Making Church

Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. IMG_0014After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.

 

 

IMG_0034

 

 

St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.

Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.

Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.

Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.

-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.

-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?

For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?

-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”

-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”

This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133

stjohnsoutside

Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez

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Making Church

Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. IMG_0014After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.

 

 

IMG_0034

 

 

St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.

Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.

Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.

Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.

-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.

-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?

For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?

-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”

-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”

This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133

stjohnsoutside

Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez

Making Church

Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. IMG_0014After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.

 

 

IMG_0034

 

 

St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.

Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.

Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.

Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.

-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.

-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?

For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?

-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”

-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”

This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133

stjohnsoutside

Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez

Making Church

Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. IMG_0014After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.

 

 

IMG_0034

 

 

St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.

Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.

Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.

Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.

-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.

-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?

For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?

-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”

-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”

This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133

stjohnsoutside

Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez

Making Church

Some years ago while teaching confirmation class, I asked the students to name parts of the church. Predictably, they said things like altar, pew, cross, and organ. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong, I said. IMG_0014After a bit, they caught on and began naming church members, including themselves. People, a community, make a church.

 

 

IMG_0034

 

 

St.Johns church building is a magnificent structure. It hasn’t changed much in the last two hundred years. It hasn’t changed at all in the last one hundred. But inside, in the living part, where the people are, it has changed indeed. Like all living things it has been transformed, and it will continue to be transformed.

Bishop Gutierrez would not allow the transformation to end. He insisted that people should be worshipping in that space, and in the last year, a small group began to come together, first monthly, and then weekly to say Noonday Prayers together.

Father Andy Kline would come and stand inside the glorious but empty structure and his part in the transformation began. As the new Vicar, his first act was to call together our bishop and local clergy and friends to hold up a symbol of transformation. Twenty-five people, led by our Bishop Gutierrez, processed, sang, blessed and prayed in every corner of St.John’s building and grounds. Holy transformation.Holy presence.

Can St.John’s be transformed into a vibrant worshipping community? How will the Holy Spirit lead us? Who will the Holy Spirit call? I don’t know, but it is happening around me.Here are two transforming examples, just from the past week.

-The Reverend G. Warren Weleck wrote to tell us that his church, Augustus Lutheran, is making a significant (really, really generous) contribution toward our discretionary fund and to support the lunch program. A group of good folks from Augustus Lutheran has for some time participated in the luncheon program where on many days we have been serving one hundred sixty folks.

-The Bishop has decided that St.John’s will begin regular Sunday worship on September 24th. Father Andy will be prepared to share the Eucharist and a sermon. The candles will be lit and the doors will be open. But who will join us? Who will perform all of those duties that go on every Sunday at every church? Who will greet and usher? Who will lead the prayers and read the scriptures? Who will make the coffee?

For that first day, Fr. Frank Allen has pledged that some good folks from St.David’s in Radnor will see that all of those things are attended to. Furthermore, Fr. Allen says that they will continue to walk alongside us in this way until we can walk alone. Of course, St. David’s cannot do this every Sunday, so who will?

-Rob White, a fine man, churchmen, and a member of St.David’s has felt called to step into the challenging role of reaching out to other parishes join us when they can to participate in the same way. He will take care of all of these details every week until he “works himself out of a job.”

-Fr. Koshy Mathews, the Dean of the Valley Forge Deanery has encouraged every church and every church member to know that “We all have a big stake In the success of this mission.”

This is an awful lot of love and transformation in one week, dontcha think? Can we all consider how we can support St. John’s with our own gifts, for a day, or a season? I know that I am being changed, willingly walking into an unknown personal transformation, being guided and lifted up the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

Psalm 133

stjohnsoutside

Photo courtesy of Bp.Daniel Gutierrez

 

On being a radical

For some of us sixties folks being radical was a badge to wear. It meant being anti-establishment, which evolved into being anti anything from the previous generation. Mind you, there was some good to it, but it wasn’t all good.

For many, including myself, it meant opposing a war that we had no stake in. If if the outcome was of no interest to you, why would you risk your life for it? The radical movement also tried to shine a light on other things, which contributed to cleaner air and water. The radical movement also needs to take responsibility for helping to create the drug culture that is crippling families and killing children today. There you have a brief description of the good and bad of the radicalism born in the 1960’s.

Widening the topic from hippiedom, we can consider radicals throughout history. Martin Luther, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. Those are the famous ones, the radicals that encouraged us all to change, to do better and be better.

Mother Teresa is another radical worthy of our admiration. Alongside her sacrifice and hard work, she was wise. Wise enough to teach this to me.

