Sweet Charity Players stage 'Godspell' to benefit local children

Godspell The “Sweet Charity Players”, a nonprofit organization devoted to serving terminally and chronically ill children and their families, whose founders include Warren and Pam Shotto, Kathy Elgaway and Char Jeffers, four parishioners from Good Shepherd Scranton will present “Godspell”, a musical based on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew.

          The musical, under the direction of Warren Shotto will be presented on September 26, 27, and 28 at The Church of the Good Shepherd, 1780 North Washington Avenue in Scranton and the following weekend at Saint Therese’s Church, 64 Davis Street in Shavertown, at 7:30 P.M. on October 3, 4 and 5.

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At Grace Allentown. Weed & Seed Job Placements Top 250 Mark

[This story was posted on the website of the City of Allentown, 09/11/2008]

More than 250 Allentown residents have been placed in jobs thanks to the City of Allentown Weed & Seed employment counseling program. Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Weed & Seed Coordinator Phyllis Alexander, Weed & Seed Employment Counselor Cecilia Rodriguez, Grace Episcopal Church Rector Father Patrick Malloy, Parish Administrator Bob House and employment program client Yendira Rosario marked the occasion this morning at a news conference outside the church.

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Murder in a church backyard

Murder in a church backyard
‘No matter how close the darkness comes, we will never sell out’

By Bill Lewellis

[A young man was murdered behind Grace Allentown on August 10. It was Allentown's 13th homicide this year. Two Sundays later, parishioners of Grace processed to the spot of the killing to read God’s word and to recommit themselves to holding out a corner of grace in a troubled neighborhood. Read a news release composed by the senior warden, an op by the rector, published in The Morning Call, the sermon preached by the rector, and the Aug. 25 news story in The Morning Call. Below is a story on the service and Grace Church in context.]

Jameel Clark, 20, predicted he would die. Two days before his prediction came true, he fought with Roman, a Latin Kings gang member, in a center city diner in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Roman told his friend, Melvin Velazquez, 18, known as Trigger.

During the early morning hours of Sunday, August 10, Clark went to a house behind Grace Episcopal Church to try to straighten things out peacefully, according to friends who warned him not to go there because friends of Roman might be nearby and might cause trouble. Clark was more concerned that trouble might find him when he was with his one-year-old daughter.

A witness said Clark and Velazquez fought outside the home. Clark ripped a black-and-yellow bead necklace, a Latin King symbol, off Velazquez’s neck. Velazquez pulled a handgun and shot Clark several times on a bleak, macadam parking lot.

Last Sunday, two readers proclaimed a version of this responsively, at the spot where Clark had been gunned down, the lot where Grace Church builds an Easter fire to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The people of Grace Church processed to the spot where the killing took place “in an endeavor to stand in solidarity with the good people of their neighborhood,” according to Grace Church senior warden Libby House, “and to pray for Jameel and others who have died violently in this city, to read God’s word and to recommit themselves to holding out a corner of grace in a troubled neighborhood.”

The killing was the 13th homicide in Allentown this year.

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Downtown Allentown Church Will Not Cower Before Murder in Its Backyard

As City Reels from 13th Homicide of the Year
Downtown Allentown Church Will Not Cower Before Murder in Its Backyard
By Libby House, senior warden, Grace Allentown

Triduum2 Allentown, Pennsylvania… This coming Sunday morning, on August 24th at 10 o’clock, the people of Grace Episcopal Church, at the corner of 5th and Linden in the center of Allentown, will stand together against the hopelessness, chaos, evil, and darkness that fill their streets. Once again the people of Center City Allentown have suffered a senseless homicide, the thirteenth this year, and the people of Grace Church will not remain silent. Instead they will stand up from their pews and move into the place where this tragic loss of a valuable human life occurred, into the streets. They will confront the violence head on.

On Sunday, August 10, Jameel Clark, twenty years old, a man not much more than a boy, was murdered on the parking lot behind a building owned by the church, which until very recently had housed the church’s AIDS ministry for more than a decade. The people of Grace Church, in an endeavor to stand in solidarity with the good people of their neighborhood, the true victims of the senseless mayhem, will process from their church to the very spot on the bleak, macadam, parking lot where the killing took place. There they will pray for Jameel and others who have died violently in this city, read God’s Word, and recommit themselves to holding out a corner of grace in a troubled neighborhood.

The lot where Jameel was gunned down is the same lot where they build the bonfire each Easter for their Vigil. On Sunday, they will go back to that spot. They will carry with them the fire from Easter night, a sign that the darkness has not and cannot extinguish God’s light burning in the world. And, just as at the Easter Vigil, they will light individual candles and move back into the church. They will proclaim again that Christ is the Light of the World, and they will recommit themselves to letting the Light spread through them into Center City Allentown.

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Bears for New Bethany

By Ray Harbort

Bears1St. George’s Church, Hellertown has collected over one hundred bears and other stuffed critters for the children at New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem.

It all began when seven year-old Sam Vandergast and his family viewed a news story on TV about the increase in homelessness. His parents told him about the families who resided at New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem.

Sam was surprised that there were children in the shelter and asked, “If they don’t have homes, does that mean they don’t have toys?” He was upset about it and wanted to do something for them.

Soon after, he had a visit to the emergency room and took his favorite bear with him and told his parents how much better it made him feel. He related his experience to the news story about homeless children and again asked if the family could work on a project to help children who were scared or sad.

Bears2St. George’s Bears for New Bethany project was launched when Sam and his mother, Shari, made an appeal to the congregation at St. George’s for 70 bears. A few weeks later, more than 100 bears and other stuffed toys were crowding the front pews of the church, waiting to be delivered to New Bethany.

[The Rev. Raymond L. Harbort is rector of St. George's Hellertown.]

[Photos by Henry Baird. Click on the photos to enlarge them.]

Diocesan Training for Ministry Conference

March 1, at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. Morning: Vestry, Lay Eucharistic Visitors 1, Stewardship as a Way of Life, Planned Giving/St. Matthew Society, and Celebrating the Eucharist. Afternoon: Lay Eucharistic Visitors 2, Stewardship, Role of Treasurers, EYE, Parish Communication. Download the brochure below. Registration deadline is February 15.

Download 0801.Training for Ministry brochure.pdf


Might you be an Evangelism Consultant?

This is an invitation from the diocesan Evangelism Commission to consider prayerfully whether you would like to apply to receive training to be an evangelism consultant, to be able to assist local congregations plan and implement their evangelism ministry. The commission will train nine to twelve consultants on Saturday, April 19, (10:00 to 3:00) at Trinity Mount Pocono (lunch provided, no fee) and will then ask you to join with one of the current members of the commission to do a third round of Regional Evangelism Training Days on May 3, 10 or 17 at locations to be determined. From there, you would work with the commission and go out to parishes that request practical help in getting their evangelism ministry off the ground and help the commission plan future trainings and workshops. Donwload more information below.

Download 0801.Evangelism Consultants.Invitation.doc

Download 0801.Evangelism Consultants.Invitation.pdf

Download 0801.Evangelism Consultants.Letter to clergy.pdf

Pray for Father Henry Pease

Please pray for Father Henry Pease, retired rector of St. Paul's, Montrose (1972-98), who for some eight years has served also as priest-in-charge at St. George's, Nanticoke,. Father Pease is undergoing chemo and radiation therapy for cancer of the esophagus. Notes and cards may be addressed to: The Rev. Henry J. Pease,  17 Lake Shore Dr., Tunkhannock, PA, 18657. Henry has held many leadership positions within our diocesan community, including president of the Standing Committee. Many remember Henry's courageous trip to Ecuador in 2000 to rescue three grandsons, then ages 3, 5 and 8. He took them into his home, where he had been living alone, and has cared for them there over the past seven years. An April 2002 Diocesan Life story about that may be downloaded below.

