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Reconciling Faith and Poverty

Gethsemane Episcopal Church hosted a seminar on ‘Reconciling Faith and Poverty” in its parish hall on November 11th, 2017. The meeting was part of the church’s ongoing commitment to doing Christ’s work in the world and as a member of the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international group committed to reconciliation worldwide.

A diverse group of fifty-eight attended the event, consisting of area college students and staff, local health and childcare professionals, diocesan clergy, and interested community members provided for a day of thoughtful reflection and discussion.

The keynote speaker was Josh Molnar, social worker, and postulant for the deaconate in the Episcopal Church. Dr.Debbie Stiles of Taylor University presented on the effects of childhood trauma on life long behaviors contributing to poverty. Area resident Jessica Dugdale shared the experience of the working poor.

Listen here for Josh Molar’s keynote

Cross of Nails Community in Marion,IN

Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion, IN is an affiliate of Cross of Nails Community based in Coventry Cathedral, UK. Following the horrific destruction of much of the medieval church by bombs in 1940 air raids, clergy and members of the cathedral established what has become a worldwide movement seeking to reconcile and heal conflict on the local, national, and international basis.

For the last several years, the clergy and members of Gethsemane have also committed to the work of reconciliation and healing. We have made efforts to facilitate discussion of race, sexuality, and women’s issues. Parishioners have participated training and seminars in poverty and minority concerns in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Our rector has attended reconciliation meetings in Syria and Cyprus. He was awarded a grant from the Lily Foundation to travel to Israel to study matters about the Palestine- Israeli conflict.

Gethsemane Parish was pleased to be accepted as an affiliate of the Cross of Nails. Local communities of are encouraged to take from the CCN global mission those things that apply to the particular situation that applies to them.

Mission of the CCN in Marion, Indiana

The purpose of our community is to explore our hope and commitment to live and work toward the reconciliation of all things in Christ. To that end, three areas of mission follow.

Healing the Wounds of History

The wrongs of the past continue to haunt the Marion area. Racism persists. The lynching of two African- American young men and the attempted lynching of a third in 1930 has resulted in considerable pain, anger, and mistrust. The collapse of manufacturing has led to systemic poverty, personal and familial dysfunction across racial groups. The Marion CCN will not solve these problems but rather work to address them through discussion and debate.

Living with Difference and Celebrate Diversity

The community must seek to reconcile issues of identity and inclusion.
As Christians, we are committed to showing by example a way to a just and inclusive society. We will address the issues which divide us such as sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and equity.

Building a Culture of Peace

We will strive for an end to violence on a personal and societal level by becoming a symbol of hope as well advocates for averting violence. We will teach peace.

Love thy neighbor: Jesus and Racial Reconciliation

Over seventy people gathered in the Gethsemane Episcopal parish hall on Saturday, February 18, 2017, for a discussion on systemic injustice, white privilege, historic wounds, and future steps to healing. Those attending were college students, professors from local universities, clergy, and parish members.

The event consisted of a series of short talks, followed by a series of table discussions. Father Jim Warnock called the meeting to together. Katie Karnehm-Esh, author, and English professor, presented a personal reflection on matters of race and white privilege. Bill Munn, Grant County Historian, spoke on historic wounds and their effect on the local community, and Josh Molnar, candidate for the order of deacons, spoke of Jesus teaching in the “Sermon on the Plains.” Dr. Rusty Hawkins of IWU gave the keynote dealing with the church’s response to racism.

Video of these talks are available online at
Rev. Shonda Gladden of Allen Temple AME Church and Bishop Doug Sparks of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana attended as special guests and observers.

The talks and discussions were set in a litany of repentance led by parishioner Aimee Molnar. Kresha Warnock, early childhood educator and Kathy Satterlee, elementary teacher, planned and directed children’s activities for the day.

Lunch was prepared by members of the parish and served by Jane and Larry Slagle.

