All Mothers’ Children inspires diocese

Mother’s Day on May 10 in the Diocese of Washington was marked by many of the usual traditions. There were warm greetings and prayers for mothers, flowers to take home. But in 40 churches, the annual celebration of mothers was refocused in response to Bishop Mariann Budde’s call to dedicate the day to prayer and witness for all mothers — particularly those who live with the daily fear of losing their children to violence, as well as for the children themselves.

Every congregation is unique, and each of the 40 churches found its own way to incorporate the bishop’s ideas and the materials provided by the diocese. Here are just a few highlights from a day filled with powerful preaching and prayer and witness in the surrounding neighborhoods, a day that may mark the beginning of a new unity and resolve among our congregations to build a just society that reflects Christ’s love for each and every mother’s child. 

The violent deaths of young black men at the hands of the police and the unrest that has followed provided the initial impetus for All Mothers’ Children. Preaching at Calvary Church, DC, the Rev. Gayle Stewart-Fisher said, “I spent 20 years on the Metropolitan Police Department in this city and so I am torn because I was the police, I married the police, my step-son is the police, and my friends and colleagues are the police.”

But Fisher is also the mother of a grown son, and she spoke of having the talk that most black parents have “about how to survive an encounter with the police, how to come back home safe, come back home alive.” She called the congregation to action, to fight against “the tyranny and oppression of a society that denies the humanity of our black sons.”

Like Calvary and other churches participating in All Mothers’ Children, St. Mark’s, DC, used the litany provided by the diocese, and designed the liturgy to reflect the day’s focus. After 11:15 am service, Priest-in Charge Justice Schunior led 30 parishioners down the street to the Capitol, where they offered the All Mothers’ Litany again, read Langston Hughes’ “As I Grow Older,” and passages from scripture. “It was a little quiet at the Capitol on Sunday afternoon,” she said, “but it was meant to be symbolic. It is a center of power in our nation.”

The preacher at Misa Alegria at St. Stephen and the Incarnation, Esperanza Conesds, asked the congregation, “What is love? And she talked of the love a mother feels for her child as soon as she learns she is pregnant, of how she protects that child and longs to keep it safe.”

She told the story of coming to the United States and working “like a machine” to provide for her two sons. And she told of losing the oldest, because of our immigration policies and the violence in Guatemala, where he was murdered as he intervened in an attack on an elderly woman. 

“For me,” Conesds says, “it is no longer a happy Mother’s Day. When you think of other mothers whose kids are in prison or who are in prison themselves, the mothers whose kids are here and they have been deported, today is the day that we should unite with those mothers who are suffering the loss of their children.” [Translation, courtesy of Phil Kennedy] 

Bishop Mariann visited Good Shepherd, Silver Spring, on Mother’s Day and participated in the congregation’s procession in the neighborhood. In her sermon she quoted devastating statistics from the Department of Education and the criminal justice system that show the impact of racial disparities on people of color. 

“Just as churches played a pivotal role of civil rights efforts of the 1950s and 60s,” she said, “we have a role to play today.” She invited the people of Good Shepherd to join with her and others in the diocese in discerning what shape that role might take. 

In the gospel proclaimed on May 10, Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us. That command was at the heart of All Mothers’ Children. It was heard in the sermons preached by mothers of children of color and in the prayers. It was seen in the processions beyond the walls of our churches. And it will lead us on.

More sermons, video, photos, and articles from All Mothers’ Children

All Mothers’ Children: Video, Sermons, Articles and more

All Mothers’ Children from Episcopal Diocese of Washington on Vimeo.

Articles and Media

Table-talk About Race

A month ago, I sat across the kitchen table from my 84-year-old father, the evening news humming in the background, and asked him point blank, “Daddy, have you known a time since the 1960’s when race has been so central to our daily conversations?” He looked at me, quizzically, then knowingly responded, “No. Not since the 1960’s can I remember race being such a central topic of our national dialogue.” Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Walter Scott, and most recently, Freddie Gray have catapulted race and race relations to discussions at dinner tables, boardroom tables, defense and prosecutor’s tables, and yes, our altar tables. Read more.

