News

January 16, 2015

Dear Diocesan Sisters and Brothers,

May the light of Jesus Christ shine brightly in your lives during this blessed season of Epiphany!

With prayer and a commitment to consensus, the Standing Committee is working with our Bishop Search Consultant, Lynn Schmissrauter, to keep the search process for our next Bishop Diocesan moving forward. On January 11, we met to plan the critical task of appointing the two committees that will have significant responsibilities from now until the ordination of our next Bishop Diocesan.

The Bishop Search/Nominating Committee will be comprised of approximately 12-16 people. Some of the committee’s tasks will be to gather information from throughout the Diocese to create a profile of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, receive the names of potential candidates, undertake a thorough process of interviews, discernment, and background evaluations, and present a slate of nominees to the Diocese for an election in 2016.

The second committee, the Electing/Transition Committee, will be tasked with the responsibilities of introducing the nominees to the Diocese, preparing for the election, and conducting several post-election tasks, including the ordination and the transition of the new Bishop and his/her family to the Diocese. This committee will be somewhat larger than the Bishop Search Committee due to the wide scope of its responsibilities.

The purpose of this letter is to share with you briefly the characteristics we believe will be important for members of both committees, and further, to invite you to consider whether you may be called to prayerfully offer yourself as a potential member of either of these two committees.

Bishop Search/Nominating Committee

The Bishop Search/Nominating Committee will serve for a period of approximately twelve months. Beginning with a planning evening/day with the Consultant, members of the Electing/Transition Committee, and the Standing Committee, their confidential work will include:

  • Developing a Diocesan Profile after conducting self-study work throughout the Diocese.
  • Communicating clear and regular updates to our Diocesan family on their progress.
  • Receiving confidential nominations of persons who would like to be considered potential candidates for Bishop.
  • Interviewing potential nominees and references.
  • Performing appropriate and thorough due-diligence and background investigation of each of the potential nominees.
  • Prayerfully considering all the candidates, and presenting a slate of not less than three, nor more than five, final nominees.


This committee will require a significant commitment of time. During certain phases of their work, they will likely meet weekly and be expected to do a large amount of reading and other preparatory work. Because of the importance of this work, it is necessary that each committee member is:

  • A baptized, active communicant in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, or a clergy person who is canonically resident or licensed in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
  • Someone whose personal life is one characterized by a deep level of faith and prayer.
  • Someone who appreciates the diversity within our Diocesan family.
  • Someone with an understanding of Church polity, and some level of participation in Diocesan life.
  • Someone who has taken, or who is willing to take, the Diocesan Anti-Racism training and the Safe Church Training.
  • Someone who is comfortable with a collaborative and consensus-driven decision making process.
  • Someone who can and will maintain complete confidentiality throughout and after the completion of the committee’s work.
  • Someone who will make a commitment to attend all meetings, and, if necessary, travel outside the Diocese for interviews and other responsibilities.


Electing/Transition Committee

The Electing/Transition Committee will conduct most of their work behind the scenes until the introduction of the slate of candidates by the Search Committee. They will then lead the process until after the ordination of the new bishop.  This committee is likely to be larger in number of members.

The specific tasks of this Committee are:

  • To continue effective communication with the Diocese on timeline, events, and so forth.
  • To provide support for Bishop Daniel and the staff during the transition.
  • To plan the “walk-abouts” – the events introducing the candidates to the Diocese prior to the Electing Convention.
  • To assist in planning the Electing Convention.
  • To plan the celebration honoring Bp. Daniel and his wife.
  • To support and provide assistance for the Bishop-Elect and family (this will likely include such things as helping him/her find appropriate housing, orientation to our communities, and so forth).
  • Plan and organize the ordination and Diocesan celebration.


Candidates for this committee would share many of the characteristics of Search Committee members.  However, this committee would be more involved in organizing specific events and completing certain specific tasks. Therefore people who enjoy planning and conducting these events would make excellent committee members.

The Standing Committee is responsible for the appointment of individuals to both committees. If you believe you have gifts that would enable you to serve faithfully and effectively on one of these committees, please review and submit the requested information on the Nominating Form. Please note that on that form, in addition to the requested information, there are also requests for references. Please note that all nomination forms and reference forms must be received by the Standing Committee no later than February 14, 2015 and are on the Diocesan website at these links: https://diopa.wufoo.com/forms/bishop-search-committee/ and https://diopa.wufoo.com/forms/letter-of-reference/. The Standing Committee expects to fill both committees no later than March 1, 2015. Both committees will be commissioned at the evening/day planning session with the Consultant and Standing Committee in March. At that time the Search Committee’s work will then begin.

We want to thank you for your prayerful consideration of whether God may be calling you to serve on one of these committees. And we also thank you for praying for our Diocese during this exciting time.

Faithfully,
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

 

Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Women’s Ordination with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

For most Episcopalians under 30 or 35 years of age, celebrating the anniversary of women’s priestly ordination in our church would seem a bit curious.  Why expend time and energy celebrating something that seems so commonplace today as women who wear collars preaching and teaching and presiding at Holy Eucharist? 

After spending the last months coordinating the event that took place on Saturday, July 26th at Temple University and Church of the Advocate  I can assure 30 somethings and 40 somethings and really anyone who wants to stop and hear the story, that the watershed event of July 29 , 1974 was a momentous occasion that broke a tightly held convention of the church.  It took an irregular action, a courageous action on the part of eleven women in Philadelphia and four women the following year in Washington, DC not to mention the prayerful discernment and convicted action of the bishops who laid hands on their heads to birth the advent of women’s priestly ministry in the church. 

The symposium that took place just two weeks ago in the morning at Temple University and the joyful celebration that followed at The Advocate was designed to honor all women in the church for as surely as men have well exercised their baptismal and ordained ministries over the last 2,000 years, women have supported and struggled to offer their equally powerful ministries that are now formally and canonically accepted by the church but often still informally not as well appreciated by the church or engaged as those of men.

The 40th anniversary in Philadelphia was a joy-filled celebration of one significant event that further manifested the reconciling wholeness and healing Jesus brought to the whole human race and for which God calls us all to celebrate and work day in and day out.

- The Rev. Beth W. Hixon, 40th Anniversary Event Coordinator

Videos


Dr. Fredrica Thompsett with a welcome by Bishop Daniel


Symposium

 

Eucharist

 

Interviews by Barbara Dundon

 

...for more go their website at http://40yearsordained2000yearsinministry.com/

 


August 19, 2013


Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to announce that I have called the Reverend Lucy S. L. Amerman as Canon to the Ordinary for Pastoral Services in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.  Lucy has worked in parish ministry for the last ten years, in the Dioceses of Virginia and Pennsylvania, most recently as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Buckingham. She has also served as Vice-Chair of The Commission for Clergy Compensation and Employee Benefits and Chair of the Diocesan Committee on Incorporation, here in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Previously she was a lawyer and corporate executive for Conrail, in Philadelphia.  Lucy received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, followed by a year of study at Oxford University in Applied Theology. She comes to us with a broad range of experience in secular and church work which will serve her well in her new role.

The Canon to the Ordinary for Pastoral Services shall assist in the leadership of the Diocese, with duties as pastor, priest, human resources professional, and assistant to and representative of the Bishop.  She is responsible for oversight and management of human resource-related issues, including but not limited to benefits information for clergy and lay employees in the Diocese, employment policies and procedures, Diocesan human resource infrastructure, pastoral care of clergy and such other duties as shall be assigned by me. She shall visit congregations, for purposes including but not limited to vestry consultation, and representation of the Bishop and the Diocese in leading and/or participating in worship or other aspects of the life of the congregation as I may deem appropriate under the circumstances.

Please join me in welcoming Lucy to the Diocesan staff and wish her well in her new call as Canon to the Ordinary for Pastoral Services.


