newSpin, the newsletter
January 28, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• 'Safe Haven' at St. Paul's Lutheran in Allentown is not a shelter, but ... [The Morning Call] In the first of two columns, Bill White writes about why Pastor Richard Baumann and St. Paul's Lutheran Church in center-city Allentown deserved praise not criticism from the City when the congregation opened its basement to the homeless overnight. In his second column, he noted that if St. Paul's hadn't made that space available, many of the people there would be sleeping in tents, under bridges or in other places where they would be at risk of freezing to death. Pastor Baumann said "The reality is, there should be a better place for those people down there ... They're on the floor, but they're not outside."
• 'Warmth in the Night' Shelter at Grace Church, Honesdale ... [Ed Erb] has been, as you might expect, quite busy the past two weeks. Our fourth winter running, though our most full times were during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. We run the only shelter in Pike and Wayne Counties. [Mark Laubach] Kudos and thanks to Fr. Ed and the good people of Grace Church, Honesdale, for doing this! Those of us who live, work, and/or worship in more urban areas often forget that homelessness exists in small towns and rural regions as well. I've always thought it to be the height of hypocrisy when government leaders who profess to be moral, upstanding, "Bible-believing" Christians fail to acknowledge that feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and housing the homeless would be the mark of federal, state, and local governments which are truly "Christian." Even more sad are the churches that fail to see this as a Gospel imperative for their faith communities.
• Bethlehem churches shelter homeless during winter months ... What happens to the homeless when temperatures drop to freezing has been a concern of the community for some time. In the winter of 2009 and 2010, with six other churches, the Cathedral began providing overnight lodging and two meals (supper and breakfast) for the homeless. The Cathedral provides shelter on Thursday nights, St. Andrew's provides shelter on Friday nights. This editorial published by the Express-Times and referenced stories from 2010 may need updating. We hope to provide updates over the next few weeks. The Morning Call did a story in January 2013.
• Sermon for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ... Canon Maria Tjeltveit gave this sermon at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service at St. Peter’s RC Cathedral, in Scranton.
• Jesus wrestled with God about a better way ... The Morning Call published this column by Bill Lewellis on January 25. Read it at the newSpin blog or The Morning Call.
• DioBeth Tech ... For several years, Kat Lehman has published online a weekly newsletter available to anyone who joins DioBeth Tech at the"Get Connected" link at the top right of the front page of our DioBeth website. Topics include interesting websites; free training; IT and technology news from a variety of news outlets; information from Apple and Microsoft; occasional white papers from a variety of sources; and security news from SANS as well as a link to the latest round of email information making its way via Snopes.com.
• Online courses offer new venue for churches to teach religion ... [Detroit Free-Press] Michigan Episcopal priest launches Church Next, an online Christian learning program that has already grown to include 200 churches across the U.S. Read on.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Alone, yet not alone ... [David Brooks, Opinion, NYTimes] Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel described one experience of faith in his book “God in Search of Man”: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement...get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal. ...To be spiritual is to be amazed.” And yet Heschel understood that the faith expressed by many, even many who are inwardly conflicted, is often dull, oppressive and insipid — a religiosity in which “faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion.” There must be something legalistic in the human makeup, because cold, rigid, unambiguous, unparadoxical belief is common, especially considering how fervently the Scriptures oppose it. And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand. Read on.
[Bill] Many years ago, when Lou Cassels was religion editor for United Press International, he wrote a weekly column that appeared in more than 400 ewspapers. His peers used to say that he wrote three columns and one sermon a month. I have found that something similar might be said of David Brooks, though perhaps not in the same ratio. I do at times disagree with his columns, but almost always find his sermons insightful. Don't miss the song linked to in Mr. Brooks' sermon.
• Harvard online course on 'Early Christianity: The Letters Of Paul' ... [HuffPost] draws 22,000 students from 180 countries – and counting. Harvard professor Laura Nasrallah's edX online course has been called the largest and most concentrated scholarly discussion of Biblical studies in history. Read on.
• Secrets ... [Gerard Baker, WSJournal] "Secrets keep us sick," is a common therapeutical mantra, and research shows keeping secrets can actually cause ill physical effects. Yet, nearly everyone withholds information about themselves from their loved ones. Why? Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein shares the experiences of people who keep and reveal secrets in a relationship and the consequences of both. She also reports on the latest research, finding, for example, that our relationship satisfaction goes down when we keep secrets from a mate. And for those of us yearning to get something off our chest, her column addresses the questions of whether, when and how to spill the beans. Read on.
On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an arresting image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”
Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)
But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted.- See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/01/16/philippians-413-many-christians-misuse-iconic-verse/#sthash.btZ7xsTO.dpuf
• How to be a crazy Christian ... [Episcopal Café] The Rt Rev Michael Curry and ChurchNext are offering The Big Class: How to Be a Crazy Christian beginning January 27. Over 700 people around the world have signed up for this online course. Read on.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• SoulSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Kajo Keji, South Sudan Trip ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] Charles Barebo and I returned on Saturday from our eighth mission trip to our companion diocese. We visited the five primary schools, the secondary school, and the college New Hope has constructed in Kajo-Keji. We met with leadership of all the schools and participated in the Best Practices meeting where those leaders share their experiences guiding their schools.
We visited with Bishop Anthony Poggo and renewed our friendship with him. We stayed with him gratefully accepting his hospitality. We returned with copies of his newly-published book, Come Let Us Rebuild, that we shall be sharing. Most especially we rejoiced with him and his diocese at the signing of a cease-fire agreement on 23 Jan 14. This step leads, we hope, to the end of a month of fighting that has left ten thousand dead, displaced many more, and riled the oil market.
For a good trip, a successful mission, safe travel, and a safe return, we are very thankful.
• Standing Committee chooses Sean Rowe as Bishop Provisional nominee. Special Convention set for March 1. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog ... Bakery • Letter to Diocese from Standing Committee. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog ... Bakery. • Q&A: Bishop Provisional nominee and election. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog • Biographical Sketch: Bishop Sean Rowe. Bakery
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield...in the midst of life's storms, January 27.The fourth quarter reporting figures from Episcopal Relief & Development show the designated area of the country that includes us, Region 3, was the top contributor of all regions with nearly $3 million in donations. Parishes and individuals from our diocese contributed $32,639 of that total! Thank you to the parishioners and leadership at St. Anne's-Trexlertown, St. Luke's-Lebanon, Trinity-Easton, St. Joseph's-Wind Gap, Trinity-Bethlehem, Trinity-Mount Pocono, Church of the Epiphany-Clarks Summit and Church of the Redeemer-Sayre who made parish-level donations. I'd also like to thank our many sisters and brothers who made individual donations, which are only reported in aggregate for privacy reasons. What makes this even better is that a large percentage of these donations came in while Episcopal Relief & Development had a matching campaign going on, so many of these donations will be doubled. All of this will be a wonderful blessing and benefit to the good work done by Episcopal Relief & Development to help heal a hurting world. Read on.
• 2014 United Thank Offering Grants ... [Cathy Bailey, Diocesan UTO Coordinator] If your parish is considering applying for a UTO grant, please begin to gather the information needed. Find grant information here so that you can prepare your grant application. Deadline for submission to Diocesan House is January 31. Please send via email to Anne Kitch, email@example.com. For more info: Cathy Bailey, firstname.lastname@example.org or Anne Kitch. Read on.
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• 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.
• Newsletter of REACH at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... Here.
• Winter Warmer Concert Series ... St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral will present its inaugural Winter Warmer Concert Series featuring three concerts by three very talented solo artists—harpist Meghan K. Davis on January 17, guitarist Tim Farrell on January 31, and singer/songwriter Janet Burgan on February 14. More here.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• When it comes to church growth, it's not the theology ... [Andrew Brown, The Guardian UK] Evangelicals like to think their beliefs boost numbers. But really it's because they take growth seriously – a lesson liberals could learn. Read on. [Bill] I think evangelism usually begins after people come to church. "Come and see," Jesus said.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here.
Rest in Peace
• Pete Seeger, 94 ... songwriter and champion of folk music. Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action. NYTimes obit. AP obit. Dallas Morning News 2005 Q&A.
• Richard Miller, 81 ... of the Northeastern PA Synod of ELCA. Read obituary 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.
• Church of England's bishops defer gay marriage decision ... [Religion News Service] With little more than two months to go before Britain's first same-sex marriage, the College of Bishops issued a statement saying that “no change” to the Church of England's teaching on marriage is proposed or envisioned. Read on.
• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• Mozart, Dante and Lewis Carroll ... [Writer's Almanac] Yesterday, Jan. 27, was the birthdary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756, Lewis Carroll, 1832 (Anglican deacon Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and the day in1302 when Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence for his political sympathies. Read on.
• An angel on his back? ... [Father Ed Erb, as told by Ed on Bakery] Who says God doesn’t provide? Mrs. Erb and I were cleaning up from our Community Luncheon on Saturday, when one of our shelter volunteers brought in a young man who had been walking up the wrong road, thinking he was going to Scranton – walking! It turns out he was released from the local “County Hotel,” as I call it, with no transportation nor money from his prison account. He was to be in Allentown before 10:00pm and report to a half-way house or he’d be breaking parole. He would not have made it even to Scranton by then walking, if he didn’t get frost-bitten.
Is there even a bus from Scranton to Allentown? Called Martz/Greyhound. On hold for 5 minutes, no answer. We’re wasting time. I’ll drive you to Scranton. Wait, I don’t have any gas money. Then I remembered that someone gave me a donation to the discretionary fund in cash which was still in my desk drawer (now, replaced, I must add). So we get on the road.
No, there is no bus to Allentown, but there is one to Easton, and you can take a local bus to Allentown. OK. What time does the bus leave Scranton? 4:30. And it was 2:00. Phew. I bought him a ticket. What about the bus from Easton? Here’s their number call them. He’d arrive in Easton at 6:30 and the last bus to Allentown was 7:30. Again, Phew! Wait a minute? How am I going to buy that ticket? I don’t have any money. Well, I have $7 in my wallet, that’s all I can give you. Ask them how much it costs? $4! Do I want the other three back? Heck no, buy yourself something to eat.
And he made it to the half-way house 2 hours before his deadline! I said, you definitely have an angel on your back. And he showed me a tattoo – Nope, but I got one on my chest. It was in memory of his two-year-old son who died.
• The Great Decline: 60 years of religion in one graph ... [Religion News Service] Religiosity in the United States is in the midst of what might be called ‘The Great Decline.’ Previous declines in religion pale in comparison. Over the past fifteen years, the drop in religiosity has been twice as great as the decline of the 1960s and 1970s. Read on.
• The Polish Church's gender problem ... [NYTimes, Opinion, Slawomir Sierakowski] The first sign that something strange was happening emerged this past summer at a debate I participated in with one of Poland’s best-known bishops, Tadeusz Pieronek. We were at a summer culture festival at a resort in Swinoujscie, on the Baltic coast. All of a sudden, Bishop Pieronek blurted out, “I would like to add that the ideology of gender presents a threat worse than Nazism and Communism combined.” Bishop Pieronek, considered part of the liberal wing of Poland’s Catholic Church, seemed to be reciting memorized talking points. In any case, he didn’t have more to say about his statement, nor could he name any victims or give the number of people killed or maimed by the threat of gender. He did, however, repeat his statement, while adding that gender ideology is at odds with nature and natural law. Read on.
• Truth and truthiness ... [America Magazine] Stephen Colbert has figured out how to reach people, and Christian educators should take notice. Read on.
• 'Safe Haven' at St. Paul's Lutheran in Allentown ... Read above, under TopSpin.
• 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."
• Ranks of defiant UM clergy rise ... [RNS] Almost daily, evidence mounts of defiant United Methodist clergy breaking church law on behalf of gays and lesbians as the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination struggles with what may be its most vexing rebellion in decades. Read on.
• 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.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• The older mind may just be a fuller mind ... [NYTimes] For the time being, this new digital-era challenge to “cognitive decline” can serve as a ready-made explanation for blank moments, whether senior or otherwise. It’s not that you’re slow. It’s that you know so much. Read on.
• 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.
• 'Gravity' and the unanswered questions of unbelief ... [RNS, Jeffrey Weiss] Reviews of the new hit movie “Gravity” note that it’s an unusually fine science fiction film. What they don’t mention is that the main character represents an increasingly common theme in American religion: The spiritual “none of the above.” Yes, the special effects are splendid. And I’ll take the word of astronauts who say the visuals capture amazingly well what it’s like to work in the microgravity of near-Earth orbit.But there are moments where spiritual and philosophical themes take center stage. Read on. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• 12 Years a Slave ... (Critics Choice Best Picture at the Thursday night ceremony) offers searing history but the Catholic bishops of New Jersey want people to know there’s still modern slavery underway – maybe even in the house next to yours. They’ve issued a letter in “The Catholic Herald” full of grim statistics on human trafficking. The letter begins: “The nanny for your neighbor, the young woman who does your nails, the young man clearing your table at a restaurant, the people who pick the fruit you enjoy — each of these could be a victim of human trafficking — modern day slaves living within our midst.] [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• How to spot a dangerous email attachment ... [MakeUsOf] Here.
• How to find out if your password has been stolen ... Here.
• 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.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• 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.
• The 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.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin 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 Standing Committee 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. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
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]