Contents — December 2018

Spirit Volume 10, Issue 4.

In This Issue

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Keeping Watch

Bishop Marty's Address to Diocesan Convention

10 minute read. An abridged version of Bishop Marty's presentation to the Diocesan Convention, delivered on November 3, 2018. Read More 

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Features

Christian Formation

One-minute read. New Christian Formation resources have been developed and are now available. Read More 

Older Entries »

Apollo 8 at 50: In the beginning

five-minute read. On Christmas Eve 1968 the astronauts of Apollo 8 became the first people to orbit the Moon. Read More 

Older Entries »

Equipped and Sent

five-minute read. An eight-month tenure at Holden Village, a Lutheran Community in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State has a lasting effect Read More 

Older Entries »

We Are Members of One Another

15 minute read. Part three on Deepening Your Relationship with God by Worshiping with Other Faiths. What can we learn from how other faiths worship? Read More 

Older Entries »

Three Months (30 Days) In India

15 minute read. Ministry can take on many forms. In 2015 Julia Taylor embarked on what she thought was to be a three month stay in India, working at the NRI General Hospital, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India with Project Hope. Read More 

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Diocesan Convention

2019 Plan for Ministry

10 minute read. A copy of the slides presented by Tom Kokjer, Diocesan Treasurer to the 2018 Diocesan Convention. Read More 

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Building Community in West Missouri

15 Minute video. People from across the diocese tell their stories of how diocesan grants and funds are being used in their ministries and outreach. View Video 

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2018 Gathering Presentations

Five-minute read. Brief notes and useful links relating to the three Diocesan Convention Gathering presentations. Read More 

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Diocesan Convention in Pictures

Five-minute read. The people and events of the 129th convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Read More 

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Youth

Bishop's Ball and Youth Awards 2018

Five-minute read. Christ Episcopal Church Springfield hosted this year's Bishop's Ball on Saturday November 3. There was good food, awards, and dancing to be enjoyed. Read More 

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News

New Deacons

15 minute read. Five transitional deacons were ordained at the opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Find out more about them. Read More 

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Fall Confirmations at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

Two-minute read. Saturday October 20. Area Confirmations at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Read More 

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Fall Confirmations at St. James, Springfield

Two-minute read. Thursday November 1. Area Confirmations at St. James, Springfield.  Read More 

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Christ Church, Warrensburg Celebrates 150 years

Two-minute read. On October 28 Christ Episcopal Church Warrensburg Celebrated their 150th Anniversary. Read More 

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Blessing Bags for Local Police

One-minute read. St. Stephen's Monett filled ten Blessing Bags for police to give to the homeless. Read More 

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About

How to contact us, submit articles & pictures  About Spirit 

Directory

A directory of all the churches in the diocese  Directory 

Bishop Marty’s Address to Diocesan Convention

An abridged version of Bishop Marty’s presentation to the Diocesan Convention, delivered on November 3, 2018.

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field Ten-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty Addressing the 2018 Diocesan Convention. Image credit: Gary Allman

Did you know that we haven’t always referred to the United States the way we do now? Historian Shelby Foote says: “Before the War between the States, people commonly referred to “the United States are”, in the plural. After the Civil War, people began to refer to “the United States is”, in the singular. The older, plural language was still in use when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1865: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Before the war, states were tied loosely and most believed they could stand alone, choosing to be in union or not. After the war, a new identity emerged; the nation came to believe that our union is “indivisible”. Before the war, people believed their highest loyalty was to their state. After the war, our identity as Americans became foremost in our political self-understanding.

Before the war, the idea that this nation shall provide “liberty and justice for all” was only genuinely true for white males. After the war, majority opinion and new codes of law identified that certain rights are sacred, such as the right to be free from enslavement, the right to vote, and the right to citizenship if you are born here and a path to citizenship if you come here. Certainly these “inalienable rights” were embraced earlier, at the founding of the country, but it took the upheavals of the Civil War to inaugurate change. The War between the States triggered an evolution in that deep-rooted and seemingly immoveable system of privilege, renewing the march to build a nation that lives out its values.
From our distant point of view, far removed from the Civil War era, we might not be aware how profound those changes were. Nevertheless, they were very real and shaped who we are and want to become.

Now here’s the parallel.

The theme for this year’s convention asks us to make a similar change. The theme is: “Called in. Sent out. One Ministry in West Missouri”. This theme suggests the question: what it means to be a diocese and to be one ministry?

A diocese is a group of congregations bound in community by a covenant of mutual support. If we are bound together, we must think of ourselves as one — one Church, one effort, one ministry pursuing God’s mission in the land we call West Missouri.

Now, here’s why I started with the history lesson. If we don’t think of ourselves as in this together, as depending on one another, easing one another’s burdens, helping one another make disciples, then we are in our pre-Civil War period. We are 48 “states” without a larger identity or commitment, and we will remain competitors rather than one another’s servants.

My challenge to you is this: be One Ministry in West Missouri. Be one ministry that serves God and God’s children in the 48 mission outposts of the diocese. Avoid the temptation to assume that your needs as more crucial than the needs of your brother parishes and sister congregations.

The lesson of the Civil War is that union works better than disunion. Togetherness works better than selfish individuality. And sharing works better than hoarding. The good news for us is this: we’re doing just that.

In traveling the diocese and visiting with many of you, I sense changes in our common life. We are becoming less siloed and more connected. We are getting to know one another and to enjoy one another’s company, across the virtual barriers we erect around our parochial communities. Communities are reaching out. Big parishes are learning about the challenges and joys of little parishes, and vice versa. Deanery Councils are becoming vehicles whereby best practices and good ideas are shared and supported, where outreach is taken up by partnerships of interested individuals, or by groups of parishes in league, or by whole deaneries. And our Deanery Councils are becoming places where discussions take place about how to work in the field of ripe and plentiful harvest.

When the touch of God’s call is discerned, parishes are calling their best and brightest into Christian service, sharing with those persons what they see God doing in those lives. Leaders to lead the parishes and the diocese are coming forward and being readied for their service locally and also (as always) at more traditional places of higher learning.

Under the excellent leadership of the Diocesan Council, and the consent of this convention, we are moving into a new era of equitable and holy stewardship of God’s resources … meaning of course the resources God has placed into the hands of parishes and, through parishes, into the hands of diocesan leaders whose aim is the collective good of all. We are emphasizing both efficient use of monetary and human resources along with faithful use of these resources. Which is important because efficient and faithful needn’t be in competition.

I sense that we are melding into the body of Christ … as St. Paul envisioned when he penned his famous metaphor in the 12th chapter of First Corinthians:

1212Just as the body is one and has many members … so it is with Christ …

14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” … 24 … God has so arranged the body … 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

We often associate this metaphor with parishes; think how it applies to a diocese. None of us can say we have no need of another. And we aren’t. I see us growing to appreciative of one another’s gifts, of the work one parish does, or another deanery accomplishes. And this is what it means to be One Ministry in West Missouri. Interestingly, after Paul writes about being many members of one body, the very next thing he writes to the Corinthians is his famous chapter on love, the 13th chapter:

1231…Let me show you a still more excellent way.
 

13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends. … 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Be one body, with all your many gifts and abilities, because that is the way of love!

And oh! what fruits we will bear when we walk the way of love and unity and covenant and mutual support! We will lift each other up to be vital places, thriving communities, caring for one another, reaching a wounded world, and modeling what the Creator wants to accomplish for us, for all of creation, and for those not yet born.

Our Presiding Bishop reminds us that Jesus came to change the world, and to change us. He came into the nightmare this world can so often be so that it might become again the dream that God intended before the world was ever made or the universe was cast into the void.

Jesus came to start a movement, and we are that movement in West Missouri when we act as one and are One Ministry. When we work together we are a dynamic force advancing the Jesus’ Movement. When we are a diocese with one heart, one soul, and one mind, then, we are at our best.

Now may God be praised. May Jesus’ movement catch the fire of the Holy Spirit and grow. And may the Diocese of West Missouri – in each of its 48 mission outposts – bring the light of the Gospel into the lives of their neighbors and communities.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Recording of Bishop Marty’s Address

Here’s a recording of Bishop Marty’s address in full (26 Minutes).

The Rt. Rev. Martin Scott Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.

Christian Formation

New Christian Formation resources have been developed and are now available.

Kim Snodgrass One-minute read.   Resources

Christian Formation Booth at Diocesan Convention Image: Gary Allman

We want you to get excited about formation! The Christian Formation Office is here to provide the support you need for Children, Youth, Young Adults, Adults and Generations in community together. 

Click on Christian Formation at diowestmo.org to find a collection of recommended resources and tools. Our intent is to simplify your research and organize the wealth of information available online today into a single source for individuals, families and congregations.

