Daily Prayer for All Seasons

A new resource for personal reflection is available for free downloading here. Developed by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and authorized by the 2012 General Convention, the prayers in Daily Prayer for All Seasons are presented according to liturgical season beginning with Advent and progressing through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.  In addition, two sections are offered for Ordinary Time: Creation and Rest. Read on.

Bishop Provisional Nomination and Special Convention FAQs

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.


When I receive a note from Neva

When I receive a note from [email protected] early in the morning, I read it immediately. Often enough, Episcopal Church public affairs officer Neva Rae Fox finds a news story related to a congregation or agency of the Diocese of Bethlehem before I do. She electronically searches newspapers for Episcopal-related news and, early every morning, offers headlines and links to diocesan communicators and others via her daily distribution list. I find what she does here to be among the most practical assistance the communication folk at 815 offer to communication colleagues across the country. That kind of work in the background often goes unnoticed. Thank you, Neva.

Some local flavor: Neva was born and raised in Bethlehem, a graduate of Liberty High School. Her parents still live in the Lehigh Valley. Prior to becoming public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, Neva was director of communication for the Diocese of New York. Before that, she worked for the Diocese of New Jersey where she lives and is active in her parish.

Bill Lewellis

Here is Neva's "Daily Scan" for July 5: (In Neva's note, the items come with hotlinks.)

From: <[email protected]>
Date: July 5, 2011 8:35:23 AM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Daily Scan Tues 7-5-11

Good Morning!
Today:  Fourth of July activities (2); Dio Bethlehem ministries; Dio Newark cathedral; Father Alberto; Bp Franklin letter; col from UK
Family Makes 4th of July a Day of Service
WIBW (CBS) - Topeka, KS
Cathedral on Fourth
_ _ _ _ _
New Bethany Ministries celebrates 25 years of serving the poor in Bethlehem
The Express Times - LehighValleyLive.com
NJN - Newark, NJ
'Father Albert' not typical talk show
Arizona Republic
Buffalo News
Letters to the Editor: Let’s treat everyone with dignity, respect
The Guardian, UK
Anglicans should throw out dry tradition
Be sure to check
Episcopal News Service: www.episcopalchurch.org/ens.
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iamepiscopalian
Facebook: www.facebook.com/episcopalian
YouTube: www.youtube.com/TECtube
Neva Rae Fox
Public Affairs Officer
The Episcopal Church
815 Second Ave., NYC, NY 10017
212-716-6080 Mobile: 917-478-5659
[email protected]

Diocesan Life for July/August 2011


You can download the .pdf version here as well: Download July-August2011_DiocesanLife_SMALL

Episcopalians and Moravians celebrate Full Communion

Churches in full communion formally recognize that they share essential doctrines, including baptism and Eucharist; agree to accept the service of each other's clergy; and pledge to work together in evangelism and mission. The churches become interdependent while remaining autonomous. In an explanation read during the Eucharist, the two denominations said that full communion is a "significant expression of the full visible unity of all Christians, which we do not yet discern but for which we pray."

[Diocese of Bethlehem Bishop Paul V. Marshall] In the 1780s, the Episcopal Church's leadership chose not to receive episcopal orders at the hands of Moravians, so our kneeling before each other tonight for the laying-on of hands and the right hand of fellowship was more than symbolic--it was a moment of healing. Ghosts can indeed become ancestors.

[Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori] The visible witness of two different traditions coming together is a profound sign of the possibility of reconciliation to the world around us.

[Kat Lehman, Moravian, serves as IT coordinator and editor of Diocesan Life for the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem] As a Moravian and a person who was there, let me tell you it was profoundly moving. I'm very excited about this historical moment in both our churches.

[The Rev. T. Scott Allen, rector, St. Andrew's Allentown] I was glad to be there and witness this historic service.  The highlight for me was The Reconciliation of Episcopal Ministries with the Episcopal Bishops kneeling and receiving the laying on of hands and "Right Hand of Fellowship" from Unitas Fratrum Bishops.   And then the Unitas Fratrum Bishops kneeling and receiving the Laying On of Hands from Episcopal Bishops. Very moving! The sermon was spot on as well.  Thanks to all who made it a most holy evening....I consider it a blessing to have been there.

