Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for walking with me on this beautiful journey. A few important notes:
- We are seeking your input for items to integrate into the Resource Guide (we are compiling a guide in response to the Dean’s request in April).
- The staff is joining as a community to read Morning Prayer on Monday and Friday and the most Holy Eucharist on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
- Each day we are working at faithfully embodying a servant ministry. We are called to serve the needs of the clergy and laity of the diocese with clarity, transparency, and faithfulness.
The first “full” day of pilgrimage began with visits to Wissahickon Deanery. I was joined on the ride with The Very Rev. Jarrett Kerbel. I was grateful for his historical knowledge, enthusiasm and engaging conversation. I was also pleased that he could navigate and laugh simultaneously. Thank you, Fr. Jarrett. It is interesting in that four out of the five parishes I visited are actively engaged in the search process for a new priest. We seek the best and brightest Priests and Deacons - we invite you to “come and see” the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Our first visit was to St. Luke’s in Germantown. I had the opportunity to tour St. Luke’s during the discernment meetings. At that time, everything was a blur. On this visit, I enjoyed the fullness of St. Luke’s. If one would seek a classic representation of an Episcopal Church, St. Luke's would fit the bill. From the pulpit to the altar, the railing to the detailed carvings, each corner presents the opportunity for reflection.
St. Luke's is the national shrine for St. Nicholas. A pilgrimage site located in our diocese.
During our time together, we sat in a circle, and I listened. The representatives spoke of hope: for the search process, transition, and the future of the parish. There was a sense of abundance. St. Luke’s has an extensive historical facility (a former convent existed on the grounds). The facility is not seen as a burden; it provides various opportunity ministerial opportunities. Questions were asked by those present how to repurpose the property. The diocesan staff will work with the congregation on creativity and the next steps. St. Luke’s holds the work of their forebears close while seeking to break new ministerial frontiers. St. Luke's seeks a dynamic and creative Priest to lead them into the future. While on the tour, I was taken by a Bishop’s pectoral cross placed on the altar. The docents informed that years ago it was made from jewelry donated from rings, precious stones and necklaces of the women of the congregation.
As I was leaving, I was told the children from the summer program wanted to “meet the Bishop.” Fist bumps were abundant. My reality check was that they were less interested in meeting the Bishop than the large stack of cookies on the adjacent table.
Please visit St. Luke’s http://www.stlukesger.org
Next stop was Christ Church and St. Michael's
It was during the listening session that we had a deep and serious conversation regarding their future and their desire for growth. I always hold the belief that we should speak to one another with honesty, kindness and transparency. I noticed something was weighing on their minds. I encouraged them to lay everything on the table. I am grateful for their honesty. They opened their hearts and expressed displeasure of their past interactions with the Diocese. Furthermore, they stated they are hesitant to work with the Diocese. These faithful sojourners felt that in the past, the motive of the Diocese was to close the facility and sell the property. I asked them to help me change the narrative.
I shared the hope for a new relationship; one based out of Christian unity and trust. With Christ and St. Mary's Church and every church in the Diocese, we will be servants. As Bishop and as a Diocesan Staff, we will do everything in our power to support, sustain, empower and equip our congregations. I do not give up on churches or people. We will walk hand in hand and find solutions. The Diocesan staff will support you. Let’s be creative and not engage in business as usual. They did attempt to feed me numerous hoagies! While filling, I will gain weight if I eat hoagies on the pilgrimage Please visit their website at http://www.christchurchandsaintmichaels.org
I accompanied Fr. Ryan Whitely (the Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese) for a tour of the new Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We were warmly welcomed and given an extensive tour of this Temple. I am grateful for the kindness of Elder Milan Kunz and his wife, Leslie. I look forward to working with them in the future. I also had the opportunity to spend time with Bishop Claire Burkat and our companions from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Church of the Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square is a church I have been yearning to visit. Each morning I drive by the church and during the pilgrimage was finally afforded the opportunity to step into the nave. Many of you know the history of the church. The former Rector and Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rev. Phillips Brook, wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem” while at Trinity. Holy Trinity is a place of unlimited potential. I believe the history, architecture, liturgy and vision will lead to positive and sustained growth.
