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 

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 

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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 

Youth

New Regional Youth Ministry Coordinators

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


Camp WEMO 2018

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


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 


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 

News

NERM Day Out

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


September's Ordinations

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


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 

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.


A New Curacy Program to Attract Younger Priests

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.

Sally Shied Ten-minute read.   Resources

September 15, 2018, Kim Taube and Warren Swenson are the most recently ordained priests in West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

T The average age for a parish priest in The Diocese of West Missouri is around 62 years old. America’s pastors are growing older. In 1992 the average pastor was 44 years old and one in three was less than 40 years old. Twenty-five years later the average age is 54 and only 1 in 7 is less than 40 (The Barna group). Many factors go into this number, but the quandary will affect the health of congregations all over.

The Diocese of West Missouri will be seeing a significant turnover in the next 3-5 years when one quarter of our seminary prepared priests will retire. Transitions in the diocese will be more common. With thoughtful planning, the diocese can maximize the potential of our new priests (Curates) to be effective and remain active in the church. This can be a time of growth and renewal! To quote Bishop Marty, “We need to plan now for this transition, and we diligently need to seek new energies and new perspectives of generations now entering the fullness of their adult years”.

The Diocese has submitted a grant application to the Lilly Endowment for $860,594.77 to cover major expenses of a project to attract and retain younger clergy (see Footnote2). The goals for the Curacy Program of The Diocese of West Missouri are:

  • To attract new priests;
  • To retain the promising and gifted seminarians who originate from this Diocese and others;
  • To bring energy and vitality to the diocese; and
  • To provide the stable leadership necessary to spur growth in congregations that otherwise would not have access to full-time clergy.

The Diocese of West Missouri is seeking additional funding of $25,000 over a three-year period to support the Peer-to-Peer learning portion of this project; which includes three weekends per year at a small retreat center in the rural Ozarks. This is an aspect of the project that can stand on its own should the Lilly Endowment funding not come through. This program is for all newly hired and newly ordained priests and deacons as well as the new curates.

Where Did this Plan Come From?

The Curacy Project came to the Commission on Ministry, Subcommittee for Clergy Continuing Education, Orientation, and Mentoring from a small group led by the Rev. Meghan Castellan. After receiving the 100% backing of the sub-committee they drafted a resolution to the convention of The Diocese of West Missouri who referred it back to the sub-committee to begin research and study and determine the feasibility of implementing a diocesan-wide curacy program. In March the committee was ready to press forward preparing our application to the Lilly Endowment. The leadership for this initiative has come from the Commission on Ministry and its special sub-committee. Chairman of the committee is The Rev. Deacon Beck Schubert; other members are Walker Adams, Ruth Beamer, The Rev. Ken Chumbley, The Rev. Dr. William Fasel, Robert Maynard, Sally Scheid, Mickey Simnett (see Footnote1), The Rev. Galen Snodgrass, and The Rev. Ron Verhaghe. Also assisting the committee are The Rev. Canon Dr. Steve Rottgers and Gary Allman, Communications Director, of the Bishop’s staff.

The Curacy Program will give Curates experience in both urban and rural settings. The trend is that only urban areas can support full-time priests. The Rev. Dr. Bill Fasel said clergy coming from residential seminaries and intending to work full-time will only experience the life of the church in metropolitan areas. Realistically, future bishops and leaders will come from this group with little to no understanding of small towns and small churches. The Diocese of West Missouri wants to give Curates a broader experience. Several churches in the diocese are described as “on the bubble” — in that they previously could afford their own priest and had larger congregations. As congregations shrank, from a myriad of outside forces, these churches can no longer afford their own priest. They now share a priest which obviously does not give the congregants as much access to a member of the clergy.

It is hoped that with more access to a priest, through the Curate or the priests and deacons ordained through the Bishop Kemper School of Ministry, they will have a chance to do more planning and once again become strong. Right now, two churches in the diocese have seen this phenomenon with a dedicated part-time priest. Even when only with a church for a short time, the Curate can lead new ministries, new growth, enhanced energy, and renewed optimism. This reinvigoration will enable some churches to grow to the point where they can, once again, be able to afford a priest. The mixed experience of larger and smaller churches, urban and rural will help the Curate to transition a future church.

As any ordained person or those involved on the Commission on Ministry, Standing Committee and other formation groups can attest, hearing a call to the priesthood through the ordination process takes a candidate many years and multiple interviews at the local, regional, and diocesan level. The requirements include a bachelor’s degree and three years of seminary resulting in a Master of Divinity. During this period the candidate most likely will have to relocate at least once. It is a long row to hoe. Ordination is like other graduations in that it is the commencement of a long and hopefully, fruitful career.

By the time a young priest comes to a congregation, a great deal of time and money, not to mention prayer and faith have been invested. Yet, in general, four times as many clergy leave the calling within the first five years than those who served forty years ago. Whether the priest comes from one of the three-year seminaries or a program like the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry.

Seminarians are well prepared in theology when they graduate. But the learning has just begun! Local clergy have commented, “The hardest thing I had to do was doing work I had never done before”; “Getting the lay of the business end of running a parish”; “Adjusting to the demands for my time and personal attention, not just from a few friends, but from every parishioner, all with their yokes, some light, some not.”; “That budgets and Vestry politics matter”. Canon Steve said “ordination is a steep learning curve. The new priest must learn how drive the bus where the rubber meets the road.” He said that common professional challenges are learning what you do not know and that are you not ready to save the world. The most important knowledge is how to build and maintain relationships.

At this time The Diocese of West Missouri has no formal Curacy program. Several current priests were surveyed about what would have made their transition to priesthood easier. In addition to the comments they made about difficulties with their transition experience, they all indicated a more formal mentorship program, and a peer group with whom they could share experiences would have helped. Comments included how important it was to have a regular prayer life, “This is a lonely profession. Know yourself. Know your needs.”; “maintain your relationship with your spiritual director. If a mentor is not assigned to you, find one. If the mentor is not a good fit, find a better one.”

Throughout the program Curates will learn the importance of time management, boundaries and balance. Curricular will be drawn from Leadership Bootcamp, Evangelism 101, and Project Resource, providing Curates with the tools to inspire radical generosity and engage faith communities in the journey of changing the culture of stewardship in The Episcopal Church.
In the peer support sessions, they will learn how to form their own support groups — and more importantly the need to, and how to select a mentor, either lay or ordained from their ministry context, though not a supervisor; how to create community; the importance of self-care and the need to establish and honor a sabbath. Curates will be able to develop peer relationships with a variety of priests serving in a variety of settings. These leaders will have a support system, so they do not feel all by themselves, even in a small town, and they will know how to take care of themselves.

Desired Outcomes for the Diocese and Curates

To evaluate the program, the following outcomes are being aspired to:

Outcomes for the diocese

Short-Term (1 year)
90% of Curate supervisors will report growing congregations with the Curate assigned to them.

Long-term (3 year)
At the end of the Curacy Project (3 years) The Diocese of West Missouri will have developed a sustainable method of filling vacancies and retaining 65% of well-trained Curates in the diocese.

Outcomes for Curates

Short term (1 year)
After each year of Curacy, 100 percent of Curates will report developing collegial relationships with each other; learning and experiences in the program will positively affect their confidence in pastoral work.

Long-term (3 year)
75 percent of Curates will report they have grown in ministry and feel they can be an effective parish priest in a variety of setting

Sustainability and Continuation

In addition to the Lilly Endowment support, the COM subcommittee is working with the diocese to create an Endowment Campaign to raise money to help fund the future of the Curacy Program.

In Conclusion

The Curacy Program is a natural fit for the mission of the diocese as it responds to new issues of these times of reduced financial and human resources. We are calling out new leaders and will be preparing them to be sent out. Training that the Curates receive will be in line with our baptismal vows. Doing these things marks our fidelity to the vows all Episcopalians make to follow Jesus.

Your thoughts and prayers for this new initiative are sincerely appreciated.

Sally Shied is a member of the Commission on Ministry, Subcommittee for Clergy Continuing Education, Orientation, and Mentoring, a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Diocesan Convention Alternate Delegate and member at Christ Episcopal Church Springfield.

Footnotes

1 Regretfully, since this article was written in July 2018, Committee Member Micki Simnett lost her battle against cancer entering into the larger life on August 31. Besides serving on the Commission on Ministry, Mickey was also serving an elected term on the Diocesan Council. Mickey was a recipient of the Bishop’s Shield.

Let light perpetual shine upon her.

2 In late September the committee was informed that the Lilly Endowment had received nearly 600 applications and awarded grants to 78 charitable organizations. The Curacy Program was not one of the projects selected for funding. The committee is now looking for alternative funding for this very important program.

Resources

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Courses for Licensed Evangelism and Christian Formation Roles

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

The Rev. Dr. Bill Fasel Five-minute read.   Resources

Since the lead up to the Presiding Bishop’s visit in May 2017, we in The Diocese of West Missouri have been putting a lot of emphasis on evangelism and Christian formation. I would like to tell you of two leadership opportunities in evangelism and initial formation. The Commission on Ministry has defined two licenses for leadership in these areas. One is “Evangelist” and the other is “Catechist”. The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM) has devised two curricula to prepare potential licensees.

A licensed Evangelist is a lay person who coordinates and facilitates the evangelism activities of a congregation or other ministry (like campus ministry, for example). The license does not necessarily imply direct evangelism, like going door to door. Rather, we envision groups of persons working as a team with leadership from the Evangelist and clergy.

The same sort of structure would also be true for a Catechist. A Catechist is a lay person who coordinates and facilitates the preparation of (mostly new) members for baptism, confirmation, reception in The Episcopal Church, or the reaffirmation of baptismal vows. The Catechist would work with clergy and sponsors to help prepare persons for these rites.

Both of these licenses fit together as part of the ancient, and modern, Catechumenate. The Catechumenate has four stages:

  1. Evangelism — where we seek out and invite new persons to the Christian faith and the Episcopal Church, or as the Presiding Bishop puts it, the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.
  2. Catechumenate –where we he help persons to learn how to live and worship within our faith communities.
  3. Enlightenment –where we prepare persons for the rites of Baptism or Confirmation, etc., frequently during Lent.
  4. Mystagogy — after the rite of baptism or confirmation where we help the person to live into their vows and to take their next steps in formation and discipleship, frequently during the Easter season.

I invite you to look up these licenses and requirements of the diocesan website, and I also invite you to check out the curriculum at BKSM — links to both are provided below. See if it might be something for you.

I would invite anyone who is curious to consider auditing one of the courses in the curricula. For the Catechist license, I recommend taking “Adult Catechesis and Formation”. The classroom time for this course will be October 13-14, with reading starting September 10. For the Evangelist license, I recommend taking “Contemporary Mission”. The classroom for that will be November 10-11, with reading starting October 15.

The cost for auditing is $100 per course, and you can register on the BKSM website.

For more information, please contact me, the Rev. Dr. Bill Fasel, at nerm@diowestmo.org.

The Rev. Dr. Bill Fasel is chair of the Commission of Ministry, serves on the board at Bishop Kempler School of Ministry, and heads NERM, the North East Regional Ministry.