[The Rev. Canon Ginny Rex Day, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired] As one of those who studied at Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, this milestone in our relationship with one another has a particular significance. The scholarship, the inclusiveness, and the welcome I enjoyed during those years were formative at a spiritual level beyond the obvious.  Ecumenical study at this level is a unique and most valued blessing. What a gift it is to live in the region of Bethlehem and to be part of this answer to the years of prayer for Christian Unity. The Reconciliation among our bishops was particularly poignant. What's so hard about this kind of relationship restoration?

Amid music and prayer ...
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Episcopal News Service
February 11, 2011
With an evening Eucharist Feb. 10 that blended elements of the liturgical and musical practices of both traditions, representatives of the Episcopal Church and the two provinces of the Moravian Church in North America formally inaugurated a full-communion relationship between the denominations. More here.

Episcopalians, Moravians celebrate Common Cup
By Dave Howell (of Trinity Bethlehem) for The Living Church

The sanctuary of Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa., is both simple and majestic. It is completely white, except for natural wood trim on the pews and gas lamp fixtures on the side walls. As befits Moravian tradition, there are no stained-glass windows, or a cross above the altar. Yet there is majesty in its soaring height, supported by two Corinthian columns and an arch at its front. And there is the treasured Moravian music, from a magnificent Moller organ and a choir of sterling voices. About 500 people gathered at Central Moravian Feb. 10 to celebrate the full communion of the Episcopal Church and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. The Episcopal Church approved the full-communion agreement at General Convention in 2009, and the two Moravian provinces approved it in 2010. The churches had practiced interim eucharistic sharing since 2003. This historic occasion featured a prelude with music by the Central Moravian Brass Ensemble, and opened with a procession of nearly a dozen Episcopal and Moravian bishops. For this event, the Central Moravian choir merged with those of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity and Trinity Church, Bethlehem. More here.

Gallery of Photos from ENS, including two good photos of Bishop Paul during the laying on of hands ... here.

Photos taken by Kat Lehman ... here.

Video of the service ... here.

Moravians? Who are they? Here.
The Moravian Church, which celebrated its 550th anniversary in 2007, is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, dating back to 1457 in Europe and first coming to America in 1735. The Moravian Church, whose motto is, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things love,” has strong traditions of ecumenical work, missionary endeavors and creativity in music and worship.  The Moravian Church in North America includes more than 150 congregations in the U.S. and Canada.  The Unitas Fratrum -- the worldwide Moravian Church -- counts nearly 795,000 members. Website of The Moravian Church in North America: www.moravian.org

The final report of full communion, “Finding Our Delight in the Lord: A Proposal for Full Communion Between The Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church-Northern Province and the Moravian Church-Southern Province” is located here:  http://www.episcopalchurch.org/110055_111526_ENG_HTM.htm or  http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Finding_Our_Delight_Official_Text__2_.pdf

Sermon by Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller
at the Feb. 10, 2011, Celebration of Full Communion

Now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near in the Blood of Christ. For he is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph: 2:13)
We hear these words in our reading this evening from the letter to the Ephesians. The apostolic message to the letter’s first recipients and to us is that in Christ God brings together that which had been separate.
In the case of the Church at Ephesus, the apostle is writing to a community living after the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem, after the Church’s first wrestling with implications of God’s act in Christ Jesus and for whom that act was accomplished, in a time in which the word Christian had become the primary label for believers. The Apostle wanted those who heard and read this letter to know that the distinctions of the past were no more. Echoing the letter to the Galatians with its proclamation that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female (Gal 3:28), the apostle  reminded the church in Ephesus that in Christ Jesus what was separate is now united. He, Jesus, is our peace who has made both Jew and Gentile one. The author goes on to build an ecclesiology that shapes and challenges us today.
Jesus is our peace who has made us both one.
This is the apostolic word to us tonight as we gather to celebrate and inaugurate the full communion relationship between the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in the United States of America and of The Episcopal Church. They are to us reminder, comfort, and challenge. Reminder, in that what we celebrate tonight is God’s action at work in us. That the impetus to begin the conversation 17 years ago that resulted in first interim Eucharistic sharing and now a full communion agreement is the activity of the unifying spirit of God at work in Christ in his incarnation and his Body the Church today. It is comfort, in that we are strengthened and our hearts are warmed in that God continues to work his promise in us, God continues to be the God who breaks down walls and who brings together.
But these words are also a challenge: for we know that the strength of this full communion relationship depends not on the document and the synodical resolutions that have made this day possible, but upon our continuing to discover what God is calling us to as his people, allowing God’s Uniting Spirit to work in us, not just those gathered here but every member of our communions, as we seek to discover and live into the full communion we inaugurate this night.
We were reminded earlier in this liturgy that a part of our brokenness and sin is our tendency to make “idols of our achievements” (Moravian Unity Liturgy). It is important for us to remember that this liturgy is not an end but a beginning. My fear is that unless we are attentive and intentional we will miss the opportunities before us.
As I was reflecting on all this, words from my first spiritual director echoed in my ears. “The question is, Steven,” she said, “Jesus is Lord, what are you going to do about it.”
We are here tonight because we have found our delight in the Lord who has found his delight in us and sent his only Son to be our Savior. We have discovered through our dialogue and proclaimed in our synods and convention that difference does not mean division. And so the question before us tonight is: We’re in full communion, what are we going to do about it? Or better yet, we are full communion partners, what does God want it do in and through us. As I prayed and pondered this question three words came to mind: Transfigure, Transform, Send. And it is each of these that I want to focus on tonight.
In just a few weeks the Epiphany season will come to a close and we will hear again on the last Sunday after the Epiphany the story of the Transfiguration. The story of how Jesus, after the prediction of his passion, took with him Peter, James, and John, the inner circle of the twelve, up on a mountain to pray. And while he was praying, he was transfigured before them, his face shone like the sun, his garments became dazzling white, and there appeared with him Moses and Elijah. And a voice came from heaven, “This is my Son. Listen to Him.”
In each of our churches we sing of this event in the life of Jesus with these words:
O wondrous type, O vision fair, of glory that the church may share
Which Christ upon the Mountain shows, where brighter than the sun He glows
In the Transfiguration we get a glimpse of our destiny and calling that “we may shine with radiance of Christ’s glory that he may be known, worshipped and obeyed to the ends of the earth.” (BCP collect for 3 Epiphany). My prayer and hope is that in this new relationship for our two churches we will gain insights into who Christ Jesus is and what he calls us to do. We will discover a deeper and fuller sense of the meaning of Christian discipleship. If that is to happen it will require of us intentionality and effort. Taking this intentionality, to be in the presence of one another, to listen and learn, and discover. Together in the light of the transfigured Christ we can discover new songs to sing to the Lord.
But visions are not enough, the purpose of vision is to transform.
I can witness, as I know can all of us who have labored to make this day possible, sisters and brothers with whom I shared this journey, that our work together has given us a greater vision of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ and made us more the people he has called us to be. Bishops of both churches have testified to experiences like that of another famous Anglican in which our hearts were “strangely warmed” through our fellowship one with another. Our walk of faith is enriched by the daily devotional strength of each of our traditions.
However, we are now in the second century of the Ecumenical Movement. I am fearful someday historians will be writing about the second and third centuries of the ecumenical movement unless we embrace the vision God puts before us and truly bring it into being.
We say in our full communion document that full communion is not merger. And so it is.  But can it not be something more than advancing the ecumenical ball a little bit further down the field? God does not call us to stop here and build three booths, one for the Moravian Southern province, one for the Northern Province, and one for the Episcopal Church, particularly in an age when such identities matter very little to those who are outside them. Is perhaps part of the call that our denominational structures and boundaries be transformed to a new reality and new life? The call is still there to be one church on earth as it is in heaven.
Here I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s words on the night before his assassination, “I have seen the promised land.” We know how sweet and pleasent it is when sisters and brothers live together in unity. We know God’s will is that all may be one as Christ and the Father are one. May that unity be revealed in us. We have seen the promise of Ecumenism. Let us enter that promised land.
Seeing God’s vision and transformed by his work in us God sends us. Each of our traditions has a rich missional heritage. The introduction to the Moravian Daily Texts of 1739, just 17 years after the establishment of Hernhut on the estate of Count Zinzendorf, is addressed to congregations and missions throughout the world including South Africa, Surinam, Guyana, Ceylon, Ethiopia, and Persia.
The Episcopal Church is incorporated as the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, giving birth to new provinces of our communion in the Phillipines, Japan, and South America and other places through our missionary efforts. The diocese which I serve was born of our commitment to domestic mission and the efforts of the first missionary bishop, Jackson Kemper. Another of those missionary bishops, Ethelbert Talbot, later served this community as Bishop of Bethlehem and Presiding Bishop.
That Mission field is as ripe for harvest today as it was then. Our Gospel lesson tonight reminds us and proclaims to us the harvest is plentiful. The harvest is plentiful. And to each servant the master says, go work today.
The penultimate paragraph of the full communion document, Finding our Delight in the Lord, states:
44. We do not know to what new, recovered, or continuing tasks of mission this agreement will lead our churches, but we give thanks to God for leading us to this point. We entrust ourselves to that leading in the future, confident that our full communion will be a witness to the gift and goal already present in Christ, “so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Entering full communion and thus removing limitations through mutual recognition of faith, sacraments, and ministries will bring new opportunities and levels of shared evangelism, witness, and service. It is the gift of Christ that we are sent as he has been sent (John 17:17–26), that our unity will be received and perceived as we participate together in the mission of the Son in obedience to the Father through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight God calls us to discover what those new, recovered, and continuing acts of mission are: Together, each with its purpose “to restore all people to unity with God in Christ.” My sense is that mission has at least something to do with the ability to embrace difference while working for the common good and discovering God’s mission of reconciliation not just as for the Church but for the world.
May God bless our witness. May the God who makes us one, Make all one, that Christ may be all in all.



