January 13, 2015
Bishop Sean Rowe
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
As we begin 2015, I am glad to report that we are making progress in reorganizing the diocese to align our staff, resources and structures with the work we need to do to become a more spiritually vital, financially healthy diocese. The staff has been restructured, the listening process led by Episcopal Moment has concluded and we will soon issue its report, and later this year, the diocese's governance bodies will consider strategic planning issues and possible improvements to the diocese's governance structures.
I am grateful to the lay and clergy leaders across the diocese who have committed themselves to the work that lies ahead. In particular, the diocesan staff is working to foster continued change, and I invite you to be in touch with them when they can help support your congregation's ministry and mission:
The Ven. Rick Cluett
610-691-5655, ext. 227 ･ firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick returned to the diocesan staff in November to assist me by serving as the diocese's chief of staff, advising me about the development and implementation of diocesan policies and programs, visiting and worshiping with congregations to support their ministries and missions, and assisting clergy in their ministries. Read more about Rick's role.
The Rev. Canon Anne Kitch
Canon for Faith Formation and Transitions
610-691-5655, ext. 222 ･ email@example.com
Anne assumed this new role in December. She will be working to foster ministry networks across the diocese, to support congregations in transition, to support lay leadership training, and clergy wellness, and to oversee the discernment and ordination process.
R. Bruce Reiner
Comptroller and Assistant Treasurer
610-691-5655, ext. 230 ･ firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce manages financial, tax and insurance matters, and can help congregations with parish administration issues and parochial reports.
610-837-4613 ･ email@example.com
Dan works with congregations that want to reinvigorate their stewardship programs.
Missioner for Communications
610-703-3374 ･ firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam is working to streamline and consolidate our diocesan communications, which we expect to relaunch in the next few months.
The Rev. Canon Jane Teter
610-691-5655, ext. 228 ･ email@example.com
Jane is the chaplain to the diocese's retired clergy.
The Rev. Canon Bill Lewellis
610-393-1833 ･ firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill is the editor of the diocese's DioBeth newSpin blog and newsletter.
610-691-5655, ext. 222 ･ email@example.com
Nanette supports both my ministry and Archdeacon Rick's, and also manages information about clergy and parish administrative assistants.
610-691-5655, ext. 223 ･ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy manages the diocese's accounts receivable and billing and New Hope grant funds.
As we continue to celebrate the season of Epiphany and the light of Christ among us, I believe that here in the Diocese of Bethlehem, we are making progress toward being an even brighter source of God's love and grace in our communities. Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our ministry.
Sean Rowe (The Rt. Rev.)
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem has called a special convention for March 1, 2014 for the purpose of electing a provisional bishop to serve our diocese. The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is the nominee for provisional bishop.
What is a provisional bishop?
In the Episcopal Church, a provisional bishop has all of the authority of a diocesan bishop but serves for a defined period of time. Bishop Rowe has been nominated to fill this role for the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem for three years while continuing as bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Why is there only one nominee?
The Canons of the Episcopal Church (III.13.1) provide that a diocese seeking a provisional bishop do so in consultation with the Presiding Bishop’s office, and her office requires that the diocese must use a confidential interview and selection process and present only one name to the electing convention. This is to enable bishops to consider provisional bishop positions without unduly complicating their current positions. The Canons of the Episcopal Church make it clear that a provisional bishop is expected to serve the diocese only for a limited time and can be removed at any time by act of diocesan convention.
How will the election work?
If at least two-thirds of all clergy entitled to vote and two-thirds of parishes entitled to vote are represented, we can elect our provisional bishop with a majority of votes in each order—clergy and laity. If fewer than two-thirds of clergy and laity eligible to vote are present, we must elect our provisional bishop by a vote of two-thirds. (Article XI of the Diocesan Constitution and Canons). It is vitally important that everyone who is entitled to vote attend the special convention at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem at 10 am on March 1.
Why do we need an election if there’s only one nominee?
Because the provisional bishop has all of the authority of a diocesan bishop during his term, the provisional bishop should be elected in the same way the convention would elect a diocesan bishop.
Why is the Diocese of Bethlehem electing a provisional bishop?
Late last year, the Standing Committee in consultation with the Presiding Bishop and the Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews, the bishop for pastoral development in her office, decided that calling a provisional bishop for a term of three years would be the best way for the Diocese of Bethlehem to discern its vision for the future.
Across the church, other dioceses in significant transition—most recently the Diocese of East Carolina—have successfully made use of a provisional bishop to lead a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment.
How did the Standing Committee choose Bishop Rowe?
At our last diocesan convention, we held small group discussions with laity and clergy and the Standing Committee received input from clergy at a meeting in November. These gatherings indicated to us that members of the diocese are looking for a provisional bishop with strong pastoral and leadership skills to bring together the diocese and help us develop a vision for mission and a sense of common call.
Based on this input, the Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania, where he was ordained bishop in 2007, and because of his track record of building strong relationships with clergy and lay leaders and his skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively.
How will Bishop Rowe serve as bishop of two dioceses at the same time?
As bishop of two actives dioceses, Bishop Sean’s schedule will be busy, but we are confident that his command of technology and strong Standing Committee leadership in both dioceses will make the arrangement successful. Bishop Sean will spend a week each month in the Diocese of Bethlehem from March 1 until the middle of August, with some provision for a previously scheduled sabbatical. Beginning in the fall of 2014, he will spend half his time in each diocese. He and his wife, Carly, and their one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a place to live in both dioceses.
How will things change in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania?
