Saint Hilda's House

through the gates and into the city

Filtering by Tag: Ferguson

St. Hilda's House Winter Quarterly: Voices of Young Adults for the Church

Editorial: About the Winter Quarterly

(You can download the whole Quarterly by clicking on this picture of the cover or by following this link: http://www.sainthildashouse.org/quarterly-winter-2015.)

Throughout this year, young adults have been writing pieces for the St. Hilda's House blog. The St. Hilda's Winter Quarterly is a collection of ten of those pieces, dealing with the questions which have most challenged our writers over the past three months. Leaving aside my own writings, I believe that they demonstrate how engaged, how passionate, and how informed the young adults of the Church today are. I believe they serve as powerful examples of how young adults can speak to and for that Church.

All of the pieces in this Quarterly have been written by people who either live or have lived in intentional community, serving with the disinherited as members of the Episcopal Service Corps. Megan, Will, Shancia, and I are current members of St. Hilda's House, whilst Jordan Trumble was a member of St. Hilda's for its first two years. Rosemary Haynes, meanwhile, is a member of Deaconess Anne House in Missouri. Our writings focus on the issues which this form of life confronts us with: poverty, racism, misogyny, what it means to live a Christian life, what it means to be a member of the Church.

Despite this diversity of topics, however, each of these ten pieces has one thing in common: they all hold Jesus Christ at the centre of their testimony. Whether it is Christ encountered in the Eucharist, Christ encountered on the street, Christ encountered in the Bible, or Christ encountered in the neighbour we find it hard to love, all of our writers point to him as the decisive factor. In this, these writings continue the theme of Father Robert Hendrickson's book 'Yearning', which gave young adults a platform from which they can describe how they have been formed by their encounters with God. And if this Quarterly does nothing else, I hope that it demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are young adults who are dedicated towards learning what it means to walk in love as Christ loved us.

The Winter Quarterly is divided into two sections. The first section deals with concrete issues of formation and service. Jordan writes about how her experiences living in the tabernacle and the slum shaped who she was in relation to God, whilst Will delivers a powerful reflection on how Christ can test us on the streets. Rosemary writes about her first-hand experience of protesting on the streets of Ferguson after the killing of Michael Brown, whilst Shancia describes how racial prejudice in the presentation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. prompted her to explore the theological underpinnings of his actions. Finally, I have written about how my relationship with Scripture was changed by moving from Oxford to New Haven, then on why we shouldn't talk about Church as if it's first and foremost something that we go to.

The second section focuses on more general debate, and features four longer posts by Megan and I (possibly because we're two of the more opinionated and verbose Hildans...). Two of these posts attempt to work out particular approaches to questions of religion and spirituality. The other two ask whether or not the Church of England should have consecrated the Traditionalist Bishop Philip North a week after the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane. Though these pieces are less explicitly focused on the nuts and bolts of living in community, the reflections contained within them were shaped and developed within community. In my mind, they show how important the life of intentional Christian community can be when it comes to informing general theological reflection.

It is an absolute honour to be able to make this collection of writings available for the wider public. We don't have the full resources to do a full print run, so I hope this digital publication suffices for now. I apologise for how many of the pieces are mine: I hope this is less to do with self-indulgence, more to do with the fact that my job as Digital Missioner requires that I write about 2/5s of our posts anyway. Whichever way, I cannot commend highly enough the writings of my fellow authors, and I hope they prove as spiritually enriching for you as they have for me.

[This is not in the published text, but needs to be added: I should also give enormous thanks for our Program Director, Seth Reese, without whom this would not have been possible.  Quite apart from the fact that he is responsible for making the Quarterly look so good, he makes sure that the members of St. Hilda's House can actually live and work in safety and comfort.  He does all this whilst still technically being a young adult himself.  For all of this, we can't thank him enough.]

Ed.

Download the Quarterly here: http://www.sainthildashouse.org/quarterly. If you would be interested in receiving a print edition, please email us as sthildas@christchurchnh.org.

If you want to read more from St. Hilda's House. then you can visit our blog at www.sainthildashouse.org/blog, join our mailing list, or like us on Facebook.  The blog updates on Mondays and Thursdays.

You can also support the ministry of St. Hilda's House at www.sainthildashouse.org/donate.

