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Peace Out! Week Seventy-seven
Jesus: Breaking the Political Binary
Offered by Bob Lotz
EPF Gun Violence Prevention Action Group Convener
and Secretary to the NEC
Lexington, Michigan

We are in one of those times when people are divided and angrily at odds with those they see as on the "wrong" side. It has happened before, when we were also on the verge of great changes: before the Civil War, and during the Great Depression, for example.

As part of the Jesus Movement we must stand for justice. But we are not here to choose between the two sides in the national argument. We represent a third way, the way of love. We have to see the spark of the divine in all God’s children. It is our hope to be part of the transformation of all of us, to reconcile all people to each other and to God.
We are here to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the imprisoned, and recovery to the disabled.

That requires us to defend the oppressed and the marginalized, and to oppose all violence. That means the violence of the police, of course; the police are always charged with managing inequality and maintaining the existing social order. We also oppose the violence expressed as the denial of health care, the denial of adequate housing, the denial of adequate food and clean water, the denial of the dignity of work. These are all forms of violence that are visited upon the poor every day.

We also oppose the acts of violent desperation that the marginalized sometimes commit. But we draw a distinction between the theft or destruction of property, and the destruction of human lives. We will always raise up and defend lives.

Some will downplay or ignore the murders committed by agents of the government but demand further violence in response to protests against the police. We of the Jesus Movement respond to this with love, not hate…. but with a militant love that actively seeks to protect the oppressed.

We cannot be passive if we truly love. We can’t be sanctimonious on the sidelines. Jesus teaches us a non-violent love that is militant and transformational.

This is what makes the way of the Jesus Movement unique: the possibility of a third path, a way of love, of transformation, to a world that is truly "on earth, as it is in heaven."

Thanks to our friends at Ordinary Liturgy for this liturgy for anti-racism.

Five reasons to become
a monthly giver to EPF!

+ At least once a month, you are reminded of your dedication to the work of EPF. When the automated notice of your gift arrives in your inbox, you have a reason to pause and think of our brothers and sisters for whom we advocate: the condemned, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the incarcerated, the stranger, the displaced, and the “other,” then to pray for their safety and liberation, and to consider what other action you might take on their behalf.

+ Electronic, regular giving is environmentally friendly and eliminates/reduces our carbon footprint because we don’t have to use paper for transfers of resources or manpower to move soliciting paper from us to you.

+ Regular, electronic giving reduces the amount of volunteer & staff hours, and other resources EPF spends on fundraising and administration, making your gifts to EPF go further, and towards the work you really want us to be doing – advocating for social justice, including abolition of war and the threat of nuclear arms, death penalty abolition, criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, immigrant and refugee justice, racial justice, justice for Palestine, environmental justice, and non-violence in all aspects of life.

+ With your monthly gift, you are sustaining the work of EPF, assuring us of a steady, reliable stream of income so we can budget and plan, and do such important work as getting ourselves prepared to be effective advocates for our social justice issues at General Convention in Baltimore in 2021.

+ Monthly giving is a convenience to you, the giver. With one simple online form, you are done! You don’t have to remember to send in a check, remember when you sent in your last donation, or otherwise make a conscious effort to donate. You don’t even have to find a stamp or envelope or risk going out to the post office.

Use this link to set up your monthly contribution to EPF. No amount is too small for a monthly gift! And THANK YOU in advance for considering it!

Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York:

"At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour!"

Israel is considering whether to annex large parts of the West Bank as early as July 1, with the U.S. government supporting and coordinating the annexation. What does this mean? How will this impact the daily lives of Palestinians and the prospect for peace?
Read more for opportunities to get involved, and follow our EPF Palestine Israel Network to learn more.

Episcopal Peace Fellowship seeks nominations for its John Nevin Sayre Award. EPF established the Sayre award in 1979 to honor founding EPF member Rev. John Nevin Sayre for his lifetime of service waging the Gospel of Peace. Sayre was an Episcopal priest, pacifist, missionary, teacher and author who gained notoriety when he challenged President Woodrow Wilson to address the devastating events of World War I. Because of Sayre’s efforts, Wilson agreed recognizing conscientious objection as a legal alternative to military service. Sayre has been described as a peace apostle whose life was devoted to the waging of peace and opposition to war.

In 1979, two years after Sayre’s death, Episcopal Peace Fellowship honored his lifelong commitment to peace by establishing the John Nevin Sayre Award. The award is conferred every three years at General Convention for courageous witness in the cause of justice and peace to a recipient selected by the EPF National Executive Council. Through this award Episcopal Peace Fellowship publicly recognizes Episcopalians who are actively living their baptismal promises of striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. Like the person for whom the award is named, recipients have dedicated their life’s work to courageously promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence in the face of cultural opposition. Past recipients include Rev. Naim Ateek, Madeline Trichel, Mary Miller, Louis Crew, Newland Smith, Very Rev. Canon Patrick Augustine, Caroline Stevenson, and Patty and the late Rt. Rev. Ed Browning.

The 2021 John Nevin Sayre Award will be presented at the EPF General Convention reception on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The Rev. Bob Davidson, chair of EPF’s National Executive Council, looks forward to EPF’s reception each Convention. “It isn’t often that we are witnesses to peacemakers of such magnitude living in our midst. These awards remind us that working among us are living, breathing models of God’s call to follow the Prince of Peace,” said Rev. Davidson.

Nominations should be emailed to EPF Executive Director Melanie Merkle Atha at epfactnow by November 1, 2020, including in the letter of nomination the ways in which the nominee has worked for peace and justice.

Our popular marching shirts are back in stock! Order here!
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Peace Out! Week Seventy-six
#WearOrange for Gun Violence Prevention

The Trinity of Transformation
Offered by Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards
Retired Bishop of Nevada

Distress runs deep among those committed to Jesus’ way of love. The violent death of George Floyd was a particularly graphic case of all too common acts of sado-racism rooted in a domination system (Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers) approach to how we live together on this planet. Power plays are the medium; and, as Marshal McLuhan said, “the medium is the message.” Distress runs deep. So people around the world are taking to the streets. The stores and cafes on my street are boarded up in fear.) As a people, we are taking to the streets. It is right that we do so. The street is where we demand that those in power wake up to the harsh realities of violence and injustice.

But how many times have our protests led to little if any change? We go to the streets, express our feelings, then get on with life as usual. The powers that be sit back and wait for us to “get it out of our system,” then go on as before.

Real change starts in the streets where we express feelings – feelings of anger, grief, hope, and courage. But there are two more key elements. Together these elements constitute the Trinity of Transformation: the street, the table, and the cross.

The table is where in-the-flesh change happens. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the street, but he was also at the White House and in Congress advocating for civil rights legislation. We don’t just protest. We organize. We organize to advocate for change in policing, in education, in foreign and domestic policies of compassion that make a real difference in people’s lives. America withdrawing funding from the World Health Organization during the pandemic is not acceptable. America vetoing the U N Resolution calling for a Global Ceasefire during the pandemic is not acceptable. America “detaining” (incarcerating without trial) immigrants in hot-bed-of-contagion punitive, for-profit prisons is not acceptable. All such violence is part and parcel of one domination system. It’s all connected. We can and must engage that system on multiple fronts. Organizing for effective advocacy begins with building networks of relationship, like the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. That’s why we’re here.

