Dignity/Boston - Report on new home
By Peggy Burns and Becky Duddy-Burke
In June 2015, Dignity/Boston moved to our new home, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Boston South End neighborhood. It was a major change, as we had shared space with St. John’s Episcopal Church on Beacon Hill for 28 years. However, because St. John’s was merging with their Cathedral, Dignity/Boston had to find a new worship space. A search committee was set up and after much discussion, searching, and visiting, we decided that St. Stephen’s was the best fit for us.
We moved right before Pride celebrations and spent the summer getting used to our new home. One reason we picked St. Stephen’s was the strong social justice mission of the church. Another, the number of events they offered their members and the surrounding community. We, of course, were invited to join in anytime.
In our first few months at St Stephen’s we designated a second collection to support St. Stephen’s youth programs, an extensive group of educational and fun programs focused on urban children and youth in the neighborhood, and began what we hope will be a long-term association with this important work. On Martin Luther King Day 2016, seven members of the chapter joined St. Stephen’s Youth Program for their sixth annual MLK service project, benefiting a neighborhood school, the Blackstone Innovation School. Service activities included painting stairwells and baseboards, cleaning windows, and sprucing up the school's library.
Also in January, Dignity/Boston marked Christian Unity Sunday by joining forces with our neighbors. We invited Reverend Tim Crellin, vicar of St. Stephen’s, to co-preside a Sunday liturgy and to preach. In his homily, Reverend Crellin talked about the long history of outreach by St Stephen’s and the parallels to the work of Dignity locally and nationally, always rooted in the Gospel.
This year for Ash Wednesday, Dignity/Boston tried something new. Instead of scheduling the chapter liturgy to follow after the St. Stephen’s evening liturgy, as had been our pattern in our previous church for many years, we joined St. Stephen’s evening liturgy. Looking for the commonalities between the Episcopal liturgy and the Catholic liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we offered one of the readings of the day from our inclusive lectionary (Priests for Equality) and offered the psalm. Further enriching the symbolism of our oneness in entering Lent, the ashes for our foreheads were a combined mixture of burnt palms from the homes of Dignity and St. Stephen’s members. It was nice to join around the altar at communion with the folks we share space with.
We look forward to working with St. Stephen's in our shared commitment to social justice values. We plan to march with them in Boston's Mother's Day Walk for Peace this year. The annual event began in 1995 for families who had lost children to violence. As a community, we are exploring other ways to participate in St. Stephen's ministries.
Many Dignity members visiting Boston over the years have worshipped with us at St. John's. For those who may be traveling to Boston in the future, please come to St. Stephen's to worship with us. We are proud to share our new home with you!