June 17, 2020
Building Reopening Guidelines Released
In introducing newly-released reopening guidelines , Bishop Sean writes:

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

In mid-March, when we suspended in-person worship, none of us could have imagined the ways the world was about to change or what would be required of us in response. Throughout these long months, you have been resilient, flexible and collaborative as we have gathered for online worship, raised more than $21,000 to feed first responders and people in need, rallied to stand against racial injustice, and begun to discern the mission to which our church might be called in a post-pandemic world.

The pandemic will not be over for some time, but places of business and other public gathering places have begun to reopen in both Pennsylvania and New York. The public health standards in both states now permit, in most places, small in-person gatherings for worship. In response, we have developed, in consultation with the clergy of the diocese and the mission strategy advisory group, these guidelines for reopening church buildings. We are grateful to the Dioceses of Indianapolis and Chicago for sharing their plans, which have informed our thinking and helped shape our response.

As you will read in this document, although returning to in-person worship is permissible beginning July 5, I do not recommend that most congregations do so. Reopening our buildings for worship can present a significant risk, particularly to clergy and laypeople aged 65 and older and to those with underlying health conditions. It will require extensive work and possible expense to comply with the cleaning and disinfecting protocols outlined in this document. You have my full support if you judge that continuing to worship online is the best choice for your congregation, and I will continue to host Sunday online worship with leaders from across the diocese for the foreseeable future.

New York Must Learn to Hold Police Accountable
In Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News, Bishop Sean and Justice Rose H. Sconiers wrote about the need to end "police practices that are harmful to everyone in our community, but disproportionately affect people of color."

Commission Calls for Solidarity against Viruses of Racism, COVID-19 Pandemic
On June 2, the Diocese of Western New York’s Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination released a statement on the killing of George Floyd, the subsequent demonstrations against police brutality and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color:

Stay Safe. We’re in this Together. These familiar messages take on new meaning in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery and others; in light of the protests happening in our cities; in light of the magnified hardship COVID-19 imposes on communities of color.

A virus, like the coronavirus we are fighting, needs a host to exist and to create damage. Racism, like a virus, also needs a host to exist. We have had to learn how to defend ourselves against acquiring the virus, how to recognize its acquisition, and how to get healthy again when it is acquired. We must do the same with racism, on individual and collective levels, if we are to overcome its devastation to the fabric of our society.

Sexual Misconduct Survey
In a June 8 letter to Episcopalians, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings invited everyone in the Episcopal Church to participate in an online survey about sexual misconduct in the denomination. The survey is designed to assess patterns of church-based harassment and abuse and the effect that it has on victims.  The results of the survey will be presented in a report by the Task Force for Women, Truth, and Reconciliation to the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

Around the Partnership
St. Mark’s, LeRoy is speaking out for justice and working against food insecurity. On June 15, the Rev. Colleen O’Connor of St. Luke’s spoke at a vigil where about 50 people gathered in LeRoy to listen as several people shared their stories about racial issues.

Meanwhile, planning for the parish’s popular free summer lunch program for children and teens has moved forward quickly. From July 1 through August 21, St. Mark's and community friends will offer a free summer lunch for children and teens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. An additional lunch for Tuesdays and Thursdays will be distributed to participants on Mondays and Wednesdays.

St. Mark’s has held summer lunch at Mill Street Park for the past eleven years. This year’s lunch will be presented as grab-and-go bags at St. Mark’s side door on Church St. from 12 to 12:45 p.m. Parking is in St. Mark’s lot across the street (on the corner of East Main and Church Sts.). There will be hot lunches for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and cold lunches or heat-at-home lunches for Tuesday and Thursday offerings.

Volunteers are needed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for food preparation, meal packing, distribution and more. If you are interested in volunteering or supporting this growing ministry with a donation, please contact Jessica Shelby or Leslie DeLooze
Digital Summer Camp
A "Digital Camp" will be offered this summer for all children and youth from rising third graders through graduated seniors. A team is at work on a plan that will deliver beloved aspects of camp online and in the mail. "Digital Camp" will be held on the five Wednesdays in July. The theme is unity and 1 Corinthians 1:10 is the guiding Bible verse.

Complete an online form to receive additional details and ensure that your camp package is delivered to the right house.

Cabin Rentals at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center
Beginning June 26, Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center (LCLC) in Bemus Point, NY is renting its rustic camper cabins to individuals and families. While operating safely within the NY Forward guidelines, cabin camping at LCLC offers a safe and peaceful way to enjoy LCLC in a new way. Camper cabins offer the "car camping" enthusiast a solid shelter along with self-contained toilet and shower facilities, so you don't have to worry about tents and outhouses.  Download a flyer with complete details.

