For Sunday, March 20, 2022

COVID-19 and Masking at St. Paul’s Update

March 18, 2022

Please click here to read the latest update regarding masking at St. Paul’s.

After careful deliberation between the Vestry and Co-Rectors, we continue to wear masks. After the height of the busy season and Easter, should all be well, we will consider strongly recommending masks and vaccination at our 10:30AM Sunday worship service and requiring masks and vaccination at our 8:00AM Sunday worship service, starting on May 1st. Should this plan go forward, the decision will be made at our April Vestry meeting on Thursday, April 28th.

Mid-Week Eucharist
The Feast of the Annunciation

Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 6:00 PM
Sung Eucharist – Rite II – Vessel of Grace

The AnnunciationThe feast commemorating the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son Jesus, and Mary’s assent in faith to God’s invitation (Luke 1:26-38). The Annunciation is celebrated on March 25 (nine months before Christmas). The Annunciation is a Feast of our Lord in the Book of Common Prayer.

Sermon given by The Rev. Jessie Thompson, Sunday, March 13 (Lent II)

Due to technical difficulties during the worship service on March 13, the livestream sound recording was inoperative during Rev. Jessie’s sermon.  We apologize for the inconvenience and offer the following printed version of the sermon text.

The Gospel: Luke 13:31-35
Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

There’s a fox in the henhouse!

The Pharisees warn Jesus about Herod’s plan to kill him, and regardless of their motives, Jesus uses the threat to make clear that his impending death is the completion of his ministry and mission and will have nothing to do with Herod. Establishing the kingdom of God through his ministry of healing and deliverance is held together by both Jesus’ life and his death. Jesus is in charge of his own timetable, and his ministry and mission does not end with his crucifixion but is made complete by his resurrection.

Jesus’ work will continue, and he knows that he, like all prophets who set foot in Jerusalem, will be killed. Then he expresses that he longs to gather Jerusalem as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and yet, Jerusalem is unwilling to be gathered… Unwilling to be gathered…

Did you know that baby chicks will not drink water until they are taught or accidently discover water by pecking at reflections and bubbles? Mother hens will press their little beaks into the water to help them discover and learn the drinking process.1

Did you know that mother hens and chicks use verbal commands to communicate? There’s even scientific evidence of prehatching interactions between mother hens and embryos as they approach hatching. Hens and chicks will recognize one another’s distinct sounds and stay together. Hens don’t mistake the vocalization of other chicks for their own offspring.2 After a mother hen hatches her eggs, her priority shifts from personal survival to protecting and ensuring the survival of her young chicks who can be threatened by predators and other hens in the flock. Mother hens are protective of their chicks.

We are used to images of masculinity when we talk about God—warrior, king, rock, “Our father, who art in heaven…” We’re not used to hearing feminine images of God. In fact, some people get quite angry if a female pronoun is used for God… And yet, today we have Jesus calling himself a hen—a female bird!

Jesus, who had been proclaiming God’s belovedness for all, for the outcasts, and the lonely, and those who couldn’t pay taxes or afford a doctor… Jesus, who kept widening the wingspan of God’s love, God’s blessing… And it was ticking off all those in power who had maintained their power by keeping God’s favored to an exclusive members-only club… And then Jesus calls himself a mother hen? Well, now he’s done it…

And to be honest, who really wants to be near a mother hen—overprotective, brooding, and fluffing and gathering and pecking and in her chicks’ business 24/7?

Well, unless you are a vulnerable chick in need of protection…
And unless you’ve been deprived of a mother’s care and love…
Or unless you’ve been left, abandoned, stranded to face the fox all by yourself, alone…3

Then, perhaps a mama hen sounds like a respite… a place under a wing to run to, to bury your face in the soft underside of a fluffy wing to be sheltered, protected…

Perhaps in these last two years, we have felt like the masks we wear have been the protection of our mother hen’s wing over us. As a fiercely independent culture, we are taught to fend for ourselves and stake our claim on what we own and who we are. We proudly live lives that answer to no one. We are sold the illusion that we do not need anyone, and that if we mess up or need help, that it is weak to ask for help. It is weak to need protection. In fact, protection is marketed in a destructively patriarchal way—girls and women need protection and men are the fierce protectors. And not the other way around. And by goodness, I don’t need a mask! I can fend for myself!

“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

We know at the core of who we are that we all need protection. That it has nothing to do with gender or sexuality or age. Life is hard. The foxes are willing and ready and at the door—if not my door, then the door of my neighbor, the door of the Ukrainians… And if we are really honest with ourselves, we would like to be assured that we do not have to face the foxes alone. That the foxes do not have the last word.

There is something so vulnerable about hearing Jesus’ longing to gather her children up under her wing…

And it is this vulnerability that is needed for faith in times like these. It is foolish to believe in that which we can’t see, and yet, it is our faith in the expectation that should we seek to be gathered, the mother hen is there. It is our vulnerability in faith that allows us to proclaim that what is seen is not all there is, and that the mother hen who sacrificed her body to protect us and save us trampled death in her resurrection.

To be nurtured, to be mothered by Jesus is a vulnerable and tender thing. To allow ourselves to seek shelter under the wing of Love is to admit we cannot do it or face it all on our own. And dear ones, I don’t care who you are or how old you are, we all long to be mothered at times, to be nurtured, to be held in an embrace of total acceptance.

We are an embodied faith—splashing in baptismal water, smearing oil on foreheads, eating bread, kneeling and crossing and bowing, passing the peace—and the image of Jesus tucking us under his wing is an embodied image. There is a reason we gather to share our faith here in church in embodied community, and we are so aware that when we could not gather together, we were missing the experience of moving our faith through our bodies in community. And we need bodily ways of practicing our faith…

A prayer shawl is one way to be “tucked” as it were, in our prayers. If you have a prayer shawl, this is a way to incorporate your body in your prayer practice—by wrapping yourself in it and imagining yourself under the wing of Jesus. Safe. Held. Protected. Warm.

If you do not have a prayer shawl, you can choose a special blanket as your prayer blanket, or you can let me know and I will get you a prayer shawl. (And if you are someone who can make prayer shawls, please let me know, as we are navigating restarting the prayer shawl ministry and we need more knitters and crocheters.)

And as a simple way to practice, find a chair in a spot in your house with a window (and a cup of tea or coffee, if you’d like). Wrap your prayer shawl/blanket around you tightly. Begin by reciting (out loud) a scripture to center yourself. Then, say something like, “Jesus, tuck me under your wing. Let me feel your heartbeat. Let me feel safe and secure. I am yours.” And then sit, resting in the image of being a small chick nestled under the wing, enfolded in the soft feathers that surround you, as you allow Jesus to hold you. To mother you. To protect you. To allow you to exhale and rest.

There is no set amount of time to do this, but it is a practice. This means perhaps doing this at the same time every day for a few weeks or longer. Maybe it is a Lenten practice. Maybe it becomes part of your daily practice…

It may sound a little silly or sentimental to do this, but I have found that this is a particularly healing and deep spiritual experience for anyone who has had a difficult or complicated relationship with their own mothers, or for those who have lost their mothers, or for those who have lost partners or children, or for those who live alone. It is also healing if you do not fall into any of those categories. It is a way to allow God to love us simply and especially because we are God’s children, God’s little chicks. It reminds us that our sheer existence is what is beloved—not anything we’ve done or anything we do. We were made from love and for love. Under the wing of Jesus the mother hen reminds us that love is our birthright.

Did you know that when you hug someone—heart to heart—for at least 20 seconds, your hearts begin to beat in synch, in the same rhythm, together? Isn’t that wild?… To allow yourself to rest under the wing of Jesus is to be near his heart. It is to be heart-to-heart, to allow your heart to synch up with the heart of Christ, the mother hen…

And when our hearts are in rhythm with the heart of the Beloved, we need not be afraid of the foxes. With our hearts tuned into the heart of Jesus, we will find ourselves able to welcome more fearful chicks under the wing as well. There is enough room for us all.

Friends, it is a long journey into Lent, and we do not go it alone.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, [my siblings], whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.” Amen.

1 https://www.cuteness.com/article/characteristics-mother-hen
2 https://www.cuteness.com/article/characteristics-mother-hen
3 https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher/2017/05/jesus-mother-hen/

A Season of Holy Lent at St. Paul in the Desert 2022

The Reconciliation of a Penitent: Remembering Confession in Lent

The Book of Common Prayer contains two orders of service for private confession, known officially as the Reconciliation of a Penitent. Making a private confession is a traditional and powerful spiritual practice, and the choice to confess or not confess to a priest is governed by the adage: All may, some should, none must. This Lent, Rev. Jessie and Rev. Dan are reserving Sunday afternoons for hearing confessions and are also available by appointment. If you would like resources or help preparing for confession, or if you would like to set up a time for this sacrament, please email or .


The Real Dracula, written by our own Mick Welch, examines how we deal with anger management.  This Lent, come join in a weekly reading of this vivid play each Sunday at 9:00 AM, in the Library, between services.  You might wonder why we are studying vampires at church. This plot will grab you and can be an entryway into thinking about our own anger, our own capability for violence and what kinds of people we want to be as we dream of and work toward a future of peace.  The text is easy to read, and no play reading experience is required.  Our next reading session is Sunday, March 20.  We’ll read pages 65-100.  The takeaway quote from this section: “Yes, this wall is made of WOOD, very old, very DRY wood. Just what I hoped for! Go collect dry wood and brush, then have them pile it up around the outside, and keep some torches lit.” See you Sunday! Questions? Contact Mick Welch at or 760.992.7491.


Lenten Retreat Day – Interactive Prayer:  Deepening Our Conversations with God – Saturday, April 2, 2022, from 8:00 AM – Noon, at the church. Creative, experiential, reflective, connecting.  Come take half a day to slow down, be present, and listen in new ways to the Author of Love. We will learn about and experience several interactive ways of praying and being with God. Refresh and relax at this half-day retreat. Please register for this event prior for planning purposes at:  or by calling the church office at: 760-320-7488.


Where is God in the Pandemic? March 8, we began a five-week series dealing with this topic, Tuesday evenings at 6:00 PM in the Library. We’re using N.T. Wright’s “God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath” as a springboard for conversation. You can order the book in advance at all major book retailers. If you missed the intro session on 3/8, you’re still welcome to join any of the remaining sessions.


Give up your stuff for Lent – Searching for a Lenten Practice that will have you looking at what you have, getting rid of what you don’t need, and creating literal space for God’s Spirit to flow and your home to be a place of resurrection? Join us this Lent with the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. You determine the size of the bags, and going through each room, drawer, closet, and cupboard, each day collect the items you don’t need, don’t use, or have too much of and discard, recycle or find a new home for those items. By using/having less and by being less wasteful, we can make more room for prayer and to hear God’s Voice. Join us. #40bagsin40dayslentchallenge

Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief & Development is mobilizing with Anglican agencies and other partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing the violence in Ukraine. Working through the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance), Episcopal Relief & Development will provide cash, blankets, hygiene supplies and other needed assistance. Please pray for all those affected.

Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ukraine Crisis Response Fund will provide humanitarian assistance for the crisis in Ukraine (https://support.episcopalrelief.org/).  If you prefer, you can donate through St. Paul’s.  Be sure to designate “ERD Ukraine” on your check or cash envelope.

Ukraine Relief Giving Update – Last Sunday’s loose-plate collections from both services were allocated to ERD Ukraine relief.  Those funds, along with generous individual contributions received from our parishioners totaled $1,918 that we were able to send to ERD for the Ukraine Crisis Response Fund.

Welcome Newcommers!

We have scheduled our next Newcomers’ Meeting, for anyone interested in exploring membership here at St. Paul’s.  Join the co-rectors Sunday, March 27 at 9:00 AM (between the two services).  We’ll meet in the front pews of the church. Bring your questions and curiosity!  All are welcome.

