[A 1987 column by Bill Lewellis published in a local daily newspaper]

Some ten to fifteen years ago I heard a wonderful story about that awful distinction described by someone who said "ministers minister and congregations congregate." I'd like to supply appropriate attribution, but I can't remember where I heard the following parable about ministry.

Once, near a dangerous seacoast, stood a small life-saving station. Shipwrecks prompted six people to build it. It was a two-story, A-frame shelter with a bell that could be heard for miles.

On the ground floor were cots, blankets, dry clothing, first-aid equipment, a fireplace and a soup kettle. The second floor consisted of one small room with a window and telescope facing the sea. One member of the life-saving station was always on watch. They took turns. On especially stormy nights, all six stayed in the shelter.

Upon sighting a shipwreck, the watchman would sound the bell. All six would put out on their three small fishing boats. They always managed to save a few persons who would have drowned. They brought them back to the life-saving station, treated their injuries, gave them food and clothing and shelter until the rescued were ready to return to their own homes and families.

"Indeed, this is a good thing," many others began to say. Soon 12, then 20, then 50, then 100 people joined original six at the life-saving station. They built a larger shelter...with many rooms and a fine carpet. Many began to gather at the station even in good weather.

One night a sudden storm caused several shipwrecks. More than 80 people were rescued. They filled every room of the life-saving station. Some were nauseous; some were bleeding. All were cared for during the next few weeks. Some died. Most were nursed back to health.

At the next meeting of the membership of the life-saving station, everyone was delighted about what had been accomplished. But some members said, "This is a messy and risky business, and we are inexperienced. Perhaps we ought to hire a few professional life-savers." And so they did.

And the carpet committee said, "Out carpets have been stained, almost ruined. Perhaps we ought to construct an uncarpetted annex for the shipwrecked people." And so they did.

They built an annex. They hired a few full-time, experienced life-savers. And the membership no longer had to watch for shipwrecks, nor go to the rescue themselves, nor care for the rescued, nor even see the mess.

By this time, the life-saving station had 200 members. People went there often. Once in a while, someone might even catch sight of a rescue taking place and mention it to the others. And many would say, "Isn't this a good thing we are doing?"

At one of the meetings, a few members said, "We have slipped far from our purpose."

They were talked down, ridiculed and called life-saving fanatics. Finally, six of them felt they could no longer belong to the club that once was a life-saving station.

Five-hundred yards down the seacoast, these six put up a two-story, A-frame shelter to serve as a real life-saving station. They saved many lives. Their fame spread. Many others joined them.

A larger station had to be built. It became a convenient meeting place, except on those days when rescues took place. So, to avoid the inconvenience and the mess, a few full-time lifesavers were hired...and a lifesaving annex was built.

Thanks to better communications and navigational equipment, there are fewer shipwrecks along that seacoast today. And where once there was one small, lifesaving station where people went to help others, today there are five exclusive clubs along that seacoast where people go to help themselves.

Focusing on Mission—the Mutual Ministry Review

By Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow
10 August 2012

The telephone rang.  It was a senior warden.  “You need to review the performance of our rector.  He doesn’t call on shut-ins, and his sermons aren’t very good.  They’re too long, too.  And you have to tell him.”

Take a long breath, Howard.  You’re in a classic triangle formed by the anxiety of one person dealing with another.  One person’s message for the other is difficult, and you simply by answering the telephone have been brought in to give that message, sparing someone of the discomfort of giving such a message and picking up the pieces.

Over the years, I have noticed that God works and has the opportunity to work when I am minding my own business more or less faithfully.  And here was one of those instances.  God had plenty of opportunity to act and to act in “a still more excellent way,” as Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians (I Cor. 12:31).

And that still more excellent way is the Mutual Ministry Review.  In good hands, the Mutual Ministry Review (MMR) gives a parish the opportunity to focus on its mission.

In even better hands, the MMR gives a parish the opportunity to sets goals for its ministry and its mission.  The best leaders of parishes use the MMR in exactly these ways and find that their parish functions better, has more clearly defined goals, and has a more clearly understood mission.  Over and over again, I see that parishes who have a mission statement and intentionally accomplish it grow and thrive.  And the MMR can help to bring this about especially when a parish has a mission statement and seems to be stuck in trying to accomplish it.

The basis of the MMR is Samuel P. Magill’s Living into our Ministries, published in 2003 by the Episcopal Church Foundation.  My introduction to it came some years ago when a rector telephoned me and wanted me to facilitate a review for the purpose of setting long-term goals for the mission of the parish.

And over a number of sessions and conversations, we were able together to do that.  The MMR is a structured conversation among the rector, the vestry, and the members of a parish concerning its mission, ministry, functioning, goals, and how those goals may be achieved.

The structured conversation really is “mutual”: each of the three groups reviews the other two.  Here ends the triangulation: no third parties give difficult messages, and each party delivers its own message.  The conversation, also, really concerns “ministry,” or the service or functioning within the parish of each of the three groups.  The conversation, thirdly and finally, really is a “review”: each group expresses its perception of the functioning of the other two.

There are things the structured conversation of the MMR is not.  The conversation does not include, except when unavoidably necessary, obligatory responsibilities under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the national or diocesan canons, diocesan resolutions and policies, the parish’s bylaws, and the clergy’s ordination vows.  The assumption is that these obligations are being accomplished as a matter of course.  Fulfilling these obligations is basic to the healthy functioning of the parish.  If they are not being accomplished, the interplay of rector, vestry, and members can make the necessary corrections.

The conversation of the MMR does address how the rector, vestry, and members function to further the mission, ministry, and goals of the parish.  The conversation assumes, secondly, that the ministry of each of the three groups differs from the other two.  Each group has obligations and ministries that belong to itself exclusively.  Thirdly, the conversation reviews those obligations and ministries as well as the means used by each group to fulfill them.

And so the rector, the vestry, and the members function differently, but they function differently to accomplish the mission they share.  This vision of functioning in a parish compares to the vision of Saint Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians (4:1-7, 11-12, and 13-16).  Some are rectors, some are vestry, and some are members, but together all serve to accomplish the mission of the parish.

In future articles, I shall address the functions of the rector, the vestry, and the members of parishes.  If you have ideas to share about these functions, I would be happy to hear from you.

West Pittston Flood update from Trinity

[From Fr. John Major, Rector of Trinity, West Pittston]

DSC_1543Dear Bakery Friends,

As our neighbors work to recover from the devastating September floods, Trinity West Pittston has continued to look for ways to help meet their most immediate material needs and to remind them that they are not alone in their struggles.

Projects are underway to distribute the gift cards that were donated at the recent Diocesan Convention and that are continuing to come in from collections held in individual parishes throughout the diocese. Our sincere thanks to those who have already contributed cards for our neighbors, and to those who are continuing to collect cards and forward them to us for distribution. These cards are much needed and appreciated, and will go a long way towards easing the financial burden our neighbors face as a result of the flood.

We are also planning weekend-long distribution of the donated furniture procured by Father Daniel Gunn to be held November 18, 19 & 20. Help will be recruited from schools and community organizations to assist with moving the furniture from the donor site in Wilkes-Barre to West Pittston and to help at the distribution, and we'd love to have some of our fellow Episcopal churches join in to show the community the Episcopal Church as a whole is here for them. Please email janineungvarsky@msn.com if you or your church is interested in helping.

In addition to these projects to help meet the material needs of those affected by the flooding, Trinity's Disaster Response Team also wanted to brighten spirits, encourage hope and let our neighbors know we are praying for them. On Saturday, October 23, a group of our Sunday School students along with their parents and other parishioners visited almost 100 homes in some of the most devastated neighborhoods to talk with the residents and give them a pumpkin or potted mum to bring them a little bit of fall color and cheer.

