Creation Care – Summer 2023

Meet Reverend Dante A. Tavolaro, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville, RI. Dante joined St. Thomas Church in June  2020, just as COVID became a factor in all of our lives. Nevertheless, as a “first time” Rector, he has found his role in this great parish to be fun, sometimes challenging, and often surprising…especially with the start of COVID.

Fortunately, Parish Life has returned to more normalcy and he’s thrilled to see that parishioners are again active and even more involved in their church. One surprising outcome from COVID is the development of a new project, now a permanent fixtures in parish life, that might not have been anticipated or recognized for its potential reach. Although many parishioners continued to send their annual or monthly contributions, “Zoom Worship” minimized the regular Sunday collections. Consequently, the Parish was struggling to pay bills.

However, a group of parish leaders concerned about the future of the community came up with a wild idea and approached Dante with their plan to open a Thrift Shop. After a good deal of discernment, the Vestry gave the approval to launch this new ministry to raise funds for the parish, help many in the community, and encourage the reuse of goods. Not only has it become a successful fundraiser for St. Thomas, it has also been a driving force in reuniting St. Thomas parishioners and the community of Greenville. The Thrift Shop and its outgrowth of projects has led to a refugee ministry, a partnership with other community outreach organizations while providing a sense of community for people looking for connection with others, and a (hopefully) emerging program with the local high school honor society.

But, you might ask, what does this have to do with Creation Care beyond reusing older goods and helping teenagers get their service points? Through what began as a small project has led to greater connections in the Greenville community, a greater awareness of how our use of goods affects our environment as well as how our individual use of earth’s resources affect everyone. The thrift store project has also brought the community to see how some locations—even within this village—suffer more environmentally than other areas due to environmental mistreatment.

Dante serves on the Board of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA), an organization committed to developing Environmental Awareness through a variety of formal and informal Education Programs such as working with teachers and community organizations to provide environmental literacy for their communities, support organizations in making connections with others doing the same work, working with state legislators to pass legislation that supports Environmental Education in RI, and provide opportunities for individuals to get involved in meaningful projects of Environmental stewardship. In this role he hopes to encourage more Communities of Faith become deeply involved in finding ways to protect our environment.

Dante’s work is not a new effort on his part, however. He has always been a strong supporter and investigator of environmental concerns. While in Junior High School, he explored our relationship with watersheds and ecology and developed projects to better understand the health of the Blackstone Valley River. More recently he has partnered with Shareen Knowlton, Director of Education at Roger Williams Park Zoo to create projects around environmental concerns as an avenue to encourage Creation Care. His concern for the environment leads him to speak regularly about this fragile earth, our island home, identifying steps to reduce our individual footprints while encouraging others to care for “Our Earth” on systematic levels as well. He believes in the church’s untapped potential for awareness of environmental concerns making strong connections between the Cross and the need for faithful people to make sacrifices in their own life out of our responsibility as stewards of the earth. During the COVID shut down we witnessed how quickly creation could begin to heal. The Church could encourage her members to make the difficult sacrifices to give creation room to heal again. He also believes that there are opportunities to work with local elected officials to enact public policy which privileges care of creation.

First Creation Care Grant Awarded

Creation Care Grant Awarded to All Saints, Providence

The Creation Care Ministry of the Diocese is pleased to announce the first award given from the Creation Care Mini-grant Program.

All Saints, Providence, has received a $1500 grant to create an inviting urban oasis for reflection and the healing of God’s creation. The deadline for applications has been extended to July 15. 2022.

This is an example of a project valuable in itself and a model for others to employ.

Other applications eligible for $500 to $1500 mini-grants include projects around:

  • Food security and access to locally produced food (i.e. the creation of community gardens and or farm shares on church owned lands, obtaining permits/equipment needed to host farmers markets on church owned lands, obtaining permits/equipment needed to prepare community meals in church facilities).
  • Energy efficiency (i.e. efficiency audits of church owned facilities, insulation/weather-proofing of church owned facilities, replacement of church owned energy intensive equipment).
  • Climate resiliency (i.e. rain gardens for stormwater management on church owned property, flood risk reduction strategies/retrofits for church owned property and facilities, generators and/or heating equipment to support community charging stations, warming stations, etc. on church owned property).
  • Environmental Stewardship (i.e. community/green space clean ups including Christian fellowship components, organic waste recycling at churches, invasive/exotic removal on church owned property, planting native plants and grasses on church owned property).
  • Environmental Outreach and Education (i.e. curriculum development focused on environmental education and stewardship for faith-based communities, development and/or hosting environmental focused programming for faith-based communities).
  • Theological reflection on Creation Care (i.e. development of creation care focused lessons for adult and youth formation classes).

