Canonical Roles of Vestries and Clergy
A Conversation About Islam

newSpin 140826

The newSpin newsletter
August 26, 2014
Bill Lewellis

Published weekly, usually by Tuesday

• Path of destruction in Iraq began in 1991 ... [NCR Editorial] The year 1991 is important, because it was the year that the United States took its first steps down a regrettable path that has gone on for nearly a quarter of a century. That path has led to far more chaos and destruction than peace. With the final remnants of the Christian population now scrambling for borders and safe haven in other countries to escape Islamic State marauders, the bitter fruit of decades of military folly is on full display. This is former Secretary of State Colin Powell's Pottery Barn analogy come to full reality: We broke that country completely and we will be paying for it far into the future. We miss the point entirely if we ignore the whole bloody arc of 24 years that witnessed the criminal destruction of a country:
  • From the senior George Bush's oil war, Desert Storm;
  • Through Bill Clinton's 10 years of sanctions that were directly responsible for the deaths of a half-million Iraqi youngsters under the age of 5, and for the utter collapse of Iraq's infrastructure and educated middle class;
  • Through the lunacy of the occupation of Iraq conceived by the younger Bush in league with the likes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on demonstrably false claims.

It is not a sign of political tolerance but of ongoing political confusion that Cheney still has access to national forums from which he continues to advance his delusions about that period of history. For the rest of us, the lesson should be strikingly clear: Our quick and repeated resort to war and the brutal use of sanctions yielded a bitter harvest. What we created was a condition infinitely worse than the disease we were attempting to treat. Read on.

• You can learn anything ... [Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy] Some people believe that intellectual ability is purely genetic or fixed. This is a myth. Research now shows that your brain is like a muscle; the more you apply it and struggle, the more it grows. People who learn to recognize this fact about their own brain develop a ‘growth mindset’ and are able to persevere and achieve more. At Khan Academy we know abilities are not set in stone because we see people improving radically every day. That’s why today we’re embarking on a mission to help the world realize that if you work hard and embrace struggle, you can learn anything.
   This video was designed to inspire, but also change people's mindsets towards learning. Together, as a community, we can end the myth that intellectual abilities are fixed and help our friends and families (and ourselves!) learn new things. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone knew what they were capable of and had the mindset to learn anything.
   [Bill] I recommend Khan Academy. It's amazing. It's free.

• The curious case of Carlos Urrutigoity ... [Commonweal] In early July the Vatican announced that it would send investigators to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. The apostolic visitation was prompted by complaints from local bishops and laypeople following news reports that an Argentine priest accused of molesting high-school students in Pennsylvania (in the RC Diocese of Scranton) had been welcomed into Ciudad del Este by Bishop Rogelio Livieres—and promoted to vicar general. Parts One and Two.

• Tutu calls for boycott of Israel ... [Episcopal Café] In an article for Haaretz, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called for an international boycott of the nation of Israel. Read on.

Ebola crisis provides glimpse into Samaritan’s Purse, SIM... [WaPo] Dent Thompson had never heard of Samaritan’s Purse when the Christian relief group called last month and asked for his help. Samaritan’s Purse and another global ministry group, SIM, were scrambling to transport two ­Ebola-stricken U.S. missionaries from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. They had learned from government officials that Thompson’s company, Georgia-based Phoenix Air Group, had a specially designed Gulfstream III with a one-of-a-kind isolation unit developed precisely for emergency medical evacuations. They wanted to send the plane to West Africa right away. “They were beyond distraught that two of their people were stuck in Africa with no apparent way to get them out of there,” Thompson recalled. “Samaritan’s Purse indicated to us that they would hire anybody with the ability to pull them out. . . . We gave them a price, and they agreed to the price.” Read on.

• Four unexpected benefits of being in a small church ... [Christianity Today] To be in community, to serve, to reckon with diverity, to receive opportunities I might otherwise not have had. Read on.

• Home to Jesus ... [Barbara Crafton's Almost Daily eMo] The two cats, Santana and Benito, turned 21 this year. Though they are litter mates, they look nothing alike: Santana was an immense grey tiger tabby, and Ben is a tuxedo cat, black with white shirtfront and cuffs.  Ben is the one who quacks like a duck.  It must be said that these days Santana makes no sound at all: he continues his earthly life only in the past tense.  He went home to Jesus a couple of months back. I had been advising him to do this for some time. 21 is plenty old enough for any cat, I told him.  I brought it up every time he peed or pooped on the floor -- cats don't do this when they're in good shape, I told him.  I suggested he go to Jesus when he yowled reproachfully over nothing, which he did all the time: Santana had an aggrieved, nagging sort of meow.  He always sounded exasperated.  I spoke earnestly and often to him of heaven.  He would reply with a string of complaints as long as your arm. Read on.

