The newSpin Newsletter, March 5, 2012
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. [Inscribed over the front door of Carl Jung's house, as well as on his tombstone] Invoked or not, God is here.
• Sheltering the homeless ... Various churches throughout the Bethlehem Area continue to shelter the homeless. More volunteers are needed to help shuttle people in the mornings and evenings. Recently one person had to drive, Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, Sunday morning, Monday night, and Tuesday morning. If you can help, please sign up here.
• Diocesan Training Day: Saturday, March 24 at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre ... The annual Diocesan Training Day is now open for online registration. Twelve workshops from a variety of ministries. Registration and more info here. Vestry members and Finance Commission members are especially encouraged to attend the Wardens/Vestry 101 Workshop led by Bishop Paul and Archdeacon Stringfellow: An introduction for new wardens and vestry members, or a refresher for experienced vestry members to the roles, responsibilities, and realities of parish leadership. We will look at canons, models, strategies, and resources to assist the elected leaders of parishes.
• Chrism Mass: March 29 ... [Bishop Paul] What will feature a professional choir, a new organ stop, and music by Haydn, Palestrina, Byrd, and…Wagner? And a free lunch. Yes, the Chrism Mass, March 29, at 11 a.m at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity. Reverent, moving, and just a hint of fun. Stay tuned for details. Blessings, +Paul
• Diocesan Life, March/April ... Here.
• General Convention 101 ... [Scott Allen] This coming July, eight Deputies and two Bishops will travel from the Diocese of Bethlehem to Indianapolis to be part of the triennial decision-making body of the Episcopal Church called the General Convention. This is the first in a series by your elected Deputies to set a context for that journey so that you may better be part of this important decision making body of the Church. More here.
• Resources for Christian/Muslim dialogue ... [DioLife, Canon Mariclair Partee] Here, on page three.
• Christians and Muslims: From History to Healing ... [DioLife, Book Review by Addison Bross] Here, on page five. [Dr. Bross is a member of Grace Allentown and co-chair of the Diocesan Peace Commission.]
• Five women in religion to watch in 2012 ... [CNN Belief Blog, Sarah Sentilles] Kecia Ali, a feminist scholar who focuses on Islamic jurisprudence and women in early and modern Islam, is one of the organizers of “Muslim Women and the Challenge of Authority,” a conference that will be held at Boston University in March. Nadia Bolz-Weber is changing what church looks like — and she’s changing what ministers look like while she’s at it. Anthea Butler models what engaged scholarship looks like in the 21st century. She is an associate professor of religious studies and graduate chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, brings a scholar’s eye to contemporary politics and decodes the work religion is doing in the public square. Esther Fleece, assistant to the president for millennial relations at Focus on the Family, was hired to bring the so-called “millennials” back to the conservative Christian movement. Karen King is the first woman appointed as the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, the oldest endowed chair in the United States, and she is at work on a book about “martyrdom and its discontents” that rethinks the role of violence in the formation of Christianity. More here. [h/t Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
• Chrism Mass: March 29 ... See above, under TopSpin.
• God Only Knows ... [Bishop Paul, Diocesan Life] It’s not what you know, it’s who knows you. That at least seems to be St Paul’s point when settling the church fight in the ancient city of Corinth. In the middle of their dispute about ways of knowing, Paul changes the subject from data to experience. He says, “if anyone loves God, they are known by God.” More here, on page two.
• DioBeth GC Deputies blog ... A vehicle for communication created by the deputation of the Diocese of Bethlehem to the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held July 5-12th, 2012 in Indianapolis. Here.
• Empowered Leaders, Renewed Congregations sets record ... [DioLife, Janine Ungvarsky] On February 11, the Diocese of Bethlehem held some of the largest vestry meetings ever when a record number of 282 current and future vestry members from throughout the diocese gathered for the fourth Renewal Assembly. Titled “Empowered Leaders, Renewed Congregations,” the event was a retreat for current and future vestry members to explore what their leadership role means to their parish and their spiritual growth. More here, on page one.
