Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reconciliation: "Our Pain and God's" - Martin L. Smith


 
 
As part of my 2013 Lenten Journey I'm reading
"Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church" by Martin L. Smith.

Below I've transcribed from a section titled, "Our Pain and God's" which illustrates that
"[the] true grief experienced in repentance comes from being admitted (if only slightly and fleetingly,
since we could not bear total empathy with God) into the feelings of God."

[…]
          Many pages could be written analyzing the psychological intricacies of guilt: it is enough for the Christian penitent to be aware of the ambiguity of guilt feelings and to have the common sense and humility to acknowledge that our feelings during repentance will be mixed. And we should expect to feel the pain that is wholly appropriate and authentic and indicative of a mature conscience. These authentic feelings of grief call for expression, not denial or mistrust, or a cheap soothing-away. It is human and fitting to feel pain over our actions that have wounded those we love, for example, or violated our own integrity.
          Focusing solely on our own pain over wrongdoing, and the pain we feel in sympathy with those we have wounded, only deals with the outer edge, as it were, of the mystery of repentance. The heart of the experience is that we sense the pain of God. The true grief experienced in repentance comes from being admitted (if only slightly and fleetingly, since we could not bear total empathy with God) into the feelings of God. Here we have to leave behind the conventional picture of confession as a formal report of transgressions to a judge and lawmaker. Our relationship to God is utterly different. God is affected immediately and intimately by what we do and what we are. Far from being a remote third party observing us critically and dispassionately, God is our very life, the creative, sustaining environment in which we live and move and have our being. Our lives are rooted and enmeshed in God's; our acts and thoughts that proceed from trust, love, care, faithfulness, and everything that makes for justice, peace, and creativity, delights and thrills God. Similarly God is thwarted, rejected and pained as we defend ourselves from love and act out of fear, faithlessness and greed. Because God is love, God is infinitely sensitive and vulnerable to us. At this point we return to the principle set out in the beginning of this book: "Only the injured party can forgive."

Borrowed copy from St. Stephen's & the Incarnate, Washington, DC

          You are unusual if this way of looking at God's involvement with us comes easily to you. Have you made this breakthrough of faith or does it seem strange, even shocking? Meditation on two key passages of Scripture may be timely.
          Consider the conversion of St. Paul as it is told in Acts 26. Paul was brought to a standstill on his journey to Damascus by a revelation of the risen Christ. He heard the voice of Christ asking him not "Why are you persecuting those who believe in me?" but, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" The risen Lord appeals to him as a victim. Jesus is so much in and with his disciples, he is so indentified with them, that he suffers as they suffer harassment and persecution. Saul had no idea that his life was enmeshed upon the person of the Lord. Christ had been spurring Saul to recognize him and have faith in him, and now Saul's resistance has been broken down - "it hurts you to kick against the goads".
          Another passage of Scripture you could turn to is Matthew 25 beginning at verse 31, the separation of the sheep and the goats. In this vision of the judgment of the Gentiles by the heavenly king the issue at stake is how they treated the needy, the "brothers" of the king. It is revealed that in every case the king himself has been the direct recipient of their charity of the victim of their neglect. "I was hungry and you gave me food…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me."
          Deeply suggestive as these two passages are, they are not the key to the disclosure of the pain of God. That key is the cross of Christ. In the crucifixion of Jesus all God's dealings with humankind, and all our dealings with God, are brought into one burning focus. "God was in Christ"; the rejection of Jesus is our rejection of God and of God's love. The crucifixion sums up and concentrates the rejections of all times and all people. And the torture and affliction of God's Son, the unique embodiment in a human person of God's eternal living Word, reveals the age-long vulnerability and pain of God suffered since we first exercised our freedom to refuse the love of God. In a moving passage from Helen Waddell's novel, Peter Abelard, Abelard's friend Thibault finds an image for the way the cross reveals God's vulnerability, in a cut log lying near them in the forest as they contemplate the cruel death of the snared rabbit.

"And then I saw that God suffered to…"
"Thibault, do you mean Calvary?"
Thibault shook his head. "That was only a piece of it, the piece that we saw in time. Like that" - He pointed to a fallen tree beside them, sawn through the middle. "That dark ring there, it goes up and down the whole length of the tree. But you only see it where it is cut across.
That is what Christ's life was. The bit of tree that we saw…"

          There is an unmistakable significance in the fact that the risen Christ could be recognized by his wounds: "And he showed them his hand and his side." This is he who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature" (Heb 1:3). So, it has been said, "The hands that hold us in existence are pierced with unimaginable nails."
          You may find yourself hesitating at the brink of taking a risk, the risk of sensing God's pain at your failure to love with all your heart and soul and mind. The feeling threatens to be overwhelming, appalling. In fact the authentic God-given grief of repentance is truly paradoxical in character, because joy comes with it. The spiritual mothers and fathers of the early monastic movement coined the telling phrase "joy-giving grief" to describe Christian penitence. The more we realize how we grieve God's life, and the more we sense how close is the intimacy that God has established with us in Christ and longs to renew and deepen. By being close enough to us to feel rejection and lovelessness, God is close enough to overcome our struggles to escape from love. Despair would come only if God were an unmoved and distant judge, personally untouched by our acts and thoughts but able to exact our obedience.
          In reality, we are given our awareness of how deeply we have grieved God along with the realization of the intensity of the divine love for us and of God's unfailing readiness to forgive. […]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jesus Empowers His Church to Forgive - Martin L. Smith


 
 
As part of my 2013 Lenten Journey I'm reading
"Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church" by Martin L. Smith.
 
Below I've transcribed a section which illustrates
how the Church became empowered to forgive sins:

Jesus Empowers His Church to Forgive

          If his authority to forgive sins were a strictly personal prerogative of Jesus, inevitably expiring with his death, incidents such as the ones we have just considered would inspire little more than wistful envy. Instead, Jesus' followers insisted that he communicated this same authority to them. The pardon that Jesus bestows on men and women such as the paralytic and the woman who came to the Pharisee's house had proved to be not an isolated phenomenon peculiar to his own ministry, but the first signs of a new era in the relationship between God and humanity.
[…]
          Forgiveness of sins, however, was no mere intellectual deduction from past words of Jesus, nor the results of theological reflection on the crucifixion and resurrection. It was at the heart of the disciples' personal encounter with the risen Lord. Jesus appeared to them just as they were; they had abandoned him, and were now paralyzed by fear and faithlessness and the guilt of their desertion. In their way the disciples had participated in the total rejection of Jesus, which had unmasked the intensity of human resistance to God's love. Their complicity in the betrayal and their share of the guilt lay as an insuperable barrier between them and the master they had abandoned, one which could only be removed from his side by his forgiveness. The stories into which the early church distilled the varied and amazing encounters with Jesus in the weeks following that Sunday portray this first and fundamental experience of restoration and forgiveness.

Borrowed copy from St. Stephen's & the Incarnate, Washington, DC

          Jesus did not gloss over the appalling reality of the rejection of God which had sent him to a criminal's death. The denial and the covering up that so often masquerades as forgiveness in human relationships has no place here. Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side. God raised Jesus from the dead still marked with the wounds of his rejection and execution, and the ones who deserted him were forced to contemplate these wounds and weigh their terrible significance. The account in John's gospel condenses the experience in words of memorable power. "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you'" (John 20:19-21). This restoration is immediate, effective and complete; there is no probation period and no task of reparation. The fullness of their restoration is shown by the fact that Christ admits them into his trust unconditionally, there and then, by entrusting them with the continuation of his mission in the world for which the Father had sent him.
          The union between Jesus and his followers is cemented by his sharing with them the Holy Spirit, with which he had been endowed at his baptism in the Jordan: "'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" But this restoration of trust and sharing is not a private matter of reconcilation between Jesus and his special companions. Rather, they are the first to benefit from the reconciling death of Jesus, which had unlimited scope and universal relevance. At the beginning of the gospel John the Baptist says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Their mission is to include all into this new experience of union with God, offering to everyone who will receive it the forgiveness into which they have now been admitted by the risen Lord. "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained" (20:22,23).
[…]

Procession of the Cross - St. Stephen's & the Incarnate, Washington, DC 2-24-13

Chapel @ St. Stephen's & the Incarnate, Washington, DC 2-24-13
 

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Foundations of the U.S.- Israel Partnership" - Haim Malka

 
 
A graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, this semester I'm interning at the Department of Commerce - International Trade Administration - Advocacy Center - Middle East Division. Last week I attended a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies where I obtained a free copy of "Crossroads: The Future of the U.S. - Israel Strategic Partnership" by Haim Malka.
 
