Coffee Hour at The Commons

Coffee Hour at The Commons

Faith meets daily life in conversations, stories, and even sermons

All Episodes

In this episode, Jasree is joined by guest cohost ECCT Racial Justice Resource Coordinator Kelli Ray Gibson and Dori Dumas and Antoinette Badillo of the NAACP Greater New Haven Branch. They discuss the history of the branch, the current work they are involved in, and ways listeners and participate in this much needed work in our own communities. To sign up to become a member of the NAACP, please visit https://www.naacp.org/become-a-member/  

Aug 2020

20 min 32 sec

On this episode, Alli and Jasree are joined with Chris Sikkema, the Manager for Special Projects in the Office of Communication for The Episcopal Church. Chris works with the Way of Love, Becoming Beloved Community, Episcopal Revivals, Sermons That Work, and the Episcopal Asset Map.   Learn more about Traveling the Way of Love here. 

Jun 2020

34 min 3 sec

On this episode, Jasree and Alli interview the Rev. Carrie Combs and the Rev. Adam Thomas about their own podcast "A Podcast for Nerdy Christians." Carrie and Adam talk about the "Nerd Canon," and how they have been able to explore topics such as redemption, mentorship, and reconciliation in Star Wars, Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and other "nerdy" pop culture stories. At the end of the episode, listen to a few minutes of their episode on Way-finding in the Church and the Disney movie Moana. Find their podcast wherever you find ours and like their page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nerdychristians/.    

Jun 2020

39 min 50 sec

In this episode, Jasree chats with Architect Duo Dickinson and the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford about the ongoing renovations to the cathedral. Duo shares the design, challenges, and timelines of the renovation. Dean Howell shares what she hopes for the community in the new space.     

May 2020

29 min 25 sec

On this episode Alli shares her experience at the Laundry Love of Greater Danbury at the White Street Wash in Danbury. Alli met with Denise Holl to learn about the ministry and where Denise sees God at work.  Learn more about Laundry Love at Laundrylove.org. If you would like to get involved with the Laundry Love of Greater Danbury, contact Denise at drholl @ yahoo.com. LLGD is run by volunteers and funded by philanthropy. To keep costs and organizational functions to a minimum, St. James’ Episcopal Church functions as fiduciary for Danbury’s Laundry Love. Donations should be sent to St. James (25 West St., Danbury, CT 06810), and directed to Laundry Love of Greater Danbury.

May 2020

19 min 15 sec

Welcome to Season 7! We kick off this season by chatting with Bart Geissinger, Executive Director of Camp Washington. We learn more about Bart's journey from camper to director, the improvements done at camp, and what camp looks like in the time of COVID-19.  We are excited to be back for another season, and will be releasing episodes every other Friday this season. 

Apr 2020

27 min 42 sec

Today Alli and Jasree welcome the Rev. Tuesday Rupp, the Rev. Norman MacLeod, the Rev. Rachel Thomas, and the Rev. Erin Flinn to discuss Creation Tenebrae, a service lamenting and praying for the state of creation.   More information and resources at CoffeeHour.org

Mar 2020

32 min 51 sec

Alli and Jasree are joined by Alan Yarborough, the Church Relations Officer in the Office of Government Relations for The Episcopal Church. Alan talks about why it is important for all to participate in the U.S. Census, the relationship of faith and politics, and the upcoming elections. FROM ALAN --  Update on COVID19 and the 2020 Census: Since this podcast was recorded, the reality of daily life in the U.S. has changed. Regarding the U.S. 2020 Census, what is most important to keep in mind is that it is still moving forward, and it is easier now more than ever to fill out the census, online, over the phone, and by mail, all without having to see a census worker. Beyond that, the Census Bureau is working with health professionals to adjust their operations as needed and to keep the census data collection on schedule. Additionally, some suggestions in this podcast involve in person interactions and messaging. As we temporarily shift many church activities to online platforms, let us know the creative virtual ways you plan to message about the 2020 Census within your community. Alan also shares the resources available for Episcopalians for the 2020 Census, 2020 Election, and a Civil Discourse Curriculum, all of which can be found here. 

Mar 2020

30 min 13 sec

In this episode, Alli and Jasree talk with Robin Hammeal-Urban and Deb Kenney, two ECCT staff members, about the upcoming Spring Training on Saturday, April 18 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at Berlin High School.    Read more at coffeehour.org. 

Mar 2020

25 min 13 sec

In this episode, Alli and Jasree bring in ECCT's Archivist, Greg Farr, to take a look back as to how ECCT has addressed the sin of systemic racism in the church, particularly back in the 1980s.   Read more, including the mentioned reports, at coffeehour.org. 

Feb 2020

30 min 22 sec

In this episode, Alli and Jasree welcome Tim Hodapp, Canon for Mission Collaboration for ECCT, and Alan Roxburgh, founder of The Missional Network and accomplished author, to the podcast. ​The conversation flows between discussing the friendship between Tim and Al, the work ECCT has done with Al to Join Jesus in the neighborhood, and the various spiritual practices associated with this work.  Both Al and Tim share numerous stories of what it means to join Jesus in the neighborhood, and how impactful this practice can be.  To learn more about Joining Jesus in a New Missional Age visit joiningjesus.net. 

Feb 2020

35 min 27 sec

In this episode, Alli and Jasree talk about Ash Wednesday, the history of Lent, and various spiritual practices people take on during Lent -- including their own!    Are you taking on or giving up anything for Lent? Let us know!    Find this episode at: coffeehour.org

Feb 2020

32 min 51 sec

 Today we are joined with Kelli Rae Gibson the Racial Justice Resource Coordinator for ECCT and Peter Levenstrong, a third year student at Yale Divinity School. He is a transitional deacon in the Diocese of Missouri. Today we tried on something new! Peter preached a sermon that he originally preached on November 5th as his senior sermon for seminary. Then after about a 30 second period of silent reflection, we will have a discussion with Peter and Kelli.  ​Read a full copy of Peter's sermon on coffeehour.org. 

Feb 2020

33 min 59 sec

Today we have the Rev. Tracy Johnson Russell, the Rev. Amjad Samuel, and the Rev. Tom Furrer. All three are members of the Companions in Mission Ministry Network. The mission of this ministry network is to Inspire, Encourage, and Equip individuals and parishes for active mission engagement locally and around the world.  Part of their work includes planning and organizing regional missional gatherings, overseeing several grants, and organizing an annual mission conference.    Their upcoming mission conference is on March 7 at St. Paul’s in Riverside.    Welcome Tracy, Amjad, and Tom!     We start the conversation learning about the work the Ministry Network does, often serving as a stable resource for churches and parishioners called to do mission work. Tracy, Amjad, and Tom all share how they became involved with Mission work and the Companions in Mission Ministry Network — spoiler alert: Tom is at the heart of how Tracy and Amjad became involved. Tom shares a couple examples of missions that have come from connections made within the Ministry Network.    The next Companion in Mission Conference is on March 7. You can learn more about the conference, speaker, and workshops on the Eventbrite page here. You can register on Eventbrite or at the door. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. 

Feb 2020

28 min 1 sec

In this short episode, Jasree and Alli recap the Rooted in Jesus Conference which happened in Atlanta, GA, January 22-24. Alli also attended the FORMA and Evangelism Matters pre-conferences, which she talks about.  Read more and see some photos at: http://www.coffeehour.org/episode-74.html   

Jan 2020

14 min 54 sec

For the past 13 years, Chris George has been the Executive Director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, Connecticut's largest refugee resettlement agency.  Based in New Haven but working with community groups all over the state, IRIS has welcomed more than 1,000 refugees to Connecticut over the past three years. Chris has spent most of his professional life living in, or working on, the Middle East.  He spent a total of 12 years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Chris was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch – Middle East for two years. He worked nine years with Save the Children (mostly in the Middle East) and three years with American Friends Service Committee.  Chris began his international career in 1977 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Muscat, Oman.     You can register for the run at https://runsignup.com/Race/CT/NewHaven/IRISRunforRefugees. Be sure to let us know if you will be running and keep and eye out for Alli on the course!    Read more at www.coffeehour.org/episode-73

Jan 2020

29 min 47 sec

Hello and welcome to Season 6 of Coffee Hour at The Commons. It's a new year which means we have some new news to share! Listen to our special announcement! #whatcoulditbe? 

