EPF LOGO clear small
Now is a good time to support our work for justice and peace! Click here.
Peace Out! Week Eighty-eight
Rev. James Chisholm, commemorated annually on September 15

Deja Vu
Offered by EPF NEC member, Bruce Freeman
Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, OH

"As we as a country continue to navigate our way through the World Pandemic of 2020, certain individuals stand out as heroes in a time of calamity, providing care and comfort to the afflicted, as well as performing continuing services for the public, such as postal workers, child care, emergency services to victims of natural disaster, grocery store stockers and deliverers, etc. We are all grateful for their service while putting themselves at risk.

"The Rev. James Chisholm was one of these unsung heroes during a time of devastating Yellow Fever in Virginia in 1855."

Read the full text of Bruce’s reflection HERE

EPF Chapters in New York endorse "Back from the Brink." Read the full endorsement in support of preventing nuclear war HERE
Monday, September 21, 2020 is International Day of Peace! How does your Peace Partner Parish or Chapter acknowledge this day? We’d love to highlight your activities, particularly any virtual celebrations which can be shared with the rest of us so we can be a part of it. Send links to your International Day of Peace events so we can promote them for you here in Peace Out. epfactnow
Your opportunity to view a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row: Stories from Arkansas’ Death Row" is here! EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our EPF members, Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters via Zoom on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific. Tickets available on Classy for a $30 contribution to EPF. Check the link here for video previews of this compelling work.

Witness Palestine
Film Festival
Online October 4 –
November 3, 2020

The ninth annual Witness Palestine Film Festival is scheduled for October 4 – November 3. With no or very limited access this year to our traditional venues of The Little Theatre and St. John Fischer College, the festival will be online. In this new format, we plan to make four films available via the web at no charge. This year’s films offer perspectives on Palestine/Israel through a variety of lenses: historical; shared heart-felt personal experiences of former Israeli soldiers and of American Jews encountering first-hand the realities of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation; and the stories of Arab Americans in Brooklyn seeking a political voice. Film titles, dates, registration information, and other details may be found at WitnessPalestineRochester.org.

Registration for Journey Toward Awareness and Understanding of Anti-Racism is here: https://www.stmichaelsbarrington.org/church-announcements/794-journey-toward-awareness-2020-peace-and-justice-anti-racism
to reserve a spot for any of the evenings. Thanks to EPF Peace Partner Parish St. Michael’s-Barrington, IL, for this invitation to join them!
STAY CONNECTED
Facebook Twitter Instagram

Offered by Dr. Linda Gaither

An important and disturbing event may have escaped our attention in the midst of the chaos facing us all in 2020.  In January, the 2020 Doomsday Clock was re-set at 100 seconds to midnight, as announced in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.  “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers – nuclear war and climate change – that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond.  The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”

This is a terrifying reality to face. We have learned in the battle with COVID-19 that when public health infrastructure and preparedness, whether national or international, are underfunded or defunded, a terrible price is paid in human life. The price for nuclear war and nuclear winter is beyond calculation.  

The vestries of St. John’s Church in Ithaca and St. Thomas’ in Slaterville Springs have responded to the unthinkable danger of nuclear war by endorsing Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War.  Both the Ithaca Common Council and the Town Council of Lansing voted to endorse as well.

These endorsements are the fruit of a sustained effort over a number of years to educate and raise consciousness in the Ithaca area, in order to call for citizen action for nuclear disarmament.  The Ithaca Area Chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, working closely with the Nuclear Disarmament Group at Cornell, has sponsored several educational visits by Dr. Ira Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility

(PSR). In 2017 PSR collaborated with the Union of Concerned Scientists to launch Back from the Brink. https://www.preventnuclearwar.org/  

This is a national grassroots initiative seeking to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy. As Dr. Helfand puts it, Nuclear weapons are not a force of nature, they are not an act of God. We have made them with our own hands and we know how to take them apart. We’ve already dismantled more than 50,000 of them. The only thing that’s missing is the political will and commitment to do this. And that’s where all of us come in.”

Endorsing Back from the Brink supports the adoption of five common-sense steps:

         ** Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first

          ** End the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack

            ** Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert

            ** Cancel the plan to replace the entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

            ** Pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed nations to eliminate arsenals

To build momentum for this grass-roots citizens’ movement, it is our EPF Chapter’s goal to invite the parishes of our diocese to engage with Back from the Brink, in response to the call for endorsement. By sharing the news in The Messenger and through the resolution process at our diocesan convention, we hope many parishes and our diocese as a body will say YES to endorsement.  We also invite individuals to endorse; it is simple to do on-line at the website  https://www.preventnuclearwar.org/

The ultimate goal is a resolution for General Convention, issuing a call for endorsement by The Episcopal Church.  This is in line with nearly 40 years of our church’s policy, urging the U.S. and the other nuclear nations to block the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminate all nuclear weapons from the world (see Addendum below).

The Doomsday Clock is ticking. To us it appears that both the Episcopal Church’s long-held policy on the nuclear threat and our Baptismal vows require us to respond.

Faithfully,

Dr. Frank Baldwin  [frankbaldwin149@gmail.com]

Dr. Linda Gaither [lgaither@sonofyork.com]

  

1982 General Convention voted to endorse a bilateral nuclear freeze and nuclear disarmament for U.S. and Soviet Russia.

1988 G.C. voted to urge the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to continue disarmament and use saved funds for human needs.

