Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are now in the early days of an unprecedented disruption of life as we face the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic. As with the rest of society, churches are trying to help stem the spread of the virus. By now I expect you know that we have suspended gathering for in-person worship including on Sundays until further notice. We have similarly ceased all in-person meetings that are not absolutely essential. This is hard. And it will get harder in lots of ways. One of those is that we will not be celebrating Easter with one another in person. We will have to find other ways to celebrate. But we are faced with choosing between worshiping together in person and loving our neighbor by maintaining social distance. Indeed, I see this as an act of the neighbor-love to which Jesus calls us. It is an act of considered compassion to try to prevent others from being infected, particularly those most vulnerable due to age or existing health issues.
There is much that remains unknown about the virus and how long we will be dealing with the outbreak. What we do know is that it is highly contagious with the potential to be very bad. What we also know is that slowing down the spread is our best bet to not overwhelm the health system with too many cases all at once. That also will allow more time for hospitals to prepare to treat the more serious cases. Many of us are going to contract the virus sooner or later. For most of us it will be no worse than a bad case of the flu. For others it will be very serious or even life-threatening. You may have heard the term “flattening the curve”. Here is something Fr. Chris Arnold of Trinity, Oshkosh and chair of our Covid-19 Task Force has written to explain that:
If you pay $12000 a year in rent, you'd prefer to pay $1000 a month instead of having your landlord demand $12000 all at once! That's because your rent would keep pace with your income, and the demand for rent would hopefully always be lower than the supply of money. You don't want a big bill to hit you all at once and put you in debt. Likewise, we have a limited amount of medical resources: hospital beds, ventilators, and staff to help us. We don't want to have more sick people than there are beds for them.
It is to help flatten the curve that we have taken the extraordinary steps we have taken.
For the time being we have suspended our usual church activities. But that does not mean church is cancelled. We, all of us, remain the church, the body of Christ. And we are working and planning to find ways to be the church in this strange time. Among other things each congregation will be finding ways to stay connected. We are practicing physical social distancing, but we will find ways to be personally and socially connected by other means. I expect things will get harder before they get better. We will need one another for support and encouragement.
Please know that suspending regular public worship and most in-person meetings, etc. doesn't mean your priest and lay leaders now have nothing to do. Rather, they are working longer and harder to figure out how to do worship, pastoral care, faith formation, etc. remotely. Pray for them. And offer to help.
I would be remiss as bishop not to point out that suspending worship does not mean that our obligation to financially support the mission and ministry of the church is suspended. If you have made a pledge to your congregation, I urge you to continue honoring that by mailing your offering to the church. If you did not make a pledge but are accustomed to giving something, I urge you to also send your financial offering to the church.
To help us make our way through this and continue to be faithful as the body of Christ I have formed Covid-19 Task Force made up of clergy and healthcare professionals to advise me. I am also forming sub-groups to focus on providing ideas and resources for Pastoral Care, Prayer & Worship, and Christian Formation to our congregations. I will be in regular contact with clergy and lay leaders of congregations. And we will do what we can for all members of the diocese informed as things develop or change.
Know that the clergy and each congregation is in my daily prayers. Beginning this Sunday, I will be at Grace, Sheboygan livestreaming worship beginning at 10:15. I also invite you to a Lenten video retreat which I recorded yesterday “Keeping it Together When the World is Coming Apart: Praying with Julian of Norwich. It will be available for viewing beginning at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 21 by clicking here. A booklet to go with the retreat can be found here. If you know of someone without access to the internet , who wants a booklet please contact the office.
We are entering a sort of wilderness as a church and as a society. But as followers of Jesus, we know that he is with us in the wilderness and trust that he not only walks alongside us, but he will go before us to prepare a way. I encourage you to draw nearer to him in the days to come. The Church and her members have in wilderness times before – persecution, war, famine, plague, etc. We might well wish that we were not facing the particular wilderness before us. But we know that God will not abandon us even as God did not abandon Jesus to the grave. Holy Week and Easter will be different this year. But the reality of Easter remains. The tomb is empty. And therefore, our hope never is.
So, let us roll up our spiritual sleeves and dedicate ourselves to being faithful witnesses to the hope that is in us. Sink your heart into the heart of God through prayer. Practice patience and compassion, even with yourself. Reach out to one another by phone or video or regular mail. Encourage one another. Pray for one another.
If God is for us, who is against us?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31, 37-39)
You are in my prayers. I ask your prayers for me.
Under the Mercy,
VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac
In response to the latest directives from the CDC (no gatherings larger than 50) and the White House (no gatherings larger than 10) we will be suspending in person public worship in the Diocese of Fond du Lac until further notice. I also urge you not to meet in person unless absolutely necessary.
This is not a decision I take lightly. As I wrote in my statement last Friday, in an outbreak of serious infectious disease as we are experiencing, loving our neighbor means keeping our distance. In that way we hope to “flatten the curve”. It is about balancing our need to gather for worship over against our need to love our neighbor and not spread the disease.
I know this will make many aspects of worship and ministry difficult. Along with the Task Force of healthcare experts I announced on Friday, I am also forming sub-groups to help gather ideas and resources for doing worship, pastoral care, and faith formation during this time while it is inadvisable to meet together.
For those congregations not equipped to live stream or otherwise post their own worship at this time, I will be live streaming worship for Grace, Sheboygan this Sunday at 10:15. You can access that by clicking here
St. Thomas, Menasha live streams their worship. Click here for access.
Intercession-Beloved Community, Stevens Point also live streams their worship by way of Facebook
click here. Other resouces at www.belovedcommunitysp.org/
It may well be that your church will be doing so as well
I will also be posting, this Saturday, a video Lenten Retreat on Julian of Norwich who lived in a time of pandemic, political unrest, and other uncertainty yet found peace and hope in spite of that. More details on how to access the video will be posted on the diocesan website soon.
I will also be mailing a letter to each member of the diocese this week. It will contain information about Covid-19 and where things stand in our diocese.
In the meantime, here is a quote that I find reassuring:
"He who is anxious and knows Christ may be assured that he is not alone in his anxiety, but that Christ, too, has gone through it. And this means a completely new attitude toward the future; no longer is the future a befogged landscape into which I peer anxiously because all kinds of obscure perils are brewing there for me. No, everything is changed: we do not know what is coming, but we know *who* is coming. And he who possesses the last hour no longer needs to fear the next minute."
– Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986), 'On Being Afraid of Life'
in 'Christ and the Meaning of Life'
And here is a prayer:
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
– Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787)
Under the mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac.
To the Diocese of Fond du Lac
My Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. With the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), we are facing a serious public health crisis, unprecedented in our lifetime. Earlier reports compared this disease to the seasonal flu, but from China, Italy, Seattle, and other places we now know that this is a very serious, potentially life-threatening pandemic. The situation is changing from day to day, and there will be an impact on our shared life as the church.
I want our congregations to be prudent, but not to panic. Let us remember first of all that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)
The essentials of the Christian faith never go away, no matter how challenging the times, give thanks to God in all things, love God, love your neighbors, say your prayers.
What I am doing
I’m sure you and I are experiencing the same thing: lots of news, lots of advice, and lots of decisions to be made. In order to help me sort through the data and give the best direction, I have convened an ad hoc Covid-19 Task Force. Current members of that task force are:
That task force is tracking the best recommendations from public health experts and monitoring the response from fellow communities of faith as well as soliciting ideas and expertise from others in our diocese. I am also communicating with the deans and other diocesan leaders, as well as meeting virtually with the Standing Committee and the Executive Council in the coming week .
In addition to this letter to the parishes, I will be issuing more detailed advice to the clergy and wardens of the diocese. We will be working on preparation plans for a number of eventualities.
What we will be doing effective Monday, March 16, 2020
As Christians, and as members of this diocese, we will strive to balance two values:
This leads to a number of directives that continue or extend those that I issued last week
I appreciate that for a time I am requesting that many of our members stay home instead of going to church on Sundays. I want you to be aware that we do have some congregations in the diocese that already live stream their Sunday worship. I encourage you to attend one of them virtually on Sunday mornings until you are able to safely return to your own congregation’s worship. Here are two options:
Church Mission other than Worship
At this point, each congregation is encouraged to plan for ways to minimize gatherings, while still providing pastoral care, sacraments, and service.
Things to Think About
I recognize that the above instructions will create difficulties. But I believe they are the most prudent and faithful options at this moment. This is likely not the last statement on the topic I will need to make. We are entering a time of uncertainty and turmoil. None of us can quite foresee how society will appear next week, let alone a month or a year from now. We will need to extend the greatest of patience to one another as we explore this new landscape together. We will continue to be the church even as some of what that looks like changes. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to explore more fully what it means to truly be the body of Christ. As Christians we stand on the solid ground that is Jesus Christ. Especially in this season of Lent we remember that he who is God incarnate became human to stand in solidarity with us, shoulder to shoulder with us in temptation, in poverty, in suffering, in anxiety, and even in death, so that he could pave the way for us into everlasting life. Nothing in all creation can separate us from his love, and that includes viruses, economic uncertainty, or the disruption of our church life. We do not know what the future holds. But we know Who holds the future.
Under the Mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
Bishop of Fond du Lac
Communion and the Coronavirus
Instructions for the People of the Diocese of Fond du Lac
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac
I have received questions regarding the growing concern about possible spread of the coronavirus. First of all, I want to remind us that God’s love is greater than any disease or danger. So, we need not succumb to a spirit of fear. We will continue to gather for worship because that is what we do as Christians. Still, the assurance of faith does not mean that we do not exercise proper prudence and care for ourselves and one another. Seeking to be prudent in light of the potential spread of the coronavirus and more familiar flu viruses, I am directing members of the Diocese of Fond du Lac to adopt the following guidelines*.
While it is our faith that the sacraments are means of grace and not of sickness, they are physically administered, and we should take physical care. As well as the specific concern about coronavirus, this advice is generally applicable to all infectious disease.
Wash Hands. Priests presiding at the Eucharist, Eucharistic Ministers, and servers must wash their hands with soap prior to serving and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers immediately before the Preparation of the Table and Eucharistic prayer. I urge everyone to wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently in this season. The rule of thumb is to wash for about 20 seconds – or about as long as it takes to say the Lord’s Prayer.
Do Not Intinct. Because hands can be as much or more of a source of pathogens as lips, intinction (dipping the bread into the wine) is actually less safe than drinking and can introduce germs into the cup. No matter how careful we are, fingers will inevitably be dipped in the wine with the bread. Some research actually suggests that illness is less likely to spread when drinking from a metal chalice. Keep fingers out of the cup.
Consider Receiving Holy Communion in One Kind. It is Anglican teaching that to receive the sacrament in one kind only (i.e. just the bread) is to receive the sacrament in its entirety. The celebrant should always receive from the chalice. Should a communicant feel ill or not wish to drink from the chalice then he or she ought to receive the consecrated bread alone. There is no need to cease offering the chalice to the congregation for those who desire to receive it.
The Peace. Passing the Peace as a symbol of our reconciliation and commitment to belong to one another as members of the body of Christ is an essential element of the liturgy. But it is not essential that we shake hands or embrace one another in doing so. Greeting others verbally, with a wave, a nod and a smile suffice. It might be prudent to avoid hand shaking and hugging until the threat of infection has ebbed. Use your discretion and respect the boundaries others set for themselves.
Visiting. Pastoral visitors to homes and hospitals should observe all precautions in personal hygiene before and after such visits.
If You Think You Might be Sick (with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath) you should stay home and say Morning Prayer or otherwise join your prayers to those of your congregation from afar. And see a doctor ASAP.
