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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There is Hope – The Anti Child Trafficking (ACT) Mission Sets Bold Agenda

Many girls don’t make it out alive.  Debbie was one of the lucky ones.

This story is Adapted From ABC News.  Fifteen-year-old ‘Debbie’ is the middle child in a close-knit Air Force family from suburban Phoenix, and a straight-A student. One evening Debbie said she got a call from a casual friend, Bianca, who asked to stop by Debbie’s house. Debbie went outside to meet Bianca, who drove up in a Cadillac with two older men. After a few minutes of visiting, Bianca said they were going to leave. Debbie started to go give her a hug when she was pushed  into the car. She was tied up, blindfolded and taken to an apartment 25 miles away. She was drugged, raped and sold for sex over many weeks.

Police said she had been held by her captors at gunpoint and kept in a dog cage for more than 40 days, the chances of getting out alive seemed slim. But then police investigating the case heard tips that she was being kept in an apartment in the Phoenix area.  Police searched the apartment but at first didn’t find Debbie. But they were still suspicious and on another occasion broke down the doors to the same apartment and realized with a shock why they’d been unable to find Debbie — she was there, but she was tied up and crushed into a drawer under a bed. Within hours, Debbie was safely home. “I was so happy,” she said. “I was so happy to see my mom. I was so happy to be home. I’m able to be with my family.

graffiti-671583_1280There is hope. The documentary In Plain Sight recounts the stories of six women in the United States who independently became aware of child and women sex trafficking in their area and became abolitionists. Five of the six have opened aftercare facilities for trafficked victims in places like Sacramento, Nashville, Baltimore, Little Rock, Huston and Dallas. At the time this video was made the sixth abolitionist, who already provided anti-trafficking training for professionals, was in the process of opening a home for victims.

Interviews with rescued victims reveal horrific stories of being raped at the ages of 4 and 5, one with her mother’s approval. Two tell of being sold by their mothers, one at age 8, another for a pick up truck. These grateful residents are provided a safe, homelike atmosphere where they can heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Often they receive education and vocational training. They all express relief and deep gratitude at being safe, loved, and nurtured, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Many are beginning to discover gifts of which they were unaware.

The Anti Child Trafficking Mission (ACT), a mission of St Francis, Youngsville and Trinity, Warren is making a difference. They held three meetings in February at churches in Warren and Youngsville, where they taught about child sex trafficking and reviewed actions that could be taken to serve vulnerable, trafficked and rescued children. Diane Brandt, ACT’s founder said, “We are thrilled that 19 Episcopalians and five members of the community attended. Many signed up to form teams and take action.” They set a bold agenda to:

  1. Lobby PA legislators to pass Senate Bill 851, the Safe Harbor Act, which requires trafficked children be protected and treated as victims. Astonishingly, this bill has been stuck in committee since November!

  2. Host a speaker from a local foster care organization, because foster children are some of the most vulnerable to trafficking.

  3. Sponsor a Heart Gallery Sunday with photos of children seeking adoption.

  4. Create “Freedom Bags” to provide rescued children with personal items such as socks, hoodies, t-shirts, sweatpants, etc., because they usually have nothing but their “work clothes” when they are rescued.

  5. Teach a safe internet practices class for children and their parents, because many victims are first contacted on-line.

  6. Distribute Trafficking fliers at bars, motels, sporting events, gas stations, casinos, etc., to both alert the public to trafficking and to notify victims of the Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-3737-888.

  7. Sponsor conferences on trafficking for schools, teachers and students.

In addition to the churches they have spoken to Crime Stoppers of Warren County and a Women Educators Sorority and are scheduled to speak at a Christian Women’s group. They are eager to educate others about this horrific crime and share the many actions that can be taken to prevent trafficking, protect vulnerable children and assist those who have been rescued. To learn more call Diane Brant at 814-688-4425.

