On Sunday, the 8th of July, the morning worship service including the United Thank Offering Ingathering service. It made a tremendous impact to see the Episcopal Church Woman UTO Representative from each diocese proceed across the stage and offer a financial gift from her diocese. Due to the generosity of congregations of all sizes, structures, and financial means, the UTO provided 37 grants to dioceses, 2 regional grants, 6 companion dioceses grants, and 8 international grants. Well over a millions dollars collected and put right back into the community we are called to serve. As a child I was excited about saving my coins to contribute. I gave as a young woman, but not always as much as possible. As an older woman with nature’s highlights in my hair, I am so proud and honored to be able to contribute. It means something to see the longevity, potential, and the power of the ECW, UTO, and a little blue collection box. The Presiding Bishop’s message urged us to, “Keep it simple. Be a gift. Speak and act for God’s dream. Go and act for God’s dream. Boldly go where Jesus has gone before…and invite others to help.” Are you willing? Am I willing?
Every day, I think the worship service cannot get any better. Every day, I think how amazed I am that the worship service is indeed better than I could have ever imagined. The music continues to be glorious and the Steel Band Orchestra of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn touched me in a way that is rare. (Do you all have a CD available? ) Today, I was blown away by Bishop Curry of North Carolina. Dear Lord, as we continue our search for a new bishop could you please send someone our way who inspires us to get crazy, speak out, and “stand up against the nightmares of this world until God’s dream for us is realized. “ That quote may be a little off, but I think I have the jest. We are called to be a little different, a little crazy– to love, give, endure, and follow as faithful believers. I will never hear the Battle Hymn of the Republic without thinking of this message. I pray that when my faith translates into actions, I am like Mary Magdalene and remain with Jesus when I am frightened or in danger of persecution.
This was Day Two–but it’s never too late for this post!
I made it to the exhibit hall, of course. And I have to share one of my favorite booths. This gentleman, Jeff Wunrow makes absolutely fabulous banners, vestments, and paraments from wonderful fabrics many of which he designs. He has two banners that for me sum everything up: “It is finished” and “He is risen.” What more is needed to be said? It describes all that God has given for our salvation; all that Jesus suffered on our behalf; and the wonderful hope and grace that lifts and sustains us each day.
Jeff can be sound in his studio in Saint Louis, MO or online at www.jeffwunrow.com. Check out “He is risen” above–the picture does not do it justice.
I know that I arrived in Indianapolis for the Triennial meeting more than a day or so ago. Perhaps the central theme of these blogged messages will be a day late, a dollar short, but still hopefully delivered in the time that God has chosen. It has been interesting to hear the conversations of the many women around me-some of them have been coming to this meeting for 12 or 15 years and then there are others like me who are here for the first time. Our first keynote speaker, Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman, talked about the ” always welcoming spirit” of the ECW. Thoughts that will remain with me from her presentation are ” faith can’t be taught; it has to be caught” and ” every prayer said for us is still holding us up.” I cannot help but think that the prayers of my grandmothers, Joe Ella and Venora; and those of my godmothers, Gladys and Marion; are joined with all the prayers of the women who are my mothers-Evelyn, Paula, Harlean, Marjorie, and Dorian. Those women, many of whom were/are Episcopal Church Women have built and nourished the congregations that continue to serve others. And as Rev. Freeman said,” they were tough in a wonderfully feminine sense of the word, insistent but not pesky.” Making sure that we were inoculated with the love of God. Making sure that we caught the faith needed to make it through all the trials of life and that we know who to thank for our many blessings and mercies.