Have you found that service on the vestry has enriched your spiritual life?
Bishop Paul posed this question to his guests on the video prepared for the next renewal assembly scheduled for Saturday, February 11, from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, at seven sites across the diocese. The assembly, a retreat for current and future vestry members, is entitled “Empowered Leaders, Renewed Congregations.”
Joining Bishop Paul on the video are Raymond Arcario, who served as senior warden of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem; and, The Very Rev. Anthony Pompa, Dean and Rector of Nativity.
The daylong retreat will draw from Neal Michell’s Beyond Business As Usual: Vestry Leader Development. “This book,” writes Michell, “is for those churches that are no longer content with business as usual. It is for those clergy and vestry members who want to be partners in ministry and mission as they explore new and create ways to do and expand mission and ministry.” Copies of the book will be made available to each vestry attending for a subsidized price of $10.00.
Drawing from Beyond Business As Usual, the retreat will engage vestry members in Bible Study and a number of “teaching” experiences, such as “Four Principles Every Leader Should Take to Heart.” The purpose is to examine appropriate, effective mental models of the vestry as a “learning community” that plays a significant role in the spiritual growth and renewal of the congregation.
Charles Cesaretti, Interim Missioner for Congregational Renewal hopes "that the retreat will enable every participant to respond in the affirmative to Bishop Paul’s query – Have you found that service on the vestry has enriched your spiritual life?”
On Saturday, February 11, 2012 vestry members from across the Diocese of Bethlehem will gather together at a retreat that will include prayer, bible study, conversation, and networking. Entitled “Empowered Leaders, Renewed Congregations,” the lay leaders of our congregations will look at what God is preparing us to be by focusing on the leadership of the vestry.
The retreat is grounded in the beliefs of the diocesan Congregational Renewal Committee that service on the vestry should be a significant time for spiritual growth and formation for the individual member, and that vestries play a significant role in the spiritual health and renewal of the local congregation.
The goals of the day are to: Empower the vestry to become more mission-focused; Develop leadership skills of the vestry members; Connect leadership style and the parish’s vitality; and, Discover how to become a learning community of lay leaders.
A mission-focused congregation requires effective leadership from both clergy and empowered, trained laity who work together for the renewing of God’s people. The Prayer Book reminds us “the Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members” (BCP, p. 855).
Although this is a retreat for current and future vestry members, every member of the diocese has a significant role – to pray for the vestry members as they prepare and participate in the retreat.
The Renewal Committee asks all parishioners to keep their vestry members in their prayers. Through personal and corporate prayer, hold up each of your vestry members as they share in overseeing the spiritual and material life of your congregation. Pray that they may receive the vision God has prepared for your parish, that they may receive the gifts, power, and energy of the Holy Spirit. Pray for them but also let them know you are praying for them. Talk with them individually about your prayers and support, send them a note, and email them.
Hold in your prayers the diocesan Congregational Renewal Committee and all those who will be facilitating or hosting the retreat.
“May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (Romans 15:13)
Blessings in peace.
Charles A. Cesaretti Interim Missioner for Congregational Renewal
Registration is open for the Renewal Assembly III on November 12.
“Finding Your Voice” is the theme of the third Renewal Assembly, which will be held on Saturday, November 12. It will be a time when participants will be engaged in using the power of recollection to identify the blessings of their past to empower their voice to give shape and articulate the future.
The day will begin with a special video with Bishop Paul interviewing two guests. This will be followed by small group discussions and a time for corporate and personal prayer. The schedule will run from 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM, and will include a light luncheon.
The Assembly will be hosted at eight sites: Christ Church, Towanda; St. Mark’s, New Milford; St. Luke’s, Scranton; Holy Cross, Wilkes-Barre; St. John’s, Palmerton; Trinity Church, Easton; St Andrew’s, Allentown; and, St. Alban’s, Sinking Spring.
Registration is open on www.diobeth.org. The registration is found by clicking on “Register for Diocesan Event” on the right column of the homepage. Registration closes on October 31. All registrants will be assigned to the most appropriate host site.
The attached brochure concerns Renewal Assembly III. It will take place on Saturday, November 12, at eight locations around the diocese. The format will be the same as the previous two with a video, prayer, discussion and lunch and will be over by 1:00 p.m. Registration (and more information) is now open online. The event is free although there will be a "free will offering" to help the host parishes cover the food costs. Find all the information about it in the brochure you can download below in both color and b/w versions.
On the Eve of Pentecost, Saturday, June 11, the Diocesan Congregational Renewal Committee will sponsor the second Renewal Assembly from 9:00 AM- 1:30 PM at eight sites across the diocese. The day’s organizing theme will be: Focusing on God’s Blessings – Connecting the Dots.
The day will begin with a special 18-minute video presentation. Three laypersons –– Liza Holzinger, a member and former senior warden of St. Andrew's Allentown; Lucy Kitch-Peck, a member of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Bethlehem; and Warren Schotto, member and senior warden of Good Shepherd Scranton –– join Bishop Paul to discuss the gifts of the Spirit in their lives, how a congregation detects the gifts and opportunities the Spirit gives parishes. and how parish leadership detects the gifts in individuals and calls them forth.
A small group discussion follows to respond to issues surfaced in video.
The participants will then move on to an exercise in “Focusing on God’s Blessings.” This exercise will introduce the process of “asset mapping.”
Asset mapping begins with the recognition of the abundance of God’s gifts and talents. In the process of mapping out God’s blessings, the congregation can find an exciting, new and positive energy to break out of the negative cycle of need, dependence, and “survival mode” that congregations sometimes experience.
Following the exercise, participants will enter a time of prayer – private and corporate. We will begin with “prayer triads” where three people join to ask for prayer and respond to the prayer needs identified. Then, the entire assembly will join in corporate worship.
The host sites –– The Church of the Redeemer, Sayre; St. Paul’s, Montrose; Good Shepherd, Scranton; St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre; St. Peter’s, Hazleton; St. Mary’s, Reading; St. Stephen’s, Whitehall; and, St. George’s, Hellertown –– were chosen for easy travel, parking, and adequate accommodations. A luncheon will be provided with a “free will” offering to offset local expenses.
Registration is open on www.diobeth.org. The registration info is found by clicking on the “Register for Diocesan event” on the right column of the homepage. Registration closes on June 1. All registrants will be assigned to the most appropriate host site.
Bulletin inserts may be downloaded below. One B/W, one color.
Prayer, Bible Study, Group Discussion By David Howell
We all have a different idea of what renewal means; for Episcopalians, it centers on renewing our faith and our work.
On February 19, at six locations around the diocese, clergy and lay members met for renewal assemblies with the theme “The Call to Prayer and Discernment.” These meetings, part of the work of the newly renamed Committee on Congregational Renewal, featured a video created by Jeffrey Kemmerer of Grace Allentown.
Bishop Paul opens the video by asking, “What is God calling our church to be?” and explains that the Renewal meetings are an outcome of last October’s Diocesan convention.
He then initiates a conversation with Father John Francis of Christ Church in Reading about personal prayer. Francis says, “Silence allows God to speak to me. Some prayers allow the mind to become silent. It keeps the voices in our minds at bay. The intention is on God’s word and God speaking to us. God is thought of being ‘up there’ and huge and powerful. People don’t understand how close God can be.”
Francis says he devotes one hour in the morning and one hour at night to personal prayer, following Morning and Evening Prayer. The reader may be wondering, as some did at our assembly, “How can he do that?” Francis says that with prayer, “Your body rests along with your mind, and things go more smoothly throughout the day.”
In one of the small discussion groups that followed the video, Father Abraham Valiath of St. John’s, Palmerton, said, “The real problem is finding time. Nobody has the answer.” But he added, “The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you feel that you have. Active prayer is the most active tool to have joy in your heart.”
Bishop Paul then speaks with Mother Laura Howell of Trinity Bethlehem about corporate prayer. Trinity has Morning and Evening Prayer on weekdays and Centering Prayer on Sundays. Howell says that these small gatherings “feed the body, mind and spirit. People know it is going on, even if they can’t attend,” she says. “It gives a sense of community and connectedness,” adding, “a true Christian can never be alone.”
After the group discussion, participants were led in a Lectio Divina Bible Study, a tool that could be taken back to use in their parishes and personal lives.
The Lectio Divina Homepage (http://lectio-divina.org) describes this work as, “reading which is sacred. Ordinarily lectio is confined to the slow perusal of sacred Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments; it is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aid to contact the living God. Basic to this practice is a union with God in faith which, in turn, is sustained by further reading.”
At the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Mother Hilary Raining said at the introduction to Lectio Divina: “We are feeling a hunger to be fed spiritually. Lectio Divina is a sacred mystical discipline. It helps you connect with the wisdom of the past. It creates a relationship with God. God wants to speak to us, and God will speak to us if we only let it happen.
“The key to this practice is to listen. Its calmness and peace can turn off what Thomas Merton calls the ‘monkey mind,’ the constant chatter that separates us from the divine presence.”
After some extended prayer time with the “Dry Bones” text from Ezekiel (37:1-14), small group discussion followed. Noonday prayer included the Litany for the Mission of the Church. After lunch, closing announcements and future steps concluded the four-hour renewal assemblies.
Following the meetings, Bishop Paul wrote: “Those lay and clergy leaders who hosted, led Bible and prayer times, and in general kept things going, are the subjects of my thanksgiving prayers. In particular, I am grateful to many, many people for this day. The staff has worked literally over-time. I am deeply grateful for the hundreds of volunteer hours that have gone into the event, to the leaders and members of the Congregational Renewal Committee. In particular two Charleses come to mind. Father Charles Cesaretti and Charlie Warwick have invested themselves in this event with body mind and spirit.
“Most of all, I am deeply grateful for all of you who attended these regional meetings. I took some photos that I will treasure, but what will remain in my soul was the person who told me, with some moisture in their eyes, that "the Word of God was truly present today."
The six sites for the Assembly were Christ Church, Towanda, and the Trinity Churches of Carbondale, West Pittston, and Pottsville, and the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. There will be a follow-up session, led by Fr. John Francis and Mo. Laura Howell, on Personal and Corporate Prayer at Diocesan Training Day on April 2.
The video can be seen online in two parts at http://www.youtube.com/user/InformationAtDIOBETH, or without a split at: http://vimeo.com/diobeth.
[Dave Howell, a parishioner at Trinity Bethlehem, is a free-lance writer.]
From Charles Cesaretti Convener, The Congregational Renewal Committee Diocese of Bethlehem
Registration is now available on www.diobeth.org for the Renewal Assembly, “The Call to Prayer and Discernment,” on February 19, 2011. The Assembly will be held in six locations across the Diocese of Bethlehem. Registrants will be assigned to the most appropriate site. Registration is found by clicking on the “Register for Diocesan events” on the right column of the homepage. Registration closes on Feb. 9.
The Renewal Assembly, sponsored by the Renewal Committee of the Diocese, will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2011, 9 AM – 1 PM, in six locations across the Diocese: Christ Church, Towanda; Trinity Church, Carbondale; Trinity Church, West Pittston; Trinity Church, Pottsville; St. Anne’s, Trexlertown; and, the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Lunch will be provided.
Members of the Renewal Committee and the Lifelong Christian Formation Committee will present the program, which will focus on the call and practice of personal and corporate prayer, and Bible Study. The Assembly will begin with a DVD presentation hosted by Bishop Paul with Mo Laura Howell and Fr. John Francis. A copy of the DVD will be presented to a representative of every parish.
A special Renewal Poster, below, has been designed by Jenifer Gamber. A copy will be available to every parish in the diocese.
From Charles Cesaretti Convener, The Congregational Renewal Committee Diocese of Bethlehem
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
The Congregational Renewal Committee has scheduled a diocesan-wide Renewal Assembly for Saturday, February 19, 2011. The Assembly will meet at six locations across the Diocese. The sites will be chosen to allow for ease of travel and availability of facilities, especially parking. The theme of the Assembly will be: The Call for Prayer and Discernment.
The Renewal Committee invites Diocesan Convention Delegates, Parish Lay Leaders, and Clergy. Updates, information, and registration details will follow.
A "Save The Date" poster may be downloaded below for your scheduling, and you may wish to post it in your parish.