December 2011
The Newsletter
The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Northwest Texas     
No. 234


 Panhandle Sunset


 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! 
Appearing This Month...
Advent Resources
Deacon Dialogue
DNWT Noteworthy News
Treasures in Retirement
Seminary of the Southwest
Sewanee Update
Episcopal Church News


 A Prayer for Advent 





Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.


We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.


We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.


We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.


We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.


We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"



Henri Nouwen  







Growing Friendships

Winter Retreat 2012

For youth in grades 3-5


January 13- 15, 2012

Quarterman Ranch, Amarillo


Click HERE to view information 

and to download forms.



Diocese Receives Thanks


 BishopDuracin Bishop Scott Mayer and the Diocese of Northwest Texas recently received a letter of thanks from the Rt. Rev. Jean Zache Duracin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti for the monetary gifts sent by our Diocese. The gifts have been designated for the rebuilding of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Haiti.

To view the letter in its entirety, please follow this link.


Ministry Quicklinks
Contact Us

Advent wreath              Advent Resources


Are you looking for a way to enrich your Advent experience, make it more meaningful through prayer and meditation, or perhaps need some ideas for worshipping with your family during this season of preparation? 
Visit our Diocesan website for a list of links to various resources and webpages.



Deacon Dialogue


Judy Cobb of St. Barnabas', Odessa, was ordained toJudyCobb the Sacred Order of Deacons on October 29, 2000, one week after her 61st birthday. She ruefully says it took a long time for her to decide what she wanted to do when she grew up. On December 21st she will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her confirmation in the Episcopal Church. She is quick to tell you that it was one of the most important and meaningful decisions of her life. Judy has been married to Vance for 45 years and they have a wonderful blended family consisting of four honorable sons, five cherished granddaughters, one rascally grandson, three equally rascally great grandsons and one precious infant great granddaughter. Their only daughter tragically died of breast cancer in 2004. Judy's gratitude for her family, her friends and her faith is immense.


In the mid to late nineties, Judy was a delegate to the first Canadian - U. S. Anglican Women's Conference held in Vancouver, B. C. Delegates were asked to bring something close to their heart to be placed on an altar during the conference. An African woman placed a container of bottled water on the altar and asked that all would pray that her country could somehow obtain clean water for all of its inhabitants. A seed was planted, but it would be more than a decade before it would bloom. In the meantime, Judy worked with dozens of abused and neglected children through the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program and as a Guardian ad Litem for children in the court system.


In 2010, the love of children and the "water seed" began to mesh and to sprout. Judy met a woman who, after making medical mercy trips to Uganda and seeing infants and children dying constantly from a lack of clean water, decided to see if she could raise money for water wells there. Judy was so inspired by what she had done (over 100 wells to date) and was continuing to do, during Advent 2010 Judy asked the people of St. B's if they would keep track of all their expenses related to Christmas - decorations, gifts, gift wrapping, special clothing, food, tree, entertainment, travel expense, etc. and tithe on that amount for the water well project. At the January 2011 Annual Parish Meeting, St. Barnabas' member Ayo Ominiyi spoke movingly about the need for clean water in African countries. As a result there was enough money raised to fund a water well! Another result was the enthusiasm and support given by Wendy and Mike Metts, who were confirmed November 6th of this year. They have consented to lead a diocesan wide effort to raise money for more wells.Water_well_Uganda We will have more detailed information about this at a later date. Bishop Mayer reminded us that the greatest single factor in mortality in both little ones and adults in third world countries is a lack of clean water. Clean water is both life enhancing and life saving. It is an area in which we can truly make a joyful difference. Just take a look at those happy faces gathered around our well!!


Judy believes each of us has a calling to "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."




 Noteworthy News from Northwest Texas 


Former St. Mark's Parishioner Joins Shipmates


Lee_SoucyLee Soucy of St. Mark's, Plainview died last year at the age of 90. Initially he and his wife planned to have their ashes interred together in Plainview, but a visit to Hawaii five years ago changed those plans. Soucy visited Pearl Harbor, where he had served during World War II. He had been assigned to the USS Utah and was present onboard the ship when Pearl Harbor was attacked. After swimming to shore he made a makeshift first aid station to help wounded soldiers and remained at that station for 2 days straight. After visiting the Memorial on its 65th anniversary he decided he wanted at least part of his ashes to remain with those who lost their lives in the attack.


A wonderful story about Lee and the interment was recently carried by the Associated Press. To read the full story about this selfless sailor, please follow THIS LINK.



 Dalhart Farmer/Rancher Receives Award


Bud_SneadDalhart farmer/rancher and member of St. James' Dalhart, Bud Snead, received the 2011 Farmer and Rancher of the Year award Wednesday, November 30, 2011 in Amarillo. According to an article in the Dalhart Texan, Bud was completely unaware that he was the recipient of the prestigious award, and was coerced into attending the award luncheon with his family who were all in on the secret.


Bud has a stocker and feeder operation as well as raising corn and wheat in the Dalhart area. He is currently Chairman of Hartley County FSA Board, is president of the Dalhart ISD School Board, has served as a Hartley County Commissioner, Bi-County Stock Show Board member and also various local and diocesan board positions.  