The Rev. Tim Dyer is Kintsugi

This is the third and final installment in a three part series highlighting the stories of our three seminarians. Click here to read stories about the other two seminarians.

kintsugiKintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer and gold. The broken pieces are soldered back together with gold in the seams. The philosophy is that the pottery’s brokenness is part of its history and does not need to be hidden. Many regard the finished product as even more beautiful than the original. Something broken is remade into something stunning and useful.

The Rev. Tim Dyer considers himself a piece of Kintsugi. He has been broken both emotionally and physically and has been remade. Though he is shy about talking about his strengths, there is gold in his seams. Rightfully so, he attributes that remaking and the gold to God’s handiwork.

The story of Tim’s accident and near death is no secret [Click here to read an account by Vanessa Butler reprinted from “The Forward,” September of 2013]. Tim was literally broken in several places after a deer hit his car in November 2012. He spent 6 months in the hospital and at one point was not expected to live. He has been through a long road to recovery and in some ways is still broken: “I used to be able to bench press 450 pounds.” Being strong and physical was one of the ways Tim defined his identity before the accident. He is still relearning how to do things and is limited. Now, over three years after his accident, he can barely wield a shovel before his partially healed wrist swells up and keeps him from doing physical labor. He has struggled with losing that part of his identity.

The story of Tim’s brokenness that many don’t know is his ‘prodigal son’ experience. As a very young man Tim joined the Marines and was stationed in Spain. While there, he had a challenging relationship with his stateside girlfriend that ended up in a very emotional breakup. In response, Tim stayed drunk for two years and blamed God for his hurt. He couldn’t get leave to come home so it was easier to act like home wasn’t there and he isolated himself from his family. He was later transferred to California and, while there, started using crystal meth. When he realized it was killing him, he quit but at that point was too embarrassed to go home.

Unbeknownst to Tim, his father had been praying that Tim would return home and return to God. God answers prayers in mysterious ways sometimes. Tim got a call in 1999 that his father had a heart attack (which he survived). Tim knew it was time to come home.

Since then, God has soldered Tim’s broken pieces back together. It started with his family accepting him back without question. Tim then found his life partner, Noreen, and together they started going to church. Tim started feeling acceptance there as well and started getting involved by being a lay reader and a lay minister. Tim later figured out that the turning point for him was when he forgave himself and turned back to God: “God had forgiven me a long time before.”

16969_100564616643449_761487_nTim then started discerning a call to the priesthood and was guided in that decision by Deacon Michael Bauschard: “His dedication was an incredible example to me.” Tim officially entered the ordination process in 2007. He took local courses and, after the hiatus due to his accident, completed his bachelor’s degree in the summer of 2014. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate, surrounded by family, friends and supporters from across the diocese, in February 2015. This past June, Tim began his Masters in Divinity studies in the Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s low residence program and expects to graduate in 2019.

God has soldered Tim back physically as well. No, Tim may not be able to bench press that 450 pounds anymore, but he and Noreen are a team. What one could do before, two can now do even better. They get everything done together. Tim says that you don’t really know him completely until you get to know Noreen.

God has certainly reinforced Tim’s broken pieces with gold. Tim sees his story of brokenness as what has made him who he is. He is able to use it to relate to others. He has known what is like to be isolated from God and family and then to come back and is able to guide others through similar experiences. Tim feels called to be in relationship with people and to serve at a small local church. The way Tim identifies himself is no longer as someone with physical strength, but, rather, as a child of God. “When we place our identity in Jesus Christ we become secure because Christ is always with us.”

Tim lives out that identity through his service to others. He is a Clergy Associate for Pastoral Ministries and sees part of his ministry as helping to facilitate a different understanding of what pastoral care is about. He says, “the worship we do on Sundays is practice for what we are to take into the world and share, but we need to make sure we share that with each other too.” Tim is also the founder of the “The Children of Abraham Project,” through which he helps bring Christians, Muslims and Jews together to understand each other. Tim truly believes in living out this question from the Baptismal covenant: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”

Tim is also grateful for all the support and love he has received from his community at the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He is thankful for all the people who have taught him, guided him and supported him through his accident and ordination process. “Interacting with the body of Christ, my community, pushes my boundaries and forms me. I look forward to more of that.”

