Here is a collection of a few of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.
Lying in a hospital bed, you don't always know who or what is about to come through the door. Lunch? A routine checkup? Needles? For the young patients at Wolfson Children's Hospital, maybe it will be Nancy Grogan, who sticks her head in with a warm smile, a cart full of curiosities and eight words that children love to hear.__________
"Would you like to hear a story today?"
SKATEBOARDING in the Abbey: In the UK, Ruth Gledhill reports that "After this year's event was such a success, the Rev Neill Archer, Vicar of Malmesbury, has been granted permission to turn his twelfth century abbey into a skate park again next year, the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard is reporting today. Read also the Western Daily press and the abbey's own website for more details (and photos!) of what happened on the day."
More stories beneath the fold.
LAST WEEK The Lead mentioned a children's circus performance. Looking more deeply into the program behind the event, we find that the Diocese of NY and Trinity Wall Street have funded a program called All Our Children. The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam, bishop suffragan, and Joyce Coppin Mondesire, who is on the faculty of the City College of New York and a member of Trinity Wall Street’s vestry, created the program. All Our Children asks that parishes commit 40 hours per year for five years to public education by becoming tutors, advocates, etc. Parishes are already making a difference in partnership with local public schools. Bishop Roskam says of the children, "Since participating in [these programs] their overall grade average has sky rocketed."
Roskam continues, "On a visitation to St. Ann's in the South Bronx in 2005, I was given a a copy of Jonothan Kozol's book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. I was shocked to learn that not only are American schools as segregated as at the time of Brown vs. the Board of Education, but that the worst offenders are not in the south, but in the North, including New York, Michigan, Illinois and California. Schools in poor areas often operate without the basics, without adequate classrooms, no textbooks, inexperienced teachers. It is no wonder that minority students fare so poorly compared with their white counterparts. And most insidious is the school to prison pipeline, by which some states build prisons based on projections from third grade reading scores. As a society we seem reluctant to spend the $15,000 per year to support a child adequately in school but are more willing to to spend the $150,000 per year to keep that same child in prison when the schools fail him.
"It seemed to me that all the anti-racism training we were doing in the church was meaningless if we could face this level of racial inequity and do nothing. So All Our Children was born."
A SIGN of the times: Churches in Wilton, Connecticut have banded together to help people who have lost their jobs or have felt economic dislocation in other ways. The Wilton Bulletin reports:
St. Matthew’s Episcopal and Wilton Presbyterian churches held a special program two weeks ago sponsored jointly by the two churches’ Career Transition Groups that are focused on helping people through their employment dislocations in these very difficult times. The groups sent word out not only through their two churches but also through the larger network of nine Wilton faith institutions that are finding ways to broaden their joint work together begun with their support of Wilton’s new Iraqi family.____________
TEENS at Church of the Redeemer in Sayre, PA, stayed up for 24 hours, walking laps around their church to raise awareness about hunger in their area and around the world and to raise funds for a local service agency. The Elmira (NY) stargazette.com reports:
In Sayre, members of the Church of the Redeemer Episcopal youth group began walking laps around the sanctuary at 6 p.m. Friday to raise money for The Bridge of Penn York. The Bridge is a community outreach program that provides food, clothing, fuel and rent assistance to families in need.
The teens also stopped eating at 9 p.m. Friday and will fast until 10:30 this morning (Sunday, March 8th) to better understand hunger, said Margaret Cook, youth minister. By 10 a.m. Saturday, the teens had logged 5,600 laps toward their goal of 26,000 and raised $150. Today, they will be excused from Mass and treated to a breakfast feast at Robert Packer Hospital's cafeteria.
"I wanted to do this because I was thinking about all the kids that don't get to eat, and I wanted to feel their hurt," said Teala Hugo, 14, of Athens.