Bishop Lane revises his Litany in the Aftermath of Gun Violence

In late 2015, Bishop Stephen T. Lane, of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, wanted to share a litany for Maine congregations to use for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. Surprised to find that one had not been written, he composed one. It was shared in Maine and ultimately used in many services across the Episcopal Church as well as in churches in other denominations.

Today he shares an updated, expanded version titled, A Litany in the Aftermath of Gun Violence. Read it below and feel free to share it. Word and PDF versions are linked below and may be customized for local use.

It will be used at a Service of Lament for Gun Violence that will be held at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. All are invited.

Word | PDF

A Litany in the Aftermath of Gun Violence

Revised by the author, the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine
February 28, 2018

Permission is granted to amend or adjust as necessary

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in peace. Surround us with your love as we face again the tragedy of gun violence.

For the children and adults who were killed _____ , (the brave ones who died protecting others), the many who were wounded and hospitalized, the traumatized, grieving survivors, and those known to you alone, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Righteousness, you have granted our leaders, especially Donald, our President, and _________, our Governor, the members of Congress and of our courts and legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us, and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Strengthen their devotion to our common life and give them clarity of purpose.

For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the schools, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place every day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.

For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and serenity as they rush to our aid,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope.

For all whose lives are forever changed and broken by the scourge of gun violence,
Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

*[God of Repentance and Forgiveness, we hold before you ____ (the one who fired the weapon) and seek your grace for transformation. We cannot forgive – not yet – but we trust in your power to make all things new.

For those who from malice or illness are the instruments of violence and death, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.]

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 37,000 in the past year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care.

For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

*[God of Tender Mercy, be with those who are overwhelmed, enraged, frustrated and demoralized by the plague of gun violence. Give them a sense of your presence and plant in them the seed of hope.

For those whose hope for life in this world is shattered and broken, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.]

God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Turn us from the worship of power. Give us courage to confront our false gods and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Help us rise above our dread that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change.

For your dream of a world where children are safe and all of us live together without fear, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

*optional

Bishop Lane’s letter to Senator Susan Collins on the tax plan

Bishop Stephen Lane sent the letter posted below to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on Wednesday, December 7.

December 6, 2017

Dear Senator Collins:

Thank you again for your willingness to meet with me and Maine’s faith leaders in October. During that conversation you’ll recall that we shared our reservations about any tax plan that would eliminate the individual mandate and our concerns that it would make it harder for low- and middle-income families to keep body and soul together and result in higher out-of-pocket healthcare costs for us all.

Today, I write to express my concern that the promises secured from President Trump and Republican leadership will not be honored as a revised bill emerges from a Conference Committee. And, even if the amendments make it through and the bipartisan fixes you support pass, I fear that the provisions you fought for would not do enough to mitigate the damage done by eliminating the individual mandate.

My additional concerns about the tax plan include:

– It will add an unconscionable amount of money to our national debt, placing an incredible burden on our children, grandchildren, and future generations of Americans.

 – Cuts to Medicare and Social Security triggered by the deficit circuit breaker would have harsh and unpredictable impacts on the aging population in Maine and across the U.S and would put our rural hospitals at great risk.

– The repeal of the Johnson Amendment would further muddy the crucial line between church and state.

– The lack of time allotted for public hearings, testimony, and thoughtful consideration of all the provisions included in such a comprehensive bill does not reflect the values of our democratic process.

As the conferenced bill comes to a vote, I urge you, Senator Collins, to stand up against and vote “no” for any tax bill that would adversely affect the long-term well being of millions of American families. You have repeatedly demonstrated your courage in taking positions unpopular with your party in order to serve the people of Maine. I hope you will do so again.