You can find the Rev. Tim Dyer, golden seams and all, at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Warren and St. Francis Episcopal Church in Youngsville serving as a deacon. He is there giving back what has been given to him and helping to solder broken pieces back together.

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

Member of St. Francis experiences the power of Christian community

This is reprinted from “The Forward” September 2013.

Imagine waking up in an ambulance, with no awareness of what has happened or where your family is. While the paramedic assures you there is a machine helping you breathe, you feel like you are slowly suffocating. Panic and fear are rapidly mounting. Finally, someone attaches an oxygen bag to the apparatus in your throat and begins to pump air into your lungs. As you begin to slide back into a medically induced sedation, unanswered questions swirl through your mind.

This is where Tim Dyer, a longtime member of St. Francis, Youngsville, and a postulant in the ordination process, found himself in early 2013 after a series of hospitalizations stemming from a car accident. In November of 2012, a deer was hit by an oncoming car and thrown through the windshield of Tim’s truck as he was driving to work. His jaw and right arm were broken and the ligaments in his right wrist were torn. He was told he was lucky; with the manner in which his jaw was broken, it usually would have entered the brain, resulting in death. As it was, Tim was hospitalized and endured multiple surgeries before being released.

Less than a week later, he was re-admitted after contracting a blood infection and pneumonia and placed in a medically induced coma. While in the coma, he was placed on dialysis; had multiple blood transfusions; and underwent surgery to take out the wiring in his repaired jaw, as well as the pacemaker and defibrillator he had due to a pre-existing heart condition, after they were affected by the infection. At Christmas, doctors asked Tim’s wife, Noreen, and his parents if they were prepared for his death. The doctors gave him a 20% chance of survival and, if
he survived, they were concerned his mental capacity would be seriously diminished after his prolonged sedation.

God had other plans. After six weeks, Tim was taken off the respirator and transferred to a rehab facility. It was during this transfer that Tim woke up in the ambulance, having no recollection of his collapse or subsequent hospitalization. He said that fear gripped him then, but it was nothing like the fear that was to come.

As he came out of his sedated state, Tim was unable to feel a connection to God due to the effect of the drugs on his mind. The fear that filled him because of this was new and overwhelming. “Since hearing a call [to ordained ministry], I have felt a strong inner peace,” he stated, “Now, the inner peace was gone; I felt no sense of God at all.” He couldn’t even look to the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer to help him, as he couldn’t focus long enough to read them.

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“My family is this diocese. Without their prayers, I would not have made it through.”

He could, however, look to the people of this diocese. Clergy and laypeople from a number of congregations visited Tim, bringing him communion and praying with him. “I lacked a sense of spirituality and they reinforced that sense for me.” And it wasn’t just those in the diocese he was close to that were coming alongside him in his time of need: “People all over the diocese, who didn’t even know me, were praying for me,” Tim said, recounting a phone call with one of our congregation’s secretaries, when she exclaimed, “You’re the Tim we’ve been praying for!” He said it was humbling to have that many people come together for him, but came to understand that support “defines what the Christian family is.”

Strengthened by the prayers and encouragement, Tim was released from the rehab facility in the spring of 2013. While he continues to undergo surgeries and physical therapy, Tim is making progress physically (a recent victory was being able to tie his shoes on his own) and spiritually. His connection to God and the inner peace that comes with it has returned. Tim also has realized the importance of acknowledging gifts from God “on good days, but more importantly, on bad days. The more that we recognize the gifts and works around us, we develop a deeper relationship with God.” He has also realized the importance of Christian community: “My family is this diocese. Without their prayers, I would not have made it through. When I was at my weakest, they were there to give me strength. It’s what family does for each other.”

Vanessa Butler

Trinity Memorial Warren Starts Anti Child Trafficking Ministry

traffickingTrinity Memorial Church, Warren began an Anti Child Trafficking (ACT) ministry in the fall of 2015, learning about the horrific lives of child victims of sex trafficking. Because this tragedy is so painful to consider, many of us actively ignored it for years. Through God’s Grace our hearts have been opened and we are now committed to help these children. We are praying for vulnerable and trafficked children, educating ourselves, knitting prayer scarves and seeking donations for groups who provide homeless shelters and/or street support for homeless and trafficked children.

Did you know:

  • The U.S. Department of State estimates 200,000 children are trafficked in the U.S. annually?
  • Most were previously abused, unloved, neglected. They may have run away for their abusive homes or may have been thrown out. Or, perhaps they are in foster care, are mentally challenged or are victims of a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.
  • Most are trafficked between the ages of 12 and 14 and will only survive approximately 7 years, dying of AIDS, drug overdose, murder or suicide.

We seek God’s Holy Spirit to guide us in this ministry, praying that the ministry will expand into even more meaningful service. We dream of educating others so child trafficking will end. Dare we dream of partnering with others in the diocese and in Northwestern PA to help create a shelter or support services for homeless and trafficked children? These dreams require God’s Grace and many more committed people, churches, agencies and groups.

Please pray for these children and for our ministry. Please knit prayer scarves and donate to our ACT ministry.

We are eager to speak to churches or any other interested groups about Anti Child Trafficking (ACT). Please call me at 814-688-4425. Let’s see where God’s Grace leads.

Diane Brant

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Successful ‘Children of Abraham’ Event Teaches Peace and Interfaith Dialogue

man-851891_1280Sam slowly started putting on traditional Arab clothing over his suit and tie as he gave his presentation. At the end of the presentation there stood the same man but he looked very different. Many people seemed surprised at how they judged and perceived someone based on how they were dressed.

On September 12, 2015 Trinity Memorial Church in Warren PA hosted the latest Children of Abraham event. There were approximately 35 to 40 people in attendance. The concept behind The Children of Abraham Project is that it is not a one time only event. Daily we are inundated with stereotypical images that can skew our perception of our fellow human beings. One event can not counter the influences of mass media and social media. The event that was held at Trinity Memorial was an introductory event designed for people that may not be familiar with the concept of interfaith dialogue. As an interfaith encounter The Children of Abraham is intended to give people the opportunity to interact with someone who may hold a different theological, philosophical, or spiritual point of view of our common human experience. It is about building relationships, and seeing the world through another person’s perspective. An interfaith encounter is not about debating or arguing about who is “in” or who is “out.” It is not about determining if one faith is “enlightened” or if another is “backward.” It is about sharing the common love that exists in all of our hearts; a love that binds all of humanity together; a love that makes us one family.

This event was also intended to give people a brief overview of the history of Judaism and Islam. Deacon Timothy Dyer gave history of how Judaism, Islam and Christianity are historically related. He also spoke about how the concept of The Children of Abraham Project came into being. He described how it is linked to the vows taken in the Episcopal Baptismal Covenant. For him, the two questions that directly pertain to interfaith relationships are “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” Prayer and discernment of these two questions led to developing The Children of Abraham Project.

Harvey Stone (a practicing Jew and business owner from Warren PA) spoke of the Jewish experiences throughout history. Harvey gave a brief over view of the history of Jews from ancient biblical time to modern Judaism. Obviously this is a huge time period to cover and only a snapshot of this history was given. We hope to be able to delve into this deeper at later events. Many of those in attendance seemed surprised to learn at how recent and wide spread the persecution of Jews has been. Even more surprising was the history of anti-Semitic beliefs that were supported in America. Harvey also spoke of the contributions that Jewish people have made to the world in arts and sciences.

Sam Qadri (a high school teacher and adjunct professor at the Jamestown Business College and the Public Relations Director at the Jamestown Islamic Society ) is the one who put traditional Arab clothing over his suit while he spoke of the Muslim perspective. Sam gave a brief history of Islam. He also spoke about similar stories that are shared by the three Abrahamic religions, and some of the differences. His outfit change helped us understand how we can error in our judgments when they are based on perception.

