Mycroft Masada is a nonbinary trans and queer Jewish leader with 30 years of experience who moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland (Montgomery County near Washington DC) from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. A TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member, Mycroft is particularly called to pursue LGBTQ+ and fat justice, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are married to Julia McCrossin, the mas(s)culine fatshion blogger, and with her they co-parent a dogter. Their central online home is

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Anna Mollow's "Disability Studies Gets Fat"

Anna Mollow’s “Disability Studies Gets Fat” is in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy’s special issue on disability! Paid access only, but Anna has offered to e-mail the PDF upon request.

Julia and I were among those who gave feedback during the editing process; we’re acknowledged and J is quoted.

“This article invites disability scholars to “get fat,” that is, to support the goals of the fat justice movement.”

(This image isn't their current cover, but it is the one they're using as their primary image.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

NAACP walk & rally supporting Black life - Montgomery County MD

Today was the Montgomery County MD NAACP chapter's walk and rally in support of Black life in Rockville, organized with many partners, especially from the faith community.  We heard about it through our church, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Council.

Due to my head cold, we didn't do the walk, but we did make it to and through the rally, and I'm glad.  Two highlights were Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church* and Isaih "Ike" Leggett, our County Executive -- he shared his own experiences of racial profiling, which he did again in a meeting with reporters which made it into this Washington Post story.

We were also very glad to see some of our other local queer / trans / faith people there with us.  And this evening was the debrief dinner for the Montgomery County MD Transgender Day of Remembrance committee, of which we and some of our fellow rally attendees are members, so that worked out well.  *Cedar Lane was the host of this year's MoCo MD TDOR event, and Rev. Abhi spoke at that too.  


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Distressed lest we should slay

My partner Julia and I went to the first hour of this tonight with a friend -- we would have stayed longer, but it seemed designed for the super-able-bodied, and since I was the only one of our party who is, we were soon left far behind.  But we found a good spot to rest, and another to have dinner and talk, and then we saw our friend off to a meeting about their housing and went home.

See here for more events in Boston, the rest of MA, the DMV and elsewhere today --

Also -- being anti-racist, being for social justice, being intersectional, is being anti-fatphobic. Michael Brown and Eric Garner's fatness are being used to try to help justify their murders. And this is far from new, small, confined to the margins or the Right, or otherwise excusable. So if you get it, address it. And if you don't, educate yourself today.

Also also -- I hope that many will see how good this week’s Torah portion is for talking about racism, anti-racism and the rest of social justice, and do so.

Jacob is “terrified” and “anxious” as he prepares to meet his twin Esau; twenty years before, Jacob stole their father’s blessing and was sent by his mother to her brother as Esau vowed to kill him. B'reishit Rabbah 76:2 says: “R. Judah bar R. Ilai asked: Are not fear and distress identical? The meaning, however, is that ‘he was afraid’ lest he should be slain and ‘he was distressed’ lest he should slay. For he thought: If Esau proves stronger than I, he might slay me, and if I prove stronger than he, I might slay him.”

We must master our fear, and reconnect with our distress – we must acknowledge and address our privilege and oppression – or we will continue to steal from and slay our siblings, and support the system that does, and call it self-defense.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

National Day of Mourning / UnThanksgiving / Thanksgrieving

The plaque on Cole's Hill; cover photo of the UAINE NDOM Facebook event, posted by organizer Mahtowin Munro.

Let us keep it in our minds, our mouths, and our movements that today is also the National Day of Mourning / UnThanksgiving / Thanksgrieving.

I’ve always wanted to go to the observance in Plymouth MA and still intend to – the 45th annual, organized by United American Indians of New England (UAINE), begins now and also has a Facebook event; I’ve been to Plymouth twice, in the 90s, on a school field trip and as part of a team training state employees on trans issues.

And in this last week of both Native American Heritage and Trans Awareness Months, a week after Trans Day of Remembrance, I am especially mindful of all the Native people of this land and others murdered by colonizers because of their sex / gender / sexuality non-conformity; may their memories be a blessing.

Here is the story, "National Day of Mourning Reflects on Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History".

‪#‎NAHM‬  #‎TransMonth‬  #‎NDOM‬  #‎TDOR‬

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

Today is the 16th annual international Transgender Day of Remembrance (‪#‎TDOR‬) -- we remember those taken by anti-trans violence and transphobia through murder and suicide, the hundreds this past year and the thousands throughout history. We work to center trans women of color, who continue to be targeted in our communities and country and around the world. May their memories be a blessing, as we say in Judaism.

There are events in my old and new homes tonight, including Lowell MA, DC and Baltimore. TransFaith has resources including the TDOR Unite project. And Keshet has more Jewish resources than you can shake a yad at.