Further direction might be given should the virus begin to spread more widely in the United States.
* (Adapted and expanded from those of the Diocese of London in the Church of England)
A printable copy of the guideline can be found here.
From the Happening leadership: Following several months of discernment between Happening leadership, the Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator, diocesan administrative staff, and the Bishop, the very difficult decision was made to cancel the upcoming Happening weekend in March. At this time, the Happening program will be put on, what we hope to be, a temporary hiatus. We apologize for any inconvenience or hardship this may cause those wishing to participate as either candidates or staff. That said, we extend our deep gratitude for St. Anne’s, De Pere who had been planning to host, as well as to our leadership team (students & adults) for their willingness to serve and work through this process.
In light of this news, we’d like to remind families around the diocese that there are still upcoming opportunities available for students to get plugged in within the diocesan youth community. There will be a 30 Hour Famine event at St. Thomas, Menasha (open to grades 6-12 & adult leaders) Feb. 14-15, and there is no cost to attend. Those in grades 9-12 will also have the opportunity to represent their congregations, as well as the Diocese of Fond du Lac, at the 2020 Province V Youth Event at Bellwether Farm Camp & Conference Center in the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio Feb. 28-Mar. 1. Cost is $100/person, and the diocese will cover travel costs (sign up has been extended to Feb. 10). Finally, those in grades 9-12 are welcome to apply by Jan. 31 to be part of the diocesan delegation to the 2020 Episcopal Youth Event, July 6-12 (travel dates included) in Washington, D.C. EYE is a triennial gathering of Episcopal high school students from all over the world, and it is an incredible opportunity to see a bigger view of the church.
If there are any additional questions, please feel free to contact Erin Wolf at email@example.com. Please continue to keep those connected to Happening in your prayers, and please continue to pray for and support the youth of the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
The Rev. Canon Ezgi Saribay Perkins has accepted a call to serve as Rector at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Ripon and St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel, Wautoma.
Mthr. Ezgi was born in Izmir, Turkey and grew up in a secular, Muslim family. She converted to Christianity while a student at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Drawn to the faith in the Episcopal Church, she experienced a calling to be a priest. She completed a Masters of Divinity at Nashotah House in 2015 and served congregations on Missouri prior to moving to Wisconsin in 2018 with her husband, the Very Rev. Patrick Perkins. She is Canon Precentor at St. Paul's Cathedral, Fond du Lac.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church has served the Ripon area as a parish since 1860. It is a worshiping community of over 50 baptized members with an average Sunday attendance of 35. Located in the heart of downtown on Ripon’s Gothic Mill Pond and near Ripon College, it's members are dedicated to the mission “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel was built in 1932 on Bugh's Lake, Wautoma and placed under the supervision of St. Peter's in the 1950's. Seating up to 25 people, the chapel is an intimate setting with a choir of birds, frogs and crickets. A small but dedicated group of parishioners and visitors gather weekly for the Eucharist and to hear God’s word.
Learn more about St. Peter's and St. Mary's Chapel here.
“There is great potential of building up God's kingdom there." Bishop Matthew Gunter shared. "There is strength and stability in communities and with the presence of Ripon College as well as being in vacationland, I expect that this is an area the expression of the faith through the Episcopal Church will expand."
Mthr. Ezgi's first Saturday in Wautoma is February 1 with her first Sunday in Ripon is February 2, 2020.
God Willing and the People Consenting, the Right Reverend Matthew A. Gunter, Eighth Bishop of Fond du Lac, shall ordain to the Sacred Order of Deacons in Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, Lisa Marie Ueda, On the 25th of January, 2020 at 11:00 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 51 West Division Street, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 54935. Lisa is a member of St. Thomas, Menasha.
Your prayers and presence are requested. Reception to follow.
