PA Episcopal bishops urge passage of non-discrimination bill

Jesus commanded us to love one another, and he listed no exceptions.

BETHLEHEM, February 11, 2015 — Bishops of the five Episcopal dioceses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania today called on the state legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, and other public accommodations.

The bishops who signed the letter are:
Bishop Clifton Daniel, 3rd, of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia
Bishop Robert R. Gepert, of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, which includes Harrisburg
Bishop Dorsey W. M. McConnell, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
Bishop Sean Rowe, who serves both the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which includes Erie, and the Diocese of Bethlehem, which includes the northeastern quarter of the state

The text of the letter follows:
As bishops of the Episcopal Church and citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we urge the state legislature to pass the Pennsylvania Non-Discrimination Act (HB/SB 300).

The proposed law would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations such as hotel lodgings or restaurant service. It would also preserve existing protections that insure faith communities have sole discretion in determining whom to hire and whom to include in their religious rituals.

Our support for the Non-Discrimination Act is rooted in our faith. Sacred scripture teaches us that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore must be treated with dignity and respect.  As Christians, we follow a savior who spent much of his earthly ministry among the cast off and the cast out, and we are called to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable and the marginalized. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and he listed no exceptions.

Were we not Christians, however, we would still support the Non-Discrimination Act. One does not have to profess a particular faith to understand that there is no justifiable reason to fire, evict or deny services to a citizen of our commonwealth based on considerations such as sex, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. It is simply unfair.

The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully for more than three decades to reform its own discriminatory policies and practices toward LGBT people. In that struggle we have come to understand what was already obvious to some of our fellow citizens all along: that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are gifts to our families, our friends and our communities. We are richer for their presence, and it is past time for us to acknowledge that we share a common humanity and therefore must be equal in the eyes of the law."

Yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel, 3rd, Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Right Reverend Robert R. Gepert, Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
The Right Reverend Dorsey W. M. McConnell, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Right Reverend Sean Rowe, Bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem

Same-sex marriage ruling 'a step toward justice,' says Bishop Sean Rowe

Episcopal bishop calls same-sex marriage ruling 'a step toward justice'
Bishop Sean Rowe: Same-sex couples are "a blessing to their communities, neighbors and friends."

ERIE, May 21--The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bishop Provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, released the following statement on Judge John E. Jones III's ruling that Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional:

"Today is a joyful day for Pennsylvanians who believe as I do that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in our state. These couples work hard, raise children, volunteer for good causes and pay taxes. Pennsylvania would be poorer without them, and I am pleased that Judge John E. Jones III has moved them one significant step closer to equality under the law.

"The Episcopal Church has struggled faithfully with the issue of same-sex relationships for more than three decades, and in that struggle most of us have come to understand that same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities and to their neighbors and friends. Like opposite-sex couples, their love draws them more clearly into fidelity to one another and service to the world. Like opposite sex couples, they are signs and sacraments allowing us to see the boundless love of God more clearly.

"I am aware that faithful Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Bethlehem and Northwestern Pennsylvania disagree with me on this issue. I want to assure them that our dioceses will remain places where people of good conscience can differ charitably and remain united in the hope and healing of Jesus Christ.

"After reflection and consultation, I will write to both dioceses with guidance for clergy who want to officiate at same-sex marriages. For today, I am grateful to live in a state that has taken a step toward justice."

The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit

The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania comprises 33 congregations in the 13 counties of northwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit

newSpin 120528

The newSpin Newsletter, May 28, 2012
By Bill Lewellis

Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday 

Enjoy the start of summer but take time to recall the sacrifices of those who have been killed in service to our nation. Monday, May 28 is Memorial Day. Observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to men and women who've died in military service.  Find Memorial Day prayers here. Visit's Memorial Day page to learn about the origins of this federal holiday. Also see A List and a Prayer, posted by Bishop Paul.


• Faces of Poverty: A War Veteran ... [Odyssey Networks] After serving in Iraq, a young father returns to Reading, Pennsylvania and battles unemployment as he and his wife fight to get a leg up in a tough economy. Very well done video here.