• Copyright Solver ... [Diocesan Life] Copyright compliance can be overwhelming and complex for most parish leaders. With that in mind, the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem is partnering with Christian Copyright Solutions to provide needed answers and resources. CCS’s goal in this partnership is to make copyrights simple for the parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. More here, on page two, and here.
• Defeating our Enemies ... [Diocesan Life, Archdeacon Stringfellow] The Lord’s words to Cain never quite become silent. They never leave, and they remind me, as they linger, of the need we have of using every means possible to prefer the good and to leave the evil alone: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). The choice is ours, of course, whether we do well or do not do well, or whether we master sin or permit sin to master us. The desire to defeat our enemies as much as anything I know points to our need for Lent—our need to repent and to return to the Lord. Defeating our enemies clearly belongs to the category of not doing well and letting sin become our master. As long as we’re clear on that, some room may remain to have a little fun. Here, on page three, and here.
• Finding Rest ... [Canon Anne Kitch] We tend to understand the Sabbath as a weekly day of worship. But there is more to it than that. In her book Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Joan Chittister tells us that the rabbis teach three reasons for honoring the Sabbath. More here.
• The baseball fan and 2012 predictions ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] The Baseball Fan observes with great devotion the days of the Baseball Season, and it became the custom to prepare for Opening Day by a season of reflection and prediction. This season provided a time for converts and seasoned Fans alike to share with each other their allegiances and analyses so that conversations, whether appointed or joyously unexpected, could begin with mutual understanding and awareness. More here.
• Bishop's Beach Party... March 17, 2:00 to 7:00, Cathedral. More here.
• Christophany registration is open ... More here.
• High School Mission Trip ... Here.
• Diocesan Events for 2012 ... 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.
• West Pittston: Residents still reeling from flood six months later ... [DioLife, Janine Ungvarsky] Six months have passed since the Susquehanna River overflowed its banks in early September, and it's been a long six months for the many residents of West Pittston and other areas of the Wyoming Valley who are still unable to return to their homes. More here, on page five.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral ... Lenten series, here.
• Weekly eNewsletters from parishes ... Here are links to the attractive, newsy, and user-friendly weekly electronic newsletters of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Grace Allentown, Prince of Peace Dallas, Trinity Easton and St. Anne's Trexlertown. The Cathedral's newsletter is created with ChurchPost that, through a diocesan contract, is available free to all parishes. Cathedral, March 2, here. Grace Allentown, March 1, here. Trinity Easton, March 1, here. Prince of Peace Dallas, March 2, here. St. Anne's Trexlertown, here, click on "Weekly Calendar." There may be other weekly electronic newsletters, besides these five, that might be looked at. If so, please send me a link. St. Paul's Montrose publishes a weekly newsletter, but with no direct link.
• Monthly Newsletters from parishes ... Most parishes publish a monthly newsletter that is mailed to parishioners. Many, if not most, of those are available at the parish websites.
• Allentown Mediator: Small group study on Nicene Creed ... Mediator Allentown will be doing a We Believe small group study on the Nicene Creed during Lent. The study was developed by a planning group in the parish to help people explore what the Creed means to us individually and communally. People from outside the parish are invited to join a small group on Thursday evening at 7:00, Saturday morning at 10:00, or Sunday at noon, at the church, located at 1620 Turner St., Allentown. The study begins the first full week of Lent, February 26. For more information go to www.episcopalmediator.org or call 610-434-0155.
• Bethlehem Cathedral: Disciples of Christ in Community Training ... DOCC training will be offered at the Cathedral March 2-3 by the Rev. William Barnwell of Trinity Church New Orleans. Cost: $125 for presenters (clergy or EFM graduates), $50 for facilitators (small group leaders). If your congregation is interested in starting a DOCC experience you are invited to participate by recruiting a small team of leaders and registering for this event. Contact Dean Pompa or Canon Partee. Disciples of Christ in Community is a step by step journey into the heart of Christianity. One word can be used to describe DOCC and that is transformational. What does it mean to hear God's Call? What does it mean to be the church as opposed to belonging to the Church? What difference can Christ really make in our lives? Through short presentations and small group discussion around such important topics participants are invited to grow in faith in community. More here, and at www.trinitynola.com/docc.
• Bethlehem Churches sheltering the homeless ... See above, under TopSpin.
• Kingston: Grace seeks part-time sexton ... Here.
• On bad habits and self-control ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, David Brooks] The 19th century model of how to be a good person, Brooks says, focused on will power -- identifying your sins and passions and keeping them under control. "These days that model is out of fashion. You usually can't change your behavior by simply resolving to do something." He sites the many failed New Years Resolutions, diets, and bad behavior that prove this. And he highlights a book on our habits that shows how they work and how deeply they run through us. Research suggests we can change our behavior by reconditioning our habits with new triggers -- learning to take a walk when we feel an urge for a snack. But Brooks says that's only part of the solution. "As the Victorians understood (and the folks at Alcoholics Anonymous understand), if you want to change your life, don't just look for a clever trigger. Commit to some larger global belief." More here. [h/t The Atlantic Wire]
• The Moravian Church 555th ... March 1, 1457, was the birthday of the Unity of the Brethren (Moravian Church) in Bohemia.
• How to train volunteers ... It involves more than just teaching them to perform a particular task; it’s also an opportunity to offer an incarnational expression of God's love. More here.
• D.C. archdiocese says denying communion to lesbian at funeral was against policy ... [Washington Post] Priest's action triggers an uproar among gay rights activists and enlivens some religious conservatives. Here. [US Catholic] Denying communion at a funeral is worthy of suspension. Here.
• A popular (and gay) music teacher at a Catholic school in St. Louis was fired ... after an archdiocesan official overheard him talking about plans to wed his partner. The parish had known about the relationship for 20 years, and seemed cool with it. More here.
• First the milk, then the cereal ... [Miller-McCune] Shaking up everyday rituals — even the order of preparing a breakfast dish — may be a way to stimulate innovative thinking. More here.
• Mormons worldwide were warned on Sunday: Stop posthumous baptisms of "unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims." The letter signed by church President Thomas Monson and his two counselors follows the baptism of Daniel Pearl and Anne Frank, an embarrassment for the church, which has promised not to baptize non-relatives. More here. [h/t RNS]
• Re-branding a denomination is hard to do, and not always successful ... [David Gibson, RNS] Did leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention hurt their missionary cause by opting not to change the denomination's name to something a bit more, well, marketable? Maybe, but as the advertising executives of Madison Avenue could attest, as tempting as it is to try to solve a missionary slump with a marketing campaign, religious groups -- like commercial businesses -- should think twice before undergoing a brand overhaul. More here. [h/t Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
• Can you identify The Onion headlines? The collapse of parody, and what it means ... [Big Think] American politics is getting more Onion-ish. People are mistaking stories from the brilliant parodic newspaper The Onion for "real" news with growing frequency. When parody works, both sides recognize themselves. They're momentarily united in laughing at a joke that skewers them, made decipherable by their shared standard of common sense. But what if we are so estranged, extreme, and pre-sorted that we don't have this knowledge, curiosity, contact, and trust with each other? Here.
• Wellness ... [Diana Marshall] On starting a Wellness Committee. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... Canon Anne Kitch's March newsletter.
• Lent with SSJE ... Here.
• Episcopal Church offers Lenten resources, meditations ... Here.
• Congregational Resource Guide ... Here.
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here.
• Holy Family ministries in Chicago ... It's a merger of Episcopal and Lutheran schools in a ministry that also includes secular social services. More here, including video.
• St. Luke's in the Fields, NYC ... [Episcopal Café] The Huffington Post highlights the work of St. Luke in the Fields, an Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan that makes radical welcome the center of their ministry. Here.
