It was a powerful exercise in speaking truth, listening more and unearthing stories untold.
Pearlstone Center Retreat
October 18th - 20th
Parish- Wide Retreat at Pearlstone Center
Hello Memorialites! From time to time, it is good for a faith community to take some time to gather together, pray, play, share and dream about what the future might hold.
You are invited to a Parish-Wide retreat October 18-20.
This is open to ALL OF YOU - but space is limited so sign up early.
The retreat includes lodging, meals, snacks and refreshments.
We will be at The Pearlstone Center an excellent retreat center in Carroll County with lots of activities for folks of all ages. Accommodations are air conditioned and accessible. Food is vegetarian/vegan friendly.
To bring new and long-time memorial members together to learn and meet each other
To identify new leaders for ministries and committees
To cast a broad vision for the future of our parish in the context of the Kingdom of God and 21st century Baltimore.
$150 per person for two nights lodging and 5 meals
$400 per family for two night and 5 meals
If you would like to attend but do not have the means please contact the church office for scholarship assistance or for more information.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."
I admit it. These days I am distracted by many things. From xenophobic and hateful comments from the president, to the indefinite detention of migrant children, to the violence and murder in Baltimore city, even down to the inherent chaotic and busy nature of having two small children. I am a Martha among Martha’s, these days.
And honestly, why shouldn’t I be? How can I NOT feel pain at how people are being treated? How can I not be upset at the indifference to the chaos on our borders, the intentional pain being caused border patrol agents and government administrators, the existence and persistence of two Baltimore’s, and the seemingly worsening inequality in our city, in our community?
Does Jesus really want me to NOT CARE about those things?
I hope not. And I hope that you care, and continue to stay invested in the lives of the needy, the lost, the foreigner, the prisoner, the widow and the orphan.
BUT. Jesus doesn’t want you to get lost in those things either. My own passion and desire to make the world better does not come from any belief that I PERSONALLY can impact this world — but faith in the knowledge that Jesus desires a better way for all of us, and calls each of us to play a role in that. Jesus does not call us to worry and stress about many
things - but to focus on the one thing - Making his Kingdom a reality here on earth.
Instead of seeking to go to and fro ‘doing justice’ and wearing yourself out — perhaps you should consider only one movement, to the foot of Jesus. To offer prayers for justice and for equity. And to invite others to that same space with you. To make Jesus the center of that work. To make Jesus the center of your life.
And as you leave that you take Justice with you - so that whether you are protesting DHS detentions, re-sanctify sacred spaces in Baltimore, working for press freedoms, providing health care for the needy, or being a part of our making our justice system more just — you do so with Jesus at your side, and a community of love behind you. A Community represented by Memorial, by the Episcopal Church, and by the whole Church around the world.
Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it:
a world where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Independence Day July 4
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
You may be surprised to learn that the Fourth of July is actually a prescribed Feast Day in the Book of Common Prayer. And while Memorial and many other churches have long since taken the American Flag out of our sanctuary, it is true that the Episcopal Church has always found itself in an uncomfortable relationship between Church and State. The ‘National Cathedral’ is after all an Episcopal Cathedral and historically many/most of America’s political leaders have identified as Episcopalian. Even today a significant percentage of members of the House and Senate are Episcopalian. And while many might have thought it strange to see Bishop Eugene Sutton appear on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, others saw nothing more than the Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland discussing current events with a layperson from the Diocese of Virginia; something that has been commonplace in this country since it’s founding.
What should the role of the Church? Of the Episcopal Church? Of Memorial Church be on this day? Or in the celebration of any kind of ‘civic religion’ for that matter?
To begin with, as tempting as it may be to say that we should be totally separate and have nothing to do with government at all — we aren’t Anabaptists. We vote. We engage with our elected leaders. We hold them accountable. We pray for better leadership. We even encourage our members to put themselves up for office and for government positions to be a part of that change. So abandonment is not an option. Government is messy. And our current politics are terrible. But life is messy, and as followers of Christ we have a responsibility to wade into the mess and attempt to make it better.
Further, as Anglican/Episcopalians some of our best work is civic religion! Whether it is our Presiding Bishop preaching at the Royal Wedding or a State Funeral for a president, or even giving the invocaron at City Hall or Congress, we are pretty good at this stuff. This is why you like Downton Abbey so much, we do things ‘properly’. Making the Jesus story a digestible story for everyone that fits both the current moment and the timeless story of the church, without offending anyone else. I certainly wouldn’t trust anyone else to do that work.
But, we should be careful. We don’t worship the flag, we worship God. The President is not King, Jesus is. We are not guided primarily by the constitution or the US legal system but by the Holy Spirit. And this independence is very important for Christians. We are in the world but not of the world.
As Christians we are stewards of Gods creation, so then as American Christians perhaps we should consider ourselves Stewards of Freedom and Independence. Not just protecting our own freedoms, but also the freedoms of those who have struggle historically or currently with establishing or maintaining them. We should be as or more concerned with migrant children who have had their freedoms taken from them, with the millions of incarcerated men women and children in this country whose punishment may not fit the crime, and for those populations in particular whose freedoms have been stolen in order to enhance our own freedoms.
I recommend in particular reading this 4th of July Frederick Douglass’ reflection “What to the Slave is the 4th of July” https://www.thenation.com/article/what-slave-fourth-july-frederick-douglass/
And then consider what we can all do to light the torch of freedom for others and maintain independence for all in righteousness and peace.
But most of all, if you do love this country, if you celebrate unflinching the freedoms we should all enjoy, do not let one person, even a powerful one, rob you of that joy. Do not let the antics of our elected leaders rob you of your love of freedom, your love of this country, or your love and care for each other. I encourage you to celebrate freedom unabashedly tomorrow. The freedom to gather with friends, neighbors, to engage in friendly disagreement, to eat the food and drink of your choice, to worship the God of your choice, the freedom to love neighbor and stranger, to care for friend and foe, to tend to the prisoner and the foreigner, and to above all believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand - and that this freedom, this love, this joy is what will bring it about.
Praying for not a ‘Cruel, Cruel Summer’
Forgive the 80’s pop reference - but I am glad to be walking in to summer with you all and it is my prayer that it is indeed NOT a ‘Cruel, Cruel Summer.’
It has been a rewarding and inspiring year at Memorial. We have integrated new staff (welcome Justine! Hannah! Youngjin! Natalie! Jill!) and are saying goodbye to one (bye Youngjin!) as she heads off to complete her PhD in Boston.
We have expanded our Children’s programs, reinvigorated our music ministry, and strengthened the ‘bones’ of the parish with new focus on the B+G, Finance and on the Vestry.
It is time to take a breath, to step back and reflect on the year, and to gather and pray together over the summer. One of the joys of summer worship for me is that we all come to Church with no agenda. There are not many events to plan or meetings to make or schedules to fill, just an opportunity to gather together - to sing, pray, and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hope you will be so inclined to join us for that worship this summer as you are able.
Of course we aren’t taking the summer ‘off’ — the vestry and staff are deep into planning already for next year and the Justice Committee is planning a series of book conversations over the summer — but it is an opportunity for all of us to rest and perhaps to explore an aspect of faith and life that we don’t get a chance to do in the year. Read the Bible everyday? Pray with a group? Take communion to the sick? Sing? Volunteer with our August Kids Camp?
Summer is a great time to explore and try new things and I hope you will take advantage. And I look forward to seeing you on Sunday! The Deacon is preaching so look out!
All God's Children Camp
The All God's Children Camp, held each summer at Claggett, brings together children, 8 -12, from diverse socio-economic, religious and cultural backgrounds in order to help all to enjoy and appreciate their differences The staff are parents, grandparents, young adults and older adults who are all especially trained to help children interact positively in the dorms, dining rooms and in all activities. The Staff to child ratio is 2 or 3 to 1. There is a swimming pool, fishing pond, hiking trails, arts and crafts center, a ropes course and much more on this 260 acre former farm!
Children from parishes and neighborhoods in the city gather for a 6 day residential camp.Memorial Episcopal Church has provided "camper ships" for several children each year since 1997. Initially referrals were made by teachers at Eutaw Marshburn Elementary School#11 (McMechen St & Eutaw Place). Gradually families moved around, younger siblings became eligible, and our recruiting area widened to West Baltimore.
This year 5 or 6 children have asked for help to attend. The Claggett fee is $390 per child.
All the camp staff are volunteer and pay for themselves. Any and all contributions to the camp are gratefully welcomed!! Make checks out to Memorial Church with All God's Children on the memo line. All God's Children camp seeking any all contributions, both by check andNow ONLINE.
Chairs! (For now)
In January when I first floated the vision of Memorial becoming ‘A Model Church for the 21st Century’ we talked a lot about what that would look like. One way the vestry has been exploring his is to replace an institutional model of thinking (plan, plan, plan, plan, execute) with a ‘new process’ model of thinking: Brainstorm, implement, review, adapt, implement, repeat. Over the last two weeks we have seen one example of this before our eyes in the sanctuary - new, blue chairs. A comment I heard repeatedly over the weekend was - “I love these chairs, whose are they?” Whether for the wedding, reception on Saturday, or for the Holy Eucharist and Baptism on Sunday - over and over people asked me about those new blue chairs in the Sanctuary. And the answer is they belong to us! I am so glad you like them! But don’t worry! They are not permanent. Unless we decide they are.
