Listening, Prayer and Discernment

A news release
from the Standing Committee

of the Diocese of Bethlehem
A Period of Listening, Prayer and Discernment for the People of the Diocese Begins

Bishop Paul Marshall led the Diocese of Bethlehem for 17 years, and he leaves a considerable legacy. At the end of a long episcopacy or rectorship, Episcopal communities often take the opportunity to pause, reflect, celebrate what is good and acknowledge where they have fallen short. Accordingly last fall the members of the Standing Committee determined that it is imperative for the diocesan community to undertake a period of intentional listening, prayer and discernment in preparation for a successful search for the next Bishop Diocesan.

Late in spring, in collaboration with Bishop Sean Rowe, the Standing Committee committed to begin that listening process by hiring a consulting firm, Episcopal Moment, to assist the community by facilitating conversations aimed at helping to achieve greater health and vitality. Fundamental to this undertaking is encouraging people from across the Diocese of Bethlehem to share their stories, ideas and concerns so that together the clergy and laity of the diocese can shape a hopeful future in which all are empowered to participate in God's mission.

Two Episcopal Moment consultants, the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Johnson, Jr., D.Min, and the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Myers, PhD, both priests based in the Chicago area, will facilitate a series of listening opportunities, to be held across the diocese beginning in fall, at which everyone will be invited to discuss the challenges facing the Episcopal Church in northeastern Pennsylvania, how the diocese has responded to these challenges, and where the Holy Spirit might be leading this diocesan community. The goal is for everyone who wishes to participate in this process to have a chance to be heard.

To prepare for these sessions Alvin and Robert have interviewed individually the members of the Standing Committee and, as a group, the chaplains to the clergy. Additionally, they have also interviewed five clergy and five lay persons from throughout the diocese who have had diverse experience in diocesan affairs.

After hearing the voices of all who wish to be heard, Alvin and Robert will shape a report to the Standing Committee that will reflect on the listening sessions and offer suggestions on how to heal the wounds and divisions that may exist in the diocese so that the community can move forward whole, healthy and united. Additionally, Episcopal Moment will outline for Bishop Rowe and the diocesan leadership a process by which they can review the current vision and strategy of the diocese and, in light of all that has been shared, discern a renewed or new direction.

Information on when and where the listening opportunities to be held throughout the diocese will take place and how to participate in these sessions will be forthcoming.