Showing posts from May, 2020


Up and out of my office encampment around 0700. Devotions and MP in the cathedral. Chicken biscuit from Hardee's, then south on I-55 and Illinois 140 to St Paul's, Alton, Celebrated and preached with a skeleton crew of six people in the (relatively large) church, but with many others watching via Facebook Live. Then, successive groups of eight parishioners were welcomed into the church, assuming marked distanced locations in the front of the nave. After a collect and an Our Father, I administered Holy Communion (one kind) to them. I am not normally given to tears, but this experience completely got to me. It's a good thing I was wearing a disposable face mask, because it got a little wet. I hadn't anticipated being so utterly moved, but after nearly three months ... well, it was overwhelming ... for me, certainly, and also for many who attended. We then enjoyed a distanced and masked (and coffee-less!) coffee hour in the garden on a beautiful morning. It was all pure go

Sermon for Pentecost

Alton Parish-- I Corinthians 12:4-13 Let’s take a trip back in time—way back. Beyond the founding of our country; beyond the Reformation and the Renaissance and Middle Ages; beyond the time of Christ and the Roman Empire; beyond the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia; beyond the Bronze Age and into the Stone Age, the time of the cave men. Fred and Wilma Flintstone are standing outside the entrance of their cave one stormy evening, grunting in hushed tones about their neighbor, Barney Rubble, whom everyone suspects squirreled away a double share of meat from the wooly mammoth the clan had barbecued the night before. All of a sudden, a lightning bolt falls from the sky and zaps Barney. Now, what are Fred and Wilma and their fellow cave-dwellers probably going to think? They’re probably going to think that Barney has been tried and found guilty by a higher power. If they live in a northern latitude, they might call that higher power Thor, or Odin. If they inhabit a more southe


Took care of a short list of pastoral-administrative chores in the morning. Did my Bowflex workout. Hung out with the kids for a bit. Packed and hit the road south at 12:45. Pulled into the office parking lot in Springfield a little past 4:00.  Scurried around downtown and the west side going to three different INB location before successfully (I hope) depositing (via the "night" depository) some checks that I've been holding because they're too large to deposit remotely. In the process, I grabbed an early dinner in a newly-OK outdoor setting. (Hand sanitizer required before being seated, masked servers, the nearest seated customer around twelve feet away from me.) Back at the office, I reached out by phone to a cleric of the diocese who's had a death in the family, did the finish work on tomorrow's homily (St Paul's, Alton), surveyed the state of my discretionary fund and made some decisions, and made a dent in helping Canon Evans with the project of sort


Big stuff: Substantive phone conversation with a colleague bishop over what I guess might be termed a "human resources" matter. Deep dive into Matthew 10:40-42, consulting various commentaries, in preparation for preaching, in an as yet undetermined venue or medium, on the Sunday of Proper 8, June 28. Less big stuff: Routine phone conversation with Canon-to-the-Ordinary Mark Evans. Phone conversation with a priest of the diocese. Various and sundry email exchanges on a range of topics, some requiring quite careful attention.

Thursday (Christ the High Priest)

Big rocks: Met (first by Zoom, then by phone after our connection crashed) with one of our new postulants to discuss the shape of his theological formation. Engaged and completed two significant Communion Partners projects. Attended a video meeting of Communion Partner bishops. Smaller rocks: Dealt by email and text with a handful of ongoing pastoral-administrative issues. Attended to a routine end-of-month personal management chore.


Big rocks: Attended the regular Wednesday (video) one-hour gathering of Province V bishops. Attended a special "Fireside Chat" of the whole House of Bishops with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Prepped, recorded, edited, uploaded, and shared my regular weekly word of pastoral greeting to the diocese. Smaller rocks: Took a first prayerful pass at the readings for Proper 9 (July 5), when I hope to preside and preach at St John's, Decatur. Made notes. Responded to a generous handful of emails requiring pastoral or administrative responses. Read the penultimate chapter in the book the The Living Church has asked me to review.