1994 G.C voted to urge the U.S. to sign a Test Ban Treaty and to pursue elimination of nuclear weapons.

1997 G.C.voted to support the goal of total nuclear disarmament by all the nuclear nations.

2009 G.C. voted to call on all nuclear armed nations to determine a timely process for dismantling nuclear weapons.political infrastructure 

Déjà Vu

Bruce Freeman

Episcopal Peace Fellowship National Executive Committee

An old photo of a person

Description automatically generated

Rev. James Chisholm

As we as a country continue to navigate our way through the World Pandemic of 2020, certain individuals stand out as heroes in a time of calamity, providing care and comfort to the afflicted, as well as performing continuing services for the public, such as postal workers, child care, emergency services to victims of natural disaster, grocery store stockers and deliverers, etc. We are all grateful for their service while putting themselves at risk.

The Rev. James Chisholm was one of these unsung heroes during a time of devastating Yellow Fever in Virginia in 1855. Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia combined lost approximately 3,000 residents, a third of their populations. Thousands had initially fled to New York area for safety (for them, their means of social distancing). The virus arrived by infected passengers on a ship. Rev. Chisholm, Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, died of the illness.

From Wikipedia sources, we learn that “…in February 1855, Rev. Chisholm’s wife died, leaving him to care for two young sons. When yellow fever struck Portsmouth and nearby Norfolk in the summer and one of his sons fell ill, Chisholm sent his boys to live with relatives, but returned to the city. Almost all other leading citizens, ranging from doctors to clergy, left, but Rev. Chisholm remained to assist those stricken by the epidemic, with not only pastoral care, but food, medical care and even digging graves. He worked closely with Rev. Francis Devlin of the city’s St. Paul’s Catholic Church to assist Irish immigrants who continued to live in “pestilential abodes”. As the disease abated in the fall, Chisholm had been so weakened by his efforts (and news that one of his sons had died) that he himself succumbed at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, becoming one of the 3,200 deaths in a city which had about 12,000 residents the previous winter. 

About 20 people turned out for his funeral, conducted by a Baptist minister. Rev. Chisholm is buried in Portsmouth’s Cedar Grove cemetery. His memoirs of that epidemic, edited shortly after his death to emphasize the Christian values which prompted the somewhat delicate and retiring (if not bashful) cleric to exhibit fortitude through that epidemic, are available at various sources. Since 2010, the Episcopal Church has remembered Chisholm annually on its liturgical calendar on September 15. 

A stone bench

Description automatically generated

Local Graveyard Marker      Kristen Zeis-The Virginian-Pilot

From The Great Pestilence in Virginia, by William S Forrest (1856) “…Who, that knew the Rev. James Chisholm by sight, would have dreamed that that frail body of his held such a lofty spirit! Weak and delicate, with a degree of modesty that almost amounted to bashfulness, as shrinking and retiring as a young girl, thousands would have passed him in the crowd unconscious that they were in the presence of a ripe scholar and an able divine. His look a personification of meekness; and, to the superficial thinker, he would seem to have been one of those who would quietly have retreated to his solitude, far away from the noise and bustle of an excited community. But the disease came — Chisholm’s flock nearly all left — and he, too, was preparing to spend a portion of his summer in the mountains but stern duty said ‘ Stop.’ And then it was that this pale, delicate, frail, retiring man came forth to the struggle, and the great fond noble soul, which was, after all, the stature of the man, rose in its God-given strength, and he was here at the bedside of suffering, and there by the fresh-made grave; here pointing the sinner to the cross of Christ, and there carrying food and drink to the needy; now in the pulpit, seizing upon the circumstances of the visitation, to warn men to prepare for death, and then in the hospital whispering peace to the penitent and departing soul.” 

Our struggles with the COVID-19 bring us to seek guidance and leadership from our leaders and solace from our religious and spiritual leaders. This has been true throughout the ages. Sometimes, the desire to rely on our faith for comfort…and for answers… can be problematic. Some look at the pandemic as a “divine missive” with varied interpretations, while some seek earthly relief and protection from the virus through religious rituals such as drinking cow urine or holy dirt from select mausoleums. 

The need to follow the guidance of science has been fraught in the United States with confusion, mixed messages and lack of compliance. For example, traditional communal religious gatherings are not allowed, or only with restrictions. The wearing of masks for protection has acquired political overtones. And States and local communities all seem to have different requirements that seem to change frequently. 

Blaming “others” for causing the onset of pandemics and plagues is common. The two outbreaks of the horrific Antonine Plague, or the Plague of Galen, devastated the Roman economy and war machine beginning in around 160CE to 180CE and then 251CE-266CE. Christians were persecuted for their reluctance to honor the gods, which Romans believed resulted in the rage of the gods who sent a disease to the population as punishment. A side-effect of the Antonine Plague, in fact, was the positive reception by the remaining people with the refreshing Christian tradition of actually assisting others in need of comfort or healing, as well as having a more positive perspective of life and death in challenging times, including the ultimate reward of Heaven for those who became Christians.

During the current pandemic, we too have witnessed the blaming of others for supposedly allowing our great nation to be a victimized by a pandemic hatched from abroad. Even populations below our southern border have been highlighted as a source of infections by some politicians.

The horrible 1918 Spanish Flu, that claimed up to 850,000 lives was far worse than COVID-19 is likely to be. But the population in major cities did wear masks in deference to the known science back then. It should be noted that the 4,000-strong San Francisco Anti Mask League, led by a maskless  Mayor James Rolph, was active for a brief period until “science prevailed”.