The third element I have called “the cross” because the cross transforms our spirits. We are not moralistic do-gooders displaying our righteousness. We bring something deeper to the street and to the table. We bring the Spirit of Christ.

Bringing the Spirit of Christ comes from our regular hearing of the word and participating in the sacraments, but also through psycho-spiritual disciplines that cultivate in us Jesus’ way of being and living. One such discipline, Loving Kindness Meditation, comes from the Carmelites (who learned it from Theravadan Buddhism). It’s a daily 10-minute exercise. It goes this way:

For one week, we pray matching these words to our breath.

In: May I be filled with loving kindness.
Out: May I be well.
In: May I be peaceful and at ease.
Out: May I be happy.

We pray for ourselves this way for 10 minutes each day for a week. We always start with ourselves because we cannot give what we have not first received. So, the second week, we pray in the same way for 5 minutes. Then for the next 5 minutes, we pray for someone dear to us.

In: May Jim be filled with loving kindness.
Out: May he be well.
In: May he be peaceful and at ease
Out: May he be happy.

In week 3, we start with 5 minutes of prayer for ourselves again. The next five minutes, instead of praying for our friend, we pay for someone we know but who is not significant to us, someone we just see from time to time in daily life but have no strong feelings about.

In week 4, again we pray for ourselves for 5 minutes, then devote the next five minutes to praying – not for our worst enemy, but — for someone who bothers us, irritates us, makes us angry. Then we repeat the whole process over the next 4 weeks. Albert Einstein said,
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Loving Kindness Meditation is an exercise in “widening our circle of compassion.” Of course, there are other prayers that can change our hearts. But this is a good one. A disciplined life of prayer changes us and that matters for others. Whether we are on the street or at the table, our ability to effect change depends not so much on the cogency of our arguments as the power of our presence. The quality of our presence proceeds from our prayer.

The Trinity of Transformation calls us to the street, to the table, and to the cross. All three are political practices but also spiritual disciplines. The mission field and the crucible of our own transformation are the same place.

The Diocese of Rochester, and their diocesan bishop, Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, continue to inspire. Click here to read how Bishop Singh is issuing a call for all of the diocese to read the book Unsettling Truths, which explores the Doctrine of Discovery.
Thanks to EPF member Tom Foster for this news. How can you in your parish or diocese replicate this holy work?
To all of you who participated in the Poor People’s Campaign, a National Call for Moral Revival’s Digital Moral March on Washington this past weekend, THANK YOU! Click here to read the Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform. Our work for justice continues NOW! #PoorPeoplesCampaign
ACTION GROUP ACTIVITY!

Are you interested in connecting with justice-minded Episcopalians on any of the following issues? EPF is looking for your energy and leadership:

+ Defunding the police
+ Conscientious objectors
+ Nuclear disarmament
+ Voting rights and advocacy
+ Environmental justice
+ Racial justice and reparations

Contact us at epfactnow to be connected!
EPF member and former NEC member, current Fellowship of Reconciliation Board Member, and retired professor of peace studies Ellen Birkett Lindeen of St. Michael’s, Barington, IL, has published a compelling piece in the LA Progressive entitled The Great White Awakening: Health, Wealth and Justice for African Americans. Read it here.
EMM’s third webinar in the Love God, Love Neighbor series yesterday was focused on the administration’s devastating new asylum rule.

Through EMM’s partnership with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, we are strongly urging all Episcopalians and all people of faith to join the click-to-comment campaign being hosted by CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Network). We urge people to submit their own comments.

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Peace Out! Week Seventy-five
#WearOrange for Gun Violence Prevention
THIS SATURDAY! Read on for how you can participate and help the most vulnerable among us to be heard. And, if you still need inspiration, listen to Rev. Dr. William Barber’s sermon at Washington National Cathedral here.

JUNE 12 – Feast of Enmegawboh
Offered by Rev. John Floberg
Standing Rock Sioux Nation
Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota

The difficulty of some celebrations is our desire to recognize the achievement without remembering the resistance. And so it was for Blessed Enmegawboh. Life is complex and the historical context of those we celebrate is complex. That complexity can and often does result in disorientation. The temptation that we have as people is to return to the familiar and back into what, in comparison, were more comfortable times.
Enmegawboh was involved in conflict between nations. The Ojibwa, the Dakota and the Settlers were divided over land and how to live on that land. Their cultures were in conflict. By the time the Minnesota Conflict erupted in the summer of 1862 Enmegawboh was a priest of the Episcopal Church. He was ordained by Bishop Whipple – a man for his time, ahead of his time and yet part of his time.
It was in this conflicted place that Enmegawboh found himself desiring to return to his own people (Ottowa) and leave the stresses of Minnesota. But Whipple had confidence in Enmegawboh. The Bishop sent Chief Rising Sun, of the Ojibwa in the Dakota Territory to him to learn the Lord’s Prayer, the Creeds and how to Keep Track of Sundays. It is that third point that owns my thoughts. Keeping Track of Sundays is really not about the simple use of a calendar. It is about the profound Truth of the Resurrection. That is why the Church keeps itself centered on Sundays. We need the Hope of the Resurrection in order to confront the complexities of each generation lest we become disoriented and attempt to return to the familiar and retreat to what we may think of as more comfortable times.
The story of the resurrection is often about being sent into the midst of conflict. Peace that is the result of crossing the bridge of justice that rights the wrong. Resurrection rights the wrong.

A dedicated, passionate core of Rochester’s Episcopal clergy, including Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester and all of the clergy members of EPF, have been working, thinking, speaking and writing every day in an effort to articulate a response to the murder of George Floyd and the righteous response that has followed. The group held a purposefully small public gathering on the steps of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church in downtown Rochester. Click the link here to read their statement and to see the news story. #BlackLivesMatter
Not Peace, but a Sword
A sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost
Offered by Hailey Jacobsen
Virginia Theological Seminary

Bringing the Sword of Holy Transformation

I wonder if you’ve ever seen or prayed with Brother Robert Lentz’s icons? They’re a mix of old and new – portraits in stylized Byzantine positions with Latin inscriptions and golden nimbuses encircling the heads of figures like Martin Luther King of Georgia and Harvey Milk of San Francisco or Mary and the Christ child as members of Navajo Nation.

One of my favorite icons of his is called “The Christ of Maryknoll.” It portrays Christ with a dark olive complexion looking through a barbed-wire fence of what we can only assume is some kind of encampment – a prison, a labor or internment camp, or perhaps an immigration holding center. He’s leaning on the fence and peering through at the viewer – with his fingers carefully placed in between the barbs. Both of his palms bear the wounds of crucifixion. One hand silently covers our view of his mouth. The other hand reaches above his head. It’s difficult to look at. Christ’s gaze is haunting – almost like a Rorschach inkblot test. Is his stare coldly accusatory or one of comforting solidarity? Is he on the inside or the outside of the fence? Are we inside or outside? Whichever side he’s on, we’re on the other, and he’s silently calling to us. The barbed wire on which Jesus is leaning is attached to two wooden beams, framing two sides of our view and evoking the cross – a cross between us and Christ. It’s chilling and comforting and undeniably both modern and ancient. It somehow speaks to our long history of human suffering at our own hands.

I discovered this icon as a teenager when I was looking for prayer items that matched my newfound vocabulary that I was learning in a social justice class at my Catholic high school. This icon continues to resonate with me in a way that only finding it during that formative time as a teenager could.

I bought a print of the icon and brought it with me to college. Carefully, with those little 3-M strips, I hung it up next to my giant Bob Dylan poster, a small foot washing icon my church had given me at Confirmation, a colorful, animal-filled Heifer International poster, and the obligatory Van Gogh prints that I soon came to realize that every girl between the ages of 18 and 22 has on her wall. They took their place amid my roommate’s Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin posters and our suitemates’ Gandhi and The Muppets Take Manhattan prints and picture collages of high school friends.

A couple of weeks later, one of our suitemates hesitantly approached me: “We’ve all gotten together and decided that you need to take down your Jesus poster. It’s creepy and sad, and it weirds us out. It’s nothing but pain and suffering – that’s pretty messed up, and we don’t need to look at it.” Without protest, questioning if it was actually everybody that felt this way, or any conversation at all, I immediately apologized and said that it wasn’t my intention to creep people out. I took the icon down and put it in a drawer. I didn’t want to hurt people, and I especially didn’t want to get the reputation in my first two weeks of college that I was the creepy, weird person with morbid pictures of suffering on the walls. I gave it away a couple of years later.

I wish now that I had kept the icon up or that I had at least shared why I like it and explained: “That’s the point of this icon: to make us uncomfortable. To make us disturbed with oppression and to help us realize that Christ is in every moment of suffering. To help us fight, like Gandhi, for equality and equity – especially when that fight needs to take place in ourselves.”
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
(Matthew 10:34-36)

My example is a small example but an important one (as many small examples are!). Maybe I would have taken the icon down in the end anyway; but, there was a deep and theological conversation – a holy conversation, just waiting there for my suitemates and me. We missed out on it because I wanted these new people to like me, and I was afraid to sit in the discomfort of conflict. When handled respectfully and openly, our holiest insights can come out of the sword of disagreement. I had been Catholic, and the other women I lived with were Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian. What a fruitful conversation we might have had about social justice, how we view Christ, what crucifixion means to us, and how our personal theologies were formed – a little summit of Christian unity between the four small walls of a cinderblock dorm room.

Opportunities like these – even more important ones, present themselves every day – especially in the areas in our lives around power. Will I live with the false peace and ignore a racist joke – or will I stand, as lovingly and assertively as I can, with the sword of disagreement? Will I let an acquaintance treat a stranger like an object instead of a person beloved by God because of their sex, country of origin, or political party, or will I hold up a mirror? Will I keep my status or will I risk being not as well-liked by making room for someone’s voice when another knowingly or unknowingly tries to silence them?

I think part of the reason that “The Christ of Maryknoll” icon stays with me is because it is so modern – Christ with crucifixion marks standing in one of our current methods of torture and death – of crucifixion. We have many more. Theologian James Cone wrote about the lynching tree as an American cross. Lynching terrorized Black Americans across this nation for decades. The sin of lynching terrorized people where I grew up in Tennessee and where I now live in Virginia – two young Black teenagers in Old Town Alexandria in 1899. Teenagers whose grandchildren would be alive today if they had been allowed to live long enough to have children – members of our community who could have been living next door, worshiping in the same pew, or attending seminary with my classmates and me. And there were many more such murders across Virginia and the whole US – people stopped from inhabiting the fullness of their calls and lives because they were Black. These murders wounded, traumatized, and cut life off from not only those people but also their families and friends. These sins also marred the lives of all those who witnessed and committed them – whether they supported lynching or just stood silently by as it happened. Jesus is on both sides of the fence – with those being oppressed and those oppressing. He is with us in our suffering and trauma, calling to us for the oppression to stop.

As we hear again today in the voices of activists and as we have heard too many times for this to keep happening, the nightmare of lynching across this country still lives with us. The hate that inspired it still courses through our blood, creating school-to-prison pipelines and continuing to murder unarmed Black people whose only crimes are walking home from school, selling loose cigarettes, jogging, or sitting in their home. Our crosses today? We see them on the news day and night, and I have no doubt that if Jesus had come today, we would have crucified him – because we’re crucifying him still: just as you did it to one of the these who are members of my family and who have the forces of earthly power stacked against them, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40)

It’s deeply disturbing to hear Jesus talk about bringing a sword and conflict among our family and between us and the people we cherish and love most. Isn’t he the healer and teacher of love, the “Father-forgive-them” guy – the one going after the lost sheep? He is, and he brings the sword, too. Too many people, including me, live with the so-called ‘peace’ of this world. We need more truly holy conflict – not exclusion of groups or wars fought in the name of God but respectful, difficult conversations and hard reckonings about our individual identities in this world, how we treat one another, and how we see God. We need reconciliation and transformation. We need true change, and it begins with true listening. It begins with honest conversations that mutually acknowledge our shared humanity and witness the deep suffering of those inside the fence with Jesus – however those suffering choose to say it. We need conversations between Democrats and Republicans. Between Westboro Baptists and Queer Christians. Between those keeping strict quarantine and those entering capital buildings unmasked with assault weapons. Between billionaires and those who make $7.25 an hour. Between those who assert that Black lives matter and those who believe that even to say this somehow diminishes the lives of non-Black persons. Between me and the person who does or believes the thing that I can’t stand, and between you and the person with whom you have difficulty.

The sword does not just bring conflict among families. We can’t stop reading there. Jesus also tells us that the sword makes foes become members of the same household. It gathers us in to one big house – full of holy conflict, full of love, and undeniably linked forever. A sword brings urgency and clarity to where we stand along the fence with Jesus, and it ultimately destroys that fence. Foes become members of the same household. A sword won’t let us avoid the holy conversation, the holy conflict, and the holy transformation. A sword calls us to action, to relationship. The Lord knows our hurting world – our hurting neighbors and selves, need our immediate attention.

The Christ of Maryknoll
Brother Robert Lentz
ACTION GROUP ACTIVITY!

