The Episcopal Church Welcomes You
» Site Map   » Questions    

« Return
Diocesan Digest - April 6


ENS Photo by Robert Franken
Church and parish hall in Caruthersville, Missouri, damaged by a tornado. The parish hall lost its roof and a tree went through the roof of the church.   (ENS Photo by Robert Franken)

[Episcopal News Service] 



  • ALASKA: Arrest made in arson-caused Holy Trinity fire
  • CALIFORNIA: Redesigned Pacific Church News joins Episcopal Life
  • MISSOURI: Church severely damaged by tornado
  • NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Coadjutor nominee withdraws
  • OHIO: Diocese develops General Convention curriculum

ALASKA: Arrest made in arson-caused Holy Trinity fire

[SOURCE: KINY Radio] An arrest has been made in the arson fire that destroyed Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Juneau and a neighboring house and caused $2 million in damage on March 12.

Fire Marshal Rich Etheridge said Bob Huber, 24, was arrested March 31 and faces charges of arson in the first degree and criminal mischief in the first degree.

The fire marshal says the fire was started in a boat parked in an alley between the two structures. Investigators believe Huber used gas found in the boat, a 21 foot Bayliner, to start the fire. Etheridge said Huber started the fire following an altercation during which he was reportedly thrown out of a party at a nearby home.

The fire marshal said the boat did not belong to the people that Huber was angry with. He said investigators got leads in the case at the fire scene from people who had been involved in the altercation with Huber earlier that morning.

CALIFORNIA: Redesigned Pacific Church News joins Episcopal Life

[SOURCE: Diocese of California, Episcopal Life] The Diocese of California's Pacific Church News has debuted its tab-sized newspaper format with its April/May edition.

The re-design came "after some remarkable comments and feedback from our reader, our contributors, and our board, and with the blessings of Bishop [William] Swing," wrote editor Sean McConnell.

Pacific Church News has also become a printing partner with Episcopal Life. There are now 36 dioceses in the partnership, an all-time high.

The diocesan newspaper, which had been a quarterly magazine, will increase the frequency of its publication without a significant impact on the budget, McConnell said. The publication will remain free to its readers.

The diocese has also changed its website to

MASSACHUSETTS: Good Friday service planned

[SOURCE: Diocese of Massachusetts] On Good Friday, there will be a three-hour service of "Words from the Cross" from noon to 3:00 p.m. in the chapel at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, sponsored by Episcopal Church Women and the MGH Chaplaincy.

The Rev. Dr. John T. Townsend, retired Episcopal Divinity School professor, will read his "Passion," published by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Clinicians and chaplains from MGH and other area health-care institutions will offer reflections on the seven last words of Christ, and musical meditations will include pieces from J. S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," familiar hymns such as "My faith looks up to thee" and "Osacred head, sore wounded," and traditional spirituals, such as "Were you there."

Vocals and accompaniment will be provided by Robert Humphreville (piano and organ), Paul Guttry (baritone), John Bumstead (cello), and Keith Brinkley (tenor), who works in the MGH oncology and bone marrow transplant unit.

For more information contact: MGH Chaplaincy, 617-726-2220, or the Rev. Deacon Daphne B. Noyes, 617-354-2540,

MISSOURI: Church severely damaged by tornado

[SOURCE: Diocese of Missouri] The Episcopal church in Caruthersville, in the bootheel part of Missouri, was reported severely damaged by a tornado that tore through the town April 2 around 7:30 p.m.

The Ven. Robert Franken, diocesan administrator, visited the church April 4 with a disaster recovery team from Church Insurance Co.

The Rev. Canon Dan Smith, canon to the ordinary in Missouri, was to have traveled to Caruthersville April 5 to lead a prayer service at noon at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The Rev. Jack Rogers, priest-in-charge at St. Luke and St. John, will preach.

Rogers, who is also the rector of St. Mary's, said the storm missed his church in Dyersburg, but among the people killed in Dyer County was a former senior warden at St. Mary's. He was calling each of the members of the Caruthersville congregation to check on their welfare.

The storm, which started in Arkansas and skipped its way across the bootheel into Tennessee, is being blamed for at least 28 deaths. No one in Caruthersville was reported killed, although there were several injuries. News reports say as many as 19 persons were killed in Dyer County, Tennessee, directly across the Mississippi River from Caruthersville.

Bishop George Wayne Smith was in Caruthersville Sunday afternoon for his regularly scheduled visit, but left town around 3 p.m. to return to St. Louis.

The diocese is working with Episcopal Relief and Development and the Diocese of West Tennessee to arrange emergency relief for the victims of the tornado that devastated town of 6,500 residents.

No one from the congregation at St. Luke and St. John was injured or suffered serious damage to their homes. The former rectory, which is now rented out, suffered minor damage. It was not in the direct path of what may have been two funnel clouds with winds estimated at 200 mph.

Smith said it is too soon to talk about the fate of the congregation, which was down to just nine active people.

The single-story, peaked-roofed church with adjoining parish hall was built in 1953 as St. John's Episcopal Church. The mission was merged with St. Luke's in Kennett in the 1990s.

Individuals and congregations wishing to help St. Luke and St. John and the communities in Caruthersville and Dyer County, Tennessee, should make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development. Write "Caruthersville" on the memo line. Actual help with the physical clean-up is being coordinated through the bishop's office. E-mail the Rev. Canon Dan Smith at

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Coadjutor nominee withdraws

[SOURCE: Diocese of Northern California] One of the four nominees for bishop coadjutor for the Diocese of Northern California has taken his name out of contention.

The Rev. Canon Irwin M. Lewis, Jr., 53, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, wrote to the Northern California Standing Committee that he has come to understand that he cannot uproot his 15-year-old daughter.

"I wish that I had been able to come to this awareness much sooner," he wrote. "I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience and labor my withdrawal may cause you. However, I do not think I could have found clarity in this discernment much earlier given the trauma from which my own diocese has been emerging in the past few weeks and the demands on my time and energy during our transition into this period of an interim Episcopate. It is only now, as the air has cleared, that I have been able to sense my own heart."

Bishops Chilton Knudsen of Maine, Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts and Charles Jenkins of Louisiana said last fall that dysfunctional relations among clergy, lay leaders and bishops in Southern Virginia had plagued the diocese for decades and required "deep systemic change." They suggested a three-year interim with the search for a new bishop to begin in the third year "to allow for the grace of an interim period to unfold fully."

In late 2004 Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb called for the election of a coadjutor to succeed him when he retires January 1, 2007. The election will take place May 6 at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park, California.

The full text of Lewis' letter is available at

OHIO: Diocese offers General Convention curriculum

[SOURCE: Diocese of Ohio] The Diocese of Ohio has developed a three-session curriculum to help congregations have conversations about the upcoming 75th General Convention.

Each session is designed to last 50 to 80 minutes, depending upon how much time the group designates for discussion. The curriculum includes PowerPoint presentations, participant handouts, speaker's notes and background material.

The sessions are:

  • The Polity of the Episcopal Church (How do we organize ourselves as the Body of Christ in the Episcopal Church?)
  • Truth, Justice, and the "Anglican" Way (What do we stand for? How do we know?)
  • GC2006! (The 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church)

The diocese suggests that congregations use the three sessions to help their members prepare for regional meetings with the Ohio bishops and General Convention deputation.

In a related March 24 letter to diocesan leaders, Bishop Mark Hollingsworth commended the series and urged his readers not to take advantage of the offer of a free copy of the DVD "Choose This Day," produced by the Anglican Communion Network.

The letter offering the DVD and the film itself "do nothing I can discern to build up the Body of Christ. Rather, I have found them to play on a dynamic of fear and a divisiveness that are anathema to Christian community. Indeed, the closer we get to this summer's General Convention in Columbus, the more the power of evil will seek to divide us with strategies of fear and reactivity," Hollingsworth wrote.

"To be a people reconciled to God and one another in Christ, we will need to make room for one another in our prayers, our conversations, and our hearts. We will need to engage with one another at a higher level than that of fear. We will need to call each other not by derisive or pejorative names, but as sister and brother, knowing that it is in one another that Christ is coming to each of us."

Links to the Ohio curriculum are available at