Golden Halo Winner Inspires New Church Name

We love hearing stories about the ways Lent Madness makes a difference, and we have quite a story to share today. As you might have seen from coverage in Episcopal News Service, the Anglican Communion News Service, the Episcopal Cafe, or the Living Church, there's a new church in California. Two Episcopal congregations merged, and they wanted to begin their new life together under a new name.

Inspired by 2018 Golden Halo winner Anna Alexander, they have chosen to call themselves St. Anna's Episcopal Church. Here's the release their rector, the Rev. Jill Honodel, sent us. We at Lent Madness HQ pray that this new community has a flourishing ministry in which lives are transformed through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Antioch, California – Sunday, in a much-anticipated liturgy, the words of the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California, soared through the air, “It is my delight to authorize with the consent of the Standing Committee the organization of St. George’s and St. Alban’s into a new bishop’s congregation with the name of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church.”

St. Anna's signWith those words read by Canon to the Ordinary Abbott Bailey, the first Episcopal Church in the nation to be named after St. Anna Alexander was created. A community celebration is planned for July 21.

Anna Ellison Butler Alexander is a new saint in the Episcopal tradition whose Feast Day is on September 24th and will be included in the next edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. She came to the attention of St. George’s, Antioch, and St. Alban’s, Brentwood, during last year’s Lent Madness, Forward Movement’s version of March Madness with saints “competing” in the brackets. St. Anna “won” the Golden Halo, six months before General Convention reaffirmed her sainthood in July. Born shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Anna Alexander devoted her life to the service of others by providing much needed education and literacy to the children of those formerly enslaved. Despite the segregation of the Episcopal Church at the time, she became the first African American Deaconess in the Episcopal Church.

The new congregation has parishioners who hail directly from Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Korea, Mexico, Canada, Holland, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Bermuda and Ghana among others. The Rev. Jill Honodel, Long-Term Supply Priest said, “We were so inspired by Anna's story of the pouring out her life for the sake of those formerly enslaved; despite having little resources she managed over time to build a school as well as a church to help people succeed through literacy. Educational segregation exists right here in our neighborhood in that only 9% of the African American boys pass their math through high school. We are inspired by St. Anna to do our part so that as many people as possible have a chance to succeed and the opportunity for a good future.” When parishioner Betty Smith saw the saint’s photo on the front cover of Sunday’s bulletin, she said, “It was good to come to church this morning and to see a saint of the church that looks like me. I’m really thankful that God has given this to me in my time.”


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Holy Grounds Book Launch!

As everybody knows, Lent Madness goes together with coffee like…saints go together with brackets. Well, today is a big day, as it’s the official release day for Lent Madness creator Tim Schenck’s new book on coffee and faith!

In Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection between Coffee and Faith - From Dancing Goats to Satan’s Drink (Fortress Press), Tim serves up his usual dollop of wit with a side of inspiration. And, as it makes the perfect Lent gift for all your family and friends, we encourage the Lent Madness faithful to buy multiple copies for everyone on your Lent list this year. 

About the Book: 
If you like your coffee with a bit of inspiration, a hint of humor, and a dose of insight, you'll enjoy pouring a mug full of java and curling up with Holy Grounds. Popular author and avid coffee drinker Tim Schenck brews just the right blend of the personal and historical as he explores the sometimes amusing and often profound intersection between faith and coffee.

From the coffee bean's discovery by ninth-century Ethiopian Muslims to being condemned as “Satan's drink" by medieval Christians, to becoming an integral part of Passover in America, coffee has fueled prayer and shaped religious culture for generations.

In Holy Grounds, Schenck explores the relationship between coffee and religion, moving from faith-based legends that have become entwined with the history of coffee to personal narrative. He takes readers on a journey through coffee farms in Central America, a pilgrimage to Seattle, coffeehouses in Rome, and a monastic community in Pennsylvania.

Along the way, he examines the power of ritual, mocks bad church coffee, introduces readers to the patron saint of coffee, wonders about ethical considerations for today's faith-based coffee lovers, and explores lessons people of faith should learn from coffeehouse culture about building healthy, authentic community.

Still Not Convinced?
We get it. Don't listen to us. Listen to people whose opinion you might actually respect. Like these three amazing people who shockingly agreed to write back cover blurbs for Holy Grounds (we're pretty sure they really did read it first):

With deep research, a genuine love and devotion for the subject, and just enough of that characteristic snark to keep it funny, Schenck takes the novice and the aficionado alike on a coffee journey that will leave you craving not only coffee but the connections in community that have made its enjoyment so transformative for thousands of years.
-Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Episcopal Bishop of Indianapolis

Schenck teaches us about the justice and history and taste of coffee so we can taste the true gift of being alive in God's amazing creation. Buy the book, read it over a cup, and share your new appreciation of one of the oldest and most common beverages with a friend.
-Becca Stevens, Author of The Way of Tea and Justice & Founder of Thistle Farms

Holy Grounds goes down as smooth as a great cup of coffee should. A must-read for any over-caffeinated history lover!
  -Mokhtar Alkhanshali, The Monk of Mokha

Still Dubious?
Take advantage of Amazon's Look Inside feature to read a few sample pages. Then, if you're still not convinced this is the book for you, you can always go back to drinking bad coffee out of styrofoam cups in dimly lit church basements while reading back issues of no-longer-published church magazines.

About Tim:
Tim Schenck is an Episcopal priest, author of five books full of faith and humor, syndicated columnist, and creator of the popular online devotion Lent Madness. He serves as pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. When not tending to his congregation, writing, or drinking coffee (often simultaneously), Tim enjoys life with his wife, Bryna, two teenage sons and the family’s two dogs. Follow him on Twitter @FatherTim.

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