The View From Bolton St

Peter’s Guide to Difficult Conversations

The Book of Acts includes many ‘conversion’ stories. While we tend to focus on Paul’s dramatic conversion from chief persecutor of the early Church to its leading advocate around the world; Peter’s conversion on the inclusion of gentiles in the nascent Christian Community is equally important.  

In Peter’s ‘conversion’ we can find a good model for having conversations around difficult issues that we all can use - NOT to change people’s minds necessarily — but to open up the conversation so that voices can be heard and hearts can be opened. 

Peter’s model has four steps: Pray, Go, Support, and Reflect

Prayer: Peter’s first engagement with the Gentiles begins when he is in prayer and has a vision about eating unclean food. Because Peter’s friends new him to be a man of prayer they took this vision seriously.

Go: Peter (and God) knew that a conversation with the Gentiles would be difficult - but that it would me much better on their turf. If you know you have to have a hard conversation with someone, GO TO THEM.  You take the risk. It shows you care and creates a comfortable place for the other. 

Support: Peter brings six friends with him when he goes to Caesarea Phillipi. They serve two purposes: 1) to back him up and 2) to vouch for him with their friends back home. Often our big fear in these conversations is not the other, it’s what our friends will say about us! Bring friends you trust to support you.

Reflect: finally, at the end peter brings it back to Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of his story. Root these conversations in your personal faith story and life experience. Don’t leave it out there but make it part of your story, honor your history and your future. This also ensures that you don’t stray too far from what you believe or who you are. 

This fairly simple pattern that Peter offers is one we can use today. Whether the issue is immigration, crime, racism, abortion or what to have for dinner — this pattern I hope will help you engage in more challenging and more productive conversations going forward. 

The View From Bolton St

Things Are Bad: Now what?

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:35

For many of us, things in the wider world, around the country and even here in the city seem impossibly bad. Love seems to be in short supply.  Between the murder rate and the ongoing cyber-attack in Baltimore, to laws attacking a women’s right to choose and separating families at the border; to our escalating anti-immigrant policies and movements toward yet another war in the Middle East and in Asia, it is hard to see the good.  

And for a few of us here at Memorial, our individual, family and communal lives are equally troubled and challenging.  Unexplainable death, loss, illness and separation. 

SO what do we do? 

A good first step is to take a DEEP breath. 

It’s bad. It’s really bad. But you are still here. Let’s keep it that way. 

Now look around. Are your people still here? Good. Love them. And let them love you. 

Now let’s... carefully.... look out there.

What do you see? Jerks. Probably.

You might see them in Washington. Or In Alabama. You might see them in an angry family member. A crappy neighbor. You might see them in a terrifying new law or an unfair justice system. 

The world is filled with jerks. 

Okay now look up. (Or out. Or over. Or at a tree. Or wherever you see the Divine)

What do you see? God.

And God is so very good to us. 

Loving us unconditionally. For all time. Forever. And loving the jerks too. 

Now look back the other way. You have your family, friends and people in one place.  And jerks in the other direction; and if you have to pick two of these three — which are you picking? 

God and Family(blood, chosen, adopted, borrowed), right? Hold tight to that family and to that God. And trust that God will Shepherd us through the pain and grief and trauma and carry us through to the other side. 

I’m not saying forget about the jerks! They are terrifying. And they may pose a real danger to you and to people you love. Maybe not today but someday.  But don’t make them the focus of your energy either. Because that is what they want. And that is what the devil wants. To leave you depleted. Tired. Angry. Alone. And disengaged from the world. From your network. From your God. 

Don’t let the Devil win. 

It’s okay to lean back on God and on your people. Sometimes, we need a shepherd, after all. 

It is true that things may be bad right now, but your anger won’t fix that. 

But the collective love, care, compassion and support of your community, your God and the guidance of your Shepherd(s) — May just help you to find a new path and a new way forward. Because there is a lot of GOOD out there too.  In this community, in your community and all throughout God’s Kingdom.  And we have a Shepherd in Jesus who is so very good to us, that he will walk with us through that suffering and bring us safely home.

Samaritan Community Gala!

Please Join 
The Samaritan Community at Its
Movie Night Gala at The Charles

Please join Samaritan Community for an evening of food, fun, and film at its annual Movie Night Gala. Enjoy tasty food from Tapas Teatro, decadent desserts, our highly-anticipated
silent auction, and a marvelous movie of your choice at the historic Charles Theatre.
All proceeds benefit Samaritan Community and its human services programs.

Monday, May 20, 2019
Reception starts at 5:45 pm
Showtimes vary, starting at 7 pm

The Charles Theatre
1711 N. Charles Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

 $75 per Regular ticket 
   ($45 tax-deductible)

$100 per Patron ticket 
  ($70 tax-deductible)

For more information about Samaritan Community, visit
To purchase tickets, visit

Memorial's Next Century Circle

On Sunday, March 31, we celebrated at a recognition tea the members of Memorial’s Next Century Circle. The Circle represents those who have included Memorial in their estate plans …

Seth Blackshaw, Beth Casey, Barbara Cates, Becky Clark, Fred Demers, Lois Eldred, Marian Grant, Monty Howard, Steve Howard, Earl Huch, Nancy Kelso, Connie Lieder, Grey and Monica Maggiano, Jesse Milan, Louise Miller, Bill Roberts, Paul Seaton, John Seeley, and Wendy Yap.

We were joined by The Reverend Charles Cloughen, planned giving official for the Diocese.

Many thanks to all for their loyal support.

Boltonstock 2019!

Boltonstock will be held in Sumpter park from 5-10PM on June 8th, 2019. 

Events include:

-Bolton Idol featuring performances from our own Baltimore City Kids! Guest Judges TBA

-Kids crafts activities 

-Food & Beverages

-Music from the Scotch Bonnets (Ska/Raggae)

-Community Organization Meet and Greets

-Local Vendors

Are you able to attend and help? Please let Fin or Hannah know!


New Beginnings #6


This past weekend I was at New Beginnings.NB is a Middle School Youth Event that is lead and run completely by High Schoolers. Most of the high schoolers grew up going to New Beginnings and want to give back in some way. This event is full of fun games and riveting talks done by the youth. These youth get up in front of everyone and share their own experiences with peer pressure, families, sports, and friends. It is amazing to see what these youth can do when we give them the chance to shine. The theme this year was “God knows the way” A take on a popular line from Moana. All the events and activities were “Moana” themed and it was really awesome. If you would like to learn more please come ask me this is an amazing event!

This was my 13th year going to a New Beginnings. I was in 6th grade when I went to my first one back in North Carolina. (they are one their 54th!) I ended up serving in an upfront leadership role for three years in High School and by the time I graduated I was given the opportunity to co-coordinate it. New Beginnings told me that its okay to be who I am that God made me this way and wants me to shine my light. I am working at a church with youth because of New Beginnings. God knows the way and he has brought me to start over with a New Beginning every year.

-Hannah :)

Please Enjoy some of these photos from the weekend!

The View From Bolton St

Reflection — Diocesan Convention - Memorial

If you remove the yoke from among you,

   the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

if you offer your food to the hungry

   and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

then your light shall rise in the darkness

   and your gloom be like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you continually,

   and satisfy your needs in parched places,

   and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

   like a spring of water,

   whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

   you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,

   the restorer of streets to live in.

Isaiah 58 9-12

This week the Diocese gathers for our annual Diocesan Convention at the Turf Valley resort outside of Baltimore.  Also this week, our Bishop, The Rt. Rev Eugene Sutton issued a Pastoral Letter to the Diocese on the issue of Reparations.  You can read the whole letter here. This is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because Diocesan Convention has often been the site of very different attitudes around race.  It took almost a hundred years for African American Clergy to be given voice and vote at convention, and many of our Historically black parishes were kept in mission status (including our neighboring parish St. Katherine’s) in order to prevent them from voting at convention.  

The Diocesan Convention also refused for many years to vote to integrate Diocesan Institutions, including schools, hospitals, senior homes and after school programs.  These institutions weren’t integrated until more than then years after Brown v. Board of Education.

So it is important that the Diocese, and all of our parishes, take this letter seriously and spend time to ‘read, mark and inwardly digest’ this letter and what it means for us as a parish.  

Now you may have some reservations, even animosity towards the idea of reparations. This is completely understandable. The biblical concept of reparations has been so poisoned by the public dialogue around the concept that it is almost impossible to talk about in public.  None of that should matter for us. What DOES matter for us is that we are exploring the question not of ‘reparations’ as you read about in the New York Times or hear about on Fox News - but we are talking about ‘Repairing the Breach’ as Isaiah talks about in verse 58 above.  

Repairing the Breach is acknowledging a broken relationship and taking the steps to heal and restore the division and bridge the gap.  Scripture is replete with imagery - from Joseph and his brothers, to Ezra and Nehemiah reuniting Israel by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, to Jesus’ work with the outcasts of Israel to bring them back into community with each other and with God.  But the most important biblical imagery (and scariest) is that of Lazarus and the rich man. If you remember this story, Lazarus begs outside a rich mans door every day and every day he is rejected. Many years later they both die and Lazarus is in Heaven with Elijah and the rich man goes to Hades.  And the scripture reminds us that ‘a chasm was FIXED between them.’ There was no more reparation possible. The breach was permanent.

We do not want our breaches to be permanent.  We should all engage in some thoughtful work on how to repair and restore those relationships, especially those relationships and communities damaged by America’s Original Sin - Slavery.

I commend this letter to your reading and hope you will read it openly and courageously. And perhaps contemplate what it means for us all.

20 New Trees Planted!

Thanks to Dick Williams, Memorial’s Green Team and Midtown Benefits District for getting 20 new trees planted in Sumpter Park today!