Sharing the Love of Christ

My wife Kathy and I recently returned to Honduras from March 11-24 with a Christian Veterinary Mission team.  I have previously led several teams to Danli in southeastern Honduras and Kathy has often accompanied me.  This time we were leading a team of 6 veterinarians, 1 veterinary technician, 5 family members, 3 Honduran veterinary students, 3 Honduran drivers, and 3 Honduran high school translators.  We traveled under the auspices of Christian Veterinary Mission, an interdenominational professional Christian group, and SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) and were working within the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras to provide veterinary services to animals in the Danli area.  Our local contact was SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving.

Our team carried in medicines, equipment and supplies.  Each team member paid their own travel expenses and we had additional financial support from St. John’s, Franklin, as well as from several individual donations.

The team began each day with morning devotions.  Then, after breakfast, we would load our gear and travel to one of the many rural communities in the Danli area.  Each village that we visited was within the parish boundaries of one of the churches in the Danli Deanery.

Upon entering a village our team would divide into a livestock team and a pet animal team.  We then provided vaccinations, parasite treatments, medications, and surgeries as needed to horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits.  The services and medications were provided gratis but the local churches collected a donation of about $0.80 to $1.50 for surgical services. We had some very happy church members as the donations for each church were generally greater than a Sunday offering.  In the end we had treated over 1600 animals.

Our accompanying family members supported us by preparing the daily lunches for our team and an
always unknown number of hungry local helpers.  One spouse organized our daily devotions. Another was a fluent translator. They also helped with crowd control when necessary and were able to help spread the message that we came as Christians and were representing HIM by sharing HIS love.

We had purposely scheduled our trip to straddle a weekend so that we could attend church services together in a village where we had worked.  This year we attended the new rural church of Santa Maria Magdalena. We were fortunate that we were there on a communion Sunday as a priest is only available on alternate weekends.  We recognized several faces in the church of people who had been to our veterinary clinics earlier in the week, including one canine patient who walked in during the service and napped under the altar.  

For myself, the entire short-term mission experience is a spiritual renewal.  Yes, the work is satisfying. There is satisfaction in sharing your own resources, your wealth, your strengths, your faith, and all of your abilities with others.  We were called to go and share the Love of Christ. Answering that call was a blessing.

Dan Paulo is a member of St. John’s, Franklin. 

Quiet Day in Danli – A Letter from Honduras

On March 11, 2019 my husband, Dan, and I left for a two week mission trip to Danli, Honduras. He served as team leader for a group of large and small animal veterinarians, vet techs, and spouses. His sending organization was CVM (Christian Veterinary Mission) and SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders). Our local contact was SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving, with whom we have worked through the years. Jeannie is also a member of The Order of the Daughters of King and asked me, as a Daughter, to prepare and lead a Quiet Day retreat for the ladies in the Episcopal Churches in the Danli deanery. A few days after the Veterinary team headed home we had our Quiet Day under the guidance of local Episcopal priests Fr. P. Francisco Midence and Fr. Victor Manuel Valsquez. The following is a reflection of the day sent to my chapter and prayer supporters:

I want to share with you the beautiful Quiet Day we held at Las Manos de Dios Episcopal church in Danli, Honduras on Saturday, March 24.  It was hosted by the Daughters of the King, but all women were invited. Fifty women and at least a dozen children were in attendance. We provided lunch for 73 which included children, teens, the kitchen help and a few men. I was able to greet old friends and make new ones.

We did the stations of the cross through the eyes of Mary. The church is a big open one and Fr. Victor had placed pictures of the 15 stations all around the perimeter.  We moved from one to the other as Fr. Victor recited the Kyrie,  Fr. Francisco played the guitar, and the women sang as they walked.  Two different women read at each of the 15 stations. One woman started to read and was so overcome she couldn’t finish. Many women commented they felt the same way. The Holy Spirit truly was present. It was extra special to me knowing you all were praying and two chapters from Central PA were also doing Mary’s Way of the Cross that very day…Apostles from Christ chapter from York, PA, and Harriet Lane Johnston chapter in Lancaster, PA.

We had fun afterward. I brought hotel soaps, shampoo, lotion, little bottles of nail polish and bags (like ones we buy at the grocery store, instead of using plastic).  We asked questions, like who has the most children, who has on a red shirt, etc., and the woman/ or women would come up and pick 2 items. They had fun with that and so did I. We had enough to give them a third and the leftovers went to the priests to give to the needy. The bags and the nail polish went first.

