Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

“The mission of the Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande is to connect and support all women in their diverse ministries. We do this by offering opportunities to gather for studying, re-creating, and celebrating who we are as women of Faith, Hope and Love.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Our thoughts and prayers join with all who grieve for the lives lost in Newtown, CT. May each family find peace and comfort through hands reached out in love and hearts joined in prayer.

Campus Ministry

For many of the women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, college is a long way back. However, for others, college is much more current. For generations, the Episcopal church, has operated "Canterbury Centers" on university campuses around the country. Sometimes they are very active and at other locations they are nearly empty buildings.
In Albuquerque, the Canterbury Campus Ministry is a busy place with a variety of activities for students to participate in. Leaders know that busy schedules mean that it is not necessarily the same group that gathers each time, so activities are catered to a drop-in crowd.

Things like Yoga for Night Owls and Theology Pub encourage students to come to a church and to discuss theological topics in a less structured environment. Cooking 101 serves a dual purpose by giving cooking skills to students and providing meals to perennially hungry young men and women, plus, through fund raisers like the fall Pie Baking and Tamale Making events, raising money for Campus Ministry and outreach to Episcopal Relief and Development.

It's all about planting seeds of faith and nurturing the sprouts. Because young women (and men) in college now get their information via the internet and social media, leaders of Canterbury Campus Ministry use these avenues to get the information to students. As women in the DRG, we might consider taking a page out of that book to reach the younger women in our parishes and cities... something to think about.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where we are going

The final session of the weekend involved concrete planning of steps to get to the envisioned results.

               Three things were identified as the first steps.

Organization Structure of Women of the DRG

A definition of role of the Women of the DRG and a mission/vision statement is needed. We will meet in February (in conjunction with the Feb. 9 retreat) to develop this, based on email and other conversations between now and then.

The statement might incorporate such things as:

[We] Encourage, recognize, support, and empower women (lay and ordained) in the DRG to see that each activity is a ministry whether in a church or in a family or community.

[We] Support and include diverse opportunities for spiritual formation by leadership training, retreat opportunities, and fellowship among all women in the DRG.

[We] Acknowledge and embrace the multiplicity of demographics present in women of the DRG and encourage them to participate fully.

Inclusivity of all Women of the DRG

Sub-committees and/or focus groups will be formed to gather input (younger, Hispanic, Native American, etc.) Women from these demographics will be identified and invited to participate in the groups.The Rev. Jennifer Phillips from Rio Rancho was suggested as a person to include re: Native American contacts.

Communication to all Women of the DRG

The key to successful ministry will be communication across the Diocese. Some ways to accomplish this include:                

Personal invitation (Members of the SE Deanery covenanted to bring 10 women to the Feb. event)

                              Blog (www.VarietiesofGifts.blogspot.com)

                              Link on Diocesan website to blog

                              Facebook page link to and from Diocesan FB page

                              Together articles and In the Loop notification

                              Contact person in each Deanery to assure that info is shared at Deanery meetings.

Already we have the opportunity to hear important women leaders like Bishop Barbara Harris and Dr. Ruth Anna Hooke.
Already many women represent the diocese in leadership roles including as CATO. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Crazy Quilt Conversations Part 2

Why we are

Small groups put together random pieces of paper into a square as way of demonstrating that seemingly unconnected things can form a design and create something.
Starting with this idea of unconnected things, the groups brainstormed ‘outside the box’ to vision who Women of the DRG are in 5 years.
Then the ideas were shared in the large group, captured as if the 5 year dream was a present reality:

Demographics of Women of DRG:

We have a ministry to the ‘differently abled’.
We have churches full of children (and by extensions families, which can mean single parents).
We realize we have many roles/ministries that are not church related and we honor those roles.
We have women lay leaders, training lay leaders and more clergy women.
We have articulate, grounded women (lay and ordained) who can respond to seekers and to fundamentalists.
We have women as active lay preachers, and who can give inspiring testimonials.
We have shared leadership between lay and ordained.
We, as women, are leaders in taking the diocese ‘out of the box’.

Spiritual Life of Women of DRG

We promote spiritual development education for all ages, esp. for women.
We have a fully understood baptismal ministry.
We have joyful, gender inclusive liturgies.
We draw inspiration from our historical past.
We focus on wholeness in women: spiritual, safety, mental, physical, emotional, health, intellect.
Women are free to express their creativity in artistic, intellectual, relationship, leadership ways that are not necessarily ‘traditional’.

