The newSpin newsletter, Dec. 12, 2011
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes, the ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules.. no respect for status quo. You can quote…disagree..glorify…or vilify them… You can’t ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. ––A line from a Mac ad, voiced by Richard Dreyfus. [h/t/ Bishop Paul, who added the italics]
• Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering System needs volunteers ... Here.
• Immanuel at the Swimming Hole ... [Bishop Paul] God got into the water with us in the birth of a fragile and vulnerable human baby, who lived our life and died our death and has gone to the fullness of new life ahead of us. There is no part of human experience, from its joys to its horrors, from which God wishes to remain aloof. Read it all on page two of the December/January Diocesan Life.
• The tragedy of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury ... [Episcopal Café] Andrew Gerns, Trinity Easton rector, who does the Friday news on The Lead, comments at his blog on an article in the Weekly Standard,by Joseph Bottum, titled with the alarmist "The End of Canterbury: will the sun set on the Anglican Communion?"
• John Cardinal Foley, 76, died Sunday morning ... [Bill] I knew John Foley fairly well as a fellow seminarian in Philadelphia and later when I was information officer for the Diocese of Allentown while John was editor of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's weekly newspaper, the Catholic Standard and Times. I knew him well enough not to be surprised that, after serving for 23 years as president of the Vatican's communication office, he was described as "the nicest guy in the Vatican." You may have heard his voice. For a quarter of a century, he hosted NBC's broadcast of the pope's Christmas Mass. Read more below, under TaleSpin.
• RC Bishops: Congress has 'moral obligation' to unemployed ... [Commonweal] Once again, the RC bishops are prodding conservative Republicans in the House toward their “moral obligation” to the poor, telling them that economic justice is a right-to-life issue. More here.
• A Rope We Can't Give Away ... [Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow] A homily preached at Diocesan House, Thursday after Advent Sunday, here.
• The Tithe and Leadership ... [Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow] What plan do you have, or does your parish have, for beginning to tithe? By its nature, because of its costliness, tithing cannot begin accidentally. You begin intentionally if you begin. More here.
• Come meet John the Baptist at the Mall ... [Canon Maria Tjeltveit, rector, Mediator Allentown] I admit I was pretty shocked to see it on the sign for the Lehigh Valley Mall. Right underneath “Come Meet Santa at the Mall” it said “Come Meet John the Baptist at the Mall.” This was a first! Read Maria's sermon for Advent 2 here.
• Lay Ministry: Changing the culture, expanding the vision ... [Congregational Resource Guide via Charles Cesaretti] You've seen it in other congregations, and perhaps it's happened in yours. Visitors show up for worship, find the experience rewarding, and decide to join. But it's not long before they drift away. The usual solution? Turn new members into "lay ministers." That is, get them involved in carrying out the church's work. Ask them to serve on the grounds committee, or help out with the annual bazaar, or assist with communion. After all, those tasks need to be done. And if members are involved, they'll stay. Won't they? More here.
• Diocesan Life, December/January ... available here.
• Calendar of Diocesan Events ... Updated Dec. 2. Here.
• New Hope News from Kajo Keji ... Here.
• UTO Grants ... [Canon Jane Teter] The deadline for applying for United Thank Offering Grants is Thursday, December 15. They are to be sent to the Bishop's Office. Applications received after that date will not be considered.
• Top Baseball Prognosticators ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch and Mr. William Strickland tied as Best Prognosticator while die-hard Yankees’, Phillies’, and Red Sox’ fans, predicting more with their heart than with their head, trailed distantly. More here.
• Music at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... Nov/Dec, Here. St. Stephen’s Choir will present the annual Festival Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent on Wednesday, December 14 at 6:00 p.m., led and accompanied by Canon Mark Laubach. Offerings will support St. Stephen’s “Voice For Life” Fund and gifts of food and clothing will be received for those in need. A reception will follow in the Auditorium.
• The Baltimore Consort in concert at Trinity Bethlehem ... Dec. 14, Here.
• Cathedral Classics present Handel's Messiah ... Sunday, Dec. 18, 4:00 p.m., at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Here.
• Holiday baking at St. Andrew's Bethlehem ... Here.
• Weekly Parish eNewsletters ... I have been publishing links to the weekly electronic newsletters of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Grace Allentown, Prince of Peace Dallas, and Trinity Easton because these seem to me to be attractive, newsy, helpful and user friendly. The Cathedral's newsletter is created with ChurchPost that, through a diocesan contract, is available free to all parishes. There may be other weekly electronic newsletters, besides these four, that might be looked at. Please let me know. Cathedral, Dec. 9, here. Grace Allentown, Dec. 8, here. Trinity Easton, Dec. 9, here. Prince of Peace Dallas, Dec. 9, here.
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here.
• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website , enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box on the right hand side. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
• John Cardinal Foley, 76, died Sunday morning ... [Bill] I knew John Foley fairly well as a fellow seminarian in Philadelphia and later when I was information officer for the RC Diocese of Allentown while John was editor of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's weekly newspaper, the Catholic Standard and Times. I knew him well enough not to be surprised that, after serving for 23 years as president of the Vatican's communication office, he was described as "the nicest guy in the Vatican." You may have heard his voice. For a quarter of a century, he hosted NBC's broadcast of the pope's Christmas Mass. Do read about Cardinal Foley here. Also in America Magazine.
During my years on the bishop's staff of the Diocese of Allentown (1968-1981), the relatively new diocese, five counties split off from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1961, did not have its own newspaper. When I was appointed to the bishop's staff to create a communication office as well as an office of vocations, one expectation was that we would begin to publish our own weekly newspaper. Meanwhile, two pages of Philadelphia's newspaper were dedicated to Diocese of Allentown news. Because I suspected that Bishop McShea would micromanage a diocesan newspaper, I managed to resist establishing one, providing what I then considered several positive reasons beyond the one unspoken negative. Were I to create and edit a newspaper, I knew my staff life would, indeed, be short lived. I managed to make the case (skip the details) for a strong media-relations ministry rather than a newspaper ... and that we could continue to take advantage, but now perhaps in a more intentional way, of the generosity of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, not needing therefore to take on the financial responsibility for a newspaper.
Enter Father John Foley, then editor of Philadelphia's weekly newspaper, who starred in this anecdote. As editor of the Catholic Standard and Times, John answered partly to Bishop McShea through me. The bishop was once incensed when Foley used a syndicated feature from the St. Louis Jesuits that included lyrics of a John Lennon song, Imagine, in the newspaper ... and wanted me to convey that to John. I called John. Though John was far, far from being liberal, he tried to explain the spiritual meaning of Imagine to me. "You don't need to convince me, John" I said. "I'm just the messenger." So John came to Allentown, nice guy that he was, and tried to enter into conversation with Bishop McShea about the spiritual significance of the lyrics. McShea would have none of it ... not even the conversation. We three had a pleasant meeting and lunch at the bishop's house without getting into the merits of the matter. He just wanted Foley to know he was reading the paper ... and might not like something in the future. :-) John weathered this well and thanked the bishop with his trademark smile: no teeth and wide-open eyes. John Cardinal Foley was a man no one could not like. And, if you knew John Foley, you got accustomed to hearing all three syllables of Cath-oh-lic.
• Should Christianity reinvent itself by going retro? ... [WaPo, Samuel Lloyd, dean of Washington National Cathedral] The world needs to see concrete examples of a generous-spirited, intellectually alive, spiritually profound, interfaith sensitive, scientifically open, socially engaged Christianity. And the good news is that there are writers, church leaders and congregations across the theological spectrum giving this voice and face. More here.
• Episcopal Church's tension: tradition and change ... [WaPo, William Tully, rector, St. Bartholomew's NYC] Episcopalians are the ultimate and extreme “legacy church.” No matter how committed the local rector is to change, no matter how deft she or he is in managing it, there is a huge and nearly immovable weight of tradition. Some of it is so good that it might- rightly reinterpreted and freshened- be the way forward to real growth in size and health. But it takes a lot of energy. We almost inevitably tilt backward for every step and a half we take forward. More here.
• Homo narrans ... [NYTimes via Episcopal Café] The art of listening each other into being. Here.
• Does tithing buy happiness? ... [USA Today, Laura Vanderkam] It's obvious why churches see an upside to people loading down the collection plate. But new insights from happiness research suggest that tithing could benefit givers, too, even if they don't believe it's a religious obligation. Here.
• It doesn't look good for the bishop ... Reuters has a powerful tick-tock on the case of accused child porn purveyor and priest, Father Shawn Ratigan. It details what Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn knew, and when, and it doesn't look good for the bishop, who is facing a trial on charges that he did not report Ratigan to authorities. [h/t Religion News Service daily roundup]
• Rwanda and the AMiA ... [Episcopal Café] Not surprisingly, the relationship turned sour, as relationships founded on expedience are likely to do, and there's been a breakup between the former partners. That didn't take long. It seems the issue is money, or less crassly, what have you done for me lately? ... the AMiA is already back in the dating scene and has made it known it's available for a serious relationship with a new Provincial partner. More here.
• This TV vicar does more good than 26 relationships ... [Daily Mail, UK] The British TV show "Rev" works as a fantastic advertisement for what a modern church can do. Here.
• Pray as you can, do not try to pray as you can't ... [From Brother, Give Us a Word, Advent reflections of the Cowley Brothers] “It would be impossible," Sister Joan Chittister writes, "to have spirituality without prayer, of course, but it is certainly possible to pray without having a spirituality at all.” How do you know the difference? For Sister Joan, the litmus test is, ‘Am I becoming kinder?’ That’s a good place to start. Maybe you’re trying to pray someone else’s prayer (or your former prayer or your future prayer) and it simply doesn’t fit now. It isn’t now. There’s a wonderful English Benedictine monk named Dom John Chapman, remembered especially because of the simple, wise spiritual letters he wrote in response to inquiries about spiritual disciplines. I recall one of his letters where he is addressing the fretfulness of a woman who is certain that her prayer isn’t good enough. One line from Dom John Chapman’s response comes to mind. He writes, gently: “Pray as you can, and do not try to pray as you can’t. Take yourself as you find yourself, and start from that.”
• The Daily Office ... with the Mission St. Clare. Now available for iPhone and iPad.
• With The Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• For our young men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for their families ... Check the newSpin blog for an update. Better still, at 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, check "Pray for." Then, you will receive the weekly update by email.
• Praying the News is a blog by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... December issue of Canon Anne Kitch's newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources for the Diocese of Bethlehem. Here.
• When the mission changes ... [Dan Hotchkiss, Alban Institute] In theory, everything a congregation does should serve its mission. Traditional strategic planning starts with a mission statement and progresses through strategic vision, goals, objectives, timelines, budgets, and a tagline for the T-shirts--each expressing and reflecting the mission. If leaders have to choose between what they personally prefer and what the mission calls for, their obligation is to pick the mission. Members, too, when they vote in congregational meetings, hold the congregation in trust--not for themselves, but for the mission. Fidelity to mission assures donors that their gifts will serve the same ideals that motivated them to give. Some donors try to take control, writing elaborate restrictions, hoping to require the institution--even after they are dead--to do as it is told. But most donors--whether of a dollar in the plate or a bequest of millions--rely on the institution's understanding of its mission to provide a sense of continuity or even permanence, as times change. But what if times change so much that the original mission starts to look like a mistake? More here.
• You're never too old ... [National Institute of Health monthly newsletter] Keep active as you age. Here. [h/t Diana Marshall]
• Michelangelo's Masterpiece ... Follow the directions for fantastic views, especially the +, zoom in, icon. Here. [h/t Deacon Larry Holman]
• Anglican Communion News Service ... Weekly Review, Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, here.
• Episcopal Church website ... Episcopal Church on Twitter ... Episcopal News Service ... ENS on Twitter ... NewsLine ... News & Notices ... Infoline ... Episcopal Church on Facebook ... Episcopal Church on YouTube ... Anglican Communion website ... Anglican Communion News Service. ... Anglican Communion News Service on Facebook.
• NEPA Synod E-News ... Dec. 2, here. NEPA Synod website ... Here. ELCA website ... Here. ELCA News Service ... Here. ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• UMC website Here. News Service Here. Communication Resources Start here. Communication newsletter (tips and tools) Here. Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• Priest shortages, here and in the global South ... [National Catholic Reporter, John Allen] I've said this so often I probably ought to have it printed on T-shirts: The most important Catholic story of our time is the demographic shift from the global north to the south, with two-thirds of the Catholics in the world today living in the southern hemisphere, a share that will rise to three-quarters by the middle of the century. As a result, Latin America, Africa and Asia will play a far greater role in setting the tone for the global church. ... the idea of priest shortages in the global south may be counterintuitive for Catholics in Europe and the United States. Looking around, it's easy to get the impression of a surplus, given our growing reliance on priests from Africa, Asia and Latin America to plug holes here. In the United States, one of out every six priests is now foreign-born, and we add 300 international priests every year. It's a rare American diocese that doesn't have at least a handful of priests from locales such as Nigeria or India. ... Massive Catholic growth across the southern hemisphere in the late 20th century did generate a bumper crop of new vocations, but it also made priest shortages worse, not better, because the church can baptize people much more rapidly than it can ordain them. In the United States and Europe, the priest-to-baptized Catholic ratio today is 1 in 1,300; in Africa, it's almost 1 in 5,000; in Southeast Asia, it's 1 in 5,300; and in Latin America, it's a staggering 1 in 7,000. More here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here. Diocese of Scranton ... Here. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here. Catholic News Service ... Here. Vatican website ... Here. Vatican Information Service blog ... Here. Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• Documentary on Bishop Gene Robinson to be featured at Sundance ... [Episcopal Café] Macky Alston’s documenatry film on Bishop Gene Robinson will be on the competition lineup at the 2012 Sundance FIlm Festival. The film is entitled Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World. More here.
• The Daily Office from MissionStClare. Now available for iPhone and iPad.
• The Lectionary Page ... Here. This is a new URL. Update your bookmarks or favorites.
• The Lectionary ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Vanderbilt.
• Jan. 6 ... Ordination of Eddie Lopez to priesthood, St. Stephen's, Wilkes-Barre 7:00 p.m., reception to follow.
• Jan. 21 ... Bishop's Day with Youth, grades 6-12. Nativity Bethlehem. Online registration will open Dec. 6.
• Feb. 11 ... Renewal Assembly IV, various locations, 9 to 1:30. Online registration opens Dec. 16.
• March 24 ... Diocesan Training Day, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 9:00 to 3:00.
• March 29 ... Chrism Mass, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem 11:00 a.m.
• April 13 ... Ordination, Nativity Cathedral Bethlehem, 7:00 p.m.
• April 20-22 ... Christophany Retreat, grades 6-12, at Pocono Plateau Retreat, Cresco.
• May 16 ... Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting, Kirby House 9:00 to 2:30.
• May 20 ... St. Matthew's Society Gathering, Lehigh Country Club, Allentown 3:00 p.m.
• June 1-3 ... Vocare Retreat for Young Adults, Kirkridge Retreat Center.
• June 16 ... Renewal Assembly V, various locations, 9 to 1:30.
• June 30 ... Bishop's Day with Kids
• July 5-12 ... 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Indianapolis.
• July 28 ... Bishop's Day with Kids
• Summer ... Senior High Mission Trip. Dates and destination TBA.
• Sept. 20 ... New Hope 5th Anniversary.
• Sept. 25 ... Pre-Convention Meeting, St. Albans, Sinking Spring 7:00 p.m.
• Sept. 27 ... Pre-Convention Meeting, Church of the Epiphany, Clarks Summit 7:00 p.m.
• Oct. 2 ... Pre-Convention Meeting, Nativity, Bethlehem 7:00 p.m.
• Oct. 5-6 ... Diocesan Convention.
• Nov. 11 ... Joint Eucharist with United Methodist Church, Asbury United Methodist, Allentown 4:00 P.M. Bishop Paul to preach, Eucharist hosted by the United Methodists.
• The Diocese of Bethlehem on Twitter and Facebook ... http://twitter.com/#!/Diobeth ... https://www.facebook.com/DioceseOfBethlehem
• Kat Lehman on Twitter ... http://twitter.com/#!/KatLehman
• Episcopal News Service on Twitter ... http://twitter.com/#!/episcopal_news
Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... here.
(1) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(2) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
(4) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
You are reading the newSpin newsletter. The newSpin blog, which includes the newsletter and other items, is available here. When the newsletter is completed on Mondays and occasionally, more often than not, on Thursdays as well, it is published immediately to the blog and on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,000 addresses. Many recipients forward it to many more. Bakery and the blog are interactive. The ChurchPost list is not. 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 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. Regarding items about your parish or agency as well as feedback on any other items ... send email to Bill.
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]