The newSpin Newsletter, September 17, 2012
By Bill Lewellis
Published weekly, on Monday
• Diocesan Convention ... [Oct. 5-6, Good Shepherd Scranton] Here for more info and to register. Here for info on the ECW Project.
• Find your church ... Is anybody using FaithStreet? It's worth a look. I understand it's a Silicon Alley (NYC) start-up.
• Trinity West Pittston celebrates resiliency of neighbors ... [John Major and Janine Ungvarsky] On September 9, 2011, one third of our West Pittston neighbors reeled at the sight of the damage floodwaters had done to their homes the day before. This year on September 9, Trinity had the privilege of having many of these neighbors as guests at a free chicken barbecue planned to commemorate this difficult time and celebrate the resiliency of our neighbors. Read on. Also at Citizens' Voice.
• My challenge of getting old in a job ... [Bishop Paul] At General Convention, an older and somewhat snippy bishop asked me, in an elevator, if I saw anybody I knew. I couldn't determine whether he was reflecting on his own incipient senility, on mine, or on the rapidity of change in the House of Bishops, so I said nothing. (Just believe me about that.) The results of that conversation are in this note as I reflect on his and my challenge of getting old in a job.
Sometime late in 2013 into early 2014 I shall take a several years' long-overdue sabbatical. I have postponed this because of the time I took in cardiac rehab in 2009. Ironically, the diocese made money on that absence due to our disability insurance, but rather than the money part, I have been much more interested in catching up on being present in each parish on Sunday visits and time with the clergy.
As far as a sabbatical goes, in addition to the required de-compresion goals, the specific active goal will be to strengthen my right brain for old age, along with pumping some iron more regularly, which will also help the brain. I will immerse myself in something entirely new, either a language or a culture, with the goal of returning to work with a more nimble (ahem) brain. Since I do not have a choice about becoming an old man, the goal is to be a wise (and fairly fit) old man rather than a cranky (and creaky) old man as I serve you. I've been a cranky young man, and it didn't work politically in the broader church: my spiritual quest is to become an elder. St Seraphim said, when he wasn't distracted by bears, "Acquire a peaceful spirit and around you thousands will be saved." That is my goal for my late 60s and 70s. Thus, whatever sabbatical project is taken on, it will be right-brain focussed, since the left brain is where I normally reside.
What you need to anticipate during that time, as always, is a year in which regional confirmations are held by Bishop Jack and me, and that the parish visitations that he and I do will have a regional flavor as well. We are aware that our usual parish-by-parish practice is well beyond the canonical bonds of how often parishes need to be visited, so there are no worries on that level.
This may also serve as a reminder that our diocesan requirement for sabbaticals exists for the dual purpose of giving a clergy person a brief bit of rest and then moving on to do something that will make him/her better at what they do. Just as clergy sabbaticals serve the long-term health of the parish (Mediator is the current best example that comes to the top of the mind), episcopal sabbaticals serve to help bishops learn and think new thoughts. We seek not only the prevention of burn-out, but the rekindlng of the flame! I will keep you posted as plans develop.
• UTO approves $75,000 for new diocesan headquarters in Kajo Keji ... [Bishop Paul, June 27] I have just learned that the United Thank Offering has approved a grant of $75,000.00 to be administered by us for the new diocesan headquarters in Kajo-Keji. I am profoundly grateful to UTO, and to all of you who support UTO each and every year. I also need to thank Charlie Barebo, who shepherded Bishop Anthony's application through the process. By the way, the overseas grants do not compete with domestic grants, about which I have not yet heard. The past ten years of our relationship with Kajo-Keji have taught us great lessons about mission, and it is more than encouraging to have this assistance from the United Thank Offering. There will be more information coming. Again, my thanks to UTO and to all of you who so faithfully make its mission possible. Blessings, +Paul
• Journey to Adulthood Mentor Training ... Friday, October 19th, 7pm - 9pm and Saturday, October 20th, 9am - 3pm at Cathedral Church of the Nativity. For youth leaders, clergy, experienced or new J2A leaders, parents, Christian ed directors. Register online by Oct. 15. More here.
• Happening #21 ... [Ellyn Siftar, Missioner for Youth and Young Adult Ministries] Registration is open. Go to the youth and young adult blog where you will find more information on what "Happening" is and why you want your youth to go.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Anne Kitch] Here.
• Ministry of Public Witness ... [PA Council of Churches] Download news and action summary, Sept. 14, in pdf format here. [h/t Diana Marshall]
• How Did I Get to Be 70 When I'm 35 Inside?: Spiritual Surprises of Later Life ... JoAnn Lumley, a 70-something from Sayre who ministers regularly to a group of elderly ladies and drives to Bishop's School in Whitehall on Saturdays, recommends this book by Linda Douty. If you've ever met JoAnn, you won't be surprised by the title. More here and here. JoAnn wonders, "What would Jesus do at 72?"
• DioBeth Website ... newSpin Blog ... Re:Create blog for youth and young adults ... Twitter.DioBeth ... Twitter.Kat Lehman ... Facebook.DioBeth ... Flickr, search under dio_beth
• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
• September is Hunger Awareness Month ... [St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre] The need for hunger awareness is especially critical at this time, with nearly 49 million people in the United States at risk of hunger, including 16 million children. That number includes many of your neighbors, co-workers, friends and even family. They are someone kids, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. Read on. [h/t Debra Kellerman]
• Bus triip to Nick Knisely's consecration ... [Laura Howell] Some folks have approached me about hiring a bus to attend Dean Nick Knisely's consecration in Rhode Island on November 17. It is a pretty long trip, so we are thinking of going early in the morning on Friday, November 16, and returning late Saturday afternoon, November 17, following the consecration. We will have at least a little time for sightseeing. Until we know how many people are interested, we don't know how big a bus to get. If you have an interest in joining us, would you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please let me know if you are interested in hotel rooms. Cost will depend on size of the group.
• Note to parishes ... Post news summaries and links on Bakery or send them to Bill.
• Calendar of Events ... Here.
• Episcopal Church woos Latinos ... [NPR] Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic. For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity. The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800. Read on or listen.
• Challenges to The Clinic won't deter ministry ... Nearly a dozen years ago, an Episcopal church rector and a physician joined forces in Phoenixville to offer health care to the poor and uninsured. It started with blood pressure checks at a food pantry, spawning the notion to seek financial donors and open a clinic. Two years later, The Clinic opened in a refurbished rectory of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. In the decade since, 60,000 people have been treated or seen by the volunteer staff of doctors and nurses that staff the operation. In those 10 years, The Clinic has done more than just treat people in Phoenixville, charging only what they can afford, be it $1 or $50. It has also boosted the entire health-care establishment of the region and served as inspiration, a unique experiment at a time when how to pay for health care consumes political debate in Washington. The two women who founded The Clinic, Dr. Lorna Stuart and the Rev. Marie Swayze, believe The Clinic has saved the state and federal governments millions of dollars in care. Read on at the Pottstown Mercury and the West Chester Daily Local News.
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here.
• Episcopal Church Website ... ENS blog ... Episcopal Church on Facebook ... Episcopal Church on YouTube ... Anglican Communion website ... Anglican Communion News Service. ... Anglican Communion News Service on Facebook.
• What we need to know about Coptic Christians ... [Poynter] Here.
• Riots in Egypt and Libya ... [Religion News Service] RNS's Omid Safe has 12 things you need to know to make sense of this story.
• The evolving politics of faith ... [LATimes Op-Ed, Diane Winston] Think religion won't matter in the presidential election? Religion in this campaign is more a matter of values than denominations ... So when polls and pundits pronounce that religion isn't a factor in the 2012 election, don't believe it. Religious labels may be passe, but the religious values that inform who's taxed, what's regulated, how jobs are created and when or where we help those in need are more important than ever. Read on.
• Doubt belongs in youth ministry ... [Episcopal Café h/t Andrew Gerns] A study by Fuller Youth Institute shows that directly confronting doubt and fundemental questions of faith is essential for effective ministry to young people ... Suppression of doubt can sabotage a young person’s faith ... Doubt in and of itself isn’t toxic. It’s unexpressed doubt that becomes toxic. Read on. "At Trinity, Wilmington, Delaware, in the 1960’s," Ginny Day tells us, "a young parishioner returned from college for Christmas vacation. He came to my father’s office (aka that rector’s office) and with what appeared to be a desire to challenge my father said 'I am doubting what I have been taught here at church.' To which Daddy responded, 'Thank God you’re beginning to think!' A significant number of meaningful conversations ensued.
• Zen Birthday Card ... Here.
• The 'Busy' Trap ... [Tim Kreider at Opinionator, NYTimes] Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking. ... The Puritans turned work into a virtue, evidently forgetting that God invented it as a punishment. More here.
• One church's political activity ... [Nonprofit Law Prof Blog] On Sunday, September 2, the RC Church of St. Catherine of Siena, in NYC, published and circulated to parishioners a church bulletin containing a column by the Rev. John Farren, a member of the congregation’s pastoral staff. The column, which is ostensibly about religious freedom, reproduced in full a letter from several former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican criticizing the Obama administration and concluding, “We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.” (Note that this is a quote from the ambassadors' letter, reproduced in full in Fr. Farren's column, not a quote from Fr. Farren himself). The reproduced letter, in fact, mentions Romney specifically a half-dozen times, and in each paragraph other than the very first. Read on.
• Religion News Service Daily on the riots .. The LAPD took Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, one the men behind the moronic film "Innocence of Muslims," in for "voluntary questioning" on Saturday. Nakoula and another California man behind the film were influenced by a fiery Coptic cleric who lives in SoCal and is known worldwide for insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad, the LA Times reports. Coptic Christian leaders in the U.S., including the bishop of California, denounced the Copts behind the film and attempted to distance their community from it. Not surprising: The director of "Innocence," made his, um ... bones, directing softcore porn. Google, which owns YouTube, denied a White House request to censor the film, saying it does not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech. Google blocked the video in Indonesia and India, however, because it violates local laws, according to the NYT, and temporarily blocked it last week in Libya and Egypt. Meanwhile in Pakistan, hundreds of protesters demonstrating against "Innocence" torched a press club and a government building on Monday. Demonstrators also turned violent outside a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, the AP reports. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta says the turmoil will likely continue for a few more days before tapering off. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, denounced the attacks on diplomats and embassies as un-Islamic. It's been a scary weekend for an Egyptian atheist known for provoking Muslims. The NYT takes a stab at describing what's really behind the riots: Traditional Muslims' and Christians' conflict with Western individualism and secularism. USA Today, OTOH, says the riots result from a power struggle between radical and moderate Islamists. The Atlantic offers a three-fold explanation: 1) U.S. drone attacks in majority Muslim countries. 2) The Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 3) U.S. troops' presence in Muslim countries. Meanwhile, a religious foundation in Iran is offering $3.3 million for the murder of "The Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie, who just published a memoir about living under Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa. [Subscribe to Religion News Service Daily here.]
• Email Problems Continue for Lutheran Synod Staff with nepsynod.org addresses ... Synod staff members with a nepsynod.org email address (X@nepsynod.org) still are unable to receive email at that address and have not received email since August 30. If you sent an email to a staff member in the past two weeks and have not received a response, or if you need to contact someone at the Lutheran Center, please call the office (610-266-5101). The issue is being addressed and staff may have access to their nepsynod.org email soon, but currently that email is not available.
• NEPA Synod website ... Here. ELCA website ... Here. ELCA News Service ... Here. ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• UMC website Here. News Service Here. Communication Resources Start here. Communication newsletter (tips and tools) Here. Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• A comedian and a cardinal ... [NYTimes] Fordham University's "Catholic Comedy Slam," with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Stephen Colbert and the Rev. James Martin, "might have been the most successful Roman Catholic youth evangelization event since Pope John Paul II last appeared at World Youth Day," the NYT reports.
• Allentown Diocese Catholic Charities drops refugee, foster programs ... [The Morning Call] The program has quietly ended. So has the agency's venerable foster care program, which found stable families for hundreds of children displaced from their homes by domestic troubles. In the first case, federal funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of HHS, has been a target of deep cuts in recent years and continues to face the knife. The foster care program was dropped because of an increased emphasis by the state on in-home counseling and other strategies aimed at keeping families intact. That dramatically cut the number of children in need of foster care. Read on.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here. Diocese of Scranton ... Here. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here. Catholic News Service ... Here. Vatican website ... Here. Vatican Information Service blog ... Here. Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• A new approalch on leukemia brings glimpses of the future ... [NYTimes, Gina Kolata] In the first of a three part series, Gina Kolata of the New York Times takes readers to the frontiers of medical research where scientists are using the most advanced genetic techniques to battle cancer. She tells the story of a brilliant young doctor, a leukemia specialist, who himself gets the disease. Dr. Lukas Wartman’s colleagues at Washington University lead a last ditch effort to save his life. They fully sequenced the genes for his cancer cells and healthy cells and found a culprit that led them to a treatment that had never been tried before for his cancer. His is a story of hope and uncertainty. Read More.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For the people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
Calendar of Events/The Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Get Help Paying your rent ... [USA.gov Team] Those struggling to make rent payments may be able to find assistance from their local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office. These offices offer rental assistance programs like privately-owned subsidized housing, public housing, and housing choice vouchers. Help may also be available from state housing authority or local public housing agencies. Veterans, senior citizens, persons with a disability or who live in a rural area may get help paying rent and find additional resources.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Congregational Resource Guide ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church
(2) Episcopal News Service
(3) Episcopal Café
(5) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
• Religion&Poitics fit for polite company ... Religion & Politics is an online news journal, dedicated to the two topics thought unfit for polite company. It is a project of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Here.
• Daily Office ... Lectionary Page ... Lectionary ... Oremus Bible Browser ... Revised Common Lectionary
You are reading the newSpin newsletter. The newSpin blog, which includes the newsletter and other items, is available here, where you may comment on anything posted here. When the newsletter is completed on Mondays and occasionally on Thursdays as well, it is published immediately to the blog and on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,000 addresses. Many recipients forward it to many more. Bakery and the blog are interactive. The ChurchPost list is not. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor. The views expressed, implied or inferred in items or links contained in the newsletter or the blog do not represent the official view of the Diocese of Bethlehem unless expressed by or forwarded from the Bishop or the Archdeacon as an official communication. If you're wondering why you haven't seen something related to your parish or agency here, it's probably because no one has sent relevant info. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion here, send email to Bill.
Bill Lewellis, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired
Communication Minister/Editor (1986-2010), Canon Theologian (1998)
Blog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]