The Holy Trinity: Unity in Diversity

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya

To confess God as Trinity reminds us that the heart of the universe is a relationship, a loving unity in the midst of diversity. As I’ve said many times, the Trinity reminds us that God’s essence is unity without uniformity and difference without division. That’s an amazing thing to claim about the nature of reality.

The wild diversity of humanity, and indeed the whole creation, is part of how we bear the image of God. To confess God as Trinity means that we can know and experience something closer to God’s very heart when we are forming kinship across lines of difference, when we are loving one another across all our diversity without the need to resolve or eliminate how we are different. We are called to build Beloved Community not because it is a nice thing to do, but because it is how we draw nearer to God.

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya, X Bishop of Minnesota

Is there any health risk in drinking from the Common Cup at Holy Communion?

The CDC has found no documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup.

The CDC has found no documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup. The consensus of the CDC is that a theoretic risk of transmitting infectious diseases by using a common communion cup exists, but that the risk is so small that it is undetectable—you are far more likely to catch something by shaking someone’s hand than by drinking from the common cup.

 Read more…

Remembering My Friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Fr. Scott Monson with “The Arch” – 2002

I have many fond memories of serving as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s personal assistant in 2002 when he was in residence at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. Sure, it was fun to meet and work with many world leaders and international journalists, but those experiences did not reveal the depth of Father’s intense and abiding faith in God that I came to cherish.

The most precious moments came during our daily celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, often with just the two of us present. We shared an intimate, holy connection with each other and with the Divine. Father spoke often of the “messy relationship” between the humanity and divinity of Christ: We are always trying to pull Jesus down into the mud even as he is lifting us up toward the glories of heaven. Together we prayed for an end to endemic disease, selfish violence and loveless cruelty. And we prayed that Christ would lift us up along with the poor and hungry and lonely and forgotten—all of us so profoundly in need of God’s grace and mercy.

It is fitting that Father should leave this temporal realm as we celebrate God’s most wonderful gift of the Word made flesh—eternal Love Incarnate. Perhaps that “messy relationship” is what binds him and us so closely to the heart of God.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Desmond. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. May the angels rise to greet him and dance with him in joyful bliss. Amen.

Jesus does not prefer political parties; Jesus does choose sides

Recently, we were appalled to learn that the former chair of the Hastings school board and her family were forced to move to another city following vicious social media attacks--attacks originated by adults--against one of her children. The attacks were launched in an attempt to unseat the mother from the school board.

When Bishop Craig Loya learned of this story, he was moved to respond with a powerful and compassionate op-ed letter to the Hastings Star Gazette. We commend his letter to you as a witness to the power of Christ's unremitting love in the face of unwarranted abuse and cruelty against one of God's beloved children.
Opinion letter published December 10, 2021 in the Hastings Star Gazette

I was saddened to hear recently from the Episcopal congregations in your community, St. Luke’s on Vermillion Street and St. Mary’s in Afton, that Hastings has recently become the latest flashpoint in the painful and highly charged division that characterizes so much of our public life these days.

I was heartbroken to learn that at the center of the controversy was a child and that child’s treatment at the hands of adults in the community.

I have the honor of serving as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. In that role I am called, first and foremost, to follow and emulate the One who came not to be served but to serve; to, with God’s help, reflect and embody the love of Jesus in a world that is starving for it.

I know that many in our country believe, with good reason, that those who call themselves Christian are aligned first and foremost with the powerful, with white nationalism, with anti-democratic movements in our midst, with intolerance, and with violence.

The Episcopal Church has its own sinful history of perpetuating oppression. However, as a follower of Jesus, my allegiance is always to those whom Jesus came to love and to serve. Make no mistake: while Jesus does not prefer political parties, Jesus does choose sides.

The politics of Jesus are about embracing the poor, loving our enemies, feeding the hungry, lifting up the oppressed, reforming the unjust structures in society, seeking good for the other instead of insisting on our own way, disregarding the boundaries of social exclusion, calling out our own self-interested hypocrisy and that of our religious and civic leaders, making room at the center for those who have been pushed to the margins. Those are the things that Jesus actually did. These are the marks of what it means to be his followers in the world.

