All around the globe, people took a moment to recognize Earth Day, the world’s largest environmental movement, on April 22. Rock Point took part by launching a new website focused on one place on earth that holds special meaning for the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont as well as the many partners, friends, students, campers, and visitors who have experienced its beauty. The new website can be found at https://rockpointvt.org.
Reflections from the Week of Christian Unity 2018
January 18 – 22, 2018
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34 (NRSV)
Beautiful Beginnings: An Ecumenical Service & Reception
In the beauty of the Catholic Center Chapel on the University of Vermont campus, the Holy Spirit of Christian ecumenism blessed the space, as leaders of the Christian ecumenical movement in Vermont and the VECNCC gathered in prayer and song.
A true spirit of ecumenism and deep care was palpable among those guiding our gathering, Roman Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne, Episcopal Bishop Thomas Ely, Rev. Brigid Farrell, New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Roy V. Hill II, Emeriti President of the Vermont Ecumenical Council, New Alpha Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Fred Moser, Trinity Episcopal Church, Rev. Brian Cummings, Society of Saint Edmund as well as many other clergy and representatives from the Vermont Ecumenical Council.
Roman Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne extended deep ecumenical hospitality and offered a warm welcome with sincere appreciation to all those who offered their services in support for our first ecumenical prayer service at the University of Vermont Catholic Center. Bishop Tom Ely offered an opening prayer with these words, “Friends in Christ, as we gather to pray for visible unity in the household of Christ, let us thank God for our Christian heritage, and for God’s saving, liberating action in human history. With Christians everywhere, let us call upon the Holy Spirit to set our hearts on fire as we pray for the unity of the Church.”
Rev. Dr. John Armstrong, president and founder of the ACT3 Network did just that with his enthusiastic and fiery sermon that resounded through the hearts and minds of all present. No stranger to the costly love of letting go of paradigms to engage new possibility for evangelization, healing and renewal within Christianity, he offered stories of wisdom gained from twenty years of active ecumenical leadership. Rev. Armstrong challenged and encouraged a spirit of charity, clarity and love to inform, heal and transform Christian community.
All present were commissioned to action “to serve God’s mission of hope, justice, and love in our world….to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor.”
Called to a moment of personal prayer in the Chapel, after attending the fine reception hosted by the Roman Catholic chaplaincy at UVM, the ecumenical Protestant chaplaincy at UVM and the Cooperative Christian Ministries, offered space to contemplate the spirituality of Christian ecumenism.
Foundationally, all human relationship is an opportunity to encounter the other with hospitality and kindness. As Christians, we’re invited to live with open hearts and open minds as we walk in imitation of Christ seeking to embody authentic Christian spirituality in service to each other, regardless of our denominational or faith affiliations.
Relationship and shared prayer are central in cultivating understanding as well as hearing and healing our stories. As people of faith, when we come to know each other, we can learn to deeply and respectfully love one another in our journey to embody the blessings that the teaching of Christ offers to all for this and future generations.
VIEW VIDEO FROM THIS SERVICE
This Changed Everything: Wisdom from 500 Years of Reformation
Martin Luther, the German Augustinian monk and Christian theologians strong words “Here I stand, I can do no other God help me” introduce the Christian History Institute’s documentary This Changed Everything.
Over twenty faith leaders and experts are interviewed throughout the three-part series to answer challenging questions about the 500 year old schism within Christianity sparked by Martin Luther in Germany, Huldrych Zwingl a leader of the Christian reformation in Switzerland, John Calvin, pastor and theologian in Geneva and others who called for reform within the Catholic Church including King Henry of England who rejected Papal authority and named himself head of the Church of England.
The historical documentary provided the context for the insightful and engaged presentations by University of Vermont Associate Professor of English Dr. Jennifer Sisk, St. Michael’s College Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. James Byrne, The Rev. Arnold Thomas, Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ and Pastor of Good Shepard Church and Rev. Nancy Wright, Pastor, Ascension Lutheran Church, So. Burlington facilitated by Professor Dr. Raymond Patterson, St. Michael’s College Religious Studies Department Chairperson.
Through diverse academic and religious perspectives presenters provided their unique contribution and inspirations to the forum. The entire forum is available to view on our website.
The invitation to reflect on the panel event has perhaps generated more questions than answers, which is a healthy thing. God meets us in our questions and our response to the questions form, inform and shape our spiritual and faith journeys as well as the way we encounter and engage with each other as Christians and people of faith in a contemporary world.