• Sorrel Soup ... [Barbara Crafton's Almost Daily eMo] So here's the farm, Gordon says, beaming with pride.  He opens the padlock and shows us through the gate, where we walk admiringly along the rows of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, beans,parsnips, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, kale, summer squashes of all kinds.  There are flowers, too at the ends rows: dahlias, snap dragons, rudbeckia, seven-foot sunflower plants. There are tubs of herbs.  Some of them I know well, and have in our own garden: mint, basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, lavender. Some of them are not as familiar -- a pot of lovage, for instance, and three big pots of sorrel.  I stopped short when I saw it. Read on.

• Ten inspiring quotes of Mother Teresa ... [USA Today] who would have been 104 today (Aug. 26). Here. She died in 1997.

• Celtic Spirituality Initiative at Bethlehem Cathedral
... [Melinda Rizzo] Nativity’s dean Tony Pompa said his hope is for the monthly Thursday evenings, the fourth Thursday, 7:00 p.m., to become a touchstone for anyone interested in seeking a new way to approach spirituality and make a deeper connection with the sacred.  All are welcome to the Thursday evening Celtic spirituality offerings, regardless of their denomination, or faith affiliation. The sessions are informal, and invite participants to enter the Cathedral for meditation, silent prayer, personal reflection time, to light candles, privately ask for healing prayers, and simply enjoy brief theme appropriate meditative readings and poems spoken, all supported by quietly played Celtic Music by guest musicians, well known and versed in Celtic themed music. “We offer a variety of opportunities for sacred connections in about 40 minutes, and the sessions hold a peace-filled and paced economy of time; the Celtic music played by our gifted guest musicians throughout the majority of the evening invites transformation, it’s a recipe of sacred mystery," Pompa explained. Read on.

RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought? 

SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.

- See more at:

• Resources
 ... Here.

• Teens, Faith and Digital Media ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] Art Bamford of Fuller Youth Institute talks to Danah Boyd, author of the book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft, a Professor at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Read on.

• What we need are anti-racists ... [Bishop Gene Robinson, Daily Beast]
Listen up, white people: we’ve got some serious work to do. Three weeks ago I wrote a column on racism, following the choking-to-death by police of an African-American man, whose “capital” crime was selling cigarettes singly on the street. No piece I have ever written for The Daily Beast has resulted in more responses. Lots of people of color wrote to say: “Welcome to my world.” Lots of white people wrote to call me every name in the book, attacking me personally as an idiot and a reverse-racist, but—and this important—never actually offering a counter argument to the observations I was making. One responder accused me of not even knowing what racism is. So let’s be clear. Any person or group can be prejudiced against another group, for any reason and based on any characteristic. But if a prejudiced group has the power to instill its own set of prejudices into the laws, culture and societal norms of the larger community, then it is an “ism.” It becomes a system which does the discriminating on behalf of the powerful majority. Read on.

• Controversial Seattle megachurch founder Mark Driscoll ... [RNS] will step down for at least six weeks while church leaders review formal charges lodged by a group of pastors that he abused his power. The 43-year-old pastor has been under fire in recent months for plagiarism, inappropriate use of church funds and improper behavior toward subordinates.  Read on.

• Can you use this medical equipment? ... [Raymond Harbort] A member of Trinity, Easton has medical equipment to offer to anyone who could use it: PACKAGE #1 1. Drive Brand hospital bed on wheels with mattress and siderails. Height may be adjusted with hand crank. Head and foot position are electronically controlled. 2. Drive Brand Alternating Pressure Pad for the bed (place on mattress). Rows of air pillows alternately fill and empty to help prevent bed sores. Electronically operated. Pressure is adjustable to suit weight of patient. PACKAGE #2 Two-week supply of unflavored Juven packets.  (Juven is a powder to be mixed with your favorite drink). Manufactured by Abbot Labs, makers of Ensure, it includes amino acids and other ingredients to speed healing, especially of pressure sores. If you know of someone who can use any of the above, please email John Becica at

• What lies beneath Stonehenge ... [Smithsonian] Here.

