Coming Together to Celebrate Joint Ordination

On Saturday, July 13, the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania celebrated another first: the joint ordination of Rosaleen Nogle and Rebecca Harris to the transitional diaconate. The Rev. Rosaleen Nogle will serve Trinity, Buffalo, and the Rev. Rebecca Harris will continue her work at St. John’s, Kane. It was a truly great day in the Kingdom and another step on our walk together in Christ.

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Diocese of Ohio Mission Group Visits Franklin, PA

St. John’s, Franklin was host to a lively group last week: a mission team consisting of 29 youth and 9 adults from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, who were in town to assist Mustard Seed Ministries of Venango County (an ecumenical service organization focused on home repair and transportation for those in need), Emmaus Haven (a transitional housing program), and Catholic Rural Ministries with various service projects in the greater Franklin area. Kids camped out in the parish hall basement by night and split into groups to tackle jobs ranging from yard work and housecleaning to building a utility shed from the ground up during the day.

Mary Anthony, director of religious education at St. Paul’s in Medina, Ohio, and one of the mission trip coordinators, took some time out from her work to talk a bit about the kids and the week’s projects.

“There are kids ages 12-19 representing six different parishes from the diocese this year,” she said. “We started coming here back in 2010 when Mother Holly was here. One of the priests from one of our churches in the diocese had found – it used to be called Helping Hands – because Mother Holly started the program. So we came and we really liked it, and this is our fifth year here.”  [Editor’s Note: Mother Holly Davis, who was priest at St. John’s in 2010, began the Helping Hands ministry during her time at the church. It has since been taken over by Pastor Randy Powell of the First Baptist Church in Franklin and renamed Mustard Seed Ministries.]

She went on to say that each year the mission coordinators come up with a list of potential areas to visit, then allow the youth to make the final decision on where they’ll be serving. “I like getting them out seeing different areas and working with different dioceses,” she continued. “We usually give them a couple of ideas, and the juniors and seniors pick. Some kids had been here and told the other kids what it was like. Deacon Dave (Betz) was here and the kids love him.” She turned and pointed out a young man who was visiting with the group during the picnic St. John’s hosted for them on Tuesday evening. “This is one of my former youth that came with us, and now he’s married and lives here in Franklin.” 

Mary’s crew of teens spent the week in Seneca assembling a shed that will be used to store lawnmowers and other equipment for the new Family Service and Children’s Aid Society PPC shelter.  “They’ve literally framed the whole thing top to bottom,” she said. “We started with 2x4s, now we’ve got all these walls and they’ll put them together on site.”  Another group assisted with the cleanup of a building that had previously been a Catholic church, but is now being repurposed as a homeless shelter through Emmaus Haven in Oil City. Deacon Dave Betz of St. John’s is the contact person for Emmaus Haven, and he shared that, while there has been a homeless shelter in Franklin for three years, the former church in Oil City has only recently been purchased and approved as a shelter. Both buildings are intended to house single men and women in homeless situations – definitely needed, since Emmaus Haven gets up to 97 calls a month for people in need of shelter in Venango County. 

This group of hardworking young people certainly were the definition of mission this week: going out into the world and spreading their faith through acts of service. Even more, they were loving their neighbors in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania as themselves. As Mary Anthony said, “We’ve gone some other places in between, but we decided we’d come back. We’ve formed some really good relationships with the people at St. John’s.”

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’  Mark 12:30-31

Making Prayer Beads

In our last video in the Personal Prayer series, Fr. Geoff Wild discussed how prayer beads can be used as part of a personal prayer practice. In today’s installment, follow along as Cheryl Wild teaches how to craft a set of your own!

Materials List:

  • heavy fishing line or Wildfire beading thread
  • cross or crucifix charm
  • 33 beads: 28 “week” beads, 4 cruciform beads, and 1 invitatory bead
  • E6000 glue
  • scissors

Prayer In Motion

The descriptors “introvert” and “public evangelism” don’t usually go together. These “things” never have held appeal for me and the last thing I wanted to do was walk around town and pray for the uninformed and the unconverted.  Yet I had committed to the Rev. Erin Betz-Shank, Bishop’s Warden Heather Armstrong, and the people of Trinity, New Castle, that I’d do whatever their priest did for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday while she was on maternity leave.  That promise turned into my first experience of an ecumenical prayer walk.

Due to Erin’s leadership, laity and clergy from the churches of New Castle participate in a prayer walk around downtown New Castle on Good Friday following a humble, draped cross.  The experience was entitled “Prayer in Motion”. We began with the library and moved to the police station, Salvation Army, United Way, medical clinic, businesses, restaurants, churches, and local government offices. At each location we prayed for the work done in each profession and for those who live the profession.  

The symbolism of the event leapt out of the concrete: in the midst of an economically challenged community like New Castle, this rain-soaked procession was a moving sign of hope. We travelled into the heart of sorrow, poverty, and decay with a message of hope, faith, and commitment. Jesus was here and he was staying.  The Church was here and the Church was staying. The youngest person was about two and oldest near 90. We weren’t many. The torrential rains kept many at home. Yet, we moved, prayed, and asked God’s blessings.

Sometimes these experiences affect those around the troop most. Perhaps that’s so; I hope so. The experience deeply affected me. We are called to show up in many ways: shelter, food, medical care, money, legal assistance, counseling, recovery, and the list goes on. We are also called to show up with faith, hope, and love. What a perfect, as in complete, way to worship on Good Friday: to step into the challenges of redevelopment in New Castle, reminding people that Jesus identifies with the suffering and with those who serve those in need.  Honestly, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful worship experiences of Good Friday ever for this aging Christian.

Thank you, Erin and Heather, for your leadership and holding me to my promise.

The Rev. Al Johnson is Canon for Congregational Vitality and Innovation for the Diocese of NWPA. 

It’s Time for the Waldameer Picnic!

The Diocesan Picnic at Waldameer is just around the corner! This great opportunity for worship, fellowship, and fun will be held on Sunday, June 16, 2019.  It is hoped and expected that those coming to the picnic would also attend the worship service at 11:00 AM. Bishop Sean will preach and celebrate.

Tickets are $25 (with a $100 maximum for members of an immediate family). Tickets will be exchanged at the park for a wristband that allows access to any or all of the following: a buffet meal, an all-day pass for riders, admission to the water park. Children 3 and under are free but require a wristband, so should be included in the reservation.

Congregations are once again being asked to gather money and reservations. Ticket sales must be done in advance using only tickets that are obtained from the Diocese.  No sale of tickets will be permitted at the park.  Reservations from the congregations must be to Vanessa by email or phone (814.456.4203) by noon on Monday, June 3rd.  Tickets will then be mailed to the congregations.

Paul Nelson, former diocesan treasurer and owner of Waldameer, is again generously allowing us to keep all proceeds from ticket sales.  The proceeds will go towards youth ministry in the dioceses.

On the day of the picnic, registration will be from 10:00 AM until 10:50 AM, and it is there that you will exchange your tickets for wristbands. There will be no registration during the service.  Registration will resume and the food lines will open after the worship service is completed. Food will be available until 4:00 PM. You must have a wrist band to eat.

Hope to see you at Waldameer!

Using Prayer Beads

What are prayer beads (and how are they different from the rosary)? And how do you use them as part of a regular prayer practice?  The Rev. Geoff Wild explains in this sixth segment of our series on Personal Prayer:

Stay tuned for part 2 of this video, where Cheryl Wild will demonstrate how prayer beads are made.

Other videos from this series: 
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 2- Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

On the Road to Emmaus Together: An Easter Message from Bishop Sean

Dear friends,

Every Easter morning, I find myself relieved that it was Mary Magdalene, and not me, who was the first one at the empty tomb. She had what it took: a profound faith in what she saw but did not yet understand and a willingness to proclaim the Resurrection without confirmation or analysis. Those are admirable qualities, but they are not mine.

I identify with the disciples. In the reading from Luke appointed for Easter evening, they are, as usual, confused and slow to grasp the situation. In fact, two of them are actually walking the wrong way–toward Emmaus, that is, away from Jerusalem and the empty tomb. They know that something momentous has occurred, but they don’t yet know what to make of it. They are grasping about for some kind of common understanding, but even when Jesus is standing right in front of them, they still don’t see him clearly enough to believe. You can hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice when he finally reveals himself to them, saying, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!”

Friends, I believe that right now in our region, we are on the road to Emmaus together. We are walking together in a new reality. We know that big things have happened, but we don’t yet understand them fully, and we are still figuring out–together–how we should respond. The one thing we do know is that our lives will never be the same. And that can be disconcerting.

But we have one big advantage over the disciples. We already know that Christ is walking with us. That doesn’t mean that we, like the disciples, will not be confused and uncertain. It does not mean that we can avoid suffering and death. But we know that our path winds on toward sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Whatever awaits us, we know we will see the risen Lord.

I give thanks to for the opportunity to take this journey with you. Happy Easter.

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe
Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Bishop Provisional of Western New York

Photo: On the Road to Emmaus, Duccio, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

Sharing the Love of Christ

My wife Kathy and I recently returned to Honduras from March 11-24 with a Christian Veterinary Mission team.  I have previously led several teams to Danli in southeastern Honduras and Kathy has often accompanied me.  This time we were leading a team of 6 veterinarians, 1 veterinary technician, 5 family members, 3 Honduran veterinary students, 3 Honduran drivers, and 3 Honduran high school translators.  We traveled under the auspices of Christian Veterinary Mission, an interdenominational professional Christian group, and SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) and were working within the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras to provide veterinary services to animals in the Danli area.  Our local contact was SAMS missionary Jeannie Loving.

Our team carried in medicines, equipment and supplies.  Each team member paid their own travel expenses and we had additional financial support from St. John’s, Franklin, as well as from several individual donations.

The team began each day with morning devotions.  Then, after breakfast, we would load our gear and travel to one of the many rural communities in the Danli area.  Each village that we visited was within the parish boundaries of one of the churches in the Danli Deanery.

Upon entering a village our team would divide into a livestock team and a pet animal team.  We then provided vaccinations, parasite treatments, medications, and surgeries as needed to horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits.  The services and medications were provided gratis but the local churches collected a donation of about $0.80 to $1.50 for surgical services. We had some very happy church members as the donations for each church were generally greater than a Sunday offering.  In the end we had treated over 1600 animals.

Our accompanying family members supported us by preparing the daily lunches for our team and an
always unknown number of hungry local helpers.  One spouse organized our daily devotions. Another was a fluent translator. They also helped with crowd control when necessary and were able to help spread the message that we came as Christians and were representing HIM by sharing HIS love.

We had purposely scheduled our trip to straddle a weekend so that we could attend church services together in a village where we had worked.  This year we attended the new rural church of Santa Maria Magdalena. We were fortunate that we were there on a communion Sunday as a priest is only available on alternate weekends.  We recognized several faces in the church of people who had been to our veterinary clinics earlier in the week, including one canine patient who walked in during the service and napped under the altar.  

For myself, the entire short-term mission experience is a spiritual renewal.  Yes, the work is satisfying. There is satisfaction in sharing your own resources, your wealth, your strengths, your faith, and all of your abilities with others.  We were called to go and share the Love of Christ. Answering that call was a blessing.

Dan Paulo is a member of St. John’s, Franklin. 

Centering Prayer

What is Centering Prayer, and how can it help you quiet your mind and bring you closer to God? The Rev. Adam Trambley explains in this fifth segment of our series on Personal Prayer:

Other videos from this series: 
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 2- Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth