April 2020 Vestry Papers: Beyond the Red Doors

April 8, 2020

Dear Friends,

I write this letter from my home in Jersey City, my 13-month-old daughter playing in front of me, and the sunlight streaming in from our apartment window. It seems like any other Saturday, but it isn’t.

I read this article yesterday. It suggests that the discomfort we are all feeling and experiencing is grief – grief for the loss of our normal lives, grief for everything that was before this. For me, it’s grief for closed borders and my family so far away, grief for my daughter who is missing her daycare friends and teachers, grief that comes from not knowing how long this will continue or the impact it will have on the world. I imagine you all are grieving in your own way, for your own losses. While grief is essential and helpful, I invite you to also remember our blessings – our homes, families, food on our tables. There are so many things to be thankful for.

One of those things is community. As disciples of Jesus we are called to a life in service of others. This takes on greater significance in times like these. Are we considering what we can do for our neighborhood, our local school or shelter, our larger community? What does church look like when we can’t be physically together? In this issue we bring you ideas for community beyond the red doors. While we understand that some cannot be implemented in our current context, we wanted to lift up examples that bring hope and inspiration for brighter days ahead.

As Church, what opportunities can we find in this pandemic? In What Could Being Church Look Like, Post Covid-19, Chantal McKinney tells us that this is the exact time to lean into the very shift our churches are experiencing and to become more intentional about shining a light outside our church buildings. This article is available in English and Spanish.

In The Art of Organizing, Francisco Garcia explains the importance of community organizing in the Jesus Movement, some roadblocks we may encounter along the way, and what we can do to begin organizing a movement that reaches beyond the confines of our institutional structures.

Faith-based credit unions exist to serve disadvantaged individuals in a community; their members believe that investing within their communities is important. In Credit Unions and Economic Justice, Jennifer Miramontes shares the work of the Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union and its role in creating economic justice.

Can we encounter God in the ocean? In Surfing and Spirituality, Scott Claassen introduces us to a weekly surfing ministry program he runs as part of the Episcopal campus ministry at UCSB and the many ways surfing enriches spiritual practice.

I want to draw your attention to this list of resources on Vital Practices. Here you will find resources from across the Church, designed to inform and support us through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Included are the most recent messages, resources and recommendations from the Episcopal Church, recommendations from the CDC and WHO (in English and Spanish), online events, tutorials and various worship, prayer, and community resources to use during this time.

We will be updating this list regularly as new resources become available. If you have a relevant resource to share, please send it to editor@episcopalfoundation.org. If you are looking for a specific resource, please email us and we will do our best to point you to it or connect you with a person who can help.

As more of our ministry occurs virtually over the next few weeks, we invite you to also use the many tools, resources and articles on a variety of topics on Vital Practices. Check our blog page for regular posts on being Church in these times.

The ECF Vital Practices team will be holding you all in prayer. Stay well dear friends – we will get through this together.

Faithfully,

Charis Bhagianathan
Editor, ECFVP