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, April 29, 2012

Good Shepherd Sunday

The 4th Sunday of Easter is sometimes called "Good Shepherd Sunday" because the Gospel reading is from John 10 where Jesus says "I am the Good Shepherd". After reading the lesson, I thought I'd do a search to see how many references there are in the Bible to God as Shepherd. Turns out there are 56 different verses that have the word 'shepherd'. Twenty of them are talking about attributes of God. The others refer to King David as shepherd and some of the prophets talk about the 'bad shepherds'. If you want a complete listing, you can do a search using your favorite Concordance or online Bible. I find www.blueletterbible.org is an easy one to use, but there are many others.
Sheep, as a breed, aren't the smartest critters and certainly need a shepherd to look out for them. We, too often, tend to get ourselves in trouble too. Then our Good Shepherd has to go and search for us, even if it means scaling down the side of a cliff, like the image by Alfred Soord (1868-1915) titled The Lost Sheep. I like this one because it shows the lengths our Shepherd will go to when we are in trouble. Images of the lamb in the Shepherd's arms or around His neck are comforting, but I sometimes need to be reminded that no matter how far I stray, the Shepherd will seek me out!
What are some of the attributes of God as Shepherd?
God is our Rock, our provider.
God carries and leads, gathers and feeds us.
God seeks, rescues, and has compassion on the flock.
God forms one flock, separate from the goats.
God lays down His life and comforts us.   
God gives us a 'crown of glory' at the end.
Those are all pretty wonderful things to think about. If you would like to meditate on these 'Shepherd' verses, I've attached a pdf listing.
Let me know what your thoughts are about our Good Shepherd!
I know I promised something about UTO, another ministry of women in the DRG-but the sheep image just wouldn't go away...check back next week!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Who are the Women of DRG? CPC

When some of the women's ministry leaders of the DRG met on April 14, we came up with the metaphor of a Prayer Shawl to illustrate our diversity. As I've considered this further, I think the image of a Quilt is more apt. We are multiple quilt squares that together make up a comforting cover. We are prayer warriors and students and diligent liturgical workers. We are young and not so young, single and married, professionals and stay at home moms-a diverse group to be sure! Like the little Sunbonnet Sue quilt girls, we are individually, and in our ministries, made up of many pieces that together become beautiful and useful.
The more we know about who we are, the ministries and stories we share, the better we'll come to understand each other.  To assist in learning about one another's ministries, today we'll start a series spotlighting various ministries Women in the Diocese of the Rio Grande are involved in. We may even learn about ministries opportunities we didn't know existed!
We start with a ministry that is not very well known: CPC or Church Periodical Club. I had read about the ways the Women's Auxiliary of the Cathedral supported CPC in the 1940's. At the time the Women's Auxiliary collected magazines that were “taken to the [7] hospitals, jails, Old Folk’s Homes, Salvation Army, Air Base, Community Center, USO, Traveler’s Aid, Indian Center, Carrie Tingley Hospital, Rural Teachers, and as far as Val Mora Sanitorium.” (From A Grain of Mustard Seed, by Cynthia Davis) To be candid, I didn't realize CPC was still in operation!
The CPC was founded in 1888 by Mary Ann Fargo at the Church of the Holy Communion, NYC. She and a small group of women began sending church periodicals, prayer books, and Bibles to missionaries in the Far West (the Dakotas!). CPC depends entirely on contributions to fund grants to hospitals, missionaries, Sunday schools, seminarians, prisons, libraries, and many other institutions. 
All ministries are more beneficial if we work together. Connie Osbourne, Province VII CPC board member, clergy wife, and member of St. Christopher's, Lovington, says this is clearly true with UTO and CPC. They are ministries that work hand-in-hand. "UTO builds the shelves, CPC fills them."
Grants are made through the National Book Fund to "meet religious and secular needs by providing printed and audio-visual materials to individuals, churches, and organizations affiliated with the Anglican Communion." According to Connie, a recent grant helped Sunday schools in Navajoland. Another grant she assisted with helped a seminarian obtain funds to purchase hymnals and other books for his church in Nigeria where "ten people were sharing one hymnal."
There are many ways you can become part of the CPC ministry.

  • Collect used books and magazines for hospitals, schools, nursing homes, etc.
  • Purchase newspaper subscriptions for local institutions or college students and magazine subscriptions for clergy and other church workers. 
  • Fund the purchase of devotional materials and/or for prayer groups and the home bound as well as adult education and Sunday school classes in churches or missions that cannot do so.  
  • Suggest that your parish Sunday school participate in the Miles of Pennies drive which provides books and grants for children's needs from pre-school through grade 12.
  • Participate in the annual CPC Sunday collection (May 1) and give throughout the year by collecting spare change. These funds provide monies for CPC grants. Information about recent grants is found on the CPC website.
Any of these should be reported to our Diocesan representative (Connie Osbourne), if you chose to undertake them as a project, so the CPC office can keep an accurate record. If you are interested in learning more about this interesting ministry, contact Connie Osbourne.  She would be delighted to talk to you in more detail about how you can share this information with your parish. She is also hoping to find a representative to help spread the word to churches around the state, esp. in the northern half.
If you have ever contributed to or been helped by CPC or know of someone who has, feel free to comment about it.
Next time we'll take a look at UTO, a ministry that is a little better known-at least by name, around the diocese. Meanwhile, add the important work of the CPC to your prayer intentions:

Bless 0 Lord, The Church Periodical Club, that it may be an instrument for the spread of your Word throughout the world. Grant to its officers wisdom and patience, to its members perseverance and the spirit of sharing that asks no return. Bring more to take part in its mission and ministry. Bless our gifts and those who receive them, to the enrichment of individual lives, that we all may be servants of the risen Lord. Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father, We ask for your continuing guidance for The Church Periodical Club. Help us all to know your will in this ministry of the printed word. Help us all to see where there is need and to fill this need in the spirit of Christian People Caring, remembering always that our Lord Jesus Christ came not to be served but to serve. Make us aware: Help us to hear the voices of word-hungry people in your world, and to respond. This we ask in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

We are a Prayer Shawl

As described in Together, Bishop Vono has a vision for greater communication and interaction and support between and among women of the DRG. Communication will strengthen women individually and corporately in ministry and worship and study. 
Sally Blackstad, Cindy Davis, Jane Madrid, Sandy Martin, Rickie Sherrill, and Elaine Wilson met in the Clark Center of the Cathedral on Saturday, April 14 to brainstorm, in broad strokes, a starting point for ministry to and with Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
We began with each of us sharing a time when she felt particularly close to God or when she felt like an ‘instrument’ of God’s work. Two parallel themes emerged as times when God is present. There is a quiet/peace component and the creative/active side.
After exploring some current ministries and women’s demographics in light of these themes (see below*), we agreed that a basic need, as we move forward with women’s ministry, is to LISTEN and to REACH OUT to all women. There is a great need to be in communication with each other. This will have many benefits, not least of these is ‘breaking down’ the tendency to stick with just 'our own' ministry group within 'our own' church and not look beyond to see what other groups and other women are doing across each church and esp. across the Diocese.

A metaphor for what we see the Women of the DRG becoming is that “we are a Prayer Shawl,” jointly offering prayerful, quiet comfort and also we are a way to be active in creating and offering ministries. Under the mantle of "Prayer Shawl," we can begin the process of listening to each other and explore ways to enrich our ministry as women in the Diocese. Within the shawl, we can share Christ’s love with each other and hold open the shawl to welcome others into ministry, study, and prayer.

Some ideas for starting this process included having something like a social gathering, or a dance, or a convention, or a retreat format. Perhaps Skype can be used to include women who cannot attend discussions in person. Bosque Center or Camp Stoney are a couple of places that offer accommodations for this sort of meeting. Watch for more information about events and opportunities to share your ideas. 
Of course-an easy way to share is to comment on this blog or email Cindy.

 (*an outline of our discussions)
We explored the work of some current ministries of the Diocese in light of these 2 themes:

Quiet Day events
Sharing between individuals and within chapters of insights
Gathering time of quiet and prayer
Active discussion
Altar Guild
Time in the church doing the work
Taking time to see that the “Home is in order”
Individual prayers and gifts
Posters, advertising, telling about

Joint offering and subsequent grants
ECW in Diocese of Chicago
Always a worship/prayer component
Discussion of lessons in midst of worship

We then considered how several women’s demographics would relate to the dual themes:

Single women (is there a difference based on age?)
Personal invitation
Group studies, lunches
Young mothers
Offer of childcare
Gift of child care
Moms of teens
Quiet time while waiting for child
Blogs, online & other resources that can be read in car
Too much ‘silence’ not enough quiet
Opportunities for classes, retreats, activities