Below I've transcribed much of the section titled,
"Foundations of the U.S.- Israel Partnership" because much of it was new to me.


[...]
          The level of military cooperation is extraordinarily deep. The United States now provides Israel with $3 billion a year through the Foreign Military Financing program. In addition to direct military aid, the United States provides funds for the joint development of antiballistic missile systems and has pre-positioned nearly $1 billion worth of military equipment and ammunition in Israel for use by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in emergency contingencies. U.S. military aid represents roughly 1.5 percent of Israel's gross domestic product (GDP) and approximately 21 percent of its defense budget. Nearly three-quarters of that money is used to purchase U.S. military equipment, providing an indirect subsidy to the U.S. defense industry and ensuring that Israel has access to the best U.S. made military equipment available for foreign sales.
[…]
          For several generations of Israelis and Americans, this robust partnership has been a reassuring constant.
          But for those with longer memories, there is nothing inevitable about strong U.S. - Israeli ties.
          As one historian has noted, the "U.S. - Israel alliance as we know it today is the cumulative product of individual decisions that could have gone another way."

IN THE BEGINNING

          There was nothing strategic about President Harry S. Truman's recognition of Israel in May 1948. Israel was a fledgling state fighting for its independence and had little to offer the world's most formidable power. Truman's advisers made compelling arguments both for and against recognition. Secretary of State George C. Marshall in particular vehemently opposed recognizing Israel, arguing that is was a purely political calculation that could become a liability for the United States. Over and above political considerations, Truman made his own decision, largely based on religious conviction and his sense of moral obligation toward a persecuted minority. Although it took years to bear fruit, Truman's decision helped set the stage for what would become one of the most special and complicated U.S. partnerships of the modern era.
          Truman also based his decision on the abstract notion that Israelis and Americans shared basic beliefs rooted in liberty, democracy, and Judeo-Christian values. His strong religious impulse resonated with many Christian Americans who saw Israel's rebirth as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. For many Christian Americans, supporting Israel has deepened their physical connection to the Holy Land. Early U.S. support for Israel was also built on the idea of a small democracy struggling for survival against the odds, all while trying to absorb hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Many Americans glimpsed themselves and the American pioneer spirit in Israel's struggle for independence and survival. Israeli interlocutors tended to speak English well, were highly educated, and espoused a commitment to Western liberal and democratic ideals.
[…]
          Truman's recognition of Israel was a historic moment, but the first decade of U.S. - Israel ties tends to evoke bitter memories for many Israelis. After recognizing Israel, the United States remained aloof. The U.S. instinct was to mediate the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than the take sides. Under the Tripartite Agreement of 1950, the United States, France, Britain agreed to limit arms sales to all countries in the region so as to prevent an arms race from breaking out. Washington's leading strategic thinkers successfully argued that a close relationship with Israel endangered U.S. relations with oil-rich Arab states and could strengthen the Soviet foothold in the region.

My copy of "Crossroads".
Got it free when I attended aa discussion at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington, DC.


