‘Courage To Follow A Call’ by Nina Palattella

Nina Palattella is a high school senior blogging about her experience as a Christian. Click here to read Nina’s previous blog posts.

Hello again and welcome to my seventh blog post! I hope that all of you are enjoying the return of spring and the Easter season. Easter is a universal time of joy in the church; although Lent was in my church a necessary and productive period of reflection, I was happy to enter into a multi-week celebration of Christ’s return that includes flowers throughout the church, loud hymns, and unapologetic use of the “alleluia.”

I have another piece of happy news to report—after much stress, research, and careful deliberation, I have decided that I will be attending the Honors College at Kent State University this fall! I made my last visit to another large research university, my second top choice, this past Thursday, and after that I felt I had all the information necessary to make my decision, and I wanted to go to Kent. I am looking forward to being a student of the Honors College and living in a dorm with other kids in that program, and I am excited to begin my studies as an English major under the direction of very competent and enthusiastic faculty. My brother will be around to help me if necessary, but we don’t expect to run into each other all the time, which is most likely a good thing.

12957437_1154559797910014_7548171173434636891_o  Earlier this month, my church had the pleasure of hosting the annual North American Conference of Cathedral Deans; as the name suggests, priests from cathedrals around the continent converge in a different location each year for a long weekend of discussion, prayer, and fellowship. The conference is not usually hosted in locations as humble as Erie, Pennsylvania (think Jerusalem and Hawaii), but the dean of my cathedral made a very convincing argument—the phrase “Rust Belt Chic” was mentioned more than once. I was not present for all the events of the conference, but our congregation was praised many times for their involvement in the entire process, including showing the deans around our (unfortunately cold) city, baking and arranging treats to be served after the Sunday service, and simply being visiting with our guests. My parents spoke repeatedly of the wide variety of friendly, interesting priests whom they had the pleasure of meeting; the deans included people from different generations, genders, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and cultural backgrounds, reflecting the wide reaches of the bonds and acceptance of Christ, which is a wonderful aspect of the Episcopal church that has always made me proud to be a member.

12321334_564938103673208_5533117079208251553_n At the last gathering of The Vine, the Episcopal youth group in my community, we had the pleasure of having the Very Reverend Miguelina Howell come to speak to us. Rev. Howell currently serves as the dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, and when she was installed in early 2016 she became the first Hispanic woman to be elected dean of an Episcopal church in the United States. In addition to the short PowerPoint presentation she prepared, Reverend Howell spoke about her experience growing up in the Dominican Republic as well as preaching there and in the US. She told stories about her parents, and spoke very affectionately of her father, who was not formally educated but insisted upon education for his children. She talked about a camp that helps serve the youth of Santo Domingo, which seemed very similar to the church camp that I attend except that it operates year-round, helping better the lives of children who are often very poor and disadvantaged. I admired that she has done so much great work in the country where she grew up, but followed what she felt was her call to serve in the United States. It often takes a great deal of bravery to recognize exactly what our individual call to serve might be, and it requires even more courage to follow it, but great people like Reverend Howell have shown me that it can be done.

After the conference had ended, my dean gave a sermon that tied in the theme of the conference, which focused on the perseverance of faith in times of loss and hope. Cathedrals, he said, are different from regular churches because they are at the heart of the community, both in terms of location and involvement in the lives of the people whom they serve, and the Cathedral of St. Paul is involved in its community through varied efforts such as food pantry, outreach dinners, and special events such as the conference. Christianity, cathedrals, my community and similar communities across the country—each of these has experienced its own form of loss, from declining attendance to declining populations to financial uncertainty. Change is evident in every facet of life, and occasions like this conference give us a multitude of reasons to be hopeful; they show us that our work is appreciated, worth continuing, and far from finished.

Nina Palattella, The Cathedral of St. Paul

“Mission Possible” ECW Annual Meeting

The Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of Northwestern Pennsylvania will hold their annual meeting Saturday, May 7th, 2016 from 9:30 am – 3:25 pm at St. Francis of Assisi in Youngsville, Pennsylvania.  Presenters include the Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar at Church of Our Saviour in Dubois, PA and Missy Greene, Christian Formation Associate at St. Stephen’s Church in Fairview, PA.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.45.48 PMAfter earning her M.Div. from Princeton Seminary, The Rev. Melinda Hall completed a year of Anglican Studies in New York. In her presentation, “Plastic Beads, Presidente, and Preschool: Why Trips to the Dominican Republic Make a Difference,” she asks, “Is our partnership with the Dominican Republic important? What does a Vacation Bible School have to do with early education?” and invites us to “Come with our questions as we explore why building relationships in the Dominican Republic is part of our calling in Christ.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.46.43 PMMissy Greene coordinates programs for all ages at St. Stephens. One of those ministries is The Vine, a collaborative youth community among three of the Episcopal Churches in the Erie area. Missy will share the development of The Vine as a model for collaborative ministry among small churches. Missy also participated in the 2015 mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

All are welcome to the ECW annual meeting.  Learn more about the program and get the registration and materials at the ECW page on the diocesan website.