Kim Snodgrass (second from left) with delegates from Grace Carthage at the 2018 Diocesan Convention. Image: Gary Allman

The Ministry Handbook and Confirmation Guide introduced during convention are included!

In addition to managing the resources of this website, the Christian Formation Office is here to walk with you. Let us help you discover the unique tools you are looking for that will help you incorporate a philosophy of formational ministry and serve Christ. Please contact us at  formation@diowestmo.org  and let us know how we can further support you.  

If you have resource reviews, suggestions or can offer up a “best practice” to help others, please send them to Kim Snodgrass.

Kim Snodgrass is Assistant to the Bishop for Christian Formation..

Apollo 8 at 50: In the beginning

On Christmas Eve 1968 the astronauts of Apollo 8 became the first people to orbit the Moon.

The Rev. Mark W. Ohlemeier Five-minute read.   Resources

Earth Rising. Image credit: NASA

On Christmas Eve in 1968, three American astronauts became the first human beings to travel to another world. The Apollo 8 crew — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders — had made the quarter-million mile journey from the Earth to the Moon, a hazardous voyage through the deadly vacuum of space. Even though this mission would be overshadowed seven months later by the first manned Moon landing, the flight of Apollo 8 was a remarkable technological achievement. And it was made even more memorable by the way in which the crew decided to mark this historic event.

The astronauts wanted to do something special during their live television broadcast from lunar orbit, and had been contemplating it for weeks prior to the mission. They considered several different ideas, such as rewriting the words to “Jingle Bells” or “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” with a space-moon theme, but that idea didn’t seem to fit the occasion. They attempted to draft a message of world peace, but everything they came up with seemed too hollow. Just a few days before launch, however, they knew that their dilemma was solved thanks to a suggestion made by a friend of the crew.

As the Apollo 8 spacecraft circled the Moon on that Christmas Eve, millions of people on Earth tuned in to witness the broadcast. The astronauts pointed out the contrast between the lifeless surface below them and the tiny, blue orb outside their window that was home to all known life in the universe. Then, each man took a turn reading the first few verses from the book of Genesis:

1 In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, …

These mortal men, as they moved through the dark void of space, had an unprecedented view of creation and chose to mark the occasion by praising the work of the Creator.

The year 1968 was a troubled time in American history: the conflict in Vietnam was still raging; riots at the Democratic National Convention and elsewhere had caused millions in damage; and the country reeled from the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. But the mission of Apollo 8 and its message from the Moon offered hope to a divided country and an uncertain world. Fifty years later, while we face our own conditions of national and global anxiety, we can reflect upon the mission of Apollo 8 as a time when the world came together as one, if only for a brief moment, as the crew wished everyone “good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.”  

The Rev. Mark W. Ohlemeier serves as Assistant Rector at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield, Missouri.

Equipped and Sent

An eight-month tenure at Holden Village, a Lutheran Community in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State has a lasting effect.

Mary Chiles Five-minute read.   Resources

Holden Village Dining Hall Millerj870 [Public domain]

For eight months in 2012, my husband, Mike, and I were on the staff of an alpine dreamland. Holden Village, a Christian retreat center housing 500 persons, was situated in the Wenatchee National Forest in the middle of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Snow-capped peaks surrounded historic dwellings of the former mining village built in 1938. Rustic footbridges traversed the mountain stream that practically sang as it flowed through the Village. It was like living in a Christmas card.

We lived together in Christian Community. We worshiped together daily. There were artists and musicians. Theologians and children as well as retirees and recent college graduates engaged in conversation. High school church groups from around the country came to groom wilderness trails by day and play pool by night.

Our work conflicts were framed in the idea that as Christians, God enabled us to forgive one another as we walked through encounters with one another in an isolated setting. We ate together. Lifelong friendships forged around rousing table talk and challenging ideas. We laughed and cried together.

It was hard to leave. Often people thought that the communal dining, hiking, and worship were so unique, so lovely, that they should stay forever.

But it was not to be. This was a place to soak in practical world changing theology for the very purpose of leaving in order to be the Church in the world.

The express intention of the place was that we were equipped to be sent.

The Eucharist is like that. We come to kneel in a beautiful setting. Hundreds, often those we have known and loved, have knelt to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at that very spot. It is a liturgical wonderland. There are babies and elders. The choir and congregation sing as we receive. The physical surroundings are exquisite. We are connected in community through our common meal and Lord.

It’s such a holy place. I don’t want to go. And yet—the express intention of that place is to equip me to be sent.

Before we go we ask God,

… Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen. Post-Communion Prayer, Book of Common Prayer, p. 365.

Equipped and ready to be sent.  

Mary Chiles serves on the vestry at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield Missouri.

We Are Members of One Another

Part three on Deepening Your Relationship with God by Worshiping with Other Faiths. What can we learn from how other faiths worship?

Carolyn B Thompson 15 minute read.   Resources

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 Image: Gary Allman

After one Sunday morning service a pastor said to me, “We’re doing something wrong. We’re not growing. What you’ve seen at other churches and faith traditions could help us.” I said I’d love to talk about ‘The Thing’s I’ve learned, whenever the pastor had time. Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about that request. I’d seen so many things, and before I knew it, the concise answer was there — thank you God, as usual, for providing me an answer before I even asked You.

For me, successful faith communities have the following three key attributes:

  • Dynamic preaching, with the homily/message/sermon including clear to-do’s;
  • Inspiring and interactive music;
  • ‘The Thing’– that ‘something’ — a congregation needs, that is promoted within and outside the community.

My first two articles were very much about what I gained and learned from my experiences worshiping with other faiths. This article is first, a filtering of what I’ve experienced around the question – what makes a faith community successful? And second, it puts words to what I have seen, the actual, specific things faith communities do, that made me feel they were successful. It comes from the many places of worship I’ve visited as an outsider over the past two years.

Needless to say, these are my personal conclusions, and I hope that there is something useful here for everyone to take away. Whether you are: just sitting in the pews, vestry members, worship leaders, clergy, or musicians. I offer these observations in the hope that they can help you strengthen your community by talking about them, making comparisons, and by implementing anything that might be appropriate to your situation.

Dynamic preaching, with the homily/message/sermon including clear to-do’s

The people who preach exhibit massive body and vocal energy. And energy does not equal volume, but it does include changes in volume and pace – like when needing to exhibit calmness or compassion, and pauses for emphasis as well as hand and body movements even facial expressions that illustrate the point:

  • they are incredible storytellers – the stories are told in such detail you can see what they’re talking about unfolding, they use humor and jokes when they fit the message;
  • the wording in every sermon calls us to apply it to our church and us corporately, not just to us as individuals as most of the sermons I’ve previously heard do;
  • they verbally and physically involve the congregation with questions, and wait for answers;
  • they expect people to take away things to do. The churches enable this by giving people a place to write what they’ll do. For example, small cards or a blank page in the bulletin.

I’ve seen many successful styles that caused the congregation’s eyes to be glued on the preacher, including one that was an hour-long sermon – I was shocked when I saw the time, it had just flown by.

Inspiring and Interactive Music

This is not about the genre of music or how skilled the musicians are, though those do inspire us. We each have very different tastes and if it’s not to your liking you likely won’t feel inspired, and then won’t want to interact with the music. 

This is about music in which the words tell a meaningful story about our relationship with God:

  • Music and music leaders who create ways to get everyone singing. Lots and lots of music so it becomes clear to people that it’s a method for worship;
  • A song leader or choir to encourage people to join in, use a pitch that most people can sing;
  • Every so often have the congregation choose hymns;
  • Get many people/and not just instrumentalists and choir members involved in the music;
  • Include people outside the congregation – some churches call it “special music”;
  • make the making of music a priority.

I knew that a place of worship I was attending had inspirational and interactive music when I looked around and saw a clearly expectant look on the faces of the congregation. 

Some Examples

  • Repetition: some churches used a piece of music — other than service music — over and over, seasonally and as interludes in the service. Over time people even began singing during the instrumental interludes.
  • Catering to different tastes: a church with 3 services chose a different styles of music and a different way to produce music for each service. Another with one service designated different Sunday’s for different styles of music: contemporary, spiritual, camp songs, traditional.
  • Spontaneous singing or music: either from the worship leader, priest, or instrumentalist – I’ve seen this during the sermon, when a prayer is requested. Even on birthdays, and it was very moving because it fit exactly with what was being said at that moment.
  • No instruments: without an organist or instruments you can use recordings designed specifically for this situation, or provided you have the necessary licenses and permissions you can make your own from other sources such as YouTube and play it on a phone or a computer. Some faith traditions don’t allow instruments, but oh do they sing — I was at one where we sang eight hymns and the congregation did it in parts!