The keynote speaker for this event Dr. Rusty Hawkins. Hear his address above

“J. Russell (Rusty) Hawkins graduated from Wheaton College (IL) in 1999. After taking an M.A. in American History from Montana State University, Rusty served for a year with AmeriCorps as a literacy program coordinator in the public schools of Boston, Massachusetts. He earned his Ph.D. in American History from Rice University in 2009.

In 2013 Rusty and his co-editor, Philip Luke Sinitiere published Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith (Oxford University Press). The book was drawn from papers delivered at a 2010 conference that Rusty organized at Indiana Wesleyan University to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith’s book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America…

Rusty is currently finishing a book manuscript titled Sacred Segregation: White Evangelicals and Civil Rights in South Carolina, which is under contract with Louisiana State University Press…”

Indiana Wesleyan University

Faith, Sex, and the Soul: A reconciliation seminar for straight and non – straight Christians to explore communion, love, and respect in the face of difference.


The following are presentations made at the discussions held on April 9th at Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion, Indiana.

The Rev.Dr. Amy Peeler, Assistant Professor of New Testament , Wheaton College

The Very Rev. Michael Cowden, Rector of Saint Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, South Bend Indiana

Michael Witmer, Deputy Attorney General State of California, Episcopal Layman, Reconciliation Leader Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

“A place called Gethsemane” by William Munn

A brief history of Gethsemane Episcopal Church Marion, Indiana by William F. Munn

The Pioneer Parish 1850-1890

In 1850, Marion, Indiana, a small village founded only 19 years earlier, had it first Episcopal service the second Sunday in June. The Rev. Joseph Large of Trinity Fort Wayne wrote that there was “…a large congregation, responses good and chants well sung.” Church records list the names of five members from that early date.

By 1874, the city had expanded to a bustling county seat of around three thousand. The Episcopal mission in Marion had grown along with Marion, a pattern that continued until the late twentieth century. Services were held for as many as seven families in 1874 and 1881. The first baptism was held in county courthouse in 1884.

Early parishioners were from New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Canada. Most were local businessmen and their families. One of the more notable persons in the group was Julia Norton, the area’s first school mistress who was noted for her opposition to the use of the rod as a motivational tool.

In 1887, a vast deposit of natural gas was discovered in central Indiana, resulting in the rapid growth of business, industry, and the population of Marion. It is at this time that Gethsemane Episcopal Church became a reality. The first location of regular worship was a chapel in a rented room in downtown Marion. The small but growing congregation established a Sunday school, and held regular services both morning and evening. Eleven baptisms were recorded during that period.

The increase in membership gave rise to the move to establish a permanent place of worship. Not far from the downtown chapel on Washington Street was a lot with a rundown building. The building in its earlier days had been a meeting place for anti-slavery Quakers, a Sunday school for freedmen and women, and a Wesleyan chapel. It was also located in an area between the new railroad depot and the public square. Washington Street was becoming the Main Street of Marion. Lined with businesses, the elegant homes of Marion’s rising banking community, and later a Carnegie library, the area was a source of civic pride and hope for future development. Thus, this piece of ground would become the place for Gethsemane Episcopal Church.

This choice established another lasting pattern, a commitment to the city center that has lasted to the present day.

The Family Parish 1890- 1990

In 1890 work was started on a stone church at the lot at Ninth and Washington. The Romanesque revival building was designed after the home church of Bishop David Knickerbacker, formerly of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rev. Lewis Cole became rector in July of 1890 and the church was completed July of 1891.

The church was a center for family and neighborhood life during its first century. Activities during this era were documented in the diaries of long time parishioner Mary Cole from 1920-1930. The Girls Friendly Society included young women from Gethsemane and neighboring churches and maintained a busy round of teas and dinners, establishing the church’s reputation for hospitality that continues to the present day. It is during the early years that Gethsemane parish adopted an increasingly “high church” style of worship, vestments and candles were introduced.

