Friday, May 28, 2010

Rochester Monroe District Meeting Minutes

May 20, 2010
St. Stephen’s

Call to Order: Warden Bonnie Hallman-Dye called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. with 41 people present. The attendance lists are with the secretary.

Welcome and Opening Prayer: The Rev. Mary Ann Brody welcomed the group and gave a brief overview of the various ministries at St. Stephen’s including the Sunday night suppers, a community garden in conjunction with St. Luke’s and St. Simon’s, hosting community groups, and a kitchen renovation project.

Review Agenda and Minutes of October 8, 2009: The minutes were accepted as read.

Old Business: none

New Business:
Dr. Marilyn Wienk addressed the group regarding the anti-racism materials and training available through the diocese that is required for clergy and lay leaders of the diocese. There are currently three trainings scheduled within the diocese including June 5 at St. Mark’s in Newark; September 18 at St. Thomas’ in Bath, and October 16 at Christ Church in Rochester. For more information and to register for one of the workshops you may call Eileen O’Connor Casey at 585-473-2977.

The Very Rev Cynthia Rasmussen and the Very Rev. Lance Robbins presented a brief overview of the Bishop’s vision for the diocese. Passionate Spirituality – Radical Hospitality- Thoughtful Engagement. They also asked what they could do to energize and conduct future district meetings around issues of interest.

Oral reports from grant recipients from the fall of 2007 and spring 2008 were given.
  • St. Steven’s – Sunday suppers
  • St. Mark’s and St. John’s – Creation Camp
  • St. Thomas – Prison ministry
  • St. Luke’s Brockport – New mom’s ministry
  • Christ Church Rochester – rental of sound and lighting equipment for Jazz Festival

Warden Neil Houghton chaired the portion of the meeting devoted to new grant recipients. The following grants were approved:
  • Grace Church, Scottsville $500.00 (music and more)
  • St. Stephen’s Rochester $500.00 (community garden)
  • St. John’s Honeoye Falls $500.00 (Carpenter’s Kids)
  • Incarnation Penfield $250.00 (Push Physical theater Liturgical Dance)
  • Incarnation Penfield $500.00 (Roots Liturgical Dance)
  • St. George’s Hilton $1000.00 (Alzheimer’s support group literature and community garden
The total amount awarded was $3,250.00

The Rev. David Grant Smith gave a presentation about Creation Camp.

Warden Neil Houghton outlined the procedures involved in writing and presenting resolutions. A brochure of the procedures is available on the diocesan website.

Two new diocesan positions were announced. Deborah Brown is the new Youth Missioner and Jim Ernest has been appointed to the Diocesan Communications position.

The Very Rev. Cynthia Rasmussen led the group in a brainstorming regarding areas for future meetings:
  • Godly play
  • Evangelism
  • Sharing ideas among parishes
  • Networking regarding the mission of the church
  • Stewardship
  • Recruiting and retaining youth
  • Subgroups report on various aspects of ministry
  • Meeting quarterly -4times per year
A motion was made and approved to meet four times per year. October, December, February, and May were suggested.

Members requested to look at meeting on days other than Thursdays. The secretary was asked to survey members about days they would be available to meet.

  1. Sarah Stoll form Diocesan Council that there are efforts in communication, evangelism, and congregational development at the diocesan level
  2. June 4 – St. Mark’s and St. John’s Jazz Festival – The Very Rev. Cindy Rasmussen added that helpers are welcome.
  3. June 5 – St George’s Electronics Go Green Day – disposal of electronics and paper shredding for free, $10 fee to recycle old TV’s
  4. June 13 – Epiphany Gates Blood Drive 9-2
  5. June 18 – St. Thomas Chicken Barbeque
  6. June 19 – St. Thomas 5K race
Compline: Warden Bonnie Hallman-Dye

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Next Meeting
St. George’s Hilton
Date to follow - This will be the pre-convention meeting

Submitted by
Sharon Del Vecchio Therkildsen
Rochester Monroe District Secretary

Saturday, May 15, 2010

ROCHESTER: Transitional home for women veterans dedicated in Avon

[Episcopal News Service] Zion Episcopal Church in Avon, New York, decided to expand its mission, converting the church's rectory into a six-bed transitional home for women veterans when its rector and the community realized women veterans, more so than men, can fall through the cracks.

