Friday, June 19, 2015



On Facebook, yesterday, in response to the shootings at Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston I wrote as a “status update,”

... home cleaning my oven and packing boxes and dreaming of an exciting future while time has stopped at Emanuel AME Zion in S. Carolina. Prayers for the victims of this horrific and intolerable act of violence. Prayers for the families, for the shaken community, for those who investigate the crime and for the perpetrator whose illness has turned to evil incarnate. Prayers all the way around. Pray for peace.

I prayed through the day, offering my small voice to the cacophony of outrage and shock and sadness being raised to God across the country.  I found myself despairing about the violence and racism in this place that we call home, and wondering about the politics that tangle up the progress of making our country as safe as it should be.
I read the latest breaking articles about this tragedy, watched President Obama address the nation and peered into the eyes of the boy-killer in his mug shot trying to find something in all of this that would make sense.

For me, prayer in times like these is about offering our own pain to God… it is about lifting up the pain of others to the One whom we call the Comforter, our Advocate… and it is about turning to our source of strength to empower us to enable change.  When I pray to God I do not ask for God’s magic wand to wave over us and make us better… as much as I pray for an outpouring of grace, courage and fortitude to pull me to my feet.

There are petitions to sign, church bells to ring in memory of the 9 who were killed on Wednesday, and letters to write.  One way that I will be participating in actively praying for change will be to march with my brothers and sisters on Sunday, June 28 in the streets of Salt Lake City along with the Bishops United Against Gun Violence. (For more info see )
This peace march was planned long before Wednesday, and now, we need more than ever to join together in prayer and to make a public witness to the need for change.

I am also turning to my Bible for renewed study and prayer, hoping to gain insight through the Word of God.  I lay in bed last night making a mental list of stories to read and study and pray my way through that might guide me.  I’m not looking for clarity- I believe that in the midst of tragedy like this there is little clarity and few answers- but there is always insight to be gained.  And so I want to visit the stories of God’s people that speak of our brokenness… and of God’s dream of a restored and new Creation.  I will read, again, the first story of human violence in our spiritual lexicon:  Cain and Abel.  I want to sit with the stories of conquest in Joshua, Kings and Chronicles and read them from the other side. I will read the parables that sound so “right” from their titles, (The Great Banquet) but end with weeping and gnashing of teeth and the killing of slaves (Matthew 22).  And then, I will read for Hope.  Isaiah 11, Isaiah 61 and Revelation 22. Pictures of a peaceable Kingdom, of The Good News of Deliverance and a New Jerusalem. These passages carry me through the darkest of days knowing that God’s dream is one of wholeness and restoration and peace. It is a dream that I am willing to put my shoulder to the wheel for… and that, with God’s grace, will come… in the fullness of time and, maybe even, in small points of light between now and then.

How are you moving in this time- finding your way in the world after Wednesday?

Pray.  And then pray some more. For peace.

Friday, June 12, 2015


You can’t get there… until you leave here.

And, even then, it won’t be a straight shot to Harrisburg:  I will be attending the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, from June 23- July 4.

Going to General Convention while packing up to move from our home of nearly thirty years will be some trick.  But we’re ahead of the game:  since my sister came and visited last week, we’ve bubble wrapped our belongings and sealed them up in cardboard boxes.  We live, now, in rooms that look like a giant cardboard maze.

Attending General Convention will be like jumping into the deep end of the pool.

I’ve been to just one Convention- the last one in Indianapolis- as a guest of the ECW.  I was there to present workshops on Rhythms of Grace, inclusive worship and ministering to families with children with special needs.  Convention was fascinating. It was so interesting to see the Church at work.  The deliberations of the Houses of Deputies and Bishops, the legislative hearings and process, the vendors hall and the Spirit-filled worship all offered a different glimpse into the life of the Episcopal Church.  Last time, I got to pick and choose how to move in and around Convention.  This time, I’ll be seated in the House of Bishops with voice but no vote. (After my consecration on Sept 12, I’ll earn the vote.)   I’m looking forward to receiving my table assignment at Convention-  I’ve learned that the bishops have assigned seats and that there is a careful and deliberate choosing of who sits with whom, trying to create a mix around the tables.

