Reaching Out in Prayer at Franklin Applefest

St. John’s in Franklin has filled the stomachs of hungry Applefest attendees with homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts for more than 20 years. This year we decided to branch out and try something new! We wanted to continue with holding tours of the Tiffany windows and selling spaces in our parking lot to benefit the Shepherd’s Green Community Food Pantry, but we asked ourselves how can we better reach the many people who walk past our church on their way to the Applefest action? In answer to that question, the Order of the Daughters of the King was asked if they would be willing to organize a prayer tent in the church yard. The chapter has members from Grace Lutheran Church as well, because they share our facility, and so it became a joint effort.

abigail-mawhinney-and-grandmother-susan-burger-offer-prayer-request-card-to-becky-greenA tent and a couple of tables were set up in the church yard where we handed out free water (John 4: 14) and offered to take prayer requests. Those with prayer requests were given the option of writing them on a paper covered table or on a prayer request card. These cards were then taped to the table.  It was an amazing experience. Several folks prayed with us right there on the church lawn and we received 50 prayer requests from passersby.  The Daughters of the King has promised to pray for these people for the next month. We look forward to reaching out to Applefest enjoyers for years to come!

Kathy Paulo is President of the Grace Chapter of The Order of the Daughters of the King at St. John’s, Franklin

1866: The Birth of Four Churches


Four churches in our diocese celebrate 150th birthdays this year: St. John’s, Sharon; Grace Church, Ridgway; St. Clement’s, Greenville; and Emmanuel, Emporium. We were part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh then. But why did Pittsburgh found four new churches in 1866?

Several reasons come to mind. The Civil War had just ended – in fact, the Diocese of Pittsburgh itself was established only in 1865. It has just celebrated its own 150th.

By that time, the commonwealth and the nation needed new evangelization. According to the U.S. Census, the United States had (in round numbers) 23 million people in 1850; that had grown to 31.4 million by 1860, just before the Civil War. By 1870, the United States would have 38.5 million. Pennsylvania had proportionately more people, too. In 1850, 2.3 million; by 1870, that had risen to 3.5 million, certainly a dramatic increase.

But perhaps the greatest force for growth was Pittsburgh’s first bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Barrett Kerfoot, D.D. Pittsburgh’s historiographer, Joan Gunderson, has researched the period for bishop-kerfootPittsburgh’s own anniversary. She points to the bishop’s addresses at the diocese’s first two conventions (1866 and 1867). He called missions “the special work which God has caused me to lead.” Work in Pennsylvania was “urgently needed at once to arrest the sad loss of members of our own Communion coming over from the Church of England and Ireland,” according to Ms. Gunderson especially the many miners who had immigrated to the United States from northern England. Without ministry, “thousands of our own are lost to us yearly.” Not only these immigrants, but the many other unchurched Americans – millions in danger of lapsing to indifference or (to the bishop’s concern) fates such as Mormonism — needed mission work immediately. New churches would need forth new priests. To him, the work was urgent. Its results we see in our four new parishes.

Bob Guerrein is historiographer for the Diocese of Northwestern PA.

Holy Land Pilgrimage Led by Dean Downey

Dean John P. Downey of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie will be leading a pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine May 20-30, 2017.  The tour will visit significant biblical sights in Galilee, Bethlehem, holy-land-1and Jerusalem as well as ministries of the Episcopal diocese and St. George’s Episcopal Cathedral. Dean Downey will be joined in leading the tour by Dean Peter Wall of Christ’s Church, Hamilton, Ontario and so the pilgrimage group will include both Americans and Canadians. The pilgrimage will be arranged by Lightline Pilgrimages, an agency which specializes in tours for Episcopalians, often led by Cathedral Deans. Dean Downey has been to the Holy Land four times and says, “A pilgrimage to the Holy Land changes the way we see things, and perhaps changes us, as past and present, sacred and secular come together in the land of Jesus and his people.”


Episcopalians and others from throughout the diocese are welcome to join the pilgrimage. Dean Downey is requesting that the initial commitment and deposit be made by Thanksgiving Day, November 24.  Full information can be found at the Lightline website: (scroll down the right to find the tour), and the specific brochure can be viewed and downloaded at

Mindfulness, Play, and Spirituality

Purple or green?  Purple.  But which purple: orchid, lavender, violet…definitely orchid.  Selecting the pencil, I begin to fill in the chosen space, relishing the joy of watching color spread and fill thecoloring-book-for-adults-1396865_640 emptiness.  Soon the pigments swirl across the page, filling the vacant slices of the pattern, and as the hues unfold and soften the starkness of the black and white page, the edges of my soul begin to loosen. The focus and deliberation of choosing colors and the repetition of coloring have unbound me, have freed me from the thoughts and worries that chain my mind; the emptiness of my busyness, anxieties, and preoccupations fade into lime and cerulean and canary.

It is mindfulness.  It is play.  It is spiritual.

The mind needs a place of focus in order to return to balance; the soul needs to play and delight in order to breathe.  Adult coloring books may seem silly or over-popular, but the release found in giving one’s self over to the pigments, to the patterns, to the act of coloring is far from silly.  To pick each anti-stress-coloring-1541516_1920pencil with deliberation and delight, to embrace the nothingness and something-ness of the activity with a whole heart and mind is refreshing- and sometimes a bit of a challenge.  But after a page- or two- my mind moves to a new place because it has been calmed, the cares have lightened, and I find a new space for the spiritual.  In that place, I meet God.  A conversation begins to unfold as the colors move across the page because there is nothing else here to distract, no other anxieties that tether, no busyness that tugs.  The repeating motion of the pencil on the paper is enough to keep my mind rested and focused in a way that is difficult to find at other times.  And when finally I come to the end of the page, and I begin to close the conversation, I look down with a smile.

A splash of bright colors spread across the page.  A splash of joy and grace spread into my soul.

The Rev. Melinda Hall is vicar of Church of Our Saviour, DuBois. 

Clergy Conference With Diocese of Pittsburgh

At the end of September, priests and deacons from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and the Diocese of Pittsburgh gathered for a joint clergy conference.  These three days of continuing education, prayer, and fellowship were held at the Antiochian Village, near Ligonier, PA, a beautiful Orthodox Church facility.


Clergy gathered for breakfast

The conference presenter was the Rev. Christopher Martin of the Restoration Project.  During his three sessions he shared a method of small group discipleship that focused on seven core practices including daily prayer, tithing, and serving the poor.  The clergy also had an opportunity to break into small groups and share their own experiences with these seven core Christian practices.

Clergy came regularly throughout the day to pray the offices. Bishop Sean inspired us with his sermon on Saint Jerome at the closing Eucharist, which was held in the chapel that was filled with striking and beautiful icons.  Above the altar, the Lord’s Prayer appears in calligraphy in both English and Arabic.  Arabic is the native tongue of the Antiochene Orthodox community, which has roots in Syria and the Middle East.  The facility’s extensive library contains numerous Arabic volumes dealing with a variety theological and cultural themes spanning centuries.


Bishop Dorsey McConnell, Bishop of Pittsburgh, talks to Bishop Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania

During an afternoon break, participants were able to walk around the campus, meet with a representative from the Widow’s Corporation (which helped sponsor this event), or visit the nearby Memorial for Flight 93.  A variety of late night conversations addressed topics ranging from church growth to increased collaboration to reform theology to the likelihood of a Chicago Cubs World Series victory.

The Rev. Adam Trambley is the rector at St. John’s, Sharon.


Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church for the World

[September 20, 2016] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has issued the following A Word to the Church for the World.

The video is available in English and Spanish here.

A Word to the Church for the World

Greetings from Detroit, a city determined to be revived.  Greetings also from the city of Flint, where we are reminded that the gift of water has for many of our brothers and sisters become contaminated.

Here we have been exhorted to set our sights beyond ourselves and to minister to the several nations where we serve and the wider world.

We lament the stark joylessness that marks our present time.  We decry angry political rhetoric which rages while fissures widen within society along racial, economic, educational, religious, cultural and generational lines.  We refuse to look away as poverty, cruelty and war force families to become migrants enduring statelessness and demonization.  We renounce the gun violence and drug addiction that steal lives and crush souls while others succumb to fear and cynicism, abandoning any sense of neighborliness.

Yet, in all this, “we do not despair” (2 Cor. 4:8.). We remember that God in Christ entered our earthly neighborhood during a time of political volatility and economic inequality.  To this current crisis we bring our faith in Jesus.  By God’s grace, we choose to see in this moment an urgent opportunity to follow Jesus into our fractured neighborhoods, the nation and the world.

Every member of the church has been “called for a time such as this.” (Esther 4:14) Let prophets tell the truth in love.  Let reconcilers move boldly into places of division and disagreement. Let evangelists inspire us to tell the story of Jesus in new and compelling ways.  Let leaders lead with courage and joy.

In the hope of the Resurrection let us all pray for God to work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish God’s purposes on earth.

Writing Committee
Bishop Tom Breidenthal of Southern Ohio
Bishop Mariann Budde of Washington
Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles
Bishop Victor Scantlebury of Ecuador Central
Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real
Bishop Alan Gates of Massachusetts
Bishop Wendell Gibbs Jr. of Michigan
Dr. Scott Bader-Saye
Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester
Bishop Robert Wright of Atlanta
Bishop Rob Hirschfield of New Hampshire

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops met September 15 to September 20 in Detroit MI (Diocese of Michigan).

“Feed My Sheep” – Community Gardens in NWPA

If you offer your food to the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
   and your gloom be like the noonday.  Isaiah 58:10 

Several of the churches in the Diocese of NWPA have taken the idea of feeding the hungry and are ministering in a very direct way – growing community gardens and sharing the produce with others.

Grace Church, Ridgway’s community garden was begun in 2013.
grace-ridgway-garden“We have 15 4’x4′ raised gardenbeds. This year we were assisted by a local group encouraging agriculture in general and the establishment of community gardens throughout Elk County by improving the walk ways between our beds, the donation of man/woman/child power, and by donating seeds and plants. In addition to providing fresh vegetables to the community at large, we donate our harvests to the local food bank and to the local Senior Citizen High Rise residents.”  The Rev. Bonnie Skellen


Church of Our Savior, DuBois is finishing up their third growing season.


“The land for the garden is at the back of Church of Our Saviour in DuBois, but our planning team and volunteers are drawn entirely from the broader community.  We have had the garden for three seasons and have finally begun to see an increase in the number of folks who come by and pick veggies.”  The Rev. Melinda Hall

There is also a website to introduce people to the garden and update everyone on what’s ready to pick: (

This year was Emmanuel Church, Corry’s first time participating in a community garden.


“Emmanuel, Corry helped sponsor (along with businesses and other organizations) a new community organic garden and had a plot in it… The yield from our plot went to church folks, neighbors, friends, those in need, and the staff at the Y.  Lots of lessons learned (like don’t put in a million tomato plants!).   Note…we did not initiate this; someone else did.  But it seemed like a good idea, so we joined in.” The Rev. Mary Norton

This year was a first in gardening at St. Stephen’s, Fairview as well.


“The ‘Glory of God Garden’, or G3, is located behind the church in raised beds that were a joint collaboration between the church and the local Boy Scout troop. The produce is donated to food pantries in Fairview and Girard, and the hope for next year is to involve the St. Stephen’s Nursery School in the project as well. (If you look closely, you can see that the garden is not only feeding people, but some fortunate wildlife too!)”  Megin Sewak

The growing season is winding down for the year and the last vegetables will make their way to those in need, but already plans are in the works for next year’s harvest – bringing food and hope to communities throughout the diocese.

‘Planting’ Hope for the Future at Buhl Day

Buhl Day (the annual Labor Day celebration held in Hermitage, PA) was a success for the diocese’s newest church plant in more ways than one.  The church’s food stand, besides being a great fundraising opportunity, brought together people from eight different congregations all over the diocese to work and reach out to the community and each other. Good food, good fun, and building relationships while helping to further the Kingdom of God – the definition of One Church at work. It was definitely a Great Day in the Kingdom!

Read on for some personal reflections on the day:


“In the beginning of Buhl Day there is a parade that local residents are excited to attend; giving us time to prepare before the rush.  I had helped prepare for this in the two days prior, but I was getting pumped on what was to come. Eventually, after getting everything ready and seeing more people arrive to help, we got customers. The crowd did not seem as big as usual, but we had a steady amount of people buying things. It was time to roll and perform my duties, alongside others who were working diligently.

There was a fantastic amount of people there helping, so I found I could sit and actually take a break – something that I and  others that had worked at this booth on Buhl Day in the past had not experienced too often. Finally after smelling the sandwiches being prepared all morning, I enjoyed one myself.

photo-sep-05-10-47-30-amAt one point I was standing outside the booth to help direct people, and I looked at all the people inside the booth.  Seven churches and the new Episcopal church plant all gathered together for this one goal.  Everyone was at a station talking amongst themselves.  There were so many there, you could find someone to talk to.  It was good to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and meet new ones throughout the NWPA diocese, including Canon Martha and Bishop Sean.  The feeling of “one church” was clearly evident.

As the day was winding down, we counted down things that were close to being sold out.  After the last kielbasa was sold, we shouted a loud “Amen” that caughtphoto-sep-05-10-14-43-am the attention of those nearby. Seeing the Bishop work in the different sections was such a pleasure, especially when he was a cashier talking to the customers.  We talked, laughed and maybe even sang and danced with others there feeling the energy flowing throughout the place.  To the bittersweet end where we tore down everything, I couldn’t have imagined things going too much better. I left feeling proud of all the accomplishments this day had made, and was glad that I was involved and witnessed something that wondrous.

In the amazement of how everything went, I think, as a new Episcopal church we are ready to tackle anything that comes our way. The support and thankfulness we felt with all the other people of the churches in the diocese is overwhelming. Together, I believe, that since we got through this, then we can get through many things our church will face. I, as well as others, are very hopeful for the future. ”  Laura Betz, Hermitage Church Plant

Pastor Jason Shank, Hermitage Church Plant