BUILDING THE POLITICAL FOUNDATION

          Although strategic ties were slow to take root, the 1950's and early 1960's were crucial years when it came to building cultural ties and the political pillar of U.S. Israeli relations. The discourses that developed during this time shaped the prevailing U.S. view of Israel for the coming decades and gave the partnership a deep political-cultural foundation. On the most basic level, anti-Semitism, which was a common feature of pre-World War II U.S. society and politics, declined dramatically after the war. AS one scholar noted, the decline of anti-Semitism in the United States helped transform Jews from "outsiders" to "insiders," which encouraged political acceptance of Israel.
[…]
          Growing Christian affinity eventually helped nurture greater bipartisan political support for Israel. Although Democrats had largely been the champions of strong U.S. - Israeli ties during the first two decades, Republicans slowly began embracing the bilateral partnership as well. By the 1980 elections, both the Democratic and Republican platforms were highlighting Israel's importance to the United States. With anti-communism and the Cold War at the center of his worldview, President Ronald Reagan viewed Israel as a vital ally and helped consolidate national bipartisan support for a strong U.S. Israeli partnership. Even more, President Reagan helped accelerate a process whereby Americans increasingly defined support for Israel as a "moral obligation" for the United States.
[…]
          The American Christian embrace of Israel corresponded with the rise of evangelical Protestant churches and the decline in membership in the mainline Protestant denominations, which historically have been openly critical of Israel and its politics. Over time evangelical Christian support grew and was based on the theological notion that a Jewish return to the Land of Israel was necessary for the Second Coming. Spiritual ties complemented the notion that Israel and the United States share common enemies, from communism during the Cold War to Islamic radicalism after September 11, 2001, which further deepened the strong affinity that many Christian Zionists feel for Israel.
          The Israeli government seized the opportunity, and Likud politicians in particular sought to nurture ties with the emerging Christian Zionist movement. Not only did Christian Zionists strengthen bipartisan support, but they helped resettle Soviet Jews in Israel, dispensed funding for Holocaust survivors, and provided a steady stream of tourism. More controversially, some but not all Christian Zionists were strong supporters of Israel's settlements in the West Bank. Over time the evangelical influence in the Republican party has helped make unconditional support for Israel a largely unquestioned tenet of mainstream conservative ideology in U.S. politics.
[…]

SEEDS OF STRATEGIC COOPERATION

          In Israel's early years, the United States gave Israel only a relatively small amount of economic assistance, always carefully calibrated with similar U.S. support for Israel's Arab neighbors. Although Israel managed to obtain some surplus military equipment from the United States in the early 1950's, France was its primary strategic partner and military supplier. The Israeli Kfir fighter aircraft was based on the French Mirage, and France assisted in developing Israel's nascent nuclear program.
          Although France was Israel's first strategic ally, most Israeli leaders longed for closer ties with the United States. Even while U.S. leaders were initially reluctant to throw their weight behind Israel, Israeli leaders set their sights on deeper strategic ties and went to great lengths to make Israel strategically beneficial to the United States. Israeli immigrants, for example, came from a wide range of countries behind the iron curtain, providing opportunities for espionage that were invaluable during the Cold War. In 1956, Israel demonstrated its intelligence capability by obtaining Khrushchev's "Secret Speech," which it slipped to U.S. officials. Israel also demonstrated its regional military power by performing well against the Egyptian army that same year. As the Cold War intensified and a growing number of Arab governments deepened their ties with the Soviet Union, Israel increasingly emerged as a strategic partner of the United States.
          Perhaps partially in recognition of these shows of Israeli strength and usefulness, President John F. Kennedy introduced an element of warmth and commitment that had been lacking in high-level U.S. -Israeli relations. Until Kennedy, the U.S. government valued stability in the Middle East above all else. It feared that military aid to Israel would spark a regional arms race that could give the Soviet Union more regional leverage. The United States repeatedly turned down Israeli requests for more sophisticated weapons in the name of parity between Israel and its Arab enemies. That all changed in 1962, when Kennedy made a pivotal decision to sell Israel Hawk antiaircraft missiles, which became a crucial component of Israel's defensive structure.
          As Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman interpret the policy shift, Kennedy had figured out that "it was easier to live with an Israel that was getting the resources it needed to defend itself. Then Israel would not have to commit wild or unacceptable acts." Thus, Kennedy steered the U.S. - Israeli partnership to a new level of cooperation and changed the way the United States thought about regional stability, Israeli security, and U.S. - Israeli relations.
          President Lyndon B. Johnson took Kennedy's Hawk sale one step further with his historic decision to sell Israel 210 M-48 Patton tanks in 1965, marking the beginning of the U.S. policy of providing Israel with offensive weapons. A year later, in 1966, the United States sold Israel the A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft. The new weapons ensured that Israel had not only defensive capabilities on par with Arab armies but offensive capabilities as well. The rationale was that a strong Israel equipped with the best military technology would deter Arab armies and prevent state-to-state wars in the region. During the next decade, this concept would evolve into a long-standing U.S. commitment to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge (QME).
          These offensive weapons sales contributed to Israel's swift and stunning victory over Arab armies in 1967, and U.S.- Israeli relations grew stronger still. Israel was a winner in the region, having defeated Soviet clients on the battlefield. Moreover, Israel's capture of Soviet military hardware was a gold mine for U.S. military intelligence. From that point, U.S. military aid to Israel took off: from 1967 until the conclusion of the Cold War in 1991, the United States provided Israel with nearly $30 billion in military loans and grants. In a short time, Israel's army was largely equipped by the United States, fulfilling a long-standing goal of Israel's leadership.
[...]

