The Bishop on Anti-gay Hate Crimes in NYC

May 31, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I know that I speak for all New Yorkers, as I certainly do for my brother and sister bishops, in expressing our sorrow and outrage at the murder of Mark Carson on the eighteenth of May. This killing was clearly an anti-gay hate crime, and is being treated as such by the police commissioner of New York City. Hate crimes teach the whole community that every person identified with an historically oppressed group may at any time be victimized for the sake of the fears, hatreds, biases, weakness and pathologies of others. But even more than that, every word and action, every sentiment, that seeks to divide people from people or puts one people above another feeds a climate in which such violence can be seen by some as acceptable or excusable or even as the fault of the victim his- or herself. This is the insidious power of hate crimes, and it is why such crimes are treated differently by our laws and courts. We grieve that Mark Carson, who did nothing to provoke such an attack, and who did not deserve to lose his life, has fallen victim to these corrosive prejudices and this awful aggression. We grieve also for our cities and towns and for those forces active among us which work to rob people of their dignity, their freedom, their safety and even their lives. We grieve for the dehumanizing consequence of such violence that touches every one of us, and we grieve for the Body of Christ, into which the forces of violence and hatred continue to drive nails.

The murder of Mark Carson received great media attention. Less known is that the attack on him was only one of nine criminal acts of violence against people in Manhattan during May which were precipitated entirely because the victims were gay. Everyone needs to know this. Nothing could be more destructive to our common life or more grievous to God than such a pattern built upon a foundation of real evil, of unbridled hatred.

The Episcopal Diocese of New York has worked and continues to work to identify, recognize and eliminate the last vestiges of anti-gay bias in our structures and polity. This work is not finished. But we have labored to remove every barrier to the full inclusion of and participation by the LGBT community in our church in the whole of our life, including access to ordination and all diocesan and parochial leadership. Most recently we have broadened our understanding of and teaching regarding marriage to include same sex couples, and have happily embraced sacramental marriage equality as an expression of the fullness of our common life, and as a grateful response to the myriad ways in which the love of God is expressed through all of our lives. This holy work, and the fruits of it, are part of the way we hope to live out our baptismal imperative to “strive for justice and peace,” and to “respect the dignity of every human being,” and as a witness to the love we receive from God and have for one another. We believe and are convinced that this is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow is June, during which our communities will observe Pride Month. We will take into this month the still-fresh memory of these victims of anti-gay hate-crime violence, and most especially our brother Mark Carson. The LGBT Pride March in Manhattan will take place on Sunday afternoon, June 30. I will again be on the diocesan float. All are invited to come and join your fellow Episcopalians who will ride that float or accompany it on its way.

There are many voices in our culture which insist that homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian life. We emphatically do not believe that. So do find a way in these coming weeks to grieve the fallen, to make your witness to the love of Jesus, to engage our godly call to justice, and to let the world see and know that there are countless faithful Episcopalians in the LGBT community, and that they are loved, embraced and respected by the larger body of the Church of which they are and have always been a part.

The Right Reverend Andrew M.L. Dietsche

Bishop of New York

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Ever Feel Unworthy?

This week’s Gospel about the 1st century Roman Centurion considers the question of “unworthiness,” a feeling not uncommon to our own time.  
It has been said that we can know something is a profound truth if it’s opposite is also a profound truth.  In that regard we could say that feeling unworthy alienates us from God.  But the opposite can also be true:  feeling unworthy draws us and binds us to God.  
Want to hear more? Come hear this Sunday’s sermon!  Mother Candace+ 
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Who do you pray to?

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday and across the nation Christian clergy will try to answer the complex theological question, “What is the Trinity”? But perhaps there is a better question. Instead of asking “What is the Trinity?” we might ask: “To whom do you address your prayers; Father, Son, Holy Spirit, or all three?” In other words, how we pray reveals what we think. Anglican theologians refer to this as “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which can be translated:  “What we pray is what we believe.” What is hard to articulate intellectually can often be clearly seen in how we pray.  

 Perhaps you pray to the Father, perhaps the Son, or perhaps, like St. Paul, you let the Spirit sigh and groan in you with words too deep to say. Or perhaps, like me, you feel it’s not always clear which one you’re praying to–it feels more like a combination of all three, yet one.  

 Take a moment this week and think about who you are conversing with when you pray. God? Jesus? the Holy Spirit? All three? You have your own understanding of the Trinity already formed in you, which is revealed in the way you pray. “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” what you pray is what you believe.

