Pop the Bubble of Community Isolation and Change the World
A Reflection be by the Rev. Doyt L. Conn Jr.
I read recently that Yale University tracks their alumni by zip code, not state or city, but zip code. It turns out Yale alumni live near one another. Is this intentional? Sort of. It makes sense that they might mostly fall into the same socio-economic bracket. It wouldn’t be surprising that they trend back toward the kinds of neighborhoods in which they grew up. It seems reasonable to think that when they arrive in a new town they might connect with people they went to college with, and through them become acquainted with their new city. Schools and safety are probably things on their minds when buying a house, just as they were for their Yale compatriots. And so, because Yale graduates tend to live near one another, Yale tracks their alumni by zip code.
The demographic lines in this country are becoming more deeply carved into the soil. This is clearly seen through the lens of our public/private school system. Our children increasingly are growing up with children who are just like them. There may be some variance in skin hue, but there is decreasing variance in the value of their parents’ houses or diversity in their parents’ educations. When our children talk, they talk of common vacations or similar summer camps. They play similar sports, and rarely is it football (which is surprising given how few of their parents would miss a Seahawks game).
We have a divided America. Is this surprising? It shouldn’t be. It is a symbol of our freedom and individual opportunity. One hundred fifty years ago the freedom of mobility, occupation, education, and marital partner really didn’t exist like it does now. We lived where our parents lived. We had the neighbors they had. If these neighbors were crazy, or smelly, or dumb, we still had them and we lived with the knowledge that our children would have them as well. The wealthy lived near the poor and they knew one another by name. Their children were educated together and played on the same summer baseball teams. There was an inevitability of community and, as such, people learned to live with their diversity.
This isn’t so in the world today. We can move our children from one school to another. They can take tennis lessons at the club instead of the city courts. If we don’t like our neighbors we can move, or just ignore them. And church is optional.
You knew I’d get to church eventually. One hundred fifty years ago, church was the mechanism through which a community developed norms of behavior for living with our neighbors: the crazy, smelly, and dumb as well as the greedy, ostentatious, and miserly. This isn’t so in the world today. We now sequester ourselves into zip codes of like community. We can meet at the club, the ski resort, the university lecture series, or on the college alumni trip. We no longer need a place of conversation about how we live with our differences. We only need better security to keep our zones of interest safe.
Church still has value if you happen to believe in God; but church as a place for sustaining community, health, and moral codes for relationship: that is now optional, or it is at least perceived as optional.
I understand that in reflecting upon Epiphany one might argue that we too are an exclusive enclave of like-minded and like-backgrounded people. And there is some truth to that, though less than you might think. But here is the crux of the matter; church is open to everybody. The mission of Jesus was that the kingdom of God is here and available to all people. And since that was Jesus’ mission, it becomes the very DNA of Epiphany.
And so, I believe that the neighborhood church is the hope of the world. I believe it is the one remaining institution with a mission capable of knitting the world back together. I believe it is one of the last remaining venues where anyone can come. I believe it is one of the last remaining places where our children learn through exposure how to live in harmony with people who aren’t just like them. But unlike in years past it now must be chosen. We must burst the bubbles we are floating in so as to re-engage the world as it was made to be. This can be scary. Who knows how high our bubbles are above the ground? It could be a long drop. But here is the good news: God has you. There is nothing to fear.
Endowment: Connecting Epiphany’s Past, Present, and Future
At a dinner of former and current Vestry members this summer, the theme was Epiphany’s past, present, and future. One element that links the three is the Epiphany endowment. The endowment supplies more than 11% of the church’s operating funds. It is one means of assuring that Epiphany will continue to influence the lives of parishioners and the larger community for the next 100 years.
The endowment has been built up by bequests and other gifts over time – our forebears’ way of ensuring that today’s parishioners can share the beauty of the Epiphany campus, the company and support of fellow parishioners, and bear witness to the glory of God. It is up to us to do the same for our children, grandchildren, and others in future generations.
One way of thinking about bequests to Epiphany’s endowment is that it continues your pledge into the future. Each bequest of $100,000 to the endowment is equivalent to a never-ending annual pledge of about $5,000, the interest from the endowment. You can forever be a part of Epiphany.
The endowment provides a stable source of operating funds that can sustain the church in difficult times and add to the services provided in good times. Epiphany is fortunate to have a significant endowment built up over the years, and additions to that endowment can be our assurance that the church can continue to pursue its mission for years to come.
Several of today’s parishioners have agreed to include a bequest to Epiphany’s endowment in our wills. I hope many others will join us and become members of the Epiphany Legacy Society.
NEW CLASS: DEVELOPING THE SKILL OF COMPASSIONATE LISTENING
This Sunday is the introduction to a 5-week class on the same topic on Sundays, November 20–December 18, in the Garden Room. Contact Thaddeus Gunn if you are interested in participating in the class.
Compassionate Listening is:
- A personal practice to cultivate inner strength, self-awareness, self-regulation and wisdom
- A skill set to enhance interpersonal relations and navigate challenging conversation
- A method to bring individuals or groups together to bridge their differences and transform conflict
- A healing gift to offer to a person who feels marginalized or in pain
The Five Core Practices of Compassionate Listening are:
- Cultivating Compassion for ourselves and others;
- Developing the Fair Witness by remaining open in conflict situations;
- Respecting Self and Others by developing boundaries which protect yet include;
- Listening with the Heart to allow divergence and find a deeper point of connection;
- Speaking from the Heart with language which reflects a healing intention.
Learn how to transform separation and conflict into an opportunity for connection, healing, and peace through the practice of Compassionate Listening, and what this practice means in the context of our lives as Episcopalians.
STEWARDSHIP LETTER FROM DOUGLAS OLES
Epiphany Parish is much more than a beautifully maintained traditional house of worship in Seattle’s Madison Park and Madrona neighborhoods, although it is that. Epiphany is a unique focal point for a community that brings faith, study, public service, music, and other arts together in a comforting and accepting environment.
From its preschool to its adult classes, Epiphany offers learning opportunities for every age. It offers four Episcopal services every Sunday, but it also has shared space with the Ukrainian Church of the Holy Trinity for over fifty years. Epiphany music offers a wide range of public performances, including a summer concert series in the courtyard, chamber concerts in the newly renovated Chapel, and Christmas caroling through the neighborhood. Other ways to connect with our neighbors include the Easter Egg Hunt and the Blessing of the Animals on the Saturday before St. Francis Sunday.
As an institution, Epiphany tries to look outward into the surrounding community. Every Friday night, it houses homeless men. Every week Epiphany buys fresh fruits and vegetables for families living in transitional housing at the Cherry Street YWCA. Once a month Epiphany cleans those transitional apartments to prepare them for new families. Epiphany also opens its space to the neighborhood for events and parties. The Boy Scouts have had a home at Epiphany for 90 years. The Parish is dedicated to having a positive impact on the neighborhood and the city.
As a relative newcomer to the Parish, I can attest that Epiphany’s door is open to all who seek a welcoming inter-active environment as well as a deeper understanding of faith, reminding us each week that wherever we may be on our spiritual journeys, there is a place for us at Epiphany. Some people pass through on their spiritual journey, while others find a home and stay with us. But Epiphany remains ready to serve, and it does so through generous financial donations from people like us.
Regrettably, in an era where many people choose the anaesthetizing comfort of an electronic computer screen over the warmth of a “live” spiritual community, vibrant parishes like Epiphany are increasingly rare. They are, however, a great treasure and worthy of our participation and support.
Please join me in making a financial pledge to Epiphany Parish to the best of your ability. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Rev. Doyt Conn, the Stewardship chairman John Starbard, Wellesley Chapman, or myself. Many thanks for your consideration.
CHRISTMAS PAGEANT INFORMATION SESSION
Date: Sunday, November 13
Location: Upper Room
The Epiphany Christmas Pageant will be Saturday, December 24, at 4 pm. All children and youth are welcome and needed! If your older child, ages 4th grade and up, is interested in a speaking or leadership role, please come to an information session on Sunday. Let Laura Sargent know if you can make it, or if your child or youth would be interested in meeting at another time, by emailing her.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
November 13, 2016
Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 5:14-16, 43-48
THE 2016 THANKSGIVING DRIVE IS HERE!
Every year Epiphany parishioners come together to donate turkeys, pies, potatoes and all the other ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner to families in YWCA housing who can’t afford the extra expense of holidays. Will you help us provide 35 Thanksgiving dinners?
- Sign up your family, your small group, or another team for at least one meal.
- Decide how many complete meals you can donate.
- Email Sherilyn Peterson with your team name and contact information and how many meals you will provide-hopefully by November 10.
FAQ: WHAT IF I JUST WANT TO GIVE A TURKEY WITHOUT A TEAM?
Because of the difficult logistics and timing, we cannot take partial basket ingredients. Try to find a team to donate your turkey with the other ingredients. Ask your friends, fellow parishioners, or the person sitting next to you in church. See if the parents in your Sunday School classroom or small group will join with you to form a team. There are lots of ways to attach yourself to a team and give what you can.
Our hope is that this will be a rewarding community-building activity for everyone at Epiphany while providing a desperately needed service to our community. It is a wonderful teaching experience for all children to learn about community service and the importance of contributing what we can to those in need. Consider making this a family event and including your children/grandchildren in the shopping and/or delivery.
Click here to download the list of Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. Your team is responsible for all items on the list.
- With your team devise a plan for who will bring what and when and where you will assemble it.
- Assemble it all in a large family-sized laundry basket. This makes delivery to the YWCA easier for our volunteers and ensures that meals do not get mixed up. It also provides YWCA families with a laundry basket!
- Delivery Day is November 20. Please bring your completed basket to the Parish Hall before the 11 am service. Have someone from your team responsible for getting the basket where it needs to go and ensuring that all the contents are present. We have a very narrow window for delivery to the YWCA so we need everything to be ready on time.
Please contact Sherilyn Peterson with any questions.
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
November 12: Affinity Gathering This week – High Tech
Affinity groups are mixers meant to foster connections with people who have common interests, backgrounds or experience. The first Affinity Group is intended for those who work in Information Technology. If you have some vocational connection to Amazon, Microsoft, or some other tech company, RSVP to the church office. For more details click here.
November 13: Adult Forum – Developing the Skill of Compassionate Listening
Join Thaddeus Gunn for an introduction to the practice of compassionate listening, the art of transforming separation and conflict into an opportunity for connection, healing, and peace. This forum will lead into a five-week secondary class on compassionate listening beginning November 20 in the Garden Room during Everybody Hour. Find more information on our website.
November 13: Epiphany Christmas Pageant Information Session
The Epiphany Christmas Pageant will be on Christmas Eve at 4 pm. All children and youth are welcome and needed! We will all work during Everybody Hour and beyond in December to create sets, make costumes, and practice songs and spoken parts. If your older child (ages 4th grade and up) is interested in a speaking or leadership role, please come to an information session on Sunday, November 13, after the 11 am service in the Upper Room. Let Laura Sargent know if you can make it, or if your child or youth would be interested in meeting at another time.
November 13: Music Guild – Evensong with Epiphany Schola
This service of Choral Evensong, performed by a small group of singers from Epiphany Choir at 5 pm in the chapel, honors Henry Purcell, the pinnacle of England’s musicians in the 17th century, and three of his contemporary colleagues.
November 13: Newcomer Reception
If you are relatively new to Epiphany, you are invited to a reception at Doyt’s house at 6 pm on November 13. The priest and other parish leaders would love to get to know you. Appetizers, drinks, and childcare will be provided. Click here to RSVP.
November 20: INGATHERING SUNDAY
On INGATHERING Sunday at all services, we conclude stewardship season by bringing our pledge cards to the altar as an act of gratitude for God’s work in this place.
Up Coming Events
- NOVEMBER 24, 2016: THANKSGIVING EUCHARIST SERVICE
9 am (Chapel) Before you start cooking your Thanksgiving meal, stop by Epiphany to give thanks for what God has done. Read more
- NOVEMBER 24, 2016: SECOND ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DINNER AT EPIPHANY
2:00 pm (Great Hall) Join you Epiphany family on Thanksgiving Day for dinner with all the trimmings. Bring a dish to share and a game to play. Read more
- NOVEMBER 27, 2016: INTERGENERATIONAL ADVENT WORKSHOP
10 am (Great Hall) We will begin with the interactive Godly Play story “The Circle of the Church Year” and then will respond by making Advent wreaths to take home. Read more
- DECEMBER 3, 2016: MONTHLY WOMEN’S MINI-RETREAT
9 am (Fireside Room) On the first Saturday of every month, women of Epiphany gather for prayer, laughter, and fellowship with coffee and treats. Women of all ages are welcome! Read more
- DECEMBER 4, 2016: ADVENT LESSONS AND CAROLS
5 pm (Church) On the second Sunday in Advent, Epiphany will enjoy another Anglican tradition, a service of lessons and carols. Read more
- DECEMBER 11, 2016: ADULT FORUM: JESUS, PART 1
10 am (Great Hall) The Rev. Doyt Conn tells the story of how Jesus came to be. Read more
- DECEMBER 18, 2016: ADULT FORUM: JESUS, PART 2
10 am (Great Hall) The most influential person who ever lived is fundamentally misunderstood by most people. Jesus did not come to start a religion but to show us the way to God. Read more