All Mothers’ Children Across the Diocese

Mother’s Day on May 10 in the Diocese of Washington was marked by many of the usual traditions. There were warm greetings and prayers for mothers, flowers to take home. But in 40 churches, the annual celebration of mothers was refocused in response to Bishop Mariann Budde’s call to dedicate the day to prayer and witness for all mothers — particularly those who live with the daily fear of losing their children to violence, as well as for the children themselves. Read more.


In Wake of Killings, Riots, Episcopal Churches Give Mothers Day Special Focus

In the wake of the violent deaths of black men and boys in encounters with police across the country, and in response to the unrest these deaths have engendered, churches across the Episcopal Diocese of Washington are dedicating Mother’s Day to “mothers who live with the daily fear of losing their children to violence and the children themselves,” said Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde.

More than a dozen women of color, including a former District of Columbia police officer, a prominent theologian and the first woman ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church, will preach at churches in the District and suburban Maryland, while five parishes, including Church of the Atonement in southeast Washington, will hold public processions through local streets.

In all some 40 churches will participate in All Mothers’ Children, a day of prayer and witness that includes spiritual and educational components.

“Should anyone ask why we are taking these actions,” Budde wrote to her diocese, “please say this:  Until the killing of black and brown mothers’ sons becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of white mothers’ sons, we who follow Jesus cannot rest.”

The preachers include:

the Rev. Gayle Stewart-Fisher, deacon and former D. C. police officer, who will preach at Calvary Church, 509 I Street NE at 10 a.m. Fisher, who has taught at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, has written about the death ofEric Garner and Freddie Gray.

the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, author of the new book “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” who will preach at Washington National Cathedral at 9 and 11:15 a.m. Brown Douglas participated in the Cathedral’s forum on race relations in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, who will preach at Grace Church, Silver Spring at 10:30 a.m.

Esperanza Conesds, whose son came to the United States to escape violence in Guatemala and was assassinated on the streets of that country after being deported, will preach at Misa Alegria, the Spanish language community that meets at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton Street NW at 5:15 p.m. 

At the Church of the Atonement, 5073 52nd St SE, the Rev. Jocelyn Irving, the longest serving black female rector in the diocese, will preach at the 8:30 and 11 At 9:45 a.m. parishioners will process through the neighborhood handing out red ribbons with the words “Black Moms Love. Black Moms Cry.”

Members of St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill will process from the church at 3rd and A Streets SE to offer prayers at the U. S. Capitol from 12:30 p. m. to 1 p. m. St. Thomas Parish, 1772 Church Street NW, will also hold a procession beginning after the 11 a.m. service. In Silver Spring, members of St. Mark’s Church will walk through their neighborhood after the morning service.

In addition to Irving, three other African-American mothers who are also priests will preach at Episcopal churches in southeast D.C. They are: the Rev. Paula Clark, St. Philip’s, Anacostia; the Rev. Rondesia Jarrett, Holy Communion and the Rev. Caron A. Gwynn, St. Timothy’s.

In a letter to the diocese, Budde asked special prayers for mothers “who fear that their children will become the victims of gang violence or police brutality; who worry for their children serving in the military or as police officers; who send their sons and daughters on the dangerous journey across the United States’ border to spare them the fate of violence in their native countries; whose children are trapped in the criminal justice system or who have already lost their children to violence and war.”

The bishop wrote: “All mothers worry about their children’s well being. Yet we cannot deny that the painful truth that children of color are at far greater risk than white children in every category of danger and vulnerability.  On Mother’s Day, I ask that we join in prayer and collective witness on behalf of all mothers’ children, and especially children of color who are disproportionately at risk in our land.”

 Editor’s note:  For information on any of these worship services or processions, please contact Jim Naughton of Canticle Communications at [email protected] or 202.288.5125

New Directions in Deaf Ministry

Over the last several years, St. Barnabas Church of the Deaf, the diocesan mission for deaf ministry, found themselves in much the same circumstance as many of our small congregations: struggling to find a part-time priest who could support them.  One of their hopes was to continue worshipping in their space at St. John’s Norwood; another was to worship in new parishes that might be accessible to the deaf community.

In 2014, they bravely decided to explore this latter, new model of ministry by asking Christ Church Capitol Hill to consider a part-time ASL interpreter.  Capitol Hill has a large deaf population due to its proximity to Gallaudet University; and the Christ Church leaders graciously welcomed the opportunity to explore whether their deaf neighbors might want to worship with them.

