The newSpin newsletter
September 30, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Gwendolyn-Jane and Bob Romeril's daughter Winnie will be sent to Sierra Leone to report on the Ebola crisis for WHO ... [Bill] Gwendolyn-Jane, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Bob Romeril have requested prayer support for their family and their daughter Winnie? She is going to Switzerland at the end of September on loan to WHO (World Health Organization) and will be sent to Sierra Leone to report on the Ebola crisis. Her commitment is for six months. "She has been living out of the Isaiah passage for some years now," Mother Romeril says, "and where the need is greatest, she always answers the call. Winnie continues to inspire me and us, the way she lives the gospel, with complete obedience to her God. I am in awe as a parent and priest, as I try to do my small bit in my corner of the Vineyard. Bob and I honor her choices. Bob reminds me often, that 'Her call is as clear as yours, but it has no labels.'
• Leadership, community, and the current crisis at General Seminary ... [Andrew Gerns, Episcopal Café, Daily Episcopalian] On Friday, the news broke that most of the faculty at the General Theological Seminary in New York City have decided to refrain from teaching classes, attending official seminary meetings, and attend Chapel services until they are able to sit down and have a conversation with the Board of Trustees. Despite a follow up letter from the faculty to the students describing in more detail what it going on, there is still some question as to what is going on.
The conflict has nothing to do with pay, hours, job description, benefits, or perks. There is none of the traditional pocket-book labor issues at stake. This is not a disagreement over the need for change to they way we do theological education or the way we prepare clergy for ministry. So the Wisdom Year (where in students spend their third year in parishes, particularly those that are small, in distressed communities, or who have lacked regular, full-time priestly ministry, doing and learning parish ministry in "a real-world setting") is not at issue. The faculty have been supportive of the concept both in theory and in substance.
As far as I can tell the real issues have to do with the leadership style of the dean and his tendency to "Lone Ranger" decisions--even correct ones, but also dubious ones--without debate, discussion or buy-in. Read on.
• Update 1: Eight GTS faculty members fired ... [Posted on Bakery by Andrew Gerns, Sept. 29] A GTS Trustee reflects on the crisis at the Seminary. The social media have been alive all day with developments, many of them live-tweeted from various meetings and gatherings. A useful reflection on the leadership issues raised by this may be found here. Above all, please pray for the whole GTS community, students, faculty, administration, staff and trustees. Please especially pray for Dale Grandfield, a middler there and, with his husband Brad, a member of Trinity, Easton. Also pray for the Fr. Patrick Malloy who was one of the faculty who signed the letter and one of the eight terminated. Many hearts are broken tonight.
• Update 2: A GTS Trustee reflects on the crisis ... [Episcopal Café] The Rev. Ellen Tillotson, a priest in the Diocese of Connecticut and a member of the General Seminary Board of Trustees reflects on the conflict between the faculty and the Dean at the Seminary. Read on. Don't miss the comments below this trustee's reflection, especially one, far down the list, from the eight faculty members who were fired.
• Update 3: GTS dean writes students ... [Episcopal Café] Presiding Bishop to visit on Wedneday. Read on.
• Update 4: GTS Trustees release first statement on conflict ... [Episcopal Café] With comments. Read on
• Update 5: Here is the RNS story.
• The conflict at GTS is an obviously volatile story ... [Bill] that will continue to churn and shift. More updates will likely come in as I send out what I have. I will try to post the updates on Bakery. How long before the NYTimes catches up with this story? Soon, I suspect.• Chicago meets its new archbishop ... [RNS, David Gibson] as 'the Pope Francis effect' sets in. Read on. New archbishop praised for how he led in Spokane. Chicago Tribune. Also [Religion News Roundup] If you love Francis, you will really like Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich, chosen by Francis to be the next archbishop of Chicago. He’s the pontiff’s most important U.S. appointment to date, and traditionalists aren’t thrilled with the move, especially since Cupich will replace Cardinal Francis George, who was far more in line with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
• Christianity in Iraq is finished ... [WaPo, Daniel Williams, Op-Ed] Here. On the other hand [USA Today], Christianity will live on in Iraq. Here.
• Audit Reports for 2008 and 2009 ... [Libby House, chair, Audit Committee, for the members of the Audit Committee, Sept. 26, 2014] We are enclosing the final audit reports, summary reports, and communications letters regarding the financial statements of the Diocese of Bethlehem, years ending December 2008 and 2009. These reports represent the first, and to-date only, completed audits of the finances of the diocese of six financial audits (2008 – 2013) Bishop Sean and the Standing Committee hired the accounting firm of Campbell Rappold & Yurasits to undertake last March. Continue reading this cover letter. Also 2008 Financial Statement ... 2008 Communication with Governance ... 2008 Internal Control Letter ... 2009 Financial Statement ... 2009 Communication with Governance ... 2009 Internal Control Letter
• Religion doesn't make you more moral ... [The Daily Beast] A recent study comparing views on morality of religious and non-religious people found something surprising: Religion doesn’t make our everyday lives more moral.Suppose you actually do have an angel over your shoulder telling you the right thing to do. That angel probably wouldn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. A recent study in Science aimed at uncovering how we experience morality in our everyday lives suggests that religious people are no more moral—or immoral—than non-religious people. Whether or not we believe that divine precepts give us guidance, our behavior is remarkably similar. Read on.
• An Analogy for Grace ... [Jim Naughton, Episcopal Café] Not to be missed. We take as a theological given that we don't deserve grace, but what we need to reckon with is the fact that we don't recognize it. It wears the wrong clothes and shows up in the wrong places at the wrong times. It comes in the guise of people we generally avoid. As a result, we fail to see it for what it is. We take the word of others--experts, advance teams--for what grace is and what it isn't, when we must pay attention and when we can walk on by. Perhaps we don't trust ourselves to recognize and respond to grace when we see it or hear it. Or perhaps life is constructed in such a way that grace needs references and a spot on our calendar before we can give it its due.Henry James once urged readers: "Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost." This is among the few spiritual disciplines that still make sense to me. Read on.
RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought?
SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.- See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/07/07/stanley-hauerwas-reflects-end-times-end-life/#sthash.ClyfFU6i.dpuf
• Resources ... Here.
• How to navigate conflict ... [Leadership Education at Duke Divinity] Since 1944, when John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern published “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior,” which established game theory, this interdisciplinary field has influenced government, business and even evolutionary biology. Until the very recent collaboration of theologian Sarah Coakley and game theorist Martin Nowak, however, the church has had little contact with the insights of this incredibly influential field of study. Church leaders need it. Read on.
• British humanists enlist Virginia Woolf and others to answer life's big questions ... [RNS] A campaign to persuade millions of people to understand humanist ways of answering life’s big questions without religion has been launched at 100 of London’s 270 underground subway stations. Posters will encourage Tube commuters to think about the meaning of life under the question “What’s it all for?” while presenting views from four famous humanists: novelists George Eliot and Virginia Woolf and philosophers Bertrand Russell and A.C. Grayling. Read on.
• Diocesan Convention ... October 10-11, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Convention webpage. Get more info and register here. [Jane Teter, Christmas at Sea] Once again we will be collecting knitted/crocheted items at our Convention in October. There will be a table in Sayre Hall where items may be dropped off. If you are not coming to Convention, perhaps your delegates will bring them for you. [Dorothy Shaw, ECW Project] In support of the ministry at St. George’s Regional Disaster Recovery & Outreach Center. The ECW encourages parishes to collect the following items and bring them to Diocesan convention on October 10 for collection. First Aid Supplies: adhesive bandages, gauze pads, tape. Personal Care items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, bar soap, razors. Items for evacuation “Go Kits”: individual tissue packets, individually wrapped antibacterial hand wipes, emergency “space blankets.” rain ponchos. The Center is also in need of: single flat bed sheets and regular pillowcases, white socks, large plain sweatshirts, NRSV Bibles, children’s packets of activities and crayons, notes of encouragement to go in care kits, names and email address/telephone numbers of those willing to help at St. George’s. Questions, please contact Dorothy by email , 570-836-2049, or 570-301-7661 (cell)
• Episcopal House in Allentown ... has a new look at its website. A lot of good info.
• Listening, Prayer and Discernment ... [News release from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem] Two Episcopal Moment consultants, the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Johnson, Jr., D.Min, and the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Myers, PhD, both priests based in the Chicago area, will facilitate a series of listening opportunities, to be held across the diocese beginning in fall, at which everyone will be invited to discuss the challeng•es facing the Episcopal Church in northeastern Pennsylvania, how the diocese has responded to these challenges, and where the Holy Spirit might be leading this diocesan community. The goal is for everyone who wishes to participate in this process to have a chance to be heard. Read on.
• Resources ... Here.
• St. James Schuylkill Haven celebrates 175th ... [RepublicanHerald] St. James has preached the Gospel since its founding on May 1, 1839. The church, part of the 14-county Diocese of Bethlehem, received its charter in 1839 and was consecrated in 1841, according to Wingert. She said the building’s cornerstone was laid on Aug. 31, 1839.It is the oldest church in Schuylkill Haven ... that has been in continuous use.That history permeates the entire building,The total cost of the church was $3,600.One of its records memorializes the baptism of one the parish’s most notable sons, the Rt. Rev. John P. Croneberger, 76, who is now retired after serving as bishop of the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey, and as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem. Read on.
Marketing Grants are still available ... [Kat Lehman] If you are interested in participating in the Diocese of Bethlehem’s “Marketing Initiative Grants to Parishes” program, at this time there are still funds available to assist with your marketing plans. All funds must be allotted before December 31st of this year, and receipts received no later than the end of January 2015. Please take advantage of this program now as it might not be available next year. These funds are available as matching grants for parishes to advertise ministries; their own or ministries they do in conjunction with other parishes, agencies, or ecumenical groups. The funds must be allocated by the end of 2014 and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis as application forms are completed and approved. The goal of this initiative is to fulfill our diocesan mission – Live God’s love; tell what you have seen and heard – by sharing with local communities the ministries that parishes are doing, solely or with others. We would like to again invite you to consider applying for one of our grants. Please contact Kat Lehman at email@example.com about your intent to participate and for information and assistance about this program. You can download the application from our web site.
• Subscribe to ECF Vital Practices ... [Episcopal Church Foundation] It's free. You may find ECF Vital Practices valuable to your ministry. Subscribe here. You may also connect with ECF on Facebook and Twitter and join the conversation and think about sharing your great resources on Your Turn.
• The Vestry Resource Guide ... [Episcopal Church Foundation] is the ultimate companion to help vestry members.. The Vestry Resource Guide is distributed by Forward Movement and can be ordered by clicking here or calling 800-543-1813.
• At Trinity Easton ... The Allentown Band, Sunday, October 19. Read on.
• Canonical roles of vestries and clergy ... [Andrew Gerns] There is a tendency in this country to run Episcopal Churches according to a congregational (where the whole congregation makes decisions) or a Presbyterian model (where elected committees and officers make the decisions) and in both these the clerics are at best the hired help. The situation you described is apparently one where the lay leadership seems to have fallen into one of those models to bad effect. It is not an uncommon problem.
There is an equal tendency to organize Episcopal Churches along Roman Catholic lines, where the priest is in total charge and the vestry and lay leaders exist solely to raise funds, maintain the property and carry out the priest's vision. This can have the effect of holding lay leadership back from taking their full place in the life of the church.
We Episcopalians, on the other hand, strive for that elusive via media. Read on.
• St. Brigid's golf outing ... will be held on Saturday, October 4 with a 9 a.m. shotgun start at Southmoore Golf Course in Bath. There will be a lunch buffet at 2 p.m. in the pavilion. Prices are $90 per golfer and $15 per non-golfer for lunch. Registration forms are available at www.stbrigidspa.org. Take the opportunity to tell your friends and family members about this fun, relaxing way to help St. Brigid’s minister to both its own needs and those of the Nazareth community.
• Resources ... Here.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections and other Spin
• The rise and fall and rise of the National Council of Churches ... [RNS, Jacob] Like many mainline Protestant institutions, the National Council of Churches has had a rough couple of years. Once the public face of American Protestantism, the NCC is now just another face in the crowd. Yet with new leadership and a retooled mission, the NCC is poised to rebound from its low ebb of influence and carries a great deal of promise into the future. ... Perhaps the NCC’s influence was overinflated a half-century ago, but it is a mistake to ignore the National Council of Churches. Its 37 Protestant and Orthodox communions encompass 45 million members. Though imperfect, the NCC has been a faithful, prophetic witness for poor, vulnerable, and dispossessed people, boldly standing for justice when too many others were silent. We should commend the NCC for its corrective actions and wish the council well in its vital mission. Read on,
People from our diocese and parishes in the media
Nothing to report.
• 2014-2015 Diocesan Youth Events ... Here.
• Resources ... Here.
• Resources ... Here.
Rest in Peace
Episcopal/Anglican (Beyond DioBeth)
• SCLM seeks input on "Holy Women, Holy Men" ...[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) seeks comment on a new approach to commemorations: A Great Cloud of Witnesses.After reviewing responses to Holy Women, Holy Men, SCLM is proposing that a calendar and liturgical material for optional commemorations be included in a volume entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. The full proposal is on the commission’s blog here.
• Resources ... Here.
• Where do governments collect tax money for churches? ... [Pew Research] In about a dozen European countries, governments collect tax money for churches. Fact Tank post.
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
Ecumenism and Interfaith
• Exploration of Full Communion Agreements ... [Canon Maria Tjeltveit] Tom Ferguson, former Ecumenical Officer of the Episcopal Church and blog author of Crusty Old Dean, always gives you a lot to think about with a good dose of humor. He will be the Plenary Speaker at the "Witness in Common: An Exploration of Full Communion Agreements", on Nov. 10, 9:30-3:30, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Camp Hill, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. Get a copy of the brochure here. You can get a copy of the brochure here. For more information or to register, call (717) 545-4761 or go to www.pachurches.org and click on the conference link.
Full communion is when two denominations develop a relationship based on a common confessing of the Christian faith and a mutual recognition of Baptism and sharing of the Lord’s Supper, while also respecting differences. Join us for this day of plenary and panel presentations, worship, discussion, and fellowship to learn why these agreements are vitally important to the missional church in the 21st century. Learn from those who are putting these agreements into practice in local contexts, and bring your questions, hopes, and dreams to the table.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
• Resources ... Here.
• Catholic insurance companies that allow for abortion ... [Religion News Roundup] Before the Affordable Care Act, about half the states required insurers who want to sell to the public to provide the sort of contraception coverage the ACA requires. And many Catholic insurance companies decided to do — and still do — just that, reports NPR. Here’s how they attempt to reconcile Catholic teaching and the law.
• Nienstedt forces out gay music director ... [RNS Archbishop John Nienstedt has asked the music director of a parish in Victoria, Minn., to resign after learning that the man married his long-time male partner last weekend, according to a letter from the parish priest. Read on.
• Resources ... Here.
• Pope fires Paraguay bishop accused of covering up abuse ... [RNS] In the latest sign of an uncompromising stance on sex abuse, Pope Francis has removed a bishop in Paraguay after a Vatican investigation into whether he had protected an Argentine priest who was accused of sex abuse in the U.S. Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, from the diocese of Ciudad del Este, was accused of embezzlement and covering up complaints of sexual abuse in his diocese as Argentine priest the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity was promoted to deputy bishop. Here.
• Blase Cupich is Pope's American messenger ... [WaPo, E.J. Dionne Jr.] Leaders can make decisions that signal big changes in the political, religious and ethical landscape. In naming Bishop Blase Cupich the new archbishop of Chicago, Pope Francis did just that. Read on.
• Flu shot info from the CDC ... Here and Here. A lot of good info also at flu.gov.
• Resources ... Here.
• On Being with Krista Tippett ... [On Being, American Public Media] The XIV Dalai Lama seems to many to embody happiness — happiness against the odds, a virtue that is acquired and practiced. Before a live audience in Atlanta, Georgia, Krista Tippett had a rare opportunity to mull over the meaning of happiness in contemporary life with him and three global spiritual leaders: a Muslim scholar, a chief rabbi, and a presiding bishop. An invigorating and unpredictable discussion exploring the themes of suffering, beauty, and the nature of the body. Play the program or download the transcript here.
• "Calvary" – a case of misplaced atonement ... [Daily Episcopalian, Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster] The striking austerity and dramatic contrasts of the Irish coast landscape is the setting for this remarkable film. Like the dangerous beauty of Sligo County, Ireland, this film is a masterful study in the juxtaposition of gentleness and violence, humor and seriousness, life and death, sin and forgiveness ... Calvary should be seen by most anyone who has served in parish leadership, or been the recipient of or given pastoral care. Victims of clergy sexual abuse, however, may wish to consult their therapist before seeing this.å Read on. Also, [Mark Silk, RNS] What is the lesson of Calvary? Here.
• Resources ... 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 Bishop, 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]