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Surgeon S.R. Welles, 61st Regt. NYS Vols. - Silver Chalice



The Welles family line fought for the Crown in the American Revolution. 
Almost a century later my great great uncle, Surgeon S. R. Welles
received this chalice for his service during the American Civil War

Silver chalice presented to my ancestor, Surgeon S. R. Welles, 61st Regt. NYS Vols, by the
Officers and men as a mark of respect for his conduct during the Civil War. July 23, 1862 

Inscription Reads

"Presented to Surgeon S.R. Welles, 61st Regt. NYS Vols. by the Officers and men as a mark of respect for his conduct during the Battles of Fair Oaks, Allens Farm, Savages Station, White Oak Swamp, Charles City Crossroads, & Malvern Hill. Harrison's Landing, Va.  July 23, 1862" 

Family Tradition Holds

Family tradition holds that he was captured by the Confederates as he was treating the wounded from both sides after the July  1, 1862 battle of Malvern Hill. After being held in Richmond's Libby Prison, he was exchanged and rejoined his regiment. He was horrified by what he saw during the war, and became an Episcopal priest in the years after the war. The idea was that if he could not save lives (this was before the germ theory), he could help people save their souls. He never married and had no children. 

Historical Scholarship - Regiment's Activities

The regiment fought in the Second Corps, First Division, First Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. The regiment fought June 1, 1862, the second day of Fair Oaks, also called Seven Pines.

"Yet there was no doubt that the enemy was there. Stray bullets showered leaves and twigs down on the Yankees and better aimed bullets found their marks. In a neighboring regiment, the 61st New York, Colonel Francis Barlow reported that 'a most violent firing began on both sides.... In about three minutes men were dying and groaning and running about with faces shot and arms shot, and it was an awful sight.' One of every ten men in the 61st New York would die in this morning's fight." Sears, page 143.

The regiment also fought at Charles City Crossroads, also called Glendale, on June 30, 1862.    

"Kearny also welcomed the 61st New York and Colonel Francis C. Barlow, an uncommonly gifted officer who was looking for a fight to get into. Barlow's regiment, from Israel Richardson's division, was one of those called from White Oak Bridge when the fighting at Glendale began, and in the rush from the bridge it had become separated from the rest of the brigade. Marching toward the sound of the guns, Colonel Barlow went looking for the first general officer he could find, who happened to be General Robinson of Kearny's division. Robinson put him into action promptly.      

"Barlow's New Yorkers rushed with a shout at charge bayonets across a field. In the smoke and dim light, Barlow wrote home, 'we could not distinctly see the enemy on the open ground but they heard us coming and broke and ran. ... ' He picked up a fallen Confederate battle flag and sent it to the rear. In the woods beyond they ran against the enemy and were challenged, 'Throw down your arms or you are all dead men!' Barlow's response was the order to fire. After a 'vigorous fire was kept up on both sides for a long time,' the 61st New York withdrew to the original line." Sears, pages 303-304

“Colonel Francis Barlow marched his 61st New York, of Caldwell’s brigade, to the front to brace Couch’s beleaguered line. ‘The men fought better than ever before, standing in line with great coolness,,’ Barlow would tell his family. So rapid was their fire that the guns of many of them became fouled by burned powder, making it impossible to ram home the charges. ‘Then we lay down and prepared to hold the place by the bayonet if the enemy charged out of the woods,’ Barlow wrote. The Rebels did charge, ‘with a yell,’ but the 72nd New York next to them had just enough cartridges left for a last volley, ‘which broke them and they ran.’ Barlow remarked that a Federal battery behind them too often fused its shells improperly, ‘and a good many of their shells burst over our heads and even struck behind us which did not add to the pleasure of the occasion.’ “ Sears, pages 327, 329.

