Saturday, February 25, 2012

March Newsletter



The Word from Two Saints

The Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene March 2012

90 Days of the Spirit
The Very Rev. Michael W. Hopkins
Holy Spirit, come to us,
Kindle in us the fire of your love.
Holy Spirit, come to us, Holy Spirit, come to us.
We think of the Day of Pentecost at the end of Easter Season as the day for celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit to us.  But the whole of Lent and Easter is a season for the Spirit, just as every Sunday is not only a celebration of the resurrection, but also of the gift of the Holy Spirit (as we pray each week for the Spirit to descend “upon these gifts” and “upon us”).
Lent begins with the Holy Spirit as a major character.  On Ash Wednesday, Psalm 51 is always an important part of the Service with its powerful words (vv. 11-13),
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence
And take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again
And sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
The uncovering of the Spirit within us, and connecting us to one another in the Church, is the great gift of our Baptism.  Lent is a time to recover that gift, the sustenance of God’s bountiful Spirit.  That recovery is so necessary for us on a regular basis as it is so easy for us to get out of touch with the Spirit’s bounty, to slip from finding joy in a world of abundance to finding fear in a world of scarcity.
This recovery almost always includes some time of disorientation in the wilderness.  Indeed, in Mark’s Gospel which we are reading on Sundays this year, the Spirit falls like a dove on Jesus at his baptism, and declares him God’s beloved, and then immediately drives him into the wilderness for a forty day face-to-face with his identity, including profound temptations for him to be other than what he was called to be.
If we spend much time in this wilderness (remember, it’s not all bad, the angels and the wild beasts will minister to us too!), by the time Holy Week gets here, perhaps we are despairing that there is even anything such as the Spirit, and if there is, perhaps we have driven her away.  We might feel this especially intensely as we yell “Crucify! Crucify!” on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
But then the miracle of Easter happens, a miracle that is far more than the resurrection.  Jesus meets his turncoat, frightened disciples and does not berate or reject them for their weakness and betrayal.  He says, “Peace be with you!”  And he gives them the Holy Spirit (John 20:19ff).
The Spirit is fully present in our lives as forgiveness, reconciliation, wholeness, and shalom, peace.  We neither get to these places nor remain there without struggle and challenge. We get lost again and again in a sense of our own unworthiness, or the unworthiness of others, but the Spirit never abandons us.  We are sealed with it and it has marked us as Christ’s own forever.  May we come through these 40 days of Lent and 50 days of Easter, kindled with the fire of the Spirit’s love.
Peace be with you!


