Highlights for September

Author uses imagination in researching family history

Review by Mel Schlachter

Some years ago, a prominent American cathedral with lots of visitor traffic reflected on its purpose in opening to tour groups and tourists. Was it just tolerating tourists, or was it in fact welcoming pilgrims who might be in those very groups but find themselves yearning for more than checking off another site? Thinking of pilgrimage changed some of the cathedral’s procedures and the mind-set of its staff and volunteers.

Pilgrimage is nearly back to pre-Reformation levels, and international travel writer and Episcopal deacon the Rev. Lori Erickson is all about teaching pilgrimage in her books and blog.

In her previous book, “Holy Rover,” she takes us to a variety of well-known and scarcely-known “holy places,” writing as a keen observer of the place and of her response to it. She is skilled at guiding the reader in how pilgrimage could work for their own spiritual insight.

Her latest book, “The Soul of the Family Tree,” digs deeper into her intuitive working out of identity by means of both pilgrimage and family of origin research.

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Q&A: Westina Matthews, on authoring ‘This Band of Sisterhood: Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church’

By Pat McCaughan
Episcopal News Service

The unique blessings, joys, frustrations, challenges and realities faced by the first five African American women diocesan bishops in the Episcopal Church are explored in candid conversations in “This Band of Sisterhood: Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church,” compiled and edited by Westina Matthews.

Matthews, an adjunct professor at the General Theological Seminary’s Center for Christian Spirituality, wrote in an August 1984 New York Times op-ed article of her own sense of loneliness as “the first, the only, or one of the few” Blacks in her academic and professional settings, a feeling she began having as early as age 4 when she was enrolled in a newly desegregated school.

Membership in this “exclusive club” continued throughout a 40-year career in leadership positions as an educator, researcher, grant-maker, public servant and author.

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