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Diocesan Youth Council marks 20 years of voice & vote   


Jumping for Jesus: DYC mentors and members at the kick-off retreat at the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in September. Courtesy photo.


People of the Diocese of Massachusetts are used to seeing youth at the microphone at Diocesan Convention speaking out on issues that are important to them, such as climate change, gun violence and immigration. But it wasn't always so.


It wasn't until 1998 that the convention granted representatives from the Diocesan Youth Council (DYC) the right to a seat, voice and vote, and to mark the 20th anniversary of this milestone, former DYC members and mentors from the recent and distant past will gather on Nov. 2 at this year's convention in Hyannis for "DYC@20"--a networking lunch, a looking-back-and-looking-ahead presentation to the convention and a celebratory dinner.

In addition to providing youth representation at Diocesan Convention, DYC members plan and run annual diocesan youth events and "work ultimately to make the church a nurturing environment for the spiritual growth of young people in the Christian community," according to the diocesan youth ministry website. 


Current diocesan youth missioner the Rev. H. Mark Smith sees youth ministry as a way to bring the spirit of young people into the church right now. "I don't see youth ministry as training those who are going to be leading the church tomorrow. I see it as really challenging the church to be led by young people today, and I think that that's really important if we're going to regain relevance in culture," Smith said. "I think that the church needs the energy, restlessness, questioning, insistence and the impatience that young people bring and we need those things now."



"One Body in Christ": Diocesan Convention to focus on social justice issues and building relationships

This year's annual Diocesan Convention promises celebration in addition to the usual legislative business as it gets set to consider the admission of two new mission congregations and also marks the 30th anniversary of the historic election of the first woman to become a bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The convention takes place Nov. 2-3 at the Cape Cod Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis. A live webcast of Nov. 3 proceedings is planned via The event hashtag for those participating via social media is #DioMassCon18.

A highlight for many convention-goers will be a banquet and program on Friday, Nov. 2 honoring the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, whose election as bishop suffragan in September 1988 in the Diocese of Massachusetts led to her consecration the following year and changed the church.

A full day of convention business follows on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Under the theme "One Body in Christ," the convention program will include the launch of Massachusetts Indaba 2019--a diocesan mission strategy initiative aimed at building relationships among congregations across the diocese through purposeful conversation and encounters.

A variety of social justice concerns will come before the convention, ranging from the church's response to the opioid crisis, immigrant justice and support for gender identity antidiscrimination law in Massachusetts, to church use of fair trade coffee and a commitment to creation care through tree planting.

In addition to resolutions on those topics, the convention will consider the requests of two worshiping communities--Grace Chapel in Brockton and the Anglican Congregation of St. Peter at Christ Church in Waltham--to become mission congregations in union with the diocese. And, the convention will vote on the $8.8-million diocesan budget proposed for 2019, among other business.

Clergy and lay delegates--two from each congregation--convene annually for Diocesan Convention, the diocese's primary governing body.


Read more here.


Transgender antidiscrimination law to be considered by Diocesan Convention as well as Massachusetts voters


One of the resolutions coming before the Diocesan Convention on Nov. 3 is about a topic that Massachusetts voters will also be considering on Election Day: gender identity antidiscrimination.

The Rev. Chris Wendell with parishioners and others from the Bedford Embraces Diversity coalition, preparing to march for gender equality in the Bedford Day parade. Courtesy photo.

The proposed Diocesan Convention resolution asks the convention to endorse Massachusetts Ballot Question 3 and encourage a "yes" vote to maintain the Massachusetts public accommodations law, adopted in 2016 to add gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in public places such as hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports facilities and hospitals.


The Diocesan Convention first took a position on the issue in 2008 when it adopted a measure calling for local, state and federal laws to prohibit gender identity discrimination and to treat physical violence inflicted on the basis of a victim's gender identity or expression as a hate crime.

The Rev. Chris Wendell, Rector of St. Paul's Church in Bedford, is one of the sponsors of the resolution. He said in an interview that the organizing group for the resolution worked really hard to get a cross section of the diocese involved as resolution sponsors: clergy and lay people, old and young, Democrats and Republicans, and people of different gender identities and expressions. 

Read more here.


Diocesan response supports Merrimack Valley recovery


Family dinner at Esperanza Academy in Lawrence -- an occasion for community and hope amidst uncertainty after the natural gas disaster. Courtesy photo via Facebook.

The bishops' call for congregations to collect or designate offerings toward a diocesan Merrimack Valley disaster relief response has been met with a generous outpouring of $26,018 to date. 


The three Episcopal churches and one Episcopal school in communities affected by last month's natural gas disaster--Christ Church in Andover, St. Paul's Church in North Andover and Grace Church and Esperanza Academy in Lawrence--are working with diocesan disaster response personnel to determine the best use of the funds as ongoing recovery needs are made known. These include help in meeting expenses for providing meals and temporary housing for those displaced from their homes, vouchers or gift certificates for groceries and transportation, costs associated with temporary relocation of church programs or worship services, and the provision of other support services to those affected by the crisis.

In addition, a grant of $12,500 from the Boston Episcopal Charitable Society has enabled Grace Church in Lawrence to assist some of its community members with their immediate needs.

Columbia Gas is in the process of replacing the natural gas mains in the three communities where over-pressurized gas lines caused explosions and fires on Sept. 13.  Columbia's reported target date for completing the rebuild is Nov. 19, requiring the company to provide temporary housing for the thousands whose homes were damaged or who are still without heat.

Grace Church in Lawrence hosted a meeting with city and state representatives on Oct. 12, giving clergy and residents a chance to speak out about their recovery challenges, along with a subsequent gathering on Oct. 15 with Columbia Gas president and CEO Stephen Bryant, at which a group of local clergy requested energy-efficient appliances for the estimated 10,000 households in need of new equipment and asked that Spanish-language translators accompany household assessment teams. The group also raised the need for professional trauma response resources. A follow-up meeting is being scheduled for a progress report on the requested action items.


Calling all congregations to Indaba 


Last year's Diocesan Convention adopted a mission strategy implementation plan that includes "developing opportunities for teams from congregations to visit other congregations, sharing worship and learning about one another."

Since then, a Diocesan Council working group has studied and recommended Indaba as a format for addressing that diocesan goal. Indaba is a model for purposeful conversation, arising out of the South African context, which has been used throughout the Anglican Communion.


"What's specific to Massachusetts about our use of this method is that we had already identified in the work of developing our mission strategy that we needed across this amazingly diverse diocese of wonderfully active people a way of building relationships and appreciation and understanding across parishes. It's actually a combination of conversation and presence," the Rev. Marilyn McMillan, a deacon serving at St. David's Church in South Yarmouth and a member of the diocesan Indaba working group, said.


All worshiping communities of the diocese are invited and encouraged to participate in what is being launched this fall as Massachusetts Indaba 2019. 


Read more here.



Showcase event shines a light on shared ministry


Members of 40 congregations, representing 11 of the diocese's 12 geographic deaneries, gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston on Sept. 22 for the first-ever diocesan Ministry Network Showcase, organized as a day of "short talks with big messages and lots of resource sharing." Representatives from 27 ministries participated, some giving TED-style talks focused on issues and community service close to home and others hosting resource tables.

Attendees visit resource tables. Courtesy photo

Organizers said after the event that the numbers alone don't capture the spirit of the day, and shared comments they gathered from several participants:


"This showcase was amazing! It has been a long time since I've felt the Holy Spirit move me, as it did Saturday. It came at a perfect time, as we are about to embark on a vestry retreat to discern our future."


Another found the event "inspiring and informative--it is good to see what other churches are doing!" 


Others said they "enjoyed reviewing the different displays" and hearing "directly from those doing the work."  Another said the program content included "good theology and practical work towards changing how we see church and world."


Videos of each of the 12 presentations will be made available in upcoming weeks.  The first in the series is now available here.  In it, the Rev. Leslie Sterling, Rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in Cambridge, talks about "The Intersection of Church and State" and shares why she believes faith leaders can and should encourage political involvement.


Ideas are already being circulated for next year's Ministry Network Showcase.  Those who would like to be involved in the planning are invited to contact Martha Gardner, Missioner for Networking and Formation, at or 617-482-4826, ext. 403.


Diocesan community celebrates new ministry at installation of new cathedral dean Amy McCreath


The Very Rev. Amy E. McCreath (front, third from left) surrounded by her family after her installation at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul on Sept. 29 Photo: Bridget K. Wood.




News Notes

Bishop Barbara C. Harris sings hymns along with the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, the Rev. Bryan Pearson and the Rev. Canon Cristina Rathbone.   Photo: Bridget K. Wood.

Hallelujah, Anyhow!:  A good-spirited crowd gathered with Bishop Barbara C. Harris on Oct. 14 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston for a Sunday afternoon hymn sing to launch Harris's newly published memoir, Hallelujah Anyhow! 


