Engaging Community with National Night Out

The Cathedral of St. Paul participated in National Night Out on Tuesday, August 1st at Gridley Park on Erie’s lower west side. National Night Out is a national event which seeks to show unity, encourage everyone to play a role in supporting the education of youth in our neighborhoods, and to take a stand against crime in our city by building stronger police-community relationships .

More than 1,000 neighbors enjoyed the festivities from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on a beautiful  summer  evening at Gridley Park. All enjoyed a free hot dog dinner, fun games and activities in which parents and children were able to participate together, and listened and danced to a mix of local musical entertainment. There were also over two dozen social service agencies providing helpful information and giveaways.  Police, fire and emergency service providers gave tours of their vehicles and educated young and old about their services.

The event is grant funded through the Erie County United Way and additionally sponsored by five neighborhood watch groups and more than twenty five neighborhood businesses and churches.

As an inner-city church in the heart of downtown Erie, much of our outreach is focused on our neighbors and National Night Out is just one more example of our ministry to and with our neighbors and we are so thankful for the opportunity.

Cass Shimek is the Cathedral Administrator and is a member of the Our West Bayfront National Night Out Committee.

Courage and Collaboration in Christian Community: Diocesan Convention 2017

We have a lot of exciting things going on in our diocese right now and, to reflect that, this year’s convention will not be business as usual!

As part of our ongoing conversation about collaboration and innovation in the church, we will be welcoming the Rt. Rev. William Franklin and a large contingent from the Diocese of Western New York.  Just two weeks prior to our convention, we will have sent a contingent to their convention (and there’s still time to sign up to join us!  Visit our website to do so).  They will join us for our entire convention and we will have ample time to get to know one another.

Those that have attended convention in the past may notice that we will have a different emphasis for the content of our convention.  This convention will be very mission-focused and the schedule will reflect that. We will have a more condensed time for business than we usually do so that we have the time we need for learning and conversation.

To help us continue our work on innovation and collaboration, we have invited the Rev. Canon Scott Slater to be with us.  Scott has been an Episcopal priest since 1993 and has served in the Diocese of Maryland since 2001. Following nine years as rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Baltimore, he began serving on the bishops’ staff as the Canon to the Ordinary in July of 2010. In 2015, he became a Certified Daring WayTM Facilitator based on the work of Brene Brown, Ph.D.  He will be leading us through a program relating to issues regarding shared ministry, both on the diocesan and congregational levels, using the work of Brené Brown.  Please see below for links to videos from Brené, as well as to some of her books.  If you are able, we would encourage you to take the time to look at some of her work prior to convention.

We urge our clergy and delegates to come ready to engage in these conversations. Please do not use the condensed business time as an excuse to not attend the entire convention.  The work that we will be doing at the convention, though not the conventional business, will be setting the table for the future of our diocese. We would also encourage those laypeople who are not delegates but who are interested in being a part of this conversation, to please join us as well.  We will have plenty of space for those who would like to join us and we would love to have you there.

Videos from Brené:
The Power of Vulnerability
Brené on Blame
Brené on Empathy

DR Mission Trip Day One – Saturday

I love to travel for the same reason why I love History. I enjoy learning about how other people live (or lived). Today, I got to learn about both.

After starting the morning off with a wonderful breakfast and changing our US Dollars into Dominican Pesos, our group went to the Leon Center, a museum and cultural center. There, we looked at exhibits of ancient artifacts and art. Personally, I love art, so this was quite exciting. There were some absolutely beautiful pieces, and some that really made you think. One thing I found interesting was that all of the artwork was from local, Dominican artists. Next, we headed to lunch and did some shopping at a Walmart-type grocery store called La Sirena (The Mermaid).

