February 26, 2015
In This Issue
A Message from Bishop Sean
photo credit:  Heather Prather

Welcome to the first issue of the new diocesan monthly e-newsletter. Every month, near the end of the month, we will be publishing an e-newsletter like this one, posting its content on the website and linking to it on Facebook and in our Twitter stream.


The e-newsletter will contain diocesan news, feature stories and reflections about life in our diocese, information about upcoming events and a link to Bill Lewellis' NewSpin blog which will continue to bring readers an eclectic sampling of religious news from around the world.


In addition to this general e-newsletter we will also publish a separate e-newsletter in the middle of each month consisting primarily of information that clergy, lay leaders and church staff need to do their work. This isn't to say that you aren't all invited to sign up for it, just that you might not find the information interesting.


Keeping you informed about the exciting work being done in our parishes and the activities diocesan leaders are taking on the diocese's behalf are among my top priorities. These regular e-newsletters are a significant step in that direction. The diocese is also re-energizing its presence on social media, so please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Work is underway on a new website, and I will have word on its progress soon.


Since becoming bishop provisional on March 1, I've had an opportunity to meet many of you individually, to visit your parishes and to confer with key clergy and lay leaders. At the same time, many of you have taken the opportunity to participate in the powerful Listening Process initiated by the Standing Committee before my election, and you can find a link to that report elsewhere in this newsletter. Together, I think we have begun to identify a path forward for the Diocese of Bethlehem. The work we have done to date is foundational, not flashy. But I believe we have made a good start.


Our efforts together include:

  • forming committees of Diocesan Council that will allow the council to fulfill its mandate to develop and assist in funding and implementation of a diocesan mission strategy. During the spring, the council will focus on creating a budget proposal that supports our mission strategy
  • acquiring new ACS accounting software that will allow us to have at all times an up-to-date understanding of diocesan finances
  • working with the diocesan trustees to improve the diocesan investment trust, and making it easier for congregations to gain access to their funds
  • updating diocesan policies regarding property alienation and property leasing
  • exploring governance, constitutions and canons with an eye toward a clearer and more flexible structure that is both responsive and relevant.

The Standing Committee and I have also, earlier this week, completed a mutual ministry review on the first anniversary of my time with you as a way to emphasize our continued need for mutual accountability in our leadership.


Times of transition are seldom comfortable, even when we can see them coming. But I believe we have reached a turning point, and that in future months this newsletter will have even more to tell you about the inspiring work being done by the people of this diocese and opportunities to join the diocesan council in the development of a mission strategy for the diocese. In the meantime, I invite you to read Archdeacon Rick Cluett's story about his recent visit to our companion diocese in Kajo Keji, the Rev. Twila Smith's essay about the work the Church of the Mediator in Allentown is doing to connect with its community during the holy season of Lent and the rest of the news an announcements from around our diocese.



Listening Report Released

Last spring, the diocese asked the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Johnson of the Episcopal Moment consulting firm to conduct a "listening process" as the 17-year episcopacy of Bishop Paul Marshall came to an end. In a letter to the diocese in July, the Standing Committee described the process as an opportunity for people "to share their stories, ideas and concerns so that together the clergy and laity of the diocese can shape a hopeful future in which all are empowered to participate in God's mission."


As part of the process, Johnson conducted some 50 individual interviews either in person or on the telephone, including conversations with every member of the Standing Committee and the diocesan staff. He also facilitated 12 group conversations that were attended by some 75 people at locations throughout the diocese.


His report, which was reviewed by Bishop Sean Rowe and the Standing Committee at their regular monthly meeting on February 24, is now posted on the website.


Read the listening report.

A Letter from the Audit Committee

February 20, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers:


We are writing to provide you with an update on the status of the overdue audits for 2011, 2012, and 2013, embarked upon last February, which must be still be completed.  In December, when we wrote to distribute to you the completed 2010 audit letters and reports, we informed you the work on the 2011 audit had already begun. At that time we also noted that by February the accounting functions were to be consolidated from four different general ledgers in two different outdated accounting packages into one ACS software package, the state-of the-art and integrated accounting system for churches, thereby allowing for greater accuracy, resulting in fewer misstatements, and making better use of staff time. We stated priority would be given to getting this system up and running so that all of 2015 accounting can be done on ACS.

Twila Smith: Standing on Holy Ground at Church of the Mediator
Last November, a member of our new neighborhood choir, a soft-spoken girl of about nine, stood next to me as we looked at the small altar of remembrance in the entry of Church of the Mediator in Allentown, where I am the missioner. Parishioners had been invited to place photos of loved ones on the altar, or write names on simple Kraft-paper hearts, as a way of remembering the dead in the month of All Saints and All Souls.


