Mother’s Tree at All Saints

Mother’s Tree at All Saints

Thank you to the community at All Saints, Hillsboro for contributing this reflection and sharing the history of the Mother’s Tree.


Mother’s Day at All Saints has always been a joyous occasion, highlighted by a potluck brunch prepared by the men and children in the congregation. 

For some, however, the occasion is bittersweet. The remembrance of mothers – and mother figures – who have passed away, led to moments of private sorrow and grief that no amount of celebration could overcome.

Two parishioners channeled these feelings into creating the Mother’s Tree Contemplation Garden in the All Saints back yard, a peaceful and serene place to honor those memories.

Melissa Knotts (who was mourning the passing of her mother Libby, a beloved member of the parish) and Alice Liddell teamed up on the concept, which included a decorative bench, a dedicated area of flowers and trees, and a plaque honoring important women in the lives of church members, be they mothers, grandmothers, aunts or influential mother figures.

Melissa and her sister Mary Beth generously donated the bench and Alice (with husband Blaine) provided flowering trees. Names to be engraved on the plaque, as well as donations towards the project, were coordinated by parish administrator Steve DeSanctis.

Several other parishioners, including Scott Smith, Jack Thornton, and Barb and Charlie Hopewell donated money, time and talent in installing the bench, planting, and upkeep of the area. Our former rector, Rev. Karen LaJoy Smith, held a blessing ceremony at the groundbreaking.

The beautiful plaque created by Award Specialties in Hillsboro will be mounted nearby, with room to add names every year around Mother’s Day.

COVID-19 March 19 Update

Dear People of God in the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon,

I bring you greetings in what is the most challenging of times. Every day the situation with COVID-19 changes and presents new and complicated problems. I am sure most of you are aware of the news coming from the Oregon government, with the closing of several types of businesses, and hearing of the many ways that people are struggling.

This is a time that calls for the most extraordinary action from all of us to safeguard those most vulnerable. In the end we all know that we are a people of faith, hope, and love and these will endure. God is good, and we will get through this to a new and bright day.

As we continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19, watching for signals from national, state, and local officials and listening carefully to leaders in our neighboring states and dioceses, the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon is committed to do all in our power to assist in slowing the progress of the spread of this virus.  

This is an update of what we know, how I am making decisions, and what that means for us in this diocese.

When evaluating this pandemic, I refer primarily on the Oregon Health Authority for state information and the Centers for Disease Control for national information about the coronavirus disease. Both of those sources also provide local and national requirements and recommendations to help slow the spread of the virus. Just this morning I participated in an hour long web conference with the Oregon Health Authority and the information below reflects the concerns they shared in the meeting.

To understand how this is affecting the Episcopal Church, I speak regularly with my colleagues in neighboring dioceses, and pay attention to what The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry are saying about our response.

There are many, many people monitoring this disease, its spread, and the best way to respond. I will rely on the experts, and as  Bishop Curry has encouraged, I encourage everyone to follow the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations to prevent the spread of this disease.

As of March 18, the following requirements and policies have been implemented that affect the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon:

  • Governor Brown has banned social, spiritual and recreational  gatherings of more than 25 people through April 14 (Executive Order 20-07)  
  • The Episcopal Church has cancelled all in-person meetings through May 31, explaining that, “In such a time it is important for us to remember to care for ourselves, but not for ourselves alone. The moral primacy of Jesus’ command to love God and our neighbor must guide us in all of our decisions.”
  • Governor Brown has implemented many recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including cancelling all events that will include more than 10 people in the population defined as more vulnerable: all those over age 60, anyone with underlying health conditions, and those without stable housing.

The Governor’s call to limit gatherings to 25, partnered with the recommendation to cancel events with more than 10 vulnerable people, will have a significant impact on our corporate worship. To comply with these recommendations, it is my pastoral direction to all congregations of the diocese that all in person corporate worship through April 14 be canceled regardless of the size of the gathering.

This means Holy Week and Easter will look very different, and I am saddened by this change. Quoting Bishop Mark Van Koevering of the Diocese of Lexington, “I am loathe to cancel services, but I do support the Governor’s recommendation and think that I must humbly ask our faith communities to practice a Lenten fast of public worship this week as a sign of love for one’s neighbor especially the most vulnerable.” Unfortunately, this fast will now continue through April 14 and this time of being apart may well extend further as the situation warrants. 

I do offer these guidelines, first shared by Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California, for how a congregation may continue in worship together:

I urge you, as you have done, to be creative with the ways you are offering virtual worship services to your congregations using video streaming and teleconference. This is permissible, according to the FAQ guidance provided by all of our regional public health departments (as an example, here is the FAQ provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health). In order to do this, I am providing you with the following guidelines and pastoral direction pursuant to Canon III.9.6(a)(1): You may have the minimum number of people present who can make the worship service functional, and in any case no more than 10 total, ensuring that none are over the age of 65 or in a vulnerable category. All people involved should maintain social distance as required, and you should make sure it is the same group of people for every service to minimize the number of people who are in contact with each other. These guidelines and pastoral direction are intended to comply with the provisions of the public health order for live-streaming by educational institutions, which are most closely applicable to our congregational worship. 

The Oregon Health Authority stresses how critical it is now to maintain social distance. They called this the Primary Tool to slow the spread of the virus. Please be strict in maintaining the practice of distancing yourself from others not in your family by a distance of at least three feet and preferable six feet. Coupled with this please also find ways in your community to be in contact with each other via phone or other distance maintaining media. Many of you are already creating phone trees and the like. This is critical work!

We must remember that we are doing this for the least of these. 

I am in conversation with our convocation deans about how to connect with each other. I have asked the deans to call all of the clergy in charge of congregations and to work together to see that people have to tools they need to continue to be community together. Many clergy are already doing wonderful work keeping pastoral care and community needs in their hearts and minds. I commend you all for your great work. I hope that you will continue to reach out to each other in this difficult time.

In addition to significant impact for our corporate worship through April 14, this pandemic has forced the postponement or cancellation of several events, including:

  • The proposed visit from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has been cancelled
  • My Sunday visitations will be cancelled through May 3
  • Holy Week Renewal of Vows service has been cancelled
  • Clergy conference has been postponed

Also, in-person meetings with diocesan staff will be done remotely, cancelled, or rescheduled.

In addition to these known changes, plans are being prepared to address any changes that might be needed to our planned Electing Convention and Walk Abouts, currently scheduled in June.

I am aware that this is causing a financial strain on many of our communities as well. I would ask all who can to continue to contribute on a regular basis to the congregations you attend and if you can pay pledges ahead this would be of great assistance. And, if there are those who can contribute more please find a way to do so. I will be working with the leadership of the diocese to look for long term help, but in the mean time I will be talking with the trustees of our foundation to see how they might be able to assist congregations as you struggle to adapt to this changing landscape. Please look for information about this in the days to come.

We will closely monitor conditions, I will collaborate with leaders in the diocese and the Church, and will announce any further changes that might be needed.

In encouraging the suspension of corporate worship through Easter, Bishop Curry reminds us that suspending in-person worship is not the same as suspending worship. There are many ways to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world today. There are many ways to pray. I invite you to be creative, be loving and as joyful as you can. This is a time to be present, to be the church, to serve the needs of our people and to serve the world.

Let us Pray: A PRAYER IN TIME OF PESTILENCE

At end of day, the sun hemorrhages into darkness.
Night closes in, and dread comes forth to feed.
O Lord of all, Creator of all that is,
Be our light, our strength, our help.

You who made the herbivores and the carnivores and called
them ‘good,’
Even the microbes! Free to procreate.
Help us to preserve our awe, and quiet our fears.
For in creation, only you are good.

We know we are sojourners here, whose days are numbered.
We thank you that we do not know the number.
Give us gratitude for what has been, contentment in what is,
hope in what will be,
And constant faith in your abiding presence.

Protect those we love and expand their number.
Give respite to the suffering and blessed relief to the dying.
Comfort to the grieving and peace to those bereft.
New strength to the recovering, and joy
to those who are spared.

See us through to the coming dawn. Grant us quiet rest this
night,
And awake us to rejoice in the morning.