The Thing’– That ‘something’ — a congregation needs, that is promoted within and outside the community

It’s easy to tell what ‘The Thing’ is within a few minutes – it’s on their walls, it’s in their formal mission statement, it’s talked about in each sermon, it’s evident in the types of groups and activities they have, and you’ll hear it in informal conversations ; during coffee hour, in side comments at vestry meetings, while passing the Peace – not that you’re supposed to be socializing while passing the Peace, but …

I realize this sounds like I’m only talking about how a church promotes its mission to its community, but most of the churches where I saw this clearly demonstrated had not done a formal assessment to determine what ‘The Thing’ was.  In the vast majority of the examples I give below ‘The Thing’ was realized organically.

That takes listening/discernment of God’s calling as well as the people’s.

Some Examples

  • Something for Everyone: one church with large number of people worked to provide something for every part of the congregation. They worked to bring in every age, race, and socio-economic class. On Sunday morning there were many activities going on from 8 a.m. – noon. There were an even larger number of activities on weekdays. Their main method of promotion was not planned as such, but they had their building used each day of the week by internal and external groups. Hundreds or more people passed through the doors each week — a church may not be huge but it will likely benefit it to be inviting and accepting.
  • Church Buildings: built for all the local community to use in the fulfillment of the church’s mission. Building that are used virtually every day of the week by by the whole community. Part of a sermon one Sunday was a story with this vision and everyone works toward it. This is a church where one sermon made each part of the mission statement come to life and “our life and work together” is mentioned throughout all the other sermons – even when asking for volunteers the words are “so if you want to be a part of________”, as opposed to “I need three people to do ___________”). They are outward thinking and say they “want to make a country, and a world we want to live in.”
  • Involved Membership: Even if only one member is doing something they talk about it as a church activity. They list things in their newsletter and it’s mentioned during the announcements in the service (some project it on a screen before and after service). It’s in the external community paper and on the church’s up-to-date website. Things like – weekly internal/external community dinners; Easter egg hunt and brunch; haircuts for children of parents who can’t afford it just before the first day of school; community craft shows, seasonal/issue-based help to community members.
  • A Vibrant Church Community: you feel instantly that they care for each other and for you. Things like – very specific prayer requests from the congregation, occasionally, so many that they last as long as the sermon; each section of the Prayers of People read by a different person from their seat; prayer requests read by the congregation from a list in unison; people using the announcement time to ask who needs help after an issue (flood, big storm, etc).

In Conclusion

People have spoken to me about what I’m doing – some think I’m brave, some think it’s a wonderful experience, and others think it’s dangerous for me to participate in “other religions”.   These three, very different reactions are exactly what I’m getting out of this!  My objective in participating in different faith communities is to strengthen my relationship with God, with others, and with myself. 

Jesus said it wasn’t going to be easy to be one of his followers, and that people, (some will say the Devil) will try to sway me away from understanding too much.  But I’m also told that the more I understand the more God will reveal to me.  My personal understanding of God has become so much clearer with the teachings of other faith traditions co-mingled in my being.  I am thankful every day for those who speak the truth.

Reading Resources

One visit or experience of a different faith’s worship is not enough to understand all of a faith’s nuances. Imagine the impression you would get if you were to only visit an Episcopal Church on Maundy Thursday! Here are some of the books I read after visiting faith traditions that were radically different to my Episcopalian upbringing. I’ve also included some others I happened upon that had a large impact on my journey.

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and Heart of the Middle East

Written as a fiction, it’s a good explanation of the reason for the Muslim vs Jewish issues.

The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew

Three women search for understanding.

The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent

This put words to why I love being an Episcopalian.

The Life of Mary Baker Eddie

A biography that helped me get the basics of Christian Science.

Learning to Breathe: My Year long Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

Just enough description of Buddhism to get me started.

The Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet

A biography that helped me understand the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Unity: A Quest for Truth

A straightforward description of the ideas behind Unity Church.

God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World

A generic introduction to key religions.

Carolyn B Thompson is a cradle Episcopalian with an unquenchable thirst for more relationship with her beloved Father.

Resources

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Three Months (30 Days) In India

Ministry can take on many forms. In 2015 Julia Taylor embarked on what she thought was to be a three month stay in India, working at the NRI General Hospital, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India with Project Hope.

Julia Taylor 15 minute read.   Resources
Saying Goodbyes. Supplied image

My journey for three months with Project Hope began with two boring days driving to Arizona. After I arrived in Phoenix (the temperature was 105°F) I read the instructions for my trip to India (I thought I had read them several times, but apparently I had only printed them). I discovered that I needed a visa! And antimalarial medicine! I completed my online application for an e-visa and contacted my primary care provider in Ozark who sent a prescription for doxycycline (antimalarial) to Hawaii (my next stop).

With my e-visa approved, but only for 30 days — I could renew it in India (or so I thought) — I left for Honolulu.

I spent five days in Hawaii, and while I was there, I attended church at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral. I went to the 8 a.m. service which is mainly in Hawaiian. It was a special service remembering Prince Albert’s (son of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha) baptism. Because in 1862 the four year old prince had become an honorary member of a fire fighting company, the Honolulu Fire Department was there in uniform and with a fire truck. Hawaii’s governor and first lady were also at the service as well as black gowned descendants of Hawaiian royalty. The school my three daughters attended while we lived in Hawaii, St. Andrew’s Priory, is on the same property as the cathedral so I took a few pictures for them.

All too soon my time in Hawaii was over, and I was up early for my flight. I had a quick walk around Waikiki to say aloha to Oahu and then went to the airport. I was flying China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai and was the only Caucasian passenger. The seat next to me was empty so I enjoyed good food, my Kindle, and some sleep during my ten-hour flight. I had to get a one day visa just to spend eight hours in the airport. I walked a lot during my layover.

My flight to Delhi was almost all men. After we landed I slept in one of few comfortable chairs in the airport. My Kindle continued to supply me with great reading material and I found some tea and pastries when the food court opened at 4:30 a.m. Although there was an earlier flight directly from Delhi to Vijayawada (my final destination), Expedia had booked me through Hyderabad. That added ten hours to my trip. Hyderabad airport had terrible food but there was diet Coke available. There were many heavily veiled women including one with thick black gloves to coordinate with her total body black covering. I watched with interest as she gave her husband money and apparently told him to go buy some food for the children (which he did). Another stereotype slightly damaged! Airport security was now segregated by sexes with full body pat down for everyone. Other than being a very long trip (over 40 hours from Honolulu) it was not a bad experience. There were at least two meals on each leg of the trip and vegetarian options on all.

My destination was definitely not a tourist attraction. On my last two flights I was asked if I were on the right plane. From Shanghai on, I was the only non-Indian passenger.

Vijayawada airport is tiny. I was supposed to be met on arrival. However, my pick up was 90 minutes late. I was beginning to be concerned – it was getting dark and the airport closed after my Air India plane returned to Hyderabad – when my ride with two nurses and a driver arrived. The hour-long ride to the hospital showed that the most important car accessory in India is the horn. The traffic was crazy. Buses, people, motorcycles, three wheeled motorized carts, bicycles and cars. All was chaos but everyone survived. I was housed in the hospital’s “staff quarters.” My room was basic but clean. I had a private bath and shower. The shower was a bucket and small pitcher but I had hot water.

The next day I learned three important things:

  1. The tea was great – just like chai latte.
  2. I was wrong about the visa. It could not be extended. I would have to leave the country and reapply for a new visa. That was not an option since any country near India also requires a visa so I would have to leave India for home in 30 days.
  3. Although the doctors and nurses were taught in English and the hospital officially used English, actually everything was done in Telugu. Even the people who spoke English reasonably well had difficulty understanding me because my American accented English was very different to the Telugu accented English they heard in school.

Hospital

Julia at work. Supplied image

They wanted to assign volunteers to the area in which they were currently working. However, they had no concept of Case Management – arranging for patient care after hospital discharge — In India that is a family responsibility. In fact, unless it is an emergency, patients are not admitted to the hospital without a family member (or neighbor or someone) to care for them. That care giver goes to the pharmacy to buy the medications and supplies the patient needs, provides meals and in general cares for the patient. Some of the hospital wards are 60 beds with only one or two nurses. Family assistance is required. Often entire families stay at the hospital for the totality of the patient’s stay. There are always people sleeping in the hallways. At night the hallways are crowded with families sleeping.

Nurses rotate through three shifts: 8 am – 2:30 p.m., 2 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. – 8:30 a.m. Transportation (or lack of transportation) is the reason for the arrangement of the shifts.

There is no way for nurses to get to or from the hospital at 11 p.m. If it safe to do so, nurses are allowed to sleep during the overnight shift.

