From Chautauqua

My wife and I are spending a week at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. She calls it “summer camp for adults” – for me it is the most relaxing place I know.

We are staying at the Episcopal Cottage, a wonderful place which helps make our visit affordable. This means we are in the heart of the community. I turn left out the front door and in two blocks am at the Episcopal Chapel of the Good Shepherd. It is a tiny building, but fits right into the architecture of Chautauqua (go to for a look).

Turning right out the front door, my two-block walk takes me to the ampitheater, where daily worship is held and lectures and concerts are offered. This morning, and all this week, the preacher is John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington. Bishop Chane is a dynamic speaker with whose ideas I am at home. He is able to speak the truth as he sees it – not always a popular task – and God bless him for it.

The lectures of Chautauqua are only part of the fun – who can resist Jon Meacham, an articulate young man who understands how America’s relationship with religion came to be and passionately points out how the religious right has misrepresented what Meacham calls the “American Gospel.” The rest of the place is the arts in full bloom. Orchestras, dance, opera, are literally all over the place.

I am blessed to be able to be here, and to be able to relax. But I am taking advantage of the time to work on some ideas for a commission on which I serve in the Diocese of West Virginia. We are seeking to articulate a consistent way of doing ministry that, I hope, will help all our congregations – small and large – those served by full-time clergy and those who have the likes of me – to live fully into the lives God has prepared for us.

I ask your prayers for our work.

The Eve of the Feast of the Transfiguration

A tea pot, some comic books, Lambeth, and Antiques Road Show

Preached at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, West Virginia, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, July 27, 2008. It was my privilege to be the last in a series of supply priests who assisted during the transition between the departure of an interim rector and the arrival of the new rector.

St. John’s is a congregation which honors the old ways of doing things (and so has, for example, an excellent choir), while embracing the inclusive thrust of the Episcopal Church. As it happened, this Sunday coincided with 1) the beginnings of Lambeth, 2) the approaching arrival of a new rector (The Rev. Susan J. Latimer, formerly of the Diocese of Maine), and a Gospel lesson that talks about the new and the old.

The sermon talks about how one determines value in things old or new. It also suggests (and this is the preacher’s point of view, so St. John’s should not be tarred with it) that the current discussion in the Anglican Communion to move toward our being a confessional church is inappropriate for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is that such a move eliminates the patience that we are required to display in loving one another.

Nobody said that loving others was easy – but it is the commandment!
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Remembering a Virginian and an Episcopalian

It was my privilege to preach the homily at the memorial service for Randy Valz on Wednesday, April 30, 2008. Randy was one of two persons that I used to visit as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor. To participate in a funeral is a final as well as an initial act of ministry for a priest – for in some cases as you lay aside the ministry to the deceased, you may have the opportunity to minister to the family.

Meeting with Randy was a blessing to me and a lesson for us all in terms of accepting the things we cannot change. May he rest in peace.

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The Magnetic Church in West Virginia

Andy Weeks returned to the Diocese of West Virginia this past Friday and Saturday (April 4-5, 2008) when he presented his Magnetic Church at the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd in Parkersburg. Almost 100 persons from 31 churches registered for the session, which is remarkable for a diocese of our size. I first heard Andy two years ago, and his presentation, which was good then, has gotten better. He has an entertaining way of telling you to stop doing the things you have been doing and to start doing the things that will make your church a truly welcoming place.

You can find more information at I recommend Andy, who loves the Episcopal Church of which we are members, and yet remembers that Jesus called us all to be his followers. Christian first, Episcopalian second. Getting things in the right order helps!

Worthy of Remembrance

The Charleston, West Virginia, Scottish Rite Temple invited me to provide after-dinner remarks for their annual remembrance of deceased members. Wth the event falling in the week of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I found myself talking about how his remembrance compares to others in our lives.

Dr. King is now remembered in The Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts, but I found myself remembering two saints who will never make the book, although each is remembered in her own way.

For another comment on the power of remembrance, see

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