Bishop's Writing / Enews September
Dear Friends in Christ,
I have several different things to share with you this month.
The first thing is to announce that I have appointed the Revs. Keisha Stokes (Palmyra) and Gretchen Ratterree (Newark) as Co-Coordinators of Ministry to Youth and Young Adults. Youth ministry has been difficult during the pandemic, and there have been few gatherings in the last couple of years. Our hope is to hold a couple of events over the course of the program year, culminating in a weekend retreat next Spring. Keisha and Gretchen bring a lot of experience and energy to this ministry, and I’m confident that you will hear from them soon about upcoming programs and events. I’m grateful for their initiative and their willingness to serve.
The Common Cup
As you probably know, I have authorized a return to the common cup on Sundays. I do so with a bit of trepidation, as none of us knows the future course of the pandemic. And we have outbreaks of monkeypox and polio and the annual flu season to contend with. I have given each church the freedom to determine when and how to return to the common cup, and I have encouraged congregations to pay attention to the local risk level. I want to be clear that communion in one kind, that is, bread alone, is full communion. You may choose not to receive from the common cup. (That is my personal choice.) And I want to discourage intinction. Intinction creates the highest risk for passing infection. Hands carry far more germs than mouths, and one finger in the cup can infect the cup. I will be in conversation with the clergy about how the return to the common cup is working in each congregation.
The Transition Process
The past weekend the Standing Committee hosted a leadership retreat for members of the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council, the Trustees, and the Commission on Ministry. The retreat was facilitated by our consultant, the Rev. Dr. Gary Butterworth, and was well received by the participants. The consensus of the retreat was that the Standing Committee should undertake an extensive listening process around the diocese in the coming months. We will hear more about this process from the Standing Committee and at Convention.
Electronic registration for the 91st Diocesan Convention was just circulated. If you are a delegate to the Convention, please register as soon as you can. If you are a delegate and have not received the information, please be in touch with Kristy.
Clergy are reminded that their attendance at the Convention is expected. If you are unable to attend, please notify the Bishop’s Office in writing.
The Diocese of Puerto Rico is a member of Province II, our Province of The Episcopal Church. Puerto Rico has just experienced devastating floods from Hurricane Fiona. Fortunately, Fiona was not as severe as Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Bishop of Puerto Rico is assessing the damage and will be working with Episcopal Relief and Development. In a conversation with the bishops of Province II this morning, Bishop Morales asked for our prayers and said he will let us know what is needed. Gifts can be made to Episcopal Relief and Development.
In my travels around the diocese, I’m finding that, despite our struggles with the pandemic and the trials of our time, there is a good spirit in our communities. We are grateful to be able to meet together again. We are excited about our ministries. We are hopeful that we will be able to manage the continuing demands of covid on our common life. We are committed to following Jesus in our places. I find all of that to be very encouraging. It is a blessing to be among you and to serve with you. I’m confident that God walks with us and will sustain us in the days ahead.