August 11, 2021
New Sacred Ground Sessions Begin September 21
Preview session on September 7
Again this fall, the partnership dioceses will offer Sacred Ground, a program of the Episcopal Church's Becoming Beloved Community initiative. In Sacred Ground, participants learn about the history of race and racism in the United States, in the context of family stories, economic class, and political and regional identity.

Sacred Ground sessions are facilitated and the format includes time for small discussion groups. There is no cost for the course, but the curriculum recommends that participants purchase two books. Participants are expected to read selected materials and watch videos in preparation for each session.

Open to All: Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
This group, open to everyone in the partnership dioceses, will meet twice monthly on Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. starting September 21, with a preview session on September 7 at 7 p.m. Session dates are September 21, October 5 and 19, November 2 and 16, December 7, January 4 and 18, and February 1 and 15, and closing worship on March 1.

To register, contact Gabrie’l Atchison.
Clergy Group: Tuesdays at 3 p.m.
This group, open to clergy and those in the ordination process, will meet twice monthly on Tuesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. starting September 21, with a preview session on September 21 at 3 p.m.

Session dates are September 21, October 5 and 19, November 2 and 16, January 4 and 18, and February 1 and 15, March 15 and 29, and closing worship on April 5.

To register, contact Gabrie’l Atchison.
Call for Group Leaders
Leaders who are interested in starting a Sacred Ground group or are planning to offer Sacred Ground in their congregations are encouraged to email Canon Twila Smith for resources and connection to peers in other congregations.
Contribute to the UBE Bishop Holly Chapter Fundraiser
The Bishop Holly Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians is conducting a fundraising campaign during August. Donations will support its work to reach youth and young adults; continue ministry with incarcerated people and mitigate the harm of mass incarceration on families and communities; and to work collaboratively with the Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination.

Donation gifts options include a UBE tote bag, a hardcover copy of "Love is the Way" by Presiding Bishop Curry, and a hardcover copy of "Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Biography" by Michael Battle.

Learn more on the Holly Chapter website or email UBE chapter President Gabrie'l Atchison with questions.
StorySharing Trainers Training August 25
On August 25 from noon 1 p.m. via Zoom, congregational leaders are invited to a training of trainers for the Beloved Community StorySharing Campaign.

StorySharing is an Episcopal Church racial reconciliation initiative that "seeks to help faith communities and individuals to share and receive stories of faith, race, and difference and to become more effective healers, reconcilers, and ambassadors of Christ in the world."

Anyone who is interested in bringing the StorySharing program to their congregation or ministry can attend.

Good Shepherd, Irving Visit on September 11
Online Preparation Program on August 30
The people of Good Shepherd, Irving have invited the people of the partnership dioceses to worship with them and visit the grounds of the former Thomas Indian School on September 11 during the Seneca Nation Fall Festival. Bishop Sean will attend and encourages everyone in the partnership dioceses to join him for this event, which will be hosted by the Rev. Roland Cooper and members of the Good Shepherd congregation.

To prepare for the visit, Faith Stewart, senior warden at Good Shepherd and a local school teacher, will hold an online program on August 30 at 7 p.m. People who have not yet had the opportunity to attend Sacred Ground or read "The Thomas Indian School and the 'Irredeemable' Children of New York," are especially encouraged to attend. To register for this program and to receive updates on the schedule for September 11, email Gabrie'l Atchison.

Last winter, nearly 40 people from across the partnership dioceses gathered online for a four-week study of the book, which tells the story of the school and the experiences of Indigenous children there, including many from the Seneca Nation in Western New York. Established by Presbyterian missionaries and later operated by the State of New York, the school housed 2,470 children, many of whom were forcibly removed from their families, from 1855-1957.

Watch future newsletters for more details.
Explorer's Day August 28 10 a.m. to 12 p.m
On August 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at St. Luke's, Jamestown, the partnership dioceses will host an Explorer's Day for people exploring new ministry or discerning a call to ordained ministry. The program is free of charge.

At Explorer's Day, participants will examine the call and roles of lay leaders, deacons, and priests through theological reflection, the Book of Common Prayer, scripture study, and reflections from lay and clergy leaders.

Explorer's Day is the entry point to the ordination process, and there will be opportunities to learn more about the details of the process during the day's program. Those discerning a call to ordained ministry must attend the day with the priest in their sponsoring congregation or make arrangements with Vanessa Butler if they are coming from a congregation with no priest.

To learn more or register for Explorer's Day, please contact Vanessa Butler via email or 814.456.4203.
Let’s Get Moving 2021: August 1 to September 4
Fundraiser supports Our Little Roses Foreign Mission Society
Let's Get Moving is an annual fundraiser for Our Little Roses Foreign Mission Society, which is based in Honduras and provides at-risk girls with residential, educational, medical, dental, social-emotional, and spiritual care.

Fundraisers can participate by walking, cycling, running or swimming.

Congregational Music Conference on Zoom
August 21 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
All musicians and music leaders in the partnership are invited to a conference on Zoom on August 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will meet colleagues, learn about various resources and approaches for selecting church music, and discuss topics including managing music licenses and the future of music ministry. The conference is hosted by the formation subcommittee of the Commission on Ministry and there is no cost to participate.

Youth Summer Camp Days on August 15 and 28
Registration now open
Wendy Schumacher, missioner for children and youth, has worked with camp staff to offer two opportunities for families to experience a little slice of camp this summer:

August 15 at Lake Chautauqa Lutheran Center (LCLC) in Bemus Point, New York
The event will start at 2 p.m. and end with a campfire around 8 p.m. Activities will include a nature hike, arts and crafts, Bible art, lawn games and gaga ball, camp songs, and dinner provided by LCLC.

August 28 at Camp Nazareth in Mercer, Pennsylvania
The day will start at 10 a.m. and end with a church service around 4 p.m. Activities will include swimming (in a chlorinated pool), camp theme with Bible art, arts and crafts, a nature hike, camp songs, and lunch provided by Camp Nazareth.

As long as weather permits, all activities will take place outside on both days. In the event activities must take place inside due to weather, masks will be required for all participants. This year's camp theme will be "Healer: Reacting as Jesus taught us!" Campers who have received Bibles in prior years should bring them along.

Please email Wendy Schumacher or call 716-830-5443 with questions.

Audit Reports
Due September 15 in NWPA and October 1 in WNY
Congregations in the partnership must submit their audit reports by September 15 in Northwestern Pennsylvania and by October 1 in Western New York. View audit information and guidelines on the partnership websiteNWPA congregations are encouraged to form audit committees within their own congregation using the audit workbook provided on the website.

Contact Maria Manocchio or Cindy Dougan with questions or concerns, especially those related to how audit processes may have been affected by the pandemic.
Partnership Online Worship Listing Now Available
Submit online worship information to Canon Smith
The partnership dioceses website now includes a new listing of online worship opportunities across the partnership.

Congregations offering online pre-recorded, streaming or hybrid worship via Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, or other platforms are asked to send a brief description and link to the Rev. Canon Twila Smith.
Diocesan Convention Preview
This year, the business portions of the annual conventions of both dioceses will be held on October 14 online. Local health conditions permitting, the bishop's address, worship, fellowship and conversation will take place on October 22 and 23 at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, PA. This new model for convention is designed to ensure the business portion is completed, regardless of current pandemic conditions.

In-person components, including the bishop's address and worship, will be available for anyone to view live online.
All convention participants are required to register for diocesan convention, including canonically resident clergy, lay delegates, licensed clergy, youth delegates and general attendees. There is no cost to attend the business session of convention or to watch the live stream of in-person components. Registration to attend the in-person portion is $50. Register online by October 4.
Pre-Convention Gatherings October 6 and 7 on Zoom
Joint pre-convention gatherings will be held via Zoom on October 6 at 3 p.m. and October 7 at 7 p.m. Watch for additional details in future newsletters.
Joint Business Sessions October 14 on Zoom
The joint business sessions will take place online via Zoom on October 14 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Zoom. In order to participate in the business sessions of convention, delegates will need a dependable internet connection and access to Zoom (see technical requirements). Clergy or delegates who anticipate connectivity or technological challenges that might make it difficult to participate in convention from home are asked to email
In-Person Gathering October 22-23
Local health conditions permitting, the in-person component of convention will take place on October 22 starting at 6:30 p.m. and on October 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. Hotel accommodations are available at the Sheraton Bayfront ($138/night). To make a reservation, call 814.454.2005 and reference "Episcopal Diocese" or "EDI" for the special rate, or visit this link:
Nominations Due by September 10
Nominations for the following diocesan leadership positions are due by September 10: 

