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)

As women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande we work to live out this promise in retreat, fellowship, study, and ministry.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Puzzle Pieces Weekend at the Bosque Center

The Bosque Center was abuzz with prayer and sharing on November 18-19. Thirty women from around the diocese came together for the Puzzle Pieces (5th Annual) Bosque Weekend. During the introductions, each participant offered a question about something that has always puzzled her about the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, or the church in general to be addressed over the course of the event. Everyone added a 'puzzle piece' with their name to the giant puzzle in the center of the Bosque Center Gathering Space. 
Each session started with some form of worship or prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, offering a hands-on way to get more familiar with different things within the book.
Elaine encouraged the women to look at the current (political) situation as an opportunity for women’s actions of prayer, thinking, and ‘nudging’ for change, reconciliation and unity. Elaine stated that she likes to think of the Holy Spirit as present in every atom of air and always bumping into us and stirring us to action. Elaine reminded the group that our work, as Christian women, is to connect people and families in our churches and other circles. The ministry of the church needs to be one of coming together, sharing, and empowering others. As women we are the heartbeat of the parish. She noted that each of us has different gifts to share and shared how her ministry within the church has taken many forms. She has taught Sunday School, created liturgical art, and led adult studies among other things.
Elaine closed by asking each participant to think about ‘what did you always yearn to do or be’?

On Saturday morning the women gathered for a session on ‘Understanding your Bible’. Elaine urged everyone to try reading the Bible aloud. This was the way it was heard and learned until very recently. Originally the stories were told around campfires and tables. She shared a timeline showing where some Bible milestones happened in the scope of world history noting that the Old Testament time period covers thousands of years and there are many editors and sources. The New Testament, on the other hand, only covers about 100 years. It was not written down until at least 50-100 years after the life of Jesus Christ, though.
It was noted that God continues to communicate in many ways, not just through the Bible. There is art, nature, and even a smile. Medieval churches were constructed as visible symbols of God. 
The session ended with a reading of the Creation story in Genesis 1 and then Revelation 22:1-5. In both the Old and New Testaments the main story is that God loves you and we live IN that love no matter who or where we are.
The second session was about the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Elaine informed everyone that the BCP was first published in 1549 and has had many editions since then. It is called ‘Common’ Prayer because it is for everyone, not just the church hierarchy (priests). There are many interesting things in the beginning of the book that most people don’t even look at including the ratification and preface and calendar. She noted that 70% of the BCP is Bible based.
The ‘Daily Offices’ (Morning, Evening Prayer, etc.) are rooted in monastic life. Elaine suggested the short Daily Devotions starting on page 136 as a good discipline for Advent. When reading any of the Daily Offices, including the Daily Devotions, we are joining in shared prayer with others around the world.
Other interesting tidbits about the BCP shared by Elaine include: The Psalter predates the KJV. At the end of the BCP there are more interesting things, including assorted collects, Historical Documents, An Outline of the Faith, and Homilies. The Lectionary for Sundays and the Daily Lectionary are also found there. Using the Daily Lectionary is a good way to read the entire Bible over 2 years.
For the closing session after Eucharist and lunch, Elaine noted that the Episcopal Church internationally is working on intentionally reaching across lines and borders. She reminded the group that we can all make a difference and often that starts by being a ‘little different’ than everyone else. For instance reading the Bible aloud poolside opened a conversation for a study participant last summer. Just wearing a cross can provoke inquiry. When we are ‘different’, we stand out and people ask questions. JoAnne Gray shared that wearing a safety pin has become a new subtle symbol that you are willing to stand with and stand up for each other.
Elaine shared some affirmations that could be could be used as encouragement for ourselves and for others. She suggested writing them on sticky notes and placing them at random as visible reminders. We should always remember that the Bible is a hand-held data base that reminds us “God loves us”.
Work is Prayer
Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.
You can complain that rose bushes have thorns, or you can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses!
Smile God loves you.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
You can be an achiever in life, but you don’t have to be an overachiever.
When God created the world in 7 days, there was no paperwork.
The only revenge in life is living well.
Jesus is coming, look busy.
The event closed with assorted prayers from the BCP. It was a lovely weekend of fellowship and learning. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

5th Annual Bosque Retreat Registration Available Now!

