.

    Faithfully yours in Christ,




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