A close up of a newspaper

Description automatically generated
A person wearing a uniform standing in front of a building

Description automatically generated

          Anti-Mask Row (Reddit)                                        A Mask Slacker Warned in SF (Business Insider)

The Black Plague, the worst of the past plagues, raged in Eurasia and North Africa peaking from 1347-1351, killing worldwide upwards of 200 million souls, or 60% of the population. One of the heroines of this apocalyptic period was St. Catherine (Caterina) of Siena, known for frequenting hospitals with infected patients and offering her remarkable personal, loving touch.

A person wearing a costume

Description automatically generated

Catherine of Siena 

U.S. Catholic Magazine

Other noteworthy “Nothelfers” or “helpers in need” were referred to collectively as the Fourteen Holy Helpers. So important were these early devotees of care to sufferers that special indulgences were offered by Pope Nicholas with devotions given for Saints George, Blasé, Erasmus, Pantaleon, Vitus, Christopher, Denis, Cyriacus, Acacius, Eustace, Giles, Margaret, Barbara and Catherine (of Alexandria). Science had not provided a solution to the bubonic plague, so these 14 holy helpers stepped in to satisfy the public’s yearning for protection and peace.

A painting of a person

Description automatically generated

The Black Plague-From the Toggenburg Bible-History Today

And of course, St. Sebastian’s rise in favor after the Roman Empire’s decline deserves mention. A soldier, he was moved to convert to Christianity having seen persons cured of the plague when pagan idols were spurned. Religious care was the prevailing practice then, and “plague saints” were adopted in various communities including Florence, Italy where St. Sebastian interceded to halt the plague.  A church in his name was built to honor him in addition to the previously built holy altar that was thought to have brought an end to the plague in Florence. St. Sebastian’s likeness still provides solace to those in need of relief from various troubles and ailments.

A picture containing person, person, holding, young

Description automatically generated

             Saint Sebastian

And we must mention the Native Americans who suffered greatly from the arrival of the Europeans, bringing their domestication, religion and germs. It has been reported that colonial leaders actually used smallpox germs in blankets as a weapon against the unwitting indigenous population. Native Americans witnessed with fear the inexplicable shroud of disease coursing through their hunter/gatherer societies and through their unique religious belief system that had once provided support, causing tragic mass suicides and the abandonment of many infants. There seemed to be no cure, medically or spiritually, for the spread of disease after centuries of harmony with the natural world.

“Unparalleled in History of City” (Philadelphia-1918) read the headline in the Philadelphia newspaper. The Spanish flu had hit Philadelphia hard. All schools and churches were closed. Church offices became hospitals, and all priests, non-cloistered nuns (2,000) and St. Vincent DePaul members were enlisted. Twenty-three nuns were felled by the disease in the course of treating patients. “Their largely anonymous actions helped save the lives of many throughout the city…”.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated
A person wearing a hat

Description automatically generated

                          We Wear Masks! (ABC)                                                         New York Times-1918                                                                

Some Final Notes

As Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine writes, a plague is an effect of civilization not just a threat. With villages and cities comes concentrations of animals, domestic and otherwise, as well as people living in close quarters. Diseases and epidemics can and do thrive in such conditions. Plagues, when they occur, “reorder” things, and …suspend society in midair …. taking it out of its regular patterns and intimating new possible futures”. These “futures” may be heartening or frightening.

Rome staggered under the two successive epidemics of Smallpox (like) and Ebola (like), followed by huge volcanic eruptions in 536CE in Iceland that “rebooted” epidemics worldwide in this lengthy period of the Dark Ages, known by some as “the worst year to be alive”.

A close up of smoke

Description automatically generated

536CE-The Worst Year to Be Alive (cnn.com)

Crazy and fanatical behaviors became commonplace, with cultish sects and hatred of certain religions bubbling to the surface. Plagues were not uniters in many ways, but often divisive with virulent scapegoating and assigning of blame. Spirituality shifts began again, with a core of rebellious trends appearing, including the infancy of the Reformation. Defiance of the previous order was occurring. The cycle of rebuilding civilization was actually occurring again. 

And, as Sullivan writes, agriculture, post Black Plague, actually evolved to benefit the poor (e.g., fewer mouths to feed), and industries like printing shifted to the new printing presses in lieu of expensive scribes. He notes his belief that the AIDS and Black Lives Matter movements are related to the past inclinations to experience life differently when under the stress of a pandemic with what he calls “disinhibiting feelings” that may give a sudden collective unity for people to “express themselves fearlessly in public, to reorder the whole”. 

We shelter and serve within our communities and with our loved ones, and watch for signs of the reordering of the whole.

We give thanks to all persons who have freely and bravely given of their love and talents to ease the sufferings of those afflicted by disease, as did Rev. James Chisholm of Portsmouth Virginia during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1855, who we recognize in the Episcopal Church on September 15th.

