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.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sabbath-More than Just Quiet or Boring!

The 6th Annual Bosque Weekend was November 17-18. Over 3 dozen women from across the diocese came together for a time of inspiration and fellowship.
After dinner, each woman shared her definition of the word ‘Sabbath’. The Rev. Monica Whitaker gave her first talk noting that the joyfulness of “God rested on the seventh day” turned into law over the years. Monica noted she that the book Sabbath as Resistance by Brueggemann was inspiration for her first retreat on Sabbath.

Brueggemann asks what if lives weren’t as busy and we enjoyed our vocation as much as our vacations? He asks do we live to work or work to live? Monica noted that we have to consciously create Sabbath, but as Brueggemann states, we resists Sabbath even though it is the only way to re-creation. Brueggemann notes that by taking Sabbath we are in resistance to the culture around us, too.

In Godly Play, the 10 Commandments are titled the 10 Best Ways to Live. We are invited to live into the Commandments. They are not something we ‘have’ to do, they are a way to live in relationship with God and each other. With 10 of the women, Monica visually demonstrated that Sabbath is the centerpiece of the 10 Commandments with relationship to God on one side and relationships with others on the other. God created, then God rested in order to revel in what was created. We forget to celebrate what we accomplish. We ought to celebrate what we create together and what we will create next time. God continues to create through each of us and through all creation.

Monica stated that Sabbath is a special time that we take in order to be in relationship with God and self and creation. It is simply ‘being’. We must choose Sabbath because it is a visible, decisive way to align our lives with the God of rest. Choosing rest not busy-ness helps us be in right relationship. We may need to make an appointment to be with ourselves because we deserve it. When we choose Sabbath, we choose who we will serve and how.

The retreat continued with breakfast and worship that included movement led by the Rev. Sylvia Miller-Mutia. Monica then reminded us that Sabbath is the way to be in right relationship with God and each other. We have to develop our own Rule of Life that includes Sabbath time. C.S. Lewis defined a Rule of Life as intention pattern of discipline that provides growth in holiness. It is a rhythm that is formed by the Spirit to Love God in order to be transformed. Through grace a new self is formed in order to ultimately love God more.

Monica noted that a 'Rule of Life', or 'Rhythm of Life', or 'Curriculum of Life', or 'Game Plan for Morphing' is a way to find accountability and should include a self-assessment, an explanation of how to practice the Rule and some form of accountability with someone else. 

Sabbath is relationship and reconnecting with God. Monica suggested asking ‘what is distracting you?’. We live in a performance based society and so we must make the conscious effort to resist the cultural messages of ‘now’, ‘more’, ‘not enough’. Our response, in God, can be ‘I am good enough’ and ‘I choose to say No’. Observing Sabbath has to be a conscious decision in which we look at creation and notice God. We pause and contemplate how to act before taking any action.

After a ‘Sabbath time’ to have quiet time to make prayer beads, color, walk the labyrinth, or just be quiet, everyone re-gathered for worship before lunch. Monica asked the group to consider Sabbath as Thanksgiving. She pointed to the story of Jesus healing the woman on the Sabbath, remarking that Jesus looks, sees, speaks, and then heals the woman. We are also called to new, healed life in which God sees, speaks, and heals us. The new life happens when we pause and recognize God’s presence. The center of Sabbath is rest when we receive without having accomplishment, achievement, or even qualifications. We are each ‘the Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven’. We are the Eucharist.

After lunch, Monica shared how Sabbath is a Gift and it is up to us to be aware and practice being on the receiving end of God’s gifts. Sabbath is a creative expression of God’s gift as well as a time of rest and reconnecting. Even though we are conditioned to be embarrassed when talking about our gifts, we must be honest about our gifts and skills. If we are not honest, we resist God’s call. If we deny we are gifted, we deny that we are a Child of God. Sabbath helps us get off the ‘hamster wheel’ in our head that insists we are ‘not good enough’ or that we ‘have to’. Together, the group considered ways to offer Sabbath to someone and how each person can experience the practice of Sabbath as a gift to yourself from God.

Sylvia reminded the group that the Gift of the Spirit is one that energizes and replenishes the soul. Skills, while useful, do not necessarily energize. The questions is are you ‘driven’ or ‘drawn’ to do something, and what gives you life?

Throughout the weekend, attendees created a Prayer Frontal for the altar using strips of cloth on which prayers were written and woven into the deer netting. The closing Eucharist was for the Feast of Hilda of Whitby, a 7th century saint who founded the Abbey at Whitby. As the sermon everyone was invited to share their closing thoughts on Sabbath. Many noted that their definition of Sabbath had changed. Attendees realized that Sabbath is a choice and there are many ways to live and incorporate Sabbath. Sabbath is love for self and love for God and we must take care of ourselves in order to serve others. Part of Sabbath is re-creation and it is good to just ‘be’. 
(photos courtesy of Ann Bagby, Monica Whitaker, Cindy Davis)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christmas Potluck & Cookie Exchange w/ Outreach Collection

Christmas Potluck and Cookie Exchange for women of the Diocese is Saturday, December 2 at noon in Kaseman Hall. Bring a favorite potluck dish, a couple dozen cookies (store bought or home-made) and donations for Women’s Circle of Empowerment or Borderlands Ministry. Suggested items are below and on the downloadable flyer. Share the info with a friend at church and come join the fun!! 

Borderlands Collection Suggestions
à Shampoo or Hand Soap
à Hand or Body Lotion
à Feminine Hygiene Products
à Diapers & Baby wipes
à Facial tissues
à Gloves or Mittens
à Jackets
à New, unopened underwear
à New, unopened socks
à Bandaids
à #2 Pencils or Pens
à Stuffed toys
à Rice or beans
Women’s Circle of Empowerment (ABQ)
à New washcloths
à Travel sized shampoo, soap,  etc.
à Socks
à Feminine hygiene products
à Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash
à Hand sanitizer
à Water bottles
à Individual packages of crackers
à Juice boxes

Friday, September 22, 2017

Borderland Thanksgiving Initiative

I would invite all women of the diocese to participate in the Borderlands Thanksgiving Initiative as outlined in the most recent Together. There are lots of items suggested in the article on the last page of Together. As women, we understand the need to help and support one another. Pick a specific type of item to collect in your parish, or just gather some of the suggested items and send them to Convention (October 19-21) with your delegates.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Exploring Sabbath Retreat

Exploring Sabbath,
the 6th Annual Bosque Weekend

The Women’s Ministry of the Diocese of the Rio Grande invites all women, lay and ordained, to the Exploring Sabbath Retreat on November 17-18 at the Bosque Center. The Rev. Monica Whitaker, formerly of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, and now rector of St. Andrew’s, Sedona AZ will be our retreat leader. The Rev. Sylvia Miller-Mutia of St. Thomas of Canterbury and Women’s Ministry chaplain, the Rev. Pat Green will assist her. We’ll start on Friday at 5:30PM with registration, dinner, and an intro to Sabbath. Saturday will give us more time to experience many forms of Sabbath. We will end after Eucharist at 4PM on Saturday.
This will be a time to learn that Sabbath is not just about worship and quiet.
Sabbath is Gift from God
Sabbath is Refreshment
Sabbath is Thanksgiving
Sabbath is Rejoicing

As busy Christian women, it is important to take time for Sabbath, and this weekend is a perfect way to do that. Registration info available on the Women’s Ministry websiteRegistration, including 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 when you register. (A couple of queen rooms are available for slightly more/night. Contact Cindy for info.) If you live in ABQ you may commute.
Register below; or download the registration and mail it in.
Contact Cindy Davis, Coordinator of Women’s Ministries if you have questions.