Congratulations, Bud!



Lubbock Student to Study in Australia 


If you have attended any of the diocesan events in recent years you may have seen an outgoing young man serving as a delegate, or carrying a banner in a processional. Brickland Easton, of St. Stephen's in Lubbock, has been active in church and diocesan events for many years. He grew up at St. Stephen's, attended All Saints Episcopal School from age 3 through 9th grade, and graduated from Lubbock High School. Brickland currently attends Texas Tech University where he is majoring in Marketing and Management with a minor in Math.


In January Brickland will do something he has always hoped to do- travel to Australia. In an "option to attend" program through Texas Tech he will be afforded the opportunity to attend Bond University in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, the country's sixth largest city and home to beautiful, world-renowned beaches. He will attend classes there until April 23, at which time he will tour some of the sights in both Australia and New Zealand. He is also looking forward to attending  an Anglican Church and hearing the liturgy with an Australian accent. We wish him luck and safe travels on his adventures!



 Becky Orem Ordained to the Diaconate


Becky Tilton Orem, of Lubbock, TX, was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons on Saturday, December 3 in a joyous service held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lubbock. The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer officiated, and long-time friend The Rev. Jo Roberts Mann of St. Andrew's, Amarillo served as preacher. Becky has been a part of the local deacon formation process in the Diocese of Northwest Texas since 2008. Clergy, parishioners and friends from the Llano Estacado Deanery and the Diocese of Northwest Texas were in attendance, as well as dear friends from outside Texas who joined Becky for the service. A reception was held afterward in Washington Hall of St. Paul's, where friends and family gathered for light refreshments and to congratulate our newest deacon.


Becky will serve at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lubbock where she is actively involved with the Thursday morning Neighbor-to-Neighbor breakfast ministry at St. Paul's, which typically serves from 50- 150 of Lubbock's disadvantaged and homeless residents. Becky and her husband, Dr. John Orem, have worked with the ministry since its inception and are there every week to serve food and visit with the guests. She is also involved with Stephen Ministry, the Pastoral Care Committee, and the preparation of confirmation candidates. Becky has also had a Therapy Dog ministry for years with her beautiful Siberian Huskies, which she personally breeds, shows, and trains. Although her basic duties will not change, Becky is excited about her new role with the Church and the opportunity to serve God in new areas of ministry.


To see more photos of the ordination service and reception, please visit the St. Paul's Facebook page by following the Facebook link: 



Ordination of Robert Pace 


RobertPaceRobert Pace, from Heavenly Rest, Abilene, was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in a service on Saturday, December 10 at Heavenly Rest. Robert is a third-year seminary student attending The Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX, and is on schedule to receive his Masters of Divinity in May of 2012. He is completing a Field Ed. assignment at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Austin, and is also serving as a Teaching Assistant for the Theology 2 class at the Seminary.


Robert is married, and has one daughter. His wife, Jill is a psychologist, and daughter Catherine is a senior at St. Andrew's School in Austin. Prior to Seminary Robert earned a PhD in History and taught History at McMurry University in Abilene. Be sure to watch future newsletters for announcements concerning a date for his graduation and ordination to the priesthood. 



treasure chest







This month we are spotlighting Deacon Frances (Fran) Bessire. She is a retired deacon, but as you will find out she is busier than ever.  We are thankful for her insight into the church and into who we are as living members of the body of Christ.  We hope you enjoy her words and her spirit.


When were you ordained?
I was ordained in 2005 at the October diocesan convention.  Deacon Dana Wilson's ministry and persona strongly influenced my decision to enter the discernment process.  I began the process of discernment under Fr. Mark Cannaday while attending Holy Trinity, Midland. I came to Lubbock in the fall of 2005 to enter the resident chaplain's program at Covenant Hospital. During that two year residency, I was assigned to St. Stephen's in Lubbock as deacon working under Mother Margaret Austin.  While serving as deacon at St. Stephen's, I resumed my teaching career at Frenship Middle School after completing the two year resident chaplain's program.  Following a brief sabbatical, I joined the staff at St. Paul's-on-the-Plains serving under Fr. Jim Haney.  During the last three years I have participated in a three year spiritual formation program for spiritual directors with the Mission Sisters of St. Francis Convent.  Most of a deacon's work is outside of the church and in the world.  Since my retirement, I have continued to serve as a deacon in many unofficial capacities.  