Sears’ last mention of Barlow and the 61st New York indicates the regiment and its commander did not have great respect for Army of the Potomac Commander George McClellan, who spent part of the Battle of Malvern Hill on a gunboat in an adjacent river.

“There remained, however, the verdict rendered by such fighting men as Colonel Francis Barlow of the 61st New York. ‘I think the whole army feel (sic),’ Barlow wrote three days after Malvern Hill, ‘that it was left to take care of itself and was saved only by its own brave fighting.’“ Sears, page 331.

Sears, Steven W. To The Gates of Richmond. New York: Mariner Books, 1992. ISBN 0-618-121713-5.


 

#ChineseNewYear 2013 - Georgetown Law Party

 

A graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
this semester I'm interning with the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC
One of the ladies who lives in my building invited me to join 
her classmates from Georgetown Law to celebrate Chinese New Year 2013

Here are tweets and photos I took while we ate at Hunan Gate in Arlington, VA: 

@DonnaWelles
Clear and chilly today in #DC. Will celebrate #ChineseNewYear at lunch w/ #GeorgetownLaw crowd. Then some reading, RuNet hockey research..
@DonnaWelles
Waiting to meet my friends, bout to head out to lunch for #ChineseNewYear w/ their #Georgetown law classmates. Will take photos.
@DonnaWelles
About to sit down at #Hunan Gate- am told is authentic#chineseNewYear pic.twitter.com/aniDC9Iv

Ladies from my building - #ChineseNewYearpic.twitter.com/g92om9Um

Appetizers have arrived- celery, carrots, and nutspic.twitter.com/WiQEkNps

Tradition Northeast China dish - pork/cabbage #ChineseNewYearpic.twitter.com/NoIZFPzb

Rice noodle salad w/ sesame sauce pic.twitter.com/T2zHPeLG

Fried pork pic.twitter.com/a4gObzRz

Roasted pork pic.twitter.com/P1D8Zybh


Pork and cabbage dumplings #ChineseNewYearpic.twitter.com/waURPeVv



Lamb #ChineseNewYear pic.twitter.com/PpfLRuYO


Dried bean curry pic.twitter.com/H0aRaPoi

Potato thing pic.twitter.com/Xu5sHnNs


Me after our meal #ChineseNewYear pic.twitter.com/hkAC9rOz

Fish dish pic.twitter.com/30lHJYek

@DonnaWelles

Final dish - mixture of everything #ChineseNewYear #celebratepic.twitter.com/GTICAkR6

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Katrina Welles Swanson's Story - "Katrina's Dream"


 
Katrina Welles Swanson is my first cousin once removed (grandpa's brother's daughter). 
When she was little she got to meet FDR, Churchill, and Mrs. Roosevelt when they came to 
Christ Church in Alexandria, VA where her father, Bishop Edward Welles II, was the rector. 
Katrina grew up to become one of the Philadelphia 11. 

Below is her story as taken from http://www.katrinasdream.org/.

Katrina’s Dream in the full inclusion of Women in Society, other Justice Issues , and More…


Katrina’s Story

On January 2, 1942 at the beginning of a ghastly war, this picture was on the front page of newspapers around the world with the headline:

 Little Girl Meets Roosevelt & Churchill.

However, Katrina was telling everyone, “I met Mrs. Roosevelt on my birthday!” Mrs. Roosevelt is just behind Churchill.

Katrina Welles (Swanson) w/ her dad, Bishop Edward Welles, Winston Churchill, FDR, Eleanor in the background.
Christ Church in Alexandria, VA 


This young feminist picked the winner out of the pack she met on January first! However as the daughter, grand-daughter, and great grand daughter of traditional minded Anglo-Catholic priests and bishops, she accepted the fact that if she had been a boy she would have become a priest. But as a woman she planned to be a social worker.