Jan 2020

3 min 8 sec

Warning!!! The bishops have taken over the podcast for the final episode of the 5th season.   Join bishops Ian T. Douglas and Laura J. Ahrens as they dwell in the gospel of Matthew 24:36-44, the gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent.    As you listen, what words, phrases, or images jumped out at you? And where might God be nudging you this Advent season? 

Dec 2019

13 min 29 sec

The Reverend Marcus Halley is the current Dean of Formation for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, Missional Priest in Charge at Church of the Holy Spirit in West Haven, Connecticut, and author of the forthcoming book from Church Publishing – Proclaim!. Prior to coming to Connecticut, Marcus served as the rector of Saint Paul’s Church in Minneapolis and Missioner for Evangelism for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. He is passionate about all things liturgical, historical, ecclesial, and missional and can be found somewhere baking, praying, writing, reading, or randomly dancing to Steve Wonder songs.   Welcome Marcus! Find the show notes here: 

Dec 2019

31 min 51 sec

The Rev. Dr. Hillary is the Rector of St. Christopher's Church in Gladwyne, PA. and author of Joy in Confession by Forward Movement. She has also developed an online wellness and spirituality communality called The Hive (www.thehiveapiary.com), including a podcast with her husband called The Hive Cast. Currently, Hillary serves as the President of the Standing Committee of Dio Pa and a General Convention Deputy for the Diocese of Pennsylvania. She has traveled extensively preaching and leading educational and spiritual events in a variety of topics and settings. Such topics include: Reconciliation, yoga, liturgical studies, building Christian community, meditation, retreats, bee-keeping, parenting, and the Daring Way. She is the proud mother of Delia and wife of Ken   Welcome Hillary! It is so wonderful to finally have you on the podcast thank you for joining.    Read the show notes here: 

Nov 2019

31 min 37 sec

Anne Rowthorn, Ph. D. is a passionate, long-time environmentalist. She has written or compiled 12 books, of late specializing in the area of religion and ecology. Long an admirer of John Muir, she took particular pleasure in compiling the book, The Wisdom of John Muir:  100+ Selections from the Letters, Journals and Essays of the Great Naturalist,which is available in most book stores and national park gift shops.    The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Rowthorn was one of the founding faculty members of the Institute of Sacred Music, and a professor of Liturgy at Yale Divinity School, and was the school’s first Chapel Minister. In 1987 he was elected Suffragan Bishop of Connecticut and then from 1994 to 2001 served as Bishop of the Episcopal congregations in Europe.  Over the past forty years he has compiled and edited three hymnals and written hymns, among them the school hymn for Berkeley Divinity School and a hymn commissioned to mark the tercentenary of Yale University.  His most recent hymnal is Sing of the World Made New: Hymns of Justice, Peace and Christian Responsibility.    Read the show notes here: 

Nov 2019

34 min 49 sec

The Rev. Armando Ghinaglia Guhnahglia was ordained to the priesthood in 2018. He serves as the missional curate at Christ Church, New Haven, and last year as missional curate at St. John's, Bristol, and Church of Our Savior, Plainville. Armando is a native of Venezuela raised in Texas, he graduated from Yale College with a bachelor's degree in political science before completing his M.Div. at Yale Divinity School. He is currently a second-year student at Yale Law School, where he engages in litigation and advocacy on behalf of fellow immigrants and workers.   Welcome Armando!   Read the show notes on our website: http://www.coffeehour.org/episode-68.html

Nov 2019

33 min 28 sec

Today’s podcast is a recorded sermon preached by the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris at the 2019 Annual Convention Worship of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. The Gospel reading for the day was Luke 18:9-14.    Per her request, a typed manuscript of her sermon is not provided. We invite you to share this episode with someone who may enjoy or need it. 

Nov 2019

26 min 13 sec

The Rev. Callie Swanlund serves as both a parish priest—Associate Rector of St. Christopher’s, Gladwyne, PA (outside of Philadelphia)—and a "priestpreneur." She created the film and resource for formation/evangelism How2charist: Digital Instructed Eucharist and leads individuals and groups in the work of Dr. Brené Brown as a Certified Daring Way Facilitator.    Callie is part of the 2019 class of Episcopal Church Foundation Fellows, and is working to integrate her passions of teaching, leading, creating content, and gathering community, to better serve the Church. She is a mama, creator, lover of Jesus, and dreamer who is currently building a missional initiative called The Epiphany Space for others to discover and use their creative gifts.    Welcome Callie!   Show notes available here: www.coffeehour.org/episode-66

Oct 2019

34 min 55 sec

Sandy Milien is a young and driven Afrolatina, passionate about social justice and the calling of The Episcopal Church to empower youth and young adults to be leaders in their communities. She is currently the project lead for the Episcopal Church Beloved Community StorySharing Campaign. This evangelism initiative seeks to help and equip faith communities and individuals to share and receive stories of faith, race, and difference in their communities. She is also one of the co-hosts for the Way of Love Podcast with Bishop Michael Curry. Sandy lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where she works as Missioner for Community Engagement and Assistant to the Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem. In her free time, you can find Sandy reading, dancing or spending time with family and friends.   Welcome Sandy!    Read the show-notes at CoffeeHour.org. 

Oct 2019

32 min 30 sec

Adam Yates is the rector, half-time, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in East Haddam, CT and also serves on staff at the Episcopal Church in Connecticut as the Secretary of Convention. In this roll, Adam organizes the planning team for the Annual Convention and sits on variety of committees with exciting sounding names like, Joint Leadership, Faith & Order, and Mission Council.   Adam lives in Andover, CT with his husband, Matthew Emery, who is the senior pastor at Storrs Congregational Church, UCC, their cat, Demon, and their beagle, Daniel, whom occupies a large amount of the picture storage on Adam’s phone.  Adam’s preferred pronuns are he, him, and his.   The Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s convention is coming up on October 26-27, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. Read more at CoffeeHour.org  

Oct 2019

32 min

Today our guest is Kate McKey-Dunar. Kate hails from Minnesota but has been living in in New Haven for the past 5 years. She received her Masters of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 2018. She completed her residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in the spring of 2019, and now is a chaplain at Backus Hospital in Norwich, CT. She is a postulant for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.  Read more at coffeehour.org

Oct 2019

29 min 46 sec

The Rev. Peter Walsh has been the Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan, Connecticut since 2008. Previously, he served in Phoenix, Arizona; Cleveland Heights, Ohio; and was a Chaplain at the Kent School. Peter grew up in Delmar, New York, a small town outside of Albany. He is a graduate of the Hotchkiss School, Harvard College, and Yale Divinity School.  Embracing the new missional age, Peter publishes a weekly vlog on St. Mark’s website, which makes my Digital Storyteller heart happy.      Professor Miroslav Volf is an esteemed author and the founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. A member of the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Evangelical Church in Croatia, Miroslav has been involved in international ecumenical dialogues and interfaith dialogues, and is an active participant in the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.    The Rev. Justin Crisp has been a member of St. Mark’s clergy since 2014, and since 2018 is the Associate Rector and Theologian in Residence. In his roles, Justin focuses on St. Mark's liturgical, pastoral care, and youth ministries, he teaches a weekly theology class, collaborates on Christian formation initiatives, and teaches in the formation programs. Justin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Yale Divinity School, Berkeley Divinity School, and Yale Intstitute of Sacred Music. Currently he is completing his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (concentrating in theology) at Yale University.        Justin and Miroslav are co-editors of "Joy and Human Flourishing: Essays on Theology, Culture, and the Good Life" (2015).    Welcome Peter, Miroslav, and Justin!    Read the show notes here: 

Sep 2019

29 min 22 sec

Allison Batson is an energetic, compassionate, steadfast, and loving woman who started a program called Dinner for a Dollarat Grace and St. Peter’s in Hamden, CT. It is a weekly communal supper where all are welcome, meals are one dollar per person, with a max of 5 dollars per person. The meals are homemade, hot, and enjoyed communally. Allison is working with the Rev. Bob Bergner to turn this ministry into a food truck to take this on the road. In her regular life, she is a preschool teacher in Hamden. She lives, works, and ministers in Hamden.    Welcome Allison!    Read more: http://www.coffeehour.org/episode-61.html 

