Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
The  Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

EDoLA News for March 2017
Volume 11, Issue 3
Announcements from the Bishop's Office
Bishop Thompson to Return From Sabbatical in April

Bishop Thompson's three-month sabbatical is coming to an end. His staff and the entire diocese is looking forward to his return at the beginning of April. Until then, please continue to keep him and his wife Rebecca in your thoughts and prayers.

Even on his sabbatical, he is walking us through a Holy Lent. If you have not read his reflection from the 2017 Lenten Book Study, you can find them here.
New Diocesan Congregational Consultants Team 
Congregational Consultants for Communication & Technology

A new Diocesan Congregational Consultants team has formed to assist parishes with all matters related to communications and technology. The goal of this team is to provide support and training to churches and individuals throughout the diocese one how to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God in a digital world.

Look for more information soon on upcoming workshops.

A new Facebook group has formed called  EDoLA Communications & Technology. It is a  place to share questions and resources in all areas regarding communications & technology specific to church life. It's our goal to provide a place where church communicators, clergy, church staff, and parishioners in the Diocese of Louisiana (or anyone who wants to join) can post work, share ideas and questions, and get positive feedback.

Also, look for a new addition to the EDoLA newsletter- The Monthly Technology Challenge. Scroll down to view this month's challenge.

Please contact Karen Mackey (kmackey@edola.org) Communication Director for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, with any questions.

The Congregational Consultant teams are comprised of knowledgeable lay and ordained individuals from throughout the diocese. These teams have experience and training in areas that are critical to congregational vitality and they are available to serve our congregations in a variety of ways. For more information about Congregation Consultant teams contact the Rev. Canon John Kellogg at jkellogg@edola.org. 

Upcoming Diocesan Events

March 27-29 Proclaiming Hope in the Age of Mass Incarceration- Prison Ministry Conference

April 10 at 11:00 am  Chrism Mass at Christ Church Cathedral, 2919 St. Charles Ave, New Orleans

May 3 from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Clergy Day: Effective Pastoral Care as a Key to Parish Health and Growth
Clergy register here
News from the Episcopal Church
Follow the news from the Episcopal Church Public Affairs Office by clicking here.
House of Bishop Spring Meeting 2017

The House of Bishops meet at Kanuga Conference Center from March 10-14. Click here for the Daily Recap as found on the Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal Asset Map Celebrates 99 Dioceses, Invites Full Participation Across Church 

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The  Episcopal Asset Map, an o nline platform showing the location and ministries of Episcopal churches, schools and other communities, is now officially active in the Episcopal Church's 99 dioceses located in the United States.

Map participation will expand to the Episcopal Church dioceses not located in the United States with pilot programs in the Dioceses of  Colombia and the  Dominican Republic.
The Episcopal Asset Map is an innovative partnership between the Episcopal Church and  Episcopal Relief & Development that tracks local ministries and shows the location and the array of ministries offered by Episcopal congregations, schools and institutions throughout the church.

Episcopalians are invited to take part in populating the map with information about their congregation, institution or ministry by suggesting updates through an easy online form.

"The Asset Map is an invaluable tool for the Jesus Movement because it uses technology to foster relationships, strengthen communities, and connect people with mission," said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation, and creation. "The map empowers caring and passionate individuals and faith communities to learn, collaborate and organize across boundaries and in new and exciting ways. It is my hope that the Asset Map will become the hub of the Jesus Movement; a place to find a new paths forward together, united in Christ."

The Diocese of Louisiana is proud to be the original pilot program for the Episcopal Asset Map. It is exciting to see the map not only expand to include all dioceses inside the United States but outside as well. 

The Episcopal Asset Map recently got an updated look. If you have not seen it in some time, check it out. The map specific to the Diocese of Louisiana can be found by clicking here and the map for the entire Episcopal Church can be found by clicking here.

By the way, you can help us keep the Louisiana map up-to-date. If you find a correction that needs to be made to a church page, click on the suggest edits button and fill out the online form. Please contact Karen Mackey kmackey@edola.org for help.

News from Around the Diocese
Follow the news & reflections from around the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana by clicking here.
St. Augustine's Bookstore to Close in May

Since 1982, the St. Augustine's Bookstore in Metairie, has been a resource for people interested in deepening their spiritual lives, for congregations needing prayer books and hymnals, for clergy urgently requiring the latest liturgical calendar, and all manner of faithful people looking for a gift or card to celebrate a sacred occasion. After considerable and prayerful discernment, St. Augustine's Books & Gifts has decided to end its retail operations by the end of May 2017. Please call (504-887-4801) or come by to say goodbye and make final purchases. All Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, and crosses are 50% off (while supplies last). There will be additional store specials until the closing on May 31, 2017. Thank you to everyone who has supported this ministry!
From the Congregational Consultants
Grandma Keet, a Cheerful Giver

by the Rev. Tommy Dillon, Priest-in-Charge, St. Margaret's, Baton Rouge

Every year when the annual giving season comes around, I think about my grandmother Keet who was so influential in teaching me about being a cheerful giver.