To register for just retreat select "Add to Cart". If you want room and retreat, drop down the menu and choose that option.

Register here for retreat & room

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Banner Over Me Weekend

Women of all ages are invited to take time to sit under the loving Banner of our Lord in the company of other women of God at the Banner Over Me weekend at Trinity on the Hill (3900 Trinity Dr.) in Los Alamos on August 4-5. We’ll start at 5PM on Friday with registration, dinner, fellowship, and discussions. Saturday morning starts with breakfast, and ends about 3PM. (Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast & lunch are included in registration.) Non-Episcopalians are welcome, too. 
This summer weekend provides time for relaxation and conversation as well as inspiration and activities. Remember the Sunday School song: “The Lord is mine and I am His, His banner over me is love…” God wants to love us, and we need to find time to be loved!
There will be time to share ideas about living the Great Commandment in our daily lives. We’ll take time to care for ourselves with quiet, crafts, and maybe even massage. We’ll do outreach and consider the importance of women in God’s work. 
Every attendee is encouraged to bring their favorite prayer. We'll use these as the basis for our Friday evening worship. On Saturday, we'll start the day with Eucharist, as an affirmation of being part of one community-one Body-that shares God's Banner freely. 
Other activities will include a photo booth, perhaps some time for sampling beauty products and trying shoulder massage or chair yoga. We may also experiment with Bible journaling. For those who don't like crafts, there is the option to spend some quiet time in the church. There's always time for visiting with, and making, friends. We'll have the opportunity to visit the new PEEC (Pajarito Environmental Education Center) for some relaxation in the beauty of the high plateau.  
As our outreach (a tradition at the Women's Ministry events), we'll be collecting women's toiletry items for Judygail's Plance, a TOTH outreach program. Registrants will get a full list before the weekend.   
Registration is $25, and includes Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast & lunch. You can download the registration, or pay online via Paypal (see button below).
Lodging is on your own. There are hotels & B&Bs in Los Alamos. Invite a friend to join you and split the room cost!  In-home rooms are available on a first come basis. Contact Claire Singleton for in-home lodging. If you are interested in the history of Los Alamos, come early, or stay over to explore the local museums, nature center, walking trails, Bandelier National Monument, and other interesting things.   

“In the beginning God made the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air and brought them to Man to be named. Whatever man named them stuck.Cat and Dog. Zebra. Platypus. Rhinoceros. Hippopotamus. Man named and named and named….but not one could he call “friend.”God put Man into a deep sleep and then God reached in — not into the dirt, but into the side of Man and made something new from his flesh. Life from life.This creature God named.  “Woman,” God called her.God made her and named her and man said, “Wow!”“Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” the Bible says. In other words, “Wow! This is good! This is really, really good! She’s more beautiful than Peacock, more graceful than Eagle, better at conversation than Monkey! She’s amazing!”               (Genesis 2:19-22)– New Groves International Version

“Woman. She is so treasured and essential that God couldn’t pull His pen through even one chapter of His epic tale without her flowing from His heart and onto the page.” Ann Voskamp

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wilderness Asks “Who Are You?”

The Women’s Ministry of the Diocese in conjunction with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew offered the Wild Lent Retreat on March 24-26. The event was held at St. James Church in Alpine, TX and included an optional tour of part of the Big Bend National Park, south of Alpine. Attendees came from all around the diocese, including Gallup, Santa Fe, Alamogordo, Silver City, Albuquerque, and, of course, the Big Bend Ministry area. A huge ‘Thanks!’ to the parish family of St. James who provided lavish hospitality in the form of welcome and delicious meals, even sack lunches for those traveling on Sunday! Retreat participants enjoyed the beauty of the area, contemplative worship time, lively discussion, and fellowship with new friends. The weekend offered a time to reflect on Wilderness and how it is a formative part of our lives. Attendees were challenged to let Wilderness journey take them to new places of beauty and inspiration in order to transform their lives and ministries.