Blessing of the Snowbirds

Wikipedia defines a snowbird as “a person who migrates from the colder northern parts of North America to warmer southern locales, typically during the winter.”  At St. Paul’s we are blessed with our own dedicated snowbirds returning to worship with us during the Season every year.  They contribute to the cultural diversity of our parish in so many ways and are a vibrant part of our parish community.  We are approaching the time when many of our snowbird worshipers will return to their home communities.   To bid them farewell and to recognize their loyalty to St. Pauls, we have planned a special snowbird blessing for both services, Sunday, March 27.

A Long-Time Staff Member Farewell

Dear People of the Church of St. Paul in the Desert,

Kathy Guidry Parish Administrator

We are writing to inform you that Kathy Guidry, our parish administrator, has resigned from our staff, effective March 31, 2022. After this date, please direct all communications you would normally send to our parish administrator to Rev. Dan or Rev. Jessie. As I said to Kathy this week, it will not be easy to find someone who can fill her shoes and we will want to take our time to find the right fit. While saddened by Kathy’s departure, we recognize that we have been presented with an opportunity to reassess our current staffing model.

In the meantime, we are currently working on potential workflow solutions to help us continue our daily tasks. Our hope is to balance expediency in addressing the essentials of our day-to-day operations with patient exploration around what future staffing could look like. We have an incredible staff team, paid and volunteer, who will help us navigate this change. St. Paul’s has demonstrated tremendous adaptability over the last few years and that strength will serve us well as we approach this transition. Our strategic planning process will help us determine next steps by creating organizational goals for the next five years. From there, we will be able to envision what kind of staff team we will need to achieve those measurable outcomes that have buy-in from the entire parish.

We are incredibly grateful for the many contributions that Kathy Guidry has made during her time here. She has been a pillar during the biggest transition this parish has faced in over 30 years and did it all during a pandemic. This was no small accomplishment, and our parish is eternally indebted to her behind-the-scenes work in the office. We, as your co-rectors, would not be here if she did not help to hold the fort down over the last two years. We hope that once the announcement has gone public you will express similar sentiments to Kathy for her many years of service at the Church of St. Paul in the Desert. Please feel free to drop her a note or stop by the office over the next few weeks to say goodbye. We will also be taking a special collection up on Sunday March 20th to express our gratitude for all of Kathy’s hard work. We are sorry to see Kathy go, but wish her the best in her next chapter.

Sincerely,
Rev. Dan+ and Rev. Jessie+

Co-Rectors’ Installation Service

February 26, 2022 – Photo credit: San Diego Diocese
More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edsd/albums/72177720297046504

Photo Credit: Shelia Brubaker

St Paul’s Parish Library Launches “Last Call!”

Libraries have always been an important part of the Christian faith. The Bible is a library of 66 books and many early Christians kept the writings and accounts of their favorite saints in libraries. To introduce our recently reimagined library, the Library Ministry presents “Last Call!” On the last Sunday of every month, from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM, the library will be open for parishioners to read and check out books using our state-of-the-art library system. March 27 is our next Last Call! For more information please contact Tom Lutgen, our Volunteer Librarian () or Ben Palmer, our Volunteer Library Assistant ().

Book Club is Back in Person!

Parish Life Book Club will resume meeting in the Library on the first Tuesday each month at 1:00 PM.  The Book Club meets again on April 5th and is reading Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan.

This biography reveals Jesus as a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction. First-century Palestine was awash in a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. Few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean.

New members are always welcome at Book Club. For more information, please contact Alan Zimmerman at

coffee hourCoffee/Social Hour Hospitality

For those wishing to sponsor refreshments for a specific Sunday Coffee Hour, please call or stop by the Parish Office to sign up. All our hospitality procedures and protocols are subject to any CDC guidelines and mandates that Bishop Susan may put into place, depending on prevailing COVID conditions.

Social Justice Ministry Distribution Event

The Social Justice Ministry sponsors a Distribution event the last Wednesday of each month, set up in the colonnade outside the church.  The next distribution is scheduled for March 30.  Ministry volunteers will be on hand to give out sundries, clothing, backpacks, blankets – and so many other essentials – for our needy neighbors.

