Holy Land Pilgrimage 2020

From our Friends at St. Pauls:

I am thrilled to announce that I will be leading, with my good friend the Rev. Tom Mousin, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January of next year.  Over the course of 10 days we will travel, pray, eat and learn together at some of our scripture's most sacred sites.  The draft itinerary is below.  Prior to the trip there will be reading lists to digest and two in-person meetings to plan for the trip.  We'll be traveling in a group of 25-35 with people from other parishes and the Diocese of Maine, where Tom lives.

Details follow.  If you are interested, or have questions, please let me know at jmello@stpaulsbrookline.org. A non-refundable deposit will be due at the end of August.  

Tom and I are excited to lead this trip.  We hope you will join us!  



Cost and Itinerary 

The cost is somewhere in the $4,000 pp range, based on double occupancy.

This includes:

Airfare, lodging, three meals each day, our guide's services, three lectures, all entrance fees and a small contribution to the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem.

This does not include:

Alcoholic beverages, souvenir purchases, upgrade to single occupancy, or upgrade to business class on the flight. 

A Journey to The Holy Land

Under the Direction of The Rev. Jeffrey Mello, The Rev. Tom Mousin and  Local Guide Canon Iyad Qumri  

12-Days: January 18-29, 2020 

Tentative Itinerary 

Jan 19-22 Saint George's Guest House  

Jan 22-25 Sisters of Nazareth  

Jan 25-29 Saint George's Guest House  

SATURDAY, JANUARY 18, DAY 1: DEPART USA On our way to the Holy Land  

SUNDAY, JANUARY 19, DAY 2: ARRIVE BEN GURION AIRPORT / TRANSFER TO JERUSALEM Arrival to Tel Aviv, you will be met by your guide, Canon Iyad Qumri, transfer to our accommodation in Jerusalem Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House

MONDAY, JANUARY 20, DAY 3: HORIZONS OF JERUSALEM / HERODIUM Introductions, In the morning we will drive to Mt. Scopus where we will look at the different dramatic settings of the Scripture. Then we will look at the many different Jerusalem, visit Herodium some 12 km. south of Jerusalem, on a hill shaped like a truncated cone that rises 758 m. above sea level, stood Herodium, the palace-fortress built by King Herod. It had a breathtaking view, overlooking the Judean Desert and the mountains of Moab to the east, and the Judean Hills to the west. Guest Speaker: Contemporary Issues - A Palestinian Perspective Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 21, DAY 4: SHEPHERD'S FIELD / BETHLEHEM We depart Jerusalem for Bethlehem and the Shepherds' Field, visit a 1st century cave dwelling, Lunch is in Beit Sahour (Shepherds' Field), 'And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night', Church of the Nativity located in Manger Square. It is the oldest church in Christendom, constructed by Constantine in AD 326 and the traditional site of the Nativity Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House 

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, DAY 5: JERICHO / NAZARETH Wadi Qelt, early morning to get the feel for the desert, depart for Jericho to hike up Mt. of Temptation and view Tell Jericho, 20-minute meditation on Mt of Temptation, Lunch in Jericho,drive through the Rift Valley to Nazareth. In Nazareth we will visit Mary's Well, the site of the only spring-fed fountain in the city, and most likely the place where Mary would have gone to draw water. We then visit the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation where we will have an opportunity to have an introduction to the Icon, we then follow on foot the path to the Latin Church of the Annunciation, the traditional site of the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, telling her she would conceive Jesus, the Emmanuel Dinner and Overnight at the Sisters of Nazareth

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, DAY 6: JORDAN RIVER / CAPERNAUM / BEATITUDES / TABGHA Today we depart for the Sea of Galilee-Lake Kinnereth. Stop at the Jordan River for the renewal of Baptismal vows, Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, we then visit Capernaum where we see the Ancient Synagogue and St. Peter's House. We continue to the Mount of Beatitudes, Lunch, visit to Tabgha (Heptapegon), The Loaves and Fishes Church and the Chapel of St. Peter's Primacy, Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee Dinner and Overnight at the Sisters of Nazareth 

FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, DAY 7: SEPPHORIS / CAESAREA PHILIPPI Sepphori, where we explore the excavations of the Roman / Byzantine city, the capital of Galilee at the time of Jesus. Lunch, depart for Caesarea Philippi (Banias) and Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" Meet with Fr. Nael Abu Rahmoun at Christ Church in Nazareth Dinner and Overnight at the Sisters of Nazareth A treat you will not want to miss!!!! 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, DAY 8: BURQIN / NABLUS / TAYBEH Depart for Burqin. Jesus had passed through Burqin on his way to Jerusalem from Nazareth, and as he was passing by the village he heard cries for help from ten lepers who were isolated in quarantine in a cave, Nablus to visit (St. Photini the Greek Orthodox Monastery), St. Photini lived in first century Palestine, she was the Samaritan woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water, the church built over Jacob's well where will tour the church and drink from the Well, Lunch in Taybeh, visit Taybeh, the only 100% Christian town in the Palestinian Authority, in the fourth century the Emperor Constantine and his mother St. Helena built the church of St. George in the village, the ruins of the Church are still found on a hill in the town. Taybeh is also the home of the only Palestinian brewery in the Middle East. Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House Guest Speaker: Lecture on Islam Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, DAY 9: WESTERN WALL / DOME OF THE ROCK / WORSHIP AT SAINT GEORGE'S CATHEDRAL / ISRAEL MUSEUM We depart for the Western Wall near Elharam Esh Sharif (The Dome of the Rock and the Al- A Aqsa Mosque), St. Anne's Church and the pools of Bethesda. Sunday Eucharist at Saint George's Cathedral, the liturgy will be celebrated in English and Arabic, the language of our Arabic Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land and the whole Middle East. Lunch. Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. We will also visit a scale model of the Old City of Jerusalem, describing the city as it would have been during Jesus' time. Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House Guest Speaker: Contemporary Issues - An Israeli Perspective 

MONDAY, JANUARY 27, DAY 10: OLD CITY / CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER GROUP PHOTO, Walk the Cardo to the Constantinian Entrance to the Church of the Resurrection to the Holy Sepulcher, Lunch, afternoon Holy Sepulcher (Cont.) walk to the Armenian quarter where we will be able to observe the Armenian Vespers. Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, DAY11: BETH-PHAGE / DOMINUS FLEVIT / GETHSEMANE / DEAD SEA Depart for Beth-phage and Mt. of Olives walk down the Palm Sundayday Road ending at the Garden of Gethsemane. Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, this church was built over the palace of the High Priest Caiaphas, where Peter denied Jesus three times. Lunch at the Qumris in Jericho. Dead Sea, where you will have the option to swim - or really, float (Rocky Beach) Dinner and overnight at Saint George's Guest House 

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, DAY 12: WAY OF THE CROSS / EMMAUS Stations of the Cross, Silent reflections at the Empty Tomb, Later in the morning we will depart for Emmaus Nicopolis. We celebrate the Eucharist at the ruins of the Byzantine Church. Lunch. 

Transfer to Ben Gurion Airport  

The Reverend Jeffrey W. Mello
Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Dean, The Charles River Deanery
15 St. Paul St.
Brookline, MA  02446

The 21-day Equity Challenge: Structural Racism and Our Food System

The 21-day Equity Challenge: Structural Racism and Our Food System

"Have you heard about the 21-day Equity Challenge?" a friend of mine at water aerobics asked me toward the end of March. "No," I replied, intrigued with the title. She told me about an annual program, now in its fifth year, sponsored by Food Solutions New England. And this year's Challenge took place April 1-21; I just barely had time to register.

As the Food Solutions New England website explains:

This Challenge was originally developed by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., Dr. Marguerite Penick-Parks and Debby Irving and has been adapted with support from the Interaction Institute for Social Change. The challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact the food system, to connect with one another, to identify ways to dismantle racism and become better leaders for a more just, equitable food system.

I signed up to receive a prompt each morning with questions and resources to build a fuller understanding of racism, identity, food workers' stories, and the ways racism is part of our food system-from those who own and work on farms, to those who process and sell our food, to the decisions we make about what and how we eat. Resources include videos, articles, blogs, and reflective questions, as well as discussion forums. Many participating organizations create weekly discussion sessions. 

Want to learn more about this unique, powerful challenge? The 6th annual Equity Challenge will be March 30-April 19, 2020. Check out the website! -Sharlene Cochrane

Fundraising for Damaged Churches

Fundraising for Damaged Churches

In the past weeks and  months we have seen too many tragic incidents of destruction of or damage to places of worship around the world. From the destruction of churches and mosques to the recent fire at Notre Dame and the arson of several churches in Louisiana.

A Go Fund Me campaign was initiated to show support for church families and the communities affected by the fires in Louisiana. The host of this campaign is the Seventh District Baptist Association, a 149 year old non-profit religious organization.  They are working with the Governor of Louisiana, local leaders, elected officials, the impacted churches and their pastors, other faith organizations and the community to ensure 100% of all funds raised will be evenly distributed to the three churches affected.

They  are unequivocally committed to aiding our Sister Churches.  The donations received are earmarked specifically for the Seventh District's member churches - St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.  All donations will be disbursed equally among all three churches for rebuilding their sanctuaries and all necessities lost in the fires, including pews, sound system, musical instruments, etc.

Click here to support these efforts.

Spotlight On: Sharlene Cochrane

Spotlight: Parishioners Living Out Their Faith

When I was invited to write a piece for our newsletter, I happily said, “Yes, I could do that.”  And then I faced a huge question:  how do I introduce myself and my experience of faith and social justice in a short piece—when that topic is part of what has guided, challenged, and sustained me over most of my life!   


So first, the introductory numbers:

Four years ago I retired from 28 years teaching at Lesley University.  Since 2001 I have been a Courage and Renewal facilitator, a program of retreats that invite reflection about the relationship between who we are and the work we do.  My husband Will and I have four children, now between the ages of 31-51, and four grandchildren, and have lived in our JP home for 41 years.


Will and I returned to St. John’s after several years away, about the time the church raised the Black Lives Matter banner.  We walked up the hill to St. John’s in gratitude for his recovery from a rare brain infection, and found a warm welcome from both old friends and new.  We knew we were in the right place.


St. John’s has a long history of concern for social and cultural justice--We even had a Sunday School Ecology Club when our kids were young (1990!) The current Social Justice Working Group builds on this long-held commitment and promises to support and deepen the actions we take.


Acting for social justice means being a learner, open to new understanding about the diverse experiences and strengths of those different from myself.  It means developing deep connection with others.  Such efforts take courage and a willingness to risk my mostly safe and secure every-day life. I have been fortunate to have family, friends, and colleagues who support and challenge my efforts.  My faith helps me realize when I get in my own way, and don’t always have the courage it takes to get beyond my comfort zone.  Creating socially just and equitable communities is Holy work and needs to be constantly grounded in prayer and humility.  I imagine this process as holding space for the Holy Spirit to work through me and through each of us.  I’m grateful to be part of that movement at St. John’s.


Social Justice and Spirituality Library Launch

The Social Justice Working Group and Spiritual Life Committee have created a Social Justice and Spirituality Lending Library, located in the book shelf at the back of the sanctuary.  Folks are invited to borrow books on racism and white privilege, income equality and poverty, equity and climate change, faith and spirituality.

You can view our full Online Book Catalog with just a click but to highlight a sample of the stimulating books available:

Between the World and MeA memoir and Pulitzer Prize finalist, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is described by the New York Observer as “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States.”

In the Company of the Poor:  Conversations with Dr Paul Farmer and Fr Gustavo Gutierrez.  Dr. Farmer is award-winning Harvard professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, author of many books on high-quality health care in resource-poor settings in the U.S. and other countries.  Rev Gutierrez is a philosopher, theologian, and Dominican priest, professor of Theology at University of Notre Dame, and one of the founders of liberation theology.

Speaking of Faith:  Why Religion Matters—and How to Talk About it, by journalist and winner of the National Humanities Medal Krista Tippett, creator and host of the public radio program On Being.


To borrow a book:

  1. Fill out an orange card with the book title, your name, and date borrowed.

  2. Slip the orange card in the shelf where the book was located. 

  3. When returning a book, return it to its location on the shelf, remove the orange card, and write the date returned.

  4. Return the orange card to the box of cards.

To donate a book, see Ann Collins or Sharlene Cochrane or anyone on the Social Justice Committee.

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Faith @ Home - Spiritual Practice in the Midst of Life

Are you in the present moment? Right now, this is where God calls you to be.

We live busy lives full with things we ought to do, want to do and might do, if there is time.  Our actions reflect what is important to us. Family, friends, work/school, put demands on us – and bring us much joy.  How can we nurture our faith in the midst of busy lives? First, we need to realize that faith practice does not take us outside of our lives but brings us more deeply into our living.  We pray in the midst of our chaos. We live out our faith through actual practices because we seek a way of life that touches and changes us and those around us.

Your spiritual practices may vary depending on what stage of life you are in.  Young families can make “sacred” the ordinary activities of their lives: preparing meals, playing with the kids, changing diapers, giving baths, reading books at story-time.  Are you in the present moment? Right now, this is where God calls you to be. How can you find God in the experiences of home life? Families with school age children who spend significant parts of the day chauffeuring the kids to activities can do so in a “mindful” way.  Night time can be times to connect and share about the day. Where were you kind, loving, patient as God is with us?

One of my favorite, simple prayers that can easily be said anytime throughout a day is “Be still and know that I am God”.  I need to be reminded to slow down and just be. This prayer can be said very slowly… and drop off different words as you say the prayer slowly.  “Be still and know that I am… Be still and know… Be still… Be.” Just be with your God, with your life, with yourself.

What a wonderful gift we can give ourselves is to live simply and just be grateful.

Each month, there will be this column of reflection on how we can nurture our faith.  In the future, we will look at concrete ways that will help us grow in our relationship with God that honors the busy lives we all lead.