If Candlemas be Fair and Bright: Guest Post

By Brendan Jones O'Connor

 Our online collaboration with the Deaconness Anne House continues, with Brendan writing a reflection on his housemate Rosemary's baptism falling upon the day of Candlemas.  Thanks to Brendan, and congratulations to Rosemary!  (You can, of course, follow Deaconness Anne House on Twitter at  @DAH_STL, and Brendan himself at @Jones_Oconnor.)

New Year's Day of 2014 was one of the most hope­filled days of recently memory. After 2013 in a failed intentional community, two terrible jobs, and a grungy living situation, I had just accepted a position as the youth ministry leader of a vibrant parish. Driving to the first meeting with my parish priest to discuss how we wanted to shape this year, I made a somewhat unusual resolution: 2014 will be the year I celebrate more church holidays.

Most New Year's Resolutions I heard up to this point tended to be about placing restrictions or obligations on oneself. However, if I enjoyed the holiday season so much, why not instead choose to celebrate more occasions? Of course, this practice was meant to be deliberate and devotional, but I also wanted to mark the seasons of the year in ways I had not thought of before.

Epiphany came without much trouble. My parish already had a tradition of recognizing the Feast of Epiphany, and it helped that there is already a multitude of images (and a perennial favorite hymn) that accompany the familiar story. I patted myself on the back for knowing that Epiphany was the official end of the Christmas season. It was time to finally start enjoying the pear trees and swimming swans gifted to me.

I hit the first obstacle of my resolution a few weeks later, when I learned that February 2 group event day, was the Christian holiday of Candlemas. My cradle Anglicanism drew a blank, and I was forced to do some research about the traditional holiday that gets overshadowed by a tourist event involving a weather­predicting rodent and a man in a tailcoat. I don't blame anybody, Candlemas is a strange name for the feast day of a relatively obscure event in the gospels, Jesus' presentation to the temple. The only thing I had remember about this story was thinking how the Prophetess Anna, who Luke tells us never leaves the temple, but prays and fasts day and night, managed to stave off boredom. Theologically, I wasn't sure what to make of the text, but culturally, I noticed something almost immediately. Candlemas and Groundhog's Day sharing February 2 long before Punxsutawney Phil got on the scene. As the old English rhyme stated,

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another fight.

If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,

Winter won't come again.

Incidentally, that winter February 2nd was fair and bright, the groundhog saw their shadow, and the winter continued well into April. The next month I suffered a major automobile wreck after hitting an icy patch, and found myself reminded why people since time immemorial wished away the winter: snow, ice, freezing rain, fog, and lack of vegetation are all signs of death. Sailors of old wouldn't leave harbor on Candlemas, as they knew the February waters got especially choppy. Perhaps I, too, needed to check myself in mid­winter to make sure I was stable during the doldrums of the post­ Christmas dry stretch.

One year later, and I find myself in a new intentional community, an Episcopal Service Corps program located in St. Louis, MO. My six housemates and I signed our contracts with the house long before Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, sparking international outrage. I dislike falling back on platitudes, but the classic Grandmotherism of “You want to know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans,” seemed especially apt. My housemate Rosemary Haynes found herself the most affected in our group by these events, and discerned that her place within the Ferguson movement was to be on the front lines, demonstrating, observing, and allying herself with those who knew oppression too well. Doing this work, she was accosted by police, arrested, and interviewed by CNN. She even wrote a more thorough article about her faith journey and the experience of being a Ferguson protester in an earlier article for St. Hilda's House. Following the experiences she movingly detailed in her piece, Rosemary decided she wanted to be baptized. The date set was February 2, 2015: I could not help but smile.

It was a fair and bright night. The moon only one day from being full, we gathered in the street outside of the Deaconess Anne House to commence Rosemary's baptismal vows. We had threaded white Christmas lights around the front of our property, and invited as many people in our community to join us in our unconventional liturgy for the evening. Rosemary found the unconditional love of Christ in the streets of Ferguson, standing with the oppressed, it made sense that's where she would affirm her devotions to God.

Calling this event a “New Beginning” did not seem right to me. Rosemary grew up Episcopalian, she just had not been baptized. She hadn't been negligent of the great deal of suffering in the world, she worked for a number of causes prior to joining the Deaconess Anne House. Baptism marked the point her desire to be a part of the church meet with the gifts, vocation, and love already given to her by God. As I repeated my baptismal vows, I recognized how baptism, and salvation for that matter, is not a one­off event, but a continuing process. What better day to celebrate than Candlemas?

