What are we waiting for? 

Taken from a love song written by Duncan James, these words speak Advent to me in a slightly different context. In our family, we pull out the Advent wreath, light the candles at dinner, try to pray the daily meditations of Henri Nouwen, and take turns eating the daily piece of chocolate, counting down the days to Christmas. Aside from the chocolate, we are trying to prepare our hearts and minds for the remembrance of Jesus' Incarnation. 

During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the choir rehearses religious Christmas music, which takes the surprise out of the season, but does center your mind on the humbleness of Jesus' birth. David R. Henson, an Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Northern California, wrote that the circumstances of Jesus' birth were a searing affront. It was degrading to be born among animals in an occupied nation of the most powerful empire in the world. It was not quaint. Read Henson's "Christmas, Undocumented" for a story turned upside down and totally reworked about what Jesus' birth might look like in present day. 

Each year, Jesus' birth narrative represents less of a gift to me, but instead more of an emptying of God into the world for those who will notice. The Gospels are filled with commands and parables that ask us to keep awake, watch, and wait. It could be easy to miss God's confrontation with the world in the birth of Jesus. We need just to glimpse what we are waiting for. 

~ Kathy Mank

Meditation for Dec. 22 from Christ Church Cathedral's Advent Prayers 2015

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Conecting with ...

December 22, 2015
What's new this week
Holiday hours

Diocesan House will close tomorrow, Dec. 23, at 12 noon so that the staff can attend the annual staff Christmas party. The office will remain closed on Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, Dec. 25 for the Christmas holiday and will reopen on Monday, Dec. 28 at 9 a.m.

New Year's holidays will be observed on Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1. The office will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4 at 9 a.m.

Episcopal Church Parochial Report forms now available

Forms for the Episcopal Church Parochial Report 2015 are now available at

Congregations should have received packets by postal mail last week - Friday, December 11. Each individual packet will contain the parochial report form, a card with the UEID and PIN that pertains to that church, as well as the cover letter and instruction sheet. Workbooks for help in filling out the report are available online, and will not be included in the packet.

Online filing will begin January 4, 2016.

All congregations in the Episcopal Church are canonically required to complete and submit the Parochial Report annually. Data derived from the Parochial Report is used by the Episcopal Church Research Office, dioceses, congregations and the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church to track attendance, trends, membership and other critical information for the purpose of planning mission strategy.

Also available on the web are general instructions for completing the Parochial Report forms as well as line-by-line details listed in the workbooks.

All forms are available in English, Spanish and French.
Upcoming events

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ERD Challenge

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Christmas 2015 message

"As the words were spoken on that night when Jesus was born, peace, good will to all people, God bless you, God keep you."

A video of Presiding Bishop Curry's Christmas message is here

Christmas Message 2015

Bishop Curry Hello. Our original plan was for me to tape a Christmas message in front of the United Nations building in New York as a way of sending a message that this Jesus of Nazareth whom we follow came to show us the way to a different world, a world rounded in God's peace and God's justice, God's love and God's compassion.

I recently had surgery and so we had to change those plans and so I'm here in Raleigh on Capitol Square. Christ Church is here and we're filming this message here just as a way of giving me a chance to say "Thank you" to all of you who sent cards and prayers in my recent surgery. I'm doing well and I'm coming back to work.

But I did want to say something to you. It occurs to me that this Jesus of Nazareth really does make a difference. And God coming into the world in the person of Jesus matters profoundly for all of us regardless of our religious tradition.

In the park across from the United Nations, the Ralph Bunche Park, the words of the Prophet Isaiah are quoted,

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks
Nation will not rise against nation
Neither shall they learn war any more

What's not there is another part of that passage that's in the second chapter of Isaiah, and it says,

Come, let us go to the mountain of God,
That he may show us His ways and teach us His paths

We who follow Jesus believe that the mountain came to us when God came among us in the person of Jesus to show us the way to live, to show us the way to love, to show us the way to transform this world from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends for us all.

So, as the words were spoken on that night when Jesus was born, peace, good will to all people, God bless you, God keep you. A blessed Advent, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Connecting with ... Events around the diocese
Granville Turkey Trot celebrates raising $110,000 

check presentation
Members of the committee present a check for $110,000 to Chuck Moore (center) following the 10th Annual Granville Turkey Trot, presented by St. Luke's Church. Pictured are Mark Andrew, Bruce Westall, Chuck Moore, Mary Lucas-Miller, Michele Layman and the Rev. Dr. Stephen Applegate, rector of St. Luke's
The 10th Annual Granville Turkey Trot, presented by St. Luke's Episcopal Church, raised $110,000 during its one-day event on Thanksgiving Day. A check for that amount was presented to Chuck Moore, Executive Director of the Food Pantry Network of Licking County on Thursday, December 16, 2015 at Day y Noche restaurant in downtown Granville. 

