by Thaddeus Gunn
I wrote two words today that I never thought I would write: my church.
For a lot of my life, I was an atheist. More of the jury’s still out variety than the absolutely not variety. This is despite having been raised in the Episcopal church by a father who was a priest, and coming from a family that had been Episcopalian for over a century. For a lot of my life, church was my dad’s church. People even referred to it that way: Isn’t St. Paul’s your dad’s church? It was also my dad’s job. When you make anything a nine-to-five, it seems to drain the mystery and divinity right out of it.
Then it became simply The Church, as in The Church fired your dad because he got arrested at a civil rights demonstration. The Church fired your dad because he created an after-school program in the parish gymnasium for black kids. The Church tried your dad’s boss for heresy for ordaining an openly gay man. (The Right Reverend Walter Righter was exonerated and retired in Vermont, and spent the rest of his days driving a Volvo with plates that read HERETIC.)
At least my dad’s church was a place where somebody was trying to do some good. The Church, on the other hand, was an organization that had its own politics, agenda and financial needs, and no time, apparently, for do-gooders like my dad.
The Church seemed to do a lot of things that were distinctly un-Jesus like — far more than I’ve listed above — that contributed to my atheism. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been a huge fan and follower of the person of Jesus, his radical views on love of one’s fellow man especially. Divinity seemed to be something that The Church always claimed and if divinity was their deal, I wanted no part of it. All I wanted was the red-letter section of the Bible (or at least just the mandate) and Sundays free.
Something I always loved is the Episcopal liturgy: the smells, bells, hymns, and hand jive. And the music is – pardon the pun – divine: Bach, Buxtahude, Willan, Schubert and on and on. So it’s no wonder that in my adulthood, I became an Easter Bunny/Snowflake, showing up at church roughly twice a year to get a dose of all that good stuff.
That’s how I wound up at Epiphany. I showed up on Easter in 2013 and Father Conn gave a sermon about Doubting Thomas. He said Thomas was not excluded because he doubted. To the contrary, he was included for that reason. Then Father Conn welcomed our doubts. He told us to show up at church with our doubts and we’d discuss them. I thought to myself wow, does he know how much doubt the soul of a preacher’s kid contains? Does he know what he just signed up for? Then he apologized on behalf of the church for all the jerky things (not the exact term he used, but anyway) that The Church had done in the past. My jaw practically hit the Prie Dieu. I was dumfounded. And I was sold. My wife and I have been coming to Epiphany ever since.
Over the past four years, both my and my wife’s love of Epiphany Parish has only grown stronger. We feel a sense of community, a true familial bond, that we’ve never felt anywhere else before except perhaps in our own homes. It’s not dad’s church, although I do feel closer to him while I’m there even though he’s been gone for two years now. Nor is it The Church anymore. It’s now the place where I learned that it’s not naive or twee to think of creating a place for Jesus to reside in my soul. It’s the place where I learned calm abiding, the most difficult, most rewarding, and most grounding form of meditation. It’s the place where I learned that the peace that passeth all understanding is a real thing that really happens. It’s now our church. It’s now my church.
New Forums Starting This Sunday
Roots of Islam in America
Fouzi Husaini, Islamic Speakers Bureau
Most Americans are unaware of the long history of Muslims in the United States. This presentation remedies that lack, depicting the substantial, documented presence of Muslims among enslaved Africans in the Americas, describing both the successive waves of immigration that have brought Muslims to our country from the 19th century on and the rediscovery of Islam among African Americans in the 20th century, and highlighting notable American Muslims today.
Fouzi Husaini has been a community activist and volunteer trainer/veteran speaker for Seattle Islamic Speakers Bureau’s parent organization Islamic Networks Group for 15 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. After moving to Seattle he co-founded Seattle Islamic Speakers Bureau. Fouzi has conducted Islamic Speakers Bureau Training for over 10 years for various organizations across the United States. As a veteran speaker, he has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. Fouzi was our forum presenter last October when he spoke about American Muslims and their Faith and we are happy to welcome him back.
The Mind of Jesus of Nazareth Continued
April 23, 30, May 14 & 21
By the Rev. Peter Snow
Jesus’ confrontation with the Temple authorities was planned and the temple leaders intentionally plotted to rid themselves of Jesus. The trial, conviction, crucifixion, and resurrection followed. In this 4-week course, we will look intently at the textual evidence and what it tells us about the major players in this drama, but also behind their intentions was the extraordinary will of God being enacted. Join us for this lively conversation.
April 23, 30, May 14 & 21
Christie House Library
Thom Cole, The Rev. Todd Foster, The Rev. Kate Wesch
In these divided and divisive times, are you seeking to overcome barriers to meaningful communication? Would you like to expand and enrich conversations with colleagues, friends, and family? Would you like to learn skills to increase clarity and improve understanding in tough conversations? Do you find it challenging to handle strong emotions when engaged in debate? If these questions ring true, this class is for you. Drawing on the work of Susan Scott, this class will focus on the primacy of relationship and the importance of engaging in fierce conversations.
New to Epiphany?
April 30 at 6 – 7:30 pm at Doyt’s House
You are invited to a gathering with our rector and other leaders of Epiphany Parish. The reception will take place at Doyt’s house after the evening service on Sunday, April 30, from 6-7:30 pm. Beverages and appetizers will be available. On-site supervision for children will be provided. Your presence would be delightful! Let us know if you are coming by emailing Todd Foster at email@example.com.
Women of Epiphany
This weekend the Women of Epiphany are making retreat at St. Andrew’s House under the able leadership of Kate Wesch and facilitator Emily Linderman. Please pray for safe travels, deepening relationships, and a renewed sense of God’s call in their lives and in our parish.
Epiphany Parish Choristers
Sunday, May 7 at 1:30 pm
You are invited to hear our Choristers & Choristers-In-Training of Epiphany Parish sing a concert at Parkshore! They will sing church tunes, folk tunes, a couple Disney tunes – you are welcome to sing along!
Choristers & CITs will also be singing at our 11am service that morning!
Hommage à Duruflé
Epiphany Choir, Soloists and Orchestra
Joseph Adam, organist
Sunday, May 21 at 5 pm
Gala Spring Concert with Epiphany Choir, Orchestra and Joseph Adam, Organist.
A Celebration of the music of Maurice Duruflé (1902-86), who is among the most important French composers of the 20th century.
This performance is made possible by the generous financial support of the Epiphany Music Guild. As a result, this concert is presented without charge.
Living Stones: Saint Mark’s Cathedral
7 pm – 9 pm in the Great Hall
Bishop Rickel and Dean Thomason
The Reverend Doyt L. Conn, Jr. and Senior Warden Holly Boone have invited our Bishop, Greg Rickel, and our Cathedral Dean, Steve Thomason, to an evening reception. All Epiphany parishioners are invited to hear their news on the important work underway at Saint Mark’s Cathedral.
A cathedral serves as the seat of the bishop and as a meeting place for all Episcopalians in a diocese. Our cathedral is the site for ordinations (such as Todd Foster’s in 2016), for diocesan confirmation services (90 were confirmed last year), for a variety of conferences and workshops, and for several collaborative ministry groups of which Epiphany leaders are a part. Saint Mark’s is also known as a community resource, serving more than 100 community non-profits who use the cathedral campus for meetings and events.
Saint Mark’s Cathedral was never completed due to the stock market crash of 1929. The work now underway includes limestone cladding of the exterior walls, replacement of nave windows, and a new entrance and elevator, all of which will cost just over $10 million. The cathedral parish has raised just over $8 million. Bishop Rickel is asking all parishes in the diocese, and their members, to consider supporting this campaign as a sign of the common bond we share as Episcopalians in Western Washington. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
… Epiphany had record breaking attendance for our Holy Week and Easter weekend activities and services. It was nice to see you all!
• Palm Sunday – 474
• Stations of the Cross – 34
• Tuesday in Holy Week, High Holy Eucharist – 44
• Taize – 120
• Maundy Thursday – 131
• Good Friday – 175
• Easter Egg Hunt – 120
• The Great Vigil – 250
• Easter Sunday – 771
On Saturday, April 29, in celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of the film, Speaking of Dying, there will be a free screening at 4 p.m. at Seattle First Baptist Church. This 30 minute documentary, produced by Trudy James, shines a clear bright light on death and dying through the words and stories of patients, family members and medical providers. The film empowers viewers to learn more about their own end of life choices and desires. Following the film a panel of physicians and others who are in the film will answer questions. Trudy says “This film had its roots in my work in the AIDS community, and it has been a gift of grace.”
The public is also invited to an Anniversary Celebration Party and program following the film from 5 to 6:30 in the Fellowship Hall. Delicious food and drink, plus displays, handouts, and a program will be part of this fun fundraiser to benefit the Speaking of Dying film and end-of-life planning workshops.
First Monday Mental Health Group
7 pm – 8 pm in the Icon Room
This group meets the first Monday of the month for family members of people who live with mental illness.
On Saturday, May 13, join your neighbors at the Madrona Mayfair! The parade lines up at Al Larkins Park at 9:15 am and proceeds, led by Charles the Clown and the Seattle Firefighters, to the Madrona Playfield. There will be all manner of entertainment for children, including bouncy houses, pony rides, face painting, and balloons. There will be lots of food, too, including popcorn provided by Epiphany! Come meet our neighbors, donate to the playground for Madrona School, and enjoy a fun Saturday morning. If you would like to help with the popcorn, please contact Todd Foster (email@example.com).
Sunday Lectionary Corner
Second Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 1:3-9
Click here to view Prayer List