newSpin, the newsletter
February 20, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Meet Provisional Bishop Nominee Sean Rowe/Video ... newSpin Blog
• Special Convention to elect Provisional Bishop set for March 1 ... DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog ... Bakery
• To register for the Special Convention ... to elect the provisional bishop, March 1 ... Here.
• Ordination of deacons ... Bishop Sean Rowe will ordain Beverly Ann Meneeley, Michelle Marie Moyer. Elizabeth Sharon Yale to the order of deacons on Sunday March 2 at 4:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. (Red stoles) Reception follows.
• If your shoe fits, wear it ... If it doesn't, donate it ... Read on.
• Bishop Lee, ecumenical partners urge Boehner to push immigration reform ... [Episcopal Café, Jim Naughton] Bishop Jeff Lee of Chicago is among a group of religious leaders who have called on Rep. John Boehner, Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives to stop "backpedalling" and bring a comprehensive immigration reform bill to a vote. Read on.
• The Soup Kitchen at Trinity Bethlehem ... operates Monday through Friday, serving a nutritious meal between 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm. The average number served is 150 per day. It is Trinity's oldest ministry, operating for 33 years. The Soup Kitchen primarily serves the homeless, the temporarily unemployed, MH/MR clients, and those who are economically disadvantaged. It is staffed by a group of volunteers, some from area churches, others from AARP, Moravian College, Moravian Theological Seminary, Cedar Crest College, VIA, Northampton County Probation Office, and from other area schools and religious institutions.Each day, hospitality workers and a social worker are available to help guests navigate the social services systems and access personal items such as shampoo, soap, razors, socks, etc., and over-the-counter meds. Financial support comes from grants received from several foundations, contributions and gifts from local individuals, local churches, and proceeds from Bethlehem’s CROP Walk. Food items are supplied through donations and purchases from the USDA, Second Harvest Food Bank, local restaurant supply companies, and area grocery stores. If you are interested in volunteering or contributing financially to this vital ministry, please contact the Rev. Elizabeth Miller, Soup Kitchen Coordinator (voice 610-867-4741 x302; email email@example.com). You can also visit on Facebook to find out more about what the Soup Kitchen is doing to meet the needs of the hungry.
• 'Warmth in the Night' Shelter at Grace Church, Honesdale ... [Ed Erb] has been, as you might expect, quite busy. Our fourth winter running, though our most full times were during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. We run the only shelter in Pike and Wayne Counties. [Mark Laubach] Kudos and thanks to Fr. Ed and the good people of Grace Church, Honesdale, for doing this! Those of us who live, work, and/or worship in more urban areas often forget that homelessness exists in small towns and rural regions as well. I've always thought it to be the height of hypocrisy when government leaders who profess to be moral, upstanding, "Bible-believing" Christians fail to acknowledge that feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and housing the homeless would be the mark of federal, state, and local governments which are truly "Christian." Even more sad are the churches that fail to see this as a Gospel imperative for their faith communities.
• Bethlehem churches shelter homeless during winter months ... What happens to the homeless when temperatures drop to freezing has been a concern of the community for some time. In the winter of 2009 and 2010, with six other churches, the Cathedral began providing overnight lodging and two meals (supper and breakfast) for the homeless. The Cathedral provides shelter on Thursday nights, St. Andrew's provides shelter on Friday nights. This editorial published by the Express-Times and referenced stories from 2010 may need updating. We hope to provide updates over the next few weeks. The Morning Call did a story in January 2013.
• Want a successful marriage? ... [Religion News Roundup] Pope Francis says to use three simple words: “Please, thanks and sorry.”
• Diocesan Training Day for Ministry ... April 5 at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre. More here.
• What does the recent United States District Court ruling regarding clergy housing allowance mean for Episcopal clergy? ... [Church Pension Group] This decision has no immediate impact because it is not yet effective. The U.S. District Court specifically ruled that its decision would not be effective until all appeals are resolved, and we expect it to be appealed to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. We will continue to monitor this case closely. In the meantime, the tax benefit enjoyed by many of our clergy remains unchanged. Read on.
