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. 

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

Walking the Labyrinth

Walk the labyrinth with Craig Dressler and learn how this practice can become part of your personal prayer life in this fourth installment of our prayer video series.

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 5 – Centering Prayer

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

You are most likely familiar with the children’s rhyme and game “Ring Around the Rosie” with the final line being the title of this article. One would never think this might apply to an Episcopal priest, but stranger things have happened!

On Ash Wednesday, the priest (Fr. Geoffrey Wild) and I were sitting in our allergist’s office waiting for our injections. An elderly friend and his daughter walked in and sat with us. The friend asked me if my husband would be distributing ashes at a service that day, and I told him he would be. The friend said he didn’t know if he could make it out to the church. The priest-husband offered to get the ashes out of the car and impose them in the allergist’s office. The friend then asked if his wife could be given ashes – oh, and, by the way, she was in the emergency room of the hospital in the same building as the allergist’s office. Geoffrey said he would be happy to do so, so we departed and went to the ER to see our friend’s wife.

I work in Mercer, PA, and Geoffrey drove me to work. He then went to a local nursing home to see one of our congregation members and impose ashes for her. She picked up the phone and called the charge nurse to let her know that Geoffrey was there. After he imposed ashes on the lady and her daughter, he turned around to find a line of folks of “all sorts and conditions” waiting to receive ashes, which he then imposed. The charge nurse told Geoffrey that there was a Roman Catholic priest who would appreciate ashes but who was unable to leave his bed. Geoffrey went to the man’s bedside and imposed ashes for the Catholic priest.

Next Geoffrey drove to Foxburg where he imposed ashes in the church there. Quite a bit of snow and ice were around that day, and Geoffrey slipped and fell on the sidewalk that leads from the church to the parish house. He brushed himself off and continued on his way.

His final stop of the day was at Church of the Epiphany where he held a Eucharist with, of course, imposition of ashes. Following the service, he joined my daughter and me for dinner at a local restaurant. As we were finishing the meal, he said to me, “I think I need to go to the ER!” I thought he was most likely in atrial fibrillation again – but no! He thought he had broken his wrist in the Foxburg fall!

We sat in the ER (where Geoffrey had visited our friend’s wife earlier in the day) Following x-rays, we learned that his wrist was severely sprained but not broken. He received pain medication and a wrist wrap, and we were finally on our way home at 11:00 pm. At that point, he was in a great deal of pain. Strangely, he said, the pain did not start until we finished dinner and he had completed his priestly duties for the day! His wrist continues to be black and blue from that fall!

We marveled at how this day unfolded as he traveled from place to place, doing God’s work. We laughed about the big line up of people at the nursing home and the Catholic priest receiving ashes from an Episcopal priest. Most of all, we thanked God for the many opportunities he gives us for ministry. Geoffrey will forever remember this day, a day when “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down” became very real for him.

Cheryl Wild attends both Epiphany in Grove City and Memorial Church of Our Father in Foxburg, where her husband, Geoffrey, serves as vicar. She is also a member of the diocese’s Commission on Ministry.

Praying the Daily Office

In this third installment of our prayer video series, the Rev. Patricia Lavery explains how to get started praying the Daily Office and incorporating it into your daily routine.

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

St. John’s, Sharon to Host Diocesan Prayer Vigil

9:00am Friday, March 22 – 9:00am Saturday, March 23 at St. John’s, Sharon

St. John’s, Sharon, is hosting a 24-hour Lenten Prayer Vigil for the Diocese, its congregations, its people and its communities from 9:00am on Friday, March 22 through 9:00am on Saturday, March 23.  The church and chapel will be available for prayer throughout the day. Additionally, we will gather for time of structured prayer throughout the day. All are welcome to join us in Sharon or to join us in prayer from your own location.  For more information, contact Adam Trambley (atrambley@gmail.com) or Vanessa Butler (vbutler@dionwpa.org).

Schedule

9:00am.  Morning Prayer

10:15am   Prayers for every church in Diocese of Northwest PA and Western NY

12:05pm   Stations of the Cross

3:00pm.  Prayerwalk

5:30pm.  Eucharist

7:00pm.  Healing Service

10:00pm  Compline

11:00pm   Oral Reading of Gospel of Mark

8:00am.  Morning Prayer

Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice

This is the first in a six part video series on personal prayer. We invite you to join us as we explore this aspect of faith through the Lenten season. 

Other videos in this series:
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

Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent and Easter

This release originally appeared at the Episcopal News Service site on January 18, 2019.

The journey through Lent into Easter is a journey with Jesus. We are baptized into his life, self-giving and death; then we rise in hope to life transformed. This Lent, faith communities are invited to walk with Jesus in his Way of Love and into the experience of transformed life.New Way of Love resources for Lent and Easter include three components; additional resources from partnering organizations and churches are also featured:     

Adult Forum: This set of seven Adult Forums, suitable to diverse settings, ties the Easter Vigil readings to the seven practices of the Way of Love. Drawing on the ancient practice of setting aside Lent as a period of study and preparation for living as a Christian disciple (known as the catechumenate), the forums draw participants to reflect on salvation history, walk toward the empty tomb, and embrace the transforming reality of love, life, and liberation. As we stand with the three women at the empty tomb, we hear his call to go and live that transformed reality. Curriculum will be available in Spanish before the end of this month. (Format: Digital download, available here.)     

Quiet Day: The Quiet Day curriculum condenses the forums into a single-day journey. Offered as an option for churches and dioceses seeking an alternative to the weekly class. (Format: Digital download, available here.)