Please be assured that you, and your colleagues, remain in my prayers as you engage in the important work of leading our nation. May you be graced with wisdom and strength.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

Bishops of Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Ohio, and West Virginia write to senators about the Graham-Cassidy bill

September 24, 2017

The Hon. Lisa Murkowski and the Hon. Dan Sullivan, Senators for Alaska
The Hon. John McCain and the Hon. Jeff Flake, Senators for Arizona
The Hon. Susan Collins and the Hon. Angus King, Senators for Maine
The Hon. Sherrod Brown and the Hon. Rob Portman, Senators for Ohio
The Hon. Joe Manchin and the Hon. Shelley Moore Capito, Senators for West Virginia

 Dear Senators:

 We, the leaders of the Episcopal Church dioceses in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Ohio, and West Virginia, write to you as we gather in Fairbanks, Alaska, for one of our two annual meetings of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. We feel compelled to lift our voices together to urge you to vote against the passage of the Graham-Cassidy Bill. 

You have seen the recent report from Avalere Health on the impact this bill would have on federal healthcare spending over the next nine years. A cut of $215 billion in spending would result, across our five states alone, in a reduction of $23 billion by 2026. After 2026, when the block grants are cut, it would leave our hospitals and providers and, most importantly, the people they serve in a healthcare free fall, just as baby boomers create the largest demand for healthcare our country will have ever experienced.

The provisions of Graham-Cassidy that eliminate Medicaid expansion and reduce subsidies for lower income people give us further cause to urge you to vote against it. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. It is our responsibility to challenge you, our elected leaders, to work toward justice and equality for the welfare of all people, not only those who can afford health insurance.

The news that this bill may come to a vote as early as next week is deeply disturbing to us. A piece of legislation that, in light of its specific provisions, is likely to affect the healthcare of millions of Americans for decades to come, deserves the full consideration of the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Passage of this bill without the benefit of a full Congressional Budget Office assessment does a disservice of the highest magnitude to the American people. The provisions in Graham-Cassidy that would require each state essentially to re-invent its healthcare system are guaranteed to raise the cost of healthcare for the average consumer. Additionally, the lack of guarantees for essential health benefits such as maternity care and substance abuse treatment casts a blind eye on deeper problems that face many people in the states where we minister, particularly the challenges of rural obstetrical care and the rapidly worsening opioid crisis. 

We urge you, Senators, in the spirit of fairness and proper process, to stand up against a bill that would cause such disruption and chaos to healthcare for millions of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable among us. As Christians and as faith leaders in our respective states, we ask that you stand firm on the democratic process that serves us all. Access to such healthcare is crucial to maintaining the social safety net that allows our communities to flourish. 

Your votes and voices are critical in ensuring that any Senate bill has a full hearing and offers an opportunity for robust debate, to the worthy end that we improve on the Affordable Care Act and responsibly reform healthcare in this country.

Please be assured that all of you, in addition to your colleagues, remain in our prayers as you engage in the important work of leading our nation. May each of you be graced with the wisdom and strength to serve all Americans. 

Thank you for the opportunity to share our concerns.

Respectfully and gratefully,

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, Bishop of Alaska
The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of Maine
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Bishop of Ohio
The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, Bishop of Southern Ohio
The Rt. Rev. Michael Klusmeyer, Bishop of West Virginia

______
The letter as a PDF

Bishop Stephen Lane calls for successor

printable version here
jump to the letter from the Standing Committee

August 24, 2017

Dear Friends in Christ,

After lengthy conversation and prayer and in consultation with the Standing Committee, I today call for the election of a Bishop Diocesan to be the Tenth Bishop of Maine. (A Bishop Diocesan succeeds the seated bishop immediately upon consecration.)

My wife, Gretchen, and I have been gathering information about Episcopal transition since late last fall. With that knowledge and with the advice of the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development, I have decided to retire from my position as Bishop in June of 2019. I will then be 70 years old. The 22 months between now and then give us ample time to discern, elect, and transition to the next bishop.

Accompanying this announcement is a letter from the Standing Committee outlining the discernment and transition process. The Standing Committee met with Bishop Clay Matthews of the Office of Pastoral Development late in May and has been preparing a transition plan ever since. At our upcoming 2017 Diocesan Convention, the Standing Committee will present a resolution concerning discernment and transition, and the proposed Diocesan Council budget will include monies for discernment and transition. Details will be found in the pre-Convention materials that will be circulated in September.

Serving as your bishop is the greatest joy of my life in the Church, and I look forward to continuing that service for the next two years. The work of following Jesus goes on even as we make preparations for our diocesan future, and I will remain fully engaged as your bishop until the moment I pass the crozier to my successor. There will be time for farewells as part of the transition process.

This announcement* initiates a long and careful process. I invite all Maine Episcopalians to take part, through prayer and discernment, and by continuing the faithful work and worship that are going on all over the diocese.  I ask your prayers, and promise you mine, as we make this journey together.

Faithfully,

Bishop Steve

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

*Each congregation will receive a copy of both letters by mail.

 

From the Standing Committee

printable version here

Dear Ones:   

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)   

As the old Byrds’ song goes, we are turning to a new season of collaborative ministry in the Diocese of Maine. While we look ahead to the future, our daily work with Bishop Lane continues as we follow Christ in our communities.

What’s Next:
With Bishop Lane’s call for the election of a diocesan bishop, your Standing Committee has already begun planning for the election of the Tenth Bishop of Maine in 2019. Under the guidance of the Office for Pastoral Development of the Episcopal Church, we have called the Rev. Canon Rick Callaway as our search consultant to shepherd us throughout the entire process, using best practices that are well-established throughout the Episcopal Church. Diocesan leaders are committed to listening and responding to diverse voices across Maine and to making this a prayerful process. We invite each of you to participate in this process through prayer, listening, and conversation. As we move along, we promise to communicate regularly, within the bounds of confidentiality, all that unfolds by the grace of God.

Here’s a draft timeline of what will happen:

September-October 2017
The Standing Committee will publish a resolution, also known as the enabling legislation, in the Convention booklet and present it to the 2017 Convention. This will establish the canonical authority needed to conduct a bishop search and election.

Late October-November 2017
The Standing Committee will seek nominations, appoint, and announce members of two Committees:

  • The Discernment Committee will survey the diocese, create a diocesan online profile, receive nominations, screen/interview nominees, and present a slate of qualified bishop candidates to the Standing Committee by November 2018.
  • The Transition Committee will manage the details of the candidates’ walkabouts, the bishop election, and the ordination/consecration in 2019. They will also actively support Bishop Lane, the bishop-elect, and their families with their transitions.
  • The Standing Committee will also call a Transition Chaplain to act as a spiritual guide to the process, committees, and diocesan staff. Bishop Lane and Gretchen will have their own chaplain.

December 1-2, 2017
Members of the Discernment, Transition, and Standing Committees will meet with our consultant and chaplain for an overnight retreat to begin the planning and collaboration process.

January-April 2018
The Discernment Committee surveys the diocese. Diocesan profile/website completed and shared widely.

May-Sept 2018
The Discernment Committee conducts formal search process. Nominees are screened and interviewed.

October 2018
The Bishop nominees participate in a retreat in Maine with the Discernment Committee and consultant.

November 2018
A slate of bishop nominees is presented to the Standing Committee, accepted, and announced. Nominations by petition are sought by a process defined in the enabling legislation.

December 2018
The petition nominees are added to the slate upon successful completion of background checks.

January 2019
Walkabouts and interviews in Maine with all nominees.

February 2019
A Special Convention to elect the Tenth Bishop of Maine (with a planned snow date).

Spring 2019
A time of transition for Bishop-elect and family. Diocesan leadership solidify letter of agreement. Farewell celebration with Bishop Steve and Gretchen.

Early Summer 2019
The Ordination and Consecration of the Tenth Bishop of Maine (date determined by the Presiding Bishop).

Canonically, the Standing Committee is entrusted with overseeing an orderly election and transition. As followers of Jesus, we believe that all orders of ministry: the laity, deacons, priests, and bishops are one within the Body of Christ by virtue of our baptism. Through the variety of our prayers and experience across the Diocese, we trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire us through these seasons of endings and beginnings.

Meanwhile, we continue to share our diverse gifts created by God’s abundant love. Your Standing Committee invites you to keep our Diocese, Bishop Lane and Gretchen, and our next bishop in your daily prayers as we enter this season of growing in our life together.

All shall be well.

