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P.O. Box 5811
Columbus, GA 31906
706.327.0400
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A Pastoral Letter on Dismantling Racism

The following is a letter written by our Bishop for the Diocesan Service for Repentance and Reconciliation held Oct. 22.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the name of the God of love, truth and justice. 
The enterprise of dismantling racism as agents of racial reconciliation is the work of all baptized in every age. We are the disciples of a Lord who gave His life for love, truth and justice. No less is required of us today!
You know that racism, in all its forms, is sin. It is founded on a lie and is therefore an affront to God, an abuse of power and a demonic spirit. Racism is depravity and deviance from Jesus’ example and teaching about the sanctity of human dignity and oneness of the human family. 
Racism injures both the victim and the perpetrator. The victim of racism is constantly and culturally forced-fed a diet of inferiority, indignity and shame simply for being born as God designed. So insidious is this process that in many instances its victims not only ingest but internalize and actively participate in their own oppression. 
The perpetrators of racism injure God, themselves, their communities and their progeny by accepting culturally and reinforcing economically the tragic lie of racial superiority. Into these souls goes the putrid mix of idolatry, arrogance, guilt and shame. Then there is the haunting sense of some that their present well-being owes its genesis to stolen personhood and stolen labor. From the founded of our country and state until now, racism continues to diminish us. 
The history books tell us The Episcopal Church, in the U.S. and in Georgia is not innocent concerning racism. Though we as the church have been called to live differently and have been given the spiritual power to accomplish this calling, the church has actively participated in and profited from the institutionalizing of the sin of racism. 
Though we sing on Sunday with one voice the familiar hymn “In Christ there is no East or West...Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate’er your race may be,” by the close of worship, in many places, it seems we have a double mind. Faced with this reality­—whether perpetrator or victim—as the church, you and I are invited to “repent and return to the Lord.” 
What scripture calls “the more excellent way” forward for us is not to be consumed by blame or guilt but to take inventory of our hearts and amend our lives. We do this courageously because, though we may be culpable, we are not condemned. We must confess all that is in us that’s hostile to love, and remember we are assured of God’s absolute forgiveness. Then we commit, from this day forward, to lives that actively enlarge justice, tear down inequity, make restitution and increase reconciliation. Only these things can purge us of the awful lie that divides and destroys us. By these works we are tuned instruments of peace and ambassadors for Christ now. 
To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” To do this work is to hear Jesus say again, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I impore you, beloved, by the mercies of God let us be transformed by the renewing of our hearts and minds. I look forward to taking this step with you.
This comes with my love and gratitude for the life and faith we share. In Christ,
The Right Rev. Robert C. Wright Bishop

ADVENT SERIES

 

St. Thomas will hold an interfaith conversation about hope for our world on Mondays, Dec. 1, 8 & 15 from 12 to 1 p.m.  A vegetarian soup & sandwich will be served for $5. 
Speakers from three different faith traditions will talk about how their faith tradition thinks of hope and what people of their tradition hope for our world. 
Dec. 1: Rabbi Beth Schwartz from our neighbor and Wynnton Neighborhood Network partner Temple Israel in Columbus will speak about hope from the Jewish tradition. 
Dec. 8: Rev’d Matthew Grunfeld, who grew up at St. Thomas and CVEM now serves as Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama, joins us to speak about hope from the Christian tradition. 
Dec. 15: Imam Plemom T. El-Amin, Imam Emeritus from the Atlanta Masjid Al-Islam, one of the most progressive mosques in the US, joins us to tal
k about hope from the Muslim tradition. 

 

JOIN US FOR AN EVENING OF JAZZ CELEBRATING 34 YEARS OF CVEM & VICKY PARTIN'S MINISTRY

•Sunday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m.
•St. Thomas Episcopal Church    
2100 Hilton Avenue
•Music performed by Snakebite 6
•Event tickets $20
•Drink donation tickets $3
We are collecting pictures of CVEM through the years for this event! 
Contact holli@cvemjubilee.org.
 

