What to do about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict?

Nobel Peace Prizewinner, Mairead Corrigan McGuire with Albert Ogle minutes before we had to take cover from rocket fire at Gaza in 2008.

 

The conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian communities has reached a new low level these past few weeks as hundreds of civilians are caught in this very militarized war that we are seeing daily in news reports. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued a statement, the Bishop of Jerusalem has issued a statement and the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has released some news of what people are needing on the ground.

We feel pretty powerless to effect any significant political change -hard to believe when $4 billion of our tax dollars go to support Israel and the corrupt regime of Benjamin Netanyahu (who is a graduate of our local Cheltenham High School -what did he learn there one wonders?) So, what about humanitarian relief?

A life-changing experience

I visited Israel in 2008, during the 60th anniversary of Nakba or “catastrophe” when in 1948, Israeli forces practiced ethnic cleansing and removal of the Palestinian community from villages and regions of the Holy Land. The beginning of the apartheid system between Arabs and Jews began and slowly as the Palestinian community became more and more cut off from each other and new Jewish settlements ate away at whatever limited land they had been allowed to live on. Like holes appearing in swiss cheese, the “two state solution” proposed by advocates like Jimmy Carter, has become less and less likely as the imagined Palestinian state is eroded. The comparison of what these settlements have done in 60 years, makes the two-state solution to a long-term peace process, pretty impossible. Check out this image of shrinking Palestine. Democracy is also shrinking in this region while emerging theocracy and totalitarianism plays with the future of this violent topography.

The United States has continued to send money, support, powerful symbolic gestures (like moving the US embassy to Jerusalem under a Trump Administration’s sop to theocratic American evangelicals and orthodox Jewish community) who want to see Jerusalem (and perhaps the Temple) restored as the capital of Israel. The eastern part of the city is strongly Arab and the incursions into the West Bank, the expansion of settlements and displacement of Palestinian Arabs (and Christians) by the current regime, underscored the escalating frustration with the political oppression. The invasion of the Al Aqsa Mosque three weeks ago by an estimated 1,000 Israeli troops, as Muslim worshippers were honoring Ramadan, was the final straw. VIDEO FOOTAGE HERE The State of Israel remains precarious and forming a strong government has been problematic as the country divides more and more on religious grounds.

Taking cover in Gaza

During my visit to Israel, I went to the West Bank with several other Sabeel Conference attendees but we were not allowed into the territory as shelling was taking place. We all had to hide for cover under a wall as Israeli rockets were being fired into the West Bank and this photo with Irish Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mairead Corrigan McGuire, was taken just before we all had to take cover -a frightening experience. The experience of travelling to the places associated with the life of Jesus was both beautiful and disturbing. I had studied international peace studies at Trinity College, Dublin and my thesis was aspiring UNESCO’s World Heritage Program to use cultural and religious heritage as a vehicle for international reconciliation. UNESCO invited me to present my thesis at their global symposium in Quebec, where the concept attracted a lot of attention and was finally published by UNESCO and the University of Laval.  From this work, I was invited to consult on the Israeli government’s application to UNESCO to classify many of the early sites of Christianity as a World Heritage site with reconciliation as an outstanding universal value. I got to meet many of the creators of this remarkably interesting proposal and the plan was to see if these sites could be used in reconciliation and then built upon this work by focusing over the long term on Jerusalem and attempt to ease the conflicts around her many holy sites, including the Al Aqsa Mosque (site of the temple). Since then, many of the progressive/centrist Jews who were leaders of these early explorations, were sidelined by more orthodox fanatics and the proposal was delayed and not recommended because of reasons not fully disclosed.

Protecting living heritage

After studying the proposal, the main issue that became a stumbling block for me was the fact of these sites had (at least historically traced from the 4th century) been curated by the Palestinian Arab Christian community who had provided access and hospitality to pilgrims for centuries, right up to the present day. The site of the Beatitudes, Nazareth, Capernaum, and many places associated with Jesus could have been recognized as a collective World Heritage Site, but the Israeli government (who would be responsible for the sites once designated) could not agree on protecting the culture and traditions of the Palestinian Christian community who had been forced out of many of their villages and were living in appalling conditions in decreasing available land. Without these guarantees by the Israeli government, within a couple of generations, these living sites of inspiration and hospitality, could end up as simply tourist museums. As Christians who value the contribution these spiritual ancestors have given the world, we need to be in solidarity with them to continue to support the healing work of the church in the very villages and towns Jesus brought the good news.