Faithfully yours,




The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd
Provisional Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

 

Retired Clergy Medical Insurance Benefits Update

May 23, 2013

Dear Colleagues:

The Diocese of Pennsylvania currently provides a subsidy for the upgrade of post-retirement health benefits from the Church Pension Group (CPG) and dental benefits for eligible retired clergy, and their eligible spouses.  This benefit is known as Retired Clergy Medical Insurance (RCMI), and it is funded by the Retired Clergy Medical Assessment (RCMA).

We have been evaluating the economic viability of the Retired Clergy Medical Assessment (RCMA) in light of increasing costs.  Reductions and eventual elimination of the RCMI benefit has been proposed by a special Diocesan task force that met in 2011 and 2012 and had the responsibility to recommend to the Bishop and Standing Committee ways to address the RCMA.  These recommendations have been approved by Standing Committee, Finance Committee, Diocesan Council, the Chancellor, and the Commission on Clergy Compensation and Employee Benefits (CCCEB).  The recommendations of this task force are summarized in the enclosure with this letter, and the full report is available at the diocesan website.

We appreciate that this is a sensitive and complex topic, and many questions and concerns may arise.  Several “Town Hall” meetings are scheduled to explain the proposed changes, and hear your questions and concerns.

Is the RCMI benefit being eliminated?
Yes, within four (4) years, with exceptions for age, economic hardship and disability, beginning in January 2014.  The RCMI benefit for clergy who retire after December 31, 2013 will be partial.  There will be no RCMI benefit for DIOPA clergy who retire after December 31, 2016.

What is the current RCMI benefit?
The RCMI benefit is a subsidy that, in most cases, has allowed eligible retired clergy and their eligible spouses to “buy up” to the Medicare Supplement Plus Plan from the Comprehensive Plan offered by CPG.

As well, the RCMI benefit currently provides dental insurance to eligible retired clergy and their eligible spouses.

Will the CPG continue to provide Medicare Supplement Insurance (MSI)?
Yes.  Clergy with 20 or more years of Credited Service (CS), and eligible spouses (including surviving spouses), will continue to receive CPG’s Comprehensive Plan at no cost.  Clergy with between 10 and 19 years CS will receive subsidy toward the Comprehensive Plan on a schedule determined by CPG.  Clergy with between 5 and 9 years of CS will be offered the Comprehensive Plan without subsidy, and clergy with less than 5 years CS will not be eligible for MSI from CPG.

What will happen to the dental insurance benefit over the next three years?
Currently, the RCMI purchases dental insurance for each eligible retired clergyperson and eligible spouse.  The decision is to keep this benefit, but there is a provision that the benefit can be eliminated at any time.  The CCCEB will provide this dental benefit through the CPG in the near future.  If the benefit is eliminated, dental insurance can still be purchased from CPG by eligible retired clergy.
We are aware that there may be currently covered retirees and eligible spouses with special circumstances which don’t fall within any of the above categories.  If you feel you have extraordinary circumstances, you may contact the Bishop’s office in writing, stating the nature of your circumstances, and your situation will be reviewed.

God bless us all as we move forward together in faith.


Faithfully yours,


The Rt. Rev, Clifton Daniel, 3rd

Bishop Provisional

Co-Chair CCCEB


The Rev. Lucy Amerman

Co-Chair CCCEB


The Rev. Edward Shiley

Charir of Benefits Committee

Summary of Recommendations

Here are the specific and detailed recommendations made by the Task Force.  The full report is available at the diocesan website.

  1. 1. R.C.M.A. will continue to pay for dental insurance. The Dental subsidy may be discontinued in the future. 
  2. 2. R.C.M.A. will continue to pay a subsidy for an enhanced Medicare supplement for clergy/spouses with inadequate pensions. Such recipients are defined by CCCEB as those who  are:
  • Of an age greater/equal to 80 on 1/1/the year the benefit changes are enacted,  or
  • Receiving less than $75 when the Monthly Clergy Pension/Credited Service formula is applied.  This amount will be updated annually by factoring the CPG-granted cost of living adjustment.  
  1. 3. The subsidy for an enhanced Medicare supplement is to end in a four year reduction for clergy/spouses who meet these criteria:
  • Age less than 80 on 1/1/in the year the new plan is implemented, AND
  • Monthly Clergy Pension Amount/Credited Service is greater/equal $75


