Living Lives of Discernment

There were many times in my life that I fervently hoped that God would communicate with me by sliding a 3×5 card under my bedroom door. On the card would be God’s explicit directions for me on what to do next. I suppose today it’d be more appropriate to wait for a text message. Either way, that was my first idea of what discernment was all about. Okay God, now what? Tell me.

However, discernment is more nuanced than that. Discernment is about finding a way forward when God has placed something on your heart, but it also can be a way of life. There are many definitions of discernment. At its most basic, it is a process of discovering God’s activity, movement, and direction in our lives.

If we use that definition as our starting point, we already see that discernment is not simply a decision. It is not one course of action over another. Rather, it is an ongoing process that occurs on many levels, sometimes simultaneously. A hallmark of good discernment is movement from confusion to clarity.

Due to the ongoing nature of it, discernment is open to the work of the Holy Spirit, to testing and to change. In order to be open to the Holy Spirit, we must notice what God is already doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. When we step back from the daily rush from one appointment to the next, from one project to the next, from one place to the next, and take time to reflect, what do we see? What do we hear? Having done this we also must take the time to be in conversation with others, to test if what we have heard or seen is congruent with their sense of it. Finally we must also be willing to recognize that discernments can change. As elusive as the whole process is, in the end, discernment is sturdy. It will stand up to testing and to the passage of time.

It is also important to recognize that discernment involves more than prayer and holy conversation. Discernment is also revealed through our life circumstances. God does not call us into something new to the detriment of relationships that have been important to us. That is not to say that being called to something new will not be without pain or disruption. It may well be. However, our life circumstances might dictate that now is not the right time or there is not the right place. In the same way, discernment is sometimes revealed through an honest look at where we have already been. How have we seen God at work in our lives in the past may shed light on what God holds for us in the future.

As we intentionally engage the practice of discernment, we begin to recognize that we have developed a community of trust, a deepening of our own faith and a growing sense of God’s leading. We begin to understand that we are not only seeking discernment but rather living lives of discernment. In the words of Henri Nouwen, discernment is “a life long commitment to ‘remember God,’ know who you are, and pay close attention to what the Spirit is saying today.”

The Rev. Canon Martha Ishman is Rector at St. James, Titusville, and Canon for Mission Development and Transition for the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Book Review: “Resurrection Matters” by Nurya Love Parish

This post originally appeared at The Black Giraffe blog on May 13, 2018. 

Many books about cutting-edge, transformational ministries are told after the fact.  A new opportunity arose, the Holy Spirit nudged a few faithful, gifted leaders, and, looking back, the whole enterprise seems almost inevitable.  Resurrection Matters: Church Renewal for Creation’s Sake by Nurya Love Parish takes a very different approach.  Nurya tells her story of starting a farm-based ministry while still in its early phase.  Instead of three easy steps to replicate this ministry in your own context, we are blessed by the courageous account of someone struggling to answer her call in a confusing time for the church and critical time for the environment.  How God has led her smack dab into the middle of the fledgling Christian food movement is both challenging and inspirational.

Throughout this book, we are introduced to Nurya’s deepest passions.  Her central passion is her faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Flowing out of that faith are her dedication to the renewal of God’s church and the stewardship of God’s creation.  In Resurrection Matters, we journey with Nurya through the personal stories and the facts and figures that led her to taking a huge risk with her family’s home and savings to start a farm ministry.  Along the way we learn about the infinity loop of organizational renewal, the contemporary church’s “rummage sale”, the modern history of Christian farm ministry, and why millennials seem more interested in organic farming than churches.  Most importantly, we share a Christian leader’s struggles as she finds the necessary wisdom and courage to begin a non-traditional ministry that is beginning to make a difference in the church and the environment.

Resurrection Matters’s engaging style makes for an easy and enjoyable read.  The book contains appendices with a study guide; planning processes for households, congregations, and judicatories; information on community supported agriculture; and lists of resources for further study.  I highly recommend this book to those interested in how the church might engage creation care, as well as to anyone feeling like God may be calling them to start something new.

(Disclaimer: I have worked with Nurya Love Parish on a number of projects, and I received a review copy of Resurrection Matters.)

You can order Resurrection Matters from church publishing or Amazon.

The Rev. Dr. Adam Trambley is rector of St. John’s, Sharon. 

Welcome, Resurrection Church!

Sunday was a particularly blessed day in the life of the diocese as we celebrated the consecration of our first church plant in over fifty years, Resurrection Church in Hermitage. The sanctuary was full of over one hundred worshipers, there to show their love and support of this new congregation.

During the sermon, the Rev. Jason Shank, our church planter, detailed the work that has gone into this plant: from his initial meeting with Bishop Sean three years ago and their hopes for this new church, going into the community and learning what the needs of the people were, to meeting folks on the street and worshiping with them in public (quite literally, as Fr. Jason recounted one frigid Christmas Eve service held in a parking lot downtown), taking prayer walks, and, finally, to the long search for a permanent home that culminated in the renovation of the building which housed a congregation that had closed. “We saw God’s presence every step of the way when we were planting in this building,” he said. People in the community even stopped to comment on how pleased they were to see cars in the parking lot – a welcome sign of God’s presence in the neighborhood.

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to renew the mission of the diocese and our ministry in the Hermitage community. He also gave thanks for everyone who had been involved in the discussions and planning for this church plant, which span over ten years, as well as other projects like it.  “Endeavors like this require the planning and vision of generations of leaders,” the bishop said.

Through scripture, song, and fellowship time following the service, the day was a reminder of the love of God and his presence in northwestern Pennsylvania. As Bishop Sean remarked before communion, “It truly is a great day in the Kingdom!”

Below are photos from Sunday’s consecration service.

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A Tour to Christ Church’s Past

The annual Grove Hill Cemetery Tours were held this year on September 8, and the event turned into an unofficial celebration of Christ Episcopal Church in Oil City. The cemetery dates to 1870 and each year the tours feature current residents of Oil City portraying past residents of Oil City.

This year’s tour booklet featured 32 figures from the past and at least 10 were members of Christ Episcopal Church. A local photographer, whose family provided the land the current church building sits on, was also included in the booklet. Of the eleven people portrayed, three were members of Christ Episcopal Church. Three of the eleven re-enactors were also members of the church.

Becca Swartzlander, treasurer of the Altar Guild, portrayed Miss Margaret Reid. Margaret’s great-great-grandfather served as interpreter for Chief Cornplanter of the Seneca Indian tribe and held power-of-attorney for Cornplanter. Her great-uncle and father were involved in the Reid Gas Engine Company, pioneers in oilfield equipment.  However, Miss Reid was best known for her nearly 40 years of teaching in the Oil City Schools. She wrote A History of Christ Church in 1987 and is responsible for the excellently maintained historical records of the church.

Jocelind Gant, the member of our congregation responsible for our Second Harvest Food ministries, portrayed Carrie Peterson, one of the most unique stories told this year. Peterson was born into slavery in Virginia around 1850 and came to Oil City in the early 1860s. It is unclear if she came as a fugitive slave or as a free woman.  She had some association with Robert and Isaac Mann, late of Allegheny City. Robert was one of the founders of the AME Church in Oil City and Isaac wrote for an African-American newspaper in Harrisburg.

I portrayed the Rev. James H. B. Brooks, 6th Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, serving from 1883 until his death in 1901. Brooks was pastor during the building of the current church and during the Fire and Flood of 1892. The church building was used as a hospital during this disaster. Father Brooks’ health never totally recovered from that incident. In researching the life of Rev. Brooks, it was noted that the two seminaries and three other parishes he served still survive today, with some mergers involved.

Some of the other members of the church from the 19th and early 20th century in the tour booklet included Thomas Cowell, Kenton Chickering, John Campbell, John Tonkin, Margaret Winifred Tonkin, Thomas Porteous, Annie Clark, and William Lay. Winifred Tonkin died in a tragic railway accident in 1901 and is memorialized in one of the church’s windows, and the Winifred Tonkin Guild still provides for the needy of the community, a living memorial to her memory.

Cowell, Chickering, and Campbell all served on the Vestry during Father Brooks’ tenure. His Vestry actually resembled a Board of Directors meeting for Standard Oil. Christ Church’s Vestry records indicate that Father Brooks wisely indicated upon arrival that he would leave all temporal matters in the hands of his Vestry.  I read through about 50 years worth of Vestry notes (preserved by Miss Reid) before the tours, trying to learn more of Brooks and his time here. What I found was a man that served as pastor to a community, calling on sick and injured people that had no affiliation with any congregation. The oil business was not a stable business, with booms and busts and fortunes made and lost. Yet the Vestry had no issue with committing to building a new church building in those uncertain times, when the budget often was at a deficit.  Kenton Chickering’s great-grandson, Ken, still spends some summer months in our area, away from his home parish in Houston. He was kind enough to lend me his library of materials about Oilwell Supply, founded by Kenton, and I got to spend the winter with those materials. Before he returned to Houston this year, I was able to provide a copy of the beautiful tribute paid to his great-grandfather by his fellow Vestrymen upon his death in 1908.

I have always loved history and I always will. I truly appreciate the work that Margaret Reid did preserving our church records. I treasure my friendship with Ken and enjoyed the records of the past he shared with me.  Margaret was also instrumental in our sponsorship at the church of a family of refugees from Vietnam in the 1980s. Ken has spent his life working in Texas in a career that has little to do with his family’s oilfield origins, but is still an Episcopalian. Both appreciate the past but learned to embrace change. An appreciation for history does not mean we must live in the past. It should enable us to learn from that past. Ignoring the past and living in the past both have bad outcomes. We live in exciting times, faced with changes and challenges and opportunities in the Church and the world that our ancestors could not have imagined.

Some words from the poet T. S. Eliot will serve us well as we approach what promises to be an exciting diocesan convention:

“And all that was good you must fight to keep with hearts as devoted as those of your fathers who fought to gain it.  The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying within and attacked from without.”

The Rev. Mark Elliston is vicar of Christ Church, Oil City.

Encounter Grace

This is the seventh and final installment in our Summer Gratitude series, a collection of posts from around the diocese focused on gratitude and thankfulness. It’s our hope that these stories will be uplifting, joyful, and a reminder to us all to count our blessings and experience gratitude even in times of hardship.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
and leaves me
like a needle

in a haystack
of light.
1

Asked to name things for which I’m grateful, I’m capable of a long litany, ranging from the invention of the Frisbee, to the Alexa currently playing Mozart, to the jalapeno plants in my garden actually producing more than last year’s two peppers. But that’s not really how I think about gratitude, as discreet elements of my life. Gratitude is an orientation to the world.

Gratitude stems from my understanding of how God is in the world and how I am in the world. It begins with grace. Grace, meaning the love and forgiveness of God, is at the heart of our faith. Grace is always gift. We do not earn grace; we do not warrant grace; we cannot lose grace. It is ours by the choice of God to be for us, particularly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It comes to us in every moment, covering us, embracing us, holding us from the start of our lives beyond the end of our lives. The lavish love of God is given to me, it claims me as God’s own beloved. That is fantastically overwhelming, nearly unbelievable, and produces such a sense of joy and wonder within me that it changes how I see everything.

If grace is poured out upon me, as angry, anal, and annoying as I am, then grace must be poured out upon everyone, upon the entire creation. It’s a Julian of Norwich moment of revelation: though we are as small and fragile as a wee hazelnut, God sustains us out of God’s great love for us. We are all held by grace, soaked in it, protected by it, surrounded by it. It is possible to forget this, and to see only the mess and brokenness of the world; I can go to a dark place reading about Yemen, trying to negotiate the shrinking public school budget, or staring at the pain plaguing multiple friends. The darkness is real; we’re caught in the mess of the world, some of our own making and some the collective swell of bad human decisions for centuries. We call all of that sin. And we’re caught in it like a web.

Yet, light overcomes the darkness; Jesus rises from the grave. Grace flows through the web of sin. I can expect that in all things, the muck and the mire as much as the sun and the smiles, God is at work. Jesus’ defeat of death means that grace is loose in the world. The Holy Spirit swooshes through us and through our world, bringing good out of evil, moving to create serendipitous moments, causing a pop of laughter in dread times. I used to think all of the gifts of a day- the fortuitous finding of a friend in the grocery, the kind word offered on a really down day- were coincidence or luck. Not anymore. That’s grace. That’s God. That’s the Holy Spirit doing her best to reveal goodness, bring out kindness, and sustain every one of us.

And what I can be left with but gratitude? If God has claimed me as a loved one, if God has chosen to love all of us like that, and if God is constantly moving in the world so as to bring people together, promote peace, and mend brokenness, what can I do but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and expectation? That’s quite an orientation to have to reality, and it has shifted everything about my life. I expect God will show up; I expect to encounter grace; I expect God is at work in your life and mine and across the globe. And when grace finds me or when someone shares how grace has found them, I throw my head back in laughter or fall on my knees in tears, grateful to the One who makes all good things possible.

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips….

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
2

The Rev. Melinda Hall is vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville, and Church of Our Saviour, DuBois. 

1 Oliver, Mary. “Mindfulness.” Why I Wake Early. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

2 Oliver, Mary. “Why I Wake Early.” Why I Wake Early. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

With Grateful Hearts

This is the sixth installment in our Summer Gratitude series, a collection of posts from around the diocese focused on gratitude and thankfulness. It’s our hope that these stories will be uplifting, joyful, and a reminder to us all to count our blessings and experience gratitude even in times of hardship.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Gratitude is a subject that isn’t exactly trendy, but that has gained status in the last two decades in terms of its potential effect on what I would call the human spirit.  There has been more recent attention paid to it in terms of how gratitude or the lack of it affects the way we live.

Sara Hacala, in her book, “Saving Civility,” says that “gratitude is outer—as opposed to inner—directed: We are grateful to someone or for something outside of ourselves—whether to God, people, or things.  It implies our reliance on others for what they provide us and is a humbling reminder that we are not self-sufficient but connected and bound to those around us.”[1]  To me, this sounds exactly like how we are supposed to live as Christians…with grateful hearts for God and for one another, recognizing that we all live in community.

I’m one of those people who says “thanks” or “thank you” too often.  I know I do it, but it’s difficult not to.  Because I mean it.  I really am grateful, but I’ve never known quite why it is such an important thing to me or why I am hyper-alert to the things people do for one another, or for me for that matter.

I think this especially applies to church, when people work together for the wider community or for the church community or do something for one other person.  It really matters.  And I think people should be thanked so they realize that what they do counts—it makes a difference, even if they do it because they want to.

But even though gratitude is a hotter topic at the moment, I have to say it doesn’t necessarily seem like people in general have more gratitude, and it seems that people are expressing it less.  Take saying “thank you,” for instance.  While a “thank you” used to be normal behavior in retail establishments following a purchase, a simple thank you from a cashier is now harder to come by.  And where I would always have said thank you in response, I now find myself wondering why I should say thank you when I do not feel grateful that a sullen, unthankful cashier silently threw my bag of groceries or clothes at me following my purchase.

Maybe people just don’t feel very grateful these days.  It is hard for most of us to embody or express gratefulness when we’re not feeling especially grateful.  So…why should we?  Because it makes a difference for ourselves and those with whom we interact.  In every interaction we have, we can make a change in an increasingly hostile world by finding and then expressing gratitude.   That might sound pollyanna-ish, but research bears it out.  Gratefulness guru Robert Emmons notes: “Living gratefully begins with affirming the good and recognizing its sources. It is the understanding that life owes me nothing and all the good I have is a gift, accompanied by an awareness that nothing can be taken for granted.”[2]

Life owes me nothing…and nothing can be taken for granted.  If we could think that way all the time, we’d be feeling gratitude most of the time.  Because for most of us living in this country, we have no idea how good we really have it.

In “Sleeping with Bread,” the authors suggest ending each day with these two questions (and preferably actually discussing them with someone): “For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?” [3] Considering both of these questions helps a more negative person acknowledge that there were some moments for which to be grateful in the day, and helps a person who doesn’t like to think about the difficulties in life to acknowledge that pain or difficulties are part of being human.  I plan to start doing this, and I think this could be woven into our prayer life as well…bet this might be the kind of thing God would like to hear from us.

And, thank you for reading this!

The Rev. Dr. Mary Norton is Priest-in-Charge at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Corry. 

[1] Sara Hacala, Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude & Attitude for a Polite Planet, (Woodstock, Skylight Paths Publishing, 2012), 113

[2] Dr. Robert A. Emmons, The Little Book of Gratitude, (London, Gaia Books, 2016), Kindle, 10

[3] Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn, S.J., Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, (New York, Paulist Press, 1998) Kindle, Loc. 25

The Official Beginning – Consecration Service at Resurrection Church Plant

Fr. Jason Shank invites everyone to the Resurrection Church consecration service to be held on September 23 at 4:00 PM in Hermitage. For more details, including what’s been happening to prepare for this moment, watch below.

Gratitude and “God-incidents”

This is the fifth installment in our Summer Gratitude series, a collection of posts from around the diocese focused on gratitude and thankfulness. It’s our hope that these stories will be uplifting, joyful, and a reminder to us all to count our blessings and experience gratitude even in times of hardship.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I consider the word “gratitude”, it brings to mind how blessed I was to know my good friend and long-time mentor, Mrs. Arlene Heath.  I first met Mrs. Heath in the early 1960s when she moved to Kane following the unexpected death of her husband.  Her beloved Marvin was a country church Pastor. His death left Mrs. Heath and her teenaged daughter not only without husband and father, but without income.  She would later explain what followed as a series of “God-incidents.” Soon after Marvin’s passing, Arlene was contacted by an old college friend about a position teaching English at the high school in Kane.  She applied for the position and was hired for the next term.  At the same time, she was offered the rental of a second floor apartment in the house of two elderly sisters, who lived just one block from the Kane Senior High School. That location became important for several reasons, not least of which was because Mrs. Heath did not drive, and never wanted to learn to drive, or to be encumbered by a car throughout her long life.

God had a plan for Arlene, and for those of us who came to know her. She came into my life, and the lives of my high school classmates, as our sophomore year English instructor.  Throughout the 40 years or longer in which she would be my teacher, my mentor and my friend, I would learn much from her about the nature of God, of faith, trust, and gratitude.  Above all Mrs. Heath taught me that there is no such thing as mere coincidence; God is always at work for and with us. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, KJV)

I have never known any person of stronger vision, faith or the will to live a Christ-like life than Arlene, and she was determined that the young people she chose to mentor would follow such an example as well.  In our American Literature class she taught us to dig deeper into the writings of great thinkers including Whitman, Emerson and Thoreau.  Both before and after school, some of us would gather at her home to be introduced to such diverse voices as Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi, C.S. Lewis, Teilhard de Chardin, Madeleine L’Engle, and Joseph Campbell to mention only a few.  This casual gathering she later developed into an in-school course in “Humanities” which has been offered to all Kane High School students ever since.

Through literature, poetry, and the arts, as well as comparative Bible study and discussion, Mrs. Heath opened a world of ideas for us, and demonstrated how God could be heard and seen and experienced across cultures and religious experiences.  I believe she prepared me, and many of us whom she called her “kids,” to better transition out of small town parochial life, and into the wide world, by introducing us to what lay beyond our church school and high school classrooms. At the same time, she helped us to challenge our faith and understanding of God and Christianity.  While some people considered this to be very risky business, Arlene recognized how vital it was for us to have our beliefs questioned in such a safe setting as her living room, before we were challenged about them in our college classrooms, or dorm rooms.

No matter what we faced, Arlene helped to provide a “life line” to pull us back to our spiritual and faith foundations.  Summer evenings and holiday breaks throughout my college years were often spent among other students on her porch, or over hot chocolate and cookies in her living room, talking about just those challenges and ideas.