After that, we went to the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration. This was my favorite excursion. It is a large building with a tall spire that is lit up and changes colors at night. There are a few floors with paintings and  exhibits of the history of the first uprising and restoration of the Dominican Republic. It offered great history lessons, incredible views, and lots of stairs! When we finally came down, we left for an indoor marketplace to buy souvenirs. For me, this was the most challenging thing. There were a lot of items and people packed into a very tight space. The vendors were fairly pushy, and it was even more difficult to navigate, as I don’t speak Spanish. However, we all made it through, and I found some really nice souvenirs! Finally, a group of seven of us walked to a cemetery a block and a half from our hotel. It was quite beautiful and unique, as it was almost all above-ground mausoleums. We then finished off the night with another excellent dinner.

I very much enjoyed learning about and seeing a new and different culture, and I am very excited for the coming week!

– Julia Trambley

Speak Boldly:  A Two-Track Approach to Christian Education and Formation

Throughout the season of Lent, we at St. Mark’s felt stirred to offer formation for all ages in a way that we had never done previously.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know what that was.  Personally, I knew that I needed to teach something that would be life-giving to me and would therefore feed the congregation in a new way through my energy and excitement.  For me, that meant teaching something about the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) – more on that in a moment.

Of course, the Hebrew Bible wasn’t going to tap the interest of everyone in the congregation, so we needed something else to offer alongside.  With all of the recent changes in the local political landscape, the increase in issues like opioid overdose, and a bankrupt public school district, we felt called as disciples to learn more about those issues.  So we set forth to run a forum featuring influential public leaders to be run parallel to the Hebrew Bible class.  For six weeks in Eastertide, we began as a community with a meal (prepared by the culinary students at the Charter School for Excellence) and then broke off into our classes:  Public Forum, The Story of Creation for kids, and the Hebrew Bible class.

The Hebrew Bible class had one main purpose:  to teach the students about the origins, structure, and historical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.  It was intentionally not a devotional “bible study,” but rather an abbreviated introductory level Hebrew Bible course one would encounter in seminary.  The 26 students were excited and equally apprehensive because they knew they were going to face some challenges to their faiths along with way.  However, we knew that we could trust each other and that all opinions and questions were valued and respected.

Why teach such a class?  First, Jesus was Jewish.  Therefore the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible were His scriptures that informed His faith and His teachings as our Messiah found in the New Testament.  Second, we are called to be peacemakers in the world.  How better to more deeply understand our Jewish brothers and sisters than through a deeper knowledge of their scriptures and our shared history? Third, there are many things as English readers of ancient Hebrew texts that we miss (symbolism, sarcasm, euphemism, parallelism, poetry, etc.) that once realized make the scriptures come alive in a new and powerful way.  Fourth, and perhaps most important, this deep study of the Hebrew Bible in college and seminary liberated my personal faith.  It caused me to think anew and ask the difficult questions I had previously been afraid to ask.  That freedom to ask hard questions is necessary for deepening one’s walk with Christ.

For six weeks, we prayed, studied, argued, sang, and shared revelatory moments together.  From Creation to the Exodus, from myth to commandment, from festivals to prophecies, from sex to poetry, we covered it and we had fun while doing it.  Can the 26 students speak fluent Hebrew?  No, but they can speak a few important Hebrew words and relate them back to their own walks with God.  Can the 26 students identify all of the writers in the Torah?  No, but they now know that there are many voices, faiths, and perspectives found in those books; and that there is much beauty in the unifying work of God in bringing all of those writings together to give us what we have today.  And finally, can the 26 students tell us everything there is to know about God’s character in the Hebrew Bible?  No, but they can certainly proclaim that the God of the Hebrew Bible is not the stereotyped old angry man in the sky, but is the same living, loving, merciful God we know in Christ today.  And for that I say, Alleluia!

Craig Dressler is Associate for Parish Life at St. Mark’s, Erie.

Explorer’s Day

Do you feel you are being called to a deeper ministry?  Do you feel that you might be called to ordained ministry?

If so, please consider attending our Explorer’s Day on September 9th at St. Mark’s, Erie.  The program will be offered at no cost and will run from 10:00 AM to 3:15 PM (lunch will be provided).