As The Children of Abraham we come from different backgrounds and traditions. We do not speak the same language of worship, yet we share a common religious ancestry. We follow different teachings, which are made known to us by sacred scriptures. Yet we come together. We honor and celebrate our diversity but more importantly our similarities. If civilization or humanity is to survive, then we must work together to heal our communities. Peace is possible, but it must be pursued with education, understanding, and a loving heart. We come together not to proselytize or convert anyone. We are here to listen, to learn, to understand, and to hopefully counteract the bigotry, hatred, and stereotypical images that inundate our society. Our hope is to bring change and reconciliation to the world – one mind, one heart at a time because we are one human family.

The event lasted for two and a half hours. A brief question and answer period was offered at the end of the presentations. The feedback from those that attended was very positive. We anticipate holding more events on varying topics. The Children of Abraham Project has been in existence for 3 years and is an evolving program. Recommendations of topics for events are always welcome. The gentlemen that are involved are interested in spreading the message of love and peace and are willing to travel to any location within the diocese. If you wish to host an event, please contact Deacon Tim Dyer at therevtddyer@gmail.com.

Deacon Timothy Dyer, Trinity Memorial Church, Warren, PA and St. Francis, Youngsville, PA

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When I Wake Up

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Joseph Glarner, a third-generation member of Trinity Memorial in Warren, is no stranger to the music industry. His work has taken him all over the country, working with artists such as the Goo Goo Dolls and companies like Disney and Nickelodeon. However, his musical and spiritual journey began at Trinity Memorial. Following some twists and turns away from Trinity and his relationship with Jesus, Joseph now finds himself back home and considers himself a “witness to Jesus Christ.”

After growing up at Trinity Memorial and being influenced by their music program, Joseph’s own music career took off. He studied in California and New York, was in a band, and by age 22 had started his own recording studio. Joseph enjoyed his music, but also felt that something was missing. He calls his experience, “my prodigal son journey:” “I was interested in worldly things.”

His journey back to Christ, and eventually to Trinity Memorial, started ten years ago when he was on tour with his band. It had become a job for him, no longer a passion, and he was tired of the nights of drinking. One day, he felt compelled to pick up and start reading the Bible. As he expected, he got some teasing from his band members. However, unexpectedly, the drummer joined him in his reading and they began discussing the Bible and Jesus. This prodigal journey led him to work at a studio where the owner was a Christian: “He sparked a fire in me to use music for the Glory of God.” Joseph also attributes his return to Jesus to the support he received from his mother: “A lot of my personal growth is due to her.”

About three years ago, Joseph was looking to do something other than produce music when the part time organist position at Trinity Memorial became available. Since then he has become the music director and has helped revitalize Trinity’s music program. He, Fr. Matthew Scott, and Andrew Pollard (another member of the music team) have worked together to create music that bridges the sacred hymns of the past with more modern music. Their music is featured every Wednesday night at the 5:30 p.m. contemplative service.

Joseph’s experiences at Trinity helped him get back to a place where he could make music for the glory of God, following years of being burned out from making his own music. “I decided to write a song every week that expressed the readings,” Joseph says, explaining how the process began. “I prayed hard to receive God’s message in a way God wanted and in a way that glorified God.”

This is how he ended up with his new CD, “When I Wake Up.” It is not typical contemporary Christian music, but rather simple, thoughtful compositions with piano and flute written to glorify God. Joseph says that he is “more than honored to share that with people.”

Trinity Memorial will be hosting a CD release concert for “When I Wake Up” on July 11th. Follow Joseph at www.JosephGlarnerMusicMinistry.org and all are welcome to the concert on July 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Memorial (444 Pennsylvania Ave. West, Warren, PA).

Trinity Memorial will be hosting a CD release concert for “When I Wake Up” on July 11th. Follow Joseph at www.JosephGlarnerMusicMinistry.org and all are welcome to the concert on July 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Memorial (444 Pennsylvania Ave. West, Warren, PA).

*7/31/15: Article has been corrected and edited from its original version.

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