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The Story – a new editor

Sunday, April 7th, 2019


“What is racism, bigotry, ethnocentrism, homophobia, etc.?

The actual experiences of people who have had to endure the bigotry of others while they tried to move along and achieve their life goals gives an understanding of bigotry which helps us root it out of our lives and out of the institutions in which we live and work. With that in mind, we hope you learn from and can use the stories in this series.

In instances of bigotry, it is the person who is acted against – the person who has been forced to experience another’s bigotry – who is chastised or loses an opportunity or is moved out of a home or denied entrance to an educational institution for which they qualified and ‘but for’ would have been accepted. This needs to stop. Especially, we need to stop the denial when we come across an instance of bigotry. We cannot afford to call for the bowl of water, soap and a towel to wash our hands leaving the responsibility for our sins on others or on the institutions which we created.”

_________________________________________________

I was in the process of going through papers which a friend of mine is packing to send to Amistad Research Library in New Orleans. In the process I discovered a treasure trove of stories of people experiencing bigotry. I volunteered to continue this series because of that and hope you will send your stories with any supporting evidence you have for our files.

A disclaimer – I am not a writer, more an organizer of papers and things so bear with me here. I thought this story was one not to be passed by. Let me know your thoughts as you read it:

Before I started this job I knew nothing about seminaries, churches, ordinations. As I am now knee deep in boxes of papers on that subject, my suggestion for a book for someone who is a writer would be – what happened at Episcopal Divinity School, which is now seriously diminished in size and influence and what is happening and has happened in the Episcopal Church.

My curiosity was stimulated when I ran across a letter on Trinity Church Copley Square letterhead from the Rev. Spencer M. Rice, Rector to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Massachusetts. I am copying that letter to this blog – when I figure out how to do that – commending Marceline Donaldson for ordination …”who is sponsored for Holy Orders by the Rector, Vestry, and congregation of Trinity Church in the City of Boston.”

I’ve known Marceline for many years, but knew nothing of this. How she is still standing is an amazement to me. Besides this letter from the Rev. Spencer Rice are letters from the Rev. Henderson Brome, Rev. Edward Sims, Bishop Coburn and more all glowing with their recommendations. Marceline was not ordained and, in fact, was asked to withdraw from Episcopal Divinity School and she dropped out of the ordination process.

What happened? I would like to publish the entire file. However, basically racism, sexism and apparently the power and control needs of a few people. From the file records – Carter Heyward, George Hunter, John Skinner, and Edward Stiess – a committee of the faculty who stopped more than one black woman’s progress through seminary and ordination – were the instigators behind this. Another black woman from Ohio who was a student at the seminary went through a similar process with the same people and suffered the same fate. Her name is Lillian Bannister.

Since I have to send this box off on Monday and I haven’t figured out how to scan these letters into the computer to attach to this blog let me copy it for you. The original of these letters and this file will be at Amistad Research Library if anyone is interested in exploring and writing about these events.

The Catholic Church has been exposed on many levels, but the Episcopal Church – which has been shrinking dramatically – has not been so exposed and maybe it is time.

This letter is on Trinity Church Copley Square Stationery

5 February 1986

The Standing Committee

Diocese of Massachusetts

One Joy Street

Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Re: MARCELINE DONALDSON

Dear Standing Committee Members:

It is my privilege to commend to you Marceline Donaldson, who is sponsored for Holy Orders by the Rector, Vestry and congregation of Trinity Church in the City of Boston.

When I came to Trinity Church on 1 May 1982, Marceline Donaldson was teaching in the Church School as a volunteer. She was cherished by the Director of Christian Education as one of the most able teachers with whom she had ever worked.

During the academic year, 1982-83, Marceline taught three sections of an adult education course entitled, “Formerly Marrieds.” This course was for the pastoral assistance of those who were either in the process of divorce, or who had recently experienced the same. Marceline deported herself as an organized sensitive counselor who was of great assistance to those participating in these groups.

During the academic year, 1984-85, Marceline in concert with her husband, taught an adult education course on the Old Testament. In this course and the above offerings, Marceline was prepared academically, and was of great assistance pastorally to all those who attended these offerings.

Throughout the twelve months of 1985, and continuing to the present in 1986, Marceline has functioned as a lay reader and a chalice bearer at Trinity Church every Sunday at either the 8:00 a.m. Holy Communion service or the 6:00 p.m. Holy Communion service. In the discharge of these duties, she has been punctual, prepared, and spiritually focused.