Explorer’s Day is a program that we run jointly with the Diocese of Western New York. It serves as a day of exploration into ministry and as the entry point to the ordination process.  We hope that, through this program, participants will be able to better discern their call to ministry and make informed decisions about their next steps.

During this day-long program, we will take a look at the different callings and roles of three of the orders in the church: lay, deacon, and priest.  We will do this through theological reflections using the Book of Common Prayer, studying scriptures that show different ways we may be called to ministry, and hearing from representatives of each of the three orders.  We will also explain the details of our respective ordination processes.

We held our first Explorer’s Day in January of this year and had good attendance from both dioceses.  Those that attended found the program very informative and useful in their journeys.  Some chose to enter the ordination process, some discerned that the ordination process wasn’t for them, and some decided that they wanted to continue their prayer and discernment.  Attendance does not mean you are entering the ordination process or that you are locked in to anything.  This program is intended to be what it is titled: a day of exploration for those who feel they may want to go deeper in ministry.

People who believe they may have a call to ordained ministry or a deeper call to lay ministry are encouraged to attend. If you know someone who fits this description, please share this information with them and encourage them to attend.

A couple of notes:  We do require that the priest from the attendee’s congregation accompany him or her, as the clergy will be walking alongside them during this exploration of call.  Also, though you do not have to enter the ordination process after attending this event, attendance at this event is required to enter the ordination process.

To sign up for the event, please contact Valerie Hudson at vhudson@dionwpa.org or 814.456.4203.

Episcopal Youth Event

Every three years, the Episcopal Church hosts an Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) for high school students. This is an international event, bringing youth, their adult leaders, Bishops, and volunteers from across the world together for a few days of worship, speakers, and workshops. EYE takes place this summer, July 10-14 on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK. There is expected to be 1,300 youth present for the event.

Our diocese will be represented by nine students: Sierra Adrover and Mari Holben from St. Mark’s in Erie, Josie Noyes and Paul Hoffer from the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie, Abby and Sarah Wheeler from Resurrection Church in Hermitage, Aaron and Andrew Scott from St. James in Titusville, and Stephen Covington from Memorial Church of Father in Foxburg. Fr. Denny Blauser and I will be accompanying the youth to the event.

We are looking forward to a great trip! It is our hope that the students will engage in all that the event has to offer, make new connections around the world, and experience God in new and transforming ways.

DioNWPA EYE group, 2014

You can follow what our delegation gets up to in Oklahoma on the Diocesan Formation Facebook and Twitter accounts: @dionwpaformation.  You can also follow the National Church’s social media for the event: Facebook, @EpiscopalYouthEvent and Twitter, @episcoyouth.

As always, please keep us in your prayers as we prepare, travel, and participate!

Missy Greene is the Christian Formation Associate for St. Stephen’s, Fairview. 

“There and Back Again” – Adventures in Episcopal Communications

I’m not a “big crowds” person, generally. I don’t go to concerts, I skip school reunions, and I avoid the mall on Saturday afternoons as though my life depended on it. That being said, you can probably imagine my trepidation as I stood outside the airport waiting to catch the bus headed to the Episcopal Communicators conference in downtown Cincinnati. (I know, I know – a SHY communications person? We really do exist, I swear.) Talking back and forth with hundreds of people on Facebook and email is one thing, but meeting them in person is a somewhat more nerve-wracking experience, especially as a first-time conference attendee.

I sat at the bus stop nervously checking the conference and metro schedules on my phone, and whether it was the look on my face or the fact that I was obviously an out-of-towner, two young guys waiting for the same bus took pity on me. In the thirty minutes it took us to get from the airport to the hotel, they’d explained to me which stop was mine, gave me at least four recommendations on where to eat,  told me where they were staying in case I needed anything, and sent me off with wishes to “have a great time!”. Grace pops up in the oddest places, but it’s usually when we need it most.