Lent 2012


Lenten Series:
Practicing Life in the Spirit
Our Lenten series this year is meant to complement the “Tending the Soul” series offered at St. Stephen’s.  Both are an opportunity to explore Christian practices to deepen spirituality (relationship with God, the world and the self), most of which have ancient roots but are being appropriated in our day in new ways.  Here’s our schedule on Saturdays during Lent from 10 am to Noon (some may wish to eat together afterward): 
  • Saturday, March 3:  Spiritual Direction or Spiritual Friendship, which can be practiced one on one or in groups;
  • Saturday, March 10:  Lectio Divina, a simple, ancient method of bible reading that, again, can be practiced alone or in groups;
  • Saturday, March 17:  Storytelling about God and the World, an especially appropriate session for St. Patrick’s Day because Celtic Christians like Patrick were especially good at it;
  • Saturday, March 24:  The Benedictine Way: 15 centuries ago, Benedict wrote a “rule,” a guide to living in spiritual community.  It fosters an approach to life that is characterized by balance and the seeking of God in the daily.  We will examine this rule and explore the potential for a Benedictine cell group.
·       Saturday, March 31:  Discernment, which is spiritual decision-making (which does not mean decision-making that is not practical or reasonable).
Tending the Soul Continues
Moving with the Spirit: Yoga as a spiritual discipline. March 15, 22 & 29 (Thursdays) @ 6:30 PM.
The Rhythm of God: An exploration of drumming as a spiritual tool. April 19, 26, & May 3 (Thursdays) @ 6:30 PM.
All workshops are at St. Stephen’s.
On-line Lenten Resources
In addition to the daily prayer resources on our website, the following might be helpful in your observation of Lent:
The Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is offering a daily video with the brothers giving a “Daily Word” and reflecting on their Rule of Life. It is called “A Framework for Freedom.”  http://ssje.org/lent/
A Stations of the Cross for Families and Children is located at:
Anglicans Online has link to a number of devotional and educational resources for the season:  http://anglicansonline.org/special/lent.html
Other Lenten Opportunities
From St. Stephen’s:  Please join us for Lenten House Church for the five Mondays during Lent. House Church is a simple meal, fellowship and Compline. Hosts provide two types of soup and beverages—cider, coffee, tea, etc. The soups can be as simple or as adventurous as the host would like, and one should be vegetarian. Guests contribute salads, breads and desserts for the rest of the meal. We gather around 6, say grace and start eating by 6:30, hold a simple Compline service, and are finished by 8. If you would like to host House Church, please contact Bonnie Hallman-Dye, cbcr@rpa.net or 473-8041, evenings.
The Labyrinth is open at Asbury First United Methodist Church (1050 East Ave.) every Wednesday during Lent from 5 to 7 pm.  At least twelve Two Sainters got a taste of walking the labyrinth on February 8. For more about labyrinths, go to http://labyrinthsociety.org/.  The Asbury First labyrinth brochure is at http://www.asburyfirst.org/images/stories/worship_with_us/labyrinth%20brochure.pdf.
Stations of the Cross can be done by individuals or groups at Two Saints at any time the building is open.  Leaflets for doing the Service can be found on the ledge going up the stairs from the parish hall to the church.  Our stations this year are a design of Father Angelberg Vang, SJ, a Roman Catholic priest from Cameroon.  Father Vang was murdered while visiting Kenya in April 1999.  The stations we are using were designed for Hekima College Chapel in Nairobi.  They were drawn and painted by a Kenyan artist. The picture here is of the 5th Station: Simon Cyrene taking the cross of Jesus.
Annual Fish Fry: A Lent Tradition
Saints: Our Annual Fish Fry will be Friday, March 16th. Exclusive of the time planning and ordering which happens weeks before this event, we'll need help all week, from Tuesday the 13th, through Saturday the 17th for cleanup. There will be a sign up sheet in the back of the Church and in the Parish Hall. And most importantly, Friday, March 16th, we need you! I've always taken a vacation day from work the day of the fish fry, so if you have a day you can spare, donate it to us for this good cause. An additional note: I'm personally looking for an assistant, apprentice, or intern to be able to keep this tradition going. I received my orientation from previous leaders, beginning with Eugene Reid under Canon Simpkins, which included the monthly Men's Association Corporate Communion and Breakfast, which we now do on All Saints Sunday. We're counting on you!  Thanks, Jack Cummings.


Save the Date!

Installation of

The Rev. Mary Ann Brody

as Rector

of St. Stephen’s Church

Saturday, May 5

2:30 pm



Worship & Music


Music at Two Saints:
What do we Sing?
As part of the Worship Conversation we began back in the fall, there was a fair amount of conversation about music.  One thing is very clear: Music is very important at Two Saints!  Opinions about styles of music, however, are all over the map.  The conversation revealed that this is an area in which we need a greater exploration and conversation about our diversity.  For some, only gospel-style music will do.  For others, the music of The Hymnal 1982 is a fundamental part of their spirituality.
Any conversation needs to start with a firm grasp on what is real currently.  So we reviewed our 2011 hymn choices for Sunday mornings.  Here’s what we found:
  • We sang 220 hymns on Sundays in 2011.
  • Of these, there were 180 different hymns.
  • Of the hymns we sang 64% were Hymnal 1982, 30% were Lift Every Voice & Sing and 6% were Wonder, Love and Praise.
  • If you remove hymns that are dedicated to Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter, the percentages change: Hymnal 1982 58%, LEVAS II, 35%, WLP, 7%.

These numbers will be part of what the new Worship Team will be talking about as we continue to make our excellent worship even more excellent.

