Contents – October 2017

Spirit Volume 9, Issue 2.

In This Issue

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Editor’s Letter

New Spirit

Five-minute read. Welcome to the first 'online only' version of Spirit. Read all about it!  Read More 

Keeping Watch

Convention 2017

Five-minute read. Diocesan Gathering & Convention 2017 - our third in 366 days!  Read More 

Features

Reframing “Religion” from Belief to Belonging

10 minute read. The Jesus Movement arises from the sacred Gospel story in which we participate.  Read More 


Can Knowing Other Faiths Deepen Our Own?

10 minute read. Understanding friends from other faiths can enrich our own lives as Christians.  Read More 


Saint John’s Bible Presented to Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

10 minute read. An anonymous donor has made a gift of the entire seven volume heritage edition of the Saint John’s Bible to Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Read More 


Discerning a Call: Deacons in Today's Church

10 minute read. What are deacons? What do they do? Where do they come from? And are you called to become a deacon?  Read More 

News

Bishop Kemper School Offers Resources and Prepares Deacons for Ministry

One-minute read. Workshop for anyone considering a calling to the deaconate.   Read More 


Food Pantry, Necessity Pantry & Christmas Toy/Winter Hats Ministry

Five-minute read St. Michael's, Independence - ministry now offers toys for children up through age sixteen.  Read More 


Absalom Jones Celebration at St. Augustine's, Kansas City

Two-minute read. Photographs of the Absalom Jones Celebration at St. Augustine's, Kansas City.  Read More 


Evangelism Workshop - Kansas City

Five-minute read. Photographs of the Evangelism Workshop at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.  Read More 


Evangelism Workshop – Springfield

Five-minute read. Photographs of the Evangelism Workshop at St. James' Springfield.  Read More 


Bishop Kemper School for Ministry and Nazarene Theological Seminary Enter into Articulation Agreement

Five-minute read. Bishop Kemper School for Ministry has formally entered an Agreement of Cooperation with Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri.   Read More 


Bishop Spencer Place Joins Saint Luke’s Health System

Two-minute read. Formalizing a 21-year affiliation, Bishop Spencer Place is now officially part of Saint Luke’s Health System.  Read More 

Promotion

Bishop Spencer Place

Bishop Spencer Place, an exceptional place in the heart of it all.  Read More 

About

How to contact us, submit articles & pictures  About Spirit 

Directory

A directory of all the churches in the diocese  Directory 

New Spirit

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

Welcome to the first ‘online only’ version of Spirit. Its been a long time in the making. It’s was (and is) a huge project to undertake, and it will evolve as we learn how to get the best from this new format. First and foremost, you can print it if you don’t like reading off of a screen. But, I’m jumping ahead of myself.

Diocesan Communications Director, Gary Allman photographing the ‘Awakening the Spirit’ event. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

I’ll admit to a combination of deep disappointment tinged with anger when the delegates of the Special Convention of the diocese voted to approve a budget that defunded the printing and postage budgets for Spirit. We couldn’t even send the 5,000 families who received the magazine a postcard to explain that there wouldn’t be another print issue.

At the same time I was handed the challenge to produce an online version of Spirit that could be printed. We already produced an online magazine-style version, but unfortunately, while that version could be printed, it wasn’t phone friendly, and 48% of our online readers use their phones to access the diocese online. As that wasn’t going to work, I set about a complete re-design.

Personally, I am very pleased with the result which we’ve been able to put together in — what is in design and development terms — a very short time, and with limited resources.

We’ve tried to keep the general layout and design familiar, and the print version uses bigger print to aid readability. For now, to print a copy just click on the print version in the menu and use your web browser’s print facility. We’ll be looking at adding an easier to use ‘print button’ in the future. You can print the entire magazine, or just individual articles, depending on what you happen to be looking at on your screen. There’s some help here.

An online magazine has great advantages over a print version. We are not limited to a certain number of pages and no longer need to edit text to fit on a page. That means we can publish longer articles, we can include more pictures — over 120 in this issue — and even videos, there are three, see if you can find them! Not needing to meet the stricter demands of magazine print quality, we can now include cell phone photographs. We can provide links to related information that you may find of interest and it is possible for you to search for the things you are interested in. We have also provided a way for you to find articles organized by topic too — spirit.diowestmo.org/topics/

All of this I hope will help bring you all closer together in the community that is The Diocese of West Missouri.

And finally there are two things I really love about the online format. First, if you (or I) spot a mistake after I’ve hit ‘publish’, I can go back and make it right. You can’t do that in print. And, second when I am facing that blank screen and having to write my piece, I don’t have to fill a page. I can write as little or as much as my whim dictates.

I hope you enjoy the new format, please let me know about any problems you have, and keep on submitting news and articles.

In reality this is a double issue – so don’t expect subsequent issues to have as much content! Since the March Issue of Spirit, we’ve held:

There was a lot more going on besides, with several installations of priests which I’ve just not got time to include. And, there is a ‘whole lot more’ covered in the articles of this issue.

As a member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, I’d like to talk about one event in particular.

In September I attended the human trafficking workshop for men held at St. John’s in Springfield. Mike McDonnell — St. George Camdenton, and the Rev. Brian McVey — Church of the Advent, Nashville, Tennessee were the keynote speakers. The meeting was organized by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. I am sad to say, given the importance of the subject, the workshop was quite sparsely attended.

It might be that the worthy men of the diocese do not believe that they can influence human trafficking, or that it impacts their lives. The paper that Mike presented would have opened their eyes, disturbed them, and quite possibly precipitated some in-depth soul searching.

Even more harrowing were the stories of the victims of human trafficking and the criminals behind it, told by Fr. Brian, who has spent many years providing ministry to the victims and perpetrators.

So, I challenge the men of the diocese to take 20 minutes and read Mike’s paper. Next year I shall be inviting Fr. Brian to write an article on Human trafficking from his unique perspective.

I’d like to warn readers that Mike’s paper makes hard reading. It doesn’t pull any punches, and confronts, head on, a topic most people would rather not discuss. Human, and specifically male sexuality. The sad truth is that if we choose to be offended and pretend that this problem doesn’t exist, there cannot be an informed discussion. Without discussion there will be no change.

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

Convention 2017

Diocesan Gathering & Convention 2017 — our third in 366 days!

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


Delegates vote at the Special Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri, June 3, 2017 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Delegates vote at the Special Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri, June 3, 2017 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Image credit: Gary Allman

The Annual Convention of the Diocese of West Missouri is right around the corner. It takes place the first Friday and Saturday of November (the 3rd & 4th) at the Adam’s Pointe Conference Center in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs. What makes this convention unusual is that it is the third time the diocese’s Convention will have met in the last 366 days.

We will do many things at this convention that enable us to carry on our diocesan ministry in an orderly way. We will elect diocesan officers and those who make up our Diocesan Council and Standing Committee. We will also elect members of the Commission on Ministry, Board of Examining Chaplains, Disciplinary Board, and directors for the Board of Bishop Kemper School for Ministry. We will debate and vote on over half a dozen resolutions covering various topics. And we will spend some time in fellowship, and in worship, and in celebration. Two members of our diocese will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons and one will be received into the Priesthood of our Church from the Roman Catholic Church. And that’s not all.

The overarching, critical focus of this convention, … will be on the serious issue of finances

Perhaps, though, the most critical thing we will do is talk, converse, have a dialog with one another. The overarching, critical focus of this convention, like the 2016 Annual Convention and the Special Convention held in June of this year, will be on the serious issue of finances, and more specifically on how we find the right balance of financial commitments to each constituent parts of the diocese, so that all aspects of our diocesan work might receive a fair share that enables each to have an effective ministry for the good of the whole.