The hospital and associated medical and nursing schools were started by Indian doctors originally from that area of India, who had practiced in the United States. The hospital offered a wide range of services including open heart surgeries and renal transplants. Since I had experience in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU – the recovery room) I was assigned there. One of the highlights was attending a nurses’ conference on Stress Management. At the end of the two day program, a yoga master was introduced. After a brief lecture, he led 250 nurses to a large room where we lay on the floor and “relaxed.”

Church

Julia Taylor ‘Preaches’ at Shalem Evangelical Church.
Shalem Evangelical Church. Image: Julia Taylor

One of PACU nurses was the wife of a pastor of a Christian church. Vimala asked if I would attend the church and (I thought) she asked if I would pray for them. Of course, I agreed. Later I learned that I had agreed to preach at the Shalem Evangelical Church. I also learned that I should wear white to church. Santhi, the PACU charge nurse, took me shopping for white church clothes and a sari.

Julia Taylor at Shalem Evangelical Church. Supplied image

That Sunday at the church and I was nervous at the beginning. The congregation was Telugu speaking so everything I said was translated by the pastor. Any Bible verse mentioned was immediately located in their Bibles. The women covered their heads. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the small church. The service was over three hours long and filled with lots of music and enthusiastic singing. Communion in the form of dense bread and a sweet liquid was given to all. Everyone was so gracious and encouraging. It was a wonderful experience.

Hindu Worship

Hospital Shrine. Image: Julia Taylor

In the room across the hall from me was a doctor from Calcutta who was at the hospital to administer tests to the medical students. He was visiting a temple and asked if I would like to go too. The visit was interesting and very confusing. We had to be barefoot. I received a tap on the head with a silver vase, sweet water and a handful of spicy cooked rice. I later learned that food – often rice and small yellow chick peas – is often associated with Hindu worship. The hospital had a temple across from the main lobby and a small shrine in one of the hallways. I often noticed hospital personnel stopping for a few minutes in front of the shrine. It is common for families to have shrines in their homes. At first I thought I had caught a man just coming out of a shower – he had just a towel wrapped around his waist. Later I learned that Hindu men often pray wearing only a prayer towel.

Praying at the hospital shrine. Image: Julia Taylor

There is a trinity of gods in the Hindu belief: Shiva the destroyer, Vishnu the preserver and Brahma the creator (The total number of gods in the Hindu pantheon is difficult to pin down, varying from three to 33 million).

Ganesh in the hospital foyer. Image: Julia Taylor

I knew September 17 was a holiday for some reason, but I could not understand the reason for the holiday. I learned from Wikipedia that it was Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival of the elephant headed god. A temporary shrine to Ganesh was constructed in the hospital lobby. At first the elephant face was covered in newspaper. The priest / monk/ Hindu altar guild member(!?) uncovered the face, dressed the statue in cloth and flowers, poured a sack of rice at feet of Ganesh, then added more flowers and some fruit. All this took about one hour. People came and watched and prayed at the shrine. Within a day the fruit was gone and flowers had wilted. The statue was supposed to remain in place for 10 days However, after three days the statue was moved with great ceremony. There were fireworks, bands, loud speakers, and much dancing as the statue was moved via tractor to the canal where it was “drowned.” Every small community had its own celebration. It was an amazing cultural experience. I danced, was pelted with pink powder (my hair was still pink on my return to the US), had my hands painted with henna and had a wonderful time.

Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. Supplied image

During the four weeks at the hospital I discovered:

  • Banana juice is wonderful!
  • There is life without toilet paper.
  • Plain yogurt with salt is not my idea of great dessert.
  • Putting on a sari is very complex.
  • Hawaii is not crowded. India is crowded!
  • One issue I had never considered – how to keep monkeys from stealing the food you are preparing for dinner.
  • How to drink from a plastic water bottle without my lips touching the bottle (because the bottles are reused multiple times!)
  • Both the rules of cricket and the Hindu beliefs are too complicated for an ordinary human to comprehend.
  • Many Hindus also pray to Jesus.
  • Doxycycline for malaria prevention is hard to take. Every morning I was reminded of morning sickness.
  • My laptop allowed me to listen to the St Louis Cardinals games. The 10.5 hour time difference did make catching all the action almost impossible.
  • “Had your breakfast?” seems to be a greeting similar to “how are you?” Or perhaps everyone was worried that I was starving.
  • In India after a woman gives birth, she gets 84 days paid maternity leave.
  • Everyone eats with their hands. Apparently I was incompetent at this task. Someone usually gave me a spoon after a few minutes.
  • Transportation is normally by three wheeled motorized cart. There was a bench for three passengers. One trip I took carried 11 passengers. It was crowded! Another method of traveling was by motorcycle. I rode as the fourth rider on one. Not necessarily safe but fun.
  • As India is a former member of the British Commonwealth, residents refer to nurses as “sisters”, elevators as “lifts” and lab coats as “aprons”. I was “madame” and the nurses stood up when I came into the room.
  • The only person I saw during my days in Mangalagiri who was lighter skinned than me was an albino Indian man. I got used to stares everywhere I went.
  • I nearly caused a riot in a girls’ orphanage when I brought out bottles of bubbles for the girls.
  • This is a middle-class home (wife is a nurse, husband an accountant): a two room apartment – one bedroom with a double bed for the couple, nine year old daughter and six year old son, squat toilet, no hot water, no oven, no refrigerator, dishes and clothes were washed outside, a motorcycle, and lots of beautiful saris.
“Everyone eats with their hands. Apparently I was incompetent at this task. Someone usually gave me a spoon after a few minutes.” Supplied image

Soon it was 22 September, my last full day in the hospital. Time had gone by so fast. I really was not ready to leave but I had to.

During my brief stay my work accomplishments were:

  • I observed both the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) and the step-down Post-Op ward. For each unit I wrote up my findings and submitted them to the hospital administration.
  • I participated in an EKG class taught by the hospital nursing educator. Later I developed student worksheets for identifying various cardiac rhythms.
  • I created information papers on the ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) medications.

These papers will be used as the hospital develops an ACLS certification class for the ICU and PACU nurses.

“… the PACU nurses dressed me in my sari. I had absolutely no idea how to do it myself.” Supplied image

In the afternoon the PACU nurses dressed me in my sari. I had absolutely no idea how to do it myself. The nurses were really amazed at that I had no experience with a sari.

Dressed like, but not looking like a native resident of India, I made the rounds to say goodbye to the hospital executives. PACU had a party for me complete with a gift of a replica of a Hindu temple and a cake. Apologies were made because my name was spelled wrong on the cake but no one noticed that the cake read “Happy birthday July”. It was the first real dessert I had tasted in over four weeks, and it was very good.

Next I went to a gathering of the head nurses of the hospital who had prepared a farewell gathering for me. There were speeches and refreshments. I was presented with a beautiful cloth (apparently the giving of a cloth is an Indian tradition). One of the comments I heard several times during the good-byes is that it is amazing how long (how old) Americans keep working. Apparently by the time someone in India is my age, he or she spends their days in bed having children and grandchildren wait on them.

Julia on her last day at NRI General Hospital, Mangalagiri. Supplied image

I left clothes including my white church outfit which was now permanently pink and Project Hope t-shirts with the staff. I gave the last of my bubbles to a boy waiting somewhat patiently outside the OBGYN ward and presented an 11-year-old girl hospitalized for electrical burns with a small bottle of hand lotion.

Julia gives an 11-year-old girl hospitalized for electrical burns a small bottle of hand lotion. Supplied image

Early on 23 September I was packed and ready to go. Santhi (the PACU charge nurse) and her husband accompanied me to Vijayawada airport from which I left for a two-hour flight to Delhi.

At Delhi airport I was met by a tour guide and driver, and was delivered to my five-star hotel. I had gone from Spartan living to the lap of luxury. After a lunch of Thai curry (I needed a change from Indian) I had a brow threading, facial and scheduled a hot stone massage for later. There was a fourth floor outdoor pool that overlooks the city and several trendy looking bars. However, I did have time for some culture. I toured the National Museum. There were lots and lots of statues of Hindu gods. Santhi and her husband had given me a print out of what was essentially “Hindu for Dummies”. I planned to study it and then go over the multiple pictures I took at the museum. Hopefully I would be able to link a picture with a god. I also walked around India Gate, the giant memorial for soldiers killed during World War II. Back at the hotel the doorbell for my hotel room rang! It was a bellman who asked if I wanted the turn down service. I declined. Too much luxury too fast might be harmful.