Harris shared several stories from the book, and those attending wrote down their hymn requests as they arrived, to be randomly drawn for all to sing throughout the evening.  Those whose hymn requests were chosen had a chance to share a few words about what the hymn meant to them.



"Dementia from the Inside Out": This year's annual diocesan Clergy Day on Oct. 2 featured as guest presenters the Very Rev. Tracey Lind (left) and her spouse, Emily Ingalls (right), who shared insights from their journey so far with "Dementia from the Inside Out." Lind is the retired dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, whose ministry has included work for social and environmental justice, interfaith relations, sustainable urban development, and arts and culture. Most recently, her ministry has extended to include the spiritual insights and lessons she has gained from a life complicated by dementia. The Clergy Day program included personal reflections by Lind and Ingalls as well as discussion about how to minister more effectively to those with dementia and how to seek out further information and training.  Photo: Bridget K. Wood.



Action required by Nov. 2 for 2019 medical plan enrollment: All diocesan clergy and lay employees who are currently enrolled in Church Pension Group medical coverage through the Episcopal Church Medical Trust must choose one of four new medical plans by Nov. 2, the close of this year's annual enrollment period. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the Medical Trust will no longer offer coverage through the CIGNA plans in which most diocesan participants are currently enrolled. As a result, and because of significant savings in premiums, the Diocese of Massachusetts has elected to offer coverage through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans exclusively. (Mental health coverage will still be offered by the CIGNA network of providers; dental coverage through Delta Dental is also unaffected.)

More detailed information e-mailed to clergy, wardens and treasurers on Oct. 11 emphasized that all enrollees must take action by Nov. 2 to choose one of the new plans. Those who do not will be assigned to the new required base plan and will be locked into that plan throughout 2019.

Information sessions will be offered prior to each of the four upcoming pre-Diocesan Convention forums, from 6 to 7 p.m., on Oct. 17, 18, 23 and 24. Find the schedule here. Questions may also be e-mailed to



Diane Pound and Laura Simons

Courtesy photos.

Diocesan staff transitions announced: Diane Pound, who has served as executive assistant to Bishop Alan M. Gates for the past four years, has announced that she will be moving to California at the end of the year to be closer to her daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law in the Los Angeles area. She joined the diocesan staff in December 2006, providing administrative support for five years to Bishop Bud Cederholm, and then to Bishop Gayle E. Harris and former canon to the ordinary the Rev. Mally Lloyd before taking up her current role.

Laura Simons has been named as Gates's new executive assistant. Simons has served as the administrator of Diocesan Convention and Council for the past five-and-one-half years while

Laura Walta and Holly Hartman Courtesy photos. 

Marilyn McMillan photo unavailable.

additionally providing administrative assistance to the canon to the ordinary. The search for an assistant for governance and administration is now underway. Resumes will be received until Monday, Nov. 5. Read more here


Laura Walta, who served as the project director for global mission for five years, has retired as of Sept. 30.  With her departure, diocesan global mission efforts will be led by the Rev. Holly Hartman and the Rev. Marilyn McMillan.  In addition to their global mission roles, they will continue their service as deacons in their assigned parishes, Grace Church in Everett and St. David's Church in South Yarmouth, respectively. Read more here.



Calling all quilters and beginner artists: Registration is open for upcoming 2019 winter programs at the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, N.H., including:

* Folk Art Retreat, Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 20-22: Participants may choose one of three classes--Painting 101, Intro to Knitting or Learn to Quilt--as an opportunity for beginner-artists to learn a new skill in a midweek retreat environment Packages start at $300 per person.

* 2019 Quilting Retreat, Friday-Sunday, Feb. 22-24: This second annual Quilting Retreat aims to be a fun weekend filled with new friends and creativity. Quilters of all abilities are welcome. The retreat is intended to give participants the free time needed to begin, work on or finish a project without any formal instruction. Packages start at $180 per person, with the option to stay for free by donating a handmade twin or double-sized quilt.

Visit for more information or contact Jennifer Boyd at or 603-547-3400.


Leaders connect, share stories and prepare to take action at ECM's "Faith-Route Organizing":  
[Episcopal City Mission News Release]: On Sept. 15, Episcopal City Mission (ECM) hosted a day-long training on "Faith-Rooted Organizing." About 60 people attended, coming from many different Episcopal churches, the Life Together fellowship program and grassroots organizations.


ECM's Faith-Rooted Organizing training is a gateway for faith leaders to get involved in the social justice efforts led by ECM and by others in its network. The training supports leaders to be both spiritually and strategically grounded in this political moment.