• Big week at Vatican: sex, divorce on agenda ... [AP] Meetings this week between Pope Francis and his cardinals will deal with some of the thorniest issues facing the church, including the rejection by most Catholics of some of its core teaching on premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce. Read on. Also Pitchers, catchers and cardinals report ... [Commonweal] It's a big week of meetings for Francis -- his first big chance to follow through on expectations that he will be collaborative and consultative in his exercise of power, and that he will effect some much-needed reforms in Rome. Read on.
• The changing face of Christian politics ... [The Atlantic] Christian political engagement is changing in this country as believers seek to untangle their faith from the worldliness of partisan politics and ideology. The melding of Christianity and partisan politics has been 40 years in the making, but the costs of that entanglement have only become clear to Christians over the last decade. Read on.
• L.A. Archdiocese settles final priest abuse case ... [LATimes] The Los Angeles Archdiocese has settled what officials said is the last of its pending priest molestation lawsuits, bringing to a close a decade of wrenching abuse litigation that cost the Catholic Church more than $740 million. Read on.
• Lent begins March 5 ... [Canon Kitch] Lent is just around the corner, beginning with Ash Wednesday, March 5. A fine selection of Lenten devotional materials and online resources for people of all ages can be found on our Diocesan Website on the Christian Formation page (see Seasonal Resources). Read on.
• Keeping Lent ... [Episcopal Café, Ann Fontaine] What are your plans this year? Maggie Dawn, associate dean of Marquand Chapel and associate professor of theology and literature at Yale Divinity School, suggests 40 ways to keep a joyful, thankful, holy Lent. Read on.
• How iTunes radio is bad for your soul ... [RNS, Jonathan Merritt] One overlooked spiritual consequence of our noise addiction is a failure to hear spontaneous sounds. By tightly controlling and curating what we hear, we may block out everything else and muffle the God-messages sewn throughout the fabric of the world. Read on.
• After a long day ... [Night Prayer, New Zealand Prayer Book] Lord, it is night ... It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.
• Amos and American Christianity ... [Marcus Borg, Patheos] For Christians, Amos and all of these voices – the voice of the exodus story of liberation from bondage to Pharaoh, of the laws in the Old Testament about land and debt, of Jesus's passion for the Kingdom of God on earth. And of Paul's proclamation of the lordship of Jesus over against the lordship of Caesar: a new creation, a way of being and living in this world brought about through life in Christ that is radically different from the lordship of Caesar, the lordship of domination – are part of our sacred scripture. If we, especially American Christians, were to take them seriously, how would that affect our understanding, our vision, of what it means to be Christian? Read on. Amos continued, Here.
• America's 'We' Problem ... [Robert Reich] America has a serious “We” problem — as in “Why should we pay for them?” The question is popping up all over the place. It underlies the debate over extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed and providing food stamps to the poor. It’s found in the resistance of some young and healthy people to being required to buy health insurance in order to help pay for people with preexisting health problems. It can be heard among the residents of upscale neighborhoods who don’t want their tax dollars going to the inhabitants of poorer neighborhoods nearby. The pronouns “we” and “they” are the most important of all political words. They demarcate who’s within the sphere of mutual responsibility, and who’s not. Someone within that sphere who’s needy is one of “us” — an extension of our family, friends, community, tribe – and deserving of help. But needy people outside that sphere are “them,” presumed undeserving unless proved otherwise. Read on.
On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an arresting image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”
Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)
But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted.- See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/01/16/philippians-413-many-christians-misuse-iconic-verse/#sthash.btZ7xsTO.dpuf
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• SoulSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Registration for Feb. 22 Renewal Assembly VIII ... Here.
• The DioLight ... Feb. 12, Vol. 2, Iss. 2. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Canon Anne Kitch] A newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources. February.
• To register for the Special Convention ... to elect the provisional bishop, March 1 ... Here.
• Video interview with Provisional Bishop Nominee ... On Vimeo.