Bishop Sean will continue to be the bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania and maintain an active schedule of visitations, meetings and other pastoral responsibilities. He will be in the diocese about half the time beginning in August, but will continue to be available for diocesan business regardless of where he is working on any particular day. In addition, between now and this summer, the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania will add a long-planned staff position dedicated to administration and congregational growth.
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.
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.
Diocese of Bethlehem Communication Workshop
Cathedral Church of the Nativity
321 Wyandotte Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Saturday, June 26th from 8:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Communicating the Gospel is what Christians are called to do; we are called to
spread the Good News! Come learn about communication as ministry, electronic
newsletters, blogs, print publications and social networking in this one day
Register online at www.diobeth.org
call Kat Lehman at 610-691-5655 x235 for more info.
Download the brochure for the workshop here:
by Canon Anne E. Kitch
St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre, PA
April 24, 2010
I Peter 4:7-11
What makes your heart sing?
I have a friend whose gift is hospitality. She and her husband happen to run a retreat center, and you would expect such a place to be hospitable. But what Wendy and Jon offer is something more than welcome and comfort. It is grace and respite for travelers and strangers, imbued with a vision of what a redeemed world might look like. Theirs is a hospitality grounded in a holy desire for God’s justice, unrelenting in it’s endeavor to continually grow and deepen, and embodying a love of God’s creation and the people who inhabit it. This makes what they offer extraordinary.
I am convinced that Wendy’s gift for hospitality is part of her spiritual formation. But the fact that she wields it so exquisitely is a matter of honed skills, learned leadership, and hard work. She navigates all the intricacies of providing for her guests with a sense of humor, a deep love for God, and the seeming effortlessness that comes from being extremely well prepared. No guest ever knows the behind-the-scenes work that goes into every detail. This is her gift. And because she employs her gift gracefully, she deeply embodies the love of Christ and that spreads to others just as abundantly as her hospitality. Like a good steward of the manifold grace of God, she serves others with the gift she has received.
This is the ministry to which we are each called. Not to run a retreat center, or offer exquisite hospitality, or work behind the scenes. But to recognize and use our gifts with love, and in doing so, to glorify Christ. This is the exhortation found in the First Letter of Peter, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
So, who are the ministers of the church? This is not a trick question. The answer is right in front of you…and to your right and to your left and behind you. You will also find the answer on page 855 in the Book of Common Prayer. Our catechism tells us the ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. And what is the ministry of the laity? That too is readily accessible, not just because you can look it up in the BCP, but also because it is evident here today. First and foremost, the ministry of lay persons (and bishops, and priests, and deacons) is to represent Christ and his Church. After this, each order has some distinct work. Lay persons are to 1) bear witness to Christ wherever they may be, 2) according to the gifts given them carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world, and 3) to take their place in the life, worship and governance of the Church.
According to the gifts given you. This phrase tells us at least three things: we each have been given gifts, we do not all posses the same gifts, our gifts are meant for Christ’s work of reconciliation. How do you know what your gifts are? Well, what makes your heart sing? Debra Farrington, Episcopal author, once taught me that one way to recognize your gifts is to distinguish them from skills. A skill is something we learn to do well. We may receive satisfaction from using that skill, but it doesn’t necessarily make our day. But a gift is given. When we employ our gifts they energize us and bring us joy. So what are your gifts? Well…what makes your heart sing, and brings you joy in the doing and energy in the making? Teaching? Parenting? Exercising administrative oversight? Budgeting resources? Creating? Healing?
I believe using the gifts God has given us to serve others is the goal of lifelong Christian formation. You may have come here today to be informed. I hope that has happened and continues to happen this afternoon. But you are also being formed in your faith life today. The people you encounter, the worship we share, the gifts offered and received can effect changes in you that deepen your connection to God.
“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” We base our life in Christ on the assumption that God has showered grace upon grace upon us. With this grace, we are to serve one another. Not out of a sense of burden, not out of an attitude of limited resources, but with our gifts. The Christian response to service is not one of burden, but one of joy. Having freely received the grace of God, our response is to sing with our hearts, use our gifts, become our best.
We can easily be led astray into seeing the cross of Christ as a burden to be endured. But it is not that. It is the way of life—joyful life, gifted life. This is perhaps what lifelong Christian formation is: to replace in our understanding the burden of the cross with the grace of the cross. Use your gifts, lift up your hearts to God, and let them sing!
perhaps you came here today to be informed
and that may happen
especially if you approach what is offered with an open mind
what you may not realize is that you are also being formed
especially if you open your soul
that is not to say you are each here like a lump of clay waiting for some epert ot make you tinot something
you get to do the making
we are neither blank slates waiting to be written on
nor empty vessels waiting to be filled
we never were
from the moment we were born
we were complete
fully created in God’s image
the moment we were reborn by water and the spirit in baptism
we were complete
In A Season for the Spirit
Episcopal priest Martin Smith offers daily theological reflections and
prayers on themes of compassion, self-knowledge, wholeness and
reconciliation. A reflective companion for the 40 days of Lent.
Michael Sullivan (rector of Holy Innocents' in Atlanta, GA) invites us to open our souls to God's redeeming love in this Lenten journey of stories and art. Each week is an enlightening exploration of scripture through prayer, story, poetry, and art exercises.
Episcopal priest Christopher Webber provides readings from the Anglican tradition for each day in Lent. This volume includes readings from Christina Rossetti, John Donne, Philips Brooks, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many others.
And check out these recommendations from the Episcopal Bookstore in Seattle, WA.
--posted by Andrew Gerns
"Where the Word becomes flesh, New Hope enlivens us." Download below.