Attendees participated in contemplative prayer, studied social movement strategies and practiced community organizing skills such as storytelling. Over the course of the day, participants shared action opportunities on a resource board that quickly filled with public demonstrations, prayer vigils, lectures and storytelling events.

Pam Chester, a lay leader at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester said, "What an energizing, exciting, thought-provoking training! Our parish established new relationships and strengthened existing ties in the social justice community, and found new strength through faith-rooted analysis of oppression and suffering." 


Read more here.




Photo: Florida National Guard via Episcopal Relief & Development


Gulf Coast churches remain in "rescue phase" after Hurricane Michael:

Episcopal churches on the Gulf Coast, including parts of Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina, continue to assess Hurricane Michael's damage, with some in the hardest hit coastal areas still in the rescue phase.

"The local dioceses are continuing to assess the damage caused by the storm," said Katie Mears, Senior Director of Episcopal Relief & Development's U.S. Disaster Program, in a statement posted on its website. "Disasters have three phases: rescue, relief and recovery. We are prepared to support them as we move into the next phase of providing relief to affected communities." Read Episcopal News Service's full story here.


"Rekindling Hope, Sharing Light, Loving Jesus": Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry will preach at the Diocese of Western Massachusetts' Episcopal Revival on Sunday, Oct. 21.  Find more information and join the livestream here.


New England evangelists invited to Vermont, Oct. 26-27:  The Diocese of Vermont invites those who are interested in evangelism in New England to participate in its annual convention, "Go, Tell It on the Mountains: Evangelism Vermont-Style," which will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Burlington, Vt., on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27.  


Friday's entire program, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., is devoted to plenaries and workshops on evangelism and is open to visitors.  While the convention title highlights "Vermont-Style," it could just as well be termed "New England-Style," organizers note; Vermont is the least religiously affiliated state, but it is closely followed by New Hampshire and other New England states. Find more information here.



The Rev. Edwin D. Johnson and parishioners shown in a screenshot from Episode 1 of "Welcome to St. Mary's."

Grant funds St. Mary's Digital Evangelism Campaign: The people of St. Mary's Church in Dorchester will soon see themselves featured on video via Facebook as part of St. Mary's "Digital Evangelism Campaign"--a series of five videos highlighting their diversity and their community as well as the different ministries that the church has to offer, from its food pantry to its Hispanic ministry.

The church recently received a $2,000 grant for this project from the Episcopal Evangelism Grants Program, which according to the Episcopal Church's website, is designed to "grow Episcopal ministries, resources and gatherings that energize the church to boldly and fearlessly share and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ" by funding local and regional evangelism efforts.

Rolyn Freeman, a member of St. Mary's, has taken part in the filming and said that he thinks he has something to offer the community with his story and his experience, and he hopes that this project helps both the community and the church. 


Read more here.



The Rev. Melanie McCarley of St. Paul's Church in Dedham blesses a furry friend. Courtesy photo via Facebook.


Creation Care Season gets underway with

Blessings of the Animals: The Diocese of Massachusetts observes the weeks of September to Advent as Creation Care Season. "Of course, every season is a creation care season, but by dedicating these months, September to Advent, as our Diocesan Convention voted to do in 2010, we have a special invitation to focus our prayer, special worship services, study, spiritual formation, advocacy and commitments toward reducing carbon emissions in our churches, our homes and our communities," retired bishop suffragan Bud Cederholm wrote in a recent letter inviting participation in Creation Care Season. Find the complete letter, as well as other resources and links, here


Parishes across the Diocese of Massachusetts celebrated the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi by welcoming creatures great and small to receive a blessing.


Among the churches offering pet blessings were, from left: Christ Church, Cambridge; the Church of Our Saviour, Middleboro; St. John's Church, Beverly Farms; and the Church of the Advent, Boston. Courtesy photos via Facebook.


Grace Chapel announces 8th anniversary celebration: Grace Chapel in Brockton invites the diocesan community on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. for its 8th anniversary celebration.  Grace Chapel hopes to be able to also celebrate its admission into the diocese as a mission congregation, which the Diocesan Convention will consider on Nov. 3.

Grace Chapel, an English-speaking, multicultural congregation rooted in the Anglican and Episcopal traditions, began in June 2010 as a Bible study group and a ministry of St. Paul's Church in Brockton, with the coming of the Rev. Moses O. Sowale as an associate priest for outreach and evangelism and a particular mission to develop new, flexible worship that engages people of diverse cultural backgrounds and age groups. The first Sunday worship of this new ministry was held on Aug. 8, 2010.


A major change in circumstances, but not in mission, came when the Diocese of Massachusetts determined that the expense of supporting St. Paul's Church (a small congregation with a large building in need of expensive repairs) was no longer sustainable and St. Paul's was closed in December 2010. Despite the closing, the diocesan commitment to an Episcopal Church presence in Brockton remains strong, and the outreach ministry which began at St. Paul's under Sowale's leadership now continues as Grace Chapel. 


Read more here.


Blessing of the backpacks: Bishop Alan M. Gates visited St. Michael's Church in Milton on Sept. 16 and participated in a family service which included a back-to-school blessing of backpacks.  The children presented the bishop with a colorful poster of St. Michael that they had painted for him. Courtesy photo.




Coming Up 


Oct 17: Youth Worker Gathering, St. John's Church, Beverly Farms, 6:30pm

Oct 17: Pre-Diocesan Convention Forum, St. Andrew's Church, Framingham, 7:00pm, with information session on medical insurance plan changes for clergy and lay church employees at 6:00pm

Oct 17: Evening Contemplative Eucharist, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington, 7:00pm

Oct 18: Fall Gathering for Retired Clergy, Spouses and Surviving Spouses, St. David's Church, South Yarmouth, 10:30am

Oct 18: Youth Worker Gathering, Church of Our Saviour, Somerset, 6:30pm

Oct 18: Pre-Diocesan Convention Forum, Trinity Church, Topsfield, 7:00pm, with information session on medical insurance plan changes for clergy and lay church employees at 6:00pm 

Oct 19: Evensong Honoring Ethel Crawford, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 6:30pm

Oct 20: Safe Church Training, St. Mary's Church, Barnstable, 8:30am

Oct 20: Retreat Day, Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center, Byfield, 9:00am

Oct 20: Confirmation -- All Deaneries, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 10:30am

Oct 21: Bishop Gates visits Church of the Good Shepherd, Dedham, 9:00am

Oct 22: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light Annual Conference, Plymouth Church, Framingham, 7:00pm

Oct 23: Pre-Diocesan Convention Forum, Church of Our Saviour, Middleborough, 7:00pm, with information session on medical insurance plan changes for clergy and lay church employees at 6:00pm

Oct 24: Pre-Diocesan Convention Forum, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 7:00pm, with information session on medical insurance plan changes for clergy and lay church employees at 6:00pm 

Oct 25: Diocesan Council Meeting, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 5:30pm

Oct 27: Safe Church Training, Church of St. John the Evangelist, Duxbury, 8:30am

Oct 27: Episcopal City Mission Annual Meeting, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 9:00am

Oct 27: Episcopal Relief & Development Disaster Preparedness Training, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 9:00am

Oct 27: Charles River Deanery Confirmation, Grace Church, Newton, 10:30am

Oct 27: Saturday Night in Marblehead Concert with John Kirk and Trish Miller, St. Andrew's Church, Marblehead, 8:00pm

Oct 28: Bishop Harris visits Christ Church, South Hamilton, 9:00am

Oct 28: Celebration of New Organ, St. John's Church, Sharon, 3:30pm

Oct 28: Organ Concert Celebrating Dr. Libor Dudas, Old North Church, Boston, 6:00pm

Nov 1-2: Anglo-Catholic Roots II Conference, Church of the Advent, Boston

Nov 3: DYC@20 Celebration, Cape Cod Resort and Conference Center, Hyannis

Nov 2-3: Diocesan Convention, Cape Cod Resort and Conference Center, Hyannis

Nov 8: Budget Committee Meeting, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 8:00am

Nov 10: Safe Church Training, St. Dunstan's Church, Dover, 8:30am

Nov 11: Bishop Harris visits Church of the Holy Nativity, South Weymouth, 9:00am

Nov 11: Bishop Gates visits Church of the Good Shepherd, Acton, 9:00am

Nov 11: Veterans Day Service, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 4:00pm

Nov 16-18: Middle School Retreat, Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, Greenfield, N.H., 7:00pm

Nov 17: Eucharistic Visitor Training, Grace Church, North Attleborough, 9:00am

Nov 18: Bishop Gates visits Grace Church Federated, East Boston, 9:00am 


Nov 18: Grace Chapel 8th Anniversary Celebration, Brockton, 10:00am

Nov 21: Evening Contemplative Eucharist, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington, 7:00pm







November 15, 2018
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