Jesus' birth exalts the poor

From the Lectionaries
Jesus' birth exalts the poor
by Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
Advent 4 –– Luke 1:39-45 (and 46-55)
20 December 2009

Our Lady headlines the Gospel this week, replacing John the Baptist who held center stage for two Sundays. Enduring, however, are the comparisons and contrasts between John and Jesus except they are made between their parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary and Joseph. Before Luke 2:1, the beginning of the “Christmas” story, Joseph has but one brief mention (1:27) and does not appear.

When Gabriel announces the birth of John to Zechariah, and Zechariah disbelieves the announcement, he is struck dumb (1:20). When Gabriel announces the birth of Jesus to Mary, she doesn’t disbelieve but asks “how” (1:34). And when she visits Elizabeth, she bursts into the Magnificat, the opposite of having her mouth closed for her.

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Sudan –– U. S. Policy and New Hope

14 December 2009
By Howard Stringfellow
Archdeacon, Diocese of Bethlehem

Charlie Barebo and I flew to Kajo-Keji October 20 none the wiser. We landed on the grass and gravel airstrip the following day still not knowing anything had happened. When Bishop Anthony arrived from Juba having attended an election of ten new bishops for ten new dioceses in the Episcopal Church of Sudan, he told us.

“President Obama has changed U. S. policy regarding Sudan. It just happened.” I looked at him blankly for two reasons: I knew nothing about the old policy, and as surely I knew nothing about the new one. But right away my neglected homework stood right in front of me. No way around it. An agenda had been set. “Archdeacon, I will send you some documents that I just received.”

It was one of those moments that seemed then and now as though time slowed, and something was being revealed from somewhere beyond the surface. I find that the priestly vocation is like this. Another layer of possibility and reality is revealed when you least expect it. There’s no danger of missing the revelation, but there’s every danger that the revelation won’t be heeded or won’t be honored. We come in to the picture heeding and honoring the revelation; we come into the picture by accepting the love of God the revelation represents.

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A prophet with a new message, but he's not the Savior

From the Lectionaries
by Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
Advent 3, Luke: 3:7-18
13 December 2009

John the Baptist headlines today’s Gospel as he did on Advent 2. But he may not be the Baptist you have come to know. Luke robs him of his scratchy clothes and his edgy diet. He has a new message though he appears as one of the old prophets. He doesn’t baptize Jesus. Though his and Jesus’ birth stories entwine, at each intersection Luke distinguishes and separates John from Jesus.

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The Religious Sports Fan

The Boundaries Blur; The Boundaries Clarify
By Howard Stringfellow, Archdeacon, Diocese of Bethlehem
9 December 2009

Joe Buck on FOX Sports TV said it again Sunday: “It’s Hail, Mary time for the Cowboys!” And the old questions rose again, begging attention and clarification. The old questions have answers.

The Cowboys had a 10-point lead in the second quarter. Then the Giants scored two touchdowns and took the lead. And with seconds left on the clock at the end of the first half and with the ball on the Cowboys’ 36-yard line, Tony Romo connected with Jason Witten for 6 yards. Another pass to him gained 7 yards. The time was running out. Excitement and noise rose. And then Buck was moved to say with some feeling what he said.

Should we exhaust the other options before we resort to prayer? Does desperation authenticate prayer? Does Hail, Mary time mean that a good outcome is a 1000-to-1 shot?

People, I know, pray without the slightest concern for outcomes of games and sometimes even for outcomes of life situations. And they do it every day of their lives. At some point, they have come to see that the prayer in them comes from heaven, that God uses prayer to strengthen the relationship they share, and that prayer deepens the identification between them. In time, prayer becomes as natural as breathing and as important.

I know this. Somebody’s prayers were answered on Sunday. The Giants won, 31-24.

Revelation gives hope

From the Lectionaries
by Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow

The Daily Office: Monday in Advent 2
7 December 2009

At Evening Prayer today we start again a course reading of the first six chapters of Revelation, known also as The Apocalypse, ending on Saturday before Advent 4. The reading underlines one of the themes of this season: we move toward meeting the Judge at the end of time while we move toward meeting the Baby on December 25. Is it any wonder that we tend to focus on the Baby whilst putting out of our minds the Judge? Who can resist a Baby? Who’s eager to meet the Judge?

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Christ Church, Reading, and Father John Francis receive 2009 National Clergy Renewal Program Grant

Christ Episcopal Church Reading has received a grant of $37,981.00 to enable their rector, the Rev. John R. Francis, to participate in the 2009 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. It is one of 149 congregations across the country supporting their ministers in the program that allows pastors to step back from their busy lives and renew their spirits for the benefit of their ongoing ministries.

A few years ago, a similar grant was awarded to Grace Church Allentown and Father Patrick Malloy.

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Kingston calls new rector

Hartman.John Grace Kingston has called Father John Hartman to be their new rector. He has been serving there since Oct. 4. He was ordained a priest just about a month ago, on Sept. 29, by Bishop Paul. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill., and was ordained a deacon in June 2008 in the Diocese of New Jersey. He served as the director of church relations for Seamen’s Church Institute in New York City, and as a deacon at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, New Providence, N.J.

Montrose to welcome newly-called rector

 Walker.Paul St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Montrose will welcome Reverend Paul Walker as full-time rector on Sunday, November 1. Father Walker most recently served as Vicar for Christ Church in Belleville, NJ. A native of Scranton PA, he received his Master of Science degree from Marywood College in Systematic Theology and Christian Education. He also has a Master of Divinity from Bexley Hall. He was ordained as a Deacon at the Church of the Nativity Cathedral in Bethlehem, PA in 1986 and ordained as a priest in 1987.

Father Paul also served the church in upstate New York, where he was priest for the yoked parishes of Grace Church in Scottsville, NY, and St. Andrews Church, Caledonia, NY. In addition to his work with those churches, he was also a member of the clergy association for both communities and served as the dean of the district for Monroe County for four and a half years.

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General Seminary NYC calls Grace Allentown rector


General Theological Seminary has called Grace Allentown rector Father Patrick Malloy to be professor of Liturgics. At the request of the Grace Church vestry and congregation and with the permission of Bishop Paul and General Seminary, he will continue as rector on a halftime basis. He came to Grace in December 2001 and was installed as rector in June 2002.

“What we have accomplished in just eight years is beyond imagining,” Malloy wrote to parishioners. “How did we ever do it without losing our minds or breaking our backs? The fact that all of us are still standing — and I hope standing taller and stronger — is a phenomenal witness to how invested we are in our common life, common mission, and common prayer ... General Seminary hired me, not because of what I have done, but because of what we have done. That is not false humility. It is the unvarnished truth.

Malloy holds a doctors degree in liturgical studies from Notre Dame as well as masters degrees from Notre Dame and Temple. He is the author of Celebrating the Eucharist, commissioned by Church Publishing in 2008. The publisher has commissioned two further books. He has taught at the graduate level at St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN), the University of Santa Clara and Duquesne University where he directed the graduate program in pastoral ministry.

Archdeacon Stringfellow is serving as supply priest at Good Shepherd Scranton

The following two paragraphs are taken from the beginning of Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow's sermon at Good Shepherd Scranton, Sunday, September 13, his first Sunday of service there as supply priest:

"The opportunity to serve this parish came to me unexpectedly when Canon Warne announced his retirement from his “retirement” and when Bishop Paul asked if I were interested. Your sense of mission and the zeal you have pursuing it have won my heart and the hearts of the New Hope Committee who have such high hopes for you and whose hearts rejoice in your progress to provide a much-needed emergency shelter in Scranton. Even before I begin my service, you have my esteem and affection. They will only grow as I get to know you better.

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Health care is mercy in action

Health care is mercy in action
By Canon Andrew Gerns
The Morning Call
September 12, 2009

What do The Good Samaritan, Ebenezer Scrooge and characters in Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus have in common? Each of these stories involves compassion or the withholding of compassion.

We all know about the Good Samaritan, the story of the man who was attacked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. A priest and a Levite passed, but offered him no help -- no health care. It was a Samaritan who cared for him.

Jesus told that story because a lawyer asked, ''Who is my neighbor?'' but Jesus turned the question around: ''to whom should we be a neighbor?''

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Scott Allen on radio

Scott Allen is a radio personality (of sorts) in the Lehigh Valley as he volunteers to host the National Public Radio  show All Things Considered Mondays, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on WDIY (88.1 FM Allentown). He began doing this last winter. He comes in on the breaks with news, traffic, weather, time and call letters. He is also the control board engineer which means he plays the commercials at the designated times, accesses the feed from Public Radio Capital News (out of Harrisburg for PA State news), and reconnects the show to the NPR Satellite to resume All Things Considered which originates nationally in Washington DC.  If you'd like to hear Scott, the show is broadcast in streaming live audio on the web. Just open your web browser to and click on "listen" at the top. All the time, everywhere! "I've always listened to NPR News and like their format," Allen says. "This was a small way to give back to a project that has given me so much over the years. I learned alot of new things and after 10 months I feel more at ease at the microphone in the studio."

