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Diocesan Digest - May 11

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • ATLANTA: Clergy push for Hunger-Free Communities Act
  • BETHLEHEM: Regional evangelism workshops train leaders
  • IDAHO: Diocese marks Episcopal Life anniversary
  • LOUISIANA: 'Jericho Road' housing initiative targets New Orleans neighborhood
  • NEW YORK: Bishop makes magazine's list of influentials
  • TEXAS: Bishop to take Astros' mound
  • TEXAS: Leadership and Faith series continues
  • WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS: 'Disciples, leaders, dreamers' called to continue vision work

ATLANTA: Clergy push for Hunger-Free Communities Act

[SOURCE: Bread for the World] Seventy-eight clergy from the Diocese of Atlanta, including Bishop Neil Alexander, have signed a letter to Georgia's U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss asking him to move the Hunger-Free Communities Act toward passage in the Senate.

A total of 103 clergy from various denominations signed the letter.

Chambliss, who is an Episcopalian, is the chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The Hunger-Free Communities Act (S. 1120) has been referred to his committee for consideration, and Chambliss has significant influence over whether or not the bill will be considered.

The legislation currently has 43 co-sponsors in the Senate and 160 in the House of Representatives.

Bread for the World and other anti-hunger groups worked with Congress to introduce the Hunger-Free Communities Act. This legislation would recommit Congress to reducing hunger in this country and would strengthen the efforts of local and statewide groups working to reduce hunger in their communities. It would also set a new goal to end U.S. hunger by 2015.

"Last year Senator Chambliss showed great leadership on behalf of hungry people by fighting to protect food stamps from budget cuts," said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "We pray he will continue that good work by shepherding the Hunger-Free Communities Act toward passage in the Senate."

BETHLEHEM: Regional evangelism workshops train leaders

[SOURCE: Diocese of Bethlehem] The Diocese of Bethlehem is training and encouraging members of its congregations to proclaim the love of God in Christ Jesus and to welcome people into their congregations.

Four of 10 scheduled regional evangelism workshops have taken place around the diocese during Eastertide. Part of a detailed plan for evangelizing northeast Pennsylvania that was passed by diocesan convention in October, the free training workshops are led by members of the evangelism commission.

Convention directed that every congregation choose at least two laypeople to serve as its evangelists. These lay people would attend two regional training workshops, one in Eastertide 2006 and the second in Eastertide 2007. Congregations will pair up to help each other in specific aspects of their evangelism.

So far 29 of the diocese's 66 congregations have responded by sending evangelists to regional workshops. Some parishes have sent two people, some send three and a few have sent as many as six.

The first round of workshops emphasizes each congregation's invitation, welcome and inclusion of new members of the parish.

Every congregation that attends the workshop will be asked to develop at least two evangelism projects to be completed by Easter 2007. Laity from each church will not necessarily do the project so much as work with the clergy and lay leadership to accomplish the project. Attendance and stewardship data is available at

IDAHO: Diocese marks Episcopal Life anniversary

[SOURCE: Episcopal Life] The Diocese of Idaho's monthly newspaper this month marks its fifth year as a member of the Episcopal Life Printing Partnership. The Idaho Messenger is edited by the Rev. Karen Hunter.

There are now 36 dioceses in the partnership, an all-time high. The partnership helps dioceses by having Episcopal Life deal with the printing and mailing details, allowing dioceses to concentrate on the editorial aspects of their newspapers.

LOUISIANA: 'Jericho Road' housing initiative targets New Orleans neighborhood

[SOURCE: Diocese of Louisiana] Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana announced on May 3 the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative (JREHI), a unique housing plan targeting New Orleans' Central City neighborhood.

JREHI was formed in response to the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Jericho's mission is to provide quality affordable housing in existing New Orleans neighborhoods.

"Our first goal is to construct 150 homes in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. While doing so we pray that we will be able to collaborate with other faith groups in sharing this ministry so important to the future of New Orleans," said Jenkins, who will chair the program's board.

JREHI was formed in March as a partnership of the diocese and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). ERD provided the initial $2.3 million which will be used for administrative management, property acquisition and construction. The money from ERD, combined with planned financing from the Whitney Community Development Corp. will result in an investment in Central City of more than $20 million. Whitney Community Development is part of Whitney Holding Corp., a bank holding company based in New Orleans.