On October 20, 1982, I received a letter from The Very Reverend Harvey Guthrie, then Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge. A copy of his letter is enclosed for your advisement. Harvey’s warm enthusiasm for Marceline’s presence in and contributions to the E.D.S. family constitutes its own witness.

Scarcely more than a year later, I received a call from Marceline, indicating that she had been summoned before a committee of the faculty (Carter Heyward, George Hunter, John Skinner, and Edward Stiess) on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 16, 1984, at 10:00 am. in Wright Hall Conference Room.

Marceline asked me if I would attend this meeting as her Rector and friend because thirty days earlier, another black, middle-age woman was expelled from E.D.S., and Marceline was apprehensive about such a forum. I did attend.

It would be impossible to recapture in a letter the degradation evidenced in this session. As Arch-deacon for the Diocese of California under both Bishop Pike and Bishop Myers, with personnel responsibilities for fifty-two mission churches, and as Chairman of the Board of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in San Francisco, I have never experienced anything like this meeting. Had one participated in such a meeting in the aforementioned responsibilities, one would expect to be summoned into Federal Court within hours.

Charges were emotionally hurled at Marceline without either evidence nor written documentation. It was as close to a kangaroo court as I ever hope to experience.

Whereas the Dean of E.D.S. sent me a three page letter as Marceline’s Rector, when he and the faculty were more than pleased with her, I received no letter nor written information about her performance prior to this session; I received no written invitation from E.D.S. to this session; and I received no written documentation as to their judgment following this session.

In thirty-one years of priesthood, I have never experienced such a blight on the soul of the Church as this hearing.

It is a credit of no small magnitude to Marceline that she has deported herself with balance, compassion, and achievement after this most unfortunate experience.

The Rector and Vestry of Trinity Church support Marceline Donaldson for Holy Orders without reservation.

Very sincerely yours,

/s/ / Spencer M. Rice

Rector

cc: The Rt. Rev. John B. Coburn

The Rt. Rev. David E. Johnson”

_________________________________

After having read the rest of the file, which had more of the same, I went home in shock and wanted to do something, but what? Having read the beginnings of “The Story,,,” I thought this was probably the best beginning. The second step would be for someone who is good at research to take this up and put it into a book. Especially since there were many glowing letters about Marceline in the file and much more that could be explored. She will not, however, be cooperative, but the files at Amistad should help along with those located elsewhere in many different locations.

_______________________________________________

When you start digging and bigotry moves beyond the grand institutional sweeps into the individual stories, you begin to realize the horror of the experience of being an African American woman, man, Native American woman, man, Latina American woman, man and all the rest of those we demand accept our treatment of them in such a way that damages the soul of those putting out the horrific treatment of other human beings, bigotry takes another definition.

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Tell the Story!

Friday, March 8th, 2019

These are actual instances of how institutional racism and personal bigotry work hand in glove to destroy attempts to change this society from one of White Supremacy and Patriarchy to one which looks beyond physical differences. (I will start – send your stories to share with those who need to understand on a conscious level the structure in which they live, work and in which their children’s character, ethics, morality are being formed. – don’t let me stand out here alone. To talk about these experiences on a personal level takes a lot of humility. The first step to break through the ego and ‘better than’ needs is to allow humility to take hold.)

by: Marceline Donaldson

CHURCH

One of the dominant conveyers of bigotry. What follows is one very small example of how it works!

Currently, we are seeing the demolition of the Black Church. That has been happening for decades. It moved along in earnest when the overall society realized the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was formed, nurtured and carried through successfully because of the Black Church. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a black preacher and Church leader with an ancestry filled with black ministers, organists and more.

This story starts in a Black Episcopal Church in Central Square, Massachusetts. A Church that has had its ups and downs and currently is down. What happens?

This is one small incident, but crucial in how the Black Church is being destroyed.

My husband and I served as interim ministers at St. Bartholomews Church in Central Square – Cambridge, MA. – in the mid-1980’s, a Church which is predominantly Jamaican, African American, with a few people from Barbados and Haiti – in other words, all people of color.

When we arrived there were two people licensed by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to serve as Lay Eucharistic Ministers. One was the wife of the last rector.