Activities of Women of DRG

We hold events where all (ages, demographics, economics, ethnicity, etc.) can come together.
Events are planned with input from all target audiences.
We have childcare (including activities) in conjunction with women’s events.
We always have scholarships for events.
Half of the attendees at women’s events are under 50.
We hold periodic meetings with women’s groups in various places in the DRG (ECW, DOK, MOPS, etc.) for input.
We facilitate varieties of ministries in our parishes.
We have reciprocal ministries, i.e. cross border, cross age, cross economic lines where we not only minister to them, but also learn from our sisters in ‘different’ circumstances.
We encourage eco-friendly homes and churches.


We get news about women’s events in a timely fashion via many media (diocesan website, email, blog, Facebook, etc.)
We are connected via social media.
We have virtual study and/or book groups and online forums so women around the diocese can participate without having to travel.
Next week, we'll conclude this report with the action steps ahead! See how you can be part of this ministry!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Crazy Quilt Conversations-

Last week's post was an over view of the entire women's retreat. This week and next will give more details about what we did and discussed as we visioned an exciting future for all women in the Diocese! Those who gathered are enthusiastic about the potential for all women-young, older, working, single, moms, and career, and all ethnic demographics that are represented in the DRG. Read on to learn some of what we did.

How we are

Crazy Quilt Conversations was a time for women of the DRG to come together and vision where our ministry as women of faith could go. The retreat included some fun games, laughter, and some deep planning. After a game of “Me too” to demonstrate how we are linked in a web, we talked about how we like the warp and weft of fabric
               Warp: the backbone of weaving
                              For Women in the DRG, this is such things as Christ, faith, ministry, God, demographics
               Weft: the things that build the design
Based on ‘Varieties of Gifts’ scripture (I Corinthians 12 we discussed the positives in the life, ministry, church, and DRG that make up the weft of us as individuals and as women of the DRG
Ministry is not just in the church, but rather is everything we do in our lives. This truth needs to be shared and acknowledged because what women do M-F is just as much ministry as Altar Guild or DOK or food pantry, etc.
               We need to have focus groups with young, Hispanic, African-American to hear what they want

Who we are-Patchwork

Each woman chose a bracelet from the basket and told why we chose “ASAP-Always Say a Prayer” or “Jesus Loves Me” or other saying on bracelet was important to her. Like Patchwork we come from many different places, with assorted needs and wants. Just as the same saying means different things to different women, so too our lives are formed in different ways, but we can all come together as one ‘quilt’.
               Over the weekend notes were jotted about things we didn’t want to forget. These are some of the things that make us a patchwork because they are important to different women.
               Same gender demographic
               Spiritual Growth Retreats
               Remember ‘the least of these’
               Child care at events with a purpose, not just watching movies
Affirm the wide definition of what ministry is, esp. for young women/mothers
Look at new territories, i.e. autism, ADA, other-abled needs
Be models/mentors for younger women
Events in the ‘south’ and other far reaches of the Diocese
Network of women in, throughout, across the diocese.
Field trips to visit other churches around the diocese and meet the women there
Hat retreat, to look at all the ‘hats’ we all wear and how to take off some of them, maybe
We talked about How can we come together so God can be glorified in all [that we do] based on 1 Peter 4:10-12.
               We need spiritual growth retreats, time to be still and know God, so there needs to be provision for ways to get/have spiritual growth opportunities.
Spiritual growth helps us learn that we are showing God to others through our actions. We also gain understanding that we don’t necessarily have to go far afield to find ministry opportunities to ‘the least of these’, esp. because NM is 2nd poorest state in the nation. (Ruby Payne was suggested as a speaker)              

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crazy Quilt Conversations

Women of the DRG met at the Bosque Center for Crazy Quilt Conversations on November 9 and 10. We were the inaugural group to use the Center and found it to be a delightful venue. Two dozen women from across the Diocese gathered the evening of November 9 for a time of fellowship and conversation with Bishop Vono. Saturday was spent in creating a vision for Women in the DRG. With broad strokes, the women painted a dream of active, diverse lay and ordained women involved in ministries both inside and outside of church walls. Participants created a vision of women as leaders empowered with retreats, mission, and education through communication and fellowship.
The final session of the 'Crazy Quilt Conversations' involved planning concrete steps. The steering committee will meet in February to create a mission statement for the Women and set up focus groups to build communication with various demographics to help identify needs and desires of all women.  If you are interested in being part of one of a focus groups, are curious about an event, or have ideas for Women in the DRG, email Cynthia.
Several women's events are already planned:
February 9 Retreat for Women
March 2 Lenten Retreat with Bishop Vono at St. Francis on the Hill, El Paso (co-hosted by St. Christopher's)
March 23 Lent Retreat with Canon Kathleen McNellis at St. Andrew's, Roswell
May 17-18, 2014: A Day for Women with The Rt. Rev. Barbara Taylor Brown
Summer 2013: Body, Mind, Spirit Retreat in Taos
Fall 2013: Women of the DRG Retreat at the Bosque Center
Watch the What's Happening page of this blog for more information about each of these events as it becomes available. 
Over the next few weeks, more of the work from this retreat will be posted here-so check back! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Lady of Las Palomas