Email LCLC or call 716.386.4125 with any questions, or to reserve a cabin.
The Rev. Jason Shank Preaches Online
While our buildings are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Bishop Sean and other leaders from across the partnership dioceses are leading worship at 10 a.m. on Sundays via the Zoom platform.

Sunday services can be accessed by using this link:   https://zoom.us/j/127336938?pwd=cm8zUWh0Y2loTjYyKy91YURsTVBCQT0 . If you are asked for a password, use  lakeerie . To join by phone instead of video, dial 646-876-9923 and use code 127336938#.

This past Sunday, the Rev. Jason Shank of Resurrection Church, Hermitage preached at the partnership's online worship service.   Watch the service on YouTube .

On weekdays, a group of lay and clergy leaders is leading noonday prayer online. Find the weekday services on the partnership   Facebook page.
Bishop Sean Announces New Collaborative Partnership
In a May 29 letter to the St. Mark's, Erie community, Bishop Sean announced a new collaborative partnership between St. Mark's and the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie.

Under this new arrangement, which begins July 1, St. Mark’s and the cathedral will share a half-time associate priest, a youth minister and a full-time administrator.

Introducing the New Missioner for Administration
The partnership dioceses welcome Gabrie'l J. Atchison to the diocesan staff as the missioner for administration.

Atchison started work on June 2. She previously served as the parish administrator at Trinity Church and at St. John's-Grace Church in Buffalo.

Atchison is former board member and current volunteer at Jesus the Liberator Seminary, a faith-based, nonprofit organization in Buffalo, where she supports congregations interested in developing prison ministry. 

Say Yes Buffalo Provides Students with Technology
Say Yes Buffalo has launched a campaign to provide Buffalo Public School students with reliable technology to continue their online studies.

Upcoming Events
Wednesday Evening Services; Sunday Book Study
On Wednesdays at 7 p.m., St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo will offer a 30-minute service incorporating elements from Evening Prayer and Compline. Participants are encouraged to light a candle as the hymn "O Gracious Light" is sung. 

This service will be offered live via Zoom at bit.ly/SPCzoomwebinar . The password is 4cathedral.

Worship bulletins can be found on the St. Paul's website , and new r ecordings can be viewed on the St. Paul's YouTube channel .

A 9 a.m. Sunday Bible study focusing on the Letter of James can be accessed by using this Zoom link and the password 4cathedral. Join by phone by dialing 929.205.6099 and entering access code 716 855 0900 and password 535007.

St. Paul's, Buffalo Offers "Bigger Table" Book Study
St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo hosts an online book study on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. of "A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community" by John Pavlovitz.

The conversation can be accessed by using this Zoom link and the password 4cathedral. Join by phone by dialing 929.205.6099 and entering access code 716 855 0900 and password 535007.

Contact Dean Derrick Fetz with questions or for more information.
Diocesan Convention to Take Place Online
In consultation with the chancellors of both dioceses, Bishop Sean has determined that the annual conventions of both dioceses will be held online this year so that we can continue to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities from the risk of COVID-19.

Bishop Sean will meet with the diocesan councils and standing committees of both dioceses later this summer to discuss the details of holding convention online. Watch future issues of the newsletter for more details, and continue to hold the dates of November 6 and 7 for online convention meetings and activities.
WNY 2021 Clergy Compensation Guidelines Available
The 2021 Clergy Compensation Guidelines for Western New York are now available.
Northwestern Pennsylvania's guidelines will be reviewed at diocesan convention this fall.
Make Gifts and Pledges to Congregations Online
Although church buildings are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of congregations continues, and the need for pledge income and gifts is urgent. The bishop's office is maintaining an online giving platform that accepts  gifts and pledge payments for any congregation

While in-person church services are suspended, the partnership dioceses will absorb payment processing fees so that your entire gift will go to your congregation for local mission.

Printable Bulletin for Home Worship
The Rev. Claudia Scheda and the Rev. Steve Lane have prepared simple worship service bulletins that can be printed and distributed to people without access to the internet. 

Stay Up-to-Date
To get updates from Bishop Sean and news about the partnership and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please encourage members of your congregation to subscribe  to this newsletter and follow the partnership   Facebook page where all new updates, stories and photos will be posted. The individual WNY and NWPA Facebook pages will continue to exist but won't be updated, so stay up-to-date with all the diocesan news, events and postings by liking   The Episcopal Dioceses of Western New York & Northwestern Pennsylvania

Updates are also available  on the partnership website.
Conferences & Trainings
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we will publish a  general newsletter  each Wednesday. 

To contribute photos, stories, or event announcements to the newsletter, please see our  submission guidelines .