A new year of the Diocesan Deacons School starts January 11, 2020 at St. Paul’s Cathedral , Fond du Lac. Two courses open to auditors are Church History (taught from 9-12 by The Very Rev. Patrick Perkins) and Old Testament (taught from 1-4 by The Rev. Dr. Tom McAlpine). Brief descriptions of each are provided below.
Courses are taught the 2nd Saturday of the month from January-May (except April on the 18th due to Easter) and September - December). Auditors are requested to attend all classes and do the reading, but have no prerequisites and do not need to do the homework. Auditors are requested to provide a donation to the Diocese of Fond du Lac in lieu of tuition. If you are interested in exploring signing up as an auditor for either or both course, email the instructor and they will contact you and provide a syllabus with additional information on the course: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
CHURCH HISTORY COURSE DESCRIPTION
This course is an overview of the history of the Christian Church, from the early Church, the Church in the East and the West, the reformation, the Church in America, Ecumenism, and the Anglican Communion. Emphasis will be placed on Church History through the ministry and perspective of a Deacon.
OLD TESTAMENT COURSE DESCRIPTION
We’ll explore the Old Testament in its various literary, historical, and theological contexts and its interpretation in service of Christian practice, with particular attention to the Book of Psalms. We’ll use The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha (5th ed.) and work through A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament (2nd ed.) by B. Birch, W. Brueggemann, T. Fretheim, and D. Petersen, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament by E. Davis, and Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East. By C. Hays. The lens the course will be taught through is a mission perspective.
Read Bishop Matt Gunter's Pastoral Address to the Diocesan Convention assembled in Appleton, Wisconsin on Friday, October 25, 2019.
“Lightning on the horizon.” That’s what the man said.
In 2005 I traveled to the Diocese of Renk of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan leading a delegation from the Diocese of Chicago. We had a companion relationship like the we have with the Diocese of Masvingo. There, we heard a story told by one of the pastors. During the civil war, this pastor was talking to a man who was not a Christian. When the man learned that the pastor belonged to the Episcopal Church, he said, “I know your church. Your church is like lightning on the horizon in a time of drought signaling the promise of rain.”
Prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the Rev. Canon John T. Splinter who died October 25, 2019. He was 78. He is survived by his wife Barbara.
John was a Wisconsin native who lived, worked and volunteered here his entire life. He graduated from UW-Madison and Nashotah House Seminary. He was ordained a priest on September 13, 1966, He served congregations in Racine, Greendale, Tomahawk, Antigo, Marshfield, Wausau and Oneida. After retirement in 1998 he served congregations in the Dioceses of Fond du Lac, Eau Claire and Milwaukee. In addition to being a parish priest, Fr. John was active at the diocesan level in a variety of capacities such as the Ecumenical Commission and Commission on Ministry. He was involved with Cursillo and served on its national board. He was installed as an Honorary Canon of the Cathedral June 7, 2003. He is noted as a life-long lover of nature, the arts and education.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 409 E. Court St., Janesville with the Rt. Rev. Matthew A. Gunter and the Rev. Kathy Monson Lutes officiating. Visitation will be on Saturday from 1:00 PM until the time of the service at the church.
Memorials would be greatly appreciated if made to Friends of Aztalan State Park near John’s childhood home and where he volunteered in later years. Friends of Aztalan State Park Visitor Center Fund P.O. Box 855 Lake Mills, WI 53551 or www.AztalanFriends.org.
An obituary is available here.
St. Anne's Episcopal Church in De Pere, Wisconsin has released the profile in the search for for its next Rector. The profile is available at diofdl.org/deperesearch where it may be downloaded as a PDF or read directly on the page. Additional information about De Pere is also available.
Province V of the Episcopal Church (dioceses in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and eastern Missouri) is hosting an open discussion on Dismantling Racism on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, at 10 am central. The discussion is led by the Rev. Susie Shafer, Province V representative to ECCAR (Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism). It is hoped this becomes a regular, ongoing conversation, quarterly or monthly.
The purpose of this conversation
Everyone is invited! Please share this invitation with your friends!