Last time I introduced you to a ministry that I learned about at Diocesan Convention. Today, I've got another ministry by and for women. It is the Our Lady of Las Palomas  ministry in Columbus, NM and Palomas, Mexico.
Funded only by grants (including a couple from the SE Deanery of the DRG) and donations, this ministry works at "empowering women and their families to be financially sustainable." They do this by teaching skills and providing resources to help women in a variety of ways.
There are four facets to this ministry: the Cooperative, the Micro-Loan Program, the Hunger Project, and Retreats for Youth and Adults. The Cooperative is the basic ministry that teaches women skills like using recycled cloth, plastic, and yarn to make sturdy and attractive bags and bowls.
The Micro-Loan program is funding for equipment like a sewing machine or loom that will help a woman become more self-sufficient.
The Hunger Project feeds families on both sides of the border through donations. Finally retreats can be held at the facilities.

What can women in the Diocese do to help this ministry? Donations, of course are always welcome. They do not have to be just monetary donations, either. Fabric yardage and non-perishable food items are always needed.
Women's groups or churches can purchase a 'crate' of the hand-crafted items to sell during a special event or retreat. Each item has the name of the woman who made the bowl or shawl or bag, so you have a special link to another woman.
The work produced by these women is exquisite and sturdy. Many of them are widowed because the men of their family have been killed by drug cartels or other violence. The love that executive director the Rev. Susan Hutchins has for this ministry and more importantly, for these women, is a reflection of the love of God to each of us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross

I continue to hear about ministries that women across the Diocese of the Rio Grande are involved in. During Diocesan Convention, I learned more about a ministry I had never heard of: The Society of the Companions ofthe Holy Cross.

This is a ministry that approximately seven hundred women, both lay and ordained, across the Anglican Communion live by. Each woman patterns her life under a Rule of Intercessory Prayer, Thanksgiving and Simplicity of Life. They pray with intentional concern for three themes: the Unity of all God’s People, God’s Mission in the world, and Social Justice. Members exercise their intellect with study, their spirituality with meditation and seek to live lives of simplicity. In Albuquerque Companions meet at 3PM on the second Sunday of the month in the St. Thomas of Canterbury Library. If you would like more information, contact the Rev. Carole McGowan at Canterbury.

This ministry was the vision of Emily Morgan and Harriet Hastings. It started in 1884 and was inspired by Adelyn Howard, an invalid friend of Emily who “expressed a need for spiritual companionship, and who, in her confinement, desired to intercede through prayer for a wider circle of people. Later that year seven women under the leadership of Miss Morgan organized themselves as the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross.”

Over the next decade membership grew and in 1901 the Society rented a farmhouse in Byfield, Massachusetts. Four years later the retreat center Aldelynrood was built. (see photo at left) Since 1915 “the buildings and grounds have offered a variety of silent retreats, quiet days and study programs on religious, educational and social justice topics.”

“Companions” carry on their individual ministries primarily in their local churches and communities. “Through intercessory prayer, the Society currently is bound together through some thirty-one Chapters with Companions and Probationers in England, India, South Africa, Japan, Wales and the United States.”

“Emily Morgan’s vision was a religious association focused on the centrality of the Cross and intercessory prayer in a troubled and hurting world. It continues to offer women a shared spiritual Companionship and “the sacrament of coming together” in prayer and in person through local chapters and at Adelynrood.”

If you are a member of a ministry not yet highlighted on this blog, please let me know! The goal is for women across the Diocese to learn about the abundant ways that they can live, pray, and build up the Body of Christ and share the Good News of the Kingdom. Continue to check this blog for ministries of women in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. At the Crazy Quilt Conversation retreat, we’ll be talking about some of them.

Next week I’ll highlight the Our Lady of Las Palomas ministry, which I also learned about at Convention.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Skunks and Quilts?

What do you think this conglomeration of items might have to do with Women's Ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande?
They are all things that will be found at the Crazy Quilt Conversations Retreat November 9-10 at the Bosque Center in Albuquerque.
Be part of the fun!
Invite a friend and come together!
Why not invite a younger woman to help vision ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande?
Registration forms can be found here, or contact Cindy Davis.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Road of Life

Recently I came across a poem that is one, rather fun, way of looking at what happens when we let God be in control of our life! Read it though and mediate on the idea of God being the lead rider on a tandem bike...

The Road of Life

At first, I saw God as my observer,
my judge,
keeping track of the things I did wrong,
so as to know whether I merited heaven
or hell when I die.
He was out there sort of like a president.
I recognized His picture when I saw it,
but I really didn't know Him.

But later on
when I met Christ,
it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride,
but it was a tandem bike,
and I noticed that Christ
was in the back helping me pedal.

I don't know just when it was
that He suggested we change places,
but life has not been the same since.

When I had control,
I knew the way.
It was rather boring,
but predictable . . .
It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places
at breakneck speeds,
it was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness,
He said, "Pedal!"

I worried and was anxious
and asked,
"Where are you taking me?"
He laughed and didn't answer,
and I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life
and entered into the adventure.
And when I'd say, "I'm scared,"
He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing,
and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord's and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, "Give the gifts away;
they're extra baggage, too much weight."
So I did,
to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him,
at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He'd wreck it;
but He knows bike secrets,
knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up
and pedal
in the strangest places,
and I'm beginning to enjoy the view
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore,
He just smiles and says . . . "Pedal."

-- author unknown

Sunday, September 30, 2012


We've all heard the term 'mystics' to refer to some women and men in the history of Christianity (and other religions).  Some of us think that there is no way anyone now can be that 'holy'. However, it's not a matter of being extra special, but rather a willingness to let God work. I think we all have moments when we 'go deeper in and higher up' as CS Lewis says. The Celts call this experiencing the Thin Places-where heaven and earth are very close.
Who exactly is a mystic? Simply someone who is able to surrender to God and to believe in realities beyond human comprehension. There is an analogy that a mystic is like bubbles on waves. Every so often one of the bubbles decides to go deep into the water and that's who a mystic is. Last weekend, I was at Lake Dallas and took a photo of the waves lapping on the shore because they reminded me of this image.
Sometimes we experience the thin places or dive, like the bubble, deeper into the ocean of God's Love during prayer. It can happen listening to music or at Eucharist. Something like a beautiful sunset or rainbow can bring us close to God.
Oddly, we can find a 'thin place' when we least FEEL that God is present! When we surrender our score-keeping of how 'holy' we are and just let God be God and then we can be assured that God is using us.
It has been said that life is a school where we learn to love. Diving into God's vast love is a way of learning the lesson of love. Mystics have looked at this 'going deeper' in different ways. Claire of Assisi (12th Century) said:
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel as they taste the hidden sweetness which God Himself has reserved from the beginning  for those who love Him
Catherine of Sienna (14th century) says it differently:
O immeasurably tender love! Who would not be set afire with such love? What heart could keep from breaking? You, deep well of charity, it seems you are so madly in love with Your creatures that you could not live without us! Yet You are our God, and have no need of us. Your greatness is no greater for our well-being, nor are you harmed by any harm that comes to us, for You are supreme eternal Goodness. What could move You to such mercy? Neither duty nor any need You have of us (we are sinful and wicked debtors!)- but only love!
Just recently, I was listening to a CD I hadn’t heard for a while. The song “Stonesand Sea” by Eden’s Bridge that seems to capture how a mystic sees the world and God.  
In the beginning,
I was counting the stones on the seashore,
Looking for the precious ones.
Among the stones, I found many pretty things
While the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

Time moved on.
I had collected many stones 'til I tired of them,
And I think they tired of me.
Some were lovely, but I was never satisfied,
And the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

And the wind rose, east and cold.
Whisp'ring sweetly to my soul.
And it said
"Look you fool,
You are missing precious things:
Raise your eyes and look towards the sea."

So I looked:
It was as if I saw the sea for the first time,
And it's power captured me.
All the time I had wasted seeking stones,
I had missed the rolling glory of the sea.

And the sea
Devoured a mighty swathe of heart, overwhelmed me
In a way I couldn't know,
And the price for the love of greater things.

