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Flinging the doors open wide

Flinging the doors open wide

So if you were a rector, or the leader of an Episcopal congregation, this is the kind of story you’d want written about you and your church. It appeared in the Newark Star Ledger. Of course, you need to have a ministry that justifies the story.

For the Rev. Canon Dr. Sandye A. Wilson, rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew & Holy Communion in South Orange, taking care of hearts is her business.

Under Wilson’s leadership for nearly seven years, St. Andrew has evolved into one of the most diverse, socially conscious and creative religious communities in New Jersey. She has brought liturgical dancers (ages 8 to 80) onto the altar and children to the “Small Fry” service every Sunday. There are poetry slams, science and arts camps, peace camps and drama camp; there is a Holocaust Remembrance and hunger drives with Jewish synagogues, as well as hurricane and earthquake relief work in partnership with the Jamaican Nurses Association. She cooks formal dinners for teenage boys at the rectory so they can practice their social skills, and then takes them to a restaurant of their choice to practice those skills.

A few years ago, the church even opened its doors to Buddhists, allowing them to use its library for weekly meetings until they found their own space.

“We do that all the time — not forgetting who we are, but learning about, and being in, a relationship with people across the community in different faiths,” Wilson said.


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I love the thing about cooking formal dinners for the boys! That’s terrific – and I think a great example of ministering to the way real people live their (our) real lives.

You go, Sandye A. Wilson!

I have this dawning feeling that perhaps some of the fog and funk Episcopalians have slogged through for the past several years might be slowly giving way to a time of creativity, depth, and service in the name of Christ. Individuals both lay and ordained who see themselves as part of the whole, and congregations that understand that they are a part of a collective, will help lead the way.

Torey Lightcap

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