This will be an exciting convention.  The conversations around the work of the Task Force on Marriage and TREC will invite us to move forward, theologically and structurally, and the election of a new Presiding Bishop will also make a statement about where our hopes lie for the Church of the 21st century.  There’s a lot to consider at this convention.  I’m feeling a little wide-eyed and a lot humbled by having a front row seat for this work. 

The mission of God will continue, of course, no matter what happens in Salt Lake City, no matter who shows up, and no matter how many pieces of legislation are prayed through the Convention machine.  Because God is in charge.  We, however, have a responsibility, as those baptized into the life of the Body of Christ, to participate in (this) holy and sacred work.  Yesterday, I talked with a colleague who rolled his eyes and said, “Oh, General Convention.. that’s not for me.”  And, yes, knowing this gifted pastor, it probably isn’t for him.  He’s got gifts of preaching and teaching and evangelizing and caring for the poor and the sick.  He’s smart enough to know that God needs him there and not in the Salt Palace for 9 days.  God needs us where we can use our gifts and feel that we are coming alive in what we do.  And I think that when we find that place, then God delights in us, as we join God in that part of God’s mission.  Where do you find yourself coming fully alive?  And have you stopped to consider how that is part of walking with God- participating in God’s mission?  If you haven’t found it yet… is there courage and boldness in your soul that will invite you to try on something new?

They’re saving me a chair in Salt Lake.  For me, that will be a new part of my walk with God.  If you’re at Convention, come and say hello. And, if you are tending another part of God’s great Kingdom in the latter part of June, then may God bless you, there. 

See you soon in Harrisburg.  But first, that detour.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


This is the first blog post of a new blog-  a blog that will help me give voice to my new role as bishop and, even more importantly, to record, celebrate and ponder the movement of God in Central Pennsylvania and my (our) faithfulness in following the Way of Jesus, as inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

I've always loved maps.  When I was in high school, the grandfather of one of my best friends was a cartographer; I could think of nothing more romantic than being a map-maker. Cartographers reveal what is known and seen by recording the landscape for others to explore on their own.  They have a responsibility to be as accurate as possible so that their maps and charts can serve in a way that is helpful to the traveler... and to reveal with some objectivity the places of beauty and the points of danger for those who might travel there next.   Cartographers- old school cartographers-  are, first, keen observers... and then, artists and technicians.  

I think that the role of bishop might be like being a cartographer of the soul of a diocese.

The metaphor of the Christian life as a journey is well worn.  The first name for the Jesus-movement was the Way. We understand the Christian life as something that includes movement and, in many cases, some wandering- not always in a straight, forward line. And, yet, how much do we take account of the landscape and pause to record its contours?  Map-making by the one who travels is not only a way to record where we've been, but to offer to others, our experience along the Way.  I hope that this blog will inspire reflection from others on the beauty - and the dangers and difficulties- that we experience together, as we find God moving among us in the landscape of Central Pennsylvania.

When my husband Glenn and I first traveled around Central Pennsylvania, we were struck by the physical beauty of the place:  the tall, hulking mountains in the northern tier, the orderly corn fields watched over by silo sentries, stone houses at the edge of now-paved roads and the Susquehanna river, at our side most of the time- a quiet companion and connecting thread.  I am looking forward to learning more about - and seeing more- of this physical landscape and to meeting the people who live in the mountains and valleys, towns and cities of this place that is so new to me.  I know that God is at work in this place and I look forward to seeing how God's people have joined, already, in God's mission and how they are listening to hear God's call to them... to us.

I'll be charting things along the way-- map-making-- for our common learning, reflection and celebration and helping to name the compass points of our travels together.