In all aspects of our lives, there are bewildering choices to be made and none more than in the area of spirituality. We need practical tools that can help form us as Christians and enable us become more effective in our lives, which will also make us better able to reach others with the Good News.
Education for Ministry (EfM) is one very effective tool for formation and growth - actually, a whole toolkit. A program developed and overseen by the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, EfM uses a multi-pronged approach to help us "grow up in every way into Christ”. Sewanee provides study materials and trained leadership. No background is necessary; this course is open to all adults.
As one EfM-er in our group put it, "being in an EfM group gives a place where you can discuss things of a religious nature in a friendly and caring environment. Your thoughts can be openly discussed without having to worry about judgment." Here are some other comments about EfM from our current group:
• It has given me a caring, confidential group that shares my commitment in my faith
• Now I'm able to think clearly and not be confused when others make statements based on scripture
• The group worship, informal and often very unconventional, is very refreshing to my spiritual life
• It's given me deep insights into dealing with other people -- made me more tolerant, more patient, and less judgmental
• Now I have greater confidence in answering the questions of children and others about Christianity
Sharing others' experiences, I've learned that I'm not alone in any important sense. How does EfM work? Each EfM class is a mixture: a short worship session or meditation (selected and led by a different student each week), time for each student to discuss what he or she has discovered in the week's lesson (scripture, theology or church history), fellowship and most important of all, TR or theological reflection – a process for integrating what is learned into day-to-day living. Theological Reflection is the heart of EfM. It's a way of turning a problem or situation over in the group's collective mind, delving deeper and deeper into the matter. Toward the end of the reflection, the group comes to a consensus about implications for future action, and sometimes builds a group prayer about the reflection.
One member says, "Hearing other people's responses in a given reflection often opens whole new avenues of insight to me." Another says, “When we created our first prayer via theological reflection, it was a mind-boggling experience, made me feel closer to my fellow EfM-ers and to God. It was a magnificent way to pray.”
In Theological Reflection people learn to come together and exchange views with others with respect for all, and become adept at using a powerful and practical tool for spiritual discernment. Our classes invite you to consider whether EfM might be right for you.
We have groups planned for Wednesday mornings at Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem; Wednesday evenings at St. Stephens, Whitehall. There are people trying to get groups started in Easton, Lebanon, Reading, Stroudsburg, and Tunkhannock. Other areas may be available if there is enough interest. There are no prerequisites except an open mind and the ability to come to class on a regular basis during the next year. We will begin our next EfM course year in September 2017 If you have any questions or would like more information about EfM, contact Cathy Bailey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Evangelical Lutheran Church
• A center city church blankets Allentown with care … [The Morning Call, Dan Sheehan, Feb. 16] The sanctuary at St. Paul's Lutheran Church is full of hundreds of blankets, draped over the pews in a riot of color and there for the taking by anyone who wants one, or two, or even more. Read on. (Good pic)
• ELCA website ... Here.
• ELCA News Service ... Here.
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• Spirit Spinning ... for those who hunger and thirst for a deeper connection with God ... Here.
• Moravian Church in North America website.
• Moravian Church Northern Province website.
• Moravian Theological Seminary website.
United Methodist Church
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website Here.
• Facebook Here.
• Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
Presbyterian Church USA
• Website ... Here.
• News & Announcements ... Here.
• Removal of influential 'Anglican Use' Catholic priest raises questions in San Antonio … [Texas Public Radio, Feb. 9] Last month, San Antonio’s Archbishop removed the longtime priest at Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church. It's not just any church. It was founded by converts from the Anglican Church--and was the very first Catholic parish in the country to bring Anglican traditions into mass. Some worry the priest’s removal threatens those traditions. Read on where you can also listen.
• Can a controversial Latin American theology speak to Catholics today? … [RNS] For Catholics, the key to working collaboratively with Pope Francis on issues from mass migration to climate change to Hispanic evangelization may be found in a controversial movement that many left for dead long ago: liberation theology. Read on.
• Resources … below
Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech [• New item •• Repeat]
• In Jackson Heights … Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary shines a light on one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in America, and the world. Immersive and enthralling, revealing issues of assimilation, integration, immigration, and religious and cultural differences, the film proves Jackson Heights to be, in the truest sense, a microcosm of the American melting pot. Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most culturally diverse communities in the US where 167 languages are spoken. The film premiered Jan. 6, 1917 on PBS. Read here and here.
• I Am Not Your Negro … is Raoul Peck‘s new documentary about and written by James Baldwin (beautifully reviewed by A.O. Scott in The New York Times.) Read on here and here. From A.O. Scott's review: "You would be hard-pressed to find a movie that speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force, insisting on uncomfortable truths and drawing stark lessons from the shadows of history."
Websites, Podcasts and Blogs [•New item •• Repeat]
•• The Episcopal Café … Here. •• AnglicansOnline … Here. •• Diocese of Bethlehem … Here. •• The Episcopal Church … Here.
• Seven Earth-size planets orbit dwarf star, NASA and European astronomers say … [NYTimes, Feb. 22] Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside of the solar system. The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close in cosmic terms, and by happy accident, the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail. Read on.
2015 was a big year for the little pronoun they and its slide into use as a singular pronoun.
First, in December, the Washington Post admitted the singular they into its style guide, saying it is fine for Post writers to use they as a singular pronoun for transgender people and to avoid awkward sentences. Then last week, hundreds of linguists at the American Dialect Society annual meeting voted for the singular they as the 2015 word of the year.- See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/singular-they-has-its-day?utm_source=GG2016-01-19&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=grammargirl#sthash.CPam2pyD.dpuf
newSpin? … I decided years ago to call this newsletter and its related blog newSpin. The "S" in the middle suggests that some items in newSpin are newS; others, Spin; others, both. Items I include as well as how and how often I present them are clues to my leanings. I think all of us spin. There's a lot more spin in the world of news than most editors own up to. Watch out for that upper case S in the middle. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul might be said to have spun "the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" [Mark 1:1]. We continue to spin that good news, as we experience and dance with the Risen Lord.
The newSpin newsletter is uploaded to the newSpin blog and posted on a newSpin list of some 2,000 addresses every other Thursday. Many recipients forward it to others. It 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. Comments are welcome on Bethlehem Episcopalians (if you have joined that interactive FaceBook group).
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]
• Look online every Thursday for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter or for newSpin … Every Thursday in the following rotation: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. The Leadership News and the General News are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. The newSpin newsletter you are now reading is not an official publication – and will usually not duplicate news, info and features relating to our diocese and parish as found in the official newsletters. It is a relatively lengthy eclectic sampling of items related to religion – at times not, at times not so clearly – that the editor thinks readers might find to be of interest. It has been a kind of hobby of a onetime communication minister, the work of a volunteer who in retirement enjoys and dedicates time to do the research required. The newSpin newsletter is always posted on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to email@example.com
• Look online … for the Diocese of Bethlehem Facebook Page, Facebook Group (Bethlehem Episcopalians) and Twitter feed.
• Bethlehem Episcopalians … is a Facebook group for conversations about mission, spirituality, Christian formation, and more that has replaced the old Bakery email list. Bethlehem Episcopalians is an open group. Anyone can join and items that you post can be shared by group members on their own Facebook pages. This offers each of us the opportunity to reach a larger audience with news and conversations about what God is doing in our diocese." Join the Facebook group. Includes more than 400 members.
• DioBeth website
• Stumbling into the Sacred ... [Reflections on seeing God in the everyday by Canon Anne E. Kitch]
• newSpin blog ... including the newSpin weekly by Bill Lewellis.
• Facebook Page … Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
• Facebook Group … Bethlehem Episcopalians
• Twitter …
Center for Congregations ... 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.
• Congregational Consulting ... More information on how to contact the consultants can be found here and at http://www.congregationalconsulting.org/ .
• Church locators ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... 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.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
• Episcopal Café
• AngicansOnline website and news centre.
• The Living Church
• The Anglican Communion website and news service.
• The Daily Scan: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to add subscribers for news releases, notices, statements, or Daily Scan.
• Free weekly bulletin inserts provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Episcopal Church Event Calendar ... Here
Franklin Graham had a revelation. On Friday, Graham said it has “dawned” on him on how to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community.”
His solution: stop doing business with LGBT-friendly companies.- See more at: http://elielcruz.religionnews.com/2015/06/07/franklin-graham-calls-on-christians-to-blacklist-lgbt-friendly-companies/?email=blewellis%40diobeth.org#sthash.WI32aUeD.dpuf
• 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.
• The Daily Office ... from the Diocese of Indianapolis. Here.
• 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.
• Telling the good news, in the media ... [Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.
• EpiscopalShare ... Here.
• 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.
• Celebrating the Eucharist, by Patrick Malloy. Google Book
• Enriching our Worship, 1 to 5 ... Free download here.
• The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships [Extracted from Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing] Here.
• Collection of worship resources at Diobeth.org ... Including Diocesan Cycles of Prayer for weekly worship, Holy Women Holy Men, and The Text This Week. Here.
Health and Wellness
• 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.
• Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
• Center for Disease Control - Healthy Living
•Church Health Reader
• Eastern Pennsylvania Faith Community Nurses
• Episcopal Mental Illness Network
• Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH
• National Episcopal Health Ministries
• NEHM Wellness Resource Page
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project: Daily Religion Headlines ... 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.
• BBC News Online ... here.
• BBC Religion & Ethics ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• Books for Spiritual Journeys ... Here.
• Audios for Spiritual Journeys ... Here.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here.
• Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here.
• Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here.
• The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Telling the good news, in the media ... [Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told about your congregation, it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.
• Communicate … Your Ministry, including Bill's Communication Biases and Communication-Evangelism. Here.