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January 2019



Opioid crisis prompts diocesan resolution and response 

Vigil at Trinity Church, Bridgewater for those affected by addiction.  Photo: Wesley Messina. 


In April 2016, a 20-year-old parishioner of Trinity Church in Bridgewater, Emmett Scannell, died due to a heroin overdose. Such tragedies have become a national epidemic and are becoming more and more common here in Massachusetts.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Massachusetts is among the top 10 states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths, with an opioid-related death rate at now more than twice the national average.  


Emmett's mother, Aimee D'Arpino, explained in an interview that while her son was away at college on an academic scholarship, struggling with his addiction, she was worried about what people would say about her son's battle with substance-use disorder.

"When he was really in the height of his addiction I stopped going to church," D'Arpino said. She didn't discover the supportive community that she had in her church until Emmett's wake, when almost every member of her church showed up to support her family.

"The stigma that I was anticipating I was placing on myself," D'Arpino said. "As I shared with them why I hadn't been coming, the church's immediate response, in addition to wanting to support the family, was that they wanted to make sure that no one else felt like this wasn't a safe place, whether you're dealing with addiction yourself, or you have a loved one who is dealing with addiction."

From this community's loss, the "Friends of Emmett" addiction ministry at Trinity Church in Bridgewater was created, named after D'Arpino's son.

That ministry, in turn, inspired a resolution adopted at last November's Diocesan Convention to make the opioid overdose reversal medication Naloxone available in every congregation of the diocese, along with training to administer it.

A group is now forming to determine the best ways to implement the Diocesan Convention resolution. Diocesan Missioner for Networking and Formation Martha Gardner hopes that churches that are already doing some form of addiction ministry can come together and form a network to compile best practices to offer to congregations through an educational program, along with the Naloxone kits and training.

"What I hope comes out of this is that a real network develops of people who care about this issue and want to support one another in whatever they are trying," Gardner said.

In her work with the Addiction Policy Forum, Emmett's mother, Aimee D'Arpino, has often heard people say that, while this ministry seems like a great idea, they don't have an opioid problem in their town, in their church or in their family. D'Arpino said that she believes those are the most dangerous words someone could ever say because the disease doesn't discriminate.

"I think if we're discussing it as a church, our families will feel comfortable coming in and seeking the support that they really need, because they're not getting it anywhere else," D'Arpino said. "I think it helps take the blinders off a little bit for families when they realize that not only is it something that can happen in their church, it is something that can happen in their home, and that if it does, it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about."

In 2017, the Addiction Policy Forum Families Committee announced a National Day of Remembrance and held events in participating communities throughout the country. Trinity Church in Bridgewater each year hosts an ecumenical healing service on this day for those affected by the disease of addiction, and this year, is teaming up with local mental health agencies, addiction specialists and a pastoral support team to offer a special program of conversation and reflection for young people and youth workers from across the diocese, to be held just before the service of remembrance on Sunday, Jan. 27.



Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service is one of many prayer opportunities at Cathedral Church of St. Paul

Ylisse Bess Washington, the marketing and events coordinator for the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, will preach at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service on Jan. 19.

Courtesy photo.

The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston will host a worship service honoring the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in partnership with the Paulist Center and the Church of the Covenant, and all are welcome.


The one-hour service, which will focus on the call to justice shared by all Christians, will be Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m., with refreshments following. Cathedral staff member Ylisse Bess Washington will preach.  This year's theme comes from Deuteronomy 16:18-20:  "Justice and only justice you shall pursue."

Christians of all denominations worldwide are invited each year to observe the eight-day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, observed from Jan. 18 to 25. Biblical reflections and prayers for each of the eight days are provided in resource materials created for this year's observance.  Find them on page 16 of the planning guide, found here


Prayer offered every weekday morning: The Cathedral Church of St. Paul invites all who work in downtown Boston and those who are coming in to the adjacent diocesan offices for meetings to take part in one of the daily prayer services offered Monday through Friday in the cathedral church's Chapel of St. John the Evangelist. These 8:30 a.m. services each have a designated focus (Morning Prayer on Mondays, with a focus on justice; Holy Eucharist on Tuesdays; expansive language Morning Prayer on Wednesdays; Rite II Morning Prayer on Thursdays; and sung Morning Prayer on Fridays) and are designed to end in time for everyone to get to work or meetings by 9 a.m.  They are offered with cooperation from Episcopal City Mission, the Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin and Emmanuel Church and Trinity Church in Boston.


