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Sharing the Wine of Unity and Equality

Jan 22, 2019

By

I spent some time this week considering the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. Well, if truth be told, as I considered the miracle, I thought about how terrific it would be to turn ordinary Harrisburg tap water into something suitable for communion wine: neither too sweet nor too dry, neither so deep in tone that it stains the linens, nor so pale that it tastes bitter, and of course, less costly than the usual stuff bottled by the distributor.

It is interesting that after Jesus tells his mother that the time has not yet come, he still performs a miracle that saves the dignity of a young groom! Jesus intervenes and protects someone who clearly didn’t have the financial means to provide enough wine for a culturally required celebration. What a brilliant first sign of the identity of the Christ: Jesus offers sacred wine to ordinary people at a wedding ceremony in Cana of Galilee.
And while the wine is really fine wine, it is more than just wine, isn’t it? This story evokes Isaiah’s vision of a holy banquet provided on a holy mountain by the Lord at the culmination of history, with fine foods and wine (Isa 25.6). What would happen if we were able to drink of this sort of sacred wine? Would we be able to keep silent about the power that can also transform human life into something fine and holy? It seems to me that there is power in the name of Jesus, which does a lot more than turn water into something more complex. Jesus can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary, breaking every chain that binds us. Jesus offers us the splendid nourishment that changes our relationships.

The whole story of God in the Bible, and in particular the story of Jesus, is about the inclination of God to intervene in ordinary human life. By the power of Love, God transforms our finite human life into something sacred. Jesus as a human being is a radiant counterpoint to the human story, which so often includes moments of sin, brokenness, ugliness, and generally unfortunate behavior.

As people of faith in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, we say that all human beings are invested with dignity by our creation. In the eyes of God, no one is worthy of devaluation. Yet, how often does the human drama involve powerful people trying to take from others the sacred wine of life, seeking to replace it with tap water, because someone decides that others (“they”) do not deserve the wine? This is, of course, a metaphorical statement – I am not talking about literal alcohol consumption. I am talking about sharing the sacred wine of unity and equality.

In the olden days, I remember growing up in a home that embraced the equality of all. Remember my mother was a social worker. Politically conservative and simultaneously egalitarian. Although we were very Irish, we did not use derogatory words for people from other cultural backgrounds. From my family’s Irish perspective, America was the land of equal opportunity for all. A generation after the Morkans and Fannings emigrated from Ireland, where we were treated as less than human, my family owned property, had good jobs, and were educating their children in private schools.

Imagine my surprise when I grew up to realize that in the world some of us are more equal than others. I find that I am offended that we continue to live in a world in which some people are appraised as “less than” other people. Yet I feel comfortable using my privilege to call it out.

The very notions of racial inequality and white supremacy are morally repugnant to many White people. We decry racially-motivated incidents of bias and exclusion. We do not want to be racist. Not long ago, we were talking about a post-racist world, because we had elected a Black president. What is especially difficult for us to perceive is that racism transcends discrete or individual acts motivated by prejudice. It is manifest in the very systems and policies that define our society and culture.

Economic system. Do you know that in the USA, the average household income is demarcated along racial lines, with the average White household earning about 23,000 more than the average Black household ($58K vs 35K). Wealth inequality is currently at the greatest level in our nation’s history. The average White family has seven times the accumulated wealth of the average Black family. These disparities cannot be explained by educational achievement alone. With all other factors being equal, it is more difficult for Black people to get hired, and more difficult for Black people to buy homes, just because they are Black. Don’t believe me? Try to apply for a job using a name that “sounds” Black, like Taquan or Tomeka.

Legal system. I never had to talk with any of my children about how to respond when they are followed by department store security or pulled over by a police officer. As an adult, I was shocked to learn that many of my friends of color have to do this. According to several different studies, Black men aged 15–34 are nine to sixteen times more likely to be killed by police than other people.[https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/fryer/files/fryer_police_aer.pdf] Please note that I am NOT saying that law enforcement officers are inherently racist. I do think that they are fearful, because our culture teaches us to be fearful of Black men.

The educational system contains structural inequalities. Children who struggle to read in third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school, and are 63 times as likely to be imprisoned as college graduates. Children educated in under-resourced city schools, where the population is largely Black, are most affected by this. There is also something called the school to prison pipeline. Black children are three to five times as likely to be suspended, arrested, or expelled for the same infractions as White children. Zero-tolerance discipline policies and the decline in juvenile correctional institutions mean that arrested adolescents are often incarcerated as adults.

Can I just say as a White woman that when White people talk about being color blind, we are not telling the full truth? Because you know and I know that we can all see difference. Racism is not about seeing the color of someone’s skin. Racism is about judgment of worth and about fear.