Are you interested in connecting with justice-minded Episcopalians on any of the following issues? EPF is looking for your energy and leadership:

+ Defunding the police
+ Conscientious objectors
+ Nuclear disarmament
+ Voting rights and advocacy
+ Environmental justice
+ Racial justice and reparations

Contact us at epfactnow to be connected!
THIS SATURDAY!
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register to attend as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

Poor People's Campaign Virtual March On Washington
Join EPF on June 20, 2020 for The Poor People’s Moral March on Washington
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Peace Out! Week Seventy-four
#WearOrange for Gun Violence Prevention
TODAY! Have you been urgently looking for a way to connect with other Episcopalians to lead us forward on racial justice in light of recent events? Join us later this afternoon at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please register using this link
Look Me in the Eye

Offered by NEC member Kathy McGregor
Project Director, The Prison Story Project
Fayetteville, AR

I was held up at gunpoint in my driveway by two men wearing ski masks in 1999. What frightened me even more than the gun in my face were the eyes of the man wielding the gun. His stare was blank, soulless…the kind of blankness behind the eyes one might find if encountering a dangerous animal. Shaken and victimized, I was slowly able to get over the shock of what happened and the fear of pulling into my driveway afterwards, but I couldn’t shake the fear I felt when I flashed back to the lack of human to human contact I encountered in my assailant’s eyes that day.

I sought solace and counselling from my pastor at the time. She suggested that I pray for a psychic change and spiritual awakening in my assailant. When she first suggested this, I thought she was crazy and that he didn’t deserve a prayer from me. She gently suggested that she would help me through the first prayer and so, together, we prayed. She asked me to continue that prayer every day and I promised her I would. It was tough to do at first, and I admit I didn’t have a very prayerful attitude when doing so, but eventually – and to my surprise – praying that prayer actually helped with the PTSD I’d been experiencing.

Years later, in May of 2016, I made my first trip to Arkansas’ death row to visit with men who had signed up for storytelling/creative writing with the Prison Story Project, a prison arts ministry I founded in 2012 through St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I live. Our team was given unprecedented access to the men on the row who agreed to participate. They were placed in holding cells on either side of a narrow hallway where we were able to conduct class. Once unshackled, they extended their hands through the bars of the cells to shake ours and introduce themselves as we moved from cell to cell to greet them and hand out pen and paper.

We were able to conduct writing class with them once a month for four hours over a six-month period, spending the time in between following up by US Mail. In October 2016 we made our way back to death row for our final in-person visit to perform their work back to them in the form of a staged reading. We came with 6 actors, a musician, and our creative writing team.

A few months later, in February of 2017, the state of Arkansas announced that it would execute eight men over ten days, just after Easter. Four of the men we served were on that list. We held silent vigils in the chancel of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for each of the eight scheduled executions. Several of us were on our cell phones, following the news on Twitter as last-minute appeals and motions were filed. Two of our participants received last minute stays just before their death warrants expired and two were executed over those ten agonizing days. One of our volunteers said the silent vigils felt like silent screams. In all, four of the eight men scheduled were put to death.

We had our first Prison Story Project board meeting after the executions two months later. We quickly realized that we needed professional counselling after what we had been through. We made an appointment with a kind therapist to help us process our feelings. As our group therapy session began, one of our volunteers told that when he was riding with us on the five-hour drive for our final visit on the row, he admitted he was nervous, as it was his first visit, and he asked if there was one thing he might be able to do that would be of benefit to the men on the row. He said that I spoke up and told him to “look them in the eye.” I had not remembered that until that very moment. Sitting with my team in that therapy session, I had the profound realization that God had answered the prayer I had prayed those many years ago.

Perhaps the victims of some of the men on the row had seen that same blank stare just before their lives were taken. The men we served on the row had been in solitary confinement for twenty plus years. After all those years locked away in a cage from everything except themselves, they found forgiveness and redemption, and their humanity had returned to them. I know this with all my heart. Each month, as we greeted each other, we looked deeply into each other eyes and they often wrote about how important that was to them. They said that our ability to look them in the eye reminded them of their humanity.

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption says that “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

I know this to be true for the men I have come to know and love on Arkansas’ death row.

We are reminded by our Baptismal Covenant to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. We must, therefore, continue to work to abolish state-sanctioned murder as we are called to do by our faith.

Watch this space! Coming soon, your opportunity to see a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row." EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters as soon as travel restrictions imposed by reason of the pandemic are alleviated.

Have you been graced with a COVID-19 stimulus check? And are prayerfully pondering how you might share this money in an impactful and much needed way? Please consider sharing your stimulus check to help stimulate EPF’s efforts to eradicate the death penalty with this ambitious new initiative! We plan to focus sharing this "On the Row" film in jurisdictions which have execution as a penalty still on their books, yet have not executed a condemned person in years. Oregon is an example — they have the death penalty, yet no one has been executed since 1962. Jurisdictions like Oregon seem particularly ripe for effective advocacy against the death penalty, and we are hoping to have news of the abolition of this barbaric practice by reason of EPF’s inspiring work towards this goal. Your donation here will support this effort and our other criminal justice reform advocacy initiatives. Thanks for your consideration.

About The Prison Story Project: The Prison Story Project offered incarcerated women and men an opportunity to explore their truths through poetry, creative writing, literature, song-writing, and visual art. Their work was then curated into a staged reading performed by actors and presented first to those on inside prison, and then outside to the community.

Eleven of the thirty-four men on Arkansas’ death row participated in the Project. Six actors and a musician were brought back to Varner Prison’s death row to present the staged reading of “On The Row” to the men. Three months later, the state of Arkansas announced it would execute 8 men over 10 days just after Easter 2017. Four of the men set to be executed were participants in the Project. Two were executed and two received last minute stays.

“On The Row” has been touring the country since 2017. Last year the Whiting Foundation for the Humanities awarded The Prison Story Project a substantial grant which has allowed us to create a filmed version of the staged reading as well as creation of a comprehensive teaching guide to share with other arts organizations interested in replicating our work. EPF looks forward to making this powerful film and the teaching guide available to you in the near future.

COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register to attend as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

Poor People's Campaign Virtual March On Washington
Join EPF on June 20, 2020 for The Poor People’s Moral March on Washington

We have had such an outpouring of admiration for Rev. Will Mebane’s offering in last week’s Peace Out!, that we want to share these as well. First, Will’s Pentecost sermon:

https://youtu.be/POp-NjQvzPg?t=1284

Second, this article from the Cape Cod Times, "Cape Codders of Color are ‘Taking a Stand.’"

https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20200603/cape-codders-of-color-are-taking-stand

Reminder that June is Episcopal Month of Action:
Register here
In the month of June, join the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries for Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action, a series of webinars to learn and advocate with and on behalf of immigrants, DACA recipients, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Newcomers contribute greatly to U.S. communities, enriching our common life, strengthening the U.S. economy, and bringing joy as they join and reunite with families and friends. And yet, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees face a wide array of challenges, including federal policies and legislation that are outdated and do not address the realities of immigrants in America today. As the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to advocate with and for our siblings seeking safety and a better life in the United States.

