Category Archives: Church

Barbara Merrill in Tanzania

Barbara Merrill, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill describes herself in her email signature as a “Certified Ergonomist and A Very Good Friend” – and she is indeed both. Barbara is also a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and a person with albinism (PWA).

In these last two capacities, Barbara celebrated her retirement by traveling to Tanzania to help albino children and their families. She worked with a Cerebral Palsy Clinic, visited the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Step by Step school and other schools in Arusha, participated in an Albinism Conference to educate village leaders in Ngorongoro Crater, and visited an Asante Miriamu Foundation clinic and children’s camp in Kigoma and Kabanga.

This month, Barbara gave a report to St. Andrew’s called “Trip to Tanzania” about her 5 November 2016 – 12 December 2016 travels. Some facts she presented about Tanzania:

  • 70% of the population is rural
  • Capital Dar es Salaam and Dodoma
  • 68% below poverty level
  • Large percentage of population under 15 years old Generally high birth rate about 5 per woman
  • High infant mortality rate – nutrition, early and frequent pregnancies, inadequate maternal health.
  • Tourism is about 20% of the Tanzanian Economy

One of the most interesting of her slides for me was called “Myths About Albinism”

  • PWAs are ghosts
  • Mother slept with a white man
  • They don’t die just fade away
  • Magical powers
  • PWAs are evil
  • Albinism a curse or punishment
  • PWAs have pink eyes
  • Albinism is contagious

Thanks to Barbara for her dedication, teaching, and great heart!

Barbara Merrill, Kabanga Camp, Tanzania 2016 img_0080

Barbara Merrill, Asante Miriamu Gates Tanzania, 2016 img_0084

Barbara Merrill Tanzania 2016 img_0066

Images Copyright Barbara Merrill 2016

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What the Presiding Bishop Said

Tweet from RealEpiscopal 11 Jan 2017, Katy Dickinson and Presiding Bishop Panel on 7 Jan 2017, photo by Elrond Lawrence

“You are doing it.  Keep going.” is what Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in Salinas, California, on 7 January 2017. I was a member of the panel that asked questions after his keynote. From my notes, my opening question was:

“The Silicon Valley has a skewed population.  In the high tech world where I work, there are about 25% female, 4% Latino, and 2% Black in the computing professions.  In Elmwood Jail where I lead an Education for Ministry seminar each week, men and women are separate and there are 42% Latino and 29% Black. I feel like I live in two worlds. What can we do to reach out, to bring this divided community together?”

When Bishop Michael answered “You are doing it.  Keep going.”  I heard that the answer lay in outreach ministries like mine – and in telling people about that work. Individuals with a foot on both sides can connect a community.

It is a good but a little scary to have an experimental program succeed so well.  I have been thinking a great deal about what Bishop Michael said – and about what to do next.  The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino RealSaint Andrew’s Episcopal ChurchCIC, and EfM have strongly backed our jail-based seminar during the last year.  My first step was to talk with the CIC Chaplain for Elmwood, and then with the EfM program at the University of the South – School of Theology, about starting an additional class at Elmwood.  They support expanding the program.  Now to find more funding!

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and Elrond Lawrence

 

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Presiding Bishop Speaks in Salinas

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was featured at an all-day event at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, California, on Saturday, 7 January 2017. I was on the panel that asked questions after his keynote presentation. I was also on the Tech Team that helped to create the event – with my husband John Plocher and the Rev. Stephenie Cooper.

With the “PB” on the stage was our own Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers.  On the panel with me were Dave Mora (former Salinas City Manager), and the Rev. Ian Dellinger (Rector of St. Stephen’s, San Luis Obispo).  The moderator was Joe Heston (President & General Manager of KSBW).  A video of the event is in development.  About 650 attended the event.

Thanks to my EfM Co-Mentor Karen Carlson for the photo of me on the stage!

John Plocher, Clay Whittington, Rev. Stephenie Cooper, Canon Stephanie Spellers, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Dave Mora, Rev. Ian Dellinger, Joe Heston, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017, photo by Karen Carlson

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Joe Heston, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson and Karen Carlson

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Images of God

1. Basilica of San Vitale - Lamb of God mosaic

This is an online version of a handout I created for my weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail – in Milpitas, California).  The students in EfM Year 1 (the Hebrew Bible) were reading Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Here are twenty varied images of God, dated from 527 – 2014, plus Bible verses describing God, for class discussion.

Here is a Printable Version of this material.  Click on each image to see details!

2. Vault mosaic - San Vitale - Ravenna 2016

List of Pictures:

Description More Information Image Source
1. Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) – mosaic in the presbytery, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy (527 CE) Basilica of San Vitale Basilica of San Vitale – Lamb of God mosaic
2. God in Heaven – mosaic in the apse, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy (527 CE) Basilica of San Vitale Vault_mosaic_-_San_Vitale_-_Ravenna_2016
3. Christ Pantocrator – All Powerful – mosaic, chapel of San Zeno, Rome, Italy (822) Santa Prassede Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century)
4. God as Architect of the Universe – Frontispiece of Bible Moralisee, Paris, France (1230) Bible moralisée God the Geometer
5. God the Father – painting by Giotto, Florence, Italy (1330) Giotto God the Father with Angels
6. Ghent Altarpiece (detail) – painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium (1432) Ghent Altarpiece Retable de l’Agneau mystique (Altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb)
7. The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies (detail) – painting by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Sistine Chapel, Rome, Italy (1512) Michelangelo Poster Sistine Chapel: Creation of the universe
8. God the Father – painting by Cima Da Conegliano, Venice, Italy (1517) Cima da Conegliano Cima da Conegliano, God the Father
9. God the Father – painting by Ludovico Mazzolino, Ferrara, Italy (1520) Ludovico Mazzolino Ludovico_Mazzolino_-_God_the_Father
10. God the Father – painting by Girolamo dai Libri, Verona, Italy (1555) Girolamo dai Libri God_the_Father_with_His_Right_Hand_Raised_in_Blessing
11. Picture Bible “Die Bibel in Bildern” (detail) – engraving by Julius Schnorr (1860) Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern
12. Holy Lord Sabaoth – Russian Icon (date?) Russian icons Holy Lord Saboath
13. Kakure Kirishitan Heaven – scroll painting, Ikitsuki Island, Nagasaki, Japan (date?) Kakure Kirishitan The Hidden Christians – Stephen Turnbull
14. God as Mother Hen – Dominus Flevit Church, Jerusalem, Israel (1955) Dominus Flevit Church Mosaic_Art_at_Dominus_Flevit
15. God as Dove (Holy Spirit) – stained glass by James Scanlan, Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne, Cork, Ireland (1990) Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne Stained Glass at the Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne
16. Father (and Holy Spirit) – stained glass at St. Virgil Church, in Morris Plains, New Jersey USA (contemporary, date?) St. Virgil Parish Stained Glass Masquerade
17. George Burns as God, from movies “Oh, God!” (1977), and “Oh, God, Book II” (1980) Oh, God! Classics of the Corn
18. Alanis Morissette as God, from movies “Dogma” (1999), and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001) Dogma (film) God as Woman
19. Morgan Freeman as God, from movies “Bruce Almighty” (2003), and “Evan Almighty” (2007) Evan Almighty Evan Almighty Morgan Freeman as God
20. Ethiopian Orthodox Trinity – painted hide (2014) Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church 2016 Picture by Katy Dickinson

Pictures of God:

3. Mosaic of the vault of the chapel of San Zeno (IX century)

4. God the Geometer

5. Giotto - God the Father with Angels

6. van Eyck - Altarpiece of the Mystical Lamb

7. Michaelangelo - Poster Sistine Chapel: Creation of the universe

8. Cima da Conegliano, God the Father

9. Ludovico_Mazzolino, God the Father

10. Girolamo dai Libri, God the Father

11. Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_Bibel_in_Bildern

12. Holy Lord Sabaoth - icon

13. Kakure Kirishitan Heaven

14. Mosaic Art at Dominus Flevit

15. Dove Stained Glass - Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne

16. Father (and Holy Spirit) - St. Virgil Parish

17. George Burns as God

18. Alanis Morissette as God

19. Morgan Freeman as God

20. Ethiopian Orthodox Trinity

Pictures of God in the Bible (Selected):

Bear
“I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps” Hosea 13:8

Dove
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Matthew 3:16

Eagle
“He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” Deuteronomy 32:10-11

Hen
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Luke 13:34

Lamb
“This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
John 1:28-29

Woman

  • “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Hosea 11:3-4
  • “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” Deuteronomy 32:18
  • “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” Isaiah 42:14
  • “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
  • “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13
  • “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.” Psalm 123:2
  • “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” Psalm 131:2

See linked pages for individual image copyrights
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Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in Salinas on January 7

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Comes to Salinas on January 7, 2017 realepiscopal.org

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be featured at an all-day event at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, California, on Saturday, 7 January 2017. I will be one of three panelists asking him questions after his keynote presentation.  The event is free and you are invited to attend – no registration is required.

El Camino Real Diocese Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves held a phone call this morning to discuss the panel with participants. I am very much looking forward to meeting Bishop Michael again. I met him briefly during lunch at General Convention 2015 and have listened to many of his talks.  Bishop Michael is the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and is the first African American to serve as PB since its founding in 1789. He is a remarkable and inspiring speaker.

One of the highlights from his keynote at the “Evangelism Matters” conference in November 2016 in Dallas, TX: “God made us for God’s dream.  We were made to be in communion with our God, with each other, and with the world God has made.  That is why we are here…  Evangelism doesn’t have a thing to do with a bigger church.  It has everything to do with a better world…  We Episcopalians are of the Anglican tradition of Christianity.  I want to suggest that Anglicans are not allergic to evangelism.  Episcopalians need not take Excedrin before saying ‘evangelism’…”

Bishop Michael’s most recent book, Songs My Grandma Sang, was published in June 2015; Crazy Christians:  A Call to Follow Jesus was his first book, in August 2013.  He has received honorary degrees from Episcopal Divinity School, The University of the South – Sewanee, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Yale.

Top 10 Reasons for Being an Episcopalian (according to Robin Williams) 2015

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Learning in Jail, Using Wikipedia

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Sep 2016

I lead a weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail in Milpitas, California). This month, we started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes six men in Year-1 (studying Collins’ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) plus four continuing to Year-2 (studying Powell’s Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey). We use college-level texts plus Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, and the EfM Reading and Reflection Guide, with other resources in both English and Spanish.

I am also the EfM Mentor for another weekly seminar hosted by Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA). One of the differences between my two classes is availability of outside reference materials. The student inmates do not have web access. So, I make a standing offer to print out articles from Wikipedia and other sources to supplement assigned texts. The EfM students at Elmwood are deeply curious and want to learn all they can, especially about text and biblical references and topics raised during our theological reflections.

Yesterday night, I was asked to look up the Oracle of Delphi, lyrics to two hymns, and Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I bring in printouts  glued at the corner (staples are forbidden).  During the last year, I have provided Wikipedia articles on these topics:

Amenemope (pharaoh) Apostle (Christian) Archangel Ark of the Covenant Assumption of Moses
Baptism of Jesus Bel and the Dragon Ben Sira Bible translations into English Book of Amos
Book of Baruch Book of Jasher (biblical references) Book of the Wars of the Lord Book of Kings Cain and Abel
Cenacle Civil and political rights Code of Hammurabi Crossing the Red Sea Crusades
David Davidic line Diodorus Siculus Don Quixote Francis of Assisi
Golden calf Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Herodotus Historical criticism History of ancient Israel and Judah
Huldrych Zwingli Ignatius of Loyola Innocence Project Instruction of Amenemope Isaac
John Calvin Levite Maimonides Martin Luther Nephilim
Noah Nostradamus Oxford Martyrs Paleontology in New York Paul the Apostle
Peter Qarqar Rechabite Sanchuniathon Sirach
Sodom and Gomorrah Ten Commandments Ten Lost Tribes Tertullian Third Temple
Unknown years of Jesus Western Wall William Shakespeare Zayin .

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, with the Rev. Jennifer Bales

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Honoring Jail Ministry

Katy Dickinson's Simple Servant-efm-elmwood Jail Award, 4 Nov 2016

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves honored dozens of jail and prison ministry volunteers last month, among them, myself. Since 2007 Bishop Mary has served as the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in California. Since 2015, she has also been the Vice President of the House of Bishops. Some years ago, Bishop Mary created the Simple Servant Award to honor those working as faithful ministers in the community.

I was out of town – in Sewanee, Tennessee, renewing my Education for Ministry Mentor Accreditation, and being trained as the Diocesan Coordinator for EfM – so I missed the Simple Servant presentation at the ECR annual convention on 4 November 2016. However, my husband John Plocher helped Bishop Mary prepare her presentation slides, so I was able to contribute photos and information in advance.  The Reverend Peggy Bryan worked with two of my student inmates on the artwork for the certificate.

Jack Fanning and I received our certificates the following week.  Jack helped me to start the first EfM program at Elmwood Correctional Facility (Milpitas, California).  There are about 25 EfM seminars in prisons in the USA but ours seems to be the first class in a county jail. We just started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes have six men in Year-1 plus four continuing to Year-2.  Thanks to the University of the South, The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, CIC Ministries, and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for their joint and generous support of this program!

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Katy Dickinson and Jack Fanning with Simple Servant Awards, 13 Nov 2016

Two photos taken by Elrond Lawrence of the 4 November 2016 presentation in Salinas:

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

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Top Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, 2 Lowest Images Copyright 2016 by Elrond Lawrence

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