In the spirit of Christian ecumenism, you’re invited view the documentary and then bring together your own facilitated forum for discussion within your community. The VECNCC has purchased a copy of the documentary for viewing and engaging a broader conversation about the Christian schism and how we can work towards healing through Christian collaboration.
Inspirations and Insights in the Upper Room and on the Shores of Lake Champlain
Our collective voices of Christian wisdom resounded through the many gatherings of clergy and faith leaders through the state during the week of Christian Unity. Through engaged conversations over luncheons and dinners, inspiring offerings at events, and in our concluding gathering and time of prayer on the shores of Lake Champlain.
Along with the Christians of many Churches and ecclesial Communities, may we remember each other in prayer each day with these words first prayed at the Seventh General Assembly of the World Council of churches at Canberra in 1991.
“Come Holy Spirit! Giver of life – Sustain your creation! Spirit of truth – Set us free!
Spirit of Unity – Reconcile your people! Holy Spirit – Transform and sanctify us!”
VIEW VIDEO FROM THIS EVENT
TESTIMONIAL FROM Dr. Jennifer Sisk Associate Professor of Literature and Religion at UVM.
John Armstrong was a guest speaker in an upper-level English course I teach at the University of Vermont on medieval literature. The class was reading William Langland’s fourteenth-century dream-vision poem, Piers Plowman-a text that to today’s college students may seem to emerge from long ago and far away, though as Armstrong reminded them, it asks “modern” questions about the place of the church in the world and the spiritual unity of Christians within it. Written by a medieval Catholic poet, it urges a pre-Protestant-Reformation reform of the church, and for this reason it was later embraced as an authorizing text by both Catholic and Protestant readers. Armstrong’s visit helped set the poem within the long arc of Christian history, in which reform emerges as a common concern on both sides of the Reformation divide, remaining vital for Christians to this day. A dynamic and engaging speaker, Armstrong brought to life the poem’s contemporary relevance, and he helped my students see that Christian ecumenism responds to concerns about the church that have a very long history, which they can glimpse in Langland’s representation of the church as a woefully besieged “Barn of Unity.” Armstrong’s class visit, early in the semester, set the tone for the entire semester. Some of my students have even cited his lecture in the papers they have submitted!
200 Years of Witness for Christian Unity – A Brief History
The Octave of Christian Unity was inaugurated in 1908 as a Christian movement in the United States that by 1993 grew to encompass all Christian communities nationally and internationally receiving sponsorship from the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Paul Irénée Couturier (29 July 1881 – 24 March 1953) a French priest is considered by many to be the “father of spiritual ecumenism” and an initial promoter, along with members of the Anglican and Orthodox Christian communities, of the Week for Christian unity.
Resources for Additional Information about Christian Unity
The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/index.htm
The Faith and Order Council of the World Council of Churches at https://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/faith-and-order
About the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible was translated by a group of scholars representing Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christian groups. Scholars of the Jewish representation were responsible for the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. This version was translated by the Division of Christian Education (now Bible Translation and Utilization) of the National Council of Churches recognized as a leader within the Christian ecumenical movement. The translators were given the guidance to translate the scriptures “As literal as possible, as free as necessary.” (https://www.nrsv.net/about/faqs/)
About the Prayer of the Holy Spirit
This was the prayer of Christians of many Churches and ecclesial Communities at the Seventh General Assembly of the World Council of churches at Canberra (1991) invoking the Holy Spirit who sustains, liberates, transforms, sanctifies, reconciles and unites. The same intentions and invocations are often to be found in the hymns and prayers of the various Christian traditions, such as Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit) of the Latin tradition, the Vasilev Ourànie Paràklete (Heavenly Paraclete King) of the Byzantine tradition, as well as those form other Christian traditions of both East and West, each with its own specific characteristics.
In these days Christians are asking the Holy Spirit, light of eternal wisdom, to reveal the great mystery of God the Father and the Son united in one love. This prayer makes us aware of the grace with which the creator Spirit fills the hearts by him created, and of the consolation and anointing which increases faith, hope and charity in the believer. We ask that he strengthen us with his gifts: stir in us the Word, kindle the light of the intellect, and arouse our hearts while also healing our wounds. We ask to be protected from evil and to receive the gift of peace. In the context of division between Christians and the search for a growing communion between Churches and ecclesial Communities, we ask that together we may be introduced through the Holy Spirit to a knowledge of and greater sharing in the mystery of love that is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May the Spirit nurture in our communities a keener desire for and commitment to communion and a greater readiness “to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Rev 2, 7)
Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01091997_p-49_en.html on March 10, 2018.
