January 29, 2022
From Rachel -

About 40 of us from ECCT, including several from the Southeast Region, participated online in the FORMA 2022 Conference last week. In case you don’t know about FORMA – look it up! For 30 years or so they have been gathering people involved in Christian Formation at all age levels. Their Facebook group is one of my go-to places for learning what’s being offered in other places.
 
Of all the large group and small group offerings I heard, the one I want to highlight was by The Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers. She talked about Hybridization. That’s been a very popular word for us the last couple of years: being able to offer worship and other small groups in a “Hybrid” format – both on site and online. It has been seen as a great way to allow everyone to participate in whatever format they are most comfortable. 
 
The hitch is, that it has also come to mean “MORE WORK.” Don’t we feel that?!.

Instead, the Rev. Ms. Rengers took it back to the science of hybridization, and its foundation in evolution. Hybridization is a matter of choosing which genes to carry forward into the future; in Christian terms, it's a matter of reflecting on which "genes" (traits or marks) of being a faithful Christian do we want to carry forward to future generations? In the midst of these choices, she proclaimed, loudly and clearly, the gift of biodiversity. In fact, as she pointed out, if we do not diversify as church, our inbreeding will inevitably mean that we will continue our weakness.
 
She pointed to Pentecost, and the diversity of languages as a reminder that diversity is a mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Each parish will have a different context for ministry; and the Holy Spirit will provide each parish with different gifts for ministry.
 
·        What unique language has God’s Spirit given your parish to proclaim by word and deed the good news of God in Christ?
·        What traits from Jesus’ way of love do you want to carry forward into the next generation of faithful Episcopalians?
·        What gifts has God given you in your setting to address the needs in the lives of those around you? 
 
One of the desires that our SE Region Leadership Team has named is that we move from competition to collaboration in our life together. In my experience, both as a parish priest and as a Region Missionary, the spirit of competition often stems from a sense of scarcity. We stay in our silos trying to hold onto what we have; we don’t want to admit our need.
 
In contrast, collaboration invites us to embrace the promise of God’s abundant life and claim the gift of biodiversity. We each have different gifts and are each beloved children of God. We each have a unique place as parishes in the larger body of Christ. AND, as Paul is reminding us these weeks in the epistle readings about the body of Christ:
 
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (I Corinthians 12:7).” The common good and the body of Christ are greater than our individual parishes.

As we go through Annual Meetings, new Vestries, and the continuation of a call to hybridization, I hope you’ll take with you a sense of your own unique belovedness before God, and your connection to a wider body of Christ, equally unique and beloved. And maybe, just maybe, the next time we find ourselves lacking, we will consider who else in the body might have the gift we need. 

Blessings in this crazy world; may we choose to pass on to others God’s traits of love made flesh in Jesus. 
A Heart for Those Experiencing Homelessness


By Eileen Perron

“But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18 ESV

The frost is in the air and it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with a warm blanket, a big cup of hot cocoa and a great book. But, the howling wind interrupts my heavenly comfort and I can’t stop thinking about how bitter cold it is outside. My mind wanders back to when I was twelve, visiting my dad in a Boston hospital when he had an eye injury. There was a curtain in the middle of his room and that, along with the bright lights and medicinal smells, made the room a scary place for me. After a while, Dad nudged me to say hello to the man on the other side of the curtain. Dad said the man had no visitors and was lonely, so I timidly looked around the curtain. The man was very happy to see me and seemed friendly, but he had bandages on both his hands and his feet, which I found so sad. Being young and curious, I asked him what had happened. He explained that he drank too much the night before and had passed out on the street. He said he was homeless.

That winter the temperatures were below zero, the winds were howling and snow covered the streets and sidewalks; a real New England Nor’easter kind of year – much like this one!! My father’s roommate explained that someone had found him that morning and rushed him to the hospital; something he was truly thankful for. He had severe frostbite, was in immense pain and had to have all his fingers and toes amputated since they were blackened from frostbite. I remember crying as he told me his story and feeling so bad for him but, he insisted it was a good thing that happened because he realized how lucky he was to be alive and now he was going to get help for his drinking problem. 
I never knew what happened to this man, but every year when it gets cold outside, I am reminded of his story and how hard the struggles of people experiencing homelessness must be. And every year I wonder, what can I do to help those experiencing homeless? This year is another bitterly cold year and combined with the pandemic, I wonder how those experiencing homelessness are faring? Are the shelters open for them during this pandemic? Are the places who usually serve meals still operating? Are the food pantries open for them? I wonder; how can I help? Maybe you wonder how you can help too?