• John Courtney Murray helped to replace the RC onetime self-serving church-state theology ... [Bill] As RC bishops advance a "religious freedom" argument to oppose the "imposition" of health insurance policies that cover contraception, I think of the pre-Vatican II position of the RC Church that advocated state-sponsored religion in countries where Catholics were in the majority (by numbers or power) –– an "error has no rights" theology –– while advocating secular pluralism or religious liberty in countries where Catholics were in the minority. Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray made crucial contributions to the Second Vatican Council, specifically to its declaration on religious liberty, Dignitas Humanae, which opposed this doublespeak. Thank God for Murray. It was no less the conservative Cardinal Spellman of New York who called Murray to Rome to be his peritus (expert) at the Council. Prominent American conservatives rallied around approval of the document. The vote to approve was 2,308 to 70. One of the most theologically reactionary websites I've read, Super Flumina Babylonis, refers now to the "the collective folly of 2,308 bishops gathered in the Vatican in 1965." An article on that website concludes: "The Church’s episcopacy erred in submitting themselves to the masonic agenda at the Second Vatican Council. Until the Pope exposes the falsity of the reasonings of John Courtney Murray on which the bishops relied, the ghost of that theologian manqué will continue to haunt the Catholic Church, and the rest of civilisation." Murray would be proud.

• The Politics of Religion ... [NYTimes editorial] Thirteen Roman Catholic dioceses and some Catholic-related groups scattered lawsuits across a dozen federal courts last week claiming that President Obama was violating their religious freedom by including contraceptives in basic health care coverage for female employees. It was a dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air. More here.

• A Time for Prophets ... When any person first has the apprehension that God is real everything changes. Bishop Paul Marshall's sermon at the ordination of Mary Lou Divis and Charles Warwick. Read it here. Warwick of Swoyersville is a volunteer firefighter and employee of PennDot, in the winter; plowing highways, summer; road construction crew  Currently he is also deacon-in-charge at St Mark's Episcopal Church, New Milford. He has been called to serve there as priest-in-charge. Divis of Tunkhannock is a Behavioral Specialist at Children's Service Center in Wilkes-Barre and serves as deacon-in charge to St Peter's Episcopal Church, Tunkhannock, where she will now serve as priest in charge.

• Faith is golden – Beliefs are overrated ... [Bill Lewellis, The Morning Call] Faith is golden. Beliefs are overrated, as are works. When one reduces religion to either beliefs or good works, both are overrated. Reductionism (think "nothing but") usually destroys anything it attempts to explain, as in: religion is nothing but belief or religion is nothing but morality. Morality itself has for many been reduced to nothing but sexual morality. It is so much more, embracing personal, business and community relationships. And faith is so much more than belief, as in "I set my heart on" God rather than purely intellectual acts of belief. Beliefs and good works are overrated especially when we think of them as prerequisites to being befriended by God. More at The Morning Call and the newSpin blog.

• What priests want you to know ... [Dirty Sexy Ministry] 1. Your minister has a personal life.  2. Sundays are long days for us.  3. Clergy have to flip switches in ways that are not good.  4. We miss the parishioners we bury.  5. We are not particularly good at disappointment.  6. Life happens at the church every day of the week.  7. Many clergy only get one day off a week.  8. Church life is often feast or famine.  9. We don't remember what you tell us on Sunday. 10. We make mistakes. Read expansions here. [h/t Canon Andrew Gerns]

Continue reading "newSpin 120528" »

Grace, Honesdale dedicates recently gifted Columbarium

[By Fr. Ed Erb]

“I don’t want to have the parish buy a columbarium, Jean.” said Fr. Edward Erb, of Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale, to one of his parishioners, “because as soon as we do, you’ll die.”  But that did not deter the parishioner.  One Friday, her husband drove her to the Church.  She was not strong enough to get out of the car.  When the priest came out to greet her, she handed him two checks to pay for the unit and its installation.  A week and a half later, she did die.  But she got her wish.
Columbarium dedication photoSMALLSunday November 6th for the commemoration of All Saints, Fr. Erb, surrounded by Jean’s family dedicated the columbarium to the glory of God, and in memory of Jean Hoerter.
A columbarium is a wall of niches specially designed to give permanent rest for the cremated remains (“cremains”) of the faithful.  “It is a wonderful stewardship in many ways,” explained Fr. Erb.  “First of all, it saves precious earth from row after row of graves in a cemetery.  Secondly, cremation is less expensive than interring a body in the ground, and saves considerable on funeral costs, not having a coffin to purchase, for one thing.  In addition, having the remains of the faithful placed at rest in the Church continually reminds us of the saints who have gone before us.”
The columbarium is placed in the Baptistry at Grace Church and contains 64 niches.  The reason for the placement is that in Baptism, Christians are assured of the hope of resurrection to new life after the death of this life.  At Grace Church, as in many churches, the Baptistry is placed at a major entrance into the Church.  Again, the symbolism of “entry” - in this case entry into eternal rest with God.  Grace Church is also proud to house the family baptismal font of Philip Hone, himself, originally placed at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City, and for over 150 years housed in the Baptistry at Grace Church.  “Two great benefactors of the parish are memorialized together,” concluded Fr. Erb.
Grace Church will be one of the sites honored by the Houses of Worship Tour sponsored by the Greater Honesdale Partnership later this month.  The public is warmly welcome to visit the Church to learn more about its history, and its future.

