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

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. 

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

Called For Prayer and Service

“Lord, what would you have me do” is the final sentence in the motto of The Order of the Daughters of the King.  It is both a prayer and a call to serve. We, as a lay order of Episcopal women, pray daily to hear God’s call to serve our parish and our community.  The Daughters of the King in this diocese recently answered His call for prayer and service by participating in two very different activities this fall.

We answered His call to prayer at the recent joint convention of the Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York in Niagara Falls. When the announcement of a joint convention was made, Daughters in NWPA sought to contact Daughters from WNY to plan a joint activity. Alas, we learned there were no chapters in that diocese, and so we contacted Daughters from that Province. Two Daughters from Albany joined Grace Chapter from St. John’s in Franklin and Martha Chapter from Trinity in New Castle to offer prayer for those in attendance at the convention. A prayer table with candles and prayer request cards was set up in the rear of the meeting room. Attendees were encouraged to use the cards and place their prayer requests in a container on the table. We were astounded by the number of prayer requests which we instantly relayed to our members at home.  Prayer was offered in real time and we continued to pray for the petitions for another 30 days.  We also set up a table with information about the Order in the break area and we were delighted with the interest shown by the convention attendees. Plans are being made to visit a number of churches to give informational talks.

Our call to serve was answered by participating in a joint project with WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Church of America): the Lily Project. The Lily Project is a collaborative effort involving women from Good Hope Lutheran Church in Oil City and Grace Chapter of the Daughters of the King at St. John’s, Franklin. The purpose of the project is to assist women who have been victims of rape or sexual assault. These women often come to the ER with damaged clothing or must surrender their clothing as evidence of their assault.  We know this can be dehumanizing and adds to the trauma of the assault, so the Lily Project provides them with fresh clothing and a prayer for God’s comfort and peace. We have collected donations of underclothing, socks, loose athletic pants and t-shirts. These items are placed in a gift bag with a pack of tissues and a prayer square. Each size from small to extra large is placed in a bin marked with the size and then delivered to five area hospitals with a promise to replace items as they are used.

If you are interested in more information about the Order of the Daughters of the King, you can go to the website doknational.org or contact Kathy Paulo at St. John’s, Franklin.

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

Blue Christmas Service to be Held in Kane

There is a very active and collegial ministerial association in Kane.  Each month pastors and a few lay leaders from our many churches get together for lunch and spend an hour or two planning for the usual community worship services, a joint vacation bible school, and church participation in other local events.  

We also discuss community problems such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and mental health issues that isolate people from one another. It seems that for the last several months there have been many funerals of both elderly members of our congregations, and as a result of unexpected deaths of younger people. In a town the size of Kane, where we all know one another, the losses, whether of loved ones, employment, or health, are shared losses, and deeply felt, especially as the holidays approach.  

And so it was that at our October meeting, Pastor Jan brought up the idea of having an ecumenical “Blue Christmas” service for people who have suffered a loss of a loved one, or are dealing with other problems that can make holidays difficult and depressing. She had gathered information from a few websites and from other churches in our area which have held such an event.  After a bit of discussion, a committee was formed to look at the idea further.

When the Blue Christmas committee met, we brought together a wealth of materials from many denominations and traditions. We had each collected scripture, litanies, prayers, poems and music. I found several selections on Episcopal Church websites, as well as in our Year C Planning for Rites and Rituals resource book.  

As we discussed what we had pulled together, we recognized that feelings of loss and hopelessness are not limited to adults. Children are deeply affected when a family has experienced a crisis. Heather, one of our youngest pastors, volunteered to have a separate gathering on site for elementary aged children using books and activities that she had pulled together.  She is also looking into bringing in a service dog which is trained to work especially with children in emotional distress.

As the plan for a candlelight service began to form in our minds, we chose the evening of Friday, December 21, the longest night of the year, as the date.  St. John’s was chosen for the location because of its intimate size and comforting atmosphere. Pastor David with his years of chaplain experience will present a homily, and we hope to have a counselor from Hospice speak as well. There will be clergy and lay persons from all of the churches leading the worship time.  Music will include both traditional hymns, Taize, and instrumental, but not Christmas carols as such, since they can be powerful emotional triggers.  Following the service we have planned a time of fellowship with refreshments, as well as the opportunity for people to talk with clergy and other professional counselors. 

With our initial publicity about this event, we have had good feedback so far, and a lot of interest.  We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this endeavor that we may touch the hearts and minds of many who are suffering, and help them to begin to heal.

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

Editor’s Note: All are welcome to attend the Blue Christmas Service at St. John’s on Friday, December 21 at 7:00 PM.

Convention 2018 Wrap-Up

It was a historic convention this year in Niagara Falls! Following fourteen months of prayer, meetings, and discernment, the Diocese of Western New York elected Bishop Sean to be their bishop provisional for the next five years, officially embarking on a collaborative relationship with the Diocese of NWPA.

Prior to voting on Friday afternoon, keynote speaker the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, talked about embarking on an unknown future and how the church can meet the challenges of what comes next, including her Top Ten List of things for church leaders to remember in times of change (the full text of the address is available at the House of Deputies website). After President Jennings spoke, the election was held and, when the final tally was announced, the crowd gave a standing ovation.

Bishop Sean addressed both dioceses Saturday morning to discuss our shared future (a full video of the speech is available here). The bishop also announced that, in preparation for this new season, he will take a time of sabbatical from December through February.

Following the address, the two conventions separated for business and elections for offices and voting on resolutions occurred. The Rev. Dr. Mary Norton and Craig Dressler were elected to Standing Committee, the Rev. Melinda Hall and Jeff Mills won seats on Diocesan Council, the Rev. Canon Brian Reid and Kathy Rogers were elected to the Constitution and Canons committee, and the Rev. Geoff Wild, Anne Bardol, and Matthew Ciszek were elected to represent the diocese at the Provincial Synod.

The 2019 budget and assessments, as well as the 2019 minimum stipends for clergy, were passed as presented, and the resolution to establish a drug and alcohol committee was passed as edited to be in compliance with the Constitution and Canons. A special resolution was also passed in memory of Lois Tamplin, long-time member of St. John’s, Sharon and known to many at convention for her efforts in supporting the Church Periodical Club.  The convention raised $369.50 in her honor, which the bishop matched, to make a total donation of $739.00 given to the CPC in her memory.

It was announced that convention next year will be held at a time and place to be determined after conferring with the Diocese of Western New York.

Many thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who made convention possible, and to the delegates for taking time out of their busy schedules to conduct the business of the church.

All of the passed resolutions and materials from other presentations can be found on our website.

As Bishop Sean says: It’s a Great Day in the Kingdom!

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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