Three local Episcopal ministers share inspiring and supportive messages of love, grace, inclusion, and respect in a series of Chapels
A trinity of speakers from local Episcopal schools, churches and dioceses visited Trinity over the span of as many weeks in late September and early October 2022. The visitors shared inspiring and supportive messages of hope, grace, inclusion and respect with Trinity students and faculty.
On September 28, the Rev. Jeunée Godsey
, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
presided over the first Eucharist of the year. She compared her recent pilgrimage on the world-famous Camino de Santiago
in Spain to life's spiritual journeys.
“I know that that path is not always clear. There are uncertain times. Right now, we are dealing with the pandemic, inflation, soaring college costs, and a quickly changing society,” she said. “Even in times of uncertainty where our future is unclear, God promises to bless us and to give us a home with him and to be with us wherever we go.”
“It can be hard to be on a slow path toward our future,” she continued. “There is no GPS to tell us what hazards or obstacles might be ahead. God might lead you on a path that is different than the one you expected.”
“It can be confusing and scary sometimes, especially if you are called to take a big step into the unknown,” she concluded. “Like all pilgrimages, our own personal destinations are not the only goal. It’s the journey with others along the way that makes life interesting and fulfilling.”
The following week, Trinity welcomed alumnus Christian Hansen ’08
, chaplain of nearby St. Michael’s Episcopal School
, back to Chapel. Hansen’s talk illuminated the values that the Episcopal Church in general — and Episcopal Schools in particular — strive for: grace, love, inclusion, respect and dignity for all people and all faiths.
“The Episcopal Church welcomes you,” said Hansen, referring to the signs prevalent around Richmond. “It might seem like a cheesy tagline, but it aligns with how Trinity articulates its Episcopal Identity.”
Hansen reworked the written statement of Trinity’s Episcopal Identity to emphasize the school’s impact: “1. Trinity is love. 2. Trinity loves all people. 3. Trinity students are active in their daily lives and in the community. 4. The Trinity community strives to operate in grace. 5. The Trinity community strives to embrace all people.”
“Generosity, grace and love are gifts that keep on giving and are part of what the Christian faith teaches us to live out,” Hansen continued. “When you are generous with your time or resources, when you show grace to others, especially when they don’t deserve it, and when you love others as you would yourself, only good things can come from that.”
On October 17, the message of dignity for all human beings was echoed by The Rev. (Padre) Mario Meléndez,
chaplain for St. Miguel/St. Michael and All Angels, the diocesan ministry for Latino/x communities, including Spanish and bilingual ministry efforts, in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
Melendez recalled the question asked in the rite of baptism — words that can often be recited without giving deeper thought to their meaning: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of all people?” … “We say that over and over again,” he said. “But do we truly believe that? Do we truly believe that we really want to respect the dignity of all people?
“Padre Mario,” as he is known, described his ministry work on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where people from Mexico and Guatemala often work on farm work visas picking fruits and vegetables. “We are working to improve their living standards and ensure that they have adequate shelter and access to broadband internet to communicate with their families,” he said.
“All I ask of you is to keep an open mind,” he concluded. “We all have different lenses through which we see the world. We all have our own blind spots and prejudices. It's up to us to — before we say something — how we, without even knowing it, might be acting in a way that's not respecting the dignity of every human being.”