Western New York
  • Standing Committee – 1 clergy, 1 lay
  • Diocesan Council – 1 clergy, 2 lay
  • Trustees – 2 lay

Northwestern Pennsylvania
  • Standing Committee – 1 priest, 1 lay
  • Diocesan Council – 1 priest, 1 lay
  • Constitution and Canons – 1 priest, 1 lay
  • Deputies to Provincial Synod – 1 priest, 2 lay

Resolutions Due by September 10
Resolutions to be considered at convention must be received by September 10. Submit resolutions online.

Please note: Diocese of Western New York resolutions submitted after August 15 will be considered pending a 2/3 vote of convention, in accordance with that diocese's Standing Rules of Order.
Annual Reports
Annual reports from diocesan committees for the annual journal are due on October 1.

Submit reports to Gabrie’l Atchison via email.
Chicken BBQ on August 21 at St. Andrew's, Buffalo
St. Andrew's, Buffalo, will host a chicken BBQ on August 21 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Master's Barbecue Company will provide the meal, which includes half a chicken, salt potatoes, coleslaw, dinner roll, and beverage. Takeout or outdoor seating is available. Presale tickets are $10 or $12 at the gate.

Purchase tickets on the St. Andrew's website.
Rib BBQ on August 27 at St. David's, West Seneca
St. David's, West Seneca will host a Rib BBQ Dinner Fundraiser on August 27 from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm (or until sold out) at 3951 Seneca Street, West Seneca. Take-out dinners come with a 1/4 rack of ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, and roll, for $11.
St. Michael & All Angels Chicken BBQ on September 11
St. Michael & All Angels, Buffalo will host a chicken BBQ on Saturday, September 11 from noon to 4 p.m. The meal can be dine-in or takeout and includes a half chicken with buttered spuds, coleslaw, and roll and butter. Presale tickets are $10 until August 28.

Purchase tickets on the St. Michael & All Angels website or call 716-836-0220.
Calvary Chorister Program Open House September 12
Calvary, Williamsville, an affiliate member of the Royal School of Church Music in America, is re-launching its chorister program. Students in grades 3-8 from across Western New York are welcome to join the program, regardless of previous religious affiliation or musical studies. Calvary invites prospective choristers and their families to an Open House immediately following the 10 a.m. service on September 12. 

For more information or to reserve a place at the Open House, please email Kevin Durkin, Director of Music, at, or call (716) 633-7800. 
Clergy News
Clergy Transitions
The Very Rev. Derrick Fetz, dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo, has resigned effective September 5. He and his family will return to southern Ohio, where he will serve two small congregations and work at his family's business. Read the announcement.

The Rev. Elizabeth Ivell, priest in charge of St. John's in Franklin, will conclude her ministry at that parish effective December 31. She will begin a final sabbatical on October 1 to discern her next call. Read the announcement.
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.

Reopening Guidelines Available
The partnership dioceses has released updated guidelines for reopening church buildings.

Bishop Sean writes, "COVID-19 is not yet behind us, and risk remains for our children and youth and for those with health conditions that make vaccination inadvisable. As Christians, we must err on the side of welcoming and protecting those who remain vulnerable, while at the same time celebrating the progress we have made toward regathering our communities in the ways we have hoped to do for so long."

Download full color or low ink version of the guidelines.
Stay Up-to-Date
To get updates from Bishop Sean and news about the partnership, please encourage members of your congregation to subscribe to this newsletter and follow the partnership Facebook page, Updates are also available on the partnership website.
Summer Publication Schedule
In July and August we publish a combined newsletter every other week. Watch for a final summer newsletter on August 25. Regular publication will resume on September 8 with Leadership News.

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.