JUNE 2016 
No. 288

Pentecost 2016
The long "growing time"


The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Northwest Texas

WELCOME to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Northwest Texas--a place where the vast open plains are as wondrous as the big sky above!

by Tom Clark, Lubbock
As depicted in the pectoral cross of Bishop J. Scott Mayer , the stars, moon, and sun are representative of the beauty one may find in this region of Texas.  

The landscape, covering 77,000 square miles is as diverse as the cities and people, with the canyons and rangelands of the Staked Plains; agricultural fields abounding; and the rough and ready country of the Rolling Plains and Permian Basin. The people here are known for their warm and friendly smiles, making one feel like an old and trusted friend.
In This Issue
Quick Links
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Noteworthy News from Northwest Texas
(For more information about the events, click on the blue underlined links.)
June 21, 2016 - Ordination of Deacon James Walker to the Sacred Order of Priests - 6:00pm, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Levelland. Reception following. Please RSVP to Julie at (806) 894-3493 or (806) 203-1744.

June 23, 2016 - Ordination of Deacon Doug Thomas and Deacon Amanda Watson to the Sacred Order of Priests - 6:30pm, Church of the Heavenly Rest, Abilene.  Reception following.   
June 26, 2016 - Ordination of Deacon Jill Walters to the Sacred Order of Priests - 4:00pm, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Amarillo. Reception following.
August 26-28, 2016 - DNWT Women's Retreat, Christ the King Retreat Center, San Angelo 
November 17-19, 2016 - Annual Diocesan Convention in Lubbock


Sexton Alfredo Urias Retires from Holy Trinity, Midland   by Kara Mittlestad, Director of Communications, Holy Trinity

After 31 years of vacuuming, dusting and mopping, moving tables and chairs in and out of parish hall alfredo_urias and meeting rooms, climbing ladders waaaay up there to change light bulbs, and washing thousands of plates and bowls and cups, our sexton, Alfredo Urias has handed in his keys.

Alfredo has seen us at our best and at our worst, and helped us through countless emergencies - burnt hot dogs and broken dishes, spilled candle wax, spilled food, and occasional dead critters in odd places.  We're accustomed to calling his name, and to the smile that lights up his face. 
Sexton Jesus Gonzales, who was the church's only sexton until Alfredo came, says not seeing Alfredo's red pickup truck in the parking lot will take some time to get used to. The congregation and staff of Holy Trinity know the feeling. But we're thankful for the years we've had together, and wish him the best of years to come.

Que le vaya bien, Alfredo!



The Rev. Les Jackson Accepts New Call

Parents all over the country are experiencing the bittersweet departure from the nest by their fledglings, who have been nurtured and loved as their parents have watched them grow. The Diocese of Northwest Texas has already experienced that once, through the departure of the Rev. Susanna Cates, as she accepted a new cure in New Jersey.

Another one of our diocese's "fledglings," who has was raised up to ministry in Lubbock, and frles_valinda has served our diocese as both a deacon and a priest, is the Rev. Les Jackson. Fr. Les has been in our diocese for many years. He attended Texas Tech University receiving a Bachelor degree in Social Work, and was employed in Lubbock as a hospice chaplain and various positions in the social services field while serving as deacon at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Lubbock. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1999, and served faithfully for 10+ years before discerning a call to the priesthood. Following his graduation from Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, in May of 2011, Fr. Les accepted a call to St. John's Episcopal Church in Odessa, where he has served faithfully as rector and chaplain of St. John's School.

As most clergy understand, sometimes God calls them to another position when they least expect it. And so it is for Fr. Les, who has accepted a call to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Newton, Kansas, north of Wichita, Kansas. The call was announced
on April 10th, 2016, and his last day to serve at St. John's was Sunday, May 31st. He will serve as the rector of St. Matthew's. Both Fr. Les and his wife, Valinda, have stated they feel very much "at home" in Newton, and are looking forward to this new chapter in their ministry lives.