The Episcopal way of following Jesus is unequivocal in affirming that all of God’s children, including our trans siblings and including those with whom we ardently disagree, are beloved, accepted, worthy of dignity and welcome to fully participate in the life of the church.

We as a people are better when our churches, and all our public spaces, both affirm and reflect the wonderful diversity of humanity, which together more fully reflects the very image of God.

The Rt. Rev. Craig W. Loya, X Bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Watching, Waiting, and Praying

On the Second of Advent, the Song of Zechariah is appointed as a canticle in place of a regular Psalm. These words in Luke 1 are the first the ancient priest says after being struck mute because he doubted the angel’s announcement that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a child.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are minor players in the story of scripture, and yet I feel intensely drawn to them, especially in this season in the church and the world. They are devout, of the priestly order, dutifully keeping and tending to the regular rounds of temple worship year after year, eagerly hoping to see God do a new and decisive thing to deliver them from the surrounding darkness. Zechariah and Elizabeth sit on the threshold between what has been and what will be. They play their role simply by being faithful in keeping the liturgies and silently waiting.

That’s a good way of understanding where we are, too. For the better part of a year, we’ve been stuck at the threshold of a pandemic in its late stages, but so clearly not over. We are worn down, and while not quite mute, it’s hard to come up with more words to be a balm to us and others. I don’t know about you, but I want to have it figured out. I want the plan, I want the words to fill my own soul and even more I want the words, the plan, or the answers, to be able to strengthen and sustain you, too.

Instead, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, we have no choice but to let go, wait silently, and keep taking the next step, saying the next prayer, dutifully tending the temple of Christ’s body the church in whatever ways we can.

We pray the words of Zechariah day by day as part of the morning office as a way of rooting ourselves in God’s promise, and remembering God’s power to save. We pray this canticle this Sunday, and every day, to remember that no matter how dark and hard things can be, “in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Watching, waiting, and praying for the dawn with each one of you,

The Right Reverend Craig Loya, X Bishop, Episcopal Church in Minnesota

December 2021

Empty Pews Are an American Public Health Crisis

Something about the communal religious experience seems to matter. Something powerful takes place there, something that enhances health and well-being; and it is something very different than what comes from solitary spirituality.

Americans are rapidly giving up on church. Our minds and bodies will pay the price.

Something about the communal religious experience seems to matter. Something powerful takes place there, something that enhances health and well-being; and it is something very different than what comes from solitary spirituality.

Read the article in Christianity Today

Don’t count out small, rural churches

Studies show small, rural churches can still thrive if they focus on the needs of their community.

• Small, rural churches can still thrive if they focus on the needs of their community.

 • Fixation on youth, contributions and attendance can be counterproductive.

 • Rural churches have a better chance if they work from a sense of possibility rather than fear.

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Mainline Protestantism Rises As Evangelicalism Declines

The percentage of white mainline Protestants in the general population is HIGHER than the percentage of white evangelicals.

I don’t have the exact numbers at hand, but I am fairly certain that there hasn’t been a time since 1980 when the percentage of white mainline Protestants in the general population was HIGHER than the percentage of white evangelicals. That’s at least four decades – maybe longer. But this is a genuine shift away from white evangelicalism toward mainline Protestantism. | Diana Butler Bass

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Worship on Wednesday

Fr. Scott is hosting Wednesday Morning Worship and Kaffeeklatsch at 9:30 each week.

Fr. Scott is hosting Wednesday Morning Worship and Kaffeeklatsch at 9:30 each week. We’ll gather for a simple service of Holy Communion followed by coffee and conversation. Topics will include current events, Bible study, local happenings, or anything else we decide to bring up. Stop by and join us when you can!

Bishop Loya to Visit June 20th

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya, Bishop of Minnesota

Bishop Craig Loya will visit St. Mary’s on Sunday, June 20th. Bring your lawn chair for a special baptismal liturgy in the Memorial Garden at 9:30 AM to welcome him. The Bishop will host a town hall style conversation at a reception following the service. Join us to give Bishop Craig a genuine St. Mary’s welcome!


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