"Part of the vocation of a cathedral is to pray on behalf of the whole church and to encourage and model a life grounded in corporate prayer," the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, the cathedral's dean, said.  "These daily offices build on our invitation for all parishes to fold the diocesan cycle of prayer into their weekly worship, and they provide another means for us to be a 'House of Prayer for All People,' as is our calling." 


Anyone who would like to be on the rota to lead services on a particular weekday is invited to contact Dean Amy McCreath at

Doors open for Women's March: On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul will open its doors from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a. m. to those participating in the Women's March on Boston Common. Parish groups participating in the Women's March are invited to use the cathedral church as a gathering place before heading out to the march, scheduled to take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m.




The Rev. Noble Scheepers, the rector of Trinity Church in Marshfield and a member of the Massachusetts Indaba working group, teaches the Indaba teams a new song at their Jan. 12 launch event. 

Photo: Tracy J. Sukraw.

Six congregations launch Massachusetts Indaba 2019: 

Six congregations are answering the diocesan mission strategy's call for "embracing brave change" by stepping forward to launch the "Massachusetts Indaba 2019" initiative this month.

Teams of four people from each of the congregations gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston on Saturday, Jan. 12 to sing and pray together, get some orientation and begin planning their Indaba experience.

St. Paul's Church in Bedford, St. David's Church in South Yarmouth and St. Andrew's Church in Wellesley will form one Indaba partnership. Emmanuel Church in Boston, St. James's Church in Cambridge and Trinity Church in Marshfield comprise the second.

Over the course of three weekends in March, June and October, each of the participating congregations will take a turn hosting their partner parishes' teams. They will use these weekend encounters as opportunities to offer and receive hospitality, share meals and fellowship and learn more about each other's communities and the particular opportunities and challenges of congregational life in each place.

The teams will gather for a closing celebration in October to share their experiences and hopes for the future.

Read more here.


Registration opens Feb. 1 for summer camp: It may be the peak of winter, but the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, N.H., is already preparing for summer.  Summer camp registration opens Feb. 1 at For more details on programs and session dates, visit the Barbara C. Harris Center site or contact the camp registrar, Abby, at

2019 - 2020 retreat space available: The Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center is now accepting reservations for retreats and conferences through December 2020.  Contact Jennifer Boyd at with any questions or to register a group.


Congregational Consultants mark 15 years: The diocese's Congregational Consultants are this year marking 15 years of service to congregations, during which they've offered countless hours of guidance on everything from annual budgeting and audits, property matters and financial planning, to leading vestry retreats, conflict mediation and mutual ministry reviews to assess how lay and ordained leaders are working together to accomplish goals.

"I would like congregations to know that consultants bring rich experiences to their work with parishes on various issues. Being able to exchange ideas from other parishes and to access resources can often help a parish find a way to solve its problems," consultant Betsey Anderson said in an interview via e-mail. She is a member of St. Paul's Church in Bedford, where she has served in many positions over the years, including as treasurer, senior warden and, currently, as assistant treasurer.


This year, Anderson (pictured, left) will take on a leadership role in convening and coordinating the Congregational Consultants, alongside Chris Meyer, a founding member of the Congregational Consultants and the group's volunteer coordinator since 2007 He is a member of the Parish of St. Paul in Newton Highlands.

The Congregational Consultants honored two members in December 2018 with the annual Jack Doran Congregational Consultant of the Year Award. Pictured with Bishop Alan M. Gates (left) is honoree Bob Malone of St. Michael's Church in Holliston. Consultant Elinor Horner of All Saints Parish in Brookline was also honored with the 2018 award (photo not available). The late Jack Doran, for whom the award is named, was a founding coordinator of the Congregational Consultants with retired Bishop Suffragan Bud Cederholm. Courtesy photo.


In addition to the business and leadership coaching they offer to individual congregations, the Congregational Consultants also host an annual series of spring workshops at locations around the diocese that are focused on the business aspects of congregational life.


"Parishes are conducting annual meetings and electing new officers at this time of year, and these workshops can be especially helpful to incoming wardens, treasurers and vestry members, as well as clergy, in gaining an understanding of the business aspects of congregational life and becoming familiar with some of the tools that are available," Meyer said in an interview.

The workshops will be offered on four Saturdays: March 16 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston; March 23 at Trinity Church in Melrose; March 30 at Trinity Church in Canton; and April 6 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Wareham. (Click on the date links for registration information).

Interested in becoming a congregational consultant? The group is always looking for new members who have time and professional business and leadership experience to share. Inquiries can be directed to coordinator Chris Meyer at


Read more here.




Episcopalians across the country respond to federal shutdown's impact: Episcopal News Service reports that as the effects of the longest federal government shutdown in United States history ripple across the country, many Episcopalians are feeling the economic pinch even as others try to help their neighbors cope. From school tuition deferrals to free firewood to anxiety support groups, the responses run the gamut in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, on Native American reservations and in seaside communities. Read the full story here.


Join Bishops United Against Gun Violence in weekly prayer: The national coalition Bishops United Against Gun Violence is broadcasting live weekly five-minute prayer services on Fridays at 2:30 p.m., via Facebook, hosted each week by a different member bishop. 


On Friday, Jan. 18, neighbor bishop the Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts (pictured) will lead the service. Find more details and join him in prayer here.


Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Diocese of Massachusetts are also members of the coalition.


"What's New, What's Now, What's Next": The Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) is holding its annual conference in Boston, Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 20-23. The CEEP "What's New, What's Now, What's Next" conference is being hosted by Trinity Church in Boston and held at the Westin Copley Place hotel. This is the largest annual gathering in the Episcopal Church, according to CEEP, and a forum for both clergy and lay leaders to have conversation about the challenges and opportunities faced by parishes across the diocese and around the country. The conference will feature 33 workshops and 11 pre-conference sessions, in addition to a keynote by Dr. Christena Cleveland of Duke University and a closing address by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. As a way to thank the host diocese, CEEP is offering members of the Diocese of Massachusetts an opportunity to register at the member rate with an additional $100 discount on registration fees. More information about the conference is available at To register using the discounted rate, contact




Some of the parishes chalking their doors (from left) are: All Saints of the North Shore in Danvers; St. Paul's Church in Natick; Christ Church in Andover; and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. Courtesy photos.


Chalking the doors for Epiphany: The Feast of the Epiphany, or the Twelfth Day of Christmas, is marked in many places by the Christian tradition of "chalking the doors." A number of parishes around the diocese participated in the tradition, using colored chalk  to write the following on the outside of their buildings: 20 + C + M + B + 19.

The markings represent the initials of the Magi--Caspar, Malchior and Balthazar--who came to visit Jesus. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means "May Christ bless the house."  The "+" signs represent the cross, and the "20" at the beginning and the "19" at the end mark the year.  The chalked inscription is viewed as a request for Christ to bless the marked buildings and stay with those who dwell inside throughout the year. 


Bishop Gates shares food and conversation with members of The Crossing. Courtesy photo.

Bishop Gates visits The Crossing: On Thursday, Jan. 10 Bishop Alan M. Gates visited The Crossing, the church community that gathers every Thursday evening at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston to share a meal together at 6 p.m. followed by worship at 7 p.m.


The community was started by a group of young adults, and while most in the community are in their 20s and 30s, their weekly worship service and community are open to all. 


New array of solar panels on the parish hall of Christ Church in Cambridge.
Photo: Resonant Energy.

New solar panel installation at Christ Church in Cambridge: An array of solar panels was recently installed on the roof of the parish hall of Christ Church in Cambridge. According to Alex Davis, a member of the vestry and one of two stewards for resources, the parish originally started working on the idea in 2014, but ultimately found that the roof was too old to support the array. Solar project work resumed in 2017 after the roof was replaced, and the actual installation only took about a month. 


