2013 Convention Address: A Season of Faithful Change

This is the address to the 142nd Convention of the Diocese of Bethlehem on Friday, October 4, 2013 by the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity. 

A Season of Faithful Change

A year ago, when we met in Scranton, it was my privilege to preside at this gathering and to 0read to you Bishop Paul’s words. This year, I again sit before you as President of the Standing Committee in our first convention since Bishop Paul’s resignation and his sabbatical. On January 1st, he will enter retirement and our diocese will begin the process

ATG picture in b&wof discernment to hear God’s will for us, to choose how to respond faithfully as we raise up a new Bishop and continue the important work of the Gospel in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Much has happened this past year. We give thanks to God for many good things and we also give to God the many things that have changed us and are challenging us.

We are beginning a season of faithful change. The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, has said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” A transition like the one we are beginning is a magnificent opportunity that is what we must not waste. We are entering a time of transition that will prod us to grow as followers of Jesus and usher us to a new era in our diocesan community. God has given us what we need. We are in the right place. We are in the right time. We are a diocese filled with gifted, blessed people. What we are about to embark upon will touch every Episcopalian in this diocese. There is much to learn and much to do, and while there is much that is uncertain, and many feelings and stories to hear, I know that we will rise to the occasion. We will together make faithful change.

Actually, we are looking at a lot of transitions this convention. Tonight we will honor our friend and assistant bishop Jack Croneberger. Bishop Jack was formed and raised up in this diocese. We are glad that, after having “lent” him to our neighbors in Newark for a time, that he chose to return home and serve God and the people of this diocese with wisdom, grace and humor. I  hope that you will all join us tonight at Iacocca Hall at Lehigh University for our convention banquet where we will honor Bishop Jack as he retires again!

Bishop Jack: One of your favorite stories is about the guy who tied helium balloons to a garden chair and floated over a city with nothing more than a pea-shooter to control his flight. His whimsical flight is an image of a creative (and sometimes crazy) flight of faith. Thank you for being an example of faithfulness, a clear communicator of the Gospel and a good friend.

It is appropriate that tonight we will also take a moment to give thanks to God for the work of Integrity in the Diocese of Bethlehem. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Bethlehem Chapter and I am happy that we will be celebrating the good work of this group in our diocese and around the Episcopal Church. 

I am very grateful to another “graduate” of our diocese, Bishop Nicholas Knisely, the new Bishop of Rhode Island. He is giving us two days in November to preside at regional confirmations in our diocese. The dates are Thursday, November 21 at Christ Church in Reading at 7 p.m. and Friday, November 22 at Grace Church in Kingston also at 7 p.m. Up north, in a display of the kind of collaboration and shared ministry that is this Diocese at our best, some 12 parishes will send 55 candidates to Grace, Kingston for confirmation!

We are honored to have as our preacher today Bishop Anthony Poggo of Kajo-Keji. We are so grateful that you have come from across the globe to be with us today. I am particularly indebted to you both for your presence at this Convention and for the fact that you will preside at the first regional confirmation during this transition on Sunday afternoon in this Cathedral.

What began as a hot, dusty bus ride for Bishop Paul and Diana Marshall from Uganda to South Sudan in 2005 has turned into a relationship between the people of these two dioceses that has changed us all. Who could have imagined, as Bishop Paul went on that marathon of preaching, teaching and visiting villages ruined by war, that nine years later that would transform itself into a capital campaign that has so far raised over $4.1 million… all to be given away!

Who could have imagined how deeply connected we have become! Since 2006, we have together built five elementary schools, two secondary schools and a college, we have helped many people—mainly women—develop the means to support themselves through micro-loans and we have together educated and prepared people for the ministry of the Church.

Our relationship has changed us. Every picture from every school, every letter from every student that we hang up on our parish bulletin boards and share in our conversation remind us that Christ binds us together and builds us up. The lessons of New Hope will serve us well in this season of faithful change: that out of ruin comes new life; out of despair comes hope. We discover that faith, trust and vision are the tools of the Holy Spirit to change ordinary lives into extraordinary vessels of grace and power.

Bishop Anthony: Please tell the people of Kajo-Keji that God has richly blessed the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem in knowing and working alongside you and we are immensely grateful to you for all you have taught us. May Christ continue to bless and keep you in all you do. Please continue to pray for us.

Finally, as we begin this season of faithful change it is important that we thank God for the ministry of Bishop Paul Marshall and thank him for his seventeen years of leadership as our bishop. He has been for us an inspiriting preacher, writer and teacher. He showed his love and commitment to children and teenagers in his work on Bishop’s Days with Kids and Young People, his work for better schools in Pennsylvania and his work towards Christian formation for all ages. His work has made us more mission-minded in our care for the poor, our proclamation of the Gospel and in the stewardship of our resources. He has touched many lives. We thank God for him and Diana. Please join with me as we offer our thanks with applause.

