Pondering the Election Results

A Post-Election Reflection November 11, 2016

On election day, I was away for a few days of R&R with some friends, following our terrific Diocesan Convention featuring the Reverend Becca Stevens and some of her colleagues from Thistle Farms. I had voted by absentee ballot before leaving.

Thankfully, I was with a bishop colleague and friend that evening, watching and listening to the election returns. Like many others I was surprised and baffled at what was unfolding before me. My colleague from a southern state, less so. He had a better sense of what the outcome might be, even if it was not the outcome he desired. I could not, or would not, even allow myself to imagine the outcome that we woke to the next morning.

When we woke to the official news of Donald Trump’s election as President, we were both trying to figure out the message of this election and what it means going forward. At such a time, I was very grateful to be with a friend and colleague from a different part of the country. Over the years, I have deeply appreciated his perspective on things, often different from mine, and I believe he would say the same thing about me and my perspective. The contexts of our ministries are very different and our respect for one another could not be any greater. There is strength in that.

Like so many others, we acknowledged that the bitter and divisive campaign was not likely to easily give way to a harmonious, cooperative and bipartisan spirit in our country over the course of the coming months, or even years. But I do take solace in the fact that we heard words calling for unity, healing and cooperation. Clearly, there is work to do if that call is to become more than words.

The theme of our Diocesan Convention this past weekend was “Love Heals,” and we were reminded repeatedly by Becca Stevens that in the end, love is the most powerful force for change in the world. I loved it when she called us to “practice loving the world every day.” For Christians, that practice of love is rooted in the great commandment to love God and neighbor. As followers of Jesus, we respond to his call to love one another as he loves us. For Episcopalians, it is part of our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves. This radical love ethic is not a sentimental “feel good” love. It is “hard work” love of justice, compassion, peacemaking, truth-telling and reconciliation. It is about responsibility and accountability. It is about both the pastoral and prophetic dimensions of faith. Love does heal and the practice of love is the way of the cross and, for me, it is the way of life. It is the way of dignity.

Our country needs this healing love and it must begin fresh and fervent today; with me, with you, with us together. This election is over. The peaceful transition of power and responsibility that is a hallmark of our democracy is underway. Some are rejoicing, some are weeping. Some are delighted, some are angry. Some are joyful, some are fearful. Some are satisfied, some are disgusted. Some are shocked, some are validated.

As I pondered what might speak a word of hope to me on this day when I was feeling the division in our country so acutely, I found myself praying for a sign that would signal the start of a true and lasting movement toward healing. I found such a sign, but as I write these words, it is only in my imagination. The sign that I imagined is President Obama and President-elect Trump agreeing on a joint nomination for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, a choice that both would support and call upon the members of the United States Senate and the American people to support, as well. Some will view this as wishful thinking at best, or an absurd fantasy at worst, but imagine what it would signal if it were to happen. I may need to settle for a less dramatic sign, but I will nonetheless look and hope and work and pray for many.

The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop

The Episcopal Church in Vermont

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Discovering God in the Neighborhood: A Visit to Newport, Vermont October 20, 2016

church

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newport, Vermont is a lively, thriving congregation seeking to become more deeply engaged in the local community as part of their Local Mission Approach. In my new visitation schedule, this was the first congregation scheduled for a weekday visitation. I invited them to lay out a schedule for the day that they thought would give me a deeper sense of their mission connections, and did they ever do a great job! They scheduled me from 10 am to 8 pm, plus my two-hour drive each way from Burlington. I can’t recall spending a more wonderful, engaging and Spirit-filled day! What follows are some pictures and description of my day in Newport.

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The day began in conversation with the Rev. Jane Butterfield, Interim Pastor (front right), Penny Thomas, Senior Warden (center), Tim Daley, Parish Administrator ((back right), Christine Mosley (front left), and Bob Wilson (back left). Bob and Christine are members of the St. Mark’s local Ministry Support Team and are preparing for ordination as (local) priests in the Episcopal Church. We talked about life at St. Mark’s during this time of transition, but mostly about the day’s focus on mission and how we were going out into the Newport community to talk with some community leaders and residents to get a better sense of what God is up to here!

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Our first stop was the North Country Hospital, where we were privileged to spend time with Claudio Fort, CEO (2nd from left) and Avril Cochran, VP for Patient Care Services (2nd from right). Also joining us for this conversation was Jim Biernat, District Director of the State Office of the Department of Health in Newport and a member of St. Mark’s (far left). Much of our conversation focused on the unique challenges and opportunities of a regional hospital in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and in particular how North Country Hospital is engaging the concept and conversation about being an accountable community for heath (All Payer Model). The conversation focused on collaborative, comprehensive and creative ideas for addressing the needs of the community being served. I came away with an abiding sense of hope expressed in this conversation about respecting the dignity of every person as a core value and seeking to work collaboratively for the well-being  of all, especially those most in need. These are Gospel values, and I was delighted to learn that both Claudio and Avril are people of faith.

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Our next stop was the State Department of Health District Office, where Jim Biernat (far right) serves as the Director of a fabulous team, including Lisa Ste. Marie and Chantale Nadeau (2nd and 3rd from the left) What struck me most about these three is their sense that what they are doing is their “calling.” They never really talked about their “jobs,” but about the relationships they have with the people they serve. They carry out these vocations in one of the most economically impoverished regions of our Vermont. The complexity of issues, from poverty to access to services is no small thing. And yet, they are totally committed to what they do and hopeful that their efforts make a difference. They are not naive, but neither are they overwhelmed by the challenges. They love and respect the people they serve and they strive to make a difference. And, they are totally committed to collaboration with others. From my perspective, God is surely at work here.

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From there, we headed “downtown” to visit with Cynthia More (far left) who is the vibrant and enthusiastic Executive Director of the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC). NCRC is a private nonprofit volunteer organization consisting of business owners, municipal leaders, community organization leaders, and residents, which serves as a catalyst for economic and community development in Newport’s designated downtown district and the greater Newport City area by advancing and enhancing the economic environment, developing a cohesive and welcoming City design, and promoting the City as a tourism and investment destination. Cynthia is a bridge builder, a person trying to connect the city through promotion of the city’s many assets and desire to celebrate good things that are happening in Newport. She probably wouldn’t use this word to describe her efforts, but I will. She is an evangelist – one who is telling the good news story of Newport, while at the same time trying to draw the community closer together. St. Mark’s can be (and is)  a good community partner with Cynthia and her team.

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Just down the street from Cynthia, we were privileged to spend time with Laura Dolgin, City Manager (center) and Seth DiSanto, Chief of Police (2nd from right). Here we had a broad ranging discussion about the city of Newport, including its challenges and opportunities. It was clear throughout the conversation that these two civil servants look at things through the lens of opportunity. They are “glass half full” people who are not dismissive of the challenges, but people of hope who have great confidence in the people they serve to do what is best for their city. The word on my heart when I left this conversation was HOPE. I did go so far as to suggest that Cynthia think of herself as the “bishop” of Newport, a moniker she was hesitant to embrace. What I was trying to say was that she has a unique perspective of oversight in which she is called to “see the big picture” and reflect that back to the community. At the same time she is called to be a “non-anxious presence” in the midst of the recent challenges facing Newport. For his part, Chief DiSanto inherited a clear and compelling core value for community policing and everything I heard from him reinforced this commitment. I left this conversation with a deep sense of gratitude for these public servants and with the hope that they can effectively share their sense of hope with others.

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Our final stop of the day was at the 99 Gallery, a unique gathering place for members of the community who often experience life on the margins, and as people often marginalized by circumstances and systems. It is hard to describe this incredible community, hosted by Diane Peel (seated on the couch 2nd from the right). It is a safe gathering place for conversation, for making connections and above all for respecting the dignity of every human being. It is an art gallery, a classroom, a computer access location and an “edgy” place where there is legitimate caution with regard to institutions, both secular and religious. I found the conversation to be honest, hard, sad, prophetic, and in its own way hopeful. Clearly the people we met here are committed to the dignity of all and I am quite sure God is working in and through them. I was humbled, grateful and challenged by their witness.

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After our full and engaging day in the community, we headed back to our “home base” for conversation with the Vestry (pictured here) about the future of St. Mark’s as a missional church community. We talked about practical matters of church structure and governance, as well as visionary matters of our participation in God’s reconciling mission as part of the “Jesus Movement.” I am most impressed by the passion and visionary leadership of these disciples.

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After that, we were joined by others who had been about their ministry in daily life and shared the fellowship of a hearty meal and good table conversation. And then…..

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…. we concluded our day with a moving Taize worship service of prayer, chanting and reflections on the day.

I left in the rain for the two hour drive back to Burlington feeling both tired and refreshed. I know we discovered much about what God is up to in the neighborhood of Newport, Vermont, and that there is much to learn from that and much that needs to inform our ministry going forward. At the same time, I think we brought a measure of hope and encouragement to those with whom we met. I think we communicated by our presence, our listening and our affirmation, that what they do day to day really does matter and that they are making a difference. Clearly, we received more than we gave, but I think we were also a sign of connection and hope to those with whom we were privileged to meet.

Our Presiding Bishop reminds us of our vocation to be the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, helping to “transform the world from the nightmare it often is to the dream God intends for all.” I think we touched on that vocation in this powerful day of discovery. As the banner in the corner of the picture above reminds us: God is doing marvelous things! Thanks be to God!

Faithfully,

+Thomas

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Friends of Jesus – Easter Day Sermon 2013 – Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Burlington, VT

Friends of Jesus

I’m thinking this Easter morning about the friends of Jesus, those first followers, not just the twelve, but the larger company of folks who knew him and in some way, or another, shared in his life and ministry. To varying degrees these companions of Jesus lived and moved and had their being with him. I imagine it was quite a remarkable time in their lives. So full of hope; so full of new and marvelous and sometimes confusing, radical ways of thinking about God and their relationship with God; so full of new learning; so full of the wonder of healing; full of adventurous and sometimes troubling encounters; full of risk and even danger; full of the possibility of making the world a better place; so full of promise; so full of life.

And then, it all began to unravel; the pieces started having more rough edges to them; the encounters with some grew more troublesome and even hostile. There was disagreement within the company; there was confusion and uncertainty about what it all meant; and when the end came it came so quickly. A paradoxical entry into Jerusalem; Various encounters with religious and civil authorities; A meal together, the outlandish washing of feet, a night of prayer, a betrayal, an arrest, a denial, a trial, a beating and suddenly the one they looked to in hope, the one who inspired them, the one who brought them closer to God then they had ever been, was hanging on a cross – dying before their very eyes.

The companions of Jesus were devastated and scared, left alone to mourn the death of their friend, their teacher, their leader. And when the women of the company, the ones who had likely watched the closest and the longest, saw where they laid his limp, dead body, they went home, prepared the burial spices, observed the Sabbath and rose early to anoint his body.

This year, we hear the story of what happened next from Luke (24:1-12) who tells us that the women came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away. They went in and did not find his body. Two men in dazzling clothes ask, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” And, then they announce, “He is not here, He is risen.” They invite these women, whom Luke treats as full disciples, to “remember.” Remember what he told you would happen. They remember his words and return to their companions not just as messengers, but as Apostles, as heralds of Good News they are just now beginning to believe might be true.

The eleven, and all the rest, as Luke tells the story, did not believe what Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women told them about their encounter at the grave of Jesus. They thought it an idle tale, but Peter, Luke tells us, got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves. (Note: Peter “peeked” in, while the women actually went in the tomb.) Then he went home, “amazed at what had happened.”

Amazed at what had happened. But what had actually happened? The tomb was empty, the linen cloths were left in a pile and Peter is amazed. In Luke’s continuing narrative in both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, it is the subsequent appearances of the Risen Christ that helps those friends of Jesus give voice to what had actually happened, and to make their testimony the same as the two men in dazzling clothes who greeted the women – “He is Risen. He is alive.” And that Easter proclamation has been part of the story for the friends of Jesus ever since. It is our story today.

Death is not God’s final word. An empty tomb is followed by an awareness of new life. The grave gives way to the promise and hope of eternal life. The everlasting pattern of God’s amazing grace is firmly established. So, today, the words of Isaiah ring in my heart and stir my amazement: “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating.” (Isaiah 65:17-18)

Parish Hall destroyed by flood

Parish Hall destroyed by flood

I am also thinking this Easter morning about some other friends of Jesus, the people of Gethsemane Church in Proctorsville, Vermont. Gethsemane is one of the smallest congregations in our diocese, and the one most devastated by Tropical Storm Irene, which destroyed their parish hall and washed away the foundation of their church building.

In the serendipity and wonder of God’s divine economy, my Sunday visitation two weeks ago, upon returning from a meeting of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, was with the people of Gethsemane. The theme of the Bishop’s Retreat was Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. Our time together included daily reflections from several bishops on this theme, one of whom was Bishop George Councell of New Jersey who offered a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Natural Disaster sharing what he experienced and learned as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  The intersection of his words and my visitation to Gethsemane was amazing.

Bishop Councell said many profound things in his meditation, but perhaps none so moving as his declaration that to call such disasters “acts of God” was a “slur on God.” Instead, he maintained, “we are called to show the world in times of natural disaster just what an act of God looks like; acts of compassion, acts of going there and being there.” He reminded us that in the face of such loss, the pattern of response forged in the Easter reality of God’s mercy, love and grace is that we get to keep starting over. God never loses patience. God never gives up. He reminded us that “when nothing new can get in, you die.”

Since their devastating loss back in August, 2011, the members of Gethsemane have tirelessly and patiently rebuilt their building. At the same time they have faithfully reached out and offered relief to the people of their several communities, many of whom lost everything as a result of the flooding. I still recall the lesson I learned a few days after Tropical Storm Irene, when I went to be with the people of Gethsemane and survey the damage.

Ministry at the firehouse

Ministry at the firehouse

After patiently waiting for me to walk around the collapsed buildings and take pictures, the Senior Warden said as politely as she could, “Bishop, have you seen enough? If it is all the same to you we need to get up to the firehouse because we are in charge of distributing relief to those in need.”

Gethsemane rebuilt with new Parish Center at rear

Gethsemane rebuilt with new Parish Center at rear. Dedicated March 17, 2013

The day of my visitation two weeks ago was their second Sunday back in the church and we dedicated a new parish center that will serve as a community gathering place, as well. It strikes me that the people of Gethsemane have not only heard Bishop Councell’s words – they are living them! Their story is an Easter story, forged in the reality of new and abundant life emerging from the reality of suffering, devastation, loss and death.

I am persuaded that the meaning of the stone being rolled away from the tomb is not so Jesus could get out, but rather so that the women, Peter, and we ourselves could enter in – that is, participate in Christ’s dying and rising. Today, when all is said and done, we are reminded of the    Mystery of Easter faith – God’s eternal pattern of relationship from the very beginning of creation – living, dying, rising.

And, like Peter, the eleven, the women at the tomb, the people of Gethsemane, Proctorsville, Bishop Councell and others, who for centuries have been amazed by God, we are called to bring the Good News of that life and mystery to all the broken places of our lives and the world in which WE live and move and have our being.

Participating in God’s Mission each and every day as true friends of Jesus we proclaim, Alleluia! Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen. Indeed! Alleluia!

©The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely

Parish Hall rubble

Parish Hall rubble

How firm a foundation

How firm a foundation

Work underway in 2011

Work underway in 2011

With Parish Leaders

With Parish Leaders

Parish Leaders

Parish Leaders

Presenting check from Episcopal Relief and Development

Presenting check from Episcopal Relief and Development

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Reflections from the March House of Bishops Gathering

The bishops of The Episcopal Church met from March 8-13 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC for a time of Retreat and conversation with one another. The theme for our gathering was Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. Our time was punctuated with daily reflections from several bishops around this theme, followed by time for table conversations, personal reflection and open time for conversation and activities with one another. Daily prayer and Eucharist framed our time together in the prayer of the Church.

On Friday March 8th Bishop Suffragan Laura Ahrens of Connecticut offered a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Acute Loss, reflecting on her experience with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. On Saturday Bishop George Councell of New Jersey offered a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Natural Disaster as he spoke about what he experienced and learned as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  At the Sunday Eucharist Suffragan Bishop Ogé Beauvoir offered a meditation on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Chronic Loss, as he reflected on the ongoing challenges and struggle in the Diocese of Haiti. Monday brought us a meditation from Bishop John Tarrant of South Dakota titled Godly Leadership in the Midst of Emotional Loss, focused on the history, heritage and current day realities of the Lakota people. Tuesday’s meditation, Godly Leadership in the Midst of Personal Loss, was offered by Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles and centered on his own personal experiences of loss.

Each meditation offered not only a reflection on loss through a particular lens, but also an expression of the powerful presence of God in the midst of loss. Beyond that, each reflection offered personal stories that spoke to the exercise of leadership in the midst of loss, as well as to the grace, hope and love of God each bishop has experienced. These meditations drawn from the reality of each bishop’s own experience of loss provided a catalyst for each of us then to share with one another our own stories of loss and how those experiences have shaped and influenced our own lives and ministries. I was most grateful for the opportunity to reflect on many experiences of loss in my life and ministry, including: experiences from my years working in Appalachia; experiences of the loss of loved ones in my own life, as well as in my 32 years of pastoral relationships as a priest and bishop; our experience in Vermont following Tropical Storm Irene; and loss related to issues of violence, abuse, human dignity and the environment.

Another thread running though our time together was our attention to the matter of violence in our society and especially the issue of gun violence. Those conversations led to the offering of a Word to the Church. I commend this to you and invite our further conversation about how we in Vermont can best respond to this reality.

I am grateful for these times to gather with other bishops and to be fed by our worship together, by our conversations and by the collegiality we share. I come home refreshed and renewed, strengthened and supported, for participation in God’s reconciling mission with the people of Vermont.

Faithfully,

+Thomas

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I will thank you because I am marvelously made!

I greet you on this Ash Wednesday as we begin the Holy Season of Lent with these words from Psalm 139: “For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well.” I was invited to reflect on these words this morning while reading Brother Geoffrey Tristram’s offering in the “Brother, Give Us A Word” series from the brothers at The Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE). If you are not familiar with this and the other on line offerings from SSJE, I encourage you to visit their website http://www.ssje.org/.

The SSJE word for the day is Prayer, an appropriate word for Ash Wednesday to be sure. Brother Geoffrey’s reflection is actually the sermon he preached on September 6, 2011, the day the brothers and many others gathered for the first Tuesday Eucharist following the completion of the extensive renovations to the Monastery in Cambridge. The title of the Sermon is “Called to Life.”

On this Ash Wednesday, his words remind me that this is indeed the heart of God’s call to us. The serious soul searching to which the Ash Wednesday liturgy invites us, indeed the pattern of self reflection and examination that is central to the season of Lent, is all directed toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to be marvelously made and to live life in the fullness to which God invites us. Brother Geoffrey reminds me that I am not called to be someone other than the ‘Thomas’ God has brought into being, but rather that I am called to be more fully who I was created to be and through the living of my life to reflect God’s glory in the world. This is such an awesome calling to which the church’s ancient Lenten disciplines of self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word serve to help us deepen our understanding and practice of living such a life.

In his sermon, Brother Geoffrey recalled a favorite story about the Russian rabbi Zusia to illustrate his point. I repeat it here because it stirred my heart and my imagination. “One day some students were talking with him and the first said, “Rabbi Zusia, I am afraid that when I appear before the Holy One he will ask me, ’Why did you not have the faith of Abraham?’ A second student said, ‘I am afraid that when I am before the Holy One he will ask me, ‘Why did you not have the patience of Job?’ Then a third student said, ‘Rabbi I am afraid that when I stand before the Holy One he will ask me, ‘Why did you not have the courage of Moses?’ Then they all asked Rabbi Zusia, ‘Rabbi, when you appear before the Holy One which question do you most fear?’ Rabbi Zusia answered, ‘When I appear before the Holy One I ‘m afraid he’ll ask me, ‘Zusia, why were you not Zusia?’”

As we walk the Lenten journey of faith toward the promise and hope of Easter, I am going to spend time each day thinking and praying about what it means to be “marvelously made” and what it means to live deeply into that identity and vocation known as “Thomas.”

Thank you Brother Geoffrey for stirring my heart and my imagination in this direction!

+Thomas

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“Will you respect the dignity of every human being?”

“Will you respect the dignity of every human being?” This question from the Baptismal Covenant directs our attention to one of the most important promises we make as Christians. When you answer, “I will, with God’s help” what is it to which you are committing yourself? Donna Hicks is helping me to understand at a deeply spiritual level what my commitment to this promise means. Her book, DignityThe Essential Role it Plays in Resolving Conflict, is the fruit of her many years of engagement with this topic of human dignity.

ImageDr. Donna Hicks is an Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and for nine years she was the Deputy Director of the Program on International Conflict Resolution (PICAR) at the Weatherland Center. Her work in international conflict resolution includes efforts related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, work in Sri Lanka, Columbia, Cuba, and Northern Ireland, where she worked closely with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

She has taught courses in conflict resolution at Harvard, Clark and Columbia Universities and conducts training and educational seminars in the US and abroad on the role dignity plays in healing and reconciling relationships in conflict. She will be the conference leader for the Clergy and Spouse Conference in the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont this May.

Her new website Declare Dignity will help you better understand the important role dignity plays in all relationships, not only those in which there is conflict. Her wisdom is that “We might not be able to change the world, but we can create a more respectful way of being in it together. “ On her website, you can read and learn about her ten Dignity Essentials and sign on with me and many others to her Declaration of Dignity. Become a Dignity Agent today! Read her book. Live and teach the Dignity Essentials. Gain deeper insight and understanding into what we mean when we promise God that we will “Respect the dignity of every human being.”

+Thomas

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Invocation on the occasion of the Inauguration of Peter Shumlin as Governor of Vermont – January 10, 2013

Invocation on the occasion of the Inauguration of Peter Shumlin as Governor of Vermont

January 10, 2013 – the Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Episcopal Bishop of Vermont

 

The current residence of the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont at Rock Point in Burlington, built in 1895, stands on the site of the original house built by Bishop Hopkins some 50 years earlier. Over the porch of the entrance is carved the “arms” of the Diocese, comprising the pastoral staff, the mountains and wheat sheaves of the State coat of arms, the fleur de lis of the arms of Old France, and the words Veritas liberabit vos – “The truth shall make you free,” taken from the 8th chapter of the Gospel according to John. Our State motto incorporates two other great Biblical themes: “Freedom and Unity.”

It is in the spirit of these declarations that I invite you to join me in prayer: Good and gracious God, God of truth, freedom and unity, we pray your blessing upon the people of Vermont: those gathered here today and those at home, at work, at school or wherever they may be across our beautiful State.

We pray for our Governor, Peter, and the other constitutional officers who pledge their oath this day to faithfully execute their respective offices, serve the people of Vermont and insure equal rights and justice to all persons. May they be guided in their work by good judgment, sound wisdom and compassionate hearts.

We give thanks this day for those who have carried us through the challenges of these past two years, especially all who have given their time, energy and resources to assist the Irene relief and recovery efforts throughout our State. We know our work here is not yet done, and so we pray for the continued generosity of our people and the continued diligence of our leaders in order to bring hope, comfort and relief to those still in need.

We pray also for God’s blessing and guidance upon our Vermont members of Congress, the members of our General Assembly, Courts, and all who serve in local government throughout the valleys and hills of this great State; that Vermont might continue to offer its informed witness and visionary leadership to our country.

Grant to Peter, our Governor, and all others entrusted with the mantle of leadership in our State, a passionate love of truth, an unquenched thirst for freedom and unity, and deep wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties. Help them, O God, and each of us to be alive to the opportunities of each moment and alert to the possibilities we share today. Give them and each of us a vision of hope that we might see beyond the worries and discouragement and problems of today, so that we may grasp the future that you are surely bringing to our lives and to our world. Help them and each of us stretch our imaginations so that we may be open to the changes that your future makes possible. In the light of your everlasting love, we pray. AMEN.[i]


[i] Portions of this final paragraph adapted from prayers in God Has No Religion: Blending Traditions for Prayer, Frances Sheridan Goulart.

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