Episcopal Journal begins publication in February

Starting in February, Diocesan Life, the newspaper of the Diocese of Bethlehem will include a new national newspaper covering the life and work of the Episcopal Church.  Called Episcopal Journal, a new independent publication serving Episcopalians throughout the country and abroad.

Initially, the new paper will be available as a printing partner with more than a dozen diocesan and parish publications, including Diocesan Life, that reach over 50,000 households. A campaign for individual and small group subscriptions will follow.

Editorial director Jerry Hames says the Journal’s mission is “to inform, involve and inspire Episcopalians in the United States and abroad by sharing the good news of our church’s life and ministry.”

Freshly designed with an attractive contemporary layout, Episcopal Journal will offer timely and accurate reporting, drawing its news articles from Episcopal News Service and other Episcopal, Anglican and ecumenical news services, he said.

“It will also invite contributions from recognized names in the fields of religion, science and the arts, and offer columns and meditations appropriate for the church seasons.”

Hames, editor of Episcopal Life from 1990 to 2007, said the new publication will fill a vacuum caused by the decision to terminate national print publications from the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church voted in October to approve a budget that cut all funding for print publications. That followed an across-the-board budget reduction voted by the General Convention in 2009. As a result, Episcopal News Monthly, which succeeded Episcopal Life a year ago, will cease publication with the January 2011 issue.

“We now have partners committed to the printing program from coast to coast,” Hames said. “They include the dioceses of Delaware, Long Island, Bethlehem, Easton, Vermont, New Hampshire, Northern Michigan, West Tennessee, Iowa, Nevada, San Joaquin and Eastern Oregon.” A quarterly issue of the Journal will also be produced for several dioceses who publish four times a year.

Four diocesan editors whose publications are partners in the printing program will serve on an editorial advisory committee. They are the Rev. Heather Cook of Easton, Cate McMahon of New Hampshire, Rise Thew Forrester of Northern Michigan and Jeanie Senior of Eastern Oregon.

At this time, Hames said, editorial inquiries and submissions may be sent to [email protected] or Box 308, Cranbury, NJ 08512. Advertising inquiries should be addressed to [email protected], or to Box 106, Fort Washington, PA 19034.

For further information you may contact Jerrold Hames, 609-897-9769, or email at [email protected]

Your Faith Your Life - An Invitation to the Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service]

"Your Faith Your Life - An Invitation to the Episcopal Church" by Jenifer Gamber with Bill Lewellis, paperback, 208 pages, April 2009, $16.

[Church Publishing] This "everything-you-need-to-know" guide for newcomers to the Episcopal Church is written and designed to provide accessible and user-friendly reading, with an easy-going look and style that's packed full of substance.

The book carefully unpacks the Episcopal Church's language of worship, theology, church structure, and sacraments, so that newcomers will have the vocabulary and framework to share their beliefs and practices, explore the Bible, understand prayer and discern their own ministry within the church.

Drawing upon the success of an earlier book written for teens (My Faith, My Life - A Teen's Guide to the Episcopal Church), the new book
retains the same unique presentation, inviting readers to consider their relationship with God and the church community as an ongoing
process of transformation, while providing ways to engage in that process.