Our Life of Faithful Change in the Diocese of Bethlehem

A year ago, Fr. John Major told us about the work of Episcopal Relief and Development in the Diocese of Bethlehem that began after floods hit the Wyoming Valley in 2011 and in particular in West Pittston and surrounding communities. Fr. Major and Janine Ungvarsky have worked hard, with the help of many people and Episcopal Relief and Development, to get the St. George’s Regional Disaster Recovery & Outreach Center up and running. They have shown us that sometime faithful change arises out of crisis and that God’s spirit moves through God’s people to shelter and tangibly become divine shelter from the stormy blast.

I want to echo Fr. Major in congratulating Fr. Ed Erb and the congregation at Grace Church, Honesdale. They were recently honored by the Wayne-Pike chapter of the American Red Cross for their efforts during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The church served as a shelter during the storm.

Last year, we passed a resolution requiring that all parishes in the diocese have a disaster plan in effect. So far, one parish has a finished plan, 22 have trained and are writing their plans and thirty-five parishes in the diocese have yet to be trained in what to look for and how to prepare an effective disaster plan. There is still time. The final training session for this purpose is in three weeks. Run! Don’t walk! See Father Major or go to www.episcopalreliefnepa.org for more information.

We are blessed in this diocese with an active and creative Stewardship Ministry who for many years have been showing us the blessings that come from faithful change. Since we last met, the Stewardship Commission brought The Rev. Canon Keith Brown to the diocese to lead a workshop for our Diocesan Training Day in March. Then in May the Stewardship Commission partnered with the Evangelism Commission to offer a conference featuring the Rev. Dr. David Gortner from Virginia Theological Seminary. In July several members of the commission attended The Episcopal Stewardship Network’s annual conference. We also brought several sessions of that conference here to the diocese via a webcast at the cathedral. Members of that group and Stewardship Missioner Dan Charney travel all around the diocese to help parishes in their ministries and, most important, to help all Christians learn to use everything that God gives us for God’s purposes.

Evangelism is the effective communication of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We live in an age of amazing communication technology and we have barely scratched the surface of the potential these tools bring us. We are blessed with a great partnership with our web-host and e-mail provider ChurchPost, whose business is mainly with churches and whose founders are Episcopalians. Their email platform and for their ability to design customized WordPress web sites for our parishes are resources that are either “free” through your diocesan assessment or available to your parish at greatly reduced cost.  

Even though we Christians are in the business of telling “good news,” and even though we live in a culture defined by marketing, the Church has often been at best clumsy and often allergic to marketing. While we seek deeper connection, we often run away from that which draws  people into a deeper conversation. Maybe it’s shyness. Maybe it’s that we don’t know how to start the conversation that changes hearts. 

One way we hope to address that is through a marketing initiative to help our congregations tell our communities about us and to promote our ministries. You will find in the budget a new line item for marketing and evangelism. We are hoping that groups of parishes will advertise community shared outreach initiatives or perhaps have an ad campaign such as the one several parishes did on WNEP-TV a few years back. If passed, this budget line will provide some seed money on a matching grant basis where the diocese will pay half and the parishes involved will pay half. The parishes will work together and with the diocese to craft the message and to work out a way to measure the campaign's effectiveness. Our hope is that this will help with our evangelism and tell people where we live about us and what we do. 

In addition to Kat Lehman who has worked on these projects, Adam Bond is our new Communication Missioner. He helps us minister and proclaim the Gospel using social media and electronic news reporting. Most people who walk into a church these days will have first checked them out on the internet, and not just on web-pages any more but on social media where they will know how people respond to our parishes every day. Using all these tools effectively builds relationship, deepen connection, and shows us to be a Gospel people living Gospel hope.

They don’t call us the “House of Bread” for nothing! If you look around the diocese, you will be astounded at all the ways Episcopalians feed people. Just here in the Lehigh Valley, you see the oup Kitchen at Trinity, Bethlehem and at New Bethany Ministries, the Saturday Soup Kitchen at Trinity, Easton, and there are ministries like this repeated all over our diocese.

I’d like to take an informal poll right now. Can you please help me? How many of you belong to a parish that feeds people? [Hands.] How many of you have food pantries in closets and classrooms or holiday meals or free community meals? [Hands.] How many of you have connected this feeding to health screenings or after-school tutoring? [Hands.] How many parishes collaborate with other churches and agencies to feed people or fill back-packs for children or bring food to the homebound? [Hands.] God bless you all for your good work.

Look around. All of these hands tell about our activity as a people of God but beyond a show of hands, there are many examples of the incredible ministry in this diocese. In your small groups tomorrow, tell the story of the many great-small ways that God is at work in your communities and use that to begin to imagine a future of faithful change. We are doing amazing things for God in Northeast Pennsylvania. 

Living Faithful Change with Hope and Courage

Starting January 1, 2014, we will enter the formal period of transition towards electing and consecrating a new Bishop. We knew this was coming. When I sat here before you last year, we did not expect that Bishop Paul would be retiring quite so soon; but as the year went on, it became increasingly clear that the physical toll of this ministry was catching up with our Bishop. First, with his medical leave last spring and finally with news of his resignation this summer. I know that all of you are holding Bishop Paul in your prayers and in your hearts.

