Showing posts from September, 2011

Friday (St Jerome)

Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed administrative detritus from last Saturday's Commission on Ministry meeting and the DGMS retreat from three weeks ago. Drafted my sermon for October 9, to be given at Trinity, Lincoln. Wrote and (caused to be) sent an Ad Clerum--letter to the clergy. Lunch at home (leftover fajita tacos--yum!). Drafted the liturgy booklet for the Synod Mass. I love what I'm doing, but I do miss getting to plan and prepare liturgy, so this was kind of a treat. And a time-consuming treat at that. Prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

St Michael & All Angels

Task planning at home; Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a batch of pending emails. Met with the Standing Committee from10:30 until 12:30--in my office, since new lighting was being installed in the rest of the building. Quick lunch from a nearby sandwich shop. Met with the Executive Director of the Illinois Conference of Churches (at her request). Pastoral care phone conversation with a retired priest of the diocese who has recently suffered a significant loss. Spoke by phone with Fr John Henry regarding details of my visit to Chesterfield and Carlinville this Sunday. Worked on a first draft of my Synod address. Evening Prayer in the cathedral. (After dinner, continued to work on my Synod address for another couple of hours.)


Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Caught up with the Archdeacon about developments since last we met; this had largely to do with one of our parishes in transition. Made a couple of phone calls related to this. Left a phone message with the office of Archbishop John Holder in Barbados. We have long had a companion relationship with that diocese, and I have been remiss in letting this much time go by without making contact. Hand wrote notes to all the clergy and clergy spouses with milestone events (birthdays, anniversaries of wedding and ordination) in October. This took the rest of my morning. Lunch at home. Did some deeper exegetical study of one of the readings for the Synod liturgy; my sermon for that occasion seems to be coalescing around that one reading. Refined and prepped my sermon for this coming Sunday (St Peter's, Chesterfield and St Paul's, Carlinville). Processed (via scanner) the hard copy items that have accumulated since before my trip to Quito.


I was sidelined most of today due to a scheduled outpatient diagnostic procedure in the morning that left me feeling a trifle pekid. I've had some volunteer tissue on my thyroid that was discovered over the summer. A succession of tests failed to rule out what one hopes to rule out in such cases, including a needle biopsy last month. Today was a repeat of that procedure, only with a ENT specialist at the helm. The results were not as conclusive as might be hoped for, but that very inconclusiveness is, in its way, encouraging, since cancerous tissue in the thyroid tends to want to call attention to itself. The operative word, however, is "tends," so we'll have another look via ultrasound in a year's time. I'm grateful to have this behind me for the time being.

XV Pentecost (Proper 21)

My visit today was to the parish of Christ the King in Normal. (Yes, they are well aware of all the jokes that can be spun off from the name of their city!) The morning began with a wonderful tour of their pre-school facilities by the school's energetic director. Then we confirmed or received some eight people--both young persons and adults--including a couple from other parishes. Of course, there was a copious amount of good food in the parish hall afterward. A grand celebration. This is more fun than I deserve to have.

Sermon for Proper 21

Matthew 21:28 32                  Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Christ the King, Normal Sometimes, a person with a demanding life just needs to relax in a way that is otherwise a complete waste of time. For me, the way I waste time is to play solitaire on my iPad. I don’t play it in my office, but early in the morning when I’m trying to get going, or late at night when I’m trying to wind down, it’s there for me. One of the features of computer solitaire that makes it a lot more fun, in my opinion, than using actual playing cards, is the feature called “Replay.” As you’re playing out a particular hand, you’ve got to make certain choices along the way. They may or may not be the right choices, even with a hand that is a potential winner, you can still lose. So when, sure enough, you play to a dead end, you can click “Replay,” and one second later, the original hand is laid out for you, just as it was before. So you can do it again, only this time make different choices, take a different fork

Saturday (Our Lady of Walsingham)

Fulsome Commission on Ministry meeting from 10 until 2ish. (At lunch, I introduced six of them to the now legendary Taco Gringo!) Met briefly with a priest over a pastoral issue. Got home with just enough time to pack, load the car, and head off to Normal for a meeting with the Mission Leadership Team (aka Vestry) of Christ the King Church, followed by dinner with them, some of their spouses, tomorrow's confirmands, and a couple of other parish leaders. Now ensconced safely in an uptown Normal hotel.


Sneakers on asphalt at 6:45am for a 2.5 mile brisk walk. It was a cool 42 degrees at that hour. After a shower, a perusal of the morning paper, and breakfast, I was on the road (Morning Prayer en route) to Rantoul, where Fr Steve Thorp showed me around St Christopher's and the town (including the former Chanute Air Force Base) before we had lunch together at a local diner. Then it was down to Champaign. At Emmanuel, I had a first meeting with a young man in discernment for Holy Orders. After a generation (or two) of seeking (and getting) ministry candidates of "riper years", the cycle is returning to what had previously been the normative pattern of "from college right to seminary." It makes a certain amount of sense that, if we want to have younger people in our churches, we need to have younger clergy. This is a positive development, I think. I then had a nice long chat with Fr Alan Herbst, rector of Emmanuel. As was my meeting with Fr Thorp, this was part

Thursday (Philander Chase)

Task planning and Morning Prayer at home. Debriefed with the Archdeacon regarding developments during my absence. Made a couple of phone calls, send a handful of emails, and hand wrote a note with respect to those developments. Refined the draft of my homily for this Sunday at Christ the King, Normal. Picked up lunch at Taco Gringo at ate it at home. Nice to be having some familiar food, as much as I can sometimes enjoy the exotic. Spent most of the afternoon writing a substantive blog post on the ministry of bishops. I felt like I needed to get this one out and up ASAP, as there has been some internet buzz on that fact that the HOB met in a foreign country and that the HOB meets twice a year. Check it out . Evening Prayer in the cathedral.

St Matthew (Wednesday)

Flying overnight is not my favorite thing, but we're home safely, and I'm very grateful to be at a reasonable altitude and to be able to breathe normally. They say one is supposed to adapt to high altitude after a couple of days. I did not. Both Quito and the House of Bishops meeting were interesting. I learned something interesting about myself: My spoken Spanish is better than my heard Spanish. I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to effectively interact with hotel staff, restaurant servers, taxi drivers, and retail vendors. But I couldn't always finish what I started! And listening to addresses and sermons in Spanish without an interpreter is not yet in the cards for me. This was my second House of Bishops meeting. I'm already on record as to my opinion of the substantive content. So the value of these encounters is not what happens on the official agenda, but in the hallway and elevator and break time and mealtime conversations with colleagues. The relation

Tuesday (John Coleridge Patteson & His Companions)

I'm writing this a few hours earlier than usual. In a little bit, we'll go down to the closing dinner of this meeting of the House of Bishops. Then we head to the airport for an 11:30pm redeye to Atlanta, and after a five hour layover there, on to Bloomington, and a 65 mile drive home. Today was what I wish the rest of HoB meetings were like. In the morning, we heard from Bishop Stacey Sauls, newly-appointed Chief Operating Officer of TEC, regarding the need for a major overhaul of the organizational structure of the church. The idea is that we seem to be driven by governance rather than by mission. From an iPad, I'm not going to write too much about the concrete proposals he floated. More will be made public in due course, I'm sure. But we should expect it to be a hot topic at next summer's Genera Convention. My own gut sense is that it may be too little too late. But I could be wrong. I had lunch with my good friend and former bishop, Ed Little of Northern Ind

Monday (St Theodore of Tarsus)

After breakfast, I read Morning Prayer by myself, rather than attending the corporate celebration. I must admit, I like my liturgy pretty straight, and conforming to the Prayer Book. Those who plan worship for House of Bishops meetings apparently prefer to be a little more cutting edge and experimental. I can handle a certain amount of that with equanimity, but eventually a saturation point is reached, and it's not good for my soul's health. I seem to have reached that point. The main business of the morning was a panel presentation by four persons, touching on issues ranging from international migration, the work of the Latin American Council of Churches, third world debt, and factors contributing to climate change. There was a Eucharist in the late morning. See first bullet point above. Lunch was "working," as the handful of Communion Partner bishops present met with the three bishop members of the Standing Commission on Liturgy on Church Music. Our discussion ad

XIV Pentecost (Proper 20)

There were three different opportunities for the bishops and spouses to attend the Eucharist in Quito this morning. Brenda and I went with the largest group to the cathedral church of the Diocese of Ecuador Central. It is a large structure on the north side of town, near the airport, and was filled to capacity and then some (I would estimate there were 1,000 people in the room). The liturgy was completely in Spanish, of course, with music that expresses the life of the indigenous congregation. We were warmly welcomed. Lunch was served banquet-style at the Hilton. Then we accompanied the Bishop of Northern Indiana on a walk (through the rain, at first) into the old section of the city, where we explored the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a magnificent late nineteenth century stone Gothic structure. Eventually we found a small cafe near the top of one of the twin towers on the west end. From there we had a panoramic view of the city in three directions. (An American liability la

Saturday (Hildegard of Bingen)

Quick breakfast (wonderful buffet at the Hilton) before boarding a bus for the north Quito neighborhood of Comite del Pueblo, home to some 80,000 people. The physical infrastructure there has, shall we say, an organic and improvisatory character. We (a group of some 40 or so bishops and spouses) were greeted with heart-melting warmth and enthusiasm by members of the community of the church of Christ the Liberator. After Morning Prayer with everyone (in Spanish, of course), we toured their Christian education areas and the site of their feeding ministry for senior citizens. Then we walked about four blocks to a building where the parish operates a day care facility. Once again, the greeting by staff and children was overwhelming. Back at the Hilton around noon. After a brief nap, we had lunch in one of the hotel restaurants, enjoying the company of the Bishop of Oklahoma and his wife. We had hoped to get some significant neighborhood walking in, but the weather was off-and-on inclemen

Friday (St Ninian)

Morning Prayer and Bible study at our tables in the main meeting room. Another guest presenter on Liberation Theology, with Q & A. Interestingly, both today's and yesterday's speakers are Brazilian, but they delivered their talks in Spanish. Eucharist at 11:45--in Spanish. Lunch was on our own. I ended up at a nearby bistro with the Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Our dioceses have much in common, size-wise and challenge-wise, so we had a very stimulating discussion. Reconvened for a panel discussion, the panel being made up of the three presenters we've heard thus far. It was a challenging day for Anglophones, as virtually everything was in Spanish. We had to rely on simultaneous translation via headsets. Then we were briefed on some of the logistical details for tomorrow's field trips. I repaired to our room (Brenda was on a day-long field trip with several of the spouses) and began a blog post on Liberation Theology. It's still a work in progress,


Very nice breakfast in one of the dining rooms here in the Quito Hilton. Brenda was especially pleased with the fresh tropical fruit, a reminder of our visits to Brazil. The meeting of the House of Bishops got officially underway with a celebration of the Eucharist in one of the hotel ballrooms. I always find corporate worship on these sorts of occasions ... challenging. Perhaps I will unpack that sometime in a blog post. Or maybe not. We then reassembled in our main meeting room. After some preliminary remarks and announcements, we took about 30 minutes to "check in" with one another at our table groups. The rest of the morning was devoted to a presentation from a VP of the Church Pension Group on issues related to TEC's health insurance plan for clergy and lay employees. Q & A was spirited, as there is considerable controversy over substantial rate differences between various parts of the country. Lunch at a nearby restaurant with some colleagues. The afternoon

Holy Cross

This was a day of travel, but humane as travel days go. Door to door it was a little over 14 hours, but that included a four hour layover in Atlanta, which allowed for lots of intentional walking. It helps tremendously that Quito is in the same time zone as Springfield. International travel without jet lag--what a concept!

Tuesday (St Cyprian)

Usual routine at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a handful of pending email messages. Took care of a couple of brief chores emanating from this past weekend's Department of General Mission Strategy retreat. First meeting with a potential nominee for Holy Orders. Scanned or otherwise processed accumulated hard copy items. Talked by phone with a priest of the diocese who is home recovering from a "cardiac incident" last week. Ran a personal errand on the north side of town, and picked up some lunch from a different Taco Gringo than my usual one! Met with a priest of the diocese who is currently non-parochial regarding the future shape of his ministry. Spoke by phone with a rector regarding various goings-on the in the congregations he takes care of. Ran an errand connected to tomorrow's travel plans, and arrived home around 4:00. Working at home, conceived a sermon for my visit to Trinity, Lincoln the second Sunday in October. Mapped out the

Homily for Proper 19

Matthew 18:21-25 St Stephen’s, Harrisburg Today’s parable from Matthew’s gospel is possibly the clearest of any of the parables Jesus is recorded as telling. A man owes a great debt, which he is unable to pay. The creditor could have justly imprisoned the debtor, but he instead decides to be merciful, and not only decides against prison, but actually forgives the debt, which was staggering—tens of millions of dollars in today’s money. Now, the man who has received such astounding mercy is himself also a creditor. One of his colleagues owes him some money—a serious amount, but nothing in comparison to the amount he had just been forgiven—a matter of only a few hundred dollars. But when he meets his debtor, he immediately demands payment, and when such payment is not forthcoming, he exercises his legal option and orders the other man imprisoned. When word of this gets back to the original creditor, the one described in the narrative as a king, he is infuriated at such a display o

XIII Pentecost (Proper 19)

Wonderful visit with the community of St Stephen's, Harrisburg. They meet in a building that was originally a Carnegie Library, and has lent itself quite well to its new use as a church. Celebrated, preached, and confirmed a delightful young man before enjoying a delicious luncheon in their downstairs parish hall. Sunday parish visits are clearly more fun than I deserve to have--what a blessing!


Back at the Chiara Center (a gorgeous facility, by the way) by 8am to continue the DGMS retreat. What an enormously productive time we had. I can't wait to begin to broadcast to the whole diocese the vision we developed today. It is truly ground-breaking. We finished around 3, after which I went home and was able to get a good walk in before heading down to Marion (third tine in the same hotel room in the past five weeks!) ahead of tomorrow's visitation to St Stephen's Harrisburg.

Friday (Martyrs of Memphis)

This was "one of those days" when it felt like I could never get traction on any one thing because something else kept intervening. I wanted to get a walk in, but it was raining (about which I will not complain, as we have badly needed it). News then quickly came of the death last night of Elisabeth Bettman, wife of one of our retired priests. So there were emails and phone calls and the like in response to that sad development. Trying to clear my inbox of emails took an inordinate amount of time, it seemed. Much of it had to do with next week's trip to Quito, Ecuador for the regular fall meeting of the House of Bishops. I made it home for a lunch of leftovers, then back to the office, where I managed to focus long enough on one thing to get a sermon hatched for my visit to Chesterfield and Carlinville on the first Sunday of October. Then I worked on trying to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Commission on Ministry; time will yet tell whether my efforts were successful. I

Thursday (Nativity of the BVM)

Slightly earlier-than-usual departure; Morning Prayer on the road (no worries, memorized short form). After a cameo appearance at the office, I had tires on the asphalt for Mattoon, in the east central part of the diocese, a little beyond 90 minutes from Springfield. Had an 11am scheduled rendezvous with Fr Ken Truelove, priest-in-charge of Trinity Church there, as part of my project of spending time with parish clergy on their own turf, if possible, apart from my regular scheduled Sunday visitation. Mattoon, sadly, is a little shopworn, having lost a ton of manufacturing jobs since its heyday in the 1950s. Even though I-57 was routed past Mattoon, nearly Charleston (10 miles to the east) has fared better and passed Mattoon in population, owing principally to the presence there of Eastern Illinois University. Fr Truelove drove me around both communities, and we had a nice lunch at a place called What's Cookin' in Charleston. Rolled back into Springfield just before 4:30, so


Too chilly for a comfortable morning walk. What a difference a week makes! Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Then made time to look at the avalanche of birthday greetings on Facebook. Got word of a serious injury to one of our retired clergy wives. Checked in by phone, then wrote an  Ad Clerum  advising the diocesan clergy community of what has befallen some of their colleagues this week. Tried to strike an appropriate balance between transparency and guarding privacy as a conduit of information.  Fleshed out a draft of my sermon for September 25, to be delivered at Christ the King, Normal. Walked with the Archdeacon to a downtown restaurant and allowed him to treat me to a birthday lunch. Ran a couple of domestic errands. Began work on my remarks for Friday night's opening of the Department of General Mission Strategy planning retreat. This is pretty important, so I took care with it, which means it pretty much took the rest of the day ... ... but was interrupted by Brenda&#


