On Irenaeus, a sermon by Anne Kitch

Diocesan House, Bethlehem
June 28, 2012

Last night our Diocesan deputies to General Convention enjoyed a wonderful dinner hosted by our Bishop. The evening was part of our preparation for General Convention, which begins in a few days. It was a delightful gathering. And while we did discuss issues and schedules and the place of our diocese in the larger Episcopal Church, perhaps the most important part of our preparation was the fellowship, laughter and camaraderie we shared. I can truly say I am grateful for my companions as we travel to Indianapolis next week to take our part in the counsels of the Church.

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Diocesan Life March/April 2012

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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]

Afrecs at GC 2009

Afrecs at General Convention 2009
By Connie Fegley

“Afrecs (American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan) really needs to have a presence at General Convention,” I heard myself say at a board meeting late in 2008. “In the Diocese of Bethlehem, our world mission committee had an exhibit at Diocesan Convention every year, and it really made a difference in strengthening our ties to Kajo Keji.”

Little did I know what lay ahead as the board endorsed the concept, with the caveat that this exhibit needed to be professionally prepared. After securing a wonderful graphic artist in Lancaster County who does work for the Mennonite Central Committee, we were off and running.

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GC2009: Reflection by Ty Welles

A truly memorable experience
By Ty Welles

The first and most lasting impression to me as a first-time deputy to the General Convention was the immense size of everything. We took over four major halls of the Convention Center in Anaheim, California. On the second floor was the House of Bishops (which I never saw), and on the first floor were three halls, each approximately the size of two football fields.

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GC2009: Reflection by Rick Cluett

Through a mission lens
By Rick Cluett

It was a privilege to represent the Diocese of Bethlehem as a deputy to the 76th General Convention. I have missed only two conventions (1997 & 2006) since 1982. In previous conventions I have served on committees that drafted policies for Small Churches, Evangelism, Stewardship, and Ministry.

In this convention I initially requested to serve on the World Mission Committee to further our church’s response to the needs of the people and church in Sudan and to expand awareness in the Episcopal Church (TEC) of our relationships with and responsibilities for the mission of the church beyond our diocesan and national borders.

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GC2009: Reflection by Jane Teter

Servants, well done
By Jane Teter

Although I have been to General Convention ten times, I always arrive with a new sense of excitement and anticipation. Anaheim is beautiful in July. We had lovely sunny days that were hot but not uncomfortable. The folks who cared for us in the hotels and convention center were cordial and helpful.

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GC2009: Reflection by Charlie Barebo

General Convention, simply too much
By Charlie Barebo

Thank you for electing me as a deputy to the 76th General Convention. It was an honor to represent you. Our delegation worked very hard and I walked away with greater appreciation for each and every member for our deputation. Special thanks to deputation leader Anne Kitch and my old friend and childhood pastor Rick Cluett.

The immensity of the legislative section of the convention is overwhelming. There were over 820 deputies in the house of deputies and it was announced that we were the second largest democratic body in the world, second only to the Indian National Congress. There are over a billion people in India. There are slightly over 2 million Episcopalians. Could it be that our legislative forum is too cumbersome?

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GC2009: Reflection by Anne Kitch

The work of Convention is ongoing
By Anne E. Kitch

Becoming a Christian takes a life-time. Once baptized, we are continually in the process of growing into the full stature of Christ. Thus, even as a cradle Episcopalian steeped in the traditions and practices of this church, my faith was formed and informed by my experience at the 76th General Convention.

This was not my first General Convention. I first attended in 1979 as part of the youth presence. I remember advocating loudly for all sorts of progressive ideas, collecting buttons and new acquaintances in the Exhibit Hall, and being transported to spiritual heights by an incredible Eucharist.

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GC2009: Reflection by Jan Charney

A truly consciousness-raising and spiritual experience
By Jan Charney

Our Prayer Book (p.855) indicates that  “the church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love”, and General Convention reflects one of the ways by which we as a larger church attempt to support, encourage, and provide resources for those faithful congregations whose members actually pursue mission on a daily basis in their own communities – and that’s you who are reading this, folks! 

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GC2009: Reflection by Scott Allen

Mission, hard decisions and gifts received
By T. Scott Allen

In the closing Eucharist at General Convention 2009 our Presiding Bishop preached on the Propers for William White, first bishop of Pennsylvania and architect for much of how the Episcopal Church understands its way of doing business to be. She commented on William White’s charism to “model the gift of Anglicanism – to hold together in tension polarities that some are eager to resolve. He was a master of ‘both/and’ thinking and living….the long view says that if we insist on resolving tensions we’ll miss the gift of the Spirit, for truth is always larger than one end of the polarity.”

I left General Convention feeling better about the state of our Church than I had in any General Convention since 1988.  I must admit, the absence of the former leadership of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Quincy made the Convention far less contentious and polarized. Some back here commented that there was less in the main stream media than had been present in past Conventions, although what was adopted was as controversial (for some) as in the past. This, I believe, was largely due to the absence of a certain kind of press that brokered in sensational headlines. 

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Father Gerns’ Simplified, Illustrated and Painless Round-up of General Convention for 2009 … with comments.

In addition to being Rector of Trinity Church, Easton, Canon Andrew Gerns chairs the Evangelism Commission and serves on the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem. He is a member of newsteam of Episcopal Café and keeps the blogs “AndrewPlus” and “Share the Bread.”

After every General Convention, I try to round up the Big News and the Big Trends that come out of General Convention for the people of Trinity, Easton. So here is my triennial round-up of what took place at General Convention. This time my perch was not on the Convention Floor but through the blogs, news reports and other sources that made this the most accessible General Convention ever.

The Episcopal Church has over 110 dioceses in 16 nations including but not limited to the United States. Once every three years, the Episcopal Church gathers in General Convention to make decisions about mission, theology and ethics, the life and worship of the Church, ecumenical relationships, evangelism, social outreach, and to elect people to positions that guide and govern the Church over the next three years.

Continue reading "Father Gerns’ Simplified, Illustrated and Painless Round-up of General Convention for 2009 … with comments." »

General Convention Begins today

Article by Bill Lewellis, posted by Kat Lehman

Media hub will enable people offsite to follow convention in real time
[Read the article by Solange De Santis and Lynette Wilson here]

The Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention, a triennial legislative gathering, runs from July 8 to 17 in Anaheim, California. Digital communications staff from the Church Center in New York City are putting the final touches on an innovative website center called “the media hub,” where those both onsite and around the world can follow the convention live. The media hub will provide live web streaming of events, hearings, meetings, links to secular media and Episcopal Life Online coverage, blogs, breaking news via Twitter and Facebook news updates. It will also provide some live coverage of the House of Deputies legislative session, and, possibly, pending approval, the House of Bishops.

The 1500 clergy and lay representatives called deputies and alternates and the approximately 200 bishops, meeting in separate legislative bodies, represent a cross-section of the church today in its 110 dioceses. A very visible symbol of that diversity – one that could hardly even be contemplated at the first gathering in 1785 -- will be the fact that the House of Bishops and House of Deputies will be led by women for the first time: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President Bonnie Anderson.

Deputies from the Diocese of Bethlehem are: The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch, The Ven. Richard I. Cluett, The Rev Canon Jane Teter, the Rev T. Scott Allen, Canon Mark Laubach, Charles "Ty" Welles, Esq., Charlie Barebo and Janet Charney.

Bishops and deputies representing the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses will review the church's efforts during the past triennium and establish program and mission priorities for the next three years.  Among the more-pressing matters: how the church supports its mission in a time of severe economic stress, how it views issues of human relationships such as marriage and homosexuality, how it relates to other churches and other faiths and what words and actions in liturgy best relate to our lives today.

World Mission Draft Report

Posted by Kat Lehman

Draft report encourages Episcopalians to re-evaluate mission

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church Center staff issued a 27-page draft report on world mission June 26 in response to two questions posed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

• What is the primary motivation for global mission?
• How do we practice global mission strategically in the 21st century?

"They are questions that continue to engage us," said Jefferts Schori in an interview when asked if the draft report adequately answered the questions. "This is a good beginning and meant to stimulate greater discussion."

The draft report includes a brief history of Episcopal global mission, estimated 2008 international mission expenditure figures ($22.9 million), the 2009 projected budget for international mission and geographic breakdowns of where the money is spent.

The $24 million projected 2009 budget for Episcopal International Mission, which includes all mission work outside the United State, is broken down by area: Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) (60.6 percent), Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) (33.3 percent) and United Thank Offering (6.1 percent).

To read the whole story, go to Episcopal Life Online here.

General Convention of the Episcopal Church

Deputies from the Diocese of Bethlehem will be heading to General Convention soon. For those interested in reading the resolutions, you can download a copy of the Blue Book (which happens to be maroon this year) here. General Convention information can be found here.

[From the Office of Public Affairs, Episcopal Church] All the sermons will be available for viewing through the innovative Media Hub, presented by the Office of Communication to bring the actions of General Convention to those who are there and those who can’t be there. The Media Hub goes live July 1st.

Celebrants and Preachers

On Wednesday, July 8, the worship service celebrant and preacher will be the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

On Thursday, July 9 the theme is God’s people. The celebrant will be Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, the host diocese for GC09. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will conduct a Bible study during the worship service.

On Friday, July 10 the theme is Unity.  The celebrant is Bishop Steve Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee, co-celebrated by a member of the Moravian clergy.  The preacher will be President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson.

On Saturday, July 11 the theme is Hospitality.  The celebrant is Bishop Frank Brookhart of the Diocese of Montana; he will be joined by a member of the Methodist clergy.  The preacher will be Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and formerly of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. 

Sunday, July 12 will be the main General Convention Eucharist and the Ingathering for the United Thank Offering (UTO), a mission and grant-awarding program of The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant and preacher.

On Monday, July 13, the theme is Domestic Poverty. Celebrant will be Bishop Prince Singh of the Diocese of Rochester with preacher Courtney Cowart, Director of Advocacy and Community Affairs for the Office of Disaster Response in the Diocese of Louisiana.

On Tuesday, July 14 the theme is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The celebrant is Bishop Rob O’Neill of the Diocese of Colorado who is also the chair of Episcopal Relief & Development. The preacher is Abagail Nelson, Senior Vice President of Programs for Episcopal Relief & Development.

On Wednesday July 15, the theme will be Creation and Environment. The celebrant will be Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia and preacher will be Bishop Steve Charleston, former Dean of Episcopal Divinity School who offers a focus on environmental issues.

On Thursday, July 16, the theme is Evangelism with celebrant Bishop Wilfrido Ramos of the Episcopal Diocese of Ecuador Central. The preacher is Brian D. McLaren, internationally known speaker and activist and author of important works including Finding Our Way Again, and Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis, and a Revolution of Hope.

On Friday, July 17, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will be the celebrant and preacher at the closing Eucharist.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 700 members.

Toward General Convention

Our diocesan deputation to the General Convention will hold three pre-General Convention informational meetings to communicate with people of the Diocese about topics on the General Convention agenda.

Wednesday, May 27 at Epiphany in Clark Summit
Tuesday, June 2 at St. Alban's in Sinking Springs

Tuesday, June 9 at Nativity in Bethlehem (PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE)
All, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

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A Reason to Unite

This story by Michael Duck of The Morning Call was featured on the paper's front local page on Sunday, October 14.

It begins ... Most people don't even have shoes in Bishop Anthony Poggo's Anglican diocese in southern Sudan. His people in the Diocese of Kajo Keji struggle with hunger, malaria and the aftermath of a half-century of war. And these same people are saving Episcopal Bishop Paul V. Marshall of Bethlehem, along with his 16,000-member diocese here in Pennsylvania. "I don't know where our diocese would be without Kajo Keji ... We have been changed and mobilized by that connection," Marshall said Friday to Poggo and representatives from the Diocese of Bethlehem's 66 churches.

Download the story below.

Download 071014.MC.A reason to unite.pdf

Myths/Facts of General Convention

The 2006 General Convention Deputation of the Diocese of Southeast  Florida has put together
15 Myths/Facts of General Convention. See three below. The pdf file below those includes all 15. This file (along with the bulletin inserts available from Episcopal News Service) will provide helpful background information for parishioners. Permission to use has been granted by Southeast Florida.

Myth: General Convention Deputies are delegates representing the diocese.
Fact: General Convention Deputies are deputies not delegates. They represent a
diocese, but are deputized to make educated voting decisions not based on a
constituency in their diocese, but based on their prayerful consideration of each
question and issue and the dictates of their conscience.

Myth: The Episcopal Church has not complied with the Windsor Report.
Fact: The Episcopal Church has complied with more of the recommendations of the
Windsor Report than any other branch of the communion.

Myth: The 38 Primates are the authority of the Anglican Communion.
Fact: The Primates are one instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion. While they
have some moral authority, they have no formal legislative or executive authority or
power over any part of the communion beyond their own individual provinces. The other
instruments of unity are The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Lambeth Conference and
the Anglican Consultative Council. None of these entities has formal "authority" or power over the provinces. Each province is fully autonomous and fully self-governing.

Download all 15 below.

Download myths-facts.pdf

Seeking election to the Trustees of the Church Pension Fund

Rick Cluett, interim dean at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, is seeking election nationally to the Trustees of the Church Pension Fund. The election will take place at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June. Rick has served for 14 years in parish ministry and 20 years as archdeacon of the Diocese of Bethlehem. Click on the link below to see his photo and resume. He welcomes your support and your prayers, and, if elected, your wisdom in carrying out this ministry. He may be reached a [email protected].

Download cpf_trustee_nomination.pdf