What hope do you have for the future of the church?
I see the hope of the church through the incarnational spirit of Christ.  I believe I am seeing it happen now in various ways.  As we are willing to let our boundaries blur and accept ourselves as well as others for who or where we are, we are able to love more in the spirit of Christ.  It is a journey to get to this liminal space.  It does not happen with one event in the Christian journey.  It is progressive and is faith-oriented, not success-oriented.  Seeing ourselves as whole and complete through the incarnation of the Christ spirit involves our own self-acceptance.  That is the starting point for inclusion and acceptance of others.  I see Christ praying through people.  They become the answer to his prayer for all humanity.  The idea of Christ incarnate is the hope of the church.   
What would you tell yourself as a young deacon?
As they say, hind sight is 20/20.  I would tell myself that the outward doing and performance are totally related to the inner life I lead.  Stay mindful of doing the inner work.  Spend time in contemplative prayer.  Seek oneness with His will through discernment and surrender.  And don't analyze to criticize or "paralyze" yourself.  Just keep moving with the power and direction of the Spirit.  Trust God that he is doing his work in and through you.
What do you enjoy most about retirement?
Being available to be mother and grandmother is a priority I enjoy and welcome.  I like being spontaneous without checking my calendar.  I have new twin grandsons that were born premature and have been in NICU for 8 weeks.  I have been maintaining home-away-from-home for my son and his wife.  Seeing the babies each day, helping with their baths, and holding and feeding them has been a gift to me.  Many of you have prayed us through some scary times before and after the births.  We are so grateful for the support and concern we have felt.


We are thankful Fran took some time to answer these questions for us.  Our prayers go out to her and her family, and we hope this Christmas will be very special as they hopefully bring the twins home.






The Church's New Year has begun, and soon the secular New Year will begin.  As you consider your "resolutions," the Committee for the Outreach Camps would offer some suggestions about how to help the children we serve.  We appreciate your generous financial help!  Here are some additional ideas for being a part of this ministry: 

   *Put our children on your prayer list throughout the year.

   *Give a monetary gift to the Outreach Camps in honor of/ in memory of someone this holiday season.

    *If you shop after-Christmas sales, look for books that could go in the gift bags we send home with the children.

   *When you begin to see beach towels go on sale in the spring, get one to give to a camper.

   *If you like to sew, consider making a special pillowcase for a camper to take home.  You could even host a "sewing bee" for your friends who might also like to supply pillowcases.  If you need more instructions about this idea, contact Carole Wolf at

   *Consider some of our other ministries such as riding the bus with the children, handing out the snacks, filling those gift bags, and being present to support the camp staff by helping with crafts and other activities. 

If you have several days or even a few hours throughout the year, and especially during the weeks of camps, please remember the children 

 Our camp dates for 2012 are:

June 11-15, June 18-22, and July 9-13.




Online School for Spirituality

and Mission

Spring  2012 Courses



The Art of Illumination:

Praying the Hours, A Liturgy of Time

Lynda Young Kaffie


Delighting in the Father and His Delights: 
Reflections on the Parable of Luke 15

Tony Carr


Fashioned for Joy:
Readings from the Celtic Christian Tradition

Mary C. Earle


Courses run February 6 - March 23, 2012
Registration is open through February 1

$170/class.  20 hours CEUs per class.


For more information or to register for the courses, please follow this link to the SSW website.

Sewanee Banner


Come & See Feb 23-26

Postulants, layleaders, and ministers considering an advanced degree are encouraged to visit The School of Theology and experience Episcopal seminary education in Sewanee. Student-organized and student-led, Come & See 2012 will introduce you to community life and theological formation in one of the most beautiful settings in the nation.

For more news and information from the School of Theology at the University of the South, please follow this LINK.



To view Theology Monthly from the School of Theology,

please click on the banner below.


Sewanee Theol Monthly




Episcopal Shield 


Gifts to Nurture and Flourish 




GFL_Catalogs Are you frustrated by the consumerism surrounding the celebration of Jesus' birth? This Christmas, honor God's gift to the world by making a lasting difference in the lives of people in need. 




Give Gifts for Life, Episcopal Relief & Development's unique gift catalog offering a variety of items that can provide entire communities with the tools needed to pull themselves out of poverty.



The Gifts for Life online store has the perfect gift for everyone
on your list:   


  • Animal lovers will rejoice in the gift of a goat to overcome poverty.
  • Give peace of mind with clean water and help keep rural communities safe from deadly illnesses.
  • A family garden provides year round food and nutrition and makes a great gift for earth-minded eco friends.
  • Kids will love helping other children around the world by feeding the Littlest Scholars. 


With each gift you purchase you'll receive a special card you can personalize and send to your friends and loved ones.    



So this Christmas, put a smile on a loved one's face while helping to make a real difference to people and communities in need with tax-deductible Gifts for Life.


Your generous gift will save lives, bringing food and assistance to those who need it most.



Upcoming Diocesan Events  

18               +San Miguel, Odessa, Visitation
22- 31          HEC Closed for Holidays   
JANUARY 2012             
1-2               HEC closed for Holidays
11               +Standing Committee, HEC, 11:00am
13- 15          Winter Gathering, Grades 3-5, Quarterman Ranch
13- 14          Deacon Formation, St. Christopher's, Lubbock
14               +Ordination of Scott Lee to the Transitional
                   Diaconate, St. Andrew's, Amarillo, 10:30am
15               +Grace, Vernon, Visitation
21               +Ordination of David Romanik to the Priesthood,
                   Heavenly Rest, Abilene, 10:30am
(Items in purple with a + indicate Bishop Mayer's attendance.)


Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts, to direct and rule us according to your will, to comfort us in all our afflictions, to defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN 
Contact Info
Newsletter Editor- Nancy Igo