Episcopal Relief & Development has been in contact with local partners in the Episcopal dioceses of Fort Worth and Oklahoma following tornadoes on May 16 and May 20 that caused severe damage and loss of life. These devastating events were caused by a large storm system that set off tornado alerts from Texas to Minnesota. Weather threats continue, with severe thunderstorm advisories in place from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago, and the highest likelihood of tornadoes in the area between Dallas and Little Rock.
At this time, Episcopal Relief & Development encourages prayers for those impacted, and for first responders who are providing immediate assistance. Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Tornado Response Fund will support outreach efforts in affected areas and help meet urgent needs. Because local capacity to receive and house volunteers is currently very limited, interested individuals are requested to sign up via the US Disaster Program’s “Ready to Serve” volunteer database to be contacted down the road when help is needed.
Please continue your prayers for Bishop Tom Shaw. For updates on his progress, please check Diocese of Massachusetts’ website.
From May/June issue of the New Hampshire Episcopal News:
As everyone knows, the Diocese of New Hampshire does not have a cathedral. When I shared this fact with a bishop of a large diocese with a prominent Gothic edifice, I was assured what I already know—how blessed we are here in the Granite State not to have such a big pile of stone.
A cathedral is simply the church where the bishop’s chair, the cathedra, is located. There is a strange looking oak chair in the Chapel of the Holy Angels at 63 Green Street that is thought to be the bishop’s. There are some other peculiar chairs in the various sanctuaries in the diocese. I sat in one of them and my feet couldn’t reach the floor! There is also the seat in the car that I use to drive around to visit and attend meetings. Sometimes, thanks to the hands-free cell phone technology, our “Subaru Cathedral” is the site of my communication with lay leaders, priests, deacons, and others. That moving cathedra is also where I do a lot of my praying as I hold names of individuals and parishes in my heart and lift them up in intercession and thanksgiving.
The absence of a cathedral says something important about us as a church and about our discipleship in Christ. Being more mobile means less focused on a capitol or a throne from which decrees are pronounced. It means being less likely to point to a particular spot on the map, that when asked, “where is the diocese?” you can just as likely point to your own local setting, even to the place of your everyday life, work, service, and prayer, and say, the Diocese is here—wherever you are. We can be less rigid, set in stone, in our way of being church. The wider Episcopal Church is straining to become more “nimble.” The Church is engaged in a long running debate about what to do with its real estate in Manhattan. Having one less colossal tower to maintain and venerate might mean that we here in New Hampshire can more easily become that nimble living body that moves, breathes, and grows as the Body of Christ.
Continue reading: Bishop column May.June 2013
Thoughts on Administrative Assistants’ Day.
The words administrator, ministry, minimal, minority, diminish, all come from the same root. (If I’m mistaken about this, let it ride!) Administrators may sometimes feel, and are too often made to feel, that they are put in charge of nothing but small things.
It is worth noting that our God became small, taking the form of one limited human being, in order to restore the whole creation. God offers small things, a splash of water, a morsel of bread, a sip of wine, in order that the world may be filled with a sense of God’s loving and healing Presence. The papers, the copy machines, the phones, the filing, the correspondence, the schedules, the harassing phone calls, the endless meetings, the extra small things, that mean the world, all take on a sacramental quality in God’s economy of salvation.
Today, on Administrator Assistant Appreciation Day, I give thanks and praise of the several fellow administrators with whom I have sought to become small and to work over small things in order that God’s glory can expand and enlarge. You have been ad-Ministers of the God’s Grace, whether you believed it or not, and this Church gives God thanks for your vocation.
Bishop Rob Hirschfeld
“I need all lanes open here!”
This was the urgent plea of a Boston Police officer responding to his radio dispatcher moments after one of the bombs exploded today near Copley Square. He was pleading to make all paths clear on the roads in and out of the disaster area so the injured, maimed, and dying could be helped as soon as possible. He could also have been asking for the airwaves to be clear of any unnecessary chatter so that all lines of communication could be open. Both were needed. “I need all lanes open hee-ah!”
The officer gives us a prayer. It is a prayer we have heard before and know. It’s the plea we usually hear in Advent from Isaiah 40:
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Clear the way. We need all lanes open here!
We need all lanes open here! In the wilderness, the desert, the wasteland of our violence, confusion, anger, and grief, we need, again, to know of the Presence that is stronger than sin, hatred, death. In the emptiness of hearts that are tempted to become numb to such suffering, we need lanes of God’s compassion to open up again.
Yet again, a child! O, God. So close to where that kind Officer in that classic children’s book about Boston made the Way for those ducklings, touching the hearts of children all over through the years. O God, no! Make a new way for us, O Holy One! Come, Lord Jesus.
O God, help us clear all the lanes for your grace, your healing, your justice, your peace. Even in the hot panic on the streets, we behold your glory when people rushed to the aid of your hurting children, with acts of compassion, wisdom, skill. But we need even more wide pathways for your Arrival, your Advent, to show us the Way. We need all lanes open here. We need all lanes open here. We need all lanes open here. Help us open all lanes, so we know You are here. Show us your healing and health in Boston and in all the cities of this earth. Amen.
Presidng Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary. Amen.
As Christians we are called upon to pray for a just and peaceful ordering of our society. I would like to share with you two invitations for you to consider how we might live out our Baptismal Vow to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”
The first invitation comes to us from Mr. Bob Kay, the Vice Director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches, of which the Diocese of New Hampshire is a member. It urges action on some upcoming legislation that would allow Casino Gambling in our beloved state. Religious traditions stress the value of freedom from behaviors that lessen human dignity. No one can reasonably argue with the fact that gambling has destroyed people’s lives through addiction. Individuals and families have been ruined. The electronic “near win” class of games are deliberately engineered to increase the pernicious addictive power of gambling. Addiction, in what ever form, is the antithesis of freedom. It makes little sense that a state whose slogan is to “live free or die” would pin its financial hopes on an activity that imperils its citizens, erodes community, and exacts an incalculable social and spiritual toll.
The second invitation I would like to share is written by a new friend and brother of mine in the House of Bishops. The Rt. Rev. Ed Konieczny is a former police officer and has a powerful story to tell about his own relationship to guns. I invite you to read his short testimony as a compelling example of how we can be civil and humble in our public discourse about matters that tend to polarize and divide us even as we strive to fulfill our baptismal covenant.
Bishop Rob Hirschfeld
About Casinos in New Hampshire
From Bob Kay, Vice President, New Hampshire Council of Churches:
A hearing before the House combined Finance & Ways and Means committees for the Casino bill (SB-152) has been set for next Tuesday, April 16 beginning at 10:00 AM in Representatives Hall (State House). The New Hampshire Council of Churches and its ten member denominations (including the Episcopal Diocese of NH) has for years advocated for the prohibition of expanded gambling in New Hampshire, especially in the form of a Casino loaded with video slot machines which are known to be addictive and destructive to vulnerable families and individuals. I urge all to take the following actions:
The Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. He was previously a police officer in Southern California.
By Edward J. Konieczny, Special to CNN’s Belief Blog
(CNN) — Both sides of the gun control debate think I’m on their side. I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, a believer in Jesus Christ and for more than 18 years before entering seminary, I was a police officer.
While I try to preach God’s love and mercy, I also have a concealed carry permit and sometimes take my gun on long drives through the isolated areas of my diocese.
I live with the knowledge that I share responsibility for the taking of a human life in the line of duty and that a good friend on the force was shot and killed after we’d swapped shifts. And I wouldn’t be writing this article if the rifle that was pointed at my head one night by a man in the grip of a mental illness hadn’t failed to fire.
Until very recently, I was adamantly opposed to any expansion of gun control. But as I have reflected on the current debate — and the emotionally charged and morally complex gun-related moments in my past — I find myself struggling and evolving in my understanding of guns in our society. I think it is time for an honest conversation about the assumptions on which both sides in the gun debate base their arguments. It’s time for both sides to acknowledge that neither offers a complete solution to the problems of violence in our society.
In 1979, one of my best friends, a fellow police officer named Don, swapped shifts with me so I could play in a police softball tournament. During that shift, Don was escorting a man from a bar when the man pulled a semiautomatic weapon from his coat and shot Don in the chest. Don died at the scene.
The man who shot Don was a convicted felon, recently released from prison. He should not have been able to buy a gun, but he had bought the one he used and several others from a licensed dealer.