Phone: 669 900 6833, Meeting ID: 729 144 241
The Rev. Christopher T. Wilkerson has accepted a call to serve as Rector at All Saints Episcopal Church, Appleton. Fr. Christopher has served as Assistant to the Rector and Campus Minister at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Clemson, SC since 2017. He completed a Masters of Divinity at the School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee in 2017.
Prior to discernment of a call to the priesthood, Wilkerson was an Instructor of English at Spartanburg Community College for over a decade. A lifelong Episcopalian, he is a guitarist and songwriter who loves science fiction, poetry, theater and pop-culture. Fr. Christopher and his wife Anne have two elementary-aged daughters and are looking with interest at experiencing their first winter outside of the South.
All Saints Episcopal Church has served the Appleton area since 1856. It is a worshiping community of over 600 baptized members with an average Sunday attendance of 100. Located on the east side of downtown Appleton and next to Lawrence University, it is an altar-focused worshiping people involved in its community.
“All Saints is a vibrant and active congregation of the diocese," Bishop Matthew Gunter shared. "Adding the gifts that Fr. Christopher brings to share with strengthen the parish in spreading the Gospel and sharing God's love."
The Wilkersons will move to Appleton and Fr. Christopher's first Sunday is expected to be the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019.
The United Thank Offering (UTO) 2020 Annual Grants process is now open. Grants are awarded for projects in The Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion, each year with a different focus. For 2020, the focus is Bless: Share faith, practice generosity and compassion, and proclaim the Good News of God in Christ with hope and humility.
Details about writing the grant are available here. If you are considering submitting a grant, please contact Diocesan UTO Coordinator Cheryl Dobrzynski as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will call you to discuss your thoughts and provide direction of how to proceed. Applications will not be accepted if Cheryl has not been consulted.
Each diocese is allowed to submit one application. The deadline to submit applications to the Diocesan Office for consideration is Thursday, February 6th. This allows the Bishop and Cheryl enough time to decide which application will be forwarded.
Lakeshore CAP’s Door County Food Pantry is a non-sectarian, not-for-profit program that provides on-going and emergency healthy food assistance to low and limited income residents. Mary Koski, representing the Outreach Committee of the Episcopal Church of Christ the King Holy Nativity, Sturgeon Bay and Jacksonport, Wisconsin gave a $1,000 check to Sandi Soik, representing Lakeshore CAP’s Door County Food Pantry. The Sturgeon Bay and Jacksonport church congregations have pledged one thousand dollars each quarter to support local non-profit organizations.
I was on Facebook one day and saw a picture and explanation of a "Blessing Box." It was similar to the little libraries we see all over, but the focus of the Blessing Box was to put items (food, personal items, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.) in there that people could just take as needed. Donations could be put in the Blessing Box as well. I just loved this idea and thought it might be something St. Peter's could do.
Next I went to Fr. Marcus Cunningham with the idea, and he took it to the Vestry to discuss. The Vestry approved it! I am a member of Thrivent Financial, and as a member we are allowed and encouraged to do two Action Teams a year. An Action Team is planning some type of event that helps others in your community. Thrivent encourages each member to think of the ideas for events to help others in the community. The Action Team, if approved, is given a $250.00 Visa card to use for the planned event plus Live Generously t-shirts and other items to advertise the Action Team. The initial Action Team I applied for was to purchase the materials to make the Blessing Box and purchase food items if there was any leftover money. And my Action Team was approved!
God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. I began this journey toward Ordination when I was just a teenager. God told me that someday I would be a Priest. I politely told Him that there was just no way—at least not yet. That was my answer for a long time, until just a few years ago.
When we began the Circles of Light in the Diocese of Fond du Lac, God told me to join a Circle. I told Him the only way I could possibly do that considering my family dynamics and obligations, my church commitments, my job commitments, my garden, my life, my everything...was if we met in Merrill. Well, God brought it to Merrill. Long story short, we didn’t continue to meet in Merrill because our Circle included five women as far north as Merrill and as far south as Sheboygan. But I was already hooked. God orchestrated the first step and I followed.
