Council Updates Diocesan Alcohol Policy

Diocesan Council recently passed a new policy regarding alcohol at church functions that brings the diocese into compliance with the churchwide policy adopted by General Convention at its meeting last summer. The council requests that every parish adopt a similar policy by September 2016. 

The policy prohibits serving alcohol to individuals “showing signs of intoxication,” bans hard liquor at diocesan events, and requires “appealing non-alcoholic alternatives” to be offered “with equal prominence and accessibility” at events at which alcohol is served.

Eucharist in the Pool and Other Tales from Camp EDOW

By Kathleen Moore

“When I was a bit younger, I thought you could only be spiritual and could only have ‘churchy stuff’in church,” says Kaleigh Flood from St. James, Potomac. “At Camp EDOW, you really get to see that you don’t have to be in church to be able to worship, you can be anywhere.”

The mission of Camp EDOW (the acronym for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington) is to promote the spiritual and emotional development of children, youth, and young adults through the fostering of a safe and positive environment. “We’ve succeeded in our vision, which is for kids to experience the love of God in a different way — through all aspects of camping ministry – through canoeing, through archery, through community, through worship,” says Iman Green, the diocese’s youth missioner.

The camp has been held for two weeks each summer since 2012, and now takes place at Lions Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy, Maryland. This year’s sessions are July 24-29, for rising fourth through sixth graders and July 31-August 5 for rising seventh through ninth graders. Registration is now open.

Chaplains at Camp EDOW lead and guide worship services, but they also integrate faith formation into activities like canoeing and the high ropes courses. And because worship and spiritual formation are woven into all aspects of community life, campers list Eucharist and Bible study right alongside activities like archery and arts and crafts when explaining what makes Camp EDOW fun.

 “This past summer, every day we had Eucharist in different locations,” Kaleigh says. “You have so much fun when you’re going to Eucharist.  You’re not always sitting down and everything’s different every day.”

“I really like how we do all the different services,” says camper Will Thorne from Church of the Good Shepherd, Silver Spring. “My favorite is probably the one we do on the Potomac River—it’s really pretty, and we’re doing church on the river. Eucharist in the pool is really fun because, you know—you’re in a pool!”

While at Camp EDOW, campers develop new skills, make friends, and learn about themselves.“Some people might be like ‘Oh Camp EDOW is a religious camp? How can you have fun at that?’” Kaleigh says. “I would tell them, ‘It’s so much fun!’ When we have Bible study, we’re acting things out, we’re making skits. We do activities all day. You’ll do archery one day and you’ll go canoeing the next. You just do such a variety of things, and it really is the best week of the entire summer for me.”

 “Last summer, we talked about people who believed in themselves and made a difference, like Noah,” says camper Jordan Dunstan, a student at the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys. “He was 600 and built an ark. We also talked about Matthew, and other people who made a difference like that. We did hands-on activities about them. We had so much fun.”

Camp EDOW is a collaborative ministry that was born of grassroots energy. “This was an idea that really came up through the diocese,” Green says. “A group of people in the diocese were asking the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if the Diocese of Washington had our own summer camp that young people could claim as their own?’”

The group started a task force, and worked with former diocesan youth missioner Jessica Hitchcock to shape and build what would become Camp EDOW. “Jessica and the staff at Church House helped support the vision, and did a wonderful job of carrying the torch and supporting people in the diocese in the common work,” Green says. “This was a group of congregations who came together to make this happen, and continue to give of their time to make Camp EDOW work.”

The camp provides one of the best opportunities for people from the numerous, diverse communities and cultures of the diocese to spend time together.

 “It’s a camp where people get to learn about different people from different parts of the diocese, including those from rural, suburban and urban areas, and those who worship at big churches, small churches, and those who don’t go to church at all,” Green says. “We have kids from area Lutheran, Methodist and non-denominational churches. Most are somehow connected to an EDOW parish through friends or family or a partner organization.”

Thanks to the all-volunteer staff of counselors, chaplains and support staff, a real sense of community is fostered from the first moment the campers arrive. “The instant you settle into your cabin for the first time, you become friends with everyone around you,” Kaleigh says. “You are never alone at this camp; you always have someone with you. It’s such a strong community when we’re there.”

Last summer, each week-long session hosted 30 campers. “We’re looking to expand in terms of encouraging more congregations to send kids to Camp EDOW,” Green says. “My dream would be that every bunk bed is full, and that more kids get to experience one week when it’s all about living in community, God, creation, loving one another, working out each other’s differences, and having grace for one another. So much happens in one short week.”  

“You’re sort of like a big family,” Jordan says. “You learn new things, you make new friends, and it’s a safe environment. You know that you’ll be taken really great care of at Camp EDOW.”

Those interested in sending a camper to Camp EDOW or spreading the word can learn more on the diocesan website or by contacting Youth Missioner Iman Green.

Why I’ll Wear Orange on June 2nd

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.

J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

I’m not the kind of person who wears buttons or puts bumper stickers on my car. But on on Tuesday, June 2nd, I’m going to find something orange to wear. Here’s why:

Once a year, in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl shot and killed in Chicago in 2013, her friends wear orange to remember her and symbolize their desire to be seen. Hunters wear orange to keep others from killing them, they reasoned, and so they would do the same.

That prophetic act has become an annual event across the nation. This year, with other members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I’m joining in, as an act of prayer and a visible reminder to myself and others that evil persists when people of goodwill do nothing.

If you’d like to be inspired to take a stand for what is right, watch the video that tells the story of Hadiya’s friends. What if, in memory of all who have lost their lives to gun violence, we all wore orange on June 2nd and then again on Sunday June 5th? It could be our collective prayer and witness, joining with others across the country. You can learn more here .

I know it’s not easy to talk about the issues that divide us as Americans, such as gun violence, from the perspective of our Christian faith. But we simply must persevere with courage and love. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

If you’re like me and need inspiration to keep going on this or other difficult paths–to stand up for what you know is right, or to speak a challenging word in love–you might take 90 minutes, as I did this week, to watch the film The Armor of Light now available for live streaming. It tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Lucy McBride, the mother of a teenage boy killed at a gas station for playing loud music, and the Rev. Robert Schenck, an evangelical pastor who has taken up the issue of gun violence among his peers.

Then go to Pastor Schenck’s new website, Sword of the Spirit: A Christian Conversation about Gun Violence. In a statement he asks other evangelical Christians to sign, he writes: 

We are deeply concerned that American evangelicals, who should be led by the good news of God’s saving love for humanity, are instead being led astray by a popular gun culture that contradicts the teaching and model of Jesus and the Apostles.

In everything we think, say, and act upon, it must reflect the character of God and point others to Him. Our primary concern is that the subject of Christians and guns should be looked at as a biblical issue—not a political or legislative one.

Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wear orange every year in her honor. Lucy McBride has dedicated her life to end the epidemic of violence that took her son. Pastor Schenck is exhorting his evangelical friends and colleagues to think biblically and theologically about guns. Surely we can do our part, one public act, one brave conversation at a time.

One day the tide of violence in this country will turn, when enough people of goodwill persevere in doing what we know is right.