Thursday, November 2, 2017


Dear friends,

We have moved my blog to a new location within the diocesan website.

The new title for the blog is "On the Way" and the location is

There will also be a  link to the blog on the home page of the new website for our diocese.

Looking forward to having you join us over there.

The materials in this blog have been archived (over there) and this blog site will be taken down in the next few weeks.

Thank you for your readership,  comments and prayers.


Friday, October 20, 2017

passion and purpose

A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?

What do you care about?
What do you care about?

Quick-  before reading on, take a moment or two to reflect on this question:

What need/dilemma/ache/question
is worth betting your life on
how are you engaged in it right now?

Jot down a few ideas or phrases.  Notice what comes to mind, first. If you don’t want to jot, then reflect.

When I stopped and reflected, here’s what came to mind for me:

My Question: How do we achieve Peace of Mind, Health and Wholeness: for ourselves- our souls and bodies- and for our faith communities as places of spiritual nourishment, nurture and transformation? That’s my bottom line, my first thing, my passion and priority right now:  Health and Wholeness for those whom I love, for our society, for myself, and for the Institution that I serve, the Church.

 How am I engaged in working for Peace of Mind and Health & Wholeness right now?

In my own body and soul, I am trying to care for myself physically and spiritually by paying attention to how I nourish myself with good food, exercise, getting enough rest and making time for meditation, prayer and study.  It is an ongoing effort to achieve the optimal mix of these things.  Mostly, I stumble, but I continue to strive towards the right mix to achieve peace of mind and wholeness. For our faith communities, I am working with congregations to focus on their matter of first importance:  the worship of God and participation in God’s mission.  When this is seen as the matter of first importance, when Jesus is put at the center of the effort, when Word and Sacrament drive the conversation, then, I believe, there is an opportunity for Health and Wholeness.  When other questions and concerns take first priority and drown out the voice of Jesus, then it is harder to achieve wholeness, health, and its gracious yield-  peace of mind.

We worked out this exercise- What do you care about?- at our Convention last weekend.
We asked delegates to consider and reflect on their driving passion, their urgent need, their need/ache/dilemma/question and to share their responses with their table-mates.  We asked two other questions, too:  What do you wish your parish were doing to live more fully into God’s mission?  And, what can our parishes/convocations do together to answer the sense of need expressed tonight among us? (How can we work together?)

We did this in an effort to begin mining the missional priorities of the diocese and to find ways to collaborate and, as a result,  strengthen what we are already doing.

I believe that our participation in God’s mission is most joyful, most productive, most transformative when the work that we do to its end resonates deep in our bones, when we use our gifts, and when it matters to us.  Maybe that’s a little self-serving, but it makes sense to me.  If God has created us with diversity and differing abilities, and if we are called to build God’s Kingdom as God’s faithful people, then doesn’t it make sense to use our gifts and to work in the corner of the vineyard for which we have particular passion?

The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania is equipped to serve God in so many ways. We have no shortage of talent and resources among those who claim the Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania as their spiritual home.  Our local region has plenty of needs. The world is broken in many places.  How are we going to direct our energy and resources in these next years to participate in the work of reconciliation and restoration?  What corner(s) of the vineyard are ours in which to labor? And how, in the doing, will be find ourselves to be transformed?

Think on these things.

What matters to you?  What is the focus of your passion? 

It’s the place to begin.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Convention 2017

On our way to Convention 2017 in Hershey (PA) at the Antique Auto Museum (!).

Stop back next week for a new blog post and look on Face Book before then for updates from Convention!

Friday, October 6, 2017


In the past 59 years, I have had at least four names-  five, if you count the name that my parents had planned on giving me before I was born, and then changed at the last minute (that name was "Lindsay").

I was born Audrey Lynn Hunter.  "Audrey" after my father's sister, "Lynn" after my mother's family, and "Hunter," the good Scots surname of my father's family.

I was nine when my mother remarried following my father's death, and I got a new surname then, as a result of my stepfather's adoption of me and my brothers.  Then, I lost the "Hunter" and added "Cady," my stepfather's surname.

Sixteen years after that, I changed my surname again- this time from "Cady" to "Scanlan" when I married my husband Glenn.

And, threaded through all of this, has been the enduring "family 'nickname'" of "Bobbie."  There are at least a couple of theories about how this moniker came about:  one is that my father called me "babby" (Scots for baby) that got twisted into "Bobbie" by my brother, and the other theory is that I was called "Bobbie" because that was my mother's nickname in college (her name was Barbara).  It makes no sense why I would be called by my mother's nickname, but there you have it-  family stories don't always make sense.

These days, I answer to a lot of names:  Bobbie, Audrey, Bishop Scanlan, and more-  and, underneath all of these there is a foundational identity that I carry as an Adult Child of God.  Lots of us like to think of ourselves as "Children of God" and, while my relationship with God is as uninhibited and vulnerable as a child's relationship with her/his parent- (there are days when I rail against God like a two-year old having a tantrum, or sob in God's lap like a broken hearted kid who has just suffered a playground fight or been the victim of a teenage ego bruising...) even though I have my moments of relating to God as a parent to my child, overall I find that relationship label to be unsatisfactory on several counts:  First, the patriarchal identity tag for God as Father is a little too gender-specific for me, Second, I recognize that not all people have had a father like Ward Cleaver or Andy Griffith or Rob Petrie and this assignation of a divine paternal figure can be damaging, and Third, while I appreciate the ability to "let it all hang out" with my Creator God in times of despair or great need, the truth is that I am an adult, now, and I have accepted certain responsibilities for my relationship with God:  I pray,  I follow Jesus and try to reflect him in my actions,  I discipline myself to study Scripture, I work to love my neighbor.  I take this baptismal commitment seriously and strive, as an Adult Child of God to live up to my end of the bargain. 

And so, I work at it.   Daily.  Not in a navel-gazing kind of way, but in a way that, I hope, stretches me and challenges me and invites me to grow as a person and in relationship to God, little by little, day by day.

In just a week's time we will be gathering as a Convention- clergy and lay delegates of our diocese- to spend precious time together.  This day-and- a-half is referred to by some as our "doing the business of the Church" but it is so much more.  We will pray.  We will share a meal, we will talk about the work of our common life together and how we allocate and use our resources for the mission of God.  We will stand around an altar and share communion, finding Christ at the table right next to us.  We will explore the ministries of our diocese at table exhibits, raise our voices in song, and reflect in the dense silence of a room full of praying people.    One of the chief exercises of our Convention will be to work on an understanding of our Identity.  On Friday night we will explore three levels of questions that will all draw us to a deeper understanding of who we are as (Adult) Children of God, how our parish nurtures that identity in service to God's mission, and how we might join with others to deepen and expand that work.

The goal of Convention is to: 

 deepen a sense of our identity (personal, parish, convocation) in order to reflect on how we are using our gifts to serve God's mission and to explore the possibilities for expanding/deepening/broadening that work


identify the mission areas for which we have gifts and passion so that, going forward, we can allocate our resources to reflect the strengths of the diocese and the needs of our local contexts.

It's good work that we are doing.  We will gain strength as we come together to do this holy work, in God's name.

At our Pre-Convention Convocation meetings we've been working on completing "parish stories."  This story exercise is revealing when used as an activity among parishioners in the same parish.  The form is included below.  Take it and use it at Vestry meetings and with different groups in the congregation and see how it is that individually,  the people of our parishes are claiming God's call and blessing on them.

See you in Hershey!

Pre-Convention Convocation Meeting Fall 2017
Parish Perspective Worksheet

Working as a congregational group, complete the following story about your parish.

A Story about _______________ (name of parish)

Once upon a time -in 2017- there was a ________(adjective) parish in the ____________(adjective) town/borough/city of ______________(name of city).

This parish was known far and wide for its _______________________ (noun/verb).  If people in the town talked about the parish they would say, “Oh, you know, ___________________ (name of parish) is the church that _________________________s. (verb)

The congregation had lots of beautiful appointments and lovely things about its physical plant, but it was really blessed by its ___________________(object.)

The parish was excited by its service to God’s mission and found that its program of ______________________  (name of a parish ministry) was a really good fit for both the congregation and the people whom it served.

The congregation also knew that the needs of the community were great and wished that they could do more to assist with _________________________________ (local need).

One day, the senior warden turned over a rock in the churchyard and found $100,000 in cash.
The Vestry decided to spend it on ______________________________________.

The End.