“Merciful God, you called your priest James Chisholm to sacrifice his life while working amid great suffering and death: Help us, like him, to live by the faith we profess, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.” from: A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Sources: 

1/https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/coronavirus-pandemic-plagues-history.html

2/ https://www.ancient.eu/Antonine_Plague/

3/ https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/the-fourteen-holy-helpers-plague-saints-for-a-time-of-coronavirus-41035

4/ https://catholic-sf.org/news/influenza-pandemic-and-the-sisters

5/ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/sunday-review/coronavirus-history-pandemics.html

6/ https://library.bc.edu/venetianart/exhibits/show/st-sebastian/st–sebastian

7/ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/22/world/middleeast/coronavirus-religion.html

8/ https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/the-pandemic-and-times-of-st-catherine-of-siena

9/ https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/why-536-was-worst-year-be-alive

10/ http://thelectionary.org/james_chisolm.htm

EPF LOGO clear small
Now is a good time to support our work for justice and peace! Click here.
Peace Out! Week Eighty-seven
Rev. Christy Close Erskine
EPF member and supporter
Sisters, Oregon
The Ability to Protest Peacefully:
A Threatened Right or a Right Threat?
by Rev. Christy Close Erskine

As the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to threaten our country and our world there has been an increasing awareness of a pandemic of inequality and inequity among our black, brown and indigenous sisters and brothers that is difficult to ignore. It’s not new by any means but we have an opportunity to see it with new eyes, leaving many of us wanting to learn and understand our history in new ways. As we soften our hearts, many of us are learning how pervasive our white privilege is. Debby Irving in Waking Up White asks us to consider another question: "How might we use our white privilege to dismantle racism?"

Read Christy’s full meditation HERE

Standing Rock Civil Rights Lawsuit Moves Forward: Thunderhawk v. Morton County. Read more HERE. Image by Ryan Vizzions
Monday, September 21, 2020 is International Day of Peace! How does your Peace Partner Parish or Chapter acknowledge this day? We’d love to highlight your activities, particularly any virtual celebrations which can be shared with the rest of us so we can be a part of it. Send links to your International Day of Peace events so we can promote them for you here in Peace Out. epfactnow
Your opportunity to view a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row: Stories from Arkansas’ Death Row" is here! EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our EPF members, Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters via Zoom on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific. Tickets available on Classy for a $30 contribution to EPF. Check the link here for video previews of this compelling work.
Above from the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish. Photo taken at the Darwish museum in Ramallah by EPF member Tom Foster of Rochester, NY. Although clearly written from a Palestinian to a Zionist, its appeal for empathy as an antidote to violence seems quite general.
Roadmap to Apartheid virtual screening and discussion with panelists, flyer below, is set for Sunday, September 13. Register in advance here to join the discussion and watch the film.
STAY CONNECTED
Facebook Twitter Instagram

By Rev. Christy Close Erskine

I was born on November 28, 1956, baptized on April 20, 1957 and ordained an Episcopal Priest on July 9, 1994. I have always been active in the Episcopal Church and for over 25 years I led congregations in Vancouver, Wa, Bend, OR and Coos Bay, OR before retiring a year ago in Sisters, OR.  I believe that our baptism is our call to ministry and our baptismal covenant has always had a claim on my heart.  

As the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to threaten our country and our world there has been an increasing awareness of a pandemic of inequality and inequity among our black, brown and indigenous sisters and brothers that is difficult to ignore.  It’s not new by any means but we have an opportunity to see it with new eyes, leaving many of us wanting to learn and understand our history in new ways.  As we soften our hearts, many of us are learning how pervasive our white privilege is.  Debby Irving in Waking Up White asks us to consider another question:  “How might we use our white privilege to dismantle racism?”

As I sit with that question, I hear in my mind , “Will you strive for peace and justice and respect the dignity of every human being?

I answer in my heart, “I will with God’s help!”  …and I wonder, when did peace become so difficult in our own country?

Our country claims to be an inclusive democracy for all people. I’m becoming aware of a painful reality that from the time those words were first written down there were people working hard to ensure that the democracy was really only for white men.  Later on words were added to include black men, women and people of color, but there are still people working hard to ensure that the democracy is only for the powerful white men.  

As the Black Lives Matter protests have continued across our country we are increasingly hearing about crowd munitions– tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and others– being used by law enforcement to control peaceful crowds. Our own Portland, OR has been highlighted nationally as being out of control with violence and looting and yet nothing is mentioned about the peaceful protests. Messages of violence and lawlessness have again and again co-opted the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests from the majority of people across our country. 

I am very concerned about the increased use of crowd munitions to control protests, even when they are peaceful in nature.  This represents an erosion of our constitutional right to protest and gather peacefully. Over the last several months there have been many examples across our country and state of peaceful protests that have been disbursed by the use of crowd control munitions by police and federal agents and I believe that this is an abuse of power that needs to end. The argument is that this use of force is the only way to control the “unruly crowd”, but in my experience this is simply not true.

Several weeks ago I was part of a peaceful protest of about 500+ people in a parking lot in Bend, OR.  Our intent was to support and come alongside two undocumented community members (living in Bend for 15 years) who had been detained by ICE early that morning and were being held in an unmarked ICE bus without having been told their rights or why they had been detained. As it started to get dark we were told that it had been confirmed that 50 federal agents were on their way and we needed to be prepared for possible tear gas or rubber bullets.  We were asked to sit down so that it would be very clear that we were a peaceful protest.  Someone pointed out a drone overhead and federal agents observing through the windows in the building behind us as we waited peacefully.

During the whole protest, I was sitting about 50 feet in front of the ICE bus which gave me a great vantage point to observe.  When the federal agents arrived, I was shocked to see fully armed and aggressive agents in front of us forcefully removing anyone in their way in order to take the two men from the bus.  The only violence I witnessed that night was initiated by the federal agents. 

As I sat there with armed federal agents in front of me, and a drone overhead I realized that the last time I had experienced something like this was when I was in Gaza last October.  Drones overhead and armed Israeli guards everywhere you looked to supposedly keep order and control over the Palestinians.  In Jerusalem an attorney who runs “Court Watch”, a non-profit that helps educate Palestinian children and youth about their rights, had spoken to us.  He helped us understand that it was common practice for Israeli’s to unlawfully go into homes and detain children and youth in the middle of the night. 