Resources

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Clover House, providing space for healing and hope

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.

Shane Schneider Five-minute read.   Resources

CupcakeImage: Flickr user sayo ts

Searching for something to cook, she discovered the last two boxes of cake mix in the cupboard. For the next three hours, she laid claim to the Clover House kitchen, baking dozens of chocolate cupcakes with care and attention. The frosting, she made from scratch, and when she finished, 36 perfect cupcakes graced the counter top.

“Well, what now?” asked The Rev. Susanne Methven.

“Let’s find homeless people and give them a cupcake,” said the 17-year-old cook.

***

Opened in 2016, Clover House is an oasis of sorts, 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. The home-like setting offers both security and community to youth dealing with complex and unique trauma. At Clover House, survivors have the emotional space to develop healthy relationships and to rediscover their sense of purpose.

The Rev Susanne Methven blesses Clover House.
Image:Image: St. Francis Foundation

***

“Stop!” shouted the passenger, and Mother Methven hit the brakes. The youth hopped from the van and approached a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk. “You want a cupcake?” she said as she placed one in his hand.

Near the hospital, she yelled out the window to a couple walking, “You guys want a cupcake?” before leaping from the van with two in her hand.

At the hospital emergency room, she offered one to a woman on the phone, who smiled and spoke to someone on the other end, “I just got a cupcake.”

***

“For the past two years, I’ve lived in this house with these young women,” said Methven, Clover House director. “I’ve witnessed how the ordinary rhythms of living in the context of our Clover House values shapes us. We are a community of women who learn together and choose to love each other as the best way of becoming fully human. Along the way, we are deeply touched by each other.”

Without intervention, survivors of sex trafficking often face lives of brokenness, addiction, legal problems, and mental health challenges. One of only a handful of similar programs in the nation, Clover House helps survivors move from hurt, to healing, to wholeness. The program approaches the youth keeping the whole person in mind – spirit, mind, and body. It includes Living Compass, an Episcopal-developed wellness program; volunteer opportunities within the community; individual, group, equine, and gardening therapy; and use of a gym. The youth also attend school while at Clover House and develop important life skills.

“Serving here is one of the few occasions in my life when I have felt strongly that this is my calling,” said Methven. “Clover House is important because it’s through community – with each other and with God – that we find the hope and grace to learn together and be shaped by love. The biggest gift is watching these girls grow and change. These are youth who have experienced the depths of human evil, yet who have the resilience, strength, and courage to heal with our support. Their stories inspire me.”

***

The youth gave away every cupcake that day, and she did it joyfully –- indeed, with an abundance of joy. Mother Methven marveled that this young woman, who had both seen and survived so much suffering and ugliness in her short life, should get such happiness from giving away cupcakes.

The next day, she asked her why.

“When I was homeless,” she replied, “people would give me food. But I never got anything fun like a cupcake.”

Shane Schneider is the Senior Copywriter for The Saint Francis Foundation and Saint Francis Community Services. He is the major contributor for Saint Francis’ quarterly magazine Hi-Lites.


General Convention in Pictures

There’s been a lot of words written about the 2018 General Convention in Austin, Texas. Here are the pictures.

Gary Allman Ten-minute read.   Resources

For the 78th General Convention in 2015, I stayed at home and watched the events in Salt Lake City unfold on my computer screen. I felt that I was constantly missing a piece of the puzzle.

In 2017 I applied for funding to attend the 79th General Convention. My request was approved, and there I was in the midst of things, and it was totally overwhelming.

I arrived in Austin, Texas on July 4, and things were already in full swing. First lesson arrive earlier to get the lay of the land, and to be able to hit the ground running when things switch up a gear. We — the diocesan, church, and general media, in total over 100 registered media people covered the convention — were allocated a briefing room, recording area (I won’t call it a studio), the services of the Office of Public Affairs, and set-aside areas in both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies to work from. The days were long, with early starts and carrying on late into the evening. Meals were taken ‘on-the-hoof’, between sessions. There were Morning and evening media briefings and so much more to take in and try to follow.

It was tiring, but a fantastic and often moving experience not to be missed.

During the convention I left most of the word smithing to my media expert colleagues and concentrated on curating the fire hose of information they produced. I Relayed the important bits on our Social Media and the in the daily General Convention Round-up magazine I produced. The truth is that that the learning curve is steep, and while the ‘old hands’ take it all in their stride, the many ‘newbies’, myself included, wandered around looking a bit lost for the first couple of days!

Did I find the missing pieces of the puzzle? Not really, what I found was that the puzzle was a whole lot bigger and complicated than the view from my computer screen led me to believe.

***

Rather than bombard you with more words about Convention, I’ve picked some of my favorite pictures, which I hope will give you a flavor of what it was like. As always, you can click/tap on any picture to see it bigger and start a slide show of all the images in the article.

You can see a lot more pictures in our Flickr General Convention album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/diowestmo/albums/72157670856010488

You can read about the diocesan youth’s experience at General Convention in this article: spirit.diowestmo.org/2018/09/wemo-youth-at-general-convention/

Our General Convention Team

Deputies: L-R Fr. Jonathan Frazier, Fr. Tim Coppinger, Mthr. Anne Kyle, Curtis Hamilton, Linda Robertson, Fr. Marshall Scott, Liz Trader, Amanda Perschall.

Alternate Deputies: Fr. Stan Runnels (far Right). At Convention, but not pictured here: Mthr. Megan Castellan, Channing Horner, Christine Morrison.