After completing the second Circle of Light and meeting with the Commission on Ministry, others heard God’s call for me too. Again, having the same life circumstances as before, going away to Seminary is just not an option for me. I often wish I could have that experience, but I know it’s simply not my path.
I began a guided study toward Ordination, which I’ve been told is an ancient way of preparing for ministry. So far I have completed courses in Old Testament and New Testament and am mid-way through Church History. I have worked with our Bishop and with Father McAlpine as well as read a number of texts and other books, watched countless videos and sought out information relevant to my studies. I recently took a Chaplaincy Training through the IFOC and although I’m choosing not to seek licensing through them, the information was invaluable and the relationships I formed are an absolute gift.
Ascension in Merrill is the main focus of my ministry. I lead our Youth Ministry program, I serve as Senior Warden, I’m a Worship Leader and preach every few weeks. I’m excited to see what God is up to at our little church and I feel humbled and blessed that I get to be a part of it.
Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I juggle a full house, a full time job, and an active ministry as I attempt to learn all I need to learn in order to become the Priest God called me to be. I rest in the knowledge that God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.
Blessed Beyond Measure,
Intercession Episcopal Church, Stevens Point, a part of the Beloved Community with Redeemer Lutheran Church, will hold their annual Steak Dinner fundraiser on Saturday, September 28th from 4-8p.m. Tickets are $20 per person costs and gets a ribeye steak, grilled as you like it, baked potato with toppings, salad, roll and dessert. Soda/coffee is available for small offering. There will be hot dogs and chips available free of charge. There are also raffle baskets and several great silent auction items. This is Intercession's only fundraiser and proceeds will go to support the various traditional and non-traditional Outreach and Mission Action Team programs. . You may go home with some great gifts as well!
RSVP: In order to get a correct number of rib eye steaks, we need an exact count by Sept. 18. Call the office if you will be attending (715) 341-3233.
Beloved Community is located at 900 Brilowski Road, on the eastside of Stevens Point behind Fleet Farm.
When the Monk Gardens in Wausau was vandalized this past summer, some younger parishioners of St. John the Baptist, Wausau took action. Together with friends, they organized an art and bake sale in the parish courtyard and raised over $1,000 for Monk Gardens. St. John's courtyard is near downtown, and hosts many events so is well known in the community.
This outreach event sparked an idea for Fr. Copeland Johnston, Rector of St. John's He has announced a plan to continue to support goodwill efforts with a “Noisy Bucket." On the first Sunday of each month, loose change will be collected in buckets by the children of the church. Reminders will ask folks to bring change from dressers, car cup holders, pockets, and sofa cushions on that Sunday. After a reasonable amount has been collected, the children will direct where the money will go in the community.
Perhaps your congregation might want to start your own "Noisy Bucket"?
Erik Evenson is a Seminarian from the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. His sponsoring congregation is St. John the Baptist, Wausau. He recently sent this letter to update the diocese about his seminarian experience. Please keep Erik and our other seminarians in your prayers.
Dear Diocese of Fond du Lac,
It’s the start of my middler year here at Seminary of the Southwest. We miss being with all of you back in the Diocese of Fond du Lac but are happy the process is moving forward. We are just getting out of the hot summer temperatures here is Austin. During August we had a string of 20 days that the temperatures were over 100 degrees. The positive of that is that I am loosing weight. I have almost 80 pounds lost since I left for Seminary last year. Amy is doing well with her job she works as the marketing and creative manager for Diamondback branding. And our wonder pup Gus is a positive member of the community (our cook saves scraps for Gus, and he is officially allowed in the buildings on campus.