Shedding Our Secrets grants awarded


By: Vicky Partin
On November 3, team members Carol Hall and Terri Hasty received the first empowerment funds for their proposals submitted to the Council.
Carol has written a book and life lessons workbook based on her young life as an incest victim.  She intends to use the grant for editing and proofreading her manuscripts.
Terri will use her grant to purchase supplies for her non-profit Wings of Hope – Operation Butterfly where her survivor support group makes jewelry and sells at the Uptown Market Days to lift awareness for healing and hope. 
Annual grants up to a total of $1000 will be distributed each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Criteria include activities which show passion and empower incest survivors and victims, collaborates with the team members and establishes a budget and reports at the completion of the project.
For information and grant applications, contact Education chair, Agnes Shelton at 706-563-9474.
Direct Service: Psalm 41

By: Diane Hinnant
I recently read an online article on Examiner.com, that spoke to my heart, especially at this time of year, and I’d like to share portions of the article with you.
Psalm 41 is dedicated to the blessings received by those who have considerate hearts toward the poor. 
“Considering” implies a compassionate, nonjudgmental meditation upon the sorrows and needs of others. Many people judge the poor, thinking they are responsible for their own sorrows or that they should have known how to better manage their finances. Even those who are nonjudgmental of the poor are often not as generous as they might be, especially struggling with helping those who seem to always be needy.
But those who remember, consider and help the poor are remembered, considered and helped by God. Just as they help the poor and deliver them from those who prey upon them, the Lord will help and deliver those with compassionate hearts. 
Even the richest of people need a powerful God to help them. The Lord will deliver the merciful, kind and generous. Preservation, strength, blessedness, deliverance and care are all promised to those who consider the poor. As mercy is given, so mercy is received. 

Psalm 41: 1-3
1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. 
2 The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
3 The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. 

DIRECT SERVICE REPORT, 
OCTOBER
Total Assistance Given: $1,531.50
Given for rent, eyeglass referrals, food referrals and resources, clothing resources, car insurance and scholarships. 
Donations: $123.50
Poor Box gifts: $573.33
 •St. Thomas: $428.33
 •St. Mary Magdalene: $145.00

We appreciate all the gifts. All go directly to assist others.

IN FOCUS:

Vicky Partin reflects on 34 years at CVEM


By: Holli Melancon

Vicky Partin started her ministry at CVEM the same way she ends it: with a “listening heart.”
“One day, my dear friend Barbara Thompson Danner called with a strange order. She said she had this feeling (that ran deep and wouldn’t go away) that I needed to quit my job at the Lung Association and do outreach full time. She told me not to say no, just to pray about it. If I were willing she would go with me to our priest Charlie Roper to tell him,” Vicky said. 
It didn’t take long for Vicky to confirm that indeed, she was called.
“Barbara made the appointment with Charlie, and his response was not one of surprise. ‘This could become that convocational ministry that brings our parishes together down here.’”
Thirty-four years later, the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry remains ‘that convocational ministry’ that Vicky has led all these years. 
And it was that same listening spirit that led Vicky to her decision to retire at the end of this year. 
“When I served on the Bishop’s Nominating Committee, we were invited to read ‘Listening Hearts,’ and I realized somewhere early on it resonated with me personally,” she said. “The most important thing I gathered was learning to listen. I need to understand when and how the Lord speaks to me.”
Over the next two years, Vicky was led to a decision that she never thought she’d make: retirement.
“I grew up a farmer and farmers don’t retire,” she said. “(I realized) other people could take this baby and nurture it and help it to grow.”
The CVEM Vicky prepares to pass on to new leadership is not the same organization that started the convocational ministry in the Chattahoochee Valley 34 years ago.
“We started assuming we’d do charity work. All of the people referred to me right away were people who asked something I didn’t know how to give, so I had to go out and start learning about community resources and seeking our mentors,” she said. 
The easiest way to sum up how CVEM has changed through the years is simply this: it has “evolved as needs have come to us.” 
One of the earliest things CVEM did was start the Wynnton Neighborhood Network, an interfaith food ministry. “We were very blessed the Episcopal Church was open to interfaith work,” she said. 
Next on the radar, Vicky said they were led to work to solve a housing crisis, which is how they brought Habitat for Humanity to Columbus. In addition to these two nonprofits, CVEM has helped start several other nonprofits in the community in Vicky’s ministry:  B.A.N.D. (Beallwood Area Neighborhood Development), Interfaith Food Bank (Feeding the Valley), Uptown Food Pantry, B.R.I.D.G.E., Valley Interfaith Ministries (One Columbus), NeighborWorks Columbus, Alliance for Battered Women (Hope Harbour), Valley Interfaith Promise, LaGrange Interfaith Food Pantry, West Point/Chambers County Food Pantry & Troup County Interagency Council.
TAP, CVEM’s interfaith, intercultural art program, was started14 years into Vicky’s ministry, celebrating its 20th year this year. The program expanded into Troup County seven years ago.
A couple other notable things that have happened in CVEM ministry are the start of the Chattahoochee Federal Credit Union and the Homeless Resource Network’s Street Beat, a guide for homeless in the community.
It is because of this diverse history that Vicky sees a bright future for CVEM. 
“The possibilities for evolving here are endless because we don’t have a list of things we can’t do,” she said. “Every program is validated by the people involved. We have good leaders and dedicated volunteers who share the goals of growing and developing programs.”
As Vicky prepares for her transition from CVEM, she remains open to new possibilities. She plans to continue in two positions in The Episcopal Church (TEC). She recently was elected again as Vice President of Episcopal Network for Economic Justice (ENEJ) which is a network of dioceses and Episcopal churces and organizations that address the systemic injustices within our society that peretuate poverty. 
On the Diocesan level, Vicky will continue as Diocescan Jubilee Officer building a nework of outreach ministries as they are designated Jubilee Centers of TEC. She also will continue working with some local organizations, Circles in Columbus; a member of the B.R.I.D.G.E. Board; the Mayor’s Commission on Unity, Diversity & Prosperity. She will also dedicate more time to Chatt Glide Tours, a segway touring company owned with her husband John,  and spend more time on her family farmhouse in Tennessee. 
“I have been very blessed to be in partnership with so many who have trusted me with God’s money and purpose,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many.”
In fact, up until 2003 when Vicky was hired as a member of the Bishop’s staff, CVEM was run only by her and volunteers. Today, it has four thriving programs, two part-time staff members and four stipend staff members. 
“I am very grateful for all the people, both lay and clergy, who have supported me and trusted me personally with the work and challenges of this ministry. I have learned from all of them something about God’s grace and much about His love,” she said. “And I must say that I could not have been so present in the lives of others if it were not for John Partin and his faith and patience along the way.”

 

October was Domestic Violence 
Awareness month, and CVEM attended a Candlelight Vigil sponsored by Hope Harbour. 
Circles of Columbus sponsored Poverty Awareness Week during the month of October. Pictured, Vicky Partin shares her personal experience of shopping on $4.50/day, what food stamps 
provides. 

CVEM welcomes new member to team


By: Holli Melancon

CVEM is excited to announce the newest member of our team. Bea Haledjian has been hired for grant writing and development, as a member of our stipendary staff.
Bea comes to us with years of experience working with non-profits and in the field of education.  She also has years of both work and volunteer experience in ministry.  In addition to her role at CVEM, Bea serves as a Workplace Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains and  works part-time for Muscogee County School District. 
Bea and her husband the Rev. Earl Nichols moved to Columbus a little less than two years ago, when Earl was offered a job as Senior Pastoral Counselor with the Pastoral Institute. Prior to that, the two lived in Bradenton, Florida for 27 years but sought to move closer to their daughter in North Carolina.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed the parks, trails and cultural activities here. We also love experiencing the four seasons!” she said. 
When Bea moved to Columbus, she started visiting local nonprofits to see what community had to offer.
“I happened upon CVEM, met Vicky and was very intrigued by the programs and interests of CVEM,” she said. “My passion is assisting those in society who are marginalized. I want to help give them a voice and connect them with needed resources. I want all to feel that they are loved and valued regardless of race, religion or cultural background. I found those values reflected in CVEM.”
In her role at CVEM, Bea said she hopes to continue growing the nonprofit.
“Vicky will be retiring in December, which will be a big loss for CVEM and for the community.  It is my hope to work closely with the new board, the interim director and the staff.  I plan to do my best to help develop support and sustainability for existing and future programs through CVEM,” she said. 
Bea has been married to her husband for 43 years. They have two adult children and three grandchildren. 