The retreat began on Friday morning with 22 of the 31 participants piling into cars for the drive to the Big Bend National Park. The Ross Maxwell portion of the Park was the focus with stops at the Badlands to experience a view similar to the Judean wilderness and at Tuff Canyon to consider the temptation of turning stones to bread. The towering cliffs (1500 feet from Rio Grande to the top) of Santa Elena Canyon were reminiscent of Jesus’ being tempted to throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple and let the angels ‘bear him up’. At the Sotol Vista Overlook, where you can see for miles and miles, indeed far into Mexico, we contemplated how Jesus resisted the Evil One’s offer to rule all the kingdoms of the world. Following the Park tour, the group had lunch at Espresso y Poco Mas in Terlingua Ghost Town, shared a time of contemplative prayer in the old Santa Inez church, and visited the Otra Vez Thrift Shop to unload the pick-up load of donations for people of the area.

After a delicious soup supper at St. James, Bishop Vono set the tone for the weekend with his opening talk. He told the group that Journey into and through Wilderness is the universal story of humanity. The basic question of any wilderness is ‘Who are you?’ The answer is found in finding wholeness with creation and the Creator. Bishop Vono quoted Pope Francis as saying, “Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world.” Bishop invited participants to be open to Wilderness experiences that test us, like Jesus was tested. Wilderness also strengthens us to move forward unafraid, in the same way Jesus ‘set his face toward Jerusalem’.


Saturday morning began with Eucharist in the lovely St. James’ sanctuary. Fr. Paul Moore preached on the readings for the Feast of the Annunciation, noting that Mary entered into Wilderness when she said, ‘be it with me according to your word’. In that response, she embraced the beauty and transformation of being one with God’s will. All Wilderness is an experience of being in the Presence of One who is mighty, yet to whom we are important. Wilderness is a time when the veil is pulled back and we see the beauty and oneness of all creation, as God sees it. Being enveloped in God’s love is the basic truth of Wilderness time. In response to God, we answer the question, “Who are you?” by understanding that we are children of the God who, as Michael Card says, will ’fight us to be found’.


Throughout the retreat, participants were invited to explore the question of ‘Who am I?’ through the experiences, conversations, and presentations of the event. One exercise, led by the Rev. Sarah Guck from Good Shepherd, helped attendees experience Wilderness that makes us let go of things we think are important, and even essential. Wilderness strips us to the basics. We find solace in our individual Wildernesses by being in a community where we feel loved, redeemed and forgiven and are free to share our story. As we hear and listen to others’ stories, we learn who they are. In sharing our stories, we discover that there really is only one story, which is the story of God working in and through us.

Fr. Paul Moore challenged the group to listen to the stories of the ‘least of these’ to discover how we can be Inspired to work and make “the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” a reality. He stated that the inequities of power and pride, and the ‘lusts’ of the world, can cause us to slip into the ‘easy fix’ mentality, which makes us feel better, but doesn’t necessarily help anyone. Fr. Paul noted that until we see everyone as an individual human being, we are unable to really relate. Sharing stories, lives, and relationships is how we can make the kingdoms of the world into the Kingdom of our God. It is a new way of being human and requires that we listen to one another’s story.
In our Baptismal Covenant we say we will “strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being”. Fr. Paul stressed the importance of providing dignity to everyone. This should be done by offering a hand up, not just a hand-out. This sort of ministry is done at the Otra Vez Thriftshop in Terlinguq and at the Borderlands Palomas Coopertiva which helps women in the Columbus/Palomas border community. They now have a new product: T-shirt quilts. These quilts can be purchased for $40, or can be purchased and donated to the people of Palomas for their homes, many of which do not have blankets.