Sep 2019

28 min 31 sec

The Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews is rector of St. James’ parish in New London, where he has served for 2 years. Previously he was the Partnership Officer for Africa serving on the Presiding Bishop’s staff, and served as a associate rector of a bi-lingual church in California. He is interested in urban ministry and passionate about the realm of God. He lives in New London with his spouse Johanna and their son Dhruv. He has been a previous guest on the podcast in our first season!    The Rev. Deborah Meister is the Associate Clergy for Formation, Justice, and Public Theology at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal, Canada. She began her ministry as Associate Rector at St. Lukes in Birmingham, AL, then served 10 years as Rector of two urban parishes with deep passion to transforming poverty. She is passionate about the intersection of monastic contemplative spirituality and justice work.    Both Ranjit and Deborah are co-creators of the Let my people go Ministry Networkdedicated to raising awareness of the plight of migrants in detention and raising funds to get them out.    Welcome Ranjit and Deborah. To read the full show notes visit: http://www.coffeehour.org/episode-60.html 

Sep 2019

31 min 27 sec

To kick off Season 5 we are getting into the back to school season with college chaplains!    We have the Rev. Paul Carling, the Rev. Brian Blayer,.    The Rev. Paul Carling is the Chaplain at the Episcopal Church at Yale a position he has held for 5 years. Before Yale he was doing parish work for 10 years, and he was a professor of psychology before then at a variety of universities, and worked around the world to advance the recovery of people with serious mental illnesses. He is passionate about discovering the wisdom of Young Adults between 17-35 and how it must shape the church of the future. When he is not at his office of at the chapel on campus you can find him cooking for friends, reading trashing ecclesiastical mysteries, and gardening. He lives in Bridgeport with his wife, Cherise.    The Rev. Brian Blayer is the rector of St. Mark’s Chapel in Storrs, where he has been for the last two years. St. Mark's has an active campus ministry for the University of Connecticut. Before Storrs and UCONN, he was the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Whitestone, Queens. Before he was ordained he was a high school English teacher in Queens. He is passionate about potential — he enjoys exploring potential and being with people as we realize our own potential and finding possibilities that we have in church communities. He hosts a radio talk show, Crossroads, on WHUS 91.7fm Storrs talking about the intersection of their faith life and personal life. Hmm, sounds familiar? It is also a youtube show and podcast. Brian is also a drummer.     Welcome Paul and Brian!    Read the show notes at CoffeeHour.Org

Sep 2019

33 min 13 sec

We are closing this season of Coffee Hour at The Commons visiting Camp Washington! We are calling this the CampCast or Coffee Hour at Camp.   We have three individuals with us from camp. Tyler Jarvis is the Summer Camp Director and Special Programs Coordinator throughout the rest of the year, he is from Texas. Tristian Fillatio is a first time camp counselor from Newtown, CT. And, Janette Birtha is from Wallingford, CT. She has been a camp counselor for 5 summers.     Read more at CoffeeHour.org 

Aug 2019

29 min 19 sec

Alli interviews three deacons, the Rev. Patricia (Pat) Jackson, the Rev. Bonnie Matthews, and the Rev. Felix Rivera.  The Rev. Patricia (Pat) Jackson is a retired clinical researcher within the pharmaceutical industry. She is a “child of the soil - Jamaican soil, that is.” She came to Connecticut over 30 years ago from Jamaica by way of Canada, England, and New York. She was ordained a deacon in September 2007 and currently serves at Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown. Pat’s diaconal passion centers around reaching out to the poor, lonely, sick, forgotten, housebound, and marginalized both inside and outside the Church community. This passion has led her to be an advocate for our retired deacon community whom she faithfully serves both in their lives and at the time of their deaths. Pat is a proud mother of two grown children and a nana to six grand babies.    The Rev. Bonnie Matthews was ordained in 2012. She is the chair of the Deacons' Council and was elected to Mission Council during the 2018 Convention. Her diaconal interests include working with and for the homeless in such projects as The Boot Party (which we will learn more about later on). With the season of Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation, she is working with the Racial Healing Network. In her paid vocation she has been a Certified Surgical technologist at Hartford Hospital for 45 years. Bonnie is a grandmother of 3 boys and enjoys structured downtime such as reading and counted cross stitch.   The Rev. Felix Rivera is a retired electrical engineer. Felix is one of our most recent deacons, as he was ordained in June. He is interested in teaching English as a second language and leadership development in the Latino community. Felix and his wife have two sons and three grandchildren - ages 7 to 21. In his free time, Felix and his wife, Carmen,  like to do trips to NYC where he is from, and Chicago to visit their granddaughter. They also enjoy the arts in music and the visual arts.    Welcome Felix, Bonnie, and Pat!   Read more at coffeehour.org. 

Aug 2019

34 min 19 sec

The Rev. Marcella Gillis is the Assistant Rector for Youth & Family Ministry at Christ & Holy Trinity in Westport, CT. She received her bachelors in International Development from American University, and her masters from Yale Divinity School. She was ordained in June 2017 at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.   Marcella has served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, working with local schoolteachers and youth groups. She has also worked as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, where she taught Confirmation and coordinated service trips and outreach projects for children and youth. Marcella is passionate about mission trips and work with youth, among other things. She curretntly lives in Westport with her wife Meg.    Welcome Marcella!    Read more: http://www.coffeehour.org/episode-56.html 

Jul 2019

29 min 7 sec

Swords to Plowshares started through a partnership with Newtown Action Alliance, the Episcopal Church, the UCC, and the New Haven Police Department. Three years ago, the Rev. Jeremy Lucas won an AR-15 in a raffle for a softball team and destroyed the gun and turned it into a gardening tool with the help of Raw Tools Inc. He dedicated that gardening tool to the Newtown Action Alliance, which led to a conversation about change in Connecticut around turning guns into gardening tools. Jim worked with the Yale-New Haven Hospital and churches in the New Haven area, and begun putting together the Swords to Plowshares Ministry Network.   Read more at CoffeeHour.org 

