The newSpin newsletter
October 15, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Bishop Mark Dyer ... [Bill] Word has been received from Amy Dyer through the Bishops' Spouse Network that Bishop Mark Dyer, who served as bishop in the Diocese of Bethlehem from 1982 to 1995, is in the last days of his earthly journey. Mark, 84, has been suffering from multiple myeloma. Amy has requested prayers for Mark. He has been serving since 1996 as professor of Systematic Theology and director of Spiritual Formation at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. Mark had also served in several ways as a worldwide consultant for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In her 2008 book, "The Great Emergence," Phyllis Tickle revised for a wide readership Bishop Mark's insight about an ecclesiastical yard sale. He wrote during the early 90s while Bishop of Bethlehem: "Christianity has had five significant yard sales. Each one has had to do with the church's struggle to resist the temptation to domesticate God's vision, to settle for change when God seeks transformation. The sixth is now. It's something that seems to happen every three or four hundred years. In Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, God empowers the church to discover its roots and its center, and transform itself in new, exciting and wonderful ways. Jesus announced the first yard sale. Then Benedict, in the sixth century. Then the Franciscan Spring in the thirteenth century. Then Martin Luther and the reformers in the sixteenth century, the only yard sale led by an ordained person. It's time once again for a massive yard sale, a transformation led by lay people. Our 400 years are up."
• Diocesan Convention ... Adam Bond has uploaded to Flickr (https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4KpSaJ) hundreds of fine photos taken at Diocesan Convention – and, if you are a Facebook user, on the diocesan Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/1wCAYWc).
• TREC: Reimagining the Episcopal Church ... A one-minute video re-cap of the meeting, including a sound bite from Bishop Sean Rowe. For a recording of the webcast of TREC's recent meeting at Washington National Cathedral: here and here. At ten minutes in, you will find an inspiring address by Bishop Michael Curry. TREC's website: reimaginetec.org. Read the ENS story of TREC's last face-to-face meeting before proposing structural changes. A message from TREC following the churchwide meeting.
• General Seminary: The GTS8 ... Reinstate the 8, sign the petition. Father Pat Malloy, Grace Allentown rector for ten years, is one of the professors fired by the board. I understand that the petition has gained more than 1,000 signatures. • Griswold to facilitate meeting between GTS professors, trustees ... [ENS] Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the Oct. 16 meeting between trustees of the General Theological Seminary and eight professors whose employment is at the core of the dispute involving complaints about the conduct of the school’s dean and president. Read on. • Background, if you missed it: The news broke on Sept. 26, Andrew Gerns posted on the Episcopal Café's Daily Episcopalian blog, 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 attending Chapel services until they are able to sit down and have a conversation with the Board of Trustees. A NYTimes story, Oct. 1, includes photos of the GTS8. The Associated Press picked up on the story. For continuing news, visit SafeSeminary, the website of the fired professors, and their Facebook group, GTS8 SafeSpace, as well as Episcopal Café (scroll down through the many articles back to late September).
• Scarier than Ebola ... [Frank Bruni, NYTimes] We Americans do panic really well. We could use a few pointers on prudence. Do me a favor. Turn away from the ceaseless media coverage of Ebola in Texas — the interviews with the Dallas nurse’s neighbors, the hand-wringing over her pooch, the instructions on protective medical gear — and answer this: Have you had your flu shot? Are you planning on one?
During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one. These are deaths by a familiar assassin. Many of them could have been prevented. So why aren’t we in a lather over that? Why fixate on remote threats that we feel we can’t control when there are immediate ones that we simply don’t bother to? Read on.
• Vatican Synod
... [RNS Roundup] “Everything is awesome.” That’s the message Grant Gallicho storified from today’s press briefing, which featured USCCB president, Archbishop Kurtz, as one of the presenters. Seems like the 190 or so cardinals and bishops didn’t want to throw any more gas on the fire in the wake of the conservative outrage over proposals to maybe, just maybe, say something nice about gay people.
• A series of court decisions ... [Pew Research] have resulted in legal gay marriage spreading to roughly 30 states — including some in the South, where public support is somewhat lower than in other regions. A Fact Tank post has details.
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.
• A tip of the hat to the calendar girls at Episcopal House ... [Morning Call] When it came to raising money for their high-rise home, more than a dozen women at Episcopal House in Allentown rallied around an idea. They agreed to be calendar girls. Read on, where you will also find photos and video.
• The new Silicon Valley perk? Freezing your eggs.. [WaPo] Here.
• The plural of the word “anecdote” ... is not “data.” See "Young Catholic America" below, under Roman Catholic.
• 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 challenges 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. Stephen's Whitehall ... The Rev. H. Jonathan Mayo is vicar of St Stephen's Church in Whitehall, as of Oct. 1. This ministry complements his half-time position as rector of St George's Hellertown which began on August 1, 2010. Father Mayo was born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and was graduated from Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre and St Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, New York. He was ordained a deacon and a priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He was received into the Episcopal Church in 2004. He has also had a secular career in information systems. He is married to the former Hazel Pamela Pompey.
• 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. This program will not be available next year. 2014 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. 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.
• Mental illness: What is the role of the church, temple, mosque? ... The latest issue of ReligionLink covers a sensitive topic too often overlooked in houses of worship.
• At Trinity Easton ... The Allentown Band, Sunday, October 19. Read on.
• Resources ... Here.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections and other Spin
• When criticizing a religious group, speak carefully, but speak ... [Nicholas Kristof via Episcopal Café] Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times warns against making sweeping statements about the nature of any religion, whether it is Islam, Christianity or another faith. Read on.
• A wedding anniversary when you're the only one still still standing ... [Caroline Cavett] Can you celebrate (with great joy) a wedding anniversary even though you’re the only one of the couple in question still standing? Caroline Cavett's answer is a definite yes. Read on.
• Scarier than Ebola ... [Frank Bruni, NYTimes] See above, under TopSpin
People from our diocese and parishes in the media
Nothing to report.
• 2014-2015 Diocesan Youth Events ... Here.
• Resources ... Here.
• However tough things are, think of this ... [RNS Roundup] “A person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens.” The rest of a new report on the global economy here.
• 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.
• John Dominic Crossan ... will give the 5th annual Irene E. Marold Lectures on Biblical Studies on Nov. 7 (9:00 to 12:30) in Prossor Auditorium. Free. Professor emeritus, religious studies, De Paul University,Crossan is one of the leading New Testament scholars of our time. Lecture 1: Jesus and the Kingdom of God. How did Israel’s covenantal expectations, John’s Baptism movement, and Jesus’ Kingdom vision challenge Rome’s imperial designs for the Jewish homeland at the start of the first century CE? Lecture 2. Paul & the Challenge of Equality. How did Paul take Jesus’ Kingdom vision out across the eastern Roman Empire in language that explicitly confronted its imperial theology with titles and attributed that forced a choice between Christ and Caesar? More info about the event here. More info about the speaker here.
• Resources ... Here.
United Methodist Church
• Resources ... Here.
Presbyterian Church USA
• Resources ... Here.
• Young Catholic America ... [Commonweal book review] Just over half the young people raised by parents who describe themselves as “liberal” Catholics stop going to Mass entirely once they become “emerging adults”—a new demographic category that means either prolonged adolescence or delayed adulthood, defined here in Young Catholic America as ages eighteen to twenty three.The picture isn’t all that much better for the children of “traditional” Catholics. Although only a quarter of those young adults say they’ve stopped going to Mass entirely, only 17 percent say they’re going every week, and in general, their allegiance to church membership and participation seems nearly as faded as the kids of so-called feckless liberals.
The fact is: In this discouraging book, the future looks bad for just about every flavor of Catholic. For those who remember Commonweal’s series on “Raising Catholic Kids” last November, the worry expressed by those dedicated, well-meaning parents seems here to be fully justified. You may hear about pockets of enthusiastically “orthodox” young adults out there somewhere, but as my old mentor in the market-research business used to say, the plural of the word “anecdote” is not “data.” Smith (a sociologist at the University of Notre Dame) and his co-authors have the data, and it tells us that the majority of Catholic “emergers” are, by our historical standards, not what we are used to thinking of as practicing Catholics at all. Read on.
• Vatican Synod ... See above, under TopSpin.
• Yes, it's time for your Flu shot ... Info from the CDC Here and Here. I got mine, high-test, Oct. 1. A lot of good info also at flu.gov. • Scarier than Ebola ... [Frank Bruni, NYTimes] See above, under TopSpin.
• Health Insurance for Children ... Every state in the nation has a health insurance program for infants, children, and teens. Your child or teen may qualify for free or low-cost health insurance coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To find out if your children may be eligible, visit the website of your state’s Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) for more information. For more information on children's health insurance plans, visit Insure Kids Now.• Resources ... Here.
• We Make the Road by Walking ... That's the title of Brian McLaren's latest book, an overview of the biblical story and a fresh introduction or re-orientation to Christian faith. Each chapter is written to be read aloud in ten to twelve minutes, and is accompanied by a set of Scripture readings, reflection/discussion questions, and liturgical resources - so the book can be useful in a variety of ways for classes, small groups, new faith communities, and churches. And of course, it's an inspiring and formative read for individuals too.
The title comes from one of Brian's heroes, Brazilian educator/activist Paolo Freire. Freire may have derived the quote from the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado: "Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road-- Only wakes upon the sea."
The title suggests that Christian faith is still "in the making" (as Dr. John Cobb has put it). It continues to grow, evolve, learn, change, emerge, and mature ... in and through us. What we will be as Christians in the 21st century, for better or worse, will surely change what Christian faith will be in the 22nd century and beyond.
You can view the Preface, Introduction, and first three chapters (including dialogue questions) 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]