As a nation, we have gotten drunk on the dyspeptic wine of systemic racism and our judgment is impaired. Racism is not only in the desperate actions of fanatics in white hoods, sins committed in ignorance, or in overt incidents of bias. These things are wrong, and so are some of our policies and unconscious assumptions about people of color. A sinking moral tide is compromising our spiritual health. I have come to believe that the unconscious belief in supremacy is not advantageous to White people. It is a chain that binds us to a way of living that degrades the goodness for which we were all created.

How does Epiphany, which marks the revelation of the Messiah to all peoples, invite us to explore being radiant examples of the glory of God in Christ?

Carolyn Helsel of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary suggests that the beginning to addressing systemic racism is difficult and must be relational. This necessarily involves conversation, listening, and respect. The more we can help one another understand the complexity of the problem, the closer we can get to addressing it.

Because the cathedral is one of the more diverse congregations in our diocese, we are in a good position to consider an intentional approach to dismantling the systemic racism that infects our interactions. This is not about guilt. This is about celebrating the grace of God, which has been showered over all of us, and which invites us to drink of the holy wine of our universal adoption as children of God. Watch for a Lenten program, which will invite us to explore the blessing of our diverse identities, and to build spiritual relationships across the boundaries we have allowed to separate us one from the other.

Let us pray.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son, who is the Light of the world: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


This sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Amy D. Welin at St. Stephen’s Cathedral on January 20, 2019, for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany & Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday. The texts for the day, which can be found at this link, were:

  • Isaiah 62:1-5
  • Psalm 36:5-10
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
  • John 2:1-11

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Serve in WorshipAcolyte

Acolytes carry the cross and torches at processions and help the priest prepare for Holy Communion. This ministry is ideal for youth (grades 7 and up), and is also open to adults. A brief training session is offered to help you learn the job. Acolytes are scheduled on a rotating basis.

Clergy & StaffAmy Welin

Dean | Email: adwelin@ststep.org

The Very Rev. Dr. Amy D. Welin has been serving as the Dean of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral since August 2017.

Prior to her priestly ordination, Amy worked as an instructor of medieval and world history, an insurance claims processor, and a pastoral associate in a large mid-western church. Before accepting the call  of the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen in Harrisburg, she served a variety of parishes in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, as a member of the Standing Committee and the Chapter of Christ Church Cathedral.

One of the founding members of the Episcopal Clergy Association in Connecticut (ConnECA), and a prior board member of the Network of Episcopal Clergy Associations (NECA), Amy devotes her energy to issues of clergy and parish wellness.

Married to Greg Welin, who is also an Episcopal priest, and mother of four young adults, Amy likes to garden and practice yoga in her free time.

Clergy & StaffCindy Harbert

Administrator | Email: charbert@ststep.org

Cindy Coombs Harbert joined the staff at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in 2017.  Most of Cindy’s professional career has been centered around non-profit administration.  Cindy holds a BA in social work and education from West Virginia Wesleyan College and has completed graduate coursework in counseling at Messiah University. The mother of two adult children, she enjoys traveling, volunteering in the community, watching field hockey, and exploring new places that she hasn’t visited before.

Clergy & StaffFred Miller

Canon Pastor

The Rev. Canon Fred Miller began on staff as Canon Pastor for spiritual care July 2020.

Fred is a MDIV graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School with graduate studies in Congregational Development at Seabury Western Seminary, and marriage and family counseling at Trinity Counseling Center, Princeton. He served 4 parishes in New Jersey before coming to Central PA at All Saints’, Hershey. After receiving certification with the Interim Ministry Network he served in NJ, & Kansas, before returning to this diocese, working in Altoona, State College & Williamsport. Serving with the YWCA as a volunteer, retired Red Cross volunteer and as a previous College Chaplain in two states has opened the possibilities of living into the Episcopal Church becoming a bridge to interfaith relations.

Married to Kris with whom we proudly share three children, now grown. Fred enjoys outdoor activities, simple meals, and quiet conversation.

Clergy & StaffGene Schofield

Parish Nurse

Gene was born and grew up on family farm in MN. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, she worked at a Navy hospital where she met and married her husband, Mike. The mother of 4 (Kirsten died of CP complications at age 40) she keeps busy with her children, her 9 grandchildren and her great-granddaughter. Gene returned to work in nursing after her children were in middle school with her last position being a Hospice nurse until her retirement in 2008. Gene is available to assist the newly diagnosed, helps with securing durable medical equipment and checks in with those on our prayer list on a weekly basis.

Serve in WorshipGreeter

Greeters are the public face of the Cathedral on Sunday mornings. Our greeting team welcomes guests and members alike, and helps guests find a seat and matches them up with a member to assist them in the service.

Clergy & StaffJordan Markham

Director of Music

Jordan R. Markham studied at The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He is a classically-trained lyric-baritone, pianist, organist, and conductor, having previously studied under the Grammy-winning baritone, William Sharp and soprano Susan Solomon Beckley of Bucknell University. For two years he was a professional chorister at The Washington National Cathedral, and was a paid chorister and soloist in The Handel Choir of Baltimore. While with the Handel Choir, he sang the tenor solo role of Apollo in Handel’s Semele, the tenor solo in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (both with full orchestra), and the tenor solo in Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in The Lamb. Prior to this, he sang the baritone solo in Rossini’s  Petite Messe Solennelle with the Peabody Singers and most recently has been heard singing the baritone solo in The Seven Last Words Of Christ by Theodore Dubois, accompanied by a full orchestra.

Throughout the past decade, Mr. Markham has performed at The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Nobuo Uematsu, composer of the soundtracks for the Final Fantasy Games. He has also sung at Carnegie Hall, The Boston Symphony Hall, and the Jackie Gleason Theatre. He has been active in the musical theatre scene for over a decade directing, accompanying, and acting in theaters throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. Mr. Markham has most recently been seen in South Pacific with The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, as “Jimmy” in Reefer Madness, “Peter” in Bare: A Pop Opera, and as “Chip” in The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, for which he was also the music director and whose cast received a nomination by Broadway World for Best Ensemble. He has also performed onstage with the Peabody Opera in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and  Cosi fan tutte, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

Mr. Markham is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of The Central Pennsylvania Womyn’s Chorus, and a co-founding member of Allegro con Fuoco, a keyboard duo with Tyler A. Canonico, and proudly serves as the Director of Music and Organist at St Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

Serve in WorshipLay Eucharistic Minister

Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs) assist the clergy at the altar by distributing Holy Communion to members of the congregation. LEMs are scheduled based on their availability to serve one or more Sundays each month. This ministry is open to all baptized and confirmed members of the church, after attending two hours of training and receiving a license from the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania.

Serve in WorshipLay Worship Leader

Do you have an interest in leading prayer and worship services that do not require ordained clergy? By receiving a license as a Lay Worship Leader from the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, you will be able to lead the congregation in Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and other prayer services. This ministry requires significant study and preparation, and is open to all baptized and confirmed members of the church. 

Serve in WorshipLector

Lectors proclaim the Word of God by reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament during worship services. Lectors are scheduled based on their availability. All interested persons are eligible to become lectors by attending a 30-minute orientation session.

Clergy & StaffMicalagh Moritz

Director of Formation for Young Adults and Youth

In 2021, Micalagh transitioned into the role of Director of Youth & Young Adult Formation. She previously served as the Sycamore House Program Director, starting in 2017. She has over 15 years of experience in various community nonprofits in Harrisburg, Belize, and Washington, DC.

She majored in Human Development & Family Science in college, and continued on to receive her Masters in Social Work. She has a counseling and therapy background, which is applicable to many areas of life-both on the job and off. She has worked with youth and young adults in many different settings, including through Harrisburg-based after-school programs, through the Sycamore House, as Director of a study abroad program in Belize, and through teaching college courses locally.

She is passionate about helping to create healing spaces for people to grow and learn, exploring the intersections of faith and justice, and building bridges between people of various backgrounds. She is also passionate about spiritual formation as an integral part of building community.

Micalagh lives in Harrisburg and can often be found riding her bike up Riverfront Park, in a local café, or walking to Broad Street Market. She is married to Joshua Moritz, a middle school Case Manager and farmer at heart, and they have 2 children who attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. 

Clergy & StaffMichael Frascella

Facilities Manager

Michael Frascella has served as our part-time Facilities Manager for several years.  He works diligently to see that our campus stays beautiful, our buildings are problem-free, and that there are inviting and welcoming spaces for all who enter our doors.  Michael is a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral and is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of 4. 

Clergy & StaffMichael Nailor

Deacon

Michael was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, PA as a member of First Evangelical United Brethren (United Methodist) where he was active throughout childhood and as a young adult.  He came to the Episcopal Church while he was in college at the University of Pennsylvania.  The pioneering women of the “Philadelphia Eleven” had just been irregularly ordained and the church was struggling with the role of women in leadership. Michael was drawn to a church that was willing to deal with – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – the important social justice issues of the day. 

