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Episcopal Relationships

The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, presides at a festival Eucharist December 3, 2012, in the Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington, to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of St. James and the consolidation of St. George and St. James to become Grace Church. Rector of St. James/Grace, The Rev. Frances Hills, stands at her left. Photo by Russell C. Rheault.
One of the things they realized quickly is that the church is, in fact, the people, not the building. Their experience of the Eucharist has been heightened as they come to see that ‘secular’ public space can, in fact, be sacred . . . Disestablishment has opened doors, sending these Episcopalians into the arms of the community and opening up their life along the way.
Dwight J. Zscheile, writing a theological perspective of Grace Church’s experience in Chapter 5, “A People . . . Seeking the World’s Hospitality,” in his book People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity [Morehouse, 2012]

Our relationship to the Bishop, Diocesan Staff, and other Episcopal churches has strengthened over the years as a result of our transformation into a church “without a church”. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas Fisher, who resides locally, is committed to diocesan support of our unfolding witness of God’s love for the world in our unique situation, especially among the Latino community.  In addition, our lay and clergy have served on Standing Committee, Commission on Ministry, Social Justice Commission, Beloved Community Commission, Diocesan Council, and the Diocesan Committee on Congregational Vitality. One member of the parish has served as a deputy to General Convention since 2006.  We are fully cognizant of the challenges facing The Episcopal Church in an increasingly secularized nation.

Read the stories of the two congregations that became Grace Church here.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Doug Fisher, and The Rev. Dr. Janet Zimmerman at the Episcopal Revival in the Berkshires, Pittsfield, MA, October 21, 2018, an event planned by Berkshire Lay and Clergy. Also pictured: Ms. Dinorah Padro (Spanish translator for Bishop Curry), The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers (in front), The Rev. Sam Smith (St. Paul’s, Stockbridge), and The Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud (Church of the Atonement, Westfield).

We continue to look for opportunities to thin the boundaries between the Berkshire Episcopal churches. In addition to big projects like Bishop Curry’s revivals, we gather together in smaller multi-parish groups such as EfM and Sacred Ground. We share seasonal studies during Advent and Lent with two or more of the South County parishes, including one this year (2021) during Lent with Christ Trinity, Sheffield, and Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, a reformed synagogue in Great Barrington. Holy Week services are shared among Grace, Christ Trinity, St. Paul’s and Trinity, Lenox.

Grace & St. Paul’s collaborate with National Park Service for the 1619 commemorative bell-ringing service

In addition to collaborating on a national event, Grace parishioners have traveled to Ghana with members and clergy of Christ Trinity Church, Sheffield, to work with the Mampong Babies’ Home. In 2019 two Grace parishioners traveled to the Holy Land with the Bishop and other clergy and lay people from both the Berkshires and the wider diocese.  On Pentecost afternoon in 2019, all the Berkshire Episcopal Churches gathered at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield to pack meal kits under the auspices of Rise Against Hunger.

Berkshire Episcopal Churches Rise Against Hunger, Pentecost 2019, Zion Lutheran Church, Pittsfield

In the lively Berkshire Deanery clericus you will find generous, collaborative colleagues who are able to accomplish a lot together in a relaxed, friendly way. Several clergy have retired to the Berkshires, including two in our own congregation, and there is a bi-vocational priest associate in nearby Stockbridge. Our interim rector retired from full time parish work in Kentucky a few years ago and has been working in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts as interim and supply from her home base in South Lee. Weekly lectionary study for south county Episcopal and UCC clergy met at historic First Congregational in Stockbridge pre-COVID. The meetings now continue on Zoom.

Diocesan Holy Land Pilgrimage 2019: Video of images and radio interview with Bishop Doug Fisher and The Rev. Betsy Fisher.

Showing up as the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement to honor W.E.B. Du Bois and the African-American community: Bishop Fisher, South Berkshire Clergy and Laity, and members of the DWMA Episcopal Service Corps attended 150th Birthday Celebration of W.E.B. Du Bois at the Mahaiwe Theater, Great Barrington, February 23, 2018

Interested clergy contact the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Canon for Transitions, The Rev. Dr. Rich Simpson: rsimpson@diocesewma.org or 413-417-2415