Most of the time we stay on the shore and leave tracks, but sometimes, we try out the feeling of diving deeper. Then we are a mystic, just like Claire and Catherine and hundreds of other women throughout church history. Have you ever let yourself be the bubble that sinks deep into the love of God? Have you looked toward the Sea?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Celtic Knots and Prayers

Last weekend I was at a retreat in Amarillo. The women of the Diocese of NWTX were very warm and welcoming. It was fun to interact with new friends and learn about ways of Celtic prayer at the same time. We prayed together and shared fellowship while learning from Mary Earle.
One of the most fun things we did was color a variety of Celtic knots and designs. You can do a Google or Bing search and come up with many different designs yourself. What I find fascinating is the symbolism in the knot. Celtic Christianity emphasizes the intertwining of heaven and earth, of Creator and creation. There is a sense in the prayers and way of living that recalls that we humans are only part of the entire God-filled world.
One of the prayers we used has lingered with me since I returned as a reminder that every speck of creation-seen and unseen, friend and foe is formed by God:
The One who made thee, made me likewise.
It's easy to say this brief line when confronted with something or someone stressful. It is also a surprisingly deep way to recall that God is indeed in everything we touch. On the deepest molecular level, even things we think of as 'man-made' are formed of bits of God. It is also a lovely greeting, similar to the Indian Namaste or African Ubuntu-both loosely translated "I see you" or "I see the God in you".
Another part of Celtic Christianity is the understanding that all things are related. God's presence is prayed in and through all activities. An example is this prayer that could be said while dressing:
Bless to me, O God,
My soul and my body;
Bless to me, O God
My belief and my condition;
Bless to me, O God
My heart and my speech,
And bless to me, O God
The handling of my hand;

Strength and busyness of morning,
Habit and temper of modesty,
Force and wisdom of thought,
And Thine own path, O God of virtues,
Till I go to sleep this night.

I think we can enrich our own walk with Christ as we experience new and different ways of prayer.
Do you have favorite prayers from the BCP or from another faith tradition? We learn to see God more and more in all people and all things as we discover that God is, indeed intertwined, like the Celtic knot, in every part of our lives. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Celtic Spirituality

This weekend I am in Amarillo at a retreat of Celtic Spirituality led by Mary Earle, author and priest. I hope to come back, not only refreshed, but with fresh ideas of ways to build up the Women of the DRG.

Remember to register for the upcoming Crazy Quilt Conversations Retreat at the Bosque Center on Nov. 9-10. More info on the What's Happening page of this blog. Registration forms are here and in the e-newsletter that many of you received last week. If you aren't yet on the DRG Women email list, send me your email and I'll be happy to add you. Then you will be in the loop for all the retreats and other activities coming in the next year.

Feel free to post and share the registration info with other women in your parish. You can also stop by the Women of the DRG table during convention to pick up registration forms.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Internet Proverbs

I thought everyone might enjoy a bit of a smile-esp. at the love-hate relationship so many of us have with the internet. Here's what Proverbs might have sounded like if there was internet in Solomon's court. 
Internet Proverbs

1. Home is where you hang your @.
2. The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail.
3. A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.
4. You can't teach a new mouse old clicks.
5. Great groups from little icons grow.

6. Speak softly and carry a cellular phone.
7. C: is the root of all directories.
8. Don't put all your hypes in one home page.
9. Pentium wise; pen and paper foolish.
10. The modem is the message.

11. Too many clicks spoil the browse.
12. The geek shall inherit the earth.
13. A chat has nine lives.
14. Don't byte off more than you can view.
15. Fax is stranger than fiction.

16. What boots up must come down.
17. Windows will never cease.
18. Virtual reality is its own reward.
19. Modulation in all things.
20. A user and his leisure time are soon parted.

21. There's no place like home.com.
22. Know what to expect before you connect.
23. Oh, what a tangled website we weave when first we practice.
24. Speed thrills.
25. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks


Friday, August 31, 2012

Books and Illustrations

How many of us have been moved to tears or joy or fear or any of a myriad other emotions because of a book? Pictures, be they photos, drawings, oil paint, sketches, etc., can evoke the same sorts of emotional response.
I know that women in the Diocese of the Rio Grande include authors and artists. Around the diocese there are opportunities for these talented women to showcase their work. One of these is coming up next week at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque.
While this is rather short notice (because I didn't think of posting the information here), you can still enter. The show is focusing on Illustrators, which is a kind of broad category. If your illustrations are in a book, the author can show that books for sale, too. There will be a Reception for the artists on Friday, September 7 at 5PM and a Book Fair on Nov. 4.
Contact the Cathedral for more info. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday School

