Showing posts from February, 2014


Usual morning routine. MP in the cathedral. Completed the UTO grant application on behalf of the Diocese of Tabora, for them to be able to build a girl's dorm at their secondary school (St Peter's). This is much more intimidating than it sounds. The application is complex, repetitive, and not always clear. But an email later in the day assuring me that it was complete was gratifying. Met with a potential nominee for Holy Orders, along with his rector. Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. Took care of piece of administrivia related to my co-trusteeship of the Putnam Trust. Made air travel arrangements for my DEPO visit to Trinity, Yazoo City, MS on the first weekend of April. I'm getting better at this, but it always takes longer than I'd like. Dealt with small bits of ongoing debris from the Nashotah brouhaha. Took care of some routine end-of-month personal organization maintenance (organizing my April calendar). Dashed off an email to my Communion Partner bisho

Thursday (George Herbert)

Weight and treadmill workout. Morning Prayer at home. Personal devotions in the cathedral (intercessions in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Angelus). Spent a good chunk of the morning cleaning up administrative detritus from the clergy retreat and tying down loose ends related to the Canterbury pilgrimage. Engaged the ongoing Nashotah House brouhaha via email with various parties, comments on social media, and t his excellent article,  which articulates why we can be faithful even in the midst of ideological non-purity. Got a good jump on completing the UTO grant application on behalf of the Diocese of Tabora, which involved an email exchange with Bishop Elias. Lunch from McD's, eaten at home. Worked a but more on the UTO grant. Refined and printed a working text for this Sunday's homily at St John's, Decatur. Met for a substantive conversation with a potential discerner for Holy Orders; Evening Prayer in the cathedral.


Concluded the clergy retreat with Morning Prayer, breakfast (along with the breaking of silence), our customary Wednesday morning forum (wherein we discussed Cursillo, mission strategy, and sundry other items), and a Mass anticipating by a day the commemoration of George Herbert (and a homily by our conductor, Fr Mark Clavier). Enjoyed lunch with the diminished group that remained, packed up, and headed north, arriving home around 3. Re-engaged the real world, including getting back into the "interesting times" that continue to surround Nashotah House, and processing a backlog of emails. Got it down from 47 to zero! Organized tasks for the two working days left in the week.


On retreat at King's House Retreat Center in Belleville with the clergy of the diocese until midday Wednesday. Conductor is Fr Mark Clavier, author of  Rescuing the Church from Consumerism . Probably dark in this venue until Wednesday night.

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

I was originally scheduled to go to Havana today, but the folks at St Barnabas' had a good reason to kick me down the road to December, so I had an unexpectedly free Sunday. But then I kept hearing reports of news and wonderful things happening at Trinity, Mattoon, and along came an invitation from Fr Jeff Kozuszek, their supply priest, to "come and see" at my earliest convenience. So I paid a supplementary visit to Trinity, enjoyed the assistance of Fr Jeff and Deacon Anne Flynn, worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and spent some quality time with the Bishop's Committee taking counsel together for the future of that Eucharistic Community--i.e. how to leverage the "bounce" they've recently enjoyed in attendance and giving. Back home around 3, spending most of the rest of the afternoon and evening on details of this week's clergy pre-Lenten retreat.

Sermon for Epiphany VII

Trinity, Mattoon -- Matthew 5:38-48 , I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 It will come as no shock to you when I remind us all of what is all too obvious: that conflict is all around us. You could make a case that conflict is the single most distinctive feature of human experience, from a dictator deploying weapons of mass destruction to organized crime and gang violence to a minor quarrel between an old married couple. All that is bad enough, of course, but it gets worse. There is conflict among Christians. It has ever been so. We read today from a letter St Paul wrote to a Christian community that was deeply divided on multiple levels. Some of the Corinthians acknowledged Paul’s pastoral authority; others would only acknowledge the authority of somebody else, called Apollos. Over the next four centuries, there would be bitter struggles over the fine points of how Jesus is both human and divine, and over the mystery of the God whom we know as the Holy Trinity, for whom this church i


Spent the two hours between 10am and noon in a very productive and positive meeting with the Strategy Resource Team, a group tasked with developing a "nuts and bolts" methodology for the implementation of our mission strategy. Back at home, the afternoon was devoted to various tasks and projects: the Canterbury pilgrimage, a sermon for next Sunday (March 2 in Decatur), general email processing, and, of course, continuing to deal with the fallout from this week's angst in the Nashotah House environment.


Still dealing with a barrage of emails and social media material regarding the Nashotah House situation. I'm experiencing the special agony of leadership, which lies not in the necessity of opposing one's enemies, but in the inevitability of disappointing one's friends. Both Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer were victims of the angst today. As soon as I arrived at the office-cathedral complex, I got busy preparing for the 10am Mass ahead of the quarterly meeting of Diocesan Council. Managed to also look at a few emails before it was time to go get vested. Presided and preached a votive Mass "For the Mission of the Church (1)". Presided at a productive and healthy meeting of Diocesan Council. Attended a fairly brief meeting of the Standing Committee. Attended a joint meeting of the Standing Committee and the Commission on Ministry for the purposed of interviewing middler seminarian Cameron Nations (and his wife Carly), who was applying to be advanced from pos


Well, this was "a day." Among my many extra-curricular hats, I chair the board of Nashotah House, my seminary  alma mater . A tempest has arisen from the news that the seminary has extended an invitation to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to visit the House and preach at the Eucharist for the feasts of Ss Philip & James on May 1, and she has accepted. So I was on the phone and responding to emails most of the day. In the midst of it all, I did manage to finish laying out the liturgy leaflets for next week's clergy retreat.


Spoke by phone while still at home with my colleague, the Vice-Chair of the Nashotah House board of trustees, about an emergent matter that affects the House. In the interest of efficiency, when I got to the office, I first identified and printed out readings for today's Mass, and prepared Prayers of the People. Took a call from another member of the Nashotah board concerning the same matter. Then I went over to the cathedral for Morning Prayer, and set up the chapel for the 12:15 liturgy. Spoke by phone with a third member of the Nashotah board, and left a voice mail with a fourth. Reviewed and tweaked the service program for my visit to St John's, Decatur the Sunday after next. Drafted a wordsmithed a longish email to the full Nashotah board, but did not send it yet. Processed a small batch of emails. Presided and preached at the Mass for ferial Wednesday in the week of Epiphany VI. Lunch from Chitown's Finest (Italian beef), eaten at home. Spent the next 3.5 h


Up and dressed at the usual time, but restrained by the fact that there was still a considerable amount of ice on our sloping driveway. Morning Prayer at home. Processed a stack of emails on a range of subjects: youth pilgrimage, Nashotah House, clergy pastoral care, etc. At around 10, it seemed that there had been sufficient thawing to proceed into the office, and I did so without incident. Met with the Treasurer briefly over a finance concern. Worked on beginning to pulling together a sermon on short notice for this Sunday, which had been free on my calendar, but is not populated with an impromptu visit to Trinity, Mattoon. Worked on producing liturgy sheets for the two celebrations of the Eucharist at next week's clergy retreat. Lunch from TG, eaten at home. At 1:30, proceed north, via a gas station with an attached car wash, to a location that required a bit of a drive in order to meet with two priests of the diocese on a sensitive matter. When I'm cryptic like thi

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany

Continuing my strategy of scheduling closer-in parish visits for the winter months, today's trip was to nearby Jacksonville. (Nearby, yet across the 90th longitudinal parallel from Springfield, which means that Jacksonville is closer to the International Dateline while Springfield is closer to Greenwich Mean. Amazing, huh?) It was a joy to worship and interact with the clergy and faithful at Trinity Church. Because of a frozen drain pipe, their parish hall and office area was severely flooded last Thursday. Happily, their Sunday School area (built in the 50s, when Sunday Schools were burgeoning) was able to accommodate a transferred coffee hour. I saw more children and young parents than I had mentally associated with this parish, which seems to be a (happy) trend in many places I go these days.

Sermon for Epiphany VI

Trinity, Jacksonville Matthew 5:21-24, 27-30, 33-37,  I Corinthians 2:1-9, Ecclesiasticus 15:11-20 Just a few short weeks ago, New Years resolutions were in the forefront of our consciousness, but now, barely six weeks into the new year, most of them are long forgotten. Two-and-a-half weeks from now, Lent will begin, another occasion that invites us to make a resolution, to change our behavior in some way. And by the time Easter arrives, about the same length of time from Ash Wednesday as we are now from the beginning of the year, a good many of those resolutions will have fallen by the wayside as well. We’re talking about habits here, trying to make the practice of a virtue or the avoidance of a vice something we do automatically, without thinking about it each time. It’s hard to do. Bad habits are exceedingly difficult to break and good habits are exceedingly difficult to form. For some time it has been part of my spiritual rule of life to make my confession before Christm

Saturday (Thomas Bray)

Enjoyed both a leisurely morning and m customary Saturday weight and treadmill workout before setting off at 10:45 for Centralia (about 2.25 hours SSE of Springfield). At 1:30 I met with the assembled Cursillo secretariat of the diocese along with team members of the upcoming (June) Cursillo weekend. My goal was to talk with them about both freshening the "practice" of Cursillo rather simply letting it run on autopilot, and also give them a keener sense of where Cursillo fits in the larger scheme of making and forming disciples who can then be entrusted with apostolic missionary responsibility. It was a lively and vital exchange that lasted the better part of two hours. I got back home just past 5:30.

Friday (Ss Cyril & Methodius)

Morning Prayer at home. En route to the office, and for a while in the parking lot, scheduled phone conversation with the Vice-Chairman of the Nashotah board of trustees, Bishop Ackerman. Attended to a matter related to next week's quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Council. Followed up on a potential opportunity to help one of our companion dioceses obtain a much-needed grant. Searched for (with some creativity), found, and began reviewing my notes from the fifth and final session of last Lent's teaching series at St Matthew's, Bloomington. Due to technical difficulties, that one didn't get recorded, and I need to redo it. Lunch at home--leftovers. Having checked the weather radar and determined that the snowstorm was essentially over, I fired up the snowblower and cleared the driveway before heading back to the office. Continued review and preparation for recording a re-do of session five of  Reading the Bible for Dummies . Set the stage and did the deed. Had t

Thursday (Absalom Jones)

Early morning weight and treadmill workout--a Thursday routine. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Responded to two emails: one on Living Church business, the other from a national church staffer who has been assigned as a liaison to the diocese and wants to come for a visit. Investigated options and made hotel reservations for a meeting of Class of 2011 bishops in Albuquerque in Easter Week. (No, not Holy Week. Easter Week.) Forwarded an email from the Dean of Nashotah House to the other members of the Board of Trustees, in my capacity as Chairman. Spent some time with the latest proposal from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music regarding revisions to our calendar of saints. Left some feedback on their blog, per their request.  You can see it here . Lunch from KFC, eaten at home. Spent the rest of the afternoon organizing and planning worship for the clergy retreat the week after next. This involved readings, prayers, and music for two instances each of Morning Prayer a


Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Prepared readings, Prayers of the People, and a homily (mentally) for the noon Mass in the cathedral chapel. Responded to an email request from an 815 staff person designated as a liaison to the Diocese of Springfield to schedule a time for him to pay us a visit. Responded by email to an ongoing exchange with one of our clergy over emerging developments in the parish he serves. (Good developments.) Dealt with a raft of emerging details regarding the youth Canterbury pilgrimage. Took a phone call from a priest, on both personal and parish issues, that turned out to be a substantive conversation. Took a phone call from the rector of the parish I'm visiting this Sunday to nail down some of the details of the liturgy. Presided and preached at the 12:15 Mass (ferial Wednesday in week of Epiphany V). Lunch from La Bamba, eaten at home. More pilgrimage detritus. Walked (upper 20s felt balmy!) to Illinois National Bank to effect a wire transfer t

Our Lady of Lourdes

Normal Tuesday and normal morning routine. MP in the cathedral. Met with the Finance Committee of the diocese. The main work was to tweak the 2014 operating budget approved by Synod in light of  actual  pledges from our Eucharistic Communities, not mere educated estimates. This is an annual ritual necessitated by the fact that the minimum 15% of net disposable income from Parish X for Year Y is based on actual receipts for Year Y-1. There's no lag year, as is the case in many dioceses. There are pros and cons to this system, but it does require the sort of minor corrective action that we will ask Council to take later this month. I went straight from the finance meeting to a scheduled telephone conference call, a regular review of the Putnam Trust investment portfolio with my effective co-trustee and the investment management people at U.S. Trust (Bank of America).  Lunch at home. Leftovers. Throughout the afternoon, in bits and pieces, attended to issues related to the youth

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Out the door at 6:30am to Trinity, Lincoln with Brenda and our houseguest. Presided and preached at the 7:30 liturgy. Listened to a compelling presentation from Earnest Nadeem to the adult class between services. Presided, preached, and confirmed at the later Eucharist. Enjoyed a splendid catered lunch, with some of the tenderest roast beef I have ever had. Nicely done. Good long and hard afternoon nap. At around 4 we headed to the cathedral, engaged in some logistical preparations, then witnessed another excellent presentation by Fr Nadeem to an SRO crowd in the Cafe. We wrapped it up in time to get him on the 7:32 train to Chicago and the first leg of his journey home.

Sermon for Epiphany V

Trinity, Lincoln -- Matthew 5:13-20 On more than one occasion, I have had an adult candidate for baptism or confirmation or reception into the Anglican communion ask me, "Well, what are the rules?"  What are the rules?  Depending on the background of the person doing the asking, this question can be loaded in a variety of ways. In my own northern Baptist upbringing, it was quite clear that using tobacco or alcohol or engaging in social dancing were very much against the rules. In my early childhood, playing cards and going to movies were also on the list, but those rules were relaxed as we moved into the '60s. In my mother's Southern Baptist upbringing, it was not at all uncommon for men, at least, to light up a cigarette once outside the door of the church, but the very idea that boys and girls, or men and women, could swim in the same pool at the same time was too scandalous to even mention.  Baptists, of course, have never had a monopoly on rules.


Beyond my morning workout and some quality time with the driveway spreading sand and salt, most of the day was spent getting ready for company tonight--some clergy and families from the Springfield parishes, and Earnest Nadeem, our houseguest. We chose labor-intensive fare (Louisiana cuisine), but it all came together very nicely.


Up and into the polar vortex cold at the usual hour, this time with our houseguest, Fr Nadeem, in tow. Morning Prayer with him in the cathedral. Processed my physical inbox--mostly scanning, sometimes leading to secondary tasks. Listened to my voicemail and returned a call. Took Fr Nadeem to Walgreen's in search of some over-the-counter remedies for his cold symptoms. Attacked the learning curve of the diocesan video camera, which is acting wonky, in an effort to make sure I have clean memory cards and charged batteries for Fr Nadeem's Sunday evening presentation at the cathedral. Concurrently with this, while waiting for various electronic processes to play out, I began to organize in my mind a pastoral word about baptism for the website. Lunch with Fr Nadeem at Gateway to India. There are enough similarities between Pakistani and Indian cuisine that it was veritable "comfort food" for him, and he was noticeably energized! Continued with both projects begun in


Customary Thursday weight and treadmill workout. Morning Prayer (short version) in the car en route to the office. Consulted with the cathedral Provost over several matters, principally arrangements for the care and feeding of the Rev. Earnest Nadeem, a Pakistani priest and seminary professor, who is visiting through the weekend. Back in the office, followed up on some of the items discussed with the Provost. Dashed off a note to one of our priests who has experienced a death in his family. Processed a handful of emails. Began filling in the blanks making assignments for various liturgical tasks at the clergy retreat. Met with the rector of one of our parishes over some personal concerns. Lunch at home (more leftover enchiladas). Re-engaged and completed the clergy retreat assignment task. Processed some more emails. Took care of some Nashotah House administrative chores. At 3pm, left for Bloomington airport. At 4:30, met Fr Nadeem as his flight from Minneapolis arrived. D

Wednesday (Martyrs of Japan)

Before heading into the shower, I bundled up and fired up the snowblower and cleared the driveway, after which I judiciously scattered some salt and sand to forestall future problems. The snow had stopped, but the frigid temperatures had not yet arrived. Worked a bit on the "aspirational" liturgical customary. Time for the final touches. Read Morning Prayer at home. As things turned out, I arrived at the Roundhouse about the time I would normally be finishing Morning Prayer--no harm done by the snowstorm. But I encountered an unplowed lot devoid of vehicles. Upon entering the building, I encountered our clerical support staffer Molly Henderson, who had arrived by taxi from her home about a mile away. So I improvised a sign canceling the noon Mass at the cathedral (at which I was scheduled to celebrate and preach), drove Molly home, then went home myself. Took care of some Nashotah House administrivia. Knocked off some administrative chores related to the June youth pilg

Tuesday (St Cornelius)

Organized tasks for the week at home. Morning Prayer in the cathedral. Debriefed with the Archdeacon over an ongoing administrative quagmire we're in with the Church Pension Fund. Took care of some administrivia related to the Putnam Trust. Attended to a small chore related to my service on the Living Church Foundation board. Responded to an invitation to attend a small informal conference next month related to the ongoing evolution (devolution?) of the Anglican Communion. Worked on refining travel arrangements for a visitor from Pakistan--priest and seminary professor--who is spending time in the diocese this weekend. Touched base by phone with Fr Mark Evans regarding my visit to his parish this Sunday. Met with a banker from Illinois National Bank and signed refi documents for the loan against the property at St Michael's, O'Fallon. Lunch with Fr Dave Halt at Dynasty--Asian place next to Taco Gringo. Spoke by phone with a representative of a company that offers

Monday (St Anskar)

Our original plan to depart Charleston was early enough--6:52am flight to Chicago. The alarms were set appropriately. But during the night, text messages and emails arrived with the information that our flight was canceled because the incoming flight last night was canceled due to fog in Charleston. A series of phone calls got us booked on another airline for a 5:27 departure. Alas, after making this arrangement, we could not pack and get our rental car returned and into the terminal in time, and we missed the flight. So we had to cool our heels at the airport until the next flight on our new carrier that they had room on--an 11am departure to Charlotte. I can now testify--the Charleston airport departure lounge is not friendly to sleeping. All else moved along happily, and we were in Chicago around 3:15, and home by 8:30 (after stopping in Joliet to eat at one of our favorite places--Al's Beef). Now bring on the winter storm warning.

Presentation, aka Candlemas

Worked hard and rejoiced harder. In Charleston, SC for my DEPO visit to the Church of the Holy Communion. Preached at the 8am Mass, led the adult class (50-60 in the room). Presided, preached, baptized, and confirmed at the 10:30am Solemn High Mass. Hung out at a food-laden coffee hour talking to people. This is an iconic parish that has been through a very difficult time amid all the fissiparousness within Anglicanism of late, but they are coming through it with a wonderful vibrancy that is a joy to see. Lots and lots of young people flocking to what is, by any measure, an ultra-conservative Anglo-Catholic liturgical ethos. It's an honor to be associated with them. After trying and failing to lower the top on our rented convertible (the day was certainly nice to enough to generate the temptation), we drove back to the hotel, rested a bit, then took a long walk over to the waterfront area, then down East Bay Street as far as Queen, stopping for a libation and appetizer at a brew

Sermon for Presentation (Candlemas)

Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, SC -- Luke 2:22-40 There’s a venerable hymn that doesn’t get sung very often, though it is in the Hymnal 1982, with the first line,  God is working his purpose out . Indeed, it’s a critical part of Christian theology and spirituality that God  is  working his purpose out, that God is active in the world and not just passively distant, that God is  doing  something about  those things that we renounce when we make or renew our baptismal vows: the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and the sinful desires that draw us from the love of God. God is active in the world, and it is the vocation, the calling, of all Christian disciples to discern where and how that is happening, to be where God already is and to ride the wave of God’s sovereign action. Two elderly people named Simeon and Anna, whom we encounter in the second chapter of Luke’s gospe

Saturday (St Brigid)

Met for two hours with about fifteen people at Holy Communion, Charleston--all of whom are either getting baptized, presenting someone for baptism, getting confirmed, or being received (and some in more than one category) at tomorrow's 10am Mass. It was an energetic time of sharing and teaching. Had lunch with Charlie von Rosenberg, bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Delicious shrimp and grits. Re-united with Brenda back at the hotel. Enjoyed a glass of wine while she lunched at 39 Rue Jean. Then we walked down King Street, stopping first to buy a couple of cheap umbrellas, which pretty much guarantees that it will not rain during the rest of our time here. Money well spent. We poked our heads in various stores as far south as Queen Street, then headed back to the hotel. Rested, napped, and caught up on email processing. Enjoyed dinner with Fr Dow and Fiona Sanderson at a splendid restaurant called Muse.