newSpin, the newsletter
November 26, 2013
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• House of Bishops Primer on Ecclesiology ... Download it as a .pdf file here.
• 'Evangelii Gaudium' amounts to Francis' 'I Have a Dream' speech ... [NCR, John Allen, Analysis] Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel." In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.
Francis opens with a dream. "I dream of a 'missionary option,' " Francis writes, "that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world, rather than for her self-preservation." In particular, Francis calls for a church marked by a special passion for the poor and for peace.
The theme of change permeates the document. The pope says rather than being afraid of "going astray," what the church ought to fear instead is "remaining shut up within structures that give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges" and "within habits that make us feel safe." Though Francis released an encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei in June, that text was based largely on a draft prepared by Benedict XVI. "The Joy of the Gospel," designed as a reflection on the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, thus represents the new pope's real debut as an author. Early reaction suggests it's a tour de force. Read on.
Also, "No more business as usual" by Daniel Burke at CNN Belief Blog.
• The bread line: It’s coming soon to a workplace near you ... [NYDaily News] Growing numbers of working people are turning to soup kitchens and food pantries, social service providers say, and their reliance is placing a greater strain on relief networks that were already overtaxed. “I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent if it wasn’t for this meal,” said Henry Harris Jr., 40, who works full-time as an institutional aid at a hospital and grabs a bite to eat every morning at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea. Holy Apostles does not ask the 1,200 patrons it serves every day to show identification, but kitchen managers say the working poor have added to its traffic. Read on.
• Shifts you should know about ... [Alban, Sarai Rice]What are some of the emerging trends that you see in congregations as they adapt to a changing environment?This is a question I’m asked frequently, either by curious participants at a workshop or by members of a struggling congregation who want to know if other congregations are struggling with the same thing. As a result, I’ve started compiling a list of what seem to me to be changes that are adding up to a significant re-imagining of what it means to be “church.” Read on.
• Nativity Cathedral's Emergency Shelter ... opens Thursday, Dec. 6. Would you like to volunteer. Info here.
• Help that's helpful ... [John Major] We once again found ourselves overwhelmed with reports of devastation, destruction and loss as a huge storm system attacked a large swath of the United States. More than 60 reported tornadoes touched down in 10 Midwestern states and piles of rubble are all that remain of untold numbers of homes and businesses. We see this, our hearts break and we all want to do something to help. Please take a moment to read this article, "Help that's helpful," from a woman affected by the 2012 Oklahoma tornadoes. It explains the best, most practical ways to help in the aftermath of a disaster. Though our good-hearted inclination is to empty our closets and cupboards and send clothing, food and household goods, the author notes that sending such "stuff" isn't really as helpful as we might think. Our own experience in the floods of 2011 bear out this article's recommendation that contributions of cash and gift cards are far more helpful because they are easier to collect and distribute and allow those we desire to help to get what they need the most. Read on.
• 12 Days of Christmas in Kajo Keji ... Here.
• Thanksgiving and Hanukkah ... [RNS, Lauren Markoe] It last happened in 1888 and, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for another 77,798 years: the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. This year, Nov. 28 is Thanksgiving and the first full day of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which begins at sundown the previous night. Read onhttp://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/29/thanksgiving-hanukkah-converge-thanksgivukkah-first-time-since-1888/.
• Goldie, the Temple, and Us ... A sermon by Maria Tjeltveit about adaptive change and technical fix as related to the church. Read it here.
• Luminaria Night ... Bill White of The Morning Call has a backstory column about the annual fund raiser to help those served by Bethlehem's New Bethany Ministries. More about Luminaria Nighthttp://newbethanyministries.org/ here.
• Is the tax-free clergy housing allowance unconstitutional? A federal judge ruled on Friday (Nov. 22) that the clergy exemption from paying taxes on a housing allowance is not constitutional. If the ruling stands, an estimated 4,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and other clergy could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay. Richard Evans remarked on Bakert that this is just in one district and will likely be appealed. Even if this case is upheld, it may be years before the change would affect our clergy. Still, this is serious and bears watching.
• Washington’s National Cathedral ... will begin charging admission to visitors at the start of the new year. A memo states that the cathedral ran a deficit and a $10 admissions fee for adults ($6 for children) could generate $150,000 in additional income in 2014. Also here.
• Adaptive change and technical fix ... [Sermon by Canon Maria Teltveit] Don't miss this insightful and inviting sermon. One tool for evangelism and church growth, I've [Bill] long felt, is a church leader such as Maria who preaches Christ for the world today with clarity, insight and honesty on real issues. I've admired and have learned from preachers who have that gift. Read Goldie, the Temple, and Us here.
• Advent devotions from St. John Divine NYC ... Here.
• Digital Advent Calendar from SSJE ... Here.
• Free Advent/Christmas series with Barbara Crafton ... [Herb Gunn, CPG Education and Wellness] CREDO is launching a really nice Advent and Christmas series with Barbara Crafton, open to everyone. The series is a collection of short, daily audio reflections presented by Barbara from her book, "Let Every Heart Prepare: Meditations for Advent and Christmas." It will also be released as an iTunes podcast, and follows the book. On the six Sundays, Barbara's presentation is in video form--with the idea that church folks can plan a six-week Advent/Christmas series as an Adult Forum on Sundays. We also have a Series Facilitator's Guide, with sample exercises or discussion questions from which to choose. Take a look. See if this is something you would consider linking to. There is a sign-up page for the series here.
• SoulSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Celebration for Bishop Paul ... [Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow] Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Bishop Paul will enter retirement on January 1, 2014, and we are grateful to him for his leadership and pastoral care to the Diocese. On the Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2013, we give thanks to God for his Episcopacy at a Festal Eucharist to be held at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre at 3 pm and at a reception following it. The reception will be at the Westmoreland Club beginning at 5 pm. The Westmoreland Club is two doors to the right as you exit the Pro-Cathedral. We are inviting members of the Diocese to attend both of these events. The Clergy of the Diocese are asked to vest and to process at this service. The liturgical color is Purple. I would be grateful if the clergy in each parish would send to me an approximate number of those in your parish who plan to attend. The Diocesan Community will present the Bishop and Diana with a gift in appreciation for their ministry among us. We know that many of you will want to share generously in these gifts. Please send your gifts to me at Diocesan House, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015. Checks should be made payable to the Diocese of Bethlehem and marked accordingly. You may also contribute on-line at diobeth.org. (Click on "Make a Gift" at the bottom of the page.) I look forward to your presence on December 15 and thank you in advance for your generosity and for your gifts. We give thanks to God for the many blessings we have received through their ministrations. Please hold both Bishop Paul and Diana in your prayers as they begin a new life, and also pray for the Diocese of Bethlehem as we celebrate their ministry amongst us.
• Youth invited to sing at the celebration for Bishop Paul ... Read on.
• Jubilate for December 1 through March 2 ... [Kat Lehman] I just posted the newest Jubilate, hymnody for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany to the DioBeth website. This is graciously provided by Canon Cliff Carr and we are grateful for his work and selections. If you wish to receive this via email, please use our Get Connected box on the righthand side of our home page and sign-up for Jubilate. I send them quarterly (or when Cliff sends me a new file) in both Word and .pdf formats direct to your inbox. You can find the latest Jubilate here, under Diocesan Resources. You might want to bookmark this for later retrieval. The .pdf version is uploaded online and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it or some other .pdf reader software.
• Communication opportunities in the Diocese of Bethlehem ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] Parishes have until December 31 to take advantage of the web site offer of Post Communications. To learn more go to the Diocesan website and click on What's Happening, then Communication Resources, and then Diocesan Resources. The only thing a parish has to pay for is a domain name. This is a custom WordPress site, and all hosting, design, maintenance, and training is covered by contract with the Diocese. Estimated savings to each parish is $750 for design and $120 for hosting. Here. John Major sends along a sample electronic bulletin of weekly Trinity Chimes that has been sent for over a year on weekly basis to all parishioners and friends who give us e-mail. "This has been a gift to us from the diocese," John says
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Canon Anne Kitch] Monthly newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources. November. Lovely short reflection on The Extravagance of a Fall Leaf.
• DioBeth on Facebook ... Diobeth Facebook page.
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield in the midst of life's storms. November 18.
• DioLight ... Vol. 1, Issue 18: Responding to the Phillippines by John Major. Three kinds of giving by Jim Rinehart. Here.
• What's Happening? ... Diocesan level events. Here.
• 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.
• Christian Formation's 'dirty little secret' ... [Tim Schenck] There’s nothing more disheartening than putting a tremendous amount of effort into an adult education program only to have a handful of people show up. This happens more than you’d think in parishes of all types, denominations, and sizes but no one wants to talk about it. Clergy don’t — because it looks like failure on their part. And lay people don’t — because they’d have to admit they weren’t interested enough to show up. Read on.
• Music at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral ... Here.
• Trinity West Pittston hosts community meeting on historic designation ... Here.
• Woe betide the leader who ignores the 'sacred bundle' ... [Faith and Leadership at Duke Divinity] Every organization has its "sacred bundle," the collection of symbols, stories and artifacts that confers identity upon a community and determines its social norms. Woe betide the leader who ignores it. Read on.
