April. April Holy Week

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1 Following are topic suggestions for April-June that can be the basis for a variety of communication opportunities, from viewpoint articles placed with local newspapers to sermons shared with parishioners throughout the diocese. For further discussion, or help in drafting a column for submission to a media outlet, please contact: Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, The Episcopal Church; April April 4 Martin Luther King, Jr. Background: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an American clergyman, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the civil rights movement who modeled the use of nonviolent civil disobedience. Opportunities: While the nation celebrates the memory of Dr. King in January, The Episcopal Church also remembers him on April 4, the day he was assassinated. Dr. King s legacy is one that compels people to stand together to resist oppression and strive to secure equal liberty for all God s children. Use this day to review and revive work in your parish and community on anti-racism. Many resources, including on-demand viewing of The Episcopal Church s State of Racism forum and workshops, are available for viewing online and can form the basis for study groups or other parish activities and programs. April 9-11 Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence Background: This conference, to be held April 9-11 in Oklahoma City, will explore the topic of violence in all its forms in today s society. Oklahoma City is the site of one of the most violent and devastating events in our nation s history the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that claimed the lives of 168 people, including 19 children. Opportunities: At this program, our church will come together to renew our commitment to the gospel call to make peace in a world of violence. The gathering will focus around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy, and pastoral care. If you will be attending the gathering, use this opportunity to speak to your local media about why you are attending, how violence is affecting your community, and what can be done. Also, use your voice within your church and your community to draw attention to the issue of violence within your own community, along with ways people can get involved to stop violence in all its forms, including gun violence, bullying, domestic violence, hate crimes, and gang violence. April Holy Week

2 Background: Holy week is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter, and includes the following holidays: April 13 Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus entry into Jerusalem. April 17 Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the Washing of the Feet, and the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. April 18 Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. April 19 Holy Saturday, which commemorates the day that Jesus Christ s body was laid in the tomb. April 20 Easter Sunday Background: Easter is the religious holiday celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary. Opportunities: Consider topics relating to the Presiding Bishop s Easter message (to be issued), and how those topics, and the Resurrection, will resonate in your parish and community. April 22 Earth Day Background: Millions of people around the world will celebrate the 44th national Earth Day a day to demonstrate support for the protection of the Earth. Opportunities: The Episcopal Church recognizes this as an opportunity to reflect on and raise consciousness about our call to care for all God s creation. Our church works to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth as one of its Five Marks of Mission. Revisit your parish s commitment to the Genesis Covenant, use this time to remind your community why care for all God s creation is important, and take part in or organize Earth Day celebrations within your parish and wider community. Visit The Episcopal Church s Eco-Justice Ministries page for more information and ways to involve your parish in caring for our precious earth. May May 1 National Day of Prayer Background: The National Day of Prayer invites people of all faiths to pray for the United States. Held on the first Thursday in May, it was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress. Opportunity: The theme for this year is One Voice, United in Prayer and emphasizes the need for individuals to come together and pray for our nation as one. Offer your own prayer on this theme at your services, through opinion pieces and through your own outlets. The Episcopal Church joins our National Day of Prayer to pray for the leaders of our communities and nation, for the decisions they make daily on our behalf, and for each of us to

3 work together in a civil manner to accomplish the hard task of creating a better world for ourselves and future generations. May 13 Frances Perkins Background: Frances Perkins was Secretary of Labor under President Roosevelt and the first woman to hold a cabinet position in the United States. She spent her career advocating for the interests and rights of workers, including Social Security, unemployment compensation, minimum wage and maximum hours, and child welfare legislation. Opportunity: Frances Perkins was sustained throughout her life by her deep religious faith that strengthened her resolve to fight for better conditions for working people especially the working poor. We are called to care for the least of these to seek to transform unjust structures of society according to the Five Marks of Mission. Frances Perkins life can be an example for your congregation and community. Call on everyone to work together to make sure that none is left behind, because we are all God s children. May 17 Thurgood Marshall Background: Thurgood Marshall is best known as a United States Supreme Court justice and early advocate for pressing the nation s courts in matters of civil rights. He also was a lifelong Episcopalian. Marshall was the first director of the Legal Defense Fund and was chief counsel for the NAACP when he successfully argued and won the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court. Opportunity: Although much progress has been made, The Episcopal Church continues to focus on the civil rights issues facing our country today. In testimony accompanying the resolution requesting Marshall s inclusion in the book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, a priest wrote, The Spirit working through this man gave him an intuitive sense of justice in which he saw all of life as sacred and all persons equal before God. Shine a light on the work on Thurgood Marshall, following his example to recognize that we are all God s children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to love one another. On the broader topic of race and civil rights, consider hosting a discussion group on the videotaped conference Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America,. May 26 Memorial Day Background: Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday commemorating the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It originated after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war. Opportunities: Offer a viewpoint piece to your local media about how the role of the church on Memorial Day is not only to help remember and pray for those that have served and lost their lives, but also to lift up the day as a vision of the world that values peace and people s lives so that any violence against others

