Showing posts from May, 2011

Visitation of the BVM (Tuesday)

Task planning at home Morning Prayer in the car (memorized "short form"). First day in office since the 19th. Debriefed with the Archdeacon and Diocesan Administrator over sundry items that surfaced during the time I was away. Processed the pile of paper that had accumulated on my desk. This is a normal Tuesday chore, but, due to recent travel, it's been a couple of weeks, so it took longer. Worked on some birthday and annivesary cards to clergy and spouses. Since this is a major holy day, I attended the 12:15pm Mass in the cathedral chapel.  Drive-through lunch, then a haircut and a couple of errands. Along with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer, met with a CPA whom we will be engaging to perform a financial audit of one of our congregations.  Took a reference-check phone call regarding one of our priests who is being considered for a position in another diocese. Worked on more "milestone event" cards.  Evening Prayer in the office. Home around 6:15.


Checked out of our hotel in Oconomowoc and headed back to the Nashotah campus for the regular semi-annual meeting of the board of trustees. (Brenda chilled out on the grounds, bookstore, library, and refectory while I was in the meeting.) The report from the ad hoc committee that I convened was received by the board and the Dean was tasked with creatively and charitably implementing its recommendations. Dean Munday, however, had already announced his resignation effective June 30 (he'll be joining the faculty), so it will be Bishop Salmon, board chairman and (interim) Dean-elect to whom this work will fall. To my surprise and delight, the board's work was finished around 12:30, so after a refectory lunch and additional conversation, we headed toward Chicago, running a couple of errands and dealing with holiday traffic. We arrived at our daughter and son-in-law's Logan Square condo in time to order out for dinner and spend the evening visiting. (Summer is about ready to pr

Sermon for Easter V

                                                                                                      John 14:1-14                                                                                                         I Peter 2:1-10   (Holy Trinity, Danville)   Next year, 2012, is a major election year in our country. The cycle has already begun; there have already been televised presidential debates! We’ll be electing, or re-electing, as the case may be, a President of the United States. There will be a hard-fought battle for control of the U.S. Congress. The politicians who are running for office will be making promises and giving assurances and embracing commitments and predictions, both positive and negative. We expect as much. Campaign promises are a vital element in the way the game of politics is played in America. Even so, most Americans realize that campaign promises, by their very nature, are broken or modified more often than they’re kept. Most of the time, we just make a

Thursday (St Augustine of Canterbury)

Well ... I have a picture to upload, but the speed and/or bandwidth of my hotel WiFi connection doesn't seem to be up to the task. Nashotah House, my seminary alma mater , held its 2011 commencement ceremonies this morning, and was kind enough to present to the Bishop of Springfield, a 1989 son of the House, the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa . They dressed me up in a hat and gown that made me look exceedingly academic and important, and that's the picture I was going to upload. Maybe some other time. After the graduation Mass, the usual lunch under a tent on the refectory lawn was moved indoors due to unseasonably chilly weather. Then it was off to the business of being a trustee for the rest of the afternoon. After Evensong, there was a hospitality hour and dinner for trustees and spouses. Then the spousal unit and I headed to LeDuc's, the frozen custard establishment in nearby Wales, bringing back a raft of memories from seminary days in the mid-to-late 80

Wednesday (St Bede)

Morning: Another "critical incident report" group. Afternoon: Seminar on leadership with a VTS professor. Very stimulating and valuable material. Late afternoon/evening: Lake Logan to Asheville airport, then to Altanta, then to Milwaukee, where Brenda met me with my vehicle (having barely outrun a band of violent storms travelling up I-55). Alas, Delta sent my luggage to Lexington, KY. This is not my year for smooth air travel. The good news is that the essential stuff I need for tomorrow was in the car, not my suitcase. But it's still a pain. And the weather here is March-ish, not May-ish. 