Conservative atheist and television pundit S.E. Cupp has come out swinging against progressive atheists. - See more at:
Conservative atheist and television pundit S.E. Cupp ... [RNS] has come out swinging against progressive atheists. Read on.

• Godly Play Training ... [Anne Kitch, 610-691-5655 x222]] September 6, 9am - 3pm, Grace Church, 30 Butler St. Kingston, PA 18704. Register here. Led by certified Godly Play trainer Dawn Stewart. This training is for new and experienced Godly Play teachers. The day will include the demonstration of several Godly Play stories, discussion about managing time and behavior, and tips on obtaining and creating Godly Play materials. There will also be the opportunity to meet and network with others using Godly Play in the Diocese of Bethlehem. Cost $10, includes lunchSponsored by Grace Church Kingston and the Commission of Lifelong Christian Formation for the Diocese of Bethlehem.More Godly Play training opportunities.

• Bishop's School, Fall 2014 ... [Jane Teter] The fall term of Bishop’s School will begin on Saturday, September 14. Classes are: (1) Church History, with The Rev. Brian Pavlac, afternoon. (2) Old Testament, with Rabbi Robert Lennick, morning. Classes will meet at St. Stephen’s Church in Whitehall. If you plan to attend classes, please register as soon as possible. For further information please contact Canon Jane Teter, 610-691-5655 x228, (cell)610-216-1731, To register please send the following information to Jane: your name, address, phone number(s), email address and parish. She needs to be able to reach you in the event that we have inclement weather or need to change or cancel the class(es). More info here.

• Listening, Prayer and Discernment ... [News release from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem] Two Episcopal Moment consultants, the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Johnson, Jr., D.Min, and the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Myers, PhD, both priests based in the Chicago area, will facilitate a series of listening opportunities, to be held across the diocese beginning in fall, at which everyone will be invited to discuss the challenges facing the Episcopal Church in northeastern Pennsylvania, how the diocese has responded to these challenges, and where the Holy Spirit might be leading this diocesan community. The goal is for everyone who wishes to participate in this process to have a chance to be heard. Read on.

• Resources
 ... Here.

• Using technology to support congregational goals ... [Insights into Religion] What is the least technology you need to achieve the most for your congregation? How do you decide which technological advances to integrate and which to pass by? Using the latest in church management software to illustrate, this article, one of the many technology resources offered by the Center for Congregations, makes the point that technology alone will not revolutionize a congregation, but clearly delineated processes supported by technology can. Spark leadership-level discussions on the proper role and limits of technology, and stimulate a vision of how your congregation can transform its interaction with members and outsiders through strategic use of technology. The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities. The Center shares its learning with a national audience.

• Canonical roles of vestries and clergy ... [newSpin blog, Andrew Gerns] There is a tendency in this country to run Episcopal Churches according to a congregational (where the whole congregation makes decisions) or a Presbyterian model (where elected committees and officers make the decisions) and in both these the clerics are at best the hired help. The situation you described is apparently one where the lay leadership seems to have fallen into one of those models to bad effect. It is not an uncommon problem.
   There is an equal tendency to organize Episcopal Churches along Roman Catholic lines, where the priest is in total charge and the vestry and lay leaders exist solely to raise funds, maintain the property and carry out the priest's vision. This can have the effect of holding lay leadership back from taking their full place in the life of the church.
   We Episcopalians, on the other hand, strive for that elusive via media. Read on.

• Prince Of Peace Dallas ... will host internationally known guitarist Peter Griggs in a concert, "The Guitar In America," on Saturday, September 27 at 7:00 p.m. Read on.

• Resources

... Here.

People from our diocese and parishes in the media
• Nothing to report

• 2014-2015 Diocesan Youth Events ... Here.

• Resources

... Here.