The Diocese of Northwest Texas is deeply thankful for the years of faithful service to the Church and the diocese by both Fr. Les and his wife, Valinda. We wish the Jacksons Godspeed and best wishes as they begin their new life in the Diocese of Kansas. Their kind ways and gentle spirits will be greatly missed!


Let the Ordinations Begin!

As referenced in the "Save the Dates" reminders above, June will be a month of ordinations in the diocese of Northwest Texas. The first of four ordination services took place on Saturday, June 4th, a perfect June morning, as Christian Rabone, and Justin Gibson, were ordained to the transitional diaconate. St. Paul's on the Plains Episcopal Church, Lubbock, was filled with excitement and anticipation as family and friends gathered for the joyous event. The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, Bishop of Northwest Texas, presided, and the Rev. Canon Mike Ehmer, Canon to the Ordinary for the diocese, preached. The Venerable Christopher Wrampelmeier, Archdeacon of the diocese, served as the Bishop's chaplain, and Deacon Becky Orem, of St. Paul's, served as gospeler. The Rev. James Haney V, rector of St. Paul's, served as litanist.


A beautiful reception was held in Washington Hall for all attendees, during which Bishop Mayer read and presented their certificates of ordination. Photos of the event may be found in our diocesan Picasa web album by   following this link. Photos may be viewed and/or downloaded for personal use.

As mentioned previously, Deacon Christian will serve as curate at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in San Angelo, under the guidance of the Rev. Matt Rowe. Likewise, Deacon Justin and his family have relocated to Dalhart, TX, where he will serve at St. James' Episcopal Church, under the guidance of the Rev. Phil Ray.

Congratulations to both men as they begin their life as ordained ministers in God's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Our diocese is blessed to have them serve God through The Episcopal Church in Northwest Texas.
New Curriculum from The Rev. Rich Nelson 
"The Ridiculous Journey: following a Nobody from Nowhere" is Fr. Rich's newest curriculum series for The Work of the People and was just released this week! It features some great films with deep reflections on the person of Jesus by Rowan Williams, Brene Brown, Richard Rohr, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Greg Boyle, and Rachel Held Evans; moving liturgies by Kelly Stewart Hall, Thomas Merton, Travis Reed, and Ann Voscamp; and reflections and a discussion guide by Fr. Rich.The curriculum may be helpful either for personal reflection or group study as you seek to follow Christ's Way.


You can watch a preview video by clicking on the graphic above, by clicking here, or you may buy it here.

The Bishop's Sabbatical                                
"And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested  on the seventh day from all the work that he had done."  Genesis 2:2

Clergy of the Church lead very demanding lives, often being on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They are constantly serving others in their ministry by leading services, attending meetings, and giving pastoral care for their flocks, among other duties.

In the Episcopal Church, however, most active clergy are not only allowed, but are bishop_beach encouraged to take a time of sabbatical after seven years of service. In most dioceses, the sabbatical is made part of their covenant with the Church, and many dioceses have written policies describing and governing the sabbatical. If one were to Google "Episcopal church clergy sabbatical policy," a variety of diocesan websites would be listed, all with policies on clergy sabbatical. According to the Diocese of West Tennessee, "the purpose of a Sabbatical leave is to provide an opportunity for those on Sabbatical to rest. If God thought it was good for God, surely God thinks it is good for God's people. In this regard (as in others) Clergy are to be models of God to God's people. It is, therefore, incumbent on them to be deliberate in taking regular times for the rest which allows for the replenishment of the body and the spirit. Sabbaticals are in addition to regularly scheduled vacation times and are not to be confused with sick leave or any other kind of leave."

As in Genesis 2:2, even God rested on the seventh day. For centuries Hebrews and Jews have understood the value of resting on the seventh day, or the Sabbath, but in today's world that tradition has largely been lost as we strive to earn money to support our families.

