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First Impressions

Mitch here in Oxnard. It’s been a wonderful first evening of our pilgrimage. We’re staying in a modest farm house on a 5-acre organic farm outside of the city, and we are sharing the house with a group of EYP Interns from the LA area who are here finishing up a day of retreat from their weekly assignments. There are chickens in the backyard and avocado trees lining the driveway, not to mention all sorts of yummy greens in a field just around the corner. We were treated to a wonderful dinner by a group of local parishioners, and already I know we are in for a great program over the next few days.

We’re about to call it an evening, but I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on one or two of the preliminary readings we were given as a primer for this experience. One short article, called “The Faces of Oxnard Farm Workers,” shows a number of images of Ventura County farm workers, some in the fields harvesting produce, others waiting on the side of the road to be picked up for work. The text of  article briefly describes what is going on in these images, and describes the typical situation of many of the county’s immigrant worker population. Below I’ve quoted a part of this article which stuck out to me with particular haunting resonance.

“Workers are required to separate ripe berries from unripe and overripe ones, and one worker tastes a berry to decide. Foremen often require this practice, but it is no longer legal, since unwashed berries carry pesticides that can damage workers’ health.”(http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2010/02/david-bacon-farm-labor-in-oxnard.html).

I chose to focus on this article in particular because of a number of farm workers I saw out in in the strawberry fields as I was driven to the farm this afternoon from the nearby train station. I couldn’t help but think of what I had read, wondering if the workers I passed were in the same situation, or if they had it better off. I found myself thinking about the possibility that some of the very workers whose faces populate the above article could be in those fields as I passed. In much of the reading I’ve done in preparation for this pilgrimage, I am reminded of the invisible sea of humanity responsible for making sure that each vegetable, each berry, makes it from garden row to grocery store shelf. I am reminded of the common humanity that we all share, and of the sordid, shameful political battle that is waged daily to disenfranchise many of these hard-working people from enjoying the same rights as those who are on the other end of the production pipeline, all because of something as abstract as an immigration status. I could go on, but I’ll save more for later. In the meantime, Peace be with you all.

Reflections before meeting the group

Holly tasting kale chips from the Farm!

Years ago I heard a saying from a European ad campaign: “Don’t throw anything away. There is no away.” The words were colorful and shaped entirely out of garbage. For some reason, that stuck with me more than any phrase about my place in the world ever has before.  Everything I own and everything that I am is going to go somewhere someday. It will not just disappear. It is stuck on this planet and will have to be managed by someone at some point. I have never heard a more common-sense argument for being thoughtful about your impact on the world than those two sentences.

An article that really got the wheels of my brain turning about the importance of what I might learn in the coming week is “The Pleasures of Eating” by Wendell Berry (http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/pleasures-eating).  My friend Abbot just posted an article on facebook about some frozen dinners being recalled because they had some ingredients added to them that are not food. I will refrain from naming the company. The article actually said that it would not hurt you to eat the meals, but they were not really edible. Gross. Wendell says that being estranged from the sources and creation of the food that we eat reduces our pleasure in food.  I want to know what is in the food I eat and where it came from, if purely for selfish reasons. I can also justify wanting to know more because I am a thoughtful person, more or less. What if I am eating something that has caused harm to an animal, or God forbid, to a human, in its preparation on its way to my lazy little mouth? I kind of want to know that sort of thing. Perhaps I will decide the harm does not matter, but I need to at least be aware of it. If the people who prepare my food are adding ingredients to my food that are not food and packaging that is unnecessary, it might be worth my time to object, or to buy other items.  However, I hope this time in Oxnard does not make me refuse to eat strawberries ever again.

It is intuitive to me that we are all connected somehow. The “devil’s in the details” about how connected we actually are, what the connection means to our daily lives and how much, individually, each person decides to care and act on that connection.  It is very easy to see that we are connected through time, because I am a product of my parents and they theirs. I know them and love them and it is of great benefit to me to be connected with them. It is also easy to see that people who come after me and inherit the earth will take over the benefits and the burdens that already exist. But then, also, I feel this crazy connection to other people. People that I have never met matter to me. I have basic understanding of the concepts of political borders and how it can limit people. If you live in Mexico, for example, your quality of life and expectations, as well as your language, is different than many people who live in the United States. Regardless of the country in which a person lives, if they live in poverty, the fact that they do not have much money means that they cannot buy the same kinds of food that more fortunate people take for granted. For some reason, this upsets me. I do not like the idea of a human’s place of birth determining whether they are able to eat good food or not.  My concerns about eating gross “non-food” with my actual food pales in comparison to the suffering that accompanies food insecurity (food insecurity is when people go without food or are unsure where their next meal will come from on a regular basis).  I want to examine the separations that we create mentally to deal with the fact that people in our world don’t have enough to eat, yet we get to eat amazing food every day. This disconnect diminishes the ways that people can find common ground and creates barriers to our whole human family living in the dignity that is our common due. We are connected as brothers and sisters on the planet. I am not just spouting some idealized “why can’t we all get along” rhetoric; I can back up my opinions with very viable sources, including the US Constitution, several United Nations Declarations and Treaties, and reams of religious texts. We are all connected. Like it or not, acknowledge it or not, every little choice we make has a meaning.

I hear we are not supposed to feel sympathy for migrant workers or immigrants that come to the United States without proper documents. I also hear that there are many parts of our economy that would crumble if industries were not allowed to rely on and snap up their cheap labor. My stance is that all humans deserve respect (and a decent meal when they are hungry). This is a bigger problem than I am capable of reviewing and solving. But the conversation and the acknowledgment that we can do better has to start somewhere.

 

Introduction from Holly

Hello, my name is Holly and I will be coming from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to join all the folks in Oxnard, California. I am winding down the last few months of a law degree and am very excited to see what exactly I will end up doing with it. I am not entirely sure being a traditional lawyer is a good idea. I would like to cause more trouble in the universe than an eight to five office job will allow. My undergraduate studies led me to have a double major in theater and psychology; all three of these degrees are connected because they all relate to my keen interest in people. In that sense, having a law degree is a very good idea, because the education itself has been eye-opening, challenging and very positive for me. My favorite color is green and to get to the farm I will be traveling in a car, a plane, a bus, and on a train.
My favorite activity that devours my free time is playing guitar and singing. I hope this farmhouse we are staying in will have enough hot water for all of the people converging upon it and I also hope that I don’t get sunburned. Other than that, I am ready for anything and incredibly excited.

Blessed Hope in Texas

Lori Mills-Curran again.  We are here in Austin, TX visiting a variety of centers of ministry to learn about immigration and homelessness. This last Sunday, we went to church in Manor, TX – a new church plant: St. Mary Magdalene.

The publicity for the church said it was emerging and multicultural, and I wondered what that could mean. “Emerging” church seems to mean anything and everything these days: I just attended an Episcopal Village emerging church training event in Boston, and I was baffled almost the whole day.   So I was eager to see what “emergent multicultural” could be.

I had a hidden agenda.  I am a deacon trying to do Brazilian ministry in Framingham, MA. One of the major reasons why I decided to come on this pilgramage, besides supporting my MA college  students (who I am pretty sure would not have come to TX without a good deal of encouragement), was to learn about immigration.   Brazilian immigration is, as I put in my last post, the biggest social issue in my town.

You would think it was obvious I should get involved.  But it isn’t.  I am not at all sure I have any business in Brazilian ministry. Traditional wisdom would say that as an anglo woman it is likely that I should butt out.   Much profound thought on the issue of ethnic church leadership indicates that Brazilian leadership is needed for Brazilian ministry.

But the conflict is in my town is there.  The need of the Brazilians is evident.  It is pretty clear there can be no diocesan effort at this time.  So I have felt compelled to respond. Is that hubris on my part? Presumption? Colonialist impulse?  Some would say so.

But times have changed. We are all trying new things. With the Episcopal church in a swivet about how to be church anymore, we are all looking around for the new.  This church plant in Manor is a really, really, new thing.  The rector is trying to create a bilingual, multicultural community in a booming Austin suburb. He’s determined to invite everyone, and he’s busting his tail trying to do it, in a rented high school lunch room with few resources except his  salary, a music budget, and his own family’s efforts.

Traditional wisdom would say that what he is doing is unwise and probably unsustainable. Church planting is hard work – exhausting, back-breaking work. English alone in a growing suburb: OK.  Spanish alone with a Latino missioner: sure.  But planting a church that functions in English and Spanish both?  Most people I know would say it is foolhardy.

But it’s working.  The rector is alert and energetic. Last Sunday, he was doing it ALL right. Most of the people I spoke to had met him at the Chamber of Commerce.  How many Episcopal rectors do YOU know that hang out at the Chamber of Commerce?!  He had a graciousness that was not undercut by his constant visual monitoring of the room for some unmet need, some new face to greet, some tired worker to support, some child to pat.

The liturgy was classic Episcopalian with Spanish and English music by a trio of talented professionals. Traditionalists might cavil at no Prayer Books, at words projected on a screen. But as a practical matter, it solved the problem of “which language,” because the two languages were projected together, side by side. It worked liturgically, even for this lifelong Epsicopalian. But most of the people in the pews weren’t Episcopalians anyway, so who cares?!

Most promising was the crowd of children. Perhaps ten little kids piled into a tiny nursery pen, and played happily together with minimal supervision.   Five school age students gathered around a table with the rector’s wife – as she did her darndest with a box of markers, glue and pipe cleaners to offer them the truth of the gospel.

And offer it she did. The highlight of their lesson was clustering around to view a youtube video on her iphone (the proper lesson from the lectionary!) about Jesus’s temptation in the desert. God bless this woman as she did what Christian women, especially rector’s wives, have done for generations – pick up all the pieces behind the scenes, simply out of the goodness of their hearts and the deep well of their own faith. She worried a bit that two newcomer children never quite made it into the classroom.  I thought it was amazing she even noticed.

I offered what I could, in the few minutes I was there.  I helped distribute the markers fairly, helped clean up the table as the lesson ended.   I gave her my email.  As an educator, I knew there were many free resources she could get, on-line and at the Episcopal seminary where we are staying, to help in the enormous job it appears is hers for now.

I then sat down to eat my lunch, the lunch for 40 or so she organizes each week.  Conversing with a newcomer, I learned the newcomer was an experienced Episcopalian with extensive background in Christian education. Perhaps, I prayed, God will lead her to find what she needs at St. Mary Magdalene, so she can stay. I tried to be friendly.  Already I was invested in St. Mary Magdalene’s success.  It was silly, really.   St. Mary Magdalene meant nothing to me an hour before.    I will never return.  But already I cared.

What a blessed privilege to be able to witness the lively faith of these two people – pushing against the limits of resources, personal energy, conventional church wisdom and the complicated politics of culture, to do God’s work in Manor, Texas. They were, to my eyes, birthing the gospel in a new way, in as new an environment for the Episcopal Church as any foreign missionary site. I was amazed, and humbled, by their work.  My worries about whether anyone would think I am presumptuous as an anglo woman getting involved in Brazilian ministry fell by the wayside. My self-regard, my timidity that I look “sufficiently politically correct,” fell by the wayside.  There is work to be done.  And I have many more resources than markers and pipe cleaners    I got over myself.

Last Sunday, I was proud to be an Episcopalian, proud to be associated with them in service in the same vineyard.  Last Sunday, I was certain the Episcopal Church has a future.  Because I saw it, in Manor, Texas.

Salut!

My name is Maggie Iba. My hope is to begin this coming weekend with a prayer of grateful intention. May all that is seen, tasted, felt and learned be a wild seed of joy that roots and bears fruit in every life involved. amen.

A dash about me and my interests in this pilgrimage. I have been fascinated with food, the earth and the connection between the mind, body and spirit for as long as can remember. Throwing grand feasts for fairies in the woods and finding secret meadows to dance in, were my primary occupations a child growing up in northern CA. After graduating from college I fell into the dangerous idea that I had to “figure out” what I was going to “do” with the rest of my life now. I worked a soul stripping desk job, taught English in South Korea, explored occupational therapy and alternative medicine in Portland OR, all with a sneaking suspicion that I was missing something. This last fall I found my way onto an organic goat farm in Fiddletown CA where something in me switched. I realized that I was being lead back to the land, back to the secret meadows, but for a deeper purpose.

I received my Permaculture design certification in November of 2010 and am continuing to explore ecological restoration, animal husbandry and sustainable food systems at the City College in Santa Barbara. It is my emerging belief that true social justice comes from entering into radical community with the “other” until they become “One”. Setting aside the waste and opulence of Western culture and learning how to live richly on little.

It is my hope to explore both the theological and practical implications of adopting a life style that truly allows Spirit to enter into all its aspects. Creatively transforming the world around us through food, body, community, learning and our simple desire and intention to live fearlessly.