The idea for Zion House began to take hold a few years ago when Zion's rector, the Rev. Mark Stiegler, was serving as a part-time chaplain at Veterans Affairs hospital, and noticed a gap in services provided to women veterans. He shared his observation with his church, and after much planning, including securing a grant and renovating the rectory, Zion House is planned to open next month, he said in a telephone interview.

"The goal is to give these women the courage and the wherewithal to find a job, sustain a job and move on to independent living," said Stiegler, adding that the VA will make case referrals to the house.

On May 12 Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rochester Bishop Prince Singh gathered with the Zion community in Avon -- a small town 40 miles from Rochester and within an hours' drive of four VA facilities -- to dedicate the house.

"Zion House represents mission to the 'least of these,'" Jefferts Schori said in a quote provided to ENS. "Women veterans have often been forgotten and deprived of the benefits and services normally provided to men -- a reality from the time of Deborah and Jael to the present day. May Zion House be a beacon of light welcoming all into God’s healed community."

Zion took advantage of a VA grant program that covers two-thirds the cost of refurbishing a home and provides money to assist the staff in providing services to the women, and is working in partnership with Post 294 of the American Legion.

The house will have live-in director/house manager and two part-time social workers (the grant doesn't cover operational costs). The house is the first such transitional home for women veterans in New York and the fourth in the nation, Stiegler said.

Sharon Walburn, co-chair of the Zion House board of directors and a veteran herself having served 30 years, 10 on active duty, in the Army, hopes the house is a success and that it will become a model for others to follow.

"Historically the VA had resources for men only and very few for women and of course that has changed quite a bit, but not enough," she said in a telephone interview. The resources are few and far between as transitional homes go … and very few halfway houses just for women. I think it's amazing and a big investment for the church to take on as a mission."

Zion's other missions include Circle Nursery School and Martha's Kitchen, a lunch program.

"Zion House is an excellent model of what we already are, and are intentionally striving to be as a church: agents of healing and transformation. We are grateful to the saints of Zion in Avon and for all the collaborating partners, for this moment in history is when we can breathe deeply and we can say to ourselves and the world around us, this is who we are," said Singh during the dedication.

The Zion House website provides a resource section, including news stories here.

-- Lynette Wilson is a reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Video of Bishop Robinson's Evensong Sermon

Shot by Jim Ernst, Diocese of Rochester's communications facilitator.

Gay bishop returns to Rochester
April 30, 2010

Ashwin Verghese
Staff writer

The Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop returned to Rochester on Thursday night, 11 years after he was nearly elected bishop here.

"I can't tell you how good it feels to be back," V. Gene Robinson said as he began his sermon at the St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church downtown.

Robinson, 62, was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003.

He was also a candidate for bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester in 1999.

Robinson — who spoke at President Barack Obama's inaugural ceremonies last year — said Thursday that he came to speak in Rochester because the Rev. Michael Hopkins, rector of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene, is a longtime friend who helped with his election in New Hampshire.

Robinson said when he won that election, "the reaction was pretty strong and pretty negative, not just from people in this country, but from around the world."

By contrast, Robinson received an enthusiastic reception Thursday from the crowd that clapped when he talked about "my partner, now my husband."

About 200 people attended the service. Not all of them were regular members of the church.

Marj Matzky of Irondequoit, who was at the church for the first time, said she was "just really interested in hearing him."

Tom Schultz of Greece said that, as a gay man, he wanted to hear Robinson's "perspective as a gay Christian."

Robinson said he is pleased with the progress the church has made over the past seven years, noting that a lesbian was recently elected as a suffragan bishop in Los Angeles.

"I'm proud of where the church has gone," Robinson said, "but I'm very humbled by the experience."


We Got a Robe

Sermon preached by the Rev. Michael W. Hopkins at the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene on the 4th Sunday of Easter: Revelation 7:9-17. This was my last Sunday before beginning a three month sabbatical.

I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

I had just made the decision that it was time to leave my beloved St. George’s in the Diocese of Washington where I had been first Vicar and then Rector for 12 years when a former Washington colleague of mine, Gayle Harris, was elected Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts. I knew a little bit about her parish in Rochester because I knew her, of course, but also because I was a native of that diocese. I remember thinking that it was the kind of place I would like to go next, with the added attraction that it was close to my family, but the timing was not right. I was looking now and they wouldn’t be ready to call for some time.

I thought about her parish again when I attended her consecration in Boston in January 2003 (Lord, it was cold that day!). By then, though, I was already in a couple of parish processes and feeling good about my prospects.

2003, however, was a frustrating year for me as those processes and several others did not pan out. I could never get past the final cut. At the time I was President of Integrity USA and I became convinced that was influencing people negatively. One parish with a very progressive reputation told me flat out that I was too risky. Another gave me the feedback that I “Googled too well.” I was beginning to think I might be in Maryland for the rest of my ministry. There would have been worse things, but I kept trying.

In November of 2003 I attended the consecration of my friend Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. It happened that the Bishop of Rochester, Jack McKelvey, was there. I asked if we could have a word and I inquired about Two Saints. It was a great place, he said, but he discouraged me from applying. “Not a good match,” he said. He’d love to have me in the Diocese, though. How about St. Thomas’, Bath? No, I said, that was basically my hometown and I recall Jesus having some advice about that.

Most of you know me well enough to know that Bishop McKelvey’s advice only made me determined to put my name in here, and I did, and, to his credit, he didn’t try to stop me.

Well, I advanced in the process to the visitation stage. I remember I was in Safeway, a grocery store, when, I think, Betty McClenney called me on my cell phone and asked me if such and such a date was OK for them to come. My brain went into panic mode. It was the day after John and I were having our union blessed by the Bishop of Washington with a couple hundred people in attendance. Not a good Sunday for me to be at my best! “Of course,” I said, “We’d love to have you.”

Betty and Jackie Hopkins came for the visit. Little did I know that neither of them were very favorably disposed toward me. I was being sent the Two Saints hit squad! Instead, of course, we fell in love with each other. I’m convinced it was because I took them to lunch at Ruby Tuesdays!

John and I came to Rochester for the final interview. Armond Kane, with all his gregariousness, took us on a tour, the highlight of which was the Pittsford Wegman’s and the Eastview Mall. We guessed he had us pegged for shoppers. He did also take us to see the fast ferry. Actually by the end of the trip we had been taken three times to see the fast ferry! You were really proud of that boat!

I decided by the end of that visit that I would say, “yes,” if you called me. John, despite the fact that he is a native of Florida and was convinced that from Rochester he could see the Arctic Circle, didn’t veto me.

The votes in the Search Committee and the Vestry were not unanimous, but I was elected by one vote by the Vestry and Jack McKelvey signed off on it. On the second Sunday of September I said good-bye to St. George’s and on the first Sunday of October 2004 I stood at this Altar for the first time. And here we are five and a half years later and you are sending me off on my first sabbatical.

I tell that story this morning because it is a story about how God works through and oftentimes around us to create his great multitude. It is a story of how God is determined to bring together people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” This parish is a glimmer of that great multitude which is the dream of God and I am privileged to be a part of it.

The story of our coming together (and I only told my side of it, of course) is a story of grace. It is ultimately a story of thanksgiving and joy. It is also a story with its amusing moments, proving, as so many things do in this life, that God has a sense of humor. But it is also a hard story with some very painful moments, moments that the vision from Revelation this morning calls “the great ordeal.” But these characteristics are those of all our lives and of communities like this one, and the ones that preceded it, through the years. Moments of joy, moments of pain.

What to do with this mixed bag of a life that belongs to each one of us? Revelation suggests, quite simply, hope. The whole Book of Revelation, with all its weirdness, violence and terrible portents of the future, is really about just one word: hope. And the hope is contained in today’s vision:

These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

In a story like ours we are not only formed into the kind of community of which God dreams, we are also enabled to stand in this life and say, “This thing that is happening to me is not the end of the story. I know the end of the story and it involves a robe and a palm branch and a God who wipes away tears.

This is such good news. We have such good news to tell, my sisters and brothers. God make us a little less afraid to tell it.

Well let’s today close this sermon and give thanks for our story and mark this beginning of sabbatical time by singing from LEVAS #180[1] (you might not need the book; it will save your hands to clap). Do me a favor and change the “I” to “we,” for truly this is about us. Nobody’s got a robe on in the kingdom by him or herself. Surely that is part of the good news here at Two Saints.

We got a robe up ina that kingdom
ain’a that good news.
We got a robe up ina that kingdom
ain’a that good news.
We’re a gonna lay down this world,
gonna shoulder upa our cross.
Gonna take it home a to my Jesus,
ain’a that good news.

We got a crown…

We got a savior…

[1] Traditional Negro spiritual.