The Constitution and Canons of this Church are clear that in the absence of the Bishop, the “ecclesiastical authority” of the Diocese becomes the Standing Committee. But the situation we are in today is different than where we will be on January 1, 2014.

Bishop Paul is still our Bishop through December 31, 2013. So while we are the Ecclesiastical Authority, what we do has been delegated to us by the Bishop during the period of his sabbatical. During this period, some things are retained by the Bishop and some things the Bishop has delegated to the Archdeacon and other staff and the rest have been delegated to the Standing Committee.

But on New Year’s Day the Episcopal Chair becomes “vacant” and all the pastoral, administrative and ecclesiastical authority in the diocese goes to the Standing Committee. We will delegate tasks as necessary, of course, and obtain Episcopal oversight—especially on matters that are specifically reserved to Bishops—and oversee the transition.

The Standing Committee started meeting monthly in August and together we are adapting to our new responsibilities. They are: Canon Robert Wilkins, Kate Fanning, Connie Archer, the Rev. Scott Allen, the Rev. Earl Trygar, the Rev. Canon Jane Teter, the Rev. Canon Anne Kitch, Elizabeth House, Ed Schatowski (Secretary), and me, the Rev. Canon Andrew Gerns (President). Bob Wilkins and Anne Kitch are finishing up their terms today and we are immensely grateful for their exemplary work and dedication.

When the news broke of Bishop Paul’s resignation, I said to you:

When there is a big change in life, it is normal to ask “what now?” or “who will take care of me?” or “what should I do?” Our feelings in this moment are no different. On the news of Bishop Paul’s resignation some of us grieve, while others of us are eager for something new. All of us seek the stability of God’s reign and long for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Stability is a Benedictine value that also lives at the heart of Anglicanism. Among other things, stability means seeking and finding God in the present. Stability teaches us that while change is constant, faithful change means listening for God right here, right now. We assume that we are the place God wants us to be and that God has given us what we need right now to move into the next moment with faith, hope and courage.

That being said, I wish I could set out for you exactly what comes next, but much has yet to be decided.

In a little over a week, on Monday, October 14th, the Standing Committee will meet with the Presiding Bishop’s Suffragan for Pastoral Affairs, Bishop Clay Matthews at St. Anne’s in Trexlertown. We will spend the day learning about the process and practicalities of raising up Episcopal leadership for our diocese.

We will decide on a number of things.

First on our list is the shape of Episcopal leadership during the transition period.

We have four basic choices:

  1. We can, as a Standing Committee, run the Diocese as a Committee and only contract for Bishops as we need for specific events such as ordinations and confirmations, and go to neighboring Bishops for the things that the Canons state only a Bishop can do.
  2. We can have an Assisting Bishop—a Bishop, usually retired, who functions pastorally but who is not the Ecclestiastical Authority. This would be a part time Assisting Bishop who will do the things pastorally and canonically that only a Bishop can do, but the Standing Committee would retain full canonical authority.
  3. We can have an Assisting Bishop who is part- to full-time and to whom the Standing Committee delegates some or most of the elements of being Ecclestiastical Authority.
  4. We can elect a Provisional Bishop for a period of 12 to 24 months who would be the Bishop of this Diocese but only until we elect and consecrate our next Bishop.

There are pluses and minuses to each approach. Part of the decision will be driven by our budget. But most of it will be determined by the pastoral needs of the diocese. An assisting bishop is interviewed and contracted by the Standing Committee, while a Provisional Bishop is interviewed and nominated by the Standing Committee to Diocesan Convention, who then votes to elect that person. If we choose to go that route, we will need to call a special convention for the purpose. I invite your feedback and thoughts on which approach you think is best. Whatever happens, be ready…you could be back here for at least part of a day.

Whatever course we choose, it will require a vote of diocesan convention along with the consents of a majority of the Bishops and Standing Committees of the Church, to call for an election. We cannot formally begin our search until an election is called for because what we do here we do on behalf of the whole church. So again…be ready for a return trip! 

The second decision will be about time-line. It takes between 18 and 24 months for diocese of our size to raise up and consecrate a Bishop. You will notice that we are not calling for an election at this convention. This is on purpose.

These days, the typical tenure of an Episcopal bishop is ten to twelve years. Bishop Paul has been our bishop for seventeen. After a long, rich and complex term of office it is essential that we take the time to step back and take stock. We need to listen to each other’s stories, we need to listen, we need time to imagine our future and move together towards it. We may decide that we, as a diocese, need to take some to breathe, listen, and pray before we start our formal search.

Again, you will notice that we have not begun the process of vetting, selecting and appointing a Search Committee and a Transition Committee. This is also on purpose. We need to take time to pray, to breathe, to listen. My hope is that this coming Lent we will take time to earnestly for our diocese in a disciplined way, as a community as the essential groundwork of our discernment and common life. There is no faithful change without prayer.

