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.

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.

Congratulations, Father Timothy!

Congratulations to Father Timothy Dyer of the Episcopal Mission of Warren County on his ordination this past Sunday, December 11th!

Photos of the ordination can be seen below, and full video of the service is available here.  God’s blessing on your ministry, Fr. Timothy.

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“Talking God” – Book Review

Talking God: Preaching to Contemporary Congregations by Albert R. Cutié

A Review by Adam Trambley

talking godAlbert Cutié’s Talking God is a short, accessible book that reads like a coffee conversation on preaching with a thoughtful and experienced practitioner.  Albert Cutié, known to many as “Padre Alberto”, had a daily talk show broadcast to a national and international audience, as well as a column in the Miami Herald’s Spanish language publication.  Originally ordained a Roman Catholic priest, Cutié joined the Episcopal Church in 2009 and preached at the 2012 General Convention.  Talking God is a based on his Doctor of Ministry thesis.

Talking God is filled with interesting tidbits and thought-provoking ideas.  His first chapter looks at six preachers of the past four hundred years. He talks about the vocal quality of preaching used by John Wesley, the ways that Bishop Sheen engaged a wide American audience, and credibility and connection that Joyce Meyer’s use of her own personal experiences offers.  In other chapters, he looks at topics including the ways that new technology is changing people’s listening habits and the importance of the proper use of humor in homilies.  To connect with contemporary audiences, he discusses the need for enthusiasm, creativity, prayer, and sermon structure. He also shares his strong opinion on the importance of not preaching from a text and the importance of preachers focusing on the delivery, as well as the content, of their messages.

While Cutié provides much for preachers to ponder, he offers little in terms of concrete advice that would help a reader implement his ideas.  His idea of having a sermon evaluated by small group of people each week is excellent, but the tool he provides is far from the best sermon-evaluation instrument available.  Anyone looking for help developing the kind of effective sermon structure Cutié advocates will need to look elsewhere. (I personally recommend Paul Scott Wilson’s The Four Pages of A Sermon as a starting place.)  Some of his other points, such as his experiences with technology in worship and even his opposition to full-text preaching, come from his personal experience with no data to back up his claims.  What he says is worth thinking about, but others may disagree based on their own contexts.

Cutié’s book is a helpful one to those interested in thinking about the craft of preaching and how it is changing.  While he provides few compelling answers, the questions Cutié raises are important ones for preachers and the future of the church.

Rev. Adam Trambley is Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Sharon, PA

A Wild Ride

God moves in mysterious ways. In the late 1990s, the Rt. Rev. Robert Rowley, then the bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, met with the Rev. Barbara Akin, then the vicar of Church of the Epiphany in Grove City. They were having a discussion about her successor and joking around about who his successor might be. Little did they know that his successor, Barbara’s student intern Sean Rowe, was filing papers in the next room, and that her successor, Geoff Wild, was living in Australia deciding whether he was an atheist or not.

The now Rev. Geoff Wild, a native of Australia, has served as the vicar at Fr GeoffChurch of the Epiphany in Grove City for seven years and in recent years has also served as the vicar of Memorial Church of Our Father in Foxburg. However, the road to ordained ministry was not always an easy one.

Fr. Geoff describes growing up with uninvolved parents. As a young person, he drifted and in College he found alcohol. He spent twenty years drinking and using drugs. At one point, his then-wife wanted a divorce and Geoff recognized that he was harming his family. Finally, a friend took him to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and it was there that Geoff realized he was lonely. He got sober but didn’t follow all of the 12 steps, in particular the step about developing a relationship with your higher power. He remained lonely in sobriety. He became mean and miserable and, at times, even suicidal. Six years later, his marriage was over.

Even though he had been raised as an Anglican, he stubbornly refused to develop a relationship with a higher power. And then, as he says, “One night I got found by God in the form of a big white Ford wagon.”

