Showing posts from July, 2011


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. As the Archdeacon has now returned from his study time in Oxford, and as my own vacation begins tomorrow, we had a substantial amount to talk about, mostly by way of "hand off." Hand-wrote a couple of dozen notes to clergy and spouses having August birthdays and anniversaries. Picked up three chicken tacos from La Bamba ("burritos as big as your head") and brought them home to eat. Had a detailed speaker phone conversation (with the Archdeacon participating) with Fred Vallowe, Mission Warden at St James' in McLeansboro. Stay tuned for news of some rather happy developments of the win-win variety. Wrote an  Ad Clerum  (letter to the clergy) covering sundry issues. It should go out by email tomorrow. Evening Prayer in the office. My vacation begins tomorrow. Brenda and I will be spending some time out west, visiting with members of both our families, and taking in some of the natural wonders of Washington's Olympic Peni


Morning Prayer in the office (still too hot in the cathedral). Finally got hold of Wippell's U.S. office (after several attempts over several days) to take care of some haberdashery needs. Had a scheduled phone conversation with my peer mentor, Bishop Bill Love of Albany. Looked over the readings for my visit to St Laurence, Effingham on August 28; made notes on a homiletical direction for that occasion. Took care of some minor administrative chores that will make it possible for me to be on vacation in a timely manner. Home at lunchtime. Reviewed the academic transcript of a potential ordinand who has some theological training; composed a memo on the subject to some officially interested parties. More minor administrative chores/decisions. Out the door at 3pm to go home, grab Brenda, and head south for a dinner engagement in the Belleville area. Then to St George's Church for a meeting with clergy and laity from the Darrow Deanery. We discussed issues of mission stra

Tuesday (St Macrina)

Tuesday task planning and email processing at home. Stopped by St John's Hospital on my way downtown for a quick followup to some tests my conscientious new doctor had me subjected to yesterday.  Morning Prayer in the office. Processed a week's worth of accumulated paper on my credenza. Handled sundry administrative mini-decisions. Left for a late-morning appointment with my new eye doctor. Left with a new prescription, and an order for some new glasses. Quick drive-through lunch at ... you guessed it ... Taco Gringo. Feeling wild and crazy, I had chicken enchiladas instead of beef. Met with an individual over a sensitive pastoral/administrative matter. Then composed a letter as a follow up to the meeting. Stole a few minutes to take care of rental car arrangement for the west coast portion of our upcoming vacation. Reviewed some materials sent to me by the person who will be facilitating our strategic planning retreat in September. Dashed off a condolence note to a f

Sermon for Proper 11 (V Pentecost)

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Psalm  86:11-17 St Mary's, Robinson St John’s, Albion                                                                                                        St John the Baptist, Mount Carmel One of my favorite movies is a rather obscure film from the 1990s called Breaking the Waves . The main character is a young woman names Bess McNeil, who lives in a small village on the east coast of Scotland . Now Bess, along with the rest of the village, is a devout Presbyterian.   Bess makes the mistake of falling in love with a Scandinavian oil rig worker, and as a result of that relationship she ends up engaging in some pretty bizarre behavior which was, by any standard, unwise, and by most religious standards, quite sinful. Toward the end of the movie, Bess dies. I’ll never forget the scene at her funeral, with the Presbyterian pastor, along with the elders of the village, gathered around her grave. As Bess’s coffin lay in the bottom of the gra

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11)

On the road with Brenda yesterday by 1pm  en route  to some of the far corners of the diocese. We checked into our hotel in Olney just past 4, then hunted down St Alban's Church, which, alas, has been closed for a number of years. Ideally, of course, we would have mission work going at least in all our county seat towns, but the shrinking and graying of rural American makes that a stiff challenge. It was then about 45 minutes east and north again to Robinson and St Mary's Church, where we were greeted by priest-in-chage Fr Gene Tucker, and the one to whom he delegates local duties at St Mary's, Deacon Ann Tofani. We had a congregation numbering in the low 20s, which is pretty good for that church, including one whom I received into the communion of the Episcopal Church. Robinson is the birthplace of the Heath Bar, and the Heaths were Episcopalians. We left town well-supplied with that particular confection! This morning we were up bright and early and heading south down


Usual routine at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a batch of emails. Had a scheduled phone conversation with Fr Victor Sheldon, a canonically resident priest of the diocese who is on active duty as a Navy chaplain. now stateside after two somewhat harrowing years in Landstuhl, Germany ministering to those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fr Sheldon and I go way back; we served together in the Diocese of Louisiana in the early '90s, and he then succeeded me as Vicar of St Margaret's, Baton Rouge. Took care of some deployment-related tasks on behalf of one of our congregations in search mode. Met with Fr Jeff Kozuzcek, priest-in-charge at St Thomas' in Salem, and then went to lunch with him at the Holy Land Diner, two blocks from the diocesan office. Got back to work on a closer reading and evaluation of the contest essays I am helping judge. Met with one of the finalists, and his wife, for the position of rector of Trinity, Lincoln. Conceived and hatch


This was a spiritual and professional self-care day, with a little productivity around the edges. I drove to LaPorte, Indiana to check in with my friend and mentor, Father Tony Clavier (whom some of you may remember as the preacher at my consecration; please do continue to hold him in your prayers, as he shortly faces a cancer therapy with a high likelihood for a very positive outcome, but with with a long and harrowing recovery regimen). We enjoyed a nice lunch at a local restaurant, after which he was kind enough to hear my confession (it's enough of a challenge for a priest to find a confessor, and even more so for a bishop), and to talk with me through some issues of mission strategy for the diocese. Fr Tony used to do the work I'm doing now for a very long time in one of the para-Anglican jurisdictions before being received as a priest into the Episcopal Church several years ago. He is a treasure trove of experience and wisdom. It was a lot of driving for three hours of &q


Pre-breakfast trip to the doctor's office to get blood drawn for labwork. Happy to notice that it's not as insufferably hot as it's been. Paper-reading, tea-drinking, muffin-eating, and task planning at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Discussed the status of our electronic backup systems in the office, and our general IT infrastructure needs, with the Diocesan Administrator. We agreed that these are areas that need attention and help from someone more techno-geeky than ourselves (and Sue and I are both moderately geeky). Did a first reading of five more contest essays. This is Round 2 of the judging process. There was some very interesting material in this batch. Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Updated the Office of Transition Ministries (OTM, formerly CDO--Clergy Deployment Office) online portfolio for the interim position at the Chapel of St John the Divine in Champaign with some fresh information provided by their vestry. (This is something the Archd


Task planning at home--always a big deal on Tuesday, which is the beginning of my work week, and I like to organize my tasks by what needs to get done, or would be nice to get done, "this week." Morning Prayer in the office. Took care of a couple of emails to lay leaders in congregations that are currently in transition. There were some very specific questions to be addressed in both. Spent the rest of the morning scanning documents and then tossing them, and in relation to a couple of them, dashing off an email or picking up the phone. Gave in to the urge to clean off my credenza as well, all of which helped create a full waste basket. Lunch at home, then off for my first visit to a primary care physician since moving to Springfield. This was a baseline physical and "get acquainted" appointment. Of course, now I have a bunch of tests and labwork to look forward to. Got back to the office to several phone calls that needed to be returned, all of which concerne

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Indulged in a kind and gentle Saturday morning, with a long brisk walk (4+ miles) on a beautiful day in Washington Park, and some straightening around the house. Processed a batch of emails. Packed for an overnight and left around three for Alton, accompanied this time not only by Brenda but by Brenda's dog, Lucy. (This was an experiement born out of slightly unforeseen necessity.) Met Fr David Boase at the Holiday Inn and got settled in our room (with Lucy in her portable kennel).  The banquet in honor of the 175th anniversary of St Paul's Church began at 6:30. Met lots of people, shook lots of hands, posed for lots of pictures. Heard an exemplary after-dinner speech by Bishop Roger White, sometime rector of Alton, and Bishop of Milwaukee during the years I was a seminarian at Nashotah in the late 1980s. One of us, at least, made the other one feel old. This morning we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel with Bishop and Mrs White, then packed up, checked out, and heade

Sermon for the 175th Anniversary of St Paul's, Alton

Note: In view of the 175th anniversary festivities, the readings for the Anniversary of the Dedication of a Church were used, rather than those of Proper 10. The Episcopal Parish of Alton includes both St Paul's Church and Trinity Chapel. Today there was a single combined liturgy at St Paul's. It is a high honor and a joyful privilege for me to be standing here before you this morning on such an important milestone in the history of the Episcopal Parish of Alton. This date has been on my calendar since the days immediately following my election as Bishop of Springfield last September, nearly ten months ago! Of course, during the “walkabout” event in August, held right over here in the parish hall, while one of the other candidates was being interrogated, I snuck out of the holding cell and looked around the church. I stood right where I’m standing now, in this pulpit, and imagined the possibility that I might stand here again, and … here I am! And one of the really precious mo


Early morning power walk, task planning at home; MP in the cathedral. Met with Norm Taylor in connection with his role as chair of the Department of World Mission. Met with the Diocesan Administrator to look at the hotel reservations I will need on most weekends through September. Made some reference check phone calls regarding a candidate for one of our vacant clergy positions. Spoke by phone for about 35 minutes with the person who was the subject of the reference checks, then sent out a couple of emails in light of the phone interview. Lunch at Subway, eaten in my car while listening to the radio. Processed a batch of emails. Dismayed at the time it took me to do this. Went online and bought two copies of a book, to be delivered to a couple of people in the diocese who will, I hope, find it interesting and useful. Called and scheduled an appointment for an eye examination. My glasses aren't working for me anymore when I'm using a computer. Closed the door of my off


Usual morning routine; MP in the cathedral. In view of the Archdeacon's impending vacation (beginning this afternoon) ... actually, a continuing education time at Oxford, no less ... there was a good bit to talk about. Now I'm minding the store all by myself with only the Diocesan Administrator to restrain me! Took care of some chores related to clergy deployment. Took a phone call from the bishop-elect of the ELCA Synod that more-or-less mirrors the geographical territory of the Diocese of Springfield. I look forward to participating in his installation this October. Put flesh on the bones of my sermon for July 16/17--Saturday night at St Mary's, Robinson and Sunday morning at St John's, Albion and St John the Baptist, Mount Carmel.  Lunch from Taco Gringo, eaten at home. Did a second, closer, reading of the five contest essays I first looked at a couple of days ago, and submitted my rankings. Reviewed the paperwork connected to the application of St John's


Early morning walk (abbreviated--2.5 miles), task planning over tea and muffin. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Dealth with various administrative minutia, conversation with the Archdeacon over the clerical vacancies we are trying to deal with. In what seemed like the twinkling of an eye it was time to head north for my PM appointments. Lunch with Fr Desmond Francis, rector of Christ the King in Normal. This was part of my "face-time-with-clergy-in-charge-of-congregations project, even though the 90-day time frame I once had in mind for completing this has come and gone.  Met with a layperson at a coffee shop in Normal over a pastoral care issue. Drove to the Lake Bloomington area to be the "host" at the annual "Bishop's BBQ" at the camping program we have long shared with the Diocese of Quincy (now in its ACNA incarnation). It's no longer a BBQ, thanks to Colonel Sanders, but the kids seem to enjoy the fried chicken a great deal. I enjoyed being


Said goodbye to Jordan and Angela as they headed home to Chicago about the same time I left for Diocesan House. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Scanned and round-filed the usual week's worth of accumulated paper on my desk (actually, my credenza). This has now become a routine Tuesday chore. Met with the Department of Finance to discussed the proposed 2012 diocesan budget. We agreed on a draft that will be presented to Council in August, which has the opportunity to make changes before sending it to Synod for final approval in October. Met with Deacon Dr Tom Langford in his role as Chair of the Commission on Ministry and Dean of the Springfield School for Ministry. Lunch at home. At while watching the runup to the announcement of the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. Lingered in my car for about five minutes after returning to the office in order to hear it read. First reading of five theological/historical essays that were submitted to a contest for which I have agreed t

Sunday (Pentecost III, Proper 9)

Having learned that the clergy of the diocese seem not to want to see the Bishop on a holiday weekend (for reasons that I can well imagine and empathize with!), I found myself with an open day on my calendar and "invited myself" to the cathedral church (which is, after all, technically my home base). Preached at 8am and preached/presided at 10:30. We've been enjoying a visit from our son Jordan and his wife Angela since yesterday afternoon. Wonderful smoked brisket for dinner. That boy can cook.

Sermon for Proper 9 (Pentecost III)

Matthew 11:16-19. 25-30 St Paul's Cathedral They say that a preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted … and afflict the comfortable. Well, I’ve got plenty of material to do both with this morning, right here in these eight verses from the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel. But I’m feeling a little rebellious today, so I’m not going to do either one! I’m not going to try and comfort you in this sermon—though, of course, if it’s comfort you need, your clergy in this cathedral, and your bishop, stand ready to provide that comfort. And I’m not going to try to particularly afflict you either, though I do hope that you find what I have to say a little challenging, at least, if not provocative. What I want to try to do is enable you to see familiar sights and familiar events a little differently, and, having seen, to be inspired to action. What I want to do, in fact, is to invite you to put yourselves in my position as the preacher in this interaction. Only instead of a polite congr


Out the door at 6:45 for an abbreviated walk (taking advantage of the relative cool of the morning with a predicted high of 95 for the day). Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon and made a few notes about the previous evening's meeting with the vestry of St John's Chapel. Did a little email networking in the effort to scrounge up an interim priest for them who could be in place a couple of months from now. Drove up to the Secretary of State's Vehicle Services location just north of downtown in order to (finally) get Brenda's car registered in Illinois. Alas, these things always require more than one trip, for one reason or another, so instead of leaving with license plate, I left with some papers for her to sign in lieu of her actually having t show up there with me. Got to work on completing this Sunday's sermon (St Paul's Cathedral). Lunch at home. Processed some emails. Met with Youth Department Chair Kathy Moore to debreif a