Bruce Westall of St. Luke's, who has led the event since its inception, recognized the committee of dedicated volunteers as well as event sponsors. This year, sponsorships exceeded $50,000 in total revenue. Westall also credited the nearly-ideal weather conditions on Thanksgiving morning that led to the event reaching its maximum number of participants - 2,500. 

Always billed as a "fun" run, this year's Turkey Trot included "serious" runners, joggers, walkers, and pushers of strollers. Entire families walked. Wrestlers from around Licking County teamed up to raise funds for the hungry, and volunteers from Granville's churches and community served to help register "day of" participants, pass out numbers to those who had previously registered online or at one of the local registration drop-off locations, distribute water, or serve as "road warriors" to keep participants safe as they moved in a mass east on Newark-Granville Road and back to the center of the Village of Granville. The Licking County Coalition of Housing sold coffee and refreshments, Bailey's Drive-In Donuts' stand was active throughout the morning, and warm temperatures kept people sticking around after they had completed the race to enjoy the sense of community that has become so much a feature of the Turkey Trot. 

Westall has decided to step away from active leadership and take on more of an "emeritus" role. During his tenure, more than $433,000 has been raised to benefit the Food Pantry Network. Chuck Moore, upon receiving a check for this year's proceeds, said that he was thrilled to receive a few thousand dollars after the first year's event. He never imagined that the Granville Turkey Trot would grow to be such a significant source of revenue, and credited the event with making possible the expansion of services to the 32 pantries and feeding stations supplied by FPN.

Quiet Days

Longest Night Service

Tuesday, Dec. 22
7 p.m.
St. Anne, West Chester
6461 Tylersville Rd.
Late dawn
Early sunset
Short day                                                                                                                   
Long night

For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. It is perhaps a time in the middle of the hurried holidays to stop and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Join us for a quiet reflection, a moment of solitude, and a peaceful service for those needing to turn away from the commercialism and often forced cheerfulness of the holidays.
If you feel the need for a quiet night - whether for personal hardship reasons or for no particular reason at all - join us for this Longest Night service on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. Wherever you are in your faith life this is a night of sanctuary and you are most welcome.
Connecting with ... Our cathedral
Earlham College Choirs Midwest tour concert
The Earlham College Choirs will perform at Christ Church Cathedral on Thursday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m. 
The Earlham College Concert Choir, Women's Chorus, Madrigal Singers, and Gentlemen's Quartet present classical, contemporary, and international pieces centered on the themes of winter and nostalgia. A delightful array! 
No admission charge. 

Music Live at Lunch Performances in January
Music Live at Lunch, Christ Church Cathedral's weekly concert series, will feature the performers listed below in January. These free concerts are presented on Tuesdays at 12:10 p.m. Patrons may bring their own lunch or purchase lunch at the cathedral for $5.

January 12 | William Willits (guitar) 
January 19 | Jennifer Gosack (flute), Jessica Smithorn (oboe), Andrea Vos-Rochefort (clarinet), Jessica Findley (bassoon), Tim Martin (horn) 
January 26 | Allan Chan (tenor), Christopher Koon (piano)

Harvard Din & Tonics 
The Harvard Din & Tonics will perform at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, January 17, at 2 p.m. 

The Harvard Din & Tonics are Harvard University's signature all-male a cappella singing group, known around the world for its rich tradition of musical and performance excellence. Performing with the group is Cincinnati native and Indian Hill High School graduate Will Jaroszewicz.

Opening the concert will be the Cincinnati Boychoir, one of the premiere professional boy choirs in the United States.
No admission charge. For more information, visit or call 513.621.1817.

