Dear brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Fond du Lac,
The shooting this past Sunday of Jacob Blake in Kenosha places violence, racism, policing, protesting, rioting, and looting in front of us again. There is a lot we do not know, and we expect there will be a full and just enquiry into it all. But any shooting is tragic. And given what we have seen in recent months a black man being shot in the back is disturbing.
It is also disturbing that out-of-state armed vigilantes were allowed to wander the streets after curfew, leading to the killing of two people and the wounding of another. That the shooter was white and able to walk away without interference from the police is troubling.
We know that police work can be dangerous. And most police officers intend good. Still, there are policies for the legitimate use of potentially lethal force. When we see repeated examples of excessive use of force, disproportionately toward people of color, we sense that something must change. We can appreciate and support the work that police officers do while also seeking reform for better policing practices.
Our African-American brothers and sisters report a pattern of violence and mistreatment by too many police officers. This causes grief, anger, outrage, and fear. We can disapprove of rioting, violence, and looting while also supporting legitimate protest against mistreatment. Sadly, the stories of their own experiences of mistreatment are not hard to come by from people of color. For the sake of truth and love, we need to listen to their stories.
There has been progress in race relations in our society, yet racism remains pervasive. Our diocesan Mosaic Task Force continues to work to help us listen, learn, and better understand the persistence of racism. We must reflect with rigorous honesty upon our own racial prejudices – as we do with every sinful tendency.
Whatever else we know about Mr. Blake, he is a child of God, beloved by Jesus. As Christians we are called to love him. We pray for him.
Whatever else we know about Officer Sheskey, he is a child of God, beloved by Jesus. As Christians we are called to love him. We pray for him.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to pray and to love. We are called to be people of the truth – even when it is inconvenient. We are called to care and to seek justice – especially for the people society does not seem to care about. I call on us to commit ourselves to being such a people. Pray for peace; pray for justice.
This year's Bishop's Annual Appeal calls for diocesan members to give to their congregation beyond normal giving, give to the United Thank Offering (UTO), and to pray. We are grateful for those who have given, and renew the appeal to give as you are able. We will announce the UTO gifts received at the diocesan Eucharistic Festival August 29 so encourage you to give to the United Thank Offering online. You may identify your diocese and congregation. Help us exceed any past totals and give to UTO today!
St. John's Episcopal Church, New London has released its profile in the search for its next Vicar. The profile is at diofdl.org/newlondonsearch and may be downloaded as a PDF or read on the page. Additional information about New London is also available.
The Covid Task Force of the Diocese of Fond du Lac released "Back to the Buildings" with guidance for congregations for in-person worship. The guidelines limit the number of participants to 10 with additional directions for reducing the risk of transmission to provide the safest worship environment we are able to. These include social distancing, face coverings, use of hand sanitizer, and one-way traffic to name a few. Some congregations have started in-person worship, many have chosen to wait, and some are still considering the course of action they wish to take.
When the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the State of Wisconsin trends down over a two-week period, the Task Force will determine if the number of persons for in-person activities will increase.
Why two weeks? Many factors impact trends, but based on past numbers, it appears two weeks is a long enough window to see a trend as compared to day to day variations.
Why Wisconsin (and not counties)? More data results in better reliability. County by county numbers can be helpful for determining hot spots, but not as reliable in determining trends. There are limitations for trend determination from population size and that people don't limit travel and interactions to those only from one county.
This criteria of a two-week trend does not mean we increase immediately. It means it is the point when the Task Force will examine the various factors to determine if moving is warranted. For example, if new cases doubled each week over 4 weeks followed by a slow decrease over 2 weeks, it is unlikely the limit would change because the total number of people with the virus would be much higher than it is today. Another example: if the rate declined over 2 weeks, but the death rate and hospitalization rate increased, these increased might lead the Task Force to decide not to change the 10 person limitation.
The Task Force recognizes there is a desire to worship in-person. It also recognizes doing so should not create unnecessary risk to the health and well-being of those worshipers. Please be assured that members of the Task Force consider these factors as it continues to deliberate the best course of action for the congregations of the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan, has released its profile in the search for its next Rector. The profile is at diofdl.org/sheboygansearch and may be downloaded as a PDF or read on the page. Additional information about Sheboygan is also available.