• Introducing Provisional Bishop Nominee Sean Rowe. newSpin Blog
• Standing Committee chooses Sean Rowe as Bishop Provisional nominee. Special Convention set for March 1. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog ... Bakery
• Letter to Diocese from Standing Committee. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog ... Bakery.
• Q&A: Bishop Provisional nominee and election. DioBeth website ... newSpin Blog
• Biographical Sketch: Bishop Sean Rowe. Bakery
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield...in the midst of life's storms, February 13.
• DioBeth Tech ... For several years, Kat Lehman has published online a weekly newsletter available to anyone who joins DioBeth Tech at the "Get Connected" link at the top right of the front page of our DioBeth website. Topics include interesting websites; free training; IT and technology news from a variety of news outlets; information from Apple and Microsoft; occasional white papers from a variety of sources; and security news from SANS as well as a link to the latest round of email information making its way via Snopes.com.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• 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.
• Christophany ... April 25-27 at Bear Creek Camp, Wilkes-Barre. Here.
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• Now more than 8,000 multisite churches ... [Leadership Network] The latest multisite research affirms that the growth of “one church meeting in two or more locations under one overall leadership and budget” shows no signs of slowing down. Yet even as the movement continues to expand, many significant themes are developing in how churches do multisite. Read on.
• Church offers itself to community as a place for face-to-face interactions ... [Boston Globe] On the second Saturday of each month, the South Acton Congregational Church opens its doors to the community so people can listen to a concert, watch a magician, or hear stories from a horse whisperer.The new Second Saturdays entertainment and educational series is not about religion or drawing new people into the congregation, said the Rev. Katrina Wuensch, the church’s pastor. Instead, it’s about using the building on School Street as a “third place’’ outside of work and home where people can get together in a social setting.“These are not religious programs and we’re not trying to recruit people,’’ Wuensch said. “It’s part of our mission to help people form connections. It’s to provide face-to-face interaction. For me, human, face-to-face interaction is sacred.’’ Read on. [Bill] You will see lower down in this story that admission is charged for programs. That makes this seem like less than a ministry to provide face-to-face interaction. It could be perceived as a business, if it is not clear that the proceeds go to a ministry from which the church does ot profit. In any event, it seems to me that programs that take up most of the time of the gathering might be separated from attempts to offer the community a place for face-to-face interaction. But, of course, I could be wrong.
• Online courses offer new venue for churches to teach religion ... [Detroit Free-Press] Michigan Episcopal priest launches Church Next, an online Christian learning program that has already grown to include 200 churches across the U.S. Read on.
• Chancel Opera ... [Jo Trepagnier] A small chancel opera company, nestled at the Church of the Mediator performs short operas usually based on the Gospel reading for that Sunday. These lovingly created gifts last about 15-20 minutes and act as the sermon for that day. The company is available to perform at other churches or events and the company has a repertoire of operas. If you have parishioners who might enjoy a different worship experience, please check us out on Sunday March 2, 8:00 & 1015, for the story of the Transfiguration. You may also contact the creator and director Susan Bingham. [Jo Trepagnier, Episcopal Church of the Mediator, 610-434-0155.
• IRS VITA ... The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To find a VITA tax preparation site in your area, go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep and enter your zip code.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• Donate wisely ... [The Morning Call, Paul Muschick] Verify a charity and/or solicitor are registered with the state at 800-732-0999 or http://www.dos.state.pa.us under "charities." Don't donate to a charity you know nothing about. Don't donate cash or give your credit card number to phone solicitors. Don't be pressured into donating on the spot, Don't be confused by a charity using a name similar to a well-known charity. Read on.