Tuesday (Jackson Kemper)

Still at Lake Logan, an Episcopal conference center in the mountains of western North Carolina. It's a quite lovely place. The program for new bishops is called Living Our Vows and lasts for three years, so we have three "classes" of bishops here. We do some things together and some things by class. Today we spent the morning sharing "critical incident reports" in small groups and the afternoon with the Presiding Bishop's chancellor discussing a whole range of issues regarding the nature and exercise of a Bishop's authority. The evening was devoted to a plenary discussion of general mission strategy in a post-Christisn world. Of course, there's also a great deal of informal interaction at mealtimes, etc. It's been very stimulating.


Traveled to Bloomington (65 miles) for a 6:30am departure to Asheville, NC via Detroit. All went well. Now at Lake Logan Episcopal Center with all new bishops elected in 2008, 2009, and 2010. It's good to be developing these relationships with colleagues.

Easter V

Luminous visit to Holy Trinity, Danville. One baptism, one confirmation, three receptions. All adults. But there were plenty of kids in church--more than the usual proportion these days, I woud say--including two who served as lectors, and did an outstanding job. The worship was robust and vital, and the organ playing magnificent. In case you're not familiar with the diocese, this is not a large place--smallish pastoral size. But it's a true gem in its community. Upon getting home around 2:30, the priorities were a nap, a long hard walk, and then getting ready for my next trip. Departure time from the house is 4:15am.


Writing from a hotel room in Champaign after unexpectedly having to drive nine hours from Marquette, MI--to Chicago (Midway airport) in a rental, then the rest of the way in my own (diocesan) vehicle. Apparently there was an epic power failure at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport, which is where our plane was both coming from and going to. Could not bear the thought of missing my visit to Holy Trinity, Danville tomorrow, so I toughed it out, and am grateful it all worked out. The consecration of Rayford Ray in Northern Michigan was ... very Northern Michigan-ish. It's always fun to catch up with colleagues and other friends at events like this.


Spent the day en route to Marquette, MI, with an enjoyable hiatus in Chicago for lunch with son and daughter-in-law. Serendipitous conversation about spiritual things with young woman next me on plane. Tomorrow I participate in the consecration of Rayford Ray as Bishop of Northern Michigan.

Thursday (St Dunstan)

Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral, minor administrative tasks in the office. Responded in a fair amount of detail to a multi-point email inquiry from one of the clergy of the diocese. Met with a potential ordinand to the priesthood and his rector. Ended up discussing some rather exciting strategic ideas for mission in the diocese. Revised and finalized my report to the Nashotah House Board of Trustees on the special project I have been working on. Arranged for an advance copy to be sent to each of them. I will present it in person a week from now. Lunch at home. Then took a couple of shirts to an alterations place to get the sleeves shortened. Wrote an article for the Salem (IL) newspaper explaining what Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church are. This will run in close temporal proximity to Jeff Kozuszek's ordination to the priesthood there next month.  Sent Jeff a slightly annotated document template for his ordination liturgy. Wrote another  ad clerum  ("to th


Task planning over tea and muffin at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Usual Tuesday chore: clearing desk of paper accumulated over the past week, usually by scanning it, properly cataloging and tagging the electronic file, and trashing the hard copy. Usual Tuesday mutual debrief with the Archdeacon over various items on our respective plates. (A pattern seems to be developing. Patterns are good things.) Met with staff to discuss some emerging building and grounds maintenance issues. Lunch at home. (An atypically large backlog of leftovers in the refrigerator needs to be addressed. Just doing my part.) Took an incoming call from Fr Swan regarding both the ministry he is soon to leave and the ministry he is soon to take up. Refined my homily for this coming Sunday (at Holy Trinity, Danville). Spoke by phone with a candidate to perform a needed financial audit in one of our parishes. Prepared instructions regarding liturgies at which deacons preside (Liturgy of the Word with


The College for Bishops assigns a "peer coach" to every newly-consecrated bishop. This relationship is pretty well explained by its name, and lasts for three years. My peer coach is the Bishop of Albany, Bill Love. (As it turns out, we knew each other two decades ago at Nashotah House, where he was in the class two years behind mine.) Every peer coach is encouraged to make an on-site visit to the assigned new bishop, and today was Bishop Love's day to do just that. He flew in to Springfield late last night and will be flying home (if the travel gods smile on him) early tomorrow morning. Today I picked him up at his downtown hotel around 9am, and drove him down to the cathedral-diocesan office complex. We prayed the morning office together in the cathedral, and I showed him around both there and the "round house." We then headed out on a tour, stopping first at Christ Church, where we had a brief chat with Fr Greg Tournoux, then on to St Luke's, where we lo

