The newSpin newsletter, Jan. 16, 2012
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. –Martin Luther King, Jr.
So here we are moving toward the exit of the twentieth century with a religious community largely adjusted to the status quo, standing as a tail-light behind other community agencies rather than a headlight leading men to higher levels of justice. -–Martin Luther King, Jr. "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" 16 April 1963
• Renewal Assembly IV ... will focus on empowering leaders in our parishes and is designed to help vestry members in particular and those interested in leadership and taking an active role in parish vitality. Saturday, February 11, at seven locations around the diocese, 9 to 3. More here. Register here where you will also find more info.
• Sunday's MLK benefit brunch: a sellout at Trinity Bethlehem ... [Morning Call, Diane Stoneback, Dec. 16] A benefit brunch for the soup kitchen at Bethlehem's Trinity Episcopal Church honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also dished up a delicious taste of black history Sunday, thanks to its added focus on Edna "Ma" Bragg. Bragg, who became cook, caterer and confidant to famous Manhattanites, grew up in the Jim Crow South. During her 40-year career, she served foods to admirers including Jackie Onassis, Andy Warhol, Leonard Bernstein, Casey Stengel and Dick Clark. Her daughters, Oceola Bragg of Elizabeth, N.J. and Gladys Bragg of New York City, shared memories of their mother at the brunch. The event featured Ma Bragg's dishes, a "refresher" course on the works and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, spirituals sung by Grace Adele Spuriell and sharing a birthday cake in King's honor.The sell-out crowd, peppered with people of all ages and different races, heard of King's efforts to end discrimination, which led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Edna Bragg's career began a year later. Guests downed country ham, grits, collards, corn pudding, spoonbread and more against a backdrop of King's sayings, including, "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." More here with photos and video.
• Sermon at the marriage of Andrew Reinholz and Kimberly Rowles ... [Bishop Paul Marshall] We are all here to express in one way or another our love for Kim and Andrew, our joy in their happiness, and our hopes for their long and happy future. And to have a party. That, it turns out, is the very biblical thing to do. At the same time, the bride and groom are trying to express something to us. I don’t think I have ever seen a couple put as much time and care into the choice of scripture lessons, thus our attentively reflecting together on the texts they have chosen is a way of honoring Kim and Andrew, giving their choices serious attention. Read it all here.
• Two regional events for The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) ... [Canon Maria Tjeltveit] In the north, on Wednesday, January 25, there will be an Ecumenical Celebration of God’s Word, on Wednesday, January 25, at 12:10 p.m. at St. Peter’s Cathedral, in Scranton. The Rt. Rev, John Mack, Bishop Ordinary of the Central Diocese of the Polish National Church, will be the preacher. In the south, the Lehigh County Conference of Churches will have a service celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Sunday, January 29, 4:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Allentown. The Rt. Rev. John Barres, Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, will be the preacher. The service will include an anointing with oil, and Bishop John Croneberger is planning to be present to represent our diocese and participate in this liturgical action. This year’s theme is “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” and draws on the experience of the Church in Poland. If you want to focus on Christian Unity at your parish during this week, it’s not too late to download resources from the Graymoor Eucmenical & Interreligious Institute.
• Martin Luther King papers -- 200,000 documents in all -- available online for the first time.
• Diocesan Training Day ... March 24. Registration now open. All the info you need, here.
• Bethlehem churches need volunteers to help shelter homeless ... [Express-Times,Jan 2] The Rev. Scott Allen was told it wouldn’t work. He and other Bethlehem-area religious leaders just couldn’t open their churches to the homeless in the winter without strict rules and structure. But on Friday, Allen’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church once again hosted a group of homeless men for the fourth winter running. “It has worked, and it has helped people who may have been dead by now,” Allen said. The program started during a cold spell in January 2009. A group of Bethlehem church leaders were concerned about the welfare of the city’s homeless as temperatures weren’t climbing out of the teens for several days. St. Andrew’s and Cathedral Church of the Nativity first offered to open their doors and soon they had lined up a total of seven churches to house the homeless every night of the week during the winter. The group has grown to a dozen churches, with men and women housed at separate churches most nights. Many churches have participated all four years and for the few that have dropped out, a replacement is usually found quickly, Allen said. More here.
• Grace Honesdale offers 'Warmth in the Night' ... [Wayne Independent] If you are down and out — as so many seem to be lately — Grace Episcopal Church wants to help. Now in its second year, the parish is offering ‘Warmth in the Night’ to those in need in the community. Though the church does open its doors and offer a warm place to sleep during this (normally) cold season, Father Edward Erb says that is just the tip of iceberg. More here.
• Mediator Allentown will celebrate 100th re-birthday ... [WFMZ.com, Frank Whelan] Some institutions have 100th birthdays, 200th birthdays and even 250th birthdays. But Allentown’s Episcopal Church of the Mediator at West Park and Turner Street is one of those few organizations that will be celebrating its100th re-birthday. Much more here, with photos. This celebration of Mediator's moving to its current location was highlighted Monday, Jan. 16, on WFMZ, Channel 69’s 5:00 p.m. newscast, on History’s Headlines with Frank Whelan.
• Sermon at the marriage of Andrew Reinholz and Kimberly Rowles ... [Bishop Paul Marshall] See above, under TopSpin
• Tuition cut at Sewanee ... [Bishop Paul] We have seminarians in each class at the University of the South's School of Theology at the moment. This is a place where they have received outstanding education along with excellent pastoral and health care as needed. I not only have no complaints about their training, I am extremely gratified by it. Due to very careful financial management and Christian generosity, Sewanee remains our most affordable seminary, only more so (they have just announced a tuition cut of a little more than 20%), and I suggest that those thinking about theological education give it a good look. While each seminary has something unique to offer, and I would never trade in my time at "another place," I think that this combination of very high value and relatively low cost deserves consideration.
• Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ... See above, under TopSpin.
• Arts on the Mountain ... At Trinity Mt. Pocono, Feb. 19. Here.
• An Evening with CS Lewis ... At Trinity Easton, March 2. More here.
• Financial Sanity Seminar ... At Trinity Easton, Four Mondays, 7 to 8:30 p.m., March 5 to 26. More here.
• Send mission stories to ENS ... Don't hesitate to send well-written stories about your parish or regional missions to Episcopal News Service. Here are ENS submission guidelines. Send me a copy for the newSpin blog. :-)
• Bishop's School, Spring 2012 ... The courses for the spring session of Bishop's School are: (1) New Testament - taught by The Reverend Daniel Gunn - AM session. (2) Ethics and Moral Theology - taught by The Reverend John Heffner - PM session. At St. Stephen' Wilkes-Barre. Begins January 28. More here.
• Bishop's Day with Youth, grades 6 to 12 ... Join Bishop Paul for a beach party, a day of surf, sun, sand, music, food & fun on Jan. 21 from 4:00 to 9:00 at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Register here. The cost for the event is $20. More here.
• Renewal Assembly IV ... See above, under TopSpin.
• newSpin terminology ... There is a newSpin blog and a newSpin newsletter. The newsletter is accessible (1) As a post on the newSpin blog where anyone can pull it down. (2) As a note that is pushed to members of Bakery. (3) As a note pushed to some 1,000 addresses on the newSpiin list on ChurchPost.
• 2012 Cycles of Prayer ... For the Diocese of Bethlehem, the Anglican Communion and our companion Diocese of Kajo Keji in Sudan. Here.
• Calendar of Diocesan Events ... Updated Jan. 10. Here.
• Weekly Parish eNewsletters ... I publish links to the weekly electronic newsletters of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Grace Allentown, Prince of Peace Dallas, Trinity Easton and St. Anne's Trexlertown 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 five, that might be looked at. Please let me know. Cathedral, Jan. 13, here. Grace Allentown, Jan. 12, here. Trinity Easton, Jan. 13, here. Prince of Peace Dallas, Jan. 14, here. St. Anne's Trexlertown, here, click on "Weekly Calendar."
• 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.
• The sensuous pleasure of a real book ... [London Independent] What's a Kindle but a book in another form? Instead of bewailing the imminent demise of the book, shouldn't a purist be singing the Kindle's praises? After all, the convenience of being able to carry a library of several thousand works around with you is not to be sneezed at, novelist Howard Jacobson writes in the London Independent. But if books are partly the story of our hearts, we have yet to discover how much we will have lost when they are gone. More here. [h/t Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
• Catholic Cardinal: UNESCO plots to make half the world homosexual ... [Jonathan Turley, Res Ipsa Loquitur] Here.
• Where should the bread of heaven be made? ... [Episcopal Cafré] Most Episcopalians open their hands and receive the "body of Christ, the bread of heaven" on a weekly basis. But not many of us know much about the actual bread pressed into our palm. It turns out, the for congregations that purchase their wafers rather than make them, the majority of the wafers say something interesting about the Church as a business. More here.
• FactCheck.org's mission is to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics ... [FactCheck.org] "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels." Website here. "Don't get spun by Internet rumors," here.
• Faith reduced to caricature ... [Boston Globe, James Carroll] A union of conservative Catholics with protestant Evangelicals shows the recent Catholic inclusion in the culture wars, but several moderate Catholics' endorsements of Mitt Romney "could possibly help the candidate overcome anti-Mormon prejudice of Christian fundamentalists [and] suggests how the landscape of bigotry has changed," writes James Carroll. He notes Santorum's recent speech marking the occasion of JFK's speech to Protestant ministers in Houston in which JFK called "a truce" to the culture war. Carroll says Santorum's speech misinterprets JFK's attitudes toward religion in politics. Santorum is doing this because his candidacy's only hope is pegged to a mostly Protestant culture war, but it underlines the absence in today's discourse of moderate religious voices. "Culture war, like all wars, lays waste the thoughtful middle ground, which is good reason to call a truce again." More here. [h/t The Atlantic]
• 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.
• Congregations under stress ... The Congregational Resource Guide shares a number of perspectives on dealing with congregations under stress. Here. [h/t Charles Cesaretti]
• Getting on the Do Not Call list ... [Paul Carpener, The Morning Call] You can do it by telephone (888-382-1222 for the national registry and 888-777-3406 for the state one) but the online enrollment is even easier. Go to http://www.donotcall.gov (national) or http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/dnc.aspx (state) and click to enroll or register. Fill in your name, home address and email address and enter the numbers you want on the Do Not Call list. That's it. More here.
• Virginia Judge rules against conservative churches in property case ... [WaPo] A Virginia judge has ruled against seven conservative congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2006, rejecting their argument that they should be able to keep valuable church property that the national denomination also claims. The case has drawn worldwide attention because it involves a cluster of large, prominent churches with well-known conservative pastors. Truro Church and Fall Church in Northern Virginia are among the seven congregations that would have to vacate their churches if they decide not to appeal. More here. And Episcopal News Service Story here. Episcopal Café here.
• Rebuilding continues in Haiti, two years after earthquake ... [Presiding Bishop, HuffPost] The people of Haiti have suffered enormously in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010. At the same time, their creativity, faith, hope and joy continue to lead them into a more gracious future. Yet, we are all diminished by the reality of the situation in Haiti. Reconstruction has been painfully slow, funds promised by other nations have not yet been paid or paid in full, and many, many people still live in tents. More here, with photos.
• Bishop Pope, 81, dies in Baton Rouge ... [ENS] Clarence Pope, former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, gained the reputation over the years for being an orthodox Anglo-Catholic. He made the news in the 1994 and 1995 regarding his entrance and subsequent exit from the Roman Catholic Church. He re-entered in 2007. More here.
• Episcopal Church new website ... complete transformation and redesign, launched December 28, efficient and user friendly. Read about it here. ... Episcopal News Service ... ENS blog ... 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 ... Jan. 13, 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."
• Behind the ratings ... [United Methodist Reporter] A recent survey by LifeWay, a Southern Baptist agency, had interesting data on how the United Methodist Church is viewed by Americans. Like the politicians, we need to ask ourselves what is behind the opinions uncovered by the poll takers. We need to avoid denial and ask ourselves how we can use these numbers to become more creative, to enhance our profile, and to reach more people to become disciples of Jesus Christ. More here.
• 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.
• Seismic shifts reshape US Catholicism ... [Tom Roberts, NCR] Archbishop Charles Chaput’s announcement Jan. 6 that the Philadelphia archdiocese will be closing schools in record numbers during the coming year was the latest and loudest rumble in a series of seismic displacements that are permanently reshaping the look of U.S. Catholicism. What is happening in Philadelphia follows the same script, fashioned by demographic shifts and economic need, that has been in use throughout the Northeast and Upper Midwest. The drama may differ in particulars from place to place -- some bishops might accomplish the grim task with more pastoral sensitivity than others, some may involve the larger community more deeply in the decision-making process than others -- but the results are pretty much the same. From Philadelphia to Newark, N.J., New York to Boston, Cleveland to Chicago to Detroit and beyond, the church of the immigrants is going the same route as the old industrial America of our forebears. The huge plants -- churches, schools and parish halls -- markers of another era, like the hulking steel mills and manufacturing plants of old, can no longer be sustained. There aren’t enough Catholics left in those places, not enough priests and nuns and certainly not enough money to maintain the church as it once was. According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, the church in the United States has lost 1,359 parishes during the past 10 years, or 7.1 percent of the national total, and most of those have been in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. The upheaval and displacement is profound and goes beyond the dismantling of what the “builder generation” of Catholics produced. The changes go deeper than the bricks and mortar of Catholic identity to the psychology and practice of what it means to be Catholic today. “We have before us a generation of young adults and young Catholics who are negotiating life and faith in a wholly different way,” Franciscan Fr. David B. Couturier said in a speech last October to the Council of Priests of New York State. More here.
• The lowerarchy ... Hope for the Catholic Church in 2012 is that the lowerarchy discovers its prophetic voice. 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.
• On investing in teachers ... [NYTimes, Nicholas Kristof] New research from Harvard and Columbia suggests that a fourth grade teacher can permanently affect a child's chances of graduating and earning more money over her lifetime. "Our faltering education system may be the most important long-term threat to America's economy and national well-being, so it's frustrating that the presidential campaign is mostly ignoring the issue," writes Kristof. Candidates like Mitt Romney should give more emphasis to education, and they should take this study's policy prescriptions that we need to pay for more good teachers. He cites other studies that show that there is significant variation among teachers, and argues it can be reasonably assessed with test scores. "Some Republicans worry that a federal role in education smacks of socialism. On the contrary, schools represent a tough-minded business investment in our economic future," he says. More here.
• Seven questions every church should ask ... [Anglican Journal via Episcopal Café] Gary Nicolosi, rector at St. James Westminster Anglican Church in London, Ontario, suggests seven questions that every church should ask itself. More here.
• Election 2012 ... That’s the NYTimes app that offers “news, opinion, polls and live election night results from The Times and other top sources around the Web ... the best csampaign coverage anywhere, all in one app.” More here.
• Music at Trinity Wall Street ... [NYTimes] With the new year, the church’s hard-charging music program seems to have hit a serious speed bump. More here.
• The Beauty of Pollination ... Relax by this portion of a beautiful TED video. 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. 21: Bishop's Day with Youth
Grades 6-12. Nativity Bethlehem. Register here.
Jan. 28: Bishop's School begins. More here.
Feb. 11: Renewal Assembly 4, seven locations, 9 to 3. Register here.
Feb. 19: Celebration of New Ministry, Christ Church Stroudsburg
The Rev. Doug Moyer as rector, 4:00 p.m.
March 9-11: Nativity Cathedral's 10th annual retreat for Episcopal women, here.
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 3-6: Icon Workshop with Peter Pearson at Cathedral. More info here.
May 16: Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting, Kirby House 9:00 to 2:30.
Program: Prefer Nothing to Christ: Benedictine Wisdom for the Christian Life.
The Rev. Laura Thomas Howell
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 5, various locations.
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 at Good Shepherd Scranton
Nov. 11: Joint Eucharist with United Methodists
Asbury UMC, Allentown, 4:00 P.M. Bishop Paul to preach.
Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church
(2) Episcopal News Service
(3) Episcopal Café
(5) 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]