We worked with several additional parishioners who were interested in serving their Church as Lay Eucharistic Ministers and as required, we sent letters to the Diocese asking that they be licensed. They attended the requisite training offered by the Diocese, were licensed and worked as Lay Eucharistic Ministers with no problems and many ‘thank you’s’.

The following year we added a couple more who also went through training and were licensed. We also encouraged them to get involved with the Diocese – as well as seeking out others in the congregation who were interested in Diocesan work. There were several and we did our share to make the Episcopal Diocese less White and more Diverse.

The Episcopal Diocese had one or two African Americans involved in their work – people they were accustomed to – the people who disproved the rule.

Everything went along fine until the Bishop under whom we made those additions and changes retired and a new bishop was elected. The new bishop was not comfortable with the increased numbers of African Americans having a say in the business of the Diocese and so began the process of elimination. How was that done? – Quietly! Under the radar, so to speak!

We applied for a renewal of the license for the -now – seven Lay Eucharistic Ministers, who had been licensed for a couple years; who had attended all of the training offered, some more than once and who were doing an excellent job. Back came a letter from the Bishop that those licenses could not be renewed because members of St. Bartholomew’s Church had never been licensed as Lay Eucharistic Ministers; the Church had never applied to have anyone so licensed and no one had ever appeared for training. So our request was denied and we were cast as irresponsible or ignorant for attempting to have licenses renewed which had not been issued in the first place.

That is how the constant struggle is set up and the negative stereotype ‘refreshed.’ Take one step forward. Make it a successful step. Others following in your footsteps become a threat and are seen as a ‘horde’. Minorities are put in the position of constantly having to fight against, have to struggle to achieve anything, which is exhausting. Block their path and after a time there are none. The fiction can then be run which goes “we don’t have any because there are none qualified or interested or willing to do the work. One Bishop moves to open doors; another moves to slam them shut.

It is stunning to see the paperwork, which we have kept, which lays out this scenario.

What did we accomplish? Nothing that made permanent change. The destruction of St. Bartholomew’s continued apace. It was time for us to move on and our place in the structure was outlined for us clearly so there could be no misunderstanding.

Time for us to move on meant the next step in the destruction of St. Bartholomew’s – a rector to whom the congregation had to minister instead of being ministered to and a couple steps after that made sure there would be an empty church soon and its small congregation would have to consider a ‘merger’ into a White Congregation – losing their history and identity completely.

We went off to the Bishop’s office to meet and attempt to correct what we thought was a mistake of some kind taking with us the copies of the licenses issued and all supporting paperwork hoping that would clear up any ‘misunderstanding’ or misplaced licenses or other records. It was a meeting that did not go well. It was clear licenses never having been issued was a fiction and one that was thinly veiled. The fiction was maintained even in sight of the licenses signed by the Bishop.. The copies and in two cases the original licenses were characterized as “we don’t know where those came from” and that went on until my well known temper exploded and I wound up accusing the Bishop of racism and outlining how, when, why and what this behavior was meant to create – and that basically was the intentional destruction of a Black Church. All denied with righteous indignation.

The Bishop started the meeting and acknowledged and complimented us on a job well done. He acknowledged the substantial increase in Church attendance over the time we served as Interim, but also said I was not Marceline Donaldson, but Mrs. Bennett and I should act accordingly- which he suggested should be attending Church on Sundays, sitting in the front row so I could be seen ‘appropriately’ as being ‘supportive’ of my husband.

We outlined for the Bishop the circumstances under which we had taken the job. I was in the ordination process at the time and this placement was totally in line with what I was doing in Seminary. I was to do most of the work because my husband had a full time job as a professor at an Episcopal Seminary and he was there to be supportive and the one who was ordained and who could carry out the responsibilities that fall only to the ordained. We also let him know I had never been Mrs. Bennett, would never be Mrs. Bennett and my legal name and the one I used under all circumstances was Marceline Donaldson.

The Bishop responded by saying he was ordaining people who were young, just out of seminary and he preferred to ordain young men because that is really who made the best priests. He added that because we had done such a great job he would use us as Interims in other Churches as needed and if my understanding of my position more closely matched his he thought our work could make a substantial contribution to the Church.

My explosion, which could be heard outside the Bishops office, did not help the situation, but it did make clear to the Bishop that I would not be a part of the picture he drew and that his concept was racist and sexist and we thought the Episcopal Church had and was moving away from that – which was really about sin.