Parish members were active in the Marion community. In 1912, parishioner Field Sweezey, mayor of Marion, alongside Samuel Plato pioneer African American architect, organized and spoke at a memorial service for Booker T. Washington attended by over two thousand area residents.

The city was hard hit by the Depression. Factories closed,laying off hundreds. During that time, the rector’s wife was the county’s public health nurse who struggled to provide for the city’s destitute. She contributed to helping to deal with a major tuberculosis epidemic among Marion’s school children.

Marion was the scene of a tragic lynching in 1930. As was the case with all of the churches in the city, Gethsemane records are silent regarding this horrendous crime.

In 1941 Gethsemane members, including the rector, went to war. The postwar parish experienced major growth. Marriages and baptisms were celebrated in record number. Sunday school classes were full.

The 1950’s were another boom time for Marion. Major industries such as RCA and General Motors brought new people to town and to Gethsemane. It should be noted that the parish during this era was more diverse than the average church community in Grant County. The parish had members of Greek, African- American, Chinese, and Ukrainian backgrounds, which greatly enriched the worship and hospitality of Gethsemane. The Episcopal Church Women played a major role providing funds and work in providing for this hospitality and continues to do so.

This period also marked the construction of a parish hall and a major restoration of the sanctuary. The new parish hall provided a parish meeting space, Sunday school rooms and a modern kitchen. The expansion was a predicated on a conscious decision to remain in the central city at a time when other denominations choose to move away from the downtown.

Gethsemane also expanded its commitment to neighborhood ministry. Alcoholics Anonymous and related groups met regularly in the facility as did the first adaptive kindergarten which would later grow into Carey Industries, a major provider of services to developmentally disabled people.


In 1990 the church was refurbished and long-delayed repairs were made. Care was taken to preserve as much as possible the historic nature of the building. The stained glass windows were restored through gifts from parish families and a memorial garden was started.

During this time the church purchased an adjoining property with an 1890 Victorian home on it. The house was extensively renovated as was an adjoining warehouse. The house has been used as a church office, a meeting place for spiritual formation, and most recently a residential facility for students from Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan universities working on inner city ministries. The adjoining warehouse has been used as a teen live music venue and as artist studios.

A major ministry of the church that began in the 1990’s was the Lunch Box. The last two Sundays of every month, church members prepare a meal for the poor in the immediate vicinity of the church. Numbers served range from 40 to 100 per Sunday. This ministry has also created opportunities for assistance in obtaining services for those in need by putting a “face” on the issues confronted by our neighbors.

The 90’s were also a period of challenge to Gethsemane. The church was dealing with several issues at the same time: the demographic challenges of an aging parish, a community in economic decline, and a hundred year old building in need of repair. The parish recommitted itself to remaining in the central city in a rapidly declining neighborhood.

Gethsemane had in its history called members to the priesthood with two being in turn called to be bishops. In 1992 Peg Harker was called to the priesthood from the parish, and our commitment to the role of women in the church was further confirmed by the calling of Megan Traquair to be the rector of Gethsemane.

In the last few years, the parish continues to serve the needs of the neighborhood through the Lunch Box, an endowed children’s fund for medical needs, neighborhood prayer walks, and counseling offered by our present candidate for the diaconate. Several of our neighbors have become valued members of the parish.

One of the most positive developments in recent years has been the large number of students and faculty from Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan University. The result has been that the church has become active in the arts, with recitals, plays, and discussions that have enriched our life together and have brought the larger community to our doors.

Through the leadership of our present rector, a series of workshops have been held dealing with reconciliation. The first one dealt with the on-going Arab – Israeli crisis; the second with faith and women’s issues, and another with faith, gender, and sexuality ( another workshop on this topic is scheduled for March 2016).

In 2016 the present rector was the recipient of a Lilly grant for clergy renewal to spend an extended time in Israel with his family gathering materials for a video presentation to be used in updating workshop materials on Jewish, Muslim, Christian relations.