• Stewardship consultation with Moravian Church at Mediator Allentown ... [Canon Maria Tjeltveit] I would like to invite any Stewardship Commissions or other interested people to join us at Mediator, on Monday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. to meet with The Rev. Gary Marsh, the Director of Stewardship for the Northern Province of the Moravian Church. Gary has produced a number of approaches to stewardship for congregational use. What I like about them is that they are designed to connect stewardship and spirituality and can be used to build community. The original plan was for him to meet just with the Mediator Stewardship Commission, but we have a number of people who can’t make it, so Gary is open to us inviting people from other churches. He will talk with us, review his materials, and help us see what might be helpful for our congregations. I think our Diocesan Stewardship Commission does a great job, and here’s another wonderful full communion resource right in our backyard (Gary works out of the Moravian Church Center in Bethlehem) who is happy to work with us. You can learn more about Gary, and view his resources here. Please contact Maria with any questions, and giving her a count of the number of people who will attend, by February 19. If we have a critical mass of people in the northern part of the diocese who would like to hear Gary, please let me know, and I am happy to help facilitate his meeting with you at another time. Thanks.
• Two churches, different financial trajectories ... [Phila Inquirer] Along the two blocks of North 17th Street on either side of the Vine Street Expressway in Center City, remarkably different financial trajectories of two religious groups are playing out. At the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, south of Vine, church leaders are turning property accumulated over generations - such as cemeteries - into cash in a bid to fill huge financial gaps. About a block north, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans this week to build a meetinghouse and a 32-story residential tower next door to its $70 million temple, already under construction. The apartment tower alone could cost $75 million to $90 million, a real estate expert said. Where do the Mormons get the money? The Mormon Church expects members to tithe - to donate 10 percent of their income to the church - and puts some teeth into that expectation. Any Mormon is allowed to worship in a chapel, like the one to be built in Philadelphia, "but only Mormons who adhere to the highest standards of the faith," including full tithing, are allowed in the temple, said W. Paul Reeve, an associate professor of history at the University of Utah.The highest sacraments of the religion, such as marriage, take place in the temple, and having that access apparently motivates Mormons to give. Read on.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (February)
Rest in Peace
• Cynthia McFarland, 61 ... [Episcopal Café] one of the most grace-filled, tech savvy leaders in the Episcopal Church died Feb. 13. Communications director, historiographer and archivist for the Diocese of New Jersey, she was also an editor for Anglicans Online and manager of the Bishops and Deputies listserve. Read on. Obituary here. One of her colleagues was fond of saying that everyone who meets Cynthia falls in love with her. She had a profound fear of airplanes and took a year off during college to work as a stewardess for Eastern Airlines to conquer that fear. That was the way she did things: fighting head-on against all obstacles.
[Bill] During the General Convention that met in Philadelphia, I was invited to give testimony before the joint Bishops and Deputies communication committee that Cynthia chaired. At the time, I was working part time for the national church. Folks I trusted suggested to me way beforehand that I should understand that she consorted with those who opposed ideas I was preparing to advance on behalf of the Episcopal Church. My preparation was slanted with that in mind. I recognized in a while, however, that she was not an ideologue, she was not the enemy, but simply one whose ideas were different from mine and would serve the church better than mine. I was ashamed of how I had prejudged a beautiful soul I had not known. I regret that I never got to tell her that.
• Bishops in the Church of England reject blessings for same-sex marriages ... [Yahoo News] They issued new guidance on Saturday (Feb. 15) warning clergy they should not bless couples in same-sex marriages. [h/t Religion News Roundup] See also CofE Bishops' dishonest compromise.
• A former Boeing and Atomic Energy Commission employee ... spent the first part of his life helping to make weapons of mass destruction, but now finds his calling as an Episcopal priest. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• UTO, Episcopal Church ratify 'historic' agreement ... [ENS] The United Thank Offering and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council officially agreed Feb. 7 on a memorandum of understanding and a new set of bylaws for the organization that for 125 years has supported the church’s mission and ministry. The agreement is a “historic leap into a new day for the UTO,” according to a cover letter for the two documents from UTO Board President Barbara Schafer and Steve Hutchinson, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission. Read on.
• Nominations are now being accepted ... [The Episcopal Church] for various Episcopal Church positions, committees or boards that will be elected during the next General Convention. The Episcopal Church Joint Standing Committee for Nominations for General Convention has issued a call for nominations for seven positions. Elections will take place at the 78th General Convention, to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Thursday, June 25 to Friday, July 3, 2015. Read on.
• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• The Prodigal Sons ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, David Brooks] The prodigal son parable provides an apt lesson as we strive to craft modern social policies. Read on.