To order, please visit Episcopal Books and Resources online at
http://www.episcopalbookstore.org, call 800-903-5544, or visit your
local Episcopal bookstore.

'Irresponsible ... unpastoral ... scandalous'

A Province III meeting was held earlier this week in West Virginia. Bishop Paul and Archdeacon Stringfellow were in attendance to represent the Diocese of Bethlehem.

A resolution that passed a few months ago, at the Province III Synod 2010, April 26, had registered "deep concern and distress to Executive Council [of the Episcopal Church] with the method and presentation of the Triennial Budget at the General Convention at Anaheim, California, in July 2009 and the manner in which staff was released during Convention." 

An accompanying explanation noted that "the fact that the draft budget presented in April was reduced by 23% and not presented to the House of Deputies until the finished budget was brought to the floor bordered on the irresponsible. The manner of the release of Episcopal Church Center Staff during the Convention itself was at best unpastoral and at the worst scandalous."

In a July 9 note to "Bishops, Council Members and Friends" of Province III, province coordinator Barbara Seras shared a June 30 response to the resolution from Winnie Varghese, chair of the Executive Council Networking and Advocacy Committee.

"I want to first reassure you that many share the feelings expressed in the resolution," Varghese wrote. "I also want to let you know what steps are being taken the The Executive Council to insure that we insure a working environment for Church Center staff consistent with our expressed values. We are in the process, through the Governance and Administration for Ministry committee of Council, of reviewing personnel and contracting policies at The Church Center. That work should be reported out at the next meeting, which will set the stage for the next steps. In preparation for that meeting, in October in Salt Lake City, I will ask the chairs of the other committees if they would join me in a conversation about the continuing role of Council in oversight of policies governing The Church Center or if they feel these issues are being addressed by work they are doing. I don't actually know what other work will be concluded at that point, and what will be left to do, so I'm not sure what will come of that conversation, but I think it is the next step."

There are nine provinces in the Episcopal Church. Province III includes the thirteen dioceses of Bethlehem, Central Pennsylvania, Delaware, Easton, Maryland, Northwestern Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Southern Virginia, Southwestern Virginia, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia in the five states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

See the Province III website here.

Moravian Church, Northern Province Enters Full Communion With Episcopal Church

[Editor's note: The following release was provided by Mike Riess, Executive Director of the Interprovincial Board of Communications for the Moravian Church in North America. I took the photo and you can see more from the vote here]

By Mike Riess

JUNE 18, 2010, BETHLEHEM, PA. – Today, delegates of the Moravian Church, Northern Province voted to bring their Province into a relationship of full communion with the Episcopal Church.  The proposal, brought to the floor of the Northern Province’s 2010 Synod held at Moravian College in Bethlehem this week, was approved by voice vote.

BishopMiller What a great and glorious day,” said Steven Miller, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee and co-chair of the dialogue.  “In a world that wants to divide us more and more, we are called to unity.  We look forward to new and deeper relationships across our churches as we continue to work together to witness the true unity of God through the Church of Jesus Christ.”

This is an important day in the life of our churches,” said David L. Wickmann, president, Moravian Church, Northern Province. “This communion means our Church has the opportunity to engage with one of our historic partners in a more complete and meaningful way.”

The communion of the Moravian Church, Northern Province and the Episcopal Church brings a greater unity to the Christian church.  “We seek this relationship of full communion so that our mission as Christ’s church will be more effectively fulfilled and each of our denominations might be more complete because of the spiritual treasures of the other,” reads Finding Our Delight in the Lord: A Proposal for Full Communion Between the Episcopal Church; the Moravian Church Northern Province; and the Moravian Church, Southern Province. “We do this for the sake of the world so that the world may believe.”

In pursuing full communion with another church, both denominations remain faithful to Christ’s will for his church.  On the night before he died, our Lord Jesus prayed, “…that they may all be one.  As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21 NRSV)

Full communion is not a merger. There will still be differences between the denominations, just as there are differences in individual churches, provinces and dioceses of any denomination.  Current differences in structure, doctrine, liturgy and positions on social and ethical issues may require each church to speak for itself at times.