4 becomes unacceptable. Utilize on-demand videos and discussion guides available from The Episcopal Church s program in April, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence. Graduation Season (end of May through beginning of June) Background: The end of May and beginning of June is known as graduation season because a majority of U.S. high school and college students receive their degrees during this time. Opportunities: The Episcopal Church believes that all children growing up in America deserve the opportunity to become productive members of society and to achieve their dreams. As you celebrate the accomplishments of those who have graduated from high school or college during this graduation season, remember those who are struggling to provide all the necessary tools for the education of young people in your community. Consider hosting a supply or fund drive for your local schools or for organizations that assist underserved children to help them learn, grow, and thrive, just as God would want them to. Consider writing about educational topics and opportunities within your own sermons or as a call-to-action within your community. June June 5 World Environment Day Background: World Environment Day is presented on June 5 every year by the United Nations Environment Program. It is a widely observed global day for positive environmental action. Opportunity: Awareness is growing that caring for the earth is an essential part of the human vocation. We are called in our Marks of Mission to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of our earth. There are many examples of how changing our habits, purchases, and actions can have a far-reaching impact on environments all over the world. Consider talking about ways your congregation has changed in order to sustain God s earth, programs you might work on that positively impact the environment around you, and urge others to remember that God made the earth and we must protect and care for all the creatures that walk among us. June 12 Enmegahbowh Background: John Johnson Enmegahbowh, an Ottawa Indian from Canada, was raised in the Midewiwin traditional healing way of his grandfather and the Christian religion of his mother. He came to the United States a Methodist missionary in Enmegahbowh ( The One Who Stands Before His People ) is the first recognized Native American priest in The Episcopal Church. Opportunity: The Episcopal Church is grateful for the rich traditions of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples in our church community and in our communities as a whole. We continue to strive toward the goal of full inclusion of native and indigenous peoples in the

5 life and leadership of The Episcopal Church. By remembering the first Native American priest in our church, we give thanks for his gifts, the gifts of all native and indigenous people to our communion, and encourage you to recognize those gifts within your own congregations. June 15 Evelyn Underhill Background: Evelyn Underhill was an Anglican theologian and mystic. One of her most valuable contributions to spiritual literature is her conviction that the mystical life is not open only to a saintly few, but to anyone who cares to nurture it and weave it into everyday experience. She also wrote about modern psychological theories and discoveries that can enhance and transform spirituality. Opportunity: It is said that there are few who did more to help people grasp the priority of prayer in a Christian s life than Underhill. Her work has allowed us to think of God as generous love, and invited us to make our own life of loving service, compassion, peacemaking, and self-offering. These values can go a long way in today s world. Consider authoring a sermon or editorial piece on the importance of loving service to others, compassion, and peacemaking in what seems to be an increasingly negative and violent world. June 20 U.N. World Refugee Day Background: World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength, and determination of women, men, and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. Opportunities: 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM). EMM and its network of local affiliate partners assist thousands of refugees from over 30 countries each year. In a sermon or op-ed piece, feature a story of a refugee in the EMM affiliate network and explain how the church (and the church s 25 community partner agencies) has welcomed and helped them resettle from the day they arrived in their new community, and become active, contributing members to that community. Month-long: LGBT Pride Month Background: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month is celebrated each June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, New York a tipping point for the gay liberation movement the United States. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts. In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church. Opportunity: Since the 1976 General Convention declaration, faithful Episcopalians have been working toward a greater understanding and inclusion of all of God s children. Reiterate to your congregations and to the community as a whole that The Episcopal Church welcomes you!

6 Use this simple message to reach out to those in your community who may feel as though they ve not been welcome before, and let them know that they are always welcome and loved by God.

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