Our Bishop diocesan, the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, was consecrated Bishop of Northwest Texas, in March of 2009. He has worked feverishly and faithfully for the Episcopal Church in our diocese for the past seven years through his travel schedule, visitations, and his relationship with the wider church. Additionally, he was elected as Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, in May of 2015, making his work load even more demanding. This summer, beginning July 1, Bishop Mayer will begin his well-earned and long-awaited sabbatical, returning on November 1st.

When I interviewed Bishop Scott about his sabbatical last week, he described a Biblical verse, John 14:1-6, in which Jesus spoke to his disciples to comfort them. He said, " In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." In the early church, the audience would have understood this place as a way station for the purpose of rest.

While Bishop Scott has no plans to intentionally produce something such as writing a book, as the academia may do, or taking specific courses or methods of study, he admitted that something constructive clearly may come of this time of rest and refreshment. The only solid plans he has made for his time away is a trip with family members to Spain and Portugal in September and October, with plans to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; Granada, where they will visit the   Alhambra; Porto and Lisbon, Portugal; as well as various side trips around both Spain and Portugal. Bishop Scott hopes to have a new understanding of the influence of Islam in Europe when he returns to the states.

So what will fill the other time not occupied by travel plans? Why, baseball, of course, as well as family time, perhaps some beach time, a time of retreat, some directed reading, and a period of overall reflection, during which he will be in contact with key persons to aid in his reflection. Those who know Bishop Scott at all know that reading is part of his spiritual discipline, one which feeds his spirit. Due to his schedule of the past year, however, reading has had to take a back seat. He looks forward to sitting on his back porch amidst the quiet of nature to dive into the stack of books waiting for him.

When Bishop Scott was at Church of the Heavenly Rest, he discovered that the parish acquired numerous nicknames, such as the Church of the "Celestial Snooze" and the "Sleeping Giant." But given that they had no patron saint the previous rector, Parson Willis Gerhart, for whom the new addition of their building will be named, wrote a Collect for the parish, which has been prayed by generations of Heavenly Rest members. The Collect seems quite appropriate as we pray for rest and rejuvenation for our Bishop.

" Blessed Lord, you have called all who labor and are heavy laden to come to you, the source of all refreshment; Grant us grace to find in your greater purposes the fulfillment of all that is best for us, and to abide in the Heavenly Rest that can only come from joyfully wearing the yoke of Christ, forever and ever." Amen.
The Diocese of Northwest Texas, the staff of the Bishop's office in Lubbock, as well as all his friends across the diocese, wish Bishop Scott Godspeed and good times as he leaves us for this short time of refreshment. Have a great time, Right Reverend, sir!

Graphic cropped from a cartoon by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham - "The Bishop's Calendar"  
Visitors from the DR
One specific outcome from General Convention 2015, was the reduction of funding over this triennium for dioceses in Province IX of The Episcopal Church, which includes Colombia, Dominican Republic (DR,) Central Ecuador, Litoral Ecuador, Honduras, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. This ruling increases the need for the dioceses to become self-supportive. The diocese which is most likely to become the first self-sustaining diocese in Province IX is our close friends in ministry, the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.

The diocese of Northwest Texas has had a long-standing relationship with the DR. Bishop Julio bishop_milagro_holguinHolguin, who will
soon retire after 25 years as their Bishop diocesan, typically visits our diocese during our annual diocesan convention with his lovely wife, Milagro. He also has close ties to David Morrow, who recently received the title of Honorary Canon in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, for his tireless work and achievements in the DR, through the Dominican Development Group (DDG). On June 27th, Bishop Holguin, his wife, Milagro, and the Rt. Rev. William Skilton, former bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, and now assisting bishop of the Episcopal Church of the Dominican Republic, will travel to Northwest Texas.

