Dry Desert
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

Bishops Ian Douglas and Laura Ahrens have released a statement in response to this past week's Supreme Court rulings. I encourage you to read their full statement here.

They're writing regarding the decisions handed down on New York State Rifle v. Bruen (regarding commonsense laws on carrying weapons in public) and on Dobbs v. Jackson (regarding access to privacy and reproductive healthcare in the form of abortions).

About gun laws, Bishops Ian and Laura say:

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling, however, puts people of faith at even greater risk when we gather for prayer, worship, fellowship and service. At the same time, we thank our elected officials in Washington DC, especially Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and their key leadership, in passing a bipartisan gun bill signed into law by President Biden today.

Regarding abortion access, Bishops Ian and Laura say:

Yesterday’s decision is not only contrary to our church’s position, but will result in unequal access for women seeking healthcare across the United States, disproportionately harming poor women.

Thank you for taking a few moments to read their words. Remember that the St. Paul's community and I are here for whatever pastoral needs you have, in response to these rulings or in general. God bless you, and stay safe.

My heart is broken once again. One week after a gunman killed Dr. John Cheng at a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, CA. Nine days after another gunman killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo, NY supermarket. Here we are yet again.

As I am sure you have heard, yet another gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, TX yesterday.

I have no words of wisdom. Instead, I'm writing to share two things:

Service of Lament, Saturday 7pm

On Saturday at 7pm, St. Paul's will host a Service of Lament. Please invite any members of the Southington community or surrounding areas who may want to attend.

This is a time to gather so that we can mourn those who have died, lament with those who are left behind, and discern what actions God is calling us to take. Prayer is not an action in itself; rather, it is the action we take to discern and fortify whatever it is we need to do next.

Message from Our Bishops

Today, Bishops Ian and Laura released a message about the Uvalde, TX shooting. You can read their message here.

Both Bishop Ian and Bishop Laura have been leaders in the important work of Bishops United Against Gun Violence. And I'm so grateful that Bishop Laura will be able to pray with us on Saturday evening.

The stresses of COVID, gun violence, white supremacy, a struggling economy, and so many other factors are compounding and causing very real trauma for all of us. Please reach out to me (and to each other) for support at this time so that we can continue to be about the work God has in store for us.

I conclude with the prayer our bishops shared today:

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding. Deal graciously with the families of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Did you know that the Episcopal Church in Connecticut is in the process of getting a new bishop? Bishop Ian Douglas is retiring in October. The Bishop Transition Committee (BTC) has been working to put together a slate of nominees, and this past Monday, we announced that slate.

(I say “we” because I’m one of the members of the Bishop Transition Committee!)

And did you know that the people of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut get to choose the next Bishop Diocesan? No one will appoint them for us; we, the clergy and the lay delegates from each parish, will participate in an election to indicate how we hear the Holy Spirit moving.

Our St. Paul’s delegates will take into account your thoughts about the bishop nominees. Stay tuned about how to make your voice heard.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight different aspects of what I think you, as the parish, need to know as we are all discerning.

This week, I want to share the Bishop Transition Committee’s vision for the new Bishop Diocesan. We (the BTC) wrote this dream for our new bishop after listening sessions across the diocese, trying to give voice to what we heard. I think it’s a beautiful expression of our diocese, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it.

Who We Want to Lead Us

We want our next Diocesan Bishop to have a strong relationship with God and a ministry rooted in the love of Jesus. Our next Bishop should be prayerful, compassionate, and an active listener to the clergy and laity of ECCT. We’re seeking a Bishop who is open-minded, receptive to new ideas, and willing to hear a variety of viewpoints before making decisions. We want someone who is welcoming of all people; someone who is approachable and respectful; someone who is personal and transparent; someone who is present and visible throughout ECCT; someone who is an energetic, inspiring visionary and who can lead us as God’s people in the Twenty-First Century. Our Bishop will be an inspiring preacher who possesses excellent oral and written communication skills.

Throughout the discernment process, we heard time and again that our congregations want their next Bishop to have extensive parish experience in order to understand and appreciate what is both universal and unique among our parishes. We also seek a Bishop who will care for the pastoral needs of our clergy and laity. We want our Bishop to be a champion of spiritual wellness.

Our next Bishop should have a strong moral compass and be unafraid to take a stand on difficult issues. We hope our next Bishop will increase the visibility and impact of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut by working with our interfaith partners and government agencies. It is important to us that our next Bishop continues ECCT’s commitment to social justice and antiracism as a primary part of our call to be followers of Jesus Christ. We believe it helpful for the next Bishop to possess conflict resolution skills.

Given the complexities of today’s world and the challenges of doing God’s work, it is imperative that our next Bishop possess self-awareness and know their skills and limitations. They must have the ability to build strong teams and the acumen to seek out assistance in areas where they are challenged. They must be a good example for ECCT’s clergy and must be committed to their own spiritual life and practice healthy and appropriate boundaries of self care, including taking Sabbath.

Our clergy are excited for a leader who can help them dream up new ways of being church together—especially in the face of declining membership and declining numbers of clergy. They hope their next Bishop will be someone who can listen to them and help them find new, creative structures of church leadership.

If this feels like you—or a new version of you that the Holy Spirit is calling you to step into and become—please go to our BTC website to apply. Blessings on your discernment process, and when the time is right... We can’t wait to meet you!