Maria+

The Rev. Maria J. Hoecker, President
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

An open letter to Maine Episcopalians in the wake of Charlottesville

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the past weekend, as white supremacists marched and rioted in Charlottesville, VA – spouting hate about Jews, blacks, immigrants, and just about anyone who is not white and male – the world once again witnessed America’s unresolved conflicts over race. To many longtime participants in the quest for racial justice, it felt as if we had lost 50 years, that we hadn’t advanced much since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: white supremacy has no place in the Christian Church or American culture. Race is an artificial concept to begin with, a mere adaptive biological response to the environment, not a distinguishing characteristic of human beings. Culture is real; race is not. Moreover, white supremacy is a corruption of our fundamental beliefs as Christians: that all of us are created in the image of God and, in Christ, are brothers and sisters. Our equality before God allows for no exceptions. Our equal dignity as human beings requires, as a minimum, our mutual respect.

I was certified as an anti-racism trainer by The Episcopal Church in the mid-1980s and was involved, as many of you were, in decades of anti-racism training. In the Diocese of Rochester, I believe we held perhaps two to three events a year for a long time. I think the training helped with individual awareness and understanding, but it failed to get at the underlying causes: the ways political and economic systems favor white people and, perhaps, more substantially, the notion that there isn’t enough to go around and that everything people of color get means a loss for white people. In the back of all our minds is the fear that there won’t be enough for me.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, of which I am a member, offered a conference this past spring called “Unholy Trinity: The Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence.” The conference explored the ways these three blights interact and reinforce one another. The victims of gun violence are often poor. The perpetrators of gun violence are also often poor – people on the outs seeking to keep others from getting what they believe is theirs. The end of this nightmare will require the dismantling of racist systems, the development of moral courage by white folks, attention to education and employment for all people, investment in housing and healthcare, and strict licensing and training for the use of handguns.

There will be no quick fix here, just a long, slow journey by people of faith and good will. White supremacy, white racism, is a cultural problem that white people must solve. It’s about how a white-dominated system uses power. A solution begins with self-examination about the ways white folks benefit from and participate in racist systems. It continues with learning how all of us can respect and support one another and how we can be allies of people of color, immigrants, and other victims of racism. It invites all of us to speak up on behalf of victims, to counter the words of hate with words of love and respect. It requires us to keep after our governments to do the right thing and to take steps to address poverty, education, employment, and health care. It roots us in the truth that God is with us and will never abandon us. We Americans will never prosper as a people if only some of us have education and employment; if only some of us have hope.

I commit, as your bishop, to strengthening our training in multicultural awareness and to help congregations strengthen their relationships with both Wabanaki people and New Mainers. I will continue to work with the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice and to keep these matters before our state and federal legislators. I invite you to make your own efforts, in your communities, to reinvigorate your relationships with people of color and to make common cause against hate.

This is a matter of adaptive change, of cultural change. And we understand that leaders alone cannot change our systems. It is up to each of us and all of us to stand “true to our God, true to our native land.”*

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Episcopal Bishop of Maine

* from Lift Every Voice and Sing

Reflections on Sanctuary: Guidance for Maine Churches

Reflections on Sanctuary: Guidance for Maine churches
By the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine
April 7, 2017

pdf version

In the Anglican tradition, a sanctuary is the area immediately surrounding the altar. It it a holy space because it is here, at the altar, presbyters offer the Holy Eucharist to the people of God. The term, of course, goes back much further. The “holy of holies” in Solomon’s temple was known as the sanctuary, the place where the Ark of the Covenant resided. In both cases, the sacred status imbued the space with a sense of refuge and safety.

From the time of Constantine to the late Middle Ages across much of Europe, houses of worship afforded protection to those accused of crimes or debt. Indeed, English law recognized the church as a place of sanctuary from arrest from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries. Because the United States has never recognized such protection, the notion of churches offering immunity holds no legal sway beyond respect for the tradition.

However, sanctuary is our word. Sanctum means “holy” in Latin, from the same root we use to derive the word saint. Our churches should strive to be places of sanctuary – of safety, protection, support, and care – for all people, places of sanctuary from racism or any rhetoric that spews hatred or intolerance.

Over the past few months, in the wake of the travel bans and the uncertainty and fear they have elicited, I have been contacted by a number of Maine churches whose clergy and members are anxious to learn what and to what extent they can assist our neighbors who are fearful for their futures in Maine due to their legal status as refugees or asylum seekers.

Below I will attempt to offer definitions, guidance, and resources to assist members of our congregations in the good work of discerning the extent to which they will engage is “welcoming the stranger” to their communities. I think this discernment is important for each congregation to consider at both the parish and Vestry or Bishop’s Committee level and regardless of whether or not you are located in an area where New Mainers are settling. This is a conversation for all of us to enter fully and meaningfully.

DEFINITIONS

Some definitions might be a good place to start. I look no further than to

Signs available at www.welcomeyourneighbors.org/order-signs

those offered by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) at www.unrefugees.org.

Who is a refugee?
“A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. Refugees legally enter the United States in search of freedom, peace, and opportunity for themselves and their families.”

Before they enter the United States, those who are granted refugee status have been subjected by a lengthy and thorough security process by the UNHCR and the US Department of State. The federal government contracts with agencies – often faith-based organizations such as Episcopal Migration Ministries – in each state to handle the resettlement of refugee families. In our state, Catholic Charities of Maine is the only agency that resettles refugees for the federal government. They offer orientation, employment, and cultural adjustment, and many other services to those refugees assigned to Maine. In recent years, Catholic Charities has resettled refugees from more than 30 countries. In 2016 they resettled 642 recently arrived refugees in Maine.

Who is an asylum seeker?
“When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded.”

Asylum seekers often arrive in the US on a legal visa. Once they overstay that visa, they are no longer authorized to remain in the US. If they are fearful to return to their home country due to war, violence, or instability, they may apply to the US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) for asylum. Currently there are about 300 pending asylum cases in Maine, and the wait for an interview with the South Portland office of USCIS can be many years because only 30 interviews are offered each year. Six months after applying for asylum, an asylum seeker may be granted a work permit in order to be legally employed while waiting for an interview. Asylum seekers do not have access to resettlement services provided to those who have secured refugee status.

WAYS FOR CHURCHES TO OFFER SANCTUARY

  • Offer support, a safe gathering place, friendship and mentoring relationships to refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Offer preaching and teaching to members of the congregation that upholds our Baptismal Covenant and Gospel mandates: seeking and serving Christ in all persons, respecting the dignity of every human being, loving our neighbors as ourselves, welcoming the stranger.
  • Offer membership in all aspects of the life of the congregation: worship, service, formation, education, music, outreach.
  • Cooperate to the minimum extent required by law if immigration or enforcement officials seek to enter church buildings to check papers, question, or detain people participating in our worship or activities of the church community. It would be a violation of the law to prevent an immigration agent with a warrant listing the name of an individual and signed by a federal judge from entering your church.
  • Volunteer, as a church community or as individual members, with community agencies that serve refugees and asylum seekers, donate money and resources, engage in advocacy in the public sphere.

A recent survey by the New Mainers Task Force of Maine Episcopalians showed that there are many needs within New Mainer communities and many ways to support and assist them.

Needs identified by the New Mainer communities include:

English instruction, housing deposits, disability support, friendship/mentoring, meeting space, assistance with professional/educational credentialing, utilities, food, clothing, employment, transportation, household items, furniture, computers/cell phones.

Organization to support:

Catholic Charities of Maine https://www.ccmaine.org/refugee-immigration-services

Immigration Legal Aid Project ILAP www.ilapmaine.org

*Hopeful Links – support for unaccompanied minors in Maine – Contact Lucky Hollander at lucky.hollander@gmail.com

*Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston www.trinityjubileecenter.org

*Tree Street Youth – services for children in Lewiston – www.treestreetyouth.org

*St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry based at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland http://stlukesportland.org/pages/general/st-elizabeths

*St. Mark’s Outreach Ministries – a range of programs that serve people in Augusta including newly arrived families from Iraq and other war-torn countries http://twoonine.org/ministries/

*Compassionate Housing Initiative in Yarmouth, offering temporary housing for newly arrived Mainers, http://www.uuyarmouth.org/justicework-refugees.php

Mano en Mano – supporting migrant agricultural workers in Washington County http://www.manomaine.org/  

*recent awardee of a grant from one of the following diocesan funding sources: New Initiative Fund, Domestic Poverty Grants, Bishop’s Discretionary Fund,

News stories and online resources

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/12/churches-discuss-becoming-sanctuaries-for-undocumented-immigrants/

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/03/29/512072151/sanctuary-churches-who-controls-the-story

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2017/02/01/episcopal-church-stands-with-refugees-immigrants-and-the-undocumented/  

http://www.dailynews.com/social-affairs/20170318/how-some-churches-are-preparing-to-offer-literal-sanctuary-to-fight-trumps-policies  

http://religionnews.com/2017/03/19/analysis-new-sanctuary-movement/ 

https://www.nhepiscopalnews.org/blog/2017/4/4/guest-blog-the-greatest-commandment-is-never-easy

Welcome signs in three languages for free linked at “Welcome Your Neighbor” Facebook page or https://www.welcomeyourneighbors.org/order-signs  

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles – Task Force on Sanctuary’s website, Sacred Resistance
http://www.lasacredresistance.org

Resources from Episcopal Migration Ministries

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2017/04/04/trumps-immigration-policies-force-reduction-of-episcopal-churchs-refugee-resettlement-network/

https://vimeo.com/39648553   — Video about allies

http://www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/learn_more/resources_for_churches.aspx  

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Can-we-count-on-you-.html?soid=1120909577537&aid=093UjOeVLq8   (liturgical resources and more)

PDF of powerpoint on EMM shared at the House of Bishops https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/19179943/HoB%20Presentation%20-%20EMM%20-%20Distributed.pdf   

Calling for a just and humane budget

On Wednesday, February 22, Maine Episcopalians and members of eight other faith communities gathered in the Hall of Flags in the Maine State House for a prayer vigil for a just and humane budget as the Joint Committees on Appropriations and Health and Human Serves held a budget hearing down the hall.

Prior to the vigil the Rev. Maria Hoecker, president of the Standing Committee and rector of St. Columba’s, Boothbay Harbor, offered testimony on behalf of Bishop Stephen Lane. Bishop Lane had planned to testify but was brought low this week by a respiratory bug. (He’s on the mend!) Hoecker and Rabbi Susan Carvutto spoke before

Photo courtesy of Maine Equal Justice Partners

committee members with 35 Maine clergy standing behind them.

Here is the text of Bishop Lane’s testimony, with details of local impact contributed by Hoecker.

February 22, 2017

Good morning Senator Hamper, Representative Gattine, Senator Brakey, Representative Hymanson, members of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs and members of the Joint Committee on Health and Human Services.

My name is Maria Hoecker. I am an ordained Episcopal priest and I serve as the rector of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Boothbay Harbor. I share the following testimony on behalf of The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, the Episcopal Bishop of Maine. Bishop Lane intended to be here today, but, due to illness, has asked me as president of the Standing Committee to present testimony in his stead.

As one of many church leaders who take the example and teachings of Jesus to heart, (so many are with us in prayer and standing here with me today) I believe the moral measure of any budget is how the most needy among us – “the least of these” – fare in our society. I encourage you to resist passage  of a budget which undermines the lives, dignity, and rights of vulnerable Mainers living in poverty, particularly this budget with its punitive cuts to anti-poverty programs that provide access to food, healthcare, and general assistance.

Over the past five years, cuts to MaineCare, SNAP, and TANF have resulted in plunging poor children more deeply into poverty. Currently the rate of children living in families with a household income of $10,000 or less for three people is eight times greater than the rest of the U.S. These children are our future and we are letting them down.

For those new to our shores, those deeply invested in crafting for their families a new and promising life among us, it often takes six months to obtain a permit to work from the federal government. General assistance for asylum seekers is a small, time-certain investment in those who enrich our communities with their hard work. Welcoming the stranger is a strongly held value of all major religions and, as a church leader, I can attest that our congregations welcome  partnerships with community organizations to share in offering welcome and support.