As the school year starts and children head back to classes, churches begin their fall program year, too. This nearly always includes "Sunday School." Many women in the Diocese of the Rio Grande are or have been involved in what is now called Christian Education, more commonly known as Sunday School throughout the years. 
As an institution, Sunday School has only been around since the late 1700’s as a way to provide children who worked in the factories a day off and the opportunity to learn “the 3 R’s” along with Bible stories. Samuel Slater is credited with starting the first American Sunday School for children working at his textile mill in Pawtucket, RI.
As churches moved west, they took this idea of Sunday School education with them. Originally Sunday Schools were an afternoon activity led by volunteers from a variety of denominations. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that Sunday School became a Sunday morning standard either in conjunction with or between Sunday morning worship services.
Often, Sunday school classes were held in areas of the church that were also used for other activities. At the Cathedral of St. John, for instance, the gymnasium of the new Parish House was used in the 1930’s and 40’s. Members who attended then remember, “A blue canvas was rolled out over the basketball court floor so that the students would not scratch it, and folding chairs were set up” There was not any curriculum and one student recalled her sixth grade teacher spending three weeks trying to teach virtue based on the Ten Commandments.
Sunday School was also seen as a missionary effort and many churches made special efforts to bring the Gospel to children in their neighborhoods through Vacation Bible School and special programs. Churches had sports teams that competed with other parishes and denominations. This did attract some new children to the church, but often their parents simply dropped them off and went on about their business until Sunday School was done.
By the 1950’s the National Episcopal Church was developing curriculum. It was a series that would cover “The Church Teaches Holy Scripture; Chapters in Church History; The Worship of the Church; The Church’s Faith; Christian Living; and The Church at Work.” This was developed by a team of “more than 50 men and women, recruited from all of the United States and all sorts of situations.” This curriculum was slow in arriving, so teachers used curriculum from other denominations and publishers like Closely Graded Press, Westminster Press, and the Pilgrim Press.
In the 1960’s a move started that allowed students to use “hymns and lessons and prayers in language that the children can understand”. Slowly Sunday School became more child-friendly. Songs and puppet plays, flannel boards and dance were some of the ways the Gospel was taught. More and more curriculum was developed over the years, including, as many remember “The St. John’s Curriculum” written by Canon Ken Clark at the Cathedral in the 1980’s. 
Over the years, the understanding has grown that children and young people do need their own area and curriculum, but they also must know that they are part of the total life of the church. Like this youngster helping bless a new nursery area, they long to be and love to feel included. 
Sunday Schools now benefit from all the work of the generations of Sunday School teachers who labored with just a love of children and the Gospel to ‘train up the child in the way he should go.(Proverbs 22:6) Each year new innovative curriculum are released for Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools. In this important area of ministry, we should remember to say thank you to those volunteers among us who still lovingly take on the task of showing young minds the ‘love of God in Christ’. (Romans 8:39)
If you are a Sunday School teacher or have been in the past, thank you for your dedication. If you have stories about Sunday School growth in your parish, please share it with us.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What is an "Order" in the Church

The last post was about the Daughters of the King, an ORDER in the church. Just what exactly IS an Order? I think we often think of monks and nuns as belonging to a religious order-say the Benedictines or the Franciscans or Jesuits. Often we don't think of monks and nuns in relation to the Episcopal Church at all.
There are indeed monks and nuns in the Episcopal Church and there are lay orders for men and for women. Members of any Order have a Rule of Life that they follow. Often this is imposed on them by the Order itself, but members also write their own personal Rule of Life to outline how they will live out the Rule of the Order.
A list of Orders, both lay and monastic can be found on the National Episcopal Church website. "The Episcopal Church canonically recognizes 16 traditional orders and 11 Christian communities for men, women, or both. Religious Orders and Communities serve the greater church in several ways. Many offer retreat houses and individual spiritual direction. Each community has a rule of life and is committed to prayer, life in community, and hospitality."
A definition of an Order is: "a community under a religious rule; especially one requiring members to take solemn vows. People don’t just enroll as members and attend meetings; they take life-long vows to follow the Rule of the Order."
Some Orders that women (and men) in the Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of the Rio Grande participate in are: The Third Order of St. Francis, (works for social justice, among other things-see below) the Daughters of the King, (follow the Rule of Prayer and Service) Order of St. Luke, (focuses on the healing ministry) Brotherhood of St. Andrew (for men only). The Guild of St. Benedict is not technically an Order, but members do follow part of the Benedictine rule of life by saying Morning and/or Evening Prayer every day. I am sure that there are other women around the Diocese who participate in other orders and I'd be delighted to hear about them.

The Third Order of St. Francis follows the Franciscan rule of life in their everyday life. Tertiaries write their own Rule, which is reviewed annually and rededicate themselves once a year also. Monthly meetings are held to build community.
There are estimated to be over a half-million Franciscans worldwide in the various denominations of the Christian family. Anglican Franciscans are divided among five provinces worldwide. The Province of the Americas stretches from Canada to Chile to the Caribbean. It currently includes the First Order Brothers and Sisters - who live a celibate life in their respective communities - and the Third Order. The Third Order consists of men and women, single or in committed relationships, who, though following ordinary professions, are called to a dedicated life of service to our Lord through prayer, study, and work. Like the First Order, Tertiaries make a lifetime commitment to live a Rule of Life in company with the sisters and brothers in their Order.
If you are a member of an order or other community, please be in touch, so we can highlight your ministry and calling and inform other women around the Diocese of the opportunity. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Daughters in Assembly

Daughters of the King are an order for women and girls. Daughters follow a Rule of Life with the vows of Prayer, Service and Evangelism. You can learn more in this blog from June 3.
The Cathedral of St. John was the location for the annual Diocesan Assembly of Daughters of the King on August 2-4. About 50 ladies from around the Diocese gathered for a time of fellowship, worship, business, and retreat led by Diocesan President Sandy Martin from the St. Mary and Martha Chapter, Mesilla Park. The St. Agnes Chapter at the Cathedral hosted the event with help from the Light in the Desert, Catherine of Sienna, and St. Chad’s Chapters in Albuquerque. Here are the Daughters from St. Chad's in the kitchen preparing lunch.
Blankets collected by the Shepherd’s Daughter Chapter (thanks to Evelyn Yates) for the BethanyKids Ministry in Kenya were blessed by the Very Rev. Mark Goodman during the Eucharist on Friday. Even the Jr. Daughters participated with Darcy Robinson of the St. Brigid Chapter reading the Old Testament lesson.

A teaching by the Rev. Dan Tuton of Hope+in+the+Desert, Albuquerque about the Sevenfold Gift of the Holy Spirit and a workshop led by incoming Diocesan President Cindy Davis rounded out the Assembly. Cindy’s Saturday morning workshop was based on her novels about women in the Bible. She shared how these Biblical women learned that God’s Spirit works to heal as we listen to each other and turn to God. Cindy challenged each Daughter to be part of “an empowered cadre of prayer warriors who lead, support, and minister within and outside our congregations…who are willing to heal divisions by listening and building unity in the Diocese as we live into our vows of Prayer, Service, and Evangelism.”

New officers for 2012 are: Cindy Davis, President; Peggy Way, 1st VP; Anna Marie Dugan, 2nd VP; Carol Ast-Milchen, Secretary; and Brenda Restivo, Treasurer and the Rev. Jeanne Lutz will be Diocesan Chaplain for the Daughters. Read more abouit Daughters of the King in the Diocese on their blog.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Interruptions [from God]

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at blogs and retreats as ways to get away and find God. For just a few minutes pause to consider whether God isn’t present even when you are NOT looking for God.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning says, “Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” (Aurora Leigh)
All life is alive/afire with God, even and maybe esp. the seemingly mundane. God takes the everyday stuff of life and turns it holy. The bush aflame, the voice on the phone, the call to prayer, the bird in flight are all bits of God present around us. Each is the opportunity to see the fire of God and let God break in!
Think about how often God interrupts a person’s life throughout the Bible.
Noah-happily with his way of life-then God interrupts with the command to ‘build an ark’.
Esther-understanding that the interruption of her life as Mordecai’s ward was to save her people.
Paul-certain in his own righteousness, until God interrupted by knocking him off his donkey.
Amos-peacefully tending the sycamore trees until God calls him to prophecy.
Mary-contentedly betrothed to Joseph until Gabriel announced, ‘you will bear a son.’
A shepherd’s staff, bread and wine, a fist full of rocks, empty jars, a scarlet cord, were other things that were instruments of the Holy to break in and interrupt someone’s life.
In this communication filled world we have so many interruptions from technology that we have lots of opportunities to pause and see if maybe God is present in the interruption of a text from a friend or an email or call from a colleague.
What if a ringing telephone, an unexpected meeting, a red light, or other daily interruptions were viewed as God breaking in and interrupting us with the opportunity to respond? What if these were times when the ‘bush [is] afire with God’? What if we are oblivious to the burning bushes in our path because we are so set on getting to our destination that we miss seeing the miracle right in front of us?  
I’ve been considering this for the past week or so and I am challenging myself to try and see God in the minute-to-minute interruptions as well as at church and other places where I make plans to meet God. I wonder if becoming aware of God in the interruptions, might just make a difference. If you try it, let me know what you discover. Maybe next time I'm stopped at a red light, instead of fuming, I'll look around and see that burning bush or perhaps just a butterfly or 2.
It’s good to seek out God, and it’s true that God seeks us when we are least expecting it, too. I pray that I can be open to seeing God’s face in the interruptions around me (and to remember to look for God's face). 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Retreat Time