Also pictured: Bishop Marty, and … WEMO Jesus. Image: Gary Allman

Lay Deputy Linda Robertson (left), Convention Volunteer Louise Horner, Alternate Lay Deputy Channing Horner, Clergy Deputy Mthr. Anne Kyle. Image: Gary Allman

Opening Eucharist

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the opening Eucharist. Image: Gary Allman

Revival

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: ‘God is love and gives life’ Image: Gary Allman
Episcopal Revival in Austin, Texas Image: Gary Allman
Episcopal Revival in Austin, Texas Image: Gary Allman
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: ‘God is love and gives life’ Image: Gary Allman
Even Bishops get selfies with the PB.’ Image: Gary Allman

Bishop’s United Against Gun Violence

Bishops United Against Gun Violence. Image: Gary Allman

Prayers for Justice

Prayers for Justice at T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Image: Gary Allman
Presiding Bishop Micheal Curry addresses the people from General Convention at Prayers for Justice outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Image: Gary Allman

Business Sessions

House of Deputies

House of Deputies. Image: Gary Allman

House of Bishops

Media

Assembled media representatives at the daily briefing. Image: Gary Allman

Province VII Meeting

Province VII Meeting. Image: Gary Allman

Around Convention

People gathered near the ‘stage’ in the General Convention Exhibition Area. Image: Gary Allman

Closing Eucharist

Convention Eucharist. Image: Gary Allman

It Wasn’t All Work

Pigeons have featured a lot in this convention. No doubt, fed up with tweeting, it seems they finally found someone to speak up on their behalf. Image: Gary Allman
Unfortunately this wasn’t mine, but it was appropriate. Image: Gary Allman

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri

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Five Tips for ‘Gifts for Life’

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?

Richard Hoff Five-minute read.   Resources

Cover photo for the 2018 Gifts for Life catalog Image: Episcopal Relief & Development

Anne Browne loves all the work that Episcopal Relief & Development does, and wants everyone to know that “Episcopal Relief & Development is the best organization they can support!” But her real passion is reserved for one program: Gifts for Life. She deeply appreciates how directly Gifts for Life empowers local partners, offering individuals and communities the ability to help themselves in ways that respect their home, history and culture.

A born educator, Anne spent many years with the American Field Service as a coordinator and counselor, worked with intellectually disabled students, taught kindergarten, and put in 21 years as a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo – along with raising seven children, enjoying 11 grandchildren (and several godchildren) and running home-based mail order businesses selling cards, stationary and children’s books and toys from around the world.

With this background to draw from, it’s no wonder that Anne is ingenious at finding personalized ways to leverage her support for Gifts for Life and spread the word about the good work done by Episcopal Relief & Development. Here are some of her favorite tactics for creating a ‘ripple effect’ of blessings.


Five Tips from a Gifts for Life ‘Professional’

One: Think like Miss Manners

Everyone likes to be thanked – or will at some point earn a congratulations, be in need of condolences, or have some other reason why acknowledgement with a card is socially graceful and appropriate. Following the advice she used to give her card-buying customers, Anne makes sure she always has a stash of 10-20 Gifts for Life cards on hand for just these situations. (Every Gifts for Life donation is acknowledged with a card.) As Anne says, “It’s just like buying something for the food pantry and leaving it in your car – it’s right there when you get to church.”

Children receiving nutrition after a disaster, DR Congo Image: Episcopal Relief & Development

Two: Give to Celebrate Holidays and Birthdays

Instead of buying special Christmas, Valentine’s or birthday cards, double the effect of your goodwill by donating to the Gifts for Life program that is most relevant or appealing to the person you are giving for – while spreading the word about Episcopal Relief & Development’s good work.

Three: Honor Others

Anne became an Episcopalian at age 19. She was drawn by the positive changes in her family due to counseling by an Episcopal priest her aunt and mother met following the early death of Anne’s cousin. For Anne, being an Episcopalian means to ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ and to have a commitment to being ‘active in community’ – two reasons she is so supportive of Episcopal Relief & Development! Four years ago, Anne decided to walk her own walk by honoring people in her church who she felt truly live out their faith. She chose Thanksgiving as an appropriate time, and sent Gifts for Life cards to those special members of her community, acknowledging their contributions.

Four: Especially for Kids

Anne adds small tokens to Gifts for Life cards to make the donation more real and tangible to young people. One favorite is a small stuffed lamb or other animal to accompany an Animal and Agriculture donation. Another is a book or some colored pencils with an Early Learners gift. She also suggests including a colorful photo (think a flock of bright yellow baby chicks!). Applicable for any age, photos grab attention and interest and help anyone understand what this gift in their honor really represents.

Child with her pig, Nicaragua Image: Episcopal Relief & Development

Five: Especially for New Grandparents

Anne loves sending cards supporting Early Childhood Development programs to new grandparents, who will be celebrating their new connection to why this program and the education it helps support is so important, anywhere and everywhere in the world.

“It is truly a blessing to share and to give.”

Anne didn’t know Episcopal Relief & Development well throughout most of her life. Now that she does, she wants to share the good news, with people in her church and with others. Gifts for Life has offered her a perfect way to show her concern and caring for this world while cultivating new links in her ‘chain of blessings’ and introducing people to an organization that she knows does good and necessary work.

Anne Browne (center) with her family Image: Episcopal Relief & Development
Episcopal Relief & Development is grateful for Anne’s dedication to Episcopal Relief & Development, and for her commitment to finding ways of making Gifts for Life a gift for all occasions!

Richard Hoff is a Major Gifts Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.

The Sexual Immorality of Pornography

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.

Mike McDonnell 15 minute read.   Resources

 

Editor’s Note. I’d like to warn readers that Mike’s article makes hard reading. Once again he doesn’t pull any punches, and confronts, head on, a topic most people would rather not discuss. Pornography and human — specifically male — sexuality. As I’ve mentioned in the past in relation to sex trafficking, 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.

