FROM THE RECTOR
Author • ity
Several years ago I was asked to present to a gathering of priests on the subject of authority. As part of that presentation, I spent some time with the components of the word, author + ity. That simple exploration done years ago clarified for me the possibility and the danger inherent in holding authority.
At its core, authority is the power to create. It’s why author is the root of authority. When we use authority—as an elected official or a parent to a teacher or a supervisor or a police officer or a priest—in a particular way we are creating a world, an environment, much like the author of an essay, a poem or a book might. And the environments we create have the power to inspire and build up as well as to deform and destroy.
This is why the ongoing crisis revealing the abuse of vulnerable people, especially of children, in the Roman Catholic Church has been so devastating. It’s not simply that children have been abused—that is horrifying by itself. It’s also that the vulnerable have been abused by people who were placed in positions of trust, by the very people who were expected to guide and protect them. And then, over decades the people who, in Jesus’ words, have been given authority, the power to create environments to protect the least of these, have repeatedly and systematically ignored, denied, and deflected the immense pain and suffering that has been taking place.
Only now, after blaming the systematic abuse of vulnerable people, children, dependent adults, and seminarians on the American church, and then English speaking countries, and then cultures with sexual liberalism, only now are the people with widespread authority in the Roman Catholic Church are beginning to respond in ways that will hopefully lead to more structural and systematic change.
This, of course, is not simply the case in the Roman Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church has struggled with the abuse of the vulnerable as well; it’s why we have devoted much of the last decade on systems and structures to protect the vulnerable in our communities. From background checks of our teachers and those who have access to spaces where children will be, to training about ways to recognize abuse, to ensuring that there are always two adults whenever we offer programs for children, because of our recognition of the damage that has been done, we have re-formed our practices and the environments that we create. And it is something that we need to continue to be paying attention to and ensuring that the authority we have creates safe space for the most vulnerable.
The question of the righteous use of authority is one that we all face. The fruits of this kind of authority—respect, trust, compassion, justice, mercy—are both in desperate need and within our reach. Because though the impact of this challenge of righteous authority will vary according to the amount of power we have, the underlying question remains: with the power to create that you and I have, what will we do? In our places of work, as parents, as aunts and uncles, as grandparents and godparents, as teachers, guides, and leaders, how will we use our power to create the merciful, compassionate, and just Realm among us?
the kingdom of god will not be realized
by those new blue shoes
or that album
or the glittery skirt i saw
or the pills or the liquor or
even my car
with the racing stripes.
it might be under
her sleepy eyelids though,
or his leg tossed
over my lap.
it might be in that tiny baby fist.
but you’re lost
if you think it’s in
12 hour office days
early mornings it’s
not in your sadness
or even your rage.
the kingdom of god
be realized by
prolonging our own suffering.
open your hand.
find your own
there in your palm.
take a walk in the dim
and notice the stars.
then fight harder.
From the Treasurer
The Numbers Part of the Story…
Now at the end of Summer it is time to take stock of where our community finances stand at 2/3 of the year.
Pledged giving is somewhat ahead — above —what we would expect at this time of year if giving were to come in equal 1/12s through the year. This, however, is likely due to once per year gifts having come in, and some having accelerated their pledged giving into the early part of the year. Should you be wondering, we will need all the giving that is pledged to end the year in balance.
Income, overall, is on target, including the planned $12,000 monthly transfer of investment income into the operating budget.
At this point, expenses are about 3% less that we would expect if expenses came in equal 1/12s each month. Some of this may be due to reimbursement requests coming in slowly, some due to expenses that aren’t expected until later in the year, and some due to leaving the Associate for Youth Ministry position unfilled starting in July.
The balance in Vanguard (Jordan) funds at the end of August was $1,060,443. Of this total, $845,340 is considered principle held for capital needs, particularly those anticipated in 2021 with furnishing the church wing of Jordan House (the joint project with SAHA to provide affordable senior housing and housing/office space for the church) and subsequent remodeling of the undercroft. Earnings (unrealized gain) at the end of August are computed as $215,103.
If you have questions about any of this, or want further detail, I would be glad to talk with you.
The Pentecost Challenge
Did you take the Pentecost Challenge this summer? Did you think about it and not quite get there? Is there a divide that seems impossible for you to cross? Pentecost this year challenged us to a season of reaching out in conversation, bridging difference, and reconciling relationships.
For those of you who are going to the Retreat this weekend, we have carved out some time late Saturday afternoon to join in a conversation. For those of you who are not going to the Retreat, we are planning a get together after the 11:15 service, Sunday, September 30 to do the same.
Please join us!
Michelle Barger, Jeannie Koops-Elson, and Margaret Sparks
Gospel Choir returns next Sunday, September 23! If you would like to join in singing some fun but eminently doable music, come for rehearsal at 8pm on Wednesday, September 19, in the main church, or simply come at 8:30am sharp next Sunday. If you’d like to be on the Gospel Choir email list, contact email@example.com.
No Formation Hour this Sunday
Because many folks will be up on the Parish Retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch this Sunday, there will not be classes for adults or children during formation hour. Sunday School will resume and the Rev. Dr Ruth Meyers will pick up her class Living by the Book: The Book of Common Prayer as Spiritual Resource next Sunday, September 23rd.