That was my experience in October 2019 in Gaza, an area where there is known “apartheid like” oppression that has been going on for decades:  Israelis subjugating Palestinians.  Now in August, 2020, I am in a hotel parking lot in Bend, OR, a resort-like place to live, destination spot for many to visit, a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state and I’m witnessing two men who had been detained at 5:30 am in an unmarked vehicle without being told why, not told their rights, not given access to an attorney or adequate water and food…with a drone overhead and armed federal agents using tear gas and rubber bullets to control a crowd that was sitting down on the pavement.  It was later reported by news media that we were a violent crowd and it was the only way to control us, but in no way was that my experience!

I was stunned that this was happening in my town and in our country and I’m not sure I would have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it myself.  I love our country and believe in the democracy that it stands for, an inclusive democracy for all people.  As citizens of this country our rights are being threatened.  We all need to work hard to defend our democracy and to ensure that it really is for all people and that it does truly protect everyone. As Christians we need to commit over and over again to working hard for peace and justice and to truly respect the dignity of every human being…and yes, gratefully all of that hard work will be with God’s help!  What action are you being called to? How might you respond?

Weekly Update from Melanie
EPF LOGO clear small
Now is a good time to support our work for justice and peace! Click here.
Peace Out! Week Eighty-six
EPF Founder, Bishop Paul Jones’ Feast Day is September 4.
Icon by Rev. Canon Robert Two Bulls
Photograph by Steven Atha
Read more about Bishop Jones’ life HERE

WHAT IS LIFE?

Offered by
Rob Burgess
EPF National Executive Council Treasurer

This past half year or so has presented challenges for all. The pandemic and its related economic crisis adds to all our stress. Rob Burgess asks, "What is life?"

"What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed.”

Read the full meditation HERE

Monday, September 21, 2020 is International Day of Peace! How does your Peace Partner Parish or Chapter acknowledge this day? We’d love to highlight your activities, particularly any virtual celebrations which can be shared with the rest of us so we can be a part of it. Send links to your International Day of Peace events so we can promote them for you here in Peace Out. epfactnow
Your opportunity to view a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row: Stories from Arkansas’ Death Row" is here! EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our EPF members, Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters via Zoom on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific. Tickets available on Classy for a $30 contribution to EPF. Check the link here for video previews of this compelling work.
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, including Don Davis, featured above. 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.

Roadmap to Apartheid virtual screening and discussion with panelists, flyer below, is set for Sunday, September 13. Register in advance here to join the discussion and watch the film.
EPF NEC Vice Chair, Rev. Will Mebane, is in the news again for his anti-racism advocacy and witness. Read the full story, "Staying in the Struggle: Rev. Will Mebane’s Lifelong Stand for Racial Equality" in USA TODAY HERE
St. John’s-Boulder, CO, shows love for their neighbor in a quite concrete way: guns are prohibited on their campus. What is preventing your parish from demonstrating dedication to our baptismal call in the same way? Let us know if our Gun Violence Prevention Action Group can help!
STAY CONNECTED
Facebook Twitter Instagram

Bishop Paul Jones, Founder of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship

On September 4th, the Episcopal Church celebrates and remembers the life of the Rt. Rev. Paul Jones, 4th Bishop of the Missionary District of Utah.  He became bishop in 1916 and was a prominent pacifist. 

As the fever for the United States to enter World War I strengthened, Bishop Jones’ pacifist views were considered controversial.  He believed and stated that “war is unchristian.”  He spoke out openly and frequently about his opposition to war.  His views faced opposition in much of the Church, especially his home diocese.  

In April 1918, a commission of the House of Bishops forced Paul Jones to resign his post as Bishop of Utah because of his outspoken opposition to World War I.  Jones then served as a chaplain at Antioch College and founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  In the 1930s, Jones was deeply committed to assisting Jewish and other refugees fleeing the Nazi regime in Germany. He pushed the Episcopal Church to take up the cause of refugees, a topic that like today was not without controversy.

As a result of his efforts, the Episcopal Church formally established the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief which later became the Episcopal Relief & Development.

Jones’ title as bishop was restored in 1939 with seat but no voice in the House of Bishops.  Until his death on September 4, 1941, he dedicated his life and ministry to peace rooted in the Gospel.

Sources:

https://epfnational.org/event/feast-day-bishop-paul-jones/

https://diocese-eastcarolina.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3166923

What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed.”

I am not sure whether George Harrison’s song What is Life was written about a woman or was George’s discernment as to the purpose of this life.  Experts far more steeped in Beatlemania argue that to this day. 

Let’s assume for a moment that Harrison was writing about spiritual discernment.  After all, What is Life was written at time of spiritual searching for Harrison.  The same album that featured My Sweet Lord, Isn’t It a Pity, Hear Me Lord, and All Things Must Pass.

This past half year or so has presented challenges for all.  The pandemic and its related economic crisis adds to all our stress.  

