Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.
The major faith traditions teach that the young are special in the eyes of the Almighty. So what does God do when one of them commits a horrible crime and is consigned to a life in prison? He cries. That was the message delivered over Memorial Day weekend at some 200 churches, synagogues and mosques around the state by an interfaith coalition trying to change people's attitudes about long sentences for juveniles -- especially those facing life without the possibility of parole. "When children commit certain actions, we stop thinking of them as children," Javier Stauring, director of Faith Communities for Families and Children, told a group of about 90 people Sunday at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. "We start fearing them, we start demonizing them."__________
When 46-year-old Rich Carter finished a term in the Dutchess County Jail recently, he decided it was high time for some changes. He was determined to land an honest job and end his life of crime. Carter soon learned that in today's economy, when people with clean records are having a hard time finding employment, his checkered background was an added impediment. He applied for 30 jobs and was turned down 30 times - and he has copies of the applications and rejection letters to prove it.__________
Then he heard about a fledgling agency called the Dutchess Collaborative Re-Entry Project. Funded by a grant secured by two local Episcopal churches, Christ Episcopal and St. Paul's, Dutchess Collaborative Re-Entry Project provides counseling and referral services for men and women coming out of local jails and prisons. With the agency's help, Carter landed a job last week at a local supermarket.
"I can tell you from experience, this program works," he said. "These people went to bat for me when I had no one else."
Blessed be the pedalers
We know numerous cyclists in the Berkshires and admire (and envy) their stamina whilst pedaling our highways and byways. So it is interesting to note that an interfaith "Blessing of the Bicycles" will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 67 East St., Pittsfield.__________
Not only can adults get their wheels blessed, but children are also welcome to attend. Obviously, riders must arrive with their bicycles. The brief service includes a multi-faith blessing, a sprinkling of bikes with Holy Water, and a moment of remembrance for riders who have passed away this past year.
When St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Casper, WY received an extra $12,000 for missionary work, its members couldn't decide on one good way to spend the money. "We'd been talking since we got the money in January. We have a church that works by consensus, and we had 78 ideas we just couldn't seem to get narrowed down," said Kay Flores, a postulant for priesthood and member of St. Stephen's. "We have great ideas, but we have too many. We want to see what people want to fix in the world." So, Flores said, the church decided to give everyone in the congregation money -- but just enough for each person to do a bit of individual good and "to see where the energy of the congregation is." Each member -- about 50 in total -- had $25 to spend in a week. The next Sunday, they were to report back to the congregation with their idea, how well it worked on a small scale, and why it would work for the church's remaining $11,000.__________
Music has been restored.__________
That is to say, the 77-year-old painted Gothic Revival window of that name — a stained-glass celebration of the glory of religious music — has been refurbished and is returning, piece by piece, to St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street in Midtown.
For several weeks now restorers have been toiling outdoors on scaffolding 50 feet up, reinstating 12 windows to their rightful place at the north and west sides of the church. Built in 1914, St. Thomas is renowned for its London-made windows, its choir school and for recitals on its Ernest M. Skinner organ.