TI2016 CCC logo

Christ Church Cathedral is located at 318 E. 4th Street (4th and Sycamore) in downtown Cincinnati. For more information, visit or call 513.621.1817. 
Connecting with ... Public Policy
public policy logo
7th Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 14, 2016, 8:30-3:30, register by January 8, 2016) - Ohio Statehouse Atrium  
Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Headlines/Topics for conversation

The Columbus Dispatch   Baby-death rate rising for blacks
Public News Service   Tobacco to 21: Momentum grows in the Buckeye State     
Ohio Council of Churches   Christmas Miracle Story!
The New York Times    Why giving back isn't enough
If you have any questions/comments about the subjects presented, please contact the Rev. Deniray Mueller, Social Justice & Public Policy Convener, at or 614.668.6036.
Connecting with ... Procter Center
2016 CSA

Connecting with ... Mission opportunities
Congregation supports flood victims in time of need

After 20 continuous days of rain in Ohio this fall, flash flooding occurred in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, causing damage to over 365 homes. For these families who have lost everything, there is no government assistance or other support.  

In Gallipolis, St. Peter's Episcopal Church has engaged in responding to the families in need. The Homer Saunders family lost everything in the flood, including their home and their personal belongings. After a very difficult year of losing their son and then a car accident which has caused traumatic brain injury and lesions on the brain of the wife, the Saunders lost their home when four feet of water washed through it.  They do not have flood insurance as they do not live in a flood plain.  

Deacon Carolyn Cogar represented St. Peter's at the Ohio VOAD table and Diocesan Resident AJ Stack verified the congregation's support for the Saunders family. Mother Leslie Flemming met with DSO Disaster Task Force Chair Chris Kelsen and Disaster Coordinator Mary Bates to outline a recovery plan for the Saunders family.  Homer and his wife are living in their garage until their home can be repaired. With many prayers and lots of support, the Saunders family is now able to return to their home. Long term recovery will continue into 2016, as new floors and new walls still need to be built. God continues to bless the Saunders family and St. Peter's, Gallipolis, as we explore the many ways of assisting those families in need.

~ Submitted by Mary Bates, Disaster Coordinator

Deadline nears for opportunities through Episcopal Church Young Adult Service Corps

The deadline nears for applications for 2016-2017 placements in the Young Adult Service Corps, commonly known as YASC.

Sponsored by The Episcopal Church, young adults (21-30 years old) have an opportunity to transform their own lives while engaging mission and ministry in the Anglican Communion by joining the Young Adult Service Corps.

The application with additional information and instructions is available here. The application deadline is Friday, January 8, 2016.

Currently YASC missionaries are serving throughout the Anglican Communion and in several international dioceses of The Episcopal Church. They are working in administration, agriculture, chaplaincies, development, education, parish-based and refugee ministries. They are serving in Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, France, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, and Tanzania.

YASC blogs with their thoughts and reflections are here.

New opportunities for service are available each year. Among the possible placements for 2016-17 are Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Tanzania and Zambia.

For more information contact Elizabeth Boe, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society Global Networking Officer, at or Grace Flint, Young Adult Service Corps, Networking at

A video from Episcopal News Service: Video - Transformed by service in South Africa: Young Adult Service Corps - can be seen here.

Volunteer Disaster Chaplaincy Training

Sewanee, Tenn., March 8-9, 2016
Disaster Chaplaincy The Beecken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South, in partnership with the National Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN), invites clergy and spiritual caregivers of the Episcopal Church and religious leaders of all faiths to take this two-day disaster chaplaincy training. Participants who complete this certification can volunteer as a chaplain in their own diocese or faith community, or with NDIN and its national partners. NDIN can also assist unaffiliated volunteers in finding disaster spiritual care volunteer opportunities in local communities across the United States.

Emergency managers and disaster mental health professionals may also take this course to develop their knowledge of spiritual care best practices during disasters.

This curriculum prepares chaplains and credentialed religious leaders to provide spiritual and emotional care during deployment to disaster sites as well as within their own communities. The course comprises four four-hour sessions offered over two days, covering disaster operations, disaster spiritual care, disaster mental health, and self-care for caregivers.

FEMA's online IS 100 course on the Incident Command System must be completed prior to this training.

Volunteer Disaster Chaplaincy Training, March 8-9
Cost: $395, includes continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and all training materials. Two CEUs available by request. Lodging not included.

Engaging Faith Communities in Disasters, March 7
Cost: $155, includes continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and all training materials.

Both trainings, March 7-9
Combined cost: $500

Connecting with ... Volunteer opportunities
How to help refugees in Southwest Ohio

Catholic Social Services of Southwest Ohio is teaming up with the State Department to resettle 325 refugees in the coming months.  Most of the initial group will come from Africa. All undergo an extensive vetting process and arrive with financial support from the US Government to help with their expenses in the first 90 days, after which they are expected to be self-suffiient.  

