top of page
Dry Desert
St. Paul's Manna Blog

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)

Last weekend our youth in grades 6-12 participated in a Famine Weekend. They spent time fasting, serving their neighbors, and learning about food insecurity in our community and the world. This marks an exciting return to a beloved St. Paul's youth tradition!

Friday night: Fasting and Learning

Starting on Friday night, the participating youth met for a pizza "Last Supper" before fasting for the next 20+ hours. That evening, they played games and learned about hunger-related social safety nets.

They even formed into "families" of 3-4 people and had to meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as if they were on SNAP benefits. They went to Dollar Tree to purchase their meals—127 pounds of food—which they donated to Southington Community Services!

Saturday morning: Rise Against Hunger

On Saturday morning, youth helped set up for the Rise Against Hunger event at the Elks Lodge. They then joined many other volunteers from St. Paul's and Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation (74 volunteers in total) to rise against hunger!

The volunteers worked for 2 hours to package 12,960 meals. In total, the event also raised $6,540.25 to donate to the Rise Against Hunger organization.

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who volunteered and donated—and especially to Tim Bottone, who worked hard to make the event happen again this year.

Saturday afternoon: Church by the Pond

The youth and their chaperones then returned to St. Paul's to package "blessing bags" for housing- and food-insecure people in Hartford. Each bag contained a to-go meal, a bottle of water, and a package of toiletries. (Thank you to everyone who donated toiletries over the past month!)

They then joined me at Bushnell Park in Hartford to worship at Church by the Pond, a congregation of Christ Church Cathedral. We shared Eucharist on the sidewalk with a few of the parishioners there.

And since it was a dreary day and attendance at the outdoor service was low, the Cathedral volunteers took our leftover blessing bags back to the Cathedral to give out during their Sunday meal service.

Saturday evening: Breaking the Fast

Finally, the participating youth returned to St. Paul's to break their fast with a shared meal of soup and bread.

I want to thank the 11 young people who participated in various parts of the Famine. And a special thanks goes out to the many adults who made this Famine Weekend happen: drivers, chaperones, teachers, soup-makers, and planners—and, of course, Meredith Bandish, who spearheaded the weekend. (And all without a Director of Christian Formation, no less.)

Here's to bringing back the sleepover component next year, too!

Updated: Jan 26

Each year, we gather to elect our lay leaders and to reflect on the year that has gone by. On Sunday, January 29, we'll have a combined worship service at 9am, then adjourn to the Parish Hall for the Annual Meeting.

2022 Annual Report St. Paul's - final Jan 26
Download PDF • 2.32MB

Above is the most recent version of the 2022 Annual Report, which has information about St. Paul's from this past year, including everything you'll need for the meeting.

Note that the J2A class will have cookies for sale at the meeting, raising money for their mission trip this summer: $10/dozen. They take cash, check, or Venmo!

There are a few things you need to do this week before we meet:

1. Make sure you're on the voter roll.

We worked hard to clean up our records so we'd have an up-to-date voter roll this year.

Check out pages 4-5 of the report to make sure your name is on there. It's very possible that we missed you by accident! Please email Rev. Helena (revhelenamartin [at] gmail [dot] com) right away if you need to be added.

2. Review the newly proposed by-laws.

The vestry spent 2022 revising and updating our by-laws, which were last updated in 2013. The proposed by-laws better reflect how we do business in 2023.

Check out pages 15-22 of the report to read the new by-laws. At the meeting, we will vote on whether or not to adopt them.

3. Review the approved 2023 budget.

The budget is approved by the Budget and Finance Committee, then sent to the vestry for approval. We have already approved the 2023 budget. Still, stewarding the money and land that God has given us is a communal effort.

Check out pages 47-50 for the 2023 Approved Budget. Feel free to bring questions about any of the report, including and especially the whole Financials section, to the Annual Meeting.

I'm excited for this opportunity to review 2022 and look forward to 2023, as a community.

This weekend, as a country, we celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although this is a civic holiday and not a religious one, Dr. King was also a pastor an an excellent preacher. So, in church on Sunday morning, we'll watch an (abridged) sermon by Dr. King from 1967 called "But, If Not..."

(As your main Sunday preacher, I of course worry that showing you Dr. King's preaching will reveal how much my own preaching can still improve, but I think he's worth it!)

Listen to the unabridged version of the sermon here, or read a transcript here.

As we remember Dr. King this weekend, I want to highlight two important things that often get swallowed up in the celebrations.

"Peacemaking" is Not Just Being Nice

Dr. King famously said, "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

Sometimes, Dr. King's legacy gets watered down. The narrative becomes something like:

"Dr. King didn't like how mean the racists were. He wanted people to be treated the same, no matter their skin color. He valued peace above all else, so he taught his people to resist with nonviolent means: sit-ins, marches, speeches, etc. His nonviolence is a model for dealing with injustice."

To be sure, much of this is half true. But the framing misses the point in two ways:

  1. Dr. King and the many other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement weren't only resisting individual "mean" racist people. They were trying to revolutionize an entire system based on inequality.

  2. The purpose of their actions was true peace, which isn't just everyone "playing nice" within a harmful system. True peace requires the presence of justice, which can be very uncomfortable at first, even if it is the right thing in the long run.

That means some of their biggest opponents were people like you and me! Many of their opponents were people trying to do good in the world, even trying to follow Jesus, but who unknowingly benefited from these systems.

That means that sometimes, they and we (however unintentionally) try to protect the systems, rather than the people being harmed by them!

Dr. King's most famous work about this is his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which he wrote to moderate clergy who were calling for him to make less waves.

That brings me to the second thing I want to highlight this weekend.

The Work is Not Done

President Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law in 1983. This made the third Monday in January a national holiday honoring Dr. King and encouraging all Americans to improve their communities. Some states decided to celebrate "Robert E. Lee Day" at the same time, as an act of rebellion against having to honor Dr. King and the achievements Civil Rights Movement.

(For more on the history of MLK Day, read this wonderful article by the National Museum of African American History and Culture: "The 15 Year Battle for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.")

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, shortly after the passing of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). Since then, our country has continued to make progress toward racial equity. For example, the 118th Congress, which is beginning its term, is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever. But there's a ways to go. In that same example: even though the 118th Congress is the most diverse ever, white males are still proportionally over-represented in that group, as compared to the U.S. population.

There is still so much work to do.

Our work, as Christians, is to continue living into the fullness of Christ, who preached and pursued the peace of God. Jesus emptied himself so that he could pursue the will of God the Father, not his own will, even to the point of death. This weekend, I ask you to contemplate:

When do you value "niceness" instead of justice, tension avoidance instead of true peace? And how can you cultivate the willingness to empty yourself, divest from the systems that you unfairly benefit from, so that you can pursue God's peace on earth?

bottom of page