The Rev. Erin Kirby, Rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Minocqua has announced acceptance of a call to serve St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion, North Carolina. Mthr. Erin has served as Rector of St. Matthias since 2015. She has been active in the community and the diocese, serving as Chair of the Mosaic Task Force and on the Executive Council. Her final Sunday with St. Matthias is July 26. May God continue to bless Erin in continuing to serve in ordained ministry.
God was willing and the people consented. On Saturday, July 18, 2020 the Right Reverend Matthew A. Gunter, Eighth Bishop of Fond du Lac, ordained Nicole Misoni Beeck to the Sacred Order of Deacons in Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The ordination service took place at Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan and was livestreamed and may be viewed here. As Bishop Matt noted on Facebook, "We have a new deacon! Congratulations to the Rev Deacon Nicci Beeck. Except for this picture and the actual laying on of hands we maintained proper physical distance throughout"
Deacon Nicci began her discernment towards ordained ministry when she attended a Circles of Light, a discernment process of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. After receiving the needed affirmations, she began the diocesan Deacon School, completing coursework, retreats, and field education and outreach/pastoral care community experience. She was ordained a deacon following approval of the Commission on Ministry, Grace, Sheboygan's Vestry and Rector, Standing Committee and the Bishop.
Bishop Matt has assigned Deacon Nicci to serve at St. Paul's, Plymouth under the authority of Archdeacon Michele Whitford, Vicar. She continues to work as parish administrator of Grace, Sheboygan.
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, diocesan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, has been nominated by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Eau Claire to become its Provisional Bishop, pending the election at the Diocese of Eau Claire’s diocesan convention in November 2020. He is the only nominee following Eau Claire’s discussion with its four neighboring dioceses. The nomination was made with the assent of the Standing Committee and Executive Council of the Diocese of Fond du Lac and Bishop Gunter has accepted the nomination.
The leadership of both dioceses have begun discussion of specific details for the continuation of Gunter as Bishop of Fond du Lac while serving as Provisional Bishop of Eau Claire. The arrangement of a diocesan Bishop serving as Provisional Bishop of a neighboring diocese is not unknown in the Episcopal Church. Planning will involve both dioceses to provide for a healthy balance for Bishop Gunter while serving the Episcopal needs of the Dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire.
It is appropriate to acknowledge that over the past 50 years, the dioceses have engaged in conversation and action about shared ministry, including the possibility of junctioning in 2011. It is important to note that while Bishop Gunter will serve both dioceses concurrently, the nomination is made independent of such discussion. Rather, it is made following an intentional transition process developed by the Diocese of Eau Claire, anticipating the retirement of the Rt. Rev. William Jay Lambert, III in November. This does not preclude the possibility that such discussions may occur in the future, but it should be understood that each diocese will remain fully separate, yet continue to walk alongside one another in spreading the Gospel as we have for more than 90 years.
“It is my hope and prayer,” Bishop Gunter shared, “that as a bishop of the Church, I am able to guide and lead each diocese in a way that will strengthen the mission and ministry of the Church in living out the Good News. How each diocese does this will be different, but the goal of spreading the Gospel is the same.”
Additional details will be communicated as they are determined.
The Diocese of Fond du Lac maintains a companion diocese relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe. In late May, Bishop Matt and Bishop Godfrey enjoyed a Zoom conversation prior to Companion Diocese Sunday (watch here). Recently, Bishop Godfrey sent a report about the diocese during the pandemic. The report includes information about the Transfiguration Skills Centre which was supported by the Bishop's Annual Appeal in 2019. Since the relaxation of COVID19 regulations, activities have just started. Production of pigs is already underway. Planting of vegetables in the garden has started. Chicken rearing and egg production will be resumed shortly. There is a vision to have the capacity to supply the surrounding boarding schools with farm produce. Read the complete report, with pictures here.
Prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the Robyn Meyer who died July 6, 2020. She was 83. Robyn is the wife of the Rev. Canon Robert "Bob" Meyer, retired priest of the diocese, who served St. Mark’s, Waupaca, St. Olaf’s, Amherst , Christ the King, Sturgeon Bay, Holy Nativity, Jacksonport and as a supply priest after retirement in 1995. The Meyer's resided in Tremont, Illinois and she died at Pekin Manor after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
She was born May 10, 1937 in Cook County, IL to Edwin C. and Joy Bacon Witwer of Niles, MI. She married Dr. Robert B. Meyer on February 3, 1962 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles, MI. He survives along with one daughter, Valerie (James) Moore of Tremont; three grandsons, Nate Danz, Matthew Moore, and Jason Moore, all of Tremont; and her twin brother, Scott Witwer of Niles, MI. She was preceded in death by her parents and one infant daughter, Albion Gabrielle.
She attended school in Niles and Kemper Hall, Kenosha, WI from which she graduated in 1955. She attended the University of Michigan, Colorado A & M College, where she was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, and received her B.A. from Western Michigan in 1962.
When her husband left teaching at Monmouth College in Illinois to enter Seminary in New York City, Robin obtained a job with Manufacture Hanover Trust in their International Department as one who “floated” among their various branches in Manhattan. During this time, she foiled two attempted bank robberies. After leaving New York, she worked successively at Community Bank and Swearington Wholesale in Canton, as a receptionist in the Fulton County State’s Attorney’s Office, Lewistown and as the librarian at Lewistown Grade School. When they lived in Missouri, she worked as a “Homemaker for the Elderly” through an entitlement program held by an area nursing home. This proved to be her favorite job as she found her special gift of working with the elderly. She later became a member of the Waupaca County, WI Commission on Aging.
She was an avid reader, enjoyed fishing, and being with her grandchildren. She made Cursillo in 1976 in Peoria and was on teams in Peoria, Western Missouri, and in the Diocese of Fond du lac, WI, where she was Rectora of Monarch Cursillo #16. She was a member of the Rebecca Circle at First English Lutheran Church and a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Peoria, where services will be held after Covid-19 restrictions allow. Visitation will be held at the church prior to the service. Davis-Oswald Funeral Home in Tremont is assisting with the arrangements.
Burial of cremains will he at a later date in Union Cemetery, Oak Harbor, OH.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Peoria, First English Lutheran Church in Peoria, St. James Episcopal Church in Lewistown, Tremont Rescue 702, the Alzheimer’s Association, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
A special thanks goes to the staff at Heddington Oaks and Pekin Manor for their loving care.
For some, understanding the history of racism in America is hard to grasp. In a recent clergy virtual gathering, Bishop Matt shared a 20-minute video from the creator of Veggie Tales which has informed him about that history with a broader understanding. If you are looking for a better understanding, this video, "Holy Post -Racism in America" is recommended viewing.
The diocesan Covid-19 Task Force has released "Back to the Buildings" here. It provides direction and guidelines for the first stage of in-person gatherings for our church buildings. Congregations need to prepare, so vestries and clergy will need to review the document, determine if they plan to re-open when approved by the Bishop, then determine how to best implement the guidelines and directives in their local context.
No date of return to the church buildings has been decided, but will be no sooner than June 28. This target date allows vestries the time to do the homework, plan, and prepare (for example, getting a supply of hand sanitizer).
The goal is to have gatherings which reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible to create the safest environment for the in-person gathering of the Body of Christ. The document is downloadable here or may be viewed online below.
The Rev. Tyler C. Richards has accepted a call to serve as Rector at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, De Pere.
Fr. Tyler is originally from Alabama. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Alabama. He completed a Masters of Divinity at from The School of Theology at The University of The South (Sewanee) currently serves as Rector of Transfiguration Episcopal Church in Indian River of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.
St. Anne's Episcopal Church has served the De Pere area since 1935 with roots as a worshipping community dating to as early as 1849. It is a worshiping community of 250 baptized members with an average Sunday attendance of 100. Located on De Pere's east side near De Pere High School, it's members are dedicated to being “a Family Living and Growing in Christ.”
Fr. Tyler, his wife Colleen, and their baby daughter Emery will join the St. Anne’s family as soon as circumstance allows, hopefully in July.
Learn more about St. Anne's here.
It was March 16, 2020 in response to the directives from the CDC and governmental agencies that Bishop Matthew Gunter suspended in-person public worship in the Diocese of Fond du Lac. Today, together with the diocesan Covid Task Force, he has released Celebrating Eucharist During the Covid Pandemic to provide direction during the current pandemic situation. The document provides direction by which the Eucharist may be celebrated in a congregation. Offering the Eucharist in this fashion is optional.