As Rev. Cara Spaccarelli reports, the results were gratifying. “Having an ASL interpreter this past year has been a blessing to the whole congregation.  It has attracted some ASL families and a few who previously had not had a place to  worship.  A few weeks ago we had our first baptism in one of our new families.  For everyone, the interpreter has added a visual element to our worship that is engaging; frequently, congregants find themselves watching the interpreter and experiencing the sermon, the readings, the worship,in a whole new way.  At our Passion reading on PalmSunday, the youth tended to watch the interpreter because she was so expressive in the reading, and we decided we would get three interpreters next year – one for each reader to strengthen the experience for all.  Sometimes children will get in the aisle and mirror the interpreter, learning to worship God in a new language.  We are so thankful to St. Barnabas for their initiative, financial support, and guidance this last year.”

Christ Church is excited to announce that they just received a $6,000 grant from the Episcopal Conference of the Deaf to continue providing the ASL interpreter at Sunday Services and major parish events in 2015.  They look forward to strengthening this ministry in their community in the coming year.

Four Chosen as Nominees For 27th Presiding Bishop

[Episcopal News Service] The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop May 1 announced the names of the bishops it will nominate this summer to succeed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The four names will be formally submitted to the General Convention during a joint session on June 26, the day prior to the day set for the election by the House of Bishops of the 27th presiding bishop. The nominees are:

The committee’s formal announcement, along with biographical information about each nominee, is posted on the General Convention website here in EnglishSpanish and French.

Breidenthal was dean of religious life and of the chapel at Princeton University in New Jersey when he was elected on Nov. 11, 2006, to be the ninth bishop of Southern Ohio. He was ordained and consecrated April 28, 2007. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 from Portland State University, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, in 1977 and a Master of Divinity degree in 1981 from Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Curry was the rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland when he was elected on February 11, 2000, to be the 11th bishop of North Carolina. He was ordained and consecrated on June 17, 2000. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Hobart and William Smith College, in Geneva, New York, and a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 from the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

Douglas was the Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School when he was elected on Oct. 24, 2009, to be the the bishop of Connecticut. He was ordained and consecrated on April 17, 2010. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, and a Masters of Education in counseling and consulting psychology from he Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1982. Douglas earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1983. In 1993, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in religious studies from Boston University.

Smith was rector of Trinity Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, when he was elected on Dec. 9, 2006, to be the fifth bishop of Southwest Florida. He was ordained and consecrated on Sept. 15, 2007. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting production from the University of South Florida in Tampa, in 1980, a Master of Divinity in 1987 from Nashotah House and a Doctor of Ministry from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary with special focus on congregational development in 1999.

The announcement of the nominees now opens a 12-day process to be followed by any bishop or deputy who wants to nominate from the floor a bishop not on the committee’s slate. The committee recently outlined the process that must be followed before any additional bishop may be nominated in that manner.

Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings recently wrote to their houses with information about the bishops’ election and deputies’ confirmation process that will be followed at convention. That information is here.

Bishops will gather at the Convention Eucharist at 9:30 a.m. on June 26 in the Salt Palace Convention Center. Following that, the bishops with seat, voice, and vote will board buses to travel to St. Mark’s Cathedral, where the election will take place in the context of prayer and reflection.

Once the election has taken place, Jefferts Schori will send a delegation to Jennings to inform her of the name of the bishop who has been elected. Jennings will refer the name to the House of Deputies legislative committee on the Confirmation of the Presiding Bishop without announcing the name to the full House. The legislative committee will make a recommendation to the House of Deputies whether to confirm the election or not confirm, and the House of Deputies will immediately vote on the recommendation. Jennings will then appoint a delegation of deputies to notify the House of Bishops of the action taken.

“No communication is permitted from the House of Bishops during the election and until confirmation is received. I know this will be a challenge, but ask your cooperation and faithfulness to our mutual life and accountability,” Jefferts Schori said in her letter to the bishops.

The presiding bishop-elect will preach at the convention’s closing Eucharist on July 3, and Jefferts Schori will preside. The presiding bishop-elect’s nine-year term officially begins Nov. 1, 2015.

The presiding bishop is primate and chief pastor of the church, chair of the Executive Council, and president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.”

The 78th General Convention meets June 25 – July 3, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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