Jul 2019

35 min 4 sec

I must be honest before I read the bios for our three guests, these are their words from the “Meet the Region Missionaries”info booklet from ECCT. I just paraphrased them. Okay here we go!   ERENDIRA JIMENEZ - SOUTHWEST REGION MISSIONARY   Erendira is a recent graduate of Yale Divinity School. She is originally from San Diego, CA and Louisville, KY — which is where she first made the Episcopal Church her home. Her professional work history includes social work, college chaplaincy, and congregational development. She has great passion for those who find themselves on the margins, both of the world and of the church, and working to create equitable, just, and loving communities. She believes in the power of storytelling, imagination, creativity, failing, and sometimes succeeding. She is also passionate about rock climbing, weaving, and hosting people for homemade meals. In her words, "I join you bringing a heart to listen—to ourselves, to our neighbors, and to the Spirit—and to discern together where God might be calling us to move from death into life, from darkness into light, and from indifference into love.”    DYLAN MELLO - NORTHWEST REGION MISSIONARY   Dylan is a postulant for the priesthood and just finished a two-year internship at Trinity, Brooklyn before accepting this role in the Northwest Region. Dylan’s background is in sports medicine, working previously as an athletic trainer at the University of Connecticut and EO Smith High School. He is originally from Massachusetts and has lived all over the East Coast before landing in Connecticut with his wife and two young daughters. His hobbies include traveling and exploring new places as a local. In his words, "I’m excited to connect and collaborate as we, together, explore what God is up to in this neighborhood and beyond.”    GEORGE BLACK - SOUTH CENTRAL REGION MISSIONARY   George is a New Haven native and a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, who majored in English. For the past 15 years, George was a youth worker and advocate focused on the advancement and development of Black and Brown young people. Most recently, he was the Chief Dream Director for the city of New Haven with The Future Project. His vision and hope is to see young people, and all people, live into their fundamental identity as worthy of love and belonging from God and others, and their fundamental responsibility for the healing of the world. His passions include theology, spoken work poetry, the Black community in America, youth development, and boardgames. George joined the Episcopal Church in 2017, and since then it has been home for him. In his own words, "I am ready to discern the movement of God in this region and partner with God in making that movement a reality.”    Alli begins the conversation asking the RMs "What drew you to this role?” Dylan said it was the use of the word “connection” in the job description. For Erendira, she is interested in working in the church at a larger sense, and excited to connect people. George said this was the first position that actually allowed him to do the work he loves and has been doing but root it in his faith.    Alli asks that after one week in, what are some expectations and observations the RMs have had about ECCT and their region.    Dylan said for him there is a bit of a change going from the Northeast Region, where he has been for the last seven years, to the Northwest Region. He said the position is still morphing, but is already witnessing the fluidity that exists between regions in ECCT.    George said that he has seen his role to be a bridge to work with young people in the community in the South Central region. So far for his role in ECCT, he is still discerning how to dive into how this institution thinks about race and how to have those conversations. Something he feels a pull and call from God to have those conversations, despite the fact that it may be uncomfortable for other people.    Erendira said that after this last week of on boarding - or “the holy dunk” - so there is a lot of information and conversations that has happened to help learn more about the motivation behind the RM role. What stuck out to her was that in those conversations, ECCT does not necessarily name justice, power, race, and other -isms that make up who we are ECCT. She is excited to do the work in her job description and bring to ECCT the push to transform as people and communities to work towards justice and the transfer of power.    Alli said that she has witnessed that the standard in New England (similar to her home in DC) that the tendency to deal with injustices is to write a check. And while this is helpful, Erendira said, it is still keeping a distance between “us” and “them,” something she wants to help bridge.    For George, this reminded him of a recent conversation with his brother around the definition of faith. Faith is what we do because we believe — it is the manifestation of what we believe.    The next question Alli asked was around age — she makes an observation that they are all young, or young-enough, and having a conversation about religion, which can be counter-cultural. Alli asks how they see themselves as a young adult in leadership in the church. Erendira said that while she is a millennial, she is not a part of the youngest generation and unintentionally loses the pulse of the those young people and younger adults. She said she finds herself as a bridge and not the person will “all the answers;” but to connect with those who are 18 - mid-twenties where the energy is.    Dylan said he still views himself as young-enough, and he also sees himself as a bridge between the younger generation to the older generation in the church. In this position, he feels like he can connect with younger people and older generations too.    The collaboration efforts for the RMs is not necessarily between parishes but between generations as well. George says that the main difference he has witnessed has been the skepticism from young people of certainty with regards to spirituality and religion.    Erendira said that in her work with college students, she has witnessed the same skepticism of certainty especially with regards to the inability to name and own the injustices that are a part of our church’s history. George talks about how the inability to own the injustices within the church has also driven people of color away from the church and the potential community. There is a lot to be thought through about how the church owns the truth that shows remorse and heart of God.    Collaboration [between churches in ECCT] isn’t possible without acknowledging who we are, Erendira said. Erendira related the need to uncover the history of the church to therapy and the internal work that is done in therapy.    Alli’s final question to the RMs was asking about what is something they do that fuels their soul? For Dylan, it is travel, and watching The Office. For Erendira, it is rock climbing. For George it is reading and boardgames. 

Jul 2019

30 min 58 sec

My guest today is our very own Karin Hamilton! That is right I am interviewing Karin!    Karin Hamilton is the Canon for Communications and Media for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Karin has worked for the ECCT for 25 years. Before coming to ECCT, Karin worked for 8+ years at a local parish. Karin has an MS in Journalism, and her background is in sociology, which provides her with a well-rounded view to her work in communications. Karin is also an avid runner and lover of the Wild Wild West — mainly Utah. Her Friday afternoons are spent tending to horses at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding center in her home of Old Lyme.    Karin has a unique and progressive approach to diocesan communication and the church at large. For example, her dream of hosting a diocesan podcast focused on the ministry and work of every-day Episcopalians is what launched this very podcast. Karin has also been the editor of the annual print magazine CRUX, which showcases the various corners of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut focused on a central theme that develops throughout the process.    Karin will retire at the end of June, and by the time this podcast airs she will have already been retired for a week! The Episcopal Church in Connecticut and I truly honor and respect and thank you for the work you have done, Karin.    Welcome Karin!    Alli firsts asks Karin,What was the diocesan communications world like when you first started? Karin said it was very print-based and included a 6-time a year newspaper. This was a very lengthy and time-consuming process including many steps, actual cutting and pasting. Karin created ECCT’s first website in 1995.    Karin said that one of the more shocking moments was earlier on in her career when the staff at that time were unwilling to engage with the media, including one time when a highly controversial person name to Connecticut. This is not how Karin approaches the media, she encourages churches and communities to reach out to ECCT if they have been featured in the news.    Karin also remembers when Bishop Desmond Tutu came for Bishop Ian Douglas’ consecration and the Associate Press couldn’t show up. This was “Karin’s time in the sun” sending a few lines covering Bishop Tutu’s visit to the Associated Press. In her tenure here at ECCT, Karin has also written for a number of other publications.    Alli asks Karin what other dreams have come true for her within the communication here in ECCT and what dreams does she have for ECCT's communications going forward. Karin says getting the diocese set into the digital communication world, and transitions the staff from one medium to another. Karin also tweeted the election of Bishop Douglas in 2009, which was a first for the church and for Karin.    Karin says she has always wanted to have more focus on supporting and encouraging parishes with communication, and storytelling.    Looking forward, Karin would love to see more churches take communication more seriously, and engaging their community in deeper conversations.    Karin and Alli talk about the importance of the diversity in telling stories — image, text, video, audio, etc. and how those are adapted to the various platforms on which they appear. Karin hopes that the church will continue to realize that communication is important and will support it and help it grow.    Alli asks what are some communications regrets you wish you had time to complete before retiring? With some humor, Karin says she wishes she was a bit more organized. She said her strength was in launching new ideas forward and not so much in recording or cataloging them once they were finished. Also, Karin regrets the lack of time dedicated to working with more churches individually.    Alli asks Karin how this work has been for her spiritual life and her relationship with God. Karin said this work has been challenging. It has always encouraged her to ask where God is in her life, in the media, how is God using the work we are doing? Karin says it has been hugely spiritual for her. When she is stuck on a deadline or doesn’t know what to write, she asks “Okay God, help.”    It has been a very faithful expression of how Karin is with God and how God is working in the world. Karin has been continued to grow — including recently chasing the understanding of what is the Cosmic Christ, which was introduced in the most recent CRUX issue. Karin says that her relationship with Christ is very much alive and very much beyond the church building.    Alli talks about her experience working with Karin as a mentor and her encouragement for Alli to focus on her professional, personal, and spiritual work.    Finally, Alli asks about Karin’s favorite “mis-communication” moments. Karin didn’t come up with any specific moments off the top of her head, but did mention that in her editing has come across some interesting misses — several coming from Alli herself. 🙂    Karin ends with thanking all the staff people she has worked with and who have supported her over the years, to the whole of Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and the Episcopal Communicators group.    To read the letter of thanks to Karin Hamilton for her faithful work to ECCT, please visit EpiscopalCT.org. 

