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Are you a deacon? Are you exploring  the possibility of becoming a deacon? Do you want to find out what God is up to in New England?  If so, then join us at  Extraordinary Promise: Love and Service to the World, the 2014 the New England Deacon’s Network Conference in Framingham, MA from Friday, October 3 to Sunday, October 5, 2014.

Our keynoHandsheartte speaker is Deacon Susanne Watson-Epting. She will speak about deacons, past and present and will add her take on what the deacon of the future might be up to. Three bishops from Province 1, including our own bishop, will be part of a panel discussion.

During the weekend, there will be lots of time to network  with deacons and others who are following God’s call to ministry in the world.  We have lots of fun and invite you to join us!   Learn more and register

As we all prepare for Convention, you may have heard about Resolution 9:

RESOLVED: that the 193rd Convention of the Diocese of Maine call upon all of its constituent committees, commissions, institutions, and congregations, to include as part of every meeting in calendar year 2013, no matter what the purpose, the following agenda item: “How will what we are doing here affect or involve people living in poverty?”

At the recent NEDN Conference, where the focus was poverty, Maine deacons and deacons-in-formation who were there met with fellow deacon Chick Carroll, wordsmith of the resolution, and offered our thoughts and suggestions. We all felt that more explanation was needed. What resulted from that conversation was an excellent piece published a few days ago on the Diocese’s NNE BLog.  Rather than copying the text here, we’re offering a link.  After the piece itself, there are comments that make for good reading. Feel free to join that conversation and add your own comments: http://episcopalmaine.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/talking-about-poverty-in-maine/

The Rev. Heather Blais reflected recently on Resolution 9 on the Justice and Mercy blog. Again, there are comments that follow the article, hence just the link: http://justiceandmercyme.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/why-our-buildings-just-dont-matter/

Those of us who are sponsoring the resolution hope you will read these articles before you leave for convention. We ask for your prayerful consideration and hope you will encourage the clergy and delegates you know to join you in that prayerful consideration.

People living in poverty are not, of course, just in Maine.  Here are several opportunities for both awareness building and action:

  • Check out the “Move your Money” campaign featured on the new Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation web site: http://epgr.org/
  • The National Council of Churches on their Poverty Initiative website is offering a series of webinars that look interesting.  The webinars are listed in the Events section: http://www.nccendpoverty.org/index.html

At Convention, co-sponsors of the resolution and participants in the NEDN conference will be distributing “Vote YES on 9” badges. They hope you’ll wear one!

We are happy to tell you that the Sheraton has extended the room block and special rate until Wednesday, September 12 (to make a reservation, call 508-879-7200), and we have extended general conference registrations until Thursday, Sept 20.

Sooo…if you let summer slip by and let the original deadline slip by as well, all is not lost.  Grace happens….

This is shaping up to be a wonderful conference on an important topic. Check out the brochure with schedule here:  NEDN Conference 2012

Currently, nearly 50 people have registered and we are expecting registrations from several more from RI and VT.  At the moment, we have 3 coming from CT, 18 from Dio MA, 15 from ME (Yay!), 1 from NH (one of our speakers), 4 from RI (one is their bishop-elect, who is a fan of deacons), 4 from VT, and 4 from Western MA. One of the folks coming from VT is Dn. Stan Baker who attended GC and presented a resolution on behalf of AED similar to one that will come before us at our diocesan convention in Oct….

Because we are coming down to the wire, we are making it even easier to register.  

Just send Sudie Blanchard (sblanchard@stgeorgesyorkharbor.org) an email with the following information:

  1. Your name as you want it on your name badge
  2. Your address
  3. Your phone number(s)
  4. Your email address
  5. What you would like for dinner:
    • Friday: Vegetable ravioli or Chicken Picatta
    • Saturday: Baked Haddock or Pot roast
  6. Any dietary restrictions we should know about
  7. Any other issues you may want us to know about
 Then send Sudie your check for $225 payable to The Diocese of Maine:
The Rev. Sudie Blanchard
25 Southside ROad
York, ME 03909
 Once Sudie has received those two things, she will send you a confirmation.

Reprint in case you missed it via email:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The New England Deacons’ Network is providing an extraordinary continuing education opportunity for the deacons this fall, a conference entitled, Crushing Poverty: Service and Solidarity with Those on the Edge. An outstanding group of speakers and workshop leaders will address both urban and rural poverty and will help participants wrestle with their own ministries of service to the poor. Presenters include the Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw (Bishop of Massachusetts), Professor Willis Jenkins (Ass’t. Prof. of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity) and the Honorable Byron Rushing (Massachusetts House of Representatives).

The Conference will take place at the Sheraton Framingham (MA) from September 28 to September 30, 2012.

I urge all deacons in the Diocese of Maine to consider taking part. Scholarship aid is available through my office for those whose financial resources are tight.

I ask priests-in-charge of congregations to prepare for a deacon-less Sunday on September 30, so that as many deacons as possible may attend.

For more information including registration information, Click NEDN Conference 2012 or visit
www.newenglanddeacons.wordpress.com

The Diocese of Maine will not hold a fall deacons’ gathering in order to give our full support to the New England Deacons’ Network conference. Maine has the most deacons of any Province I diocese. I hope we will be well represented.

If you have questions, please contact Mary Lee Wile mlwile@episcopalmaine.org or Sudie Blanchard sblanchard@stgeorgesyorkharbor.org

Faithfully,

Bishop Steve

From the New England Deacons Network:

Posted on April 2, 2012

Come join us at the Sheraton, Framingham, MA on September 28-30, for NEDN Conference 2012 We’re thrilled to have plans for the following guest speakers: 

Beth Mattingly is director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey Institute. Her interests center on women, children, and family well-being. Her work at the Carsey Institute examines child poverty and how different family policies influence rural, suburban, and urban families and how families adjust their labor force behavior during times of economic strain. She also examines poverty-related issues, how families cope with economic distress, childhood maltreatment, and foster care across states.

The Hon. Byron Rushing was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1982. He came to the House with a work background of community organizing and of Afro-American history.  In the legislature, Byron’s priorities are human and civil rights, and the development of democracy; local human, economic and housing development; and housing and health care for all. Byron is a member of St. John’s, St. James Parish in Roxbury. He has been an elected lay deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church since 1973; he was the chaplain to the House of Deputies at the 1994 General Convention–the only layperson to hold this position; he is an Adviser to the President of the House of Deputies. He is a founding member of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and serves on the boards of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice and of The Episcopal Church Archives. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He is a popular speaker and preacher on the ministry of all the baptized and on politics and faith.

Professor Willis Jenkins.  Professor Jenkins’s research focuses on environmental ethics, sustainable communities, global ethics, and theological ethics. He is author of Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology, published in 2008, editor of The Spirit of Sustainability, and co-editor of the forthcoming Bonhoeffer and King: Receiving Their Legacies for Christian Social Thought. Professor Jenkins previously taught at the University of Virginia and at a rural campus of Uganda Christian University. He has significant international experience in community development initiatives, was co-founder of the Episcopal Young Adult Service Corps, and served on the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on World Mission, 2000–2006.

Mark your calendars, check out the whole blog (click on Links and find the newenglanddeacons at: <http://newenglanddeacons.wordpress.com/&gt;).

Here’s the brochure with registration form:  NEDN Conference 2012

Plan to join the caravan of carpools headed there in September!

31 of us came to Deacons’ Day  on March 31 in Palmyra at St. Martin’s Church.  We spent the first half of our time together with Bishop Steve, who led us first in worship, and then in an experience of “Lexio Devina,” reading Matthew 6:1-21 and allowing us a good amount of time for reflection on those words.  Here’s a link to download Daily Prayer for all Seasons, the resource the Bishop used for the short service that began our day. During the rest of our time together with Bishop Steve, we spoke mostly about how we might do a better job of creating a sense of community among all the deacons of Maine.  We enjoyed delicious soup and sandwiches provided by St.Martins, and continued the conversation into the afternoon.  Archdeacon Mary Lee shared the results of the survey that more than half of us completed, and we shared our thoughts and experiences of our own formation experiences.  Download the survey here:   DFP Survey overview.

The deacon’s’ Prayer List will be revived. People have been missing it.  I (Sudie) confessed to dropping the ball on this and was informally absolved by those attending (Whew!)    The prayer list will be sent to all on the deacon list at first, with an option to “opt out” if you don’t choose to participate. It will come as an email on the first Sunday of each month.  (If there’s an urgent need for prayer, contact me at sblanchard@stgeorgesyorkharbor.org) We will be praying for our own personal concerns (not parishioners–we assume they are on your parish lists)  I will list the name of the Deacon requesting our prayers, just the first name of the person we are to pray for, and a broad reason for the prayer (healing, grief, peace of mind, etc.) This should address any issues of confidentiality. People will be kept on the list for a month, unless I hear that they need to stay on for longer.  I will do my best to keep this up.  Happily, I have given up trying to be perfect long ago, but if I miss that first Sunday of the month, I hope you will gently remind me.

All in all, it was a wonderful day–well worth the drive and provided a good chance to see and catch up with friends and colleagues.

SAVE THESE DATES: 

  • On Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, plan to attend our Annual Retreat at Living Waters.  For the first time, if enough are able to stay, we’ll be offering the option to stay an additional night, until Sunday lunch.  Important: This will be the last time we will be  enjoying the Sisters’ hospitality at Living Waters.  The retreat center will be closed at the end of this season.  Come one more time and enjoy a time of rest and reflection at this beautiful spot!  Details and specifics will be sent to all shortly.
  • The Downeast Spiritual Life Conference — Ellsworth, ME, August 24-25 — Some at our meeting mentioned this.  Here’s a link for your convenience.
  • Reserve September 28-30 for the biennial New England Deacons’ Network Conference that will be held once again at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham MA. The topic is “Crushing Poverty: Service and Solidarity with Those on the Edge” The organizing committee has lined up some excellent presenters:

Registration information and more will be sent to all shortly.  Those of us who went to the Conference in 2010 recommend that you make every effort to attend.  We will learn a great deal about the issues covered and it’s always good to meet with other deacons and share experiences.  This is the continuing education opportunity offered in the fall.  Registration will cost $225 and each night at the hotel will cost $94 (that’s single occupancy–find a roommate and save money!) Ask your congregation for funding and/or request a grant from the Loring Fund–it’s well worth it. Our Venerable friend Geof Smith has put together a blog to keep us all informed: http://newenglanddeacons.wordpress.com/

OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST:

  • Coming up right away: Friday April 20-Saturday, April 21: Annual New England Anglican Studies Conference presented by the Harvard Divinity School Episcopal/Anglican Fellowship and the Harvard Episcopal Chaplaincy that’s focused on preaching:  http://hdsepisc.org/
  • On Tuesday, June 5, you’re invited to “Out of the Darkness and into Delight! Spirituality, Flourishing and Joy” at Colby College.  Keynoter Dr. Jeff Levin will ground us in “Spirituality and Health:  An Epidemiologist’s Perspective,” and 10 workshop leaders will share their experience and knowledge with participants in an array of experiential sessions.  http://www.mainedartmouth.org/nevola/nevola12/   (FYI–this conflicts with our Clergy Day)


From Mary Lee Wile, our Archdeacon for Formation 

Here’s a balanced look at diaconal ministry as both prophetic and pastoral, written by Deacon Carol Huntington as a pre-session reading for students taking the EDS “Ministry that Reaches Out” online course (previously titled “Diaconal Congregations”). With her permission, I’ve edited out the paragraph that was specific to the course, but otherwise it’s intact. The course wasn’t limited to deacons, but included lay and priest participants as well, so “diaconal congregations” refers to congregations that undertake diaconal ministries – inspired, perhaps, by their deacons but encompassing everyone.  MLW  

(From the editor: If you missed it the first time, the course will be offered again this fall. Check for details at the end of this blog post.) 

Both…And: Reflections on Finding Our Voice as God’s Prophets and Good Samaritans in Diaconal Communities
by Carol. L. Huntington, MSW, M.Div.

The Church has need of both band-aid ministers and system changers. Good Samaritans who respond to immediate crises, and prophets who speak truth to power in order to change oppressive and unjust social and economic structures, are equally important.

The Episcopal Church has made more progress in the Good Samaritan approach than the Prophetic one. Although in recent years the Church has taken courageous stands on justice issues such as women’s ordination and gay rights, indigenous nations, she has neglected other justice issues that relate to the Civil War, torture, human trafficking, peace, the environment, and those living with mental illness disabilities. Moreover, even the Good Samaritan approach is often sterilized to protect us from the pain and frightful reality of poverty and misery. Experiencing injustice and suffering firsthand would necessarily mean a change in our self-awareness and attitudes to others, and this is often threatening and frightening. Indeed, it could be a kind of metanoia. We would behave differently. We would grow spiritually in depth of commitment. The works of compassion of the Good Samaritan, especially as the Pathway for so many of us to begin to see systemic problems and begin to understand how to articulate them and make changes is valued.

Finally, there are times when the two approaches are seen within the Church as incompatible. Prophets concerned with changing the system worry that the Good Samaritan emphasis on charity downplays the need for justice. Good Samaritans concerned with addressing the immediate needs of people in crisis worry that the Prophetic emphasis on social change is aloof, abstract, and too political and, I contend, personally threatening. Dorothy Day lived the walk she talked. Her relationship with The Christ was such that her spirituality and faith empowered her to be both prophetic — changing the system — and also ‘hands-on’ healer of society’s wounds in a band-aide, Good Samaritan capacity. There is an ethical Biblical imperative to the spirituality of following Jesus. We are called to do justice – healing systems and healing individuals.

[Our diaconal task] is to help the Church touch the wounds of the world, to encourage, mentor, model, and empower both individual Episcopalians as well as the Church community as a whole to be better Prophets and Good Samaritans.

Different people have different talents and are called to different ministries. Prophets and Good Samaritans are both working for Kingdom values, and there is no reason why they should view one another’s ministries with suspicion. But in order for both to succeed, the institutional Church must take a more courageous and vigorous stand on justice issues than she normally does, and must empower and encourage individual Episcopalians to work together to seek genuine contact and interact in a meaningful and equal relationship with the sufferings of those whom they are called to serve.

Interested in learning more about the course? Here are the details:

Help your parish to be a diaconal congregation with this course on how to form members toward an outward focus, and then get them outside and into their ministries. September 19 to November 20 you will watch video presentations, engage in small group and individual reflection, and develop an integrative project around your next steps to help your parish look outside the four walls.

$200 per person or $250 for teams of two to four from the same parish. Contact Liz Magill at 617-682-1581 or lmagill@eds.edu for more information. Click here for an informational flyer.