• Tipping in the name of Jesus ... [SFGate] The mystery diner who is leaving absurdly large tips in the name of Jesus is rumored to be former PayPal Vice-President Jack Selby. According to San Francisco Magazine, the tipper has left some $130,000 in gratuities in more than a dozen cities in the United States and Mexico during the last six months. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• The narcissistic injury of middle age ... [The Atlantic, 2/12/14] As we pass our prime, it is with a growing awareness that younger people coming after us haven’t yet reached their peak. Those who can’t bear the shift to a supporting role may become increasingly narcissistic in the unhealthy sense of the word. Read on.
• Divorced from my husband, and my faith ... [Opinionionator, NYTimes, Tova Mirvis] I expected judgment and rebuke; instead, the rabbi told me a story Read on.
• The Ball Game ... [YouTube] This song by Sister Wynona Carr plays at the end of the Jackie Robinson movie, "42." Sing on.
• Aaron Sorkin: Philip Seymour Hoffman's death saved 10 lives ... [TIME, 2-17-2014] Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. .... [On one of our breaks during rehearsal] he said this: "If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won't." He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean. ... He did not die from an overdose of heroin – he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he had just taken the proper amount, everything would have been fine. He didn't die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed. He died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He'll have his well-earned legacy ... Let's add to that 10 people who were about to die who won't now. Read on.
• An 'Ordinary God' ... [RNS] Fewer people believe in a supernatural God. Instead they believe in what NYU prof Mitchell Stephens calls an “ordinary God.”
• On the one thing crazier than snake handling ... [Slate, William Saletan] “After scores of deaths from messing with snakes, you’d think people would give it up. But they haven’t. Three months ago, a 15-year-old boy died in Ohio. A local TV station said it happened when he brought a snake and 'passed it to a 16-year-old friend.' A similar tragedy occurred the same day in California, when a homeowner 'was showing his friend a snake.' 'It’s a shock that something like this could happen,' said a neighbor. 'I had no idea there was ever a snake in the home,'” William Saletan writes. “The bad news is that all of the stories did happen, and all the victims died. But they didn’t die from handling snakes. They died from handling guns. All I did was change a few words in the news reports: gun to snake, gunshot to snakebite, discharged to bit. We are killing one another, our children, and ourselves. We are a nation of gun handlers, as reckless as anyone who handles serpents.” Read on.
• On the campus of Patrick Henry College ... The New Republic looks at sexual assault on the campus of Patrick Henry College, the Va. Institution favored by evangelical homeschoolers. Here the security guards are upperclassmen. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Gay patient says RC chaplain refused him last rites ... [WaPo] A Catholic chaplain at MedStar Washington Hospital Center stopped delivering a 63-year-old heart attack patient Communion prayers and last rites after the man said he was gay, the patient said Wednesday, describing a dramatic bedside scene starting with him citing Pope Francis and ending with him swearing at the cleric. Details of the exchange earlier this month between the Rev. Brian Coelho and retired travel agent Ronald Plishka couldn’t be confirmed with the priest, who did not respond to a direct e-mail or to requests left with the hospital and the archdiocese. The archdiocese of Washington, for whom he works, declined to comment and said Coelho “is not doing interviews.” The bedside discussion was first reported Monday in the Washington Blade. Read on.
• Is Atheism irrational? [NYTimes] Here.
• 83-year-old nun sentenced to 35 months in prison for her peace activism ... [Christian Science Monitor] Megan Rice, an octogenarian nun and seasoned peace activist, was sentenced to 35 months in prison after breaking into the grounds of a nuclear weapons complex once considered the "Fort Knox" of weapons-grade uranium. Read on.
• A church so poor it has to close schools, yet so rich ... [NYTimes, Op-Ed] it can build a palace for its bishop soon to retire. Read on.