This is a very special event for the women as they don’t usually have an event where they can just come and be fed…physically and spiritually.  We paid for the bus and/or taxi for them to get there – some had at least an hour ride. The most expensive was $4 round trip. Jeannie Loving, our SAMS missionary contact and Daughter of the King, said most would borrow the money to get there and we reimbursed them when they arrived. We also paid for the food. I noticed some of the women didn’t eat all of theirs but saved some to take home to their family.  I couldn’t eat mine and gave it to Mabell whose husband didn’t have a job and they have 7 children.  The cost for this was covered by a grant from the Daughters of the King self-denial fund.

People here in the US have no idea what poverty is…no electricity, no running water; rice, beans and maybe an occasional chicken added to the mix every day…mangoes and watermelon when in season.  The children at the village high up the mountain don’t attend school. It is too far to go down the mountain every day.  It took us more than an hour by truck, and they use horses for transport. At the airport, I talked with two different women who come each year to help at orphanages. They are not truly orphanages, but homes for abandoned children. The parents are so poor they can not feed them or they are abused. One mentioned an 11-year-old girl with a 1-year-old baby and this was not an isolated case. One woman said the place where she worked had taken in two infants found abandoned on the road just that week.

I’m  glad to be home. Physically we found it takes us longer to recover but we are retired so we can take our time….spiritually and mentally will take a little longer.

Please continue to pray for our Daughters all over the world. It is a beautiful bond that we have as sisters in Christ.

Kathy Paulo is a member of St John’s, Franklin. She has been a Daughter of the King since 2005 and is currently serving as The Order of the Daughters of the King Province lll president and National Membership Chair. 

Province III Opioid Response Task Force Resources

Items submitted by Province III Opioid Response Task Force Members:

Books

  • Dreamland: The True Tale of American’s Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones, April 2016
  • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Beth Macy, 2018
  • American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic, John Temple, 2015
  • Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All American Town, Brian Alexander, 2017
  • Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Robert Putnam, March 2015

Web-based Resources

Recordings of 2018 Webinars featuring Faith and Community Leaders

Throughout 2018, The Partnership Center hosted a series of national webinars featuring community-based innovative and promising practices and models addressing the opioid epidemic.

2017 Department of Health and Human Services National Webinars

In 2017, the Center hosted webinars featuring subject matter experts from HHS, including those from the CDC, NIDA, and SAMHSA, sharing timely information about the opioid epidemic, the brain science of addiction, treatment, the recovery process, prevention and pain management.

Do I Need this Pill? Understanding Pain and Prescription Drugs (Dec. 7)

Hope in Action: An Overview Of The Practical Toolkit For Faith And Community Leaders In The Face Of The Opioid Epidemic (Oct. 18)

There is Hope: Treatment, Recovery & Prevention (Aug. 16)

Understanding the Opioid Crisis: What’s at the Heart of the Matter? (Aug. 9)

HHS Live Stream of “Opioids: Recovery, Prevention & Hope, National Experts Equip Faith and Community Leaders” (Sept. 27).

Federal Government Information and Handout Materials

       U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House

                  Help, Resources and Information on the National Opioids Crisis

                  Opioids Crisis Next Door

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

          Opioid Basics

          Rx Awareness Campaign

          Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain Factsheet

      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)           Factsheets and Help-Lines

          Managing Your Pain: Which Approach is Right for You

          What are the Risks of Opioid Medications?

          What to do if Your Medication Isn’t Working?

          Treating Overdose with Naloxone

          SAMHSA’s Find Help & Treatment  (Helplines and Resources)

    National Institute on Drug Abuse

          Teens: Drug Use and the Brain

          Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction

          Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction

    U.S. Surgeon General

         Turn the Tide Campaign

         Facing Addiction in America

Community Based Resources

While the following is not a comprehensive survey of faith- and community-based recovery support programs and practices, we hope they provide a starting point for communities discerning the possibility of hosting these or similar services.

Faith and Community-based Recovery Support Programs

Faces & Voices of Recovery’s Guide to Mutual Aid Resources

AA.org  Hosting local Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

NA.org Hosting local Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

Al-Anon.org Hosting local Al-Anon Meetings to support family members

Jewish Center for Addiction supports Chicago’s Jewish community with education, prevention and treatment resources

The Landing, Alateen Meetings  or similar programs for young people

Celebrate Recovery (CR) A 12-step, Christian recovery program.

Celebrate Recovery Inside (CRI)  The prison and jail expression of Celebrate Recovery

Alcoholic Victorious Meetings use 12 Steps, the Bible, & Alcoholics’ Victorious Creed

Overcomers Outreach an international network of Christ-centered 12 Step support groups

Phoenix Multisport: Sober Active Community A sober-active recovery community that provides fitness programming to help foster the strengths necessary to maintain sobriety through physical pursuits and a sober network of friends.