I feel like today's Google Doodle is also appropriate for ‪TDOR‬, especially from a faith-based perspective. Today is also Corita Kent's birthday, and here she says "To understand is to stand under which is to look up to, which is a good way to understand." I first became aware of her because my paternal grandmother / great-aunt was a fan -- my grandmother's sister adopted my father and his brothers when their parents died in the Cocoanut Grove fire, 72 years ago next Friday. And growing up in metro Boston we saw Corita's "Rainbow Swash" on the gas tank in Dorchester many times.

Monday, November 17, 2014

May Leslie Feinberg's memory be a blessing

I learned today that Leslie Feinberg passed on this past Saturday (the day of the Montgomery County MD Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014). Where to begin? I think I first became aware of her/hir as a high school senior -- her book "Stone Butch Blues" was published the year I formally came out as trans. And several years later I met hir, when she/zie came to speak at Arlington Street Church where I was on staff. May hir memory be a blessing (as we say in Judaism, and Leslie's Jewish identity is part of what zie means to me).  Here is her obituary in the Advocate, written by her wife Minnie Bruce Pratt.  This graphic is the Advocate's, from Facebook.

And at MoCo MD TDOR, we shared Leslie's words for the Chalice Lighting: "Why are we different? Why have we refused to walk one of two narrow paths, but instead demanded the right to blaze our own? The question is not why were we unwilling to conform even when being beaten to the ground by ridicule and brutality.The real burning question is: How did we ever find the courage? From what underground spring did we draw our pride? How did each of us make our way in life, without a single familiar star in the night sky to guide us, to this room where we have at last found others like ourselves? And after so much of ourselves has been injured, or left behind as expendable ballast, many of us worry 'What do we have left to give each other? Upon what basis will we build something lasting between us?' We have the whole world to give back to each other."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bead Society of Greater Washington’s Bead Bazaar

One of the good things about going to the Indian Health Service Powwow yesterday is that we realized that the Bead Society of Greater Washington’s Bead Bazaar was in the adjacent gym yesterday and today; I went the next, and purchased the pictured.

A mustard seed pendant in glass and gold-toned metal from Artistic Investments; fat goddess beads in light purple Czech glass with an iridescent finish from Spirit Inc. – who made and is holding the flabulous sign; and a glass bone bead that is actually much more milk-and-honey from Biz.e.beads; $3 each.  And I actually have no plans for the goddess beads yet -- so get your orders in now.  

I’ve wanted mustard seed jewelry for many years, and have missed my chance a few times – and this was actually the first time the seller had put her only one out for sale; I especially like the faith-based meanings, and am enjoying Plochman’s page about mustard in seven traditions

Reformation Project -- Regional Conference

I didn’t get to the rest of The Reformation Project’s Regional Conference (which also has a Facebook Community) here in DC this past Thursday through Saturday (November 6th through 8th), as perhaps I should have, but I’m glad I schlepped in to the Trans Caucus on Friday night.

We had more than a dozen people, trans and allied (and more in spirit who were double-booked), and spent four hours together -- at National City Christian Church and the nearby original Thai Tanic restaurant (I know!! Turns out Thai restaurants with punny names are a thing here) -- facilitated by TransFaith's executive director Chris Paige.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Indian Health Service Powwow in Gaithersburg MD

November is also ‘American Indian & Alaskan Native Heritage Month’! 

And we were privileged to attend the 3rd annual Indian Health Service Employee Association Powwow right here in our town today, organized by the IHS' EA with Gaithersburg's Multicultural Affairs Committee.  Here is the city's October 21st press release.  

We had ‘Indian Tacos’ with everything, and meant to have wajopi for dessert; and I got these earrings from Native Spirit Jewelry (also on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram).  They're opal / turquoise / bronze, bears are 13 x 10mm; and they're even prettier in person. And the seller included a note: “The Bear is one of the most powerful and frequently appearing characters in Native American stories. The Bear is associated with the POWER to HEAL and STRENGTH in the face of adversity.”. (And I wanted to get a few of their small stud earrings – one or more semi-precious stones in silver or gold settings.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day 2014

We were Election Judges for the second time today -- as on primary day in June, I was at Asbury Methodist Village (a retirement "campus" so large, at a few thousand residents, that it is its own precinct) and Julia was at Gaithersburg High School (her alma mater -- although like mine, Newton North, the building has been recently replaced).  And this time I also worked two days of the early voting week at the Germantown Rec Center

(I never heard anything about working for the BOE back in MA -- it seemed like it was just automagically handled by the police and senior citizens.)

And again one of the highlights was that one my bosses was a gay man with a trans nephew who used to be very active in the Episcopal Church.  Also, I saw some people from our primary church (Episcopal Church of the Ascension) and my temp gig at the Census' 2014 Site Test this summer and early fall. 