Amen+

Written by the Rev. Canon Donald Vinson
Diocese of West Virginia

Be of good cheer! Holy Week and the Cross are at hand, and then comes resurrection and new life.

Bishop Michael Hanley
Bishop of Oregon

COVID-19 Information Page

As we continue to monitor the situation with the COVID-19 virus, watching for signals from national, state, and local officials and listening carefully to leaders in our neighboring states and dioceses, the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon is committed to do all in our power to slow the progress of the spread of this virus.  

To provide a central source of information for our churches, we have created a COVID-19 Information page on our website. This page will be updated frequently with news and resources for the churches of our diocese. Please check back regularly for pastoral instructions from Bishop Michael, information on participating in online worship, and other helpful links from The Episcopal Church. 

Click here to go to the COVID-19 Information page.

Community Gathering for Unity and Healing

Every day we see more signs of our country’s dividedness. It’s easy to despair, but we don’t have to overcome these divisions on our own. By gathering together in community, we regain hope that peace and restoration are possible.

All are welcome to join in a community gathering for unity and healing on Saturday, November 16 at 2 p.m. at St. Catherine’s. Reverend Jerry Jefferies and members of our community and other churches will lead us in prayers, readings, songs, and reflection. A time of refreshments and conversation will follow the gathering.

9/11 United in Service with Operation Nightwatch

9/11 UNITED IN SERVICE – OPERATION NIGHT WATCH

WITH THE PORTLAND 1ST SERVICE PLATOON

SEPTEMBER 14, 2019 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, PORTLAND

Operation Night Watch has been serving the homeless community throughout Portland for many years. They continue to feed and cloth the community on a weekly basis along with helping create access to medical services. They have selflessly served the community and now they need our help. On Saturday, September 14th we will be joining forces to help set this amazing organization up for success.

We will be moving clothing, clearing out the storage area, building a massive work bench and painting the area. We will also be helping to set up new clothing display racks so they can be better organized and better serve the homeless population.

So throw your blue shirt on (or get one when you get there), come out and help to make a positive impact on your community and those who need help within it. We will also have a prep day on Saturday September 7th. Feel free to sign up for that project along with this one if you can.

WHAT TO WEAR:
TMC Blue, gloves, boots and pants you don’t mind getting dirty.

Building Bridges

The Golden Gate Bridge

By the Rev. Andy McQuery, Associate Rector at St. Paul’s, Salem

A relationship is a bridge between people. Sometimes the gap is narrow, like a woodland creek easily spanned by a couple of planks and a length of rope, constructed in a matter of hours. And sometimes the distance is vast, requiring lots of thought, skill, hard work, and most of all, time. But, like a well-designed and carefully built bridge, a good relationship can bear a lot of weight and stress, even if it takes some effort to maintain. Famously, the Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being repainted, a never-ending struggle against the corrosive effects of the ocean air.

I knew this about ministry, even before I was ordained. But I see more clearly now that “relationship” is not just knowing someone’s name and more-or-less getting along. The bridge metaphor signifies a connection, a bond, and an exchange: traffic goes in both directions. What bridges do is get people across some sort of divide.

So as I approached the end of my initial commitment as curate of St. Paul’s, I saw it wasn’t just that I knew church members’ names and found them a likeable bunch: relationships had developed which, like a bridge, make it possible to go from once place to another. And so, after prayer and reflection, I asked if I might be able to stay, so that— paradoxically—we can keep going.

There isn’t a lot of bridge-building in our world right now. In fact, there’s a lot more energy for erecting walls. Regardless of fraught matters of public policy, I find the metaphor revealing. One structure helps people connect, the other tries to keep them apart. A while back I saw a religious Op-Ed on border security pointing out that even heaven has walls. How sad, I thought: the author never noticed that the gates are always open (Isaiah 60:11; Revelation 21:25).

Our culture far too readily promotes division over political difference. But partisan divides are not the only problem: we must confront racism and a host of other –isms, as well as the growing crisis of social isolation and disconnection. As Christians, we should be in the metaphorical bridge-building business. Bridges connect people who are otherwise separated. They don’t make distances shorter or gaps disappear—the rivers of the world still mark all kinds of boundaries. But they make it possible for people on both sides to go from one place to another. Like the tenacious, salty winds constantly threatening the Golden Gate, our political climate is actively corroding the structural integrity of our relationships. Let’s work together to maintain our existing bridges, and build some new ones, too.