The Vine’s Winter/Spring Schedule Is Out

The Vine is a community for youth in 6th-12th grade and a collaborative ministry of the Episcopal churches in Erie County. The Vine will meet twice a month for dinner, conversation, activities, and prayer. Service, outreach, and mission will also be incorporated during the year, as well as overnights and social events.


WINTER/SPRING 2016 Schedule

Meeting:     Sunday, January 10 from 4:30 – 6 pm at the Cathedral

Meeting:     Sunday, January 24 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Mark’s Church

Meeting:     Sunday, February 7 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Stephen’s Church

Cooking Outreach Dinner:     Saturday, February 20 from 10 am – ? at the Cathedral We’ll be chopping, mixing, baking, making a mess.

Serving Outreach Dinner:     Sunday, February 21 from 2:30 pm – 6 pm at the Cathedral We’ll be serving up some grub. Come ready to work.

Mini-Mission Trip:     *6th grade – 12th grade only* Saturday, March 12 (probably around 10 am) thru Sunday March 13 (maybe 3 pm)
More info on this soon.

Meeting:     Sunday, April 10 from 4:30 – 6 pm at the Cathedral

Meeting:     Sunday, April 24 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Mark’s Church

Something Fun:      Saturday, May 7 (probably around 6 pm – 8 pm)

Meeting:      Sunday, May 22 from 4:30 – 6 pm (not sure where)


For heaven’s sake, do this now:
Are you getting the e-news? Contact AJ Noyes (ajcnoyes@gmail.com)

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Do you receive text messages from The Vine through Remind.com?

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Missy Greene: missygreene85@gmail.com 814.323.2434

AJ Noyes: ajcnoyes@gmail.com 814.440.2618

Craig Dressler: cdressler@saintmarkserie.org 814.490.5062

“Youth Group and Christian Outreach” by Nina Palattella

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her second installment.  Click here to see the first one.

Hello again and thank you for joining me for my second blog post! I hope you have all had a swell month. My time has been occupied by the beginnings of college applications and lots of essays as my senior year of high school has progressed in full force. In addition to the new school year, the arrival of the fall season also brings a new year for my youth group, which led me to the idea to make this post about Christian outreach. I would suggest that any teens and youth in the audience especially stick around for this one—make yourself comfortable and stay a while!

11954753_482870405213312_9168523237462758084_nWhen I was younger, I participated in youth programs that were specific to my church, such as Sunday school and Rite 13, our small teen fellowship group; last year, program leaders from three churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania in my area, including my own, banded together with the idea to combine the youth groups from the three churches into one “Episcopal community for youth” known as The Vine; the group takes its name from a verse in the Gospel—“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 5:15). Anyone from those churches (and any friends who are invited and always welcome to join) in middle school through twelfth grade can participate in the group’s biweekly meetings that may include mission trips, fun outings or overnight gatherings.

While the three congregations mentioned above constitute the roots of the group (pun somewhat intended), other churches in the diocese have helped the group and our mission, whether by spending time with our group, hosting us in their parishes, or simply by expressing their support, and with their help the impact that our work 11081471_421588111341542_4785778058643413919_ncan have reaches far beyond the limits of our central congregations. This past March, the Vine took a “mini-mission” trip to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, PA. I had never visited the small parish before, and I was stunned by the beauty of the church building; the wood in the church’s interior needed some restoration, and after the volunteers from Erie exchanged greetings with the members of Holy Trinity who would be joining us for the morning, we began our task, armed with buckets of polish and rags with which to do our work. It was nice to have a job that gave some degree of instant gratification—after a few minutes of polishing, the walls, pews and altars had a shiny, richer color; they felt smoother and better equipped to endure decades of more worship. Once we had completed our labor, we were given a tour of the surrounding small town, and took part in a variety of activities, including a short late-night worship service and a movie. The next morning, the approximately twenty members of The Vine joined the regular Sunday congregation at Brookville for a spirited worship service led by Rev. Melinda Hall, a great preacher and friend whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know for the past few years at summer camp.

11406955_850522778357978_5965102601537077651_nSpeaking of summer camp, this is a great time to mention that, while youth groups are likely the most common way that young people can get involved in their church and its ministry, they are by no means the only way. Each summer, I attend an overnight camp for Episcopal youth who have completed grades two through twelve, the majority of whom are from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout the week, campers participate in many religious activities, such as daily Eucharist, program sessions based on that day’s Gospel lesson, and a Taizé service; in addition, the camp offers a variety of activities that are just plain fun, like hiking, crafts, 4 Square, and night swims (which is just about the coolest thing you could possibly imagine when you’re ten years old). It’s an excellent place where kids can get to know their religion, teens can explore how their personal faith is important to them, and everyone gets to build a community with each other that will remain after the week has ended.

