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 News and Updates from the Office of the Bishop

October                                                                 No. 301
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!

To view a video presentation about this unique area, created by Weiman Meinzer, renowned photographer in the State of Texas, and the late Doug Smith, local pianist, click on the graphic above.  


As depicted in the  pectoral cross of Bishop J. Scott Mayer  (right), 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.
Convention 2017 - "I love to tell the story!"

The 59th Annual Diocesan Convention will be held October 12-14, 2017 at Church of the Heavenly Rest and the Abilene Convention Center.  The clergy and staff of Heavenly Rest have been working diligently with the Bishop's staff to provide a grand venue for this year's meeting.  One highlight of our time in Abilene will be the dinner/dance which will be held in the newly dedicated Gerhart Hall at the church.  The Heavenly Rest website has a wonderful slideshow depicting the building of this space. 
Following the lead of our Presiding Bishop who refers to himself as the Chief Evangelism Officer, our theme this year is "I love to tell the story."  We will hear from Kathy Culmer, professional storyteller, author, teacher and workshop presenter.   Mrs. Culmer has performed at the Exchange Place at the National  Storytelling Festival, Georgia State University, Duke University's Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, and the Texas Storytelling Festival.  She was the Featured Storyteller at the Network of Biblical Storytellers 2008 Festival Gathering and participated in the 2008 Biblical Storytelling Mission trip to Gambia in West Africa.  This past April Mrs. Culmer spent time in the Diocese of Fort Worth with the Presiding Bishop helping them "tell their stories."  We will be blessed by her presence and gift of storytelling!

All delegates have received a mailing with the pre-convention packet.  These documents can also be accessed here.    
We urge each congregation to lift up its clergy and delegates as they participate in this important event in the life of our diocese.
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel at the 59th Annual Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.     (BCP, p.818)



We are excited to announce that effective October 15, all safeguarding training may be done online!  

The Diocese of Northwest Texas is committed to fostering communities where people can explore their faith, exercise their ministries, and live out their vocations in safe and healthy settings. We are committed to keeping everyone safe, especially our children and youth.  In order to better accomplish this, the Executive Council has amended our Policy for Protection of Children and Youth, authorizing all training in these areas to be done either online or in person at an onsite training session. All persons - lay and clergy -  who work with children and youth and those who oversee them (including vestries), must complete the Safeguarding God's Children training. Clergy are also required to complete the Safeguarding God's People modules.

According to the Church Pension Group who oversees the Safeguarding programs, Safeguarding Online has been developed in response to the requests from Episcopal Church clergy and lay leaders for more flexible, easy-to-access, and cost-effective training.

Safeguarding Online provides training in short, focused courses that can normally be completed in 30-45 minutes per course. These courses can be taken from any location where a high-speed Internet connection is available.

The new user "self-enrollment" information will be in the packets at diocesan convention with instructions and helpful guides to help as we move to this new form of training.  All safeguarding training must be renewed every three years.  We will still offer on-sight training if it is requested. 

If you have any questions regarding Safeguarding, please contact the Bishop's office.



The Constitutions and Canons Committee has approved a revision of both the Diocesan Constitution and Canons in accordance with our Diocesan Canon 16, which stipulates "The committee is authorized to make nonsubstantive or technical changes to the Constitution and Canons in the interval between Conventions as may be needed." The changes include small grammatical, and punctuation corrections, as well as small amendments to several quotations from the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons to ensure the items are quoted properly. While the formal dates on the bottom right of both cover pages have not changed (October 2015 for the Constitution and October 2014 for the Canons), the dates within the parenthesis in the middle of the cover pages now reflects "September 2017," rather than "August 2014." The Constitution may be downloaded here and the Canons downloaded here, or they are both available on the website.   

Contact the Reverend Canon Mike Ehmer ( or by phone at  806.763.1370) should you have questions or comments about either document. There are also several more substantive changes to both documents coming before the diocesan convention this month.

Around the Diocese
St. Mary's Holds Joint Service with First Presbyterian

Fr. Edson Way; Jeri Stockton, St. Mary's  acolyte; Rev. Craig Holstedt pastor at First Presbyterian
An INCREDIBLE joint worship service between St. Mary's Episcopal Church and First Presbyterian Church in Big Spring, Texas was held on Sunday morning, August 27th.

The Rev. Craig Holstedt and the congregation of First Presbyterian Church worshipped at St. Mary's Episcopal Church for a joint liturgical service.  The idea came about when Robert Miller, member and Senior Warden for St. Mary's, discussed the possibility with Rev. Holstedt in a casual conversation.  Isn't that how most good ideas are generated? Choir members of both churches participated and Fr. Edson Way, a retired priest in the Episcopal church, led the service giving helpful direction to those who were attending an Episcopal church for the first time. The well-coordinated effort was enthusiastically received by all participants who also enjoyed a feast of fellowship afterwards. Keep tuned for the next integrated effort between the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians. All are welcome. Who knows where this will lead!

Clergy Positions  In Northwest Texas

There are currently two clergy positions available in the diocese.


Rector - Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin - Big Spring, TX.  (Parish Portfolio)


Rector - St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church -Midland, TX. (nearing completion of their portfolio)


For more information, click the links, which will take you to the parish's websites. 


If you would like to submit a name for consideration for either position, please contact Canon Mike Ehmer, Diocesan Transition Minister, at


 Youth News
"Fall Retreat" is Coming! 
      by Renee Haney, Youth Coordinator

What happens when you get middle school and high school youth from around the diocese together for the Fall Retreat weekend?, bible learning, great food, ministry to serve others, some sleep, worship, renewed friendships and making new friends...that is what happens!  And we will end the weekend with a Halloween Costume Party.

Fall Retreat 2017 will be held at St. Paul's in Lubbock, for youth in 6th-12th  grades, on Friday, October 27-Sunday, October 29.   The cost for the weekend is $60.00. There are partial scholarships available as we do not want financial hardship to prevent youth from attending.  The registration documents can be found here.  

Make plans for your youth to attend the retreat "Beneath Our Masks" as we search to find ways to be who we are meant to be, be true to ourself AND true to who God calls us to be. 

Stay tuned for more information on the retreat scheduled for grades 2nd-5th November 17-19 at St. Christopher's, Lubbock!!

If you have any questions, please contact Renee Haney, Diocesan Youth Coordinator, at 806-445-3667 or

From the Wider Church

A Reflection from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: It may be that we cannot solve everything, and we cannot do everything. But we can do something, no matter what.

September 12, 2017

"It may be that we cannot solve everything, and we cannot do everything. But we can do something, no matter what." 

Whether it is the pain of the events of August 12 in Charlottesville, or Hurricane Harvey, or Hurricane Irma, or wildfires in the West, or an earthquake in Mexico, there's been a lot of pain, a lot of suffering and hardship. In times like these, it's easy to grow weary. It's easy to be tired.  And it's easy to be downcast, and to give up. What can I do? 

Click here to read or watch Bishop Curry's reflection.  


We stand with the Dreamers
Episcopal News Service
September 13, 2017

Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and President of the  House of Deputies   the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have issued a statement concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):    "Today our hearts are with those known as the Dreamers -- those young women and men who were brought to this country as children, who were raised here and whose primary cultural and country identity is American."                                      

The full statement continues  here   .

Bishops Take Case to Times
The Living Church
September 21, 2017
Speaking through a full-page advertisement in The New York Times, more than 100 bishops have pleaded for the preservation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

"As bishops of the Episcopal Church we implore you not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA," says the ad, supported by 125 active and retired bishops [including Bishop Scott Mayer]. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his two living predecessors are among the ad's supporters. "To do so would endanger the lives of thousands of young people and their families and run contrary to the faith and moral traditions of our country."

The letter continues:   It is unfair to threaten the well-being of young people who arrived in our country as children through no choice of their own. Ending DACA without a similar replacement program will force these young people to face the future in this country with little access to education and employment, and ultimately, could very well lead to sending them to countries where they did not grow up, have few support structures, may not even speak the language and may be vulnerable to violence and persecution.   Any of these scenarios, we believe, is cruel.

The full text of the letter can be read here


A Word to the Church
from the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops
[September 26, 2017] 

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska (Diocese of Alaska) approved and presented the following Word to the Church.

The bishops of The Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness. We came because:

* "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers" (Psalm 24:1-2). God is the Lord of all the earth and of all people; we are one family, the family of God.

* "You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are ... members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). The residents of interior Alaska whom we met are not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.

* People have "become hard of hearing, and shut their eyes so that they won't see with their eyes or hear with their ears or understand with their minds, and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them" (Matthew 13:14-15). We are blind and deaf to the groaning of the earth and its peoples; we are learning the art of prayerful listening.  

Click here to read the remainder of the letter.

Click here for a short video clip at the end of a festive potlatch dinner held for the Bishops in Nenana, AK.

A little St. Francis day humor...

The Episcopal Church Foundation's Vital Practices publication has issued its latest version of the Vestry Papers, which has themed articles relating to congregational vitality.
In the latest issue, read articles titled "10 Common Mistakes in Fundraising for Congregations" and "Benedictine Spirituality." These are thought-provoking and helpful pieces for every congregation. 
Prayer Resources
The Daily Office can be read here or listened to here.
Forward Day By Day offers a daily meditation.  It can be accessed here.

Upcoming Events

12         Standing Committee, CHR, noon    
12-14    Diocesan Convention - Abilene, TX
16         Hulsey Episcopal Center closed
20-22    School of Ordained Ministry, St. Andrew's, Amarillo
22         Visitation, St. Stephen's, Lubbock
25         Visitation, Good Shepherd, San Angelo
27-29    Fall Youth Event for grades 6th - 12th, St. Paul's, Lubbock
29         Visitation, Holy Trinity, Midland
31         Enriching Your Retirement Event (retired clergy), Emmanuel, San Angelo

2          Enriching Your Retirement Event (retired clergy), St. Stephen's, Lubbock
10-11   Diocese of Fort Worth Convention
10-12   School of Ordained Ministry, St. Paul's, Lubbock
17-19   Primary (2nd-5th grade) Youth Retreat, St. Christopher's, Lubbock
19        Visitation, St. Mary's, Big Spring
23-24   Hulsey Episcopal Center closed for Thanksgiving
30        Trustees meeting, Hulsey Episcopal Center
(Dates in purple italics indicate the Bishop's attendance)
Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas  | 806.763.1370 | 
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Elizabeth Thames
Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas
(806) 763-1370