He did agree to renew the licenses and Robert and I went home. We talked about how we were going to withdraw from St. Bartholomew’s and the Episcopal Church. We were clearly only welcome if we could go along with the program of using the reputations and respect we had gained to maintain the Episcopal Church in its current stance with its institutionalized White Supremacy in tact and its Patriarchy moving in such a way to incorporate those who could go along with the program and push out those who wanted the world Jesus promised.

I went back to one of the three places in Scripture which has sustained me:

Ephesians 6:12-18

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

It has always been amazing to me how so many people are able to use the institution in which they serve to maintain themselves as “better than” and their institution serving the needs of White Supremacy and the maintenance of the Patriarchy while doing what they consider the work of that part of the world in which they have chosen to make their lives, raise a family, and thrive without a conscious realization that it is being done at the expense of the lives of others. What we also came to see and understand is that those so mired in the maintenance of the Patriarchy and White Supremacy are also mired so deep in sin that the lives they show to the public and the private life they lead are very different and separate from one another. That private life is generally immoral, full of serious ethical problems with a character that peeps out ever so often showing a very ugly personna.

Why was it necessary to keep the Diocese White, male and begin the destruction of a Church which had a long history in the Diocese as well as its neighborhood? WHY? Because that was the beginning necessity for the conversion of the neighborhood back to a White neighborhood. The era of the move to the suburbs was drawing to a close making necessary the “whitening” of neighborhoods which “darkened” when White Flight started. These movements happen over generations and our conscious awareness of them only happens at their end when their goals are being realized and can no longer happen “under cover.”

In the vineyard of the fallen are my brothers and sisters who want to segregate us by color – by sex – by ethnicity – by sexual orientation – by all kind of other ‘differences’ to shore up their ego and identity so they don’t have to do the work of being.

How long before the eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the prisoners set free, those who walk in darkness brought into a great light.

When we shore up those who are keeping us all in bondage to their need for power, money and dominion-over, our lives are in jeopardy and our eternity closed out.

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Spencer Morgan Rice, In Memoriam

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

by:  Marceline Donaldson, 2014

We were saddened to hear of the death of Spencer Rice on January 15, 2014.  He was a larger than life figure as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the city of Boston from 1982 to 1992.

There is always that extra amount of grief when someone you know dies, – someone who was your mentor for a period of time, especially at a life-changing moment of your life. and that is who Spencer was to me.  He was very insightful and could put his finger on what you were going through without long discussions to wear out the problems and sometimes without the fact that you were experiencing a problem with all its particulars even discussed.

Spencer ministered to a lot of people on the fringes at Trinity – people you would not think the rector of such a large Church would even notice – and he did it quietly with no fanfare and only those closeby noticing his good works.  In conversation with several people who knew Spencer, one thing was mentioned by every one – his generosity.

The best way I could think of to remember Spencer is to reprint one of his sermons which I feel encapsulats his core beliefs.  This sermon was preached on John 1:43-51. .    The Rev. Dr. Spencer Morgan Rice was powerful, conflicted, with a raging internal war which produced sermons that reached the hearts and changed the lives of many.

“WE HAVE FOUND HIM, COME AND SEE”     (John 1:43-51)

Preached from the pulpit of Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston, MA.

“This is a time of crisis.  It is not only a time of crisis in the political and military affairs of the nation, but it is also a time of crisis in the soul of our nation.  The Gospel this morning is appropriate to this crisis.  Philip said to Nathanael, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and See.’

This morning, I would like to reflect with you upon dogma, upon the peace of God, upon the treasure of God.

‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ We have heard the text many times and felt of ourselves that we readily understood Nathanael who gave this despairing, perhaps even cynical response to Philip.  Yet the matter presses upon us this morning as we, in this country, find ourselves often divided from those around us in terms of our convictions as to what should or should not be done in world affairs.  It is a crisis.  Men and women in every day and time, in every circumstance of life, are tempted to slide easily into Nathanael’s trap with a generic, doctrinaire, despairing, myopic point of view.  Those who differ from me, are they not from Nazareth?

We have seen in the life of our country many instances in the last fifty years in which these matters have been tested.  Those of you who are old enough to remember the days before World War II can well recall that the America First Committee was very powerful in the United States.  We were a nation that described herself as isolationist.  Charles Lindbergh warned us that if we entered this war, which was none of our business, we would find that we had lost our freedoms at home.  Franklin Roosevelt was saying in the same time frame, ‘We must become the arsenal of democracy.’ For us, this was a crisis, as difficult as war itself.  There were many opinions.

During my undergraduate studies, I and many other young men saw the beginning of the war in Korea, having just been discharged from the Armed Services.  Many of us were called back.  Open protests at that time were not common; our opposition was a seething, underground, resentful condition that existed among men and women.  Korea was called a police action, an undeclared war.  The sides were there; the crisis was there; the difficulty was there.  We have all seen the difficult circumstances surrounding Vietnam, overseen by three different presidents of both political parties.  We have seen men and women of conscience throughout the life of the republic differing passionately with one another.

In our enduring credit, our Congress before hostilities began in Iraq, had the freedom and the courage to witness to the world open, passionate, heartfelt debate.  It is a time when we must examine closely the temptation to join Nathanael in characterizing those who disagree with us as from Nazareth.  Christians are called, as indeed we are called as citizens, to hear those with whom we passionately disagree.

We all seek peace – peace in the world, peace in our souls, peace with our God, and Philip comes to us and says, ‘We have found Him.’ I ask of myself in the context of this Gospel, why then do men and women (including myself) under stress and in trauma, resort to rigid, doctrinaire, inflexible, unhearing positions?  I know, and I suspect that you know, that we are a lonely, frightened people.  In our aloneness, in our fright, we are given to protecting ourselves.  We are searching all of our lives for someone with whom we can share our most intimate fears, with whom we can find peace.  We search at work, we search in church;we search at parties; we search on the streets of life.

Thomas Yeomans, poet, fellow parishioner and clinician, in his recently published book The Flesh Made Word, talks of our searching.  He says,

‘In airports, or in shopping malls,

we probe each face for some relief,

some soul to recognize our grief.

But crowd averts its eye, inmeshed in time and always late.’

‘We have found Him’  It is personal.  We have found the person who can look into our souls and recognize our grief.

As we look for peace in the world and in our own souls in every conceivable way, we hope to be those people, those Christians, those citizens who can be open to their fellow citizens, whatever their stance may be.  One thinks of the verses in May Sarton’s poem ‘Now I Become Myself’ in the recent anthology ‘Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality.’ She writes,

‘Now I have become myself.

It’s taken Time, many years and places;

I have been dissolved and shaken

Worn other people’s faces,

Run madly, as if Time were there….

Now to stand still, to be here.’

‘We have found Him’ To stand still and to acknowledge this Jesus, the Christ who calls us to be open to hear our fellow citizens.

The measure of God is a person.  And Philip says to us, as he said to Nathanael, ‘Come and see.’  We ask ourselves, what is the treasure that this Christ brings us, that treasure that is beyond tolerance? We are called of God beyond patience, beyond tolerance.  We are called to a condition of life that is open to those with whom we disagree, to reach out intellectually, and indeed even emotionally, to see why they perceive things the way they do.  We are called of God.

How do we get there? What do we find in this treasure?  What do we find in this Christ? We find forgiveness.  We find acceptance of ourselves.  For nineteen and a half centuries of Christianity, the preponderance of people understood forgiveness as something that they allocated and accorded to another.  It took the social scientists of your generation and mine to reach into the intimate lives of men and women to remind us, in the voice of the mystics through the centuries, that forgiveness in life begins with my acceptance of myself, my forgiveness of myself, given to me by this Christ.  Only through that forgiveness can I open myself to hear, to respect someone with whom I passionately disagree.

No. we are not called to a new condition of doctrine or dogma, we are called not to those defensive constructs of mind that wall us off and say of the world, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ What we are called to is personal; it is trusting.  It is trusting that we have been forgiven; it is trusting in the spirit of the disciples when they come and say, ‘We have found Him. Come and see.’

In 1973 I was invited to a luncheon on Telegraph Hill in San Franciscol  A modest home, perched on the side of that artistic community, looking out over San Francisco Bay, with all of its majestic, physical glory.  There were only two guests at that luncheon given by a parishioner.  I was one of the guests and the other was the recent widow of the late Jacob Bronowski, internationally renowed scientist and poet, famous for his work at Cambridge University in England, later at MIT and at the Salk Institute at the time of his death.  He wrote a book entitled The Ascent of Man that many read, and I presume many more saw on public television the BBC-produced documentary series with the same title, which Bronowski wrote and presented.  In one of the last programs of the series he is standing by a pool of water and he turns to the camera and says:

It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers.