Tuesday (St Augustine of Canterbury)

This and that: Dealt with an array of relatively small administrative matters by email and phone. Rehabbed an old homily for Trinity Sunday toward use at Trinity, Mattoon on their feast of title. Hosted a Zoom meeting of a Communion Partners subcommittee on staffing and fundraising. Analyzed what offices need to be filled at the next synod (probably virtual): some by my appointment, some by election. Created a spreadsheet to be used in consultation with Canon Evans.


For most of the morning I wore my metaphorical mitre and wielded my metaphorical crozier in the midst of emails and long phone calls as the holder of the office I hold, with brief attention to some domestic concerns. (An almost four-year old granddaughter whose birthday is tomorrow can usually command some attention.) During the afternoon I mostly took care of my person (a very long walk, getting in just before a raucous thunderstorm), with brief attention to diocesan issues (email is forever). 


Some days one feels extremely busy from start to finish, but, in the end, there aren't that many concrete accomplishments to document. I did do the finish work on my homily for this Sunday (not to be given at St Michael's, O'Fallon), and then set up, recorded, edited, and uploaded it to Vimeo. Hannah will see that it "drops" on the website tomorrow afternoon. I also recorded a video greeting to the people of St Michael's, and I am given to understand that it has already been shared with those of that community to have internet access. Beyond that, I attended to an array of small administrative matters and got sucked into devoting some unwelcome  and substantial attention to an ongoing pastoral matter. I did manage to sneak in a bit of my rota of special devotion on Fridays--watching/listening to a series of Ascensiontide hymns on YouTube. 


A little of this, a little of that: Reached out by email to leaders of some of the parishes that didn't get visited in March, April, or May because of the virus quarantine, inquiring about possible summertime visitations, under Phase 3 restrictions. Celebrated the Eucharist for Ascension, with Brenda. Attended to a small administrative chore in connection to the diocese's PPP loan application. Took a first pass at the readings for Proper 8 (June 28), when I hope to actually preach somewhere in person, though the venue remains indeterminate. Worked a good bit around, about, and for some who are in the ordination process, making inquiries, clearing paths, clarifying ambiguities, etc. Worked another good bit trying to reconnect with Eucharistic Communities that are lacking settled clergy leadership, and are therefore suffering inordinately from the quarantine.  Took a long and hard walk--for the sake of health in body, mind, and soul.

Wednesday (St Alcuin)

Took part in the regular weekly video conference of the Province V bishops, followed by a phone conversation with one of them. Set up, recorded, edited, and uploaded my regular midweek greeting to the diocese. Communicated by email with two new postulants and one new candidate in the ordination process. Got established with a local dentist: Thorough exam, cleaning, and treatment plan for an "issue" that was discovered. Routine processing of emails as they arrived.

Tuesday (St Dunstan)

Today was mostly devoted to processing a very thick stack of emails that have arrived over the last two or three days, most of them having to do with the reopening directions that were promulgated yesterday. To their credit, local clergy are trying to apply the protocols creatively and adaptively to their concrete local situations, but want to make sure what they have in mind doesn't run afoul of the instructions that apply to all.  This included a substantive phone conversation with Canon Evans. I also did some work on refurbishing a "vintage" homily for Pentecost, which I anticipate will actually be delivered--and I feel like I have to pinch myself to say this--at St Paul's in Alton. Read another chapter in the book I will eventually review for The Living Church. Late in the afternoon, I squeezed a robust walk in before Evening Prayer with Brenda and cooking dinner. 


The really big rock: A Commission on Ministry meeting (via Zoom) of over three hours. It was productive but exhausting, We (I say "we" because I have seat and voice, but no vote) conducted three interviews, and did so well, I would say. Rested, lunched on leftovers, took a very long walk, caught up on email, did a Bowflex workout, caught up on some emails, and--bemasked--made a visit to a grocery store for the first time in two months. It was a surgical strike, and we found what we were looking for. Then Popeye's drive-through for dinner.  