Evangelism/Stewardship/Worship/Church Growth
• Scott Allen ... [Scott Allen, Bakery] Last week St. Andrew's Allenown received a gift of $10,000 from a man who I asked to join the St. Matthew's Society while planning "last things" with him and his wife a few years ago.  It punctuates the value of "the ask" when helping folks plan for their funeral and internment. I am thankful that the Diocese has this vehicle for us in the parishes to use for this purpose. I heartily recommend its use for those who may have not used it before. St. Andrew's has benefited from a few gifts such as this.
   I know some of my clergy colleagues can also testify to its helpfulness when talking to parishioners.  We have a "tree of life" in our narthex on which those who have informed me that they have made a planned gift in their wills are placed on "leaves" and acknowledged as members of The St. Matthew Society.  Thanks to Charlie Barebo and the hard work he and the St. Matthew's Society Committee (if such exists) for this valuable resource for ministry to parishes.
   It is important to let folks know that their gift goes to the parish, not the Diocese, as this is sometimes confusing for folks. [Father Allen is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown]

• New Church Planting
... [Daily Episcopalian, George Clifford] Part 1, Why doesn't TEC plant more churches? Part 2, TEC should adapt an idea from Harvard professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, who suggests that persons needing to downsize envision the change as a generative opportunity.

• Resources

 ... Here.

Rest in Peace

• Bishop Andrew Wissemann, 86 ... who served as bishop in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts from 1983 to 1992, died Aug. 20 at his home in Longmeadow, was in his mid-80s, and had served as bishop from 1983 to 1992. Read on. Find obituary here.

Episcopal/Anglican (Beyond DioBeth)

• Episcopal Relief & Development reaffirms support for Gaza hospital ... [ENS] Episcopal Relief & Development reaffirms its support for Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, as it responds to critical humanitarian needs during the current conflict. The organization’s support has enabled Al-Ahli Hospital to procure fuel to run its generators, which are crucial during frequent and prolonged electricity outages, and to provide food parcels to community members in need, in addition to patients and staff. Read on.

• Juan David Alvarado elected bishop of El Salvador ...
[ENS] The Rev. Juan David Alvarado was elected bishop of the Anglican-Episcopal Church in El Salvador on Aug. 23 at St. John the Evangelist Church in San Salvador. Alvarado, 52, will succeed the Rt. Rev. Martín Barahona who is retiring. He was elected from a slate of five candidates, including two North Americans. According to a news report there were 50 lay and clergy members who took part in the election, which lasted 15 minutes. Read on.

• The most unexpected mission at Trinity Wall Street and St. Paul's
... [NYTimes] St. Paul’s Chapel, the tour guide explained to the guests in its sun-dappled churchyard on Monday, was built in 1766, making it the oldest building in continuous use in Manhattan. George Washington prayed there. When the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed across the street in 2001, the chapel suffered not even a broken window. And then the guide, Zev Baranov, relayed the most remarkable thing about St. Paul’s, at least from the point of view of 20 tourists who had just completed a two-hour walking tour of Lower Manhattan on a hot summer’s day. “Bathrooms are in this church; there are three of them, and they are free to use,” he said, to some relieved nods. “And then you can see the inside of the church, too.” Tourist numbers are exploding downtown — 11.5 million tourists visited in 2012 alone — but public facilities have not kept pace. The memorial plaza at the trade center site, for example, has no public restrooms. So Trinity Episcopal Church, at the foot of Wall Street, and its nearby satellite chapel, St. Paul’s, have found themselves de facto rest stops for many of the three million to four million guests they welcome through their doors each year. The crush has resulted in the storied churches’ most unexpected mission: its bathroom ministry. And though it means tour groups traipsing through the sanctuary to the restrooms, never-ending rolls of toilet paper and constant cleaning, it is a ministry the church says it counts as among its most important daily services to the public — even though the church, overwhelmed, sometimes ponders if the access should be reined in. Read on.

• Resources

... Here.

• Maybe this explains it all ... [CBS News via Religion News Roundup] Humans and Neanderthals may have coexisted in Europe for more than 5,000 years, providing ample time for the two species to meet and mix, according to new research. Apparently, Neanderthal genes have survived in the DNA of many modern humans to this day.

• Good buys on herbs, fruit and veggies ... [Bill] Six or seven years ago, I began doing our produce shopping at Produce Junction (in Whitehall, across MacArthur Road from the Lehigh Valley Mall). The herbs, fruit and veggies, at least those I buy, are good quality and inexpensive, so much so that I now hardly ever buy them at supermarkets. Produce Junction also has many items geared to Latino shoppers. Food pantries and soup kitchens may be interested. PJ sells larger quantities wholesale to many grocery stores and restaurants in the area. Food pantries and soup kitchens might be able to get an even deeper discount. Ask for José. I don't get a commission. :-)

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

Evangelical Lutheran Church
• St. Paul (MN) pastor's pulpit? A food truck ... [Pioneer Press, Richard Chin] There are a couple of clues that the mobile kitchen parked every Thursday at lunchtime on Payne Avenue on St. Paul's East Side this summer isn't just another food truck.First of all, the food -- hot calzones -- is free. And the person who drives the truck is a young woman in a clerical collar who likes to say, "Peace be with you."Her name is Margaret Kelly, a 33-year-old preacher's kid, ex-French chef and former mental health case manager. She's now a pastor, and the food truck is her church.It's not a typical church, but Kelly isn't your typical Lutheran pastor. She's a gay woman who started her training at Luther Seminary in St. Paul at a time when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America didn't allow gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy members. Read on.