Monday, April 9, 2012

We have Seen the Risen Lord

On this Monday after Easter, as I was reading the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-25). The line that jumped out at me was Jesus' question "What are you discussing with each other..." (vs. 17). 
What are we discussing -as Christians, present day witnesses to the Risen Lord? Are we talking about the latest gossip or fashion? Do we find TV shows more exciting than the Gospel-the "Good News"?
The entire twenty-fourth chapter of Luke is filled with stories of Jesus meeting his followers after the Resurrection. First there are the women-"Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles." There is the meeting with Cleopas and the other man on the way to Emmaus, who don't recognize Jesus until he breaks bread with them. When they return to Jerusalem they learn "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" As they are discussing these two amazing things, "Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’" As proof our Lord shows them His hands and feet, and "while in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence." (Luke 24:26-43)
What are we discussing? Perhaps we should be discussing our own meeting(s) with the Risen Lord. We have each encountered Him in some way.  

This weekend leaders of several women's ministries in the Diocese of the Rio Grande are gathering to discuss how to be more effective as women of faith throughout the diocese, as requested by Bishop Vono. To quote the article from the April Together: "Bishop Vono’s dream is for us to grow together, strengthening our individual and corporate ministries. As we support one another in our various callings of service to our Lord, we will draw more women into active ministry."
What are we discussing? One thing we will discuss as we meet on Saturday is "where have you met the Lord?" We'll share stories and that is the start of communication-listening to each others stories. From the shared stories come ways to follow the Lord's command to "love one another as I have loved you" remembering "you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit." (John 15:12-17)
I invite you, to share your own stories of encounters with Our Lord (and ideas for our ministry together as Women of the DRG) - here in the comments or in an email to me. Like the disciples we are strengthened when we walk together rather than trying to 'do it all by ourselves'. Sharing stories is the first step toward sharing ministry.   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Musical Prayers

A fun way to pray and get exercise when you are in a group-esp. a group of younger pray-ers is to play Musical Prayers. It is kind of like Musical Chairs, with a difference. In Musical Prayers, you put squares on the floor around the room. Each one has a different type of prayer. You play music and move 'round from square to square until the music stops. Each person then does the prayer action on their square.

Some of the ideas you could use are:
Shout out one thing you are grateful for.
Stop and ask God what He wants to say.
Ask God for something you want/need.
Ask God for something a friend wants/needs.
Thank God for a person in your life.
Thank God for a gift.
Shout out the name of a person you hope will be a Christian.
Confess something.
Forgive someone.

This prayer activity is a great way to work off some energy and pray at the same time.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Music as Prayer

Over the past few weeks I've occasionally referred to songs that relate to the topic. However, music itself can be a prayer aid. It can offer a meditative background or be inspirational for prayer. The words of a song can be meaningful if you stop and think about them. The words of the hymns we sing every year for the high holy seasons remind us of reason we are celebrating. One of my favorite Palm Sunday hymns is Ride On, Ride On In Majesty because of the juxtaposition between the palms and Christ's death, but throughout we remember that at the end, "take, 0 Christ, Thy power and reign."

"Ride On, Ride On, in Majesty"
by Henry H. Milman, 1791-1868

1. Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes hosanna cry.
0 Savior meek, pursue Thy road,
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

2. Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
0 Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O'er captive death and conquered sin.

3. Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching Sacrifice.

4. Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father on His sapphire throne
Expects His own anointed Son.

5. Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain.
Then take, 0 Christ, Thy power and reign.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Prayer with Bible Story

Holy Week is a wonderful time to use the Bible story itself as a prayer aid. You can use any Bible story as the basis for reflection and meditation. During Holy Week, a natural story would be the Entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, the Passion and Resurrection. You could meditate on the different parts of the story on the appropriate day or pick a day to consider all the aspects of this special week.
As with most of the prayer aids there are many ways to implement this prayer discipline.
Start out by reading the selected Bible story several times. Sometimes it helps to read the same story in several different translations. After you have really read and re-read the story, set it aside and imagine yourself in the story. Pick one of the characters and ask some questions about what it would have been like to be in the story.
"How would I have felt?" "What would my reponse have been?"
Can you relate the story to your own personal experience? "Do I respond like [character]?" "Did the character respond in the best way?"
After you sit with the story and the character for some time and consider some of these questions, you can ask "What did he/she/I learn about God through this story?" "Where is God in the whole picture?"
Finish your meditation with a prayer, thanking God for the insights. Ask God for help with anything that was difficult for you in the story.