Jul 2019

27 min 35 sec

Today our guest is the Rev. Jack Gilpin. Jack was ordained in 2012 and is currently the rector of St. John’s, New Milford.   Jack is also a professional actor who has starred in over 35 feature films and has been in many shows on and off Broadway and in regional theaters around the country. Shows including Law and Order,Kate & Allie, and movies including Funny Farmwith Chevy Chase, 21, and Adventureland. Most recently, you can find Jack on the Showtime series Billions playing the character Sean Ayles.    Jack is originally from Roxbury, CT. Jack also recently assisted with the lay preaching course in the Northwest Region. Jack is a graduate from Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University. He lives in Roxbury with his wife and they have three grown children.    Welcome Jack!     Jack starts off our conversation discussing how he got into acting— starting from his first gig as the Easter Bunny when he was 5. The feeling of connection and mutuality he felt with the audience, while on stage, has stayed with him since then. During his sophomore year at Harvard, Jack made the decision to pursue acting as his main career. He moved to New York City and worked several years off-off Broadway.    He talked about his early work in theater then about the first real play, which launched his career. That was “Beyond Therapy,”directed by Christopher Durang.   He was ordained a deacon in June 2012 and immediately went off to do two plays, which have been his last two plays. He then got a call to New Milford for a part-time position.    Jack grew up in the Episcopal Church and was given a King James Version bible from his Godmother at his confirmation. Though he didn’t attend church services often, whenever he felt anxious through his high school and college years he would turn to that KJV bible, which had Jesus’ words in red, and he found comfort and grounding.   In 1982, Jack walked in to Grace Church in Manhattan and within six weeks was attending regularly. He said what he was learning through theater, and about life, was best articulated and most truthfully presented in Christian terms in the church. He and his family moved to Roxbury after their third child was born, and he became a licensed Lay Preacher and attended Union Theological Seminary just to get a degree – not intending to pursue ordination.   After his third child went off to college, Jack preached a sermon in Roxbury and was handed a card from a woman who heard the sermon. It asked him: “What are you going to do about this because you have a calling?” He decided to go to a Priest Information Day.... and as he explained, one thing led to another.   Karin asks about Jack’s relationship with acting and the word of Jesus, which he alluded to earlier on. Jack mentions one specific incident in 1979 at the Eugene O'Neill TheaterCenterin Waterford, CT, at the National Playwrights Conference working on new plays. Jack was offered a spot in the conference as the lead and he said his performance was terrible. He knew his focus had been on himself.   In those days he turned to John chapter 3:20: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” This is what he opened the Bible to and he saw the metaphor “come to the light” and the need to “come to the truth.” Truth is an essential component in acting, he explained. He went out the next time and “told the truth” – and it went much better.   Alli asks how Jack marries his role as a priest and as an actor. Jack says that he has had roles within television and movies that only require a couple days spread across a couple weeks rather than a play which requires more time. He mentions how his parish is understanding of his two careers, and they find it fun to see him on television.    He shares ways the two are similar, and “each feeds the other.” One of the main crossovers between the two professions is the attention to listening, which is endless food for the spirit, he says.   Karin asks Jack to talk more about what actors mean by “telling your truth” and might be the same or different from what that might mean to a Christian or even a priest. Jack quotes a conversation between Agnus de Mille and Martha Graham which highlights what “the truth” means to him. This is the quote: During their conversation, de Mille told Martha Graham about her frustration. “I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.”   Graham responded by saying, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”     Karin asks about whether his experiences as an actor have helped him step into leadership roles in the community. Jack said he’s used to getting up in front of people and he’s not afraid of making a fool of himself. He feels very passionate about his life and about the Baptismal promises. He brings all that to his role of a community leader.   Jack remembers a time 20 years ago, way before his ordination, when he played the role of a priest in a role. He witnessed the response people gave to the collar: they slumped and felt ashamed and judged. Today, as a priest, he loves to disabuse people of the notion that’s he’s here to judge; rather, he wants them to realize the joy that they are invited to experience with Christ.    Alli asks if there are other stories of worlds colliding with his spirituality and his acting. Jack told a story about the Bible he kept in his dressing room. Colleagues quietly and cautiously expressed curiosity and, when no one else was around, they’d ask him about it, and about his church attendance. Jack shared another story about working on Billionswith fellow actors who were cautious about working with a priest.   Both jobs feed each other, he said. He’s not limiting himself, he said, he’s increasing his database ... on both sides!

Jun 2019

29 min 3 sec

Today’s guest is the Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann, who currently serves on the staff for ECCT as Canon for Mission Leadership, and we’ll talk about what that means. Lee Ann grew up mostly in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but graduated from Glastonbury High School in Connecticut. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and General Theological Seminary. Lee Ann was ordained in the Diocese of Maryland, she served as the Assistant Rector at St. Andrew’s, Glenwood (Howard County, Maryland), and Rector of the Church of the Messiah in Baltimore. Lee Ann came to Connecticut in 2008 to serve as the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Riverside. In 2015 she accepted the position of Canon for Mission Leadership for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Lee Ann’s main role is working with parishes in transition and helping to find proper placements for clergy in transitions. She also helps to break down the misconception of what “ministry” looks like — mainly that it doesn’t look like a full-time rectorship anymore. She is married to David, owner of the Labyrinth Company and one of our first guests on the podcast.  They live in Berlin, CT and have two grown daughters. Welcome Lee Ann!  Alli starts with a tough question: What does ministry look like right now and how has that shifted over time, and is it the same in other dioceses? Lee Ann jumps right in to tell us about the changes and how churches are responding. It’s not as bad as it could be ... She describes the difference in the various titles ECCT uses for parish priests, primarily between rector and priests-in-charge, and ECCT variants of those priests-in-charge. We talked about the challenge of finding priests who can serve as missional priests-in-charge in particular, defined as less than half time. Some are only 10 hours a week – the minimum needed. Retired priests are less likely than in prior years and decades to take on these jobs, and training and formation is slowly adjusting to allow more people to be ordained who will also have other employment, generally secular. The need for more part-time clergy is increasing and the number of available priests isn’t really keeping pace with that need. Alli asked if enough young people are being ordained to replace all the current Baby Boomer generation priests who are now retiring; Lee Ann gave more statistics and noted that in the 1980s and 1990s bishops chose not to ordain younger people, and while this has now changed, that affected both the supply of priests and prevented the church from receiving the charism that younger clergy bring. But the fact is, she said, we don’t have, and aren’t going to have, enough priests in ECCT for  every parish to have its own priest, and the change in model is very difficult for many lay leaders to accept – even though that model was an anomaly in the Anglican Communion and in The Episcopal Church. We switched topics, and Karin asked Lee Ann to share how she came to be a priest, herself, about living in Baltimore, and about her time serving in parishes in Baltimore and later, in ECCT. She arrived in Riverside right after the financial crisis hit, in 2008, and found preaching to be especially important in that community at that time. We asked for her reflections on the future of the church, and she’s hopeful – as long as the focus is on what God is doing, and following that -- and not on “growing the church.”

Jun 2019

26 min 15 sec

Our guest today is the Rev. Catherine Amy Kropp. She is a newly ordained priest of the Episcopal Church from the Diocese of Maine. Before pursuing ordination Catherine Amy worked as a former high school teacher and she is also a Maine guide. For the past year she's been pursuing her Master's degree in Sacred Theology degree at Yale Divinity School, focusing on the Cosmic Christ, and also serving as the liturgical coordinator of the University Church in Yale. Last fall the magazine for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut had a big spread on the Cosmic Christ and an interview with Catherine Amy, so today we're going to find out what she's been up to since then. We started by asking about whether her studies were over and learned that she had just finished! She shared that she had focused on the Cosmic Christ, and why that matters for parish ministry, how people understand ministry, mission, social justice, and spiritual formation - the practical applications of the Cosmic dimensions of Christ as based in scripture, especially for our world today. She helps us understand the "Cosmic Christ" and how that is the same and different from the human Jesus, and what it emcompasses (hint: Everything). Embracing the Cosmic Christ calls us into a bigger story that we often see or understand, and calls us into a greater sense of God's presence, and intimacy. And if that's true it draws people into a deeper connection with everything and everyone in the world around us. On a practical level, she described some of the work she did at St. Peter's, Cheshire as a seminarian and later a transitional deacon, talking about how they saw themselves as followers of Christ and their response to the world around them as followers of Christ - the earth, and the people in it. Alli asked what pursuing this has meant for her own spiritual life, and she talked about seeing a new luminosity in the world, and learning a new way of being present. Karin asked about connections between her current pursuit and her time spent as a Maine guide, and Catherine Amy talked about her time in the forests of Maine and her experience of being present in the land. We also talked about "thin places,"and how the Cosmic Christ offers an opportunity to dwell in that space. She shared an experience of running in the dark as part of that conversation. Karin shared that she'd gone to Iona and a few things learned there about Celtic Christianity; it turned the conversation to suffering and God's presence in it, and how that understanding has a practical application. (And it wasn't Julian of Norwich, it was Hildegard of Bingen, who talked about the two wings.) Alli asked about how being a science teacher and her spirituality and work with the Cosmic Christ, and she talked to us about those insights. Are there more "Cosmic Christ-ers" out there? Alli asked, and Catherine Amy shared some of the current and recent theologians and writers and leaders who are focused on the Cosmic Christ - and similar explorations outside the Christian tradition. (See below) When thinking about practical applications for a parish, Catherine Amy's work is still unfolding, she said. She's learned the importance of the parish context, the particularity of place, and how that particularity will influence how she'll approach parish ministry in any particular place. It will also help a parish understand itself in a larger way, and help them understand see, and respond, in ways they may not have had before. At the end, we asked how people could learn more and here are a few suggestions:  CRUX magazine interview, fall 2018 (as reprinted w permission on the BDS site)  REFLECTIONS magazine, " Reaching for Radiance," spring 2019 Teilhard de Chardin (see American Teilhard Association  Thomas Berry, (and particularly his book, Dream of the Earth) Kathleen Duffy, SSJ  Ursula King  Catherine Amy's Yale advisor, Mary Evelyn Tucker   