• The first Lutheran church body in America ... [Writer's Almanac] the Pennsylvania Ministerium, was founded in Philadelphia on August 26, 1748 ... The largest concentration of Lutherans were Germans in Pennsylvania, who moved there partly because of William Penn's guarantee of religious freedom. There weren't enough pastors to serve them, and German pastors were hesitant to leave for the American wilderness. In 1742, a university in Germany sent over 24 pastors, including a 31-year-old bachelor named Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. Muhlenberg decided that the Lutherans needed centralized leadership, so he organized a meeting, and on this day in 1748 six pastors and delegates from 10 congregations met in Philadelphia. They called themselves the Pennsylvania Ministerium. Muhlenberg gave the opening address, and he said: "A twisted cord of many threads will not easily break. There must be unity among us." At the meeting, delegates reported on the condition of their schools and churches, and the competency of their pastors and services. Elders from each congregation testified, and the meeting notes read: "They have no objections to our agenda, except that the public service lasts too long, especially in the cold winter. [...] The preachers promise to strive after brevity." Synods sprang up throughout America, and in 1820 a group of synods, including the Pennsylvania Ministerium, joined forces to form the Evangelical Lutheran General Synod of the United States. Read on.

• Resources

... Here.

Moravian Church
• Resources ... Here.

United Methodist Church
• ... a wealth of good info, opinion and reflection. Here.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here.

• Resources

... Here.

Presbyterian Church USA
• Resources
 ... Here.

On Meet the Press earlier this month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, claimed that the Catholic Church is not anti-gay. “We’re pro marriage, we’re pro traditional marriage, we’re not anti anybody. We’ve been out-marketed, we’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay,” he explained to the show’s host, David Gregory. Dolan’s right. The Catholic Church isn’t anti-gay, but evidence suggests its bishops certainly are. - See more at:
Whoops! After years of debate, Catholic bishops in France decided that the version of the Lord’s Prayer their congregants recite could be considered blasphemous. Apparently French people…can’t read French? The official translation has been changed from “Do not submit us to temptation” to “Let us not enter into temptation,” absolving God of any perceived meddling. - See more at:
Whoops! After years of debate, Catholic bishops in France decided that the version of the Lord’s Prayer their congregants recite could be considered blasphemous. Apparently French people…can’t read French? The official translation has been changed from “Do not submit us to temptation” to “Let us not enter into temptation,” absolving God of any perceived meddling. - See more at:

Roman Catholic
• Resources
 ... Here.

The Vatican
• Defrocked diplomat may become first priest accused of sexual abuse to be tried at the Vatican ... [WaPo, Michelle Boorstein] The world may be about to witness a first: the Vatican putting on trial one of its own officials for sexual abuse. On Monday a Vatican spokesman said church authorities are in the midst of figuring out what the procedure would even look like. Read on. • For Nuncio Accused of Abuse, Dominicans Want Justice at Home, Not Abroad ... [NYTimes, Laurie Goodstein] Here. • Former diplomat could face extradition ... [RNS, David Gibson] The Vatican said Monday (Aug. 25) that its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who was defrocked in June for sexually abusing children in the Caribbean nation, has also been stripped of his diplomatic immunity and could face extradition once he has exhausted his appeals in the church courts. Read on.

• Resources

 ... Here.

• Food as Medicine ... [EcoWatch] How one hospital in Bethlehem is using organic produce to help heal patients. Here. [h/t Mary Lou Divis]

• Resources

... Here

• The future of the Internet. Digital life in 2025 ... [Pew Research] 15 theses about the digital future. Experts predict the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill. Read on. [Kat Lehman] If any parish would like to discuss their communication strategy, social media strategy, or marketing strategy, please contact me,; I'm here to help all as a resource.

• Resources

... 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 Bishop, 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]













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