Sacred connection is costly

By The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns

[Canon Gerns, rector at Trinity Easton, was invited to speak to the volunteer clergy, volunteer chaplains and lay pastoral visitors and office volunteers of the pastoral care program at Easton Hospital at their pastoral care week luncheon today. This is his talk. Also present were community clergy, hospital senior and middle management. Easton Hospital is the only (explicitly) for-profit hospital in the Lehigh Valley.]

I have 166 friends, according to Facebook. I mention this to say we live in a culture that aches for connection and will do just about anything to connect.

Facebook allows me to have some connection –– many fleeting, some fun, a few intense –– with people around the globe. Depending on how a person uses this social network, I can know their little peeves. (One fellow said this morning that he wished that people knew about ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’ There is no doubt a story behind that!) or their trials (A woman asks for prayers for her husband) and their whimsy (Someone else just poked me and my niece in Vermont just threw a sheep at me). We are every bit as creative in finding ways to build connection (not all of them healthy) as we are in building protective walls and safe distances.

All of us embody the contradiction of “come closer” and “stay away.” Very few of us keep our balance. We can be like Ebenezer Scrooge who, before his conversion, was described by Dickens as a man whose very mannerism telegraphed to strangers and even dogs: “keep your distance.” Literature ancient and modern describes the pitfalls of uncontrolled intimacy. We need and crave connection, and spend a lifetime learning how to navigate it.

It’s easy to see why. Connection brings intimacy and relationships, our sense of self, dignity of life, purpose in living, meaning we make of and draw out of our lives. The list goes on. What Frederick Buechner once said about sex is true about our quest for connection and so for the ministry of health care: like nitro-glycerin, it can heal hearts and blow up bridges.

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Ecumenical Forum on Church Teachings on Faitful and Responsible Citizenship

[From The Rev. Gary L. Harke, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Council of Churches] Download below a PDF version of the registration brochure for the annual Ecumenical Forum sponsored by the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation (the cooperative agency of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches). Monday, September 29, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Cardinal Keeler Center, Harrisburg. Because this is an election year, the theme for the Forum is church teachings on faithful and responsible citizenship. Using documents from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Roman Catholic bishops as starting points, Forum planners hope participants will participate in a lively discussion about the relationship of religious values and American political life. I expect we’ll finish the day discovering that we all hold some things in common and that we differ significantly in others –– and that at least some of those differences are rooted in the diverse ways we understand the nature and mission of the church.

Download PCIC.2008.pdf

ChurchPost Training Sessions

To: Clergy, Parish Administrators, Parish Newsletter Editors
From: Bill Lewellis and Kat Lehman

The Diocese of Bethlehem will soon roll out ChurchPost for use by all parishes.

ChurchPost is a web-based and user-friendly solution that will empower parishes to create group email lists to communicate with parishioners generally and to communicate on separate lists with those members engaged or interested in specific ministries. It will enable parishes to create topical email groups that will be accessible to interested members from any computer while also allowing all parishioners, simply by signing up at a "Get Connected" box on the home page of the parish website, to have access to any or all groups that are created and made available publicly. It will also give parishes the ability not only to create quick text emails to post to the group but also (without any need for technical knowledge) to create professional-looking email notes and email newsletters by using colorful templates. Find more information about ChurchPost here.

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Diocesan Training for Ministry Conference

March 1, at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. Morning: Vestry, Lay Eucharistic Visitors 1, Stewardship as a Way of Life, Planned Giving/St. Matthew Society, and Celebrating the Eucharist. Afternoon: Lay Eucharistic Visitors 2, Stewardship, Role of Treasurers, EYE, Parish Communication. Download the brochure below. Registration deadline is February 15.

Download 0801.Training for Ministry brochure.pdf


Worship Leader Training

A special day of training will be held on Saturday, September 22 at Trinity, Mt. Pocono, for anyone interested in becoming licensed as a Worship Leader (formerly called Lay Reader). It will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude with Evensong at 3:30 p.m. A Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship under the direction of the member of the clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith. Worship Leaders would assist with leading non-sacramental services, such as Morning and Evening Prayer. The day's hot points will include National Canons and Diocesan Guidelines, Spiritual Discipline, Knowing the Bible, Traditions of the Church, Moving around the BCP, Music Selection, and Rites and Wrongs. The Diocesan Commission on Ministry offers this training and other training for lay persons. The facilitator will be the Rev. Edward K. Erb of St. John's Church, Hamlin, member of both the Liturgy & Music Commission and the Commission on Ministry. Cost is $5. Checks payable to The Diocese of Bethlehem. Download brochure and registration info below. Contact Father Erb for further information. 

Download 0709.Worship Leader Training.pdf

Trinity Institute 2008

Trinity Church Wall Street will present Trinity Institute’s 38th National Theological Conference, Religion and Violence: Untangling the Roots of Conflict, on January 21-23, 2008. A panel of prominent Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theologians will explore the deeply rooted, seemingly inexorable union of religion and violence, illuminating the resources within each tradition for living together in peace, without losing the unique identities of each faith. Download more info below.

Download trinity_institute_2008.pdf

Training for Ministry

The Diocesan Training for Ministry Conference  will take place at St. Stephen's, Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, March 3. The second downloadable file below, marked "conferencebrochure," includes a description of workshops, a map to help you on your journey to Wilkes-Barre and a registration form you may complete and return by regular mail before February 22. Hard copy will be sent to parishes.

Workshops:  (1) Wardens/Vestry, (2)Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Visitors, (3) Planned Giving, (4) Planning and Preaching Holy Week and Easter, (5) Treasurers, (6) AWE ... Kids.

Download 070303_conference.pdf

Download 070303_conferencebrochure.pdf

Sky Lake Ecumenical Scripture Institute

The following note is from Earl Trygar, rector, St. Mark's, Moscow: Attached you will find a brochure for the Sky Lake Ecumenical Scripture Institute.  I have attended this event before and have enjoyed it.  It is part education, part retreat. So far at least 5 of our clergy are attending.  At the one I attended last year it was comprised of mostly lay persons.  It is a beautiful setting and the fellowship is wonderful.  Addison Wright is very interesting and the sessions are very interactive. (Check out the bio in the brochure) Please pass this on to all.

Download 0610.Sky Lake Ecumenical Scripture Institute.pdf

Emerging Church Learning Party

A new movement called the emerging church is making a major impact on the landscape of North Amerircan Christianity and around the world. Find out about it at Emerging Church Learning Party: Resources for Outreach, Worship and Spiritual Formation in Today's Culture at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Saturday, September 16.
The event will be led by Karen Ward, abbess of Church of the Apostles, Seattle, a leading edge, mainline (Episcopal/Lutheran) emerging congregation.

Sponsored by Church of the Apostles, Praxis Center in partnership with Peacemeal and the Diocese of Bethlehem.

Download the flyer in MSWord or pdf format:

Download emerging_church_learning_party_flyer.doc

Download emerging_church_learning_party_flyer.pdf

Christian Gathering of NE PA

Dr. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church's associate deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations will present Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry: Are We Any Closer? at the May 24 Christian Gathering of Northeastern PA (an Ecumenical Dialogue Day) at Marywood University, Scranton, 9:00 to 3:30. The focus will be on the 1982 BEM document. (Download it from the World Council of Churches website.)

The Christian Gathering is sponsored by the RC Diocese of Scranton.

More information and a registration form may be downloaded below as a pdf or word file.

Download bem.Information&RegistrationForm.pdf

Download bem.Information&RegistrationForm.doc