A Holy Lent for Veterans

Dear EVF Friends,
On Thursday I will be heading off to Virginia Theological Seminary and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Burke, VA to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and further the cause of the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship. It is amazing to see what has happened in the last three years with EVF. I have been blessed by your stories, your reflections, and your dreams for more healing and hope in our community. Please pray for me as I share Your work with others who have not yet heard about us. This past Sunday I was at St. Julian’s of Norwich in Austin to share our story, too. If your parish would like to have me come and talk about our work, please contact me. There are also other veterans in our network who are able to travel and share our story.

Today, Army veteran and journalist Kristine Shevory and I presented a veterans writing workshop proposal to The University of Texas System Veterans Affairs Winter Symposium. This is a meeting of all the veterans personnel from all of the UT campuses in their system. I’m excited about the possibilities for emerging narratives and healing. We had such a good response from the leadership and I can’t wait to see the results of this work. I was especially hopeful because these groups will be for Everyone: students, faculty, staff. The steam plant worker and the English professor–all veterans and learning to share their experience.

If you’re building your Ash Wednesday Playlist, click here for a song I wrote about a veteran with Moral Injury for Ash Wednesday. Feel free to use it and if anyone wants to cover it, please do!

Click here for an article about veterans suffering during Lent. Check it out and share it on Social Media. I’m thankful for the Living Church promoting our work. Help the article move along by emailing it and sharing.

Click here for a fantastic video about the veteran’s ministry in West Texas.

Check out the EVF Facebook page for more information about Everything. “Like” us for continued updates.

Our next meeting in Austin is 14 March. Other meetings are happening here.

David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

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EVF Mission Brief

Dear EVF Friends,

We had a fantastic time at the 168th Council of the Diocese of Texas.

Lynn, Bob, and I personed the booth and had so many amazing conversations. We heard stories of war and homecoming, love and loss, joy and sorrow. It was so good to be there representing all you have done to build this community. Susan and Karen will have a booth at the Diocese of West Texas’ council. If you would like booth materials (flag, banner, brochures) for an event please let me know.

Our next meeting in Austin is on 14 March 1845 at St. Davids. We’ll be going out to share water, snacks, and prayer with our homeless neighbors. It’s always an adventure so please come out. Bring a gallon of water in your pack and some snacks to share. I’m working on ordering some lip balm from Thistle Farms. They do great healing work and I am learning from their ministry.

Stay tuned for other meetings and time changes. Due to Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, there may be some adjustments.

Please pray for me as I meet with all the veterans representatives from the UT University System on March 28th. General Cucolo (Ret) is working with us on starting veteran writing groups at each of their system universities. Many of you have been part of these groups and have found them to be beneficial.

Immediately following Ash Wednesday, I’ll be heading to Virginia Theological Seminary for a book signing and then I’ll be preaching at St. Andrews in Burke, VA and signing more books. I wrote this book to equip churches for veterans ministry. If you’ve read Post-Traumatic God, would you consider dropping a short review on Amazon? Click here. It will help the book move into the world.

Pax,

David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

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EVF Mission Brief (Meetings all over and in Austin)

Dear EVF Friends,

All are welcome to join us on Tuesday evening at 1845 at St. David’s as we conduct a “Cape Patrol” in Downtown Austin. Just as St. Martin, the patron of veterans, cut his cape in half to warm a cold homeless person, so we will be handing out cups of water and snacks, as well as offer prayers for our homeless neighbors. We did this two weeks ago and it was a great experience for all involved. Bring snacks and a gallon or two of water. A backpack. Wear your EVF t-shirt or let me know if you don’t have one yet so I can bring one for you.

Thanks to all who came out to our Four Chaplains Commemoration last Wednesday. It was great to see you all and to share in their story.

Please pray for me as I share the mission of the EVF with the Diocese of Texas Diocesan Council in Galveston. So many folks don’t know about us, so this is a way to bring more veterans and parishes into our community. We have an awesome banner. I’ll post a pic of our booth after Lynn and I set it up.

If you’re in the Galveston area, stop by the booth!

Lots of other meetings going on around the area. We give thanks for the Georgetown/Round Rock group that finished up a four week Art Workshop with Elizabeth Decker! I can’t wait to see their work displayed.

Pax,

David+

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Four Chaplains this Wednesday!

