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.”

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When needy families include pets, too

When needy families include pets, too
Editorial, The Morning Call
March 31, 2009

A lot of people in the Lehigh Valley need help these days with the basics of life, including having enough to eat. Fortunately, there are programs and volunteers trying to help these families. But, when a family includes pets ... who helps them?

One admirable effort is the Animal Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley, based at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem. It helps those low-income families and individuals who are already struggling to feed themselves to keep caring for their animal companions. It also provides low-cost shots for animals and a lot of helpful pet-owner information, and it promotes the spaying and neutering of pets.

The volunteer staff distributes food to animal owners and to rescue shelters and humane societies throughout the area. Nearly 3,000 animals in the greater Lehigh Valley have been reached.

Overall, the goal is to keep pets and owners together when hard times arrive. The alternative, turning a beloved pet over to a shelter, is hardly an attractive one. So, this food bank keeps families together.

The Animal Food Bank always needs donations and volunteers. For ways to help, go online to http://www.animalfoodbanklehighvalley.com or call 484-851-8000.

Close-knit Lehigh Valley group's mission

Minister leads effort to create hats for cancer patients -- both near and far|Of The Morning Call
March 21, 2009
The Morning Call, Inc., Cpyright 03/21/09

With her knitting needles deftly working over a ball of gray alpaca yarn, the Rev. Laura Howell was thinking, and not just about the cancer patient who would don her downy cap miles away in Colorado.

Knit caps2
(Back Left) Loraine Johnson, (Center) Gabriele Whittier and (Right) The Reverend Laura Howell knit caps for chemotherapy patients. The women are from Trinity Episcopal Church. (Photo by Denise Sanchez/The Morning Call Inc., / Copyrght 2009)

Howell also had her former co-workers at Lehigh Valley Hospice in mind. As a hospice chaplain, she knew the joy it brought staff to present a sick patient with any token of comfort, even something as simple as a hand-knit cap to warm a head left bald and exposed by radiation.

''To give the staff something that makes people happy makes their job easier,'' she said.

Howell also knows the burden and rewards of caring for someone with cancer; she's experienced it as both a chaplain and the daughter of a cancer survivor. Her mother's battle with lymphoma in Colorado inspired her ''chemo cap'' ministry here in the Lehigh Valley, where Howell is the rector at Bethlehem's Trinity Episcopal Church.

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Trinity Wall Street grants that may affect Kajo Keji

The Trinity Grants Program, part of Trinity Wall Street, has distributed grants of more than $1 million to aid communities in metro New York during 2008. An additional $2 million was awarded to Episcopal dioceses in the United States and the 70 nation Anglican Communion.

I include here only the awarded grants and program descriptions that may relate in some way to the Diocese of Kajo Keji, our companion diocese in southern Sudan.

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Silly, furry, funky, soft caps for cancer patients

When Mother Laura Howell, rector of Trinity Bethlehem, took a call today (Wednesday, March 18) from a Denver hospital, she said she began hyperventilating. Her mother, who lives near Denver, has been dealing with cancer. "I couldn't imagine that getting a call from Cancer Services from her hospital could be anything but traumatic." she said. "On the contrary!"

Over the years, the people involved in the Crafting Your Prayers projects at Trinity Church, with others from around the Diocese of Bethlehem, "have made dozens and dozens of elegant or silly, furry, funky, soft caps for cancer patients who have lost their hair through chemo or radiation." The caps come with a little tag that says, "Made with prayers for your comfort and health."


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Northern Tier churches prepare Easter dinners for needy

Bountiful Blessings, representing the communities of faith in Montrose, has announced its annual program to provide a full Easter dinner for those in need in Susquehanna County. Individuals and families listed with Interfaith and other area agencies will be eligible for a dinner basket that includes a three or five-pound ham, vegetables, potatoes/macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, bread, and holiday candies. The baskets will be distributed on Wednesday, April 8.

BountifulBlessings Consortium2  

Consortium of Susquehanna churches and county agencies prepare for Easter dinner distribution on April 8. Bountiful Blessings is preparing for the fourth annual Easter Dinner for needy families and individuals in Susquehanna County.

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Does your church need a website?

Does your church need a parish website? Would you like it to be free or very, very cheap to operate? Would you like your web-site to be so easy to maintain that even you can do it? Well, you can have all this ... but you have to act fast! I will be "Cooking up a Parish Website" or two at the Diocesan Training Day on March 28 at St. Stephen's in Wilkes-Barre (Find the description here.) and I am looking for two churches in our diocese that need a web site. I am looking for a church without a web-site or with one that is very old and either out of date or one where it is a pain-in-the-neck to maintain. I prefer a smaller church, although I know some larger churches may fit the bill, so it's first-come, first-serve.

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500 homeless students in the Allentown School District?

Monica called my attention to a Letter to the Editor in Wednesday's Morning Call wherein the writer pleaded for help for the victims of the recent fire in Allentown. 

What especially hooked me was the following paragraph: "A roll of quarters given to Russell 'Rooster' Valentini, homeless coordinator for the Allentown School District, will allow a small family to take the clothes from a burned apartment to the coin laundry to be washed clean. If your children are in school in Allentown, have them bring in a roll or two of quarters to their principal for "Rooster" to use. He already has 500 homeless students on his caseload. Now he has more."

The online version of the letter includes only the first sentence of that paragraph Although I point that out, my question is not s much about the reason for the online omission but it is about 500 homeless students in the Allentown School District. Can that be?

A little Googling resulted in these possible confirmations: (1) From a 2006 Moravian College news release: In any given year, Rooster has to manage approximately 500 cases with active files normally approaching 75 cases. (2) From a June 2007 Commission Report on Allentown's Plan to End Chronic Homelessness by 2017: From 2001 through 2006, the Allentown School District documented in excess of 600 homeless students annually.

Now, if that is so, where do they stay ... and what opportunity for creative and compassionate ministry might it suggest?


Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem

By Dave Howell
February 5, 2009
[Updated February 12 and 18. Find updates below this story]  

    The recent cold weather has been a burden for all of us. For the homeless of Bethlehem, it has been a threat to their survival.
    Trinity Bethlehem’s Soup Kitchen is a five-day-a-week stopping point for many of Bethlehem’s poor. Since its beginnings twenty-five years ago, it has come to provide more than a hot lunch.
    Deacon Liz Miller, Soup Kitchen Coordinator, has become a guide to providing socialization for the often isolated clients, as well as bus passes, over-the-counter medicine, baked goods, assistance with medical issues, and housing assistance. Since last fall, social worker Marcie Lightwood has also been helping the guests. And Bethlehem Bishop Paul Marshall has been providing counseling twice a week.
    A crisis arose this winter when the Allentown Rescue Mission and the Sixth Street Shelter for Women were filled, and homeless Soup Kitchen guests could not find a place to stay indoors. One homeless client without resources was suffering from cancer, while another had an injured foot. Word went out on “Bethlehem of Pa,” the interactive internet list of the Diocese of Bethlehem, while Trinity rector Mother Laura Howell, Deacon Liz and Marcie Lightwood began many phone calls looking for help.

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Northern Tier Parishes Host Coats For Community

By Charles Cesaretti

This past fall the Episcopal Congregations of Susquehanna County hosted the Coats for Community Project in collaboration with the Montrose American Legion Post 154. Coats have been distributed at Christ Church Susquehanna, Christ Church Forest City, and, St. Paul’s Montrose.

“The outreach ministry of our Northern Tier Parishes has been amazing,” reports John Finlon, junior warden at St. Paul's Montrose, who acted as project coordinator. “Throughout the fall, our parishes distributed hundreds of coats to those in need. Christ Church Forest City distributed 186 coats and Christ Church Susquehanna over 100.”

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At Epiphany Glenburn.Momentous Time to be Marked by Prayer

[The following news was released by Church of the Epiphany, Glenburn]

Church of the Epiphany is planning to host a prayer vigil to mark 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Members of the Glenburn parish and the greater Clarks Summit community are invited to participate in a 24-hour prayer vigil, beginning at noon on Monday, January 19, and continuing through the ceremony on the south lawn of the White House. The event, which is being organized by lay members of the parish, calls attention to the critical importance of this transitional time and the challenges that face the nation and the world.

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The renovation of Grace Church Allentown

Something remarkable has been going on at Grace Church Allentown over the past few weeks. The pews have been removed. They will be replaced with high quality, gothic-style church chairs. First, however, the entire sanctuary/nave now has a beautiful terrazzo floor. To prepare the floor for the pouring of terrazzo, a significant number of parishioners and the rector gave many hours and days to rip up the old floor and screw down plywood (one screw for every eight inches). The church is being painted as we speak.

Father Pat Malloy has posted a partial photo journal of the renovation here. Return to the site every few days to see updates.

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Grace Allentown food bank may have to serve 10,000 people next year

At Grace Allentown
Our food bank may have to serve as many as 10,000 people next year
By The Rev. Robert House
Sunday, December 7, 2008

It was Friday morning and I was arriving at the church to open up the administrative office. I drove past the entrance to our food bank which is open every Friday and noticed that a substantial line of people was waiting outside the door. It was one of the first chilly days of fall and I was concerned that some of the children might be cold. It was not like our volunteers to allow the clients to wait outside in bad weather. I hurried inside to see why we were allowing this situation.

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12 Days of Christmas for Kajo Keji

Updated December 5 –– [From Jo Trepagnier] –– Thank you all for your continued support of this project. I thought you might be interested in seeing how many gifts the Diocese has collected so far.

Solar Lanterns 4; Water Jugs 61; Radios 4; Bikes 5; Fabric 74 yards; Hens 64; Sewing Machines 10; Tables 2; Soccer Balls 8; Jump Ropes 5; Plastic Chairs 7; Basketballs 2.

I expect to have one more major donation week and then we'll aim to transfer the amounts in mid December. Also, this week, we received 3 undesignated donations for $625, which will be very helpful in rounding out some of the purchases. Some of the gifts, like the sports equipment, were intended to be one for each school or archdeaconry, so the cash will be very helpful.

Thanks to all. If you have been waiting to send in your donation, this would be a great week.

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Empty Bowl Project at St. Paul's Montrose benefits county food banks

Emptybowlproject2 Volunteers serve patrons of the Empty Bowl Project at St. Paul’s Montrose. The event benefited the Susquehanna Food Banks.

“It could not have happened at a better time,” reports Lynn Senick, director of the Trehab Food Bank, which serves Susquehanna County. “Our shelves are near empty, and donations are way down just when we are heading into the season with the most need.” Senick was reflecting on the success of the Empty Bowl Project which was held in Montrose on Saturday, November 8. The event was held at Historic St. Paul’s Church, Montrose, and raised over $1,500 for the Food Bank and the Feed A Friend (Thanksgiving) Program.

The Empty Bowl Project had its beginning in 1990 when a high school art teacher in Michigan helped his students solve a problem of creativity –– how to raise money for a food drive.

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Local churches are feeling the financial crunch as demands get greater

Lizmillersoupkitchen2 Deacon Liz Miller is shown in the Kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem.

Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS

"The food pantry is pretty empty," says Trinity Episcopal Church of Bethlehem Soup Kitchen Coordinator Deacon Liz Miller. "So far we're fine because we've prepared for a rainy day. But the rainy day is now here."  The Soup Kitchen has served almost 1,500 more meals for this year through September than during the same period in 2007.

Miller is seeing an increase not only in numbers of people coming in, but how people are feeling as economic conditions have plummeted. "People are nervous and tense, and quicker to lose their temper," she says. "The dynamics of the economy have changed people's attitudes."

Churches are feeling it across the Lehigh Valley Ann McManus is program director of Second Harvest in Allentown, which supplies 180 local food banks, including churches. Together those agencies report a 26 percent increase in the number of households asking for help in Northampton and Lehigh counties, she says. "Almost every conversation I have about it with people at those agencies starts with, 'You wouldn't believe the number of new families that we are seeing. We've been talking about how the face of hunger is changing and it used to be that it was getting older and younger. But now we're seeing that it's middle class and across the board."

See the Nov. 6 Express-Times feature on Trinity Bethlehem and their soup kitchen, with comments by and a photo of Deacon Liz Miller here and here.

In Scranton.St. Luke’s maintains a legacy of commitment to the community

By Cheryl A. Kashuba
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Times-Tribune, Scranton

On Easter day in 1905, worshippers entered St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and saw, for the first time, a new design by none other than Louis Comfort Tiffany. The centerpiece was a new altar of white marble, backed by a stained-glass window depicting the ascension of Christ.

Mr. Tiffany’s design enhanced the interior of the English Gothic structure that was the work of another master: architect Richard Upjohn of New York City, the architect of Trinity Church on Wall Street.

Impressive though the structure is, St. Luke’s has always been far more than a building. This church grew up with the city in an era when the Social Gospel Movement fervently urged all Christians to live Christ’s teachings.

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At St. Mark's/St. John's, Jim Thorpe, Volunteers 'outreach' to their community

Story and photos by Victor Izzo, tneditor@tnonline.com
Published with permission of The Times News, Lehighton

Volunteers How does a hearty meal of baked ziti, salad, rolls, beverages and dessert sound for supper? How about the fact that this meal, which is "generous" in more ways than one, is also free? Well that was the case this past Sunday Sept. 28, 2008] thanks to the hard work, generosity and fellowship of dedicated volunteers of the Episcopal parish of St. Mark's and St. John's on Race Street in Jim Thorpe.

The free community supper is just one of the many "free community outreach programs" provided to the community by the church and it's parishioners. The parish has been doing this since 1998.

Hardworking Some of the hard-working dedicated volunteers who make the free community supper and other community "outreach" programs possible are, front, left to right: Deb Fry, Gloria Remmel, Cheryl Horvath, and Judy Smith; rear, Karen Gasker, Judy Lennon, Tom Lager, and John Horvath. [Photo by Victor Izzo/Times News]

David_oneill Dr. David O'Neill, DO gives a blood pressure reading to Mildred Snisky in conjunction with the free community supper, which was held last Sunday at St. Mark's and St. John's Episcopal Church on Race Street in Jim Thorpe. [Photo by Victor Izzo/Times News]

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