Searching for a bishop will require a significant chunk of our leadership and volunteer energy. All of you, and all of your congregants will at some point have a part in the process. Like having a good interim pastor for a parish, the ministry of an assisting or provisional Bishop will help us listen to one another, listen to our hearts, and most important of all, listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and through our common life.

This is what differentiates our task from a mere executive search. Sure a bishop has a ton of executive responsibilities, but most of all we are discerning as a diocese for who might be called to the office of Bishop in this place; and, we are listening for God to determine what kind of Diocese God is calling us to be, what kind of ministries God is calling us to do and who will equip and encourage us to go in that direction.

An important part of living faithful change will be pastoral care to the clergy of our diocese. The Standing Committee has asked Canon Jane Teter to work with me, in consultation with the Canon the Ordinary and the Archdeacon, to develop a team of clergy to serve as chaplains who will see to the ordinary pastoral care of the priests and deacons of the diocese during the transition. In addition to Canon Teter, the clergy who have so far agreed to serve are the Rev. Nancy Packard, the Rev. Elizabeth Haynes, the Rev. Andrea Baldyga and the Rev. Maureen Hipple. In addition, we have asked the Rev. Dr. Jane Williams of Moravian Seminary to provide clinical supervision to this team. At the next clergy retreat, we will lay out the details of this ministry to the gathered clergy.

So this period of faithful change has many elements: listening and discernment; healing and reconciliation; encouragement and experimentation. It is the job of the Standing Committee to facilitate not only the practicalities of a search, but to provide for the pastoral care to and leadership for the Diocese.  

Because there will not be a neat hand-off from our current Bishop to the next, our task will look a little different. It will be essential that we provide opportunities to listen to one another, create a renewed sense of community, and to heal the hurts and minister to the grief that are normal in with this kind of change. Again, it is very important that we hear from you about your thoughts, ideas, concerns and vision. The small groups tomorrow are an important taste of the kind of work we will be doing together as we move together into a season of faithful change.

But first, it’s time to say “good-bye” and to celebrate the ministry of Bishop Paul Marshall that is now wrapping up. 

All of you are invited and encouraged to come to St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre on the Third Sunday of Advent, December 15 at 3 pm when we say “farewell and Godspeed” to Bishop Paul and Diana Marshall. There will be a festive Holy Eucharist in the place where BishopPaul was consecrated and a reception afterwards.

I also invite you to give generously towards a gift in thanksgiving for the Bishop’s ministry. In addition to a fitting gift to Bishop and Mrs. Marshall, we also plan to give a special gift to the New Hope Campaign for a tangible memory in the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, both of which will be presented at the reception. Please go to diobeth.org and click on the link “Make a Gift.”

An important part of saying good-bye is making memory. We are creating a memory book and I also invite you to participate. Please send your greetings, your memories of Bishop Paul’s ministry among us and, best of all, photographs to us at Diocesan House c/o abond@diobeth.org. These will be gathered into a memory book that will be presented to Bishop Paul at the December 15 reception.

Conclusion

Blessed John XXIII told another gathering of Christians during a remarkable season of faithful change that the Church is "… not on earth to guard a museum, but to tend a blooming garden full of life."

We are 13,000 Episcopalians in 14 counties who gather in 60 mission outposts (also known as congregations) to follow Jesus and do his work. We are tending a garden of marvelous richness, variety and life. In a season of faithful change, our challenge is to prune, tend, cultivate and harvest. God has blessed with everything we need to succeed and grow as a community of God’s people. Together we will listen for God’s voice, imagine God’s future, and discover how we will share God’s love, telling what we see and hear.

Thank you for all your prayers and your support. Thank you for all the ways you serve Jesus every day. May God go with you in all you do.

The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns is the Rector of Trinity, Easton and the President of the Standing Committee.


New Hope News from Kajo Keji

You can download the latest New Hope News from the Diocese of Kajo Keji below. With this edition, please note that we have built all five primary schools and the secondary school. The college has been completed for some time and we will be working on some other initiatives plus providing furnishings and books for our school. Thank you for all your contributions to date!

Download the latest news from Kajo Keji here:
Download 111208 Kajo Keji News October - December 2011 Issue


Consecration of Kajo-Keji Cathedral at Romoggi

Romoggi Cathedral

Download speech by Rt Rev Anthony Poggo, Bishop of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji at the Consecration of Emmanuel Cathedral in Romoggi on Palm Sunday 17th April 2011. pdf

Download Poggo speech at the Cathedral Dedication on 17th April

Download a report on the visit of the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan to Kajo-Keji for the consecration of the Cathedral in Romoggi, by Rebecca Coleman, the International Co-ordinator in the office of the Archbishop. pdf

Download Consecration of Emmanuel Cathedral 


Sudan/Kajo Keji (February 9)...latest news on top of each section

In Our Diocese or our Partner Diocese of Kajo Keji

Christians in northern Sudan flock south ... [Andrew Gerns, Episcopal Cafe] Reuters reports that many Christians who live in northern Sudan are flocking south in anticipation of independence there, but are also driven by fears that the north could become an Islamic state governed by Shariah law. More here.

Election results for Kajo Keji from Bishop Anthony Poggo: The provisional Referendum results for Kajo-Keji County were announced today.  The summary showed that 198 people voted for Unity while 45,892 voters voted for Secession. This represented 98.7 % of all the votes that were casted. There were 102 invalid votes and 85 unmarked votes. Out of 46,454 registered voters, 46,277 voters participated in the plebiscite. This represented 99.6% voter turn-out.

The Archbishop of Sudan casts his vote
... [fron Bishop Anthony] Sunday 9th January marked the first of seven days in the historic self‐determination referendum for the people of Southern Sudan. The Most Rev. Dr.Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Episcopal Archbishop of the Sudan, together with Archbishop Paulino Lukudu of the Roman Catholic Church advanced to Hai Jalaba Junior School polling station to cast their referendum ballots at four o’clock that afternoon. Unsurprisingly, there was heavy media attention ready to capture the two archbishops exercising their democratic right at the polling station. Download the pdf file forwarded by Bishop Anthony for the complete story and pics. Download 01. ABD and ABP vote in Referendum

First Day's voting passes peacefully in Kajo Keji by Stephen Tomor...[ACNS] Read it here.

Sudan's referendum and why the West should care
[WHYY Radio Times Broadcast] with Dr. Randall Fegley. Check it out here.

New Hope's Faith Journey
... A photo story in the Oct-Dec newsletter of Kajo Keji. Download it here.

12 Days of Christmas for Kajo Keji ... [World Mission Committee] The first batch of gifts to Kajo Keji from the Diocese of Bethlehem for Christmas 2010 is being transferred. More here.

"Bethlehem People, God has Chosen You to Come" to Kajo Keji by Charlie Barebo. Find it here.

In the World

Southern Sudanese celebrate the birth of a new nation...[ENS] Read it here.

Southern Sudan votes to split from the north...
[CNN]

Northern Sudan's protests trigged by long-term economic, political frustrations..
.[Christian Science Monitor] Read more here.

Complete preliminary results show 99% vote to split in Southern Sudan...
[CNN] More here.

Church of Sudan Builds Peace, Serves Returning Refugees During Country’s Transition..
.[Episcopal Relief and Development blog] Read more here.

Analysis: South Sudan secession a risky precedent...[The Florida Times Union] More here.

Some south Sudanese believe independence in Bible...[Associated Press] Read it here.

Voices of Sudan...[Odyssey Network] Find it here.

As South Sudan prepares for independence, old hurts linger...
[Christian Science Monitor] More here.

Exiled Sudanese clergy hope for peaceful return...[Ecumenical News International, Nairobi] Read it here.

In Sudan, provisional referendum results indicate landslide independence vote..
.[ENS]  More here.

Overwhelming vote for Southern Sudan secession ... Southern Sudanese election officials posted early results on Sunday indicating that perhaps more than 95 percent of voters in this regional capital of Juba voted to secede from Sudan. More at the NYTimes.

Notes from Sudan...[Trinity Wall Street] Read it here.

Voices of Sudan Part 4: Lost Boy Abraham Achiek..
.[Odyssey Networks] More here.

Voices of Sudan Part 3 Lost Boy Gabriel Tor...[Odyssey Networks]  More here.

Sudanese Episcopalians rejoice as historic referendum draws to a close... [ENS] More here.

US allies keep close watch on Sudan independence vote...[Christian Century].  Read it here.

Prayer Vigil..
.[Odyssey Network] More here.

Thousands vote in Southern Sudan as violence flares in disputed region
...[CNN] Find it here.

Sudan referendum success in Juba.
..[ENS]. Read it here.

Millions take to the polls in Sudan's historic referendum; clashes in Abyei claim lives...[ENS] More here.

Southern Sudanese, in a Jubilant Mood, Begin to Vote on Secession
...[New York Times] Find it here.

Chicago Episcopalians pray for peace in Sudan.
..[Chicago Tribune] More here.

First day of voting goes off well
...[CNN] Read it here.

In Southern Sudan, the clock ticks toward 'liberation'.
..[CNN] Find it here.

In Sudan, an Election and a Beginning
(by President Barack Obama)...[New York Times] More here.

Praying for Peace in Sudan...
[Trinity Wall Street] Read it here.

Sudan Prayer Vigil.
.. Find it on YouTube

Metro-area South Sudanese refugees take part in historic vote for independence...[Atlanta Journal Constituion] More here.

Roanoke Sudanese make voices heard...[Roanoke Times]. Read it here.

For local Episcopalians, vote in Sudan gets personal...[St. Louis Post Dispatch]. More here.

Sudan: The trek home to vote...[CNN]. Read it here.

Episcopalians, Sudanese partners unite in prayer for a peaceful referendum
...[ENS]. More here.

Sudanese Bishop Joseph Garang speaks about the referendum and international partnerships...[ENS].  Read it here.

Christians Issue Prayer Call for Peace Ahead of Sudan Vote...[Christian Post] More here.