I especially appreciated the rare occasions throughout the rest of her life when I could catch her alone and she would listen patiently while I explained my latest triumph, or heart-break.  In the end, she would confront me with difficult questions, asking what I had learned from my experiences, and what I was going to do about it.  She left no doubt that she had expectations for me to live up to. Later she would send me kind and thoughtful notes about our conversations, often tucked into special book, or clipped to an article of interest from the Christian Science Monitor, Christianity Today, or Sojourners.

I cherish those notes, especially one she wrote to me after a tearful discussion about the end of my first, sadly failed, marriage. I was at the lowest point of my life, both psychologically and spiritually. Even then, she was tender but resolute with me, and expressed the opinion that failure and heartache were simply part of the great scheme of things; I was fortunate to have such a heartbreak while I was still very young. She trusted that I would survive, and thrive, and be able to use my experience to help other young women one day.  I can humbly report that I have done that, and a bit more as well.

It is with deepest gratitude that I thank the Lord for providing the “God-incident” that brought Mrs. Arlene Heath into my life.  In body, and now in spirit, she forever challenges me to be more, and to do more, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

I think of her each time we close Morning Prayer with “Glory to God whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever more. Amen“  (BCP)

(Mrs. Heath ultimately bought the house where she first rented the upstairs apartment from the elderly sisters. The money obtained from the sale established the endowment which sustains St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kane, where I am blessed to worship and from which I go out “to love and serve the Lord.”)

Becky Harris is a member of St. John’s, Kane. 

Responding to Report on Sexual Abuse in PA Roman Catholic Dioceses

Dear People of God:

In the last several days, our fellow Christians in the Roman Catholic Church here in Pennsylvania have been shaken by the revelations of widespread child sexual abuse committed over many years by clergy in that church and covered up by bishops and other church leaders. The stories detailed in the grand jury report released on Tuesday are horrific and evil, and have shaken to its core the faith of many good people who have trusted in the church their entire lives.

I ask you, first, to join me in praying for the people whose lives have been ripped apart because they were sexually abused by priests or other church leaders. In the face of the unthinkable betrayal they have suffered, may God enfold them in healing mercy and strengthen their spirits with the knowledge that they are perfectly loved. I ask your prayers especially for those victims who were so broken by the abuse they suffered at the hands of clergy and other church leaders that they have ended their own lives and now rest in God’s loving arms.

Please also pray for our friends and neighbors who are faithful Roman Catholics, some of whom are now struggling with the faith they have placed in the church, and for the lay and clergy leaders of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania who have cooperated with this investigation and now must find ways to repent for the abuse and rebuild a more accountable, transparent structure.

In the Episcopal Church, we are not strangers to news of abuse and betrayal by our leaders. For some of us, the news of the grand jury report may have stirred up memories of our own grief and anger when we have learned that a priest or bishop we have known has abused children or been complicit in covering up abuse. For some of us who began our lives as Roman Catholics, this news may have reopened old wounds. And for some of us who have been victims of abuse, this news may trigger anger, sadness and trauma. If you find that, in the wake of this news, you would like to talk confidentially with me or with a member of the clergy about issues of sexual abuse in the church, please call the diocesan office in Northwestern Pennsylvania at 814-456-4203 or the diocesan office in Bethlehem at 610-691-5655.

The church must be a place where people can come with the deepest wounds and vulnerabilities and be safe, and our churches must be places where children are nurtured and respected and cared for and never harmed or abused in any way. As your bishop, I am deeply committed to the safety and well-being of everyone who attends our churches and diocesan programs. In recent years, our dioceses have strengthened our misconduct policies and procedures, and are places where we make every effort to deal both responsibly and responsively with complaints and allegations of misconduct. We make reports to the appropriate civil authorities when child abuse is suspected. All of our clergy, staff and volunteers who work with children are required to complete training called Safeguarding God’s Children, and we follow misconduct policies based on the model policy of the Church Pension Group.

Thank you for your prayers and care for our Roman Catholic friends and family during these difficult days, and for your active involvement in ensuring that our churches are safe places for all of God’s children.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe
Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Bishop Provisional of Bethlehem