Operation Night Watch Prep

OPERATION NIGHT WATCH PREP

WITH THE PORTLAND 1ST SERVICE PLATOON

SEPTEMBER 7, 2019 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
ST. STEPHEN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

On Saturday September 14th, we will be working hand in hand with Operation Night Watch to help improve their storage area for the clothing which they pass out to the local homeless community. We will be painting, cleaning, building benches and rearranging display racks.

In order to effectively accomplish this mission, we will be coming together on September 7th to prepare the area. We will be moving all of the clothing from the basement to the main floor and taping off the parish hall in preparation of painting.

Whether you are signed up for the project on the 14th or can only come out to help with prep, please sign up for this and help us make the space a better place.

WHAT TO WEAR :
TMC Blue, pants and gloves.

WHAT TO BRING :
Your amazing attitude.
Gently used books for Childrens Book Bank.
A friend.

Evangelism and Neighborliness

The $1,000 grant from the 2017 Pentecost Offering allowed St. John the Divine to explore growing their community and the call Jesus makes to us all to love our neighbor. They requested the resources to have a parish conversation about evangelism and to increase their connection with their neighbors.

Using the funds, they purchased and installed a referral center outside by the church doors, built a Little Free Library, and made the church entrance area more attractive. In addition, they purchased five copies of the book A Lasting Impact: Seven Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof to lead the conversation exploring evangelism and mission.

St. John the Divine hosts a Food Pantry twice a month, one of the few pantries open on Saturdays, which means a lot of working people attend. Food Pantry volunteers now can provide referrals to other services posted on the new outdoor bulletin board. The entryway has been made a more inviting and functioning part of the neighborhood through the addition of a Little Free Library.

The parish received $1,000 from the Pentecost Offering Grant,and spent $537 on the outside bulletin board and display holders, $186 on the Little Free Library, and $500 on the retaining wall, soil, and bulbs for the entry way around the church sign. The congregation appreciated the efforts so much that they helped finance the extra funds needed to complete the grant-supported project. Encouraged by the impact of these actions, St. John the Divine now plans to make further improvements: build a prayer box where requests for prayer can be left, add more flowers, and repaint one side of the sign.

 

The 2018 Pentecost Offering Grant cycle is now open for applications. Funds to support the grant will be collected by churches on the day of Pentecost, May 20, 2018 as one of the diocese’s canonical offerings.

Becoming Beloved Community: Lostness

From the Rev. Marianne Allison, chaplain at William Temple House and associate priest at St. Gabriel the Archangel, Portland.

“My colonial credentials are impeccable.”

I heard myself saying that often as I was first getting to know members of an Indigenous Theological Studies cohort I had joined at Portland Seminary. The program was run by Native Americans and First Nations Canadians. We came together to learn about decolonizing the church, and decolonizing ourselves–colonized and colonizer both. As one of a white minority in the cohort, my awkward remark telegraphed my self-consciousness about Mayflower ancestors on one side of my family, and slaveholders on the other. Not to mention, my coming from a church of empire.

My new friends passed over the remark. So what?, they were saying, implicitly. We’re here together now, and we all come from somewhere that will inform our experience. Let’s just start where we are, and walk together.

In this first act of hospitality, I was being shown the way of love, and I recognized it as the way of Jesus. And so, I stepped into this community that became for me, beloved.

It was an experience of scales falling from my eyes—a way of appreciating difference in others I had never known. I remember feeling a vague irritation in class one day that we we weren’t allowed to watch an assigned movie in our own time. Yet watching it together, I learned more from someone’s laughter, or tears, or wisecrack, or story shared that the movie brought to mind, than I possibly could have by focusing on my own reaction. And the humor! How much vulnerability, humility, and story – how much of Christ – was revealed in it.