Resources for Further Study of Christian Spirituality
Classics of Western Spirituality published by Paulist Press offers an extensive library of historical texts on Christian spirituality.
Traditions of Christian Spirituality Edited by Philip Sheldrake, this series, published in cooperation with DLT, London, makes the riches of the Christian spiritual tradition available through key themes while presenting their relevance for the modern seeker.
Reflection offered by Spiritual Director, Carol A. Fournier, LCMHC, NCC, member of the Executive Council of VECNCC, director and founder of the Silver Dove Institute.
Ecumenical Council to Observe Christian Unity Week,
With Special Guest the Rev. Dr. John Armstrong
The Vermont Ecumenical Council will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) with several events featuring the Rev. Dr. John Armstrong, Chicago-based Minister of the Reformed Church in America and scholar of the Reformation. Public events in the Burlington area will include an ecumenical service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Sunday afternoon Jan. 21 at 3:00 p.m. at the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont (390 S. Prospect St., Burlington, VT), and a reception following hosted by the Catholic Center and Cooperative Christian Ministry, an ecumenical chaplaincy at UVM sponsored by six Protestant denominations. Dr. Armstrong will be the preacher at the service. More information HERE
The public is also invited to an ecumenical forum with John Armstrong commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Tuesday evening Jan. 23 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Michael’s College in the Pomerleau Alumni Center (1 Winooski Park (Rt. 15 and Lime Kiln Rd.), Colchester, VT. The forum will feature a presentation by Dr. Armstrong about the recent film he helped produce about the Reformation, This Changed Everything, with responses and commentary by a panel of area Reformation scholars. The forum is free, and all are welcome. More information HERE.
While he is in Vermont Dr. Armstrong will also participate in several ecumenical gatherings of area clergy and congregational leaders in both Burlington and Montpelier, to promote Christian unity and cooperation, and encourage cooperation with other faith communities.
The Rev. Dr. John Armstrong
With the VEC for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 21-23, 2018
Dr. John H. Armstrong is an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). He founded and became the first president of the ACT3 Network (Advancing the Christian Tradition in the Third Millennium) in 1991; see https://act3network.com. ACTS3 is currently in the process of becoming an intentional ecumenical community designed for the healing of the North American church. He is the author/editor of fourteen books, including his newest book, Costly Love: The Way to True Unity for All the Followers of Jesus (New City Press, 2017). He serves as senior advisor to the Christian History Institute and has helped to produce several documentaries on church history and renewal, including most recently This Changed Everything! in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; see https://www.thischangedeverything.com. He was a keynote speaker at the 2017 National Workshop on Christian Unity in Minneapolis, MN in May 2017; see http://nwcu.org, and on Facebook “National Workshop on Christian Unity.” John is married to his wife Anita (1970) and has lived in suburban Chicago since 1969. He is the father of two adult married children and the grandfather of two girls and two boys.
Chase Morgan would love to live up to his own name and pursue something great. It’s his senior year, and he’s still as insecure as ever, but Eastglenn High’s newest student is about to turn that around. Grácia is a girl with charisma, intelligence and conviction, but she’s not as put together as Chase and his best friend O.B. might think. A dark past gives her a unique connection with Bobbi, a misunderstood classmate who has a pushy boyfriend and disconnected father.
This will be a ticketed event, it is FREE however the studio requires it to be ticketed. For tickets contact Faith and Family Films at 802-565-8013. This is the big 2018 ProLife Film!
There is a new air of Christian Cooperation in Vermont and we want YOU to be a part of it!
Interested? On October 29th, from 2-4:30pm, at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Randolph VT, we will be holding a gathering of all Christian Churches, Organizations, Ministries and fellow worshipers who are interested in Christian Cooperation. There will be round-table discussions on Christian Cooperation and brainstorming sessions on how best we can serve our Christian community. There will be short presentations from organizations and ministries serving our state. And there will be time for you all to make new friends and share in The Good News.
Just imagine if there was a way to coordinate hundreds of Churches and tens of thousands of Christians in a matter of minutes. Imagine if there was an easy way to find all the Christian events happening in your area in just a few seconds. And imagine if you could share your own church news to the whole VT Christian community with just one click. These are just a few hopes the new Vermont Ecumenical Council has.
Over the past two years the VEC has undertaken a reorganization and refocusing in hopes to better serve the Christian community in Vermont and better represent the diverse spectrum of Christian churches and organizations in our state. We are also enhancing communications with our website and making more effective use of social media to assist in the effort to build and maintain a robust network of Christian cooperation.