A place called Gethsemane has been true to the original vision of its founders in ways that they could not have imagined. We are still at the corner of 9th and Washington where we have been for 125 years. We have continued worship in the Episcopal tradition, we serve the poor, and provide hospitality to all.

Gethsemane and its Neighbors

By Bill Munn

Two candidates for mayor, two separate meetings and walks down Washington Street. The first week in October Mayor candidates John Lawson and Jess Alumbaugh met at the invitation of Save Our Stories, the local affiliate of Indiana Landmarks organizations dedicated to the preservation of historic properties in Marion and throughout the state.

The meetings, the walks, and the discussions were focused on the the neighborhood which stretches along Washington Street from the Marion Public Library to the former railroad station at 10th street. These three blocks are the heart of our city’s gas boom history. The former Knights of Columbus. The Richardson House, Gethsemane Episcopal Church, the Thornburg House, the Wilson House, the Marie Webster/ Quilter’s Hall of Fame, were at ground zero of our city’s development.

Three blocks on three sides of the public square still are the densest populated area in Grant County. Several locally owned businesses have successfully competed with malls and mail order. But all is not well. Zoning laws and building code enforcement has been lax. Businesses and home owners that do make the effort to maintain properties are stone walled when the seek help from the city.

Lawson and Alumbaugh went walking with SOS and a group of neighbors. It takes a walk to see both the devastation and the possibilities of a once elegant neighborhood. Both men shared memories of their younger days in the city and of Washington Street when it was the main street of Marion. They visited the Marie Webster house and spoke of their commitment to stopping the deterioration of not only this area, but Marion’s entire downtown area. The voters and time will tell. Great change may come from a walk around the neighborhood

“Moments in Grant County History” originally broadcast on WBAT 1400 AM on 10.12.2015

Faith and Liturgy


by Emily Simmons
from her blog “Expressions of a Restless Mind”

February 17, 2015

By the end of high school, organized religion had left a bad taste in my mouth. Love was one of the last words I would use to describe my feelings toward any church. So when I read Ben Irwin’s article “11 Things I Love about the Episcopal Church,” I was surprised to find myself agreeing with so much of what he said.

I think I may love my church.

Irwin points out that the liturgy of the Episcopal Church bridges “the false divide between body and soul.” This is an idea I have been rolling around with for a while now. In Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith puts forth the idea that humans are driven more by the desires in their guts than by the ideas in their minds. He encourages physical practices in worship to guide the direction of desires.

Since reading this article and book, I am aware that I have trouble making my mind focus on the readings or the sermon during church; however, when my whole body is called upon to take part in the Eucharist, I seem to wake up to the divine presence in the room.

Each Sunday, I anticipate kneeling at the front of the church along with the elderly whose knees prevent them from bending down and with the squirming kids who, when standing, are the right height to rest their elbows on the railing next to their parents’.

In those moments spent between two walls full of glass, my soul expands and rises up to the rafters and on to the heavens as the wafer-dipped-in-wine melts onto my tongue. I struggle to put it into adequate words, but those brief moments each Sunday are sacred, holy, infinite.

Faith need not always come before action. Irwin suggests, “the rhythms and patterns of prayers of the liturgy are like an anchor” when belief is hard to find. I take the Eucharist even when I do not fully comprehend its meaning. I set my alarm on Saturday nights even when nothing in me wants to wake up for church the next morning. I trust that these actions will tug faith into existence. And it has, in some ways.

The church I attend has stunning stained glass windows. I have spent many Sundays mesmerized by the sun streaming through the bright panes instead of investing my mind in what is being said and done in front of me. There was one week, in particular, when I wanted nothing more than to escape through the windows to the wildness beyond. The bottom row of panes was propped open and I could feel the cool morning breathing outside. Church was not where I wanted to be. Church felt like confinement.

But I stayed.

And I came back the next week.

Then, on a recent Sunday, as I walked across the parking lot toward church and looked at the large colored windows, I saw light shining out of the church. The metaphor was not wasted on me. Church is becoming a place where I want to be. I am beginning to see it as a warm, welcoming, life-giving place. The pattern of the liturgy is helping me believe in the goodness of this religion again. I would never have imagined that a church with prayer books and crucifixes and robes would be the one to do it, but it has been. And I am so thankful.

I love the Episcopal Church and I have so much more to say about it, but not today. Irwin did a great job in his article and I strongly recommend it to you. Let me know your thoughts on the connection between faith and liturgy.

About Emily: “I am a product of the prairies of Nebraska; equal parts poetry, flowers, and wilderness. I ask questions and seek beauty around every corner. This is what comes out.

I am studying professional and creative writing at Taylor University. While here, I have published devotions and book reviews in Church Libraries and The Aboite Independent. My poem “Curves” was published in the 2013 edition of Taylor University’s literary journal, Parnassus.”

Woman, why are you weeping?


By Amy Peterson

Amy is a member of Gethsemane Episcopal Church. About writing her her blog, “Making All things New” she says, “I like to write about pop culture, church, books, food, intercultural communication, mothering, and education; and always, about what it might mean that God is making all things new.” In the article below, Amy discusses the concerns of parents of differing evangelical traditions when their children come to the Episcopal Church.

“All Things New” can be found at

Woman, why are you weeping? {when your kid becomes Episcopalian}
February 23, 2015

Dear Woman-

That’s what the angels said to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Dear Woman, why are you weeping? they asked.

She wept because Christ was dead and hope was gone.

She turned from the angels. She thought he was the gardener. Woman, why are you weeping? He asked it, too.

She wept because she didn’t understand, yet.

Dear Woman-

I saw you at church that day, sitting two-thirds of the way back on the left hand side. You were sitting next to your daughter, who is a student at the evangelical university where I work. You were visiting her, and her church; your cheeks were wet.

Later I asked her about it. My mom thinks I’ve lost my faith, she said.

I understood. We attend an Episcopal church. Twenty years ago, most of the Christians I knew thought there was little true faith to be found in the Episcopal church, what with its rote prayers and female priests and politically liberal congregations. I understood, too, because I’m a mother, and I am beginning to see how impossibly fraught with emotion and responsibility and prayer and vulnerability it is to watch over your child’s spiritual formation.

Dear woman, I have thought of you most Sundays over the last few months. I’ve wondered what -if anything- I could say to put your heart at ease. I know your daughter well, and I know her to be one of the most thoughtful, intentional, mature and spiritually grounded students I’ve worked with. I also know a little something about what it means to grow up evangelical and what it means to move towards the Anglican tradition. I can’t speak for all Anglicans or Episcopalians, but I can tell you from my own experience what it means and what it doesn’t mean that I’ve been confirmed in this church.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve rejected the authority of Scripture.

This is how we used to say it, growing up: “That church has female preachers- clearly, they don’t believe the Bible!” While it’s true that I’ve changed my mind about the place of women in church ministry, that hasn’t happened because I chose cultural relevance over Scripture. That change came slowly, and it came through careful study of Scripture.*
You may have heard that the Episcopal church’s position on gay marriage or evolution or Iraq or any number of things shows that we don’t respect the Bible. But don’t believe that until you talk to us about it.

We read aloud from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and a Gospel every Sunday. I’m guessing that’s more Scripture than is listened to in most non-denominational churches on most Sunday mornings. We have a high view of Scripture.

It doesn’t mean that I have stopped believing in Jesus.

Episcopalians are basically universalists (or so I’ve heard). They believe all religions are the same, that all paths lead to God.

But every Sunday we recite the Nicene Creed, something Christians have held in common since 325 AD. Part of that creed reads:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

One Lord. One. The only Son of God. We believe in Jesus. **

It doesn’t mean that my prayers are rote and meaningless, that I believe in magical incantations, or that I worship the Book of Common Prayer.