Though not every church may possess these opportunities exactly, each church has something to offer in terms of outreach, whether that means volunteering at community dinners or food pantries, handing out bulletins before the service, or simply getting to know some of the people whom you see every Sunday—but it doesn’t have to stop there or be just that. I’ve learned from the experiences described above and others that some of the best Christian outreach happens outside of the typical places like churches or even youth groups. It can be as simple as helping someone through a difficulty in their life or spending time with the people whom you care about. There are an infinite number of ways to be kind, and as Christians (and as people) that is what we are most called to do.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post; please leave any questions or comments below!

Nina Palattella,

The Vine’s Fall Schedule is out

The Vine is a community for youth in 6th-12th grade and a collaborative ministry of the Episcopal churches in Erie County. The Vine will meet twice a month for dinner, conversation, activities, and prayer. Service, outreach, and mission will also be incorporated during the year, as well as overnights and social events.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.07.35 AM


Summer is over and it’s time to get ready for a new year with THE VINE. Are you ready?

What has not changed:

We are still meeting on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. We are still fabulous.

What has changed:

We will now be meeting from 4:30 pm – 6 pm
We will not serve dinner,  but we will give you snacks

HERE’S THE FALL SCHEDULE (or, at least what we can tell you so far)


Sunday, September 13 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Mark’s Church


Sunday, September 27 at 12:45 pm
That’s right. We’re walking. If you’d like to participate, please contact AJ (440-2618) for information and a donation envelope.


Sunday, October 11 from 4:30 – 6 pm
Meet at the playground parking lot. There will be some minor hiking and some major spirituality.


Friday, October 23 at 6 pm – Saturday, October 24 at about 3:30 pm
Meet at St. Mark’s Church parking lot. Eat dinner before you arrive. Cost $15. per person.
We’ll be sleeping at Church of the Redeemer in Hermitage and going to the Coolspring Corn Maze on Saturday morning. It’ll be a fun Halloweenyoctoberpumpkinfun kind of thing.


will take place on Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7 here in Erie at the Cathedral. There WILL be a large VINE contingent attending. More info to come.
No Meeting on Sunday, November 8.


Sunday, November 22 from 4:30 – 6 pm.
Meet at the Cathedral, then we’ll all head over together.
** Parents, friends, siblings are all encouraged to come with us.


Sunday, December 13 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Stephen’s Church


Are you getting the e-news? Contact AJ Noyes (ajcnoyes@gmail.com) if you’re not. Did you like us on Facebook?
Have you seen our website? thevineerie.weebly.com 
Do you follow us on twitter? twitter.com/TheVineErie

Do you receive text messages from The Vine through Remind.com?

App name: Remind101
Subscribe by texting @747ff to 81010.
It will send a follow up message asking for your name, just so we know who has subscribed.
All you have to do to unsubscribe is to text the word “unsubscribe” to 81010

Call with questions.

AJ Noyes: ajcnoyes@gmail.com814.440.2618

Craig Dressler: cdressler@saintmarkserie.org 814.490.5062

Missy Greene: missygreene85@gmail.com 814.323.2434

Read More about the Vine here

An Experience Worth Repeating

The Vine, a community for youth in 6th-12th grade and a collaborative ministry of the Episcopal churches in Erie County, completed their first service trip this past March. They visited Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, in Brookville, PA to help care for the pews and tongue and groove walls.  The walls are made of Pine and require periodic oiling which hadn’t been done since the 1990’s.  The church was very grateful for the help.  Nina Palattella age 17, from the Cathedral of St. Paul describes her experience below. 14575_421588328008187_1905592289553097637_nI had the fortune of traveling with The Vine, an Episcopal community for youth centered in Erie, PA, to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, PA, on March 21-22. While in the church, I and fifteen other youth helped by polishing the wooden walls and the pews of the beautiful church. During a break in our work, Pastor Melinda was kind enough to walk us down to the town dam not far from the church. After spending the night in the parish hall, we were served a wonderful breakfast that was prepared by one of the parishioners at Holy Trinity, and then attended the morning worship. We were met with incredible hospitality throughout our stay by all of the members of the church, who were very grateful for our work, and for that I would like to thank them. I chose to attend the trip because I was excited to have the opportunity to help the wider Episcopal community. I enjoyed the experience because I got to help people in my church community, and I knew that what we were doing would last for a long time. Many people thanked us at the service in the morning, and I was glad to know that they appreciated the work we had done for them. I think that our first mission trip as The Vine was a success and definitely an experience worth repeating. ~Nina Palattella, Cathedral of St. Paul