May 25, 2022
From Bishop Sean: Pray for Uvalde, Texas
Dear People of God:

Just ten days had passed since the murder of ten people at the Tops Supermarket on the East Side of Buffalo when the news from Uvalde, Texas, broke last night.

When the dead of one mass shooting are not yet buried before news of another arrives, we know something is deeply wrong. Yesterday's massacre is every parent's worst nightmare and every teacher's ever-present fear.

I ask your prayers for the beloved children of God who have died, for the families of Uvalde whose lives will never be the same, and for all who are struggling to rebuild and recover in Buffalo.

The Episcopal Church Office of Government Affairs has released resources for responding to gun violence. I commend you to them as a way to put our our prayer into action.

On yet another sad day following an act of unimaginable violence, may God grant us all peace.
Community Foundation Funds to Support Buffalo
In the wake of the mass shooting at Tops Market, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has created two funds to support the community financially.

To provide aid to those directly impacted by the massacre, donate to the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund.

To address immediate community needs, long-term rebuilding, and systemic issues that have marginalized communities of color, donate to the Buffalo Together Community Response Fund.

St. Philip's, Buffalo Holds Vigil at Tops Supermarket
The outdoor vigil at Tops Supermarket on Sunday evening, hosted by St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, together with the Episcopal Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, was covered by numerous media outlets.

WGRZ Channel 2 livestreamed the service, interviewed the Rev. Steve Lane ahead of the vigil, and published an article about the vigil which included quote from Bishop Sean.

WIVB Channel 4 interviewed Bishop Sean, the Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

WKBW Channel 7 interviewed the Rev. Steve Lane and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

WUTV Channel 29 interviewed the Rev. Steve Lane, the Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

In addition to speakers from the partnership, the vigil featured the Rev. Paul J. Thomas, pastor of Historic Bethel AME Church in Buffalo; Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; and the Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ.

image: Denise Clarke-Merriweather, the Hon. Rose Sconiers, Bishop Sean Rowe, E. Dawn Samuel, Josephine Robbins and Peggy Johnson pose with good friend Thomasina Stenhouse, parishioner at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Buffalo, at the vigil. Photo by the Rev. Matt Lincoln. Additional photos of the vigil are available on the partnership's Facebook page.
Canon Cindy Dougan to Retire
Canon Cindy Dougan, partnership canon for finance, has announced her plan to retire after 12 years of service to the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and the diocesan partnership.

Canon Dougan will retire by the end of March 2023 after working alongside her replacement for several months to ensure a smooth transition. Watch future issues of the newsletter for an opportunity to celebrate her ministry and wish her a happy and restful retirement!
Partnership Dioceses Taking Applications for Chief Financial Officer/Canon for Finance
The Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania are seeking a Chief Financial Officer/Canon for Finance. The Canon for Finance is responsible for the financial operations in both dioceses. The new Canon for Finance will be trained by the current Canon for Finance before her retirement (see above).

Read the job description and email a resume to Vanessa Butler to apply. Applications will be accepted through June 15.
Beyond Sacred Ground: Deepening Commitment to Action
On Tuesdays, May 31, June 14 and June 28, Canon Twila Smith will host sessions for those who have previously participated in Sacred Ground. This three-part program will introduce a new “Session 11,” focusing on deepening commitment to racial reconciliation and justice engagement. Participants should plan to devote at least two hours to preparing for the first evening and at least an hour in subsequent weeks. The format of this series includes time for focused and prayerful discernment, next steps, and commitments to action, and is not designed for a recap of readings or sharing stories.

Partnership Summer Camp August 7-1o
Registration Now Open
From August 7-10, the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania will hold a joint summer camp. Due to changes in staff availability and facilities, the camp will now be held at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Bemus Point, New York. Registration is now open.

Camp will start at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 7 and end with a closing Eucharist, to which families are invited, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10.

Camp will cost $200 to attend. Those that need financial assistance should have their parish priests contact Wendy Schumacher.

In Memoriam
Jonathan Doherty, a lifelong member of Christ Church, Albion, died in his sleep on May 5. A well-known member of the Albion community and a client of ARC, Jonathan helped found the Self-Advocacy All Stars, attending statewide and national meetings on behalf of his disabled peers. In 2016, he was named Volunteer of the Year in the western region of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. His funeral was held May 12.