My voting while trans went well, here in my new home state of MD (old one is MA) -- largely due to my geographical and other privileges. Though as an Election Judge, I did have a lot of contestants for Guess My Gender and the other game shows I host. Alas, I don't think that the great majority guessed right, but that's probably because they had the wrong version of the rules, where there are only two possible guesses.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

GLAAD's Spirit Day

It’s GLAAD's Spirit Day – use purple to support LGBT youth, and see Equality Maryland's purple plan at #SpiritDay 2014: Take a Stand Against LGBT Bullying.

There are some faith-based versions of this graphic as well, and they’ve been taking suggestions for more – I suggested “I’m interfaith and against bullying” (and I am). And the Religious Institute is doing a ‪#‎FaithfulPurple‬ campaign. ‪

I'm also for anti-bullying work becoming intersectional with fat justice -- contrary to popular and governmental belief, neither LGBTQ et al youth nor anyone else should have to be, try to be, or want to be thin to deserve not to be bullied.

And I'm for talking more about how “bullying” is abuse and oppression – and how abuse and oppression are each other. And I say this as a survivor myself.  #SpiritDay

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fairness For All Marylanders Act officially effective today!

TODAY the Fairness For All Marylanders Act officially goes into effect! It updates MD’s anti-discrimination laws to include transgender people. And you can celebrate with Equality Maryland at the next Fairness for All Marylanders Act Celebration next Wednesday the 8th. We’ll be out of town, but we went to the celebration in Frederick and enjoyed. And we are proud that we could play a small role in the passage of this legislation -- and look forward to our role in its implementation. ‪

Learn more about what the law means for transgender Marylanders in this "Know Your Rights" guide from Equality Maryland and FreeState Legal Project.

One of the best parts of my day was that a fellow Marylander came out to me as trans -- and I was able to tell them that they would still have statewide civil rights if they decided to come out further.

#‎FAMA14‬ ‪ #‎StandForFairness

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shana tova 5775!!!

Shana tova 5775!!! 

May this be your sweetest year yet -- and may you make the world sweeter for all living things, including those not yet born.

For the beginning of our first high holiydays living together, we visited the Interfaith Families Project (IFFP) for the first time, attending their Erev Rosh Hashanah service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring (MD), and we intend to return to them tomorrow morning. And while I was at work, my sweetie shopped for sweets for us at Dawson's Market (Rockville MD), and after I got out, we had a New Year’s Eve dinner date at Jewel Of India (also of Silver Spring; don’t be fooled by the exterior – they aren’t kidding about the "jewel", in any sense). 


Happy 5775!! 

Here we are in some of our Rosh Hashtylishness (tallit from Boomerangs, pendant by Artemisia Studio / Emanda Johnson of Etsy, earrings by me with beads from Arya’s Trinkets of Etsy).

We did indeed return to Interfaith Families Project for their RH morning services (at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring) -- where we got to connect with their Rev. Julia Jarvis, who is also part of the Montgomery County Transgender Day of Remembrance planning process -- then returned home to lunch on matzo ball soup and challah from Dawson's Market (and made by them in-house). Then on to Clopper Lake at Seneca Creek State Park for our own Tashlich for two -- we didn’t bring Ursula, the Pugston Terrier because she is still in therapy about our feeding bread to a duck instead of her a year ago (despite my repeated explanations that however valid her anger may be, it is not what is meant by “gluten intolerance”). And then my oh so shiksappealing one made kugel for the first time (I never have either, but my late shiksa mother did) and it was amazingly yummy. And we do have apples and honey and more.
I do miss Congregation Am Tikva -- the people, our machzorim and melodies, our shofar blowers in all the corners of the room and their competition to hold the last note longest, the superb sweet breads made by our prez’s mother, Tashlich at the Charles River… -- but I look forward to hearing about their hi hols.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Open Door Metropolitan Community Church's Cabaret & Open Mic

We very much enjoyed spending our havadalah at Open Door Metropolitan Community Church's Cabaret & Open Mic tonight (Boyds MD).

We've been to Open Door before -- for an Equality Maryland training for the Fairness For All Marylanders Act (#FAMA, the statewide trans equal rights bill, which has since passed into law and goes into effect on October 1st), some services, and the Maryland Trans*Unity picnic.  And we've been otherwise connecting with their Rev. Miller Hoffman, including serving with him on the Montgomery County Transgender Day of Remembrance event planning committee.  That's him in the graphic, actually, taken from a photo.  
And we won our table's centerpiece in the raffle.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dim sum with the DMV Fat-Friendly Community

Had a great time today at Dim Sum Saturday! at the Hollywood East Cafe (Wheaton MD) with the DMV Fat-Friendly Community -- as in DC / MD / VA -- which my Julia founded.  My first time doing something in person with the DMV FFC, as well as my first visit to the Café. There were 9 of us around the table, and more than 60 others in the Facebook Group. There have been and will be other field trips, and some of us are planning on doing some intersectional fat activism together as well. So if you’re fat-friendly and in the DMV, or know someone who is, why not say hello? And special thanks to the member who really made today's yum happen

Friday, August 8, 2014

Flamingo Rampant's Book Club -- LGBTQ+-themed kids' books

Shabbat shalom!!

Through this coming Monday August 11th, Flamingo Rampant is Kickstarting a new project -- a Book Club of 6 new "empowering, celebratory LGBTQ2S-themed kids' picture books for 4-8 year olds, delivered right to your home or school every other month"-- for which they are seeking subscriptions.

FR apologizes that they couldn't get the above video properly subtitled -- click here for a subtitled version.

And when I commented “Wow. And mazel tov. Is this fat-positive / body-diverse / fat-justicey...?” on the Club's Facebook event page, S. Bear Bergman's rare and beautiful reply was “@Mycroft, the books will definitely, absolutely be body-diverse in terms of illustrations - fat people, people who use mobility and adaptive technology, and we'll see at least one person using sign language as well. Also, these people will be wearing cute clothes and doing fun things with their partners and families, not just stuck in a corner in a muumuu. There's not currently a specific body justice storyline planned for the first season, however, which I mention to be sure that no one has expectations we can't support.”

Also, Keshet interviewed Bear about the project.

We really need to teach our dogter Ursula to read!

Friday, August 1, 2014

My new business cards have arrived!

I made myself new biz cards, and they arrived today!  And are as they should be, yay.  I stuck with VistaPrint, and took advantage of their semi-annual sale -- though they are pretty much always having a good sale.  Here is the winning design and the other 10 finalists, chosen from VP’s 4700+ designs (!) -- which are all still so tempting that I rather wish I could do an assortment.  Although too, I could and maybe should have used my own design, including a photo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ATFA / MARTI / Rumi Forum Friendship Dinner in Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarek!

Tonight we joined the Episcopal Church of the Ascension field trip to the local chapters of ATFA (American Turkish Friendship Association, formerly MARTI, Maryland Turkish American Inhabitants) and Rumi Forum for a Friendship Dinner.  Teşekkür ederim!! 

We were early and so ended up at the Christ Episcopal Church of Rockville table with their priest and members – we haven’t visited them yet, but we did visit their thrift shop The Bargain Box for the first time last week and two of our dinner companions volunteer there. The Ascension table had our priest and members we haven’t met yet because they attend service at different times than we do.

Here is the invite:

“Friendship Dinner with Ascension in Ramadan
Wednesday, July 23rd, at 8:15 p.m. by ATFA MD (MARTI) and RUMI Forum MD.
I am delighted to invite you to share the joy of a Friendship Dinner during Ramadan. We will celebrate these dinners every night from June 28th to July 27th. You may attend at our Rockville location: 230 N. Washington St on Wednesday, July 23.

The Friendship Dinner Program starts with introductions at 8:15 p.m., followed by a dinner of excellent Turkish cuisine at sunset, and a short presentation about Turkish Culture, Rumi Forum & Atfa MD. The evening concludes with traditional Turkish tea and dessert to accompany continued conversations, and it ends at approximately 9:45 p.m. Please let Randy know if you are coming.

—Murat Ozbas, President ATFA MD (MARTI)”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mycroft Masada ~ MasadArts ~ my artwork

It’s Chrismahanukwansolsticetc-In-July here at MasadArts!  At least in the art department.  Yes, I’ve finally updated my artwork portfolio.  Now with 46 photos.  Enjoy, Like / +1, comment, share, shop, etc.  

This is just some of my artwork -- and so far just stationery, but photos of my jewelry and more are coming soon.  It's all mostly handmade, and mostly made of vintage / recycled / found / thrifted / gifted / reclaimed etc. materials. 

I have many supplies and ideas, and access to many more -- and I do personalizations, customizations, commissions etc.

Here is a slideshow -- but be sure to click through to Picasa Web Albums for the best view.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Transgender Lobby Day 2014

Best wishes to everyone gathering here in DC for Transgender Lobby Day -- and everyone who wishes they were!

TLD begins today with an optional reception and continues through Tuesday, and is a project of National Center for Transgender Equality, Trans People of Color Coalition, Translatin@ Coalition, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG National, Black Transmen, Inc., and Black Transwomen, Inc.

“Q: I cannot attend this lobby day. How else can I help?