"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while," Jesus tells his disciples in last Sunday's Gospel (Mark 6:30-44). It's good advice for all of us who are busy with being and doing the work we are called to do for the Kingdom of God. Too often we get so involved in always doing, doing, doing and going, going, going, that we don't take time for refreshment and re-creation. 
Summer vacations are good for a change of pace, like we looked at last time and the change of pace from being at your 'regular' spot in church can be very refreshing. Sometimes, though, we all need to take a REAL retreat. To go away to a quiet place where we can be quiet and hear God's voice. That can be rather frightening at first-to be alone with our thoughts and God might be a bit intimidating, so start out with a short retreat. Perhaps just a day or even an afternoon.
You don't have to go to a retreat center. I've had lovely retreats in the local botanical gardens. Sitting alone in a quiet part of the gardens with a Bible or devotional book or just a journal or sketch pad can be very rewarding. Some people go to the mountains or lakes to find the same solitude.
For longer and more focused retreats, a retreat center of some kind can be very helpful. The people at the center can offer guidance and there is the advantage of having meals prepared by someone else and a quiet room to rest in.
A personal retreat can give you the chance to focus or refocus on God. You'll have the chance to become aware of things that might be keeping you from living your fullest life. The silence and solitude, perhaps intimidating at first, can become genuine companions by the end of a retreat time. At the end of retreat times you will probably have some new insights. These may not be anywhere near the topic you thought you were going to be considering on retreat, but be assured, they are exactly what God wants you to hear!
You may prefer to have a retreat with others so you can share your thoughts and insights and be inspired by the other participants and the speaker. As women of the DRG, we have opportunities for that kind of retreat on a regular basis-in our parishes or across the Diocese. (That is one purpose of this blog, to give a place to share that information with us all!) There are, in fact, three retreats planned expressly for Women of the DRG that you can find on the What's Happening page of this blog. The first one to put on your calendar is "Crazy Quilt Conversations" Nov. 9-10 at the Bosque Center. This will be a time when we come together as Women of the Diocese to brainstorm our role in the ministry of the Diocese and beyond! It should be an exciting time of listening, sharing, quiet, and fellowship. (It's not a time for quilting except in the symbolic way.)
Even if you like retreats that are active like the Crazy Quilt one this fall, I would urge you to make time for a personal retreat of an afternoon, a day, a weekend, or longer. [This is as much a mandate to myself as everyone else:) ]  
Everyplace in the country has somewhere not too far away where you can have a day or longer of retreat. Here in NM, we are blessed with a multitude of venues. Below are just a few of them, and I'll bet you have a favorite. If it's not listed, let me know what and where it is so we can all benefit. Maybe I'll even add a page to this blog as reference if we get enough listings!

Bosque Center:  Albuquerque, NM:  www.dioceserg.org
Camp Stoney:  Santa Fe, NM:  campstoney.org/
Canossian Spirituality Center:  Albuquerque, NM:  www.canossiansisters.org/
Christ in the Desert:  just north of Abiqui, NM:  www.christdesert.org/
Ghost Ranch:  Abiqui, NM:  www.ghostranch.org
Glorieta Center:  Pecos, NM:  glorietaconferencecenter.org/
Holy Cross Retreat Center:  Mesilla Park, NM:  www.holycrossretreat.org/
Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center:  Santa Fe, NM ihmretreat.com/:
Mandala Center:  near Raton, NM:  www.mandalacenter.org.
Norbertine Center:  Albuquerque, NM:  www.norbertinecommunity.org/
Pecos Monastery:  Pecos, NM:  www.pecosmonastery.org/
RavenWind Retreat:  Weed, NM:  www.ravenwindretreat.net
San Geronimo Lodge:  in Taos, NM:  www.sangeronimolodge.com