My young companion pointed to a small heart, with a name written on each half. "That's my uncle and my grandpa," she said. Then she looked up and asked if it was okay that her mother had written their names on the heart. I assured her it was more than okay, and we lit a battery-operated votive by the heart, as we talked about remembering those we love but see no longer. She smiled and nodded when I told her we were praying for all those whose names and pictures were on the altar, and for their families who miss them.


There, on an otherwise ordinary Saturday afternoon, as people walked past us putting on coats and gathering belongings, our little neighbor gently touched the other hearts, and I knew we were standing on holy ground.


Rick Cluett: A Return to Kajo Keji
Bishops Anthony Poggo and Manasseh Dawidi with Archdeacon Rick Cluett
In January of this year, I travelled back to the Diocese of Kajo Keji with New Hope Chair, Charlie Barebo, and with Canon Dennis Blauser from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. But I did not return to the Kajo Keji I had known. There had been a miracle in the meantime. Let me explain.

In 2001, Bishop Paul Marshall sent a team to Kajo Keji to learn about the diocese, the church, and the life and faith of the people. He and the bishop of Kajo Keji, Manasseh Dawidi, were exploring with the World Mission Committee the possibility of entering a partner relationship between our two dioceses.

A team of four people was put together for this exploratory visit. The team included Professor Randall Fegley, an experienced Sudan scholar, Jack Moulton, an agriculturist experienced in working with African farmers, the Rev. Elizabeth Moulton a parish priest, and me, the archdeacon representing our bishop.

Read more
The Diocese of Bethlehem in the News
Bishops support ban on anti-gay bias
Bishop Sean Rowe drafted a letter signed by bishops from every diocese in Pennsylvania urging state legislators to pass a bill extending anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Read the story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Op-ed: Use Lent to become 'fully alive'
The bishop wrote an Ash Wednesday op-ed that was published in the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader.
News of the Diocese
Gifts for Ministry Diocesan Training Day, March 14
On March 14, please join us for the annual diocese ministry training day at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. The day includes workshops that support parish leadership and opportunities to connect with fellow leaders from across the Diocese of Bethlehem. 

Workshops will include:
  • Ministry of the Lay Eucharistic Visitor
  • Wardens/Vestry 101
  • The Narrative Budget: Communicating Your Case for Mission
  • Vulnerable Adults in Our Community
  • Developing Stewardship Teams & Year-round Stewardship
  • Parish Finance Workshop
  • Spiritual Gifts: Ministry for the Entire Congregation
  • Youth Ministry Basics

Parochial Report Deadline is March 1
Treasurer Charlie Barebo writes:  

" In 2015 we will be moving back to the participative budget development format successfully used by our diocese in the past. This year, we ask your help in getting the reports submitted by the deadline specified in the Episcopal Church canons which is March 1. In this way, we begin the process of returning to a transparent and inclusive manner of budget development that is in accordance with the Church Manual of Business Practice. Your support is invaluable. Please help us by submitting your Parochial Report on time."

Email  Charlie Barebo with questions. 
Upcoming Diocesan Events
Regional Confirmations

Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 4 pm, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem 

Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 4 pm, St. Gabriel's, Douglassville 

Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 5 pm, St. Luke's, Scranton 

Diocesan Ministry Training Day

Date: March 14, 2015

Time: 8:30 am - 3:15 pm

Location:  St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral
35 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
Cost:  $20
Contact:  The Rev. Canon Anne Kitch
Notes:  More Information & Registration Registration deadline is March 4.

Chrism Mass

Date: March 19, 2015

Time: 11:00 am

Location: Cathedral Church of the Nativity

321 Wyandotte Street

Bethlehem, PA 18015

Clergy:  By March 12, please tell Archdeacon Rick Cluett how many people from your parish will stay for lunch. 

Christophany: Youth Retreat for 6th - 12th Graders

Date: April 24 - 26, 2015

Location: Bear Creek Camp

3601 Bear Creek Boulevard

Bear Creek Village, PA 18702

(Near Wilkes-Barre)


ContactChristine Martocchio

Diocesan Stewardship and Evangelism Conference

Date: May 30, 2015

Time: 8:30 am to 3:00 pm

Location: St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral

35 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
Speaker Charles K. Robertson
Cost : TBD

Contact Dan Charney

Mission Trip for 9th - 12th Graders

Date: June 28 - July 5, 2015

Location: Grace Mountain House

5100 Pewter Drive
St. Paul, VA 24283
Cost TBD

Contact The Rev. Doug Moyer

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