Year 1

75%

Year 2

50%

Year 3

25%

Year 4

No further subsidy


These criteria were developed through a review of pension compensation levels of active pensioners in the Diocese, based on years of service and age.  It was constructed to minimize any adverse impact on those who most need the supplemental benefits coverage subsidy. Beneficiaries may elect a higher-level supplement plan. They must pay the difference between the rate and the subsidy.

  1. 4. Beneficiaries will be offered an opportunity to decline the Diocesan subsidy for dental coverage.
  2. 5. For Retired Clergy Spouses/Partners less than age 65, at the inception of the proposed benefits, the Diocese will phase-out the current subsidy for group health benefits (currently at 60-65%) over four years.

                       

Year 1

Reduced to 75% of current payment (spouse would pay $45-48.75)

Year 2

Reduced to 50% of current payment (spouse would pay $30-32.50)

Year 3

Reduced to 25% of current payment (spouse would pay $15-16.25)

Year 4

Reduced to 0% of current payment.

        The Percentages are based on Benefit Premiums of the EPO 90 insurance plan.   

  1. 6. In the future, the R.C.M.A. will be determined by the ‘base plan level’ as defined by CCCEB annually.
  2. 7. Beneficiaries may elect a higher plan and pay the difference between the rate and the subsidy.

For existing or future Disabled Clergy, the proposed change provides that 

  • Disabled Clergy Benefits are to be paid through a contribution to the R.C.M.A. from the Christmas or other such funds available through the Diocese, at the discretion of the Bishop and CCCEB.  
  • R.C.M.A. continues to provide dental insurance. The dental subsidy may be discontinued in the future. 
  • R.C.M.A. will continue to pay coverage for disabled clergy on the ‘base plan level’ as defined by CCCEB annually. The Bridge Benefit provided by CPG to partially cover insurance costs will be factored into the provided benefit.  When the beneficiary is qualified for coverage under Medicare, the R.C.M.A. will assist, provided adequate efforts are made to secure coverage. 
  • When disabled clergy are covered under Medicare, the R.C.M.A. will pay the costs of the basic Medicare Supplement provided to qualified retired clergy, offset by the disability bridge benefit provided by CPG.
  • Disabled clergy may buy up to a higher plan by paying the difference in premium costs.
  • If it is determined as appropriate by the CCCEB,  the R.C.M.A. will pay the lesser of the cost for the Spouse/Partner and eligible dependents to receive employer-provided medical benefits or coverage on the ‘base plan level’ defined by CCCEB annually – as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

For Existing Surviving Clergy Spouses/Partners Less Than 65

  • Surviving Clergy Spouses/Partners must have been married to the deceased clergy for at least five years prior to the date of death, and remain unmarried, to be eligible for benefits.
  • Qualified Surviving Clergy Spouses/Partners whose spouse/partner was retired at the time of death will continue to receive benefits equivalent to those available to them if their spouse/partner were still living.  The benefits include Medical and Dental coverage, although the Dental subsidy may be discontinued in the future. 
  • Qualified Surviving Clergy Spouses/Partners whose spouse/partner was active at time of death will receive a subsidy or benefits that reflect the lesser of:
  • - The employee cost share to participate in benefits provided by the

      employee’s or a spouse/partner’s employer OR


  • - The base-level of coverage available to the spouse/partner if the cleric spouse/partner were still living and working in the diocese, until the surviving clergy spouse/partner is eligible for Medicare.
  • - R.C.M.A. will cover the costs of dental coverage.  The Dental subsidy may be discontinued in the future. 

Availability of the R.C.M.A. to Currently Active Clergy Who Retire

To be eligible for Diocesan retiree benefits, active employees must be Canonically resident in DIOPA at the time of retirement and have served their last 5 years prior to retirement in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

  • Benefits available to active employees who retire will be those in effect at the later of the date of retirement or Medicare eligibility.
  • If a benefit is being phased out, the eligible retiree will be able to take advantage of the benefit at the available level of subsidy until it is phased out. 
  • At the time that these recommendations are put into place, the Diocese will not offer subsidized Medicare supplement benefits for new retirees. 
  • Dental subsidy may be discontinued in the future.
 

Diocesan Antiracism Training
January 22-24, 2015
St. Luke's Church, Germantown, Philadelphia

Engage in discussions, learning, and reflection that will inspire and transform you. Join others from around the Diocese in a professional and personal development training session that will go beyond traditional diversity or sensitivity training that can leave difficult and essential reflection untouched. This training - conducted by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training group - focuses on the systems of institutionalized racism that underpin our daily existence, the way we live and move and have our being. The Antiracism Commission of the Diocese offers this training to help equip us with the ability to recognize and address racism that exist both intentionally out in the open and unconsciously and subtly under the radar of our institutions, including churches, schools, and workplaces. This workshop provides the tools to better understand the causes of institutional abuse of power and to better address the abuses in every organization in which you participate.

Congregations and diocesan committees are encouraged to send two or more members, preferably of different racial groups
(at least one person of color and one white person) when possible. Vestries, church staff, Christian educators, search committees, and anyone in a leadership role should plan to attend and recruit others to attend. The expectation is that all registrants plan to attend the entire two-and-a-half day training.

The time commitment required for this workshop is significant; however, the spiritual gains far outweigh the cost. The Crossroads' analysis of institutional racism launches you on a course of life action that, while difficult, is aligned with the Gospel and is positive, honest, and hopeful.  The training is one way we advance the mission of the Diocese to become an anti-racist diocese as voted at the Diocesan Convention in 2006.

When:
Thursday, January 22 - 5:00 - 6:00 pm - Check-in, Registration, Dinner
6:00 - 9:00 pm - Program
Friday, January 23 - 8:30 am - 6:00 pm - Program (includes breakfast and lunch)
Saturday, January 24 - 8:30 am - 5:00 pm - Program (includes breakfast and lunch)

Where:
St. Luke's Church, 5421 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia 19144; (215) 844-8544; info@stlukesger.org

Cost:
$75 for Diocese of Pennsylvania laity & clergy; $250 for all others. Scholarships are available via https://edp.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/continuing-ed/fillable-continuing-ed-guidelines-application.pdf

Register:
Online: https://diopa.wufoo.com/forms/antiracism-training-january-2224-2015/
Telephone: J.D. Lafrance (215) 627-6434 ext. 151

 

The Bishop’s Easter Message 2014

 

None of us can claim to know completely or exactly what happened on that first Easter Day. But there are some common themes that run through the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection.

The first theme shared by the four Gospels is fear. The disciples are afraid when they first encounter the risen Christ, afraid of what might happen to them for being Jesus’ friends; so they gather fearfully behind locked doors. The root of their fear was in their assumption that Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate failure and there is nothing beyond failure and death. They gathered in fear believing that both Jesus and they had come to a dead end. What the Gospels tell us is that when we fear that we have come to a dead end in life, the resurrection promises us that we are standing on the edge of where Jesus is leading us.

A second theme is doubt. Doubt runs through all the Gospel narratives of Easter. Not only do the disciples doubt; so do the crowds and the religious and political leaders. The theme of doubt is crystallized in the account of Thomas’s encounter with the risen Jesus. In that dramatic meeting doubt is replaced by confidence and trust. Thomas’s story also tells us that reason and experience are means of knowing God – a very Anglican and Catholic approach. But however much we know of God, there is more to know. God is larger than any picture we can draw of God.

A third Easter theme in the Gospel narratives points to hospitality and community as the context in which Jesus reveals himself. This theme is perhaps best expressed in the account of two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Now, walking speed is about 3 miles per hour. Much too slow for us in our need for speed in this culture: faster computers, faster automobiles, indicators of our demand and impatience for speed. Jesus joins the disciples, walks and talks with them, and is invited to join them for supper. Gathered around the dinner table, the disciples suddenly recognize Jesus. This Easter theme indicates that the reign of God moves at about three miles per hour, and takes root around an hospitable table of shared food and fellowship to which the stranger and the “other” is invited.

The Easter proclamation is that death is not the end and failure is not the final word in God’s reign. Through the resurrection of Jesus, death becomes a gateway to larger and eternal life and failure is transformed and redeemed through God’s compassion and forgiveness. Christianity offers forgiveness for the past, strength for the present, power for living and hope for the future.

The Easter proclamation is that we can thank God that as Episcopalians and Anglicans we are part of a Christian tradition that encourages us to use our mind and ask questions. No one has all the answers about God. The freedom to question and explore is to exercise the ability to reason that is part of being created in the image of God.

Part of the Easter proclamation is that love always frees us from fear. Another part of the message is that God’s time is not our time: we want to travel at the speed of light. The pace of the Reign of God is about three miles per hour. Slow down. God will show up, and often in very surprising ways. Christians can have confidence that God does not abandon, now or ever.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed!

Let us rejoice and be glad!

 

A Message for UTO Coordinators...                                                                                    

Dear UTO Coordinators:

United Thank Offering, (UTO) is our way of expressing our “thankfulness” for our daily blessings by placing a tangible offering of thanks in our ‘Blue Box”/envelope. All offerings are used to fund grants for ministries at home and overseas as an outreach of the Episcopal Church. This practice was authorized in 1871 and the first offerings of $2,188.64 was submitted in 1886. Last year (2012), total offerings were $1,713,806.95 which included our diocesan offerings of  $12,500.67.    

Grants 2012  - $1,713,806, 95

39 Domestic $1,079.209.96

9 Foreign  $471,084.99

6 Companion Diocese $163,512.00

Let us in 2013 continue this tradition and “ Expand the circle of thankful people”

There are two ingatherings of parish offerings each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Thank you to all parishes that maintain this tradition.. It would be really fantastic if more parishes would revitalize/ renew this tradition and give tangible offerings to share with others for our many blessings. 

Please make every effort to have a fall UTO Ingathering in your parish. Send your total offerings as soon as the parish ingathering ends. The interest from the offerings becomes a part of the grand total. Church members make checks payable to the parish with UTO on the memo line. Draft a parish check for your total offerings, payable to UTO Diocese of PA, make a copy, and send original check to Diocese of Pennsylvania, PO Box 95000-1372,Philadelphia, PA 19195-1372. Please send your check copy to me at St.Luke’s Church Germantown, 5421 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144.

A visit to the United Thank Offering website has a wealth of information. There are materials available on-line to increase participation of adults and children. The pamphlet “UTO & Me, Sharing Blessings with Thanksgiving and Love” can be copied and distributed to explain UTO and how it works. Blue boxes and envelopes are free, order on line United Thank Offering, only shipping charges have to be paid. Materials for children can be obtained by clicking on coordinator materials. There you’ll find a 10 page-coloring book for little children and 8 activity sheets for older children. Each activity has a guide that gives 2 or 3 suggestions for the use of the sheet. There is a letter to children that explains, “What is UTO”. Additional information also can be obtained by visiting:

http://library.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/UTO_ColoringBook_1994orig.pdf


Please contact me and I will assist you 215 884 1053 or Eberryholmes@aol.com

Yours In Christ,   

Betty Berry-Holmes, UTO Coordinator

Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

 

This Far by Faith

The history of the Diocese of Pennsylvania is in many ways a history of the Episcopal Church at large. It remains one of the largest and most influential dioceses in the national church. Its story has paralleled and illustrated the challenges and accomplishments of the wider denomination—and of issues that concern the American people as a whole. In This Far by Faith, ten professional historians provide the first complete history of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. It will become essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the history and significance of the Episcopal Church and of its evolution in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Read more...

 


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