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December 2015 ROTA

Amidst our hectic lives it is easy to miss important moments in the lives of others. We at St Anne are blessed to have so many people that represent diversity and accomplishment. Each of us has many ways that we contribute to the fabric which makes up the community we live in.

Fifth-graders find science can be a blast

Fremont Elementary School students look at the constellations in a mobile planetarium. It recently came to our attention that long time St Anne member Kim Odenweller, despite her technical retirement from teaching, is still following her passion and contributing to the development of Stockton’s youth. Anyone that know Kim is keenly aware that those passions run so deep that she can barely contained them. If you missed the article in the Record here is a link .

Kim is not the only person at St Anne that has been recognized for there contributions and accomplishment by The Record. Here are some other links to articles about some of our favorite people.


Gilbert: Remarkable life continues for 101-year-old Stockton man

Al Lingo, 101, is a veteran, patriot and storyteller who still swims 60 laps a day. Congratulations Al.

The melody lingers on for jazz songstress Cissandra

Edison High graduate and jazz musician Cissandra Durkin will be back in Stockton this week for a show Friday at Episcopal Church of St. Thanks Sandra

The Friday Reflection Title


It’s Not About the Bag

Holy Family has become a sanctuary for numerous homeless persons who spend the night in what they perceive to be a safe place.

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BEFORE her drinking spiraled out of control, Sylvia Dobrow “drank like a lady,” as she put it, matching her wine to her sandwiches: “Tuna and chardonnay, roast beef and rosé.” But soon she was “drinking around the clock,” downing glasses of vodka and skim milk.

“When you try to hide your drinking from your grandchildren, you do whatever you can,” said Ms. Dobrow, 81, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother living in Stockton, Calif.

A former hospital educator, Ms. Dobrow’s alcohol consumption became unmanageable after she lost her job and subsequently “lost my identity,” she said.

One night in early 2007, after a particularly excessive alcohol binge, Ms. Dobrow fell out of bed and suffered a black eye. That was when her two daughters, one of whom was a nurse, took her to Hemet Valley, a recovery facility in Hemet Valley, Calif., that caters to adults age 55 and older. Ms. Dobrow, who was 73 at the time, stayed for 30 days, which cost roughly $20,000, about $13,000 of which was covered by insurance. When she returned home, she continued with a 12-step program. She has been sober ever since.

An estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, according to a study in the journal “Addiction.” In 2008, 231,200 people over 50 sought treatment for substance abuse, up from 102,700 in 1992, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.

While alcohol is typically the substance of choice, a 2013 report found that the rate of illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6.0 percent in 2013.

“As we get older, it takes longer for our bodies to metabolize alcohol and drugs,” said D. John Dyben, the director of older adult treatment services for the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Someone might say, ‘I could have two or three glasses of wine and I was fine, and now that I’m in my late 60s, it’s becoming a problem.’ That’s because the body can’t handle it.”

Many, although certainly not all, of these older individuals with alcohol problems are retired.

Over the course of 10 years, Peter A. Bamberger and Samuel B. Bacharach, co-authors of “Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic,” conducted a study funded by the National Institutes of Health on substance abuse in older adults. They found that the impact of retirement on substance abuse was “anything but clear cut, with the conditions leading to retirement, and the economic and social nature of the retirement itself, having a far greater impact on substance use than simple retirement itself,” said Mr. Bamberger, who is also research director of the Smithers Institute at Cornell University.

But events that arise in later life often require coping skills older adults may not possess. Some retirees are lonely and depressed, and turn to alcohol or drugs to quell their anxieties. Others may drink to deal with late-life losses of spouses, friends, careers and purpose.

“In retirement there can be depression, divorce, death of a spouse, moving from a big residence into a small residence,” said Steven Wollman, a substance abuse counselor in New York, . “For anyone who’s an addict, boredom’s the No. 1 trigger.”

Sandra D., 58, who works in the financial services industry in Toronto, said that her father’s drinking increased so much after he retired that she often took the car keys away from him.

“He and his friends meet for cocktails at about 3 or 4 and then he passes out, which he calls a ‘nap,’ ” said Ms. D., who asked that her full last name not be used. “My dad didn’t plan out his retirement well. My mom was very ill for many years before she passed away, and my dad was a caregiver. He was pretty well looking after the house and taking care of her. When she passed away, there was a very big void for him.”

Ms. D. said her father, an 82-year-old former maintenance worker, doesn’t believe he drinks too much, a common perception among many seniors.

“People are really good at redefining things,” said Stephan Arndt, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa and director of the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation. “They say, ‘I don’t have a problem, I just like to drink.’ Or, ‘I’m a big guy, I can handle it.’ In the case of prescription drugs, it’s, ‘Well, I got it from my doctor, and it’s for my pain. It’s medication.’ Consequently, they don’t seek help.”

