September 24, 2015
In This Issue
A Letter from Bishop Sean:  Safeguarding God's Children
September 24, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I write on a matter that will not be new to any of you, but about which I feel some urgency. We have a duty as Christian ministers to do everything in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in our congregations. To that end, every person in the Diocese of Bethlehem who works with children must receive the necessary training and certifications specified in the policies of the diocese, the canons of the church and the laws of the state. If, by some misguided chance, you regard this requirement as a box to be checked, or a bureaucratic infringement on your ministry, let me assure you that I do not.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has instituted new requirements for the clearances necessary for employees and volunteers who work with or come into contact with children. Under the new law employees and volunteers are considered mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. You were notified of these changes in June and the new state requirements are spelled out in detail on our website.

Clergy and employees must come into compliance with these requirements by December 31, 2015. Clearances need to be renewed every 60 months. Congregations are required to see original documentation and maintain records of their volunteers' and lay employees' compliance with these guidelines.

Clergy and lay people who work with children also are required to complete the Safeguarding God's Children training program offered by the Church Pension Group. Those who need to receive this training may register by following a link at the bottom of the Safe Church page on the diocesan website, where you can also find diocesan policies and a  field guide to their application.

I urge anyone who is not in compliance with diocesan policy and state law, or who supervises anyone who is not in compliance, to make immediate arrangements for the necessary training and certifications.  As ministers of the gospel, we must take every measure possible to safeguard God's children.


The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe
Bishop Provisional
Diocesan Convention: Download Materials Now
Download Materials Now
Before traveling to convention, please download these documents to your mobile device or print them for easy reference during convention:
Convention Reminders and Updates
  • On Friday, October 2, registration begins at 8 am and convention begins at 9 am. Convention concludes at noon on Saturday, October 3.
  • Convention keynoter Hugh O'Doherty will speak on Friday afternoon at 1 pm. If you wish to attend only his keynote speech, please email Jo Trepagnier to make arrangements. Learn more about O'Doherty and how he will help lay the groundwork for the Diocese of Bethlehem's mission strategy planning.
Pre-Convention Hearing Greeting
Watch Bishop Sean's greeting to the pre-convention hearings:

Remembering Bishop Dyer at the Convention Eucharist
The convention Eucharist takes place at October 2 at 5:15 pm on October 2 at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, and all are welcome to attend. Parking is available at the church and overflow parking is at the Masonic Temple. 

The service will honor the life of the Rt. Rev. Mark Dyer, bishop of Bethlehem from 1982-1995, who died in November. The offering is designated for New Bethany Ministries, an agency that creates opportunities for homeless, hungry, poor and mentally ill people in the Lehigh Valley, which Dyer helped found.

What Else is New?
Find out more about what's new at this year's diocesan convention on the website.
High School Retreat November 13-15
CONNECT, a weekend of faith stories told by youth, is a new event being designed by our youth for our youth. Sophie Kitch-Peck, grade 12, from the Cathedral of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Lauren Todero, grade 11, from St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Allentown, are leading the event, and registration opens in early October. Learn more via email from the Rev. Don Schaible.
Clergy Conference:  October 11-13
The clergy of the diocese will gather for a retreat at St. Francis Retreat House in Easton from October 11 at 4 pm until October 13 at 1 pm. 

The Rev. Dr. Fredrick W. Schmidt, Jr. will lead the retreat. Schmidt holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation and directs the Rueben P. Job Institute for Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Diocesan Investment Trust New Procedures
Deacon Charlie Barebo, diocesan treasurer, has written to update diocesan leaders on new Diocesan Investment Trust procedures. "The Trustees are working hard to make our DIT the most user friendly product responsibly conceivable," writes Barebo. "We have seen turn-around time on withdrawal requests cut to a few days, deposits made directly to the custodian, and we have streamlined the process to establish new trust accounts."

Read the entire letter, and review new withdrawal, deposit, and new account procedures on the website. Questions? Email Barebo or call him at 610-509-8767.
Regional Confirmations
Regional confirmations will take place on October 17, March 26 (Easter Vigil), and May 1. Find details and locations on the website.
United Thank Offering
The United Thank Offering (UTO) is both a way of nurturing the habit of giving daily thanks and a means of funding outreach grants that support the mission of the church. Many parishes in the Diocese of Bethlehem have UTO coordinators who help with planning twice-yearly ingatherings. If you would like help identifying a UTO coordinator in your congregation or would like more information about the United Thanks Offering please email Cathy Bailey, diocesan UTO coordinator.
People of Bethlehem
The Rev. Twila Smith has accepted the call to be priest-in-charge of Grace Church in Allentown. She will begin her duties there on October 1 and continue her work as missioner for Church of the Mediator in Allentown as the two congregations begin a networked relationship for urban ministry and mission in greater Allentown. 

The Rev. David Zw
ifka of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has begun his ministry as interim rector for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Lebanon. He was most recently rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lewistown, PA.

Resources and Reminders
John Dominic Crossan at Drew University on October 29
Crossan, professor emeritus of religious studies at DePaul University, a past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, will speak at Drew University on October 29 at 7:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Learn more.
Israel:  A Bible Journey

Trinity Episcopal Church in Williamsport, PA is hosting an April 2016 Holy Land pilgrimage as part of its 150th anniversary. Learn more.

ECF Vital Practices

Looking for leadership resources? ECF Vital Practices from the Episcopal Church Foundation offers online articles, discussions, and tools. Browse the Vestry Papers archive.

Stewardship Resources
Thorough evaluation is an essential part of annual financial stewardship campaigns. Some questions to consider:
  • Was there an increase or decrease in giving?
  • How many new pledges were received?
  • How has the Average Annual Giving changed from last year to this year?
  • How has the mean value of giving changed from the previous year to this year?
By interviewing a few parishioners who did not serve on the stewardship team, it is possible to get an idea of the feel of an annual campaign, report to members of the congregation, reflect on the entire picture, and make plans for next year's campaign.

Visit the stewardship website for resources to help with evaluation and all other aspects of the annual financial stewardship campaign.
Episcopal Church Foundation Webinars
The Episcopal Church Foundation offers webinars on stewardship, planned giving, capital campaigns, and more. This fall, ECF offers webinars on strategic planning, digital giving, endowments, leading change, and more. Browse the list of upcoming 2015 webinars.
The Diocese of Bethlehem newSpin Blog
newSpin is Bill Lewellis' eclectic sampling of religion news from around the Episcopal Church and beyond.  Read the September 17 issue.
Prayers of the People and Jubilate Online:  New Website Link
The Rev. Canon Cliff Carr, priest associate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, writes Prayers of the People for each week and prepares a list of hymn selections by season. Find those resources on the new Trinity Bethlehem website.
Upcoming Diocesan Events

Diocesan Convention

Date: October 2-3, 2015

Location: Cathedral of the Nativity and Best Western Conference Center, Bethlehem, PA

Clergy Retreat
Date:  October 11-13
Location:  St Francis Retreat House, Easton

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