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A Pastoral Letter to the People of the Diocese of Bethlehem

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Diocese of Bethlehem,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the Feast of the Holy Name, January 1, we, the Standing Committee, became the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese.  While we had been functioning in that role since August 1st, Bishop Paul remained our Bishop and what we did was delegated to us by him.  Our role has now changed and the executive functions of the bishop under the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese have passed to the Standing Committee until a bishop is in place. There are of course some things reserved for only a bishop and we will secure such Episcopal ministry as needed. 

As stated at our Diocesan Convention in October and as has been communicated in the DioLight, we now enter into an intentional period of reflection, prayer, healing, and reconciliation as we work together to develop a hopeful vision for our future.  In consultation with the Presiding Bishop’s Suffragan for Pastoral Affairs, Bishop Clay Matthews, and after prayerful thought, we believe that the most effective way to do this is to elect a Bishop Provisional for the diocese.  A Bishop Provisional will have the full authority of a Diocesan Bishop and would provide the pastoral, mission and administrative leadership required for a healthy and productive interim period.  The Bishop Provisional would be a half to three-quarter time position and the person would be in residence in the diocese and serve until our new diocesan bishop is elected and consecrated.  Toward that end, we plan in late January to announce our nomination for Bishop Provisional to the diocese and at that time call for a Special Diocesan Convention under the terms of Episcopal Church Canon III.13:1, 3 to be held in early March for the purpose of electing the Bishop Provisional.

In the meantime, the ministry of the diocese continues as we work alongside your diocesan staff, Diocesan Council, the Incorporated Trustees and all the committees and commissions of the Diocese to carry on our mission in service to Christ. We ask your prayers and support as we begin this season of faithful change. We also invite your comments, concerns and ideas as we enter this new era of our common life.

Faithfully yours,

The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, President, Trinity, Easton (rector@trinityeaston.org, 610-253-0792)
Mr. Edwin Schatkowski, Secretary, Trinity, Bethlehem
The Rev. T. Scott Allen, St. Andrew’s, Allentown
Mr. Raymond Arcario, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Ms. Connie Archer, St. Anne’s, Trexlertown
Ms. Kate Fanning, Christ Church, Reading
Ms. Elizabeth House, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
The Rev. Canon Jane Teter, Retired
The Rev. James Rinehart, Trinity, Pottsville
The Rev. Earl Trygar, St. Mark’s, Moscow

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