newSpin, the newsletter
April 1, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• The Chrism Mass, April 10 at 11:00 a.m. ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] April 10 will soon be here when we all support our clergy as they renew their vows, and also bless the oils we use in common. All are welcome, and those with ministries with the sick and in teaching are especially encouraged to attend as we bless the oil of catechumens and the oil for the sick. Bishop Sean will celebrate and preach. Several things happen in this service. In order, the first is the renewal of ordination vows--an ideal time for each of us to affirm those priests and deacons who week-in and week-out provide moments of affirmation and strength for each of us. The second is the blessing of the oil of the sick used throughout the diocese--all who have part in the visitation of the sick and ministries of healing are especially invited to attend. Finally, after the eucharist we bless the chrism--the "oil of gladness" that signifies our life in the Holy Spirit, oil that is especially used in baptism and confirmation. Rectors (or senior wardens where there is no rector) are asked to let us know how many people are coming from each parish, so that we may offer lunch to all. Please give the number you expect to attend by Monday, April 7, to Nanette Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Obama and Francis ... [NCR] President Barack Obama's first visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday was filled with much symbolism, with the two exchanging gifts and smiles -- along with a bit of intrigue over differing accounts over what was said between the leaders. While the Vatican said in a statement following the meeting that discussions had touched upon issues of religious freedom -- an apparent nod to the U.S. bishops strident opposition to parts of the federal health care reform law -- Obama said later that issue did not come up with Francis, but with the Vatican's secretary of state. Read on.
• How Evangelicals won a culture war and lost a generation ... [CNN Belief Blog, Rachel Held Evans] On March 24, World Vision announced that the U.S. branch of the popular humanitarian organization would no longer discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages. It was a decision that surprised many but one that made sense, given the organization’s ecumenical nature. But on March 26, World Vision President Richard Stearns reversed the decision, stating, “our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake.” Supporters helped the aid group “see that with more clarity,” Stearns added, “and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.” So what happened within those 48 hours to cause such a sudden reversal? Read on.
• Faith in the Dark: Lenten meditations on the creed ... [Faith and Theology, Australia, Benjamin Myers] I believe ... Not I know. Not I think. Not I feel. Not I understand. But I believe. When I am in darkness, when I do not know the way, when every step is uncertain, I walk. I live not by what I know or feel but by a trust that proves itself only after each new step is safely taken. Read on.
• There is sight and then there is sight ... [Andrew Gerns] A sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Here.
• An excellent series of essays about George Herbert ... [Andrew Gerns] In the Guardian, the Rev. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes writes about George Herbert, his poetry, theology and approach to spirituality. Her essays helped me rediscover why his poetry resonates to modern sensibilities. 1. George Herbert: The Man Who Converted Me from Atheism. 2. How can we measure the immeasurable? 3. If God is love, then can God be love, heat, and passion? 4. Why do we pray? It's all in this George Herbert poem. 5. George Herbert's poetry: Christian calling, struggle, and self-doubt. 6. We don't read the Bible to learn more, but to be fed.
• Jim Martin, SJ, muses over merging Jesus's spiritual and historical personas ... [WaPo] America's arguably best-known Catholic priest often appears on "The Colbert Report" and is a Christian spiritual figure to tens of thousands of Twitter followers. His new book is part travelogue, part memoir and part meditation on how one rational modern person merges biblical history with the miraculous. Read on.
• Surprised by NT Wright ... [Christianity Today] People who are asked to write about N. T. Wright may find they quickly run out of superlatives. He is the most prolific biblical scholar in a generation. Some say he is the most important apologist for the Christian faith since C. S. Lewis. He has written the most extensive series of popular commentaries on the New Testament since William Barclay. And, in case three careers sound like too few, he is also a church leader, having served as Bishop of Durham, England, before his current teaching post at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
But perhaps the most significant praise of all: When Wright speaks, preaches, or writes, folks say they see Jesus, and lives are transformed. A pastor friend of mine describes a church member walking into his office, hands trembling as he held a copy of Wright's Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. "If this book is true," he said, "then my whole life has to change." Read on.