Working in Botswana, Africa, Katrina, her husband George, and their sons Olof and William often stayed with Mrs. Lekgaba, a business woman and church leader when the Swansons visited Sabinas. Mrs. Lekgaba came from a clerical family like Katrina: Her father and brother were priests in Rhodesia. She ran a fleet of large British lorries which moved passengers and goods throughout her district on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Although she was the de facto pastor and leader of the Anglican congregation in her town, the Anglican Church would not allow women to lead any public worship. They had to hire abusive, alcoholic men to lead their prayer services.

After returning home, Katrina began to see that God must want women to be priests, as well as men. She called her father to make an appointment. “When does my daughter need an appointment to see me?” “I need an appointment for this.”

She told him that she believed she had a vocation to priesthood. Katrina had no idea how he would receive the news. He had been a leader among traditional clergy and laity who defeated the proposed merger with the Presbyterian Church in the 1940’s. His grandfather, the first Bishop Edward Randolph Welles, had encouraged the building of cathedrals across the country, welcomed Episcopal monks and nuns, and helped write the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral defining traditional Episcopal and Anglican requirements for any future church unions. Her father surprised her by saying he had approved of women’s ordination since reading “Women and Holy Orders” by Charles Raven in 1928. Katrina and George republished Raven’s book in 1975.

One of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” Katrina and her father helped organize the 1974 irregular ordination of the first eleven women priests in the Episcopal Church USA. (The first women priests in modern times were ordained in Hong Kong: Florence Lee Tim Oi in 1944 and Jane Hwang and Joyce Bennett in 1971.) Katrina’s seventeen year bi-lingual ministry as rector of St. John’s Parish in Union City, New Jersey, was an uphill struggle filled with love. She celebrated the Eucharist bilingually in Spanish and English and founded and led a bilingual afterschool program for over a hundred children ages 5 to 18. She served on the board of a hospital and a homeless shelter. Katrina retired to Manset, Maine in 1996.

After being diagnosed with inoperable colonic cancer Katrina was cared for by Hospice at home in Manset during her sixteen month illness. She looked forward to the other side of death.

Her college roommate, Jean Maryborn, said, “For years you have taught us how to live. Now you are teaching us how to die.”

She told friends of the eight books that “have influenced the way I live my life.” They are:

“A Town Like Alice” by Nevil Shute, “Black Elk Speaks” by John Neihardt, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl, “The Healing Light” by Agnes Sanford, “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom, “The House of Prayer” by Florence Converse, “The Power and the Glory” by Graham Greene, and “The White Witch” by Elizabeth Goudge.

In the year before her death Katrina and her daughter-in-law, Hélène DeBoissière, spoke often about the absence of women’s rights under U.S. law. Like Alice Paul Katrina and Hélène knew women’s rights would only be realized in U.S. law by amending the constitution.

Katrina died peacefully while a hurricane bearing her name was showing Americans how much liberty and justice poor folk had in New Orleans and in America. She had learned this years before.

When the Equal Rights Amendment failed to pass, Katrina realized that she was a second class citizen like every other woman in America.

Her 17 years as an inner city Episcopal priest taught her that poverty limited how much liberty and justice one could get. In the Pledge of Allegiance Katrina always said, “With Liberty and Justice for Some.”

Justice was important in her family. Her great great uncle had been run out of antebellum Vicksburg for preaching abolition. Her grandfather founded an inner city mission in Cincinnati and was later run out of Chelsea, Oklahoma for giving Holy Communion to a Black priest at the altar rail. Hélène DeBoissière, William Swanson and George Swanson founded KatrinasDream.org to carry on Katrina’s dream of seeing the rights of women upheld by the law.

Katrina’s family and friends held a Weekend for Liberty and Justice, July 27-30, 2006, ending with her burial near a bench given in her memory at St. Saviour’s Parish in Bar Harbor, Maine.

An Open Congress for Liberty and Justice for Women decided to use this web site for two issues:

1) Language at Worship that includes both women and men. The Rev. Kathryn Piccard is editing this page called JUST WORDS? Kathryn may be reached at kapiccard[at]comcast[dot]net.

2) Issues for American Indian women.

[...]