This is hard and holy work, the work of stewardship over the many resources God has placed at our disposal to enable the work of the Jesus Movement. Doing this work together, as one diocesan community — not as 48 disparate, unrelated, independent communities — is crucial. I believe that we must engage this work as a unity of parishes and diocesan ministries, or we will not be the Church for which Jesus hoped and prayed:

1711 Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. John 17:11

Jesus prayed for us to be one, to act as one, to remember that the Church (and, I will add, a diocese) is the fundamental, inseparable community of the Church, not separable parts.

In Leadership Boot Camp I teach an introductory class on systems. I introduce systems thinking by referring to cakes and bicycles. Cakes, I tell the classes, are complex. Bicycles are complicated. The difference? A bicycle can be disassembled to its constituent parts, and each part, when disassembled, remains exactly what it is and what it was before the bike was built. A pedal was a pedal before assembly. It’s still a pedal after assembly. The same is true for handlebars, saddles, spokes, wheels, etc. A cake, once assembled, cannot be disassembled into its constituent parts. They have acted upon one another and changed one another permanently.

Let me take you back to St. Paul’s lesson about the Church being the body of Christ, and each member a part of the body. Some are hands, some feet, some ears or eyes, etc. Borrowing from that analogy and making it my own, I would say that the Church is the cake of Christ. Once brought together, the several parts or ingredients can never be again what they were and will invariably have changed one another.The individual members, the parishes, the councils, boards, committees, and all that makes up a diocese — which is the smallest building block of the greater Church — are parts of the cake. We have been brought together by Christ to do Christ’s work together.

Now, we must find the way to be good stewards together. We need to find the right way to allocate the resources of time, talent, and treasure that we have received from God, and to use them in such a way that the missional work of every aspect of our common, diocesan life is supported in a balanced and fair way.

May God give us the wisdom to be faithful stewards of his bounty.

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

A Bishop Promotes a Renewed Jesus Movement

An interview with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Bill Tammeus five-minute read.   Resources


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is Interviewed by Bill Tammeus
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is Interviewed by Bill Tammeus at the Awakening the Spirit in West Missouri at Kansas City Live! Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

When Jesus of Nazareth began his brief (one to three years) ministry, he did not, while on Earth, start a new religion. What he started was a movement to reform certain practices and focuses of Judaism, his religion.

Which is why religion scholars — the best ones, anyway — don’t refer to Jesus’ 12 apostles as Christians. And they say it’s anachronistic to speak of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism until decades after Jesus’ time. The term they most often use to refer to people attracted to the life and message of Jesus in the early years is the Jesus Movement.

Michael B. Curry , presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, thinks it’s time for a renewed Jesus Movement, one that draws its focus and energy from the teachings of Jesus and that de-emphasizes the institutional nature of the church.

Curry was in Kansas City (and Springfield, Missouri) this past weekend for an event called “Awakening the Spirit.” I had a chance to talk with him at the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City before he addressed the crowd there.

“… whether it’s the church or any organization or institution, the further it gets away from its reason for being, the weaker it becomes. And the closer it gets to its reason for being, the stronger it will be.” —
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

“I really believe,” he told me, “that whether it’s the church or any organization or institution, the further it gets away from its reason for being, the weaker it becomes. And the closer it gets to its reason for being, the stronger it will be. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been using the language of the church being a Jesus movement. That’s where the origins are. Jesus began a movement and that movement gathered around him and changed lives.”

For the institutional church, he said, it means “reclaiming who you are. The closer we are to our deepest roots as followers of Jesus of Nazareth I think the more effective we will be in engaging the culture and being a witness in our time.”

I asked him how a church can appeal to people rooted in our 21st Century scientific culture and worldview who struggle to make sense of stories from the gospels about the virgin birth, resurrection, a man who can walk on water and calm stormy seas with a word.

Curry said the thing to do is to focus not on those things but on the loving spirit of Jesus and how we might acquire that same kind of spirit: “Then the kind of life that Jesus lived becomes a possibility for me now.” Rather than getting stuck in arguments about whether Jesus really drove demons out of people or raised Lazarus from the dead, he said, people should try to live in ways that mirror the spirit of Jesus. “That’s a game changer,” he said.

Christianity is really quite simple, he said: “Love God, love thy neighbor. That’s the whole kit and caboodle.”

Curry said he’s “finding a receptivity” to his idea of describing his denomination as “the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. It’s reclaiming who we are in the first place. It’s not actually anything new. It’s going down to our deep roots … This is a cause, a cause that actually changed lives and changed the world for good.”

The Episcopal Church, like such Mainline Protestant churches as the Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians, has seen its membership numbers decline in recent years for a number of reasons, including people who left the church when it began ordaining otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians. That’s what is bringing the United Methodist Church to the edge of schism today, as I wrote about recently here. But the core issue is not about sexuality but about how to interpret the Bible.

So Curry is right to try to return to the center of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ himself. Whether the Episcopal Church as an institution can deliver that message in an effective way — or whether some new forms of messenger are needed — isn’t yet clear. Often across history the institutional church universal (not just the Episcopalians) has been as much a hindrance to the message as a help.

Maybe the Jesus movement Curry is promoting can help to change that.

Bill Tammeus writes about religion and ethics and is a former Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star.

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Reframing “Religion” from Belief to Belonging

The Jesus Movement arises from the sacred Gospel story in which we participate.

Vern Barnet 10 minute read.   Resources


… The Palm Sunday parade, the Maundy Thursday washing of feet, and the Good Friday adoration of the cross … are no more superstitious than a client following a therapist’s suggestion to “place your deceased mother in this chair and tell her how you miss her.” Image credit: Gary Allman

I see crowds of young people arriving at a nearby church as I walk to the bus stop on my way to the Cathedral Sunday mornings. I admire this thriving church’s ministry to my neighborhood.

Doing interfaith work in the community for 35 years convinces me that there ought to be different churches because people have different needs. Different religions are gifts to us, not threats.

Still, I doubt that most young people, whether they attend church or not, are conscious of how our culture frames religion and limits their ways of accessing the most sacred treasures of faith. I worry that we Episcopalians are unintentionally hiding the treasures we cherish. I reckon a good number of the young people I see would be astonished and grateful to learn about our evolving Episcopalian tradition.

1. Cultural framing

To most media, religion is regularly told as conflict, abuse, and other forms of oppression, and even anti-science. I need not give examples. The “nones,” the expanding number of folks with no faith affiliation, often explain their rejection of organized religion with a sense of righteousness, unsullied from the institutional corruption the media report. “I can be spiritual by myself,” they sometimes claim.

Many “nones” reject religion because they find it incredible, superstitious, or repulsive. “Do you really insist that God sent those Ten Plagues to the Egyptians and killed their innocent firstborn children and animals?”

For some who do go to church, the motivation is personal guilt, or to make or connect with friends, to enjoy musical entertainment, and so many other reasons. One of my students wanted to survey his church to find out why people attended. He received answers such as the church is nearby, the windows are pretty, the preacher is friendly, the grandmother helped found the church — none of the responses concerned the stated beliefs of the church. Which is profoundly ironic since most people associate religion with beliefs. When I was asked by the Kansas City Star to write a weekly religion column (which I did for eighteen years), my column’s name was “Faith and Beliefs” even though I told my editors beliefs are not important in most religions.

For example, to be Jewish, you don’t need to believe anything. You can be a good Jew and an atheist. You simply need to have a Jewish mother. You can believe in one god, or no god, or 330 million gods and be a good Hindu. The Buddhist Heart Sutra denies the basic doctrine of the Buddha to teach that what is important is not belief but practice.

Scholars sometimes identify dimensions of religion with four C’s: Creed (belief), Cultus (rituals), Community, and Code (moral expectations). Different faiths and different adherents may emphasize one or two of these dimensions over others.

Nonetheless, the persistent modern framing of religion as belief is, in my view, problematic.

2. The Sacred Story

As the great late sociologist of religion Robert Bellah, an Episcopalian, has demonstrated in a lifetime of scholarship, religion is a sacred story. Most scholars, I think, agree. The four C’s are ways of understanding, reenacting, sharing, and behaving in harmony with the story.