"Jericho Road, through its broad and diverse partnerships, will transform New Orleans into an American City that will again set the standard for people of diverse ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to live together in mixed and vibrant communities," said the Very Rev. David duPlantier, dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, and the board vice chair. "One of our city's most unique characteristics is that for hundreds of years people of vastly different backgrounds have lived in close proximity to one another inspiring and influencing culture, religion and family life. Jericho Road will continue that vital New Orleans neighborhood tradition."

The Jericho Road 'pilot program' has been launched with the purchase of five empty lots from Whitney Community Development. The pilot program aims to implement and then critique all aspects of JREHI including: site selection; client identification and training; availability of homeowners insurance, cost of mortgage products and a realistic understanding of the building process post-Katrina. A variety of building methods are being considered, including modular, steel, cement as well as traditional stick-built. Jericho Road has begun to build neighborhood partnerships near the area of the newly acquired properties and throughout the Central City neighborhood.

NEW YORK: Bishop makes magazine's list of influentials

[SOURCE: New York magazine] Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam is one of seven people, and the only woman, to make New York magazine's list of influential religious leaders.

The May 15 issue of the magazine calls Roskam "the most prominent female religious leader in the city."

The magazine defines influence as "the ability to shift the course of events through ideas or relationships rather than coercion..." and said its picks were based on the "specific trends our influentials were driving, people who were not just keeping the seats of powers warm but who were effecting real change."

The article on Roskam notes that she was the fourth woman bishop elected by an Episcopal Church diocese, and that she has been working for what the magazine calls "gender parity" in the Anglican Communion.

TEXAS: Bishop to take Astros' mound

[SOURCE: Diocese of Texas] Texas Bishop Don A. Wimberly will throw out the first pitch at the June 8 Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves baseball game at Minute Maid Park.

In celebration of the Fourth Annual Episcopal Night with the Astros, thousands of Episcopalians will come from all over the diocese -- which encompasses 49,489 square miles -- to attend the game, hoping to break their record of 5,000 in attendance at Episcopal Night with the Astros in 2005.

A portion of each ticket sold will benefit the work of the "We Are One Church" campaign, which raises money to build new churches in underserved areas of the diocese and strengthens existing congregations.

The parish choir of St. Martin's, Houston, will lead the crowd in the national anthem.

TEXAS: Leadership and Faith series continues

[SOURCE: Diocese of Texas] The owner of the Houston Astros baseball team, Drayton McLane, will be the speaker May 22 for the Diocese of Texas' second Leadership & Faith luncheon.

This luncheon series features outstanding, visible leaders who discuss how their faith impacts their leadership.

In the late 1800s, McLane's grandfather, Robert McLane, opened his first retail grocery business, which eventually transformed into a wholesale distribution business. In 1959, McLane joined the company. He enhanced the distribution system to expand the family business from a $3 million-a-year operation into a $19 billion enterprise.

The McLane Group continues to stress the qualities extolled by three generations of family leadership: honesty, integrity and high ethical principals.

Proceeds from the luncheon event will benefit the work of the diocese's "We Are One Church" campaign, which raises funds to build new churches and strengthen existing congregations. 

Working to embrace the diversity of Houston's faith community, the proceeds will also benefit Meals on Wheels, a community service of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston that delivers more than 3,000 meals to senior citizens every weekday.

"The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has historically supported Interfaith Ministries over the years. We welcome the opportunity partner with one of their programs, Meals on Wheels, as we reach out to the wider community. This event will serve to celebrate those things that unite us," said Bishop Don A. Wimberly.

WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS: 'Disciples, leaders, dreamers' continue vision work

[SOURCE: Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Teams of "disciples, leaders and dreamers" attended a diocesan "summit meeting" May 6. The event was designed to continue the "dream with God" dialogues that more than 40 congregations conducted during January and February. During those meetings participants generated several thousand individual Post-it notes filled with their ideas, hopes and dreams for their parish, their neighboring parishes and the diocese. The colorful Post-it notes became the squares in quilts hung throughout the meeting spaces at the summit.