This semester my study load is very big, the positive of that is that I am very interested in my course work so it is not a burden. I am taking the following classes:
My field parish work officially began. I will be robed and serving at the altar each Sunday. My supervisor said this is the best way to get comfortable behind the altar. I am really looking forward to this part of my formation. The school aspect is of course important, but the field parish (and participating in CPE) is where the rubber meets the road. My work study this year is in the Library I try and pick up as many shifts as they let me to help make ends meet.
I look forward to getting to see you at the Diocesan Convention in October. I will be flying back to attend convention and preach at St John's.
Thank you all so much for all your help guidance and prayers. I/we could not do this without you and you mean the world to us.
Take Care and God Bless from Austin
Yours in Christ
If you would like to provide financial support for Erik, you may send a check payable to Seminary of the Southwest, 501 East 32nd, Austin, TX 78705 with "Erik Evenson" in the memo and a note to add it to his educational expenses account.
Julie Hendrix is a Seminarian from the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac. Her sponsoring congregation is St. Thomas, Menasha. She recently sent this letter to update the diocese about her seminarian experience. Please keep Julie and our other seminarians in your prayers.
Dear Diocese of Fond du Lac:
As I am starting my second year of seminary at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, I thought it might be a good time to give an update as to how I’m doing.
Nashotah is located about 35 miles west of Milwaukee, close to Oconomowoc, Delafield and Waukesha. Nashotah House is a wonderful community -- it has been super supportive of me and my family -- I am very blessed to be a part of such wonderful people!
So, last May, I completed my first year of seminary -- I took a variety of courses ranging from Ascetical Theology, Church History, Old Testament, Hebrew, Church Music, Homiletics, among others. My favorite course has been Church Music because it spoke to the integration of the liturgy and music -- something that everyone is interested in! I also enjoyed my Homiletics class very much -- preaching is such an awesome responsibility, so to do it well and to get good feedback both from my professor and my peers was invaluable.
This coming term, I am going to be taking Greek, New Testament I, Historical Theology, Church History II, Liturgy II, and Student Pastoral Ministry.
As part of our time here at Nashotah, we are required to attend a local church -- hopefully one in which we will serve as a seminarian. I attend St. Matthias in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Fr. David Simmons is the rector. Fr. Simmons is a Virginia Theological Seminary graduate and an oblate of the Order of Julian of Norwich. The congregation is lovely and very welcoming. They have been very supportive of me and my family.
This past summer, I spent most of my time in Clinical Pastoral Education. This course was probably the toughest, yet most beneficial course I have taken yet. I served as a chaplain in Bethel Homes in Oshkosh. While there, I made daily pastoral visits to people who were in the independent living apartments, the assisted nursing apartments, and the full care nursing home. I led worship services twice a week, Wednesday and Sundays. I got very attached to “my people” and miss them terribly already.
Last year, I was a Choral Scholar member -- the Nashotah House choir, a 4 part choir, sings every day, and travels to various churches and cathedrals to perform. I was an alto and very much enjoyed my time learning how to sing Anglican chants.
This year, I will be a sacristan. A sacristans are students who facilitate twice daily offices and daily Mass which is the core of our community life at Nashotah House. We help train those who are serving in various functions of the chapel life, whether they be a lector, thurifer, torch bearer, eucharistic minister or other functions.
Finally, my family is doing great -- in fact, I recently became a grandmother for the first time! I’m thrilled because he is a very happy, calm baby. My kids, Daniel, Susana, and John are doing wonderfully -- and my husband, Steve, is happy and continuing his good work in Ghana, Africa.
Thank you all for your prayers and support -- I know that without them, I could not do the work I am doing and want to do.
If you would like to provide financial support for Julie, you may send a check payable to Nashotah House, 2777 Mission Road, Nashotah, WI 53058 with "Julie Hendrix" in the memo and a note to add it to her educational expenses account.
St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Wausau will host the Celebration of New Ministry with its new Rector, the Rev. Copeland Johnston at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 17, 2019. All are welcome and invited to attend. The service marks the transition of ministry for the congregation and the priest as they live into a new relationship in serving the Gospel.