We Remain the Church Unlocked
A Reflection by the Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr.
I was in Washington DC for a quick turnaround trip last week. My friend Joseph Constant, who you may recall preached here in July, was installed as the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Beltsville, Maryland. It was a great celebration.
After all of the festivities were over, we went back to his home in Alexandria, Virginia, very near where we went to seminary. I asked him to drive me over there for a quick walk around. My goal was to see the new chapel that was recently opened on campus. A few years back the old chapel burned down. It was probably close to 200 years old, and I loved to go sit in it and pray. In fact, it is for this reason that I chose to go to Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) in the first place.
Here is the story: after I had been accepted as a postulant, my bishop gave me a list of seminaries I could consider. The two I chose to visit were the Episcopal Divinity School at Harvard (EDS) and VTS. I remember having some free time in the middle of the day when I was at EDS and decided to go into the chapel to pray. It was locked. Later, during my interview I asked them about that, to which they replied, “We lock it to keep homeless people from sleeping on the pews.” I was curious about this. When I interviewed at VTS, I asked them if their chapel was locked during the day. “No,” was the reply, “in fact, it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” And so I made my decision.
Joseph and I arrived at VTS, parked, and walked over to the new chapel, and it was beautiful. I went to open the door, and it was locked. We checked some other doors: locked. I pounded on the door, and as I did, a car pulled up. It was the dean of the seminary. He popped out, dressed in jeans and loafers because it was Saturday. He knew Joseph, and so he came over and let us in. I had met him before, but he meets a lot of people, so I reintroduced myself. He led us into the chapel and gave us a quick tour. The place is amazing. The quality of workmanship and the thoughtfulness of the planning reminded me of Epiphany. It was planned and built for the next 100 years.
As we are wandering around, I asked the Dean why the doors were locked. He said, “Let me show you,” and he led me over to a beautiful icon. “That,” he said, “is worth $34,000. We don’t want anyone stealing it,” so we lock the doors. My heart ached. Locked to keep homeless people out. Locked to protect beautiful art. What happened to the church?
I am a huge advocate of beautiful art. Art matters. Beautiful things matter. They say something about the human spirit and our being made in the image and likeness of God. They transcend context and time and place. They move from one generation to the next and act as a means of passing the story forward in time. Art also inspires awe, which is why we have stained glass windows, high walls, carefully crafted organs, and hopefully very soon The Saint John’s Bible. Art and adoration go together, and always for the glory of God. Churches don’t charge admission. The artwork in a church might be the only place a homeless person can come to gaze on something beautiful and holy. That matters, which is why our chapel doors are open Monday through Saturday. The value of church lies in adoration, and everything else is drawn into that wake.
Thank you for making Epiphany so beautiful, and thank you for making Epiphany so accessible. We remain the church.
Remembering Our Departed Loved Ones
During the month of November, it is the custom at Epiphany to give members of our community the opportunity to remember and honor family members and friends who have died. This year we will be commemorating our departed loved ones with:
AN ALTAR OF REMEMBRANCE
Beginning November 1, All Saints’ Day, there will be an Altar of Remembrance in the Christie House Library until Sunday, November 29. You are invited to bring a photo of your departed loved one for the altar. Make sure you put your name on the back so it can be returned. A candle of remembrance will remain lit during business hours. Please check the calendar for times when the library is not being used if you would like to come and pray.
THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE
The Book of Remembrance will be kept by the Altar of Remembrance in the Christie House Library during the month of November and on the counter in the Great Hall on Sundays. You are invited to write the names of your departed loved ones in this book so that they may be prayed for during Evening Prayer on Wednesday evenings.
The New and Improved Thanksgiving Drive 2015
For many years Epiphany Parish has rallied to donate turkeys, pies, potatoes, and all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner for families in YWCA housing who can’t always afford the extra expense of holidays. Will you help us provide 35 Thanksgiving dinners?
A New Process for 2015
Instead of gathering individual ingredients for Thanksgiving dinners, we are asking the parish to form teams to donate complete meals. You can gather your small group onto a team, do it as a family, join a team with a ministry team you’re involved in, or start recruiting the people sitting next to you in church! The staff, for example, is planning to donate two meals together this year. Click here for sign-up and donation instructions.
WHY ARE WE DOING IT THIS WAY?
When we were a smaller congregation and our contributions to the YWCA were smaller, asking people to donate individual items that could be combined with other contributions and assembled into complete meal baskets made sense. As we have grown, however, the logistics of assembly and delivery have become quite complicated. We think the change to a team format will serve the YWCA better, facilitate camaraderie among our congregation, and make it more practical for our folks to manage this outreach.
WHAT IF I JUST WANT TO GIVE A TURKEY WITHOUT A TEAM?
Try and find a team to donate your turkey with. Ask the person sitting next to you in church if they need another team member. Talk to the parents in your child’s Sunday school classroom if they want to go in on this with you. There are lots of ways to attach yourself to a team and give what you can.
We are part of a grace-filled community, and our hope is that this will be a fun community-building activity that everyone can be involved in. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Sherilyn Peterson with any questions.
An Update from the Building Team
Many of you took the tour the Building Team offered in the beginning of October. Since then, the scaffolding in the Church has come down, and work has begun in and on the walls and floor. A great deal of electrical and plumbing work is going on to ready the space for the work that will be done on lights, A/V equipment, and heating. All of that work must be completed before we can put in the new floor and reinstall the pews.
The work inside the Chapel is very much the same as in the Church: with plumbers, electricians, and carpenters working hard at tasks that you won’t see once the walls go up and the floor goes down. The work on the Chapel exterior is wrapping up, and the exterior scaffolding should come down in the next couple of weeks.
We expect that the Fireside Room should be completed (windows, doors, and floor) by the time you read this, and that all the punch list work for the Parish Hall and the St. Francis Garden will be completed by the end of this month.
If you have questions or comments, please contact any member of the Building Team.
Contact the Building Team
Ed Emerson, Laura Blackmore, Bob Barnes, Jim Marlow, Ben Bradstreet
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
November 1, 2015
All Saints’ Day
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
October 31: YWCA Apartment Clean-Up
A group from Epiphany regularly cleans up and decorates apartments at YWCA’s transitional housing facility to prepare them for new families moving in. If you would like to be a part of this important ministry, contact Ann Beck to get on the volunteer list for times and locations.
November 1: Adult Forum – Perseverance
The letter written to the Hebrews invites its readers to persevere and “hold tightly to the hope we say we have.” This Sunday Adult Forum, led by Charissa Bradstreet at 10 am in the Fireside Room, will explore the nature of perseverance by looking closely at members of the great cloud of witnesses that are found in scripture, history, and in our relationships. We will consider ways we draw strength and encouragement from those who have traveled before us on the path of faith.
November 1: All Saints’ Day – Baptisms and Family Sunday
On All Saints’ Day we reaffirm our baptismal vows and celebrate the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before. We will have a baptism at the 11 am service, and elementary-age children are invited to participate in the service as part of Family Sunday. Read more about Family Sundays here.
November 6: Memorial Service for Eleanor Burton
Join the Epiphany community in celebrating the life of long-time parishioner (86 years!) Eleanor Burton at a memorial service on Friday, November 6, at 11 am in the Great Hall.
Events Down the Road
November 7: Women’s Half-Day Retreat – Telling Your Faith Story
For some of us, the answers to questions about our faith are easy. For others of us, not so much. As lay people, we aren’t always in the spotlight in terms of our faith, but when we are put on the spot, how do we respond? Join the women of Epiphany in a discussion about telling your faith story at 9 am in the Fireside Room. For more information, click here.
November 8: Adult Forum – Christ as Sacrifice
Atonement, the central Christian doctrine that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins, inspires much confusion and grief. Yet for Christians, few matters of faith bring more joy and good news. This Sunday Adult Forum led by Kari Glover will explore the meaning of Jesus’ death upon the cross as reflected in the letter to the Hebrews. Join us at 10 am in the Fireside Room.
November 8: Choristers Community Performances
Join the Epiphany Choristers and CITs on Sunday afternoon, November 8, for a performance at Parkshore at 1:30 pm or a performance at Aegis on Madison at 3 pm. These performances will include anthems, patriotic tunes, show tunes, and more. We hope you will stop by!
November 15: INGATHERING Sunday
We will conclude our stewardship season by bringing our pledge cards to the altar as an act of gratitude for God’s work in this place. You are encouraged to mail in your pledge cards or pledge online beforehand. We will have duplicate pledge cards for you to bring to the altar.
October 31: 12-Step Eucharist Celebration
St. Mark’s is hosting a 12-Step Eucharist and Celebration of the Saints of Recovery at the Cathedral at 9:45 am. The Very Rev. Steve Thomason, Dean of St. Marks, is preaching, and the Rt. Rev. Bob Hibbs Suffragan, Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas, is presiding.
November 5–8: Seattle Prep Presents “The Three Musketeers”
Seattle Prep Drama is putting on “The Three Musketeers,” based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, and our very own Tieran Sweeny-Bender is one of the actors! Support the community involvement of Epiphany’s youth and enjoy an evening of theater at the same time. Ticket information can be found at brownpapertickets.com.