Shedding Our Secrets hosts EMDR talk



By: Carol Hall

On Friday, October 17, 2014, Richard “Rick” Garrett, spoke about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, during a lecture at the Columbus Public Library.
Rick is a licensed clinical social worker in mental health at Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, and he’s enthusiastic about EMDR psychotherapy, stating that he’s seen very good results. He’s also a dedicated member of Shedding Our Secrets, CVEM’s program for victims and survivors of incest, where he volunteers his services.
Rick said there was some skepticism when EMDR first came on the scene, but now the Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs and the World Health Organization recognize its effectiveness in treatment of trauma. The therapy is done in eight phases and eye movements are just a part of it.
It was interesting to hear Rick explain how EMDR began. It is the brainchild of psychologist, Francine Shapiro. It was in 1987 that Shapiro, who was ill at the time, discovered the effects of eye movements while walking in a park.
In an interview with PsychCentral, Shapiro said while on her walk she noticed disturbing thoughts she was having had disappeared, and when she brought them back, they didn’t have the same affect.
She began paying careful attention and noticed that when that kind of thought came up, her eyes started moving rapidly in a certain way and the thoughts shifted out of consciousness and were less bothersome when they returned. As she began doing it deliberately she found the same results. She then experimented with other people.
EMDR emphasizes disturbing memories from a trauma as the cause of some mental disorders, and the therapy gives people a better way to deal with those memories.  
I found Rick’s lecture very enlightening as he explained how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect people who’ve experienced different types of trauma in their lives. Rick stated that many survivors of incest believe that being a survivor of incest was somehow their fault. Disturbing and traumatic memories can seriously affect a life, as those memories remain, causing an emotional disturbance affecting even the choices individuals make.
As a survivor of childhood abuse, teen rape, and incest, I can relate first hand to the disturbing memories that come from past traumas. It’s also understandable how memories and severe traumas people experience can have a deep impact on their lives. As an example, domestic/sexual abuse, medical professionals dealing with life threatening situations, military service—even First Responders who might see a dead child but can’t be emotional because they have a job to do.
I’m currently going through EMDR therapy myself, and I can honestly tell a positive difference in how it’s helping me deal with unresolved memories from past traumas. The process is very promising. 

Shedding Our Secrets has launched a new billboard. It is erected currently over the 13th Street Bridge in Columbus. The billboard will help raise awareness of the issue of incest and support offered.
TAP prepares to celebrate 20 years in 2015! Pictured are members of a committee preparing for the 20th year celebration. There are several exciting ideas in the works! Pictured are some of the 
committee members who are busy planning for the oldest of CVEM’s programs: Bradley Waddell, chairman; Vicky Partin, Danna Gibson, Garry Pound, Dixie Turman & Sherry Alifarhani.

CVEM Christmas


By: Holli Melancon
We are so grateful to all who contributed to our 2014 Christmas Card Campaign through Georgia Gives Day and through the mail already. On Georgia Gives Day we raised $1,835 for people in need in the Chattahoochee Valley. And that was just the beginning. 
We have since continued getting generous checks of support in the mail. We have no doubt that CVEM has some very kind supporters!
All funds for the Christmas card campaign go directly to our Direct Service program and help people in need both during the holidays on on into 2015. 
Another perk of CVEM Christmas cards is that we will send them for you! You can give a gift in honor of or in memory of a loved one. 
The cards this year are designed by children at St. Thomas. Visit the CVEM Facebook page to see the color version of the card. 
Infusion students sponsored an event Saturday, Nov. 22 for children from the Boxwood Path to Shine Soccer in the Streets program at Lakebottom Park. The children played various bonding and educational games to enhance learning. They also enjoyed the day playing soccer and snacking together. 
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