The system was installed as part of the parish's capital campaign and is seen as an investment in mission. The parish's 2018 sustainability proposal explained: "As the first church in Harvard Square to install a solar array, Christ Church would be setting a moral example through our actions--demonstrating our commitment to a sustainable future for all people."


The solar panel installation was purchased outright and should save the church about $10,000 per year in electricity savings and incentives from the state through its SMART program. The system will provide about one-third of the sanctuary and parish hall's annual electricity use.




Smithsonian Magazine: How should we memorialize those lost in the war on terror?: Since 2006 a back garden at Old North Church in Boston has housed a memorial to the fallen of the Iraq and Afghan wars, making it the oldest such memorial in the country. The memorial is included in this January 2019 feature in Smithsonian Magazine. Read more here.


Boston Globe: At a Chelsea church in the age of Trump, story of Mary and Joseph hits home: All of it falls heavily upon the shoulders of the men and women who gathered in a living room on Cherry Street on a recent rainy evening. It was the first night of Las Posadas (The Inns)--nine nightly processions leading up to Christmas that re-enact the journey of Joseph and Mary, mother of Jesus, who were far from home and in desperate need of refuge none was willing to give.

Gathered in the house of parishioner Suyapa Perez, members of San Lucas and a church in Milton prayed together in English and Spanish and, accompanied by a guitar and maracas, sang Spanish carols "The Little Donkey" and "The Fishes in the River" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

Bishop Gayle Harris, who joined the group, spelled out the symbolism--even more painfully obvious this year than when she visited two years ago.

"I am embarrassed and horrified by some of the actions of this country against immigrants," she said. "How dare we turn our backs and close our doors on immigrants. If we're doing that, we're closing the door on Mary, Joseph, and Jesus." Read more here.




Coming Up 


Jan 16: Evening Contemplative Eucharist, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington, 7:00pm

Jan 18-19: Diocesan Council Meeting, Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, Greenfield, NH

Jan 19: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 7:00pm

Jan 20: Priesthood Ordination: Jennifer McCracken, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 4:00pm

Jan 26: Episcopal Relief & Development Disaster Preparedness Training, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 9:00am

Jan 26: Wisdom of the Enneagram Retreat, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington, 9:30am

Jan 26: Confirmation -- All Deaneries, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 10:30am

Jan 27: Bishop Gates visits St. Paul's Church in Dedham, 9:00am

Jan 27: Bishop Harris visits St. Thomas's Church in Taunton, 9:00am

Jan 27: Reflection, Remembrance and Response to Addiction, Trinity Church, Bridgewater, 3:00pm

Feb 2: 2019 Ministry Discernment Conference, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 8:30am

Feb 3: Bishop Harris visits St. Peter's Church in Cambridge, 9:00am

Feb 3: Bishop Gates visits St. Mark's Church in Dorchester, 9:00am

Feb 8-10: High School Retreat, Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, Greenfield, NH 

Feb 9: Eucharistic Visitor Training, Church of Our Saviour, Somerset, 9:00am

Feb 9: Lower Merrimack Valley Collaborative "Celtic Spirituality" Program, Trinity Church, Haverhill, 10:00am

Feb 10: Bishop Harris visits St. Paul's Church in Malden, 9:00am

Feb 10: Bishop Gates visits Parish of All Saints in Dorchester, 9:00am

Feb 10: Union of Black Episcopalians Absalom Jones Celebration, St. Bartholomew's Church, Cambridge, 4:00pm

Feb 20: Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes Conference, Westin Copley Place Hotel, Boston, 9:00am

Feb 20: Evening Contemplative Eucharist, Bethany House of Prayer, Arlington, 7:00pm

Feb 21: Diocesan Council Meeting, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 5:30pm

Feb 23: Episcopal Relief & Development Disaster Preparedness Training, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, 9:00am

Feb 24: Bishop Harris visits St. John's Church in Saugus, 9:00am

Feb 24: Bishop Gates visits Trinity Church in Topsfield, 9:00am

Feb 26-28: 2019 Clergy Pre-Lenten Retreat, Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, Greenfield, NH






January 24, 2019
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