Catholic Social Services staff provide intensive case management and referral to housing and jobs. Among the many ways churches can help include assembling welcome baskets of household supplies, volunteering to drive families to appointments, and tutoring in English. For more information on the resettlement process and how you can help, go to
Help the Sisters, help the homeless!

The Community of the Transfiguration has teamed up with StreetChurch from Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, for the past year, providing healthy brown-bag lunches every week which are distributed among homeless and indigent people in Cincinnati early Sunday afternoon.

We need help getting the lunch bags from the Convent in Glendale to the Church in Mt. Auburn, on Sunday mornings any time between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The Sisters are not able to do this, and most able bodied parishioners with cars are already involved in church carpools, with routes far from Glendale.

Ideally, we would like to count on a rota of volunteers who might keep the same Sunday once per month, or two people who can alternate, and a backup. You don't have to attend services at the Convent or at COS/LINS to help with this ministry.  But all of us will offer prayers of thanks for the blessing of your part in this vital ministry!

Contact the rector Paula M. Jackson at  or 513.207.1248 if you can be a link for this ministry once a month or more.
Rides, tutors needed in Cincinnati

The learners are many, drivers and tutors few!

Can you spare two hours a week to help kids with their homework?  Very rewarding, because the kids are eager to learn and love the interaction.

The Price Hill Learning Club, which receives money from ECSF and the Latino Ministry Commission, has many new students. These are "English Language Learners", children born in the US but who only hear Spanish at home.

Right now we are transporting students with a van given to the ministry by the Sisters of the Transfiguration. Many more students would participate if we could only transport them!

Can you take a Monday or Wednesday late afternoon to help a) transport students a short distance from their Price Hill homes to the Learning Club, (3636 Warsaw Avenue), then tutor from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m. and ferry them home? Guaranteed to be the highlight of your week!  No Spanish needed...

Contact Nancy Sullivan at if you can help with this critical outreach ministry.

Connecting with ... Formation opportunities
New conference highlights Missional Communities in the Episcopal Church

Leading voices from around The Episcopal Church will gather April 15-16, 2016, in Alexandria, Va., to discuss missional communities and innovative ministries. The first-ever Missional Voices conference is being held at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Organized by a group of VTS seminarians, Missional Voices will be a place where dynamic incubation of new ideas is the norm - not the exception - and where people doing uncommon ministry find support and encouragement.

The 2016 Missional Voices conference will feature presentations by notable leaders engaged in a variety of missional communities throughout The Episcopal Church, as well as group discussions and inspiring worship. The confirmed speakers include:

Stephanie Spellers - Director of Mission and Reconciliation at General Theological Seminary
Winnie Varghese - Director of Community Outreach at Trinity Wall Street
Christian Kassoff - Coach with Laundry Love
Jane Gerdsen - Missioner for Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Southern Ohio
Eric Cooter - Canon for Ministry Development in the Diocese of Southwest Florida
Katie Nakamura Rengers - Vicar and Directory of The Abbey, Birmingham
Bob Leopold - Southside Abbey
Sara Shisler Goff - Co-Pastor of The Slate Project
Glenna Huber - Priest and Co-Chair of BUILD Baltimore
Jay Sidebotham - Director or Renewal Works
Jason Evans - Young Adult Missioner in the Diocese of Washington

Early-bird registration is $60, and includes conference materials, dinner on Friday, and breakfast on Saturday. Register online at

Missional Voices exists to help the Church turn inside out. We aim to connect laity, clergy, and everyday innovators in The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion - anyone pursuing the mission of God in their context. To learn more, visit

For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at

Apply now for Confluence Year

The 2016-17 Confluence Year application is now open!

Confluence logo Confluence is excited to be hosting our fourth class of Episcopal Service Corps members. Confluence welcomes recent college graduates or young adults who commit to a year of spiritual formation, vocational discernment, social justice and intentional community.

Starting in August, corps members work 35 hours per week in direct-care or administrative positions at some of Columbus' most innovative and caring social service agencies and churches. The members live in intentional community, sharing the Hospitality House in the Franklinton neighborhood, while serving the homeless and volunteering in the community. They receive support and educational enrichment through Confluence staff, neighborhood partners, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the congregational community of St. John's Episcopal Church.

Please pass along the application link to any young adults you know that may be interested, and keep up with Confluence by following us in the following places.