I reached out to Ron Steed, Deputy Director for Housing at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center (https://www.nlhhc.org/) for help about homelessness. The first thing we discussed was the term “homeless people” and how it has so many negative connotations.  “People experiencing homelessness” is a better phrase, more hopeful and loving because it humanizes these neighbors who are just like you or me, or a friend, family member or someone we know; they are just going through a rough time.
Ron told me that the Homeless Hospitality Center (HHC) helps about 700 people most years, but it seems higher now, maybe due to the pandemic and the fact that evictions seem to be on the rise. The good news is that over half of those coming to the HHC for help stay there for less than two weeks! Most people coming to the center are looking for company, phones and a place to sleep and the center keeps the atmosphere hospitable, like a welcoming coffee shop. “There is something so inviting about sharing a cup of coffee and a pot is always brewing at the center,” according to Ron.

HHC works on a “Housing First” principle since housing stability is the most effective way to bring constancy to a person’s life. After housing, Ron said they focus on helping with other challenges they might want to work on, such as employment, transportation, mental health and substance use, all of which are more manageable from the stability of a house. The HHC has a very close working relationship with area landlords and this has been helpful in finding homes for their guests. They help find housing for anyone who needs help including the elderly, people with pets, and veterans.
In addition to the shelter, whose capacity is limited, HHC operates an overnight warming center throughout the cold weather months at the New London United Methodist Church (30 Broad St, New London). Ron said that there a lot of people, even in winter, who are camping outside or living in cars, and the warming center provides a safe place where they can sleep with less vulnerability to the weather.
On January 14th, due to the extreme cold weather, Governor Ned Lamont activated the Severe Cold Weather Protocol in the State of Connecticut and on January 18th he extended the protocol to February 2nd. “The purpose of the protocol is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive protection from the severe cold conditions, which could be life threatening if exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. While enacted, a system is set up for state agencies and municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to make sure that anyone in need can receive shelter from the outdoors, including transportation to shelters.”

Other warming Centers usually open up around the state when the Governor issues this protocol.  One of these is at the Public Library in New London, 63 Huntington Street which will be open Monday to Thursday 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM, Fridays 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, on Saturdays 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sundays from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

When I asked Ron how people experiencing homelessness find food, he assured me that “people in the Southeast Region will never go hungry as there are so many ways to access food.” There are over 90 food distribution sites in the Southeast Region along with St. James Church in New London which is one of the largest!” The Lord’s Pantry at St. James Church provides foods distribution on Wednesdays from 10:AM to noon and also offers one-time Financial Assistance for help with gas/oil bills, prescriptions and transportation among other things. Click here to visit The Lord’s Pantry http://www.stjamesnl.org/ministries/article436389c9214760.html
There are many other places, such as the New London Community Meal Center that serve meals as well, some during the week and others on weekends. Here is a link with a list of just some of the places people can go to find a food pantry or a meal in New London and surrounding areas.  The meals are take-out only at this time due to the pandemic. https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/new_london_county_food_pantries.html
 
So how can we help? There are so many ways, but number one is to connect a person in need with United Way’s 211 Connecticut hotline. 211 is a free, confidential helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, online or by phone, that offers information and referral services in over 150 different languages in areas such as shelter, housing, childcare, food, utility assistance veteran’s services and so much more. Below are some other says you help.

You can make donations of food items and monetary donations at any of the food pantries.

You can make a monetary donation or donate items to the Homeless Hospitality Center and the shelter needs list is here. According to Annah Perch, Development Manager, HHC staff advised her that the items most needed are new boxer underwear for men and briefs for women, earbuds, android cell phone chargers, shampoo and conditioner. And Ron pointed out that the entire operation is fueled by coffee!
 
You can also donate to the HHC directly by using an Amazon gift registry list by going here. Items you purchase will be delivered directly to the center.
 
From now until the end of March you can also direct your Target Rewards points to the HHC by clicking here.
 
Hold a fundraiser to raise items on the HHC Needed Items list for the shelter.
 
And of course, one of the most rewarding ways to help is by volunteering at one of the Warming Centers, HHC, Food Pantries or Community Meal sites.
Seen around the SE Region
Epiphany Bonfire at St. James, Preston

Nearly 30 people, including the Preston Fire Company and three local churches, gathered to celebrate 3 Kings Day or Epiphany. 

The celebration featured music performed by Peter and Mike and the burning of 2021 Christmas greens. All enjoyed watching the embers and memories of a trying year rise up into a new brighter, spirited and healthier 2022. The ceremony was followed by a warm fellowship of many homemade soups.