The Rev. T. Scott Allen is priest in charge at St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem and a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem.

Father John Wagner, Lehighton borough manager and priest-in-charge at St. Mark's/St. John's, Jim Thorpe

Plans and a prayer
Lehighton borough manager wants community to be a destination

By AL ZAGOFSKY TN Correspondent
Times-News, Lehighton

John Wagner "I have a dream for Lehighton to be a destination for people, rather than simply a place through which they pass on their way to other locations," said John Wagner, borough manager of Lehighton. "I see the revitalization of our downtown area, followed by revitalization of the residential areas, as being key to the future of the borough."

Wagner said the Lehighton Borough Council recently retained Urban Development and Research Corporation of Bethlehem, an urban planner and an economist, to perform a downtown revitalization study for the borough. The study will encompass all of First Street, the Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd., Rt. 443, and all intersecting streets within one block of those byways. "One of the key components which I insisted each of the firms include, is an economic gap study," Wagner explained. "The gap study will tell us the areas where we have a surplus of businesses, and the areas where we have needs in the region that are not met with our current businesses so, we can help define what kinds of businesses we want to attract to the borough."

Wagner has received support from a group of downtown businesses organized as the Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee. "That committee is working hard to attract new businesses to the borough," Wagner said. "I have challenged them as a nonprofit group, to purchase one of the structures on First Street, rehab it and use it as incubator space for new businesses." "The borough has a lot of waterfront property," Wagner noted. "I can envision that area developed perhaps with restaurants and outdoor shopping areas that take advantage of the view of the Lehigh River from the borough." For instance, he pointed to the stoney beach on the Lehigh River beyond Dunbar's Beverage Distributor. The beach is used as a lunch spot for rafters and has been a local partying place. Recognizing it is a wet land, Wagner is not ready to make recommendations until the report is completed, but he could foresee shops on piers overlooking the beach.

Wagner sees additional areas to watch: revitalization of the downtown, development of the vacant land along Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd. (Route 209 northbound bypass), and preventing deterioration of Rt. 443. To this end, he would like to see the organization broaden its focus to become Lehighton Initiative Committee and drop the "Downtown" from its name. In the downtown area, Wagner notes that already North First Street has new curbs and sidewalks. He is writing a grant proposal to extend the work to South First Street extending to the Sgt. Stanley Hoffman Blvd. intersection.

"We are in the process of adopting a standard for decorative light poles, looking to replace the metal halide cobra head light fixtures with LED fixtures, which are half the energy consumption with 10 times the life expectancy. The cobra heads are flat panel, but the pedestrian scale fixtures are colonial period." Wagner also sees the borough focusing on its assets: the Lehighton Pool, the Jacob Weiss Park, and the borough's early Moravian heritage.

Besides acting as Lehighton borough manager, Wagner, who is a civil engineer and former municipal consulting engineer, serves as the priest at the Episcopal Parish of St. Mark and St. John in Jim Thorpe. He found that he had interests both in theology and in engineering. "This was the ideal way to tie the two together," he said. "It helps me to have a more open mind and a more open heart when residents come to see me with problems. "And I bless all the plans before they go out the door," he joked.

Inhibition of Gregory Malia

August 13
From Bishop Paul Marshall to the Bethlehem Diocese Clergy

Dear Colleagues,

It has been complained by the Standing Committee, in a letter received
this week, that The Rev. Gregory Malia has by certain publicly known
 actions and failures to act, abandoned the Discipline and Worship of
 this Church.

I have affirmed their finding and according to canon, issued today a
 new inhibition that gives him six months to make matters completely
right (Title IV Canon 10 outlines the possibilities). If at the end of six
 months matters remain as they are now, formal deposition will take 

Part of the inhibition forbids his using ecclesiastical titles or 
holding himself out as a priest; I wish to be made aware of any 
violations that may occur. Thank you for your cooperation.



New Canon for the Ministry of the Baptized at the Cathedral

The Rev. Mariclair Partee has been serving as Canon for the Ministry of the Baptized at the Cathedral since March 31. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Religion from the University of Georgia, as well as a law degree from the Law School of the University of Georgia. She is a graduate of the General Theological Seminary and has been serving as Assistant Rector of Trinity Church, Solebury, in the diocese of Pennsylvania.