The purpose of their journey to Northwest Texas is to tell the story of the Dominican Republic, which is seen as one of the fastest growing dioceses in The  Episcopal Church. Bishop Skilton has been quoted as saying, "There is a spirit there (in the DR). It's very difficult to explain. The church is serving people who don't have much. There's a trust there that's not present as much in this culture."

david_morrow In a sermon given by David Morrow on May 1, 2016, David described the work of the partnership between the DDG and the DR. In it he stated, "The Diocese of the Dominican Republic is a special place. Last year, we dedicated 6 new churches in the diocese. We have 27 schools, several clinics, albergues (shelters) to feed children in the poorest bateys (company towns for sugar plantation workers), vocational schools, clean water and sanitation projects. We are partnering with Food for the Poor and others to build 100 homes for the poor, we are partnering with Carnival Cruise lines to provide meaningful mission work for people taking cruises. None of this would be possible without the leadership of Bishop Julio Holguin.

"We (the DDG) have sent fire trucks, ambulances, school supplies, medicines, and many other items to the DR. One current project involved procuring and shipping 2 sets of concrete forms for outdoor latrines." The sermon in its entirety may be downloaded by following this link.

The group plans to visit Panhandle Episcopalians at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Amarillo, June 28th, at 6:00pm; Permian Basin Episcopalians at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Midland, June 29th, at 6:30pm; and Episcopalians from the Big Country will gather at Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, June 30th, at 6:00pm. After a brief time of rest the group will return to Heavenly Rest for services on July 3rd.

Bienvidos la diĆ³cesis de Noroeste de Texas, amigos!

A Prayer for Travelers

"O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel, especially Bishop Julio Holguin, his wife, Milagro, and Bishop William Skilton; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." 

(From the BCP, Prayer number 53, p. 831)
2016 Women's Retreat
**The registration deadline has been extended to August 1, 2016!**
Don't wait! Register TODAY!
The Ennegram and Spiritual Growth  
      2016 Women's Retreat enneagram
        Friday - Sunday, August 26-28, 2016
Christ the King Retreat Center in San Angelo
The goal of our spiritual journey is the returning to the true self that God created us to be. Recognizing when our own ego gets in the way of our God-created true self can give wings to our journey, and brings great insight and compassion into our lives and the lives of those we love. Part of this growth requires that we find balance in our lives. We will discover various practices we can add to our lives to fill in some missing pieces. Doing so, we may truly grow into the person God m ade us to be, so God's love and care can flow freely through us to the world.
Led by Kathleen Pittman
kpittman Kathleen comes from Roswell, New Mexico and has been leading retreats for the last 15 years. She lived in Alabama for 40 years, has been an Episcopalian 35 years, taught K-12 for 14 years and has been in higher education for the past 23 years. She currently teaches in Roswell for Eastern New Mexico University-Portales teaching undergraduate Elementary/Special Education Literacy and Social Studies methods, graduate reading, research, and curriculum courses. In the Diocese of the Rio Grande she serves as EFM Coordinator and is on the Standing Committee and Trustees of the Property. She is a member of St. Andrew's where she is an LEM, EFM mentor and DOK.

For more information, or to download the registration form, follow THIS LINK.

A Humorous Thought
by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham
Vital Practices
From Challenge to Opportunity
By Susan Elliott, part of the Vestry Papers issue on Transition and Change (May 2016)

These are uncertain times for the Church, and instinct tells us to hunker down and put all our efforts into protecting the life we know. But sometimes, facing into uncertainty and grappling with the questions that arise when there are not enough resources to support the traditional models bring creative solutions and renewed mission. God has said, "I am making all things new." That includes us.

Clergy leadership and employment are changing 

We hear "part-time" and "bivocational" applied to Episcopal clergy more and more these days, as bivo_ministrychurches wrestle with declining membership, reduced income, aging buildings, and aging congregations. The transition to part-time clergy leadership is often seen as the only way a small, struggling congregation can survive.

The upswing in part-time clergy employment also affects new clergy, seminarians, and those considering ordination. Increasingly, seminarians and those exploring ordination are encouraged to consider a second occupation to supplement their income as an Episcopal priest. Some find another way to exercise their call to ministry.