In the Boothbay Region where I serve, representatives from the private/public sector meet every month to connect safety nets for our neighbors. Representatives from our local nonprofit charities, the churches, schools, state/local officials, and townsfolk meet monthly to pool our resources. This includes funds from private/non-profit sources, funds for general assistance, and numerous state/federal programs. Together as a team our resource council is able to connect with and support our neighbors who are falling through the cracks of our society. While we utilize every resource available to us, too many souls are still suffering in our midst.

No problems we face in Maine are solved by the additional cuts called for in this budget. Rather, as proposed, it will fray the safety net for thousands of our neighbors and jeopardize the well-being, both now and in their future – of our youngest, most vulnerable citizens.

When confronted with Jesus’ words that the “poor shall always be with us,” the 20th Century Catholic activist Dorothy Day replied, “Yes, but we are not content that there should be so many of them.” Nor am I.

I will tell you that the non-profits are staggering under the weight of these budget cuts to the poor. We are struggling to gather enough resources to care for our neighbors. Non-profits exist to do the work that the government can’t do well. We rely on a public/private funding partnership to offer this life-giving work.

As you can see, representatives from all faiths and nine denominations are standing before you today. We will be gathering for an all faiths prayer vigil in the Hall of Flags at 11:30 a.m. As you seek to serve all people in Maine, we pray that each of you are graced with wisdom, strength and compassion for our neighbors. Thank you for the opportunity to share our concerns with you today.

At the prayer vigil, Hoecker offered this prayer before the 125 people present. Click here for a PDF of this prayer. Video may be found below.

Maine State House ~ February 22, 2017 ~ A Prayer Vigil for a Just and Humane Budget

A Prayer for All Faith Communities offered by the Rev. Maria Hoecker

Honoring our diversity and our unity, I invite you to call upon what is highest and deepest by the name you hold sacred and dear, either silently or aloud. (pause)

Creator of all,
You are Love, Mercy, Justice and Goodness.
You are the Beloved One calling out to all of our Communities of Faith in Maine.

Be present to us, as we strengthen our own awareness of Your Presence.
Guide us as we discern the direction of your will, your love, your flow,
each of us moving toward our faith in You.

You are present within all who dwell in our streets, temples, synagogues, mosques, homes, and churches. You bind us one to another,
in our villages, our farms, our boats, our cities, our state, our nation, and our world.

God of All, work through us as we heed your call to feed the hungry and care for the sick.
We grieve the presence of injustice and we name the pressing need for reconciliation.
Together, our actions unite us in our care for all souls both near to us and far away.

We welcome weary travelers as they make their way to our shores and doors.
Through our being and belonging, we are called to build up the bonds which reconnect all who are separated from You.

We are a community of many faiths:
Together we are cacophony of conscience and caring,
we are many voices confronting all evil which destroys lives and shatters families.

God of all names,
we value and respect the diversity of our faiths and heritage.
When shared together, our separate stories call us to deeper truths.
Help us to listen to each other. You bear more wisdom than any one of us can fathom.

Spirit of All, bless our communities of faith with compassion.
—we are made through You and through You we reflect the diversity of your abundance—-
you generously provide for all Creation, but only if we share in the care of all Creation.

Strengthen our faith communities to fulfill your mission here in Maine;
give courage to those who heed your call; shield those who are in peril for their beliefs;
for we all stand stronger together in your strength and mercy.

God of many names, be with us,
guide us in the ways of peace and justice for all.
May it be so. Amen.

The Rev. Maria Hoecker offers prayers at the Interfaith Prayer Vigil for a just and humane budget at the Maine State House

Posted by Episcopal Diocese of Maine on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

From WCSH-6: http://www.wcsh6.com/news/politics/clergy-low-income-immigrant-groups-protest-dhhs-budget/412858887

A Pastoral Letter to the People of the Diocese of Maine

February 1, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
John 12:32

The last several months have witnessed a period of upheaval and political conflict in our nation such as I have not seen since the height of the Vietnam War. Many people are angry and bitterly opposed to one another, and some are finding it hard to listen to one another and to discover common values and aspirations. We are in danger of making one another aliens and strangers in our own land.

In this context, I call you to affirm that God loves us all and that we are all members of a single human family. Moreover, our Savior Jesus Christ died for each one of us. The Episcopal Church in Maine will continue to be open to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual identity, or political party. We will continue to pray for the welfare of all, including our elected leaders. We will continue to exercise radical hospitality and inclusive participation in all aspects of church life. We will “respect the dignity of every human being.”

Episcopalians have always been able to come together at the Lord’s table across difference, and now might be a time to practice this particular gift together.

At the same time, as followers of Jesus, we will continue to preach the Good News of God in Christ and to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” Our ministries with the poor, the sick, the stranger, and the alien have not and will not change. I will continue to speak out on issues of related to immigration, refugees, poverty, and war and peace. The recent decisions of the new administration regarding immigration have made some of this work more urgent, but it is work we know well and will continue to do. I invite you, no matter your politics, to invest yourself in your local communities and to work with other Episcopalians through our Maine Episcopal Network for Justice. If you haven’t been involved, now is a good time to jump in.

We will also continue to work with other churches and members of other faiths to create secure communities where all are safe and all have the opportunity to grow and prosper. Our good relationships with the Jewish and Muslim communities are sources of strength, and we will remain faithful partners with them.

The particular opportunity we have before us may be the chance to participate in the development of new understandings between people who have different visions for our country’s future. We might well host – first in our congregations and then in our communities – conversations about important community issues, seeking to learn from each other how and why we differ and what hopes we might share. Episcopalians have always been able to come together at the Lord’s table across difference, and now might be a time to practice this particular gift together.

“Fear Not” Stained glass over the altar of St. Columba’s, Boothbay Harbor

At the core of our current struggles is fear: fear of change, fear of loss, fear of the other. None of us is untouched by the changes of the last 40 years. All of us have experienced the loss of something we cherished. Jesus’ most frequent admonition was, “Fear not.” Fear not. God is with you. Our hope is not simply in what we can create as individuals or as a nation. Our hope is in God, who loves us and cares for us. In all that we do we need to turn to our God, to trust in God’s presence with us, and to share God’s love with others. “Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

I write to you with a deep sense of thanksgiving for your faithfulness and for the work you do on behalf of Christ. I know you will make conscientious, faith-based choices and will live into your convictions, even at the risk of misunderstanding. I invite you to trust that you are not alone. I walk with you. And Jesus walks with you. We must remember that Christ meets us in our weakness. It is on the cross that Jesus overcomes death and sets us free to live new lives. It is in that new life that we now walk together.

Faithfully,

+stl

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

___

download as a pdf on letterhead

Bishop Lane on the 2016 election

“This may be the time to claim our vocation of embracing all God’s creation, all God’s children.”
                                      Bishop Stephen T. Lane on the morning after the 2016 election

He also posted this message and invitation to prayer to Maine Episcopalians on election night:

Dear friends in the Diocese of Maine,

In the midst of all the division and polarization in our state, our nation, and our world, in the midst of disrespect and name-calling, we are invited to be kind.

In the midst of all the violence, the wars and rumors of war, we are invited to be gentle, to make peace.

In the midst of calls to take sides, to choose for ourselves and against others, we are invited to be friends with all, to seek Christ in every person and to respect the dignity of every human being.

Going forward after this long season of politics, we need the calm, steady, kindly presence of people who are not flapped by what is happening around them, who believe that God is with them and that God can be trusted come what may.

Tonight we elect a President, not a savior. What we’re doing in the polling booth is a reflection of our values and our commitments.

The manner in which we conduct our lives is a sign of the trust we have in God and that all things are possible with God. In the midst of our many lamentations, may we have confidence in God’s presence among us.

Please pray with me this prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book:

Lord,
it is night.

The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.

In your name we pray.
Amen.
(from Night Prayers, the New Zealand Prayer Book)