The ministry is always looking for additional volunteers to package and distribute these items so, if you can help, let us know.  Thank you to all who have contributed financially or donated items for this project.  If you would like to donate time and/or treasures, please contact Lena Granet at

The Abundant Life E-List

If you are not a current subscriber to our weekly electronic newsletter, it’s easy to sign up.  Just go to www.stpaulsps.org, scroll down to find “Join Our E-Mail List,” enter your email address – and you’re all set.  You will receive the newsletter each week, usually on Fridays.

If the newsletter ends up in your spam/junk folder, simply add to your email address book.

Are You Interested in Baptism or Confirmation?

Baptism is the foundation for all ministry in the church. Confirmation is confirming the promises we make at baptism and is when we express our connection with The Episcopal Church through the laying on of hands by a bishop. Are you interested in learning more? Reach out to

Ushers needed!

We have reinstated our 8:00 AM worship services and are pleased with the enthusiastic turnout of our “Eight O’clock Regulars” and many new worshipers.  For now, we will offer these as spoken services with no music; vaccination proof and masks are required.

WE STILL NEED USHER VOLUNTEERS! We’re looking for four teams of two people to cover one Sunday a month at 8:00 AM. We also need more volunteer ushers for the 10:30 service.  If you think you can help, please contact Kathy Kilmer, Junior Warden, at

Sunday School is back in session after Winter Break

Sunday School classes for preschool through fifth grade have resumed and will meet (outdoors) every Sunday during the 10:30 AM service. We start the class in the church and are invited up front for a special children’s moment with our priests. Then we head outside to our Sunday School “classroom” on the library porch. We meet outside to be as protective as possible for everyone’s safety during the current pandemic.

You’re invited to join Sacred Circle

St. Paul’s Sacred Circle is a band of women who wish to deepen their spirituality and build community. We would be pleased to have you join us. Our Circle is open to all women in our Community. For information, please call Kaye Ball at 303.517.5321 or Summer Schoch at 619.804.2592

Prayers of the Church

For the Anglican Communion, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby; for La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, The Rt. Rev. Enrique Trevino Cruz, Acting Primate and Bishop of Cuernavaca.

For the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador, The Rev. Juan Carlos Quinones, Bishop-elect (elected November 6, 2021; consecration scheduled for May 17, 2022).

For the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Susan Brown Snook, Bishop; for the clergy and people of Trinity, Escondido; for all who are discerning a call to holy orders.

A prayer for Ukraine
God of peace and justice, we pray for the people of Ukraine today. We pray for peace and the laying down of weapons. We pray for all those who fear for tomorrow, that your Spirit of comfort would draw near to them. We pray for those with power over war or peace, for wisdom, discernment and compassion to guide their decisions. Above all, we pray for all your precious children, at risk and in fear, that you would hold and protect them. We pray in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York

For those commended to our prayers: Lola Michael, Roy Cody, The Rev. Elizabeth Hasen, Don Johnson, Pat Lutgen, John Rich Family, Mary Kipe, Carolyn & Zachary Scott, Donna Palmer, Mark Thallander, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Emily Macdonald, Lorraine Myers, Addison Kahn Padian, Brian Nealy; pray for all those affected by COVID-19: heal those who are suffering, comfort those who grieve, and strengthen those who are caring for others; pray for all those for whom no prayers have been said.

For those who have died: John Rich, Audrey Spencer, Alvin Crawford, Marvin Manning,

For those with birthdays: March 20: Patricia Thompson; March 21: Kristy Nugent; March 22: Robert Woods; March 23: Mary Wyton; March 24: Lee Chandrasena, Louis Thibault, Al Sophianopoulos, Patty Kiker; March 25: Paul Martinkovic, Gary A. Johnson, Viola Whiting, Stan Deller, David Livingston; March 26: The Rev. Canon Victoria Hatch, Neal Nussbaum.

For those celebrating anniversaries: March 22: Dee Dee & Greg Barton; March 26: Sarah & Shaun Olson.

Send us your Prayer Requests via email — You may request prayers, “For those commended to our prayers” or “For those who have died,” by sending requests to

For next Sunday’s Lectionary readings, go to www.stpaulsps.org, and click on “This Week’s Scriptures” in the Worship Services box. From the calendar, select March 27, The Fourth Sunday in Lent.