The Creation Care grant period has ended as of July 15, 2022.  Questions about the Mini-Grants can be answered by emailing creationcareedri@gmail.com.

United Thank Offering (ECW)

United Thank Offering: A partner with The Episcopal Church Women

 The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church created to fund innovative mission and ministry projects.  From its initial collection in 1889 led by Ida Soule and Julia Chester Emery, the ministry has focused on gratitude and the importance of making a thank offering to remember that all good things come from God.  Since its inception, the ministry has grown exponentially through the grassroots efforts of dedicated coordinators/organizers and faithful participation by all Episcopalians.  Thank offerings are collected in parishes, dioceses, and provinces, as well as at The Triennial meeting and General Convention.  These funds are then awarded by the UTO Board annually as grants for loving, liberating, and life-giving work through innovative parish and diocesan ministries that help people live more fully in the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.  The United Thank Offering has become synonymous with the Blue Box, a tangible reminder that encourages individuals to pray daily, give thanks to God, and make a thank offering into the Blue Box.

Contact the Chairperson for the UTO in our diocese to get your Blue Box and to know about the UTO ingathering in the Diocese of Rhode Island.

Your ECW diocesan board is the center for our local UTO ministry.

You may donate to the UTO by sending your check to The Episcopal Church Women Diocese of Rhode Island. Make your check out to Episcopal Church Women RI, write UTO in the memo line. Thank You!

National UTO information:

Facebook: @UnitedThankOffering or www.facebook.com/unitedthankoffering

Sign up for UTO E-News

Eucharistic Visitor

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island licenses lay people to serve as Eucharistic Visitors. Training for this ministry is conducted by the Diocese.

The Ministry

A Eucharistic Visitor is a lay person authorized to take the consecrated elements in a timely manner following a Celebration of Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to be present at the Celebration of the Eucharist. A Eucharistic Visitor acts under the direction of the member of the clergy exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.

Training and Licensing

Individuals wishing to serve as Eucharistic Visitors should do the following:

  1. Meet with your clergyperson to discuss the ministry of a Eucharistic and your desire to serve in this ministry.
  2. Ensure that you are currently a confirmed/received communicant in good standing in your parish.
  3. Contact the Diocesan Eucharistic Visitor Trainer at diohouse@episcopalri.org
  4. Ensure that your Safe Church certification is up to date.
  5. The church office must run a background check.
  6. After above requirements are complete, you will be ready to apply to the bishop’s office for a license. Please work with your parish clergy to submit the Eucharistic Visitor License Request.

Center for Reconciliation News

The Center for Reconciliation, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, is pleased to announce the appointment of Marco A. McWilliams as Associate Director of Education and Training.

McWilliams is an educator and public scholar of African-American history. He is a Mississippi born activist, educator, and is the founding organizer and former deputy director of the Providence Africana Reading Collective (PARC). Marco is also a founding director of the Black Studies program at DARE, and an organizer with Behind the Walls, DARE’s prison abolition committee. He is the founder of the Providence Black Studies Freedom School, a free political education project focused on providing theoretically grounded and engaged historical instruction for members of Providence’s diverse communities.

Marco is a Program Associate at the Swearer Center where he has served as a Junior Fellow and Practitioner-in-Residence since 2017. He also has a background in community organizing, anti-racism training and workshop facilitation. Currently a core faculty member at College Unbound, he is a member of the Mayor’s African-American Ambassador’s Group, and is a Mayoral appointee to the Special Committee for the Review of Commemorative Works in Providence.

Marco is a graduate of Rhode Island College where he majored in African Studies, and is a Master’s Degree candidate at Brown University, in the Department of American Studies. His field of study is African-American History, mid -19th & 20th Century Black Radical Organizing Traditions. Marco brings his strong background in training and education and a true passion for the work of the Center.

Response from the Center for Reconciliation

The Center for Reconciliation celebrates the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in all their fullness, beauty, and complexity, along with all those murdered by white supremacy. We deeply grieve their loss, and we deeply grieve the insidious persistence of racism and racial violence throughout the fabric of American law, culture, and society. We cannot bring them back from the dead and restore them to their families and friends, but we can raise our voices.
With this in mind, we call for a lived, present-day commitment to full equality, justice, and love for everyone, including advocacy for the passage and implementation of anti-racist policies and laws. With full equality, justice, and love, we believe, will come true reconciliation of the human family. To create that world, we must peacefully transform this one, and we stand proudly and immovably alongside all those working to do so.

Charities NOW

Many have asked in this time of pandemic, “What can I do? How can I love my neighbor when I can’t leave my home?” We know you want to make a difference and want to help your neighbor in need, but Covid-19 has thwarted your power.

Here’s your answer. Episcopal Charities announces the debut of “Charities NOW”. “Charities NOW” collects donations from you, our donors, and immediately turns them around to aid those ministries and agencies on the front-lines assisting our at-risk elders and at-risk children. This departure from our grant program allows us to distribute funds right away. We have identified those who are working tirelessly to bring food, shelter, medicine, and other basic human needs to our brothers and sisters, but they need our help Now. (Click here to see a list of agencies we have helped) 100% of your donation goes to this effort. No administration fees are deducted.

So, how do you donate? It’s easy. Click on the button below, enter your credit card and donation on the “Charities NOW” line. To make a contribution by check, make it payable to Episcopal Charities of Rhode Island, 275 North Main Street, Providence, RI. 02903. On the memo line of your check, please write “NOW”. That’s it!

And, you don’t have to leave the house! Hurry, they need us. They need you!

Worship at Home

We Are the Church

As we are unable to attend worship services in person, here are a few suggestions for worshiping at home.

If you are looking for information regarding putting your congregation’s service online, start here. There are additional resources here, and here. Regarding the use of music online: OneLicense. A list of hymns available under public domain is here. Additional information regarding copyright is here.

The National Cathedral in Washington, DC will be live Sundays at 11:15 am.

Most congregations are holding worship services in person and online, please contact the parishes directly to learn more about their specific offerings. Search for a church in your area here.

Prayers In a Time of Pandemic

A Litany, from Earth and Altar

For Doctors and Nurses

Sanctify, O Lord, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and to the prevention of disease and pain. Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For Trust in God

O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For Recovery from Sickness

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant N. the help of your power, that his sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For a Sick Person

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: We humbly beseech thee to behold, visit, and relieve thy sick servant N. for whom our prayers are desired.  Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; comfort him with a sense of thy goodness; preserve him from the temptations of the enemy; and give him patience under his affliction.  In thy good time, restore him to health, and enable him to lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; and grant that finally he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For When You Cannot Attend Worship

In union, O Lord, with your faithful people at every altar of your Church, where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated. I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. And since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and the life to come. Amen.

For When You Cannot Receive the Eucharist

My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I love you above all things, and long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
(St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1696-1787)

 

A Prayer in Time of Pandemic, Written by the Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger

This hour we turn to you, O Lord, in full knowledge of our frailty, our vulnerability, and our great need as your mortal creatures. We cry to you, as one human family, unsure of the path ahead, unequal to the unseen forces around us, frightened by the sickness and death that seem all too real to us now. Stir up your strength and visit us, O Lord; be our shield and rock and hiding place! Guide our leaders, our scientists, our nurses and doctors. Give them wisdom and fill their hearts with courage and determination. Make even this hour, O Lord, a season of blessing for us, that in fear we find you mighty to save, and in illness or death, we find the cross to be none other than the way of life. All this we ask in the name of the One who bore all our infirmities, even Jesus Christ our Risen and Victorious Lord.  Amen.

 

Prayer in Time of Isolation, Written by the Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger

Almighty God: Our times are in your hand. We call upon you in this hour of our need, when we are lonely and must stand apart. Be our strength, O Sovereign Lord, our calm in the midst of raging seas, our refuge and our dwelling place. Sanctify to us this time drawn away from others, even as your Son, O Father, drew away to a lonely place for prayer. Deepen our need of you, O Lord, that every breath may be a whisper of the Spirit’s prompting, a renewed searching of the deep things of God. Stir up in us the great act of intercession, that we may spend our time apart in prayer for the world you created and sustain. Bless us in our turning toward you, and make us a blessing to those who stand in need of you, the whole fragile earth. All this we ask in the name of the great Physician, even Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

From Enriching our Worship II

Loving God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: accept our prayers, and to those who seek healing [especially N. and N., and all whom we name in our hearts], grant the power of your grace, that the weak may be strengthened, sickness turned to health, the dying made whole, and sorrow turned into joy; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

 

Compassionate God: You so loved the world that you sent us Jesus to bear our infirmities and afflictions. Through acts of healing, he revealed you as the true source of health and salvation. For the sake of your Christ who suffered and died for us, conquered death, and now reigns with you in glory, hear the cry of your people. Have mercy on us, make us whole, and bring us at last into the fullness of your eternal life. Amen.

 

written by Bishop Thomas Brown of Maine:

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus. Heal those who are sick with the virus; may they regain their strength and health through quality medical care. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another. Be present with those in authority who are making hard decisions. Support the medical professionals, emergency responders and our caregivers. In your name Jesus we pray. Amen.