"The intent is to allow for the Eucharist, with a small community gathering in-person to represent the congregation as a whole" Bishop Gunter commented. "It is not a return to our regular worship, but the Church providing the opportunity to have Eucharist given our current circumstance." Conditions for the Eucharist include only 3 or 4 persons present for the service who maintain social distance. The directions are within Wisconsin's Stay Safe at Home order and are at least as safe as going to the grocery store.
It is expected that congregations who exercise this option may livestream or record it for online distribution. Those participating online may be using a form of spiritual communion in the Christian tradition: when one is unable — because of some unavoidable exigency — to participate in the Eucharist and/or to physically receive the Sacrament. St Thomas Aquinas once defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing him as if we had actually received him.” St Teresa of Avila wrote: “When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.” St Jean Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, wrote “A spiritual communion acts on the soul as blowing does on a cinder-covered fire which was about to go out. Whenever you feel your love of God growing cold, quickly make a spiritual communion.”
"We know God is present in the Sacrament. These directions allow the people of Fond du Lac to worship in a different way, but one recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world." Bishop Matt added. "This is not what we are used to, and it may be comfortable. However, we know the sacrifice and offering of the Eucharist, and with it “ourselves, our souls, and bodies” to God by the Church, even in a small assembly, is a spiritual good in itself."
From Bishop Matt:
Dear Members of the Diocese of Fond du Lac,
I have been pleased with the way our congregations have continued to find ways to be the church despite the challenges presented by Covid-19. Clergy and lay leaders have found creative means of leading prayer worship while we are dispersed. Members have found ways of staying connected to one another. Congregations have proven agile in making sure their outreach ministries continue serving those in need. There is no denying the losses. Regular worship has been suspended. Events have been canceled or postponed. Still, God has remained faithful to his church and you have demonstrated a responding faithful resilience. I am confident you will continue to do so as long as this lasts in whatever ways it lasts.
We will also need to demonstrate that same creative faithful resilience with our Diocesan Summer Camp. Our Camp Director, Erin Wolf, and I have been in conversation and decided it would be unwise hold camp in the usual way. This is not an easy decision given how important we know camp is. Many of you know how much I personally love attending camp every year. But given the uncertainty of where things will be with the infection rate, the likelihood of ongoing restriction of some kind, and our own determination not to put our children, youth or staff at risk, this is the decision we need to make.
The good news is that just as our congregations have found creative ways to continue being the church differently, plans are being made to be camp differently. We can still provide opportunities for connecting with friends, learning more about following Jesus as members of the church, and having fun. I will let Erin tell you about those plans.
From Camp Director Erin Wolf:
The ever-evolving nature of our current pandemic has led us to make the decision that the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac Summer Camp will not happen at Camp Lakotah this summer. We know this decision will disappoint those who hold camp near and dear to their hearts. Our camping community continues to be held in prayer as we grieve the loss of a beloved opportunity to gather in-person. But there will be camp!
We are immensely blessed to have a volunteer staff who is willing to take this opportunity to connect our community in a transformative way with Camp @ Home. During our scheduled camp dates of June 7-21, we will offer times of online check-ins and provide for at-home camp activities. Camp staff will create videos showing how to do crafts or singing a song (and more) featured on the diocesan YouTube channel, viewable at your convenience. Camp @ Home won’t replicate the experience of gathering in-person, but God is with us wherever and however we come together, even in a digital space that is different from what we are accustomed to.
Above all, though, please pray. Pray for our friends at Camp Lakotah, for our staff, for graduating seniors and all our campers & families. These are difficult times we are living in, and God will continue to see us through!
Thank you all for your patience and prayers as we continue to navigate this uncharted territory. We hope you will consider joining us for the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac Summer Camp through Camp @ Home.
Grace and peace,
Erin Wolf (she/her/hers)
P.S. If conditions allow it, we hope to have an in-person Camp Day gathering at Camp Lakotah later this summer. We’d have time for a variety of camp activities that we all love including worship, games, crafts, and hopefully, gaga ball! More information will be shared as we continue to learn more about what we are able to safely offer camp families.