Physicians often aren’t trained to talk to their older patients about chemical dependency — or, perhaps more pointedly in an era of managed care, they often don’t have the time to thoroughly screen a patient. Also, many signs of chemical dependence like memory loss and disorientation resemble normal symptoms of aging. “Is this person confused because they’re messing up their meds, or is it dementia?” said Brenda J. Iliff, the executive director of Hazelden, a residential treatment center in Naples, Fla., that offers special programming baby boomers and older adults for about $21,000 a month. “Is their diabetes out of control, or did they fall and break their hip because they were woozy from Atavan?”

Another misconception is that older adults don’t benefit from treatment. “There’s this lore, this belief, that as people get older they become less treatable,” said Paul Sacco, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, who researches aging and addiction. “But there’s a large body of literature saying that the outcomes are as good with older adults. They’re not hopeless. This may be just the time to get them treatment.”

Pamela Noffze was 58 when she arrived at Hazelden‘s center in Naples for treatment. At her worst, she was drinking a case of light beer a day, but she didn’t think she had an issue until her daughter threatened to ban her from seeing her grandsons again unless she sought help. “That’s when I knew I had to do something,” said Ms. Noffze.

On her first night at Hazelden, she discovered that she was also addicted to Klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication that her psychiatrist had prescribed in 2009 to help her cope with a divorce. Weaning herself off prescription medications was harder than stopping drinking, she said. Still, she has not had a sip of alcohol or any pills since rehab.

Ms. Noffze, now 61, who lives in Naples and is unemployed, regularly attends 12-step meetings. She said she was astonished at the number of people who “have their cocktails every night, and the next thing they know they find themselves addicted because some doctor gave them Ambien to sleep or they were on pain pills for arthritis or whatever,” she said. “You put those two together and you put yourself over the edge.”

As for Ms. Dobrow, she was so emboldened by her recovery that in 2010 she went back to school to get a credential as a substance abuse counselor. She now works part time counseling older adults at Hemet Valley.

“Losing your purpose in life is the singular thing that hurts people,” said Ms. Dobrow. “We involve so much of our ego in our career, but these last seven and a half years have been the most fulfilling of my life, because I can help people. What is when people used to wear a sandwich board and walk around in a commercial? I feel that mine says ’Hope’ on the front and on the back.”

St Anne Hosted the Northern Deanery Meeting and Bishop David Rice and his wife Tracy were in attendance. He shared his passion and vision for the future of the San Joaquin Diocese and took questions from those in attendance. He is both inspired and inspiring with his plans to see our congregations reaching out into the community.  He received an enthusiastic welcome and we shared a delicious lunch.



Adapt or Die

By Ken Howard, part of the Vestry Papers issue on Vestries: Listen to God’s Call (January 2014)

At a recent conference I was asked to speculate about what our parishes would look like a decade from now. My answer was brief: “One thing I can say with certainty is this: The only way our churches will look like they do now is if they have been stuffed and mounted and displayed in a museum of natural church history.”

The context in which our congregations exist is shifting so dramatically that mere tweaking of method and message can no longer return us to health, let alone vitality. We are facing radical change – radical as in going to the root – requiring of us both radical recognition and radical response.

As congregational leaders, we must confront the fact that our churches are dying. While we may wish they were timeless and eternal, at the core our churches are living human organisms, and dying is what all living organisms eventually do. But first they are born, live, adapt, create new life, and pass on their DNA to the next generation. We cannot insulate our churches from death without isolating them from the very process that would empower the next generation, not just to survive but also to thrive.

To guide our churches into a vital future, vestries and other church leaders must help our congregations to embrace their organic nature – to see death not as the ultimate failure but as the door to greater life. We need to help our congregations learn how to die in a way that plants the seeds of their resurrection. But how? How can we as congregational leaders learn this radical response and walk this counterintuitive, paradoxical path? How do we help our congregations live into a more incarnational Christianity that values organism over organization?

Changing the Paradigm

If we as leaders are to help our congregations change their ways of doing Church, we first have to recognize that our old and familiar paradigm of Church is fading away, and that a new and unfamiliar paradigm of Church is emerging. And because the new paradigm is not yet fully present, we have to help our congregations learn to explore its pathways and boundaries.

Leading congregations in a time of paradigm shift is no easy task. Be wary of any who call themselves experts in times like these; when a paradigm shifts, everyone goes to zero. There are no experts, only fellow learners. While I do not claim to be an expert in the emerging paradigm of Church, I do have some experience in helping my own congregation – as well as a few other congregations and dioceses – to explore it. And I am willing to share some of what my congregation and I have learned since it was born in 1995.

My congregation began its journey into the emerging paradigm with an exploration of the Apostle Paul’s image of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12):

There are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (NRSV)

We began to ask ourselves what our congregation would be like if we took this passage seriously. If in this passage Paul is expressing his deeply organic understanding of the nature of Christian community, then how is God calling our own Christian community to live? As we engaged this question with imagination and prayer, our image of Church began to shift. We began to think of Christian community less as an organizational structure in which people occupy various fixed and static roles, and more as a living organism that grows, adapts to its environment, reproduces, thinks, and moves – one which has a vision and a calling implanted in its DNA by the Spirit of God.

