This week's collection of stories seems to focus on the ways that Episcopal churches are managing to cross the lines to build bridges between people of different denominations through their outreach ministry, between the sacred and secular and the ancient and the modern.
From the "put your money where your mouth is" department comes news of a Roman Catholic community leader in New Haven who's will gave $12,500 to the Episcopal parish of St. Paul and St. James in recognition of the contributions they make to the city:
"‘Imagine! A neighborhood person, not even of our denomination, had such high regard for our congregation and ministries that he shared that news with his son, who then chose to make significant donations to us,’ said the Rev. Barbara Cheney, rector of St. Paul and St. James.
Gary Garibaldi was a decorated World War II veteran and well known for his community activities. His son, who is distributing proceeds of a trust he manages, was looking for deserving organizations and remembered how highly his father thought of the church at Chapel and Olive streets.
‘He felt that St. Paul’s doors were always open to community activities, and he always spoke highly of Barbara and everything that was going on there,’ Bernard Garibaldi said of his father."
Connecting Saturday to Sunday and Sunday to the world; quilters in St. Edmunds Church in Pacifica have gotten the creation of quilts down to assembly line like precision as they churn out "ugly quilts" that focus more on the warmth the blanket provides than beauty.
"We made quilts on Saturday, blessed them on Sunday, then sent them off to Samaritan House when the service ended. As I understand it, the quilts will be given to folks who are moving from the shelter into transitional housing," said Vicar Sue Thompson.
One of the Sunday School rooms at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond serves a double purpose. Educating the children on Sunday morning and as HQ for lobbyists working the state legislature on health care issues.
The chairs are moved out, the sandbox set aside and a battalion of smartly dressed lobbyists armed with laptops and briefcases sets up a base of operations.
From this classroom, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association monitors dozens of bills, determining which to push, which to squash, and which require their personal attention or a one-on-one visit with lawmakers.
Just across the street from the Capitol, the church offers quick access to legislators and their aides, said Katharine Webb, the association's senior vice president. "It's also a very peaceful place to work."
Full story here.
And in the turn-about is fair play department, in Florida, Episcopalians use a room at the State Capital as a week day chapel when the legislators are in session:
For the past eight years, clergy from the Episcopal churches in the area have held services and provided Holy Communion at 12:10 p.m. each Wednesday during session.
"With all the hubbub, (and) people coming and going, people can jump out of the flow and just take time to pray," said the Rev. Lupton Abshire, the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church who presided over Wednesday's service. "In this day and age when there's all this discussion about having the Ten Commandments posted in state capitols, this is an interesting counter pose. I bet 99 percent of the people don't know what's going on. It's the opposite of in-your-face — it's quiet and subtle."
The service in the dimly lit, narrow room with seats along the walls lasts about half an hour. The service follows the Episcopal liturgy and includes a prayer for "Barack, our President, and Charlie, our Governor, and for those serving in the armed forces," but doesn't include prayers for any particular bill or governmental outcome.
Speaking of melding the sacred and the secular; Trinity Cathedral in Portland has apparently decided that the U2-charist is becoming pasee. So they're going to use the music of Bruce Springsteen instead as the aural accompaniment to special Sunday Eucharist where the collection taken will be used to support the Cathedral's food pantry ministry.
And there you have it. Congregations building bridges between different realms. It's what the Episcopal Church has always done best.