Student Organ Recital
Students from the organ department at the Eastman School of Music will present an EROI Community Recital at Two Saints on Friday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.  Two Saints has hosted these recitals in the past and has gained recognition among the students as a fun and welcoming place to perform.  Students will perform an hour-long program and talk a little bit about different organ projects going on at the school.  A free-will offering will be collected to support study trips and special student events.  Please speak to Annie Laver if you would like to help with a small reception following the concert.
Spring Concert Series
We are pleased to announce the return of last year’s popular concert series, Two Saints Spring Music Festival. The festival will run at lunch hour, from 12:15-12:45 p.m., for seven consecutive Fridays from April 13th to May 25th.  This year’s line-up is shaping up with a stellar cast, including performances by Laura Osgood, Keith Brown, Jamal Moore, Annie Laver, Bruce Frank, Cheryl Frank, members of Publick Music chamber ensemble, and a cello choir from the Eastman School of Music.
At each concert, a lunch of all-natural, local ingredients will be available for $7.  All proceeds from this and a free-will offering will directly benefit the Right-On School.  Last year we were able to raise a little over $1500.
YOU can help make this series a success.  We need ambassadors, as well as people to help with food shopping, lunch assembly, and clean up.  Please use the sign up sheet on the back bulletin board or speak to Annie Laver or Cheryl Frank. Additionally, this year we will be offering local businesses the opportunity to advertise in our concert programs.  If you know of a business that might be interested, please speak to Cheryl.  All money collected goes directly to the Right-On School Endowment Fund.


Advocacy

The Scandal of Our Children in Poverty
By Marilyn Wienk
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family,” and “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”  Over half a century later, these words must become our mantra. 
Close to 30% of the children in Monroe County and 40% of children in the city of Rochester live below the poverty line (New York State Poverty Report by the NYS Community Action Association, February 2010).  The poverty line is defined as an income of $22,314. for a family of four.  Included in those below the poverty line are children in extreme, or deep, poverty, which is less than $11,000 for a family of four.  Hardest hit are the children in families headed by people with little education, people of color, and single women, according to this same report.  The authors of the report note that poverty has increased since the publication of their data.  It is especially shameful that a quarter of these children’s parents ARE employed. Perhaps Assembly Speaker Sheldon’s recent proposal to raise the minimum wage would lift some of these out of poverty.  Not one of these children would be helped if cuts to the safety net programs are made, which some elected officials and candidates for President have proposed.  Further information in the New York State Poverty Report can be found at http://nyscaaonline.org
More recently, The Children’s Agenda issued their report in September of 2011, shockingly entitled, Decade of Decline: The 2011 Community Status Report on Children and Youth in Monroe County.  Since 1999, conditions for families with children have gotten worse.  In Monroe County, children living in poverty in 2009 increased to 22.2%, up from 15.5% in 1999.  The Children’s Agenda counted 43% of the children in Rochester living in poverty in 2009, with 85% of kids in K-6 receiving free or reduced lunches.  More horrifying is the infant mortality rate in Monroe County, which according to Decade of Decline, is behind that of most other industrialized nations and the U.S. national rate.  In 2009, there were 8.5 deaths of children under 1 year per 1,000 births, up from 7.2 per 1,000 in 1999.  You can read or download the full report at www.thechildrensagenda.org.
This spring the Public Policy Team plans a forum when someone from The Children’s Agenda will tell us more about the deplorable status of so many of our children in the city and in the suburbs, where poverty is also increasing at alarming rates, and also about what we might advocate for.  Look for the announcement of this upcoming forum in future Sunday Bulletins.

2011 Parochial Report
Every Episcopal Church is required to file a Parochial Report each year with statistics about membership, worship, stewardship and financial information.  Here are some of the highlights from our 2011 report, with 2010 numbers in parenthesis:
Membership
Baptized Members:  207 (201)
Communicants in Good Standing: 152 (150)
Communicants Under Age 16: 26 (25)
Baptisms:  6 (6)
Confirmation/Reception:  0 (5)
Marriages: 3 (4)
Burials: 6 (5)
Worship
Average Sunday Attendance:  107 (93)
Sunday Eucharists: 126 (124)
Weekday Eucharists:  118) (125)
Home Eucharists:  52 (21)
Stewardship
Signed Pledge Cards:  73 (61)
Total Pledged:  $170,356 ($159,089)
Financial
Normal Operating Income:  $213,899 ($203,548)*
Operating Expenses: $298,132 ($286,111)
Funds Sent Outside Parish:  $117,129 ($104,439)**
Capital Expenditures: $34,216 ($66,579)
Cash on hand 12/31: $43,760 ($51,161)
Total investments 12/31: $492,086 ($507,597)***
*This is the number on which our diocesan apportionment is based. It does not include any grant money received from the diocese or any use of endowment funds above 5% of the average of the 13 preceding quarters.
**This includes both budgeted and non-budgeted giving to organizations or ministry outside the parish.
***Considering we withdrew $64,500 from our various investment funds in 2011, we had a very good investment year.
How does Two Saints compare to other parishes in the Diocese?  Our ASA (average Sunday attendance) in 2010 (93) ranks us 13th in the diocese (of 51).  In pledge & plate income we rank 10th.
Absalom Jones Celebration
Absalom Jones Sunday was February 12 and, despite the first major snowstorm of the season, we had a good crowd for worship and a fantastic lunch.  Thanks to Geneva Robinson and Burnetta McCullough for organizing lunch!

