Benedictine Oblate Chapter Starts in the Diocese

By Mother Laura Howell
Rector, Trinity Bethlehem

On Sunday, April 17, at 1:30, twelve years after I became an Oblate of St. Benedict, Trinity Bethlehem (44 E. Market St.) will host the organizational meeting of the Diocese of Bethlehem’s new Benedictine Oblate Chapter. Bishop Sean has blessed our new undertaking.

An oblate is a lay monastic who offers his or her life to God. To quote St. Paul in Romans 12: oblates “present <their> bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” Oblates promise to live a Benedictine life in the world, while maintaining a spiritual connection to a monastery. We are male/female, young/old, married/single, of all races and ethnic groups, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, other denominations, and from countries all around the world. We make promises of obedience, stability and conversion of life, to be lived while continuing in the station of life God has called us to. For me, that’s being a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, PA. Each oblate has a different path. But we all promise obedience to the will of God; stability in continuing in the Way God has called us to; and continuous and daily conversion of life, trying always to become more the person God wants us to be. You can also see these promises as distilled and focused versions of some of our baptismal promises.

Part of the promise of stability is that each Benedictine monk or nun plans to spend the rest of their lives in a single monastic community. Oblates are not monks or nuns, and therefore, most don’t live in monastic communities, although we are part of the international Benedictine family. However, we all do have an affiliation with a monastery. Oblates live out their promises of stability by being part of their home monasteries at the spiritual level, rather than at the residential level.

My home monastery is Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota, and I have received the great honor of starting a new chapter here in Pennsylvania. You can visit their website by going to http://yanktonbenedictines.org. They operate both a hospital and a college, and pioneered the first Online Oblate Chapter, so it should be no surprise that we feel an affinity. We are also members of the North American Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors (http://naabod.org).

You are all welcome to attend our first meeting to find out more about the course of study and faith formation that is involved in becoming an oblate. Or have a chat with me. Or send me a note at laura@trinitybeth.org. Read more about Benedictine oblates at http://osb.org/obl/index.html .

Benedictine blessings to all,

Mo. Laura Thomas, Obl.S.B.


Trinity Bethlehem Soup Kitchen Report

January 2015
The Rev. Elizabeth Miller, Deacon
Marcie Lightwood, Social Worker

The Soup Kitchen at Trinity is a community – Trinity’s “second congregation.”

More than 150 people eat lunch together each weekday, served by a team of volunteers that number 55-75 over the course of a week.

Volunteers are essential to the work that the soup kitchen does. Each day there is a head cook and usually 5 – 7 others who chop vegetables, assemble salads, make dressings, prepare fruit salad, cook main dishes, make up plates, serve beverages, make coffee, carry trays, and wash dishes. The preparations begin at 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served noon to 1:00. Cleanup is usually done by 2:30 in the afternoon. That is a compact and fast-paced work day for a large handful of people, but it is not everything that happens.

Each day, a different volunteer drives to Fresh Market in the Promenade shops to pick up donated groceries. Some of it is used in the noontime meal, but most of it is taken home by our guests from tables set up and supervised by another set of volunteers. That assures us that our friends have nutritious food to eat at home as well as for lunch with us.

The Trinity guests can access non-food needs through the social worker. There are several volunteers who help with that aspect of ministry. Some help give out shampoo, OTC pain relievers, cough drops, razors and sanitary needs. Many businesses and congregations have set up drives to collect grooming products and winter accessories to benefit the poor and homeless people we serve.  Once a month, the women of St. Anne’s bring clean, sorted used clothing for guests.

It is by faith that we continue to operate. God is good, and we have a few generous donors: A few parishioners who give monthly and holiday gifts, one of our neighbors sends in $50 a month, and a former parishioner who lives out of state who joyfully gives several thousand dollars a year.  There are several angels from around the Diocese of Bethlehem and the rest of the community who regularly support the work of the soup kitchen. We hold an annual benefit concert, when talented community musicians give of their time and talent and an unnamed friend of the soup kitchen matches all ticket sales. The anonymous foundation continues to support us, although for a lesser amount. We applied to the United Way for funding in 2014 and although we were not selected, we were encouraged to apply again. Our finances are always cause for concern.

Second Harvest Food Bank has been carrying us by not billing us the usual shared maintenance fee and giving us as much of a share of the mixed grants they receive. Our volunteer cooks often have to await the arrival of Fresh Market produce so that they can make salads and fruit to serve. We are stretching every dollar in this way by not buying food, but using donations immediately. The soup kitchen is also in need of a new van. The old one is 15 years old and is no longer safe to transport heavy loads of food from the food bank and other donors. Please join Deacon Liz in her prayers that somehow we can obtain a safe and usable van before the end of this winter.

Partnerships with other organizations add to what we can offer our guests.  Students from Moravian College School of Nursing, Cedar Crest and Northampton Community College  serve guests in ways that contribute to their coursework, often providing educational workshops on health concerns. Moravian Academy students, our neighbors, donate apple pies in the fall, holiday goodies, and make bag lunches for our guests to have over weekends. Students from Northeast Middle School brought in nearly 200 blankets. The charity knitters groups and other knitters generously give many, many hats, mittens and scarves to keep folks warm. The brownie troop and the associated Girl Scouts have donated diapers needed by families with young children.

The ministry to our guests is one where success is difficult to measure.  Feeding 150-170 people a good meal every day is one measure. How we affect lives is another. We feel really good about Jeff, who last year had a three pack-a-day cigarette habit and weighed less than 100 pounds. We talked to him over the course of a few weeks when Deacon Liz and Marcie took him to doctors and hospitals. Because he knewthat we cared about him, Jeff cut down to six to eight cigarettes a day, and with the help of nutritional supplements we gave him, he has regained both his health and 35 pounds.

Leanne was evicted from her apartment, lost all of her ID, exhausted her available money, ran out of medications, stopped taking care of herself and began a descent into failing health and homelessness. Deacon Liz and Marcie Lightwood took Leanne to the hospital and doctor’s visits, visited her during a prolonged stay, helped get her into a programmed shelter, got her replacement identification cards, and help her manage her money. After a very rough two months, Leanne is back to functioning.

Sometimes the help we give our guests means we will not see them again. We have helped folks get boots for work so they could get good jobs and support themselves. As a result of those experiences, the social worker obtained several gift cards to Payless Shoe Stores so that we could quickly meet that need should it again arise. Many times we provided clothing vouchers so people could get the clothing they needed to work.

We have spent endless hours on the phone to advocate for client needs. We have helped folks get into apartments, get telephones, sign up for medical benefits and check on employment options.

And what is the best thing we do with our second congregation? We celebrate! Every holiday is celebrated with special food, entertainment and decorations. The Trinity Soup Kitchen is a community, a place where those without family and friends can come and be a part of something warm and special. It is about so much more than food.

 

 


Trinity, Bethlehem Spring Artist-in-Residence Organ Concert March 18

[From Trinity, Bethlehem]

ARAM BASMADJIAN, Artist-in-Residence at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, will herald both spring and Trinity’s newly refurbished Aeolian-Skinner organ on March 18. His recital at 3 P.M. will feature music by the best known composers of music for the “king of instruments,” including Handel, Bach, Bingham, Schumann, Vierne, and Widor.

Mr. Basmadjian has released three solo recordings, including the first classical recording on the world's largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in Barrington, Illinois. He toured for six years with Community Concerts, with performances in over fifty cities each year.

A reception will follow the recital at the church at 44 E. Market Street, Bethlehem. There is a suggested donation of $15; children under 12 are admitted free.   Tickets are available at the door.

For more information: info@trinitybeth.org, 610-867-4741.


Sunday Martin Luther King Jr Brunch at Trinity Bethlehem will benefit Soup Kitchen

Sunday Martin Luther King Jr Brunch at Trinity Bethlehem will benefit Soup Kitchen
From The Morning Call, Diane Stoneback

Jackie Onassis, Andy Warhol, Leonard Bernstein, Casey Stengel and Dick Clark all ate party foods prepared by caterer Edna "Ma" Bragg, who spent 40 years feeding New York City's rich and famous. Some of those same foods will be on the table Jan. 15 when Ma Bragg's daughters, Oceola "OC" and Gladys Bragg, will host a buffet-style, benefit brunch at Bethlehem's Trinity Episcopal Church. The dishes on the menu, from spoonbread, cornbread, grits and gravy to biscuits, collards, eggs, ham, sausage and blueberry coffeecake, are from recipes contained in a soon-to-be-published culinary memoir called "Country Cooking, City Style: Ma Bragg Brings Memphis to Manhattan."

More here.

Sunday, Jan. 15, 12:30 to 2:00, at Trinity, 44 E. Market, Bethlehem. Reservations here.