As our paradigm of Church began to shift, our behaviors as leaders and as a congregation began to shift as well. We began asking ourselves additional “so what” questions. If we were to answer the call to become an organic, incarnational Christian community, how would we need to change:

  • The way we think of congregational unity?
  • The way we develop and articulate our congregational vision?
  • The way we think about the lifecycle of our congregation?
  • The way we organize to get things done?
  • The way we develop our leaders, followers, and various working groups.

What this Means

Wrestling with questions like these have led to profound shifts in how we think, what we do, and how we do it – shifts which are summarized in the following outline.

  1. Unity: Moving from boundary-set unity to centered-set unityWhen we think of church as an organization, unity is achieved by clearly defining boundaries. Leadership asks, “What characteristics (e.g., doctrines, practices, etc.) separate THOSE WHO ARE A PART OF US from THOSE WHO ARE APART FROM US?”When we think of church as an organism, unity is achieved by clearly defining focus. Leadership asks, “WHO is the center of our community?” (The answer was/is “Jesus”) and “HOW do we clarify our focus (on Jesus) and invite others to share with us in it?”The implication of this shift is that we avoid making others into copies of ourselves and instead allow all of us together to be transformed into God’s image.
  2. Vision: Moving from vision-setting to vision-birthingWhen we think of church as an organization, leadership creates and propagates an organizational vision. Leadership asks, “What is God calling this congregation to be and to do?”When we think of church as an organism, leadership facilitates the emergence of a shared vision from the congregation. Leadership asks, “How can we help our congregation discern what God is calling us to be and to do?” Leadership does this by paying attention to the gifts and callings of those participating in the life of the community and those God is calling into it.The implication of this shift is that we remind ourselves to remain attentive to the Spirit’s movement in our congregation and in the world around us.
  3. Moving from organizational permanence to congregational vitality

    When we think of church as an organization, leadership assumes current structures and processes are there for a good reason. Leadership asks, “HOW can we do WHAT we’re already doing more effectively?”When we think of church as an organism, leadership assumes nothing. Leadership first asks, “WHY do we exist?” then, “HOW do we organize and behave to fulfill that calling?“ then, “WHAT specific activities is God calling us to carry out?” Leadership also asks, “What does the congregation do that is so unique and valuable that it would be missed if the congregation ceased to exist?” and, “If our church were to die today, what would the community around us write as our epitaph?” Leadership pays attention to what feeds and energizes the congregation (and the leadership) and finds ways to do those more of those kinds of things, while letting those things that do not promote congregational vitality die.The implication of this shift is that we continuously rediscover and reconnect with our spiritual DNA, and allow ourselves to be watered and pruned by God’s Spirit.
  4. Moving from hierarchical structure to organic networksWhen we think of church as an organization, leadership (and followership) is organized and structured via power, position, and turf. Leadership asks, “What COMMITTEES should a healthy church have?” and “Who can we get to lead and staff them?”When we think of church as an organism, all congregational structures and processes are functional and provisional. Work is accomplished through small-group, co-led teams, which can expand and contract, as needed. Leadership asks, “What needs to be done?” then, “Who is called to be on a TEAM to do it?” then, “Which of its members are called to lead the team?”The implication of this shift is that we assure that our structures and processes are nimble and flexible, capable of growing and adapting to our context.
  5. Moving from individual perfection to interconnected completenessWhen we think of church as an organization, leadership strives to help every individual person and part of the organization become as self-sufficiently effective as possible. Leadership asks, “What does this person/committee need to be the best, most well-rounded person/committee possible?”When we think of church as an organism, leadership strives to help every person and part of the organization become more complete through interconnectedness with others. Leadership asks, “What connections can we forge between persons/teams that make them more complete in their interconnectedness?The implication of this shift is that we allow each person to give their best gifts and strengthen our organic interdependence as the body of Christ.

An Invitation to Exploration

What I have offered above is not intended to be a quick fix or a step-by-step guide. It cannot be that because the new paradigm is still emerging. Think of it rather as an example of the kinds of questions your vestry will have to ask yourselves and your congregations if you commit yourselves to this journey.

One thing I can promise is this: Embracing the organic and incarnational nature of Christian community can both make your congregations more vital in the present and enable them to face the “changes and chances” of the future with adaptability and resilience. And it will make your job as leaders more exciting and creative, and perhaps even fun.

Ken Howard is the author of Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them(Orleans, MA: Paraclete Press, 2010), the founder and director of The Paradoxy Center for Incarnational Christianity at St. Nicholas Church, and the rector of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Germantown, Maryland. St. Nicholas Church was the first successful church plant in its diocese in nearly forty years. Growing steadily since its start in 1995, it is in the top third of diocesan congregations in size and the top 5% in per capita giving. Ken’s blog, Paradoxical Thoughts may be found at