Hello everyone! Here is the latest edition of Diocesan Life. We are now wrapping around a new, independent paper called the Episcopal Journal. Of course, our online version doesn't include that news, but you should receive it in your mailboxes this week. As always, if you have stories, photos, news, please pass them along to Kat Lehman. The file is in .pdf formate and is 2.3 MB in size.
To: Lehigh Valley Episcopal Churches
From: Craig Updegrove, St. Andrew's
As you may be aware, several years ago, Bethlehem Area Churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This letter is to make you aware that this system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31.
Every night, a host site or two will provide this mission service to the homeless. We not only provide shelter, but we also give them a warm dinner, companionship, play games with them, and watch movies with them. This mission has transformed each congregation and person involved.
To help continue this mission, I ask for your help. On average, a church needs around eight volunteers each night to execute this mission effectively. This puts a lot of volunteer strain on each congregation. I would like to ask if anyone from your congregation would like to assist any of these churches. Volunteer hours are readily available.
Volunteer opportunities vary. We have people that will just cook the meal, serve the meal, stay overnight, serve breakfast, cleanup in the morning, or just sit and talk to our guests. This is truly a transformational mission and is needed by you to help in Bethlehem.
If you would like to help in other ways, you could donate personal care items, clothing, food, or cash donations to help these congregations to defray some of these costs.
If you or anyone in your congregation are interested in volunteering, please contact Craig Updegrove at 484-892-1589 for more details.
On a related matter, see Community must respond to deaths of homeless, an op-ed in The Morning Call, December 17, by Gary Millspaugh, executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.
Background on the ministry of Bethlehem churches to the homeless:
Jan. 13-19: Still no room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 19: Lehigh Valley Episcopal churches help homeless during cold snap
Feb. 5: Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 13: Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold
March 9: Express-Times editorial
The newSpin blog has a search box that many might find useful. Scroll down on the left.
Wednesday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m. at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. This is an annual program we do to commemorate the beginning of Advent. This year, however, will be extra special because it is our Organist/Choirmaster Mark Laubach's 25th anniversary at St. Stephen's. Mark will perform for the first time ever a brand new commissioned piece by David Briggs, an accomplished organist from Great Britain, who performed at our last silent film showing last year.
Find below a memo from Mark with a listing of songs we will be performing. The memo als invites you to join the choir. So, if you don't plan on that, kindly disregard the info there.
Download Advent Lessons and Carols 2010.doc
There is no admission, but as usual, the Choir will collect free will contributions that will go towards our music activities. You are free to give as much or as little as you'd like. Free parking is available next to the church.
At Grace Honesdale
Kazzrie Jaxen and The Drummers
Saturday, Nov. 27, at 2:00 p.m.
Thanksgiving to Mother Earth
The Drummers (Robin Rabii, Elai Tubo, Renis Rabii, Watoii Rabii, Venis Kevii, and Ed Gonzalez) are a unique all-drum ensemble with an eclectic musical style. The compositions are based on themes that invoke liberation, inspiration, self-examination, and transformation. The conga drum is the primary instrument of the ensemble and it is a powerful vehicle for transmitting the message of harmony on planet Earth.
Kazzrie Jaxen is an international artist, improviser, and composer. As an improvising pianist and singer she has performed, recorded, and taught for over thirty years. Known for her originality, virtuosity, and ability to transport an audience, her musical expression ranges from free improvisation to jazz standards, from original songs to vibrational journeys into the dreamtime.
This concert is intended to be a joyful celebration of our community and an expression of Thanksgiving to Mother Earth. We will celebrate our friends and our earth through the magic and majesty of music.
Download poster in pdf below.
Three Pastors Gaeta, all ELCA Lutheran Pastors, led worship recently at St. Mary's Wind Gap and St. Joseph's Pen Argyl to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Jane Gaeta (center). The Rev. Gerard Gaeta preached. The Rev. Sue Gaeta served as Eucharistic Minister. Jane presided at the Eucharist.
Jane serves as priest-in-charge at Wind Gap and Pen Argyl. Gerard serves as interim at Christ Church Stroudsburg. Sue serves as development director at the Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, DC.
Deacon Lorraine Cusick (Long Island NY Episcopal Diocese), a former student of Jane, served as deacon at both worship services.
A covered dish luncheon prepared by both churches followed at St. Mary's.
Two former confimation students from near Gettysburg, families from New Jersey and Sinking Spring and seven people from the Chinese Church in Brooklyn participated. (Jane served a brief interim there. She said she would preach a few lines that were then translated into Chinese.) The Liturgy was simultaneously bi-lingual.) One of the pictures shows three of the guests playing their Chinese instruments.
A deacon from Long Island NY (ELCA) was a very special guest. Both Jane and Gerard taught him. He had to leave his home and family in Iran when he felt the call to be baptized.
The Rev. Canon Ginny Rex Day, the Rev. Charles Day, the Rev. Nicholas Albanese and the Rev. Canon Cliff Carr joined in the celebration.
[News Release from St. Paul's Montrose]
St. Paul’s Crafters Corner is back for another season with a move to the first Saturday of October, November and December. The event offers unique shopping opportunities through the original creations of area crafters and will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., commencing on October 2nd and returning on November 6th and December 4th.
New crafters will be joining some of the long standing favorites to further expand the variety of merchandise, with the list of participants growing each month.
[News Release from St. George's Hellertown]
St. George’s Welcomes New RectorOn Thursday, October 14th, 2010 St. George’s Episcopal Church Hellertown will
have a “Celebration of New Ministry” with the institution of Father H. Jonathan
Mayo as rector. The congregation and local clergy will gather for a special service at
7:00 P.M. that will include Holy Eucharist and a visit from the Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall.
Father Jonathan is a native of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, and has returned to
Pennsylvania after a 30-year absence. He has served parishes in California,
Minnesota, and Wisconsin, before coming to St George’s on August 1. He had
previously served small churches, and therefore had a secular career in Information
Technology. He graduated from Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, in 1975, and St
Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY, in 1980. He has
immediate family living in the Lehigh Valley, the Pocono region, and St Louis, MO.
In 2008, St. George’s celebrated 100 years of worship having been a part of the
Hellertown community since 1908. Regular services are held on Sundays at 9:30
A.M. and Church School is offered for children ages 3-13 years old.
[Editor's note: this is the first of four parts. This post includes the full document which will be discussed at length during the 2010 diocesan convention. The following posts are the commentary articles that are published in Diocesan Life.]
The purpose of this paper is to discern the standards, practices, and resources that will foster faithfulness of ministry in every congregation of the Diocese. The object is that the Committee will become the catalyst and agent for a multi-year program to shepherd all congregations of the Diocese to renewal and transformation, and to move from risk to opportunities.
We suggest that the mission and instrumentality of the Committee is to:
• Strengthen all parishes, especially those that have exhibited vitality;
• Inspire and provide resources to those congregations “at risk”; and
• Provide self-realization and eventuality to those congregations that have lost their sense of purpose or vitality.
The mission of the Congregational Development Committee in the past has been to support dependent congregations through financial grants; to support congregations in long-range planning; and to foster the development of new congregations. Over the past several months an ad hoc committee of interested persons in the Diocese has met concerning the role of congregational development in the Diocese. A drafting team was tasked to develop a report. It convened four mini-consultations with representative groups from across the Diocese to provide information, background and suggestions to a reconstituted Committee. This report is the result.
Download the full report here: From Risks to Opportunities (Full Report)
Download the executive summary here: FROM RISK (Exec Summary)
By Ty Welles and Canon Andrew Gerns
A group of laity and clergy are working to create a process to assist congregations in renewal and development in rapidly changing times, based on building on the inherent strengths in local communities and networking parishes in similar situations in creative and collaborative ways.
The group was called together in response to Bishop Paul Marshall’s address to the Diocesan Convention in October, 2009. Bishop Marshall said the following concerning congregations in the Diocese:
"The problem with help [for parishes] from the outside is that it can look and feel imposed. Therefore, to help less endangered parishes reclaim their vitality I have been meeting with the Congregational Development Committee in order to reorganize their activities. . . . . . It is very important to me that parishes in similar situations talk with each other and as far as possible, work together.”
Soon after Convention, Bishop Paul invited the Congregational Development Commission, and a group interested laity and clergy together to talk about how the Congregational Development process can be reoriented. Instead of just providing resources to assist congregations from “above” as it did in the past, the goal will be facilitating parishes to work together for renewal. The goal is to bring together diocesan and congregational resources as a network to assist both troubled congregations and stable congregations move from mere survival to a sense of Christ-centered vitality and world-focused mission.
The new group is chaired by the Rev. Charles Cesaretti and consists of Bishop Paul, Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow, Fr. Cesaretti, Canon Jane Teter, Canon George Loeffler, Canon Andrew Gerns, Fr. Bill McGinty, Fr. Scott Allen, Charles Warwick, Ty Welles, Rachel Bartron, and Dean Tony Pompa. Some of these people were already members of the Congregational Development Committee, and other represented both parishes and other program and oversight committees of the Diocese.
The group designated a drafting team which was tasked to develop a report about the current state of congregation development and support in the diocese as well as the needs, hopes and vision of the various groups and parishes in it. They convened four mini-consultations with representative groups from across the Diocese to seek out information, background and suggestions. One was a joint meeting of Diocesan Council and the Standing Committee; a second was with Diocesan staff; a third was with representatives of a number of parishes exhibiting growth; and a fourth was with representatives of a number of struggling parishes.
The report, titled From Risks to Opportunities: Congregational Renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem was the result. The paper describes the standards, practices, and resources that will foster faithfulness of ministry in every congregation of the Diocese. The writers suggested that the mission and instrumentality of the Committee should be to strengthen all parishes, especially those that have exhibited vitality; provide resources to those congregations “at risk”; and provide self-realization and eventuality to those congregations that have lost their sense of purpose or vitality.
After being presented to Diocesan Council, Standing Committee, the Trustees and the program committees of the diocese, the outline in From Risks to Opportunities will be brought to the diocese at large through diocesan convention this fall. These three articles provide the background for the decisions we will make together in October.
At the heart of the findings described in From Risks to Opportunities is the definition of mission found in the Catechism in the Prayer Book: “the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The mission is pursued as it prays, worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. This mission is carried out through the ministry of all its members.” This understanding of mission proclaims that our first and primary relationship is with God; the second relationship is in the worship and proclamation of the church; and the third relationship is with the community and the world. From Risks to Opportunities suggested that this should be adopted as the Mission Statement of the Committee.
A second suggestion was that the Committee be renamed The Committee on Congregational Renewal. This would align the Committee with the mission statement, and with both the goal and process.
A third finding in From Risks to Opportunities was that the Committee on Congregational Renewal should become the catalyst and agent for a multi-year program to shepherd all congregations of the Diocese to renewal and transformation, and to move from risk to opportunities.
Out of the meetings held by the Committee there developed a number of assumptions:
1. The bedrock of Christian action is a spiritual life, which must start, direct, and sustain all congregational life.
2. Congregations must focus on their strengths rather than on their weaknesses.
3. Congregations can greatly strengthen their witness when they link up with neighboring congregations in cooperative ventures.
4. Congregations do better when they do not become dependent upon outside sources.
5. Many clergy are ill-prepared to lead a small rural or village church.
6. Every congregation in the Diocese must be included in the renewal and transformational process at the appropriate level.
The Committee on Congregational Renewal is developing a process for the Diocese and congregations to move into a new era of renewal for parishes in the Diocese of Bethlehem. The vision also includes improved collaboration between the several commissions of the Diocese.
As we move towards Diocesan Convention this coming October, the next two parts in this series will describe in more detail how this process will be laid out and frame the discussion and decisions before us. We will spell out the ways in which parishes in the Diocese can move into the renewal process beginning at the Convention, and how every Episcopalian in northeast Pennsylvania can support a renewed, re-vitalized sense of mission and Christian community.
Last month we outlined the mission and findings of the newly re-formed Committee on Congregational Renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem. This month we will address a proposed process for moving into congregational renewal.
The most important part of turning risk into opportunity is to create a context of prayer. What will set this process apart from typical secular management style will be prayerful listening to God for direction. We want to place the seriousness of the time and tasks ahead within the framework of prayer. We suggest that a context of prayer be established as follows:
• The preparation of a prayer that can be used at services of worship, for private prayer, and by prayer groups.
• A day of guided prayer, meditation and reflection for all clergy.
• A diocesan-wide meeting to begin the process with prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit.
• Establishment of a prayer group in every congregation to pray for the renewal and transformation of each congregation of the Diocese.
II. CONGREGATIONAL DISCERNMENT
We suggest that congregations engage in a process of discernment that focuses on their strengths, or what they do well, rather than on their weaknesses. When the starting point is the recognition of the abundance of God’s gifts and talents, the congregation can find new and positive energy to break out of the negative cycles of dependency and inaction. One way to engage in congregational discernment is through ‘asset mapping,’ the process or reviewing the positive assets of the congregation. This provides clear data and relational opportunities and unleashes the creative imagination to what can be by asking three crucial questions:
- Who are we?
- What has God called us to do or be?
- Who is my neighbor?
III. STRATEGIC PLANNING
We suggest that each congregation be involved in strategic planning which has goals, objectives, and benchmarks. This is a structured process to allow both data and feelings to surface to explore identity and purpose, and to bring together the past and a vision of the future to see the options for the present.
This is group conversation in which the members of the group tell their stories of the history of the congregation and their life within it. In this conversation they reveal the values of the community and those moments when God’s call to mission was clear to them. The conversation will uncover what is important and relevant, not only by rehearsing the past, but beginning to evoke the future, inspiring them to hear what “God calls us to be or to do.”
There is a need to have a common diocesan strategic planning instrument for this process that would reap a common baseline of information and data, as well as be systemic and unify the diocesan effort.
The next stage is to identify and link to strategic partners. The discernment process will have identified those organizations and groups within the wider community which share the same values and similar missions. How can a “strategic” partnership or alliance be forged with them so that the shared mission can be achieved? Strategic partnerships might be with other Episcopal congregations in your area. For example, this may the opportunity to exercise a ministry of hospitality, when your facilities can be a great gift to the community to house a needed outreach program.
V. MUTUAL MINISTRY
The Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer states:
“Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission”?Mission requires leadership, and that leadership is both lay and ordained. Mutual ministry is unified leadership where lay and clergy each supports and complements the other. Mutual ministry is seeing that the well-being of the whole community is a common effort of all members of the Christian community, and not just the ordained clergy.
“A. The Church carries out is mission through the ministry of all its members.”
The key to mutual ministry is to embrace the concept that the goal is sacramental leadership, nurturing both the outer and inner self. It is the realization that one’s life is a gift from God that is shared with the world. Mutual ministry brings together the sacramental leadership of both laity and clergy as one.
The Catechism concerning the Baptismal Covenant states:
“Q. What is the New Covenant?This process of congregational renewal – prayer, discernment, strategic planning, partnerships and mutual ministry – are particularly significant for us now as we enter the twenty-first century. In this time of change and transition, it behooves us to look for the ways that God engages us in renewal and transformation as a congregation and a diocese. Grounding our work in the Baptismal Covenant affirms that God is always at work in our lives and communities.
A. The New Covenant is the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to the apostles; and, through them, to all who believe in him.”
This process of assuming the presence and action of God requires a commitment by all parties to be faithful partners in all the phases. Just as we renew our baptismal vows at certain, specified liturgical times, it is strongly suggested that there be a “commissioning/covenanting” service for both the leadership and the congregations.
VII. REVIEW & EVALUATION
After you have prayed, collected the data, had many meetings, listened to people’s personal and institutional stories, entered into partnerships and renewed your covenant, it is important to enter the “so what?” phase – the time for review and evaluation. This is the process of prioritization; lifting up implications for current programs; suggesting new approaches and dropping unsuccessful ones; identifying the gaps; and lifting up potential leadership. This creates an important document for future planning, setting of benchmarks, and the regular periodic evaluation of progress. The review and evaluation will enable measurement of the long-term effectiveness of congregational mission by asking questions such as:
- Is the program consistent with the congregational mission;
- Is it is consonant with the anticipated response to internal and external changes;
- Has it created an advantage, or just maintained the status quo;
- Has it been feasible and not overtaxed available resources nor created unsolvable problems?
The third article in this series on Congregational Renewal will address the implications that the adoption of this program and process will have on both the diocese and the congregations within the diocese. And it will detail the specific steps that we as congregations and as a diocese need to take to move from Risk to Opportunities through congregational renewal.
Last month we outlined a proposed process for moving into congregational renewal, as developed by the Committee on Congregational Renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem. This month we will address some implications of this process and some steps for the future.
Implications and Recommendations
The committee feels that at the diocesan level there needs to be a full-time diocesan staff person for the Committee on Congregational Renewal and a budget for a multi-year program. In addition, the committee should regularly bring together the various diocesan committees with the committee as the convener. The committee feels that there is a need to rethink clergy leadership in parishes.
Given both the lack of availability and the cost of clergy, there may be a need to provide greater emphasis on training for lay leadership for worship. There needs to be greater attention given to pastors of small congregations on how to live and to work in rural culture, how to understand the nature of the small church, how to administer in a small church, how to develop church programs with limited resources, and how to manage conflicts. Ways to address these issues might include clergy days on the dynamics of ministry in small and rural congregations, regular meetings of clergy and congregations predicated by their location and size, a course in the Bishop’s School on ministering in the small and rural parish, and workshops at Training Day on issues that affect the small congregation.
There is also a need to establish linkage to the national church’s strategic planning, especially in the area of strengthening congregations. Greater resources for leadership training, especially for those in rural and small communities, need to be made available. There should be a common instrument for strategic planning for congregations to establish mission statements, goals, objectives, and benchmarks. The diocese should re-establish a relationship with Percept for assistance with demographic data. And there is a need to study in greater detail those parishes identified in the State of the Church Report showing significant growth. Those congregations not capable of faithfulness to ministry should be subject to the action of the appropriate diocesan instrumentality for assistance, restructuring, or closure.
Steps For the Future
Across the diocese, preparations are being made for Diocesan Convention, which this year will highlight the report on congregational renewal, From Risk to Opportunities. In addition to the three Diocesan Life articles, each lay and clergy delegate to Convention will be asked to read From Risk to Opportunities, all available on the diocesan website, and to discuss them in each congregation prior to Convention. At each of the three pre-Convention meetings across the diocese, a team from the Congregational Renewal Committee will be present to answer questions from the delegates concerning the Report and its process. At their September retreat, the clergy will be address the issues raised in the Report and the implications for the clergy in the process of congregational renewal.
At the Convention, delegates will break into small groups for two ninety-minute sessions, one on Friday and one on Saturday. Each group of laity or clergy (they will meet separately) will have a facilitator to assist and to record their discussion. The focus of the Friday session will be to review the process set forth in From Risk to Opportunities, and to respond to the challenges set out in Bishop Paul’s address. The focus of the Saturday session will be to initiate the process of sharing with other parishes in the group its experiences, plans, ideas, and methods of each parish in carrying out its mission Each parish will have the opportunity to discuss, plan, and listen to the other parishes and their delegates in their group.
The goal of the small table discussions will be to help us, as diocesan and congregational leaders, to create a vision of mission for our parishes, to learn how to network with one another in doing ministry, and to become part of a process which will help us as a whole diocese create vital congregations engaged in the work of the Gospel. There are variety of programs and approaches available to congregations. For congregations to become vital communities, they must focus on the things that make for effective mission, joyful worship, meaningful formation, caring community, and clear witness to the Gospel. Whatever the approach, we have found that measurable processes that involve a wide spectrum of the congregation and that are grounded in prayer are the most useful. Our goal is congregational leaders who join in renewing the culture of mission and witness in our diocese.
What Can Your Parish Do?
What can your parish do to prepare for Convention and the From Risk to Opportunities process? Here are a few ideas:
(1) Compose a special prayer that focuses on renewal, that can be used at all services and meetings of the congregation.
(2) Send out a pastoral letter to all parishioners setting out proposals for parish involvement in the “From Risk to Opportunities” process.
(3) Create a “Renewal Prayer Group” to pray for renewal and to encourage all parishioners to do the same.
(4) Establish a “Renewal Committee” that can be a liaison with the diocese, the Congregational Renewal Committee and other parishes, to find ways to help and to become involved.
(5) Encourage as many people as possible in the parish to be at Convention in Bethlehem.
(6) Seek to renew each and every ministry in the parish, and to return the sparkle to the mission and vision for the church and for the parish.
(7) Work with the various committees and organizations of the parish in their own renewal process.
(8) Include “Diocesan and Parish Renewal” on the agenda of every Vestry meeting.(9) Have a series of discussions in preparation for the Convention. They can either take place around the Sunday service, or as a “house discussion” on a weeknight. The sessions can adopt the themes from the From Risk to Opportunities document’s process – that is, Prayer, Congregational Discernment, Strategic Planning, Partnerships, Covenanting, and Periodic Review and Evaluation.
Fundamental to all the activities at the parish should be the following:
• Pray. The renewal process means stressing the prayer life of the congregation and the adoption of ‘holy habits’ in our church and personal lives.
• Remember that our parishes are not isolated, but part of the whole ministry of the Diocese.• Recall our baptisms, through which we were adopted into the Body of Christ, and which is the foundation for our common ministry to proclaim the Gospel and serve Christ in the world.
The Nativity Church of the Cathedral is exicited to announce our first invitation to lead worship at the 2010 Bethlehem Musikfest, Sunday August 15 at 10:00 a.m. Nativity's Jazz band will perform a Plaza Tropical, located between Main and Spring streets in Bethlehem. We welcome all to join in this toe-tapping, joyful morning. Light refreshments will be served after the service.
The Jazz band is intergenerational and interdenominational and has been performing together for the past three years. Ages range from ten to seventy-five years old. Led by Carol Yale, who teaches locally and performs with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, the band has played at various churches and locations in the Lehigh Valley. The music for Sunday morning will include “Deacon Jack’s Gospel Shack” by Paul Murtha and “The Gospel Truth” by Carl Strommen. The congregation will be invited to join in with various uplifting hymns.
For some, the idea of Jazz and an Episcopal worship service may seem strange. Anglican worship is often associated with the great European composers of the last 500 years. But like the Episcopal Church, Jazz is known for its careful balance of the individual and group voice, and both are given the chance to shine. Also like Jazz, the Episcopal Church is native to America and open to people of different ideas and talents.
The Rev. Canon Mariclair Partee will officiate and preach. Mariclair is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and joined the Cathedral last year. The Gospel for August 15 is Luke 12:49-56, and Canon Partee will commemorate Jon Daniels, an Episcopal martyr shot and killed 45 years ago for his work in the American civil rights movement.
As Herbie Hancock said, “Jazz is about being in the moment”. Come be “in the moment” and worship with Nativity Cathedral.
Sermon by Bishop Paul Marshall
Discipleship isn’t a contest, it’s a community
St. Gabriel’s, Douglassville, June 27, 2010
Gen 31: 44-50; I Cor 3:4-11; Luke 17:7-10
a funny feeling being here tonight. You are losing a rector, I am losing a colleague
and an immensely wise confidant. Where ought we to go in such a vulnerable
place but to the Bible, the family album par excellence. Let’s just go to our family story without more
introduction, and see what may help us put this moment in perspective. That is
surely something Fr. Adams has consistently taught us to do.
Old Testament lesson is one of the more striking tales of Genesis, especially
when all the verses are included. Jacob and Laban had spent twenty years
deceiving and cheating each other, switching wives, switching livestock, along
with other dirty tricks. Jacob has proved the more crafty of the two, and has
made himself quite a fortune at Laban’s expense. We meet these shady characters
today when Jacob has determined that the best possible thing for him is to get
out of town before Laban calls his cousins in Newark. There is one last swindle
and it happens at this point: Rachel steals Laban’s household gods, the deed to
the property, so to speak, and lies about it in a particularly offensive way.
If there had been television this would have been a soap opera.
and Laban’s solution to the situation where neither is comfortable with the
other anymore is to call God as judge and protector while they have their backs
turned. God is to “watch between them,” not “watch over” them. That is
technically more of a Hebrew curse than a blessing, but it makes clear that the
issue is too big for them to handle, and all they can do is trust God. Jacob
does leave, and on his journey comes up against Esau, whom he also swindled
years ago, and finally does come to his moment of truth and repentance. If
there hadn’t been the parting nobody would have gone to the next step of
as this story is, it does point out that all relationships must end, most of
them end without everything being perfectly resolved, and that in order to be
free to get on with what is next in our lives, we must leave each other in the
hands of our loving and just God.
is a very different kind of parting, very different indeed, but it is a parting. Longer than Jacob and Laban were
together, St Gabriel’s and Canon Adams have labored not against each other, but
for and with each other, learning and doing the work of Jesus. You have done so
with results that are greatly admired in the diocese and community. Well done,
know that you had a night to share your stories about Canon Adams, and that is
great. Yet the overall story of Fr. Cal and St. Gabriel’s ends tonight, and
ends on a big win, but their individual stories go on, and the Old Testament
reading reminds us that ultimately we can only entrust each other to God’s
keeping—our directions will be very different now. Separation is an act of
spiritual as well as personal maturity. We must embrace it, however
I were sitting in the pews tonight I might be wondering whether after 23 years
of successful work under an unusually savvy and truly kind leader, we can go
on. I might be wondering whether times will change too much.
of course it will never be the same. There will be new things to learn and do,
and relationships in the parish will change and grow.
But this is not a time for fear. As our Presiding Bishop had occasion to remind us recently, the Holy Spirit did not go home on Pentecost afternoon and sign up for disability benefits. The Spirit remains active in the Church, and we are invited to rest deeply in that Spirit, listening and watching for guidance and courage—just as we have throughout the long and varied history of this church from colonial days to the present.
Let me give just one example, a tangible one. By all accounts, St Gabriel’s has, in living memory, done seven, seven, capital programs. Nobody comes near that. With your resources you have rescued a struggling nursery school that is now a success. You have been creative with the use of real estate (note-to-self: do not mention tallest cross in Berks County). There are seniors now living on your land whose lives are so much better for your foresight. I hope you have a mechanism for remembering often enough how much you can do! The icing on the cake is that everything you have done with money has been to enhance mission, not escape it. That is something for which I am deeply grateful.
Among all this success, there it hangs, that modest sign, week by week, the simple and direct invitation to all people to learn and do the work of Jesus.
the best prediction of future performance is past performance, there are many
reasons for courage and eagerness after tonight.
a good leader leaves, people will say, “Look what WE did,” and they will be
right. A good leader shows people places and circumstances where they can grow,
even plants a seed now and then. But as our epistle insists, it is God who
gives the growth. We very rightly acknowledge Fr. Cal’s gifts, talents, and
hard work tonight, and I am privileged to know personally something of the
depth of his spirituality and sweet humility—we acknowledge that and thank him
for sharing who and what he is in the service of Christ and his Kingdom. But if
you know Fr. Cal as I do, you know that every step of the way he has counted on
God to see the work through, and his faith has not been in vain. You have had
that most special kind of leader here, one who uses the product.
we think about Fr. Cal’s future or St. Gabriel’s future, can the formula be any
different? Learn, do, trust. Learn
the work of Jesus. Do the work of
Jesus. Trust the work of Jesus.
we keep our focus on how we are functioning, as you have done so extraordinarily
well over the years, so many problems are put in perspective or don’t arise at
all. I give you the gospel tonight as a bit of an example. It sounds harsh at
first – Jesus almost never talks in stained glass tones, does he? – but it’s
really gospel, really good news. One of Jesus’ on-going problems was that the
disciples were not above squabbling about who was most important, and they
could get very touchy—now you have to remember this was a long time ago. Jesus’
message to them is simple: if we are not obsessed with comparisons, if we are
focused on just doing what we are called to do, using the gifts and talents we
actually have, that’s being healthy normal. Discipleship isn’t a contest, it’s
a community. Satisfaction comes from the sense that each of us actually does
our part, without comparisons, without living for that pat on the back that the
insecure seek. One of the things I love most about Fr. Cal is that he has done
his ministry for the sheer joy of it. There were turns he could have taken that
would have been self-aggrandizing, but he has remained the servant of God’s
people because that is who he really is and enjoys being.
hot Sunday afternoons, I end sermons on the top quarter of this very page, but you have installed air conditioning this week. For which
I congratulate you, but it’s a two-edged sword.
So I will go on and say something that I hope you will cherish now and actualize continually. I don’t know any priest who more consistently speaks of his parish as “we” rather than “they” or “them” than does your rector. Fr. Cal has been a success here because he is connected to St. Gabriel’s life, not existing over-against it. As long as all those who lead and serve this parish consistently remember that we are connected to one another in Christ, God can do much. The fact that your vestry meetings are such thoroughly spiritual events is important reinforcement to that consistent memory, and I hope you will maintain the tradition
In a minute, like Jacob and Laban building their altar, we will put God in the middle of the situation by saying the Creed. But then i is actually going to happen: the rector publicly hangs up his spurs and you say that you will honor his decision, really honor it. There may be tears, there may be uncertainty, but there is also the knowledge that the God who has brought us safe this far will safely see us home.