A little more than a year ago, I joined a non-profit board which supports the homeless and seeks to prevent homelessness in my Southwest Michigan county.  Michigan was originally hit hard by the pandemic and the related economic fallout. For months, Michigan was under a governor’s executive order to halt landlord evictions.  That order was lifted in July and evictions have begun apace.  Earlier this week, I learned in our small county, judges have been hearing four eviction cases an hour for weeks now. My non-profit was awarded a federal grant to help stave off some evictions. We just received an advance on these funds a week ago.   The judges, landlords, and our partner non-profits are anxious because we had not helped a month and a half ago when the governor’s ban was first lifted.  We are a cash starved non-profit that does not have the resources to do that.  Our staff is stressed to assist with burgeoning case loads at the same time comply with federal grant requirements.

My Sweet Lord, it is a mess. But for those already evicted or at risk of eviction, the stress must be nearly Job like.

In my personal life, my wife and I, who are guardians for our grandson, recently had to make a decision as to whether he would return to in-person school after being out since March or continue his education virtually.  Michigan seems to have done a better job than some states at tamping down the pandemic, so our decision for now has been for him to return to in-person instruction.  He needs the socialization and classroom teacher’s attention.  Many of you have probably had to make similar stressed filled decisions.  My Sweet Lord, I pray that we have made the correct one.  

While we can wear masks, social distance, and wash our hands frequently, the pandemic has magnified the things in life that are out of our control.   Growing up, my father had a simple prayer posted on his bedroom wall.  I think it grounded Dad.  Maybe it will help us too:

God grant me the Serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

My Sweet Lord, grant each of you those things this day.

Weekly Update from Melanie
EPF LOGO clear small
Now is a good time to support our work for justice and peace! Click here.
Peace Out! Week Eighty-five
The Mystical Body of Christ
Offered by NEC member
Rev. Cody Maynus
Rector, St. Andrew’s-Rapid City, SD

In the little more than two months that I’ve been ordained a priest, I’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate the Eucharist with some frequency, both for my congregation and for visitors to the diocesan camp where I serve as chaplain and program director. (Rest assured, every COVID-19 precaution is in place! Being ordained in the midst of a pandemic has made me hyper-vigilant about the precautions necessary to make liturgy happen during this chaotic time.) A visitor to the camp requested that the Holy Eucharist be celebrated using the prayerbook’s Rite I, which, until that time, I had not had the privilege of celebrating. Although we studied both Rite I and Rite II (and, of course, Enriching Our Worship) in seminary, I decided to prepare to celebrate by reading and praying my way through the text prior to the liturgy.

One phrase from the Rite I liturgy in particular caught my eye and my heart, a line from the Postcommunion Prayer: “Almighty and everliving God, we heartily thank thee for that thou …dost assure us thereby…that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people” (BCP, 339.)

This phrase—the “Mystical Body of Christ”—has deep resonance for me, having studied liturgy at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a major hub for both the Liturgical Movement and the Catholic Peace and Justice Movement of the 20th Century. Although the understanding of the Body of Christ is an ancient one, the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ was popularized by Pope Pius XII, who published an encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ in 1943, smack dab in the middle of World War II.

At the heart of the encyclical, the pope writes, “But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are linked together in such a way as to help one another. And as in the body when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain, and the healthy members come to the assistance of the ailing, so in the Church the individual members do not live for themselves alone, but also help their fellows, and all work in mutual collaboration for the common comfort and for the more perfect building up of the whole Body.”

As is so often the case historically, young people took these words—and the sentiments undergirding them—and ran with it. The student newspapers of Saint John’s University and the neighboring College of Saint Benedict feature at least one article monthly between 1943 and 1950 featuring a student-writer applying the theology of the Mystical Body of Christ to the realities of the War and the War’s aftermath.

These young people write brilliantly and beautifully on the notion that, in Christ, all people are made one. They reflect on the horrible absurdity of War, of people who are united mystically in Christ’s Body fighting and killing one another. They call on the United States, the nations of the world, and the Church to work for racial justice because, as the pope’s teaching says, “when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain.”

Charlene Gaffney, then a junior at the College of Saint Benedict, writes in December 1941—published days after the United States entered into World War II—“We are concerned about our friends and relatives in the fighting area. We are eager to join Red Cross units, to drive ambulances, to join the Marines! These are the first effects of this catastrophe. But already the insidious trickle of hate has reached us, a hatred not of oppression and injustice and lying alone, but also of the nations against whom we are fighting…Hatred blinds and weakens…Hatred is uncharitable and unchristian. Though we recognize that unjust aggressors must be punished, we must realize that they are members of the Mystical Body with us; we are fighting aggression, not aggressors…”

These young people were not only concerned about the violence done to the Mystical Body of Christ by war, but also by racism and white supremacy. One editorial from May 1944 calls on Christians to resist hatred of any person regardless of race, class, sex, or creed. The author—W. J. D.—cites the work of Catherine De Hueck, a Roman Catholic laywoman, in saying that “the fruit of the Incarnation and the Redempetion is the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God” and “We are all our [siblings’] keeper and have a personal responsibility, therefore, before God, for the welfare of that [sibling] in Christ] and this embraces all [people], irrespective of race, nationality, or color, for Christ died for all.”

What does this have to do with us, however? Right here and right now, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, surrounded, as we are, by global instability, civil unrest in the streets of our cities and towns, and a pandemic which has shifted our very way of being?