Having spent 40 days since Christmas, a month since New Year's, and ten weeks since Advent, Candlemas is a holiday smack­dab in the middle of a liturgical season. Nothing starts or finishes with Candlemas, and the goofy weather tradition and the blessing of the votive candles seems almost too minor to really pay attention to. But Candlemas is a time to breath. A recognition of that long, dark, and often lonely time between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, especially in a culture that likes its holidays about something flashy or heroic. Candlemas is the perfect holiday for the mid­winter, as it allows for waiting, praying, and hope for a distant spring, just as how the frail Anna saw Christ in the Jesus child that Mary brought to the temple.

In these days when I am daunted by the unfinishable work of perusing social justice in a broken world, I take great comfort in the message of the baptismal vow and the Day of Candlemas: God's Covenant began before us, continues after us, and is here for us, even in the darkest of seasons.  Especially in the darkest of seasons.

 

 

Love and Anger on the Streets of Ferguson: Guest Post

This week we have a guest post from Rosemary Haynes of Deaconess Anne House, the Episcopal Service Corps site in St. Louis, MO.  It's an honest and authentic account of life in and around Ferguson over the last few months, and we are incredibly grateful both to her for writing and to all those who are standing together on the streets each night.

Love and anger are funny things.

A revolution has risen from anger in the town of Ferguson. The killing of a young black man spread anger across the nation. Truths about racism caused anger within the souls of many.

It’s a funny thing, though, anger.

I have been in the streets of Ferguson since September. I have seen how a group of protesters went from coming together in mutual anger towards the justice system to coming together because they’ve become family. It’s amazing to see and be a part of the changes that are happening in the St. Louis area. Each night on the front line means coming together with family in a fight for justice—it means protecting each other!  

“We have to love and support each other, all we have to lose are our chains”: this chant expresses the truth of Ferguson.  People of all races, religions, economic classes, and ethnic backgrounds have come together and become a family.  

And this is where love comes in: for even out of the anger at our justice system, love can be found.

I know this personally.  I know this because I felt God’s love for the first time in the streets of Ferguson. I know this because, since August, clergy have had an amazing part in this revolution; a part in which they put God on the front line to show that He can make a difference, especially through the works of the young people involved.

It’s especially amazing to come into an Episcopal Service Corps program that had already set an image of what our program year would look like in Ferguson. I didn’t anticipate that I would be one of the millennials standing on the front line in a fight for justice with people who I now consider family. I am thankful for the role that our program has in Ferguson, not only because I am in a year of discernment, but also because having the experience of being on the front line has helped me understand what it means to be a Christian.

To me, being a Christian is about spreading the word of love. It’s about being involved in a community. It’s about standing firm in your beliefs. I am trying to do all of these in the St. Louis area. I am praying with my feet firmly in the street each week.  I am praying for those who have to live in fear, especially those who have given up their careers and social lives to be an active part of this revolution.  I am praying for the people who aren't featured in the images the media is showing.  Many millennials (among others) have quit nearly everything to be activists. That is something to be proud of. The media, however, haven’t shown the world what it has been like for many of the peaceful protestors.  Instead, they have focussed almost exclusively on those who have looted and burned our city to pieces.  They have failed to mention that on the night of November 24th, when the non-indictment was announced, the police allowed pieces of Ferguson to burn for 45 minutes just as they let Mike Brown lay in the road for 4 hours and 32 minutes.

Maya Angelou says it best; “The night has been long, the wound has been deep, the pit has been dark, and the walls have been steep.”  Changes aren’t going to happen overnight: this revolution is a marathon, not a sprint. St. Louis, meanwhile, is so deeply rooted in racism that it’s difficult to describe what it’s like to live here. I’ve experienced it, I’ve witnessed it, and it just goes to show that the past 140 days are only the beginning. The tear gas, riot gear, and arrests each night haven’t gotten us out of the street. The killings of unarmed black men have kept us there. We will continue this fight until justice is served.

Those of us out here share a common dream for this city and the world: that the ones who do wrong will be held accountable, that justice will be served, and that we can look past skin color and only see the souls of one another.  Though this dream came in part from anger, it is sustained by love.  Now it’s time to act on the love which has developed from that anger.

We love our city. We love each other.

Rosemary Haynes

Deaconess Anne House- St. Louis, MO