I so look forward to meeting with all of you! Safe travels until we come together.

In Growing Peace,

Maggie

 

My name is Nicole Janelle and I’m excited to be co-leading this year’s EPF (rural) young adult pilgrimage on “Food, Faith and Farming: Crossing the Invisible Borders in our Community.” Our pilgrimage home base is the Abundant Farm Project Intern House in Oxnard where my co-leader Sarah Nolan currently makes her home, serving as AT Program Director and campus chaplain at nearby Cal State University Channel Islands. I hope you’ll read more about the amazing story and work of the Abundant Table Farm Project and Join the Farm.

Visiting the Farm with members of Progressive Christians @ UCSB.

I hail from one county north, where I serve as Episcopal chaplain to the University of California Santa Barbara and vicar to St. Michael’s University Church (St. Mike’s for short) in Isla Vista. In my four years as chaplain, I’ve regularly taken groups of students to visit the Abundant Table Farm. We’ve worked the fields together and attended some of the weekly house church gathering on Sunday evenings. Engaging my students in conversation about and experiences that touch on food sustainability and immigration issues are a passion of mine. To that end, I’m thankful to the ministry of the Farm and others in the community like Ventura County Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) for helping to expose me and others to these complex issues and realities.

While our campus ministry’s backyard isn’t a set of farm fields (!), we are proud of our small scale on-site community garden project, which allows students and area residents to grow their own food. This is one small way we’ve sought to address food sustainability issues in our college community.

Sarah and I can’t wait for this pilgrimage to begin. As you may know, pilgrimage is an ancient tradition that concerns itself with transformation by way of a sacred journey through time, place and community. We hope that this pilgrimage will help to transform your relationship to the land, the people who help to harvest our food and to our food itself.

Prepare yourself for a holy and transformative journey!

Peace, Nicole+

Pilgrimage Schedule*

*Subject to last minute revision! :)

Friday, March 18

  • Please plan to arrive at the Farm no later than 5pm
  • 5pm Dinner at the Farm with EUIP/AT Interns hosted by the Men’s Group of St. Paul’s, Ventura
  • Introductions, review schedule/logistics
  • Evening Prayer

Saturday, March 19

  • Breakfast at the Farm
  • Morning Prayer (led by pilgrims)
  • Farm Worker Immersion
    • 8:30-9:30a farm worker housing film and conversation with Theodora
    • 10a farm worker housing tour in Oxnard with Dolores
    • 12 noon lunch at the farmhouse
    • Work in the fields with AT Intern Harrison
    • Conversation with Ventura County Medical Resident resident family physician Jake Donaldson
    • Dinner at the Farm hosted by Epiphany, Augora Hills
  • Movie – The Garden
  • Evening Prayer

Sunday, March 20

  • Morning: Free time (beach, reading and reflection on the Farm, etc.)
  • Lunch at the Farm or on your own
  • Afternoon: Community Roots in Oxnard with former AT Intern Kat
  • Evening: Abundant Table Farm Community House Church Service followed by potluck dinner

Monday, March 21

  • 7am Breakfast at the Farm with Reflection
  • Field work with Join the Farm
  • Lunch at the Farm
  • Afternoon meetings:
    • 2:30-3:30p Margaret Sawyer, Executive Director of MICOP (Oxnard)
    • 4:30-5:45p Ralph Armbruster, Chicano Studies professor at UCSB, lecture and conversation on immigration (at Farm)
  • 7p Community Dinner – pilgrims cook!
  • Movie: Food Inc.
  • Evening Prayer

Tuesday, March 22

  • Breakfast on the Farm
  • Closing Reflections
  • Prayer/Commissioning Service
  • End by late morning

Allow me to introduce myself…

I’m Alexandra but you can call me Alex. I’m 25 years old and doing life in Santa Barbara, CA. I graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and minored in Leadership Studies. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated college so after traveling in Europe, I took a desk job to pay the bills while I figured out what I really wanted to do. Three years later, I’m at the same job with the same missing sense of real purpose or calling. To be frank, I’m fed up with sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen and having very little relationship with the world I inhabit. I want to live on a smaller global footprint. I want to ride my bike more. I want to keep chickens in my backyard (and a garden!).  I feel called back to the earth, the land, and our natural resources. I want to spend more time pursuing a simpler life and embracing the values I feel are lost in today’s modern world. In the meantime, when I’m not sitting at my desk I’m a youth director, choir member, massage therapist and trying to squeeze in anything else that will fit in my schedule.

 The calling is merely a whisper, but I think that food, food justice, the industrial food system and all its related parts are becoming my primary interest. I’ve become more aware of the industrial food system and its problems. I’ve been reading more Michael Pollan than I should while trying to get my hands on more information. I’m slowly developing my opinions on these issues. This is as far as I’ve gotten: I believe that food is a vehicle for loving others. I believe that a shared meal is the place where life happens, where we share in God’s goodness, and where we are invited towards deeper relationship with one another

 On matters of this weekend, I’m eager to be among people who share my interests and to learn more. As Christians, we are called to serve others and particularly those who have the most need. I sometimes feel sheltered from social justice issues in my spiritual community. I worship in an affluent community where deep social needs seem absent. As a youth director, I strive to bring light to these issues for my students but unfortunately many of the organizations in our community don’t allow young people to see firsthand local injustices because they must protect the identities of those they serve. It is a broken cycle. My students can’t serve at the soup kitchen lest they meet one of their classmates who is there for a meal. But isn’t this the exact sort of encounter that develops our hearts and calls us to action? We must love our neighbors as ourselves. First, we need to know our neighbors and their needs. And that requires us to come face-to-face with those neighbors and those needs—no matter how risky that may seem.

 Just like my church has been sheltered, modern society is equally ignorant of the realities of our food system. How many people have a direct relationship with the farm worker who harvested the produce that is in the grocery store? How many people know what it took to get that chicken breast butchered and packaged so neatly in plastic? What about those people who don’t have the money to buy organic, local, fresh food? What about the health implications that are in direct relationship with the food that we put in our mouths? Very few people are aware of how privileged we are to have such variety on our tables every day, to see a grocery store overflowing with food, to have the money to spend on it all. I am hoping to spend this pilgrimage contemplating these questions and walk away more educated and more aware of my responsibilities to act on these issues.

“Hi, I’m Mitch.”

Hello, my name is Mitch Roper. I’m 26 years old, and I’m coming to the Oxnard Urban Pilgrimage from Athens, GA (about an hour or so east of Atlanta), where I live and work. I graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens with a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics in 2008. While I was a student at UGA, I had a spiritual, revelatory experience which caused me to shed my long-held agnostic views and seek to follow in the way of Jesus Christ. In doing so, I became very involved with campus ministry at the University, both with the Episcopal Center there and with the campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Fr. Dann Brown, chaplain at the Episcopal Center, called me a ‘double-dipper’ (lovingly, or course) and encouraged me to continue to explore the avenues of faith and faithful practice that God was opening up to me.

One such avenue is the movement toward ‘new monasticism’ that many christians are hearing about and experimenting with. This larger movement is characterized in part by movements toward intentional residential community (often on the ‘margins’ of society), service to the poor, and a focus on self-sustaining patterns of living within communities (such as growing your own food, for example). In learning about this alternative pattern of living, I hear the undeniable whisper of the Spirit calling me to seek Jesus in such a lifestyle.

I’m participating in this urban pilgrimage because the industrial food crisis is one of a few issues that I have come to see as pivotal to the future of my faith. We live in a society marked by unprecedented waste and an extreme disconnection from its sources of food. The more I learn, the more I see this as an unsustainable path that God never intended for his beloved creation. Not only do we mistreat the land that God gave us to take care of, but we also mistreat a whole class of people who work this land and give us the food we so blindly consume. In coming months, I will be moving to an intentional farming community in south Georgia, known as Koinonia Partners, where I will be helping the community to produce our own food. In the intervening time, I hope to learn as much about farming and the existing industrial food complex as I can. This trip will afford me some unique opportunities, I hope, to see some of this stuff up close, and to meet some awesome people in the process. I am really excited for these next few days!