As the Postcommunion Prayer from the Holy Eucharist Rite I says: we give thanks to God in the Eucharist for reminding us that we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. During this period of anxiety—when most parishes have not celebrated the Eucharist physically together since mid-March; when protester file into the streets crying for respect for Black lives; when those “who hold authority in the nations of the world” are of questionable credibility—we are reminded that it is the Eucharist which unites us together and calls us to work for justice and peace in the world, in our cities and towns, and, indeed, even in our own hearts.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship does not do what it does out of a commitment to a political agenda, but rather out of a commitment to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We are Christians following in a long and steady stream of contemplatives-in-action: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry; Bishop Barbara Harris; Ruby Sales and Blessed Jonathan Myrick Daniels; John Nevin Sayre; Bishop Paul Jones; Blessed Enmegahbowh; Blessed Absalom Jones; and countless others.

When one part of the Mystical Body of Christ suffers due to war or oppression; due to racism or white supremacy; due to gun violence in streets and in schools; due to human trafficking; or due to any other thing which threatens the body, the mind, or the soul, the whole Body suffers. We, as Episcopalians and Christians, are tasked with a ministry of reconciliation. When some among us hurt, we all hurt. And we all must, therefore, take responsibility in the work of healing and reconciliation.

How will you—like those young people writing in central Minnesota in the 1940s—call on your community to engage in this work? How will you ask the difficult questions of your parish, diocese, city, state, and nation? How will you examine your own hearts and consciences?

The good news is that you’re not alone in this work. The Episcopal Peace Fellowship—together with agencies throughout the Anglican Peace and Justice Network—stand by to help you in engaging God’s mission of wholeness in the Mystical Body of Christ. For more information about ways you can actively engage with us, contact Melanie Merkle Atha at epfactnow.

Monday, September 21, 2020 is International Day of Peace! How does your Peace Partner Parish or Chapter acknowledge this day? We’d love to highlight your activities, particularly any virtual celebrations which can be shared with the rest of us so we can be a part of it. Send links to your International Day of Peace event so we can promote them for you here in Peace Out. epfactnow
EPF MAINE
COLLABORATES WITH
MOMS DEMAND ACTION
Report of meeting of Maine EPF chapter with Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action,
submitted by Kathy Coughlan (edited for EPF publication):

The two groups met over their shared opposition to gun violence.

Moms was founded after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Now there is a branch in every state, a total of 6 million supporters nationally. They don’t pay dues, but ask members to donate to their sister organization, Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown has frequent video presentations on gun violence prevention by a variety of people that can be used to draw people together around opposing gun violence.

Moms pursues two types of activities: 1) Education and Outreach, and 2) Legislative/political work, which is supporting "gun sense" candidates in state and national elections

The education program is called "Be SMART for Kids," which stands for Secure guns, Model Responsible behavior, Ask about the presence of guns in homes you visit, Recognize the role of guns in suicide, Tell others about the program.

The legislative work involves keeping records of candidates who support gun safety laws. They send out questionnaires to candidates and monitor voting records. Anyone can look up their state’s results on gunsensevoter.org.

In 2016, the Gun Sense campaign in Virginia helped flip the legislature and brought about new, sensible gun laws.

In summary, this is a very organized, proactive group. I think they are a good organization for EPF to collaborate with; our members can look them up in their own state. They are very willing to give presentations and answer any questions.

Your opportunity to view a filmed version of the stage production of "On The Row: Stories from Arkansas’ Death Row" is here! EPF National Executive Council member Kathy McGregor will make this impactful film available to our EPF members, Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters via Zoom on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific. Tickets available on Classy for a $30 contribution to EPF. Check the link here for video previews of this compelling work.
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, including Don Davis, featured above. 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.

A Prayer by W.E.B. Dubois

In the solemn silence of this Thy Holy night, O Heavenly Father,
let the Christ spirit be born anew in this our home and in this land of ours.
Out of the depths of selfishness and languor and envy, let spring the spirit of humility and poverty, of gentleness and sacrifice—the eternal dawn of Peace, good-will toward men.
Let the birth-bells of God call our vain imaginings back from pomp and glory and wealth—back from the wasteful warships searching the seas—back to the lowly barn-yard and the homely cradle of a yellow and despised Jew, whom the world has not yet learned to call Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Amen.

STAY CONNECTED
Facebook Twitter Instagram
Weekly Update from Melanie
EPF LOGO clear small
Today’s a good day to support our work for justice and peace! Click here.
Peace Out! Week Eighty-four

Seeing as Peacemaking
Offered by NEC member
Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards

Unless these people are to be exterminated in a genocidal war or an endless guerrilla insurrection, they must be converted. And no one can show others the error that is within them . . . unless they are convinced that their critic first sees and loves the good that is within them. — Walter Wink citing Thomas Merton

Premise: before one can be a peacemaker, one must become a person of peace.

You have seen it happen. Someone honks their horn, shouts obscenities, acts aggressively – sometimes prompted by injustice; other times by some inconvenience or afront to their sense of self-importance. The people around them catch the passion like a virus and either join in or react against the instigator. There is never any shortage of blasting cap people to make violence explode. Violence is such a common way of being in the world that it is hard for any of us to be otherwise. In the face of this way of the world, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” You have also seen this. The room is full of turmoil and tumult. But someone enters the room bringing a balance, an equanimity, and the volume lowers, the tension loosens, people begin to breathe. Peacemaking begins with being people of peace. But how is it possible? How do we become people of peace?