Dear EVF Friends,

This Wednesday night veterans and Christians will gather in Grace Chapel at St. Mark’s, Austin for a Commemoration of the Four Chaplains. This is an early story of interfaith cooperation and love–a story that is very timely for our day. Come and hear the story of these four people and find inspiration to follow God in times of conflict. 6pm, St. Mark’s Austin, 2128 Barton Hills Drive, Austin TX 78704. Cookie Reception to Follow. EVF members are encouraged to wear their EVF T-Shirts. If you don’t have one, I have 2 boxes in my office so arrive early and suit up. Sign up here on Facebook and SHARE this.


If you’re in the Austin area on Feb 7th, join with us as we share water, prayer, and snacks with our homeless neighbors in the example of St. Martin of Tours, Patron Saint of Veterans. Wear the EVF t-shirt and bring a gallon of water and some snacks to share. We always pray Compline together in the Chapel. Meet at St. David’s Austin at 1845-1900.

Pax,

David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

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Meetings this week!

Dear EVF Friends,

Click on this link for this week’s meetings around the Nation

Our next Austin EVF meeting will be on January 24th, Tuesday night, 1800. We will pray and serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Come and give the gift of love.

There’s still time to make a contribution to Bicycling Veterans in West Virginia: Fr. Chip Graves, Rector of Trinity Church in Huntington, WV shared a story about a parishioner, Jeff Collins, who is rebuilding bicycles for veterans in his community. If you would like to send a financial gift his way, please mail it to Fr. Chip Graves, Trinity Episcopal Church 520 11th St Huntington, WV 25701. Please mark on the check that it is for Jeff’s Bicycle Ministry. You can also send $ to me via Paypal (see website) or give me the check and I’ll mail all of them to Fr. Chip.

Join me on Thursdays!
Every Thursday I’m up at 0500 to run at 0600 with Team RWB. If you would like to be part of this run, come on out. Contact me for more details about where we meet. Team Red White and Blue is my favorite veterans community.

Put this on your Calendar, or plan one at your own Parish Church:
On Feb 1st, we will hold a Commemoration for the Four Chaplains at St. Mark’s Church in Austin. We will be honoring these four chaplains who gave their lives for their Soldiers during the early days of WWII. If you are coming, please drop me a short note so I can plan accordingly. (or just drop in at the last minute!)

Please send email addresses to me to add to this newsletter. We need to get the word out about what is happening!

Peace,
David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

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EVF Mission Brief

Dear EVF Friends,
Yesterday I went to jail. I accompanied Hospitaller Brother Jim Cochrun to the County Jail to visit with the veterans who live in the Veterans Dormitory. It was a blessed time, hearing some of their stories and hearing Jim share about meaning and hope in recovery. I hope we can be a regular part of Jim’s ministry there.

I’m really excited about some of the things that are happening in this new year. I have been working hard to strategize about how to effectively reach out to veterans and those who love them, while doing all the other stuff life brings my way. So, here’s what’s happening:

1. New Logo! DeSha Thomas, our Administrator, worked hard to produce this unique creation that witnesses to our Joint Forces focus (veterans from ALL branches) and the spirituality of our Episcopal Church.

2. For Immediate Release from Kevin Ross:

Elizabeth Decker will be leading the inaugural session of our joint Georgetown-Round Rock EVF Art Workshop this Thursday, January 12, at the Grace Episcopal Church west campus from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. The address for your GPS or smartphone is 4402 Williams Dr., Suite 150, Georgetown, TX 78628 (right behind the Whataburger and CVS, and across DB Wood Rd from the HEB). We will continue to meet on the following three Thursday afternoons (Jan 19, Jan 26, and Feb 2), same place and time.
As you can see by the number of people on the To… line, it promises to be a big crowd. I would very much appreciate an RSVP, so I can make sure we have table space and chairs for everyone and Elizabeth can bring enough supplies.

The Austin group’s work was featured at our Veterans Conference and it was amazing. (See photos here.) I can’t wait to see what they create! Contact me or Kevin Ross for more info or to RSVP.

3. Bicycling Veterans in West Virginia: Fr. Chip Graves, Rector of Trinity Church in Huntington, WV shared a story about a parishioner, Jeff Collins, who is rebuilding bicycles for veterans in his community. If you would like to send a financial gift his way, please mail it to Fr. Chip Graves, Trinity Episcopal Church 520 11th St Huntington, WV 25701. Please mark on the check that it is for Jeff’s Bicycle Ministry. You can also send $ to me via Paypal (see website) or give me the check and I’ll mail all of them to Fr. Chip.


4. Every Thursday I’m up at 0500 to run at 0600 with Team RWB. If you would like to be part of this run, come on out. Contact me for more details about where we meet. Team Red White and Blue is my favorite veterans community.

5. On Feb 1st, we will hold a Commemoration for the Four Chaplains at St. Mark’s Church in Austin. We will be honoring these four chaplains who gave their lives for their Soldiers during the early days of WWII. If you are coming, please drop me a short note so I can plan accordingly. (or just drop in at the last minute!)

6. In the coming days we will be doing a Story Exchange with Narrative 4, similar to the one I participated in during November in NYC. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/12/gun-violence-radical-empathy.html We won’t be tackling the Gun issue, but hoping to bridge some of the gaps between veterans and the civilian community that sent us to war. Please contact me if you’re interested in being part of this. This is always a very fruitful exercise and I encourage you to give it a try.

7. Our next Austin EVF meeting will be on January 24th, Tuesday night, 1800. We will pray and serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Come and give the gift of love.

8. Please send email addresses to me to add to this newsletter. We need to get the word out about what is happening!
Peace,
David+

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EVF Christmas Mission Brief

Dear EVF Friends,
This email is coming to you on Christmas Day because we need each other, especially this time of year when expectations for happiness are high. That’s why we’re going to meet in Austin this coming Tuesday evening (Dec. 27) at the Posse East at 1830! I’m really excited about sharing with you my experiences at the Narrative 4 storytelling event in NYC and the Chaplain Mission to support the Veterans at Standing Rock. I think both events have a huge impact in the future of EVF and the Hospitallers of St. Martin.

On February 1st, we will observe the Feast of the Four Chaplains at Grace Chapel, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Austin at 6pm. If your parish isn’t observing Four Chaplains, please come to St. Mark’s or ask your Rector to hold a service in their honor. We will have four candles on the altar representing the lives they lost as they cared for others.

We are gearing up for our Spring Retreat. If you would like to come, please email me and we can start planning a location and time.

Rumor has it that Georgetown and Round Rock Groups are beginning to plan for an Art Workshop in January/February. If you would like to participate in this, please contact me or the leaders of those groups. These are powerful and transformative workshops and we are honored to have the talented and insightful Elizabeth Decker facilitating them.

Please share news of the EVF with your rector/bishop/professor/personal trainer/broker (stock and pawn) and especially with the veterans in your life. It’s good to know that God’s people are working toward reconciliation in the veteran community. I’m glad to be part of all you do.

Two veterans who lead our Round Rock group, Warren Gillespie and Robert Hoehn, took vows to be novices in the Hospitallers of St. Martin, A New Monastic Christian Community for Veterans Ministry. Bishop James Magness blessed them in Christ Chapel at Seminary of the Southwest.

If you are interested in joining the Order, please contact me about what that involves, or visit our website here.

Peace,

David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

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EVF Mission Brief (Meeting Tuesday at the Posse East!)

Dear EVF Friends,

Posttraumatic GodOur meeting this week will be at the Posse East at 2900 Duval on Tuesday from 5-7 pm. I’ll be talking about my new book, Post-Traumatic God, and signing copies while supplies last. If you show up, I may, with your permission, ask you some questions about your experience in the military and homecoming. I want it to be a fun interactive event. I wrote some of this book at the Posse and I’m excited about how it is moving into the world to equip churches (and pubs apparently) to minister to veterans. Click here to check out the event.
If you haven’t left a review of the book, I’d be most grateful if you did. Click here.

There is so much more to be written about this and I hope some of you can take up the mantle and fill in the gaps this book leaves.

I’m thankful for each of you. As I think back to the thanksgiving I spent over there, I recall the good times. Being with my family, my army family, is something I miss every holiday season. Hopefully, we can regain that camaraderie by meeting, fellowshipping, and feasting.

Pax,

David+

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

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EVF Mission Brief (Austin Meeting Moved!)

Dear EVF Friends,

My heart is so full with all the great connections at our Veterans Conference on Friday! It was so good to meet so many of you in real life for the first time and to see old friends and battle buddies. We are building a community here and you have made this happen. Special thanks go to Vanessa Neering, Lauren Greenwade, and DeSha Thomas, as well as Lynn Smith-Henry and Christian Hawley. We touch lives by listening, praying, and organizing, and you have done this.

Stay tuned for an even more ambitious effort next year. We need your input and wisdom, so let us know how you can help.