In addition to taking her share in liturgical, homiletical, sacramental, and pastoral care ministries of the Cathedral, Mariclair will share with the Dean a priestly presence of support with children and youth ministries. A primary responsibility of this position will be the creation and support of programs that seek to identify, recruit, train, and support the members of this Cathedral in living out the baptismal covenant.

How many people can you feed on a lawmaker's $158 per diem?

[Posted by Bill Lewellis]

A column by Christopher J. Kelly of The Times-Tribune, Scranton
July 26, 2009

[snip, snip]

It was quite a haul - 155 items in all. Took two shopping carts to wheel it out to the car.

"A lot of folks are going to enjoy a wonderful meal as a result of this little venture," the Rev. Canon William Warne said as he closed the stuffed trunk.

Canon Warne is pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Green Ridge. The Episcopal congregation has an open-door outreach program that includes a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless and families who struggle to get by in even the best of times.

Canon Warne and Fran, his lovely wife of 45 years, met me at the Weis supermarket in Clarks Summit on Thursday morning to conduct an experiment in evangelical economics. The object was to see how many hungry Pennsylvanians we could feed with what each of our esteemed state legislators has the freedom to waste daily.

What money can buy.

[snip, snip, snip, snip]

The Rev. Canon William T. Warne set to retire

Posted by Kat Lehman

[From Warren Shotto, Senior Warden; Good Shepherd, Scranton]
It is with more than a little sadness that I report Canon William T. Warne has informed the vestry of Good Shepherd of his intention to fully retire as Priest in Residence. Below is an excerpt from the official letter sent to the vestry and wardens.

Canon Bill writes...

“After much thought and prayer, I have decided to truly retire, and, thus, to bring to an end by August 31 of this year my service as Priest-in-Residence to you and the people of Good Shepherd…Fran and I simply want to have more time in my retirement, not only for ourselves and the pursuit of many and varied personal interests, but also the freedom to spend much more time with our sons and their families, especially our grandchildren   ‘Being deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life’ (BCP, page 504) and recognizing that we are not getting any younger, personal concerns and family gatherings begin to loom larger in priority as they rightly should…Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t say what a joy it has been to share in the mission and ministry of Good Shepherd (notwithstanding, at least initially, a time filled with doubt and uncertainty) and how thankful I am that through your prayers and efforts, and the support of many others in numerous ways, our parish has emerged with ‘new hope’ and faith, and with a wonderfully stated purpose ‘to serve Christ and others with open hearts, minds, and doors’…Thanks so much for your wonderful support and understanding…I know I am leaving the ministry at Good Shepherd in most capable hands and I am confident that you will continue to be blessed richly by God’s grace.”

However, as we at Good Shepherd know,  after every storm comes the sun. I am also happy to announce that Archdeacon Stringfellow, with Bishop Paul’s blessing, has graciously agreed to be Supply Priest at Good Shepherd and has offered to stay until such time we are ready to take the next step in the search process.

So please keep us in your prayers as we step out and begin this journey of faith.


Warren Shotto

The Rev. Canon Joseph Leo

The Rev. Canon Joseph Leo died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday morning June 9 in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he was living with his daughter Mary. He was loved b y many who will miss him. A memorial service at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, is being planed for later in June.

For over 55 years, Canon Leo faithfully served Episcopal churches in Pennsylvania and Ohio (he was Rector of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland in the 1970's). He spent the last 25 years serving the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. His life of service included working as a marriage counselor, Justice of the Peace and District Court Judge in Easton, PA.

He is survived by his wife Martha Leo of Easton, PA; a brother The Very Rev. James Leo of Cincinnati; a sister Janice Davidson; daughters Liz Beekman (Pat) of Charlotte, NC, Sue Parry (Rich) of Girdwood, AK, Mary Bourisseau (John) of Bentleyville, Ruth Mount (Collins) of Chugiak, AK; son Joseph N. Leo III of Maineville and 12 grandchildren.

Donations, in his name, may be made to the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte St. Bethlehem, PA. 18015.

In Celebration of Ned Caum

A Sermon by The Ven. Richard I. Cluett
Trinity Church, Athens, June 3, 2009

The Reverend Canon Edward L. Caum. Or as he preferred, simply, Ned. Or as he has been so ordained by those who love him, The Pope of the Valley.

This thoroughly lovely man has died to this life and risen to a new life, and we are here today to thank God for him and for his part in our life, and in the life of each one here, and in the life of those who could not be here today, and in the life of the church, and in the life of the community. And we are here to commend him gratefully and prayerfully and joyfully to our God who has prepared a place for him in the heavenly realm.

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