The Anglican Communion rallies in prayer behind Sudan...[ACNS] Read the story here.

Chicago Episcopalians capture spirit of Sudan through video, images, music...[ENS] Read it here.

Voices of Sudan Part 2... [Odyssey Network] More here.

Southern Sudan returnees put a strain on limited resources... [CNN] An influx of people returning home to vote in Southern Sudan is straining communities suffering from lack of food and water in the remote region, aid groups said Wednesday. Read it here.

Sudan's President Opens to South's Succession...[Wall Street Journal, by Sarah Childress] Find it here.

Can Sudan split without falling apart? ... [Time Magazine] Read it here.

Peaceful vote on Sudan appears more likely ... [NYTimes, Jan. 2, Jeffrey Gettleman] Read it here.

George Clooney 'antigenocide Papparazzi': Watching Sudan ... [Time Magazine] Read it here.

Prayer vigil for the people of Sudan [Trib-local, Libertyville] More here.

Voices of Sudan [Odyssey Network] More here.

Pace: Southern Sudan secession? [Richmond Times Dispatch] More here.

Peace hovers in Sudan, but most soldiers stay armed ... [NYTimes, Josh Kron] With little more than a week to go before a vote on independence for southern Sudan, virtually none of the soldiers have put down their weapons and fully rejoined civilian life. More here.

Trinty, Wall Street's Praying for Peace resource page. Find it here.

Episcopal Relief and Development's Power of Partnerships. More here.

Ballots delivered for Sudan independence vote [CNN]...Each ballot carries two pictures: One hand signifies independence; two hands, a unified Sudan. More here.

Sudan's president warns of tighter Islamic law [CNN]...Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has warned that he will tighten the application of Islamic law, or sharia, in northern Sudan if southern Sudan votes for independence next month, the Sudan News Agency reported. More here.

Praying with and for the people of Sudan [ACNS]...From the Secretary General, Canon Kenneth Kearon. More here.

New CD features Sudanese voices from the Diocese of Renk...[From Rebecca Wilson, Diocese of Chicago] A newly-released musical composition that captures the spirit of the people on the fault line in Sudan’s bloody civil conflict has its roots in the relationship between the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and the Sudanese Diocese of Renk.

In Voices of Faith, Chicago composer Chris Beckstrom, has woven song, percussion and handclapping recorded in Sudan by members of the Chicago diocese’s Renk Media Team into an original 12-track audio CD available for $20 through Amazon.com. All proceeds benefit the Diocese of Renk.

Sudanese summit strengthens partners in ministry...[ENS] Here.

Dreams of life in Southern Sudan clash with reality ... [NPR] Here.

Act now to prevent war in Sudan ... [CNN, George Clooney and John Prendergast] Here.

African poverty is falling ... much faster than you think. More here. [VoxEU, H/T John B. Chilton at Episcopal Café]

Attention-Grabber for Sudan's cause ... [NYTimes] John Prendergast has focused the attention of movie stars and President Obama. But will that be enough to head off another bloodbath? More here.

Bishop Katharine discusses discusses Sudan's January referendum in new video ... “I ask for your action on behalf of the people of Sudan,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori notes in a new video posted on the Episcopal Church’s Sudan Resource page. where you will also find prayer resources and more on Sudan. A Sudanese-wide referendum is slated for January 9, 2011 which, if successful, will establish a separate Southern Sudan with full rights to self-determination.

Sudan is church's focus as vote on partition draws near ... [Episcopal Cafe, Nick Knisely] As part of the 2005 Peace agreement signed by Sudanese in the northern and southern parts of country, a binding vote on partition will be taken in early January that could split the country into two parts, its Muslim dominated north and its Christian dominated south. More here.

George Clooney and John Prendergast on Sudan's Peace Process ...  [The Atlantic Wire] Clooney and Prendergast then put forward a series of proposals to help lay the foundation for peace. Read Not too late to stop another war in Sudan.


Diocesan Life for December 2010 and January 2011

Attached is the latest Diocesan Life for December, 2010 and January 2011. Remember, we love to get stories and pictures! If you have something you want featured, please contact Kat Lehman to discuss publication. Diocesan Life deadlines are posted on the calendar as well so you know when to get the stories in. For February's issue, we need the stories by January 4th. The attached file is 3 MB in .pdf format.

Download December2010_DiocesanLife_SMALL


Sudan Bishop's visit to the Diocese of Bethlehem

Visit to the Diocese of Bethlehem by Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji

[From Bishop Paul Marshall, posted last Monday afternoon, March 8, on Bakery] I hope you saw the press coverage of the bishop's Reading and Wilkes-Barre visits. (Background story here.) He was able to visit New Bethany and the Trinity soup kitchen, as well as two clergy Bible studies. The week also gave him opportunity to hear directly from our General Convention deputation and attend the regular meeting of the diocesan staff. Wednesday night was a special evening with the World Mission Committee. Friday night offered time with young people, and on Saturday morning Sophie and Lucy Kitch-Peck gave him the insider's tour of Bethlehem on foot. He also had personal contact with a number of our clergy and lay people as the week progressed. [Here's a story with photos of his visit to Trinity Easton.]