June 7-13: Episcopal Action on DACA Week
WEBINAR: June 9, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

June 14-20: Episcopal Action on Resettlement Week
WEBINAR: June 16, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

June 21-27: Episcopal Action on Asylum Week
WEBINAR: June 23, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

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Peace Out! Week Seventy-three
#WearOrange for Gun Violence Prevention
Good People:
There is no peace without justice
Offered by Rev. Will Mebane
Vice Chair, EPF National
Falmouth, MA

I am a black man. I spend literally every day of my life looking over my shoulder wondering from where the next glare, taunt, invective, and threat will come my way because I am black. I am a black father. I place my head on my pillow each night praying that my two black sons will not meet their demise at the hands of a police officer drunk with power, or a vigilante living out the dogma of white supremacy.

These concerns may seem illogical to you. If so, then I know you are neither black nor the parent of a black child. My indoctrination to this fear began when I was just a little boy facing severe repercussions should I drink from the water fountain marked “Whites Only” or try to sit on the main level of the movie theater and not in the balcony reserved for blacks. That fear intensified when the KKK began sending letters to our family’s home outlining the fate that awaited me if I continued glancing at white girls in our recently integrated school.

I am a black man in search of peace. However, I know there can be no peace without justice. The institutionalized and systemic racism that permeates every part of American society denies my sister, brothers, wife, children, and me the inalienable rights purportedly guaranteed all citizens of this country. There is no life, liberty, and justice for all in this nation. Not if you are black. Happiness cannot be pursued as long as those sworn to protect and serve deliver with impunity, pain, suffering, and death to black people.

Too many that cloak themselves in the flag, and sing a national anthem that was first heralded as a pro-slavery song, are concerned more about Colin Kaepernick kneeling than about the knee that was in the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds squeezing every breath of life out of his black body. Such lynchings might end if more allegiance was paid to the Cross of Jesus than to the “Stars and Stripes.”

I am a black man that has been in search of the land of the free for six decades. My father never found it. His father never found it. My sons will likely not find it in their lifetimes. It’s possible peace that grows from justice can be found. However, it will take more courage than my white sisters and brothers have shown they have. Demonstrations, protests, vigils, and even riots now in streets across America, are indicators that people may finally be fed-up with the virus of racism that infects our healthcare, housing, education, athletics, entertainment, economic, and injustice systems.

A black man offered words more than 50 years ago that have profound relevance for today:

“The time is always right to do what is right. The ultimate measure of a person is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is looking for some more “good people,” as The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described, to work for the removal of the knee of racism from the neck of America. EPF has space reserved for those seeking peace through justice who have the courage to speak-out, and act against this Spirit-destroying pandemic. No experience is necessary.

Pieta
Tulonn Sawyer
In a week where the pace of demoralizing events threatens to overcome our ability to meaningfully respond, we share this from Michael W. Waters: "Let’s be clear. When Trump lifted up the Bible in his hands, he was lifting a weapon of mass destruction. White supremacy masquerading as Christianity is by far the most destructive force the world has ever seen. The Bible in the wrong hand with the wrong intent becomes a book of horrors. Pay attention."
#Resist. #StayWoke
Coming soon for Gun Violence Prevention Month:
Michael Austin’s book ‘God and Guns in America’ has been published and is now available. The Washington National Cathedral, along with The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, is hosting an online conversation June 9th at 8:00pm EST with the author and Dean Randy Hollerith . Cathedral Canon Missioner The Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., D.Min and Bonhoeffer Institute President The Rev. Rob Schenck will join as well. Questions will be taken from the online audience as time allows. We encourage all to join.

To register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/7315894071189/WN_13mFtDsVSVOy7b2OapVYgA
You may also follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/302290547427323/
You can also watch a short video introduction produced by the Bonhoeffer Institute.

Excerpts of Reviews

"How should Christians think and act with respect to guns and gun ownership? God and Guns in America provides a thoughtful, measured, robust, and articulate biblical treatment of an issue that is too often treated with more heat than light. Ethicist Michael Austin ultimately defends the view—from a Christian but non-pacifist perspective—that (1) the right to own and use a gun is a conditional right, (2) using a gun to harm another person is only morally permissible as a last resort, and (3) more legal restrictions are needed in the United States".
Goodreads – full text

“Austin’s sound arguments, welcoming tone, and emphasis on building peace alongside protections of individual rights have the potential to sway Christians on both sides of the discourse around faith and firearms.”
Publishers Weekly – full text)

“Michael Austin exposes the economic forces that have driven America’s gun culture since the end of the Civil War and challenges Christians to be peacebuilders in a violent world, offering a way forward in making it harder for us to harm one another with guns.”
Rev. Deanna Hollas
Minister of Gun Violence Prevention, Presbyterian Church (USA)

“God and Guns in America is required reading for any follower of Jesus interested in the gun debate. Austin advocates a third way between pacifism and the just war notions of the use of violence, which he calls ‘peacebuilding.’ A fine work of theological integration around one of our culture’s most vexing issues.”
Scott B. Rae
Biola University

“This is an important book—comprehensive yet concise, well researched yet accessible, with a balanced treatment of the theological, ethical, and legal issues related to guns.”
David P. Gushee
Mercer University

To Honor George Floyd’s Memory, Vote

by Evelyn Dove Coleman

My friend said that her heart hurt when she heard that yet another black man had been murdered by someone paid with tax dollars to protect the community. Throughout the land, people’s hearts were hurting. But that pain cannot come close to what the late George Floyd felt as he lay handcuffed, being openly murdered by a policeman. One commenter said, "This is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee, to stop the killing of black men by police officers. Others made the issue about the flag." Another commenter said, "The killing hasn’t increased; the filming has increased." There is a reaction each time a tragedy happens. But then people go back to living as if everything is alright. I just hate it that so many lives have been lost, and still people do not go to the polls and vote. There is no power in filling the streets after yet another man is killed. No one ever answered the late Rodney King’s question, "Why can’t we all just get along?" Too few people are striving to reach the late Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream of civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. There is too much divisiveness in a country that has the word "united" in its very name. Get to know the candidates for public-service offices and support those who value people’s lives, basic humanity, and community unity. Don’t keep doing the same things expecting a different result. Urge every person you know to urge everyone that they know to find out how to mail in their ballots or go to the polling places to vote!

This week!! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort. Please use #WearOrange for all your social media posts! Give to support EPF’s efforts to end gun violence here.
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register to attend as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

#WearOrange
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Peace Out! Week Seventy-two
The Rio Grande, as seen from Boquillas, Mexico
LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS
Offered by Rev. Michael Wallens
Co-Chair of Rio Grande Borderland Ministries
Alpine, Texas

For our migrant friends along the border, the pandemic is one more layer of complexity to their already tragic and unjust circumstances in cities, shelters and tent cities. For the church along the border, it is not only seeing, immersing and advocating for migrants; it is about being in relationship with them. On the border, as people who work with our sisters and brothers, we answer the invitation to participate. What we have found is a transformation that does start within oneself and has ripple effects on those we are close to. Our friends have taught us that it is not enough to support a shelter and provide food; they need friends who become their network and support.

As heavy and as difficult as the pandemic is for so many, it is also an opportunity for all of us to create a better world, one where every person can live in peace and dignity. It has never been clearer that access to healthcare, food, clean water, shelter and economic security are human rights. With the clarity that often emerges from crisis, we can work together to create transformative change and come out of this a stronger and more just society. Let us begin with prayer as requested along the border:

• Some of the migrant camps inside the Mexican border have experienced heavy rains and flooding. Please pray for those experiencing these additional hardships and the organizations making sure they have proper water drainage channels, tents, and other basic needs.

• Pray for the immigrants with legal status who have been working and paying taxes and have lost jobs like so many other Americans during this crisis. With the complexities and recent changes of immigration law, many are confused and fearful about the renewal of their green cards and so are not applying for much-needed unemployment insurance benefits.

• Please pray for all those living in limbo as they await immigration hearings. Immigration courts already have a backlog of more than 1 million cases and can take years for an asylum applicant to get a final hearing. With the pandemic shutdown, the courts will be facing effects that last for years to come.

O God, Creator of all people,
help us to travel through the barren borderlands
that separate us from others.
Teach us to willingly explore relationships with people
as we offer a compassionate response to those who cross our paths around our borders.
Open our hearts to new companion’s needs so that
everyone eats,
everyone is clothed,
everyone has a safe and healthy habitat and
everyone knows they are loved by You, O Lord,
through our actions and struggles for justice and peace.
Grant us the vision to notice how each step we take together
moves us closer to the promised land
where all souls grow in hope and love.
Let us go forth this day
In harmony with You,
Compassion in our hearts
Gratitude in our thoughts
Generosity in our deeds
Justice as our passion
Let us go forth
carrying God’s image
Into our hurting world along our border.
AMEN+

Border Crossing, 1989
Luis A. Jimenez, Jr.
Sante Fe Museum of Art
Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action
June, 2020

In the month of June, 2020, EPF will join The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Episcopal Migration Ministries for Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action, a series of webinars to learn and advocate with and on behalf of immigrants, DACA recipients, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Newcomers contribute greatly to U.S. communities, enriching our common life, strengthening the U.S. economy, and bringing joy as they join and reunite with families and friends. And yet, immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees face a wide array of challenges, including federal policies and legislation that are outdated and do not address the realities of immigrants in America today. As the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to advocate with and for our siblings seeking safety and a better life in the United States.

June 7-13: Episcopal Action on DACA Week
WEBINAR: June 9, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

June 14-20: Episcopal Action on Resettlement Week
WEBINAR: June 16, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

June 21-27: Episcopal Action on Asylum Week
WEBINAR: June 23, 3:30-5:00pm Eastern Time

Participants may choose to attend one or more of the webinars offered. Registration is required here.

About the Office of Government Relations:

The Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. We aim to shape and influence policy and legislation on critical issues, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally. All policy positions are based on General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, the legislative and governing bodies of the Church.

About Episcopal Migration Ministries:

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.

On the web:
Love God, Love Neighbor: Episcopal Month of Action

Something more you can do to support our neighbors in detention: help get these women out to avoid becoming sick with COVID 19! Call the Irwin Detention Center and demand their release. (404) 893-1210
Video Women in Detention Irwin Detention Center
Do you want to learn how to write an effective Op-Ed? Join me and other social justice advocates for a primer in persuasive written advocacy here on Saturday, June 6, 2020: "Write to Change the World" virtual workshop.
Learn more at: www.TheOpEdProject.org
David Paulsen of Episcopal News Service did an in-depth report on the case of Abu Ali, one of the many condemned on whose behalf EPF advocates against their death sentence.

Read it here.

Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort. Please use #WearOrange for all your social media posts!
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register to attend as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

Our upcoming schedule:

Steven and I have just left Sisters, Oregon where we have been sheltering in place with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Close Erskine. What a happy and holy experience to live with such lovely, generous people. I can’t imagine a more fruitful and fulfilling experience — we made protective masks for the local hospital, planted a garden, worshipped God, broke bread together, enjoyed the lovely Cascade mountains, and learned how to oust a demagogue (see David Domke’s Common Purpose: www.commonpurposenow.org) among much else. With the weather moderating, we hope to see some more of beautiful Oregon and maybe to make some safe physical distancing visits as we travel. No news yet on when our EPF parish visits will resume. We are playing it safe and watching closely for our next opportunity! See you on the road!

Until next time,

power to the peaceful!

Melanie

View behind the altar, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Sisters, Oregon
Photo credit, Steven Atha
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Peace Out! Week Seventy-one
Thurgood Marshall, commemorated on May 17
Hon. Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was a devoted Episcopalian and he is commemorated by our Church on May 17. An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from October 1967 until October 1991, Marshall was the Court’s 96th justice and its first African-American justice.

Before becoming a jurist, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court and particularly for his victory in Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that desegregated public schools. His impact on our social fabric is profound. He served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy and then served as the Solicitor General after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967.

Marshall was an active member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, serving on the Vestry, as Senior Warden and as Deputy to the 1964 General Convention, before moving to Washington to serve on the Supreme Court.

Eternal and ever-gracious God, you blessed your servant Thurgood Marshall with grace and courage to discern and speak the truth: Grant that, following his example, we may know you and recognize that we are all your children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

CREDO

I believe in God
who created the world not ready made
like a thing that must forever stay what it is
who does not govern according to eternal laws
that have perpetual validity
nor according to natural orders
of poor and rich,
experts and ignoramuses,
people who dominate and people subjected.
I believe in God
who desires the counter-argument of the living
and the alteration of every condition
through our work
through our politics.
I believe in Jesus Christ
who was right when he
“as an individual who can’t do anything”
just like us
worked to alter every condition
and came to grief in so doing
Looking to him I discern
how our intelligence is crippled,
our imagination suffocates,
and our exertion is in vain
because we do not live as he did
Every day I am afraid
that he died for nothing
because he is buried in our churches,
because we have betrayed his revolution
in our obedience to and fear
of the authorities.
I believe in Jesus Christ
who is resurrected into our life
so that we shall be free
from prejudice and presumptuousness
from fear and hate
and push his revolution onward
and toward his reign
I believe in the Spirit
who came into the world with Jesus,
in the communion of all peoples
and our responsibility for what will become of our earth:
a valley of tears, hunger, and violence
or the city of God.
I believe in the just peace
that can be created,
in the possibility of meaningful life
for all humankind,
in the future of this world of God.
Amen
 -Dorothy Soelle

Watch this space! Coming soon, your opportunity to see a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row." EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters as soon as travel restrictions imposed by reason of the pandemic are alleviated.

Have you been graced with a COVID-19 stimulus check? And are prayerfully pondering how you might share this money in an impactful and much needed way? Please consider sharing your stimulus check to help stimulate EPF’s efforts to eradicate the death penalty with this ambitious new initiative! We plan to focus sharing this "On the Row" film in jurisdictions which have execution as a penalty still on their books, yet have not executed a condemned person in years. Oregon is an example — they have the death penalty, yet no one has been executed since 1962. Jurisdictions like Oregon seem particularly ripe for effective advocacy against the death penalty, and we are hoping to have news of the abolition of this barbaric practice by reason of EPF’s inspiring work towards this goal. Your donation here will support this effort and our other criminal justice reform advocacy initiatives. Thanks for your consideration!

About The Prison Story Project: The Prison Story Project offered incarcerated women and men an opportunity to explore their truths through poetry, creative writing, literature, song-writing, and visual art. Their work was then curated into a staged reading performed by actors and presented first to those on inside prison, and then outside to the community.

Eleven of the thirty-four men on Arkansas’ death row participated in the Project. Six actors and a musician were brought back to Varner Prison’s death row to present the staged reading of “On The Row” to the men. Three months later, the state of Arkansas announced it would execute 8 men over 10 days just after Easter 2017. Four of the men set to be executed were participants in the Project. Two were executed and two received last minute stays.

“On The Row” has been touring the country since 2017. Last year the Whiting Foundation for the Humanities awarded The Prison Story Project a substantial grant which has allowed us to create a filmed version of the staged reading as well as creation of a comprehensive teaching guide to share with other arts organizations interested in replicating our work. EPF looks forward to making this powerful film and the teaching guide available to you in the near future.

Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort. Please use #WearOrange for all your social media posts!
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register to attend as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

EPF DELEGATION TO GENERAL CONVENTION,
APPLICATIONS ARE HERE! LINK BELOW!
For the sixth consecutive General Convention, in June, 2021, EPF will send young adults between the ages of 18-30 to General Convention to advocate for peace and justice by drafting legislation, testifying in committee, and building support for resolutions. Delegates will experience first hand how The Episcopal Church functions as the largest democratically elected governing body in the world. For applications for delegates to General Convention, click here!

Our upcoming schedule:

Steven and I are still physical distancing in Sisters, Oregon with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Erskine for a little while longer due to COVID-19. Eventually, we will be rescheduling our pilgrimage to the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest when the coast is clear. Meanwhile, I’m doing some administrative chores, trying to keep in touch with EPF supporters, reading and praying and taking action for those for whom EPF advocates — the people living in Palestine/Israel affected by the violence there, those affected by gun violence, those affected by war, the people being held in unconscionable circumstances in our unjust and racist criminal justice system, those being treated inhumanely as they try to find safe harbor in our country of abundance, those being trafficked and abused, our beautiful planet which often feels like she is in her own death throes, and all those who feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. With God’s help. . .

Until next time,

power to the peaceful!

Melanie

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Sisters, Oregon
Photo credit, Steven Atha
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Peace Out! Week Seventy
Bishop Paul Jones, Episcopal Peace Fellowship founder
and conscientious objector
CROSS BEFORE FLAG
Every year on May 15th, we remember those who have established and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill, both in the past and today. Hundreds of people across the world are imprisoned or forced to flee their home countries for refusing to join the armed forces. This Friday, May 15th, we stand in solidarity with them, as well as celebrating the memory of all those throughout history who have resisted conscription, including EPF’s beloved founder, Bishop Paul Jones. Find ways to observe International Conscientious Objector Day and read more here.

The Episcopal Church is not a historic "peace church," but the Church does support those who believe that bearing arms in war is unchristian and against their convictions. EPF was founded as a way to support conscientious objectors and to encourage the Church to move towards being a church of peace. For young adults who are pacifists, the time to first consider CO status in an official capacity is before one registers for the draft. Although the Selective Service does not have an official way to register for CO status, there are ways to establish a record of your beliefs. In addition, the Episcopal Church maintains an official registry of those wishing CO status. We have a packet with information on how to do this. Active military personnel who now feel called to be conscientious objectors can also register. More information is available here.

Read Cross Before Flag: Episcopal Statements on War and Peace here.

From our founder, Bishop Paul Jones, to our current leadership, Rev. Bob Davidson (National Chair) (left) and Rev. Will Mebane (National Vice Chair) (right), EPF is proud of the courage and convictions or our prophetic leaders who conscientiously objected to being conscripted into violent armed service. To support EPF work in support of conscientious objectors and against war, click here.
Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort!
Poor People's Campaign Virtual March On Washington
Click the video above to learn about EPF’s support for the Poor People’s Campaign. Register to attend the virtual Moral March on Washington as a member of EPF here.
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

EPF DELEGATION TO GENERAL CONVENTION,
APPLICATIONS ARE HERE! LINK BELOW!
For the sixth consecutive General Convention, in June, 2021, EPF will send young adults between the ages of 18-30 to General Convention to advocate for peace and justice by drafting legislation, testifying in committee, and building support for resolutions. Delegates will experience first hand how The Episcopal Church functions as the largest democratically elected governing body in the world. For applications for delegates to General Convention, click here!

Our upcoming schedule:

Steven and I are still physical distancing in Sisters, Oregon with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Erskine for a little while longer due to COVID-19. Eventually, we will be rescheduling our pilgrimage to the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest when the coast is clear. Meanwhile, I’m doing some administrative chores, trying to keep in touch with EPF supporters, reading and praying and taking action for those for whom EPF advocates — the people living in Palestine/Israel affected by the violence there, those affected by gun violence, those affected by war, the people being held in unconscionable circumstances in our unjust and racist criminal justice system, those being treated inhumanely as they try to find safe harbor in our country of abundance, those being trafficked and abused, our beautiful planet which often feels like she is in her own death throes, and all those who feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. With God’s help. . .

Until next time,

power to the peaceful!

Melanie

Bishop Paul Jones — Orange back drop in support of gun violence prevention!
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Peace Out! Week Sixty-nine
Jessica Jew, MPH, is a member of EPF’s
National Executive Council.
She attends St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral
in Los Angeles, CA.
Last September, while browsing the shelves of Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR, I picked up a book that I continue to quote and refer to months after I finished reading it. Brene Brown’s book, Dare to Lead is her latest reflection on what it takes to “rumble” with shame and learn new ways of stepping out in courage in the workplace. One major finding from her research is that vulnerability is required for daring leadership – strong leaders aren’t infallible – in fact, these leaders recognize that they have many faults but take steps to learn from their teams rather than putting on armor to hide their weaknesses. I’ve used Brene Brown’s vocabulary on several occasions to help me articulate difficult conversations with my manager.

“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” Galatians 6:4

Over the course of this Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve struggled to continue to work remotely while having my 1-year old Emile at home. Luckily my husband has been able to provide some much needed support, but sometimes my role as “Mom” comes into direct conflict with my role of “Employee.” Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I set out to do. I must recognize that we are all living under extraordinary circumstances and it is unreasonable to expect that I’d be able to continue to do everything normally. I hold on tightly to the counsel found in Galatians, that instead of comparing myself to others and feeling badly, I must simply do the best I can with what I have been given.

“Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Judge nothing before the appointed time; wait til the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4: 1-5

I also must recognize that my worth does not come from my annual performance review or the amount of money in my paycheck – while these are both important, they aren’t the only things of value. Sometimes I am my own worst critic and pass very harsh judgement on myself that often is skewed or unfair. I must take care to distinguish between criticism and judgement – otherwise I will be forever chasing after approval from others. Criticism is someone’s opinion that I can choose to hear or discard, while judgement is typically associated with a judicial decision or God’s divine and omnipotent appraisal. Instead of tearing myself apart worrying about other people’s criticism, I need to keep my eyes fixed upon the only one who can actually see me completely clearly.

