Here is a collection of some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations that have made the news in their communities this past week.
Going green for Lent
The Fairbanks, Alaska, News-Miner reports that the Fairbanks faithful are going green for Lent:
The color purple — liturgically correct during Lent — is taking on a green hue, as many churches focus on Caring for Creation themes and carbon diets during the 40 weekdays preceding Easter. Christians are being asked to give up carbon for Lent rather than candy and practice becoming good stewards to the Earth, the church, themselves and each other.
Today, some church leaders are urging parishioners to cut their energy use [as well the other more traditional Lenten practices] and do a 40-day carbon fast in acknowledgment of Christ’s fasting in the desert.
At St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, the Lenten program is called, “Caring for Creation: Lenten Fast from Carbon.”
“We’re offering it as part of our relationship with Alaska Interfaith Power and Light,” explained Andrea Backlund, who with her husband, Oliver, have signed up 17 families to date.
Teen center reaches out
(The center has) a budget of about $70,000, raised from several Episcopal parishes, other churches like Elm City Vineyard, and the International Association of New Haven, which is funding a cross-cultural initiative.
Your Place began last summer, running a program for 40 teens, 30 of whom were referred by the New Haven Juvenile Review Board. To be eligible for the youth leadership training, they had to take two classes and participate in mentoring. They took a class on public speaking and wrote about their experiences with violence. They also had guest speakers like the mayors of some nearby towns who discussed their efforts to deal with youth violence.
Soup kitchen grows own food.
Manna Meal, housed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, serves two free meals a day to the homeless and those who are struggling to make ends meet. They have started their own vegetables on borrowed land cultivated by volunteers to round out the menu and involve the community.
The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail writes:
“We are definitely serving more people,” Simpson said. “In fact, our numbers were up 12 percent in January over last year. We thank God every day we are here. We see people in line and ask how they are. They said ‘I am blessed. I am truly blessed.’ ”
She is seeing more families with young children stop for breakfast or lunch while the older children are in school where they have access to free or reduced meals….
…A garden could help supply fresh vegetables for summer as well as extra produce that could be canned or frozen for winter.
Homeless car camp
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington, opens their parking lot to the homeless who have no place to sleep except their cars.
My Ballard says:
With the number of homeless people living out of their cars on the rise, Ballard Homes For All Coalition (BHFAC) launched a program last year to provide a safe environment for homeless car campers. Now several months later, they’ve reached an agreement with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on 57th St. and 22nd Ave. to host the first car camp in the parking lot.
Under the direction of guest music director J.D. Struckmann, people moved to off-beat renditions of their favorite hymns, while Struckmann, the Jeff Brown Trio and trumpet player Tom Reed wove in and out with jazz improvisations.
“It is the most fun I’ve ever had in church,” said L.P. Manning of Valparaiso. “I knew the words to everything they played.”
Not just the hymns, but some “adapted” standards played before and after mass, too. Struckmann, a specialist in liturgical jazz music, who studied under Valparaiso University Professor of Music Jeff Brown, now lives in Houston, Texas, where he teaches music at Lutheran High School North and jazz history at Concordia College….
…The celebration precedes the upcoming season of Lent, with all its sacrifice and sobriety.
“It’s not about giving up stuff,’ said Father Wineland. “It’s about making extra time to think about God.”
Amen to that!