A: We recognize that there are many people who are excited to make an impact but can't take the time away from home or work to attend our Lobby Day. The most important thing is that your members of Congress know that transgender people urgently need strong and clear job protections at the federal level. We urge you to set up a meeting with your members of Congress while they are back home during recess between Monday, August 4th and Friday, September 5th. Use our "Make Your Voice Heard" resource to learn more about how to schedule and prepare for your meeting.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shira Glassman's "Climbing The Date Palm” includes a fat main character

Yasher koach to my friend and fellow fat-appreciative writer Shira Glassman, who was asked to write about why the romantic lead in her novel “Climbing The Date Palm” is fat, and did so, for Mama Kitty Reviews.

"Ultimately, the most important reason Farzin is fat is because fat people deserve love. There are millions of people out there who are not a size small and it can’t possibly be fun to read book after book and watch movie after movie in which only skinny people ever find true love, and fat people are either villains, sassy sidekicks, or the butt of jokes."

"Climbing The Date Palm" is the second book in Shira's 'Mangoverse' fantasy fiction series, which centers Judaism, queerness, feminism, and dragons; the first is "The Second Mango".  "Mango" is available from Prizm Books (e-book) and Amazon (Kindle and paperback); "Date Palm" is available from Prizm and Amazon as an e-book, and will be available in paperback by the end of the month -- and the paperback can now be pre-ordered from Wild Iris Books (which also still has hard copies of "TSM", including autographed ones).  Book three is "A Harvest Of Ripe Figs", which will be published by Prizm on January 21st.

And all three books include other fat / bellied / not-thin / ... characters.      

Shira can be found on FacebookWordpress, and Tumblr.

Here are two pieces of Kaveh / Farzin art by Becca Schauer (the second is so squeeworthy that I can't even):

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fat Activism Conference : Tools For The Revolution

Friday August 22nd through Sunday August 24th is Fat Activism Conference : Tools For The Revolution! 

Virtual – access live or recorded by phone or computer; some workshops will be more interactive and/or have handouts. Only $39 or pay what you can.  

The website is  There is also an Open-Invite Facebook event at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Election Judgement Day

Today Julia and I were Election Judges for the first time, for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

I had an very unusually interesting and cushy assignment at Asbury Methodist Village – it’s an unbelievably big and amenitied retirement campus, but only the residents were voting there, and even they had particularly low turnout this election (though still relatively high); too, I was a Line Manager, and there was no line. I had a good and distinctive experience. For example, how often do you get to chat with someone who gave a lecture at their retirement community because they worked on the Nuremburg trials? Also, one of my bosses was a gay person with a trans relative who used to be very active in the Episcopal Church, including the LGBT-inclusion process.

Poor J had a much longer and harder gig at a school, but she did really well and also enjoyed herself.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Solstice, havdalah, and other seasons and separations

Summer solstice, havdalah (separation), and the end of A Season of Service and Celebration in honor of Bishop Shaw.

My bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE (Society of Saint John the Evangelist), of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, is retiring this year. An openly gay man, he has been a truly powerful ally for transgender social justice, including supporting MA’s passed Trans Equal Rights Law and current Trans Equal Access Bill, and hosting the Boston Trans Day of Remembrance at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul.

I also pray for Bishop Tom's healing -- he has been undergoing treatment for brain cancer since his diagnosis last May.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Queering Fat Embodiment #QFE

TODAY at 4:00 EST -- the global book launch of Queering Fat Embodiment, edited by Cat PauséJackie Wykes, and Sam Murray; part of Ashgate Publishing's Queer Interventions series.  #QFE

Facebook event text:

"Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes, and Sam Murray are excited to announce the publication of our edited book, Queering Fat Embodiment, as part of Ashgate’s Queer Interventions series.


A global book launch will be held on Google Hangouts at the following local times:

Friday 20 June, 2014:
Singapore 4 am
Melbourne 6 am
Auckland 8 am

Thursday 19 June, 2014:
San Francisco 1 pm
Dallas 3 pm
Toronto 4 pm
New York 4 pm
London 9 pm

The link for the event is:


Shedding light on the ways in which fat embodiment is lived, experienced, regulated and (re)produced across a range of cultural sites and contexts, Queering Fat Embodiment destabilises established ideas about fat bodies, making explicit the intersectionality of fat identities. It represents a paradigm shift within fat studies, challenging the field of study which has primarily reproduced a white, able-bodied, heteronormative subjectivity in its analyses.

Contributing authors include Katie LeBesco, Robyn Longhurst, Jenny Lee, Margitte Kristjansson, Stefanie Jones, Kimberly Dark, Zoë Meleo-Erwin, James Burford, Sam Orchard, and Scott Beattie. This text is a must have for anyone interested in fat studies, fat politics, queer theory, and embodiment.


The editors will be conducting a social media book tour.
If you would like a guest post, excerpt, interview, live reading, or something else, please let
us know by completing this form:

Please use the tag #QFE when referencing the book on social media.


Queering Fat Embodiment is available in hard cover and e-book formats and can be purchased directly from Ashgate ( – online orders automatically receive a 10% discount), as well as Amazon, Book Depository, and other outlets.

Journalists and academics may request a review copy from the publisher via Debbie Fattore ("

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thanks for the memories and more, Saint John's

Well, this is bittersweet, to say the least. Saint John the Evangelist of Boston (Bowdoin Street) is merging into St. Paul's Cathedral, Boston and eventually their building will be sold.

This Saint John’s is where BAGLY (Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth) has lived by far the longest, including during my time as a youth member (1993-9) and later as Office Manager (2000ish), and at least two of their leaders became also ours. They hosted at least one Boston Trans Day of Remembrance, and they’ve been the longtime home of Dignity Boston (local chapter of Dignity USA, GLBT Catholics and allies). Saint J’s was a significant part of my eventual realization that I had a home and a calling in The Episcopal Church, and where I first met other openly trans youth and adults. I regret that I didn’t return to St. J’s after BAGLY moved out – I meant to attend services at least once, and bring J. I will send them a note.

Among many other things, I remember our meetings in their plain parish hall -- which looked pleasantly like a indoor swimming pool room when it was redone -- and the lovely little medievally chapel off of it with the names of their departed on the walls, and sometimes in the Victorianish sitting rooms upstairs; looking at the pretty little garden in their courtyard (we weren’t allowed into it, and I don’t blame them); preparing our Erev Thanksgiving dinners in their kitchen; the way the church looked like a little castle just stuck in the middle of a ye olde Beacon Hill brownstoney street, especially when we hung out in the government buildings' courtyard across the street; and of course the Saint John’s community celebrating outside, banner and all, as I marched by on Youth Pride Days. And being aware of it there behind the Statehouse as I lobbied for queer youth and trans equal rights legislation.
At the Cathedral Church of St. Paul a few weeks ago, on the second Sunday of Easter, the procession into church took longer than usual to get where it was going. 

Rather than the altar party following the crucifer down the central aisle from the back of the church, with people in the pews looking on over their hymnals, the entire congregation instead headed outdoors and made the uphill climb along the Park Street side of Boston Common toward the State House, took a right, and then a left, and continued down Bowdoin Street to the Church of St. John the Evangelist, its new temporary church home. 

Roy GoodwinThe Very Rev. Jep Streit and cathedral congregation process to St. John'sROY GOODWINThe Very Rev. Jep Streit and cathedral congregation process to St. John'sThe congregations of the two churches have officially merged into one and will continue worshiping at St. John's until major renovations now underway at the cathedral are finished.  The merged congregation will then return permanently to its renewed home at the cathedral.  The St. John's church building on Bowdoin Street is being put up for sale to help pay for the renovations.

Though the two churches are within walking distance of each other, they are, when it comes to their congregations' worship styles, pretty far apart.  Liturgy at St. John's represents high Anglo-Catholic tradition; much is sung, and a measure of polish and predictability comes with the adoration and incense.  At the cathedral church, where there is a tradition of prophetic preaching, services are typically less practiced and entirely broad in their embrace of variety--a style that one observer recently described as a "both-and-and approach."

So the remarkable thing on that second Sunday of Easter when the two congregations came together was that the service was, in a word, unremarkable.

"It just seemed like a normal thing," said the Very Rev. Jep Streit, the cathedral's dean, "although, I'll confess, it probably felt a little more normal to the people from St. John's than it did to us.  But it felt right, something that we're going to continue to grow into and build on," Streit said.

Roy GoodwinProcessing to St. John'sROY GOODWINProcessing to St. John'sIn a sermon preached early last year, as the congregations were in the process of voting for the merger, the Rev. Steven Bonsey, the cathedral's former canon pastor, said the merger was not unlike a marriage of convenience.

"On our side, we have committed ourselves to a major renovation, but we don't have nearly enough money to accomplish it.  On their side, they have struggled for years with a declining membership and financial base.  We are getting married because we need each other.  We have a stable community and a viable infrastructure; they have a building that might be sold to finance our renovations," Bonsey said.

It was not a bad thing, he said, if there was little romance involved "because what this merger will need, if it goes forward, is not romance, but love:  gritty, deep, determined, selfless, persevering, messy, brave, reconciling, joyous love," the kind of love, he went on to say, that the cathedral's patron saint described to the Corinthians:  Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

"That is to say, Christian love, love that makes possible the great mystery of two becoming one," Bonsey said.

At least one thing that these two churches have in common is that each started out as something else. 