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Deacon Update - June 2016
deacon_cross Deacons are the servant ministers of the church, often working "below the radar"  and "in the trenches" to serve those in need, and to minister to the sick, the elderly, and the friendless. They receive no monetary compensation for their service, but reap tremendous reward from being a servant of God. It also means they may hold down a full-time job in the secular world, as well as their work as a deacon. They are busy people who often have trouble saying "no." They are often unintentionally overlooked. There's no line item in the budget specifically for them, and they often serve outside the parish as well as within the parish walls.

Each month the Association for Episcopal Deacons issues an online newsletter, Deacon Update, as a means of spreading the news about the work of deacons in The Episcopal Church, special events such as deacon ordinations in the church, and stories of interest to deacons and the Church. At the bottom of the page, deacons will find links to deacon sermons, deacon handbooks, formation materials, and the Anglodeacons group. They also publish a magazine, Diakoneo, each February, May, August, and November, which provides news and resources for deacons, dioceses and anyone involved in servant ministries.  

Diakoneo is available to AED members as a pdf by email, or in a printed version by postal mail.  Issues are also made available on their website, one month after publication, as a pdf for downloading. To subscribe to any of their publications, click on the AED link in the previous paragraph, and follow the Publications tab to the Publications webpage.

If you'd like to see what Episcopal deacons are doing to spread the Gospel and live into their vow to " look for Christ in all others, being ready to serve those in need," follow the two links above to visit the AED website, and to read the monthly Deacon Update. And next time you see a deacon, surprise them by giving them a hug and telling them "thank you" for all they do!
Seminary Updates
Soul by Southwest Creative Journal
The Soul by Southwest creative journal's editorial team hosted a release party for the Spring 2016 issue of the journal on Friday, May 6. The party featured a gallery of contributors' artworks and readings of contributors' written pieces.

Situated under the spreading oaks and garden lights overhead, artists delighted the guests with their written and painted pieces and musical performances. Free and open to the public, the event was organized by Dr. Claire Miller Colombo, director of the seminary's Center for Writing and Creative Expression, and the team of students who work at and support the Center.

Sewanee Banner 
Sewanee School of Theology Announces Honorary Degree Recipients
Sewanee, Tenn. -The University of the South's School of Theology has announced the names of three honorary degree recipients. The degrees will be presented at the School's Commencement ceremony on May 6, 2016. The Rt. Rev. James Russell Kendrick, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree and will also preach during the commencement service. Honorary degrees will also be presented to Bruce Eldon Neswick, canon for cathedral music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Ore., and Richard Webster, director of music and organist at Trinity Church in Boston, Mass. READ MORE...

For more news and information from Sewanee visit the Seminary website.

Please click the graphic below to view this month's edition of Theology Monthly:

Sewanee Theol Monthly 
(The new issue was not available at the time of publication.)
Diocesan Events Calendar
19           Father's Day
21           Ordination of Jim Walker to the Sacred Order of Priests, 6:00pm
               St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Levelland
22           Standing Committee, HEC, 10:00am 
23           Ordination of Doug Thomas and Amanda Watson to the Sacred Order of Priests,
               6:30pm, Church of the Heavenly Rest, Abilene
26           Visitation, St. Paul's, Dumas
26           Ordination of Jill Walters to the Sacred Order of Priests, 4:00pm,
               St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Amarillo
27-July 3 Friends from the Dominican Republic to visit Northwest Texas
              (See article above for details)


July 1     Bishop's Mayer's Sabbatical begins
July 3-9 Camp Quarterman Jr. - Ceta Glen - Happy, TX
July 4 -  Independence Day - HEC CLOSED

(Items in purple indicate Bishop Mayer's presence.) 
Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts, to direct and rule us according to your will, to comfort us in all our afflictions, to defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Contact Info Stylized shield     


Newsletter Editor

Deacon Nancy Igo
Director of Communications and Human Resources

Diocese of Northwest Texas  


(806) 763-1370  x. 5