Test Kitchen: “Living the Way of Love, Transformed.” After the forty days of Lent, this Facebook-based platform will invite participants into a fifty-day Eastertide “Test Kitchen.” People everywhere will actively “GO” with Jesus from the tomb to bless the world – and then share and inspire each other with accounts of how they are living the Way of Love. Consider joining this closed Facebook group now to receive regular messages of support as you live the way of love through Lent. (Format: Multiple platforms, including Facebook group with daily prompts, available here.)

Resources shared by partnering organizations and churches:

     Way of Love resources from Church Publishing, Inc. (CPI) include Living the Way of
Love,
a 40-day devotional by Mary Bea Sullivan, along their recently published Little
Books of Guidance – one for each of the seven Way of Love practices.

Coming in early February are a series of sermons based on the Year C lectionary readings
offered by St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania as well as video
classes that track with the Life Transformed curriculum offered by The Hive.

Additional seasonal resources include:
Ashes to Go Resources
Daily Devotionals from d365
Episcopal Relief & Development’s Lenten Meditations
Lent Madness
Living Compass: Living Well Through Lent
Living the Way of Love: A 40-Day Devotional
Sermons That Work for Lent (available in English and Spanish)
United Thank Offering Lenten Calendar

If your ministry has developed a seasonal Way of Love offering, please share at wayoflove@episcopalchurch.org. We’d love to feature it on the website and pray for our shared journey into new life.

Explore the Way. Start a small group. Follow Jesus. Let God’s love transform you and your ministry. Find resources for every liturgical season here:  www.episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove.

Lent Madness is On at Christ Church, Oil City

Lent Madness is on again at Christ Episcopal Church!

Our congregation has been getting together every Sunday during Lent for four years now, to pick our individual selections for the upcoming week. We all have our Saintly Scorecards and some dedicated followers do additional research. We allow voters to show their financial favor for their favorite Saints. Not gambling, mind you! Since I serve as the contest judge, everyone realizes they will see no financial benefit from their votes. All funds collected are used for a worthy cause. For the last few years, the funds helped some Diocesan youth attend Camp Nazareth. Prizes are awarded to the participants with the highest point score and highest percentage. Last year we had participants from four counties and two churches.

Most participants wisely vote online at the official Lent Madness site, doing what they can to see that their individual picks fare well.

Our current leaders, as of Sunday, February 25, are Jocelind Gant, with a .875 average, and Noni Stanford, with 40 points.

It is a great way to learn about the amazing lives of the people that populate the pages of Holy Men Holy Women, and really has led to a greater realization of the many ways that they have served others. We have come to appreciate the deep faith of people that we viewed as names from a history text, if we had ever heard of them at all.

If you are unfamiliar with Lent Madness, the Forward Movement has a great website for the event:

http://www.lentmadness.org/

And if any other churches are interested in a little intra-Diocesan contest next year, we would be glad to consider any challenges by our brothers and sisters in Christ, in the spirit of Christian collegiality. Just like Georgetown and Villanova.

The Rev. Mark Elliston is the vicar at Christ Episcopal Church, Oil City. 

2018 Diocesan Lenten Day of Prayer

As we observe Lent, we would invite individuals and congregations throughout the Diocese to join us in a 12-hour Day of Prayer on Friday, March 9, from 9:00 AM-9:00 PM.  Four congregations will be serving as host sites:

  • Church of the Ascension, Bradford (26 Chautauqua Place, 16701)
  • Holy Trinity, Brookville (62 Pickering Street, 15825)
  • St. Mark’s, Erie (4701 Old French Road, 16509)
  • St. John’s, Sharon (226 West State Street, 16146)

All host sites will have their sanctuary open throughout the day for prayer, and will join the Diocese in times of common prayer. In addition, each site may offer additional scheduled or on-going prayer including Stations of the Cross, healing prayer, a labyrinth, community prayerwalks, The Great Litany, or centering prayer.  The schedule (which could be updated with additional events) is as follows:

9:00 AM       All Host Sites and Trinity Memorial, Warren*: Morning Prayer (Psalm 88, Genesis 47:1-26, 1 Cor. 9:16-27)

11:00 AM     St. John’s: The Great Litany

12:00 noon   All Host Sites and Trinity Memorial, Warren: Noonday Prayer

12:05 PM     St. John’s: Stations of the Cross

2:00 PM       St. John’s: Centering Prayer

5:00 PM       St. Mark’s and Trinity Memorial, Warren: Stations of the Cross

5:15 PM       All Host Sites: Evening Prayer (Psalms 91-92, Mark 6:47-56)

5:15 PM       Holy Trinity: Taize Evening Prayer

7:00 PM       St. John’s: Eucharist

8:15 PM       Holy Trinity: Contemplative Compline

8:30 PM       St John’s, St. Mark’s, Ascension, & Trinity Memorial, Warren: Compline

During this day of prayer, we especially ask prayers for discernment in the Northwestern Pennsylvania-Western New York collaboration, for the mission and ministry of our diocese, for increased evangelism throughout our region, and for the needs of our local congregations.

Individuals and congregations are encouraged to participate by joining a neighboring host site for as much of the day as you are able or by joining in the common times of prayer from your own congregations or homes.

For more information, please contact Canon Vanessa Butler (814.456.4203) or the Rev. Adam Trambley (724.347.4501).

*Additional Addresses:

Trinity Memorial, Warren (444 Pennsylvania Ave. West, 16365)