[photo caption - pictured Mr. William Hoerter, husband of the benefactor, Fr. Ed Erb, at the Columbarium in Grace Episcopal Church.]

St. Paul's, Montrose announces Adventure Club after-school program

[From Paul Walker and Randy Webster]

Historic St. Paul’s Church is offering The Adventure Club, a free after-school program.  The program runs from 3:15 to 5:00 P.M. every Wednesday, beginning October 5.  All students in Kindergarten through the 8th grade are welcome to participate.
Each month will have a unique theme for the program. The monthly themes are:

  • October— “All things bright and beautiful”
  • November— Sharing and Caring
  • December— Christmas Crafts
  • January— Movement
  • February— The Diversity of God’s Family
  • March—Making a difference in the world around us
  • April— The Fine Arts
  • May— Cooking

The year will finish with a big celebration!
Snacks and homework assistance will be provided.

This year the students will have the opportunity to participate in a youth choir which will make public appearances about every six weeks, sometimes singing at the morning service at St. Paul’s, and sometimes singing at various public events.  The choirs will rehearse from 4:00 to 5:00 P.M.

If there is enough interest we will also offer the ability to participate in a handbell choir.
If you wish to register, please call the office at St. Paul’s at 570-278- 2954.

Summer services at Stevensville begin July 9

A news release from The Episcopal Church in Upper Susquehanna County: St. Paul's Montrose (Paul Walker, rector), St. Mark's New Milford and Christ Church Susquehanna (Randy Lee Webster, priest)

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Stevensville has announced the opening of their summer services for Saturday, July 9 at 5:00 P.M.  Services will be held there every Saturday at 5:00 P.M. through September 3.  St. Matthew’s is under the care of St. Paul’s Church in Montrose.  The Rev. Paul Walker, Rector of St. Paul’s, will officiate and preach at the service.

St Matthew's Church, Stevensville, in what is now Bradford County, was established in 1799 by sheep farmers who came from Litchfield, CT, following the Revolutionary War. Along with their sheep, they brought their deep faith and commitment to the Church of England. However, the recent War of Independence meant that church was now reconstituted in the United States as of 1789 as the Episcopal Church. Their first services were held in a room over a store, but soon they moved to a church building.

In 1814 the church building burned and construction was soon underway for a new sanctuary. This new building, which still stands, was built in 1820 and consecrated by Bishop William White, the first Bishop of Pennsylvania, in 1824. This majestic structure has stood fast and faithful for over 185 years. It is reported to be the oldest building in the Diocese of Bethlehem still used as a church.

The sanctuary has been refurbished several times over the years, but the “modernization” was the conversion of the whale-oil lamps to kerosene. The original source of heat was a large pot-bellied stove in the rear of the church, which still stands. It is not disconnected for reasons of safety; charred beams under the floor are reminders of fires past.

The interior of the building has been kept as the original, including a balcony with benches, which winds its way along the rear and sidewalls. The windows are mainly clear glass, although there are several tinted or painted memorial windows. There are many interesting appointments and paintings in the church.

Due to changing demographics, St. Matthew's has become essentially inactive as a parish. Seasonal services and special events, such as weddings, are held in the building; and, it is the site of many pilgrimages. Since the early 1930's the care and oversight of the church was given to St. Paul's, Montrose, which is seventeen miles east of the parish on Route 706.

Trinity Easton to hold Broadway Revue May 6, 7 & 8


On Saturday, April 9 from 2:30pm until 4:30pm we invite you to come and start rehearsing for our Broadway Revue. If you love showtunes and you like to sing in the chorus, we will learn numbers like "Oklahoma" from Oklahoma, "O Bless the Lord, My Soul" from Godspell, "Seasons of Love" from Rent, and "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music. If you'd like to give your regards to Broadway by singing a solo or a duet, that would be great too!

We'll hold auditions for solos after our rehearsal on the same day.

Performances will be Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7, 2011: 7pm andSunday, May 8: Lunch at 1:30pm, show at 2:30pm
Tickets: $10 in advance for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (performance only); $12 at door; $18 for lunch and performance on Sunday.
All proceeds benefit Trinity's Music and Arts Committee.
Contact Peg Gerns (610.253.0792 or[email protected]) or Dale Grandield ([email protected] or 484.892-7659.)

Tell all of your showtunes-lovin' friends!

Episcopal Journal begins publication in February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hellertown welcomes new rector

[News Release from St. George's Hellertown]

St. George’s Welcomes New Rector 

Jonathan Mayo On Thursday, October 14th, 2010 St. George’s Episcopal Church Hellertown will
have a “Celebration of New Ministry” with the institution of Father H. Jonathan
Mayo as rector.   The congregation and local clergy will gather for a special service at
7:00 P.M. that will include Holy Eucharist and a visit from the Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall.

Father Jonathan is a native of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, and has returned to
Pennsylvania after a 30-year absence.  He has served parishes in California,
Minnesota, and Wisconsin, before coming to St George’s on August 1.  He had
previously served small churches, and therefore had a secular career in Information
Technology.  He graduated from Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, in 1975, and St
Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY, in 1980.  He has
immediate family living in the Lehigh Valley, the Pocono region, and St Louis, MO.  
In 2008, St. George’s celebrated 100 years of worship having been a part of the
Hellertown community since 1908.  Regular services are held on Sundays at 9:30
A.M. and Church School is offered for children ages 3-13 years old.  


Trinity Easton to dedicate building addition and renovations, Sept. 14

[Re-posted to clarify potential ambiguity in paragraph 5]

Contact: The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns
Trinity Episcopal Church
234 Spring Garden Street
Easton, PA 18045
Cell: 610-392-4112
[email protected]

On Tuesday, September 14 at 5 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 234 Spring Garden Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, will open their church and their new addition to the community for an Open House and then Bishop Paul V. Marshall of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem will bless and dedicate the space starting at 7 p.m.

At the ceremony, the parish will also formally announce the naming of the Trinity Primary School, which is being built in Sodogo, Sudan in the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, Episcopal Church of Southern Sudan, in part with funds raised by members of Trinity Church. Trinity tithed the proceeds of the campaign toward the building of the school, according to the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, rector. [Trinity's contribution covers about one-third of the cost of the school; the remaining two-thirds comes from other members of the Diocese of Bethlehem.]

Trinity Church serves the community not only as a house of worship and community of faith, but also as a place of help and refuge for those in need. The parish’s Ark Soup Kitchen serves 65-80 people every Saturday a nutritious, tasty meal. The parish has housed twelve-step groups, community organizations, programs from youth and the aged, and many others, and has a long history of outreach to the community. The parish, which was founded in 1819, calls itself “A Church for all people” who “discover, share and live God’s love.”

The new space contains a new commercial-grade kitchen, new restrooms and a new classroom, and makes the facility barrier-free. A stained glass window over the high altar of the church was threatened if the wall collapsed was also restored. In addition, improvements to the organ were made. The church repaved the parking lot, and made other modifications to make the space handicapped accessible.

The generosity of the congregation’s members made this building and the school in Southern Sudan possible. They raised nearly $450,000 during a capital campaign in 2009. The parish tithed their gift so that $45,000 is going across the globe, in Kajo-Keji County, Southern Sudan, a new primary school is being built in a little Sudanese village called Sodogo. The Diocese of Bethlehem, which includes Trinity, Easton, has a partner relationship with the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, which contains the village of Sodogo. The new school will be named for Trinity Church, Easton.

The new kitchen was equipped through a $25,000 grant from the Episcopal Church's United Thank Offering. The grant was one of three, the largest, awarded for projects in Pennsylvania. The UTO awarded 69 grants for 2010 for a total of $2,163,740.93 for the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The grants were awarded to projects in 43 Episcopal Church dioceses, 11 companion diocese relationships and 15 international provinces.

The Open House will start at 5 p.m. on September 14, with presentations by community and civic leaders at 6:30 p.m. Bishop Marshall will then lead the congregation and community members through the building as the new and renovated spaces are blessed, followed by a Holy Eucharist in the Church. A reception follows in Conine Hall.

The building was financed through Merchants Bank of Bangor, PA.  The general contractor was the Alfero Company of Easton, PA. The architect was Jeff Martinson, AIA also of Easton.

For more information please contact The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, Rector at 610-253-0792 ext. 202 or via e-mail at [email protected]. You may also contact Sr. Patricia-Michael at the Church office (610-253-0752 ext. 201 and [email protected])