Our hope is that with this new focus and direction we can assemble a network that helps build up the Church in Vermont by supporting our Christian brothers and sisters, our neighboring Christian Churches and all those Christian organizations that minister to us.
All Christians are called to share the love of Christ in whatever capacity they are able. And the new VEC is doing just that. Among other benefits of membership, such as new colleagues, shared resources, prayer, learning and working together and the joy of living into our Lord’s desire “that they all might be one,” will be the opportunity to post events and other items of interest to our website and to get your information out to a much larger Christian audience than ever before. Just imagine the possibilities – one website, one network, over 100,000 Christians!
Please join us – R.S.V.P by filling out this form.
“At once, [the] Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.” – Mark 1:12-13, The Message, alt.
Vermont United Methodists welcomed the Rev. Jill Colley Robinson as their new superintendent with a service on Oct. 15, 2017 at Faith UMC in South Burlington.
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar described Rev. Colley Robinson as “a person of prayer, a disciplemaker, and someone who is committed to connectionalism with a gift of administration.”
The bishop said that her “creativity and innovativeness, encouraging spirit, and sense of humor” are all qualities that the Vermont District Committee on Superintendency was seeking.
As for himself, Bishop Devadhar said, he looks forward to the creative worship experiences Rev. Colley Robinson will bring to the Cabinet table.
Cabinet Dean Rene Perez, who serves as superintendent of the Central Massachusetts District, included Rev. Colley Robinson’s family in his welcome, saying:
“The ministry of the clergy and of district superintendents is a ministry of the whole family, so I welcome you into the ministry of superintending as well.”
Rev. Perez said he would summarize his message with these words: “What God knows about you will help you through it.”
“Sometimes I think It is hard to believe that in the great scheme of things God had all this planned out,” Rev. Perez said, “but it fits perfectly in our Wesleyan theology to believe that God’s grace is big enough for us to know that God can order your steps; that God can order all of our steps in our lives as well. In the same way that God chose people like Esther, God has chosen you for such a time as this.”
Rev. Perez said that her colleagues on the Cabinet will be there for her, and invoked the image of a seesaw.
“There will be ups and downs,” he said, “but you never play alone.”
In her sermon, the Rev. Colley Robinson said that as Christians in “the least religious state in the nation,” United Methodists in Vermont may feel a bit alone. You are, she said, like scouts at “the very front, forward edge of the wilderness.”
“There has been a lot of talk over the last few decades about the church, our church, being in the wilderness like those of the scriptures of old, like Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry,” Rev. Colley Robinson said, and she pointed to the suggested reading list for new District Superintendents that includes titles such as “Journey into the Wilderness” and “Next Steps in the Wilderness” by Gil Rendle.
“This is the edge of all that is known,” she said, “and we are the ones blessed with the mighty task of discovering what is out here after so much of what is familiar in the church is behind us.”
“We are the ones blessed with the task of blazing the trail for the rest of our church; finding the rocks that look like the ones God can break open for water; finding the protected, level ground where God can lay down the manna in the morning; finding the safe spots where God will pitch a tent amidst ours and make a home with us; finding the mountain peaks and thin places where God’s law of love can be envisioned in new ways; keeping company with the beautiful, wild things in Vermont as Jesus once did near the Jordan.”
Being the scouts, even ones with strong faith, can be difficult, Rev. Colley Robinson said.
“Like the Hebrew people, we hope and pray we are headed in a right and good direction to get to wherever God wants us to be, but feel lost much of the time and get downright grumpy about the whole thing,” she said.
But Christian scouts have an advantage over the explorers and map makers of centuries ago who could only guess at what lay ahead, she said.
Rev. Colley Robinson showed a picture of a maze drawn by her son Isaiah, 8. She said he often draws mazes like this one for her to follow. (Click the image to see a larger version).
“His is the type of maze where there are seemingly many paths from the start to the finish, but only one that will get you from one side to the other,” she said.
And, Rev. Colley Robinson said, she often finds it easier to start at the end and work backward. Knowing the end point, the destination, makes all the difference.
“Wilderness scouts, and I am preaching now, we know the way to where we are going,” she said. “We are not starting new this afternoon. We are not out here alone … . We know the destination, and God willing we are getting closer to it even though and especially when we feel at times like we are lost.”
