Jesus' birth exalts the poor
Commission for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations ... and Canon Maria Tjeltveit

091218 newSpin

Getting ready for Christmas visitors ... Repeat after me: "Merry Christmas. We're glad to see you." More at Share the Bread, the Evangelism Commission blog.

We don't help people –– we help them help themselves ... Read Archdeacon Stringfellow's essay here.

Jesus' birth exalts the poor ... Read Archdeacon Stringfellow's reflection on the Gospel passage for Sunday, Advent 4, here.

Religion and Copenhagen ... Here and here.

Why pay clergy? ... Clergy salaries and what clergy do to earn their keep. Here and here.

DC Council votes marriage equality ... Here.

Christianity in Britain down 25% in last 25 years ... Here.

Plan Ahead ... Dec. 19: CNN to ponder faith and money ... In God We Trust: Faith and Money in America will air December 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET on CNN. More here from John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, and here. •••Dec. 20: Christmas Cookies at St. Andrew's ... Cookies, kiffles, and nut tossies go on sale at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1900 Pennsylvania Ave. (just south of Catasauqua Rd. on the border of Bethlehem and Allentown) on Sunday, December 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visit www.standrewsbethlehem.org or phone 610 865-3603 for more information. Proceeds benefit the church’s mission and ministry of sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry. •••  Jan 18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ... Resources here. ••• Jan. 23: St. Paul's Montrose will celebrate the new ministry of the congregation with Father Paul Walker as their rector on January 23 at 4:00 p.m. ••• Jan. 23: Lay Worship Leaders Training, formerly Lay Readers, will take place Jan. 23 at Trinity Mount Pocono. More info here. ••• Jan 29/30: Bishop's Bakery and Coffee House for Youth ... Friday, Jan. 29 (6:00pm) - Saturday, Jan. 30 (9:00am) at Good Shepherd Scranton. Online registration is now open. More info here. ••• Feb. 6: Grace Kingston will celebrate the new ministry of the congregation with Father John Hartman as their rector on February 6 at 4:00 p.m. ••• Feb. 27: Dive In: A Day Exploring Christian Baptism will be held Saturday, February 27, at Good Shepherd Scranton. This day of Christian Formation will offer resources for parents, Christian educators, clergy, and anyone seeking a deeper life in Christ. Online registration and more information is available here and here. ••• March 25: Chrism Mass at the Cathedral, Bethlehem, 11:00 a.m. ••• April 16-18: Christophany, more TK ••• April 24: Diocesan Training for MInistry will be held on Saturday, April 24 at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre. Details will be available here when online registration opens on February 20. ••• April 30-Mary 2: Creating a Culture of Peace at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. ••• July 10: Bishop's Day with Kids at Good Shepherd Scrantn


The new December dilemma ... The December holidays are often a time of excess in eating, drinking and especially in spending. But the current economic crisis has forced many people and organizations to curtail their December doings. Is the idea of sacrifice -- a central theme at Lent, Yom Kippur and Ramadan -- finding new currency in Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa? Read more at ReligionLink, resources for reporters.

Canon Anne Kitch's In-Formation Newsletter may be found here.

Two teens indicted, Shenandoah officers charged in cover-up of racial beating death ... The Shenandoah police chief and two officers conspired to help two teens cover up their roles in the 2008 beating death of a Mexican immigrant, federal prosecutors charged Tuesday. Police Chief Matthew Nestor, Lt. William Moyer and officer Jason Hayes tampered with witnesses, changed official reports and lied to the FBI after the teens, Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak, beat Luis Ramirez unconscious while shouting racial epithets at him in July 2008, according to an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury. Ramirez died two days later. [Read Wednesday's Morning Call story here.] Also an excerpt from CNN's Latino in America by Soledad O'Brien who visited Shenanadoah here.

Why Roman Catholics are not speaking up in Uganda about the anti-gay bill ... John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter has written a thoughtful piece on the subject.

Programmed to kill ... [By Richard Cohen Washington Post, 12/15/2009]  The terrorists in Mumbai who killed in excess of 160 people are analogous to machines. The Mumbai terrorists, whose actions and training were described in an HBO documentary that aired November 19, consisted of low-income, impressionable young men whose response to their controllers was mechanical. A lesson learned from Nazi Germany applies here: it does not take extraordinarily evil men to perpetrate such horrors. It takes only some specific reprogramming. [Find Cohen's op-ed here.]

Pray for ... our young men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for their families … Elijah J. Rao, 26; Xhacob Latorre, 21; Dennis J. Hansen, 31; Ralph Anthony Webb Frietas, 23; Jaiciae L. Pauley, 29; Jhanner A. Tello, 29;  ... for the fallen heroes also of our coalition partners ... and for the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who have died, unnamed and unknown to us, and for those who mourn ... and for an end to this endless war. [Emailed usually on Tuesdays, with names found over seven days. Saved on the newSpin blog.]

Remembering our military during the Christmas season ... St. John's Episcopal Church families in Palmerton are making the holidays a little brighter for thirteen of our service men and woman. This is the third year in a row that Deb Craig, a member of St. John's, has headed up this very worthy project. "We get the names of the service members from parishioners of our church or from people who have heard about what we are doing. They send us addresses of their soldiers. We want to reach as many as we can and the soldier doesn't have to be just from the Palmerton area," said Deb. [Read the Times-News Lehighton story here.]

Oral Roberts dies at 91. More here and here.

Expectant in Bethlehem ... Find a recent Advent reflection by Canon Anne Kitch here. Anne writes in a way that makes her reflections both entertaining and useful. If you would like to subscribe to her daily meditations go to the "Get Connected" box on the right side of our Diocesan Website. Enter your name and email, click on "m y groups," then choose Expectant in Bethlehem. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Diocesan Life.December ... download it here. Diocesan Life will not publish a January issue.

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Become a baker in the House of Bread ... If you are interested in more news, issues, ideas, opinion and conversation related to our diocesan community, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, you might consider becoming a baker in the House of Bread's new Bakery. Go to the "Get Connected" box on the right side of our diocesan website. Fill in your name and email address, and click on "My Groups." In the next window that comes up, check Bakery. Bakery, of course, is a play on Bethlehem meaning "House of Bread" in Hebrew. Subscribed to Bakery, you will receive several notes daily (perhaps two, perhaps ten when the oven is hot) and you will be able to enter the conversation by posting your own notes to the group, i.e., to the other bakers. News is fresh in the Bakery long before you see it in print in Diocesan Life.

Bill will be offline from Monday through Wednesday, believe it or not. Kat will be working on some major updates and maintenance on my laptop which, because it is the only computer I use, has been attached to my hip and has delivered great service over long and hard use. Talk to you soon after that. Thanks. ––Bill

Find earlier issues of the newSpin newsletter here.

Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Website, Blog, Email (c)610-216-2726, (w)610-691-5655x229, (h)610-820-7673
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]

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