All in all, he has a much deeper picture of our life than his very brief previous visit to our convention afforded. After a very pleasant trip to Sayre and back over the weekend, we concluded last night with dinner at the Barebo's. Today was packing, lunch, and a drive to Newark. Bishop Anthony and I have come to know each other very much better after our week in the car together (Andrew, I miss you). The last few days gave us opportunity to discuss core issues of mission and the tasks of episcopate. Ever a busy man, Bishop Anthony will return not to Kajo-Keji, but to Juba, the capitol of the south, where he will preach at a bishops' retreat and then on to a mission meeting on his way to Nairobi. It was a great pleasure to have him with us, and I am grateful for all who cooperated in making the trip a success.

The April edition of Diocesan Life will provide rich photo coverage. Download a pdf file of pages 4-5 of that issue below.

Download 100404-5.pdf


Bishop Anthony's visit to Trinity, Easton

Bishop Visit 10 22 Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji came to Trinity, Easton on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 to have lunch and tell a group of laity about Southern Sudan and Kajo Keji. He also saw the construction and renovations taking place at Trinity, Easton, and to hear about the parish's outreach ministries.

Poggo had lunch with a group of vestry and other lay ministry leaders  representing a cross-section of the parish and ministries, and told then about the work of the diocese of Kajo Keji and the current situation in Southern Sudan.

In the first picture, Bishop Anthony and Father Andrew Gerns stand where Trinity's new kitchen will be.  They discussed the new addition and the primary school in Sodogo, Kajo Keji, that the parish is making possible by tithing the parish's capital campaign to New Hope.

Bishop Visit 10 27

Barbi Haigh gives Bishop Anthony a short tour of the church.










Bishop Visit 10 38 During lunch, vestry member Barb Edwards speaks with Bishop Anthony.









Bishop Visit 10 44 Bishop Anthony speaks to vestry members and lay leaders of Trinity Church, Easton during a lunch on March 3, 2010.

See also TrinEast.

--posted by Andrew Gerns


Bishop Anthony of Kajo Keji to visit Diocese of Bethlehem

Southern Sudanese bishop to visit Diocese of Bethlehem
[Bishop Anthony Poggo and Bethlehem Bishop Paul V. Marshall will be available for a conversation with the media on Saturday, March 6, at 11:00 a.m. at Diocesan House, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem. Please email Canon Bill Lewellis, blewellis@diobeth.org, by March 3 if you intend to be there.]
Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji in Southern Sudan, on the Ugandan border, will be the guest of Bishop Paul Marshall and the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem from March 1 to 8.

Bishop Poggo's public events:
Tuesday, March 2: 6:30-8:00 p.m. –– St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre
Thursday, March 4: 6:30-8:00 p.m. –– Christ Episcopal Church, Reading
Friday, March 5: 7:00-9:00 p.m. –– Meeting especially (but not entirely) with youth 6th to 12th grades, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Sunday, March 7: 10:30 a.m. –– Preaching at Church of the Redeemer, Sayre, followed by reception and conversation at noon
During these public events, Bishop Poggo will show updated pictures of the progress in building in Kajo Keji, resulting from the New Hope Campaign (see below) and invite conversation. Additionally, Bishop Poggo will meet privately with clergy groups, the World Mission Committee of the diocese and diocesan staff.

The two dioceses have developed a close partnership relationship which began in 2001, a deliberate policy of reciprocal enrichment. Nearly 20 lay persons and clergy of the Diocese of Bethlehem, as well as Bishop and Mrs. Diana Marshall, two to four at a times, have travelled to Southern Sudan on some 15 mission trips. A few have gone several times. All have been deeply affected by their visits. The former Bishop of Kajo Keji visited the Diocese of Bethlehem in 2002. This will be the current bishop's second trip to the 14-county northeastern Pennsylvania diocese. Bishop Marshall visited in Africa in 2000 and 2005.

Bishop Marshall joined members of the World Mission Committee and other interested people from the diocese on an advocacy trip to Washington, DC, to meet with key senators and representatives and members of the State Department to make the case for alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese people.

"Since 2000, I and others from our diocese have gone to Africa several times to seek a vision for Bethlehem among the suffering and those who care for them, in a place where the Holy Spirit can work," said Marshall.

In July 2004, some 157,000 expatriate Sudanese had come back across the southern border of Sudan after a series of terrorist incidents, including rapes and refugee camp lootings, by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group backed by the government of Sudan. The people had fled to Uganda in the first place after being displaced by the ongoing Sudanese civil war, which had been raging in Africa’s largest nation since independence was granted in 1955. Because of a local drought and other inhospitable conditions, as well as the overwhelming volume of need, the Diocese of Kajo Keji had no food, shelter, clothing, medicines, or agricultural tools to give them.

“We must act now to prevent people in Kajo Keji from starving to death,” Bishop Paul wrote late in July on the diocesan internet list. By mid September, more than $70,000 was received. Funds were wired to the Diocese of Kajo Keji by way of an account in Kampala, Uganda, the closest large city. Because of conditions in Sudan, the diocese decided to buy food and rent the trucks to haul it from Kampala to the refugee enclaves in Kajo Keji. Within days, trucks loaded with staples were on their way over rutted roads into the Kajo Keji area.

“Even if you don’t see it on the national news, “ Bishop Paul said then, “it really happened. This summer we learned again that when followers of Jesus work together, great good comes of it. We best know who we are when we care for others ... The first shipments of food reached Kajo Keji in time to prevent mass starvation, and the funds we provided will continue to feed the refugees for the immediate future.” A correspondent in Sudan wrote: “What the Diocese of Bethlehem has done will enter the history books of Kajo Keji… Their actions have given our people hope that they are not alone...”

“In the last five years,” Bishop Paul said in his address to the 2006 Convention of the Diocese of Bethlehem, “our relatively tiny diocese has given over $800,000 to relief for Africa (to fund scholarships, buy agricultural tools and oxen, adopt schools and stave off starvation in Kajo Keji), for tsunami victims, and for hurricane relief. And that is just the money we know about because it flowed through us to Episcopal Relief and Development. Certainly there has been more. No one can doubt that the love of God lives among us, and I thank you on behalf of the many who have no other way to address you.”

"It is one of the paradoxes of the modern world," onetime ABC News Nightline correspondent Dave Marash has said, "that we can and are made aware of far more serious problems than we can solve. Measuring up to this challenge, finding room in our hearts and our wallets for simultaneous catastrophes … is the challenge of the 21st century."

In 2007, the Diocese of Bethlehem launched the New Hope Campaign, to raise $3.6 million ($2.7 to provide "holistic support for our Sudanese brothers and sisters in areas where they have specifically asked for our support" and $900,000 for programs to support the needy in northeastern Pennsylvania). Contributions and pledges surpassed the goal within a year. To date, the total approaches $4.1 million.

Upon returning from his 2005 mission trip to southern Sudan, Bishop Marshall told a story about the impetus for the New Hope Campaign. “At the end of a week in that bomb-torn country, Diana and I baked in a bus for 14 hours in the Ugandan sun. Finally you give up wiping your face. As we became increasingly caked with red dirt and the overcrowded bus grew hotter and hotter, I found myself baking in a creative and holy sense: I knew God wanted my attention. Genesis says humans began our existence as kind of mud pies, and the red dust of the earth baking into my pores helped me have a new beginning of insight: Here were sisters and brothers with almost nothing to their names trying to build a life and a country — how could I go on as usual? In addition to altering how I live personally, I had to abandon some of my bricks-and-mortar dreams for our own diocese, particularly regarding a conference center, in order to see what God would have us do for others. The question that intrigued me was, Could we dare to have a capital fund drive where we didn’t get the money?”

In 2002, Bishop Marshall had asked Charlie Barebo to help spearhead a capital campaign to develop a camp and conference center for the diocese. "A funny thing happened on the way," said Barebo. "I woke up one morning in the Sudan." It was a "life-changing event that has deepened my faith and forever altered my outlook on this world and the next," said Barebo, a global traveler as CEO of Otterbine Barebo, a lake and pond water quality management firm in Upper MilfordTownship.

Barebo has served as chair of the New Hope Campaign and is volunteer missioner for development on Bishop Marshall's staff.

Born 1964 in Kajo Keji, Bishop Anthony Dangasuk Poggo became Bishop of Kajo Keji in 2007. Ordained a priest in 1996, he has worked with ACROSS, a Christian aid and relief organization in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, in several capacities, including coordinator, communication and publishing director, and executive director. He has ministered also as attached clergy to St. Luke’s in Kenyatta (part of All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya). He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration and management, a master’s degree in biblical studies, and an MBA. He is fluent in spoken and written English and Bari, fair in spoken Arabic and Kishwahili, and has a working knowledge of biblical Hebrew and Greek. He is married to Jane Basa Namurye. They have three children: Grace, Faith and Joy.

Bishop Paul Marshall has been bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem since 1996. He had been a professor at Yale University Divinity School and director of the Yale Instiute of Sacred Music. His ministry as bishop has been broad and deep: teacher, pastor, preacher, administrator, author, advocate and participant in ministry with people in the developing world, children and youth, the poor and the marginalized, advocate and reconciler with those within the church who consider themselves progressive as well as those who consider themselves traditionalists, interpreter of family systems theory, communicator within and beyond the diocesan community, a leader who consults with colleagues, and a person whose ministry as bishop proceeds from prayer and a contemplative vision of God's kingdom.

Many people beyond the Episcopal Church know him through a monthly column he wrote for the secular press for 13 years. Born 1947 in New York City and raised in Lancaster County (PA) he has also written some ten books and more than 60 articles and reviews for periodicals.

He and Diana, a registered nurse and attorney, have two grown children.

Posted by Bill Lewellis