My grandfather Earl unexpectedly died at 48 years of age following major surgery. My grandmother was a young widow with six sons ranging in age from one to 21. They had no home and no money. My father and his brothers moved with Grandma Keet to live with their grandmother in her two bedroom home in the small oil town of Yale, Oklahoma, population of 1,200 (The home of Jim Thorpe).
Their church, the First Baptist Church of Yale, was their family because they always treated them with such respect.

They never felt like orphans or poor.

They were there every time the doors were open.

One Saturday morning, my uncle Jerry wanted to see the Tarzan and Jane movie. He looked in my grandmother's little coin purse and saw that she had $.85. So, he went into the kitchen and asked her, "May I have $.15 to go to the movie this afternoon." She said, "I'm sorry, Jerry, but I don't have it," and he quickly said, "But mother, I just looked in your coin purse and counted $.85." She bent down and put her arm around his neck and whispered, "Jerry, that's my tithe, and I'm saving it to place in the offering plate tomorrow."

He slowly dropped his head. She lifted his chin up, and he looked up into her eyes and said, "Oh, that's ok mother."

She said, "Why don't you sit with me at church, and you put the money in the offertory plate." He did, and that experience changed his life!

I think about that beautiful story every year when I discern how much I should give financially to support my faith community. In this discernment, I think about the following question: What does my home congregation mean to me? Does it make a difference in my life or is it just a job? Do I believe St. Margaret's is truly making a difference in the lives of our people and our community?

I can honestly say yes to those questions even after only being the new priest-in-charge of St Margaret's for seven months! St. Margaret's Church is a source of great inspiration to me. It's not just my job - it's a place where I feel I get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God every day and I want to support the work we do together financially.

I think about how much I spend each month on things like Cox Cable, Verizon, YMCA membership, and Diet Dr. Pepper. I wonder if I add those expenses up, will that be more than my pledge to the church? I used to say yes, but not any longer. Thank God because my relationship with my church is much more important than my relationships with those companies and items!

I realize that if my spiritual discipline doesn't include a significant financial investment in the community I've made vows before God to lead, teach, and gather in worship, then it's either time to reevaluate my ministry or get my resume in order. Because if I, the priest-in-charge, don't believe in and invest in the faith community I serve, how can I expect anyone else to?

The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp says, "Stewardship Season is probably always going to feel a little awkward. We all wish the church could run on a few crumbs of bread and some good intentions, but on this side of the kingdom, a church has to be able to sit at the kitchen table with money on the one hand and Jesus on the other and have some real conversation."

I take a leap of faith each year as I struggle towards giving a 10% tithe like my grandmother. I can honestly say I am only at 8% with my 2017 pledge, but year after year I am working towards it because I am a firm believer in giving till it feels good!
I know from the bottom of my heart that when giving to your faith community, whatever the size of the gift, is a spiritual practice that will make you life better.

May God be with you as you discern your response to God's call to be a cheerful giver in your faith communities here in the Diocese of Louisiana like my Grandma Keet!

The Rev. Tommy Dillon is the Priest-in-Charge of  St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, and is a member of the  Diocesan Stewardship Congregational Consultants Team of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.
One goal of the Congregational Consultants for Communication & Technology is to inspire all Episcopalians to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God through social media. This challenge is yours to accept if you dare. Use one or more of the hashtags:  #jesusmovement#EDoLA, #Episcopal, and your church name. 
What Word or Phrase of the Lectionary Inspires You

Tweet and/or post on Facebook what word or phrase inspires you from the Sunday Lectionary and/or Daily Readings. Think  Lectio Divina, the ancient art of reading, meditating, and praying the Scripture. Extra credit to those who interpret the reading visually as a photograph on Instagram.

Bonus challenge:

Help a technologically challenged person set up an email account and teach them how to use it. Help them get connected with family and to their church's email list. 
Ministry Spotlight
God's Cooking Pot

The Very Rev. Craig Dalferes shares the good things cooking in Houma as St. Matthew's partners with a local elementary school through the Bread or Stones Program. A grant through the Community Mission Appeal (CMA) has helped them build relationships between the two communities.


by the Very Rev. Craig Dalferes, Rector, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Houma


Driving home from school the other day, my 10-year-old son, Joseph, was telling me about what he's learning about the Solar System.  This led to a conversation about outer space, and about how vast the universe is.  I said something about how the whole thing is really incomprehensible, that it's so vast and huge, it's hard to even wrap the mind around it all.  He shrugged, "I think it's easy.....I just think of it as God's cooking pot."  I really love his way of seeing things, so now when I look at the starry night sky I imagine a great big cooking pot-all still simmering-still being created, still coming together like a good gumbo!