The Church of St. John the EvangelistThe Church of St. John the EvangelistThe Church of St. John the Evangelist didn't begin as a parish of the diocese and only officially became one in 1985.  For a century prior, it was a mission church of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, founded as such in 1883--just a little over a decade after the society's arrival in America from England.  It served, among others, the poor and unemployed in Boston's West End.  (Before that, the gothic-style stone building on Bowdoin Street, built in 1831 as a Congregational church, was home to the Church of the Advent, now on Brimmer Street.) 

For its part, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul wasn't built as a cathedral.  Its founders wanted to establish a wholly American Episcopal parish, the other Boston parishes having originated from the Church of England.  They commissioned a church to be built on Tremont Street in the style of a Greek temple in honor of the democratic ideals of the new nation.  It was consecrated in 1820 as St. Paul's Church.  It was not until 1912 that Bishop William Lawrence, envisioning "a house of prayer for all,"  named it the diocese's cathedral church and put the bishop's seat there. 

The current merger, closure and sale, refurbishment and hoped-for renewal between these two churches is happening on the watch of a monk bishop uniquely connected to both places through his religious community and his episcopate.

"I have to think the Holy Spirit is involved in this," the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE said as he recalled how he wasn't immediately fond of either place upon arrival--neither at St. John's as an SSJE novice back in 1975 nor at the cathedral church when he became bishop of the diocese in 1995.

His appreciation for each has grown over time, he said, just as the potential fruits of the cathedral-St. John's merger will need time to develop.

"We always want it all revealed way too soon, before we've lived it.  This is a mystery.  We don't know what God is looking for in this yet," Shaw said.

The Cathedral Church of St. PaulThe Cathedral Church of St. Paul"One of the real gifts the cathedral has given to me has been faithfulness about bringing all kinds of people together, and that's something that's an important example for all of us.  With St. John's, there has been a kind of witness about the place that worship plays in our lives, how it feeds us for everything else.  I think we should look at what we're being offered through this merger as an opportunity to do things differently.  It's an exciting time to be part of the church," Shaw said.

It's possible to believe that, he said, even though membership decline is a reality for all mainline Christian denominations.

"We know that God is calling us into change.  We know that's true for us in the Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of Massachusetts.  The change we're being called into, it's often pretty hard.  We need to be able to say to each other:  Nothing may be the same as it was before, but everyone is going to be included.  It's openness in our prayer and to one another that helps us move into the larger vision that God is always calling us into," he said.

That, and some practicality, too.

"We have way too many buildings.  That needs to be said over and over again.  Whenever the church gives up a building, even if it's a building built for another situation or time, it's seen by some as giving in.  But what we're giving in to, at least in this case, is new possibility," Shaw said.

"We're all gaining," the Rev. Canon Katharine Black, priest-in charge at St. John's and now canon for liturgies at the cathedral, said of the merger.  "We've not yet dealt with saying goodbye to Bowdoin Street and that will be a sadness, but there is also the positive nature of new life that we had not anticipated.  I think this is a story about extraordinary providence."

Ann Page Stecker, a St. John's vestry member who serves on the joint council for the merger, recalled that back in November 2012, when the merger idea was proposed, "We would have been, in another year or two, handing the keys to the bishop.  We didn't have enough to sustain ourselves.  There was within the vestry an almost immediate and unanimous sigh of relief and an idea that we could look ahead.  It seemed to me this was such an opportunity for our parish to not die on the vine but be able to return, in new company, to our social mission, which we had practically had to abandon."

Even though St. John's was agreeing to give up its building, and its small congregation (about 25 on an average Sunday) would be joining a larger configuration at the cathedral, it still felt from the beginning like a merger and not an acquisition, Stecker said. 

"I've been attracted to the thorough nature of the process and the pastoral way in which our friends at St. Paul's have looked at what we're losing.  We also understand they are losing their worship space for a year, and when we return, it's going to be different.  Beautiful, but different," she said.

Matthew CavanaughThe view from the Cathedral choir loft.MATTHEW CAVANAUGHThe view from the Cathedral choir loft.The Cathedral Church of St. Paul is home to the varied worship life of Sunday English and Chinese-speaking congregations; a young adult community, The Crossing, which worships on Thursdays; and guests of the weekly lunch program, many of whom are homeless, who worship on Mondays, as well as a Muslim congregation numbering several hundred who pray at the cathedral on Fridays. 

"Our building is not as welcoming as the people who gather in it," cathedral dean Jep Streit said of the need for renovations, citing a litany of the building's impediments: "Our front is intimidating; the interior feels dim; there's no flexibility in how we can use the space; our heating system is the most expensive and inefficient, with the largest carbon footprint possible; and our tiny, claustrophobic lift is technically legal but morally bankrupt, in that anyone who has difficulty with stairs is made to feel unwelcome.

"I  believe Episcopalians in the diocese are proud of the ministry and witness the cathedral makes, and I want them to be proud of our building as well," Streit said. 

