Bishop Matt Gunter has issued a Call to Prayer for the Episcopal dioceses of Wisconsin during the Inauguration week. Episcopalians are encouraged to offer prayers daily using the prayers found on pages 820-824 in the Book of Common Prayer. These prayers include prayers for the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority, for Congress or a State Legislature, for Courts of Justice, for Sound Government, for Social Justice and In Times of Conflict. The call document also includes a prayer from the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer for Government Transition.
The call includes an announcement of an overnight prayer vigil held in the Cathedral of each Wisconsin diocese. From 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 19 to 12:00 Noon Wednesday, January 20. There will be a livestream the entire time, with prayers offered each hour on the hour from Christ Church Cathedral (Diocese of Eau Claire, episcopaldioceseofeauclaire.com), St. Paul’s Cathedral (Diocese of Fond du Lac, diofdl.org) and All Saints’ Cathedral (Diocese Milwaukee, diomil.org).
Bishop Gunter has been eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac since 2014. He was elected to serve as Bishop Provisional for the Diocese of Eau Claire the end of 2020 and is also currently serving the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Milwaukee as its Visiting Bishop. He notes that "in these distressing times, it is fitting for Christians to lift our voices together to God. It is also fitting for us to engage in ways small and large as we seek to bear witness to the way of Jesus which is the way of love and to play our part in the healing and restoration of what is broken."
Download the Call and Prayers here.
Bishop Matt Gunter joins other bishops of the Episcopal Church in issuing a letter encouraging the People of God to stay away from protests and counter-protests that may happen up to the inauguration of President-elect Biden. The letter acknowledges "public demonstrations carry significant risk of both violence and exposure to COVID-19" and "we can best follow our vocation to be peacemakers by staying away from places where harm could come to God’s people."
The call may be to stay home from protests, but as the bishops note, "staying home does not, however, mean staying silent." A number of avenues in "raising our voices to support our country’s democracy," are provided. The Episcopal Public Policy Network provides opportunities to advocate for peace, justice and the dignity of every human being. You join the network here.
"Most of all," the bishops conclude, "in the coming days, we ask you to pray. This collect from the Book of Common Prayer holds particular meaning as we seek to face the days ahead with courage, wisdom, and grace:
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The complete letter may be downloaded here or read below.
Bishop Matt Gunter is calling the people of the Diocese of Fond du Lac to pray for the election taking place November 3rd. A Season of Prayer resource offers a new prayer each day starting October 9th. To download this resource, as well as other voter education resources for people of faith, visit diofdl.org/votingresources.
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.
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.
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."
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.”
Bishop Matt Gunter will be the guest preacher at Nashotah House on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The Solemn Eucharist will be held in St. Mary Chapel on the Nashotah House campus at 4:30 p.m.
Nashotah House was founded in 1842. It exists to form persons for ministry in the breadth of the Catholic Tradition, for the Episcopal Church, Churches in the Anglican Tradition, the wider Anglican Communion, and Ecumenical Partners, thus continuing to serve the historic role as “The Mission,” empowering the Church for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Diocesan Postulant (a person approved to pursue ordination) Julia Hendrix is a seminarian at Nashotah House.
On Prayer Book Revision
One question before General Convention this summer was whether it is time to revise our Book of Common Prayer. The bigger question was, if we revised it, how extensive or comprehensive should revision be? The answer coming out of convention was a cautious “yes” to a process for some revision, but “no” to comprehensive or substantive revision. Since there seems to be some confusion, I offer a few thoughts about what this means.
Prayer book revision is not unusual. The Episcopal Church Book of Common Prayer, first ratified in 1789, has been revised may times – in 1892, 1928, and 1979. The 1892 and 1928 revisions were relatively minor. The 1979 revision was quite comprehensive and substantive. Each generation, it seems, takes a fresh look at whether the current version conveys the eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and enables the church to articulate its worship of the one, holy, and undivided Trinity, as clearly and fully as possible in contemporary language.
The resolution passed at General Convention (A068 Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer) “memorialized” the current 1979 Book of Common Prayer which I take to mean that it is the standard prayer book going forward and we will not be replacing it soon. If at some point we produce a new prayer book, it will look and feel very much like the one we are using.
