On that day of Pentecost, we knew the Holy Spirit was among the Church (among us?) because the faithful could both listen and speak in other languages. It is also the sign of the moving of the Spirit in Massachusetts today. Across the Commonwealth, we hear the vitality of the Church spoken in many languages. Your financial support allows the Massachusetts Council of Churches to amplify the vibrant, reconciling Church. I hope you give generously. Look at all we have done together!
We learned to listen for both the language of grief and resiliency in a time of crisis. Following the October closing of key homeless and detox centers in Boston, we gathered with 65 other religion institutions to open the #BostonWarmDaytime Warming Centers. We continue to speak a prophetic word to #RestoreTheBeds during this opiate epidemic.
We are listening for ecumenical possibilities being born anew. Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox clergy, campus ministers, and hospital chaplains in Worcester are reviving the language of ecumenism after a Massachusetts Council of Churches initiated luncheon.
We listened (and heard!) the need of younger pastors hoping for greater connection. We’ve held two “Youngish Clergyish” events this year, on the Mondays following Easter and Pentecost. Over thirty “youngish clergyish” folks came to Framingham from across the state to spend time immersed with others who speak their first language.
We’ve heard the cries “How long, O Lord?” from those suffering the effects of addiction. To address our state’s opiate crisis, we worked with Rev. Janice Ford, RN and The Episcopal Community Life Center of Webster to train clergy to hear in the language of addiction and recovery.
Pentecost is a story of both hearing clearly and speaking boldly. We need to do both. The Pentecost crowds knew that something big was happening when they heard non-native speakers of their own languages. We too are learning to speak new languages. The Massachusetts Council of Churches realizes that the old ecumenical models don’t necessarily fit this era. In response, we have shifted our role from being the experts and resource producers to becoming conveners and amplifiers.
We used our convening power & network of relations to gather church leaders from many traditions as we shared leadership of an ecumenical Armenian Vespers Service, the largest such service in recent memory. We spoke boldly of the entire Church’s embrace of the Armenian Martyrs at the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
We are listening and amplifying the grief and hope of Christians in the Middle East. We work with Jewish partners to learn the languages that enables all of us to have meaningful, honest conversations about the complex realities of Israel and Palestine. We are experimenting with a new format for dialogue between pastors and rabbis.
We learned and taught the language of resiliency for an interfaith service marking the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Kevin Becker, Program Director of the Massachusetts Resiliency Center told us that,
“Your involvement and generosity in our joint effort to make the second anniversary of the marathon bombings ‘a day of resilience’ made all the difference in the world! One of the survivors who attended said ‘it was the best thing the Resiliency Center has done since it opened’. You all made that possible.”
We have been listening to our Coptic sisters and brothers as they watch and mourn their community’s suffering from afar. An ‘ecumenical pilgrimage‘ to a vespers service for St. Mark, the patron of the Coptic Orthodox Church, showed this vulnerable community that Christians across Massachusetts want to learn their language.
We have learned to translate the work of local churches into a vibrant, visible Church in the media, as seen in the stories we helped source for The Boston Globe, WGBH, USA Today and others. Through guest preaching and teaching across the state, the Massachusetts Council of Churches cultivates a web of relationships. Your prayers, hospitality, and generous financial support are what makes this dynamic, public witness possible. Thank you.
You know that these are complex times for the Church. But I am convinced that, with the Spirit’s leading, we are discovering a vibrant, visible expression of Christian unity in this time and in this place. We need your support.Join the Massachusetts Council of Churches as we learn to hear the Good News in new languages, and learn to speak life and love into the Commonwealth together in new ways. Please give generously.
Rev. Laura Everett
Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches