Showing posts from June, 2011


Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Processed a load of emails. Traveled out to Jacksonville with the Archdeacon to see his brother the jeweler. There are some beautiful items that were used by some of my predecessors and have been tucked away in various places. Now they are being rendered usable for special occasions, part of the living heritage of the diocese. We then kidnapped the rector of Trinity Church and had a nice lunch at Mulligans, on the square in downtown Jacksonville. Spent the rest of the afternoon completing the draft of a sermon for St Paul's, Alton on July 10. It came with a little more difficulty than I like, but that's the way it is sometimes. Drove out to Champaign to meet with the vestry of St John's Chapel. They are beginning their first pastoral interim in 35 years, so there was a lot to talk about.  En route I kept a phone appointment (remember my hands-free bluetooth; it's like talking to somebody in the passenger seat) with a d

Wednesday (Ss Peter & Paul)

Out of the house just beforre 7am for 2.5 miles of hard walking. Read the paper over tea. Processed emails, planned tasks Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Spent the rest of the morning hand-writing cards to clergy and spouses with June birthdays and anniversaries. Met with a representative of Church Insurance who had business with the cathedral and wanted to meet me. (The diocese has its property & casualty coverage with a local broker.) Navigated the byzantine maze of mouse clicks leading to airline and hotel reservations for the September House of Bishops meeting in ... wait for it ... Quito, Ecuador. Why are we meeting there? Anybody's guess. I just go where I'm told.  Felt like I needed a vacation just after accomplishing that task. Fortunetely, it was by then time to head home, load up the back of my car with vestments, grab Brenda, and head south to Carlinville, where we duly ordained John Henry to the priesthood, and instituted him as rector of St Paul's C

Tuesday (St Irenaeus)

Task planning, email processing, and Morning Prayer at home. Usual Tuesday desk-clearing and catch-up chores in the office. Consulted by phone with the Parish Warden of St James', McCleansboro regarding some of the details of the in-progress winding down leading up to the August 27 final service.  Conceived, hatched, and put some flesh on the bones for this Sunday's homily. There was an unexpected vacancy in my visitation schedule, so I asked the cathedral to put me to work. Somewhat to my surprise, I discovered that I have apparently never preached on Year A, Proper 9, as, most years, I've been on vacation around this time. So I couldn't even use any old material to prime the pump; this one will be entirely new.  Accompanied the Archdeacon to Illinois National Bank to have a document notarized. We took the opportunity to examine the contents of the diocese's safe deposit box, and admired some of the "bling" (rings, pectoral crosses, and the like) lef

Sunday (Pentecost II, Proper 8)

My visit was to Christ Church, Springfield. While I do enjoy getting out and about in the diocese, I cannot deny that it was a treat to have barely a ten minute drive to get to the venue of my duties. Celebrated and preached at two Eucharists, taught an adult class, confirmed nine, and enjoyed fellowship at coffee hour. Driving home, I realized that it all felt familiar, like a typical Sunday in parish ministry. In honor of the recollection, I indulged in an old Sunday afternoon habit: a long nap. In an attempt to process some of what I experienced at EYE this past week, I churned out a fairly substantive blog post on the subject of mission . Feel free to comment here or there.

Sermon for Proper 8

Matthew 10:34-42 Christ Church, Springfield Some of you have no doubt been around the Episcopal Church long enough to remember the turmoil that surrounded the process leading up to the publication of the Prayer Book that has now sat in our pew racks for more than three decades. Of all the new things that were introduced in that book, the one that I suspect has enjoyed that least actual use across the church is the “contemporary” version of the Lord’s Prayer. Even in congregations where the rest of the service is in contemporary English, the Our Father is still usually said using the traditional version. I won’t attempt to speculate on why this is, but I will observe that there are portions of the “new” Lord’s Prayer where the meaning is much clearer than in the familiar form. We are accustomed, for example, to say “lead us not into temptation,” and this has always troubled me because, biblically and theologically, it’s clear that God is never the source of temptation to sin, so it see


Took advantage of a relatively rare meeting-free and travel-free Saturday to putter around the house and help Brenda with an important errand. It's salutary to putter once in a while. Caught up with an impressive backlog of email processing. I'm uncomfortable when the number of "unresolved" messages in my Inbox creeps over fifty, and I'm happiest when it's below 25. Sitting in a sheltered outdoor area during a thunderstorm is one of my favorite things in the world to do. But this is getting to be an embarrassment of riches.

Friday (Nativity of St John the Baptist)

Checked out of my hotel room in St Paul and rejoined EYE on the Bethel campus  in Arden Hills. Attended the morning plenary session, then had a good long visit with a bishop friend and colleague. I may in due course have more to say about my EYE experience over at my "real" blog. Hit the road to the airport at noon. All went smoothly, for which I am grateful, given my relative unfamiliarity with the Minneapolis/St Paul road system. On my way home from the airport in St Louis, after fighting construction traffic on I-55, I headed up Hwy 41 to Carlinville. Met with Soon-to-be-Father John Henry to go over some logistical details of his ordination to the priesthood next week.

Thursday (Corpus Christi)

Left home just past dawn to catch a 9:39 flight from St Louis to Minneapolis. Arrived just before noon on the campus of Bethel University, site of the triennial Episcopal Youth Event. It's only a cameo, as I'm returning home tomorrow afternoon. But it's a delight to be with Youth Department Chair Kathy Moore and two young people from the diocese ... along with 900 of their closest friends! Several colleague bishops are here, as well as old friends from Northern Indiana.

Wednesday (St Alban)

Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. Conceived and hatched my sermon for July 10 (at St Paul's in Alton). Processed my notes from last Saturday's Commission on Ministry planning meeting; created several related tasks. Started an  Ad Clerum --letter to the clergy. Went to lunch with the Dean of the cathedral. Finished my letter to the clergy. Worked on scheduling and planning a working retreat for the Department of General Mission Strategy. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Morning Prayer at my desk (via iPad). Then on to a thick stack of email processing. The tempo of incoming emails has spiked lately. Not sure why. Took a scheduled conference call, along with the Treasurer and the Archdeacon, with a representative of U.S. Trust, a division of Bank of America. The Bank of American and the Bishop of Springfield are co-trustees of the Putnam Trust, which provides major funding for two of our congregations. It was time for me to be "read in" with respect to investment goals and strategies. Routine Tuesday chore: Processing the pile of desk paper that has accumulated over the last week. Drive-through lunch at Taco Gringo. Honed my sermon for this Sunday (at Christ Church, Springfield). First meeting with a potential postulant for the priesthood. Have I mentioned there's been a spike in emails?

Trinity Sunday

Despite fears of finding flooded roads after the storms of the last couple of days, we got into and out of Jacksonville without incident. (The locals are under a "boil order" for their tap water, however.) The Holy Trinity was duly worshiped at two liturgies at--appropriately enough--Trinity Church. Brenda and I were well-feted and well-fed. Mid-afternoon, we headed up I-55 for Chicago, where we are now enjoying time with family.

Homily for Trinity Sunday

Trinity Church, Jacksonville If it were up to me—if it were up to any of us, really—to make up a religion from scratch, to define its doctrines and practices and rules of behavior, I very much doubt that we would come up with anything much like Christianity. For starters, some of the Ten Commandments might need to be revisited, and the whole business about the Son of God getting crucified is just … well, distasteful. Actually, it’s because Christianity is so very odd, so very much something we would not come up with on our own, that gives it a certain credibility as actually having been revealed by God. And the centerpiece of our faith’s glorious unlikeliness has got to be the doctrine of the Holy and Undivided Trinity—God who is Unity of Being and Trinity of Persons, to whom we give laud and honor on this feast day. The Trinity is a most unlikely doctrine. It is unbearably complex and maddeningly easy to get wrong if we start trying to explain it. I’m particularly fond of the langua

Saturday (Bernard Mizeki)

Productive quasi-retreat with the Commission on Ministry. We needed to have this time to talk about the process of raising up vocations to both lay and ordained ministry without the pressure of interviewing people and making decisions. We also needed to begin to learn the steps of the dance in the Bishop-C.O.M relationship, which varies from diocese to diocese. It was time well-spent, that will pay dividends in the quality of our future work together.


Usual morning routine (which now includes reading the morning paper  al fresco  on the front porch); Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Mutually debriefed on sundry topics with the Archdeacon. Responded to an unexpected flurry of emails that were semi-urgent (or time-sensitive, at any rate) in nature. Further developed the homily for June 26 that was conceived yesterday. Reviewed proofs (with Shawn+ and Sue) and made decisions for the official portrait of the XI Bishop of Springfield. The plan is for about a half-dozen options to be available for purchase from a website that will soon be announced. Lunch (late and longish) with two Anglican (and Episcopalian) Benedictine brothers--same community, though one lives in Chicago and one (the prior) lives in Australia.  Processed some more emails. It's been a little fast and furious in that department this week. Wrote a letter to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral requesting their concurrence in my naming two priests as honorary

Thursday (Joseph Butler)

Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Read and responded to the draft of a member survey prepared by the lay leaders of a congregation in transition. Processed several emails. Took a scheduled phone call from Bishop Bill Love of Albany. He is my assigned Peer Coach for the first three years of my episcopate. We spoke for about 45 minutes. Reviewed and provided feeback on a service bulletin draft for my July 15 Sunday visit to St John's, Albion. Met over lunch with Fr Gene Tucker, who looks after not only the parish of which he is the rector (Trinity, Mount Vernon), but, as priest-in-charge, three other congregations of the Eastern Deanery, and, as dean, three more as well. We talked about the gifts and challenges facing each of these communities. Further developed and refined my homily for Trinity Sunday, to be delivered at Trinity Church in Jacksonville. Gave consent to the retirement of three other bishops. Yes, bishops have to get permission from a major

Wednesday (Evelyn Underhill)

Heavy email processing at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral a little on the late side. Reviewed Springfield School for Ministry curriculum as part of prep for Saturday's Commission on Ministry planning day. Responded to a request for a marital judgment from a priest of the diocese. Made a mental note to revise the guidelines and process. Worked on guidelines and a training outline for licensed Eucharistic Visitors. With some further refinements, I expect this will be sent out to the clergy fairly soon. First meeting with a potential postulant for Holy Orders. Quick drive-through lunch at Taco Gringo. (Laugh if you must, but I like their enchiladas.) Gathered info regarding air travel to Quito, Ecuador, where the September House of Bishops meeting is taking place. Met Fr Greg Tournoux, rector of Christ Church, Springfield, regarding details of my visit there a week from this Sunday. Registered (online) for the September House of Bishops meeting in Quito. Hatched a sermo

Tuesday (St Basil)

Task organization and Morning Prayer at home. Due to being away from the office for ten days, there was a lot of catching up to do with staff, and a large pile of documents on my desk to process. This took the whole morning. Fr Tim Goodman, master woodworker, came by to install a small shelf on one wall of my office. It sits above my  prei dieu  and underneath a good size crucifix on what is shaping up to be my "devotional wall" ... or perhaps an ikonostasis of sorts. I also picked his brain about the Hale Deanery congregations, with which he is intimately familiar. Late lunch at home. Worked on my sermon for this Sunday at Trinity, Jacksonville. Worked on planning for this Saturday's working mini-retreat witht he Commission on Ministry. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


At Emmanuel, Champaign. Preached at the early liturgy; celebrated, preached, and confirmed at the principal service. Both were well-attended, and Brenda and I were made to feel completely welcome. This is a healthy parish, and is one of the anchors of the diocese. Headed for home around 12:30, stopping in Decatur for lunch. Taking much-needed time to decompress after a challenging travel schedule over the last month. Looking forward to 11 consecutive nights at home! Sabbath time now. Going dark in this venue until Tuesday night.

Sermon for Pentecost

(Emmanuel Church, Champaign) This is the Day of Pentecost. It is one of the “Big Seven” in our liturgical calendar— those special occasions that are styled “Principal Feasts.” But even within that elite group of seven, there is a sort of unofficial hierarchy, in which Pentecost would occupy the top tier, along with Christmas and Easter. Historically, in the Church of England,  you were considered in good standing if you received Holy Communion on at least those three occasions. But we have to admit, in terms of popular piety, Pentecost is a shrinking violet in comparison with Christmas and Easter. It has nowhere near the emotional appeal and sentimental associations that those holidays have. Nobody tells stories about their recollections of family gatherings on Pentecost. It’s not a time for exchanging gifts,   I’d bet most of us here would be hard pressed to name our favorite Pentecost hymn, and,   this year so far, I have yet to receive one Pentecost card! No doubt, the main reaso

Saturday (St Barnabas)

Took the morning for a down payment on some of the decompressing I need to do in the wake of a hectic travel schedule the last three weeks. Good long, hard walk--always a welcome event. Refined and polished my homily for Pentecost (at Emmanuel, Champaign) and got a head start on processing the emails that have been in limbo while I had limited internet access. Brenda and I dropped by a graduation party for a young lady from St Paul's Cathedral whose family has been exceptionally kind to us during our transition into Springfield. Hit the Illinois highway system (my new best friend) once again at 3pm, heading for a 5pm Solemn Evensong for the Eve of Pentecost at St John's Chapel in Champaign, at which I "pontificated." As always at St John's, the liturgy and music were first rate. What a magnificent tradition Fr Tim Hallett has helped foster there over the last 35 years. He concludes his ministry tomorrow. We were honored to be invited to a wonderful, and emotion

Friday (St Ephrem of Edessa)

Up and packed to depart the Swan residence in Eldorado around 8:30. Followed Fr Swan to Marion, left my car at St James', and rode around town in his vehicle for an orientation tour of the community. It's the largest and most "going" town in the Hale Deanery cluster ministry, and there would seem to be great potential for a substantial congregation there. Circled back to St James' for a tour of the church, office, and parish house, and a conversation with the Bishop's Warden. It's small and land-locked, circumstances that help stifle numerical growth. Followed Fr Swan about 15 miles to Carbondale. I was surprised to notice that Route 13 between the two communities (and the smaller ones it traverses) is practically one long zone of commercial development. There's no sense of being in the "country" between towns. Fr Swan then left me in the hands of Fr Keith Roderick, rector of St Andrew's in Carbondale. We chatted in his office for a w

Thursday (St Columba)

On the road from the Swan residence in Eldorado around 8am--destination: Cairo, at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississipi Rivers, the very southern tip of Illinois, geographically (and possibly culturally) closer to New Orleans than to Chicago. Enjoyed an informative tour of the old Custom House--forrmerly a federal building, now a museum, and an excellent one at that. Our docent was Louise Ogg, a parishioner of the Church of the Redeemer for many decades, and for whom the museum is a true labor of love. When I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time 20 years ago, even though I knew what it was and had seen pictures and movies of it my whole love, nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking (literally) moment of first looking over the rim. My experience in Cairo today was of the same nature, only the dark shadow thereof. This is a town that is devestated on every conceivable level--Detroit simultaneously in miniature and on steroids. Being there was surreal, blight lik


Hit the road shortly after 7am, headed for a 10am arrival at St Mark's Church in West Frankfort, for the beginning of a three day "residency" in the Hale Deanery, the southernmost portion of the diocese. Met Fr Dick Swan, the (outgoing) Cluster Missioner, who gave me a thorough tour of St Mark's and a briefing about the congregation. Followed Fr Swan eastward and southward to the community of Eldorado, where he and his wife Marv make their home. After settling in, I got into his vehicle and we drove to nearby Equality, where Marv manages a bank branch. We checked in with her and then had lunch at a locally-owned restaurant. Got to see the residue of the recent flooding in this area, where the waters of the Ohio River backed up into it triburaries. After lunch, Fr Swan drove me to the nearby Shawnee National Forest, where we toured the Garden of the Gods, interesting and ancient rock formations, completely atypical for Illinois, where the very concept of topography


Returned to my Province V bishops meeting for the morning. Headed back to Logan Square a little before noon for some time with family. Hit the road for Springfield around 3:30. My route home after exiting I-55 takes me right by St Luke's Church, which is having Vacation Bible School this week (evenings, except for Thursday, when they have a daytime outing planned), so I dropped in on them. To say I am "impressed" would be an understatement. They had 40 kids last night and 47 tonight, with lots of help from adults and youth. Games, crafts, music, food, teaching--the classic VBS stuff. For those of you not familiar with Springfield and St Luke's: This is real inner-city incarnational ministry. It's in a poorish predominantly African-American neighborhood, and it actually draws from the neighborhood, not only on Sundays, but especially for events like this. It's a congregation that numbers in the 60s on an average Sunday--mid-size by diocesan standards--and make


Drove to Chicago in time for a noon start to the semi-annual meeting of the bishops from Province V (the Province of the Midwest). After meeting all afternoon, we adjourned to the Lakeview apartment of the Bishop of Chicago and his wife--12th floor, spectacular view of Belmont Harbor. I stopped in Logan Square en route to retrieve Brenda and got to meet Elsa--even more beautiful in person than she is in pictures! Then back by Logan Square after dinner for more time with family.

Homily for Easter VII

This sermon was delivered from the aisle without notes, but this is the mental outline that I both worked from and strayed from! I was at St John's in Centralia, and the text was John 17:1-11. The story of Jesus where we pick it up today in John 17: ·        the Last Supper, the eve of the crucifixion ·        John (the Evangelist) is teeing up the ball for the way he wants us to understand the narrative of the crucifixion and resurrection (Jesus “lays down” his life as part of God’s grand plan; it is not taken from him) ·        “liturgical time” sees it poetically rather than literally—we stand with the disciples (weeks later) who have seen Jesus disappear from their midst, but the Holy Spirit has not yet been poured out The disciples whom Jesus left behind were confused about … ·        who they were (identity) ·        what they were supposed to do (mission) It is easy enough for us (“liturgical” disciples?) to empathize with them— ·        especially in small-town central I

Easter VII

This morning was my first visit not only to St John's Church, but to Centralia. It's a lovely town that, sadly, has seen better days, with a huge part of its economic base (railroad, oil, coal mining, manufacturing) having steadily dried up over the past two or three decades. St John's as a congregation dates to well before the Civil War and the building to 1924. Some of their stained glass is among the finest I've seen, even in much larger churches. As always, the Bishop of Springfield was greeted with great affection, fed sumptuously, and left bearing gifts. I don't know if I could stand this job being any more fun. What wonderful people we have in this diocese. Here's a photo with Fr Gene Tucker and Deacon Sylvia Howard at the rear of the church following the Mass. And here's the sign in front of the church across the street. I told the people of St John's in my homily that we want St John's not to have a sign saying they are soaked in scr


Writing from the Holiday Inn in Mount Vernon (about 2.5 hours from Springfield) in anticipation of my visit tomorrow to St John's in Centralia, at an 8:30am liturgy. With Brenda in Chicago helping out post-partum in our daughter and son-in-law's household, I indulged in a leisurely morning (leisurely, that is, save for a four mile walk in 90 degree heat; it was that hot before 11am, and it's not exactly a "dry heat," for whatever that's worth). Then I processed a few emails, reviewed a draft of the liturgy sheet for an upcoming ordination, and worked on a writing project for The Living Church . Rolled into Mount Vernon a little before 9:00.

Friday (Martyrs of Uganda)

Usual morning routine; MP in cathedral. Prepared music for a sung Psalm at next Friday's ordination of Jeff Kozuscek to the priesthood. Met with the Rev. Mollie Ward, and talked about her work as a hospital chaplain and CPE supervisor at Advocate BroMenn hospital in Bloomington. Glad to be able to learn more about one of the extra-parochial ministries of our diocese. Talked with the Archdeacon at some length about some property and finance issues. (The two usually do seem to go together.) Tried to register for the September House of Bishops meeting in Quito, Ecuador. Ran into various technological snags, and the job is not yet done. Grrr. Lunch at home while Brenda hurriedly packed in response to the news that our daughter had officially gone into labor in Chicago. Had trouble getting traction on the task list the rest of the afternoon. One of "those days" that just seems to get away and you're not quite sure what happened. Did, however, make serious progress on


Morning at home: Planned tasks, read the morning office for the Feast of the Ascension, took a long hard walk in the rain (my usual four miles in an hour), hatched my homily for Trinity Sunday in Jacksonville, and responded to some emails requiring a fair amount of thought. Departed at 12:30 for Edwardsville for a 2pm appointment with the rector of St Andrew's. We had a nice long and deep conversation, (part of my "How are you doing and how can I help you?" project with the clergy of the diocese) and a tour of their impressive physical plant. Much good work has been done there. Next I headed east for Salem and a 6pm Ascension Day Mass at St Thomas'. There were over 30 in attendance--pretty good for that congregation on a weeknight--including six children. We worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and then enjoyed a wonderful repast in the parish hall. The Bishop returned home bearing gifts from the hometown of both William Jennings Bryan and John Scopes (though

Tuesday (St Justin Martyr)

Task planning and eMail processing at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed various items with the Diocesan Administrator and Archdeacon (mostly involving shifts in my visitation schedule, supply work, and the like). Took a phone call from a cleric regarding a potential request for permission to solemnize a marriage in which both partners have at least one former spouse still living. (These questions, by canon, fall to the Bishop.) We discussed the options, and agreed that being both pastoral and principled usually involves walking a pretty fine line. Made travel plans for a cameo appearance (about 24 hours) at EYE (the trienniel Episcopal Youth Event, to be held later this month in St Paul, MN). Had to evaluate the relative merits of driving vs. flying. Finally decided to fly, and made the necessary reservations. But even with Sue handling the hotel piece of the puzzle (as she does for me routinely now), I remain distressed by the inordinate amount of time such endeavors