“The same Spirit that pushed Jesus into the wilderness pushes us into it once again, and the same angels who waited upon him are with us still,” Rev. Colley Robinson said. “We are bound for the promised land, we are bound for the promised land. This is our destination at the end of what turns out to be anything but a God-forsaken wilderness …”
A former head of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will be in Vermont in September to speak at the “Action for Ecological Justice: Celebrating a Year of Creation” conference at Saint Michael’s College on September 30th. The conference will be the main event of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, a yearlong, statewide, intentional focus on embracing the message of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”
Hosted by the Catholic Church in Vermont, sponsors for the event include Catholic Relief Services, Oregon Catholic Press, Saint Michael’s College, Sisters of Mercy, Catholic Climate Covenant, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development, Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, and Green Mountain Monastery.
General registration is $35 per person and includes morning pastries, lunch and afternoon breakout sessions. Students can register for free.
To register or learn more, visit: vermontcatholic.org/actionforecojustice.
Dr. Carolyn Woo, who from 2012-2016 was president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church’s official, international humanitarian and development aid agency, will present a personal look at the encyclical she helped Pope Francis present in Rome, at environmental degradation and its effect on the poor and at measures to minimize further environmental harm from carbon emissions and remediate damage already done.
With perspectives from scientists, politicians, activists, economists, professionals, academics and people of various faiths, the conference will offer the opportunity for dynamic conversations about the state of creation and how people can work together for a sustainable future.
CRS staff “works face to face every day with the effects of climate warming,” Woo said. These include working with farmers whose livelihood is negatively impacted by erratic rainfall, which causes problems like drought on one extreme and soil erosion from deluges of rain on the other.
Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, it has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in over 100 countries on five continents.
Its mission is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. With that mission rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity. In the United States, CRS engages Catholics to live their faith in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of the world.
For more information: email@example.com or Stephanie Clary at 802-846-5822.
To learn more about the Year of Creation please visit: vermontcatholic.org/yearofcreation.
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne ordained the Vermont Catholic community’s newest priest at a special Mass June 17 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Burlington.
The newly ordained Father Joseph J. Sanderson has been assigned to serve as parochial vicar at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington.
“The call to be a Christian is a call to a life of self-emptying sacrifice, which is deepened even further in the priestly ministry when through ordination one is configured even more deeply into the person of Christ as the great High Priest,” Bishop Coyne said during the ordination Mass.
Born in Middlebury in 1990, Father Sanderson is the eldest of the three children of Jennifer and John Sanderson. He grew up in Orwell and attended Fair Haven Union High School, Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence College and St. John’s Seminary in Boston.
“I chose to be a priest for the Diocese of Burlington because Vermont has always been and will always be my home,” Father Sanderson said. “It will be a great honor, privilege and joy for me to serve the people of this great State of Vermont, to labor for souls in this little corner of our Lord’s vineyard.”
Learn more at – http://vermontcatholic.org/index.php?sid=5&pid=1052&subnav_id=16
The Rev. Kim Hardy of St. James Episcopal Church, Essex Junction, and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Fred Moser of Trinity Episcopal Church, Shelburne, invite you to join them for a Pilgrimage in Ireland from September 27 to October 5, 2017!
Ireland is a place of exquisite natural beauty, a place of deep resonance regarding myth and Christian exploration to what was once known as the edge of the earth. These journeys seek to offer a time of renewal of mind, body and spirit through powerful connections with nature, rich exploration of Celtic spirituality, and learning with amazing guides and teachers. The destination will be parts of Northern Ireland and the Donegal areas, a guided journey through a northern arc of the island of Ireland connecting with sites of powerful spiritual significance and the rich natural, cultural and religious heritage of this divided island. The dates of this special journey coincide with the less crowded shoulder seasons, which are fabulous times to connect with the land in Ireland.
Let your imagination soar regarding the learning and enrichment this journey offers, richness that will continue to inform our spiritual lives as we return refreshed with new viewpoints and deepened friendships.
Registration is ongoing, but spaces are filling. Please register by May 15 at the latest!
For information and to register contact the Rev. Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org .
On Sunday January 22, the VEC celebrated the annual Vigil for Christian Unity hosted this year at St. Michael’s Chapel on the campus of St. Michael’s College in Colchester. The theme of this year’s service was reconciliation. The prayer service drew upon the image of walls of separation and division that exist between Christian communities, created by the”stones” of realities like “hate, contempt, false accusation, and pride.” Father Richard Berube, SSE spoke eloquently of the need for unity within our common faith in Christ and encourage those present to work diligently for reconciliation. Following the service, refreshments and fellowship were hosted in the Edmundite residence.
The Vigil for Christian unity is an annual event scheduled for the third Sunday of January every year. Next years Vigil take place on Sunday January 21st, 2018