One rainy afternoon, Fr. Geoff was out for a run and got hit by that big white Ford wagon. It put him in the hospital for three days. While he was in the hospital, he looked around him and saw the devastating affects of alcohol and drugs. The person next to him had tried to jump off a building because he thought he could fly. Another person could only talk about drinking beer and a third was drunk and waiting to go back to his homeless shelter. Geoff asked himself, “What is wrong with this picture?” And his answer was: “Me.”

He began in earnest to try and develop a relationship with his higher power. He started following the 11th step in the AA 12 steps, meditation. Around this time he also met Cheryl (now his wife and better half) and, to please her on a trip to the U.S. to visit her, he accompanied her to church. There he found “words that spoke to me.” He continued with his meditation and one day asked God, “Are you there?” To his surprise he received the reply, “Of course I am.” It made all the difference: “That loneliness I had felt all my life didn’t have to be there because God was there.”

Following his conversion, Geoff moved to the U.S. to be with Cheryl and started attending Church of the Epiphany, Grove City. One day Barbara Akin asked Geoff if he wanted to be a priest. He was somewhat taken aback because, when he was young, one of the things he thought about was becoming a priest. He took his time to think, meditate, and pray about it and 18 months later was able to answer yes. That was in 2003 and, in 2008, Barbara Akin’s successor that she had discussed with Bishop Rowley so many years previous was ordained by Bishop Rowley’s successor.

25 years ago, Fr. Geoff only wanted to stop drinking and using drugs. Life hasn’t always been easy for him, but sobriety and a relationship with Jesus Christ gave him far more than he believed he deserved: “Stopping [drinking] was the best decision I made in my life, but it wasn’t enough. It is the relationship with Jesus Christ that has made the difference.”

Julien Goulet, Assistant to Communications and Administration, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania

What is my vocation?

Recently, one of the sons of our diocese, Tim Dyer, was ordained to the transitional diaconate. It was a wonderfully vibrant and hope filled day for everyone! Tim’s journey toward the priesthood is not quite complete but it is moving forward and that is a story best told by Tim himself. But his journey began with a deceptively simple question: what is my vocation?

By virtue of our baptism, we all have a vocation. We all have been called by God for ministry in his church. We may be called as lay persons, bishops, priests or deacons. Yes. There are four orders of ministry, not just three. It is unfortunate that when someone feels a call to do more in their life of faith, we tend to assume it is a call to ordained ministry. The truth of the matter is that lay ministry is vital to the life of the church. That said, there is much more to lay ministry than what might first come to mind.

Our catechism defines the ministry of the laity as, “to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the church.” BCP p. 855. A key phrase in this definition is ‘according to the gifts given them.’ When we are discerning our vocation, it is important to know that our call will align with the gifts that we have. We may be called to altar guild, hospitality, visiting, praying, supporting mission work. All of it is ministry.

Discerning a call to ministry begins with the individual—either by the one being called or in some cases by a person who sees in someone else a call to such ministry. When the question keeps nagging and won’t be silenced, we need the help of the community (such as the clergy, spiritual directors and/or diocesan staff) to discern the particular nature of that call.

It may be a call to one of the licensed lay ministries. Most of us are familiar with Eucharistic Ministers and Eucharistic Visitors. However, there are others. One can receive training and be licensed as Worship Leaders, Pastoral Leaders, Preachers, Catechists and Evangelists. These licensed lay ministries are integral components of successful congregational ministry, particularly in the case of bi-vocational and non-stipendiary clergy. If you want more information on the training required for these ministries, contact the Diocesan Church Center.

It may well be a call to ordained ministry. Today there are various paths toward ordination. All of our deacons and some of our priests are locally formed in the diocese. They take most of their classes in the diocese and are ordained as non-stipendiary clergy. Some of our priests are formed through attending full time residential seminaries for a period of three years. Still others follow a more hybrid route with some classes being taken locally and some offered through online classes at accredited seminaries.

What is my vocation? It is a question we all need to be asking as we take our baptismal vows seriously. The answer is the journey of a lifetime. Ask Tim.

The Reverend Martha Ishman, Canon for Mission Development and Transition and Vicar of St. James, TitusvilleMartha Ishman