That’s false, tragically false.  This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz.  This is where people were turned into numbers.  Into this pond were flashed the ashes of four million human beings.  This was not done by gas.  It was done by arrogance.  It was done by dogma.  It was done by ignorance…..This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

A few sentences later, he quotes Oliver Cromwell: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.’

In the crucible of our Gospel this morning, as we hope and pray that we can hear our fellow countrymen in their convictions, whatever they may be, we acknowledge that doing so is not a renunciation of your convictions or mine; it is the humility born of forgiveness, and in that forgiveness is the capacity to let go of our dogmatic categories of mind and soul.

Alice Walker, in one of her poems, says,

Looking down into my father’s

dead face

for the last time

my mother said

without tears, without smiles

just with civility

‘Goodnight, Willie Lee,

I’ll see you in the morning.’

And it was then I knew

that the healing of all our wounds

is forgiveness

that permits a promise of our return

at the end.

The treasure that God brings to us in the Gospel this morning is that you and I are forgiven and healed, and that whatever our convictions may be about this war, about the difficulties and complexities that surround us, you and I can find peace of soul.  That is our treasure.  We can be open to our fellow citizens.  It is personal. ‘We have found Him.  Come and See.’

Let Us Pray:

Heavenly Father, our nation stands on the precipice of a crisis.  Passionate convictions clash and contradict.  Lift us above the dogma, the “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ mind set to a place of Christian listening.

We seek peace in the world.  We seek peace in our souls.  We are searching.  We have worn many other people’s faces.  Now, let us stand still to be here.  We have found Him.

Finally Heavenly Father, this Jesus, our Christ, brings us the treasure of forgiveness that we may forgive and accept ourselves, that honoring our convictions, we may have a new humility born of forgiveness, that we may hear and respect one another.  It is personal.  “We have found Him.  Come and See.’  Amen.”

Spencer –   May your soul rest in the knowledge that it is healed, forgiven and is in that place of peace which passes all understanding!  May the God we worship be with you always and may your soul continue its journey as it seeks its eternity! We are listening in the stillness to hear that you have found that treasure  and know without contradiction that it is personal! – We will, one day, come and see!

________________________________________________________________

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Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

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A Tribute to The Rev. Patricia Riley Colenback (1931-2013)

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

taken from “Alla Bozarth-Campbell’s – From Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, Paulist Press 1978

Bakerwoman God

 
Bakerwoman God,
I am your living Bread.
Strong, brown, Bakerwoman God.
I am your low, soft, and being-shaped loaf.
 
I am your rising bread,
well-kneaded by some divine
and knotty pair of knuckles,
by your warm earth-hands.
I am bread well-kneaded.
 
Put me in fire, Bakerwoman God,
put me in your own bright fire.
I am warm, warm as you from fire.
I am white and gold, soft and hard,
brown and round.
I am so warm from fire.
 
Break me, Bakerwoman God!
I am broken under your caring Word.
Drop me in your special juice in pieces.
Drop me in your blood.
Drunken me in the great red flood.
Self-giving chalice swallow me.
My skin shines in the divine wine.
My face is cup-covered and I drown.
 
I fall up
in a red pool
in a gold world
where your warm
sunskin hand
is there to catch and hold me.
Bakerwoman God,
remake me.
 

And how many times, Pat,  did you say these words over others…………………..

                              “Give rest, O Christ, to your servant Pat with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.”

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Trinity Church Organ Concert

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2012

THE PLACE TO BE on Fridays at noon is Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square, Boston, MA.

This past Friday there was an astounding organ concert played by Richard Webster (Trinity’s Music Director and Organist) and Colin Lynch (Trinity’s Assistant Organist).

To walk into the Church and see the organ taking its place in front of the altar just glowing from the way the light hit it, was stunning.  I wanted to just sit in a quiet place to contemplate the scene in front of me for awhile, but since I arrived just before the concert started, that didn’t happen. When you go to Trinity’s Friday organ concerts, I suggest you arrive at least 15 minutes early  to absorb what you see there.  When the organ moves to the front and center of the altar in such a breathtaking way, with the drama it creates in its new place does that make it a sacred icon?

The sanctuary itself  is beautiful, even when the organ is on the side out of view, with those incredible stained glass windows adding depth to the light flowing into the Church.  The first time I walked into Trinity it was 1980,  I felt as though I had come home.  I went kicking and screaming all the way because I had other places I would rather have been, however, that all left when I walked into the Church.  I thought it was a spiritual experience of homecoing until I learned the architect – H. H. Richardson – was from New Orleans and had incorporated much of the ambiance, culture and New Orleans Creole style into his architectural designs. After that bit of knowledge surfaced,  I realized that while there may have been something spiritual about that first experience of the Church, it was an actual feeling of homecoming from someone who was homesick.

Richard Webster opened the concert with  Nicholaus Bruhns’ Preludium in E Minor.  A Northern German Baroque piece which has a virtuosity  and richness which held its own in this environment.  A student of Dieterich Buxtehude, Nicholaus came from a family of organists, composers, violinists, etc.

I used to wonder why many of the great organ composers and performers came from family groups – parents who played and composed, siblngs who followed their parents, those who married the children of organists becoming great organists themselves – until I realized how difficult it is to find an organ on which one can practice without this familial support.  It is a rare instrument, which encompasses and can imitate all others.

Richard Webster’s opening of the concert with the Bruhns’ piece was beautiful.  It was very rich and Richard’s playing brought out the virtuosity of the piece.

The composition which reached me where I was living that day was Trois Movements for Organ and Flute by Jehan Alain.  Colin Lynch played the organ, Richard Webster played the flute.  I’ve heard both of them play before, but when Trois Movements started I was not prepared.  My favorite combination is organ and flute; my favorite composer in the organ world – Marcel Dupré – one of Jehan Alain’s teachers.  I had totally fogotten about Jehan Alain.  One can hear the romantic influences in this piece and its Andante movement gives you the meditation and contemplation needed in the space in which it was played.  After that, it lightens and was a great middle of the concert.

When one thinks of Alain it is with thoughts full of tragedy.  What could he have produced, but for the war which caused his death at a very early age?  Maybe that future knowing is what hangs over his music.  The ridiculousness and horror of war is showcased in this composer and performers’ life along with a clear showing, in microcosm, of what the world lost. One of the most moving pieces is to hear his Sarabande for Organ, Strings, and Timpani, which he dedicated to the memory of his sister Odile Alain.  For a very moving moment, if you can find a recording of it with Marie-Claire Alain on the organ it is a profound experience.

And of course, the ending of the concert.  What can I say – a perfect end to continue the rest of your day in a great place.  Colin Lynch played Marcel Dupré’s Prelude and Fugue in B Major.  Not expected in the middle of the day, but a huge treat and it was incredibly well played – you knew that the presene you felt was Dupré showing up after the first few measures to hear this performance.  Brilliantly, technically showing off  the virtuosity in Dupré’s composition and played the way it was meant to be played.

I can’t vouch for the rest of the organ concerts because I am not familiar with all of the organists to follow, but these two, Richard Webster and Colin Lynch,  made you want to return for more.

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Alabama’s first licensed black female pilot dies at 90

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 12:16 PM Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 12:35 PM

The Associated Press By The Associated Press 
mildred.JPG
Mildred Carter, pictured here in 2003, shows her pilot’s
license from 1941. (The Birmingham News/ file photo)

TUSKEGEE, Alabama — Mildred Carter, who was Alabama’s first licensed black female pilot, has died. She was 90.

Funeral services for Carter will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Tuskegee’s St. Andrews Episcopal Church with The Rev. Liston Garfield officiating. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery.

Her husband Herbert was a Tuskegee Airman.

In an interview with The Montgomery Advertiser he recalled how they had flown in a two-plane formation high over Alabama. He remembers how they laughed and exchanged silent “I love you” signals over their engine noise 3,000 feet above Lake Martin.

“We didn’t have radio contact, so we made up for it with hand signals and blew kisses at each other,” the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel said Tuesday. “It was a lot of fun.”

Herbert Carter, who compiled a distinguished flying record during World War II and, later, in peacetime, recalled those unauthorized rendezvous flights over the lake.

“I was a maintenance officer as well as a combat pilot and one of my jobs was to take planes up for a test flight after we worked on them,” he said. “That’s when we came up with the idea of flying over the lake. Nobody ever said anything to me about what we did.”

Both had to overcome racial prejudices and discriminatory practices when they learned to fly, but they persevered. As the years passed, they became the “first family” of the Tuskegee Airmen organization and represented the group at functions around the world.

She is survived by her husband, three children, a sister, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

© 2011 al.com. All rights reserved.

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