Homily for Easter IV

John 10:1-10 (St George’s, Bellville) When I was growing up, I used to enjoy occasionally watching a TV show called Wild Kingdom. Many of you remember it, no doubt. It was a nature show. It let us take a peek at animals as they actually behave in the wild. Of course, nowadays, you can get that sort of thing 24 hours a day on several different cable or satellite networks, to say nothing of the live web cams on birds’ nests that are all the rage now. Each of these programs is a little different, but the one thing they have in common is that they show the life-or-death contest between predators and their prey. If lions don’t catch wildebeests on the Serengeti, the lions will starve to death. So, virtually their entire attention during their waking hours is devoted to catching and killing and eating wildebeests. It’s their most basic instinct; their survival depends on it, so it’s job number one. If they weren’t consistently successful at that job, there would be no lions for us to watch

Easter IV (Good Shepherd Sunday)

The day began in a hotel room on the edge of St Louis suburbia on the Illinois side. Arrived at St George's, Belleville in time to get ready for their 8am Eucharist, at which I presided and preached. Over 50 in attendance, which one does not often see at an early service. I knew that they share facilities with a Lutheran congregation, but was nonetheless startled to see a crowd gathering and hovering in the narthex as we were only beginning to distribute Holy Communion. I was afraid I had "gone a little long." But I hadn't. It's just the way things happen there. I was told the Lutherans got going only about seven minutes late. I had no prepared remarks, but was in the spotlight for a very well-attended Adult Forum, just handling things spontaneously as they came up. We dealt with some substantive stuff (appropriate age for confirmation, appropriate age for first communion, the relationship between mission and structure at both the parish and diocesan levels), bu


Up and at things at a usual weekday hour. Morning Prayer at home, then in the office just before 9. People were already gathering for the quarterly Diocesan Council meeting. Although I was not part of the altar party, I did make sure all was prepared for the 10am Eucharist.  Managed to sneak in just a dollop of work toward a new customary for Sunday worship at which deacons preside. It should hit the presses sometime in the coming week. Wonderful Mass, with Fr Brian Kellington as celebrant and Fr Dale Coleman as preacher, assisted by Deacon Tom Langford and Kevin Babb. Presided over my first Council meeting as Bishop. I acknowledged to the group the irony that I spent most of my nearly 22 years in parish ministry assiduously avoiding anything that would require me to attend Diocesan Council meetings. But for about a year, in the Diocese of Louisiana, I was successful. After the Council meeting, I met with four representatives (all with seats on Council) of the Concerned Laity of th

Friday the 13th

This was a day that started out well--i.e. in the usual manner--but had trouble picking up traction. Or so it felt. I processed several emails, and wrote a few others. Got some appointments on my calendar that needed to be gotten there and touched base with some people that needed to be touched base with.  Precisely the sort of administrative minutia that quite rapidly causes my eyes to glaze over concerns insurance and related matters. Fortunately, I've got staff who are really good at that sort of thing, but, because of my position in the system, I can't insulate myself from it completely. My involvement today concerned the request from the Church Pension Group to help them develop an initial database of congregations and other institutions of the diocese that are "under the authority of the church," the reason being that, as of 2013, all such entities will be required to participate in the Denominational Health Plan, in a way that ensures "parity" betwee


Newspaper and task planning over tea at and muffin at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Responded to a semi-urgent email from a cleric in charge of one of our churches concerning an unexpected opportunity to acquire some adjacent property. (Discussed the matter with the Archdeacon, of course.) Debriefed Archdeacon Denney on his trip to Paris ... Paris, Illinois, that is ... yesterday. St Andrew's is another congregation at a challenging point in its life cycle. Conceived and laid down the broad strikes of a sermon for Easter VII--June 5, at St John's, Centralia. Worked with the Diocesan Administrator to enable her to see my Google calendars, and edit them when appropriate. Lunch at home Took a call from the the Executive Director of a quasi-independent but Episcopal Church-related publishing company inviting me to accept a three-year term on their board. Who can resist an opportunity to go to Cincinatti twice a year, eh? Resumed my conversation with Fr Denney regard