Spent most of the morning creating a sermon draft for Easter VII from my developed notes. This is homily I will not preach at St Michael's, O'Fallon. At 11:00, chaired the regular May meeting of the Diocesan Council, via Zoom. There were minor glitches, but it certainly could have been much worse, technologically. It was the largest Zoom meeting I've ever participated in, much less hosted. We did all the usual business (finances, mostly), discussed the draft reopening protocols that Canon Evans and I have been working on (as a result of which some modifications have been made), and I dropped a bit of a bomb by announcing the suspension of my plan to retire in thirteen months and rescinded my call for the election of my successor--all until such time as the work of discernment and election can be carried out in an environment not compromised by a public health emergency.  The meeting adjourned at 12:15, after which there was a minor "flurry" of texts and emails.


Took the YFNBmobile to a local Mazda dealer for some routine maintenance--and the repair of a sideview mirror that got into an altercation with my garage. The maintenance was longer overdue, so it just needed to get done. I'm not doing any significant driving these days--occasional forays to fast food drive-throughs, mostly--but it's unclear when I'll be able to get to Springfield on a weekday to get the work done there. Attended briefly to some Communion Partners business. Corresponded with the head of the diocesan Cursillo secretariat. Obviously, the June weekend won't take place, and it's difficult to imagine even the alternative September dates being feasible, given the restrictions that will no doubt still be in place then. Attended to a pastoral issue regarding one of our clergy. Got to work refining, editing, and formatting my homily for this Sunday, which won't get delivered at St Andrew's, Edwardsville. Worked on still more refinements to the


The big rocks: Attended the weekly Zoom meeting of the Province V bishops. Substantive phone conversation with a colleague bishop following that meeting. Worked with Canon Evans to further refine the reopening protocols we've been working on. Made three separate sets of revisions. Sent the draft off to my epidemiologist daughter for her comments. She eventually gave a thumbs up, with some minor suggested tweaks. I incorporated those suggestions into yet another revision, then sent the document off to the members of Diocesan Council, among whom it will be a matter of discussion at Friday's meeting. Prepared, recorded, edited, and uploaded my now customary midweek video greeting to the diocese, in which I reflect on the anomaly of being a bishop who does not live full-time in the diocese he serves. Read a chapter in the book I'm set to review. Did a small bit of Communion Partners business. Did my Bowflex workout and took an aggressive late-afternoon walk.


The bulk of the working day was devoted to the drafting of the next set of guidelines toward dipping a toe in the water of reopening our churches for public worship. The territory of the diocese is all now in Phase 3 of the governor's schema, so the draft reflects that reality. I hope to share it with Diocesan Council on Friday and then, with appropriate amendments, publish it early next week. I also had a substantive phone conversations with a colleague bishop over a matter of mutual interest and with Canon Evans (and a briefer exchange with a priest of the diocese). Also scheduled Zoom meetings for Council, Commission on Ministry, and the Communion Partners subcommittee that I chair. It was a heavy start to a heavy week.

Saturday (St Gregory of Nazianzus)

Eased back the throttle a bit. Devoted some strategizing energy to a vexing pastoral-administrative issue. Drafted my next-due post for the Covenant blog (on the virtue of hope), took a good, long walk with Brenda. 

Friday (St Julian of Norwich)

The highlights (and some of the midlights): Attended the regular semi-annual meeting of the diocesan trustees via Zoom. Relative to the recent performance of financial markets overall, we're in pretty good shape. Our investment managers are doing a good job. Edited, refined, formatted, recorded, edited, uploaded, and shared my homily for Easter V, which I will not be delivering at Redeemer, Cairo. Recorded, edited, uploaded, and shared a word of pastoral greeting to the people of Redeemer. Spoke by phone with one of our clergy on an emerging issue. Responded substantively by email to another priest of the diocese. Friday devotion: Lectio divina on the Old Testament reading in tomorrow's daily office lectionary. Studied the governor's phased plan for reopening the economy in Illinois and made several notes toward the project I'm working on with Canon Evans to formulate diocesan protocols for resuming public worship. Read a chapter in the book I've promised t


Usual early-AM weekday routine. Quickly processed some late-arriving emails. Scanned news sources for useful information in making reopening decisions. Downloaded the latest CDC guidelines. Got to work creating a rough draft sermon text from my developed outline for Easter VI (not at St Andrew's, Edwardsville). This task consumed the remainder of the morning. Lunched on leftovers. Moved the ball down the field a few yards with my seminarian financial aid planning project. Reviewed and commented on a draft Conflict of Interest policy for the Living Church Foundation. Performed my every-other-day brief Bowflex workout. Hosted the third-day-in-a-row meeting of diocesan clergy, this time from the Northern and Northeastern deaneries. On the whole, I am amazed at the hard and dedicated work our fine priests and deacons of the diocese are doing under very bizarre invent-the-wheel conditions. Took an aggressive 7 5-minute walk on a sunny but too-brisk May afternoon. I long for the


The big rocks (and some of the little ones): Conferred with the Bishop of Tabora by email and affirmed what we both knew was the decision that circumstances have forced on us: Their triennial synod is indefinitely delayed, and my visit to the diocese to attend that synod is also indefinitely delayed. Addressed some Living Church Foundation business. Attended the weekly hour-long video conference meeting of the bishops of Province V dioceses. Set up for, recorded, edited, and uploaded my weekly pastoral greeting to the diocese. Lunched on leftovers. Processed a handful of late-arriving emails. Led a second of three hour-long Zoom meeting of diocesan clergy--this one with those in the Darrow and Northwestern deaneries. Processed some post-meeting emails from a couple of the attendees. Took a modest walk through the neighborhood with Brenda. Attended to a task that will help me develop a plan for financial aid to our seminarians for the next academic year. Evening Prayer in ou


Usual early AM routine. Created a meeting on Zoom for Friday morning, and sent the link to the trustees of the diocese (and our investment advisor). Attended to a significant bit of Communion Partners business, creating future scheduled actions. Got to work building out my homiletical message statement for Easter VII into a developed outline. Took a break from this to lunch on leftovers. Continued and completed the sermon task I had begun. Hosted a one-hour Zoom meeting of clergy from the Hale and Eastern deaneries. Took a long and aggressive walk. Processed some emails (some in response to the Zoom meeting), surveyed the COVID-19 landscape (the most recent developments are pretty dreadful and discouraging) since I'm fielding more and more questions about whether and how to re-engage public worship. Evening Prayer with Brenda.

Saturday (St Athanasius)

Beyond keeping up with several emails, the ministry-related accomplishment today was hatching a homiletical message statement for Easter VII (not of St Michael's, O"Fallon) from my notes on the appointed readings. Domestic and personal chores took up the rest of the day.

Ss Philip & James

The morning: Took part in a two-hour Zoom meeting with some other bishops: some American, some Church of England, some African. Did the finish work on my homily for this Sunday. The afternoon: Prepped, recorded, edited, uploaded, and shared for posting the homily that I had completed in the morning. Prepped, recorded, edited, uploaded, and shared (for further sharing) a word of pastoral greeting to the people of Emmanuel, Champaign, where I was scheduled to visit this weekend. Conferred by phone with Canon Evans on a range of issues. Took note of the change in the Governor's executive order classifying church operations as "essential" and fielding phone calls and emails from clergy of the diocese inquiring as to how this might change things for us. I suspect it will, but won't be making any policy decisions for about another week. Took an aggressive walk with Brenda. Then we prayed the evening office together. The evening: Worked out on my Bowflex. Read