The staff and laity are creative in using office space for the children’s ministry, and are intentional in reaching out to the thousands of people who walk in the square daily. I missed the noonday concert by 15 minutes, but had the opportunity to visit with Rev. Mark Smith and Amy Barley, Communications Manager. The church is in the process of discerning and interviewing candidates as their next Rector. I would encourage you to visit the website and read the parish profile. In many ways, you learn about a church from its parish profile. This is a great call. I can only see great things ahead for this church on the square. http://htrit.org
St. Luke's and the Epiphany
Fr. Rodger, and I spent time in the garden of his rectory discussing the possibilities of outreach and growth. St. Luke’s and the Epiphany is engaging the community in creative ways. They are intentional in neighborhood outreach and meeting people where they are on their Christian journey. Fr. Rodger is centered, and blessed with a love of Christ .
Old Swedes Gloria Dei
The evening culminated with a pilgrimage stop at Old Swedes Gloria Dei. Gloria Dei is a historical treasure, and, as you may know, I am a history fanatic. This is a place where you need to visit and listen to the stories that are told within the walls. It is an essential part of who we are as a Diocese. I was greeted with by a dedicated group of smiling church members who were eager to tell of Old Swedes. Smiles were abundant. They understand their past, yet are also hopeful for the future.
The parish is in the first steps of self-evaluation and preparation of a church profile. They are currently evaluating mission, ministry, and outreach into the greater community. They are intentional in telling the history while developing a new storyline (for the life of the church). I asked each of my friends to tell me why they attend Old Swedes. Each person had a different story. Some, had been baptized, married and worshiped at the Church; it was their home. Others, because they were accepted for who they are. Another spoke of the sense of community and belonging. In short, it is a story of our story as a people of faith. I was also pleased to meet a vestry member who at the age of 26, wanted to make a difference in her church.
St. Mary's and Cathedral Village
My pilgrimage visit to St. Mary’s and Cathedral was moving. I had the opportunity to visit with the residents of Cathedral Village. We shared lunch together, and we prayed together. I had the chance to sit with two retired Priests - The Rev. Charles Carter and Rev. Dr. Daniel Stevick. In those few moments holding their hands and praying with them, I felt the sacred body of Christ. I want to recognize the ministry of Fr. Tim Steeves at St. Mary’s and Cathedral Village. The residents responded when he entered the room. I also gained new friends in Helen and Steve Zartarian. Steve is the Senior Warden at St. Mary’s and Helen serves on Diocesan Council.
St. Mary’s is a truly unique church. It was to be the Cathedral of the Diocese. Construction commenced in the late 1920’s as the great depression hit. As expected, construction stopped, and all that is left is this soaring testament to a dream. You sense the imagination of the visionaries, and now the beauty is found in the reality of the sanctuary. In many ways, it represents our faith tradition. Soaring tradition and a new vision of ministry out into the world. There are many treasures: a stone from Lincoln Cathedral, a statue of St. Hugh, and chapel to St. Michael.
I would encourage the clergy of the diocese to stop and visit our brothers and sisters in retirement communities. Maybe even drop them a note or call on the phone. It is important that we never forget one another.
Standing Committee Retreat.
Saturday we were blessed with a productive and engaging Standing Committee retreat. We had an honest conversation regarding race and privilege in a safe, non-threatening way. We also had deep conversations on hope, abundance, growth, and a new way of modeling healthy behaviors. During the retreat, we became fellow sojourners on this sacred road.
I would like to thank the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli for opening their doors to our retreat. Gratitude to Jeff Moretzsohn and Mac McCausland.
The Church of the Advocate.
Sunday concluded with Holy Eucharist at The Church of the Advocate. I simply had fun. The Advocate is a faith community that I want to engage and spend quality time on the church grounds. It is a life-giving place doing quality ministry in the inner city. Everyone was welcome, the music was open, the liturgy flowing and the church belongs to the surrounding community. We need to be intentional as a diocese in preserving our heritage while addressing the needs of the Kingdom. You will be hearing more about the Advocate. Did you know it serves as the campus ministry to Temple University?
Finally some closing pilgrimage notes:
First, I ask we keep Deacon Nellie Green in our prayers. She was ordained in 1993, and died in hospice on Friday.
Second, Bishop Marianne Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington stopped in on her way to visit her mother. She is open, creative and inspiring. We laughed, and we will soon become fast friends. I am encouraged by the welcoming spirit of my brothers and sisters in the House of Bishops.
Finally, please, welcome Canon Shawn Wamsley. He will be joining Diocesan Staff as Canon to the Ordinary for Evangelism, Administration, Resources and Initiatives. He is a faithful servant, a gifted preacher, and has a heart as big as the Diocese. Let us rejoice with his wife Miriam, and their three children.
As a diocesan staff, we are diligently striving to improve communication and turn the pyramid on its head. We are here to serve you.
Thank you once again for allowing me to serve as your Bishop. You bless me. All things are possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus is on the move in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Come and See!