In time too, we came to share what we were working out, each of us on our own. There was no forced march—just a quiet expectancy, a trust bestowed on each other to do it, for the sake of the community. I came to see why my proffer of ancestral baggage had been met with respectful silence. It was a disconnected fact. It had no context in the rest of my story, in who I would be to them, and who we would be to each other. I felt seen. I felt forgiven. I felt saved.

My friends love Jesus, although they’re not big fans of “Churchianity.” And they revealed Jesus to me as healer of broken Shalom, as the shepherd come to bring his lost sheep to himself. “Lostness,” to them, is purely relational. It is being lost to each other, to Jesus, to the whole community of creation. We are all lost—the colonizer and the colonized. And so we come together, each broken in our own way. We observe and absorb our differences, and we begin to make sense of them together, by practicing the way of love.

A mentor in this community once said this about the essential task of mission: “Joy comes from the community being together with Jesus. It is bringing in each lost person to share in the joy, to add their piece to the tapestry, or to bring it back.” This is beloved community, as it was shown unto me. I am humbled, and grateful for it. How can I not want it for others?

Reconciling Community

From the Rev. Doug Scott, interim rector at St. Luke’s, Gresham.

I recently celebrated my 43rd ordination anniversary. It’s safe to say that the Church I was ordained into has undergone dramatic transformation during those years, and while I welcome many of those changes, the one that leaves me with a sense of profound sadness is the troubling reality that others find the Episcopal Church so easy to leave.

I find that in each of the parishes I have served there is a sad history of people leaving abruptly and without appropriate closure. Membership has always been fluid – people come and go frequently, often without explanation, leaving remaining members in a congregation with a feeling of loss and uncertainty. In a recent discussion with colleagues both lay and ordained of the reasons why it is so easy for people once deeply involved to depart without a word, some theories were put forth, but there seemed to be no definitive answers.

Simply put, we have all been affected by conflicts in the past. People get upset, people leave. It happens. The net result, of course, is that those who stay tend to be constantly on edge, fearing the next departure, never really confident about the church’s long term survival.

The Episcopal Church has lost a third of its membership over the course of the last thirty years, partly because of internal theological and doctrinal disputes, partly because of the increasing secularization of our culture, partly because of dramatic demographic shifts in urban and suburban areas, partly because of the loss of credibility of ordained Christian ministry due to scandal. The rise of the consumer culture has contributed as well with “brand loyalty” a thing of the past. If someone is dissatisfied with their church, there are plenty of others from which to choose, some conveniently offering black and white answers to complex questions. Times change, and churches are changed as a result.

But if we have lost friends and family in the new world of shifting allegiances, we have lost something else just as vital – our commitment to the ministry of reconciliation.

Some years ago, Rodney King famously lamented, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But living in community isn’t about just “getting along” – it is about being reconciled to each other. It is about recognizing that intended or not, we often hurt one another, and that we are responsible for those hurts – responsible for creating them and responsible for repairing them through forgiveness of others, forgiveness of self, and earnest effort to make amends.

It is not easy work. It requires courage to admit when we were wrong, courage to embrace an attitude of humility, courage to embrace one who has wounded us, courage to move forward together in relationship realizing that relationships are always fragile and must be tended with consummate care.

Living in a reconciling community demands that we find Christ in the other, even when that other has behaved in non-Christlike ways. It requires that we be considerate of the differences that exist among us, recognizing that the one who is completely different than me is just as valuable as I am, just as precious in the sight of God.

Living in a reconciling community means acknowledging that, as Isaiah says, “all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) It means that having been quick to accept God’s grace, we must be quick to offer it to others, even those who may not deserve it, knowing that we ourselves are not worthy of the Grace of God.

Living in a reconciling community means that we accept our own brokenness and allow for the brokenness of others, treating them as fellow wounded rather than as intentional combatants.

Living in a reconciling community means taking St. Paul seriously when he insists that “love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Living in a reconciling community means that its members strive to grow into their full stature in Christ (Ephesians 4:13), rather than insisting on staying where they are emotionally, relationally, spiritually.

If I have a dream as we move into 2018 together, it is this – that we embrace not a new way, but rather a very old way of being together – one that is marked by a hunger to bind up wounds we have caused, to accept one another with a quick and ready spirit of humility and patience, striving to love one another as He loves us.