Download 020403a.pdf

Gay Men's Reading Group -- The Velvet Rage

Grace Church, Allentown, will host a "Gay Men's Reading Group" off-site on four Wednesday in January, beginning January 9. Dinner with open conversation about the experience of growing up and living as a gay man in a predominantly straight society. The venue will be chosen in light of the size of the group. The featured book will be The Velvet Rage Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by gay psychologist Alan Downs. To join or for more information: Father Patrick Malloy, rector, Grace Church, Allentown: email or 610-435-0782.

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Christmas Dinner in Montrose

More than 25 volunteers from St. Paul's, Montrose, assisted with the annual Christmas Day dinner at the Montrose Senior Center. They welcomed 80 guests to a traditional dinner of roasted turkey and baked ham with all the trimmings, and a cornucopia of desserts.The free dinner began six years ago for Endless Mountains Health Systems clients who had no nearby relatives, or those who would be eating alone. Anonymous donors have made it possible to continue this event each year. Download the story and photos below.

Download 0712.Christmas Dinner..pdf

Not Fair

The Cathedral Church of the Nativity invites parishioners “to share a story (great or small) about being thankful for something that has been done by this church, its people or its ministries” for publication in the parish newsletter. Unless requested, all stories are printed anonymously. Not Fair appears in the December issue. Download it below.

Download 0712.Not Fair.pdf

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Crop Walk

The Church of the Mediator, Allentown, joined the local Crop Walk in October. Some 25% of funds raised support the Allentown Ecumenical Food Bank and Lehigh County Conference of Churches Soup Kitchen. The remaining 75% goes to disaster relief and assistance to poor families and communities in developing countries so they can learn to feed themselves through the seeds, tools and irrigation provided. Download the photo of Mediator participants below.

Download Allentown.Mediator.CropWalk.jpg

West Pittston launches new world mission project

Trinity Episcopal Church, West Pittston, launched a new ministry on Sunday, February 18. Project Friendship: Helping Hand To Haiti became one more of several established local and global mission outreach projects of the West Pittston Borough church at the corner of Spring and Montgomery.

Through an array of helping projects known as Trinity Good Neighbor Outreach Ministries, the parish has been engaged in outreach projects both locally and globally for some five years

Among the local ministry projects are Trinity's Good Neighbor Food Bank that assists individuals and families with free groceries and Neighborcare that engages members of the parish and neighborhood in nurturing neighborly kindness and community building through telephone calls, greeting cards and service projects.

Global mission projects include a partnership with the people of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji in southern Sudan and Warm Greetings that engages parishioners and neighbors in creating wool afghans to wrap around children who are victims of war in the Middle-East.

The new global outreach to the poor of Haiti will begin as a ministry of financial support to assist the children of Haiti with food and education opportunities.

Ms. Carrine Simms, a Christian missioner to Haiti, visited Trinity Church yesterday to help launch the new ministry by offering her personal testimony of years of service with the people of Haiti. Trinity's rector, the Rev. John Major, appointed her as parish missioner to Haiti.

Prison Ministry -- with a twist

It was June 2006. Trinity Church in Carbondale was working on a search profile for a priest, dealing with financial problems, trying to fix a leaky roof which leaked and damaged the church office, working on getting a computer system up and running, as well as the day-to-day normal operations of a church.

All this was the workload of a novice vestry whose members had no prior experience in taking charge and running a church. It seemed like our plates were full. We could not handle anymore. Then came the rains.

After days of non-stop rain, the Lackawanna River, which flows through Carbondale across the street from Trinity Church, jumped its banks and began spilling over the church lawn. The police came to evacuate the building as the water rose. The river raged, picking up rocks, timber, and debris, and crashed through the ground level windows, spilling muddy water and debris into the basement.

After the flood waters receded and we were allowed into the church, an inspection revealed flood waters up to the first floor. A financially strapped church run mostly by women had a disaster on their hands. The task of cleanup was overwhelming.

Download Prison Ministry -- with twist, by Dawn Pentecost, clerk of the vestry at Trinity Church, Carbondale. She tells of their experience with a state correctional work release team who "helped us more than we can say."

Download prison_ministry_in_ne_pa.pdf