The combination of seeing the Israeli perspective and the Palestinian perspective has informed my belief that America is on the wrong side of justice and our unquestioned support of the Israeli regime needs complete overhaul. Antony Blinken, as US Secretary of State is trying to move a diplomatic solution forward with Egypt and other Arab nations taking a significant lead in brokering peace negotiations between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. In the meantime, we should not only be holding our government accountable for what we are supporting and provide emergency relief to hospitals there that are trying to be the presence of Jesus in the contemporary world he came to save from itself.

Please join me and other Episcopalians in supporting the appeal from the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem by donating for humanitarian and medical relief online HERE.

Jesus once wept over Jerusalem where he met his own tragic death. Supporting our fellow Christians who are under siege and trying to provide health and emergency support seems the right thing for us to be doing right now. Working for long term peace and stability and creating an appropriate American and international response is another.

 

Rev. Canon Albert J. Ogle

May 27th 2021

 

Don’t forget our friends and relatives affected by the hurricanes

Helping Bishop Griselda and others in the Caribbean

https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/partnering-to-help-rebuild-caribbean-communities?utm_campaign=oc&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=crowdrise

An increasing number of my friends are wondering what we can do to provide support to communities in the Caribbean region that have been devastated by severe hurricanes this past month. As the media cameras leave and other compelling news stories occupy public attention, many people of goodwill have not forgotten the work of rebuilding lives and community that local residents face every day. The faith community is one of the most reliable and trusted networks we have, particularly as FEMA also moves on and prepares for the next disaster. The private sector, non-profit and religious organizations have to find efficient and transparent ways of working locally, advocating internationally and preparing for the longer term effects of these extreme forms of climate change. There is simply no escaping our present reality.

One example is to hold up the courageous work of episcopal bishop, Griselda Delgado del Carpio, who reported nearly half her churches and the communities they are serving, were damaged in the recent hurricanes. We celebrate her leadership this week in a series of events including an honorary doctorate at Yale yesterday, the Church Club event in New York city on Wednesday evening and an event in Philadelphia on Friday. The bishop will be reporting on the work of rebuilding community and I have promised her our prayers and support for those of us who cannot attend these events but would like to contribute to her work through the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation.

Bishop Griselda remains the only woman bishop in Latin America and her community is proud to welcome all people regardless of race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation or gender. The church serves everyone in need and I know our gifts (50% will go to the bishop and 50% will go to the church in Puerto Rico -all is tax deductible). I know the faith community we are supporting welcomes and provides support to everyone in need and our gifts will be well accounted for and leveraged for the common good. You can read more about this work here: https://www.friendsofeccuba.org/

My congregation in Upstate New York is also committed to assisting domestic hurricane relief with a focus on a Baptist church in Beaumont Texas. This is a time to reach out and break out of our silos. We hope to welcome and have an update from its pastor in 2018 when the real and deeper ministry of the people of God to those hurting and in need and I encourage other congregations to plan similar events and post-disaster updates as signs of our solidarity and common humanity. We share a common earth, “our island home”. When one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. We trust our friends and companions on the ground to get on with the work, knowing they remain on our thoughts and prayers AND with our much needed financial support.

Rev. Canon Albert Ogle,

Executive Director, St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation

 

Help Spread the Word!

LGBTI and Religion

Ending the war between religious leaders and the LGBTI community

https://76crimes.com/2017/07/08/new-challenge-for-gay-activists-accept-religious-allies/

New challenge for gay activists: Accept religious allies

As a queer priest reflects on his 40-year journey toward gay liberation, he expresses amazement at how anti-religious the Western LGBT movement has become, excluding and devaluing the contributions of faithful allies.

‘Whose service is perfect freedom’

The Rev. Albert Ogle and the vestry (governing board) of St. Peter's, Lithgow, N.Y., in 2015.

The Rev. Albert Ogle and the vestry (governing board) of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, N.Y., in 2015.

Excerpts from a sermon at his parish, St. Peter’s, in Lithgow, N.Y., U.S.A., on July 2, 2017, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ordination

By the Rev. Albert Ogle

The Rev. Albert Ogle

The Rev. Albert Ogle

Within my first year as vicar here, an older lesbian couple came to me and wanted to be married in church. We had a beautiful service in our old wooden church and although it was the first ever same-gender marriage, no-one around here blinked an eyelid. I didn’t have to get permission from the bishop or my Vestry (Board). It was just like every other wedding and the normalcy of it all actually upset the couple because they wanted much more “hoopla” and headlines, but this was simply what St. Peter’s was now doing. They would treat LGBT folk in the same way as they had done with straight couples for centuries.

This normalcy was shocking and even disappointing to the couple who wrote me a long letter and were so upset they felt they needed to leave the parish. I thought, “How sad!” In all the ups and downs of ministry, I never expected something like this and for weeks, I just had this heavy stone in my stomach and could not figure out what had happened to upset these dear people. Here was a community that was fully embracing and supportive of their love and journey and the couple had simply missed the moment.

When we are no longer victimized

They eventually came around, but it was an interesting reminder that when we are no longer victimized, it is us who need to change our attitude and I was reminded that changing laws and attitudes does not necessarily bring a sense of freedom that we may expect. Sadly, there are lots of people who simply thrive on victimhood and their whole identity is based upon being “other”. How do we deal with change when we are no longer victims? Change is hard work and demands WE change. This change in the West is also a threat to many in the developing world.

Yet, the new world order I am describing (through a lens of Western secular liberal culture where religion is still dominated by traditional values) is seen as a threat, particularly in developing countries and their vast unquestioned religious industries.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

We live in an age where fundamentalism, in its many forms, is a global business. It fuels ISIS as much as its grip helped to clinch the billions of dollars of arms deals between American and Saudi Arabia. Fundamentalism fuels the evangelical American prosperity gospel that has deep pockets in USAID paybacks for Presidential and party loyalty and makes it difficult for African LGBTI people to even think about the kind of societies they want to shape. These industries have much to lose if fundamentalism wanes. The cost of this madness is an unimaginable waste of gifts and human potential. It is like millions of stillborn vocations where people who are wanting to contribute to the well-being of the societies and support their families, simply cannot. It is as much a vocational issue as a human rights issue. Lost potential. A calling but the community who might benefit is deaf and unable to hear or see our contribution. …

Dark places in the road

I have two hopes from this sermon. One, that places where there appears to be little hope of change … these dark places on the road (I describe them as forks in the road where it looks as if we must choose to lose what we seem to love most and sacrifice all we know and love about who we are, epitomized in the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac) — these places will not appear so frightening to LGBT people as we move through the darkness and despair into the clarity, light and freedom.

Gay liberation that has largely been presented in Western terms over the last 50 years around the Stonewall mythology is not the freedom I am describing either. We have pink-washed American consumerism fornicating with an American rugged individualism and the offspring of this illicit relationship is the illusion of 21st century gay liberation. It is a dangerous illusion and many of us in the West who are critical of the evangelical exportation of prosperity gospel/family values bullshit that Africa and South America seems to believe (300,000 Prosperity Gospel churches in Africa alone, paying Rick Warren’s salary through sales of his prosperity gospel heresies).

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle poses in Uganda with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which works with the St. Paul's Foundation to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.

The Rev. Albert Ogle during a visit to Uganda to meet with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which worked with the St. Paul’s Foundation, which Ogle founded, to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.

Yet, we are as guilty as exporting a false gospel to Africa, in this gay liberation package that is not sustainable in Africa or anywhere else. It is not about true freedom. I think this is where religious and secular gay liberationists disagree on the future of our movement, especially in the larger developing communities at this critically dark fork in the road.

As Trump turns off all the American funding supporting the gay human rights activist industry, a different kind of faith and value system will fill the vacuum. African, Asian and South American leadership in the LGBTI communities should not see this as a negative problem but an opportunity to move forward into a different paradigm and movement than say in the past decade.