After a delicious Saturday dinner provided by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew of smoked brisket and assorted sides, the Rev. Kay Jennings suggested that we are transformed through life’s Wilderness times. Martha Stafford spoke of her experiences at the Otra Vez Thrift Show where she can easily be ‘on the Pinnacle’ because she has more relative assets than the clients. She noted it is easy to judge or try to ‘fix’ the problem by wielding power. She has learned that giving must be freely done with no strings attached. The group shared times when they had given freely with no consideration of return and agreed that giving from a place of humility is transformative. The group explored the ‘pinnacles’ of life and Wilderness by drawing images of them, which ranged from barns and churches to an Escher-style drawing and linked hands.

During his Sunday sermon, Fr. Paul Moore reiterated that Wilderness always Transforms us and that we never leave Wilderness the same as we entered. God always works toward Transformation through change. The good news is that God’s path has the goal of the transformation of each person into what Irenaeus called “the glory of God: human beings fully alive”. Fr. Paul encouraged the congregation to be Transformed by sharing and listening to the story of the Wilderness in each other. This is the mark of true community and helps each one discover the answer to the “Who are You?” question.
Retreat participants ended the weekend feeling that they walked on holy ground and been blessed by the action of the Holy Spirit. This was symbolized by lighting votive candles on Sunday morning when entering St. James for Eucharist. Experiencing the landscape of Wilderness, both physically and spiritually, proved to be beautiful and transformative, filled with inspiration and fellowship.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wild Lent Retreat at St. James', Alpine, TX

You can still attend this inspirational and relevant weekend! Even though the deadline for the special room pricing is past, Sharon at the Holland Hotel** has agreed to give the 'best available rate', pending room availability! You can also check with the other hotels in the Alpine area.  (Including the Holiday Inn, Hampton, Quality, Oak Tree...)

All women & men of the Diocese are invited to join Bishop Michael Vono and the Rev. Paul Moore, and others to reflect on the sociological, ecological and social justice issues impacting ministry in our diocese, especially the Border areas, while meditating on Jesus’ time in the wilderness. This retreat is sponsored by the Women of the Diocese and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.
You can participate in an optional Big Bend National Park tour on Friday morning (leaving 8AM). We’ll carpool through part of the Big Bend National Park, whose landscape is very similar to the Judean wilderness where Jesus was tempted. This time of quiet reflection will offer an inspirational introduction to the weekend’s talks. (Park fees apply)
The main part of the retreat begins at 6PM Friday evening at St. James’ Church in Alpine with dinner and the first presentation based on Matthew 4 by Bishop Vono. 

Time for prayer and reflection will be available throughout the retreat (all day Saturday). Retreat concludes Sunday morning at Eucharist at St. James.

**Historic Holland Hotel: $120/night, (432-837-2800); ask for Sharon & mention “Diocesan Lent Retreat” for group rate until 2/15/17. www.thehollandhoteltexas.com.www.thehollandhoteltexas.com.

Complete schedule and full details in the downloadable brochure.

Register online at Wild Lent (use this one not the previous eventsbot link) or mail in the registration from the brochure. 

Tentative Schedule (subject to change)
Thursday, March 23
Arrival for those who plan to participate in the “Jesus in the Wilderness” Big Bend tour
Dinner on your own

Friday, March 24
8AM: Leave Alpine for drive to Big Bend Park
10AM: Meditative driving tour ‘with’ Jesus in wilderness
1PM: Worship in Santa Inez church and conversations about common issues
4PM: Return to Alpine
6PM: Dinner: St. James’ Parish hall
7PM: Talk 1
8PM: Evening Worship

Saturday, March 25
9AM: Eucharist and Talk 2
10:30AM: Time for reflection/discussion
11:30AM: Lunch 
1PM: Talk 3 with time for reflection/discussion
3PM: Talk 4 with time for reflection/discussion
5:30PM: Dinner by the Brotherhood of St. Andrew
7PM: Talk 5
Discussion and contemplative prayer to close the day

Sunday, March 26
Talk 6 will be the Sunday sermon