2019 in review: Learning to love God, one another, and all creation
Image above: Youth delegates at the 151st Diocesan Convention share their responses to our draft Rule of Life, Vision Statement, and Mission Statement.
Where did you see God at work in 2019?
2019 was a year for discerning God’s vision for our future, a year for experimenting with new ways of connecting with our neighbors, a year for sharing God’s love in every part of Central New York. Here are a few ministry moments that shine as we reflect on the year we just completed:
January 2019: It’s Central New York, and snow doesn’t stop our ministry!
Virtual worship services popped up all over Central New York when a severe January storm caused many churches to cancel Sunday services. In the image above, a member of St. John’s Church in Ithaca—and her cat—tune in to Facebook Live to join the Rev. Megan Castellan in Morning Prayer. Photo by S. VanLooy via Facebook.
The diocesan Youth Ministry partnered with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Syracuse to host a weekend overnight for middle and high school students from all over CNY. They helped serve a meal at the nearby Samaritan Center, ice-skated in Clinton Square, and enjoyed a feast cooked up by St. Paul’s rector the Rev. Philip Major and other parishioners. In the morning, youth joined the St. Paul’s congregation for Sunday worship. Photo by D.J. Iglesrud.
February 2019: Discerning a Vision, Mission, and Rule of Life
What difference is God calling our diocese to make? To begin discerning the answer to this question, members of the Diocesan Board, Standing Committee, diocesan staff, and representative voices from many parishes spent two days in retreat: praying, reflecting, and telling stories. This “Visioning Team” continued to meet for discernment throughout 2019, and shared a draft Rule of Life, Mission Statement, and Vision Statement with the Diocese at the 151st Convention in November.
The Rev. Wanda Copeland of Trinity Episcopal Church in Elmira and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Horseheads and the Rev. Dr. Howard Whitaker of Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira offered Ashes to Go throughout the noon hour on Ash Wednesday in front of the courthouse in downtown Elmira. Photo via WENY.
“Are you a jerk sometimes, but want to do better? So are we! That’s why we have Lent.” The Rev. Pete Williams and his eye-catching sign braved the cold to offer Ashes to Go in downtown Cortland outside Grace & Holy Spirit Episcopal/Lutheran Church.
The Rev. Amour (Rebecca) Garang presides at the Sunday afternoon service of Diäŋdït Chapel, a congregation of Episcopalians of South Sudanese descent worshiping in the Dinka language. Services are held at 12:30 p.m. every Sunday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, East Syracuse. This photo was taken on Sunday, April 7th, when members of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton came west to join the Diäŋdït Chapel congregation for worship. They presented Mother Amour with a gift of the vestments she is wearing in this picture.
Just a few months later, Diäŋdït Chapel was officially recognized as a Mission Chapel of the Diocese at the 151st Diocesan Convention.
On April 24th, in a service at Grace Episcopal Church in Utica, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe formally commissioned the Rev. Deacon Bah Tway of Syracuse and Mr. Edwin Way of Utica as catechists, or teachers, of the Karen Episcopal community in our diocese. Members of Grace Church in Utica and the Church of the Saviour in Syracuse offered music in the Karen language at the service. Read more in the April 25, 2019 issue of the Messenger>
May 2019: Lay Preachers graduate
John Endress of Christ Episcopal Church, Binghamton (center back) and Estella Bryans of Grace Episcopal Church, Utica (back right) successfully completed the two-year diocesan Lay Preaching program, making them eligible to be licensed by the bishop as lay preachers in the Diocese. They are pictured here with program director the Rev. Bridget McManus (center front) and other students in the program.
June 2019: Sharing God’s love with our neighbors
Summer brings Central New Yorkers outside, and there are so many ways to share God’s love, from a neighborhood tomato-planting workshop in a church parking lot to marching in the CNY Pride parade in Syracuse.
Congregations participating in the Learning Communities Initiative designed “action learning experiments” to connect with their neighbors, God, and one another. In Owego, St. Paul’s Church hosted a “My Tomato” workshop for the neighborhood. Each participant planted and brought home a new tomato plant housed in a five-gallon bottom-watering planter, complete with soil and tomato cage.
Episcopalians and Lutherans traveled to Syracuse from all over Central New York to march in the CNY Pride Parade on Saturday, June 22, 2019. “[We marched in the parade] to show the LGBTQIA community that there are people of faith that welcome and embrace them,” said the Rev. Deacon Kay Drebert, one of the marchers. “We know how important this is from a personal perspective. We want others to know how welcoming our diocese can be.”
July 2019: Standing up for human rights at the U.S./Mexico border
Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe urged all Episcopalians in Central New York to stand up for immigrants and refugees suffering at the U.S./Mexico border. She was a headline speaker at a grassroots Lights for Liberty rally held in Syracuse on July 12th.
August 2019: New church website-building program begins
The Episcopal Churches of St. Andrew’s (New Berlin), St. Matthew’s (South New Berlin) and Emmanuel (Norwich) became the first community in the Diocese to launch new websites through the diocesan website-building program. Learn more about the program in the August 1, 2019 issue of the Messenger>
September 2019: Bishop & Canons “On the Road”
Recognizing that the ministry of the diocese is alive in every parish, in 2019 Bishop DeDe, her Canons, and members of the diocesan staff initiated “On the Road” days, bringing the diocesan office to different regions of the Diocese. Each event featured bible study, lunch, and open office hours. Here, clergy and laypeople from the North Country region of our diocese gather for an “On the Road” day at Trinity Episcopal Church in Watertown.
October 2019: Pet Blessings celebrate creation
Observing St. Francis Day, parishes all over the diocese hosted pet blessings for members and neighbors. Pictured here is the Blessing of the Animals at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bainbridge. See more pet blessing photos in this Facebook album>
November 2019: On the Way of Love
The 151st Convention of the Diocese of Central New York affirmed our commitment to walking the Way of Love as a community. We welcomed a new mission chapel serving the South Sudanese community of Syracuse; we experimented with digital voting and other paper-reduction measures; we responded to our draft vision statement, mission statement, and rule of life, and much more. Check out more highlights of the 151st Convention in this photo essay>
December 2019: An ordination and a fond farewell
The Diocese of Central New York welcomed a new priest on Saturday, December 14, 2019 as Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe ordained John Rohde in a service hosted by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Syracuse. Photo by D.J. Igelsrud. More photos are available on Facebook>
A Canon to the Ordinary wears many hats, and retiring Canon John Crosswaite demonstrated that at a farewell luncheon held in his honor on December 16th. We thank John for his service to the people and congregations of Central New York.