We cannot do great things. We can only do little things with great love.”

I like that, it encourages me. As much as I would like to do great things, I can accept that little things offered with love are a meaningful sacrifice to my savior and to those in need. I can apply that. I can apply Jesus reminder that we serve him by serving others, and we serve the least of these by falling to our knees in service to those who the world says are beneath us.

The Good Samaritan Shelter allows me to serve in that way. It allows me, and many others, to let that old radical heart come out and believe that a difference can be made and I can be a tiny part of it. To give up a few bucks to share with others that I would have otherwise used to treat myself to a bauble. To tell my friends that I can’t golf on Saturday because I am fixing faucets at a shelter.

They are not great things, but they are loving things. Good Samaritan Shelter gets its life from these small things, given by many.

Just as Jesus was a radical for washing feet and hanging out with sinners, I dream of radicalizing the world with the loving act of giving ourselves away to others, without judgment or pretense. Just doing small things with love and from a place of gratitude. Poverty can only exist if we allow it; judgment is the wall, love is the door. Love shouldn’t seem so radical.

Never a Deacon…never a Deacon.

We often hear this statement from Priests. “Once a Deacon, always a Deacon.”

I suggest that it is time that we politely, or impolitely if necessary, call this what it is. Bunk. A mistake. A mistake that needs to be corrected. Why? Here are my views, and my questions for my Priestly friends.

  • Did you ever really consider yourself a Deacon? In all that time of discernment and process, did you actually say, “I want to be a Deacon for a while, maybe six months or so, and then be a Priest….but after that I want to remain a Deacon.” Did you ever even for a moment think in that way?
  • Do you work as a Deacon or work as a Priest? It’s a simple question.
  • Do you recognize Deacons as a full and equal order, or some sort of stop along the way to your true call to ordination as a Priest?

It seems to me that if we got a room full of reasonable Priests and Bishops together to ask if their really is a point to this double-ordination, two-steps to a Priest idea, that they would soon conclude something that sounds like…”It’s always been that way”, Actually, it hasn’t. Skim over Acts 6, and study Church history for the first three hundred years or so.

Here is a question…what is a Transitional Deacon? Here is my answer. It’s really not a Deacon of any kind. Following ordination to this shaky title, are you working as a Deacon, or as a soon to be Priest? Also, do you think of yourself as “only a deacon,” for those few months? Betcha don’t

Speaking of transition. When people are in transition, we are generally transitioning toward something, not from something. If you have to use the transitional title at all ( and I don’t see why you do) then call them Transitional Priests. Now here is an interesting point that I learned about very recently from Deacon Susanne WatsonEpting., From 1972 through 2003, this issue was raised at every General Convention. Obviously, it was not supported by the Bishops, and since then there has been only silence on the topic. Her further comment was that if this transition was important, then it should be lengthened from six months to five years! Perhaps such a proposal would shine a little light on the subject.

So then, how did this tradition begin? I’m guessing that there is a simple explanation. It’s a trial period. A time when somebody gets to see if this is someone that we want to set loose on the church. Perhaps that time is necessary, it is at least arguable. But if that is what it’s all about then get it out there. Call them Priests-In-Training, or J. V. Priests or Junior Priests or Maybe Priests; call them anything close to what they really are, and stop calling them what they are not and never intended themselves to be. And if God Almighty has set it on their hearts to be Priests, then they know it, and the Church should recognize it.

It’s not a matter of degrees. We never say, “Sorry, youre not Priest material, but you seem like a nice person so we’ll let you be a Deacon.” Anyone that would offer that doesn’t understand the Order of Deacons and anyone that would accept is….ummmm….unclear about their call.

Why is this important? To those called to the Diaconate, there is no such thing as a Transitional Deacon or a Vocational Deacon. It’s just Deacon. By adding this Transitional Deacon phase to the journey toward Priesthood adds to the confusion of just exactly what a Deacon does in the world.

As an order that has found itself too often validated by the whim of a Bishop, we find it critical and necessary to speak prophetically on this issue. A more full understanding herein can help to identify the differing roles of all four segments of ministry and ministers; Lay, Bishop, Priest and Deacon.

So, to those who say “Once a Deacon, always a Deacon,” we ask you to consider if you are truly living into Diaconal work, or carrying out the baptismal promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.”

If you are a Bishop or Priest or preparing for Priesthood, and think that this is just a trifling matter and not worthy of discussion, then I suggest you let us have our way, It is important to us, it is not a trifle. We are a full and equal order.