newSpin 130923
2013 Convention Address: A Season of Faithful Change

newSpin 131001

newSpin, the newsletter
October 1, 2013  
Bill Lewellis
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday

• 33 faith leaders denounce brinksmanship ... [Episcopal Café] Thirty-three faith leaders (including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori) have denounced the antics of the Republicans in Congress who are about cut off pay for government workers, cripple the U.S. and damage the economy. More here.

• A new balance: What the Pope's interview reveals
... [Commonweal Editorial] A careful reading of the pope’s remarks reveals Francis to be preparing the faithful for a significant program of institutional reform. Especially welcome were his comments about the hierarchy of truths taught by the church. Not every doubt raised about church teaching should be treated as heresy; not every church practice is sacrosanct. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,” he reminded us. Even more refreshing was the pope’s insistence that “thinking with the church” does not mean thinking only with the hierarchy. “The church [is]…the people of God, pastors and people together. The church is the totality of God’s people.” It has been a long time since that bit of orthodox wisdom has been heard from Rome. In a similar fashion, Francis warned of the dangers of certainty in the life of faith. “If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him.” ...

   Francis cautions that change and reform cannot be hurried. Laying the groundwork and building consensus for renewal are essential. In the meantime, he will adopt the governing style of John XXIII: “See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little.” For those who want their pope to be more of a pastor than an oracle, Francis is undoubtedly the answer to many prayers. Yet even more disarming than his humility is Francis’s openness to, and confidence in, the future. His every word attests to a profound faith that God continues to act in unexpected ways in the lives of his people. It is a faith secure in the knowledge that what is new in the church can be a revelation rather than a corruption. Those looking for a “countercultural” pope who is not afraid to challenge our modern skepticism and complacency should take another look at Francis. More here.

• Pope meets with liberation theology pioneer ... [NCR] Some observers of the Catholic theological scene are saying that a personal meeting between Pope Francis and Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez could mark a thaw in decades of frosty relations between the church's hierarchy and liberation theologians. Gutiérrez, a Peruvian, coined the phrase "liberation theology." The theology is marked by its concern for liberation of the world's people from unjust economic or social conditions. It was developed in Latin America during the region's military dictatorships in the 1960s and '70s. Read on.

• Creativity is really just persistence, and science can prove it
... [LeadershipNow/FastCompany] Advances in science have allowed us to get a better idea as to why better ideas come after jumping into our workflow, rather than waiting for sudden inspiration to strike. Read on.

• The deadline for seniors to apply for 2012 Property Tax/Rent Rebate has been extended ... [Senior Law Center] The deadline for eligible seniors to apply for 2012 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has been extended from June 30th to December 31st. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate is a program where eligible Pennsylvanians receive a rebate of some of their real estate taxes or rent. Read on.

You like me! You really like me! ...[NYTimes] A Times article recently debated whether young people are more narcissistic than previous generations, mentioning Facebook as a possible factor. And a University of Michigan study, published in June, seems to support this theory Are social media like Facebook turning us into narcissists? Read the discussion.

• Jews of no religion ... [RNS] A landmark Pew study released today [Oct. 1] shows that 62 percent of Jewish Americans call themselves Jewish, not because they practice the religion, but because of culture or ancestry. This and many more fascinating finds from the report here.

Religion News Service introduces a new blog, On Freedom, written by Brian Pellot, which will explore religious liberty in the U.S. and around the world. - See more at:

• The Book of Common Prayer
... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.

• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The Daily Office
... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Holy Women, Holy Men
... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Sou
l ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.

• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.

• Diocesan Convention ... Friday/Saturday, Oct. 4-5, Cathedral Church of the Nativity. Here. Here. • Last Pre-Convention Meetings ... Tues 1 Oct at The Cathedral, Bethlehem, 7 pm (Some calendars have had the incorrect date for the Oct 1 meeting. It is on Tues 1 Oct, not Thurs 3 Oct.) • The Convention Pre-print ... will be available on the DioBeth website by Tue 24 Sept, and hard copies will be available at each Pre-Convention meeting. • ECW In-Gathering at Convention ... The ECW will collect shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, razors, bodywash, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, socks, cotton underwear, cough drops, and over-the-counter medications. Items will be given to the guests of Trinity Soup Kitchen. Here.

• Two celebrations ... [Canon Andrew Gerns] We as a Diocese are entering a season of change and we start this time out with two celebrations. We are saying “Godspeed” to both Bishop Paul Marshall and to Bishop Jack Croneberger. Bishop Paul will enter retirement on January 1, 2014 and Bishop Jack retired (again) as our Assistant Bishop on August 1, 2013. We are grateful to both men for their leadership and pastoral care to our diocese. We will be holding two events to honor and thank them for their ministries. Read on.

• DioBeth on Facebook ... Don't miss the Diobeth Facebook page.

• Poverty in Reading ... [Reading Eagle] Reading's poverty rate worsened in 2012, making it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit. The percent of city residents in poverty increased from 40.1 to 40.5, according to statistics released today [Sept. 18] by the U.S. Census Bureau. That's less than the 41.3 percent of Reading residents who were in povrty in 2010 when Reading had a highr percentage of residents in poverty than any other U.S. city with 65,000 of more people. Read on.

• One in three kids in Scranton lives in poverty ... [Times-Tribune, Scranton] New U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday showed deepening poverty across Northeast Pennsylvania, particularly among children. In Scranton, more than one of every three children - a whopping 33.5 percent - lived in poverty in 2012. Throughout the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton metro area, the rate was one in four among kids and one in six across the entire population. "I'm not surprised other than I thought the numbers would be higher overall," said Monsignor Kelly, executive director of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton. That he was wrong didn't make him feel any better about the figures or the misery they represent. "I don't know how our families are surviving," he said. "There is little or no help." Read on.

• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development
...  [John Major] A shield in the midst of life's storms. Week of Sept. 23. 

• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... Canon Anne Kitch's monthly newsletter on lifelong Christian formation resources. September.

• DioLight ... Vol. 1, Issue 14: Convention Ethos by Archdeacon Stringfellow and Convention Particulars by Canon Gerns. (Correction: The Pre-Convention Meeting at the Cathedral is on Oct. 1, not Oct. 3) Here

• Keep up with Diocese of Bethlehem news, info ... on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, on Flickr, on YouTube, on Vimeo, on LinkedIn, on our Website and on the newSpin blog.

• Diocesan level events ... Here.

• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.

• Music from St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... Here.

• Christ Church Reading commits to healing ministry
... [Reading Eagle] There has been a rise in interest in spirituality across the nation. Responding to that, Christ Episcopal Church in the city has made a commitment to a healing ministry, a so-called one-on-one spiritual direction practice and an upcoming workshop that will tackle the journey toward forgiveness. "This is a very ecumenical movement and outreach to all people," said the Rev. John Francis, 57, of Christ Episcopal, 435 Court St., which boasts about 400 members and an average weekly Sunday attendance of 170.

   He cited today's changing and more ethnically diverse human landscape as reasons for embracing a spiritual ministry, noting that many people come from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds as well as no particular faith background at all. In the case of Christ Episcopal, he said, about half of the congregation is longtime traditional English, but the other half represents a newer influx of people whose heritage stems from Latino, African and Caribbean countries. Read on.

Reaching parishioners who are not online ... [Kat Lehman] Parish churches struggle with how to reach members not online. This month's United Methodist Communication newsletter has an article on creative ways to do this. [Bill] Parish administrator Bob House, formerly at Grace Allentown, now at St. Stephen's Whitehall, has for years been producing a Sunday bulletin in line with "Reinvent the church bulletin," the first item in the UM newsletter above.

• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

• Why most churches have fewer than 200 members ... [Episcopal Café] Here.

Rest in peace
• Sister Nora McArt, 68 ... a nun fiercely devoted to children of the Bronx. NYTimes story here. Obituary here.

• Our young men and women who died recently in Afghanistan and for their families ... Here ... Pray also for the fallen heroes also of our coalition partners, and for the citizens of Afghanistan who have died, unnamed and unknown to us, and for those who mourn ... and for the end to this endless war.

Episcopal/Anglican (beyond DioBeth)
• A fun and engaging way to explain diocesan funding ... Four-minute video.

House of Deputies news ... [HoD website] Here.

• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here

Employment Opportunities
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.

• Eugene Peterson interview ... [Episcopal Café and RNS] Jonathan Merritt interviews Eugene Peterson at Religion News Service. Peterson is the author of The Message, a translation of the Bible in modern language. Here are his comments on the difference between being an academic and being a pastor: I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are. Read on.

• The Friendship Bank: How and why even the most giving friend expects payback ... [WSJournal] People who usually make an effort to help others, without regard to whether they will get something in return, are considered to have high "communal orientation." New research from the University of Toronto, published this month in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests they are happier than people with low communal orientation. Even so, people with strong communal orientation aren't completely selfless. They do expect their friends will be there if they need them. The risk they run is they won't receive support, or they will even be exploited, by friends or loved ones with low communal orientation. So what can you do if you tend to give a lot in a friendship and don't always get what you need in return? Start by rechanneling some of your giving. Volunteer for charity or help someone less fortunate. You'll enjoy the benefits of providing help and will be free of the expectation that you will receive something in return. When making a new friend, pay attention early on to the other person's communal orientation. Does he ask about you and actually pay attention to your answer? Is she willing to do something you suggest doing, or work around your schedule? Not everyone is capable of giving at the same level. But if you are aware of who you are dealing with, you will be less likely to have expectations that won't be met. More here.

• Louis C.K., holy man ... [LATimes Op-Ed, Meghan Daum] With some estimates showing that less than half of Americans attend religious services regularly, it's to be expected that people are looking to other sources for inspiration, moral guidance and, as C.K. supplied so graciously, a reminder that angst is a universal condition. Increasingly, those sources seem to come in the form of video clips of comedians talking about texting and scientists talking about nirvana and commencement addresses delivered to graduating classes we're not members of by authors we haven't read. In other words, wisdom links are a form of secular churchgoing. We substitute their featured speakers for the clergy and logging on for the rituals that no longer fit our schedules or our sensibilities. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing would probably take several TED talks and the resurrection of David Foster Wallace to even begin to figure out. However, the more digital life subsumes real life, the more grateful it seems we are for those who can help us make sense of its effects on the soul. And if we can get that enlightenment from the comfort of our own screens, so much the better. More here.

• The Good Funeral.. [Commonweal, Book Review] According to the country’s largest publisher of online obituaries, “passed away” remains our favorite euphemism for death by a wide margin. But I wonder if they are keeping up. Lately, more and more people I meet seem to abbreviate it simply to “passed”—“She passed last night.” Is “away” now too explicitly directional for polite company? When it comes to both death and God, it has always been less risky to use words sprinkled with a pinch of sugar. But it is not only our talk about the dead that has been bowdlerized, but, increasingly, the rituals at which we remember them. The Good Funeral is an extended conversation on what has been lost in the process, and especially on what its authors feel is our most egregious death-avoidance tactic: the gradual disappearance of the dead themselves from the rituals at which their presence is indispensable. Read on.

• The mission field: a "magnet" for sexual abusers? ... [RNS] Evangelicals have been “worse” than the Catholic Church in their response to sex abuse scandals, said Billy Graham’s grandson. The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Liberty University professor Boz Tchividjian told journalists last week. Read on.

• Do we need denominations? [Episcopal Café, George Clifford] Is it good for a congregation to be part of a denomination? Read on.

• Minister admits overstating her credentials ... [NYTimes] A Methodist minister who resigned her pulpit last year after deciding that she was no longer a believer, and who was recently hired by a humanist group based at Harvard to help build congregations of nonbelievers throughout the country, has acknowledged fabricating aspects of her educational background. The former minister, Teresa MacBain claimed she had earned a master of divinity degree from Duke University. Read on.

