Saturday, November 21, 2015

St. Peter's Episcopal & St. Ben's serving together!

Last year, Bishop Franklin (of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York), and Bishop Malone released a Pastoral Letter encouraging members from both Dioceses to work together in addressing problems of poverty, discrimination, and other societal ills. Two parishes took that letter to heart.

Deacon Bill Hynes of St. Benedict’s and Deacon Tom Tripp of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church met during that awful 2014-15 Buffalo winter, and started a dialogue.

Maura MacDonald with
one of our Chinese Guests!
Both parishes mainly serve the Eggertsville-Snyder-Tonawanda areas directly northeast of the city. After several joint meetings between the deacons and lay people of the two parishes, it was decided to birth the collaboration with a Pre-Thanksgiving meal for ESL students that met regularly in the St. Peter’s building. Diana Leiker, an Episcopal Postulant [Diaconal Candidate], put the program together, after hosting two prior St. Peters’ dinners for the students during the summer months. This was part of her social ministry project for the Episcopal Diaconal Formation Program.

The joint dinner was held on Tuesday, Nov. 17, and was hosted by members of St. Peter’s vestry, plus those of the Outreach & Community Life team. St. Benedict’s had 18 people in attendance, led by their Salt & Light Group, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Deacon Hynes, and Father Robert Mock. St. Peter’s was represented by the parishioners mentioned above, several youth, and the presence of the Rev. Ann Markle, Deacon Tom, and Postulant Diana Leiker.  Several ESL students and their instructor rounded out the estimated 40 attendees.

The dinner began with thanksgiving blessings in several faith traditions that led into the traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. The ESL students spoke to the gathering about their own versions of ‘Thanksgiving” in their cultures. Everyone was invited to participate in their own personal art project, and a musical sing-a-long of traditional American songs closed out the evening.
The evening was filled with much of cross- informational talk between the laity of the parishes, plenty of interaction with the ESL students, and of course- plenty to eat.

Postulant Diana Leiker

We hope that this event was the beginning of a meaningful collaboration between Christian congregations to further welcome strangers to our shores, while working with refugee agencies such as Vive La Casa, Journey’s End and Catholic Charities.

The clergy of the two churches also decided to plan and hold a joint Vespers Service in January to further solidify our future efforts.  It will take place at St. Peter's January 24th at 6pm.  All are welcome.

[taken, with minor additions, from]

Seminarian Peter Bassey

A welcoming gift for ESL families