Someone asked that once – why do we worship the Book of Common Prayer? She thought that when our rector walked down the aisle to read from the gospels, we bowed toward the Book of Common Prayer he held. But it is a Bible he carries down the aisle. We bow toward the gospels, humble in submission to the words of Jesus (see above: high view of Scripture’s authority).

I love the liturgical prayers. They are not the only way I pray. But I’ve found that they instruct me, they form my soul, they shape me in ways I want to be shaped. They give me words when I don’t always know what to say to God.

It doesn’t mean that I believe in transubstantiation.

But I do think there’s something to be said about the Real Presence of Christ in the wafer and the wine. And there is something to be said for the way it nourishes me every week. I love to take the Eucharist every week.

It does not mean that I have lost respect for the churches of my youth.

It does mean that my Sunday worship has a physical form.

One student at our church said it this way:

“In Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith puts forth the idea that humans are driven more by the desires in their guts than by the ideas in their minds. He encourages physical practices in worship to guide the direction of desires.

Since reading this article and book, I am aware that I have trouble making my mind focus on the readings or the sermon during church; however, when my whole body is called upon to take part in the Eucharist, I seem to wake up to the divine presence in the room.”

We are not just minds and hearts and souls; we are bodies, too. Kneeling, sitting, standing, moving up to the altar for communion — these motions train our bodies in how to respond to God.

It does mean that I am seeking a long, enduring tradition within which to situate myself.

It does mean that I think the tent is wider than I used to think it was.

The older I get, the less I know, the more mystery I embrace. The less likely I am to build clear walls diving who is in from who is out. That doesn’t mean I can’t say anything about what is true (see Nicene Creed, above). But it does mean that I am willing to say with St. Augustine, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

One of those “non-essentials,” for me, is mode of baptism. I do believe in infant baptism, but it’s ok if you don’t. You’re still welcome here.

(Here are some more of my thoughts about the value of a wide tent.)

It does mean that my children have a spiritual home.

An early memory: our church is meeting in a rented space, a school building. It is a small, non-denominational church. My Dad leads the music. The six or so kids run wild around the building when the service is over, playing spies and hide and seek. It feels like home, the most comfortable place in the world.

I see my children having this exact experience at our Episcopal church now.

It does mean that I want a church that is intergenerational.

I want to shake hands with the little old ladies and hold the babies. I want my own children in the pew with me for at least part of every “big church” service.

It does mean that I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly “relevant”.

I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.

It does mean that I want coffee and donuts every Sunday.

Actually, the donuts I could take or leave, but the time shared over food every Sunday, ever Seder, every Mardis Gras, every Chili supper… I couldn’t do without it.

It does mean that I like a short homily.

Let’s be honest: I like that the sermon is not the main thing. I can get biblical and theological instruction anywhere nowadays. I can’t get the Eucharist or the community anywhere.

It also just means that I live in a small town. Not every denomination is represented in this prairied part of middle America. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Episcopalians are the people I agree with most. It isn’t about agreement, exactly. It’s about rooting yourself to a people, saying that you are willing to take not only the good from them but also the bad. It’s about where you pray best.

At least, that’s how Preston Yancey explained his movement towards Anglicanism in his memoir Tables in the Wilderness. (Maybe you’d like to read this story of a young person moving slowly from the Baptist tradition to the Anglican?) Another book that helps explain the movement toward liturgy in the Gen X and Millennial kids is Robert Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail (I also like his Younger Evangelicals). You might like this blog post about the Episcopal church, this one from another student at our church, or this one from an Assemblies of God pastor who became Anglican. If you want, maybe another day I’ll write about the books that led me to the Anglican Tradition.

But for now, dear woman, turn around. See your daughter. Don’t you see Christ in her, in the words she speaks and the way she serves? This isn’t death: this is new life. It just looks a little different.

With love,


* See “Finally Feminist” by John G. Stackhouse at and “Celebration of Biblical Womanhood” by Amy Peeler at
** See Book of Common Prayer, Nicene Creed page 358