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Orange is the new blessing

By Emily McFarlan Miller/Religion News Service
On June 1, 2016

Clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio wear orange stoles ahead of Wear Orange Sunday on June 5, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Jeff Bunke, Perrysburg, Ohio

Orange isn’t a traditional liturgical color in the Episcopal Church.

But on Sunday, June 5, Episcopal clergy across the country are planning to wear orange stoles as a stand against gun violence, inspired by the Wear Orange campaign.

“Everybody has some story somewhere where gun violence has touched their lives or the lives of their congregation that has made them say, ‘Yes, we know this problem is there, and we know that we have a call to address it,'” said the Rev. Rosalind Hughes, rector of Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio.

The idea came when the Rev. C. Eric Funston, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Medina, Ohio, posted on Facebook back in April about Wear Orange, which asks people to wear the color for National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2.

Funston wondered whether he could find an orange stole to wear the following Sunday. That’s a great idea, Hughes commented, and she offered to make one.

The two posted the idea and Hughes’ offer on a Facebook group for clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. Not only did they get the blessing of their bishop, but also from Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the organizations behind Wear Orange, and Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

Hughes had made matching stoles once before for a friend’s ordination, so she knew she could do it. What she didn’t anticipate, she said, was how many clergypersons would respond: By week’s end, she’ll have made 38 or 40 for clergy as far away as Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Dioceses from as far away as Long Island, Washington, D.C., and Chicago also have invited their clergy to participate.

So often, when the topic of gun violence comes up, Hughes said, so does the topic of despair. But, she said. “As people of faith, we have something to say about despair.”

“The idea is of taking that orange … to the pulpit and bringing that message of hope in defiance of despair.”

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