• Visit the new UMC.org during your Lenten Journey ... [UMC.org] The right tools make any job easier. For a great set of tools to take on your Lenten journey, visit UMC.org/lent. You’ll find a clearinghouse of resources for your congregation, your family and yourself. It’s easy to navigate from your desktop computer or mobile device, and we will continually update the website through Easter. More here.
• OMG: Spirituality in the Digital Age ... The 2014 Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality presented by Bishop Steven Charleston on Thursday, April 3, 7:00 p.m. at The General Theological Seminary, New York City. More info here.
• SpiritSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Hobby Lobby... [Martin Marty] At the end of its current session, probably in June, the United States Supreme Court will hand down rulings on a case coded by many as a “religious freedom” issue. Religious America, or, if you prefer, Secular America, through its media and popular expressions, recognizes decisions on this front to be tense, controversial, and unsatisfying. Most informed observers expect the vote to be either 5-4 or 4-5, so polarized are the two wings of the Court, with Justice Anthony Kennedy likely to provide the tilting vote. Close though the vote is expected to be, it will have profound and lasting consequences. Read on.
• Religious Conservatives Are the New Minority, But They’re Not Victims ... [Bishop Gene Robinson, The Daily Beast] Sure, it feels bad when the world you took for granted seems to have turned against you overnight. But Christians complaining about “discrimination” should realize what real victimization looks like. Read on.
• The pope's message to the president ... [WaPo, E.J.Dionne, Jr.] President Obama’s first salary as a community organizer was paid by a Catholic group, and his earliest social justice work was rooted in Catholic social doctrine. He identified with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then Chicago’s archbishop, whose consistent ethic of life encompassed a dedication to the poor, a concern over the human costs of war and opposition to the death penalty. You could thus imagine that at his meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday, the president was tempted to ask: Why can’t these American bishops get along with me? Or, perhaps more humbly: Holy Father, what can I do to make these guys happy? It is a sign of how politicized the American Catholic Church has become that its different factions were lobbying hard over the message the bishop of Rome should send after meeting with the president of the United States. Read on.
• The mentally ill are our lepers ... [NCR] It probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that the largest mental health facilities in the country are in our largest cities: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York. It might surprise you to learn that these mental health facilities are county jails. It probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that mental health professionals treat believers from every tradition. It might surprise you to hear Dr. Abraham Nussbaum, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Medical School and director of the inpatient psychiatric unit at Denver Health -- and also, in the interest of full disclosure, my son -- reflect that in his two-and-a-half years as director of the unit he can recall only one pastor visiting a patient. One. Read on.
• Borrowed time on disappearing land ... [NYTimes] "There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody's list. And the world is not ready to cope with the problems." [Rafael Reuveny, a climate scientist at Indiana University, on the threats posed by climate change.] Read on.
• Consider the lobster ... [WSJournal, Gerard Baker] As rising commodity costs boost the price of food staples such as beef and coffee, we find that an increase in supply is having the opposite effect on lobster. The crustacean is everywhere. Our story provides an overview of the lobster industry in the U.S., noting that the once-occasional treat has been showing up on an increasing number of menus from inexpensive chains to fine-dining restaurants—not to mention, debuting in quite novel ways. Sarah Nassauer reports that she has discovered lobster in a pappardelle, chorizo and mussels dish, in a salad with winter squash, as a base for sauce on a flounder, and incorporated into an airy chip served with lime aioli. And we have a handy graphic showing the anatomy of the lobster from a cooking point of view.
• College Scholarships ... Gressle Scholarship, for male children of clergy resident in Pennsylvania.Leonard Hall Scholarship, for diocesan youth active in youth ministries.Shannon Fund, annual grants for daughters of Episcopal clergy who are canonically resident in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These grants are for undergraduate study only and are awarded in mid-June of each year. The application deadline is April 30. Contact Fr. Jim Rinehart or Ms. Edna Rauco at Trinity Episcopal Church, Pottsville for an application. Phone: 570-622-8720 Email: email@example.com
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield...in the midst of life's storms, March 27.
• Chrism Mass ... at Cathedral Church of the Nativity, April 10, 11:00 a.m.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
• Christophany ... April 25-27 at Bear Creek Camp, Wilkes-Barre. Register Here. "I'm so excited about the response to Christophany so far," says missioner for youth and young adults Ellyn Siftar. "We have had quite a number of youth and chaperones register. Space IS limited though, so please register as soon as possible in order to guarantee a spot. Registration closes April 11 or when capacity is filled. See you on the mountain."
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• The EYE 2014 Team ... Here.
• Is a "slow church" just another word for "parish"? ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] Is the small neighborhood parish a sign of a dying church or the next big thing in mission?In the what's-old-is-new-again-department, C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison are evangelicals have ditched the mega-church model and advocate small, community-oriented ministry focused on mission and worship in the context of human-scale relationships. Read on. Also here.
• At St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... The acclaimed DaPonte String Quartet will present a concert of works by Franz Josef Haydn, Earl Stewart, and Ludwig van Beethoven at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, on Wednesday, April 2, at 7:30 pm. Admission at the door is $20 per person, $15 for students, senior citizens, and WVIA members with ID. Proceeds from this concert will support the Wilkes-Barre Free Medical Clinic and REACH of St. Stephen’s. Read on.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• What's your elevator pitch ... [Episcopal Café and Acts 8] The Acts 8 Movement threw a challenge into the Episcopal blogosphere: explain why you are an Episcopalian in 250 words or less, in a way that makes us sound attractive. The results trickled out, one by one--some talking about our historical roots, some speaking of personal experiences of Christ, all moving in their own way. Read the elevator pitches here. What about you? What's your 'elevator pitch?'
• United Methodist website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church in North America website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church Northern Province website ... Here.
• The Presbyterian Church USA website ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• The Episcopal Church website ... Here.
Rest in Peace
• The latest in pre-mortem obits ... [Hollywood Reporter] I am old-fashioned, I guess, and just need newfangled ways wrapped in a more traditional package. Perfect example: Actor James Rebhorn, 65, one of my favorites, died last Friday. He was inspired by the last play he appeared in, in which a character hates the obituaries that appear after a person’s death and so wrote her own. Rebhorn, who had been battling cancer for years, did the same, and it’s an absolutely lovely piece that was posted on the website of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hoboken, NJ, where he was a longtime member. It’s all about gratitude, and about everyone except himself. A taste: His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God. Read on.
• Free weekly bulletin inserts ... provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
• Despite new law Anglican bishop ministers to gays in Uganda ... [AP and Episcopa Café] One Anglican bishop in Uganda draws in many congregants who are gay in a country where other Christian preachers have led Uganda to pass laws on homosexuality that include life in prison in some cases. Also on Episcopal Café, Bishop Senyojo Ministers to Gays in Uganda Defying Anti-Gay Legislation.
• More clergy call for bishops to come out in the Church of England ... [Religion News Service] A leading member of the Church of England has called on gay bishops to “come out” as England celebrated its first same-sex weddings in secular venues. Alan Wilson, bishop of Buckingham, said the time has come for gay bishops to make themselves known. He criticized the church’s stance of not recognizing same-sex marriage as “sheer cruelty” and “morally outrageous,” adding: ”Most gay people would be happier out, including bishops.” Wilson, 59, said he was not into “outing” gay people. “I don’t have a medical file on all my colleagues but it has been claimed that there are 13 gay bishops in the Church of England,” he said. Read on.• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• How to be a better son or daughter ... [Scientic American] About a year ago I got a new laptop for work and gave my old Macintosh iBook to my mom. She'd been itching for a way to check Facebook and e-mail from the couch and had always wanted a Mac, so she was thrilled. That is, until my ham-fisted lessons on the operating system started up. “No, Mom, you don't need to double-click on hyperlinks anymore…” “Apple-Q is quit, Mom. No, hit Apple and Q at the sametime.” Eventually she asked my more patient, less irritable husband to be her tech guru because, well, I was being a grouch. That wasn't my finest moment as a daughter, and it made me think: What can I do to be a better, more grateful child to this woman who dedicated so much of her life to me? Read on.
