Next month, congregations in the diocese will receive in the mail a DVD that contains a new how-to video on refugee ministry titled “Welcoming the Stranger.” The production, completed just in time for World Refugee Day on June 20, is the result of a two-and-a-half year collaboration between the people of St. Peter’s, Eggertsville, their neighbors at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church, and Journey’s End Refugee Services in Buffalo.
The goal, says Deacon Tom Tripp, is to inspire local
congregations to get involved in refugee ministry. Depending on a
congregation’s strengths, he says, lay leaders and clergy can reach out to
local public schools with refugee students, adopt or sponsor a refugee family,
or get involved in advocacy or volunteer work with a resettlement agency or refugee
The video, which was supported by a grant from Diocesan
Council and with funds from St. Peter’s and St. Benedict, also grounds refugee
ministry in the biblical imperative to “to do justice, love mercy, and walk
humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) and to Jesus’ commandment to welcome the
stranger (Matthew 25:35).
Tripp, who serves at St. Peter’s, first got involved
in refugee ministry about 15 years ago when he began volunteering with a
shelter for asylum seekers on Buffalo’s east side then known as Vive la Casa.
But his interest in aiding refugees came much earlier.
“I served in Vietnam a long time ago,” Tripp says,
“and when I saw all of the refugees storming the American embassy trying to get
out safely, and then getting in boats, I thought, ‘We could have done better
than that.’ It always stuck in my head I could help out with refugees, and
that’s how I initially got the spark.”
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Deacon Joanne
Coury Frake, who also serves at St. Peter’s, Tripp says that the partners have
remaining funds that will be used to support education about refugee issues,
interpreters, and projects at congregations that decide to get involved. “The
re-settling, mentoring, and befriending of refugees goes on,” he says.
month, the Bishop James Theodore Holly Chapter of the Union of Black
Episcopalians hosted the organization’s Northeast Regional Conference in
Niagara Falls. The weekend event, which included Episcopalians from across the
region, will benefit the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern
Pennsylvania for years to come, its organizers say.
“We wanted a
proactive sort of thing,” said Justice Rose Sconiers, a member of St. Philip’s,
Buffalo, who was dean of the
conference. Sconiers, who is also first vice chair of the Diocese of Western
New York’s Commission to Dismantle Racism and
Discrimination, says the conversations begun at the conference will help shape
the action plan of the commission, which is chaired by the Rev. Matthew
Building on Becoming Beloved Community, the Episcopal
Church’s vision document on racial
reconciliation, Sconiers and her fellow conference leaders organized roundtable
discussions on four themes that form the quadrants of the Becoming Beloved Community labyrinth:
telling the truth, repairing the breach, proclaiming the dream, and practicing
the way of love.
participants told personal stories and reflected with their table groups on
what they had heard from each other. “We asked, ‘So what does this tell you about church and race, about how
are we broken?’” said Sconiers. The answers will be part of a report designed
for parishes in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania that want to
begin discussions about racial reconciliation.
Susan Woods, a member
of the commission and warden of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd,
Buffalo, said the conference sessions were focused on generating practical
ideas. “We were looking for action ideas for what we can do in our parishes to
repair the breach,” she said. “How can we build greater trust so that we can
really have authentic confidence in our intentions? How can we build trust and
integrity in our commitment to racial healing?”
Woods emphasizes that
racial healing both addresses individual prejudice and confronts the church’s
role in systemic racism.
“The legacy of
slavery has created systems of inequity in our housing systems, wealth
accumulation and criminal justice system,” she said. “We need to look at our
ministries, at our charity, and be sure that those things address inequity and
not just make inequity manageable. We have to do things to address the
situations that make people rely on food pantries.”
relationships is key, said Woods, who hopes to see pilgrimages, study groups,
parish partnerships and other programs that can “build trust in intentions of
“We don’t want to
stop at the good intentions level. This is more important than that,” she said.
“We want to move beyond goodwill patronage to seeing each other as absolute
authentic, capable children of God.”
Watch future issues
of the newsletter for the full report from the UBE conference and more
resources from the Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination.
Every Easter morning, I find myself relieved that it was Mary Magdalene, and not me, who was the first one at the empty tomb. She had what it took: a profound faith in what she saw but did not yet understand and a willingness to proclaim the Resurrection without confirmation or analysis. Those are admirable qualities, but they are not mine.
I identify with the disciples. In the reading from Luke appointed for Easter evening, they are, as usual, confused and slow to grasp the situation. In fact, two of them are actually walking the wrong way–toward Emmaus, that is, away from Jerusalem and the empty tomb. They know that something momentous has occurred, but they don’t yet know what to make of it. They are grasping about for some kind of common understanding, but even when Jesus is standing right in front of them, they still don’t see him clearly enough to believe. You can hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice when he finally reveals himself to them, saying, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!”
Friends, I believe that right now in our region, we are on the road to Emmaus together. We are walking together in a new reality. We know that big things have happened, but we don’t yet understand them fully, and we are still figuring out–together–how we should respond. The one thing we do know is that our lives will never be the same. And that can be disconcerting.
But we have one big advantage over the disciples. We already know that Christ is walking with us. That doesn’t mean that we, like the disciples, will not be confused and uncertain. It does not mean that we can avoid suffering and death. But we know that our path winds on toward sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. Whatever awaits us, we know we will see the risen Lord.
I give thanks to for the opportunity to take this journey with you. Happy Easter.
The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe
Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Bishop Provisional of Western New York
Photo: On the Road to Emmaus, Duccio, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena
Thank you for the generous welcome that you extended to Carly, Lauren and me on Sunday at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was glad to see so many of you and to have the chance to worship together. I am especially grateful that we were able to begin our ministry together by expressing heartfelt thanks for Bishop Bill and his faithful leadership. You can find some photos of the day on the diocese’s Facebook page.
In the next few weeks, I will meet with the standing committees, diocesan councils and staffs of the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania to begin the next phase of our partnership. I look forward to updating you on our work after Easter. Before the work of planning our future begins in earnest, the clergy of the diocese and I will spend a day in prayer and conversation in advance of Holy Week, and I will begin the Triduum with the people of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
As you make your own preparations for Holy Week and Easter, know that my prayers and gratitude are with you. Serving as your bishop provisional is a great privilege, and I look forward to our ministry together.
The big day has nearly arrived. On Sunday afternoon at a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I will pass the crozier to Bishop Sean Rowe and retire as your bishop. It will be a bittersweet day for me, because my heart will be full of thanksgiving for our ministry and joy at what we have accomplished, but I will also be sad that our time together is finished so soon.
From the beginning of my time as your bishop, I have worked to be active in our parishes, relating closely to you and encouraging your ministry. All of our congregations are precious, and I have been grateful to help nurture the seeds of new life that you have planted in so many places. We have been especially successful at recruiting outstanding clergy to join us in Western New York, and their leadership will help sustain the vitality I see in so many congregations for years to come.
My episcopate has coincided with the resurgence of Buffalo, and together we have created outreach and social justice ministries that are helping to foster the economic renewal of the region and care for those who have been left behind. I am particularly proud of our work toward racial reconciliation, which has been made possible by the wisdom and faithfulness of many African American leaders, several of whom also serve the wider church as members of Executive Council and deputies to General Convention. We have taken an active role in the Racial Equity Roundtable, and have partnered with African American clergy leaders in other traditions to foster racial healing and end systemic racism. We have also begun the long journey of healing and reconciliation with our Native American community, and I am especially grateful to the people of Good Shepherd, Irving, who have helped me to see and understand the place of Native American people in our church and our communities.
In the same spirit of reconciliation, our support for same-sex marriage and care for LGBTQ people has helped the Episcopal Church move forward despite some difficult times in our denomination. We Episcopalians support full inclusion not in spite of our faith, but because of it, and I am proud that we are known in our communities for welcoming all of God’s children.
Our greatest accomplishment together may be this: In the spirit of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, a son of our diocese, we have become unafraid to talk about Jesus. I served on the Joint Nominating Committee to Elect a Presiding Bishop in 2015 when Presiding Bishop Curry was elected, and I have been so proud to be a diocesan bishop under his leadership. His commitment to the Jesus Movement and the Way of Love continue to help me and all of us speak unapologetically about our faith and its power in our lives and communities.
Our years together have been a time of change, and our efforts to face it with courage and excitement have culminated in your historic decision to explore a partnership with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and to choose Bishop Sean Rowe as your bishop provisional. Your willingness to embark on this adventure means that I am leaving with a sense of hope and excitement about your future.
Serving as your bishop has been one of the great joys and privileges of my life. My love for you and for Buffalo and this region will stay with me forever. As I embark on my own next chapter—where I will serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Long Island, teach at Episcopal Divinity School at Union, and continue my churchwide service as vice chair of the Board of the Archives, chair of the Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work, and as a member of the House of Bishops Theology Committee—you can be sure that you will have my prayers and full support for all that lies ahead.
May the blessing and peace of God, Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you forever.
In a final video for the Diocese of Western New York, Bishop Bill Franklin remembers his episcopacy and reflects on the legacy he is leaving for the people of the diocese. Come thank Bishop Bill for his ministry at the Service of Goodbye and Hello on April 7 at 3 pm at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo.
Bishop Bill Franklin: A Legacy for the Diocese of Western New York - YouTube
Bishop Bill Franklin, who will retire as bishop of Western New York on April 3, will become assisting bishop in the Diocese of Long Island in May.
“Bishop Bill Franklin is a wonderfully gifted bishop whose experience and wisdom will add a great deal to the overall ministry of our diocese,” said Bishop Larry Provenzano, bishop of Long Island. “I look forward to welcoming my esteemed friend and colleague to the staff of the diocese.”
Bishop Franklin, who holds a Ph.D. in church history, will work with the Long Island diocese’s Mercer School of Theology, conduct parish visitations, and support clergy and lay leaders. He joins Bishop Daniel Allotey and Bishop Johncy Itty, who also serve as assisting bishops. Bishop Geralyn Wolf is the assistant bishop of Long Island.
In retirement, Bishop Franklin will also teach a fall 2019 course in liturgical history at Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He continues to serve as vice-chair of the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church and as chair of the Episcopal Church’s Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work.
The Diocese of Western New York will hold three events to celebrate Bishop Franklin’s ministry, including a service on April 7 at which Bishop Sean Rowe will be installed as bishop provisional. Learn more on the website.
There are three farewell events for Bishop Bill, two regional gatherings and one more formal service to “Pass the Crozier” from Bishop Bill to Bishop Sean, followed by a reception at the Guaranty Building. Mark your calendars now!
Regional Gathering One
hosted by the Standing Committee and the Deaneries of Genesee, Northern Region, Central Erie and Eastern Erie on Sunday March 17, at St. James, Batavia, 3 pm to 4:30 pm.
Regional Gathering Two hosted by the Standing Committee and the Deaneries of Cattaraugus/Chautauqua and Southern Erie on Saturday March 23 at St. Luke’s, Jamestown, 3pm-4:30 pm
These Regional Gatherings are designed to be “good old fashioned church potlucks,” so plan on bringing your best “dish to share” and have an opportunity to say good-bye to Bishop Bill.
A Service of Good-Bye and Hello On Sunday April 7 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, 3 pm there will be a service where we will celebrate Bishop Bill’s ministry among us as well as formally welcoming Bishop Sean as our Bishop, Provisional. Immediately following the service is a reception at the Guaranty Building (across the street from the Cathedral).
Please plan on joining Bishop Bill at one (or all!!) of these events.
PLEASE no ducks…if you wish to do something to honor the Bishop, donations to the Franklin Fund are most appreciated!
When the people of St. John’s, Youngstown realized that their community’s senior van was worn out and in need of replacement, they wanted to help. This past April, they kicked off a fund drive to buy a new van for the village, and this past Thursday, January 24, a brand new 2019 Chrysler Pacifica was dedicated.
On Sunday, Bishop Franklin celebrated Epiphany at the Feast of Lights at St. Luke’s, Jamestown.
In Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we heard the familiar story of the three magi who traveled from faraway lands in the East to pay homage to the infant Jesus. Only Matthew records this story, and even from him, we get only a little information.
We don’t really know who the magi were. They may have been fortunetellers, or soothsayers, astrologers who predicted the future based on what they saw in the stars, or astronomers, who tried to make scientific sense of what they saw in the stars. Legends tell us that Melchior was from Persia, what we now call Iran, Caspar was from India, and Balthazar was from Babylon or Ethiopia. Whatever their origins, they went to great lengths to seek out Jesus and honor him with costly gifts.
I like to regard the magi as the very first strands of the web of grace, the beginning of that sacred connection woven by the Holy Spirit that binds us to one another, parish to parish, Christian to Christian, across not only our diocese but also the entire world. Their story reminds us that, regardless of what country we come from or how far we have traveled to find Jesus, we are all part of a vast network with God at its center.
As I near the end of my time as your bishop, I find particular comfort and hope in the web of grace, because I know that the work we have done together and the relationships we have formed will continue to sustain all of us as we find new ways to strengthen the church for the challenges of the 21st century. Like the magi, I will soon take a different road home, but I am confident that God’s grace will go with me as it will go with all of you into a new chapter of your mission and ministry.
Between now and early April, we will have time to say farewell to one another and to welcome Bishop Sean into the Diocese of Western New York. But for now, as I celebrate the season of Epiphany, I do so with thanks for the light and life that you have brought to my ministry and with anticipation for the gifts we still have to share with each other.