Diocesan Digest



 September 15, 2014


From the Bishop's Desk


Dear friends,

As your Provisional Bishop and Chief Priest, I want to communicate to all members of every parish in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. Recently I requested parish email lists so that the good work that is being done by you, the diocese, and diocesan staff and committees can be shared with all. I am thankful for the timely responses from rectors and administrators. Our diocesan email list for the Digest and Bishop’s Message has grown by 3,000 email addresses – helping us to spread the good word. Sixty-four of our sixty-five parishes have fully complied with my request – and I thank you! We continue to move forward in a process of mutual formation, addressing the health of ourselves, our parishes and our diocese, as we prepare to welcome our next bishop.

Standing Committee Statement on the Canons

At its June 5th meeting, the Standing Committee passed the following statement concerning discrepancies between our Diocesan Canons and the The Episcopal Church Canons:

“The Standing Committee endorses the principle that it shall be the policy of this diocese, as stipulated in Article 8 of its Constitution, that in the case of discrepancies between national and diocesan canons, the national canons shall take precedence.”

Clergy on the Move


Congratulations to The Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas on her new position as Associate Rector at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, VA. Elaine’s first Sunday at St. Paul’s will be All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2014. Elaine served at St. Edward the Confessor in Lancaster. Best of luck Elaine!

We welcome back to the Diocese The Rev. Daphne Messersmith, who will be serving as a part-time interim priest at Trinity Episcopal Church, Chambersburg.


Operation Understanding Fall Grant Cycle

Operation Understanding is now accepting applications for the Fall grant cycle. Grant funds are available for outreach ministries that provide food, shelter, clothing, and energy assistance to people in need. Grants are given to Episcopal churches in our diocese that house or are deeply involved in these ministries. Autumn grant funds typically range from $200 to $1,000, and priority is given to new programs.

Grant applications are easily accessible on the Diocesan website. The deadline for submitting applications is October 31, 2014. If you have any questions about Operation Understanding or the grant application, please call Nancy Forgang at 717-630-0220.

School of Ministry News


The Stevenson School of Ministry has announced its slate of courses for fall 2014.  Laity as well as clergy are welcome to register.

The next THRIVE is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2014, at Christ Church, Berwick.  Learn more here.

"Leading Through Change: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry" will begin in December.  Find out more and register here.


Happenings Around the Diocese

See other upcoming parish events here.


WE Are the Diocese...

Read about new and exciting things that make us proud to be the Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania.

From Debbie Robelen, the Diocesan Archivist:

The Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania are an invaluable resource for members of the Episcopal Church and for historians. They hold a rich collection of documents related to our history and the history of many of our parishes.

The archive collection contains official records, correspondence, minutes, parish histories, registers of closed churches, biographical writings, family papers, educational materials, and memorabilia.

Read more here.


For Your Health and Wellness

If you suffer from any of the following ailments, you may not be drinking enough water: fatigue, confusion, memory loss, dizziness, dry and wrinkled skin, brittle hair and nails, cold fingers and toes, constipation, eczema, headaches, urinary tract infections, and muscle pains. These are all signs of dehydration.

Learn more in this informative article from the Hungry for Change website, provided by The Rev. Rowena Gibbons, Health Coach. Health coaches work with people over a six month period to bring about lasting change for the betterment of physical health and emotional wellness by addressing weight loss, developing an exercise routine, addressing stress in the role of illness, and using food as medicine. Call 570-404-2025 or email for more information.

Meet Sister BJ Brown

Interested in religious vocations?

Would you like to learn more? Sister Barbara Jean Brown of the Anamchara Fellowship has kindly offered to provide information and resources for parishes and individuals who would like to know more about vocations in Episcopal religious orders.

Sister BJ will be the guest chaplain for the Diocesan Deacon's Retreat with Bishop Gepert Sept. 19-21, 2014.

Read her bio here.

Creation Corner

In advance of the People's Climate March on Sept. 21, read the latest installment from Sylvia Neely on Bishops and Climate Change.

Dates to Remember


  • Sept. 19-21 - Diocesan Deacons Retreat with Bishop Gepert, Kenbrook Retreat Center
  • Sept. 26-28 - ECW Cape May Retreat, "Healing Waters," led by The Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas
  • Oct. 4 - Work Mass for Youth
  • Oct. 7 - Altoona Convocation Meeting, St. Andrew's, State College, 5:30 p.m. light dinner, 6 p.m. meeting
  • Oct. 18 - Day at Knoebel's Park for Youth
  • Oct. 20 - Northern Tier Convocation Meeting, St. James, Mansfield, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 21 - West Branch Convocation Meeting, Trinity Pro Cathedral, Williamsport, 6:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 28 - Susquehanna Convocation Meeting, Christ Church, Danville, 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 1 - ECW Annual Gathering, Trinity, Jersey Shore
  • Nov. 2 - Fall UTO Ingathering Sunday (All Saints Day)
  • Nov. 3 - Harrisburg Convocation Meeting, St. Luke's, Mechanicsburg, 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 8 - THRIVE (including Eliminating Racism Train the Trainer), Christ Church, Berwick - contact The Rev. Canon Robyn Szoke-Coolidge for information
  • Nov. 10 - Southern Convocation Meeting, St. John's, York, 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 11 - Lancaster Convocation Meeting, location TBA, 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 15 - Godly Play training, St. Andrew's, Shippensburg
  • Nov. 17-19 - Clergy Conference, Lancaster, Pa.


Remember in Your Prayers


The complete diocesan prayer list is available on the website.

As the diocese continues in this season of discernment and transition, we ask that you pray with us:

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PO Box 11937
Harrisburg, PA 17108

101 Pine Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101