Annie leads drummers at the end of Service
There was great help in the kitchen!
Oh to be a fly on the wall!
Sylvia Kannapel & Cecille Chester having a good time!
Small Ways You Can Help Two Saints Financially
Two small ways you can help Two Saints financially: 
If you shop on-line and use Amazon.com (which is not only about books and music), please go to the Two Saints website first (www.twosaints.org) and click on the Amazon.com link on the front page.  That’s all you need to do. When you make a purchase, Two Saints automatically receives a small percentage of your purchase (the percentage varies).  In 2011, we received $197.04 from Amazon.
We also recycle empty laser & inkjet toner cartridges through Empties4Cash.  There is a box in the parish hall in which you can leave your empties.  You can see which cartridges are accepted at www.empties4cash.com (but bring them in even if you cannot check the site—we’ll do the sorting).
The Church & Politics
By the Rector
Like it or not, it’s time for another political season and I am already getting questions about what the Church can do and not do as part of its status as a non-profit.
The bottom-line is that the Church, or any of its officers acting on behalf of the Church, cannot endorse any candidate running for office or any political party.  We can entertain candidates, allow them to make statements or others make statements on their behalf, so long as we are open to all candidates doing so.  Officers of the Church are free to make endorsements on their own (for example, via a bumper sticker).
Churches are free to advocate particular policies, and, if there are referendums on issues, take a stance on those referendums.
I am sometimes asked if the Church shouldn’t avoid politics altogether.  In some ways, that would be nice, and plenty of churches operate in that way, but personally I cannot imagine doing so, and I ground that in Jesus Christ himself.  Some claim that Jesus was not a political person, but I do not think that is the case.  His “inaugural sermon” in Luke 4 is anything but apolitical:  good news for the poor, release for captives/prisoners, freedom for the oppressed, and the proclamation of the Year of Jubilee (meaning the equal distribution of property).
Then there is the matter of our Baptismal Covenant.  “Loving your neighbor as yourself” and “striving for justice and peace among all people” are inherently political acts.  I once heard Bishop Barbara Harris say (quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., if I remember right), “My religion is my politics.”
The Episcopal Church, through acts of the General Convention, and the Diocese of Rochester, through acts of the Diocesan Convention, takes stands on many issues.  TEC has lobbyists in Washington and in Albany to make sure our positions are heard.  We also encourage advocacy on these issues by our members.  You can learn more about the Episcopal Church and Public Policy (including signing up for advocacy e-mail alerts) at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/eppn.htm.
In these months leading up to the Presidential election, I’ll be sharing some of the Church’s stances on issues that arise in the campaign.  It is important to know that these stances do not bind Episcopalians.  Disagreement is not only possible but expected.  These stances are meant to inform conscience, not dictate it.  In the Episcopal Church, the institution and its officers only have the power of persuasion.
Abortion and contraception has been in the news as I write due to the Obama Administration’s proposal that organizations related to churches or other religious organizations must carry coverage for contraception.
The Episcopal Church has said for many decades that the use of “any natural or safe artificial means of conception control” is a human right, recognizing that it is especially important in light of world population growth and environmental sustainability.
Abortion is a more complicated issue, and there is much disagreement in the Church over it.  A fairly complete statement was issued by General Convention in 1994.  It is worth reproducing in its entirety:
Resolved…All human life is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God. It is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual and physiological aspects of sex and sexuality.
The Book of Common Prayer affirms that "the birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community" (p. 440). As Christians we also affirm responsible family planning.
We regard all abortion as having a tragic dimension, calling for the concern and compassion of all the Christian community.
While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.
In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their conscience in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate, the sacramental life of this Church.
Whenever members of this Church are consulted with regard to a problem pregnancy, they are to explore, with grave seriousness, with the person or persons seeking advice and counsel, as alternatives to abortion, other positive courses of action, including, but not limited to, the following possibilities: the parents raising the child; another family member raising the child; making the child available for adoption.
It is the responsibility of members of this Church, especially the clergy, to become aware of local agencies and resources which will assist those faced with problem pregnancies.
We believe that legislation concerning abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored as the position of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.