Jun 2019

33 min 31 sec

Today we have with us Pat Cage and Ana Arellano, both of the Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. And today we’re going to learn about that grassroots organization. We held the interview in the Annand Room of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, in New Haven and Pat joined us by phone. Patricia, or Pat, Cage, is from Saint Luke’s in Darien. She was one of the founders of Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba 2016 and serves as their executive director. Before that Pat served as director or president of several non-profits in Connecticut including Person to Person and A Better Chance. Pat has a degree in business marketing from Cal State University. Ana Arellano is Cuban American and an active member of St. Peter’s, Cheshire. She is also an artist and a journalist, specializing in Latino news, photographer and freelance writer, webmaster and social media afficiado, and earlier, a bank vice president. Ana has a BA from Yale and lives in Cheshire. She’s been involved in Friends of the Episcopal Church in Cuba since its creation and oversees their Facebook page Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba is a US-based volunteer organization working with Bishop Griseldo to help her and her team in Cuba. They have a website and Facebook page, friendsofeccuba.org. We began with Pat telling us how she got involved in this, a story that started with her home parish of St. Luke’s, pursing possible mission partnership opportunities. She and her husband visited in 2016 with a group from the parish, and were hosted by Bishop Griselda of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. Bishop Griselda shared her vision with the group, and shared a small strategy document. That inspired Pat and her husband to offer their expertise in developing a larger strategy document and business plan that could be used to approach large philanthropic organizations, for example. They also learned the bishop wanted a U.S. based support organization, and that became the genesis of the Friend of the Episcopal Church in Cuba. The priorities come from Bishop Griselda and respect the Cuban Episcopalians’ creativity. Ana then shared how she got involved in the organization. It was at an ECCT conference that she first heard about the opportunity for the mission trip to Cuba; prior to that she hadn’t thought much about reconnecting with her homeland.   Karin asked what the priorities of the Friends are now, and Pat said that Bishop Griselda is focused first on providing food and water in many communities. People line at the Cathedral to get water, Pat said. Alli asked about the number of parishes, and while Pat gave a number, Pat and Ana shared the impact of the Cuban revolution and its aftermath on churches. While the Episcopal Church in Cuba is relatively small, they both saw that in many of them, the first few rows are reserved for children. Before we ended, Pat and Ana talked about the historic vote last year, 2018, by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church to readmit the Episcopal Church of Cuba into the full embrace of the Church, and the efforts by the Friends organization to generate support, and some of the committee meetings that led up to the vote. Ana talked about what it meant to her as a Cuban American Episcopalian. Visit: https://www.friendsofeccuba.org/ for more information!

Jun 2019

30 min 43 sec

  Today’s guest is Kelli R. Gibson, a YDS student, who was hired in early May to serve as ECCT’s Racial Justice Resource Coordinator as authorized by Annual Convention 2018. Kelli is a native of New Haven who attended the city's public schools. She completed her undergraduate studies at CCSU with a dual major in psychology and criminology. Currently she is in a Masters of Arts in Religion (MAR) program at Yale Divinity School, with a plan to concentrate in ethics. She's also a part of YDS' Black Church Studies certificate program, with expected graduation dates in 2020. Kelli has work experience in municipal and regional policy administration, sales, group home residential program management, and development consulting. She is the president of the Black Graduate Network at Yale, a leader in New Haven's "Pinky Promise" network, a ministry sponsorship director, a member of New Haven's NAACP Legal Redress Committee, and a New Haven Promise alum.   After reviewing Kelli’s bio, and how the position came into being, Karin asks Kelli what she studies at Yale University. Kelli says she is interested in the intersectionality in trauma, faith, and human flourishing. She just finished up her first year of her two year M.A.R. degree. She is also a part of the Black Church Certificate program at Yale.    Kelli was attracted to the position was the bold language used for the Racial Resource Coordinator and ECCT’s dedication to racial healing, justice, and reconciliation. Kelli says this aligned with her spiritual, moral, and personal values. Karin asks what are resources for this work or what is the scope of resources that could become available from this position. Kelli says when she thinks of resource she thinks of tools — everything in one, to become an essential tool.    However the understanding of what resources are, how to gather them, etc. is still being worked out. Kelli currently is working on a request form that will become available at episcopalct.org.    Kelli says that right now she is the most interested in taking the temperature of the diocese and where parishes are, and seeing where God is and what could be done.    Karin asks if there is a specific order to address Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. Kelli brought up the important question of “healing for whom?” What audience are we reconciling or healing? Alli points out that there is a tendency to assume that the healing within Racial Healing could be absorbed by individuals waking up to their white privilege and then seeking to be consoled. Kelli says that there needs to be an awakening, yes, but then with that awakening there needs to be a reconciliation, healing, and most importantly a change. The change is essential to the healing of all.    Karin and Alli mention how great a gift it is that Kelli is not an Episcopalian, and has the ability to come in and change what ECCT has been doing. Kelli says that she is not interested in the surface-level things to check off a box, but to shake up the homeostasis.    Alli asks if Kelli is interested in creating resources or finding and using resources are already there. Kelli says it is a combination of both, because some resources that work somewhere else may not work here in Connecticut. Kelli hopes to help build up leaders from the community, and embracing each other as resources.    Alli, Karin, and Kelli then talk about why Kelli is on the Communications team rather than other departments within the diocese. This allows an opportunity to root all communication from the diocese in the lifestyle of Racial Healing, Justice, and Communication, rather than allowing it to become a box to check off.   Kelli mentions the difference between diversity and inclusion: diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. Kelli wants to focus on the intentionality throughout this season and lifestyle.    A year from now, Kelli hopes this will go be a monumental moment that the ground is shifting, and the work continues on. And, to help change the culture of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.    Kelli roots her life and work in Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  