Those who took part will not soon forget the reactions of those they spoke to that day, from the kids excited to have a pumpkin to carve even though their home doesn't have inside walls to the man who asked us to give the mum to his pregnant wife to cheer her up as they faced the seventh of many Saturdays working to restore their flooded home.

We spoke to a woman who said she had been thinking about getting our her fall door wreath but couldn't quite muster up the mood...and whose home later displayed not only the wreath but a little scarecrow and one of our hand-delivered mums as well. And then there was the father who got choked up as he told us his little girl had been asking him for days to get her a pumpkin, but his long hours of work first at his job and then on their home kept him from fulfilling her request. "She's gonna be so happy tonight," he said, and even the kids in Trinity's group could see how happy that made him. Our Sunday School parents report that days later, the kids are still talking about the people they visited and the things they saw and heard.

This was a very low-cost project: the pumpkins were purchased at a discount and the mums were graciously donated by a local grower. But these small tokens made a big impact on our neighbors, and, because each mum and pumpkin carried a tag that explained the project and told our neighbors that we are all praying for them, they served as a reminder that there is a source of hope in even the darkest days.

Trinity West Pittston plans other projects like this to help our neighbors remember that they are not alone and that they will get through this. It is our hope that through little reminders of our caring and by sharing the gift cards so generously provided by our sisters and brothers throughout the diocese as well as other donated items like the furniture, our neighbors will be strengthened and sustained through this difficult time.

Thank you for your continued support of our neighbors, and please keep them and our efforts to help them in your prayers.

Father John Major and the parishioners of Trinity West Pittston

Shown above are some members of Trinity West Pittston's Sunday School classes who recently took part in an outreach project for victims of the September flooding.

Social Ministries now accepting grant requests from New Hope Campaign

[From the Social Ministries Committee]

17 May 2011

Dear Partners in Ministry,

The Social Ministries Committee is now ready to receive and consider requests for disbursements from the New Hope Campaign.  The total amount we are able to grant for the 2011-12 calendar year is $100,000.  Therefore, we are inviting Letters of Intent from parishes and Episcopal related organizations within the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem.  The Deadline for Letters of Intent is 15 July 2011.

The Letter of Intent should contain:

  • The Mission Statement of the parish/organization
  • A summary of the proposal including a brief project description
  • An outline of the focus and scope (who will be served?)
  • Amount to be requested from the SMC (one time or multi-year request)
  • Partner churches, agencies, organizations, etc., if any
  • Project start date
  • Name, e-mail and day and evening telephone number of contact person(s).

Letters of Intent should be sent to The Rev’d Daniel C. Gunn, St. Stephen’s Pro-cathedral, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA  18701 or emailed to dgunn@ststephenswb.org with “Social Ministry Application” in the subject line.

A member of the Social Ministries Committee will be in contact soon thereafter.  These Letters are preliminary proposals and will be considered in the order in which they are received.  Applications will be sent after the initial contact.

In peace,

The Rev’d Daniel C. Gunn, Chair

Temporary shelter for the homeless in Bethlehem churches

To: Lehigh Valley Episcopal Churches
From: Craig Updegrove, St. Andrew's

As you may be aware, several years ago, Bethlehem Area Churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This letter is to make you aware that this system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31.

Every night, a host site or two will provide this mission service to the homeless. We not only provide shelter, but we also give them a warm dinner, companionship, play games with them, and watch movies with them. This mission has transformed each congregation and person involved.

To help continue this mission, I ask for your help. On average, a church needs around eight volunteers each night to execute this mission effectively. This puts a lot of volunteer strain on each congregation. I would like to ask if anyone from your congregation would like to assist any of these churches. Volunteer hours are readily available.

Volunteer opportunities vary. We have people that will just cook the meal, serve the meal, stay overnight, serve breakfast, cleanup in the morning, or just sit and talk to our guests. This is truly a transformational mission and is needed by you to help in Bethlehem.

If you would like to help in other ways, you could donate personal care items, clothing, food, or cash donations to help these congregations to defray some of these costs.

If you or anyone in your congregation are interested in volunteering, please contact Craig Updegrove at 484-892-1589 for more details.

On a related matter, see Community must respond to deaths of homeless, an op-ed in The Morning Call, December 17, by Gary Millspaugh, executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.

Background on the ministry of Bethlehem churches to the homeless:
Jan. 13-19: Still no room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 19: Lehigh Valley Episcopal churches help homeless during cold snap
Feb. 5: Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem

Jan. 13: Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold
March 9: Express-Times editorial

The newSpin blog has a search box that many might find useful. Scroll down on the left.

Mittens and gloves to warm the homeless and hungry

[From Marcie Lightwood]

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Trinity Soup Kitchen in Bethlehem, where I work as a social worker, traditionally gives gifts to our poor and homeless guests at Christmas time. This year, we have received many beautiful hand-knit scarves and hats from local knitters, but we have no gloves or mittens to give.

I am asking if you could please pick up a pair of gloves or mittens on your next shopping trip and donate them? We need more gloves for MEN than for women; we serve probably 2 women for every 3-4 men at the soup kitchen. We only have a few guests who are children.

Any kind of new glove is fine; some like plain knit gloves or mittens; others want them insulated or waterproof. The homeless folks love mittens, or gloves with the mitten fold-over.

You can bring them to Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market Street in Bethlehem, drop them at my home, or at the WDIY studio where I will have a box set up. You can call me to arrange pick-up. If you work at a place that can have a collection box on premises, please let me know.

Please feel free to forward this to people who have warm hearts.

We need about 250 pair of gloves, total, and any excess will be kept for guest needs through the winter.

Happy holidays to you, and thank you.

Marcie Lightwood
1334 Club Avenue
Allentown, PA  18109
484-767-2908, mlightwood@hotmail.com

From risk to opportunities: Congregational renewal in the Diocese of Bethlehem

[Editor’s note: This is the first of a three part series focusing on congregational renewal within the diocese. If you would like further information please contact Fr. Charles Cesaretti or one of the members listed in the article.]

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.

Communications Workshop

100626CommunicationWorkshop 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:

Download 100626Brochure

Forward Life Planning Workshop, May 22

[From Charlie Barebo] The Forward Life Planning Workshop, presented by Charles Cesaretti, Diana Marshall and Charlie Barebo, will be held on Saturday, May 22 at St. Luke's, Scranton. Although sponsored by the congregations in the Northern Tier, this workshop is open to all congregations in the Diocese of Bethlehem. Please note that registration and luncheon are free.  However, for planning please call Ely Valentin, 610-691-5655 x 222, or email evalentin@diobeth.org. The program has both pastoral (PB, pg. 445), as well as institutional implications, since many of our congregations have benefited through the planned gifts of former parishioners to the parish's Endowment Fund. Download the pdf file below.

Download Forward Life Planning.pdf

 Forward Life Planning

Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold

By David Howell

More participating churches and new grants have been welcome news for the dedicated people who provide shelter for the homeless in this unexpectedly severe winter. The emergency sheltering program, coordinated by Bethlehem’s Trinity Episcopal Church, is in its second year. It began in 2008, when Trinity Soup Kitchen staff discovered that there were no emergency shelter beds for people in Bethlehem during a particularly cold period, and people were in danger of freezing. This year, the weather made it necessary to start on December 6 in the Forte Building in the south side of Bethlehem rather than on January 1 of the new decade when churches originally planned to open their doors. The program is scheduled to conclude at the end of March.

Continue reading "Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold" »

Emergency shelter in Bethlehem opens early

The info below was updated in the Express-Times, here and here.

[From Mother Laura Howell, rector, Trinity Bethlehem] Given the sudden onslaught of cold weather, we are opening the Emergency Sheltering Program in Bethlehem early.  People who are homeless and have nowhere to sleep can come to the Forte Building at 1335 East Fifth Street from 6:30 p.m. on.  We have volunteers for tonight (Monday night), but are in great need for other nights.  If you can volunteer, please call Deacon Liz Miller at 610-867-4741 X302.

At this point, we will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  We'll re-evaluate on Wednesday, depending on the weather forecasts.

There will be transportation to the Forte Building leaving at 6:00 from the front of Trinity Episcopal Church (44 E. Market St.), and at 6:30 from the **lower** parking lot of Cathedral Church of the Nativity (Wyandotte).

Please assist us to help those who most need help.

[Find background from February 2009 here.]

Pastoral Provision for Same-Sex Couples

Nov. 16, 2009
Bishop Paul V. Marshall
To Clergy of the Diocese of Bethlehem

In accordance with General Convention 2009 observation that that “the discernment of The Episcopal Church is that there are no theological barriers to blessing … same-sex relationships that are based on love, fidelity and lifelong commitment …” I offer the following interim measures ...

Download below "Pastoral Provision for Same-Sex Couples" issued by Bishop Paul Marshall.

Download Same sex provisions-2.doc

A Matter of Pride ... in the Park

A Matter of Pride
By T. Scott Allen

Scott Allen and Andy Gerns welcome visitors to Pride in the Park

On Sunday, August 16, parishioners and clergy from six congregations plus a few retired clergy staffed an information/welcome tent on behalf of the Episcopal Church at Pride-In-The-Park, held annually at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown. The largest Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) gathering in Northeastern Pennsylvania, it drew an estimated 5500 people this year.

Handing out flyers listing many Episcopal church’s and their contact information as well as Sunday service times, the tent volunteers spoke with many GLBT people and their allies who were seeking spiritual communities or wanted to tell us how glad they were we were there. The tent was emblazoned across the front with a banner which proclaimed “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!”

Continue reading "A Matter of Pride ... in the Park" »

Senior high missioners rebuild in New Orleans

Senior high missioners rebuild in New Orleans
By Kimberly Rowles

Top Row - Matt Potter (St. Brigid’s Nazareth), Ellen Strange (St. Gabriel’s Douglassville), Corey Mars (Christ Church, Stroudsburg), Will Gamber (Nativity Bethlehem), Bobby Dronenbarger(St. Brigid’s Nazareth), Kim Rowles (Youth Missioner), Isaac Martin (Nativity Bethlehem)
2nd Row from Top- Kayla Farley (St. Brigid’s Nazareth), Hayley Tintle (St. Brigid’s Nazareth), Mike O’Gorman (Friend of Diocese) and     Rebekah Beers (St. Mark’s Moscow)
3rd Row From Top - Kyndra Miller(St. Gabriel’s Douglassville), Kate Gorman (Holy Family), and Amanda Arms (St. Gabriel’s Douglassville)
4th Row from Top - Zowie Saxman (St. Anne’s Trexlertown), Emily Schwab (St. Brigid’s Nazareth), Katie Kolepp (Nativity Bethlehem), Sebastian Riefkhol (St. Brigid’s Nazareth) and Annika McGuirk ( Epiphany Clarks Summit)
Bottom Row- Canon Calvin Adams (St. Gabriel’s Douglassville), Taylor Abbonizio (St. Gabriel’s Douglassville), Marirose Sartoretto (Nativity Bethlehem), Jensen Appleman (Trinity Bethlehem) and James Schwab (St. Brigid’s Nazareth)
Not pictured: Brian Gordon (Nativity Bethlehem)

“This trip was a truly amazing experience for me,” a youth participant said. “I can’t believe how ill informed I was about the state of New Orleans; it truly caught me off guard. I enjoyed every day and didn’t even mind waking up early! The multitude of good times definitely outweighed the minimal bad ones.”

Our encore performance as missioners in the Diocese of Louisiana ran from July 25 through August 1. In roughly 80-90% humidity and heat, 25 missioners from the Diocese of Bethlehem sheet-rocked, machete-d and painted their way around the Gentilly area of New Orleans. Twenty youth from ten congregations from all over the Diocese put their sweat and tears into the Louisiana homes, churches and community meeting spaces where we did the work of Christ.

Continue reading "Senior high missioners rebuild in New Orleans" »

The Rev. Canon William T. Warne set to retire

Posted by Kat Lehman

[From Warren Shotto, Senior Warden; Good Shepherd, Scranton]
It is with more than a little sadness that I report Canon William T. Warne has informed the vestry of Good Shepherd of his intention to fully retire as Priest in Residence. Below is an excerpt from the official letter sent to the vestry and wardens.

Canon Bill writes...

“After much thought and prayer, I have decided to truly retire, and, thus, to bring to an end by August 31 of this year my service as Priest-in-Residence to you and the people of Good Shepherd…Fran and I simply want to have more time in my retirement, not only for ourselves and the pursuit of many and varied personal interests, but also the freedom to spend much more time with our sons and their families, especially our grandchildren   ‘Being deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life’ (BCP, page 504) and recognizing that we are not getting any younger, personal concerns and family gatherings begin to loom larger in priority as they rightly should…Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t say what a joy it has been to share in the mission and ministry of Good Shepherd (notwithstanding, at least initially, a time filled with doubt and uncertainty) and how thankful I am that through your prayers and efforts, and the support of many others in numerous ways, our parish has emerged with ‘new hope’ and faith, and with a wonderfully stated purpose ‘to serve Christ and others with open hearts, minds, and doors’…Thanks so much for your wonderful support and understanding…I know I am leaving the ministry at Good Shepherd in most capable hands and I am confident that you will continue to be blessed richly by God’s grace.”

However, as we at Good Shepherd know,  after every storm comes the sun. I am also happy to announce that Archdeacon Stringfellow, with Bishop Paul’s blessing, has graciously agreed to be Supply Priest at Good Shepherd and has offered to stay until such time we are ready to take the next step in the search process.

So please keep us in your prayers as we step out and begin this journey of faith.


Warren Shotto

Evangelism Road Trip

Evangelism Road Trip
By Warren Shotto
Senior Warden, Good Shepherd Scranton

A contingent of people on a summer service trip from St. Phillip’s church in New Hope and Trinity in Buckingham , Pa is coming to Good Shepherd the last week of July. Led by Rev. Peter Pearson, they will be helping us with the “sweat equity” projects in the undercroft, bowling alley and kitchen while they are here. They are staying at the Fatima retreat center and we will be providing lunch and dinner for the entourage for the week they are here.

Recently our evangelism committee comprised of Kathy Elgaway, Char Jeffers, Pam Shotto and me, were asked to come to New Hope to speak about our journey from a parish with an uncertain future to our commitment to mission to the recent awarding of the New Hope grant and present situation at Good Shepherd. We spoke at both St. Phillips and Trinity on Sunday June 21st. Both parishes were very interested in what we were doing and establishing similar ministries at their churches. 

Continue reading "Evangelism Road Trip" »

Montrose celebrates Charles Cesaretti and welcomes Janet Watrous

[From the weekly update of St. Paul's Montrose] This coming Sunday the Congregation of St. Paul's will gather to mark a major transition in its life and ministry. With the retirement of Fr. Charles and the beginning of the four month interim of Mother Watrous, St. Paul's will enter a time of preparation to call and institute a new rector, and celebrate a new ministry. It is no accident that the Sunday Scripture readings appointed for the next weeks recall the beginning of the Christian Community starting with the small apostolic core in Jerusalem, its missionary outreach, and eventual spreading throughout the world.  These readings allow us to examine our own life as a faith community, ministering to the those in need, and reaching out to bring the "good news" to the whole world. St. Paul's will find vision, encouragement, and nurture through reflection of these readings in the weeks ahead.  In the Gospel reading this Sunday, St. Luke reflects upon Jesus' post-Resurrection time with the disciples:  "...he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'"  Well, there it is!

Continue reading "Montrose celebrates Charles Cesaretti and welcomes Janet Watrous" »