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Rev. Winnie Varghese to preach message of compassion

“There might be no issue that the Bible is clearer on than how the foreigner and immigrant are to be treated, and if you’re not sure, it is with compassion,” the Rev. Winnie Varghese wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post.

Rev. Winnie Varghese

Varghese is the senior priest for justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street. In that role, she oversees Trinity Church’s domestics grants program and direct service and outreach, as well as programming in the areas of service and justice.

Varghese will serve as chaplain for Chautauqua for Week Nine.

She will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater on Aug. 19. Her sermon title is “My Soul Cries Out.” She will share her faith journey at the 5 p.m. Vespers Sunday, Aug. 19, in the Hall of Philosophy.

Varghese will preach at the 9:15 a.m. morning worship services Monday through Friday in the Amp. Her sermon titles include “Blessed Is She Who Believed,” “The Songs of Our Humiliation,” “I Believe,” “Praise God” and  “Born Again.”

Her Sept. 4, 2016, HuffPost blog post, “Is Christianity Dead in the West?,” focused on the refugee crisis in Europe and the United States.

She wrote that for Christians, “(t)he idea of sanctuary for a refugee is ancient and religious for Christians.” The Hebrew Scriptures are filled “with the question of what faithfulness to God would look like.”

“The prophets proclaim that it would produce justice in the land, marked by generosity to the foreigner, widow, orphan and immigrant, the most vulnerable,” Varghese wrote.

Jesus claimed this tradition. His teachings on this matter — “loving our neighbor as ourself” — are exemplified in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

She wrote there is a distinction between the “imperial or national identity of a Christian nation” and the idea of Christians as community-based followers of Jesus.

“The idea that practicing our faith as Christians requires the freedom to discriminate against people who are not Christian, or who have different Christian values than we do, seems to point to an end of a certain kind of Western Christianity,” she wrote.

If people cannot act confidently and faithfully “in a way that can be generous or even frankly, Christian,” Varghese said, how can they “claim Christian” as a national identity?

“We seem to want to claim to be both a persecuted, vulnerable sect, while also claiming a powerful, national identity as a Christian people,” she wrote.

Before coming to Trinity, Varghese was the rector of at the historic St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery, an Episcopal congregation in New York City.

From 2003 to 2009, she served Columbia University as its Episcopal chaplain, a post she also held at UCLA from 1999 to 2003. She has also served at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Westwood, California.

She graduated with a Master in Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary and from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.

She has worked with the Mental Health Association of Los Angeles as an intern in the Episcopal Service Corps, working with those who were homeless and living with severe mental illness.

In addition to her work for the HuffPost, Varghese is the author of Church Meets World, editor of What We Shall Become and has written numerous articles and chapters on social justice and the church.

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The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the Morning Worship column. A Presbyterian minister, she preaches at the Seneca Reservation in Irving. She is the deputy managing director of People Helping People International. Her latest book is Chautauqua’s Heart, the first full history of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. She lives in Chautauqua with her dog, Max, and is beginning her second term as a member of the Board of Education of Chautauqua Lake Central School District.