The 75-minute hot stone massage was awesome. And there was fresh fruit in my room! My supper was two bananas and two apples. I did not try walking or running outside the hotel now that I was in a big city. The traffic was unbelievable, and I was lucky not to get run over because I couldn’t figure out which way to look when crossing a street (they drive on the left). I checked out the television stations. The listing identified programs in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and … Australian!

The next day I traveled to Agra – home of the Taj Mahal. The trip took almost four hours and was interrupted only by a 45 minute stop with a man shouting and claiming my driver had hit his car. Somehow it was resolved without involving the police and we continued on our way. We passed a restaurant advertising ‘multi-cuisine pesto bar”. I was sorry we couldn’t stop. We passed a fresh meat market – the goats were waiting at the door to be selected for dinner. I was becoming more vegetarian every day.

The trip took me through rural India for the first time. There were grass huts that I think were for storing crops, not for housing, but I could not be sure. I think I glimpsed an even deeper level of poverty than I had seen previously.

Nevertheless, I proceeded on to my next five-star hotel where one of the many services offered was “astrologer available on request.” Compared to the Western tourists I saw, I was dressed like a very poor country relative or a missionary. I had no other clothes except those I wore in Mangalagiri which is much more restrictive in acceptable fashion than are the cities of Delhi and Agra.

I visited the Taj Mahal. As expected, it was awesome. A few facts:

  • It was built in the seventeenth century by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favorite wife who died at age 39 after her fourteenth pregnancy.
  • He had planned a matching black Taj Mahal for his tomb but that did not happen because the Shah was jailed by his son during the last eight years of his life.
  • The scripts on the front of the building are chapters from the Koran. They are not painted but are made of precious stones.
  • The exterior is cleaned with layers of Pakistani mud which is rinsed with distilled water.
  • The entire building is an amazing work of symmetry and detail – all completed without the aid of a computer.
  • One of the most popular places to have a picture taken is at the “Lady Di” bench, the location where Princess Diana sat and viewed the Taj Mahal when she visited.

One of the newest attractions I visited was the Swaminarayan Akshardham, a ten year old temple which includes boat rides, movie theaters and displays promoting a vegetarian diet. The focus was an 11 foot high gold covered statue of the holy man Swaminarayan. Also on the 100 acre campus (because of the importance of the elephant in Hindu culture and India’s history) are carvings of 148 life sized elephants. Even though I injured several toes walking into recessed lighting (you have to be barefoot in a temple) it was a great experience.

“My hair was still pink on my return to the US.” Supplied image

I finished my time in India with visits to the Red Fort and Agra Fort, both planned by Shah Jahan who designed the Taj Mahal. I also visited a carpet factory and, of course, bought a knotted wool carpet. Hopefully it will go well with the silk carpet I bought in China. I rode in a bicycle rickshaw through the streets of Old Delhi (it was terrifying – so crowded!) and visited the site of Gandhi’s death – he was killed by a fellow Hindu who disagreed with his policy of allowing Muslims to live in India.

I spent my final hours packing and repacking and leaving clothes in my hotel room (hoping that someone could use them and that I would be under the 50 pound weight limit on luggage). At last I was ready for my 15-hour flight from Delhi to Newark, NJ then on to Phoenix and finally a 1,300 mile drive back to Missouri.

I was not certain what my next adventure would be, but I did know that my first priority at home would be to do something about my fluorescent pink-orange hair. Even though it was a reminder of a great time in India, it just wasn’t my style.

This article was originally published as a series of posts on Julia’s personal Facebook account.

Julia Taylor attends Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield, Missouri

2019 Plan for Ministry

A copy of the slides presented by Tom Kokjer, Diocesan Treasurer, to the 2018 Diocesan Convention.

Tom Kokjer Ten-minute read.   Resources

The presentation was followed by a video Building Community in West Missouri which provides examples of how diocesan grants and funds are being used throughout the diocese.

Breakdown of the Ministry Plan

2009 vs 2019

Sources of Income 2009 vs 2019

History of Covenanted Portion Changes

2006 to 2019 Covenanted Portion

What We Learned from the Metrics Work Team

  • The metrics on the Annual Parochial Reports (APR) represent concrete measures of membership, participation and financial support.
  • The metrics on the APR in The Diocese of West Missouri mirror those of The Episcopal Church. For most there is a downward trend over the last several years.
  • The mirroring of national trends is true for both small and large churches.
  • Clergy leadership desires more ‘qualitative’ metrics, not currently considered on the APR.
  • Qualitative measures are more difficult to obtain and often require indirect measures to determine progress.
  • The Diocesan Council is currently engaged in examining the 2019 Plan for Ministry through a more qualitative lens to better drive desirable impact for the parishes across the diocese.

Comparing The Diocese of West Missouri to Similar Dioceses

Examples of Qualitative Lenses

From Natural Church Development by: Schwartz

  1. Empowering Leadership
  2. Gift Based Ministry
  3. Passionate Spirituality
  4. Effective Structures
  5. Inspiring Worship Services
  6. Holistic small groups
  7. Need–oriented Evangelism
  8. Loving Relationships

Detailed Breakdown

Breakdown of Administration & Governance

Significant Changes to Draft Budget

  • $68k in new budget reductions
  • $71k increase in investment income with utilization of Expansion Fund
  • Salary, wage & benefits include 1.5% COLA adjustment and 8.5% increase in health insurance expense.
  • $214k reduction (15%) in covenanted portions versus status quo.
    • Parochial reports positive
    • Investment performance positive

2019 Covenanted Portion Formula

  • Formula uses Operating Revenue less outreach for the prior two years.  The base is either the average of the two years or the prior year, whichever is lower.
  • The calculation on the base is:
    • 10.52% of the first $50,000
    • 11.37% of the next $50,000
    • 12.22% of the next $50,000
    • 13.92% on anything over $150,000      

Tom Kokjer is the Diocesan Treasurer.

Building Community in West Missouri

People from across the diocese tell their stories of how diocesan grants and funds are being used in their ministries and outreach.

Gary Allman 15 minute read.   Resources

2018 Gathering Presentations

Brief notes and useful links relating to the three Diocesan Convention Gathering presentations.

Five-minute read.   Resources

What We’re Learning About The Episcopal Church That Can Help Us Grow Spiritually

The Rev. Jay Sidebotham discusses where the church is going. Image: Gary Allman

The church, that wonderful and sacred mystery, is a community brought together by grace, as gift, not because of what church members have done, but because of what God has done in Christ. And the grace is just the starting point. The story doesn’t end there. As Annie Lamott says, the grace of God loves us enough to meet us where we are, but loves us too much to leave us there. So let me pose a few questions we must ask, prompted by the letter to the Ephesians: What is the way of life that lies before us? What is that way for our congregations, for our leaders, lay and clergy? What is the way for each person’s spiritual journey?

Resources

Inspiring Legacy Giving

John Hoskins provides information on establishing legacy giving. Image: Gary Allman

No additional information on legacy giving was available at the time of publishing. We’ll update this article when details are available.

Human Trafficking and the Sex Industry:  A Moral Challenge For The Church

Brittany Zampella details the horrific number of people involved in human trafficking. Image: Donna Field

Our Diocesan Convention was blessed to have Brittany Zampella as our speaker on Sex Trafficking.   She delivered an impassioned presentation imploring individuals to become aware of the “insidious injustice” of sex trafficking and the damage it does to trafficked victims, their families and our society.  Brittany emphasized the importance of abolishing the entire sex industry if we hope to rid ourselves of the horrific evil of young girls and women trafficked for the sole purpose of greed and male sexual gratification. 

Attendees were leaving the room after her presentation shaking their heads in disbelief that the problem of sex trafficking was so severe. Bravo and thanks to Brittany for a making a complex subject understandable. A  job well done. 

Mike McDonnell

Diocesan Convention in Pictures

The people and events of the 129th convention of The Diocese of West Missouri.

Five-minute read.   Resources

Friday, November 2. It wouldn’t be a diocesan convention if we didn’t take a group picture of all the assembled clergy (and clergy to be). Image: Gary Allman

People

Donna Parker, St. Mary Magdalene, and the Rev. Kary Man, Priest in Charge at Trinity Independence. Image: Gary Allman

The Gathering

The Rev. Jay Sidebotham discusses where the church is going. Image: Gary Allman

Convention Eucharist and Ordinations

Opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of the Diocese of West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

Banquet

Convention Banquet. Image: Donna Field

Business Session

Fr. Sid gets elected (we’re not sure what for…) Image: Gary Allman

Bishop’s Ball and Youth Awards 2018

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

Award Winners Image: Gary Allman

Christ Episcopal Church Springfield hosted this year’s Bishop’s Ball on Saturday November 3. There was good food, awards, and dancing to be enjoyed.

Awards

Above and Beyond Youth – Liam McKeown. Presented by Meredith Seaton. Image: Gary Allman

Outstanding Adult Volunteer – Frank Miller. Presented by Rosie Garza and Jayme Trader. Image: Gary Allman

Outstanding Youth – Jayme Trader, presented by Spencer Orr. Image: Gary Allman

Leaving a Legacy – Natalie Telep, presented by Alexandra Connors. Image: Gary Allman

Outstanding YMC Member – Amanda Colburn, presented by Krista Heuett. Image: Gary Allman

Above and Beyond Adult – Alexandra Connors, presented by Josh Trader. Image: Gary Allman

Purple Cross awarded to Fr. Jonathan Callison, St. Paul’s Kansas City. Presented by Amanda Colburn. Image: Gary Allman

Food

Dancing

Awards over, it’s time for dancing. Image: Gary Allman

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.

Resources

Back to Contents

New Deacons

Five transitional deacons were ordained at the opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Find out more about them.

Gary Allman 15 minute read.   Resources

Friday, November 2. (L-R) The Rev. Bradley Heuett, the Rev. Marco Serrano, the Rev. Chandler Jackson, the Rev. Sean Kim, and the Rev Jeff Hurst with the Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field at the opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

The Rev. Brad Heuett

Friday, November 2. Ordination to the diaconate of Bradley Heuett (Nearest to the camera), William Hurst, Chandler Jackson, Sean Kim, Marco Serrano at the opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

I was born in Trenton, Missouri where I spent most of my growing years. I moved to Springfield in 1998 to further my higher education at Southwest Missouri State University now known as Missouri State University. While attending classes, I was fortunate to meet my wife Krista of eighteen years. We have been truly blessed by God who has given us two boys Jacob (16) and Hunter (13). We currently reside in Ozark and enjoy movies, games, and experiencing new cuisines.

One of the most important aspects
of life that I hold dear is knowledge, and I think that we should always look
for educational opportunities. I would consider myself a professional student,
and I find myself fulfilled while sitting in a classroom. I have attended many
higher-level institutions in search of knowledge and even more programs which
offer certifications in a wide array of topics. I have acquired degrees in
communication, respiratory therapy, and general education. The licenses,
certifications, and training that I have been fortunate to attain range from
Presbyteral studies, conflict and dispute resolution, mediation, Certified
Respiratory Therapist, CPR instructor, and heavy track operator.

Along with my education, I have also had broad employment experiences. I have worked in many construction fields, sales, education, combat arms, and medical. My most prominent employment experience came while serving in the U.S. Army. In 2003, I enlisted and deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraq as a Combat Engineer, and after returning home, I changed jobs to Respiratory Therapy. I finished my military career working with patients at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Not long afterward, I received what I know now as my call to ministry. In a split second, I was overcome with and became aware of all of the suffering, strife, and distress of God’s children as well as the anger I was holding in my own heart. In that moment of desperation and with tears in my eyes, I dropped to my knees and prayed for God’s guidance. The next day my search began for a reason for what I saw and felt. It took time, but it didn’t take long for me to be made aware of my path and that with God’s help, I can make a difference. I am most excited to begin my new career as a clergy member of the Episcopal church while learning how I can serve the less fortunate and spread the love of God wherever I am called.

The Rev. Jeff Hurst

Deacons Jeff Hurst,Chandler Jackson, Sean Kim, Bradley Heuett, and Marco Serrano prepare to dismiss those in attendance at the opening Eucharist of the 129th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

I am originally from Southern, Illinois and grew up in a small town of Coulterville, Illinois which had a population of 1,200 souls. My family was Methodist, and I came to experience Jesus Christ at a young age. However, it was not until the end of my junior year in high school that I took my personal discipleship seriously. Through the guidance of my Methodist pastor, Rev. Ralph Anderson, I accepted a call from God to pastoral ministry in 1974. After graduating from high school, I attended a bible college, a liberal arts college, and finally seminary, and began serving small parishes in the United Methodist Church. I served seven churches in the UMC over a span of 17 years. In 2002, my family and I were tired of the mandatory and constant relocating, so I left the UMC. .

My wife Brenda and I moved to the Kansas City area in 2006 and
worked briefly with a church ministry in overseas missions until 2009. We both
began working for the Park Hill School District in 2007 and continue working there
today.

Having sensed a call to return to pastoral ministry for many
years, in late 2014 my wife Brenda and I began exploring the Anglican way of
life and worship. We found our way to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City,
Missouri in August of 2015, and were confirmed in November by Bishop Marty. I
began my studies at BKSM in September of 2015 and graduated in May of 2018. It
was thrilling to be ordained as a transitional deacon at our recent diocesan
convention!

In the next 6 months, I look forward to being ordained a
priest in Christ’s holy church where I can better magnify the Sacramental
nature of worship, daily Christian life, and ministry. I can’t forget that John
Wesley, the founder of the Methodist societies, was an ordained Anglican priest
his entire life and ministry. In a way, I feel I will have come full circle
when I’m ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.

I deeply appreciate the acceptance and love we have experienced from the members at St. Mary’s Church as well as from Christ Church in St. Joseph where I’m privileged to serve for a while as a transitional deacon.

The Rev. Chandler Jackson

The Rev. Chandler Jackson gives Communion to the Rev. Paula Lively. Image: Gary Allman

Like many, my path to ordination was not a simple, straightforward journey. It took many twists and turns. My father was an Episcopal priest, graduating from seminary when I was six years old. Growing up, I was very active in the church, but wanted no part of ministry. In fact, I told God I would do anything else: music, teach, anything but pastoral ministry. Ah, but our God has a sense of humor.

During my brief stint in the Navy, I met a young lady who was of another denomination. Like most guys, I followed her and ended up becoming a minister of music in that denomination. That was fine, no pastoral ministry. Of course, I was asked to take a church, but I declined; Not my calling. After her death at a young age, I found my way back to the Episcopal Church and served the church in many capacities: music, Sunday School teacher, and a whole lot more. I worked at colleges and universities for 30 years as a librarian and professor (that teaching thing again) and sang in professional choirs, but avoided pastoral work at all costs.

Then came a fateful Monday evening. I was at the church to
lead evening prayer. As happened occasionally, no one showed up, so I said the
Office by myself. As I was going around turning off lights and locking doors, I
felt restrained from leaving the sanctuary. I sat down in the back of the
church and was puzzled. After some prayer, I left the sanctuary and made it
into the parish hall before I was compelled to return to the sanctuary and more
prayer. After third try and finally telling God I would talk to my rector the
next day, I felt free to leave. God had finally gotten through my thick skull
and let me know I couldn’t run from ministry any more.

Due to several factors, I moved to Springfield and began attending Christ Episcopal Church. After some time, I felt it was time to meet with Fr. Ken Chumbley, our rector, and let him in on God’s plan for my life. After going through the discernment process, I enrolled in BKSM in the Anglican Studies program. A little weird for a cradle Episcopalian, but my ministry formation had been in another denomination, so it made sense. I graduated last spring and am glad to be finally pursuing the vocation God called me to decades ago.

The Rev. Sean Kim

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field lays hands upon Sean Kim Image: Gary Allman

My path to the ordained ministry has been a long, circuitous journey. I first felt the call in college and marched off to seminary upon graduation. But while in seminary, I soon discovered that my understanding of ministry was narrow and limited; I basically thought that all I had to do was preach once a week (my Presbyterian background may be partly to blame). When I learned about the other responsibilities, especially providing pastoral care to the sick and dying, I realized that I lacked the emotional maturity and commitment. At the same time, I was drawn more to academics and decided to pursue a career as a historian.

While
in Boston for graduate school, I found my spiritual home in the Episcopal
Church. Trinity Church was near my apartment, and I fell in love with the
beautiful liturgy. I eventually joined the Church of the Advent, an
Anglo-Catholic parish. The liturgy first drew me to the Episcopal Church, but
far more important for me than even the liturgy were the people whom I met.
Nowhere else had I experienced the kind of profound and authentic sense of
community that I encountered in the Episcopal Church. Here was the Body of
Christ.

Fourteen
years ago I returned to the Kansas City area, where I had grown up, to teach
Asian and world history at the University of Central Missouri. St. Andrew’s in
Kansas City became my home parish. As I became involved in the life of the
church through its many ministries, I began to feel the call to ordained
ministry again. This time, however, the call came through those around me – the
voices of fellow parishioners and the clergy. After an extended period of
discernment, I decided to take up the call to the bi-vocational priesthood.

In
preparation, I studied at the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM), focusing
on Anglicanism and other areas missing in my previous seminary education. It
was exciting to be in school again. I especially appreciated the intellectual
rigor and the powerful bonds of community at BKSM. Another formative experience
was my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas
City, where I learned what it means to provide pastoral care at some of life’s
most difficult moments.

Before being ordained to the transitional diaconate at diocesan convention, I served as an intern at Christ Church Warrensburg. Currently, I am serving as a deacon at St. Anne’s in Lee’s Summit. It has been an extraordinary blessing to share in the life of the loving, vibrant communities at St. Andrew’s, Christ Church, and St. Anne’s. Looking ahead, I am not sure where I will be serving after my ordination to the priesthood; I am open to the Spirit’s leading.

The Rev. Marco Serrano

Marco Serrano (nearest to the camera). Image: Donna Field

Being raised in the church, I first discerned a call to ordained ministry when I was 17 years old. I was not a member of the Episcopal Church at the time, and I really did not have any idea what ordained ministry might mean for me or my life. And so, while I knew that I loved God and very much wanted to serve the Church, the path to ordained ministry was unsurprisingly not a straight line.

Part of my calling and vocation has been a deep and
longstanding desire to serve at-risk and vulnerable populations, and I took
that passion with me to law school. While I am grateful for the chance to study
and practice law — and my hope is to integrate all my training into a singular
vocation — I sensed after law school that I was yearning for something deeper.

God was patiently guiding me to the beauty of Anglicanism.
During law school, I lived across the street from an Episcopal church. At my
first job, I again lived across the street from an Episcopal church. And while
it took a bit of time, I eventually got the hint and fell in love with the
liturgy and reverence of Anglican worship. As I did so, my call to ministry was
reawakened.

By the grace of God, I have re-learned and remembered that the harvest is indeed plentiful, and that the joys and sacrifices of ordained ministry form a very high call. It has been a singular privilege to join The Diocese of West Missouri in its mission to be God’s loving and beloved community in this time and place. And I anticipate both challenges and triumphs as I seek to serve and love the people of God. Soli Deo gloria.   

(L-R) The Rev. Marco Serrano, the Rev. Sean Kim,., the Rev. Chandler Jackson, the Rev. Bradley Heuett, and the Rev Jeff Hurst. Image: Donna Field

Fall Confirmations at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

Gary Zumwalt Two-minute read.   Resources

Saturday October 20. Area Confirmations at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Image: Gary Zumwalt

On Saturday October 20, 2018, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City hosted diocesan Area Confirmations. Taking part were members of Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia; Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City; Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City.

Those Being Confirmed

  • Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia: Stephanie Ellen Hull.
  • Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City: Russell Suhr, Norman Todd.
  • St. Mary’s Kansas City: Clarence Franklin, Jr., Chad Hunter.
  • Church of the Redeemer: Travis Whetstine, Julieann Hunter.

Those Being Received

  • St. Mary’s Kansas City: E.L. Darling, Michael Ritzel.
  • Church of the Redeemer: Virginia Blevins, John Blevins, Shelli Pierjok.

Gary Zumwalt is a member of the Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs. He volunteers his time and talents to document diocesan events in pictures.

Fall Confirmations at St. James, Springfield

Gary Allman Two-minute read.   Resources

Thursday November 1, Area Confirmations at St. James Episcopal Church, Springfield. Image: Gary Allman

On Thursday November 1, 2018, St. James Episcopal Church, Springfield hosted diocesan Area Confirmations. Taking part were members of St. James Episcopal Church, Springfield; St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Ozark; Shepherd of the Hills, Branson; St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Monett; Trinity Episcopal Church, Lebanon.

Those Being Confirmed

  • St. James, Springfield: Matt Hopper, Reidar Hammond, Julie Giggoly, Tatum Trader, Asha Tharakan.
  • St. Matthew’s, Ozark: Alica Thomas.
  • Shepherd of the Hills, Branson: Blake Smith, Cinnamon Smith.
  • St. Stephen’s, Monett: Kayla Christen, Missy Jones.
  • Trinity, Lebanon: Tiffany Elkins, Joshua Sherrer.

Those Being Received

  • St. James, Springfield: Robert Jackson.
  • St. Matthew’s, Ozark: Laura Rushing
  • Shepherd of the Hills, Branson: Daniel Crawford
  • Trinity, Lebanon: Cody Elkins.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.

Christ Church, Warrensburg Celebrates 150 years

On October 28 Christ Episcopal Church Warrensburg Celebrated their 150th Anniversary.

Julie Johnson Two-minute read.   Resources

Christ Church Warrensburg 150th Anniversary cake. Image: Julie Johnson

Christ Episcopal Church began as a small number of faithful followers in 1857 who gathered to worship, then grew to an organized congregation on May 28, 1868. A wooden structure was built in 1872 and later sold in 1892.

Ground was broken for the current native limestone church in 1893, with the cornerstone being laid in 1899.

Christ Episcopal Church is located in the heart of Warrensburg in Johnson County, Missouri.

Julie Johnson is Clerk of the Vestry at Christ Episcopal Church, Warrensburg.

Blessing Bags for Local Police

St. Stephen’s Monett filled ten blessing bags for police to give to the homeless.

Linda Schelin One-minute read.   Resources

Assembling Blessing Bags. Supplied Image

St. Stephen’s members put together ten ‘blessing bags’ for their local police to give to the homeless. The bags included a $15 gift card for meals at Monett Family Restaurant, food, hygiene items, and an invitation to worship at St. Stephen’s. The restaurant donated a third of the cost the gift cards.

Linda Schelin is a member at St. Stephen’s Monett.

Contents — September 2018

Spirit Volume 10, Issue 3.

In This Issue

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Editor’s Letter

Of Sorrow, Of Joy

10 minute read. Sorrow in how people, and men specifically treat the people around them, and Joy at the celebrations of church life that we hold throughout the year within the diocese. Read More 

Older Entries »

Keeping Watch

Epic Tales and the Diocesan Convention

8 minute read. What is an epic story? What makes an epic story epic? And how does that link to the Diocesan Convention? Read More 

Older Entries »

Features

A New Curacy Program to Attract Younger Priests

10 minute read. In the next 3-5 years when one quarter of our seminary prepared priests will retire. The Diocese of West Missouri is actively seeking funding for a new Curacy Program to attract and retain younger clergy. Read More 

Older Entries »

Courses for Licensed Evangelism and Christian Formation Roles

5 minute read. The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry has put together courses to prepare potential licensees in Evangelism and Christian Formation. Read More 

Older Entries »

Clover House, providing space for healing and hope

5 minute read. Clover House is an oasis, providing healing and rest to young women sorely in need of a safe place to stay. Created by Saint Francis Community Services, the program provides restorative, residential care for female adolescent survivors of sex trafficking.  Read More 

Older Entries »

General Convention in Pictures

10 minute read. There's been a lot of words written about the 2018 General Convention in Austin, Texas. Here are the pictures. Read More 

Older Entries »

Five Tips for 'Gifts for Life'

5 minute read. Five personalized ways to support Gifts for Life and spread the word about the good work done by Episcopal Relief & Development. Why not create a ‘ripple effect’ of blessings? Read More 

Older Entries »

The Sexual Immorality of Pornography

15 minute read. Pornography seems to have gained a certain amount of legitimacy and respectability. It's not unusual to hear someone (albeit jokingly) refer to their 'porn stash' or questionable online browsing history. The reality is that pornography can create ripples of pain and human suffering that spread out into the world. Read More 

Older Entries »

Youth

New Regional Youth Ministry Coordinators

5 minute read. Meet our two new Regional Youth Coordinators, Krist Heuett and Meredith Seaton Read More 

Older Entries »

Camp WEMO 2018

5 minute read. Here's a rundown on what happened at this year's Camp WEMO. Read More 

Older Entries »

WEMO Youth at General Convention

5 minute read. Twenty-two youth and adults traveled to Austin, Texas when the diocesan youth attended this year's General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Read More 

Older Entries »

MissionPalooza

5 minute read. WEMO Youth's MissionPalooza this year helped out at Wayside Waifs, Nourish KC, Operation Breakthrough, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Synergy, and Unleashed Pet Rescue. Read More 

Older Entries »

News

NERM Day Out

1 minute read. NERM churches visit Warm Springs Ranch Read More 

Older Entries »

September's Ordinations

5 minute read. Kim Taube and Warren Swenson were ordained into the priesthood on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Read More 

Older Entries »

St. Augustine's Celebration of the Renewal of Ministry

5 minute read. St. Augustine's recently held a Celebration of the Renewal of Ministry. Read More 

Older Entries »

About

How to contact us, submit articles & pictures  About Spirit 

Directory

A directory of all the churches in the diocese  Directory 

Of Sorrow, Of Joy

Gary Allman Eight-minute read.   Resources

Quiet Reflection – Convention Chapel 2018 General Convention, Austin, Texas.Image: Gary Allman

Of Sorrow

I noticed some movement across the street from the corner of my eye and I turned to see what it was. It’s a distracting problem when your office is at the front of the building, facing the street.

What I saw was a woman runner jogging down the far side of the road, closely followed by a big dark Buick. She stopped and the vehicle pulled up opposite her. There was a brief exchange across the road, then the woman resumed running, and the car continued following, staying around ten paces behind. In the time it took me to watch the exchange and then get to the outside door, the woman was already a couple of hundred feet away. As I emerged onto the step, the Buick briskly accelerated and disappeared from view. The woman carried on until she, too, disappeared from view as she rounded the corner at the end of the street.

Why did I leave my office? I was going to ask the woman if she was being bothered by the driver of the vehicle, and if I could be of assistance.

It’s tempting to just dismiss this as an exaggerated reaction on my part. Except. Except that I have some very good reasons to believe the woman was being harassed. I could tell by her body language when she stopped and briefly spoke to the driver, by the way the vehicle followed behind her and not by her side. And finally, this is not the first time I’ve heard of this happening.

Both of my step-daughters have had similar experiences, attracting the unwanted, intimidating, attention of men. One has been stalked multiple times by vehicles while out running. This is a young woman who quite happily toured Asia and Ecuador on her own, and yet she feels more at risk here in Springfield. Her sister dislikes using her bike to get to classes because of the comments and cat-calls she receives and she runs in a cemetery near her apartment to avoid being followed.

Why is this happening? Or more to the point, why are we allowing this to happen? My personal opinion is that it comes down to two basic factors. Firstly, the men involved feel empowered to act in the way they do, and secondly, they have precious little respect for women.

I believe that we are all, to an extent, to blame. When we enable boys or men by encouraging or turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior, we are empowering them. I will admit to the latter, by not speaking out against inappropriate remarks, something I suspect most of us, both male and female might be able to admit to. What we need is to do is to set examples, to our children and to other youth, of mutual respect for each other — everyone — and not condone inappropriate behavior by anyone, not even by omission. This is a basic tenet of our fifth baptismal promise:

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

In our homes and churches we have lots of opportunities to influence our children and youth. Trying to change the values and attitude of adults within our reach is harder, but not impossible. Mike McDonnell, member at St. George, Camdenton, and Vice President, Social Justice with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew is passionate about raising awareness of this basic issue of respect. He feels that it is the lack of respect for others, and women in particular, that is at the root of sex trafficking. In his article — The Sexual Immorality of Pornography — Mike talks about the role of men in the demand for pornography, and pornography’s impact on families and sex trafficking. Sex trafficking will be one of the topics discussed at this year’s diocesan convention, and on 30 March 2019 there will be workshop held at St. Andrew’s in Kansas City on the topic.

Footnote. Overtaken by recent news reports, the timing of the above text is purely coincidental (or fortuitous depending on your viewpoint). It was prompted by an event I witnessed in August and the past and present experiences of my stepdaughters. I should also mention that I was a minor contributor to Mike McDonnell’s article on pornography, and that I occasionally don the honorary hat of Communications Director, Social Justice, with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.

Of Joy

WEMO Youth with the diocesan communications director, Gary Allman at the 2018 General Convention. It’s not often that you’ll see me on this side of the camera. Image: Liz Trader

I’ve written before of how I am blessed to be able to attend many of the celebrations that make up the church year: confirmations, ordinations, and installations. (Baptisms are typically a more private affair). This year I was able to add attending the General Convention of The Episcopal Church to that list. Much ink has been spent on the debates and conclusions of the convention, so I’m not going to add to that, but I have shared my experiences in a photo essay. Speaking of General Convention, Hayley Cobb
one of the WEMO Youth Summer Interns has written about the youth’s convention experience.

In closing, I’d like to offer congratulations to the Rev. Warren Swenson and the Rev. Kim Taube who were ordained to the priesthood at St Paul’s in Kansas City, in September. Sadly earlier in the month I missed the installation of Fr. Chas Marks as the new rector of St. Augustine’s, so I’ve stolen a few pictures from their Facebook page to show here, and in recompense, added a couple of pictures I took when I visited St. Augustine’s.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri


Epic Tales and the Diocesan Convention

What is an epic story? What makes an epic story epic? And how does that link to the Diocesan Convention?

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field Eight-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty opening the discussion at the 2018 Summer Church Summit
Image: Gary Allman

The diocese recently held its annual Summer Church Summit. In case you don’t know or were not able to attend, the Summit happens each August, is open to all those who worship in West Missouri churches, and presents constructive ideas for increasing the effectiveness of the witness and outreach of our parishes.

This year’s Summit focused on the needs we have individually, and as eucharistic communities collectively to prepare for our outreach ministries, such as evangelism, advocacy, charity, etc. The premise of the Summit was captured in its theme: “You Can’t Be a Beacon if Your Light Don’t Shine.” What that means is simple and at the same time complex. Unless we are formed in faith and consistently strive to personify the light of Christ, we will fall short as evangelists — as those who share the Faith — as ambassadors for Christ.

At the conclusion of the Summit, the Canon to the Ordinary, The Rev. Dr. Steve Rottgers, and I were musing about the day. It had been a good day. There was a lot of good sharing. Amid our pleasant conversation, we started to think about the attraction of epic stories. There are many epic stories, and each of us probably has a favorite.

What is an epic story? And what makes an epic story epic, rather than just a regular, old story?

An epic story is commonly recognized to be a large body of work (from literature, theater, cinema, etc.) that can be broken down into several smaller stories. The word epic is also applied to be a work that tells a heroic story or relates something courageous, intrepid, or grand. Examples of epic stories from literature would include: Paradise Lost, Beowulf, The Hobbit & the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Ramayana, The Iliad, and more. The Star Wars series is a big production, epic movie with multiple sequels and a sweeping story line.

Crossing over between literary and cinematic worlds would be the aforementioned The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as well as Game of Thrones, and the Harry Potter series of books and movies.

Christian Formation is the internal, intentional process of becoming heroes. Of daily becoming more and more like our hero, Jesus.

People love these stories, and that holds true across all cultures and languages. Heroes remind folk of something big and bold and worthy of their toil and devotion. The courage and triumphs of heroes renew our values, inspire our efforts, and affirm what we understand to be true. Heroes elevate us emotionally; they heal our psychological ills; they build connections between people; they encourage us to transform ourselves for the better; and they call us to become heroes and to help others.

The reason Canon Steve and I got into this conversation is that we realize the Bible is an epic story, and the Bible presents a hero named Jesus who truly fulfills the role of hero. Let me paraphrase what I said a paragraph earlier.

Jesus reminds folk of something big and bold and worthy of their toil and devotion. The courage and triumphs of Jesus renew our values, inspire our efforts, and affirm what we understand to be true. Jesus elevates us emotionally; Jesus heals our psychological ills; Jesus builds connections between people; Jesus encourages us to transform ourselves for the better; and Jesus calls us to become heroes and to help others.

That last line — about becoming heroes — is where the message of the Summer Church Summit intersects with all my babble about heroes and epic stories. You may never have thought of it this way before, but Christian Formation (meaning what we do to build faith) is the internal, intentional process of becoming heroes. Of daily becoming more and more like our hero, Jesus. Of growing into the moral likeness of Jesus. Of letting God seep deeper and deeper into our lives so that the way we interact with the world becomes the way God interacts with the world.

This hero-building process is the only thing that provides us something to share with the individuals we meet and the world communally. If we do not have light, we cannot shine. If we are not filled with living water, we cannot give another a drink. If we are spiritually empty, we cannot guide another to spiritual life.

That is why the theme of last year’s annual, Diocesan Convention was “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose”. The theme recognized that we are called in to be readied to go out. We are called in for discipleship and sent out as apostles of the Good News. That’s what the Church is for. To call us in, to ready us, and to send us out. The institutional Church is not the point or the aim. Spreading the Gospel of Christ Jesus in a world that badly needs God’s love and nurture is the point and our aim.

I fell that this truth is so important that our upcoming, Diocesan Convention (November 3-4 in Springfield) will continue in the same vein with the theme: “Called In. Sent Out. One Ministry in West Missouri”.

Called In – Sent Out. One Ministry in West Missouri

What practices do you have in place that help you day-by-day to open yourself to God that he may seep deeper and deeper into your being? How do you unlock yourself more and more to the Holy Spirit?

And how does your parish or congregation do that? How does your Eucharistic community open itself to God? What are you doing as a community to help those who are open and seeking to deepen their faith, to be readied to serve God in the world, and more fully to respond to the call of God?

At convention, we will learn, talk, and be challenged on this subject much more. Even if you are not a delegate, you are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Scott Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.