Spiritworks Foundation Williamsburg Virginia SpiritWorks Foundation Center for the Soul is a Recovery Community Organization based in Williamsburg, Virginia.

National Networks, Resources, and Referrals to Local Programs

JAANetwork.org  Jewish Addiction Awareness Network  (JAAN)

YoungPeopleInRecovery.org  Young People in Recovery

CollegiateRecovery.org  Association of Recovery in Higher Education

NACR.org National Association for Christian Recovery (NACR)

BuddhistRecovery.org Buddhist Recovery Network

CalixSociety.org  The Calix Society

Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS)

Faith Communities Shaped Around Recovery Support

TheRecoverychurch.orgThe Recovery Church, St. Paul, MI

Chapelwood.org/Mercy-StreetMercy Street, Houston, TX

GoDaven.com Congregation Minchas Yitzchok, Washington, D.C.

NorthstarCommunity.comNorthstar Community, Richmond, VA

BeiTtshuvah.org Beit T’shuvah, Los Angeles, CA

Note: The companion piece to this article, “A Compassionate Response: A Statement on Opioids” from the Province III Task Force is available here

Seek the Face of God

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(The Epiphany, BCP p. 214 )

An epiphany, an encounter with the living God, is sometimes fleeting – a moment in time where we know that we know God is powerfully present. And while the above collect is beautifully worded, it can easily be misconstrued to mean we will only see God face to face in the heavenly hereafter. That is not true.

We see the face of God in everyone we meet. We see the face of God in those we love and in those we barely know. We see the face of God in the poor, the homeless, the outcast and the lonely. Intellectually we know this to be true, but it is much harder to live into this reality because to do so requires much of us.

First it requires an awareness of the other – an acknowledgment that everyone is beloved of God. This is true regardless of their skin color, political persuasion, social status, or income. Second, it requires listening to the other. Listening is a powerful way to bring someone into the fullness of who they were created to be. This is as true of a young child as it is those who are frail and at the end of their years. Their faces light up as they tell their stories. We see the face of God in others also when we take action to relieve suffering. Sometimes this requires hands on work at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. Other times it requires sharing our financial resources. Most times it simply means putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own.

The season of Epiphany ushers in a new year full of hope and promise. My prayer is that as we seek the face of God, there will be a double blessing – first for those we encounter, and second for ourselves. May you all have a very blessed New Year.

The Rev. Canon Martha Ishman is Rector at St. James, Titusville, and Canon for Mission Development and Transition for the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Called For Prayer and Service

“Lord, what would you have me do” is the final sentence in the motto of The Order of the Daughters of the King.  It is both a prayer and a call to serve. We, as a lay order of Episcopal women, pray daily to hear God’s call to serve our parish and our community.  The Daughters of the King in this diocese recently answered His call for prayer and service by participating in two very different activities this fall.

We answered His call to prayer at the recent joint convention of the Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York in Niagara Falls. When the announcement of a joint convention was made, Daughters in NWPA sought to contact Daughters from WNY to plan a joint activity. Alas, we learned there were no chapters in that diocese, and so we contacted Daughters from that Province. Two Daughters from Albany joined Grace Chapter from St. John’s in Franklin and Martha Chapter from Trinity in New Castle to offer prayer for those in attendance at the convention. A prayer table with candles and prayer request cards was set up in the rear of the meeting room. Attendees were encouraged to use the cards and place their prayer requests in a container on the table. We were astounded by the number of prayer requests which we instantly relayed to our members at home.  Prayer was offered in real time and we continued to pray for the petitions for another 30 days.  We also set up a table with information about the Order in the break area and we were delighted with the interest shown by the convention attendees. Plans are being made to visit a number of churches to give informational talks.

Our call to serve was answered by participating in a joint project with WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Church of America): the Lily Project. The Lily Project is a collaborative effort involving women from Good Hope Lutheran Church in Oil City and Grace Chapter of the Daughters of the King at St. John’s, Franklin. The purpose of the project is to assist women who have been victims of rape or sexual assault. These women often come to the ER with damaged clothing or must surrender their clothing as evidence of their assault.  We know this can be dehumanizing and adds to the trauma of the assault, so the Lily Project provides them with fresh clothing and a prayer for God’s comfort and peace. We have collected donations of underclothing, socks, loose athletic pants and t-shirts. These items are placed in a gift bag with a pack of tissues and a prayer square. Each size from small to extra large is placed in a bin marked with the size and then delivered to five area hospitals with a promise to replace items as they are used.

If you are interested in more information about the Order of the Daughters of the King, you can go to the website doknational.org or contact Kathy Paulo at St. John’s, Franklin.

Kathy Paulo is a member of St. John’s, Franklin. 

Blue Christmas Service to be Held in Kane

There is a very active and collegial ministerial association in Kane.  Each month pastors and a few lay leaders from our many churches get together for lunch and spend an hour or two planning for the usual community worship services, a joint vacation bible school, and church participation in other local events.  

We also discuss community problems such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and mental health issues that isolate people from one another. It seems that for the last several months there have been many funerals of both elderly members of our congregations, and as a result of unexpected deaths of younger people. In a town the size of Kane, where we all know one another, the losses, whether of loved ones, employment, or health, are shared losses, and deeply felt, especially as the holidays approach.  

And so it was that at our October meeting, Pastor Jan brought up the idea of having an ecumenical “Blue Christmas” service for people who have suffered a loss of a loved one, or are dealing with other problems that can make holidays difficult and depressing. She had gathered information from a few websites and from other churches in our area which have held such an event.  After a bit of discussion, a committee was formed to look at the idea further.

When the Blue Christmas committee met, we brought together a wealth of materials from many denominations and traditions. We had each collected scripture, litanies, prayers, poems and music. I found several selections on Episcopal Church websites, as well as in our Year C Planning for Rites and Rituals resource book.  

As we discussed what we had pulled together, we recognized that feelings of loss and hopelessness are not limited to adults. Children are deeply affected when a family has experienced a crisis. Heather, one of our youngest pastors, volunteered to have a separate gathering on site for elementary aged children using books and activities that she had pulled together.  She is also looking into bringing in a service dog which is trained to work especially with children in emotional distress.

As the plan for a candlelight service began to form in our minds, we chose the evening of Friday, December 21, the longest night of the year, as the date.  St. John’s was chosen for the location because of its intimate size and comforting atmosphere. Pastor David with his years of chaplain experience will present a homily, and we hope to have a counselor from Hospice speak as well. There will be clergy and lay persons from all of the churches leading the worship time.  Music will include both traditional hymns, Taize, and instrumental, but not Christmas carols as such, since they can be powerful emotional triggers.  Following the service we have planned a time of fellowship with refreshments, as well as the opportunity for people to talk with clergy and other professional counselors. 

With our initial publicity about this event, we have had good feedback so far, and a lot of interest.  We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this endeavor that we may touch the hearts and minds of many who are suffering, and help them to begin to heal.

Becky Harris is a member of St. John’s, Kane. 

Editor’s Note: All are welcome to attend the Blue Christmas Service at St. John’s on Friday, December 21 at 7:00 PM.

Book Review: “Resurrection Matters” by Nurya Love Parish

This post originally appeared at The Black Giraffe blog on May 13, 2018. 

Many books about cutting-edge, transformational ministries are told after the fact.  A new opportunity arose, the Holy Spirit nudged a few faithful, gifted leaders, and, looking back, the whole enterprise seems almost inevitable.  Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake by Nurya Love Parish takes a very different approach.  Nurya tells her story of starting a farm-based ministry while still in its early phase.  Instead of three easy steps to replicate this ministry in your own context, we are blessed by the courageous account of someone struggling to answer her call in a confusing time for the church and critical time for the environment.  How God has led her smack dab into the middle of the fledgling Christian food movement is both challenging and inspirational.

Throughout this book, we are introduced to Nurya’s deepest passions.  Her central passion is her faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Flowing out of that faith are her dedication to the renewal of God’s church and the stewardship of God’s creation.  In Resurrection Matters, we journey with Nurya through the personal stories and the facts and figures that led her to taking a huge risk with her family’s home and savings to start a farm ministry.  Along the way we learn about the infinity loop of organizational renewal, the contemporary church’s “rummage sale”, the modern history of Christian farm ministry, and why millennials seem more interested in organic farming than churches.  Most importantly, we share a Christian leader’s struggles as she finds the necessary wisdom and courage to begin a non-traditional ministry that is beginning to make a difference in the church and the environment.

Resurrection Matters’s engaging style makes for an easy and enjoyable read.  The book contains appendices with a study guide; planning processes for households, congregations, and judicatories; information on community supported agriculture; and lists of resources for further study.  I highly recommend this book to those interested in how the church might engage creation care, as well as to anyone feeling like God may be calling them to start something new.

(Disclaimer: I have worked with Nurya Love Parish on a number of projects, and I received a review copy of Resurrection Matters.)

You can order Resurrection Matters from church publishing or Amazon.

The Rev. Dr. Adam Trambley is rector of St. John’s, Sharon. 

Ordination of Nicholas Evancho

We wish congratulations and blessings to the Rev. Nicholas Evancho on his ordination to the priesthood and upcoming move to the Diocese of Southern Ohio, where he will serve as a curate at Christ Church in Glendale.

Photos of the ordination service, which was held on Saturday, June 2, at Church of the Epiphany in Grove City, are below.

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Ordination of Nicholas Evancho to the Priesthood

It’s a great day in the Kingdom, and especially in the Diocese of NWPA! Bishop Sean will ordain Nicholas Evancho to the priesthood on Saturday, June 2, at 2:00 PM at the Church of the Epiphany in Grove City, PA. All are welcome to attend.

To learn more about Nicholas’ journey to the priesthood, read Trusting the Call, about his decision to become a priest, and Who Knew There Were So Many Chipotles, a reflection from Nicholas on his first year of seminary.

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile
the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those
whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen.

Preaching for Congregational Vitality

This post originally appeared on the Diocese of Oklahoma’s News and Events page on April 30, 2018. 

By The Rev. Canon Susan Brown Snook, Canon for Church Growth and Development

What role does preaching play in leading a congregation toward vitality? Given that a priest’s best opportunity to communicate with parishioners each week is a 12-minute sermon, how can our preaching help a congregation grow, spiritually and numerically?

I posed this question to my good friend, the Rev. Dr. Adam Trambley, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Sharon, Pennsylvania. He offered some helpful ways to think about preaching.

First, he says, think of your preaching over a year or a multi-year period as one long sermon, “trying to create in effect a continuous sermon that weaves through an extended period of time. You’re not just thinking about what the readings say this morning. You’re thinking about where you want your congregation to go, and what to say about today’s lectionary, this congregation, and this community that will move you toward that place.”

Every congregation has its strengths and weaknesses, says Trambley. Following the Natural Church Development[1] approach, he points out that according to the theory, taking the next step in congregational vitality means shoring up a congregation’s weaknesses. Natural Church Development describes eight components of congregational vitality: empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism, and loving relationships. The weakest component of this mix is the one a congregation needs to improve to grow, spiritually and numerically.

Based on this theory, Trambley says, “you have to know where you’re going and what needs to be addressed, and you have to weave those together over time. If you want a congregation to change, you can’t just give one sermon that gives the answer, because 30% of the people won’t be there to hear it, and people don’t change that quickly anyway. Even a 4-week sermon series can be helpful, but that can lead to a situation where everyone says, okay, evangelism is the thing for Advent, but in Epiphany we’re moving on to something else!”

So if we know that evangelism, for instance, is the thing we need to work on over the next 18 months, then Trambley says we need to think about that component every week. “How can I touch on that issue in this sermon? It’s about slowly changing their language and their thinking so they come to expect that’s what we’re talking about, but not so they’re hit over the head with it as if they’re wrong. Instead, they’re just slowly introduced to this idea over and over again. You describe the ways scripture talks about this issue until it sinks in. You choose stories and illustrations that speak about that issue. When you preach, you’re constantly looking at ways you can give examples of where this is done in the community or the congregation, things you can lift up as ways you saw God at work this week. You praise the people you saw doing those things, without ever saying negative things about the places where it’s not happening. You lift it up so that people want to join in. You admit your own struggles with that component and you highlight any nascent growth you see happening in that area. It can’t all happen in one or three sermons.”

I asked how Trambley incorporates this approach with the scriptures in each Sunday’s lectionary readings. Of course he uses the lectionary, he says. But with four lectionary readings each Sunday, he says, “you can almost always find a point that helps people move in the direction you believe God is calling them to go. The point is to preach strategically, with an end in mind for the congregation. Even if the main point of that week’s sermon is another topic, and the focus of most sermons will be on another theme, I still try to find a place to spend at least a sentence or two on my long-term goal.”

“What I want to do over time,” explains Trambley, “is give people a language they don’t have that is positive and compelling and relates this area they need to grow in to the Christian faith, allows that to seep into the whole congregation, so if there’s one group that wants to take positive steps in that area, there’s room for that to happen. You’ve lifted it up, helped them see how it fits. Others might start taking small steps in that direction too.”

If you are a regular preacher in a congregation, how have you used your preaching to support congregational vitality? How have you preached to develop disciples and move the congregation toward mission? I would like to hear your stories. Contact me at CanonSusan@epiok.org.

The Rev. Canon Susan Brown Snook
Canon for Church Growth and Development
Email: CanonSusan@epiok.org 

 

[1] This approach is described by Christian Schwarz, Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (ChurchSmart Resources, 1996).