The architect's rendering of the renovated cathedralThe architect's rendering of the renovated cathedralSoon after services on Easter Day, the furniture and liturgical appointments went into storage, and crews dismantled and sealed off the organ and its pipes.  Workers are removing the box pews, for good, and demolition is underway to make way for a glass elevator so that all levels of the building will be fully handicapped accessible; an energy-efficient heating and ventilation system; a skylight, LED lighting and chandeliers to brighten the sanctuary; new glass doorways and a new glass-enclosed chapel. 

A labyrinth will be incorporated into the cathedral's new floor, as will tiles engraved with the names and founding dates of all the parishes of the diocese since the cathedral's founding (including those that have closed).

There will also be improvements to Sproat Hall in the lower level, including new bathrooms relocated to the front of the building where they will be accessible and easy to find.

The renovations, by Delphi Construction of Waltham, are expected to take 10-12 months and will cost about $9 million, according to Streit.  The project received $4 million from the diocese's Together Now fundraising campaign.  Streit said the intention is to make up the gap through the sale of the St. John's property, being marketed by Jones Lang LaSalle, and, if necessary, some combination of endowment funds or other fundraising.

The project's architect, Brett Donham, a principal of the firm Donham & Sweeney, said one of the biggest challenges has been "to meet as many of the needs and desires of different constituencies as possible--and I think we have done that--without losing a sense of a unified vision for the building."

Roy GoodwinThe renovation process begins.ROY GOODWINThe renovation process begins.A key request from the building committee, he said, was "to make the building function better, particularly in terms of flexibility required by different activities that take place here, from a small service on a Thursday night all the way up to a Diocesan Convention."  Part of the solution was to replace the front-facing box pews with chairs that can be configured around a centrally positioned altar. 

"Episcopalians are a little like mercury.  You put them in a room and they go to the far corners," Donham said.  He and his firm are experienced with church renovation projects and how physical space informs people's worship experience.  

"I believe very strongly in the importance of worshiping in community," he said.  "It is a big space, so the patterning of the seating and the concentration of light in the middle over an altar will enable people to bond around the worship experience in a way that they won't scattered throughout directional pews."

Roy GoodwinThe black madonna from St. John'sROY GOODWINThe black madonna from St. John's(The hardwood moldings from the old box pews will be reused as stair railings, Streit said.  The boxes themselves are not original to the building and not made of high quality wood.  "Still, they're precious to those who have prayed in them for decades, so I've asked the crew to see if there's some respectful way to repurpose the wood in another project," he said.)

Incorporating glass into the Tremont Street-facing front was a way "to make the many ministries that take place here visible to the wider world," Donham said.

The new glass-enclosed chapel will enhance that visibility, and it will extend St. John's presence into the new space.  It will be named the St. John the Evangelist Chapel and will incorporate the black madonna sculpture from Bowdoin Street that Bishop Shaw spent many hours praying with as a novice there.

"People on the outside can look in and see that this is a church and not a bank," the Rev. Canon Katharine Black said.

"And we can look out and see the world that God is calling us into," Streit added.

--Tracy J. Sukraw
While the Cathedral Church of St. Paul is closed for renovations, Sunday services are at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Church of St. John the Evangelist (35 Bowdoin Street) in Boston.  St. John's is also hosting the MANNA/Monday Lunch program.  The Chinese congregation will continue to worship on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Room at 138 Tremont Street.  The Crossing will meet on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Lawrence Room until its summer house-church break in August, after which it will begin meeting on Bowdoin Street.  The Muslim congregation is praying at the Paulist Center on Park Street during the renovations.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Trinity Sunday & Fathers Day

Trinity Sunday and Fathers Day at Episcopal Church of the Ascension. I’m thinking especially about how the Trinity can help us better understand and share the Good News of sex/gender/sexuality and other diversity, including body size/shape diversity. We heard Genesis 1:1-2:4a, in which I believe the Divine creates a sex/gender/otherwise-diverse humanity (

And I learned a hymn that is helpful as well, in thinking and teaching outside the binaries – Brian Wren’s “How Wonderful The Three-In-One”:

How wonderful the Three-in-One,
Whose energies of dancing light
Are undivided, pure and good,
Communing love in shared delight.

Before the flow of dawn and dark,
Creation's Lover dreamed of earth,
And with a caring deep and wise,
All things conceived and brought to birth.

The Lover's own Belov'd, in time,
Between a cradle and a cross,
At home in flesh, gave love and life
To heal our brokenness and loss.

Their Equal Friend all life sustains
With greening pow'r and loving care,
And calls us, born again by grace,
In Love's communing life to share.

How wonderful the Living God:
Divine Beloved, Empow'ring Friend,
Eternal Lover, Three-in-One,
Our hope's beginning, way and end.