I want to tell you a story about something God's been cooking up here in Houma these past several months.  It's still coming together so I'm not sure exactly how it's all going to turn out.  But I feel so privileged to watch the Lord bringing it all together, into something really beautiful.


About a year ago a few of our parishioners attended a "Bread or Stones" listening post here in town.  We were challenged to become a "Covenant Partner," of this ecumenical initiative to improve the well-being of children in our community, particularly those living on the ragged edge of poverty.  We mulled this over for awhile, prayed about it, and without really knowing just what it would mean, our Vestry decided to "adopt" a nearby elementary school as our way of contributing to the effort.  The idea of the Bread or Stones campaign is for churches to partner with other churches, with civic groups and governmental agencies to find ways to improve Louisiana's consistently low ranking across nearly every metric of childhood wellbeing.


Our adopted school is Legion Park Elementary School, which is located only a few blocks away from St. Matthew's Church & School.  They have about 300 children, grades Kindergarten through 6th grade, all of whom are eligible to receive 'free and reduced' lunches.  I'm embarrassed to say I only recently learned where Legion Park School is-it's tucked away in a bit of a rough neighborhood-in an area which, until a few months ago, was just not on my mental map.  With the School Superintendent's blessing, we went to speak with the Administration and told them we wanted to help, and asked them to tell us what they needed.  I couldn't believe the kinds of things I was hearing:  jump ropes for the kids to play with at recess, bulbs for the projectors in the classroom, chargers for the 6 laptop computers they had received but couldn't use because they couldn't plug them in!


We applied for and received a grant from the Community Mission Appeal funds.  It was about $3,500 which in the face of such enormous need seemed only a drop in the bucket.  But it has proved more than enough.  We were able to begin by providing a few of these much-needed items.  As we enlisted support from all across our community, the resources began to flow:  not just monetary donations, but also time and talent.  As an example, the Houma Tree Board, on which our St. Matthew's Head of School volunteers, heard of our project and donated 11 trees to beautify the barren school campus.  A friend from Rotary donated the soil and mulch.  Our 7th graders here at St Matthew's Day School went over to Legion recently, led by our Head, Myers McAllister, and with some of Legion Park's 5th graders planted the trees together, as a symbol of the new relationship we are forging.  An observer noted, "these kids live in totally different worlds, and yet here, on this playground, planting trees together, they're all just kids."  As I thought about the day's events it struck me that all of us learned something that day:  the joy of reaching across boundaries that divide us, the beauty of something so simple as planting trees together, the joy of giving, the importance of relationships with our friends just next door.


About the same time we were organizing the tree planting, I heard from a Parishioner who had just come back from North Mississippi with 50 gently used PC's which were donated to St. Matthew's by a big medical consortium.  This was literally like manna from heaven, as I had no idea this was even in play.  We decided to send 25 machines, complete with monitors, keyboards, mice-all of it, to Legion Park which translated into a much-needed computer lab for the children.  We figure it was at least $5,000 worth of equipment.


Most recently I got a phone call from a very large company who heard about what we've been doing and may be interested in partnering with us as part of their corporate outreach to the local community.  This is still in the works, but if it comes together, then we'll again see remarkable resources of time and volunteer labor flowing to Legion to the benefit of the children.


We are also partnering with a neighboring Roman Catholic church to get together some volunteers to help with after-school tutoring.   This, too, is still in the formative stage, but I believe we'll truly be able to help some of these children develop their full potential.

What we're doing takes money, but the money and the stuff is only a part of a much greater whole.  What really excites me are the relationships we're beginning to form, which hopefully will continue to bring light and love into our community.  It's also deeply inspiring, I believe, for the beleaguered faculty and administration to know that the community cares about what they're doing, and wants to help them in whatever small way we can to meet the enormous challenges they face each day.  As a show of support, we are partnering with St. Francis Catholic Church to create a 'Teacher Appreciation' event later this Spring.


So, all I can say is 'the Lord is so good'!  He provides all that we need to do what he calls us to do.  We just have to begin by offering what we can, as generously as we can.  The Spirit will take care of the rest, and in the process, create something truly beautiful.


I'm grateful for the Diocese of Louisiana, and for all who gave generously to the Community Mission Appeal.  Your gift has made a huge difference in the lives of at least 300 children who need-probably more than anything- to know that they are loved and valued, by God and by their community.  Thank you for being a key ingredient in God's cooking pot!

Photo of the Month
[Photograph and caption from the St. Paul's, New Orleans, Facebook Page] St. Joseph's Day, Sunday, March 19- What a day today at our St. Joseph's Altar. People brought an incredible amount of food, and we collected non-perishable food items for the food bank at St. Anna's Episcopal Church. A great deal of the leftovers were distributed to the homeless. A profound reminder of God's grace and abundance among us.

More News on the EDoLA Blog:

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