• What social media teaches me about the church? ... [United Methodist Reporter, Ken Carter, Bishop of the Florida Conference of the UMC] Cultural critics expend a great deal of time and energy criticizing or blaming a God they do not believe exists.  The intellectual irony of this, upon reflection, is actually very interesting. Read on.

• When seminary messes with your simple faith ... [Episcopal Café] The Rev. Wil Gafney, PhD., Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, and an Episcopal Priest, writes on a common experience for both those who go to seminary and those who do other extensive studies of the Bible (like EfM: Education for Ministry). Read on. An insightful comment on this post: You might lose your simple faith, but you might lose your simple terror, too.

• Why are Christians so un-Christian? ... [Andrew Gerns, Episcopal Café] Amanda Marcotte sees how conservatives both claim Christ and vilify the poor in contradiction to the teachings and example of Jesus and wonders why this is so? Read on.

Evangelical Lutheran
• NEPA Synod website ... Here
• ELCA website
... Here
• ELCA News Service
... Here
• ELCA's blogs
may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."

• Moravian Church in North America  website.  
• Moravian Church Northern Province website
• Moravian Theological Seminary website.

United Methodist
• Communication tips and tools ... Here.
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website  Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.

Roman Catholic
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here
• Catholic News Service ... Here.  

The Vatican
• Are the media giving Pope Francis a pass? ... [RNS] Here.

• One in 125 ... [Reuters] The Vatican Bank today [Oct. 1] published its first annual report in its 125 year history.

• Vatican website ... Here
• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here
• Vatican News/Info Portal
... Here.

• My leap of faith in medicine ... [Slate, Danielle Ofri] I have an M.D. and Ph.D., but when my son had a minor procedure, I was terrified. Read on.

• The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) ... The simplest explanation of Obamacare, ever ... [Upworthy and Kaiser Family] Video here. • Various resources on the Affordable Care Act put together in one location by National Episcopal Health Ministries. Here. [h/t Diana Marshall] Sign up for the NEHM newsletter here. • The new Health Insurance Marketplace ... [] Visit's Health Insurance page to learn about the new Health Insurance Marketplace and other types of health coverage. Starting October 1, 2013, you can fill out an application for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You'll be able to compare your options side-by-side and enroll in a plan that fits your budget and meets your needs. Coverage takes effect as early as January 1, 2014. Richard Evans, a member of St. Martin's Mountaintop and Diocesan Council, suggests that check out the following program aimed at religious communities to help uninsured folks become aware that enrollment for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will start on October 1. Download a pdf file of the info. • Beware of Obamacare scammers ... They're on the move. Here, Here, Here, Here.

• Get the shot, not the flu
... It's time to get your flu shot. Got mine a few weeks ago. Medicare covers the cost. Most health insurance plans cover the cost. Check with your insurance provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services, like the flu vaccine, at no cost to you. If you do not have insurance or if it does not cover vaccines, help is available. Watch for free flu shot clinics scheduled in your area. In the Lehigh Valley drive-through free clinics have been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9 at Dorney Park and Sunday, Nov. 10, at Coca-Cola Park (where the Iron Pigs play), both days from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There's a lot of info available at

• Resources for caregivers ... Here
• Medline Plus ... Here.  
• WebMD ... Here.
• ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.

• Theological aspects of 'Breaking Bad' ... [Episcopal Café]
I love AMC's "Breaking Bad," I am distraught that this amazing series will end on Sunday [Sept. 29], though I gotta say, I am completely wrung out by the intensity of it all. I don't remember when a TV show has explored more thoroughly the complicated and all encompassing nature of a man's descent into evil. Read on.

• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... September.
• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators
... Here.
• Insights into Religion
... Here.
• Forward Movement
... Here.

• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here
The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.

Religious Freedom Recap, our weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. - See more at:

Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Recap ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world, Sept. 9-16. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
• Episcopal/Anglican
 (1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
 (2) Episcopal Café
 (3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
 (4) The Living Church
 (5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.

Daily Office ... Lectionary Page ... Lectionary ... Oremus Bible Browser ... Revised Common Lectionary


Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there on the title of the current newsletter. Comment below. As soon as the newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. 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. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, 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]


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