Q&A (Questions and Answers)
Q: What is Camp @ Home? What does that mean for me and/or my camper(s)?
A: Camp @ Home combines scheduled online gatherings via Zoom for campers & staff and @ home activities for campers. Online time gives opportunity to check-in and hang out; worship using the Daily Office; conversations on a topic in both large & small groups. @ home activities include doing camp activities @ home, like crafts, campfire with s'mores, and singing camp graces at mealtimes.
Q: What if I don’t have materials for activities or a Book of Common Prayer? How can I participate?
A: Register for Camp @ Home at diofdl.org/camp by Memorial Day (May 25) and we’ll send you a camp care package at no cost! It will include items like the online gathering schedule via Zoom, camp graces for mealtimes, printouts for worship, materials for some of the projects, and low- or no-cost camp activities to do at home.
Q: What if I don’t have reliable access to the internet? How can I participate?
A: Register for Camp @ Home at diofdl.org/camp (well, or call us at 920-830-8866 as you may not have internet access) by June 1 and tell us about this need. We will do all we can to get you connected either through another camp family nearby or a local congregation. And if that doesn’t work, you can still join the online times via phone and will still get the care package for @ home activities.
Q: Where do I find the current information on Camp @ Home?
A: Visit the summer camp webpage at diofdl.org/camp. We also send out updates via email and through diocesan social media. If you really need to know now, contact the Camp Director.
Q: What can I do to support camp at this time? How might I help?
A: Let’s count the ways you can help:
Q: How do I contact the Camp Director?
A: To contact Camp Director Erin “Erni” Wolf send an email to email@example.com. If you need to talk directly to Erin, call (920) 830-8866 and you can get connected.
Prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the Rev. Malcolm A. Hughes who died April 6, 2020. He was 87. He is survived by his wife his wife, Lydia Barnes, his children Christopher (Leanne), Sally (Seth), Michael (Kim) and grandchildren.
Malcolm spent ten years in the Canadian military before receiving his BA from McGill University and his Masters of Divinity from Bishops University. He was ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1960 and served the Church in many capacities, including mission work in the Caribbean and Malaysia, Rector of St. James (Hudson, PQ), St. Mary’s (Como, PQ) and St John the Baptist (Pointe Claire, PQ), Executive Director of the Diocese of Montreal, and as Editor-in-Chief of the Montreal Diocesan newspaper. He later served the Episcopal Church as Rector of Saint Saviour’s (Bar Harbor, ME) and St. John’s (Shawano, WI) from 2004-2008 before settling in Palm City, Florida to enjoy retirement.
Malcolm combined his passion for sports and children by working with a number of youth athletic programs over the years, including coaching high school football and tennis as well as refereeing soccer. He also loved the arts by performing in local theater groups, singing every chance he could and leading a local Scottish band as Drum Major. He was an accomplished spoon player and a published poet.
Malcolm cherished his family and friends and will be dearly missed. A memorial service will take place at a later date. Donations in Malcolm’s name can be sent to Treasure Coast Hospice, 5000 Dunn Rd., Fort Pierce, FL 34981 or to your local library as he was an avid reader.
Join Bishop Matt as he reflects on today, Holy Saturday. A day to pause, a day to acknowledge pain, suffering. and to think about the One who died. And to also remember that something more is coming tomorrow.
Watch Bishop Matt's message here
For Easter Sunday Eucharist livestream click here
Why do Christians call today “Good” Friday? Click here to reflect on this and the cross with Bishop Matt in his Friday in Holy Week video message.
In his Maundy Thursday video, Bishop Matt discusses the love of Jesus and what His new commandment in John 13:34 means especially in our current Covid-19 times.
Watch his message here
In today’s Holy week message Bishop Matt reminds us that Christ is the solid rock on which we stand, and that all other ground is sinking sand. Our hearts can be reoriented to Him through suffering.
Bishop Matt invites us to examine our hearts today. To allow Jesus to transform our hearts during this Holy week. Please watch here.
"Jesus is always with us" is part of Bishop Matt's Holy Week video message to the diocese. Please click here to watch Monday's message for Holy Week.
Holy week this year is going to feel very different due to restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Bishop Matt addresses this in a video address.
Watch Bishop Matt’s Holy Week message here