The 5th Annual Bosque Center Gathering on November 18-19 offers a unique opportunity for fellowship, worship, and delving into YOU...Yearning, Owning, Understanding the Puzzle Pieces of your Life under the guidance of Elaine Wilson. Because God is active in our lives, we all have Yearnings. Some of these have come to fullness, others have not.  We must Own and recognize where we are on our journey. This will help us Understand how everything that happens is part of the Puzzle of Our Life. Through sharing, worship, and quiet, we will travel together through an examination of how personal life dreams can become reality in everyday life, using some basic tools (e.g. BCP, Bible) of our Christian heritage.
Bring yourself, your Bible, a Book of Common Prayer (BCP), and friends to explore ways for strengthening your personal worship to undergird our daily life. We’ll begin at 5:30 PM on Friday evening with check-in, followed by dinner and our first exploration. On Saturday, breakfast will be at 8 AM and our time together will conclude by 3PM.
Registration, including supplies and 3 meals, is $30. (Some 1/2 scholarships are available, contact Cindy.)
Single rooms at the Bosque Center are $52/night and must be reserved on the registration form. (A couple of queen rooms are available for slightly more/night. Contact Cindy for info.)
Download the registration or online at PuzzlePieces.eventsbot.com.
Elaine Wilson, an active, life-long laywoman in the Episcopal Church, a member of your Cathedral, and a graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, she spent many years as a professional liturgical artist. She enjoys teaching on numerous Bible and Church history topics, and encourages you to bring your questions on any church-related topic that's had you puzzled.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Puzzle Pieces-coming in November

The 5th Annual Bosque Center Gathering on November 18-19 offers a unique opportunity for fellowship, worship, and delving into YOU...Yearning, Owning, Understanding the Puzzle Pieces of your Life.  Bring yourself, your Bible, Book of Common Prayer, and friends to share in exploring ways to "hands on" strengthen your personal worship undergirding your daily life.
Because God is active in our lives, we all have Yearnings.  Some of these have come to fullness, others have not.  We must Own and recognize where we are on our journey.  This will help us Understand how everything that happens is part of the Puzzle of our life.  Set within the structure of collective group-worship, we will journey together through an examination of how long-sought, personal life-dreams can become reality in everyday life with the efficient use of the basic tools used across centuries within our Christian heritage. 
Our guide on this personal spiritual quest will be Elaine Wilson, an active life-long laywoman in the Episcopal Church, a member of your Cathedral, and a graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  God's inspiration in her life led her beyond 25 years as a professional, creative liturgical artist into the presentation of a variety of classes on Bible and Church history topics.  Her easy-to-understand background information has become part of the weekly email Bible study created by the Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  (Send your email address to  wdrgstudy@gmail.com  to receive this free, one-of-a-kind data available to both men and women.)

Coming in 2017 is an exciting collaboration of the Women of the Diocese and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew for a Lent Retreat in the Big Bend area. This will include a chance to visit Big Bend National Park as an inspirational way to explore the wildernesses of our lives. Mark your calendar now for March 23-27, so you can attend. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spirited Summer: Hands Across the Diocese

The 4th annual summer weekend for women of the diocese was held at St. John’s, Farmington on June 10-11. Two dozen women, representing 6 congregations (!), came together to explore how, in the words of Madeline L'Engle “we were made to be co-creators with our maker." (from Walking on Water) We also considered the ideas of Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich and explored creativity through the words of Vida Dutton Scudder who said, “It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.” 

Our opening activity was making a mandala representing what we thought of as 'creativity' or 'co-creating'. It grew so big that it extended beyond the poster board and became more of a collage than mandala. 

Over the weekend participants experienced making icons using their own photo as a reminder that we are in the image of and therefore icons of God to the world. (Several of the women are pictured.) Some attendees were extra creative with their images and made icons using magazine pics (including one of a dog, which I didn't get a separate photo of, although you can see it below).

We also explored the idea of Scriptural/Spiritual Scrapbooking by looking at the story of Abigail in II Samuel. Along with the guided activities, attendees had time to sit in the church, make sun-catchers, or just color images provided. 

The final activity was to choose a packet of beads, share some with one or more others, and then make a bracelet. The result was a ‘hands across the diocese’ image of women committed to living their God-given creativity in whatever form that takes. As co-creators with God we can sing, dance, paint, AND/or we can make a welcoming home, provide a space (physical and spiritual) for our family to grow, work for social justice, bake, sew, pray.., The list is endless and diverse because "humankind, full of all creative possibilities is God's work. Humankind alone is called to assist God. Humankind is called to co-create. With natures help, humankind can set into creation all that is necessary and life sustaining". (Hildegard of Bingen)

Attendees came away with a deeper understanding that “Creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation, or how we earn our living.” (Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water) More pictures on the photo page of this blog, including our canine guest. 

The next event is our 5th Annual Bosque Center Gathering on November 18-19. This will be an opportunity for fellowship, worship, and delving into YOU…Yearning, Owning, Understanding the Puzzle Pieces of your Life. Because God is active in our lives, we all have Yearnings. Some of these have come to fullness, others have not. We must Own and recognize where we are on our journey. This will help us Understand how everything that happens is part of the Puzzle of our life. Tools we use to put together the puzzle include learning practical, prayerful, and personal ways to use the Bible and Book of Common Prayer. Registrations for this event will be available here later this year. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spirited Summer: A Weekend to Re-Create and Re-Connect

Our 4th annual summer weekend for enrichment and pampering will be at St. John’s, Farmington (312 Orchard) on June 10-11. This is an event that you won't want to miss! The weekend starts on Friday evening with dinner at 6PM (registration at 5:30PM) and will end by 3PM on Saturday. You are encouraged to stay for Sunday morning services at St. John’s.  
Contemporary Episcopal, writer Madeline L'Engle says, "Unless we are creators we are not fully alive..Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living [and is] not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career...We were made to be co-creators with our maker." (from Walking on Water
Twelfth-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen said, “Humankind, full of all creative possibilities, is God’s work. Humankind alone is called to assist God. Humankind is called to co-create.”
We'll take our cue from these women and others as we reflect on ways we create: prayer, meditation, art, music, icons, jewelry, writing, relaxing, cooking, gardening... Come explore this topic and learn that you really are creative, even if you think you aren’t artsy-craftsy! In whatever form, our creating makes us ‘co-creators with God’ and living icons of God’s love in the world.
Registration is $25. You can download the form, or register online
Lodging is on your own. There are many hotels to choose from, and a few in-home rooms may be available. (Contact Sue Easterday, for info on the homes.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mysterious Lent-interesting and fun exploration of theology in mystery novels


About 30 women gathered at Epiphany Church in Socorro on March 5 for the Mysterious Lent retreat. Attendees came from Farmington and Gallup, as well as Socorro, Alamogordo and Albuquerque. This is the fourth year that the Women of the Diocese ministry has hosted a Lent retreat. In a change from past retreats, the leader this year was the Rev. Canon Carole McGowan. The ladies of Epiphany Church offered a warm welcome, punctuated by delicious food and gracious hospitality.
After Cindy Davis welcomed everyone, Carole introduced herself as Canon for Formation in the Diocese and Dean of the School of Ministry. She shared a quote by John Locke, before delving into the idea that books in general, and mystery novels in particular can have theological components, whether or not the author overtly puts them there.
Attendees shared their favorite authors as a way of getting to know each other a little bit. While nearly all those present were avid readers, the favorite genres were quite varied. Throughout the day, Carole interspersed her presentation with time for small groups to discuss the theology found in the Louise Penny novel, A Trick of the Light.
Before the first discussion, Carole handed out a list of some theological themes that are found in literature. These included the obvious ones like grace and forgiveness, as well as others like greed, anger, and love. Carole challenged each group to identify a couple of theological themes in A Trick of the Light. These were shared and participants were given quiet time to consider how one of the themes applied to their life. After a delicious soup and salad lunch, further discussion and quiet time enriched those at the retreat. The day ended with An Order of Worship for the Evening, and all were on their way home by 3:00 pm.

Feedback from this event was positive, with the request to have future book-based events. Retreats and other events, like the upcoming Spirited Summer Weekend in Farmington (June 10-11) and the Puzzle Pieces Bosque Center Gathering (November 18-19), are wonderful ways to get to know other women from across the diocese, and to explore new locations in the diocese. For this reason, the Women’s Council is exploring the idea of next year’s Lent retreat being a weekend in the Big Bend area of the Diocese.

If you have ideas for event themes or speakers, please contact Cindy Davis, Coordinator of Women’s Ministries for the Diocese. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mysterious Lent Retreat for Women in Socorro


Women of the Rio Grande are invited to come to Epiphany Church, Socorro on March 5 for a day of exploring the Mystery of God and how mystery novels can deepen our spiritual thinking. Studies show that mystery novels are a favorite genre and that the deductive thinking involved in reading them has an impact on our spirituality.
There will be discussion of  A Trick of Light by Louise Penny, meditations by the Rev. Canon Carole McGowan, quiet time, a ‘mystery lunch’, and plenty of fellowship with other women from around the diocese. We’ll start at 8:00 with fellowship and end by 3PM.
Registration is $20 to cover lunch and supplies. 
Register online at MysteriousLent.eventsbot.com or download a form here.
You are encouraged to read the book ahead of time. It is available from Rickie Sherrill with Good Books New Mexico (15.99, no tax),  on Amazon (book and Kindle), and elsewhere. Rickie will be at the retreat with her book tables so you can browse other books, too.
Contact Cindy Davis (cynthiadavisauthor@gmail.com) if you have questions.

The Very Rev. Canon Carole McGowan recently retired from St. Thomas of Canterbury, Albuquerque. She is now Diocesan Canon for Education and Formation. An avid mystery lover, Carole has studied the link between our personal theology and reading mystery novels, which she is delighted to share with us.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Study, Fellowship, Retreats, and more for Women in 2016

During the recent Does My Life Have a Message weekend, Katrine Stewart reminded attendees that ‘retreat’ is a time to regroup, rest, heal, strategize, and refocus our goals. A retreat gives us time to remember that we are under the loving guidance of our Lord. With that in mind, women are encouraged to take advantage of a multitude of retreat opportunities coming in 2016.

Mysterious Lent, Diocesan Lent Retreat for Women will be on March 5 at Epiphany Church, Socorro. The Rev. Carole McGowan will lead us in contemplation of a mystery novel (A Trick of Light by Louise Penny, available from Amazon and elsewhere) in relation to the mystery of God all around us. There will be discussion and quiet time, and maybe a ‘mystery meal’. Registration forms and more info will be available soon here.
Other retreats sponsored by the Women of the Diocese will be the Spirited Summer Weekend in Farmington on June 10-11 where we will focus on being co-creators with God. Our 5th Annual Women’ Retreat will be held at the Bosque Center on November 17-18, with Elaine Wilson as our leader in contemplating the Puzzle Pieces of our lives that make up YOU…Yearning, Owning, Understanding.
An ongoing, weekly study opportunity is the Women of the Diocese e-study. During 2016, participants will explore the Biblical use and background of the Gospel of Luke, Revelation, and many of the Epistles. Both women and men are welcome to sign up by emailing wdrgstudy@gmail.com. Some participants share their insights with family, friends, or small groups. Others use the study as personal enrichment.

There are other retreats around the diocese, too. These include Beyond the Magi, a Quiet Day with Deborah Smith Douglas on January 30 at Holy Faith in Santa Fe;  A Day with Julian of Norwich at St. Alban’s, El Paso on February 27 led by the Rev. Dr. Jeanne Lutz. Contact the churches for more information.
E-mail Cindy Davis, Coordinator of Women’s Ministries, if you have questions about the women’s ministry, or ideas for future events. Keep up with upcoming events the women’s website and Facebook page.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Purpose for 2016

Happy New Year Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande

With credit to Ann Voskamp and her blog A Holy Experience, here are some of my 'purposes' for the Women of the Diocese this year. You can download her template by clicking here and set your own 2016 purposes!
Embrace Life

Engage in Fellowship
Be Available to God
Believe in Miracles
Break Free of the past
Daily Time with God
Do Live fully
Let Go of Control
Learn to be a Blessing
Live Joyfully
Give of Self

Grow in Grace