Tag Archives: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

CIC Article: Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail

Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy CIC Ministries, Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail Article, April 2017

It was an honor to be featured in an article by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC) called “Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail”. The article tells the story of how CIC, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, the University of the South – School of Theology’s Education for Ministry program and I have worked together since late 2015 to create a new jail-based college-level theological education program.

We have almost completed two 9-month terms and are getting ready to expand the program into a second Elmwood jail dorm.  If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

11 May 2017 update: Another article was recently published about our Elmwood Jail program in the alumni magazine “From the Mountain” – from the University of the South – School of Theology, Sewanee Tennessee, Spring 2017 edition. The article is called “Inmates Explore Faith, Life Through Education for Ministry” by Kevin Cummings. Links to these articles:

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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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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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Technology for the Incarcerated

Christmas 2016 Elmwood Jail

I read Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh‘s recent article “How Technology Could Improve Mental Health in Prisons – But So Far Isn’t” (13 Dec 2016, in Fast Company) and considered other ways in which technology helps inmates.  I lead a weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail – in Milpitas, California). Here is how I see technology helping the ten men in my seminar:

  1. Because they do not have computer access, I make a standing offer to research topics that arise from our class discussions and bring the curious students more information.  Last night, I delivered printouts on Suetonius, Julius Caesar, prophecy in the Book of Daniel, the Caiaphas Ossuary, Galilee Boat, Ketef Hinnom, and Tel Dan Stele, plus a biography of Pontius Pilate. Wikipedia‘s easy access to vast fields of knowledge means in only an hour a week, I can bring the inmates a richer view into the world of the Hebrew BibleNew Testament, and Christian history.
  2. I was one of the St. Andrew’s prison ministry team who brought worship and song to Elmwood on Christmas Day. When leaving, I noticed a group of lovely deep purple irises blooming next to the back parking lot. Further on, I stopped to take a photo of two ducks on the water behind the jail. Just then, a big white egret erupted from under the bridge where I stood – as if an angel were arising from the water.  Because of easy and cheap digital photography and my color printer, I can show the inmates pictures of how nature was celebrating Christmas with them.
  3. One of my students was transferred from Elmwood jail into the state prison system.  He is highly intelligent and deeply faithful and wants to keep up his Christian studies.  Because prisons and jails will accept book deliveries directly from Amazon, I can use ecommerce to send him better books than are available in the prison library.  For Christmas, I sent him two EfM books: Transformed Lives: Making Sense of Atonement Today, and Care for Creation (a franciscan spirituality of the earth). We hope he will be transferred to a prison that offers an EfM Online course or one with an in-person class.
  4. The Elmwood class asked for song books in both English and Spanish so that they can sing hymns together.  I found Oramos Cantando – We Pray in Song. There are Spanish-only and English-only hymnals but this seems to be the only bilingual song book available. I even checked with our church’s Director of Music – who said he did not know of any.  I was able to locate eight paperback copies in good condition for less than $10/each on Amazon, delivered in a week from eight different used book sellers located all over the USA.

Oramos Cantando - We Pray in Song, 2005
Christmas 2016 Elmwood Jail

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Updated 3 January 2017
Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Every Day is a New Day

Eleanor Dickinson at St. Andrew's Snow Day, Dec 2016

Today I have a break from taking my 85-year-old mother Eleanor to doctors’ appointments. We saw the new Neurologist yesterday and see someone about her blood balance tomorrow. Her caretaker Ella and I go with her to provide context – what we see her doing and saying – since she does not remember. 15 months ago, we moved my mother from Independent Living to Assisted Living at the senior residence near our house in San Jose, California. This has been a difficult year of slow health and memory failures. There have been some successes (we finally sorted out my mother’s gastrointestinal problem so Eleanor smells better and has more control of her bowels), and some amusing incidents:

Eleanor took her cat Loki out of her apartment today to join a group activity in the common area. He was frightened and ran into the apartment of another resident who is scared of cats. Ella crawled under the bed to get him. Loki ran out through Eleanor’s legs. Eleanor fell hard on her butt and broke the other resident’s closet door. Eleanor and Loki are back in Eleanor’s apartment now. It sounds funny, I know. Ella had the Medtech give Eleanor some Tylenol since she is going to be sore. (from a 17 August 2016 email to my brothers)

She has good days and bad days. She loves driving around, seeing the trees and clouds and reading every road sign aloud. She loves family visits, especially from her grandchildren – of whom she is very proud.  Eleanor enjoyed watching kids play at the St. Andrew’s Snow Day last weekend.

We who love her do our best to keep Eleanor connected with the remarkable and creative person she was, before the dementia.  She has been politically active all of her life and is a passionate advocate for Hillary Clinton.  She was so excited to vote that for weeks she carried her Vote by Mail ballot with her everywhere.  She lost it.  I asked for a replacement ballot but it did not arrive by Election Day.  So, I took Eleanor to my polling place and helped her fill out a Provisional Ballot.  I hope her vote was counted.

In addition to Ella, my mother’s residence has a group of loving and dedicated caretakers available at all times. The hardest problem is that after decades as the Professor of Life Drawing at California College for the Arts, my mother loves to argue and has the habit of command. She orders people around and they often obey, even when what she wants to do makes no sense or is a very bad idea (like taking her jumpy cats out of the apartment).

When Ella is not there, we sometimes get urgent calls for backup from the staff.  A year ago, Eleanor decided she wanted to move back into her old apartment and conducted a one-woman-one-walker sit in at 10 pm outside in the cold in front of the door to her former building.  My husband and I came when the staff called.  We wheeled her back to her apartment and had a serious talk.  She did not remember any of this the next day.  Every day is a new day.

Eleanor and Katy Dickinson, Election Day, Nov 2016

Eleanor Dickinson and Family 2015
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Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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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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