Peacemaking has clear political implications challenging all forms of systemic violence, injustice, and oppression. But in itself, peacemaking is a spirituality before it is a political agenda. Any political agenda for peace and justice not grounded in such a spirituality is doomed. So, the first step – which must be taken again and again each day – is to become people of peace. “Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet. Peace within us. Peace over us. Let all around us be peace.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pevH0Ez6bms

Such a spirituality of peace includes prayer, reflection, and disciplined acts of mercy. But first, it begins with seeing. Peace begins with how we look at reality including each other. In The Art Of Attention: A Poet’s Eye, poet, literary critic, and translator Donald Revell (an Episcopalian whose first literary influence was the Book of Common Prayer) says that to simply see things as they are is an act of obedience. I do not think he would hesitate to say it is an obedience to God. “Attention,” Revell says, “is an act of obedience informed and/or inspired by faith.” He contrasts this with the aggression of seeing reality through our own agendas.

Aggression is always predicated on fantasy; it is the imagination’s preemptive strike upon sovereign facts whose reality it refuses to concede, much less to worship. To
see the sovereignty of what is seen is quietly, really to worship. And to articulate such worship in a poem Wages Peace.

He goes on to say that there is a kind of ego-transcendence, not in a mystical state but a clear-eyed appreciation of the Reality before us – setting aside the “I” to allow the “eye” to really see. I would add that setting aside our anxious/aggressive assertion and defense of the “I” is possible only through faith that our existence and ultimate well-being is grounded in God, and God is not at risk. Faith allows us to see, to appreciate, and so become people of peace capable of waging peace in a world whose way is war. In classical moral theology, such clear-eyed, unbiased seeing is called prudentia and it was regarded as “the mother of all virtues.”

Perhaps the greatest poem expressing this truth is The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge whose day job was being an Anglican Theologian. He also wrote the best English book of theology in his day, Confessions Of An Inquiring Mind. https://www.amazon.com/Samuel-Taylor-Coleridges-Confessions-Inquirer/dp/1780009356 .The Ancient Mariner is about the spiritual journey of a young sailor who, through his own act of aggression, was left alone on a ship lost at sea. His aggression was the killing of an albatross that was hung about his neck by his fellow sailors before they all died leaving him alone on a “rotting sea,” and unable to pray, his “heart as dry as dust.” His epiphany was a vision of what could have been terrifying, but wasn’t.

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.

We are at odds in the world. We who perceive ourselves as seeking peace set ourselves against those we see as seeking all manner of injustice and oppression, and they look to us like Coleridge’s water snakes. We are right to take our stand. But as Walter Wink and Thomas Merton taught us, “No one can show others the error that is within them . . . unless they are convinced that their critic first sees and loves the good that is within them.” Dr. Martin Luther King followed Jesus teaching to love our enemies. He said that “in seeking to love his enemy (one must first) discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.” This is not a matter of tolerating the intolerable or passivity in the face of evil. It is a matter of “respecting the dignity of every human being” no matter how wrong headed, enraged, and ornery.

Becoming people of peace within ourselves, in our personal relationships, and in the public life takes prayer, discipline, and first of all a willingness to see the pain and fear that lie behind the aggression of others and then to find the imago dei in them. That willingness is possible only if we can set aside the “I” in order to allow the “eye” to see as God sees, into the heart.

Watch this space! Coming soon, your opportunity to view 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 EPF members, Peace Partner Parishes and Chapters via Zoom on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific. Tickets available on Classy for a $30 contribution to EPF. Check the link here for video previews of this compelling work.
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, including Don Davis, featured above. 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: September 13
4PM ET/1PM PT
VFHL Online Film Salon
“Roadmap to Apartheid”
Hosted by Voices From the Holy Land and EPF-Palestine Israel Network

The film “Roadmap to Apartheid” graphically asserts that the Israeli system of total military, economic and social control over the lives of Palestinians constitutes Apartheid. Historical footage and the compelling testimony of South Africans take us back to see and understand the system of White Supremacy that gave its name to a UN-banned crime against humanity.
Side-by-side with what happened in South Africa, the highly acclaimed film takes us to Palestine-Israel, where we see the same kind of rules and the same brutality inflicted on Palestinians. South Africans make the connection and say: “This is another Apartheid.” Palestinians and Israelis detail how Israeli Apartheid operates and how it is being resisted.

Is it really Apartheid? Many in Israel and the U.S. deny it. …
On September 13, please join us in a 90-minute interactive discussion of the film, which will be made freely available to view in advance at your convenience. Guest experts will update us on subsequent developments that are making the Israeli-Apartheid reality ever more evident and ever harsher.
In a time of crisis, when Americans and the whole world are waking up to the profound harm of racism – and insisting that things must change – the issue of Israeli-Apartheid demands our urgent attention and response. Please mark your calendars for Sept. 13 and be on the lookout in the coming weeks for registration details and instructions for accessing the film.

VOLUNTEER NEEDED

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is recruiting an experienced volunteer who is deeply committed to the mission of EPF. This person will play a significant role in leading the organization’s sustainability initiatives. The individual will collaborate with the EPF Sustainability Committee in the creation and implementation of institutional advancement strategies; including major gift procurement, fundraising, and grant submissions. Episcopalians and candidates with identifiable connections within The Episcopal Church will be given preferential consideration. Specific volunteer responsibilities will include working with the Executive Director and the EPF National Executive Council, as well as supporting leadership of national EPF Action Groups, and the EPF Palestine Israel Network (EPF-PIN). Effective oral and written communication and presentation skills, grant writing and fulfillment, creative “out-of-the-box” thinking, planned giving and execution of annual campaigns are essential requirements for becoming an effective addition to our team. Please send letter of interest with reference to specific experience and accomplishments in development to EPF Executive Director Melanie Merkle Atha at epfactnow.

STAY CONNECTED
Facebook Twitter Instagram