Usual morning routine (email, tasks); Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Based on my conversation with Fr Kellington yesterday, I cobbled together the talk that I will give at St Paul's in Pekin tomorrow evening. Worked on hand-written thank-you notes to family and friends who made monetary contributions toward the acquisition of all the "stuff" I need to operate liturgically, ceremonially, and symbolically as a bishop. (This is distinguished from those who contributed in response to the Standing Committee's appeal toward the same end.) Met with Fr Tom Davis, a recently retired priest of the diocese, a sort of getting-to-know-you encounter that I very much appreciated him initiating. Lunch at home (leftover chicken fajita tacos from last night--yum!) Swung by the framing shop to pick up my consecration certificate. Beautifully done. Met with some key players in Sunday afternoon's "enthronement" liturgy to walk everything through and get our logistics


Usual morning routine; MP in cathedral. Usual Tuesday catch-up conversation with the Archdeacon, the need for which was heightened by his absence from the office last week at a conference. Another Tuesday chore: clearing my desk of accumulated items that need processing or scanning or (on the rarest of occasions) filing. Spoke on the phone with the Rector of Holy Trinity, Danville, which is the venue of my visit the Sunday after next. Worked on music for Sunday's enthronement liturgy (hopefully for the final time), consulted with several interested parties on the details. Spoke on the phone with the Rector of St Paul's, Pekin, where I am speaking tomorrow evening. Lunch at home Corresponded by email with my "official" portrait photographer (who also happens to be my brother) regarding some of the mechanics of making the fruit of our mutual labor available to churches for the customary parish office photo of the bish. Corresponded by email with the chair of the

Easter III

The morning broke bright and fair, continuing yesterday's almost magical ambience. As the liturgy was not until 10, and only a few yards from where we were staying, it was a welcome gentle start to the day. Brenda and I managed to get a brief walk in, drinking in the Mayberry-esque atmosphere. It was already in the mid-70s by 9:30am. In all, there were a dozen people in church, and I have to say, the service had more life to it than many much-better attended celebrations I have been present for. I was especially impressed by the singing. St James' was consecrated in 1882 by my predecessor ten times removed, Bishop George Seymour. It is one of the architectural treasures of the diocese.  My homily was unscripted, so I have nothing to post. There was plenty of rich material in today's readings that can connect to St James' in its present state. Their buildings and grounds are simultaneously a gift and an albatross. Yet, as St Peter told both the listening crowd in Jerus


Leisurely morning at home. Good brisk walk. On the road around 1:30 to McLeansboro, a three-hour trip. The day and the town were both idyllic; I expected Norman Rockwell to come walking around the corner at any moment. Very nice dinner (steaks and Mahi Mahi grilled by Fr Dick Swan) with the leadership of the congregation (which, in the case of St James', is essentially the entire congregation) and two the clergy of the Hale Deanery cluster, in the historic (1882) parish house, which has a very commodious guest room and bath upstairs, which is where Brenda and I are staying. 