This communion maintains what makes each denomination special or unique to its members; it is about the unity of Christ’s church, not the uniformity of practice. The two will mutually recognize and respect each other as part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, which affirms its faith through the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

In addition to the unity of Christ’s church, full communion provides for the sharing of ministry.  With this agreement, ordained clergy in each denomination will be able to serve in the other, allowing for the orderly interchange of ordained ministers, joint worship and the celebration of Holy Communion.

On a practical level, the full communion provides opportunities to share resources and mission work.  Full communion agreements bring mutual cooperation and laboring together in mission work, church planting, clergy education, disaster relief and other areas of common endeavors.  The communion also offers opportunities to enhance the life and ministry of local congregations.

The Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of their full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Episcopal Church also has full communion with the ELCA.  This is the first time three denominations have come to full communion agreements on their own.

The full communion is the result of many years of work between the two churches.  It was first proposed in 1999.  Since then, ecumenical representatives from both denominations worked to reach the accord.  The 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting July 8-17, 2009, adopted Finding Our Delight in the Lord unanimously.  Following the Northern Province Synod this week, the proposal is expected to be taken up by the Moravian Church-Southern Province at their Synod in September.

The Moravian Church, which celebrated its 550th anniversary in 2007, is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, dating back to 1457 in Europe and first coming to America in 1735. Moravians have a strong tradition of ecumenical work and are best known for their missionary work and rich musical heritage. The Moravian Church in North America is comprised of the Northern and Southern Provinces. The Northern Province has around 23,000 members in 93 congregations in 13 states in the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. The Southern Province includes nearly 17,000 members in 58 congregations, which are located primarily throughout the Southeast. The worldwide Moravian Church consists of 19 provinces with nearly 795,000 members, half of which live in Africa.  Moravian Church contact: Mike Riess, [email protected]

Worship in the House of Peeps

Peep-thedral 2010-01

Bethlehem is not only the House of Bread, we are the Home of Peeps, so I thought this was worth a look.

Since April, 2007, the Washington Post has run a Peeps Diorama Contest which has, to use their words, "stunned the hearts and minds of our newsroom -- and our nation." They are now receiving entries for their fourth outing, and one of the entries is a rendering of life in the ""National Peep-thedral, or as we might say around here "worship in the House of Peeps." (Click on the pictures to get a better view.)

The diorama includes a procession, choir, details such as certain famous gargoyle, and even a peep-docent leading a peep-tour.

From the Facebook page "Washington National Peep-thedral":

"Easter at the National Peep-Thedral: A House of Prayer for All Peeps" was designed by Andrew Martin, architect and master mason; Christine McCann, master couturiere; and Julie Avetta, music director.

"The Cathedral was built using foam board, dowels, dollhouse/modeling supplies and photographs of the actual Washington National Cathedral. The pipes on the pipe organ are made of drinking straws. The Darth Vader gargoyle is made from the head of a Pez dispenser. The other gargoyles are made from pencil erasers. The Creation Rose Window and the Space Window, which can be seen in the actual National Cathedral, are suncatchers purchased from the cathedral's gift shop.

Peep-thedral 2010-03"All of the Peeps' costumes are handmade. The Choir of Men and Peeps from St. Alpeep's School wear robes made of raw silk and purple felt. The vestments of the peep-clergy are made of raw silk, red Thai silk, felt and upholstery remnants. The tourists wear what tourists always wear: Obama T-shirts, FBI visors, sunglasses, hats and fanny packs.

"The processional features Bishop John Peepson Chane, head verger Claude "Duke" DuPeep, the blind dean Colin Peepoway (from "The Lost Symbol"), a crucifer peep and two lay peeps."

 Peep-thedral 2010-02   Peep-thedral 2010-04

The rules for the contest may be found here. Here is the slide show of Peeps Show III (2009). Here is the link to the Facebook page.

--posted by Andrew Gerns


Episcopal Cafe a "religion in the public sphere" top blog

The Episcopal Café appears in a ranking of "nearly 100 of the most influential blogs that contribute to an online discussion about religion in the public sphere and the academy." (The proprietor of Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk, wryly notes, "OK, you're asking, how many non-influential such blogs are there? Now now, the number, no doubt, is legion." )

The report by the Social Science Research Council is intended to "spark discussion among religion bloggers that will take their work further, while also inviting new voices from outside existing networks to join in and take part."

What is the significance of blogs like the Cafe? The report says:

In old-guard organizations like the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations, blogging has created space for discourse that leans against prevailing trends. At sites like Progressive Revival, Episcopal Cafe, and the Christian Century’s Theolog, mainliners maintain a rich public conversation about the present and future of their communities. They do so, meanwhile, often outside the auspices of traditional ecclesial bodies (whose populations are in a state of decline), possibly pointing toward a shift in the locus of intellectual leadership.

The Diocese of Bethlehem has two connections with The Episcopal Cafe. The first is that one of the people who cooked up the idea of an internet magazine for and about the Episcopal Church was Fr. Nick Knisely, who was rector of Trinity in Bethlehem and is now dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix. It was Nick who came to me and asked to me a contributor and part of the news team when my own blog is one of the "legion" of less influential religion blogs out there. Come to think of it, we should count a third connection: Jim Naughton, until recently the Canon for Communications in the Diocese of Washington and circus master and lion tamer of this diverse group grew up in Scranton.

Read the rest here.

--posted by Andrew Gerns

Episcopal priest on "What Not to Wear."

The Rev. Emily Bloemker thought she was going to Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis to talk about their dioceses partnership with the diocese of Lui in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. Surprise! Instead of leading an adult forum, she ended up being the subject of her favorite television show, TLC's "What Not to Wear."

According to Lisa Fox blogging on "My Manner of Life,"

Emily is a smart, passionate, joyful, no-B$ priest. As I hear it, she is a fan of the What Not To Wear show and expressed a wish they could do a wardrobe make-over for her. Apparently, some of her friends contacted the show. And the show decided to take her on.

Then Mike Kinman invited Emily to deliver a presentation on Sudan early this year at Christ Church Cathedral. Except it wasn’t really a Sudan session. It was a set-up … into which the What Not to Wear Duo sprang. My St. Louis friends tell me it was a very pleasant evening. Apparently, Mike had warned the crew that they were filming in a church, and a certain decorum must be obeyed. From all I have heard, it was a delightful evening with much good-natured banter between the show’s crew and the gathered Episcopalians.

The promo reads: "Emily is your typical single girl with one divine difference... she's an Episcopal priest. She may have been called by a higher power but her friends and family called Stacy and Clinton. Can Emily find a feminine style that balances her youthful energy?"

The episode will be broadcast on TLC at Friday, February 5th at 9 pm.

--Posted by Andrew Gerns

Talking points: Facts about The Episcopal Church and ACNA

The following is one in a series of talking points prepared as a resource for The Episcopal Church provided by The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs.

Talking Points: The facts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

  • The Episcopal Church is over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
  • It is important to note that membership in ACNA includes churches and denominations which have disassociated from The Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of The Episcopal Church. A definitive number is difficult to ascertain.
  • ACNA is lead by an archbishop who is not a member of The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or The Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the understanding of the Scriptures. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all who wish to serve God through Jesus Christ.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes women in ordained ministry – deacons, priests and bishops.The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ACNA does not permit women to serve as bishops and, in some areas, bars women from all ordination.
  • The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God together and working together to bring the Reign of God on earth. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • It is important to note that those who have remained in The Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is an inaccurate and misleading image that pictures those who have broken away from The Episcopal Church as the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by ACNA.

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

IamEpiscopalian: http://www.iamepiscopalian.org/http://www.facebook.com/episcopalian

Twitter: http://twitter.com/iamepiscopalian

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/TECtube

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/episcopalian

--Posted by Andrew Gerns

Judge orders property returned to Episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh

Episcopal Life OnLine reports that Allegheny (PA) County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James has ordered a breakaway group of former Episcopalians to return all property and assets to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. 

The inventory includes $22 million in cash, cash equivalents, receivables, and investments including about $2.5 million in pooled parish investments and real estate and other real property.

"The diocese plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds that were frozen by financial institutions during the legal proceedings," according to a news release from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

On Oct. 4, 2008 a majority of the delegates to the diocese's 143rd annual convention approved a resolution by which the diocese purported to leave the Episcopal Church. The leaders who departed have said that they remain in charge of an entity they have been calling the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh that is now part of the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. And they say that in that capacity they control all the assets that were held by the diocese when they left....

The group led by Duncan said Oct. 29 that it would appeal the ruling once the court issues a final order directing it to transfer the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Read the rest here. Episcopal Cafe coverage is here and here.