• Episcopal Church, Diocese of Virginia prevail as court refuses to revise decision ... [ENS, Mary Frances Schjonberg] Seven breakaway congregations have been ordered by a judge to return control of church property to the Diocese of Virginia by April 30. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows set that date after he refused March 1 to reconsider, as requested by the congregations, the part of his Jan. 10 opinion in which he said that some personal property, including monetary gifts, given to the congregations prior to January 31, 2007, belongs to the diocese. Bellows’ actions were meant to implement his Jan. 10 opinion that the diocese and the Episcopal Church “have a contractual and proprietary interest in the property of these Episcopal churches” for use in the church’s mission and ministry. He added that while congregations “had an absolute right to depart from [the Episcopal Church] and the diocese, they had no right to take these seven Episcopal churches with them.” Here.
• Pittsburgh's Episcopal diocese narrows its search for bishop: Healing leader is sought after split ... [Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4] Next month the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will elect a permanent bishop to lead it as it continues rebuilding after a split that took the majority of its parishes, clergy and its former bishop. Its current prelate, Bishop Kenneth Price Jr., is a "provisional bishop" on loan from another diocese. The Rev. George Werner, president of the diocesan Standing Committee, cited a diocesan history of hardball church politics in expressing his hope for the April 21 election. "It's been 30 years since we've been healthy," he said. "It's a question of healing, a question of starting to rebuild, of patching up people who are still damaged and finding ways to use people who are still doing good things." More here.
• What the House of Bishops will be up to at its next meeting ... [Episcopal Café] The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops will be gathering for its final meeting before the 2012 General Convention Friday March 16 through Tuesday March 20. According to a draft schedule that was posted online, here is some of what is on their agenda.
• 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.
• 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.
• A deep look into Philly's clerical culture ... [Tom Roberts, NCR, Feb. 28] The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, with its roots deep in the soil of a secretive, authoritarian, Irish Catholicism, produced a tightly wound clerical culture unparalleled in this country for its loyalty to itself. When it comes to clericalism, with its unwritten but clearly understood code of the bishop as prince with the power to bend the culture to his will through the distribution of benefices and punishments, with the means to exact unfailing loyalty, “Philly” was always in a league of its own. The culture is unraveling. More here. Some of the comments are worth reading.
• Couldn't shred the truth ... [Phila Inquirer Editorial, March 1] Just as two Philadelphia grand juries concluded, Bevilacqua's reported 1994 shredding directive, brought to light only last week, appears to confirm that there was a carefully orchestrated effort by Archdiocese of Philadelphia officials to shield predators. Similarly, it has been revealed that Bevilacqua joined with other Pennsylvania bishops "to examine how the dioceses . . . can better protect their secret archives from civil-law discovery," according to court records. More here.
• Bishop Cullen had secret list ... [Morning Call, March 4] Nearly two decades ago, Allentown Bishop Edward Cullen was one of two or three high-ranking clergy present when the head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese ordered the shredding of a list of 35 priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a recent court filing in Philadelphia. A copy of that list and a 1994 memo recording Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's instructions to destroy it has turned up in the case of Monsignor William Lynn, a former archdiocesan official charged with endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy for allegedly enabling priests to molest children. Lynn's attorneys have claimed the documents are proof of a conspiracy by Bevilacqua; Cullen, who was then the cardinal's top aide; Cullen's then assistant, Monsignor James Molloy; and Lynn's then assistant, the Rev. Joseph Cistone, to hide sexual abuse allegations. More here.
• Popular Allentown Diocese priest removed ... [The Morning Call, March 5] A popular Allentown Diocese priest who fled oppression in west Africa to "follow Jesus" to the United States was removed as assistant pastor at a Berks County parish for having an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old woman. More here.
• Some see RC bishops in danger of overplaying their hand ... [NCR, Michael Winter, Analysis, Feb. 28] In the three weeks between President Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 announcement that there would be no expansion of the conscience exemptions regarding Department of Health and Human Services mandates for contraceptives and his Feb. 10 announcement of an “accommodation” that effectively does expand those exemptions, the U.S. bishops enjoyed a rare moment of public support from many progressive Catholics. Groups like the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and the Catholic Health Association, as well as prominent liberal Catholics like E.J. Dionne and Chris Matthews, joined the bishops in calling for broader exemptions for Catholic colleges, charities and hospitals. When the president announced his accommodation, it was clearly a win for the bishops. The president had set a one-year timetable to address religious concerns, but the firestorm he had ignited required him to address the issue more quickly than planned. Instead of taking a victory lap, though, the bishops declared themselves unsatisfied with the accommodation and shifted the goalposts of the debate. 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.
• Tithing ... is generally understood as giving back for God's work ten percent of one's income. But what counts as income? The point of the tithe is not so much the 10% but the conversation with God in the context of our money and our communities. More by Canon Andrew Gerns at Episcopal Café.
• If you feel ok, maybe you are ok ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, H. Gilbert Welch, Feb. 27] Think about it this way: in the past, you went to the doctor because you had a problem and you wanted to learn what to do about it. Now you go to the doctor because you want to stay well and you learn instead that you have a problem. How did we get here? Or perhaps, more to the point: Who is to blame? One answer is the health care industry: By turning people into patients, screening makes a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctors. The chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society once pointed out that his hospital could make around $5,000 from each free prostate cancer screening, thanks to the ensuing biopsies, treatments and follow-up care. ... It’s easier to transform people into new patients than it is to treat the truly sick. It’s easier to develop new ways of testing than it is to develop better treatments. And it’s a lot easier to measure how many healthy people get tested than it is to determine how well doctors manage the chronically ill. But the precept of early diagnosis was too intuitive, too appealing, too hard to challenge and too easy to support. The rumblings show that that’s beginning to change. Let me be clear: early diagnosis is not always wrong. Doctors would rather see patients early in the course of their heart attack than wait until they develop low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. And we’d rather see women with small breast lumps than wait until they develop large breast masses. The question is how often and how far we should get ahead of symptoms. For years now, people have been encouraged to look to medical care as the way to make them healthy. But that’s your job — you can’t contract that out. Doctors might be able to help, but so might an author of a good cookbook, a personal trainer, a cleric or a good friend. We would all be better off if the medical system got a little closer to its original mission of helping sick patients, and let the healthy be. More here.
• Don't blame college for young people leaving Christianity ... [CNN Belief blog] As a generation heads for the exit door, church leaders keep looking for an outside enemy to blame when the biggest problems are inside the church. Here.
• Born to not get bullied ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, Nicholas Kristof, Feb. 29] When she was in high school, Lady Gaga says, she was thrown into a trash can. The culprits were boys down the block, she told me in an interview on Wednesday in which she spoke — a bit reluctantly — about the repeated cruelty of peers during her teenage years. More here.
• Finding the meaning of Ash Wednesday in a darkened movie theater ... [NCR, Jamie Manson, Feb. 28] I didn't set out on Ash Wednesday not wanting to participate in its rituals. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't until I was on a ferryboat ride to Manhattan and saw the foreheads of some of the passengers that I even realized it was Ash Wednesday. How could I have forgotten? I was at a church event the previous weekend and was reminded of the day and time of the community's service. It wasn't my memory lapse that disturbed me, but the realization that it was Ash Wednesday and I didn't seem to care. The lack of feeling was disorienting. What brought me to this state of disaffection? More here.
• The unjustly neglected Margin Call ... [Ross Douthat, NYTimes Op-Ed, Feb. 29] Perhaps the most striking injustice of the Best Picture nominations was the lack of any love for “Margin Call,” which was, as Noah Millman writes, “not only extremely well-written and well-acted … but an extremely rare effort to accurately depict the culture of Wall Street.” More here.
• Midnight in Paris ... Monica and I recently watched this film on DVD. We highly recommend it. Reviews here.
• PBS Online Film Festival ... Continues to March 30. More here.
• Tutu's God of Surprises ... [On Being with Krista Tippett] Here.
Calendar of Events ... updated Feb. 15. Here.
Diocesan Events for 2012 ... Here.
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 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]