Agreeing to disagree but still staying in communion around the Holy Table appealed to this English teacher and debate coach throughout his 41-year career in education.  Michael serves the Diocese of Central PA as a deacon at St. Stephen’s Cathedral as he has since his ordination in 2018. He also works at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Serve in WorshipPrayer Leader

Prayer Leaders lead the Prayers of the People during worship services. Prayers are led from among the congregation, with prayer leaders adding a prayer of their own choosing to reflect the needs of the moment. All persons are eligible for this ministry — a brief orientation session is available to help prepare you for leading prayers.

Service OpportunitiesArtsFest

Downtown Harrisburg

Artsfest is always held the weekend of Memorial Day, Saturday through Monday, with St. Stephen’s members serving hot dogs, hamburgers, snow cones and beverages, while tours of the Cathedral are offered along with free organ concerts every hour. The profits from our ArtsFest work are all dedicated to a selection of service groups in the city.

Service OpportunitiesCommon Ground Cafe

Allison Hill - Harrisburg

When is a breakfast more than just a meal? When it is a community center, a kids’ craft session, a book nook for adults, a reading program and book giveaway for children, an opportunity for family members and neighbors to visit in a warm, welcoming place.

Please join the volunteers and community members who make all of this happen on the last Saturday of every month at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg at 1508 Market St. We serve about 250 people at each breakfast, so we need cooks, waiters, greeters, coffee servers, readers, a set up crew, dishwashers, piano players, and anyone who just wants the best breakfast in town!

Service OpportunitiesDowntown Daily Bread

Downtown Harrisburg

Downtown Daily Bread is a soup kitchen located at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church. Their mission is to provide services for the homeless & feed the hungry (40,000 meals/year) 7 days a week including weekends & holidays. On the first Sunday of every other month from approximately noon until 2 p.m., St. Stephen’s serves the food trays and then helps clean up afterward.

Service OpportunitiesLittle Free Food Pantry

Jessica McClard launched the grassroots mini pantry movement on May 2016 in Fayetteville, AR, when she planted the Little Free Pantry Pilot, a wooden box on a post containing food, personal care, and paper items accessible to everyone all the time no questions asked.

Service OpportunitiesRMMS

We participate in an organized program to support and encourage refugees hoping to make the U.S. their home.

Service OpportunitiesSt. Barnabas Children's Ministry

Uptown Harrisburg

St. Barnabas was founded by our own Bishop Charlie McNutt and Bishop Guy Edmiston from the Lower Susquehanna Synod. Located in Uptown Harrisburg, St. Barnabas offers children ages 7 – 12 an 8-week summer day camp. A variety of experiences allow spiritual, emotional, physical, educational & social growth. St. Stephen’s provides food for the children, along with volunteers to prepare, serve and clean up.

Service OpportunitiesSusquehanna Harbor Safe Haven

Uptown Harrisburg

Operated by the ecumenical group Christian Churches United, Susquehanna Harbor is a residence for homeless men. St. Stephen’s, along with other churches and service groups, is responsible for staffing the 25-unit overnight shelter several weeks each year.

Clergy & StaffStuart Scarborough

Property Manager

Rev. Stuart Scarborough, Deacon, joined St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral part-time as a Property Manager after migrating northward from the Diocese of Maryland when his wife, Rev. Anjel Scarborough, was called to be Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Hershey. Prior to relocating, Stuart spent 13 years managing facilities, including three years as Facilities Operations Director for St. John’s Episcopal Church and Parish Day School in Ellicott City, MD and, before that, ten years as Director of Operations at the Claggett Center, Maryland’s Diocesan conference, retreat and camp center in Adamstown, MD. Prior to this, Stuart, who has a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech, worked for 20+ years in manufacturing. Stuart and Anjel have two adult children; Martin, who lives in Cockeysville, MD and Erin, who lives in Newark, DE.

As Property Manager, Stuart will oversee the care and maintenance of all the Cathedral buildings and property. In addition to this part-time role, Stuart is also serving part-time as Property Manager for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. In this role, Stuart will look after all buildings and properties that are owned by the Diocese, but are not parishes. Further, Stuart has been assigned as Deacon to Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church in Camp Hill.

Serve in WorshipTechnical Guild

Are you looking for a behind-the-scenes way to get involved? Consider joining our technical crew and learning to operate our sound and light systems. Sound and Light Technicians facilitate worship services by ensuring that sound levels and amplification are appropriate, and that lighting is used to highlight the liturgical action. Some training is required.

Serve in WorshipUsher

One of the primary functions of an usher is to guide guests and members to various parts of the Cathedral (restrooms, parlors, nursery, etc.) and to assist with any special needs (e.g. wheelchair access). Ushers are also trained to summon help in the case of any emergencies.