Usual routine at home, Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Processed a handful of emails. Took a phone call apprising me of an unexpected pastoral situation. Made a couple of phone calls in response to it. Met with the Archdeacon and the Treasurer over a couple of significant items of diocesan financial business. Then met with those two plus the Administrator to take common counsel regarding the 2012 health insurance program for the clergy. (The amount of premium increase is the lowest I can remember.) Lunch at home. Usual Tuesday chore: Scan accumulated snail mail and other hard copy documents. Refined my sermon for this coming Sunday at St Stephen's, Harrisburg. Wrote a substantive email message to the Bishop's Warden of one of our missions regarding some issues that congregation is facing. In preparation for my homily at next month's Synod Mass, I took a good long look at the appointed readings (Votive Mass: For a Church Convention) and made some preliminary notes.

XII Pentecost (Proper 18)

After spending Saturday night at home for the first time in several weeks, I rolled out at 6:45am for Mt Vernon. For a holiday weekend, attendance was great at Trinity Church. I never fail to be astonished by the enthusiasm with which I am received, and today was no exception. One of the parishioners even wrote a poem for the occasion. The three confirmands (seen above with YFNB and Fr Tucker) had an average age of 39 ... but one of them is 94! After Mass and brunch I accompanied the Rector to take Holy Communion to a parishioner who is confined to a nursing home; this sort of thing used to be a routine part of my ministry as a parish priest, but is now unusual, so I was grateful for the opportunity. Back home around 4:30.

Sermon for Proper 18

Matthew 18:15-20 Trinity, Mount Vernon                                                                       Ezekiel 33:1-11 Well   ...   have you committed any sins lately? I know I have, and I would bet you have too! Have you been   approached lately by a member of this congregation who claimed to have been wronged by you,   and asked to make amends? Perhaps   ...   but that would be a relatively unusual occurrence, would it not? Have you been   ganged up on lately   by two or three fellow parishioners of Trinity who have attempted to bring to your attention some wrongdoing on your part, and persuade you to change your ways? Again, not outside the realm of possibility, but I myself would be shocked to hear of such an incident. One more question.   Have you recently considered committing a particular sin, and been stopped in your tracks by the thought of receiving a phone call from Father Tucker asking you to appear before the next meeting of the vestry and explain your behavi


Spent the entire day just "hanging out" with daughter Summer, her husband Dominick, and their little ones Charlotte and Elsa. This is their first visit to Springfield since my consecration in March. Got to take Charlotte to the park. Even watched a little football. A good day.

Friday (Martyrs of New Guinea)

Still too hot even early in the morning for a walk or reading the paper on the porch. So ... usual routine at home, Morning Prayer in the office. Processed the latest batch of emails, and handled some too-long-pending correspondence. Did some background reading and research in preparation for a sermon I've been invited to give at the (Our Lady of) Walsingham pilgrimage at Holy Trinity, Danville next month. Took care of some relatively mundane administrative chores. Lunch with the Archdeacon at Xoxomilco, a Mexican joint on the west side. Traded a bunch of emails with my photographer brother. We're about to have the Bishop Daniel Martins Official Portrait website up and running, with a handful of different poses available for purchase by parishes and other interested parties. Back to the optometrist for a recheck. The glasses I picked up a couple of weeks ago are not working out. They're going to make new lenses. Got some formal administrative ducks in a row f

Thursday (David Pendleton Oakerhater)

September 1st and it was too hot at 8am to read the paper outside. Task planning at home, Morning Prayer in the office (also too hot in the cathedral!). Responded to some snail mail (by email, of course!), and generally got bogged down in distractions and false starts, an experience that ended up characterizing the whole day, unfortunately. Began the process of registering for a November meeting of bishops of "small" dioceses (which Springfield qualifies as by just about any measure). Appalled at how air fares have gone up.  Met with a priest of a neighboring diocese to get acquainted and explore possibilities for deployment in this diocese. Lunch at home--a combination of leftovers I probably shouldn't say much about. Got back to the task of making travel plans for Salt Lake City in November. After being on hold with Delta long enough for them to conjure the spirit of its founder in some Louisiana crop dusting hangar, I managed to get credit for the unused por