Backpacks Galore @ Trinity, Logansport

 Happy backpack recipients

Happy backpack recipients

The School Supply Give Away at Trinity Episcopal Church in Logansport, Indiana is a mixture of organization and chaos. It is rewarding and frustrating at the same time as we know that not all needs are being met. Our goal is for every student and family who comes to us goes to school on that first day feeling good about themselves, with new supplies ready and eager to learn. Our program has been running for twelve years and it is an undertaking that requires advance planning as well as savvy shoppers. As soon as the event occurs we begin shopping for the next year!

This year almost nine hundred students received supplies and backpacks individualized by grade and school.  Volunteers from our parish, the community, and the local work release program work together daily the week prior to the event to organize and fill our pews with bags of supplies. Our parishioners provide lunch for the volunteers each day which is a ministry in itself. (The work release individuals do not get home cooked meals at the facility.) By the end of the week, not only are the pews filled but the volunteers are filled also. Last year one of the work release volunteers asked me why we did this. It was a perfect opportunity to minister and share.  During the event he looked at me and said, “Now I understand.”

 Patrons line up at the front door of the church. After filling out a slip detailing the student’s grade and school, they are met at the front door by volunteers who retrieve the specific bags from the pews. Guests are then led to our parish hall where each student chooses a backpack. Backpacks and supplies in hand, the students then go into our parking lot where there is free popcorn, hot dogs, drinks, and even clothing. Families are free to take whatever clothing they want.

In the background there is guitar music and singing. And there is plenty of laughter and conversation. Volunteers seem to be everywhere packing more bags as the pews empty, cooking hotdogs, popping corn, meeting the needs of the multitude of people who come. Various social agencies have tables set up to let people know what services are available to them and their children so many questions are being answered.

It is our desire that each family feels welcomed, loved, and accepted. We are grateful for what God has given to us and we are grateful as a parish to share what we have been given.

- Written by The Rev. Clark Miller, Priest in Charge of Trinity Episcopal Church, Logansport

Holy Family Co-hosts "Community Conversations"

 Community Conversations @ Cahoots in Angola, IN

Community Conversations @ Cahoots in Angola, IN

Throughout the month of August, residents from Angola and beyond gathered at the invitation of local congregations (incl. Holy Family) and the Community Coalition for Change ("CCC") to practice dialogue and deliberation around important and often contentious social issues. Our goal was not only to practice listening to each other, but to discover common ground for local, next steps we might take.

In July, Fr. Tom Adamson was invited by Pastor Daryl Emry of Calvary Lutheran in Angola to join clergy from the Methodist, Congregational, and Roman Catholic churches to discern 4 social topics, which might be difficult for people to talk about with one another. Immigration, Gun Violence, Opioid Addiction, and Energy Choices were selected. Next the clergy invited the CCC, a group of Angola citizens with no religious affiliation who seek to work for a just society, to join in the design process.

Each session was well attended and produced a desire to take action, for example, the design team is looking into inviting an immigration lawyer to help the community learn more about the complexities of immigration law; and the Faith Community Health Clinic (housed in Holy Family) is working to collect unused prescription pain medications to prevent opioid abuse.

Special thanks to Angola Mayor Dick Hickman, to Fr. Joshua Nelson for attending all four sessions (commuting from Elkhart), and Missioner Adrien Niyongabo for attending the second session.

- the Rev. Tom Adamson, Holy Family Episcopal Church, Angola, IN

Blessings, Backpacks, and the Modern Mission Field

Saint David of Wales on the north side of Elkhart City near Simonton Lake has had a long standing history with Mary Feeser Elementary School. In the early 1960’s the congregation of St John the Evangelist in downtown Elkhart took on the project of establishing a Mission to the expanding north side. A property was purchased for the construction of the new church, but in the meantime a congregation was formed and in need of place for meeting. On 16 February 1964, the First Sunday in Lent, 126 persons gathered with The Rev’d George Johnson for a service of Holy Communion in the old gymnasium of Mary Feeser School. This continued until the Feast of All Saints of that year when the community met for the first time in the current building less than a quarter mile east of the school where they had first celebrated the Mass together.

Over the decades the parish has maintained a relationship with the school. Many parishioners were either students or teachers at Mary Feeser. As time past, through natural parish decline and less children in the community the relationship between the two institutions remained but became less active.

In 2015, the parishes newly ordained deacon the Rev’d Clay Berkley, a former student of Mary Feeser, shared a vision with the parish to support the teachers and students down the street with new backpacks and school supplied. That year they focused on Kindergarten and expanded from there.

 In 2017, after the annual blessing of the backpacks Fr. Joshua, Deacon Clay, and the newly commissioned Chair for Outreach, Cynthia Guzzo, began to discuss ways to enrich the program and increase engagement between the parish and the school. We began searching for ways to bring the students into the parish.

 During the late summer of 2018, we began collecting bags and supplies with a goal of providing fifty filled backpacks with all the supplies requested for Kindergarten and 1st Grade classrooms. We worked in conjunction with the MFES administration and established an event on 12 August 2018, to run just prior to the school Sundae Sunday that evening.

 The morning of 12 August the fifty filled backpacks were placed in the sanctuary around the altar. At an appointed time during the Mass the congregation stood to pray a litany for all students, parents, guardians, teachers, and administration going into the upcoming school year. Fr Joshua concluded with the following blessing as holy water was sprinkled on each bag.

 Almighty God, bless these backpacks and supplies, as well as all students, teachers, and staff of Mary Feeser Elementary School. In the name of Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.   Amen.