[NCR Editorial] Nothing is complicated about the Newark case. This is clearly the material of episcopal scandal, hedonism undisguised, a level of clerical privilege that knows no bounds. What can the example possibly suggest about the church to the residents of Newark, where 28 percent of the population lives below the poverty level? How does one, in that context, explain the Lazarus story? The rich young man? The beatitudes? What does one say in the face of Pope Francis' call for a humbler church, for bishops who walk with their people, with his urging a poor church for the poor? Myers swims in his endless pool while the city of Newark drowns in poverty. Myers may present an excessive case of the priesthood of unaccountable privilege, but the case is not, though extreme, irrelevant. It is valuable in shedding light on the kind of accepted corruption that has infected the church for decades, manifest in the seemingly endless abuse and financial scandals, and that has drained the church of so much of its moral authority and credibility. Read on.
• Congregants wrestling with Trinity's $3.6m Beacon Hill Condo ... [Boston Globe] Trinity Church’s purchase of a $3.6 million Beacon Hill condo to house its rector is sparking dissension among some members of the landmark Episcopal congregation, with a few even asking if the church could resell the property. Some say they feel the new rectory, where the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III now lives, feeds the perception that Trinity is a bastion of privilege and obscures the congregation’s significant contributions to the city’s less fortunate. Others say the problem goes deeper than optics, maintaining that the purchase is a departure from the Christian ethic of standing in solidarity with the poor and marginalized. Read on.
• Islam, the American way ... [Christian Science Monitor] A new generation of Muslim Americans separate what is cultural, what is religious, and what is American, finding that the ‘straight path’ isn't the same path for all. Read on.
• ELCA website ... Here. The new ELCA.org website will be launched on Nov. 18. The launch is the culmination of extensive planning and implementation, during which the ELCA gathered input from a wide range and number of colleagues, constituents and end users from across this church. The result of their collective work is now ready to be published online. Check it out!
• ELCA News Service ... Here.
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• Methodists postpone Thomas Ogletree's church trial ... [RNS] The trial of a retired United Methodist pastor and former Yale Divinity School dean accused of breaking church law by performing a gay wedding has been delayed indefinitely. Bishop Clifton Ives, a retired Maine bishop overseeing the trial, and pastors representing the church and the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, all agreed to pursue a “just resolution” before resorting to a trial, said the Rev. William S. Shillady, secretary of the trial court. Read on.
• A Church divided over marriage equality ... [The New Yorker, Casey N. Cep] The United Methodist Church’s rules against homosexuality have divided Methodists for forty years. Attempts to abolish or even soften these rules have failed at every General Conference, the quadrennial meeting of the denomination, since they were first added, in 1972, to the Book of Discipline, which contains the Church’s laws and doctrine. At last year’s General Conference, delegates voted to affirm the long-standing positions in the Book of Discipline: homosexual acts are “incompatible with Christian teaching”; “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot serve as ministers; and marriage is “the union of one man and one woman,” so clergy are barred from marrying gay couples. These passages appear alongside the Methodist Church’s plea for tolerance: “We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends.”
Frank Schaefer saw no tension in these portions of the Book of Discipline when he was ordained as a deacon, in 1996. He followed them faithfully for years, until his oldest son, Tim, came out. “He was just a teen-ager, but he realized the Church was saying he was a freak,” Schaefer told me. “He prayed to God to change, and when that didn’t happen he felt it would be easier for me, his father, the pastor, if he were just gone. He actually thought about suicide because of what the Church was saying.”Schaefer officiated his son’s wedding, on April 28, 2007, but he wasn’t charged until last spring, when a member of his own congregation filed a complaint. “I remember being shocked,” Schaefer said. “I hadn’t heard anything about it for six years.” Read on.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (February)
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• The Catholic Diocese of Helena in Montana ... is seeking bankruptcy protection over abuse claims from 1930s to the 1970s. Helena is the 11th diocese in the country to seek bankruptcy after similar claims of abuse.
• More protests over Koch gift to CUA ... [RNS] A group of leading Catholic activists and academics has renewed criticism of Catholic University of America over a large gift from the billionaire industrialist and conservative funder Charles Koch, and over a school official’s statements that seem to endorse Koch’s questioning of climate change and the right of public workers to unionize. Read on.