Congregational News
St. Luke's Smethport Holds 1928 Liturgy
On May 22, St. Luke's, Smethport held a "roll-back" service using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The service was lay lead by Carlyle "Kiker" Conn and organist Diana Anderson played hymns popular during the retired prayer book's use. Several members of the congregation dressed in 1930s attire.

Following the service, the congregation had an "old-time meal" of hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, and tomato soup cake, looked through old photographs, and shared memories of the past.

image: Members of St. Luke's dressed for the occasion
Congregational Events
Interdenominational Service for Memorial Day May 30
St. John's Grace, Buffalo
St. John’s-Grace, Buffalo will hold an Interdenominational Service for Memorial Day at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 30. The service is open to all.

The service will consist of remembering and praying, singing hymns, listening to readings, songs and preaching, and will conclude with the singing of Amazing Grace outdoors at the Bidwell Parkway War Memorial. For the safety of the many veterans and seniors attending, masks and social distancing will be required.
Drive-Thru Southern Fried Chicken Dinner June 3
St Andrew’s, Burt, will hold their 2nd Annual Fried Chicken Fundraiser on Friday, June 3 from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Dinner includes half a chicken cut into four pieces, or two chicken tenders for children, hand-coated with twelve secret herbs and spices. In addition, there will be fries, buttery cornbread, macaroni salad garnished with Louisiana pickle slaw, sand peach cobbler for dessert. 

This is a pre-sale ticket event only. The cost is $14 for adults and $7 children. For tickets, please contact Tom at 716-778-5554 or
Salad Bar Luncheon
St. Mark's, North Tonawanda and Church of the Advent, Kenmore
On June 10 from 11:30-1:00, St. Mark’s, North Tonawanda and Church of the Advent, Kenmore will hold a Salad Bar Luncheon at St. Mark’s. The salad bar is all you can eat and will include breads, cheeses and meats. Drink and dessert are included. The luncheon costs $15 per person. Take-out is available. There will also be a table with items to sell from Honduras that will help to support their ministry with Our Little Roses, San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Reservations for groups are suggested and can be made by calling 716-951-0704.
Masking Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control now recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks in public, indoor settings in areas of high transmission. You can find your COVID-19 Community Level on the CDC website.

Bishop Sean continues to recommend that congregations follow Centers for Disease Control guidance on COVID-19. Read the most recent COVID-19 updates on the website.
Resuming Use of the Common Cup: From Bishop Sean
On April 6, Bishop Sean announced that congregations may resume the use of the common cup.

Dear People of God in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York:

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, I give thanks that, according to Centers for Disease Control data, our region is now experiencing low case counts. As a result, I believe that we can resume use of the common cup at the Eucharist beginning Palm Sunday, April 10.

Partnership Counties Experiencing High COVID-19 Levels
As of today, several counties within the partnership dioceses are experiencing high transmission levels of COVID-19. Find Centers for Disease Control county-level data.

The CDC guidance on masking continues to be that vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial or high COVID transmission and that unvaccinated people over age 2 should wear a mask indoors at all times.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your congregation’s continuing COVID response, please talk with Canon Twila Smith or Canon Vanessa Butler. Thank you for your continued faithfulness to our congregations throughout this long pandemic.
Partnership in Prayer on Facebook Live
The bishop's staff invites people across the partnership dioceses to join them online tonight at 8 p.m. and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for virtual prayer on the Partnership in Prayer Facebook page. Tonight's service will be dedicated to those killed, injured, mourning and traumatized by the mass shootings in this country.
Join the Union of Black Episcopalians
The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) is an Episcopal organization supporting Black institutions and Black leadership in the U.S. and throughout the world. The diocesan partnership has a local chapter dedicated to providing programming for the region with a focus on spiritual development, education and anti-racism advocacy.

Make Gifts and Pledges to Congregations Online
Though many congregations are now meeting in person, the bishop's office will continue to maintain an online giving platform that accepts gifts and pledge payments for any congregation. The partnership dioceses will absorb payment processing fees so contributions will go entirely to local mission.

Publication Schedule
Anyone can subscribe to the leadership newsletter and the general newsletter, which are published on alternate Wednesdays.

The general newsletter contains stories, congregational event listings, and other news of general interest. The leadership news focuses on governance and administrative updates and reminders, leadership events and clergy news. Updates are also available on the partnership Facebook page and the partnership website.

Please send news about your congregation's ministry, mission and events to To contribute photos, stories, or event announcements to the newsletter, please see our submission guidelines.