EPF PIN Convenor Harry Gunkel educates San Antonio
about the effect of the city’s alliance with Tel Aviv on
Palestinians during Dream Week
O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; For in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and trust shall be our strength.
Isaiah 26:3, 30:15
Today I am wearing socks given to me by my friend Julianna Wells when I broke my leg horribly and ended up in a wheelchair in 2017. It feels so good to have these pilgrim feet wrapped in love when I am so far from home, and have so far to go. Grateful for the connection I feel and the ability to walk! Taking nothing for granted on this journey. In other personal news, I got to hug two former St. Andrew’s-Birmingham parishioners during our travels this week: Dr. Bill Nicholas in Georgetown and Erin Cotton in Austin. Joy! Thanks to everyone on social media for reminding me that I have church family and new friends EVERYWHERE!
Our call to work for the abolition of the death penalty is large on my mind. Dominque Ray is scheduled to be executed in Alabama on February 7. Please write Gov. Kay Ivey (State Capitol, 600 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, AL 36130) to ask her to stay his execution, and to open her heart to consideration of staying all executions. www.phadp.org will get you loaded up on this. Thanks for EPF member Judy Collins of Lanett, AL for bringing this to our attention. Act today, please. www.phadp.org.
Sunday, I “found” a parish in which to worship all on my own (ha!). Rev. Brad Landry, rector at St. Paul’s-San Antonio, did his summer internship during his formation for the priesthood at St. Andrew’s-Birmingham, my home parish. Some years ago, he preached a homily at a summer house Eucharist in our Birmingham home, and we have been friends with him and his dear family ever since. I was eager to worship with him again, but, as these things go, turns out that St. Paul’s is an EPF peace partner as well. Sunday was, of course, the commemoration of the Conversion of St. Paul, so I was able to join St. Paul for their combined service in advance of their annual parish meeting and the celebration of their patronal feast. Fr. Brad preached a fine sermon in honor of St. Paul’s 136 years on the perimeter of Fort Sam Houston, reminding us of our call as Christians to unity. I remembered how much I identify with St. Paul (rage — a sin of default for this Enneagram ego type one) and that Jesus says clearly that when we persecute anyone, we persecute Him. I’ll have coffee with Fr. Brad later this week to talk about how EPF can support ongoing social justice ministry at St. Paul’s. And, I will work on directing that “rage” thing to good purpose.
Speaking of persecution, I had the great fortune to attend one of San Antonio’s numerous Dream Week events, “San Antonio in the Holy Land: The Good, Bad and Ugly” on Friday, January 25, at University Presbyterian Church, on the invitation of our PIN convenor Harry Gunkel. The event was sponsored in part by Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jvp.org). San Antonio has recently entered into a sister city relationship with Tel Aviv, Israel, and Harry and his compatriots (Judith Norman, Ahmad Kaki, and Moureen Kaki) are eager to help their city government understand the full devastating impact of having a relationship which profits from the occupation of Palestine, and to examine the moral implications of the connection. Presented to a standing room only crowd, the panel shared deeply of their personal experiences in Palestine. They urged attendees to dig deeper to educate themselves and to share what they learn in their own churches and communities, as change in government will only happen if we, the voters, demand it. EPF can help with this — if you want resources to lead a study on these urgent issues, let me know and we can provide you with curriculum and connection to other advocates for peace in the Middle East. EPF PIN has an active Facebook page with current news from the region to help keep you informed, and which you can readily share. (You can read Harry, Moureen and Judth’s op ed here: https://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Yes-San-Antonians-do-have-a-stake-in-Gaza-events-12867495.php. ) You can learn more at www.uscpr.org/togetherwerise. I left the event with renewed energy for this call I have to help change hearts and minds in one-on-one encounters with other compassionate souls. Peace truly begins with each of us, and it takes some work.
Sunday afternoon, I happened upon a peaceCENTER event, “The Blessing of the Peacemakers” at Whitley Center at Oblate School of Theology. A trinity of amazing women were being honored as 2019 Peace Laureates: Nikki Valdez (LGBTQ advocate — the first ever honored by a non LGBTQ organization for work in support of LGBTQ issues (there’s some progress!); Rebecca Flores (veteran union organizer and general purpose holy rebel-rouser) and Patricia Castillo (domestic violence social worker and heroine of legions). (Read more about these remarkable women at https://www.expressnews.com/news/religion/article/San-Antonio-s-2019-peace-laureates-named-13544940.php). The most lovely aspect of this award presentation ceremony was that each awardee was introduced by a young woman whom she had mentored in her work. It was powerful. We emerged from the ceremony after blessing one another with keepsake candles, saying “Be light; give birth!” sensitized to our central purpose of transmitting peace. What grace!
In support of our other social justice ministries, we are still working earnestly on details for our Columbine pilgrimage, which will be our first Year of Action event for 2019. I hope all who are reading this and who are concerned about gun violence in our culture will try to attend (April 26-28 in Denver). Details and registration at https://give.classy.org/epfcolumbine. Check your email for an invitation from Bob Lotz and our GVP Action Group soon. Our co-sponsors include: Diocese of Colorado Office of Social Justice, Episcopal Service Corps, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Bishops United Against Gun Violence, Ceasefire Colorado, Students Demand Action, Colorado Faith Communities United Against Gun Violence, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, and Moms Demand Action.
In other action items, EPF will partner with the Diocese of Alabama and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast to sponsor the Annual Commemoration of Jonathan Daniels and the Martyrs of Alabama set August 10 in Hayneville, AL. Planning is early yet, but I am looking forward to being home this summer for this service. Stand by for more details to be shared in this space as we firm up plans.
Still no Miranda repair. Steven and I will be parked at Harry Gunkel’s house later this week, enjoying his enormous compassion and hospitality. I had a chance to see my “bestie” from law school and his wife, Steve and Kim Gilbert, for dinner and drinks Saturday night. It was the best of times, truly!
So indefinite! Only firm commitment is to seeing Rev. Will Wauters on Tuesday at his parish church, Santa Fe Episcopal.
We have got to get the RV fixed before we leave San Antonio, but our options are unlimited after that. We may head east to Houston and College Station before turning west again through Tyler and ultimately Amarillo before pushing into New Mexico. We might head to Big Bend National Park for some communing with nature. I have got to get parked for a little while to get some administrative chores for EPF and GCLC done (you did not think this job was all fun, did you?) We will see what the Holy Spirit has in store. Keep us in your prayers that we will be safe, productive, effective advocates for those who are marginalized. God surely enjoys seeing Miranda put to holy purpose.
Want a visit? Calendar is wide open so let me know! Did you know that when you email me, I make a note in my “book” about who you are and where you are so I can try to see you when I am in your neighborhood? It’s true!
Anyone out there with expertise in Salesforce? EPF has this platform and we need some help getting some content integrated. We can buy some help but it is pricey. I’d love to recruit you to help us with this!
Until next time, power to the peaceful!
136 year old St. Paul’s-San Antonio looks a little like a mission church.
How can we support Melanie while EPF is on the road?