There was just enough time after I’d checked in for me to drop my bags in my room and try to tame my humidity-frizzled hair before registration closed, so I did a quick check in the mirror and then made my way to the conference floor to pick up my nametag.  (There were a few large groups meeting in town that week, and for the first day and a half of the conference one would regularly see people looking around at other’s nametags to be sure they were heading towards the correct meeting room.  Several of us in the EpisComm group made conversation with the Tasters’ Conference people down the hall, though we never did figure out how to sneak in so we could be part of the vanilla bean tasting. Maybe next time!)

I suppose my initial worries about the conference were unfounded – in a room full of professional communicators, it’s almost impossible not to be drawn into conversation unless you’re actively working at it. There were roughly 150 people from all corners of the country in attendance, and the noise level in the room could be described as ‘lively’. I slipped into an empty seat about halfway between the door and the announcer’s podium, and within moments I’d been introduced to everyone at the table, and another first-time attendee from southern Florida (who was simultaneously updating his Facebook page in both English and Spanish) asked me which workshops I was planning to attend. I was in!

As we chatted I wondered how long it would take the EpisComm President to get everyone quiet so we could begin the plenary session – a minute? Two? Would she have to bang a gavel? My speculations were wildly off.  At three o’clock sharp she stepped up the microphone, coughed politely, and then said, “The Lord be with you.”

“AND ALSO WITH YOU!”  rang out from every corner of the room, and then there was silence. Amazing!

It’s even more amazing when you consider that this response, and the liturgy as a whole, is something we all share in spite of our manifold differences. The Episcopal Communicators are quite a mixed bunch. Over the course of the conference I met a delightful young lady from Oregon state and a gentleman from London, a woman who was the sole communicator for her small parish in Maryland and another who was head of communications for the entire state of Minnesota, men and women, baby boomers and millennials, Episcopalians, Catholics, and one woman who regularly attends a Quaker service (!). So many differences, but all united in their purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

The thing that really sold me on the greatness of conferences is that you have an incredible bank of talented people all within reach, sharing their ideas and resources freely. Jana Riess, the keynote speaker and author of The Twible, was a wealth of information during her addresses, and between times she made herself available to anyone who wanted to chat (or get their book copy signed).  As for workshops, there were at least two media teams that had tips on how to tailor your church’s social media presence; Scott Gunn of Forward Movement gave a tutorial on how to take pictures with basic point and shoot cameras; Episcopal Relief and Development had a highly interesting discussion on the Asset Map (which is a fabulous resource for churches) – and this was just from the professionals during formal workshop time. Conversations were happening EVERYWHERE – at the breakfast table, in the elevator, at the yarn store (knitters gotta knit!).  The spontaneous discussions were just as productive as the workshops, in some ways – comparing situations with others ‘on the ground’ and seeing what each of us does differently can be both eye-opening and instructive. As someone relatively new to diocesan communications I wasn’t sure that I would have much to offer others, but in the course of conversation it happened that we spawned some new ideas for reaching out to college students, and I had some input in a promotional video concept for Taize services. (Don’t discount your contributions out of hand – God may have plans you’re unaware of!) Plus, as a result of those spontaneous meetings we were all able to share contact information for continued collaboration outside conference time, so the fun didn’t end when we said goodbye Saturday morning.

No one, and no church, should be an island – if we want to share God’s story and be part of the Jesus Movement, we need to take a chance and come out of our shells a bit. So, from my shy self to you, a word of recommendation: communicate!

And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15    I think you’ll be glad you did.

Megin Sewak is Communications Specialist for the Diocese of Northwestern PA. 

Church Bells To Be Rededicated

This article appeared in the Philipsburg Journal on April 14, 2017. 

The bells of St. Laurence Episcopal Church in Osceola Mills, which have not resounded together in some time, will ring in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday at 11 a.m., thanks to rehabilitation by master bell restorationist Brian Michaels of Forest. Delivery of a newly-fabricated part for one of the bells last week means that all three of them will be ready for their debut by Easter.

“To think we looked high and low for someone to bring back our bells, only to find an expert right in our own back yard,” says church board member Sheila Heath of Chester Hill.

“… He took a look, pronounced our bell tower good and solid, and prescribed a little TLC for two of our three bells, only one of which was in working order,” says church organist Luther Gette of Michaels.

According to Michaels, only a little cleaning and oiling was needed for two of the bells, along with tightening up the mounts, some new bell rope, etc.

“It was bell number three – the middle in tone – that required a new bolt, since the old one had rusted out and could no longer hold the clapper assembly,” Michaels explains.

“I searched for a manufacturer to make a new one, – 15 inches long and made out of stainless steel – and finally found a firm willing to do the job.”

The three bronze bells of St. Laurence Church were cast by the McShane Foundry in Baltimore in 1898, only six years after the church was built in 1892.

They were first housed in a small, temporary bell tower until the present tower was built in 1904 by the Osceola Lumber Co.

The present restoration was undertaken as part of a general sprucing-up for the 125th anniversary of the church.

“We’re hoping the bells can ring once again for many occasions in the community, such as the Fourth of July Parade and Osceola Spirit Days,” says Fr. William Walker, pastor of St. Laurence.

“We will be blessing them on Easter Sunday, a few moments before the service at 11 a.m., and we invite the whole community to come and participate.  Or just listen from anywhere in town as the beautiful three-bell peal wafts over Lingle Street and the park.”

Article submitted by Luther Gette, organist at St. Laurence, Osceola Mills. 

Upcoming Services of Ordination

There are some exciting events coming up in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Please join us at the following services as we welcome new clergy to the Diocese!

Bishop Sean will ordain Dorothy Konyha, David Betz, Mark Elliston, and Nicholas Evancho to the Diaconate on Sunday, May 7, at 5:00 PM at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Erie. The Rt. Rev. William Franklin, Bishop of the Diocese of Western New York, will preach. All are welcome to attend. Please keep all the candidates in your prayers as they prepare for ordination.

Then, on June 25, Bishop Sean will ordain the Rev. Jason Shank to the priesthood at 4:00 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Castle.   Join us if you are able and please keep Jason and the Resurrection church plant in your prayers as they begin their new ministry together.

 

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Invitation to the Diocesan Prayer Vigil – March 17 & 18

altar-boy-1190759_1920The conviction that praying shapes believing is part of our Anglican heritage.  Prayer is a core practice of our Christian faith and serves as both a foundation and covering for our common mission.

I invite you to join me in prayer for our diocese at St. John’s, Sharon, on March 17-18 from noon to noon.  We will set aside 24 hours to pray for each other, our common life and mission, and our communities.

Please join us as you are able.  I recognize that not everyone will be able to join us in Sharon, but I hope that you will offer prayer from wherever you are during that time.

+Sean

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The schedule for the prayer vigil is below.  As you can see on the schedule, we will be praying from noon to noon with services and events planned throughout the vigil.  All are welcome to join us for any portion of the vigil, whether that be attending a single service, coming just to pray on your own for a time, or being present for the full 24 hours.  There will be food provided throughout our time.

We will also have a form on the website for those who would like to submit prayer requests to be prayed over by our intercessors.  You are welcome to submit as many as you would like.

If you have any questions about this event or submitting a prayer request, please contact Vanessa.

Schedule for Prayer Vigil
March 17-18
St. John’s, Sharon
12:00 PM       Stations of the Cross
2:30 PM         Centering Prayer teaching and prayer time
5:30 PM         Evening Prayer
7:00 PM         Healing Service
10:00 PM      Compline
11:00 PM       Oral Reading of Book of Revelation
12:00 AM      Private Prayer/Intercession over submitted prayers
7:00 AM         Morning Prayer and Praise
9:00 AM        Prayerwalk & prayers for community
11:00 AM       Eucharist
12:00 PM      Lunch with St. John’s Family Kitchen (if you wish to stay)