Jessica Jew

Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort!
We invite you to join our partner in ministry, Episcopal Migration Ministries’, new initiative: Connecting Neighbors.

Connecting Neighbors allows individuals and congregations to fill the gap and directly support refugee families resettled by EMM. EMM’s network of 13 refugee resettlement affiliates continue to serve newly resettled refugee families and in very difficult circumstances.

Several needs top the list right now:

  • Direct support to affiliates through their websites.
  • Material goods to support refugee families. Items are detailed on Amazon WishLists.
  • Digital devices. Most importantly, affiliates need donations of gently-used digital devices – tablets, smartphones, laptops – so they can continue providing services and support to refugee families.

Contact Allison Duvall, Manager for Church Relations and Engagement, who will help you make arrangements to donate. aduvall

Thank you for your steadfast support! On Giving Tuesday, EPF raised more than $500 to support our ongoing justice and peace initiatives. It’s not too late to show your dedication to living into your baptismal promises by giving here. We appreciate your generosity!
Evening Prayer
What are you doing later this evening? EPF has published a service of evening prayer over on our Facebook page. Video above, content of prayer appears below the video, and the link to the written service is here.
EPF DELEGATION TO GENERAL CONVENTION,
APPLICATIONS ARE HERE! LINK BELOW!
For the sixth consecutive General Convention, in June, 2021, EPF will send young adults between the ages of 18-30 to General Convention to advocate for peace and justice by drafting legislation, testifying in committee, and building support for resolutions. Delegates will experience first hand how The Episcopal Church functions as the largest democratically elected governing body in the world. For applications for delegates to General Convention, click here!
COVID-19 has forced the nation into an unprecedented emergency. The current emergency, however, results from a deeper and much longer-term crisis — that of poverty and inequality, and of a society that has long ignored the needs of 140 million people who are poor or one emergency away from being poor.

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America and sought to build a broad movement that could unite poor and dispossessed communities across the country. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has picked up this work. People across the nation have joined under the banner of the Campaign to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, climate change and ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
They are coming together to demand that the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in our nation — from every race, creed, gender, sexuality and place — are no longer ignored, dismissed or pushed to the margins of our political and social agenda.

That’s why Episcopal Peace Fellowship is proud to join the Poor People’s Campaign as a mobilizing partner for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering, on June 20, 2020. Register as a member of EPF here:
https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-for-june-20-2020-mass-poor-peoples-assembly-moral-march-on-washington?source=epfnational

Our upcoming schedule:

We are physical distancing in Sisters, Oregon with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Erskine for a little while longer due to COVID-19. Eventually, we will be rescheduling our pilgrimage to the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest when the coast is clear. Meanwhile, I’m doing some administrative chores, trying to keep in touch with EPF supporters, reading and praying and taking action for those for whom EPF advocates — the people living in Palestine/Israel affected by the violence there, those affected by gun violence, those affected by war, the people being held in unconscionable circumstances in our unjust and racist criminal justice system, those being treated inhumanely as they try to find safe harbor in our country of abundance, those being trafficked and abused, our beautiful planet which often feels like she is in her own death throes, and all those who feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. With God’s help. . .

Until next time,

power to the peaceful!

Melanie

Daffodils, Sisters, Oregon
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Peace Out! Week Sixty-eight
Mosaic detail, St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, Santa Fe, NM
Deep in our hearts, the fire of justice burns; a vision of a world renewed through radical concern. As Christians we are called to set the captives free, to overthrow the evil powers and to end hypocrisy. This is our task today to build a world of peace; a world of justice, freedom, truth, where kindness will increase; a world free from hunger, a world where people share, where every person is of worth, and no one lives in fear. We take the step of faith, and leave the past behind and move into the future’s world with open heart and mind. By grace we work with Christ as one community, to bring new hope and fuller life to all humanity. AMEN

Evening Prayer, Church of South India

Melanie Atha, Executive Director of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship
A message from EPF’s National Executive Council
about the work of EPF. Give here to support our mission!

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is an inclusive community rooted in active love. Her members endeavor to follow Jesus into the world, bearing witness to injustice, while striving for justice, and prayerfully expecting that peace will follow. We offer resources to help form human beings who understand that our call to be Christ’s hands and feet compels us to live into our Baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every person. We cannot imagine our lives as followers of Christ without doing the work of social justice advocacy. We are about using our prophetic voices for radical peacemaking. Our places are marked by our dedication to non-violence, and to creating peace even with those with whom we deeply disagree. Our movement is ever toward the immovable cornerstone, Jesus, who can always be found standing beside the other, the stranger, the oppressed, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the condemned, the victims of a broken justice system, the displaced and those who are alone or who have lost hope.

Save the date! Wear orange for gun violence prevention is June 5-7, 2020. We will be filling up the social media airwaves to create awareness around the prevention of gun violence. Do you have great ideas how we can do this virtually? Let us know, and send us your photos and videos so we can share the energy you have for this vital social justice effort!
EPF DELEGATION TO GENERAL CONVENTION,
APPLICATIONS ARE HERE! LINK BELOW!
For the sixth consecutive General Convention, in June, 2021, EPF will send young adults between the ages of 18-30 to General Convention to advocate for peace and justice by drafting legislation, testifying in committee, and building support for resolutions. Delegates will experience first hand how The Episcopal Church functions as the largest democratically elected governing body in the world. For applications for delegates to General Convention, click here!
Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, congratulates Episcopal Peace Fellowship on 80 years
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
congratulates EPF on 80 years of loving action and witness,
declaring that our activity is,
"Nothing less than the work of God!"

Click HERE to give to our campaign!

By June 20, 2020, when this important day of advocacy happens, what will the number of poor and low wealth people be? How many more than 140 million? How many will have died by reason of lack of access to health care, to sanitary conditions, decent housing, or adequate wages? Those of us in quarantine can use this time to pray, study and act on the issues that impact the most vulnerable among us, and plan to show up and show out, virtually, on June 20. Demand that our elected leaders lead for the benefit of all of us!

Our upcoming schedule:

We are physical distancing in Sisters, Oregon with friends and EPF supporters Rev. Jack and Rev. Christy Erskine for a little while longer due to COVID-19. Eventually, we will be rescheduling our pilgrimage to the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest when the coast is clear. Meanwhile, I’m doing some administrative chores, trying to keep in touch with EPF supporters, reading and praying and taking action for those for whom EPF advocates — the people living in Palestine/Israel affected by the violence there, those affected by gun violence, those affected by war, the people being held in unconscionable circumstances in our unjust and racist criminal justice system, those being treated inhumanely as they try to find safe harbor in our country of abundance, those being trafficked and abused, our beautiful planet which often feels like she is in her own death throes, and all those who feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. With God’s help. . .

Until next time,

power to the peaceful!

Melanie

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