Anti-religious LGBTI activism

The Rev. Albert Ogle and his stole (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)

The Rev. Albert Ogle and his stole, which illustrates the various stages of his ministry. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)

The second thing I hope for on this 40th anniversary of my journey is that secular organizations in the LGBTI movement will recognize the contribution religion and religious leaders have had on our journey to true freedom and make room for us and others at the table. I am amazed how religio-xenophobic the Western LGBT movement has become in such a short time and the contribution of individuals and organizations in the religious sector is still undervalued and denied.

One recent example comes to mind when I joined a conference call organized by The Williams Institute, based in Los Angeles. The conference call was themed “The Place of LGBTI folk in the Sustainable Development Goals.” A Swedish researcher presented a background on how this internationally agreed agenda might include us. It was a well thought out presentation and, as I have been following this strategy here in New York through the work of many NGO’s at the United Nations, I was familiar with most of the information.

Not once in the presentation was the role of religious leaders or organizations mentioned. In places like Africa, where 40% of healthcare development is provided by religious networks and driven by powerful religious values, many of which are good and inclusive, how could a respected academic body like the Williams Institute allow for such oversight?

Bryan Choong in 2012

Bryan Choong in 2012

Not everyone is so blind. I respected Bryan Choong coming all the way from Singapore in 2012 when St Paul’s Foundation and other faith-based organizations invited 26 activists to be part of the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC. Bryan admitted to the selection committee that he did not share in any faith tradition but he came to be among us to learn more about the role religion can play in shaping public policy and mobilizing people.

We selected him to be able to come, because he knew religion plays so much, even in opposition to our movements, and he wanted to expand his knowledge and understanding of how to deal with this as a reality, both as a positive force for good, and a way of understanding all assaults of our enemies. When my angry lesbian couple I cited earlier (who were recently married by me, an ordained Anglican priest in a very conservative Republican stronghold and traditional Episcopal church) realized that for 30 years, our issue had been debated and fought over by 3 million Episcopalians, eventually ending in a very negative and financially costly divorce and split in our churches, their understanding changed.

They realized how much OUR issue has cost the church who now stand with us. To take a stand for our freedom demanded enormous sacrifice and struggle and commitment from countless straight allies. It was a very ugly and hard-fought battle, so that my wonderful lesbian couple could simply walk arm and arm up the aisle of St. Peter’s church in Lithgow and no-one batted an eyelid. This is simply what we now do.

Next, is there a place at the table for this kind of advocacy and normalcy? I realize after reflection on my own journey this week, that St. Peter’s represents a place of hope and light to churches and countries still dominated by religious fundamentalism, as we see in places like Northern Ireland and Uganda.

Things change and the change is dependent upon people simply showing up and showing what they want to contribute to the greater whole — .service to benefit the whole society, not just the rainbow piece of it. The downfall of any movement comes about when we forget our own story and, through his collective amnesia, we then begin to believe our own bullshit.

This is an interesting and dark fork in the road for our movement — a movement that I and many religious LGBTI people and our ally friends helped to create. We have a responsibility to communicate more clearly what that was like for us and trust those who take up the mantles and stoles of the future to accept the things they can change, wisely, recognize the things they will not be able to change (but others undoubtedly will) and have the wisdom to know the difference.

For more information, read:

Why the United Nations Human Rights Council Elections matter

Advocacy at the UN

Civil society gets an opportunity to question countries as they stand for election to the Human Rights Council in 2017

What’s at stake in U.N. Human Rights Council election

U.N. Human Rights Council elections:
  Why they are important to the international LGBT movement

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

Around 130 people gathered in a brightly lit mid-century conference room at the United Nations in New York on Monday, 11th September, at the invitation of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). Other sponsors included Amnesty International, the Czech Republic and Iraq. The meeting was chaired by Andrew Gilmour, U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights.

The meeting’s sponsors had invited representatives of countries seeking election onto the Human Rights Council to present their reasons for their candidacy and to hear from civil society.

Every year, a third of the available seats on the Human Rights Council (47 seats in all) are up for grabs. Some of the most notorious countries who allow human rights violations, serve on this august body. But that does not render the council meaningless. Many activists see such countries’ membership as a serious matter that could allow these nations’ human rights failures to see the light of day and perhaps even be corrected.