So Father Calvin, we thank you, we admire you, and we wish you and Pamela nothing but joy.
From risk to opportunities: Congregational renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem
By Ty Welles and Canon Andrew Gerns
A group of laity and clergy are working to create a process to assist congregations with renewal and development in rapidly changing times, based on utilizing inherent strengths in local communities and networking parishes with similar situations in creative and collaborative ways.
The group was called together in response to Bishop Paul Marshall’s address to the Diocesan Convention in October, 2009. Bishop Marshall said the following concerning congregations in the diocese:
“The problem with help [for parishes] from the outside is that it can look and feel imposed. Therefore, to help less endangered parishes reclaim their vitality I have been meeting with the Congregational Development Commission in order to reorganize their activities. . . . It is very important to me that parishes in similar situations talk with each other and as far as possible, work together.”
Soon after Convention, Bishop Paul invited the Congregational Development Commission, and a group interested laity and clergy together to talk about how the congregational development process can be reoriented. Instead of providing resources to assist congregations from “above” as it did in the past, the goal will be to facilitate parishes to work together for renewal. The goal will bring together diocesan and congregational resources in a network to assist both troubled and stable congregations move from mere survival to a sense of Christ-centered vitality and world-focused mission.
The new group is chaired by the Rev. Charles Cesaretti and consists of Bishop Paul, Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow, Fr. Cesaretti, Canon Jane Teter, Canon George Loeffler, Canon Andrew Gerns, Fr. Bill McGinty, Fr. Scott Allen, Charles Warwick, Ty Welles, Rachel Bartron, and Dean Tony Pompa. Some of these people were already members of the Congregational Development Commission, and others represented both parishes and other programs or oversight committees of the diocese.
The group designated a drafting team tasked to develop a report about the current state of congregation development and support as well as the needs, hopes and vision of the various groups and parishes in the diocese. The group convened four mini-consultations with representative focus groups from across the diocese to seek out information, background and suggestions. One consultation was with a joint meeting of Diocesan Council and the Standing Committee; a second was with diocesan staff; a third was with representatives of a number of parishes exhibiting growth; and a fourth was with representatives of a number of struggling parishes.
The report, titled From Risks to Opportunities: Congregational Renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem was the result. The paper describes the standards, practices, and resources that will foster faithfulness of ministry in every congregation of the diocese. The writers suggested that the mission and instrumentality of the committee should be to strengthen all parishes, especially those that have exhibited vitality; provide resources to those congregations “at risk”; and provide self-realization and eventuality to those congregations that have lost their sense of purpose or vitality.
After being presented to Diocesan Council, the Standing Committee, the Incorporated Trustees, and various program committees of the diocese, the outline in From Risks to Opportunities will be brought to the diocese at large through Diocesan Convention this fall. These three articles provide the background for the decisions we will make together in October.
At the heart of the findings described in From Risks to Opportunities is the definition of mission found in the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer: “the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The mission is pursued as it prays, worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. This mission is carried out through the ministry of all its members.” This understanding of mission proclaims that our first and primary relationship is with God; the second relationship is in the worship and proclamation of the church; and the third relationship is with the community and the world. From Risks to Opportunities suggested that this should be adopted as the mission statement of the committee.
A second suggestion was that the committee be renamed The Committee on Congregational Renewal. This would align the committee with the mission statement, and with both the goal and process.
A third finding in From Risks to Opportunities was that the Committee on Congregational Renewal should become the catalyst and agent for a multi-year program to shepherd all congregations of the diocese to renewal and transformation, and to move from risk to opportunities.
Out of the meetings held by the committee there developed a number of assumptions:
1. The bedrock of Christian action is a spiritual life, which must start, direct, and sustain all congregational life.
2. Congregations must focus on their strengths rather than on their weaknesses.
3. Congregations can greatly strengthen their witness when they link up with neighboring congregations in cooperative ventures.
4. Congregations do better when they do not become dependent upon outside sources.
5. Many clergy are ill-prepared to lead a small rural or village church.
6. Every congregation in the diocese must be included in the renewal and transformational process at the appropriate level.
The Committee on Congregational Renewal is developing a process for the diocese and congregations to move into a new era of renewal for parishes in the Diocese of Bethlehem. The vision also includes improved collaboration between the several commissions of the diocese.
As we move towards Diocesan Convention this coming October, the next two parts in this series will describe in more detail how this process will be laid out and frame the discussion and decisions before us. We will spell out the ways in which parishes in the diocese can move into the renewal process beginning at the convention, and how every Episcopalian in northeast Pennsylvania can support a renewed, re-vitalized sense of mission and Christian community.
The Good Shepherd Child Care Center in Milford just received news that it has been awarded STAR 3 Status from the Pennsylvania State Star Program. This means so much to the center in terms of grants. Angela Smith and her team, worked for months with parishioners to fill all the State requirements. The Good Shepherd Child Care Center is in its 25th year and cares for poor and single-parent families. As a part of Good Shepherd and St. John's Shared Ministry Outreach Program, the center cares for some 72 children each day. Suzanne Geisler is the center's vestry co-ordinator. From almost closing in July of 2005, this is a monumental achievement for the center and the vestry's restoration program.
For Ark Soup Kitchen ministry
Trinity Easton receives $25,000 UTO grant
Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton was awarded a grant by the United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church for kitchen equipment to support the parish’s weekly Ark Soup Kitchen and other ministries housed there.
The $25,000 award was announced in a letter to the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, Bishop of Bethlehem, on May 19, 2010 is to be used between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.
"I am happy to see Trinity's ministry recognized at the national level.” Bishop Paul said. “The grant is both a material support to the parish, and also an enormous encouragement to all who labor to make our churches effective witnesses of God's love."
The United Thank Offering is known to many Episcopalians through the famous “blue-boxes” into which people put in loose change as offering for anything about which we are thankful. Trinity, Easton has supported the work of the United Thank Offering since its inception and the UTO is now one of Trinity’s “Mission of the Month” offerings.
posted by Kat Lehman
written by Joe Jackloski
GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Kingston, Pennsylvania
Re-enacting Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, parishioners and friends of Grace Episcopal Church, Kingston will gather for a grand Procession of the Palms around the parish neighborhood at 9:00 a.m. on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010.
Leading the procession will be Henry, a 15 year-old therapy donkey depicting how Christ entered Jerusalem. The procession will end at Grace Episcopal Church's great steps as children spread palms for the triumphal entrance and the celebration of the Eucharist to follow. Henry is one of three therapy donkeys from Young’s Funny Farm, a non-profit organization in Berwick. Henry was adopted from the Bureau of Land Management's Adopt a Wild Horse & Burro program and was obtained in Nevada in 1995.
"Come and see!" In the Gospel of John (John 1.38-39) two disciples of John the Baptizer follow after Jesus and ask him, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus replies, "Come and see." Father Hartman said that, “When I think about how best to describe Grace Episcopal Church I can think of nothing better to say than, ‘Come and see!’”
Grace Church, for over 118 years, has been the Episcopal presence in Kingston and remains a vibrant faith community today. With its mission, “To love one another and those around us,” Grace opens its big red doors as a neighborhood and community church. ‘Come and see!’
[H/T to Joe Jackloski for posting this to the Bakery list]
Photo by Neil A. Young
By David Howell
More participating churches and new grants have been welcome news for the dedicated people who provide shelter for the homeless in this unexpectedly severe winter. The emergency sheltering program, coordinated by Bethlehem’s Trinity Episcopal Church, is in its second year. It began in 2008, when Trinity Soup Kitchen staff discovered that there were no emergency shelter beds for people in Bethlehem during a particularly cold period, and people were in danger of freezing. This year, the weather made it necessary to start on December 6 in the Forte Building in the south side of Bethlehem rather than on January 1 of the new decade when churches originally planned to open their doors. The program is scheduled to conclude at the end of March.
Senior Space, a program to bring together the downtown seniors from the local high-rise buildings in Scranton for an afternoon of sharing food and fun, began at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in June, 2009.
Held on the second Sunday every other month, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., attendance has been increasing: June (21 Seniors and five volunteers), August (27 Seniors and eight volunters), and October (40 Seniors and five different volunteers from St. Luke's).
At one of the gatherings, an accomplished pianist guest entertained everyone. He promised to return.
With the backing of St. Luke's rector, Father Peter D'Angio, the vestry and 26 parishioners organizing these afternoons, Senior Space coordinators Beverly Hoeffner and Linda Howarth said they are "looking ahead hopefully to expanding this new community service." Responses received in December indicated that some 60 to 70 Seniors and eight new volunteers have signed up for the January 10 event.
[An excerpt from the message of the rector, Mother Trula Hollywood, in the January issue of Trinity Times, the newsletter of Trinity Athens]
Our outreach efforts in the last year have been quite successful. Our clothing, food and toy drives were very helpful to many people in the community. These efforts gave many of us an opportunity to meet people we may not have otherwise. In that sense, the experience was very rewarding. In another sense, the experiences served as an eye opener to the poverty in our area. ...
We have plans in 2010 to offer outreach from our smallness. We are going to use the parish hall for AA meetings and possibly for a support group for woman in crisis. We have also increased our food pantry giving. I hope that we can continue our current efforts at meeting needs in the community into this new year and beyond.
We are on a journey together. Many of us have faced poverty in our own lives. I know from my own experience how much stress is involved when the utility companies are threatening to shut off the heat or it is questionable where the next meal will come from, or whether there will be enough money to pay the medical bills.
Many people are faced with making choices between medical care, food or heat. It is a scary place to be and no one chooses to be there. Circumstances in life bring us to places where survival is the main focus.
[More at www.trinityathens.org]