May 2019

23 min 2 sec

Our guest today is the Rev. Canon Nicholas T. Porter.   Nicholas, former rector of Trinity Church in Southport. He is the Executive Director and Founder of Jerusalem Peacebuilders: jerusalempeacebuilders.org.   He is the re-founder and past director of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem as well as the founder of Anastasia Pilgrimages in France.    Nicholas holds advanced degrees in Middle East Studies, Theology, War Studies, and Conflict Transformation. A two-time graduate from Yale University, he served on the board of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, initiating key projects in theology and in Jerusalem. In 2016 Dwight Hall at Yale awarded him the Curran Prize for distinguished public service.   Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) is an interfaith, non-profit organization with a mission to create a better future for humanity across religions, cultures, and nationalities. Integral to that mission is the belief that the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world.  To that end, JPB promotes transformational, person-to-person encounters among the peoples of Jerusalem, the United States, and the Holy Land.   JPB’s interfaith programs focus on uniting Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans and providing them with the opportunities, relationships, and skills they need to become future leaders for peace in the global community.  A passion for peace drives our mission and partnerships power our program.   Welcome Nicholas!    Alli asks in Nicolas’ own words to describe what the Jerusalem Peacebuilders is. Nicholas says the primary mission is to promote peace through education. The first session started with 11 people, and this summer it’ll be over 100 young people.    JPB started off with offering summer programs focused on leadership.   While there are fun camp things like canoeing and ropes courses, these young people also focus on hard conversations and interfaith dialogue. Next step was to introduce experimental-learning courses in school in Israel, Palestine, and the United States (especially in Houston, TX and in CT, VT, MA) which became a 4-year curriculum. These courses are geared to four areas: understanding their identity, communication skills, recognizing conflict, and conflict management. JPB uses Critical Youth Empowerment, a program to work closer with young people to become instruments of change. This focuses on providing three specifics things to flourish the growth of young people: providing a safe environment, a low-power asymmetry, and working towards a realistic contribution by the group. This final part usually results in a project the young people work towards in their community.    Alli asks where JPB receive the funding for these programs and how are the young people able to participate. JPB receive fund from individual donors, Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem, and mission funds in ECCT. It costs about $3,000 to being over a young person from the Middle East to participate in the peace-building programs.    Nicholas says that what is fundamental for change is the removal of oneself from the environment they are in. Therefore it is essential to peace-building to gather together outside of their current environment and community, and return back.    Nicholas shares one particularly spectacular story of a young person that has gone through the JPB program.    Nicholas stopped by The Commons on his way to New Haven and then on to New York. One of the five programs JPB offers is based in New Haven and hosted by Christ Church, New Haven. The group of 20 young people spend the first half of August working with IRIS - Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, visiting the United Nations, meeting with Ambassadors.    An exciting new initiative the group in New Haven will be doing this year is happening on Thursday, August 8 a service learning program. JPB with the Muslim community in New Haven, the Mishkan Israel in Hamden, and Christ Church, New Haven are hosting a city-wide interfaith service day. All day long there will be groups working in parks, a feeding station, working at IRIS, and with Habitat for Humanity. This event is open to anyone who is interested and would like to attend.    To wrap up, Alli asks how this work has been spiritually for Nicholas. He said both the conflict and peace-building reside within his family history and within himself, which he didn’t realize would take hold until he went to Jerusalem himself. Nicholas said that his faith and life were traumatized by 9/11. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Nicholas and his wife decided to work towards the future — peace.   

May 2019

30 min

In this special edition of Coffee Hour at The Commons, Alli hosts conversations with various people who make up the community and congregations at our Cathedral in Hartford.    She begins with a conversation with the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, Dean of our Cathedral. They talk about the Centennial season this year, 2019, and all the wonderful events happening at our Cathedral throughout the year. A couple of years ago, our Cathedral was invited by the bishops into a discernment about the role and mission of the Cathedral in Hartford. This celebration of Christ Church Cathedral’s Centennial is an expression of our Cathedral’s identity and what they are embracing as a congregation and as a spiritual home for all of Connecticut.   This episode you will learn about the congregational life of our Cathedral, the various committees associated with Christ Church Cathedral, Church by the Pond, Church Street Eats, and Music Moves Hartford.    Alli first interviews the Rev. Canon Jorge Pallares, Canon for Congregational of Life at Christ Church Cathedral. She asks Canon Pallares to describe the life of the congregations that meet at our Cathedral. Canon Pallares says the life of the five congregations here are active and dedicated to ministry. The congregations meet throughout the week, including one congregation that meets beyond the walls of the Cathedral. Canon Pallares shares how he became involved in this position, and how the congregations are involved in the city of Hartford.    Next, Alli interviews Jilda Aliotta, the Chair of the Congregations Committee. Because the Cathedral is made up of multiple congregations, there is no vestry, so the Congregations Committee fulfills that role, in some ways. Jilda has been a member of Christ Church Cathedral for 30 years, and has been a member of the committee for  four years. The committee is becoming more programmatic, organizing the programs and events at our Cathedral.    Alli then talks with individuals about the various ministries happening in, at, and by our Cathedral. She meets with Andrew May and Nancy Jacob to talk about Church by the Pond, again with Nancy Jacob to talk about Church Street Eats, Kevin Bishop to talk about Music Moves Hartford - and you’ll hear a clip from the practice - and finally with Theresa Greaves to talk about the Wednesday Wellness and the Zumba classes. Alli also grabs some Zumba Music to get you moving this Friday afternoon!    This episode wraps up with asking Canon Pallares how folks can pray for the congregations and the life of our Cathedral. 

May 2019

30 min 39 sec

Today our guests are Eliza Marth, Northwest Region Missionary and Anne Hall, Junior Warden at St. John’s in Pine Meadow. Both Eliza and Anne were both participants in the first region based lay preaching course last Lent in 2018. The second round just finished up on March 3. Twelve people participated from five parishes and communities. The course met for four weeks.    We begin our conversation talking about what is lay preaching. Anne says that it is not only the lay members of a congregation that preach under the guidance of colleagues and the priests, but it is also a deeply formative practice for adults.    Alli asks how the lay preaching class came to be. Eliza shares the genesis of the class from the basement of Trinity, Torrington and the desire for a part-time priest wanting more diversity in the pulpit. As Region Missionary of the Northwest region, Eliza took a leadership role with two other leaders and 12 lay preaching students.    The classes in the first round of the classes first concentrated on bible passages that were sermons as examples. Anne says that one thing that had been very valuable for was spending time talking about the difference between preaching and public speaking. Preaching, for Anne, requires an openness of her own faith.    Alli asks why Anne and Eliza both said “yes” to participating in the first course. Eliza says she said “yes” because was very drawn to the process of wrestling with the text and then sharing how the Gospel has transformed in her life. Eliza also says that lay preaching is practical in order to free up some time for priests, and to bring more lay voices into the pulpit. Anne says it has helped to build community within the congregation and in the region, representing all types of backgrounds. Anne said “yes” because she thought it was an interesting challenge.    The second round of lay preaching classes finished up in March. Alli asks Eliza what the differences were between the first and second rounds of classes. First, Eliza says, the Rev. Peter Stebinger, who created the first course curriculum, moved away. Those classes were recorded and are offered as resources for those in the second class. Other priests have stepped in to lead the second class, sharing more insights and resources in response to the feedback given from the first course.    Alli asks if the vulnerability that is required with preaching has translated to their non-preaching life and relationships. Anne shares that this process has opened her eyes to the difficult job that priests have to be that vulnerable each week. It has, for Anne, helped her open up about and articulate her faith to others. Eliza says that this has helped integrate the Gospels into her daily life, and articulate how God has moved in her life.    Eliza shares about how the lay preaching courses has expanded to other regions. In the Northwest Region, there is a desire to have continuing education for lay preachers. On Saturday, June 22, the Northwest Region will host their Region Convocation, which will have a Revival including lay preachers and testimonials.  

May 2019

28 min 42 sec

Today we are doing something a little bit differently. The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens will be leading us in a prayerful meditation/reflection on Good Friday. We invite you to utilize this time for some quiet. It might not be the best podcast to listen to in the car, but rather take 15 minutes out of your day to sit with God and pray. There are intentional pauses throughout the recording, please utilize them for times of prayer and personal reflection.    Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