--posted by Andrew Gerns

Church attorney to Bishop Bennison: Don't release letters

[From The Living Church News Service] The ecclesiastical Court for the Trial of a Bishop has issued a temporary gag order prohibiting the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., Bishop of Pennsylvania, from making public more than 200 letters that Bishop Bennison claims would exonerate him of charges that he failed to report sexual misconduct committed by his brother, John...Bishop Bennison maintains that he did not know about his brother’s misconduct until many years later, but in 2008, the court found Bishop Bennison guilty of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy and recommended that he be deposed. He remains under inhibition pending appeal. Read more here.

Imagine yourself in the Episcopal Church

By Bill Lewellis

Three 30-second television spots have been giving northeastern and central Pennsylvania viewers of WNEP, channel 16, visual clues of the Episcopal Church as sacramental and of its members as diverse, involved and caring for neighbors in need.

The spots for this groundbreaking project began to air on April 1 during the Good Morning America show and the 5:30 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts, introduced by WNEP’s Good Things are Happening music.

A tagline on two of the spots asks viewers to “imagine yourself in the Episcopal Church.” That continues with slight variations of “where your questions are respected as much as anyone’s answers,” All three spots – a fourth still to be developed – then conclude on the note that viewers can find an Episcopal church or more information about the Episcopal Church by visiting the WNEP website.

TEC NEPA The WNEP website includes a link on a prominent new Episcopal Church in Northeast PA logo that will continuously display there and take interested viewers to a new Episcopal Church in Northeast PA website, www.nepaepiscopalchurch.org, developed specifically for the ad campaign. There, viewers will find information about the Episcopal Church or links to the 42 Episcopal churches in the WNEP coverage area. The spots may also be replayed at the site.

Continue reading "Imagine yourself in the Episcopal Church" »

On Marketing the Episcopal Church in Northeast PA –The Resolution that Could

A resolution on Marketing the Episcopal Churches of Northeast PA was approved by a virtually unanimous vote at last October's Diocesan Convention: "This Convention applauds the efforts made by parishes to evangelize their communities using local media outlets. Furthermore, we encourage those efforts by calling upon the parishes in the northern and central parts of the diocese to participate for one year in a televised evangelism campaign by contributing to the cost of a commercial advertising program to run under the title The Episcopal Churches of Northeastern Pennsylvania on a local television station.”

Continue reading "On Marketing the Episcopal Church in Northeast PA –The Resolution that Could" »

I am Episcopalian

New Episcopal Church 'microsite' will showcase videos of diverse church members

Beginning Ash Wednesday, visitors to the Episcopal Church website will find an interactive feature called I am Episcopalian, containing short videos of people "sharing their deep, personal connections to the big, wide, vibrant church that we are," said Anne Rudig, who joined the Episcopal Church Center in New York as communication director on January 5. The videos will show the diversity of Episcopalians. The site will let users upload their own videos. Uploaded videos will be monitored before being posted, and should be no longer than 90 seconds. I am Episcopalian will be the website homepage throughout Lent, with a link to the rest of the Episcopal Church's web content. It is part of a renewed communications effort "to tell our own story," Rudig noted. "We are hoping it will grow, and we hope the rest of the world will see what a dynamic church we have." The microsite can also be reached at www.iamepiscopalian.org.

Pittsburgh Episcopalians reorganize diocese

Read the Episcopal News Service story here. Then, the note below from Bishop Paul.

Just a couple of notes.

The budget may be slightly understated. There is a subsidy of 270k from 815 and up to 500k in privately donated (but hopefully not used) legal fund.

Yours truly organized the PA bishops to attend, and Bethlehem was represented by a bishop, priest (Archdeacon Cluett) and lay person (Andrew Reinholz). All we needed was deacon (fortunately, Bp Baxter of CPA was accompanied by one such cleric.) Pastor Philip Pfatteicher (ELCA), formerly of Stroudsburg, was a welcome surprise. He has a parish down the street from Trinity Cathedral in the burg. He is one of the chief experts on liturgy in the ELCA and has published the official exposition of its liturgy.

The president of the Pbgh Standing Committee delivered an address that was both scholarly and relevant. His emphasis was on incarnational fellowship and ministry rather than logomachy. I hope it will be published. If not, I will originate it.

Continue reading "Pittsburgh Episcopalians reorganize diocese" »