The Vermont Ecumenical Council: Network of Christian Cooperation organized two regional meet & greet Luncheons on October 24-25, 2019. Our goal here was to start the conversation where none existed and to foster better cooperation where ecumenical groups were already working together. This was a GREAT SUCCESS!
At Trinity Episcopal Church in Shelburne VT a group of eleven local pastors, religious, Christian ministries and church leaders gathered for a simple meal and to discuss what Christian cooperation looked like in their own circles. We shared our stories, our struggles and our hopes for the future in a way that helped us understand each other better. Conversation and understanding is always the first step towards cooperation!
The next day a group of us gathered around a pile of ribs, veggies and two cakes! We met at the Springfield Family Center – a food shelf, day shelter and community center serving the greater Springfield VT area. This location was significant because it is already the fruit of Ecumenical cooperation in that area. An alliance of Churches in the Springfield area have been working together for years, helping the community, raising awareness for social justice and feeding the hungry. A shinning example of what this kind of cooperation can do for our towns and state, the VECNCC looks forward to extending this model throughout Vermont.
These two gatherings, although having very different dynamics, were exactly what they needed to be and showed us what they could be. The Vermont Ecumenical Council looks forward to coordinating more of these events in the future. If you are interested in hosting such a gathering, please email us at email@example.com or call Ryan at 802.233.9603.
This past week there has been significant flooding in Vermont and volunteers are needed to help people pick up and clean up after the storm. Typically this involves clearing out fallen trees and helping to clean out the mud and debris from flooding in homes. If you are willing to give some time this weekend contact your church’s disaster response coordinator or our VOAD president, Rick Cochran <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The number of people needing help and the towns where they live are – 2 in Starksboro, 2 in Huntington,1 in Enosburg, 1 in Richford, 1 in Fairfax, 1 in Jeffersonville, 1 in Rutland City, 1 in East Montpelier.
Several areas of Vermont have VOAD or COAD – Community Organizations Assisting in Disasters that coordinate volunteer efforts in their area of the state. Chittenden county does not have a group to coordinate their volunteers in disasters and so the state VOAD would like to help them organize a group to be prepared to respond to future disasters. Churches have typically formed the backbone of volunteer response and are are great source of leaders. If you or someone you know of is willing to serve on a coordinating committee, please contact Rick Cochran <email@example.com>. You can get more information about VOAD’s at https://vtvoad.communityos.
Worth reading – not just for All Saints Day! So much to reflect on!
If you’re not on Richard Rohr’s list, you may be glad to read this and sign up.
Church: Old and New
If We Were Christian November 1, 2019
All Saints’ Day
A Circle expands forever
It covers all who wish to hold hands
And its size depends on each other
It is a vision of solidarity
It turns outwards to interact with the outside
And inward for self critique
A circle expands forever
It is a vision of accountability
It grows as the other is moved to grow
A circle must have a centre
But a single dot does not make a Circle
One tree does not make a forest
A circle, a vision of cooperation, mutuality and care
—Mercy Amba Oduyoye 
Hospitality is the practice that keeps the church from becoming a club, a members-only society. —Diana Butler Bass 
Practical, practice-based Christianity has been avoided, denied, minimized, ignored, delayed, and sidelined for too many centuries, by too many Christians who were never told Christianity was anything more than a belonging or belief system. And we only belonged to our own little club or denomination at that! Some of us were afraid to step foot into a house of worship across the street for fear of eternal punishment. Now we know that there is no Methodist or Catholic way of loving. There is no Orthodox or Presbyterian way of living a simple and nonviolent life. There is no Lutheran or Evangelical way of showing mercy. There is no Baptist or Episcopalian way of visiting the imprisoned. If there is, we are invariably emphasizing the accidentals, which distract us from the very “marrow of the Gospel,” as St. Francis called it. We have made this mistake for too long. We cannot keep avoiding what Jesus actually emphasized and mandated. In this most urgent time, “it is the very love of Christ that now urges us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Quaker pastor Philip Gulley superbly summarizes how we must rebuild spirituality from the bottom up in his book, If the Church Were Christian.  Here I take the liberty of using my own words to restate his message, which offers a rather excellent description of what is emerging in Christianity today:
1. Jesus is a model for living more than an object of worship.
2. Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
3. The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
4. Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
5. Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
6. Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
7. Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
8. Peacemaking is more important than power.
9. We should care more about love and less about sex.
10. Life in this world is more important than the afterlife (Eternity is God’s work anyway).
If this makes sense to you, you are already participating in evolving Christianity. Do read it several times. It only makes more and more sense.
Sign up to receive Richard Rorh’s daily meditation- https://cac.org/
Shared by Sr. Pat McKittrick, SP
There has been a lot of discussion lately about women in Church and Society. If you were unable to listen to the livestream on November 2, 2019 – You can do so now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=738&v=fv1tV9tUbh4
Voices of Faith along with the School of Religion in Trinity College presented a public conversation to overcome the silence on issues that influence Catholics today and must be openly discussed, “for the future of an inclusive, egalitarian and harmonious Church.” Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese and feminist nun Sister Joan Chittister (Both women have experienced attempts by the Catholic hierarchy to silence their voices) courageously, and respectfully shared their views on the many issues facing our Church today and possible solutions for change.
Are you familiar with Voices of Faith? Visit their website: https://voicesoffaith.org/about/#about-2
What is the vision? A prophetic Catholic Church where women’s voices count, participate and lead on equal footing with men. Their mission: To empower and advocate for women’s leadership in the Catholic Church.
The values that guide their work are (taken directly from their website):
INCLUSIVE – We want to include and hear women’s diverse voices and bring them to the forefront.
RESPECTFUL – We are respectful of all people and seek constructive solutions.
INNOVATIVE/BOLD – We believe women are an innovative and bold solution the many problems the Catholic Church is facing in a 21st century world.
OPEN/HONEST – We seek open and honest dialogue on an issue where varied opinions exist.
UNAPOLOGETIC – We are unapologetic about our vision and mission.
FAITHFUL –We are women and men of faith.
Let us work together to make our Church strong, just, and prophetic in today’s world.
For further discussion, please contact Sr. Pat McKittrick, SP – firstname.lastname@example.org
The VECNCC would like to invite you to one of our regional networking luncheons scheduled for October 24-25, 2019.
The VECNCC is a diverse network of Christians in Vermont working together to serve the common good through public worship and prayer; acts of mercy and care; and loving prophetic witness for peace, justice, and the integrity of creation. We are the largest network of Christians in the state.
We feel that the Vermont Ecumenical Council’s focus this coming year should be helping establish regional Christian networks, starting a line of communication in these areas if one doesn’t exist, and supporting these regional networks from our state-wide partnerships.
On Thursday October 24, 2019 individuals, Pastors, Church and Christian Ministry Representatives and the like will gather to share a free meal and discussion at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5171 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne VT from 12-2pm.
On Friday October 25, 2019 individuals, Pastors, Church and Christian Ministry Representatives and the like will gather to share a free meal and discussion at the Springfield Vermont Family Center, 365 Summer St. #333, Springfield VT from 11am-1pm.
Each regional meeting will host only the first 20 persons that register for either location, so we ask you check your calendar and RSVP as soon as possible online at www.vecncc.org.
How far have we come as Americans in fighting racism? In the “Racism in America & Why We Should Care” forum series, we wish to create a safe space where we can speak openly and honestly as people of good intent who seek the best for each other and our nation as we confront the racial divisions of our past and present with the hope of reconciliation.
Each forum is a potluck gathering where we invite you to share a dish along with your thoughts.
First Meeting and Topic:
What Is Vermont Doing to Combat Racism?
State Senator Debbie Ingram (Chittenden County)
State Attorney General TJ Donovan
Major Ingrid Jonas, Vermont State Police
Recommended Reading: Act 54
Thursday, September 19, 2019 @ 6:30 p.m.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
273 Vermont Route 15, Jericho, Vermont
An Invitation from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
Teens! People of Faith! Everyone!
Tired of Gun Violence? So are we! JOIN US!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Headquarters of Smith and Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Avenue, Springfield, MA
Enough is enough!
We are asking gun manufacturer Smith and Wesson to be an industry leader in solving the scourge of gun violence in our cities and communities.
Questions or info: email@example.com
Faith Unleashed: Women’s Retreat
Friday, November 15 – Saturday, November 16, 2019
Rock Point Center, Burlington, VT
4:00 p.m. Friday, Sign-in begins
6:00 p.m. Friday, Dinner
5:00 p.m. Saturday, Retreat ends with Holy Communion
Please join us for a delightful weekend in God’s Word!
All Registrations require a $50 non-refundable deposit.
Early Bird Registration (before 10/25/19) subtract $30 from price listed below.
Registration Rates after 10/25/10: 1 Room – $170; Shared Room – $140; Commuter (No room) – $95
Beth Greer and Pat Hobbs (pictured above) will come together to lead us in our women’s retreat, not only in the teaching of God’s Word, but in worship and songs of praise. They are Christian speakers and have participated in international missions for many years. Beth also has an incredible singing voice and leads in worship and praise wherever she goes. Both Pat and Beth love the Lord Jesus deeply and love teaching from God’s Word – delivering messages of love, hope, and victory! If you have any questions, please contact Darcy Jewett at 802-985-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church Divinty School of the Pacific (CDSP) is now accepting registrations for The Way of Jesus: Toward Christological Liturgy, September 16 – November 4, 2019. The course instructor will be the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Leopold, interim priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Colchester.
From the CDSP Website:
This course will help students examine their own personal and corporate spiritual and liturgical practices and the ways in which they are connected to the life, ministry and teaching of Jesus. Southside Abbey a non-traditional church in the Episcopal tradition co-founded by the instructor, will be used as a case study.
The Rev. Dr. Leopold has served in many, varied contexts. At a resource-sized parish with an endowment he was integral in building one of the largest young adult groups in the Episcopal Church. In the gritty south side neighborhoods of Chattanooga, he and a team started Southside Abbey: a non-traditional church in the Episcopal tradition. He has served internationally in the Anglican Church of Canada, in Ottawa’s Chinatown. In addition, he has taught classes at Sewanee’s School of Theology on missional ministry and the changing Church. As a Fellow with Episcopal Church Foundation, he has travelled around the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada in search of missional expressions, serving as coach, cheerleader, storyteller, and convener. He currently lives in Vermont, where he serves as interim rector while he finishes a Master’s Degree in Storytelling.
From August 24-24, local immigration advocates – including some Vermont Episcopalians – participated in a Solidarity Bike Tour from Montpelier to the Stafford County Jail, a detention center in Dover, NH for immigrants awaiting deportation. Along the way, bikers visited designated checkpoints, including St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Norwich, where the Rev. Jennie Anderson provided prayers and blessings, as well as bicycle storage. St. Barnabas partnered with the nearby Norwich Congregational Church, which hosted a prayerful discussion about the challenges immigrants are facing.
The bike tour ended in a five mile walk to the Stafford County Jail, where additional participants joined on foot. The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Barre, and his wife Elizabeth, were among them. Click here to view cyclists’ photos from the journey aried by WCAX.
The Solidarity Bike Ride was organized by Vermont Interfaith Action. To learn about other VIA activities, and to get involved, please visit https://viavt.org/.