|The Lord shall give strength to his people;
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
Our first Sunday out of the starting gate could not have been more fulfilling, or promising for EPF. I attended worship at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration - Dallas, an EPF Peace Partner Parish. The Right Rev. Wayne Smith, overseeing Assisting Bishop for Transfiguration, Ascension and St. Paul’s, and Bishop of Missouri was preaching and baptizing. Bp. Smith confessed to being ready to retire when in 2014, Mike Brown was murdered in Ferguson, MO, and he knew that he could not step away when his community was reeling in chaos following the revelation of systemic racism in its law enforcement. Bp. Smith was a persistent presence in the streets in protest, and an important witness in solidarity. Finding a kindred spirit, he and I promised to see each other when my travels take us through Missouri later this year. “The Fig’s” rector, Rev. Casey Shobe was most welcoming and I am grateful that they are supporting our mission.
Transfiguration is host to the North Dallas Peace Partner of EPF, and this Sunday they were having their monthly “Peace Post”, where convener Ron Damholt ably empowers parishioners to write letters to elected official on issues of social justice and peace. This month, Ron provided a few paragraphs about three issues that members might choose from to address in their letters: resistance to the US funding the bombing of Yemen; ensuring that our national immigration system protects people with real needs for asylum; and increasing state funding for education in Texas, currently at historic lows. The EPF chapter provides addresses for elected officials, stamps, pens, stationery, and a comfortable spot for advocates to gather to write and talk about the issues of social justice important to them. (I was able to get a few letters written on the immigration topic while I was there.) This program can easily be replicated, and I have borrowed Ron’s written materials in case you are interested in holding periodic letter writing events in your parish. Please reach out to me, or to Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you set up.
Visits like these are what I envision having in my ports of call around the country. I like a chance to connect with our Peace Partners and hear what needs they have, and to borrow from the wonderful programming that they are already engaged in so that I can share with other interested members and parishes.
I should mention that my Dallas hostess, Sherrie Abney, is a longtime member of (you guessed it!) Transfiguration. She has invited me to attend her ladies' group meeting Tuesday afternoon to talk about EPF, which I am very pleased to do.
I will spend some time with Rev. Allison Sandlin Liles, outgoing EPF Executive Director, on Wednesday while I am still here in Dallas. I am looking forward to getting her perspective on our plans for this Year of Action, and picking her brain for ways I can be most effective in this role, including learning names of members and parishes I should plan to visit.
Steven and I leave Dallas on Saturday, January 19 for Austin, and plan to worship at St. James in the morning and St. Hildegard’s in the afternoon of the 20th. I hope to hold visiting hours at Seminary of the Southwest at some point, and to catch up with oncoming NEC member Katherine Bailey Brown. I also plan to visit with Bob Kinney while I am there. Steven and I will appear on the podcast of Austin lawyer Shiloh Coleman, talking about both EPF and my Global Collaborative Law Council tour. Reach out to me at email@example.com and get on my Austin schedule, please, or plan to just stop by to see me. I’d love to meet you!
From Austin, we plan leave for San Antonio on January 23, where we will attend a Dream Week Event, “San Antonio in the Holy Land: The Good, Bad and Ugly” at 6:30 pm on Friday, January 25, at University Presbyterian Church, with Harry Gunkel. On Sunday, January 27, we will worship at St. Paul’s where Fr. Brad Landry has invited us to attend their combined services for their annual Parish Meeting. Are you in San Antonio? Join us at either of these planned events, or let me know if I can see you for coffee or a conversation at another time. We will be there at least until January 29.
From there, we plan to head east to Houston and College Station before turning west again. Want a visit? Calendar is wide open so let me know!
Finally, I am calling this periodic update "Peace Out" in homage to my friend in Pennsylvania, Carla Higgins, who, on reading of my plans to travel the country in an RV advocating for EPF, quipped, "That gives new meaning to the term 'Peace Out!'" Indeed.
Until next time, power to the peaceful!