The body’s most influential carrot is the annual process where a third of U.N. member nations undergo a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) often detailing human rights abuses and failures in economic, cultural and religious institutions so they can be named and, in some cases, remedied.

The Council has also relied on a network of internationally recognized independent special rapporteurs/experts with cross-cutting themes. (For example, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the special rapporteur on refugees, etc. — a total of at least 38.) No country wants to get a bad report from any of them. The transparency of the U.N. systems has allowed countries the ability to discuss their shortcomings openly and the possibilities for making amends to marginalized and persecuted communities.

ISHR meeting on Sept. 11, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)

ISHR meeting on Sept. 11, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)

The focus on women’s and indigenous people’s issues in the Sustainable Development Goals underscore this momentum. Along those lines, it’s worth mentioning last year’s first-ever U.N. Security Council discussion related to sexual minorities. The outcome of that discussion — the 2016 condemnation of violence towards LGBTI people as a result of the Orlando massacre — shows another important direction the Council may be taking: Costly wars and other conflicts could be prevented if human rights abuses by governments are somehow nipped in the bud earlier.

A number of ambassadors who came to the ISHR meeting made the case for their country’s candidacy by pushing for greater commitment to human rights by all U.N. agencies, including the U.N. Security Council. This is a new role for the U.N.’s most elite body.

The ambassador from Afghanistan talked about the impact of losing 70-80 people a day through terror-related violence and how to protect the human rights of his people under these traumatic conditions. There was a key discussion on immigration and refugees and what each country has been doing to alleviate the plight of people coming to their countries.

LGBTI issues were specifically mentioned by Nepal, Australia and Mexico but it remains an issue that either is low on national priority lists because of larger issues like refugees, or it is simply opposed for religious or cultural reasons. All these emerging pressures and foci underscore the vital importance of this Council’s work and why countries are seeking election to it to shape its future.

Logo of the U.N. Human Rights Council

Logo of the U.N. Human Rights Council

For LGBTI people in particular, the Human Rights Council has been an un-fogged lens to look more deeply into the systemic, governmental and religious abuse of LGBTI people in close to 80 countries where we remain criminalized and largely invisible.

Attempts to exclude LGBTI economic and health indicators during the prioritization of the Sustainable Development Goals in the past two years, sadly, have been successful. Against this background, it was amazing that the UN agreed to create the special position of the Independent Expert on the Prevention of Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity last year. The discussions about that position were uncivil. That six-year appointment was approved — barely — on a vote 28 in favor, 18 against and 6 abstentions.

Some of the countries opposing the creation of that position are now running for election to the council, including Qatar, Nigeria and Congo. Our meeting was used by the U.S. delegation to condemn countries that have poor human rights records and refuse to show up to meetings like this one.

The panel of candidate nations were asked if compulsory attendance at these kinds of forums would be acceptable. There seemed to be no doubt that this would be an important evolution from the current system.

It is reported that Congo has some of the worst rape statistics in the world — over 400,000 reported cases. Yet the government has supported impunity for rapists because of the ongoing armed conflict there. If Congo earns a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, that would be outrageous.

Like Congo’s, the U.N. delegation from Nigeria also did not show up to the meeting. Nigeria has only ratified 5 out of 14 mechanisms or treaties that concern international human rights issues.

South Africa abstained in that 2016 crucial vote on the independent expert’s position, so even LGBTI-friendly countries cannot always be counted upon to do the right thing when we need them to.

Elections to the U.N. Human Rights Council will be held at the General Assembly next week.

Vitit Muntarbhorn

Vitit Muntarbhorn, the first UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Jean-Marc Ferré photo courtesy of the UN)

Vitit Muntarbhorn, the first UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Jean-Marc Ferré photo courtesy of the UN)

Many of us were saddened to hear the elementary work of the present Independent Expert, Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn, will be cut short because of the recent announcement he will resign from his position at the end of October because of family and health issues.

The position, although new and precarious, will need to be filled by someone who understands both the complexity of the U.N. systems and has a high level of experience internationally to ensure the work can be integrated to other U.N. priority concerns. Because LGBTI issues remain invisible in the Sustainable Development Goals, there will need to be some extra collaboration with other accountability mechanisms to ensure we are represented across these goals. The case still needs to be made to influential institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that LGBTI people are among the most marginalized and impoverished minorities on the planet.

