Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reflections on the 104th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 7-8 November 2014

Good convention. Having sessions in the sanctuary of the UMC church next door to the smaller facilities at St John's Episcopal in Sharon, PA was a little odd and awkward but more than adequate. It was a bit difficult to take notes and those of us with laptops had to balance them on our knees. Not to mention the lack of wifi - which we will have next year. I missed the sociability of having another parish at the table and getting to know people we might otherwise never encounter. Of course it prevented someone I won't identify from once again being somewhat disrespectful during speakers. All in all everyone could see and hear and that was good.

Dear convention planners: PLEASE make readable nametags next year!!! We don't need to know where it is, just who we are in large print.

I LOVE Facebook!!! A person I've known online for several years visited and we got to meet in person for the first time. He's a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, PA with whom we share a bishop. I think I was one of the few outside the Standing Committee who knew him. He's a great guy with lots of good ideas and a wonderful sense of humor. 8-)

I also know the emissary from the Episcopal Diocese of Western NY. She is one of my favorite preachers. Even after I choose a parish home, I will take time to visit St Peters in Westfield, NY occasionally. Our guys got married there before their marriage was legal in PA.

As my friends know, I've been away from Christ Church Meadville for a year this weekend. As a very burned out bishop's warden, I needed to escape. I was goaded into doing that by people in a parish at which I'm no longer welcome. That situation will never be remedied, reconciled or whatever unfortunately. I feel terrible as I had no intention of ever doing anything hurtful. I care very deeply and always will as the other is not healthy. Our energies/life forces are permanently entangled meaning that the other is rarely out of my thoughts and prayers. I still light a votive whenever the opportunity present itself. A brief greeting this morning with another person who had until today turned her back to me felt good. Hopefully part of that situation is relaxed a bit if not healed.

The separation has been good for me however as I could have been tied there. I've enjoyed being a vagabond. Visiting churches is enlightening. Seeing how others do the service and the eucharist is always fascinating. Experiencing the friendliness of or lack thereof by people is a lesson to be learned and someday applied elsewhere. At convention I was able to see many of those people again. Perhaps renewal and establishment of new relationships among the laity are one of the best parts of the annual gathering and should be encouraged?

Congratulations, planners, on a well run event. All went smoothly - at least from my point of view. The speakers were good and had valuable messages. Our time was wisely used. One newbie was shocked that we could get the eucharist done in such short order. The dinner was good tho kinda 'spensive. Letting everyone eat immediately rather than sit around waiting was wonderful. Congratulations, "old" friend Loi on receiving the Bishop's Cross for long faithful service to the church and the diocese.

Now on to the 100th anniversary of the cathedral in 2015.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, Warren, PA - 2 November 2014

The morning was cold. Brrr. I succumbed and wore a winter coat for the first time. The cat water wasn't frozen and we had no snow that I know of. Just north of Meadville I began to see traces of the white stuff mostly on unheated roofs. The sun was in and out. The drive to Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Warren, PA included some very narrow roads which required getting onto the berm slightly to pass. I only saw one Amish buggy tho there are many families along that back country route. It's a beautiful drive whichever roads you take.

I seem to have saved the best congregation for last in my year long wandering among mostly Diocese of NW PA Episcopal churches. Yes, you will remember that I was greeted by name at St Mark's in Erie but that was prepared, not spontaneous. Today nobody knew me, not even the priest, but everyone acknowledged my presence with smiles, greetings or long distance nods. They knew I was a visitor and they did their best to be welcoming. After the eucharist many people said they were happy to see me and started short conversations. At coffee hour I had an extended one with a gentleman with whom I have mutual friends. I left with warm feelings about that congregation. Of course it is 2 hours from home so I probably won't be back, especially since I plan to settle somewhere in January.

I regret not taking more photos so people who may never get there can see more of the beautiful building. I was preoccupied by people.

The front of the chancel is really light and didn't photograph well. Had thought about it I would have tried to take a photo with flash to see if it was more visible. I was surprised to see green on All Saints but it is an option. The boxes under the altar are "shoeboxes" for children for Christmas.

The organ was not used today and was dark. This photo of it was from 2010, I believe at the priest's installation. I took a photo of the pianist and the opposite alcove but it is one of those mistakes that aren't worth publishing. Speaking of the pianist, he is pretty good. He played and sang during the offering. He seemed to be too close to the mic so I couldn't understand the words. His voice was ok otherwise. There was no choir. The congregation sang pretty well.

No, the priest is not holding up that blue ball. Ha.

I took the long way home, choosing to follow the Allegheny River to Tidioute before wandering thru more back county to Titusville then on to Meadville. It was a beautiful afternoon.

This is probably the last visitation I will make to a "new" parish. There are others I would like to see and meet but most are farther than I care to travel in winter. There are several I would love to join but they are too far to really get involved. I plan to revisit the churches I have learned to care about before January. I hope to settle somewhere after the first of the year but I'm not making promises.

Thank you to all those who have greeted me, embraced me, ignored me, endured me, advised me these last dozen months. I'll see many of you next week at convention.

The list of churches I've visited with links to my photos and thoughts follows this post.