A little bit of backstory:
In order for the Sanctuary to work for services and for an event space, we knew we needed chairs. We intended to borrow some chairs but the chairs we identified were not of good quality and were going to present a number of challenges. At the same time, the worship committee and the vestry wanted to explore what the sanctuary space would look like as a more flexible, open space. Summer is an ideal time to do this because our attendance is lower, the services are less formal, and the fall marks a good time to put things ‘back into order’ and start again. Of course, new church chairs are fantastically expensive. To replace our current stock of hardwood and cushioned chairs would be about $300 per chair. Close to $50,000 all told. However, after consulting with some other churches, including our former interim rector Kristin Krantz, we identified a significantly cheaper option (less than $6,000 total) that we can use for the summer and either keep or sell/repurpose in the fall. We had some generous contributions to help make this happen so it has not impacted our budget. Instead of making a big push for something we were unsure of, we did it in a smaller, more manageable way that would allow us to evaluate and adapt going forward. The pews and the old chairs are in storage in the lower parish hall for the summer. Following this experiment we will do some significant listening to the parish about how they feel about the changes, and then make a determination with the vestry about the vest way to proceed. I know that for some of you this is a significant change. Those pews are well worn, and hold important and significant memories for us. They have marked baptisms, weddings, funerals, productions, and the growing up of family. They may be a bulwark against the passage of time and a source of important comfort. Unfortunately, they also are falling apart and I have been advised that if we don’t do something, they may end up being decommissioned all on their own.
So What is Next?
The Worship Committee will be experimenting with the worship space over the summer. We know there are some significant repairs needed in the sanctuary, particularly the altar rail, the cork tile floor, and some of the stain glass. As your Rector, it is my hope that we might consider a significant renovation of the Sanctuary and Church Building, beginning sometime in 2020/2021. Our Buildings and Grounds Committee has shepherded significant renovations of the Rectory and the Parish Hall, but the Sanctuary continues to have quite a few needs outside and inside. It is my hope that seeing the space opened up without the pews, even for a short period of time, will give us some vision as to what the possibilities could be for the space moving forward and create some excitement around the future of our worship and our common life together. So please join us for worship this Summer! Test out the chairs. The sight-lines. The angles. The worship experience. And help to provide feedback as to what you are looking for in your Church experience. From the moment you enter, to when you take your seat, to how you receive communion, to the music that brings you in and that carries you home. If we are to be a model church for the 21st century - it will take all of our investment in the ongoing conversation.
“What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
This is a great week to be a priest. Or at least a great week to be your priest! On friday we rehearse for Jeffrey and Jennifer’s Wedding, on Saturday we celebrate the big day, on Sunday we baptize baby Eleanor Grace Leeds, and then we start preparing for the Boltonstock Festival on Saturday and the Bishop’s visitation on Pentecost and four confirmations that day.
Lots of Fellowship, Joy, Blessing and Peace coming up. And a big part of why it is such a joy to be with you all at Memorial. Because we are a community that cares for about Jesus and about each other.
And it is not inconsequential that in the midst of that, we are taking time on June 5th as a community to get trained in the use of NARCAN - a life saving drug that can bring joy, blessing and peace to people in their worst moments. It is one example of how we can be better neighbors to our wider neighborhood. Because in the midst of these many celebrations over the next few weeks - we are also not unaware that there is a lot of sorrow surrounding us. Especially as the weather gets warmer, schools close for the summer, and life gets a little bit harder for those on the margins in our city. This escalation perhaps calls something out of us as neighbors — to seek to lessen those burdens, to build relationships, to create more joy and more blessing, more fellowship and more peace among all of our neighbors here in Baltimore.
In the story of the Good Samaritan it was not the priest or the scholar or the relative that was the ‘good neighbor’ - it was the anonymous passerby who shared the love of Christ with the stranger. So I hope you will join us for all of these celebrations, for all of these opportunities to share joy, love and hope with our neighbors, and to make more friends out of strangers.
Join Memorial Church at the 2019 Baltimore LGBTQ PRIDE Parade on Saturday, June 15, 2019. We will be marching in the Faith Communities of Baltimore With PRIDE Division, the largest division in the parade. You can march in the parade, then volunteer to assist with the other events taking place during the day. For further information, please contact Dave Hansen @ email@example.com or 410-622-6570.