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program ... Here.
• Episcopal Appalachian Ministries ... Small grants available. Deadline for applications is Nov. 30. Read on.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• Gil Rendle's PowerPoint Presentations at the 2013 Lutheran Bishop's Conference ... [NEPA Lutheran Synod] on Conversations That Matter: Honest Talk about Discipleship and Change may be downloaded here: Presentation 1 (PowerPoint); Presentation 2 (PowerPoint); Presentation 3 (PowerPoint).
• Communication tips and tools ... [United Methodist Communiction] Here.
Rest in Peace
• William Pollack, 87 ... [NYTimes] a medical researcher who helped develop a vaccine that virtually eradicated a disease once responsible for 10,000 infant deaths a year in the United States, died on Nov. 3 in Yorba Linda, Calif. More here.
• Our young men and women who died recently in Afghanistan and for their families ... Here ... Pray also for the fallen heroes also of our coalition partners, and for the citizens of Afghanistan who have died, unnamed and unknown to us, and for those who mourn ... and for the end to this endless war.
Episcopal/Anglican (beyond DioBeth)
• Pittsburgh clergy can exercise a "local option" on same-sex blessings ... Here.
• Our Church: A Personal History of the Church of England ...[Commonweal Review] According to Roger Scruton, religion has been an embarrassment to the English since the seventeenth century—one of the topics, like sex, that you just don’t discuss. Ever since fervent Protestants left England to set up their city on a hill in America, England—exhausted by the religious conflicts of the Civil War—has settled for peace rather than ardent belief. The difference in religious fervor between the two countries never ceases to amaze both the British and Americans. [Unfortunately, this review, titled A Mossy Graveyard, is behind a Commonweal paywall] The following is from Amazon: For most people in England today, the church is simply the empty building at the end of the road, visited for the first time, if at all, when dead. It offers its sacraments to a population that lives without rites of passage, and which regards the National Health Service rather than the National Church as its true spiritual guardian. In Our Church, Scruton argues that the Anglican Church is the forlorn trustee of an architectural and artistic inheritance that remains one of the treasures of European civilization. He contends that it is a still point in the centre of English culture and that its defining texts, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are the sources from which much of our national identity derives. At once an elegy to a vanishing world and a clarion call to recognize Anglicanism's continuing relevance, Our Church is a graceful, persuasive and personal book.
• Presiding Bishop's Advent Message ... Here.
• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Church position on Office of Government Relations ... Here.
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• 'To lessen the pain of the sermons' ... [Writer's Almanac] American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Nov. 25, 1835, the son of a weaver and political radical. His father instilled in young Andrew the values of political and economic equality, but his family's poverty taught Carnegie a different lesson. At the age of 12, the boy worked as a milkhand for $1.20 per week. When the Carnegies immigrated to America in 1848, Carnegie was determined to find prosperity. One of the pioneers of industry of 19th-century America, Andrew Carnegie helped build the American steel industry, which turned him into one of the richest entrepreneurs of his age. Over the course of his life, Andrew Carnegie endowed 2,811 libraries and many charitable foundations as well as the internationally famous Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also bought 7,689 organs for churches. The purpose of the latter gift was, in Carnegie's words, "To lessen the pain of the sermons." Read on.
• State of Racism ... [ENS] Coverage of the gathering’s opening session on Nov. 15 is here. An ENS series of video reflections from the conference are here. The Nov. 15 webcast, which included a keynote address by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and two panel discussions, is available for on-demand viewing here. A discussion guide developed for the forum is available. Read on.
• The paradox of growing old ... [The Economist] Video interview with Lynne Segal here. [h/t Larry Holman]
• National poll finds discrimination prevalent in the United States ... [ENS] A new national poll commissioned by the Episcopal Church has found that nearly all Americans (98 percent) feel that there is at least some discrimination in the United States today. Read on.
Princeton Theological Seminary... [Times of Trenton] lays off 21.
• Anti-Semitism driving Jews from Europe? ... Again? The Forward notes that Jews in Europe wish they had the problems of Jews in America. “Across Europe, 66 percent of Jewish people see anti-Semitism as a problem in their respective countries today — as high as 90 percent in Hungary and 85 percent in France. The perception, moreover, is that over the past five years, the level of anti-Semitism has increased, with 76 percent of respondents saying it had gone up a lot or a little.” [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Probing ... The New York Times has an interesting story about a divorced mother of three whose suicide raises questions about how difficult it can be for people who throw off their Orthodox Jewish identity and try to maintain ties with their children. And, Russell Moore wonders where evangelicals will go after leaving the Religious Right. In a long essay in First Things, he finds evidence that the kids are alright. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Dilbert on Death and Dying ... Dilbert creator Scott Adams is a prolific blogger as well as popular cartoonist and his post the other day – as his aged father lay dying – railing against opponents of assisted-suicide was an emotional smack in the face. “If you’re a politician who has ever voted against doctor-assisted suicide, or you would vote against it in the future, I hate your f—ing guts and I would like you to die a long, horrible death.” At Real Clear Religion, Debra Saunders didn’t just blast Adams for views she abhors – she called him up, and they had an actual conversation. Check it out. And check out Cathy Grossman’s reports last week on the latest polling on this tough topic. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Counting martyrs worldwide ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] Are unreliable sources inflating the numbers? What's the big deal? Inflated statistics can be used to fan religious hatred. Read on.
• The Speck that is Earth ... [John Major] Following my recent sermon that focused some on "not sweating the small stuff (who shall be married to who in the kingdom) and maintaining focus on the big stuff, (the gift of the eternal City; the gift of bliss)," my mother-in-law discovered this so-called "mind altering" photograph of planet Earth as a speck.
• NEPA Synod website ... Here.
• ELCA website ... Here. The new ELCA.org website will be launched on Monday morning, Nov. 18. The launch is the culmination of extensive planning and implementation, during which the ELCA gathered input from a wide range and number of colleagues, constituents and end users from across this church. The result of their collective work is now ready to be published online. Check it out!
• ELCA News Service ... Here.
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• Communication tips and tools ... Here.
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• To listen widely and well ... [NCR] If bishops around the world want to follow a Vatican directive to listen "as widely as possible" to Catholics' views on issues like contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce before next year's synod, they may have to get to work very quickly. Organizing such an effort, said several coordinators of bishops' previous attempts to engage in wide-range listening, takes time, dedication and a sincere desire to listen to the everyday experiences of Catholics -- regardless of whether their viewpoints fall outside the bounds of strict adherence to church teaching. It also depends on the ability of those doing the collection of the data to sort it and then find ways to interpret what it means. Read on.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Pope says purported visions of Mary can lead people away from God ... [Catholic News Service] "Curiosity pushes us to want to hear that the Lord is here or over there, or it makes us say, 'Well, I know a visionary who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady,'" the pope said. But Mary is "not a postmaster of the post office sending out messages every day. The kingdom of God is among us. Don't look for strange things." Read on.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• Minimize holiday stress ... [Orthopedic Associates of Allentown] Here. [h/t Diana Marshall]
• Flu shots, 'tis the season ... Flu.gov is the official government website where you can enter your zip code to find out where you can get a flu shot, get advice for who is most at risk, and learn how you can help care for loved ones who get the flu. Flu shots at pharmacies and supermarkets are not free, but Medicare and most health insurance plans cover the cost. Check with your insurance provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services, like the flu vaccine, at no cost to you. If you do not have insurance or if yours does not cover vaccines, help is available. Free flu-shot clinics are or will be available in many areas. To find where you can get free flu shots, search on your browser for "free flu" plus your county. Even though it’s been a few years since the H1N1 pandemic flu was national news, it is another strand of the flu to always be mindful of. The 2013-2014 flu shots cover this strain of the flu, plus others. Learn more about this year’s flu season and shots from the CDC.
• Cold or Flu? ... The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers tips on the differences between a cold and flu, how you can prevent both, what to do if you’re already sick, and advice on over the counter medicines. You can get it all online or even order a hard copy publication sent to your house.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
• 4 signs you love your tech too much ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Philomena ... [NYTimes Review] In “Philomena,” Judi Dench’s portrayal of a stubborn, kindhearted Irish Catholic trying to discover what became of the toddler she was forced to give up as a teenager is so quietly moving that it feels lit from within. A major theme of this film from Stephen Frears is forgiveness. Ms. Dench’s Philomena Lee glows with the radiance of someone serene in her faith despite inhumane treatment by the church. That she makes you believe her character has the capacity to forgive provides the movie with a solid moral center. Read on.
• The Gospel according to William Stringfellow ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] The writing of Episcopal lay theologian and activist William Stringfellow is featured in a new collection published this week as the latest installment in Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series, William Stringfellow: Essential Writings. More here. Also at National Catholic Reporter.
• The Believer ... [NYTimes] Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal, reviewed by Marilynne Robinson. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... November.
• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators ... Here.
• Insights into Religion ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
(2) Episcopal Café
(3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
(4) The Living Church
(5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.
... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there on the title of the current newsletter. Comment below. As soon as the newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. 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, 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]