This week the Austin group will not meet. Our next meeting is on 22 November at the Posse East. I’ll be doing a book signing and talking about veterans issues at Austin’s coolest bar. Click here for more info. Visit our website here for other EVF meetings.

We give thanks for Hospitaller Brother Bob Hern who served as the chaplain at a retreat for veterans at Camp Allen. I know they were all blessed by his presence and prayer. Our Hospitallers are out there doing great things. Please send us pictures of your work!

evf-art-workshop4_fotorIf your group is interested in hosting an Art Workshop, please let me know. These are fantastic, high-trust events that will really bring your group together.

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T-shirts are on sale again. Please show your support for us by visiting the EVF website to place your order here.

 

 

 

This Saturday, November 12 The Tiny Chapel will be at Vet Fest 2016! Right now we have Jim Cochrun, Wes Rainey, and John Dulnig staffing the chapel. If you would like to join them, please let me know. This is a great way to share the news of the EVF with veterans in Central Texas.

Thanks to the Rev. Christian Hawley for putting the plaques together for the VA meditation walk. Stay tuned for when they will be formally installed.

Share this with your rector/pastor: Click here for ten things your church can do for Veterans Day that don’t involve waving a giant American flag while standing on top of the altar or shooting off fireworks during the passing of the peace.

Please pray for me as I go to Houston this weekend to preach about veterans and talk about the Post-Traumatic God at St. Andrews and Holy Comforter in Spring. If you’re in Houston, please come to St. Andrews in the morning or Holy Comforter in the afternoon (3pm).

Have a blessed Election Day. I prayed the pray for the Election on a Morning radio show this morning. Feel free to pray it all day long.

No. 24. For an Election

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States (or of this community) in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pax,

David+

(It’s not a plus sign, it’s a Cross, indicating I’m giving you a Blessing! So peace and love be with you.)

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EVF Mission Brief (Veterans doing Art tomorrow at St. David’s and other meetings!)

Dear EVF Friends,

We are in the final stages of planning our Veterans Conference on 4 November. Now is the time to invite your friends, rector, pastor, therapist, yoga teacher, personal trainer, Pets, Pet babysitter. This conference will focus on how relationships can heal the wounds of war, so, it will be very relational. We have veterans who will tell us how lifting weights helps them with PTSD, yoga teachers who share how their practice brings people home from war, and others who are exploring the many paths to healing. I know we’re all going to learn something. Click here for more information and here to register online.

To that end, veterans will gather at St. David’s downtown tonight (Tuesday) to continue creating art. (Click here for meeting information.) The last session was AMAZING and I’m really looking forward to this next workshop. If you would like to join, please send me an email. The following is a haunting poem one of our participants shared last session:

I Am

I am returning to a civilized world

I no longer recognize.

                                      Eight years go

to the night we toasted our brothers

beneath a mortar streaked sky –

too tired to run for shelter, too comforted

in the fire of a makeshift grill, too much

feeling as if the others should be here.

I am in a safe community of strangers

each one known by the chirp

of a car alarm, the slam of a door.

In the absence of danger we’re creating

our own fear.

                          I am trying

to wring stories out of a dry brain,

some by folks not here to tell them.

I am over the desire to look

for what’s falling from the sky,

but I am wondering if I shouldn’t be.

D.A. Gray, 2016

Last week Hospitaller Brother Lynn Smith-Henry and I set out to meet with a WWII veteran who was unable to come to a meeting since he is no longer able to drive. We had a great time with him in his home hearing about his life after war. It reminded me how we need warriors from all wars to share their experiences with each other. He gave us his blessing on our way out the door, and I am thankful.

I do believe we have our first Farmer-Veteran Scholar. More details to follow on that. Thanks to our Georgetown group for making a positive contact.

I’m happy to report that my new book, Post-Traumatic God, sold out at the Amazon store. More copies should arrive there soon. I know it says 2 months wait, but it will probably be less. This book lays out a plan for parish churches to be part of this veterans movement of healing. Get a copy for your rector, your bishop, and anyone who wants to unleash the healing power of God through the Church for veterans.

Thanks for all of you who have worked hard to make this community a reality. I am currently working on some ideas for how we can work toward racial reconciliation, just as many WWII veterans did when they came home from war. Stay tuned for more info on this.
Pax,

David+

www.episcopalveteransfellowship.org

veterans-conference-flyer-jpeg

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