Since the time of the first Book of Common Prayer, 1549, the meaning of “belief” has changed. Then it meant something more like “trust” or “commitment to.” When a wife says of her husband, or a producer says of one’s actor, or a partisan says of one’s candidate, “I believe in them,” this is not so much a factual statement as a declaration of relationship. “Belief” derives from the same Latin root as libido, desire, and is akin to the German liebe, beloved. It’s not about facts. It’s about a bond.

When I say I believe in Jesus, I am not affirming any historical or theological speculation; rather, I am belonging to Him. Instead of a virtual faith confined to a compartment of my mind with answers to theological questions, Jesus becomes the Bread and Word for my whole life.

The 20th Century Anglican poet T. S. Eliot theorized that the power of 17th Century poets like John Donne, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, is in part due to the fact that they wrote before the “dissociation of sensibility,” when thinking and feeling were still united. Then belief and be-love were the same.

Believing in the Christian story is not singularly an intellectual decision. When I recite the Creed, I am outlining a cosmic story of salvation in which I am involved, not a scientific proof (The Latin word credo has many meanings including “to entrust.”)

Belief in the shallow sense of cerebral assent hinders us from understanding who we are from stories. This is so, even of fiction. Anglicans defended the fiction of Elizabethan theater against the Puritans who decried the stage because it was not true. The enjoyment and benefit of fiction, from Aesop’s fables to your favorite movies, arises from encountering them with a “willing suspension of disbelief,” in the phrase of Anglican poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Another Anglican poet, W. H. Auden wrote, “It is as meaningless to ask whether one believes or disbelieves in Aphrodite or Ares as to ask whether one believes in a character in a novel; one can only say that one finds them true or untrue to life. To believe in Aphrodite and Ares merely means that one believes that the poetic myths about them do justice to the forces of sex and aggression as human beings experience them in nature and in their own lives.”

Our story is genuine, and we participate in it and are formed by it. The Palm Sunday parade, the Maundy Thursday washing of feet, and the Good Friday adoration of the cross, as examples, are no more superstitious than a client following a therapist’s suggestion to “place your deceased mother in this chair and tell her how you miss her.” Neither is about facts so much as about a relationship which ritual appreciation or therapeutic methods may deepen.

So we can tell that story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt as a spur to our evolving questions about how to live in the light of the Gospel.

3. What Episcopalians Can Offer

To the “nones,” we can offer a spiritual reframing service. We can replace a superficial, virtual frame of religion with what is genuine. God is not an HD display idea; God is reality. Over the virtual we chose embodiment. Christ is incarnate. Religion is less as an inventory of disputed facts and more as a sacred story. Instead of religion focused on concepts, we offer a faith embracing and balancing creed, cultus, community, and code, each dimension of the holy narrative.

Since becoming an Episcopalian seven years ago, I’ve often visited with young people about what they desire in religion. From these conversations, I am convinced our living heritage offers what the future needs. Reframing is the first step.

Young people want to participate, belong to an open tradition that requires something of them, something like the ancient meaning of “belief.” In a future article, I’ll suggest how our tradition of table and word offers fulfillment, but the way we present our faith may yet be clarified and our mission in the Jesus Movement enhanced.

Vern Barnet’s latest book is Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire. He previously wrote for The Kansas City Star.

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Deepen Your Experience of God by Worshiping With Other Faiths

Carolyn Thompson is deepening her relationship with God by participating in other faith’s worship services.

Carolyn B Thompson 10 minute read.   Resources


Eucharist following the ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Chas Marks, at St. Mary's, Kansas City. 9-8-2017.
The Episcopal Church – Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. (Eucharist following the ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Chas Marks, at St. Mary’s, Kansas City. 9-8-2017. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

I love, love, love the experience of worshipping in an Episcopal service – the smells, the bells, the vestments, the music, the Book of Common Prayer, the layout of the worship space, the church’s beliefs, the history.

I’m also one of the first to say how easy it is to not be present in worship in a liturgical tradition such as the one I love. But, I always meant “those people”, those people who just recite the words while not living as Jesus would; those people who literally have no idea what words they’re saying while they’re thinking about coffee hour, the ball game, how much they don’t like the priest, the new vestments, the candles; those people who don’t work hourly at their relationship with God.

And I realized I was one of “those people” — Someone who is so hooked on the Episcopal worship experience that any other worship experience makes it difficult to feel like I’d been to church, or worse that I hadn’t even connected with my Father.

I don’t know about you but I am often at odds with God over His timing vs mine

As a woman of immediate fix-it action, the moment I realized this, I wanted to get started on the fix. And thankfully God provided (I don’t know about you but I am often at odds with God over His timing vs mine.) I knew that what I needed was to participate in many more worship experiences than the few I’d been able to thus far (and weddings and funerals don’t count because the focus is on the special ceremony with all its emotions, not on the worshiping and building of a relationship with God.) But how? It’s hard to get away from the responsibilities at our own parish. Being an acolyte and member of the choir were my responsibilities at the time. Our church was soon to be losing its priest to retirement, and we had no idea when we might be able to find the right person for us or even find a relief priest who could celebrate the Eucharist with us from time-to-time. The unknown frequency of the Eucharist meant no choir or need for acolytes. So I jumped right into my journey the Sunday after our priest retired. Did I plan what places of worship I’d go to? Did I set a more specific objective than worship and build a relationship with God no matter where I was? Being the immediate fix-it action me, no!

As I attended places of worship the details of my method and an objective began to evolve. Naturally, people at the places I visit are curious about what I’m doing, and I had to have answers for their questions: are you visiting? Are you looking for a church home? Are you coming back next week? You should sing in our choir, want to come to our spaghetti dinner? Want to be in charge of our youth program? Want to be on our governing body? I’m just kidding about the last two, but I have visited some small communities and I know that “we need more people here” feeling. By week four I had honed my method and objective. For the next year, I will go to a different place of worship within a one-and-a-half hour drive from home each week, so that I can feel and see God no matter where I am.

The Episcopal Church: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaching at Hammons Field, Springfield. Sunday May 7, 2017.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaching at Hammons Field, Springfield. Sunday May 7, 2017. Image credit: Gary Allman

“Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself”

Having said this, I learned that my journey would keep evolving. In fact “evolving” was a hallmark of this journey for me. Seven months in I went to the Awakening event in Springfield and heard Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tell us that our job was to “Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself” … I realized he was talking about my journey — what can I learn about God, and what can I do to strengthen my relationship with Him? With other people? And with myself?

Picking a weekly Place of Worship

For the first eight months by Friday, it had just occurred to me where I was going. I called to get the times of services and the other things people normally do (education, meal, donations, etc…), any special dress requirements or actions I should be prepared for? And I confirmed the address (I recommend that you don’t trust websites, and plenty of places don’t have websites). In order to get to all the faith traditions I don’t want to miss, I now have a list and choose one each week based on the distance and time of worship. I liked the first method best.

Getting Something Out of Each Experience

  • I trust that I’ll get something out of each worship experience.
  • I participate fully in whatever that faith tradition does at their worship – sing, pray, Sunday School/education, share a meal, donate money, canned goods, etc…
  • I take lots of notes about what I see, what I feel and what I learned.

People ask “which is your favorite place of worship” and I honestly say “I loved them all”

When I read all my notes from the past 10 months here’s where every experience intersected. I’ll call them the Outcomes of My Experiences. But these are not just my experiences, the people at the places I visit each week are also learning; as are people out in the community, as they talk about what I’m doing.

The Outcomes of My Experiences

I am:

  1. experiencing intense faith traditions which makes me think for days — as opposed to hours after my service;
  2. talking to people because I‘m always the new person — at my service I worship and go off to my next event;
  3. seeing a different emphasis per congregation and clergy leader — this is the only one on this list that I had expected;
  4. hearing preaching on the same scripture by different people — this has allowed me to understand some for the first time;
  5. opening others to my journey equals opening them to their own journey — always a part of God’s purpose for me;
  6. experiencing different music — my main form of worship has always been music and this has intensified that;
  7. learn something no matter who is preaching — I used to have a hard time getting used to a new preaching style;
  8. blessed with a Lent that I’d never have lived without this journey — and I’ve shared my amazing reflections with others;
  9. clear that I love the Episcopal Church — the ancient way of ordering time around the life of Christ, the Book of Common Prayer, because I’m praying the same thing as Anglicans around the world, and the variety of worship experiences.

Even though I spent the first eight months with no game-plan of where to go, it occurred to me that there were other places of worship I would like to experience and I made a list to be sure I got to them in my one-year timeframe. Here are the ones I didn’t want to miss:

  • 7th Day Adventist
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • Jehovah’s Witness
  • Buddhist Temple
  • Muslim Mosque
  • Jewish Temple
  • Reformed Church in America
  • Christian Science
  • Assembly of God

Places of Worship Attended So Far

Worship Tradition Number of visits
Pentecostal 1
New Testament 1
Roman Catholic 1
Disciples of Christ 5 (same church, asked back to sing)
Lutheran 1
Methodist 5 (same church, asked back to sing)
Non-denominational 2
Presbyterian 1
Baptist 2
My church 6 (asked to acolyte)
Other Episcopal churches 8 (all different except 1 twice)
Worship CDs in my car 2 (driving long distance all Sunday)

People ask “which is your favorite place of worship” and I honestly say “I loved them all”. When analyzing how that could be, I saw it clearly in my list of outcomes. I get something from every place I go to, and I think about that place and what I learned there for days afterward. And further, I expect to gain something from every place I go, and so, I love every one of them.

I know I won’t stop at one year, as that’s only two months away, and though I can see a huge change in my ability to feel and see God in whatever faith tradition I’m worshiping in, there are:

  1. more intensely different faith traditions than mine that I have yet to experience, and …
  2. I love the benefits of this worship style (see the first six outcomes above).

I’m not sure I’d get them if I went to one church every week and I’m not ready to give them up yet. I’m trying to listen and discern the journey God has for me. I know that some of my “I don’t want to miss” visits will challenge and help me to grow even closer to my objective of feeling and seeing God no matter where I am.

What Happened to Me Can Happen to You

Yes, you can follow my lead and go to a different place of worship each week. If that’s not for you, for whatever reason, you can take a new look at worshiping closer to home. What would happen to your relationship with God, with your neighbor, and with yourself if you tried to attain some of my outcomes each week? You can do it in the comfort of your own church, at your favorite time of day, with the people you know, with the clergy you’re used to listening to, in the comfort of your own pew. Don’t tell me you don’t sit in the same pew every Sunday because I know most of us do!

“God didn’t make us to have small lives”, Erin M Straza says in her new book, Comfort Detox. What would happen if you allowed yourself to experience the fullness of worship that God has planned for you? Not a small life.

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

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Facts, Figures, and Men’s Role in Human Trafficking

What’s the truth behind human trafficking, and how men specifically can work on eradicating it. A paper presented at the Human Trafficking Workshop for Men held at St. John’s Springfield, on September 17, 2017.

Mike McDonnell 20 minute read.   Resources

 

Editor’s Note. I’d like to warn readers that Mike’s paper makes hard reading. It doesn’t pull any punches, and it confronts, head on, a topic most people would rather not discuss. Human, and specifically male sexuality. The sad truth is that if we choose to be offended and pretend that this problem doesn’t exist, there cannot be an informed discussion. Without discussion there will be no change.

 

Mike McDonnell presents details of the breadth of the human trafficking problem.
Mike McDonnell presents details of the breadth of the human trafficking problem.
Image credit: Gary Allman

Many years ago I was intently listening to a Lenten Service sermon when the priest counseled his listeners with a statement that I remember to this day. “We will be judged not so much by what we do, but what we don’t do,” I remember it because it was true and it resounded with my soul. Since that day many years ago I have heard the same words spoken again and again. To be honest, I had probably heard those words spoken prior to that day, but I wasn’t spiritually mature enough to respond. My mind was filled with “Mike talk.” It is a problem that I share with many people that do not hear or, in some cases, who hear but ignore or do not recognize the voice of God when encountered.

Fr. Brian McVey, Church of the Advent, Nashville, is interviewed by the by the Springfield media during the Human Trafficking workshop. Image credit: Gary Allman

Therefore, I humbly extend an invitation to each of you to thoughtfully consider, if only for a moment, the possibility that you have ignored the Father’s calling to act not once, but countless times? I have certainly been guilty of disregarding His call, and I am sure that some of you may not have responded when called. Now my challenge to you this day as you listen to Father McVey speak and I tell you about what I know is that you consider the possibility that what you are hearing is God whispering to you to act against this most horrific crime against humanity, the enslavement of another human being.

In 2012 President Obama made an important statement concerning human trafficking:

“It ought to concern every person because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name—modern slavery.” 1

What I decided to do with the president’s message is to substitute “man” or male in the appropriate places in the text. The statement immediately becomes gender-specific as it should well be for every man who has a strong desire for equality and justice. Consequently, the statement now reads: It ought to concern every man because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every male-owned business because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every man in every nation because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name—modern slavery.

Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.2

Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.3

Human trafficking encompasses every corner of the world. According to the International Justice Mission, there are more than 36 million people enslaved around the world in a variety of operations.4 Trafficking involves many facets including the trafficking of people for their organs, girls, and boys for sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation in tourism5 including the purchase of children for $7,000 to $14,000 each to be specifically used by ISIS as suicide bombers6. UNICEF has also identified a high level of exploitation occurring in areas, such as prostitution, massage parlors, pornography, forced marriage, sweat-shop work, begging, armed services, and migrant farming. Eighty percent of labor trafficking stems from illegal immigrants that have come to the United States with a promise of employment and a better life including undocumented and documented immigrants, oppressed, marginalized populations that are targeted because of their vulnerability7.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the businesses and services most commonly exploited by traffickers are:

  • Advertising (Online and Print)
  • Airlines, bus, rail and taxi companies
  • Financial institutions, money transfer services, and informal cash transfers services
  • Labor brokers, recruitment agencies, or independent recruiters
  • Hospitality industry including hotels and motels
  • Landlords
  • Travel and visa/passport services

Some of the above are used to find victims on advertising sites, such as Craig’s List and Backpage (55% of internet child pornography comes from the United States), and trolling transportation terminals for victims. The fact is that traffickers are everywhere and will utilize legitimate business entities where they are able, to take advantage of immigrants, runaways, and individuals under duress to further their criminal pursuits. It is incumbent that these businesses acknowledge the existence of trafficking in their respective industries and take advantage of their unique standing to identify and report trafficking incidents. If they do, they will deny trafficker’s opportunities to work via legitimate organizations to advance their criminal enterprise.

Industries that benefit directly from the use of labor trafficking victims are agriculture, the services industry, and commercial industries. UNICEF has identified the 128 “worst” offenders and identified the goods that are most likely to be produced by child labor or forced labor, such as gold, sugar cane, coal, cotton, rice, tobacco, cocoa, diamonds, garments, coffee, bricks, and carpets.

A significant step beyond government legislative efforts to halt labor trafficking is to purchase “Fair Trade Certified Products.” Buying Fair Trade means that the laborer’s compensation is fair; they receive healthcare and have the collective bargaining power to negotiate safe work environments. Eliminating and or reducing the profit margin of the organizations supporting labor trafficking will adversely impact the criminal’s financial bottom line reducing their motivation to enslave individuals for monetary gain.

In the United States, we can become more cognizant of businesses that most often are the greatest source of using trafficked victims as a source of labor as identified by DOJ, FBI, National Human Trafficking Resource Center, etc.: small businesses, such as roofing companies, asphalt companies, nail and hair salons, hotels and motels, restaurants, agriculture, labor brokers, employers of domestic servants, mall kiosks, travelling sales crews or illegal businesses, such as drugs, arms trade or panhandling, etc. Many times legal businesses will use contracted workers and are unaware that they are using trafficking victims as a source of labor. Consequently, businesses, no matter their size, need to be aware of the legitimacy of laborers they used through sub-contractors by requesting employers to provide the worker’s credentials, such as passports, visas, green cards, I9’s, and vetting the providing contractor, if necessary.

Indicators that might indicate an individual is being trafficked: Do workers have identification? Is there a preponderance of non-English speaking workers with one individual speaking for the entire group? And is their movement closely monitored, such as being unable to leave the work area even to use the bathroom without an escort? To aid in identifying victims, I am providing some information cards that fit into a billfold, and brochures that you may take with you showing trafficking indicators and a hotline number for reporting suspicious activities.

I continue my paper by concentrating on sex trafficking, pornography, domestic abuse and the shocking and destructive effect that these actions perpetuate on our society. Specifically, the horrific impact they have on the lives of women which demand our attention. However, because the balance of my presentation is fixed on sex trafficking and women, I do not want anyone to believe for a moment that labor trafficking or the sexual abuse of boys and men is acceptable because it is not. Three percent of males are trafficked for sex8, and 1 out 10 boys will be victimized before adulthood9. In a 2008 study performed in New York “boys comprised about 50% of sexually exploited children.”10 However, girls and women are the bulk of sexual exploitation, therefore, deserving of my focus this day.

Why do men abuse sex and how do our actions affect our view of women? Why are men willing to risk reputations, families, and careers to engage in self-indulgent sex? My conversation with you squarely focuses on “us” and the consequences of our unconstrained actions, buying sex, the use of pornography for personal gratification and its impact on our souls, society, and the women and families we assert to love. And finally, can anything be done to change the present circumstances?

Sex trafficking may be the most hideous crime ever to confront humanity affecting some 4½ million females worldwide. The revenues from human trafficking are estimated to be $150 billion with $99 billion derived from commercial sexual exploitation, $32 billion from construction and manufacturing, $9 billion from agriculture including forestry and fishing, and $8 billion saved annually by employers of private home domestic workers under the conditions of forced labor.11

FBI statistics show that sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime. Every year in the US approximately 300,000 American youths are at risk becoming victims of sex trafficking.12 Within 48 hours one in three runaways is solicited by sex traffickers, with one in eight likely to be a victim. Amazingly, the average age of girl preyed on by pimps is 12 years old.13 In the article “Life on the Street: New Wave of Prostitution with More Violence Is Overwhelming Los Angeles Authorities,” Miles Corwin reports that a madam told a room filled with 30 other madams and call girls that more and more of her male customers were asking her to procure 12 or 13-year-old girls. Give that request some thought. These young girls will be raped, “broken in” to perform various forms of sexual acts, suffer physical abuse and tortured as they groom them for the sex business. They will be compelled to have sex with several men daily to earn their pimps as much as $5,000 to $30,000 plus a week.14

The truth is that these numbers can be overwhelming, seriously depressing and very scary; especially, for those of you with young children. If you were to Google “sex trafficking” you find government and private organizations, such as, the FBI, DOJ, Polaris, National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Administration of Children and Family Services, UNICEF, etc. with statistical analysis that would fill several typewritten pages with unimaginable facts validating the immense impact of sex trafficking on our society. It is a sad commentary on men. We are by far the biggest perpetrators of this social catastrophe, well over 90%. We are the traffickers, the pimps and the johns that ultimately are the suppliers, marketers, and customers that tolerate the peddling of our children, wives, and girlfriends for control, money, drugs, and personal sexual gratification. These shocking and disturbing issues must be at the forefront of our social agendas to stop sex trafficking, especially, if we want to make a positive change in the lives of girls and women everywhere. If we men think that we are not impacted by trafficking because we do not pay for a prostitute or sell our own children for drugs or sex we better wake up, and quickly. The private conversations we have concerning women and the sexual comments we make are overheard by young men and our youth and are accepted as reality. We need to transform ourselves and the world. So, let us begin!

In my three years learning about human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking over the last several months, I have thought a lot about how to categorize the various key components of the trafficking business. If I were to put together a process chart, I would place them in the following order:

  1. Vulture
  2. Trafficker
  3. Pimp
  4. John

The vulture (or recruiter) is searching for his prey until he finds his quarry, in this case, females, especially young girls and young women. According to the International Organization for Migration, 52% of sex trafficked victims are recruited by men, 42% are women, and 6% are both men and women. He or she may find them at shopping malls, bus stations, walking down the street or in your neighbor’s home. Potential victims are everywhere. He wants the girl that has suffered abuse or may have run away from home to escape, or has low self-esteem or maybe came from a dysfunctional family. He will present himself as a savior, someone who will love, care and protect them, providing them with a sense of security. After he gains their confidence, he will take on the role of sex trafficker or sell them to a trafficker.

The sex trafficker will begin the grooming process by raping or having the girl raped several times by different men, forcing her to perform various expected sex acts. This may take days or weeks, but the girl will be primed to perform as asked or she will be beaten, starved, humiliated and even killed. They will strongly imply that if she does not do what she is told she will be blackmailed with pictures and or videos showing her performing various sex acts. The images will be sent to her family, church, and friends. If she still refuses, they will threaten to kill her family or target an additional family member for prostitution, usually a younger sister or even a brother.

The pimp is the marketer and the seller of sex services. He will take the product to market, expecting high return with little risk for his investment. He will advertise the girls on the internet, take them to sporting events, nightclubs, truck stops, exotic dance clubs and have the girls walk the streets, potentially earning himself over a million dollars annually. The girl’s salary is $0, with their freedoms restricted; they will be under constant surveillance and expected to provide unrestricted sexual favors multiple times. At the end of their sex career, they will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress, potentially endure multiple pregnancies and abortions, sexual diseases, beaten numerous times and even slain. They will more than likely die from a drug overdose, suicide, malnutrition or be killed at a young age because they would no longer comply with the pimp or john or maybe they are no longer attractive and a moneymaker.

The john is you and me. We could be a doctor, lawyer, minister, factory worker, engineer, sanitation worker, office clerk …

We, my friends, are the reason that young girls are taken from their homes, that families are broken and that women have to suffer a lifetime of humiliation.

The john is you and me. We could be a doctor, lawyer, minister, factory worker, engineer, sanitation worker, office clerk; in other words; it could be any of us. There is a good likelihood that we are married with children or even grandchildren and look at pornography on a regular basis. We, my friends, are the reason that young girls are taken from their homes, that families are broken and that women have to suffer a lifetime of humiliation. We are the purchasers of illicit sex.

As men of God, we need to become accountable for our actions and the actions of all men. This evil will continue to exist for as long as man walks this earth if we continue to ignore our responsibility to women. As men, we need to be proactive, take the initiative and begin change.

To accomplish this transformation, we need to initiate the process of scrutinizing our relationships with the girls and women in our lives. More importantly, we must consider what we can do to move the generational thought process of boys and young men beyond seeing women as a sexual object to appreciate better the female role as a worthy partner in our lives. This process needs to start with us and be transferred down to every generation of males in our realm of influence.

Slavery has been around for thousands of years. Men and women have been forced into bondage because of war, poverty and their sex. Certainly, women and children had little say about their circumstances being forced into situations where they performed labor and or provided sexual favors to their captors. I have often thought about the Samaritan woman at the well from the Gospel of John.

416Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” John 4:16-18

Women were and are still used as a property in many parts of the world to satisfy and serve the needs of men. In considering this passage, I wondered why this woman was married five times? Was she divorced each time or did her spouses die or was she trafficked in the patriarchal order of that period? There are many reasons a male over 2,000 years ago could have contrived to rid himself of an unwanted female. Maybe she was too fat, too old, too skinny, bad sex or maybe she could not produce a male heir. Whatever the reason she was being passed from man to man for their personal use, financial benefit, and pleasure, much as women are today.

Jesus knew her heart. Consequently, he is speaking to her with compassion and understanding. By his words he acknowledges her as a person as with every woman encountered, he took the time to explain to her who he was and his purpose.

413Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

425The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”John 4:25-26

We may rationalize in our minds that she was disreputable, but my instincts tell me that she had not been living a life of her choosing. Her questions were straightforward and her responses to Jesus genuine. She is by all indications a woman of little means, few friends and trapped in a system that provided no freedom and little promise for a better life. In short, she was trafficked. I doubt if anyone considered her plight as an individual being trafficked for labor and or sexual favors; after all, she was a woman and more than likely considered nothing more than disposable property. However, Jesus words filled her with hope and excitement.

It is evident from the various documentaries, news reports, and women marching in the streets, occupying important political offices and executive positions in large corporations indicate that some things have and are changing. However, the question remains, has it changed significantly enough to make a real difference in their lives? Looking at the situation from a female’s perspective, not much. Men in high political positions hurl insults at women; executives still pressure women for sexual favors (Fox News is a recent example), and 1 in 5 women on college campuses are raped annually.15

Have you ever compared nude art and pornography, and wondered to yourself, what’s the big deal, is it not the same? Ravi Zacharias, Christian Apologists, notes that while both utilize nude figures, one stimulates the immoral instincts in man while the other strives to highlight the beauty of man, and thus “the glory of God.”16

If ever in history there has been a crime against the will and mind of man it is pornography. The depiction of women being subjugated by men for their personal sexual gratification has been portrayed in stories and movies for years. The image of beautiful, seductive women meeting our sensual desires is a dream that men have had throughout the ages. Of course, even more tantalizing is women seeking out men for passionate sex with no strings attached.

I have had conversations with men who say that they use pornography to enhance their sexual relationships. Possibly, that may be true in the short-term, but the long-term consequences go well beyond the initial pleasure. The impact on women and young girls is a tragedy of life-changing proportions. The resultant effect is that the lives of young girls and women are sometimes damaged beyond repair. Men will eventually find that sexual arousal is only available through the more graphic depiction of sexual activities up to torture and potentially, murder. Typical sexual encounters with his spouse or girlfriend will depend on these visual displays to aid in finding sexual arousal and gratification.

Now, before continuing on the deceit that is found in pornography and destructiveness, it brings to the individual, and his family, I will address the victims of sexual violence, and be assured that pornography is not victimless.

Sex is a godly and a good act when performed with a woman that you love. However, if you have watched or purchased porn, please be aware that 1 in 5 images is of a child. It is estimated that many come from homes where they have already suffered severe abuse with porn becoming an extension of that exploitation. These kids are homeless, runaways and to be honest just “throwaway kids.”17 The children are used for diversifying the sex trafficker’s revenue sources and represent’s a $3 billion dollar industry. I guess you could say that the kids are in the minor leagues of the sex racket for porn and prostitution. They start the girls out watching porn to desensitize them as to the sex acts they will be asked to perform many times daily.

Why do men turn to porn? What is it in porn that men cannot find in a normal relationship. Is it more tantalizing, more satisfying? Men turn to porn for a variety of reasons:

  • Partner is not satisfying
  • Partner is not sexually available
  • Partner is sexually unattractive
  • All men do it, why not me?

Pornography addiction is not something that occurs overnight. It is a “process addiction” that may have been unintentionally initiated by looking at soft porn but begins to take on life as a want leading to an apparent need. Once the user associates the porn as a need rather than want, your brain discharges dopamine “releasing the same chemical involved when a drug is ingested.”18 “Dopamine fixes your attention on that desirable object” (porn), “giving you your power of concentration.”19

Wives of porn addicts suffer trauma, blaming themselves for their husband’s addiction. Think about the indelible impression and profound hurt that your wife may feel walking into a room finding you masturbating while viewing pornography or possibly even worse, sneaking glances at pictures of naked women during sexual intercourse. I had an encounter with a very beautiful woman who was distraught and bewildered because she found that her husband was looking at a Playboy centerfold during coitus. The entire episode ended badly for her husband. My guess is that they are no longer married unless he has sought help for his addiction, and my friends it is an addiction.

Women ask themselves why their husbands prefer images or videos to them. Are they not attractive enough or is sex with them boring? The truth is that as the addiction takes hold of your life, even a beautiful woman will seem physically repulsive. Pornography produces an alternative reality in the mind of a porn addict potentially damaging any chance of having a normal relationship without seeking professional help.

The enormous problem with an addiction to porn is that the door is opening to a greater darkness in the mind and heart. Addicts will no longer find the same satisfaction that they had initially derived from viewing sex media; consequently, they will seek extreme sources of hedonism to satisfy their need for sexual excitement in order to fill the emptiness that they have in their personal lives. Their ability to have a normal sexual relationship will disintegrate, and will eventually cost them their job, marriage, family relationships and potentially lead to more unrestrained behavior including extreme forms of sexual perversions, such as sexual torture and murder. Pornography has also been linked to rape, sexual abuse, and users of sex trafficking victims, and sex workers.

I mentioned earlier that johns come from every walk of life composing a heterogeneous population. Consequently, it is difficult to pin down a particular profile and reason for using prostitutes for personal gratification. Men who have been interviewed concerning why they use prostitutes provide an interesting insight into the rationale behind their actions. Some comments range from just being lonely to pure uncontrollable lust. In a 2010 ABC report on “Why Men Buy Sex.” one man commented that it was “No big deal”; it was just like buying a beer. Some other comments:

  • “Prostitution is like masturbating without having to use your hand.”
  • “I feel sorry for these girls, but this is what I want.”
  • “Look, men pay for women because he can have whatever and whoever he wants. Lots of men go to prostitutes so they can do things to them that real women would not put up with.”
  • “We’re living in the age of instant coffee, instant food. This is instant sex.”
  • “Prostitution is a last resort to unfulfilled sexual desires. Rape would be less safe, or if you’re forced to hurt someone, or if you’re so frustrated you masturbate all day.”

It is evident from their comments that these men see women as vessels for their personal sexual enjoyment, not as an equal.

Professor Neil Malmuth, UCLA, researched men who buy sex-determining that prostitution is a form of sexual abuse. Professor Malmuth makes two key points about the similarities between men who buy sex and men who are at risk for sexual aggression:

  1. ‘Both groups tend to prefer impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification.’
  2. ‘Men who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women.’20

The wide-ranging problems with men and sexual abuse are complicated, to say the least, but I hope that you see the connection with sex trafficking, pornography, and prostitution as a continuous circle each inter-connected and feeding the other. The complexities that are derived from the male’s mental attitude towards women are far more complicated than we will discuss. However, the connections are real, and the challenge for every man taking part in this discussion is how do we transform our thinking, and deal with our own problems, and how do we disseminate this knowledge to our children and grandchildren?

So, what is this awareness that as men we should impart to our male children? I am warning you that the answer is simple, but a thorny problem because men feel it is something that a person needs to earn. It is the same thing that you and I crave every day of our lives, respect. Respect for ourselves is hoped for, but how do we disseminate that same regard we seek to our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and as a matter of point, all women? Respect is really problematic only because of long-held attitudes of women being submissive to men making them susceptible to abuse and attacks that are so ingrained in our society globally that if we don’t change, women will always be victims of male abuse.

The only way, I believe, to alter this cycle of abuse is to instruct our boys and young men regarding respect, consent, and non-violence in relationships. If we start teaching the male children in our lives at this very moment, we have an opportunity to ensure that women will be considered equals and treated with dignity. We must pray that a female baby born this very day will grow up in a world that honors her sex, respects her as a human being and loves her for who she is, a child of God.