• Mass mobs fill pews ... [AP] You've heard of flash mobs? Behold the Mass mob. Playing off the idea of using social media to summon crowds for parties or mischief, mobs of Buffalo-area Roman Catholics have been filling pews and lifting spirits at some of the city's original, now often sparsely attended, churches. It works this way: On a given Sunday, participants attend Mass en masse at a church they've picked in an online vote and promoted through Facebook and Twitter. Visitors experience the architecture, heritage and spirit of the aging houses of worship and the churches once again see the numbers they were built for, along with a helpful bump in donations when the collection baskets are passed. Read on.
• German bishops reveal ... that German Catholics don’t follow the church’s rules on sex and birth control. The newsy part is that the bishops, who have been pressing for reform, were so public and blunt about the disconnect. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Milwaukee archdiocese announces bankruptcy reorganization that creates $7 debt ... [NCR] When Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced a bankruptcy reorganization plan Monday morning, he optimistically said "we are turning a corner" on the darkest chapter in the archdiocese's history. "It's time for us to get back to what the church is supposed to be doing," Listecki said in a letter posted on the archdiocesan website. "It's time for the archdiocese to return its focus to its ministry." But a bevy of appeals of decisions on key issues in the bankruptcy case as well as other federal and state lawsuits indicate the plan will not be the last word, even though it would leave the Milwaukee archdiocese with a $7 million debt. Read on.
• Catholic confession's steep price ... [Boston Globe] Collapse is not too strong a word. Fifty years ago, the great majority of Catholics in this country confessed their sins regularly to a priest. Confession, after all, is one of the seven Catholic sacraments. But now only 2 percent of Catholics go regularly to confession, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Georgetown University—and three-quarters of them never go, or go less than once a year. In many parishes, the sacrament is currently available only by appointment, and in Europe it has declined to such a degree that groups who study Catholic practice there have stopped even asking about it on their questionnaires. Visit a Catholic church today, John Cornwell writes in “The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession,” and you’re likely to find that church janitors have transformed the box into “a storage closet for vacuum cleaners, brooms, and cleaning products.” Read on.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• Frank talk with Uncle Frank ... [RNS and Reuters] In Rome, closed-door discussions with 185 Roman Catholic cardinals began today with frank talk about family issues such as contraception, cohabitation, gay marriage and whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion. Prognosticators say divorce and remarriage may be the most fruitful of these discussions. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• Flu deaths in the Lehigh Valley ... [The Morning Call, 2-19-2014] At least four people in the Lehigh Valley have died from flu-related complications in the past week, area hospital officials say. ... In addition, at least nine people are in very serious condition and on blood-oxygenating devices. Most, if not all of them, are flu patients, officials said. ... Representatives from Lehigh Valley and St. Luke's last week took the unusual step of issuing a joint warning that the flu was hammering the Lehigh Valley. Even though it is mid-February, they still are urging people who have not gotten a flu vaccine to get one. Read on.
• Medicaid and Mortality ... [Faith in Public Life] Last week, a new study reported that as many as 17,000 Americans will die as a result of states refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. One of the authors of the report summed up the situation well: "Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal." Since the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt-out of Medicaid expansion, 25 have chosen to do so. The results? As many as 5 million of the neediest Americans are missing out on vital health insurance for purely political reasons. Many of the states that would benefit most from expansion are the very states saying no. Read on.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... 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.
• Free episodes of Religion & Ethics News Weekly available online ... Free full episodes of the acclaimed religion and news program, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, are available online, and a free app is available in the iTunes app store. The show, hosted by veteran journalist Bob Abernethy, examines religion's role and the ethical dimensions behind the headlines. Watch full episodes of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly online or subscribe to the show's channel on YouTube. Funding for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly is provided by the Lilly Endowment. Additional funding by individual supporters and by Mutual of America Life Insurance Company.
• How to spot a dangerous email attachment ... [MakeUsOf] Here.
• How to find out if your password has been stolen ... Here.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here. • Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here. • Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here. • The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... February.
• 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.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(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.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• The Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin 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 Standing Committee 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. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
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]