 “May the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you for ever. Amen.”   Mother Candace+  

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Every year when Spring arrives and the whole earth seems to turn green-gold I think of this wonderful poem by Robert Frost:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
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Easter Joy at St. Paul’s

Our Beautiful Easter Altar
Tyler & Vincent

Tyler & Vincent’s Clarinet Duet
Baptismal “Thanksgiving Over the Water”
Mary is “Marked as Christ’s own forever.”

“Everyone outside for the Easter Egg Hunt!”  (Rowen, Celia & Willem)

Shea & Rowen watch the fun.

Meanwhile, the grownups enjoy the special brunch inside. (Jennifer & Kyle; John & Jeannette)

Celestia & Tyler

  Celia counts jellybeans.    Larry’s bunnies rev up their Twinkies.

A good time had by all–our tradition at St. Paul’s!
50 Days of Easter Blessings!  Mother Candace+

Sleeping for Sorrow

Tomorrow night is Maundy Thursday, the night Jesus prayed fiercely in the darkness of the garden of Gethsemane: “”Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” As Jesus prayed to be released from his horrible fate on that cross, we are told the disciples were “sleeping for sorrow.”  Waking them Jesus says: “Could you not even watch with me for one hour?” And so we come on this night, to watch and pray with him for one hour.

 I hope you can make time in your busy lives for the very special services of Holy Week. Only when we’ve been to the dark garden of Gethsemane can we really appreciate the Resurrection garden that will greet us Easter Sunday.   

In Christ, Mother Candace+ 


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The Way of the Cross

Another Faithful Woman

The origins of Holy Week are traced back to Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem in the 4th century. Pilgrims pouring into Jerusalem to be baptized Easter morning, followed Cyril around to the various sites significant to the events of Jesus’ last days on earth: the “Upper Room” where he had his last meal; the “Via Dolorosa,” where he struggled to carry his cross; and the hill at Golgatha where they crucified him.  Fortunately for us, these 4th century walking “liturgies” were recorded by one of those early pilgrims, a Gallic woman named Egeria. Eventually these early liturgies became our Prayer Book liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter: sometimes called “The Triduum” (three days).

Egeria wrote an account of her Holy Week experience in Jerusalem in a long letter to her Christian women friends back home in Europe, who had never heard of these traditions. It is thought her letter might be the very first formal writing by a woman in the history of the world.

God bless Egeria, and all the pilgrims who walked with Cyril through Holy Week, marking it in time and recording it. Because of their faithfulness, we are able to follow Jesus’ last earthly journey to this day. If you have never walked this sacred walk I hope you will make time in your busy lives next week for the very special services of Holy Week!

Faithfully, Mother Candace+


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Have you lived YOUR life?

Every Lent I make a point of reading the poem “Ask Me” by American poet, William Stafford, which asks the question:  “Ask me whether what I have  done is my life.” It is the same question asked by Frederick Buechner in Listening to Your Life, which we are reading in our Lenten Study.  It is a question that is life giving for me, and I hope it is for you also:
                       Ask Me

Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. Others have come in their slow way into my thought, and some have tried to help or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made. I will listen to what you say. You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.

In Christ, Mother Candace+

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How to Feed Your Soul

When we are feeling burned out, empty, dry, we invariably are told to eat well, get more sleep, and exercise. All of this is well-intentioned, good advice, which will certainly feed our body… but it will not feed our soul. Souls need food, and rest, and exercise of a different sort. Souls are fed with loving relationship, joy, and “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Souls find rest in quiet contemplation and peace. Souls are exercised in prayer and worship. Not doing these things affects the soul like not eating or drinking affects the body.

Yours in Christ, Mother Candace+

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Dealing With Disappointment

Recently I read a study that said people spend more time daydreaming about what they “should have done,” or “might have done,” than they do thinking about what they are actually doing in their present life. It would seem that even Jesus thought about what he “might have done” when he lamented in Sunday’s Gospel: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem….How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

This touching lament made me think about what it must have felt like for Jesus, especially at the end on that cross. Everything he had hoped to accomplish had seemingly failed, his own people rejected him, the most learned of his community mocked him, his family thought he was crazy, one of his disciples betrayed him, another denied him, the rest deserted him. His hometown crowd literally tried to throw him off a cliff.

How amazing to have a God who was willing to live as one of us, willing to experience the rejections and disappointments we all experience. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear,” the old hymn goes, “We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Amen! Mother Candace+

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