 

In today’s society 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. Such comments give credence in an ‘industry’ (and it is an industry) that has a very dark underbelly. So while, in some circles, pornography may be accepted and embraced as a part of today’s world, for others, the impact of the criminal elements who exploit (primarily) men’s weaknesses creates ripples of pain and human suffering that spread out into the world. For some pornography can become an addiction, and then there is the plight of the ‘participants’ many of whom are coerced by blackmail, abduction, and threats of violence to them or their families. It all starts with ‘an innocent bit of fun’…

The darkness of pornography can engulf your mind and soul bringing the weight of desperation that presents no glimmer of hope, or light just foreboding, and an unimaginable gloom. It is a nightmare coated with the aura of seductiveness that radiates a false promise of sexual fulfillment and love, that can result in disappointment, shame, broken relationships, destroyed lives, and personal ruin.

Pornography may be the most challenging evil for men to defeat. It attacks at the heart of a man’s natural desire to find love and intimacy. Unfortunately, some men misunderstand love and become confused in their effort to find closeness through sexual gratification. It is easy to understand the allure of sex and its power over the minds of men; but when we seek momentary satisfaction through a third party, we have crossed the line of morality in so many different ways.

This statement from The Catechism of the Catholic Church is excellent in defining the dangers found in porn:

Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public) since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

I have heard men speak of porn as “nothing more” than pure entertainment and, that moreover, it enhances their sexual relationships with their spouses or girlfriends. What is the effect on a man watching someone else have sex? What benefit do they receive? What justification do they use to rationalize their self-gratification? Who benefits, and at what cost to the individual watching or reading porn? After all, it may seem that the woman or young girl performing sex acts areis having a great time even if it is staged.  We can be taken in by a false realism believing that the girls are not being forced to satisfy unusual sex requests, and are not suffering physical abuse and torture; instead what we are viewing is merely two people finding pleasure in each other’s arms. Therefore, if we continue to follow that cloudy logic, it would look as if that all the women are enjoying themselves, moaning and groaning in delight, and besides, don’t they all experience an orgasm? So if they are enjoying every minute of the encounter why shouldn’t I? They are having great sex and making good money. What is wrong if I satisfy myself by becoming part of their reality even if it is manufactured?

Statistics for porn are easily accessible if you are seeking more data… you will discover that the analytical part of porn is depressing and frightening.

Porn Hub is the most significant pornography site in the world. Each year for the past five years they have published an annual “Year in Review,” to “discover and reflect,” on how people have been viewing porn. What is amazing is their business acumen in their target marketing by age, sex, sexual preferences, location, time of day usage, country, state, etc. They have terrific insight into who is using their product and when. If you happen to be a porn-site visitor who mistakenly believes your information is private, you may want to rethink your position. Let us review Porn Hub’s Analytics (1) 2017 worldwide numbers and Daily Infographics 2013 stats (2) for the US:

Porn Hub Analytics (1) (www.pornhub.com/insights):

  • 28.5 billion annual visits to Porn Hub
  • 81 million daily visits
  • 25 billion searches performed
    • 50,000 searches per minute
    • 800 searches per second
  • 4 million videos uploaded
    • 810,000 amateur videos

Daily Infographics, US (2) (www.dailyinfographic.com/author/timwillingham):

  • 8.7 billion annual visits
  • 24 million daily visits to porn sites
  • 40 million Americans are regular visitors
    • 28,258 are viewing porn every second
  • Porn yearly revenues $2.84 billion
    • $3,076 is spent on porn every second 
  • 116,000 requests for “Child Pornography” every day

Statistics for porn are easily accessible if you are seeking more data. However, as I was warned before receiving the Porn Hub Analytics, you will discover that the analytical part of porn is depressing and frightening.  The numbers reveal an alarming and almost overwhelming prevalence of pornography throughout the world.

What does that say about us men? What in the world is going on in our minds that we need this external stimulation to find satisfaction and, most importantly, what does God say about pornography? 

I am not a scientist nor a theologian, but I am a pragmatist. You may look at those professions and wonder what does being pragmatic have to do with science or theology, let alone porn?  Nothing actually, but from my perspective, it allows me to ask myself several essential questions without dependence on science or religion. Is sex beneficial to me? Does sex satisfy? What are the costs and rewards of sex? Is there a moral quandary when using pornography? And why do I need artificial stimulation to satisfy my sexual cravings?

As a young man, it seemed as if I had sex “on the brain“ 24/7, and indeed I probably would not have been opposed to reading or viewing porn. It is and was very seductive, stimulating and alluring. Consequently, being rational about sex and controlling urges was challenging. However, age conveys a measure of wisdom, and clarity of thought; although, getting older does not free me from the lure of pornography. Though the desire is significantly dampened, it still lays hidden in my mind.

Let me take a moment to review and answer the questions I asked:

Is sex beneficial? I don’t know about you, but I love sex. There is nothing more satisfying than finding yourself entwined with a woman. It is both fulfilling and relieving and offers a degree of closeness that cannot be attained in any other manner. It is a gift given to two people that cannot be measured in precise physical terms but is to be understood as spiritual when given and received in love.

Is sex satisfying? Yes, no and maybe. Yes, when it is being given and received by two individuals as an offering, willingly and openly accepted. No, when it is forced or coerced, for self-gratification without care or concern for the other person’s well being. Maybe, when a person, because of their physical and or mental condition is allowing another person to use his or her body to satisfy themselves or being gratified themselves. 