Facebook: Facebook.Com/ConfluenceYear
Website: ConfluenceYear.Org
Twitter: @ConfluenceYear
Instagram: ConfluenceYear

Explorers' Retreat for those discerning a call to ordained ministry

The annual Explorer's Retreat will be held the evening of Feb. 6 through the early afternoon of Feb. 7 at the Procter Center. The registration deadline is Jan. 23.

The Explorer's Retreat provides an overview of the discernment and ordination processes as well as plenty of time for conversation about the diaconate and the priesthood. Anyone who desires to begin a formal exploration of a possible call to ordained ministry is required to attend this informational and fun weekend.

Considerations prior to attending the Explorer's Retreat:
  • Explorers should have been in serious and regular conversation with their clergy person about their call for an extended period of time (in the neighborhood of a year). Both the clergy person and the explorer should have done some deep thinking about the explorer's vocation prior to Explorers' Day as this day assumes that intentional vocational discernment has already begun.
  • Only those who have been confirmed or received in the Episcopal Church and have been active members of the Episcopal Church for at least two years should attend the Explorers' Retreat.

Advent events and resources
Three Kings poster
Christmas Eve at the Community of the Transfiguration

The Sisters of the Community of the Transfiguration would like to invite all to attend Christmas Eucharist at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24. at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, 495 Albion Ave. Cincinnati. There will be reception after the service.

CCC Advent prayers Advent Prayers 2015 from Christ Church Cathedral
Every year, Christ Church Cathedral's Christian Formation Committee publishes an Advent prayer booklet to help diocesan members and friends prepare for the coming of the Christ Child. Compiled by cathedral members David Thomson and Noel Julnes-Dehner, the booklet offers a prayer for each day in Advent. Members and friends of the cathedral congregation write the prayers, including our bishop! 

Copies of the booklet may also be downloaded here. To have a print copy mailed to you, contact Crystal Jones at 513.621.1817 or

Job opportunities
Interim Camp Director
The Diocese of Louisiana seeks an interim director for the Hardtner Camp and Conference Center in the Diocese of Western Louisiana.  There are things that need to be organized administratively, as well as organizing program and hospitality. A director is needed as soon as possible who can see the big picture and get on board with helping move the Camp and Conference Center forward. The board is in transition and coming along well.  Some small fund-raising campaigns are in place to upgrade facilities. The current part-time interim is working on administrative changes and organization. The Summer Camping Committee is now in place and will be getting organized for summer 2016.  The camping program is the largest part of the ministry; the conference center will need some attention as well.  This is a bishop's appointment.  Compensation: $50,000, plus a furnished house and utilities. For more information, interested persons, lay or ordained, should contact the Very Rev. Ronald H. Clingenpeel, transitions consultant at

Missioner for Transition Ministry
Applications are now being accepted for the position of Missioner for the Office of Transition Ministry for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS).

The Missioner for the Office of Transition Ministry is a regular full-time position and will be located remotely. The Missioner is a member of the Mission Department of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Information on this position as well as application instructions are available here.
Information on all available positions as well as application instructions are available here.
For more information contact a member of the Episcopal Church Human Resources Team at 
 Youth Director
The Indian Hill Episcopal Presbyterian Church is seeking a Youth Director to continue and grow our existing youth program. We are seeking someone who is passionate about youth and the issues that they face, being able to relate to them whether in the classroom, on a mission trip, in times of struggle as well as celebration.  We are seeking someone who can engage them, who can encourage them to participate in the life of the church, and who can walk with them in their journey of faith. This is a part-time job which pays competitively.
A full job description can be found on the Indian Hill Church web site at
Interested candidates can submit any questions or their resume to
Or via standard mail at:
Youth Director Search Committee
Indian Hill Church
6000 Drake Rd.
Cincinnati, OH. 45243

Youth Minister
Part-time Youth Minister opening at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Hillsboro OH. Prefer someone who is familiar with the Episcopal Church and loves kids! Training for Youth activities available. Apartment available as part of the package. Contact the Rev. Judi Wiley at or 937.205.4292.

Connections Deadlines
The deadline for each weekly e-Connections is every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.

The deadline for Connections, the bi-monthy publication of the diocese, is every other month on the first day of the month:   
Dec 1 (January issue)
Feb 11 (March)
April 1 (May)
June 1 (July)
Aug 1 (Sept) 
Oct 1* (Nov) 
Please send items to

*convention issue. Deadline subject to change
Diocese of Southern Ohio | 800.582.1712 |
412 Sycamore St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202