For comparison, consider last year’s timely appointment of Cliff Cortez as the World Bank’s internal LGBTI expert. Cliff brings 20 years experience of working within the U.N. itself, so he knows how to get the attention of the economists and bureaucrats who are still not convinced we should even be at the conference table. Mr. Muntarbhorn’s successor will need the same respected credentials.

We have the next six years to make our case before the hawks circle again to try to jinx the post entirely. ISHR’s recent report on the difficulty and significance of this new appointment is expressed in their annual report:

“The first attacks came at the Human Rights Council in June. Unsuccessful there, negative forces regrouped to mount a campaign to discontinue the mandate at the Third Committee and the Plenary of the UN General Assembly in November and December. Defeated again, a last-ditch attempt was made on the eve of the new year to starve the mandate of resources through the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee.

“That the resolution was adopted, the mandate established and the resources allocated is a testament to the power of a positive vision, the principled leadership of a group of progressive Latin American States, and the careful documentation of LGBTI rights violations by Special Rapporteurs and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The victory owes most, however, to the bravery and tenacity of LGBTI rights activists worldwide and the unprecedented mobilization of more than 870 grass-roots NGO’s from 157 countries from every region of the world. ISHR, OutRight Action International, ILGA and ARC International played key roles in this mobilization and coordination of the landmark campaign in Geneva and New York.”

The countries standing for election are: Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, Congo, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar (represented, incidentally, by the only woman delegate who spoke at the meeting), Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, and Ukraine. You can read about the effects of LGBTI discrimination or progress in any of these countries through the Erasing 76 Crimes blog. There is also an excellent scorecard prepared by ISHR on the human rights records of these countries that you can read in more detail here.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is Executive Director of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation and is based in new York where he also serves an Episcopal Church congregation. You can read more about the work of the foundation and support its international work here.

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Public Advocacy in 2017

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           Millbrook at Home

http://www.millbrookathome.org/

Some of us may have seen FRONTLINE’s report on renowned New Yorker writer and Boston surgeon Atul Gawande as he explores the relationships doctors have with patients who are nearing the end of life. In conjunction with Gawande’s new book, “Being Mortal,” the film explores how the medical profession can better help people navigate the final chapters of their lives with confidence, direction and purpose.

This radically different approach to aging and caring for seniors has spawned a movement from its Boston roots.

In May, I hosted a meeting of the local Millbrook clergy (from St. Joseph’s, Lyall Memorial, Grace Church and St. Peter’s) to hear from one of these local all-volunteer organizations “Rhinebeck at Home” with a membership of 110 people,  committed to helping neighbors helping neighbors stay at home.

Our local clergy network wants to explore how this model might help the Millbrook area community plan ahead and our four local congregations might learn something from our friends in Rhinebeck.

We held a panel meeting on Thursday September 7th at Grace Church in Millbrook. Thirty people were able to hear from Nina Lynch and Anne Brueckner on how Rhinebeck at Home began and the kinds of services provided. A Steering Committee was formed and we are gathering information on existing resources and creating a short survey for the Town of Washington.

We have been invited to join Rhinebeck at Home on  on September 25th to watch their national annual meeting of the movement via teleconference with Atul Gawande as the keynote speaker. This is another opportunity to understand this emerging model and adapt it to local needs in the Millbrook community. Seats are limited so RSVP today to vicar@stpeterlithgow.org and arrange transportation.

What we can learn from the Aging-in-Place concept

Rhinebeck at Home joins over 200 existing “aging in place” villages and another 100+ villages that are in development. We are a part of the Village to Village Network (VtV), a national peer-to-peer network that helps establish and continuously improve management of villages, whether in large metropolitan areas, rural towns or suburban settings. The mission of VtV is to enable communities to establish and effectively manage aging in community organizations initiated and inspired by their members. Villages that are part of VtV are membership-driven, grass-roots organizations, and are typically run by some staff and many volunteers. To learn more about Village to Village, visit their website http://www.vtvnetwork.org.