Usual morning routine; MP in cathedral. Finished preparing this Sunday's sermon. Reviewed a draft Letter of Agreement between a parish and an incoming priest, tweaked it slightly, and sent it on to the interested parties. Took some time to weigh in at an online discussion thread on the subject of the relation between Baptism and Confirmation. This was in the category of an in-the-moment decision, and such things do divert me from my task list, which I find bothersome. But part of my job description as a bishop is to be a teacher, and teaching opportunities do not always arise at convenient times. Besides, the thought involved in making the response I did will likely bear fruit in other venues of my ministry. Finished composing a congregational antiphon for the Magnificat to be used when I am "welcomed and seated" in the cathedral on May 15. Quick fast-food lunch, eaten at the conference table in my office. Further developed my homily for Easter IV (St George's,
Task planning and email processing at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Worked on refining my sermon plan for this Sunday (St James, McLeansboro). Attended to some relatively minor administrative tasks and decisions. Met with Bob and Judy Ellison from St John's, Decatur, regarding some concerns pertinent to the life of that parish. Lunch at home. Began the process of designing my homily for Easter IV (May 15), at St George's, Belleville. Took a few minutes to assemble a blog post using already-written material, stimulated by a request from a former-parishioner college student. Noticed that my sense of balance was suddenly compromised whenever I tried to walk, this following sinus pressure (with stopped-up ears) for the last 24 hours. Made a visit to an urgent care clinic at got myself diagnosed with "eustachion tube dysfunction." Now the proud owner of a nasal steroid spray. (This was time out of my afternoon I could not really afford to lose, but it seeme

Wednesday (St Monnica)

Usual early morning chores. MP in cathedral. Spoke on the phone with Fr Keith Roderick, Rector of St Andrew's, Carbondale, about various aspects of our ministry in that part of the diocese. Processed the accumulated detritus that had arrived on my desk since last week at this time. Mostly, this means scanning and round-filing. I'm aiming for as paper-free an environment as possible. Followed up on several details (involving emails and phone calls) related to my Nashotah House special project. This took me all the way until noon. After lunch, I responded to several more accumulated emails, some of which have been waiting a few days, in various degrees of detail.  Took a chatty incoming call from an old friend and colleague from my Louisiana years. Began to look into travel plans to attend the conscration of the next bishop of Northern Michigan on May 20 before being interrupted by another long phone call regarding--you guessed it--the Nashotah House special project. Thankf

Ss Philip & James (transferred)

Home safe after a remarkably intense day of meetings in Wisconsin, capped off by a five hour drive. Time will tell whether the meetings can be considered successful.

St Mark's Day (transferred)

Writing from a hotel room in the Milwaukee area. Drove up here in advance of two meetings tomorrow, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, in connection with the Nashotah House "special project" I have been working on and vaguely referring to. If I have any skill in diplomacy and group process facilitation, it will be put to the test tomorrow. If I don't, that lack will be revealed! Spare me a prayer. In the meantime, took care of some business with a vestment supplier in Chicago, and had a yummy dinner with my daughter, her husband, and their daughter at a great new BBQ joint. (Ask me what "burnt ends" might mean.)

Sermon for Easter II

John 20:19-31 (Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign)                                           It has become an automatic ritual for me, over a period of decades. I crawl into bed at night, trace the sign of the cross with my thumb on my forehead, and repeat the final prayer from the service of Compline: “The Almighty and merciful Lord—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—bless us and keep us.” Sometimes I’m already half asleep—or still wound up from the anxieties of the day—and barely aware of what I’m doing. Sometimes I’m very aware of what I’m doing, and it’s a source of great comfort, a sort of “divine tuck-in.” There are times, however, when I’m very aware of what I’m doing, and what I’m doing seems—ridiculous. It feels as though I may as well be whistling in the dark, or throwing salt over my shoulder, or something else equally superstitious. I wonder whether everything on which I’ve based my life is simply an illusion. One of the joys of my early ministry as a priest was the opport

Easter II

On the road with Brenda by 7:45am, en route to the Chapel of St John the Divine, Champaign. The liturgy there was splendid, with outstanding music of the sort that feeds the depths of my soul. Confirmed five, received two, with one reaffirmation. All were men, and all were no older than early middle age. In a church in which men seem to be gradually disappearing, this is encouraging.  The occasion of the Bishop's visit was shared with a sort of homecoming for alums of the campus ministry at the University of Illinois, part of a series of events marking the retirement of Fr Tim Hallet after 35 years as chaplain and rector. It was moving to hear the testimony of those whose lives he and Mary have touched over the years.  After some rather brief down time at home, we headed back out to the concert of the Springfield Choral Society in Chatham (a Springfield suburb). Several members of this fine ensemble, including its director, are key parts of the music program at St Paul's Ca