• When Mrs. Peabody went to jail ... [Episcopal Café and NPR] In 1964, during the debate in Congress around the Civil Rights Act, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wanted to keep pressure on lawmakers and expose segregation throughout the south. One of King's deputies, Hosea Williams, was tasked with finding elderly Bostonians to support the movement. One Bostonian, 72-year old Mary Parkman Peabody, wife of the former Bishop of Central New York and the mother of Endicott Peadbody, the then Governor of Massachusetts, flew to St. Augustine, Florida, and wound up being arrested for protesting segregation. She spent two nights in the local jail before her youngest son, Malcolm, was allowed to bail her out. Samuel Peabody says he got word a week later, when he returned from a trip abroad. Read on.
• American Bible Society to sell 12-story NYC building ... [RNS] The American Bible Society will sell its 12-story building on Broadway, vacating prime Manhattan real estate that serves a host of evangelical ministries. ABS has been losing money in the last several years; its assets of $693 million in 2007 fell to $389 million in 2012. From 2002 through 2011 ABS overspent its budget by $250 million, World magazine reported. Read on.
• Seven become one ... Seven (yes, seven) parishes of the RC Diocese of Allentown in Shenandoah and Lost Creek will soon merge into one. More here.
• 3,300 not enough? ... The RC Archdiocese of Philadelphia intends to merge two parishes in suburban Bucks County into two others. One of the parishes to close has 3,300 members. The parish into which it will mere has about 6,900 members. Ah, but here's a clue. The combined weekend attendance for both churches is about 2,250. More here.
• Newark Archdiocese fails to pay state taxes in for-profit business ... [The Star-Ledger] Looking to wring more revenue out of its Catholic cemeteries, the Archdiocese of Newark in recent years quietly entered the headstone and mausoleum business, a lucrative venture for which the archdiocese acknowledges it must pay a particular state tax. Yet over the past eight years, it hasn’t paid a penny, The Star-Ledger found. According to court records and the plaintiffs in a legal fight that could reshape New Jersey’s funeral industry, the archdiocese owes the state tens of thousands of dollars — if not more than $100,000 — in so-called use taxes, which are based on the wholesale prices of monuments and private mausoleums. Read on.
• Archbishop apologizes for $2.2 million home ... [Atlanta Journal-Constiution] Bowing to critics, the Archbishop of Atlanta on Monday apologized for a lapse in judgment that made him proceed with a new, $2.2 million home for himself and said he may sell his Buckhead mansion if clerical bodies within the church recommend he do so.Noting that the “world and church have changed,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he “failed” parishioners when he didn’t fully consider the implications of his decision to move into the new home, made possible by a bequest from Margaret Mitchell’s nephew. Gregory, the leader of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, made his comments in the Georgia Bulletin, a Catholic newspaper.“I am disappointed that, while my advisors and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia,” Gregory wrote.
• National Catholic Reporter ... Here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here. Two RC parishes in Tamaqua will soon merge. Seven (yes, seven) in Shenandoah and Lost Creek will soon merge into one. More here.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
• Two Films. Two ways of believing ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] Jay Michaelson, writing in Religion Dispatches, says that the kinds of faith depicted in the films "Son of God" and "Noah" are as radically different as the markets they reach out to. "Son of God" is kitsch; "Noah" is complex. Read on.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here. • Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here. • Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here. • The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators ... Here.
• Insights into Religion ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
(2) Episcopal Café
(3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
(4) The Living Church
(5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• The Daily Office ... from the Diocese of Indianapolis. Here.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• The Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Jubilate ... [Diocese of Bethlehem] Hymnody for Lent and Easter is published by the Diocese of Bethlehem for our diocesan community and for free distribution to the world. It is a service of our Liturgy and Music Commission, specifically Canon Cliff Carr who has been doing this for more than 30 years. Find it here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor. The views expressed, implied or inferred in items or links contained in the newsletter or the blog do not represent the official view of the Diocese of Bethlehem unless expressed by or forwarded from the Standing Committee or the Archdeacon as an official communication. If you're wondering why you haven't seen something related to your parish or agency here, it's probably because no one has sent relevant info. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, send email to Bill. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
Bill Lewellis, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired
Communication Minister/Editor (1986-2010), Canon Theologian (1998-)
Blog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]