Apr 2019

12 min 53 sec

Today we have two guests with us, Dom Gautrau and Boris Sigal.    Boris works to make sure the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) has the capacity to provide a great experience for member institutions and vendors alike. That includes building out operational systems to accommodate an increasing number of members and service offerings, benchmarks that maintain financial strength, and strategies to continue to grow cooperative purchasing and social impact opportunities.   Dom is a long-time member of St. Francis in Stamford. Dom has served several terms as vestryman at St Francis. He currently sits on the diocesan Property Committee. Five years ago he started a fuel buying program called Faith Fuel Initiative for 4 parishes in Fairfield County that has saved them thousands of dollars annually.   Alli asks how both Boris and Dom got involved in the Community Purchasing Alliance and this initiative here in Connecticut. Boris shares that he began this work in DC with several non-profits joining together to make a group purchase to lower their electricity bill. His thinking was “what can we do together that we cannot do alone,” and a CPA was a result of those informal conversations.    Dom tells his story of getting involved in a CPA in Connecticut, which he felt was a natural extension from his 2015 Faith Fuel Initiative to include other non-profits nearby on a group purchase. A few weeks ago, 36 organizations - including 21 ECCT parishes, mosques, schools, and temples -  have purchased electricity together.  Alli asks how parishes have reacted to this opportunity. Dom says the 21 parishes have been very excited to participate, particularly about the saving potentials with a group purchase. There is another opportunity in September for parishes who did not get in on the first way of community utility purchasing, Dom hopes this will be enticing for other parishes facing financial difficulties and looking for a chance to save on utility bills.    Boris shares that this also offers an opportunity for collaboration between multiple faith-based organizations and non-profits. CPA offers stepping stones, Boris says, and this allows for organizations to open up to working closer together on other topics as well. Dom adds that the positivity and encouragement in the conversations between the organization is hopeful for the future.    Alli asks Boris and Dom to walk through the steps for a parish to get involved. Boris shares that the first step is to send a copy of the parish’s or organization’s utility bill, right now CPA is working on heating bills. Next there will be a conference call for the organizations to ask questions, share what is important, and solidify a commitment. Next a steering committee is formed organically in the group.    So the next steps for parishes is to submit parish and non-profits fuel bills to CPA to begin the process. You can send those latest utility bill and recent contract to: boris@CPA.coop. For heating, send the heating tank size and how many, and other information. Dom shares that folks can reach out to him personally as well.    Alli asks if this is something communities and neighborhoods could do. Boris shares that while it would be possible, the size of the purchase is important to negotiating a lower cost. Boris says that this coop and working together is an opportunity to protect individuals and non-profit organizations who are not laser focused on the details of their bills.    To wrap up, Alli asks Dom and Boris how this work has been for them, spiritually. Dom says that watching parishes working together joyfully has been spiritually fulfilling. Boris says that this is very spiritual for him, as an immigrant/religious refugee, this work that focuses on working together is the American dream, for him.    To get involved in this collaborative community utility purchasing alliance, send the latest utility bill to Boris@CPA.coop by the end of April. There’s no commitment until contracts are signed. 

Apr 2019

29 min 7 sec

Today's guest in Greg Farr, archivist for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut since last October. His office is at The Commons. Greg is not entirely new to ECCT, as he helped transport and set up the archives at The Commons in Meriden from the old Diocesan House in Hartford in 2016.  Before working for ECCT, Greg ran the medical library and archives of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA, a hospital celebratings its centennial this ,year that sponsors one of the largest - and some say finest - psychoanalytic libraries on the east coast. Greg first got into archival work at Monticello, working on the presidential catalogue of Thomas Jefferson. Greg received his Masters in Library & Information Sciences from Drexel University. In the article introducing Greg to ECCT, he said he was looking forward to advocating the history and value of archives and the knowledge maintaining history provides, especially here in Connecticut.  Beyond ECCT, Greg likes to read theology and play guitar. He lives with his wife in Colebrook, which he calls the "icebox of Connecticut," and they have three grown children.  Greg starts out by saying how much he enjoys being in his current position, and how he likes that ECCT's history parallels U.S. history. He talked about what's in our archives, the different types of media, and how much space it takes up. Greg shares his thoughts about how the Anglican Church, later to be The Episcopal Church, contributed, as an organization, to the development of the US. He thinks of the Church as like a quilting point.   Next he shares some of the interesting finds from his work in the ECCT archives, some of which have come through requests from researchers. (Was the sexton of a St. Paul's in New Haven murdered in the 1850s? Was there an African Mission Society in the 1830s and was Frances Scott Key really on its board?)  Some of Greg's work is now to convert our holdings to accommodate digital access, he said, but he still works with paper a lot. In response  to a question from Alli, Greg says that there are many ways that the archives and his role as archivist can assist parishes — from providing founding documents to blueprints. He is also available to visit parishes and assist with keeping records and preservation. He suggests to parishes to keep all minutes, records, etc.   Greg talks about his work with Monticello and how he went from a ticket salesperson to working on President Jefferson’s retirement library. One thing that really stood out to Greg was Jefferson’s copy of the French Encyclopedia, one of the firsts of its kind. After his work with Monticello, he went to grad school in Boston and worked with Elie Wiesel, which shaped his understanding of memory and identity. His love for archives came from a project he worked on at Episcopal Divinity School. 

Apr 2019

28 min 5 sec

Today our guest is the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher, Regional Canon for the Central Region of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Previously, Bishop Gallagher served as the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Montana, where she developed a close relationship with Indigenous leaders and communities, trained  clergy and lay leaders on issues of race, gender, and inclusion, and led the Task Force on Native Issues. Before Montana, Bishop Gallagher served as the assistant bishop in the Diocese of North Dakota, Diocese of Newark, and Diocese of Southern Virginia. Developing strong relationships with Native tribes and communities, as well as educating Episcopal communities on the significance of the intersection of race, culture, gender, and class, has been a focus of her ministry for a long time.    Bishop Gallagher is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. She has served on numerous committees, task forces, and boards, including the Episcopal Church Council on Indian Ministries, the Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican Peace with Justice Concerns, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Episcopal Divinity School Board of Trustees and the United Way of America National Board, to name a few.      Alli sits with Bishop Gallagher while she was visiting New Haven, CT as a keynote speaker at Yale Divinity School for “Fully Native Fully Christian: Converging Rivers and Indigenous Canons” conference. Bishop Gallagher’s father was a Presbyterian minister, and her mother was a Cherokee woman. Bishop Gallagher tells Alli about her call to ministry from a young age and the significance of her consecration as the first female native bishop.    Bishop Gallagher discusses the relationship of The Episcopal Church and Indigenous communities, stating that the relationship ebbs and flows depending on who is in leadership within the church. In her ministry, she has traveled around the country to train lay leaders within Indigenous communities as a way to empower all individuals in the church. Bishop Gallagher shares a story that has really stuck with her in her work with native people. When she was traveling in New Zealand she learned the importance of “making things your own” from the Maori people.    She shares ways to get involved and empower local Indigenous communities, from visiting the Mashantucket Pequot Museum to learning about the local communities’ history, and truly listening to stories of native peoples.     Within her current work in Massachusetts, Bishop Gallagher shares that she works closely with parishes and clergy in transition. One thing that is exciting in the next year, 2020, will be the 400 anniversary of the landing on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Bishop Gallagher plans to work with the community in Plymouth, the Wampanoags, and Indigenous folks in Virginia to better understand the complexities of the story and how the church participated - both helpful and destructive and everything in-between.    This work has been both a spiritual blessing and challenge for Bishop Gallagher. She refers to it as a balancing act, but God has always provided. Bishop Gallagher shares that the conference she is at, which brought her to New Haven at Yale Divinity School, is helping to form a community on the East Coast for Native folks within the church.    To close, she asks for prayer for the church to be open and to embrace the multiplicity of expression as a gift. 

Mar 2019

31 min 7 sec

Today Coffee Hour at The Commons is on the road again, in Bristol, at Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center. It’s on land donated to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to be used for ministry, which is an expression of God’s love, and that’s certainly what’s going on here. The vision for the use of the property and some of its buildings for a therapeutic riding center started in 2004 and the center officially opened a year later with two horses and a pilot program for three children with special needs.   Today it is a premiere accredited center, one of six in the state, accredited by PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. It has seven horses in its herd, lots of volunteers, and a staff of five. Today we’ll be talking with its executive director, Shelly Whitlock-Pope, who’s also a PATH-certified instructor, and Dave Demarais, a long-time volunteer with the center, Vice-President of its Board of Directors, formerly on the staff of ECCT for property management. That was after retiring from serving as the Deputy Fire Chief of West Hartford. (Here’s a link to a story about Dave from when he retired from ECCT staff.)   Shelly was appointed to her position last August. She has degrees in health administration, elementary education, educational leadership, and administration and policy; a background in healthcare, finance, education, and programming, and has worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the NYC Department of Education, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding and Manhattanville College. In addition to being a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor, she is also an equine specialist in mental health and learning, a mentor and site evaluator, and Special Olympics Equestrian Coach. She was trained and rode English for years and even patrolled NYC’s Central Park with the Mounted Auxiliary but says her true loves are riding trails Western, and her two American Quarter horses.

Mar 2019

30 min 37 sec