If addicted, what can you do?

What can you do if you have a problem with sexual addiction? First, give yourself a pat on the back, because you have just crossed the first barrier to recovery by taking responsibility for your actions. The good news is that your success is obtainable now that you have accepted the challenge of altering your life’s direction. So, what do you do next? Seek professional help for your spiritual and emotional well-being! You can begin the spiritual recovery process with a priest or minister by seeking prayer, counseling, and absolution. However, to succeed in a permanent transformation, you will need sustained support from your pastor, family and the guidance of professional psychologist or psychiatrist experienced in sex therapy. Remember, it is a beginning, and with the right assistance, you will begin to see the light of hope at the end of a very dark tunnel leading to reclaiming your life.

If the information that I offered today has disturbed you or stirred your heart or possibly made you angry enough that you want to take action I have provided you with a few action items that you can begin undertaking as soon as you leave today:

  • Buy Fair Trade Products, transfairusa.org
  • Teach the males in your sphere of influence respect for women
  • Inform yourself about human trafficking through research and by attending workshops
  • Support anti-trafficking legislation by meeting and or writing your federal and state legislators
  • Volunteer your time with anti-trafficking organizations
  • Learn to recognize the human trafficking indicators

Conclusion:

President Harry Truman once said, that “great men’s first victories in life were over themselves and their carnal urges. Self-discipline with all of them came first“.21 We do not have to go too far back in history to find the truth in Truman’s words. Sex is powerful, seductive, rewarding and destructive at times. I know that there was a time in my life and the lives of many of my male friends where sex seemed to be on our minds 24×7, almost completely controlling all our actions. As men, we need to open our minds and hearts to what we can do to stop Human Trafficking. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying:

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

I think it is imperative that we don’t ignore evil or God speaking to us by doing nothing.

As I said earlier, “Let us begin.”

Mike McDonnell is co-founder of the Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking coalition, and member of St. George Episcopal Church, Camdenton.

Resources

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References:

  1. Human Trafficking by the Numbers. Retrieved from http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/resource/human-trafficking-numbers
  2. Retrieved from, www.co.washington.mn.us/2422; Trafficked Victims Protection Act, TVPA 2000
  3. Retrieved from, www.co.washington.mn.us/2422; Trafficked Victims Protection Act, TVPA 2000
  4. International Justice Mission, 2016
  5. Department of Homeland Security, Definition of Human Trafficking, www.dhs.gov/ble-campaign/definition-human-trafficking
  6. Random Facts, 55 Little Known Facts About Human Trafficking, facts.randomhistory.com/human-trafficking-facts.html
  7. Utah trafficking in Persons Task Force, Captain Fernando Rivero
  8. National Institute of Justice and Disease Control & Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, 1998
  9. Child Maltreatment Report, 2012
  10. Catholic Citizen, Men and Boys Sex Trafficking Overlooked, May 11, 2016
  11. Human Rights First, 01/07/17
  12. Christian Science Monitor, October 2016
  13. National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking
  14. Urban Institute, May 11, 2014
  15. www.trafficking.org
  16. National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Statistics About Sexual Violence
  17. Ella Hutchinson, Licensed Professional Counselor
  18. Ravi Zacharias, Theo-Sophical Ruminations, Art vs. Pornography: What’s the Difference, May27, 2009
  19. Kevin Majeres, MD, www.purityispossible.com
  20. Professor Neil Malmuth, UCLA, MAILONLINE, Sept. 15, 2015
  21. Samuel W. Rushay Jr., Prologue Magazine, Spring 2009, Harry Truman and his History Lessons

The Presiding Bishop Visits the Youth of the Diocese

Gary Allman Two-minute read.   Resources


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Bishop Marty and the youth of the dioceses of West Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa at St Paul’s Episcopal Church Kansas City. Image credit: Gary Allman

Before attending the ‘Awakening the Spirit’ events, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spent time at St Paul’s Episcopal Church Kansas City with the youth of the diocese. They were joined by youth from the Dioceses of Kansas and Iowa.

The Presiding Bishop took part in two question and answer sessions Friday evening, and returned Saturday morning to see the youth assisting at the St. Paul’s food pantry.

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

Resources

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Awakening the Spirit – Kansas City

Gary Allman Two-minute read (Unless you watch the video).    Resources


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

On Saturday May 6, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined the Diocese of West Missouri in the first half of the Awakening the Spirit in West Missouri held at Kansas City Live! This Awakening is the second of five planned evangelism events to be held during 2017.

Before arriving at Kansas City Live, the Presiding Bishop spent time with the youth of the diocese, the Diocese of Kansas, and the Diocese of Iowa at St Paul’s Episcopal Church Kansas City.

Between 800 and 1000 people attended the event, along with passing foot traffic for the nearby Garth Brooks concert.

Photographs by:

Gary Allman
Mary Ann Teschan
Gary Zumwalt

Video


(The event starts at around 7:09)

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

Resources

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Awakening the Spirit – Springfield

Gary Allman Two-minute read (Unless you watch the video).    Resources


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaching at Hammons Field, Springfield. Sunday May 7, 2017. Image credit: Gary Allman

Awakening the Spirit in West Missouri – on Sunday May 7, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined the Diocese of West Missouri at Hammons Field Springfield in the second half of the second of five planned evangelism events to be held during 2017.

The previous day the Presiding Bishop led the Awakening at Kansas City Live!

The Awakening at Springfield was attended by 600- 700 people who braved the bright sunshine and rising temperatures to watch the Presiding Bishop preach about The Jesus Movement.

Unfortunately due to Internet connectivity issue at Hammons field we were only able to record the Presiding Bishop’s address on video.

Video

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

Resources

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Area Confirmations – St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Joplin

Robert Smith One-minute read.   Resources


Confirmations at St. Philip’s, Joplin Image credit: Robert Smith

Confirmations, receptions and reaffirmations were held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Joplin on Saturday May 13.

Robert Smith is an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer in History at Pittsburg State University, Kansas and a member at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Joplin Missouri.

The Ordination of The Rev. James Lile, Jr.

Robert Smith One-minute read.   Resources


The Rev. James Lile, Jr. Image credit: Robert Smith

On Thursday May 18, Jim Lile was ordained into the Sacred Order of Presbyters at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Joplin, Missouri.

Robert Smith is an Adjunct Professor/Lecturer in History at Pittsburg State University, Kansas and a member at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Joplin Missouri.

Area Confirmations – Trinity Episcopal Church, Lebanon

Gary Allman Two-minute read.   Resources


Bishop Marty with the confirmed and received at Trinity Episcopal Church, Lebanon, Missouri. Image credit: Gary Allman

On Saturday May 20, nine people were confirmed and two people were received into The Episcopal Church.

Confirmed: Christian Caulk, Stephanie Hasty, Deborah Kenady, Levi Kenady, Willetta Mount, Daniel Mueller, Rachel Mueller, Hunter Polen, Arica Shirley.

Received: Richard Mount, Mary Shelton

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

Area Confirmation – Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City

Gary Zumwalt Five-minute read.   Resources


On Sunday May 21 Episcopal Church of the Redeemer hosted the diocesan Area Confirmations, and two baptisms were performed Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

On Sunday May 21 Episcopal Church of the Redeemer hosted the northern diocesan Area Confirmations. In addition to the confirmations, reaffirmations and receptions, two baptisms were performed.

Those Baptized

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City: Charley Ann Lewis, Ronald Max Posey, Jr.

Those Confirmed

The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs: Brady Blankenship, Shea Blankenship, Devin Conn.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Harrisonville: Caitlyn Adams Costner.
The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City: Ian Ebert, MacKenzi Hedge, Ethan Olsson, Matt Olsson.
The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City: Michael Anthony Garcia, Payton Louis Maggart, Parker Thomas Stevens.
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City: Kevin Burns, Liam McKeown, David Patt.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City: Charlotte Baker, Lauren Allen, John Benson, Marin Carnes, Thomas Gogel, Luke Holliday, Ruth Holliday, Fiona Junger, Leo Messer, Caroline Reynolds, Jenney Ryan, Edward Sih, Scott Robertson, Norman Todd, Maren Womble.
St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church, Kansas City: Alexander Joseph Rankin.
Grace Episcopal Church, Liberty: Levi Anderson, Vivian Anderson.

Those Received

The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs: Lynn Jandt.
The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City: Kathleen Boyle Bond, Brian Patrick Harris, Amy Joan Posey, Patrick Vescovo.
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City: Michael Figueroa, Yvonne Figueroa, Leticia Porter.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City: Nate Burman, Nicole Burman, Lester Cornelius, Christopher Cornelius, Patricia Hardin, Janolin Higgins, Ellen Junger, Donna Long, Elizabeth McHenry, Jared Miller.

Those Reaffirmed

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City: Williams Harold Henry.
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City: Jim Martin, Linda Martin.

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.

Resources

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Special Convention

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources


Channing Horner reports on the work of the Communications Tools Team. Image credit: Gary Allman

On Saturday June 3, 2017, The Diocese of West Missouri held a Special Convention to discuss and approve the remainder of the 2017 Plan for Ministry (budget).

The morning session included reports from Bishop Marty and four teams established by Diocesan Council: Goals, Metrics, Communications Tools and Finance.

The afternoon session saw a completion of the team’s reports, followed by small team breakouts to provide feedback on the previous session. This was followed by discussion and voting on the one resolution and its five pre-filed amendments before convention.

All the slides presented at the convention can be seen by following the links in the Resources section below. Please note that the text is ‘as provided’ and that Resolution #1, Amendment 1-B was further amended from the floor during convention. Further details can be found in the draft minutes of the special convention which are also available from the links below.

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

Camp WEMO 2017

Camp WEMO 2017 – Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

Will Mansfield Five-minute read.   Resources


Opening Eucharist with Mother Megan officiating. Supplied image

Camp WEMO 2017 is in the books, with the only thing remaining from us at Camp Wakonda is a few drops of sweat from the interns trying to fit all the tents back in their respective bags.

What a wonderful week it was, with the weather cooperating throughout the week (except for in the early morning after the senior campout), allowing us to go on the annual canoeing trip on James River along with swimming in the pool and lake and playing slip and slide kickball, which, personally, was my favorite game of the week. The week was filled with learning, laughter, prayer, and discovery, among many other things. Friendships were made and strengthened not only within the youth, but also among the adult volunteers, many of whom sacrificed vacation days from work to take part in this wonderful event. Without the help of the adults, Camp WEMO would not be the fantastic event that it is, and the youth in this diocese are incredibly fortunate to have adults willing to take the time out of their lives to be there for them.

God has called every one of us to use our abilities to pray, care, and share with all creation His love and word

Each day of the week had a specific topic that conversation revolved around, or started on. Monday’s topic was how God wants to use us in this world. We emphasized that God wants and can use all of us in some way to spread His love, and we challenged everyone to think about ways we can best be examples of God’s love and compassion. Tuesday’s topic was what it means to pray according to God’s will. Conservations revolved around what it means to pray the way God intended, which starts with an unselfish and caring motive. Wednesday’s was how to care for oneself and others according to God’s will. We discussed in our family groups ways to care for others the way God intends and why it is important to first care for oneself, along with some good ways that God has shown us how to do that. Thursday’s topic was sharing and the impact that a person’s story can have on others. This was highlighted by a few of our adults sharing their life experiences and how the church has been a loving and supportive community in their life.

Last but not least, Friday tied together everything we learned and discovered from the week by using the verse:

1615 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Mark 16:15

Amanda Miley delivering the ‘Morning Pep talk’
on Friday (Mark 16:15).

God has called every one of us to use our abilities to pray, care, and share with all creation His love and word. I hope that everyone who was at Camp WEMO 2017 knows that they have the ability to change the world simply by doing those things.

Will Mansfield attends Missouri State University in Springfield, and was one of the 2017 WEMO Youth Summer Interns.

Summer Church Summit

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources


Image credit: Gary Allman

The Summer Church Summit was held at Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia on August 26. Around 60 people from churches around the diocese attended the summit to find new ways of thinking about the problems they face and how to build on the work undertaken in February and May on Episcopal Evangelism.

In the Resources section below there is a link to a copy of the Summer Church Summit handout – Giving Life to How We Communicate. The handout includes several links that may be of help to diocesan communicators & administrators.

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

Successfully Coping With Change at All Saints’ Nevada

Three years ago All Saints’ were looking at an uncertain future, now they are celebrating the changes they have come to embrace.

Dr. Sharon West Lansing Five-minute read.   Resources


All Saints’ Episcopal Church – Nevada, Missouri Supplied image

‘Serving God in His Church’ has taken on new and different meanings for me since our experience at All Saints’, Nevada, with the resignation of our beloved Fr. Ted Estes three years ago. The void left by his absence was felt immediately.

Unspoken questions were, “Can our church, as small and rural as it is, survive the shaky ground we will now be on? Will we as a congregation be committed to unity strong enough to survive those months of transition required for us to again have a priest we could all love and support?” Months passed and our journey became a kaleidoscope of experiences in an ever-changing landscape of devotion and love as our supply priests felt our struggle and gave us what we needed to keep faith and hope alive.

The Rev. James Lile, Jr. pictured on the day of his ordination to the Priesthood. Image credit: Robert Smith
Now, here we are, almost three years later, more vibrant that ever and even more committed as we celebrate each week with our newest jewel: Fr. Jim Lile. Looking back, I have often wondered how we as a church congregation actually accomplished this major transition in our church life. And, my thoughts always return to what I perceive as the group of dedicated people who made both conscious and unconscious decisions each week to attend church, to participate in communion, in youth functions, and, in all these joys, rally if you will, to say to the world, ‘We are one and we will serve God in His church by being one in our church.’ I know my absences from church on Sunday morning became fewer and fewer. I wanted my presence to speak for itself as a commitment to our All Saints’ journey. And, during this time, our entire congregation stood firm in its resolve to weather whatever changes occurred within our church, and to do so with a dignity and loyalty probably none of us realized we had. Our church attendance wavered some, as all church attendance does; but, overall, we remained steady and true. Our beautiful church remained strong and now we are flourishing. Our youth give back, even those who are college-bound, and we are growing, slowly but surely. But mostly, right now, I feel we are at that stage where we can relish our journey together, with extreme joy in God’s blessings, and His reward for our loyalty, dedication and patience.

I sense a new camaraderie in our services as we pass the “Peace” and greet each other with love and thankfulness

For me, I sense a new camaraderie in our services as we pass the “Peace” and greet each other with love and thankfulness for that shared past as we journeyed together through an ever-yawning miasma of loss, and the contemplation of what lay ahead. We did it together, with God’s help, with the help of Grace Church, with our diocesan leaders, and with those wonderful supply priests. But, our congregation did the most difficult part. We became joined as one, for God in His Church, and in ours, too. All one, truly. All Saints, Nevada, is a beacon of light for everyone who ever doubts God’s presence reigns supreme.

Dr. Sharon West Lansing, is a member at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Nevada, Missouri.

New Shirts for St. Mark’s

Linda Burlingame One-minute read.   Resources


New Shirts for St. Mark’s Image credit: Linda Burlingame

The Episcopal Church Women’s group at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Kimberling City recently had new St. Mark’s shirts designed.

After this photo was taken, everyone enjoyed lunch together at The Rocks Lakeside in Kimberling City.

Linda Burlingame is a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lay Eucharistic Visitor, Worship Leader and member at St. Mark’s Kimberling City, Missouri.