Post-Pilgrimage Reflections

The ungraspable magnitude of this past week struck me last night. On the car ride back home from the bus-stop in Maryland, my father asked me the obvious question: “How was your New York trip?” Struggling to find the words to explain to him everything we had done, or even just the bare essentials of what we had done, I realized it would be nearly impossible to lay it all out in one sitting. Instead I offered a summary, which he found interesting. After that, most of our conversation revolved around the recent economic recession, something the New York group had discussed on the stairs of the National Bank on Wall Street with a senior economics major from Massachusetts. My father is a former hedge-fund manager, so his interest in economics determined the nature of our conversation about the pilgrimage. I’m sure future conversations about this trip will likewise center on those things most accessible to my conversation partners.

Mostly, I find myself overwhelmed by the range of activities in which we engaged. We distributed lunch-bags and condoms in Marcus Garvey park on Saturday; worshiped with an outdoor ministry on Sunday; dished out food in the largest soup kitchen in New York on Monday; and met with one of the wealthiest men in the world, a former Wall Street trader and current CEO, on Tuesday. Still spinning, the web of interactions and encounters throughout this week is just now beginning to fully form in my mind’s eye. In all likelihood, the impact of this trip won’t really hit me until months from now.

Although our pilgrimage ended yesterday, I hope to carry home many of the lessons I learned during this week-long journey. Not only do I have a new sense of what urban homelessness looks like and what I can do as an individual to counteract it, I’ve come to more deeply appreciate the value of theological reflection as spiritual food for the Christian practitioner. During our clean-up discussion yesterday, it struck me that I could organize a small group to engage in theological reflection back at my tutoring organization, New Haven Reads. I e-mailed a few students and staff members about this idea yesterday. Just this morning I’ve begun to receive e-mails from other tutors saying they want to start something. Evidently, the need for theological reflection extends to all aspects of our social Christian practice.

And, of course, I can’t help but thank all the wonderful people who joined us on this trip! We each came with an ocean of experiences and beliefs, many of us novices at theological reflections, others in the process of training and others still professionals at it. I highly doubt we would have had such an amazing experience without the people who participated.

NYC Urpan Pilgrimage Group

A New First Impression

Today is the third full day of our New York Pilgrimage and the first day that I woke up in a bed. Yesterday, we moved from Saint Mary’s church on 126th in Harlem (where we slept on the floor) to a youth hostel  on 103rd. The time has gone really quickly, and suprisingly enough I feel very at home on the streets of New York. I have been here a few times before, mostly visiting friends at Columbia University, but on this trip I am gettting a new sense of the city. It is like seeing a new side of one of your old friends. Everyone has there own conception of New York, something like the city of bright lights and Broadway, or the City of Wall street and Capitalism. To me it was always a  place that made me a little uneasy. In my mind it was just too crowded with too much hustle and bustle. A nice place to visit, but not a nice place to live.  In my other trips to the city, I felt that I was a tourist on the outside looking in. I’ve only been here three days, but I feel this view I held in the past has fundamentally changed. In the communities that we have visited, communities dedicated to spirituality and service, I have seen the welcoming and comforting side of a city I once thought was cold and impersonal. The diversity of these communities and the stories of the community members I  have talked to have made me feel a part of this city.

Before this trip, I had never considered New York as a particularly spiritual place. You don’t really think about the spiritual practices of the people in the places that you visit as a tourist. This pilgrimage has introduced me to some amazing places of worship in this city, and amazing clergy members who minister to a cross section of society. This experience started almost immediately after I got of the cab from the airport.  On friday after a day of travel, our pilgrimage started at B’nai Jeshurun a large synagogue in upper Manhattan. Every friday night there is a service in the evening to welcome Shabbat. Our group of 11 or so got to take part in this service. It was very moving for me to see 1000 people on a friday night singing and dancing in praise of God. (Yes, you read correctly,  the service included a dance where everyone lined up, held hands, and made their way through the congregation). The worshipful joy in the building was infectious, making me feel part of the community even though it was my first time visiting. Another unique experience of faith in New York was on Sunday, when we attending the morning service at St. Marks in the Bowery, an Episcopal church in lower Manhattan. This church was the most diverse I have ever been to. Diverse in the racial sense, but also in the sense that everyone had their own individual style. This is New York after all, and there were definately some people in the congregation who looked like they had just stepped out of the musical Rent. It  was a colorful and welcoming congregation. They were very happy to have us, and even invited us to join the choir and sing. They are also led by a wonderful rector. I have come to see that New York is the opposite of the stereotypical godless urban metropolis. It is a city alive with faithful and welcoming people of God.

More on the service side of things to come… don’t worry

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