What are the rewards and costs of sex? The rewards resulting from a healthy sexual relationship are cumulative. It brings a feeling of well being, intimacy and attachment that are realized in very few circumstances. It is part of the shared human experience that the very personal contact of sexual intimacy can only bring by strengthening the bond between a couple. The flip side is the toll that porn will inflict on a relationship through the pretense that pornography interjects excitement and variety in sexual relations. However, pornography’s goal is to blur the lines between love and self-gratification. It achieves this by featuring women and even children who “seem” to be willing to perform and enjoy all varieties of sexual perversions that the viewer may desire. Porn embeds an illusion in the minds of men that will become more addictive over time. This deception has the effect of ultimately subduing the love women may feel for their spouse, which can eventually wreak havoc with family relationships and careers. The fundamental question that must be considered by all men viewing pornography is: do my actions have a negative or positive impact on my family and others in and beyond my sphere of influence?

Is there a moral quandary when using pornography? Let’s be clear, porn is destructive and supports criminal elements that trafficks women and children (including boys) for the sole purpose of enriching themselves at the cost of lives. Men who watch and purchase pornography are not doing it for any reason, except to satisfy their sexual desire, no matter the detriment to the victims who are raped, violently molested, starved and even killed during deviant sexual behavior.  Researchers have also found an association between the use of pornography and infidelity in marriage. Does that surprise anyone? (What Porn Does to Intimacy, July 16, 2014, Psychology Today)

What do you think? Is there a “moral quandary?” As I‘ve already mentioned, I am a pragmatist. The chances that pornography could bring about anything positive is remote. It is destructive to men and devastating to the children and women who suffer from the consequences of persistent sexual abuse. Is it immoral? Damn straight!

418 [Men] are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. Ephesians 4:18-19

If you are using pornography to fill an emptiness in your soul, please find help. If you are married, you need to understand why you require artificial stimulation to satisfy your sexual cravings and work out how to remove your dependence on it. If you are single, please realize that what you are often watching supports the trafficking of humans and that the picture you see is only an illusion and is not real sex or love. It is make-believe, not real and is an evil, immoral pretension of what is a beautiful, life-sustaining gift to humankind. It is not the answer to the spiritual wellness or joy you deserve.

This is a revised version of an article originally published on the Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s website.

Mike McDonnell is co-founder of the Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, VP Social Justice (Human Trafficking Ministry) with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and a member of St. George Episcopal Church, Camdenton.

NERM Day Out

NERM churches visit Warm Springs Ranch

Thomas Rose One-minute read.   Resources

The churches of NERM (Northeast Regional Ministry) tour Warm Springs Ranch. Supplied image

On June 30, the churches of NERM (Northeast Regional Ministry) gathered to tour the Warm Springs Ranch (think Budweiser Clydesdales).

The ranch is just a few miles east of Boonville, Missouri. After the tour and run through the gift shop (with free tasting), Christ Church hosted a potluck of enormous proportions. It was a great time of food, laughter, and fellowship.

Fr. Bill Fasel at Warm Springs Ranch Image: the Rev. Kim Taube

Those who attended represented Christ Episcopal Church – Lexington, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church – Fayette, Grace Episcopal Church – Chillicothe, St. Paul’s Episcopal – Clinton, St. Phillips Episcopal Church – Trenton, and Christ Church – Boonville.

Thomas Rose is Bishop’s Warden at Christ Church in Boonville, Missouri.

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New Regional Youth Ministry Coordinators

Meet our two new Regional Youth Coordinators, Krist Heuett and Meredith Seaton

Josh Trader Five-minute read.   Resources

We are happy to announce the hiring of two new Regional Youth Ministry Coordinators. After several applications, interviews and prayer, we have hired Krista Heuett and Meredith Seaton to fulfill the two open positions. Krista will be responsible for the southern half of our diocese and Meredith the northern half.

The purpose of the Regional Youth Ministry Coordinator is to provide opportunities for our youth community to connect on a local level. They will work with congregations to organize and plan events ranging from picnics to overnight lock-ins. Be on the lookout during the last part of 2018 for more information about meet ups and planning sessions from them. I have asked each of them to share a little about themselves so that you can get to know them.

Josh Trader is The Bishop’s Assistant for Youth Ministry Development for The Diocese of West Missouri and a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Springfield.

Krista Heuett

Krista Heuett
I’m a member of Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield and have been a part of The Episcopal Church my entire life. I am currently the Director of Youth Ministry at Christ Church and I’m blessed to share my gifts through the Regional Youth Coordinator position.

I have been married to Bradley for almost 17 years and we have two youth, Jacob and Hunter. I am the daughter of the Rev. Anne Cheffey, who serves at St. Mark’s, Kimberling City. I have an Associates of Applied Science with an emphasis in Dental Hygiene and was an active hygienist for over five years. I left the hygiene field to be able to focus more on our diocesan youth and to continue my college education. I will graduate from Missouri State University in Spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and a Minor in English. When I’m not spending time with my family, studying for school, or working with youth ministry, I enjoy volunteering for other ministries in the church, watching Hunter play football, or spending time with our dogs, Jax and Sydney, and cat, Autumn.

I am extremely passionate for our youth and feel everyone can learn a lot through our interactions and modeling of our youth’s love and compassion for all. I feel the youth are not only the future of the church, but they are the present church which welcomes all with open hearts. I’m grateful to be a part of so many amazing youth’s lives through our youth program. By working with the youth, not only have I been blessed to help them on their faith journey, but they have helped my faith to grow and have strengthened my spiritual relationship with God, too.

I am excited to see where this new ministry leads as I share the love of God to all while helping to grow our youth community. Please feel free to contact me for more information on how to become involved in the south network.

Contact Krista: wemoyouthsouth@diowestmo.org.

Meredith Seaton

Meredith Seaton
I am a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City. I have been a volunteer with the youth program at my church from 2003, as well as at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City from 2003-2014. My work included everything from Sunday youth group to the Ski trips and lock-ins. I also had the pleasure of working with the youth of St Anne’s, Lee’s Summit in 2014-15.

I joined The Youth Ministry Commission in the early stages of developing our diocesan youth program. It has bloomed to include many events for our youth, and also provides youth with opportunities to lead worship during the events as well as in their own churches.

I have had the amazing opportunity to accompany our youth to large church events such as the Episcopal Youth Event, The General Convention of The Episcopal Church, as well as on mission trips and pilgrimages. There really is nothing quite like riding together in a car for days to build community and relationships. Summer 2019 we will embark on another pilgrimage exploring our faith and nature.

I am excited about the work that our networks have done over the past few years. The work of the network is to create a place for youth from churches that may not have a youth program to be able to join others from the area in worship, fellowship, and fun. We have the unique opportunity to worship in our own churches and come together in community. I look forward to building this network with the help of the churches in the diocese.

We also need you! We are always in need of volunteers in the youth program. Volunteer as a driver for a youth event or to be a chaperone. We have a variety of ways to be involved both hands on, but also behind the scenes, and many jobs that don’t include sleeping on a church floor!

Please feel free to contact me for more information on how to become involved in the north network. I look forward to continuing on this journey together.

Contact Meredith: wemoyouthnorth@diowestmo.org.

September’s Ordinations

Kim Taube and Warren Swenson were ordained into the priesthood on Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

The ordination of the Rev. Kim Taube and the Rev. Warren Swenson Image: Gary Allman

On Saturday, September 15, 2018, Kim Taube and Warren Swenson were ordained into the priesthood at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri, here is a selection of pictures from the service.

September 15, 2018, Kim Taube and Warren Swenson are the most recently ordained priests in West Missouri. Image: Gary Allman
The Rev. Warren Swenson Image: Gary Allman
Walker Adams and the Rev. Warren Swenson Image: Gary Allman
The Rev. Warren Swenson Image: Gary Allman
The Rev. Kim Taube Image: Gary Allman
The Rev. Kim Taube Image: Gary Allman

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri

St. Augustine’s Celebration of the Renewal of Ministry

St. Augustine’s recently held a Celebration of the Renewal of Ministry.

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

On August 28, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City held a Celebration of the Renewal of Ministry, which included the Installation of Fr. Chas Marks as their Rector.


Presentation of the new rector. Supplied image.

Blessing Supplied image.
Fr. Chas is having far too much fun sprinkling Holy Water with the aspergillum. Supplied image.

Confession: The Communications Director stole the above pictures from St. Augustine’s Facebook page.

Sunday September 16

I visited St. Augustine’s in September, here are a few pictures from my visit.

The people of Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri. Sunday, September 16, 2018. Image: Gary Allman

Fr. Chas and all the people helping with the service on Sunday September 16, 2018.
Image: Gary Allman
Communion at St. Augustine’s. Image: Gary Allman

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri

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Camp WEMO 2018

Here’s a rundown on what happened at this year’s Camp WEMO.

Katie Mansfield Five-minute read.   Resources

Camp WEMO 2018. Supplied image

Each year the weeks leading up to camp are so exciting. You get to hear all the chatter from youth about how much fun camp was last year, and how they can’t wait to do it all over again. They’re excited to get to do different activities, to listen to the different clergy who come to visit, and to just spend time in fellowship with their friends, both old and new; they will tell you themselves, there really is nothing like Camp WEMO.


Camp WEMO 2018. Supplied image

Every year there is always a general theme that we try and revolve camp around, this year it happened to be love. Each morning we greeted the day with a pep talk from the interns and a couple of Youth Ministry Council members, Jordan and Emily. Monday morning, we got to hear Taylor Mansfield talk about the following passage from 1 John:

47Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

Tuesday morning we got to listen to Katie Mansfield talk about:

1919Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 19:19

On Wednesday Hayley Cobb shared with us her thoughts on:

31See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.1 John 3:1

Thursday morning we heard from Jordan discuss:

48Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8

Finally on Friday we got to hear Emily sum everything up for us. These pep talks offered everyone an insight on what we should be focusing on for the day and how we should show others love throughout the week.

The Youth Ministry Council planning team for camp reached out to many clergy to visit us twice a day for ‘Clergy Time’ to talk about what love means to them, and to also plan an activity time so that the youth and adults could spend some time with them having conversations and asking questions, while also do an activity such as making chocolate mouse or decorating an altar cloth.

Camp WEMO 2018. Supplied image

Josh Trader (Left) & Spencer Orr. Supplied image

This year, Camp WEMO was exceptional and the clergy who came to visit, and the staff who were there to help was one of the reasons why. Other reasons the week was such a success were the way the senior high youth cheered each other on during the float trip when someone fell off the side of the raft and had to swim back, then there were the campers applauding each other when they finally worked up the strength to stand up and use the restroom or get a refill of water. During the week at camp everyone accepted the call to love each other and live that out throughout the week, and with the help of messy games, and activity and worship times as a community, we all succeeded.

Katie Mansfield is an intern with the diocesan youth ministry.

WEMO Youth at General Convention

Twenty-two youth and adults traveled to Austin, Texas when the diocesan youth attended this year’s General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Hayley Cobb Five-minute read.   Resources
After lunch on Tuesday, the youth had a tour of the Convention Media Hub, on their travels they met Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Image: Chris Sikkema

The Diocese of West Missouri Youth Program was able to take 22 youth and adults to the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas at the beginning of July. It was a week full of learning and growth for everyone involved. Through legislative sessions, meetings with passionate Episcopalians, and powerful worship services, our youth got to experience the loving sense of community in our church.

Our group stopped in Denison, Texas on the drive down and stayed at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for the night. We got to learn about all of the ministries St. Luke’s provides for their community as well as help serve dinner to people from the community. On our way into Austin, we went to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center to attend the prayer service Mthr. Megan Castellan and many others organized. Getting to gather together to witness in solidarity with the women at the center was a powerful, once in a lifetime experience for both our youth and adults.

The diocesan youth arrived today and joined us for Prayers for Justice at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Image: Gary Allman

Monday was our first full day at Convention. We started the day hearing from Walker Adams, former WEMO youth and intern, about General Convention as well as what he does at Sewanee. We also got to sit down with Gay Clark-Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, for a brief minute and ask her a few questions before heading over to sit in on our first legislative session. Each day, once we arrived at the convention center, the youth had the option of getting to go sit in The House of Deputies during their sessions or explore the Exhibit Hall and talk to many different exhibitors about their booths. When in open session, some of us would go to the House of Bishops and listen to their discussion as well! In between legislative sessions, joint sessions, and talking to exhibitors, the WEMO Youth got to meet with lots of people involved in various parts of the Episcopal church.

Monday afternoon we got to meet with Bill Campbell, Executive Director of Forma, and talk with him about Forma’s presence at General Convention and what all they do as an organization. That evening we had the chance to tour Seminary of the Southwest with Joe Pierjok, student at Southwest from Church of the Redeemer in Kansas City.

WEMO Youth in the convention TV studio with Jeremy Tackett and Chris Sikkema. Supplied Image

Some other highlights from the week include touring the media hub TV Studio built for General Convention inside the convention center, running into Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, hearing from Shannon Kelly, Officer for Young Adult & Campus Ministries, and some of us helping to serve communion at the convention’s closing Eucharist. We had lunch with our deputation and used the opportunity to ask them questions about their experience. We also attended a youth gathering one night to meet with other youth at General Convention.

In no particular order. WEMO Youth, deputies, alternates, volunteers, Donna Field, Bishop Marty, and WEMO Jesus at the 79th Convention of The Episcopal Church. Image: Gary Allman
Amanda (left) and Rosie demonstrate a diverse taste in hats. Image: Gary Allman

It was a week full of new experiences for some of the WEMO Youth and while we were busy we learned a lot. We learned how to love everyone regardless of our differences through the adoption of the Diocese of Cuba back into The Episcopal Church. The business of the church might not always be glamorous, but it is important nonetheless. Having been immersed in General Convention for a week, the youth of this diocese experienced the Episcopal Church in new, fascinating ways and enjoyed it all.

Hayley Cobb is an intern with the diocesan youth ministry.

MissionPalooza

WEMO Youth’s MissionPalooza this year helped out at Wayside Waifs, Nourish KC, Operation Breakthrough, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Synergy, and Unleashed Pet Rescue.

Taylor Mansfield Five-minute read.   Resources

MissionPalooza. Supplied image

As always, MissionPalooza was a great success. We attended six work sites, Wayside Waifs, Nourish KC, Operation Breakthrough, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Synergy, and Unleashed Pet Rescue.

We had a group of about 30 youth and adults who were split between the six worksites to volunteer at for 3 days. When everyone registered for this event they were able to choose which worksite they would most prefer to volunteer at and almost everyone got one of their top two choices.

The group that attended Wayside Waifs was also the same group that volunteered at Unleashed Pet Rescue. The group that went to these two worksites baked homemade dog treats, walked the animals at the shelter, and did some laundry and housekeeping chores around the shelter. Despite how tedious some of these tasks may be, the youth could not have been happier to complete them. Every day, I was greeted with a big, happy smile from all of these youth who had spent their afternoon cleaning up after animals.

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The Habitat for Humanity Restore work site required a lot of hard and physical work from everybody in the group. This group spent the majority of their day outside in the sweltering heat and when they weren’t outside, they were inside digging through piles of locks. Habitat for Humanity Restore is probably one of the toughest work sites, because at times it can seem like you are only completing busy work and not making an impact on the community. The youth and adults did a great job at toughing out the hard times and realizing that no matter how little the job, it still can make a huge impact on someone and their life.

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Synergy is a shelter for women and men who have led tough lives struggling with domestic abuse, addiction, and many other things. At this worksite, the youth and adults helped to clean up some old apartments that the men and women staying at Synergy would eventually live in as a way to get back onto their feet. The youth from this work site came back telling me about cockroaches crawling out of mirrors, cleaning out expired food in the fridge and getting bleach on their shirts all with big smiles on their faces.

Operation Breakthrough is a day care type facility for low income families. These families can send their children to Operation Breakthrough throughout the summer, on holiday breaks, and any other days that school is closed so that the parents can still work and don’t have to worry about finding childcare. The group that attended this work site were split up into different classrooms, and got to play with the children throughout the day, and also had to complete some cleaning chores.

MissionPalooza. Supplied image

At the close we heard from three people about their time at MissionPalooza. We heard about their desire to go out and love the world as God taught us to, we heard about the times throughout the week when God’s love was so obviously present, and we heard about the love that these youth have for each other, God, and everyone around them. MissionPalooza left everyone feeling empowered, loved and motivated. I can’t think of another group of people who would be able to go out and complete several days’ worth of volunteer work in just one day. It was a huge success, and everyone is ready to go out and be the Lord’s hands and feet in the world.

Taylor Mansfield is an intern with the diocesan youth ministry.