Even so, there is need to find ways in our common worship to be more inclusive. That means avoiding using “man” and masculine pronouns when we are referring to people - men and women. Though many of us grew up with this literary convention, that understanding is increasingly not the case. For many, the language has become jarring and distracting to worship.
What is theologically trickier is determining more “expansive” language for our common worship. That means finding ways to speak of and to God in language that does not always imply God is somehow “male”. “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is a fundamental Christian name for God we will continue to use, and we will not do away with all masculine language for God we have received from the Bible. But both the Bible and the Christian tradition provides a rich variety of names and images for God - some inanimate, some feminine. There are theologically responsible ways to incorporate some of these names and images to enrich our common worship. We have already experienced this inclusivity in recent years without revising the prayer book. General Convention authorized resources like Enriching Our Worship, containing inclusive and expansive Eucharistic liturgies, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. Some diocesan congregations have been using these liturgies on occasion.
I share the sentiment of the first Bishop of Fond du Lac, John Henry Hobart Brown, who said this about revision of the Book of Common Prayer:
What General Convention proposed is neither a “stiff conservatism” nor radical revision leading to a “rude shock”. So with my approval, some of our diocesan congregations will be using some new liturgies over the next months and years as we enter into this process of discerning what kind of revisions are helpful. If yours is a congregation using these liturgies, your input about your experience will be a valuable contribution to the church’s discernment as we adapt our worship to the requirements of the present age.
Under the Mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
Bishop of Fond du Lac
200 people gathered on Saturday, October 21, 2017 to celebrate the diocesan family of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. The 143rd Convention was held on the Oneida Reservation just outside of Green Bay. Wondering if “we aren’t being called to cast into the deep,” the Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter established a focus during the Eucharist held at Church of the Holy Apostles, the oldest Episcopal congregation in the diocese and the State of Wisconsin.
The day started with fellowship and a delightful continental breakfast provided at the Holy Apostles Parish Hall. Attendees then came together for worship in the stone church building, where they heard Bishop Matt preach about the challenges the Church faces today, and encouraging each of us to go deeper, so “we are more likely to experience the awesome, beautiful, goodness of God that transforms” as he reminded the congregation of the original diocesan motto [Duc] In Altum. (Read the Address here . . . )
Following a short drive from Holy Apostles to the Radisson Conference Center, the business of the day was hearing reports from a variety of ministries, electing those to serve on diocesan committees, discuss and adopt resolutions modifying the constitution and canons of the diocese, and approving the budget for 2018. The Seventh Sunday after Easter (May 13 in 2018) was designated as Companion Diocese Sunday. Last year’s convention established a relationship with the Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe and Bishop Matt announced an invitation has been extended for its representatives to attend the 2018 Convention.
Greetings were received from the Rev. Dr. Brad Hauff, who serves as the Episcopal Church Indigenous Missioner. Attendees browsed over a dozen display tables from diocesan ministries and vendors of liturgical vestments and maple syrup! Giving was encouraged to support the United Thank Offering and the Church Periodical Club. A deficit budget was approved, but with plans in place for funding the deficit.
As one delegate noted in their evaluation “the convention was not what I expected. It was efficiently run, informative and helped me to see how my congregation fits into the work of the church at the diocesan level.” While the purpose of the day was taking care of business, the effect of the day was one that left many with the question “What will you do to go into the deep?”
For more details of the convention, visit diofdl.org/convention.
The bishops of the Episcopal Church, who have been meeting in Alaska for the past week, have issued a 'Word to the Church' providing a summary of the meeting and what they learned. Bishop Matt Gunter posted his experience on his Facebook page with pictures and video. He also delivered gifts of a book and strawberry basket to the people of Beaver, Alaska by the people of Holy Apostles, Oneida. Read the full document and link to Stewardship of Creation resources at episcopalchurch.org.
Bishop Gunter encourages you to donate to the Hurricane Harvey Response Fund of Episcopal Relief and Development to provide emergency assistance to people recovering from the impact of flooding after this major storm. Your generous support will supply critical necessities for communities immediately and for the long-term as they recover and rebuild. Give online here.