Mission Statement
Together, as People of God, in companionship with Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to be:
A Healing Place for Souls…
A School for Justice…
And a Welcome Table for All.














Ongoing Calendar
Current Month Inside:  The Following Dates are Subject to Change


Sunday, April 1, Palm Sunday
Thursday, April 5, Maundy Thursday, 12:05 pm & 6 pm (both at Two Saints)
Friday, April 6, Good Friday, 12:05 pm (Two Saints) & 7 pm (St. Stephen’s)
Saturday, April 7, Easter Vigil, 8 pm, (Baptism Available) at Two    Saints
Sunday, April 8, Easter Day with Easter Egg Hunt
Friday, April 13-15, Youth Group Trip to NYC
Thursday, April 19, Vestry, 6 pm
Sunday, April 29, Good Shepherd Sunday, Youth Sunday
Thursday, May 3—Saturday, May 5, Province II Synod, Syracuse
Saturday, May 5, 2:30 pm, Installation of the Rev. Mary Ann Brody as Rector of St. Stephen’s Church
Thursday, May 10, 5 pm, Welcome & Inclusion Team
Sunday, May 13, Rogation Sunday with Procession to Genesee River
Wednesday, May 16, 7 pm, Rochester District Hearing on Diocesan Apportionment (for Wardens & Vestry)
Thursday, May 17, 12:05 pm Ascension Day Eucharist
Thursday, May 17, Vestry, 6 pm
Sunday, May 27, Pentecost (Baptism Available)
Saturday, June 2, Anti-racism Workshop at Two Saints (8:30 am—4:30 pm)
Sunday, June 3, Trinity Sunday, Youth Sunday, End of Program Year Celebration
Thursday, June 21, Vestry, 6 pm
Thursday, June 28, 5 pm, Welcome & Inclusion Team
Tuesday, July 3—Thursday, July 12, General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Indianapolis
Thursday, July 5, Right On School Opens
Saturday, July 14, 195th Anniversary of the Founding of the Parish
Thursday, July 19, Vestry 6 pm
Wednesday, August 15, Right On School Appreciation Night
Sunday, September 9, Annual Porch Mass & Cookout
Sunday, September 16, Patronal Feast of St. Simon Cyrene
Thursday, September 20, Vestry, 6 pm
Saturday, October 6, Blessing of the Animals, 11 am
Sunday, October 14, Patronal Feast of St. Luke
Thursday, October 18, Vestry, 6 pm
Thursday, November 1, Al1 Saints’ Day, Services at 12:05 pm(Two Saints) and 7 pm (St. Stephen’s)
Sunday, November 4, All Saints’ Sunday (Baptism Available)
Thursday, November 15, Vestry 6 pm
Sunday, November 18, Pledge In-gathering, Harvest Dinner
Saturday, December 8, 5 pm St. Nicholas’ Party (St. Stephen’s)
Saturday, December 15, 9:30 am—1 pm Advent Quiet Morning
Thursday, December 20, Vestry, 6 pm
Monday, December 24, Christmas Eve, 6 pm Service at St. Stephen’s, 10 pm Service at Two Saints.
Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day, 10 am Service
Sunday, January 6, 2013The Epiphany
Sunday, January 13, The Baptism of Jesus (Baptism Available)/Martin Luther 
King, Jr. Sunday
Sunday, January 20, Annual Meeting
Sunday, February 10, Absalom Jones Sunday, Mardi Gras Sunday
Wednesday, February 13, Ash Wednesday


Enclosures
  • March calendar
  • Liturgical ministers for March
  • T-shirt order form
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