Members of Grace,Yantic and St.James', New London also attended this evening celebration and worship.
On the Jan. 12 anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, parishioners gathered at St. John’s in Essex at 4pm to ring their bell and pray for the people of Haiti. 

Among the prayers:
For all who were affected by the 2010 Earthquake...For the families of the uncounted 200,000 – 300,000 people who lost their lives...For victims in Port au Prince and environs who are threatened daily by gangs, for all Haitians who have been robbed or kidnapped; for the 16 Americans and one Canadian who were finally released by their kidnappers...For Sister Cities Essex Haiti:
Almighty and most merciful God, we lift up all these prayers to you and we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy.



Do you have holiday decorations you no longer need? Please consider donating the items to the Middlesex Habitat for Humanity's (MHFH) Holiday Village Shop at ReStore. MHFH builds and renovates simple, decent, and affordable homes in partnership with eligible families and individuals. Sixteen homes since 1996! We are currently working on our second Veteran's Build in Middlefield. Proceeds from the Holiday Village at ReStore helps MHFH build more affordable homes in Middlesex County.
 
We accept holiday donation items all year - Fall & winter decorations, artificial trees, lights, menorahs, kinaras, ornaments, indoor/outdoor decorations, wreaths, dishes, linens, and more!
. For questions or to schedule a pick-up, call 860.398.6488. Donations are tax-deductible and support Middlesex Habitat for Humanity.
In Partnership,
David Evangelisti, St. John’s, Essex, Committee Member
FORMATION: ways to grow as faithful Christians
Faithful Futures:
Formation for Evangelism
February 3 from 6:30–8 PM via Zoom
Join our Region Missionaries and other special guests for our next Faithful Futures: Formation for Evangelism. The evening will be a time to hear from some in ECCT who are seeking to blend their words and their deeds in authentic ways. We will hear what they are doing and how they are providing a way for folks to talk about their deeds from a faithful, prayerful perspective. We will also catch a glimpse of the deep connection between being formed as Christians and talking about our faith.
Lay Preaching Class to Begin in February  
Have you ever thought about preaching in your parish? Are you curious to see if you would like to preach? Are you already doing some preaching and want to learn more? Do you want to learn more about public speaking? We will have a class beginning in February to help you. You will not be committed to preaching after this course, we are simply exploring possibilities and learning more about talking about Scripture. There are no prior requirements, no reading assignments and just short preparations for each week's meeting. We will meet one evening a week for six weeks, on February 7, 14, 21, 28 and March 7, 21, 28. Please contact Rachel Thomas, at rthomas@episcopalct.org or Ginnie Glassman at GinnieG123@aol.com if you are interested.
 
Note: each Rector or Priest in Charge decides if and how lay preachers will serve in their local settings. The training is to give you the grounding and reflection to be able to serve if asked

Save the Date: Spring Training & Gathering 2022
God’s Radical Hospitality:
“Join me and we’ll change the world”
March 21–April 2, Online
 
Walk in love:
ways to offer ourselves to God and our neighbor
 
ECCT Poor People’s Campaign Assembly–
Planning Conversation- 2/1 6:00-7:00PM
The Rev. Canon Ranjit K. Mathews and the Rev. Whitney Altopp are leading an effort to help the people of Connecticut get to the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington on June 18, 2022. Want to explore how you can help make this idea a reality? Ranjit and Whitney will lay out the steps to help us get there at an informational and idea sharing meeting on February 1, via Zoom, at 6p.m. Many hands make light work. Early planning makes easier planning.
Please be in touch with Ranjit (rkmathews@epsicopalct.org) or Whitney (waltopp@ststephens-ridgefield.org) to receive the Zoom link.
Exploring Mutual Aid

Our faithful frustration at the economic disparities in Connecticut need not limit our efforts. We can continue to advocate for political change AND we can work to establish some networks that aid people without reliance on political support. Mutual Aid is one such hyper-local network.
 
The Rev. Tracy Johnson Russell and the Rev. Whitney Altopp co-chair the Resource Pooling working group which plans to focus on Mutual Aid between now and Holy Week 2022. They are in search of 10 people (lay or clergy) who would like to join the working group with the goal of developing information and processes for establishing Mutual Aid groups in various regions. This group will focus on understanding, communications, and support of mutual aid groups so those in ECCT interested might begin the process of developing a mutual aid group. Mutual Aid groups are a powerful and inspiring way to change the economic picture for many people.
 
The working group will share the ultimate goal of creating a tool kit for people to utilize when they see a need in their community and want to create a network to respond to that need.

Mutual aid doesn’t concern itself with politics, except for the shared recognition that there are needs created by a political system that the political system insufficiently addresses. Mutual aid says, “I see a need. How can we pool our resources to help each other out and share the load? We have more among us than we might know and we want to figure out a way to experience the abundance in our midst.” In mutual aid, people are both the giver and receiver, but often at different times. 
 
Please contact Rachel Thomas (rthomas@episcopalct.org if you’re interested in learning more about this working group.

 IRIS Run for Refugees
February 13

Join 2,000 runners and walkers for IRIS' biggest annual fundraiser to support refugees & immigrants!
 
To sign up or to learn more, click below:


ECCT offers many opportunities to increase our capacity as leaders
Here are a few that are timely:




Parochial Report Orientation February 1, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.mRegister here. Also lots of resources available through the Mission Matters newsletter and the Commons Companion.

Tuesdays, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Communications Office Hours

 
Safe Church training on different days and times. 



Jack Spaeth Care of Creation Grant applications are due by February 15, 2022.
The mission of the Jack Spaeth Care for Creation Environmental Grant is to encourage innovation and to empower members of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to educate, witness, and invite change in our congregations and communities with the goal of embracing a global vision of climate justice and preserving and celebrating God’s creation
Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul - A Pilgrimage to Iona with John Philip Newell
 
We have a few spots available for Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (formerly Hartford Seminary)  students, faculty, alumni, and friends to join our pilgrimage to Iona, August 20-27, 2022. Iona is a tiny island off the southwest coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, a "thin place," which holds great meaning to people the world over. Iona has a long and illustrious history and is well known as "The Cradle of Christianity" in Scotland.
 
Our group will travel to Iona for pilgrimage, spiritual retreat, and renewal, and to study with John Philip Newell, our guide. Our study will focus on his new book Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul.. 

For more information or to reserve remaining spots on this trip, contact Mike Corey, mcorey@hartfordinternational.edu

Fed by Word and Sacraments:
Here's a list of webpages for the parishes
of the SE Region
so that you can find current worship information

The best way to keep up to date: subscribe to each parish's newsletter, and/or visit their website for zoom connections and links to worship, learn, and act.
Parish Websites for the SE Region
 
Calvary Church, Stonington: http://www.calvarychurchstonington.org
St. Mark's, Mystic: https://stmarksmystic.org
St. James', New London: http://www.stjamesnl.org
St. David's, Gales Ferry: http://www.saintdavidsgf.org
St. James, Preston: https://www.stjamespreston.org
St. John's, Niantic: https://www.stjohnsniantic.org
St. Ann's, Old Lyme: https://www.saintannsoldlyme.org
St. Stephen's, East Haddam: https://www.ststeves.org
All Saints, Ivoryton: https://www.allsaintsivoryton.org
St. John's, Essex: https://stjohnsessex.org
Grace, Old Saybrook: https://www.graceoldsaybrook.org
Holy Advent, Clinton: http://www.holyadventclinton.org
St.Andrew's, Madison: https://standrewsmadison.org


Contact for Retired Clergy

The Reverend Diana Rogers 

Email:

Prayer for the SE Region
Almighty God, Creator and Redeemer, in the midst of the noisy din of the world and these changing times:
We lift our prayers to you for your Church, especially for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and for this, its Southeast Region.
Surround us with the clear assurance of your loving presence,
That we may grow confident in our faith and trust in your will;
Guide and teach each one of us to live in your word and walk in your ways,
That we may be a light of the living Word;
Expand the space in our hearts and in our lives,
That this region may be filled with your love and mercy for all;
inspire us; send your Holy Spirit upon us to fire up enthusiasm,
Create in us willing hearts and hands to serve you.
We pray for our Missionary, Rachel Thomas, that you give her the ears to hear
and the heart to discern your will for the Region.
Hear our prayer.
 We pray for the Leadership Teams to aid in your mission.
Hear our prayer.
 We pray for the priests and deacons in each of the churches in our Region and Diocese.
Hear our prayer.
We pray for each vestry and the leadership of every church in the Region.
Hear our prayer.
We pray for the Bishops and Diocesan leadership of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.
Hear our prayer.
 Almighty God, we pray that we may proclaim your kingdom in this this Region and beyond, and become ambassadors for your dream of reconciliation and healing, the gift and calling you have given us through your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we offer these prayers.  Amen
Editorial Staff

Eileen Perron

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