Sunday Service Livestreaming

We will be livestreaming our 10:30 AM Sunday Eucharist every week, going forward. The livestream project has been a one-year journey coming to St. Paul’s and was made possible through a generous gift from a “snowbird” member from Philadelphia who wintered in Palm Springs for many years and worshiped at St. Paul’s every Sunday. You can view the livestream on our Home Page, YouTube Channel, and Facebook Page.

Missed a service?  Or want to rewatch a liturgy?  All our past services are available to watch either on St. Paul’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stpaulinthedesert or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/StPaulintheDesert

Daughters of the King Prayer List Requests

St. Paul’s Order of the Daughters of the King chapter maintains a confidential prayer list, praying daily for our families, friends, congregation, and the world. If you would like to ask the Daughters to pray for you or someone else, email your requests to .  Confidentiality of this list means that names on our list are not shared beyond our chapter members and Chaplain.

Members of The Order of the Daughters of the King® are women who desire a closer walk with the Lord. We are Christian women, both lay and ordained, who are strengthened through the discipline of a Rule of Life, and supported through the companionship of our sisters. All women of St. Paul’s who seek deeper spiritual life and inspiration in prayer and Christian fellowship are invited to learn more about becoming a member. Our chapter meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Requests for additions to the confidential prayer list may be emailed to .

Contact: Patty Kiker

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Compassionate Care Task Force

Our diocesan task force on compassionate care for victims of clergy sexual misconduct seeks to connect with those who have experienced misconduct. If you have reported clergy sexual misconduct and have information about the reporting or post-reporting experience that could be helpful to their work, please refer to the task force members, all of whom are listed on the diocesan website: Task-Force. Information on how to report misconduct is available here.

Report clergy misconduct

As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a safe haven for everyone, our diocese trains people in the prevention of misconduct and encourages all to report misconduct. All reported incidences are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly and confidentially. If you believe you have experienced misconduct of any kind, please contact John Seitman, 858-793-4555 or Equilla Luke, 760-583-0485.

Bullying Behavior Not Welcome Here

At St. Paul in the Desert we welcome all worshipers to a place that is free of violence and bullying.

Physical, verbal or emotional violence against others or against oneself is not acceptable because of our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.  Please let Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself be your guide.

“It Gets Better” is a series of video messages to encourage Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender youth and let them know that they are loved as they are.

“A Blessing for Those Who Are Bullied” was written by the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

It is not enough to say “NO” to bullies. It is important to stand up for people and to provide resources for those who have been the targets.

Fraud Email Alert

A recurring threat to churches is email-based impersonation scams targeting key personnel. The scheme involves cybercriminals mimicking clergy or other staff through the use of phishing emails. Criminals typically pose as personnel in positions of authority and ask victims to perform money transfers, pay invoices, or to send the attacker sensitive data. Scammers will often manipulate the “from” email address and name so that it appears to be coming from someone you know.

Churches and dioceses across The Episcopal Church and across other denominations have been a target of these email impersonation attacks. Scammers use a free email account (such as Gmail) and register it with an impersonated name. They then send an email to an unsuspecting recipient asking for immediate help in order to get a task done (such as purchasing a gift card or wiring money). Attention to detail can be a lot of help in combating cases of impersonation. Users should check sender details carefully. Any suspicious email message should be investigated before replying. Also, proper attention should be given to the message content, including attachments and URLs.

While there is no way to stop these scams, you can minimize risk by taking these steps:

  • Check the return email address. If the address doesn’t match the name of the sender, be wary.
  • Never open attachments from unknown sources.
  • Be wary of generically addressed emails like “Dear Friend” or Dear Customer.”
  • If there are links in the email, hover over them without clicking on them. This will show where the link will actually take you.
  • Be wary of email with grammatical or spelling errors in the text.
  • Check the address at the bottom of the email. If it says ”Pastor Jim” and Jim never goes by “Pastor,” it’s fake.

Finally, if after all these steps it looks safe and the sender is asking for money or access to secure data, call the person directly to get verification.

Your best defense for this is to simply delete the email; do not click on any links or reply to the sender.

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