Yuletide Recital by Aram Basmadjian December 11th on Trinity, Bethlehem's newly restored organ

PhotoTrinityOrganistTime: December 11, 3:00 p.m.

Location: Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market St., Bethlehem, PA 18018

Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem will celebrate both its newly restored Aeolian-Skinner organ and its new Artist-in-Residence, Aram Basmadjian. Aram is renowned among organists for his exciting and spectacular CD recordings and nation-wide tours using Allen theater and church organs. He currently  manages the custom organ department for Allen Organ Company in Macungie, PA.

This concert of seasonal and classical music will mix traditional and modern compositions, including Bach’s Sinfonia from Cantata 29 “We Thank Thee, God”, Frederick Delius’ “Winter Night”, and “Carol Rhapsody” by Richard Purvis, and a chance for the audience to sing along to Christmas carols. A reception with Yuletide treats will follow the performance.

Tickets are at the door, suggested donation $15, children under 12 free.

For further information, contact Mother Laura Howell, info@trinitybeth.org or 610-867-4741


Diocesan Convention Resolutions as passed

The following are the Convention Resolutions as passed at this year's Diocesan Convention.

Resolution on the Budget of the Diocese of Bethlehem

Be it Resolved, That the Assessment Rate applied to Line A, Normal Operating Income (NOI), of the 2010 Parochial Report shall be 12% in 2012;

and be it further

Resolved, That the Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget of the Diocese as it is presented to the Convention be adopted.

Presented by Diocesan Council

Explanation:

With this Resolution, Diocesan Convention adopts a Diocesan Operating Budget for 2012.  The Income of the Budget represents a continuation of a blend of Assessments and Acceptances, both at rates identical to last year: 12% of Normal Operating Income (NOI, Line A of the Parochial Report) for the Assessment and 3% of NOI for the Acceptance.

Resolution of the Personnel Committee Regarding the 2012 Salary Schedule

Be It Resolved, that the Salary Schedule for Clergy for 2012, be as follows with a 2.8% Cost of Living increase,

and be it further

Resolved, That the same Cost of Living increase applies to lay employees.

Parish Index                    Size of Parish                    Clergy Salary Range
1-99                                Small                                $30,635.00 - $36,800.00
100-250                           Medium                            $33,925.00 - $50,165.00
250-399                           Large                                $40,600.00 - $62,500.00
400 – above                      X-Large                            $54,790.00 - $88,715.00

Be It Resolved, That the Clergy Supply Schedule for 2011, be as follows, and be it further

Resolved, That Supply Clergy be reimbursed for travel at the current IRS rate.

Number of Services

1 Sunday Service or 1 Saturday                $130.00
2 Sunday Services                                    $160.00
Mid Week Service                                    $80.00

Resolution To Establish a Plan of Action for Relief for the Homeless and Poor in Our Society
[A M E N D E D]

Whereas the current increase in suffering of homeless people in our society has been largely ignored during our economic downturn and housing crisis, as almost 700,000 of our citizens are known to be homeless (with four in ten living on the street);

Whereas the greatest increases in recent years in homelessness are among people who have become unemployed (including veterans returning from our wars) and among those who formerly lived in homes now in foreclosure;

Whereas 250,000 persons living in families are homeless;

Whereas, contrary to misconceptions, blame and stereotypes, the root causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing and poverty;

Whereas in response to our economic downturn and jobs crisis, budgetary reductions at the state, federal, and local levels have had direct and devastating effects upon our parishes’ work with the poor – upon shelters for the homeless; upon soup kitchens, upon food banks, upon employment counseling programs, upon legal services programs;

Whereas a large part of Jesus’ ministry consisted of the prophetic task of confronting and denouncing not merely the distinct sinful actions of individuals, but a host of systemic, structural evils (e.g., the transformation of the temple into “a den of thieves”) that degrade human life and impede the coming of God’s reign;

Be it Resolved, therefore, That parishes throughout The Diocese of Bethlehem will form prayer-and study-groups to meet regularly for an extended period in order to discern what is the Church’s call to the homeless and the poor in this present era; to discover how our faith in the coming reign of God may be sustained and strengthened in these profoundly difficult days; to devise methods for challenging and changing systems that now severely limit our society's potential for achieving a just distribution of the necessary means of life; to examine government policies that either contribute to or reduce unemployment; to plan actions for relief of the most vulnerable among us; to raise the quality and dignity of life for the poor and the homeless; and to restore compassion to our public and private discourse.

Be it further Resolved, That this convention submits the following resolution for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2012 which commends the same practices to the parishes and dioceses of the National Church:

To Establish a Plan of Action for Relief for the Homeless and Poor in Our Society

Whereas the current increase in suffering of homeless people in our society has been largely ignored during our economic downturn and housing crisis, as almost 700,000 of our citizens are known to be homeless (with four in ten living on the street);

Whereas the greatest increases in recent years in homelessness are among people who have become unemployed (including veterans returning from our wars) and among those who formerly lived in homes now in foreclosure;

Whereas 250,000 persons living in families are homeless;

Whereas, contrary to misconceptions, blame and stereotypes, the root causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing and poverty;

Whereas in response to our economic downturn and jobs crisis, budgetary reductions at the state, federal, and local levels have had direct and devastating effects upon our parishes’ work with the poor – upon shelters for the homeless; upon soup kitchens, upon food banks, upon employment counseling programs, upon legal services programs;

Whereas a large part of Jesus’ ministry consisted of the prophetic task of confronting and denouncing not merely the distinct sinful actions of individuals, but a host of systemic, structural evils (e.g., the transformation of the temple into “a den of thieves”) that degrade human life and impede the coming of God’s reign;

Be it Resolved, therefore, That parishes and dioceses of The Episcopal Church will form prayer-and study-groups to meet regularly for an extended period in order to discern what is the Church’s call to the homeless and the poor in this present era; to discover how our faith in the coming reign of God may be sustained and strengthened in these profoundly difficult days; to devise methods for challenging and changing systems that now severely limit our society's potential for achieving a just distribution of the necessary means of life; to examine government policies that either contribute to or reduce unemployment; to plan actions for relief of the most vulnerable among us; to raise the quality and dignity of life for the poor and the homeless; and to restore compassion to our public and private discourse.

Presented by the following:

Members of Grace Church, Allentown, Summer Reading Group, 2011:
Addison Bross
Mary Louise Bross
Kelly Cannon
Kelly Denton-Borhaug
Gunnar Denton-Borhaug
Bob House
Libby House
Lori Molloy
Jean Moody
Jack Moody
The Rev. Elizabeth Reed
Jeff Reed
Joan Roy

The Rev. T. Scott Allen

Vestry Members, St. Andrews Church

The Clergy and Vestry Members, Trinity Church, Bethlehem

Resolution on Building Relationships with Muslim-American Community
 
Whereas:  A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in September 2010 found that 31 percent of U.S. citizens believe that "mainstream Islam [i.e., not "militant Islam"] encourages violence;"

Whereas:  Rep. Peter King's accusation (in Congressional hearings, March 10, 2011) that American Muslims have failed to support U.S. law enforcement's fight against terrorism has caused much pain and misunderstanding;
 
Whereas:  John B. Chilton, reporting on these hearings  in the Episcopal Cafe,  cited a document entitled "Shoulder to Shoulder," signed by clergy and laity of various faiths, representatives of national religious councils, and leaders of institutions for training of clergy, calling on elected officials and all citizens "not to perpetuate damaging false witness against our neighbors," but instead "to stand shoulder-to-shoulder [with persons of all faiths] in communities of growing awareness, trust and hope;"

Be it Resolved: That the parishes within the Diocese of Bethlehem be encouraged to work with the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission in reaching out to their local Muslim neighbors by organizing or being a part of an event in the coming year to build new relationships that will lead to better understanding of our different faiths.
 
Presented by the Diocesan Peace Commission:
Addison Bross, Co-Chair;
Barb Gessner, Co-Chair;
Mary Louise Bross;
Njideka Kelley;
Fr. Don Knapp;
Tom Lloyd;
Suzanne Siebert;
Candis Siatkowski.


20 + 1 + 1 = Renewal

[From Mother Laura Howell, Trinity Bethlehem]

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we will challenge ourselves to pray for 20 minutes each day, to spend one hour a week in worship, and to serve others for one day each month.

Prayer can take whatever form you prefer.  What is important is not HOW you pray, but THAT you pray.  While we hope that you will worship at your home parish, if you are traveling, experiment by visiting another faith community.   Service can be done one whole day a month, or a few hours at a time.  There are always people and organizations who need our assistance--we only have to let ourselves be aware of them.

Anyone, young or old, can participate.  As a way to get started, during the season of Lent, we will post one way to pray or to worship or to serve each day.  Let us know how you are practicing 20 + 1 + 1.

Find the 20 + 1 + 1 blog here.


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