 Copies of the Litany and Blessing were added to each bag so that in this way the prayers of the entire faith community were sent out over our community. A card with Psalm 22:6, A Prayer for the Care of Children from the BCP, and an invitation to our community was also added and given to each parent or guardian.

That evening rising kindergarten and first grade students arrived at St David’s with their families. The parish hall and nave were filled with music and children laughter as the students were met at the door where they signed their name and received a ticket for a free backpack. They then met Fr. Joshua or Deacon Clay who wrote their name on a new tag, inviting the children to choose a sticker in order to personalize their bag. The tags reading “This bag has been blessed by St David’s Episcopal Church” were attached to the straps as students struggled to wear the bags which were often larger than they. After receiving their bag the entire family was invited to enjoy a meal of hot dogs, chips, and drinks before moving on to Sundae Sunday at the school for a little dessert, to meet their teachers, and see their new classroom for the first time.

 That night we gave away fourteen bags full of supplies and served a meal to a gathering of fifty friends and family.  The leftover food was given to the overnight crew of Elkhart’s finest at Fire Station 6 and the remaining bags and supplies were taken to the school office the following day.

 In the words of Fr. Joshua on the night. “It’s our first time doing it this way so whatever happens it’s a record.” We are excited about all that God is doing in our midsts and we are encouraged to continue answering God’s call as needs increase to expand our program and build an even closer relationship with our friends and neighbors. Our parish was started as a mission and in this little way we continue to serve this, our mission field.

 -          The Rev’d Joshua Nelson, St David’s - Elkhart

The Circus Came to Town - Diocesan Youth Summer Camp

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages: Did you hear that the circus came to town?  From around the diocese and beyond, we gathered in Milford, Indiana for a week-long residential camp of circus  adventures.  Our very talented staff entertained campers under the big top every morning with stunts and tricks like high jumps, handstands, juggling, bubble gum blowing contests and more.  (Behind-the-scenes talents also included handling any and all camper needs, whether it was through music, quiet conversations, or boisterous games - all while sharing the love of God.)

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2018 June Camp 2 Professor Steve.jpg

Over 100 youth participated in typical camp activities throughout the week like swimming, boating, field games, and art, along with campfires and cabin activities.  You would be amazed at how these were all geared to the circus theme.  Some of the daily bible stories talked about Queen Esther, Daniel and the Lion's Den, and Jesus' Healing of the Blind Man.  They taught us to trust God, that prayer helps us hold fast to God, and that God calls us through our imperfections and unusual gifts.  Inviting God to be our ringmaster and putting our "whole selves in" was really what it was all about.

2018 June Camp 3 Staff Stunt - Nicole Lambelet.jpg

There were many highlights of the week.  We had a visit from Professor Steve (http://waldotheclown.com), who taught us about the science of the circus, how to make cotton candy, walk a tight rope, and even the unsavory origins of pink lemonade!  We held a carnival night - complete with a dunk tank, a strong man sledge hammer, frog fling, face painting, ring toss, and bobbling for apples.  We even had a custom-made escape room experience that blended historical fact, pop culture, and our imaginations to solve the mystery of Barnum and Bailey's in an hour-long team building activity.

For more photos and video, please visit the Youth Summer Camp website at https://episcopalcamp.wordpress.com/multimedia/

Dates for next year are still in the works, but check back at the website listed above periodically for how you can be a part of next year's youth summer camp!

Submitted by Kim Gray

Saint Alban’s Fort Wayne Completes London Pilgrimage

2018 July St Albans London trip.jpg

During the last week of July, Saint Alban's of Fort Wayne youth group went on a pilgrimage to London and the original Saint Alban's in England. The trip was helped by a grant from the Center for Congregations.  Matt Burke, the director of the Center for Northeast Indiana, helped kickoff our pilgrimage on the Sunday before we left with a special pilgrimage commissioning.  The group also appreciated the prayer support of many in the church.

The group had been preparing for the pilgrimage for over a year. Pilgrimage classes were held every third Sunday of the month in the evening, and anyone could attend.  The classes focused on learning the Church History of England and British culture. The two main pilgrimage sites were Westminster Abbey and the original Saint Alban’s. 

We visited Westminster Abbey the Thursday we were there. After a beautiful Holy Communion service held in the nave, the on-call priest, Reverend Giles, took us to the Shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor for a special prayer service. This is generally not something most people get to do. However, the people at the Abbey were wonderful. After this we received a special tour of the Abbey.

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Our time at Saint Alban's was equally  blessed. David Skidmore of “The Friends of Saint Alban” set-up a blessed day for us. We came to worship on the Sunday we were there.  Dean Jeffrey John was very gracious and invited Fr. Dan to preach. The Dean celebrated at the High Altar in a beautiful service. We also received a great tour giving us a tremendous look at the history, ending at the Shrine of Saint Alban.

Our pilgrimage had other foci as well. We visited The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, a bus tour of the city, a river boat cruise, Platform 9 3⁄4 (of Harry Potter fame), and a visit to the British Museum. In addition many in our group went to Stonehenge, Kensington Palace, Abbey Road, and a tour of the M&M factory. We also had fun in the evenings riding the London Eye, Going to the Hard Rock Cafe, seeing a hilarious play called “The Play that Goes Wrong,” and a funny ghost bus tour on Saturday evening.

The people of London and Saint Alban's were absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful. We ran into many London “angels” who helped our experience be a special one not soon forgotten. Pilgrimage is about seeing how God transforms us on a very special journey. God certainly touched the lives of many on our London Pilgrimage.

To see photos of the experience visit the Saint Albans youth group  Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/Saint-Albans-Youth-Group-123906497747/

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Written by the Rev. Dan Laydon, Rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne