Be Faithful and Persevere In Prayer

One of my greatest joys and blessings in ministry is being able to pray with others.  I recently had one of those special opportunities when a woman who was going through a difficult time came forward unexpectedly during the middle of the Sunday service and knelt at the altar seeking prayers and God’s blessing.  It was truly a Holy Spirit filled moment that deeply touched me and everyone else at the service.  I was particularly moved not only by the faith of the woman who came forward, but also by the love and concern that so many other members of the congregation had for her.  It was clear that God was at work touching the lives of many people during that time of prayer.  It truly is an awesome thing to see God at work in prayer.

As Christians (both lay and ordained), we are all called by God to be a people of prayer.  In our Baptismal Covenant we vow to “… continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?”(BCP p. 417)  Those called to ordained ministry take additional vows regarding prayer.  When I was ordained a deacon, I vowed to “be faithful in prayer, and in the reading and study of the Holy Scriptures?” (BCP p.544)  At my ordination to the priesthood, I vowed to persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God’s grace, both for myself and for others” (BCP p. 532) At my consecration service ten years ago, I vowed as chief priest and pastor to: “ encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, pray for them without ceasing…” (BCP p.518)  

At the age of 59, having been born and raised in the Church and called by God to a life of prayer,  serving Him first as a lay person and then as a deacon, priest and bishop, I thought writing about prayer would be relatively easy.  That has not proven to be the case.  Yesterday, after having reached the “FINAL” — final deadline, I received the dreaded, but well deserved email from George:  “Bishop…hate to be a nag…but need your article…”

With the pressure and sense of guilt mounting, I sat at my desk thinking and praying about this article and what I should say about prayer and its impact on our lives.  I kept praying that the Lord would miraculously organize my thoughts (that had been swirling around for days and weeks) in such a way that the message He would have me share would flawlessly flow from my brain to my fingertips that were sitting idle on the keyboard in front of me.  Much to my dismay, that didn’t happen.  Having personally seen and experienced God do truly miraculous things, I certainly believe in the power of prayer and know how important it is and what a difference it can make, and yet my heart just wasn’t in writing the article.  I saw writing this article as just one more thing to do in a long list of other things that needed to be done, many of which I had fallen behind on, only adding to my growing sense of frustration and guilt.

Do you ever feel that way when it comes to your prayer life?  You know it’s important and something you should do, but your heart just isn’t in it, or you want to be faithful in your prayers, but there are so many other things vying for your time and attention.   When faced with an ever growing “To Do List,” it is so easy and tempting to either rush through half-heartedly saying your prayers, or skipping your prayers all together and jumping right into all the demands of the day, or in some cases those alluring activities that seem to be calling your name.

I wish I could tell you that never happens to me, but I would be lying.  Often when it comes to my prayer life, I feel like St. Paul when he said, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)  Often, when I least want to pray is when I am in greatest need of prayer.  The Lord  is constantly reminding me that despite all the “business” of the day, things tend to go far better when I take time to be with Him, “being faithful and persevering” in prayer, than they do when I cave in and jump right into the day skipping or shortchanging my prayer time.  Bill Hybels wrote a wonderful book on this very subject: Too Busy Not To Pray – Slowing Down to Be with God.  I highly commend it.

There is no getting around the “business” of life; it is a reality – even if at times it is self- created business.  While we may or may not be able to control all the demands on our time and energy, we can control whether or not we consciously invite the Lord to share in those demands and all the other aspects of our lives.  God does not want to be forgotten or left on the sidelines as we go about our day, but rather He wants us to invite Him into all that we are doing, seeking His company, guidance and strength.  Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28) 

     There is no one better to hang out with – no one better to talk to than the Lord.  Prayer is one of the chief ways we spend time with the Lord.   In its truest sense, prayer is simply being open to God’s presence and responding to Him as He makes Himself known and speaks to our heart and soul and mind in whatever form that might take.     

While the act of praying is much easier than we tend to think, maintaining a healthy prayer life can be a challenge. In trying to write this article on prayer, I found myself experiencing a very frustrating obstacle often encountered in my prayer life — trouble focusing.  My mind kept wandering, thinking about a multitude of different things.  At various times I found myself under serious spiritual attack with Satan hitting me with one temptation after another, causing me to feel very distant from God.  Does that ever happen to you when you are trying to spend time with God in prayer?  Once again, “faithfulness and perseverance” in prayer (especially when you find yourself under attack), is so important.  Jesus told Peter, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)  Throughout the writing of this article I have been praying, “Lord please help me focus on You and the task before me.  Protect me from the distractions, temptations and attacks of the evil one.”

As the clock kept ticking away and the words still weren’t coming, I went from asking the Lord to telling the Lord to give me the words to say.  I was becoming more anxious and just wanted to get the article done and over with.  I was feeling very much like the Psalmist who wrote, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to You!  Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress!  Incline Your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call.” (Psalm 102:1-2).    When the perfectly organized three point outline identifying all the key characteristics of prayer; the various types of prayer; and the different ways to pray, didn’t materialize on the computer screen in front of me, I found myself only getting more frustrated and angry with God, wondering where He was and why He wasn’t helping me.  Aren’t You listening Lord?  I have a schedule to meet.  I need Your help and I need it now!  There was no disguising my growing frustration and anger with the Lord.  He knows every thought and feeling we have.  The good news is God can handle it and continues to love us.  The Psalms are ripe with honest human emotion.

One of the problems with expecting God to respond within a certain time frame is that He often operates on a different time schedule than we do.  In responding to those who were questioning why Jesus had not yet returned, Peter wrote:  “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”(2 Peter 3:8-9)  I am convinced that there are no unanswered prayers.  Sometimes the answer is yes, (and almost immediately); sometimes the answer is yes, but not yet (there are still other things that need to happen first); and sometimes the answer is no, (because the Lord has a different plan).

Sharing with God what’s on our heart and mind is an important part of our prayers and something He wants from us, unfortunately our sharing can easily turn into instructing the Lord on what He needs to do about fixing our problem — what needs to happen; when it needs to happen; and how it needs to happen, as if somehow we know better than God, or perhaps we are simply fearful that the plan the Lord comes up with might ask things of us that we are not prepared or willing to do.

When we do that, we fail to “let God be God” and often rob ourselves of witnessing the true wonder and might of “God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” as he deals with our prayer needs in ways that we might never have imagined and far better than anything we could have done.  The bottom line is:  Do we trust God or not?

Writing to the Philippians, Paul said, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)  When we bring things to the Lord in prayer, it is important that we trust Him, believing that He always has our best interests in mind and that He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows our needs better than we know them.

In writing this article, the Lord has reminded me of the stark difference between “needs” and “wants” – something we sometimes confuse in our prayers. While I wanted to write the perfect paper on prayer, as quickly as possible, God wanted me to pray. He didn’t abandon me in my struggles to write this article, but rather He allowed me to struggle so that I would be better able to encourage others who share in the struggles that are so common to many of us in our prayers lives.  Maintaining a healthy prayer life takes work.  It requires faithfulness and perseverance in prayer.    But it is worth all our efforts.  There is no greater blessing in all of creation than to be in the presence of the one true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.    May God bless and encourage you in your prayer life, drawing you ever closer to Him.

Let Your Light Shine

One Halloween night when I was about ten years old, my little sister and I took off by ourselves to go trick or treating.  We decided to check out a new neighborhood on our school bus route that had a lot of houses, but was quite a distance from our home.  What seemed like a good idea at the time didn’t turn out as we had hoped.  We had not accounted for how far away it really was on foot and how quickly the sun would go down.  By the time we finally reached the “candy rich” neighborhood, it was getting dark.  After only a couple of houses the growing darkness took the fun out of trick or treating and we started getting very nervous so we headed back home.  We were out in the country and there were no street lights or others houses close by.  We walked for at least half a mile in total darkness.  My earlier nervousness had now turned into outright fear.  To this day, I can still remember what a relief it was to see the lights of a house in our neighborhood off in the distance.  That light shining in the darkness made all the difference.  It brought comfort and peace to two very frightened and lost kids.

God doesn’t want us living in darkness, as evidenced by His very first command recorded in the Creation Story – “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3)  Tragically, it wasn’t long after God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden (Paradise on Earth) that the world was plunged into the darkness of sin as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command not to eat of the forbidden fruit.  All that God had created and declared to be “good” was now at risk of being destroyed because of “sin” and the darkness and death it brings into the world.

Out of His love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ (the new Adam) to save us from the power of sin and death resulting from the first Adam’s sinful disobedience.  Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)   The Apostle John writes, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).

Jesus is in fact the true “light of the world” that brings life — not death; goodness — not evil; peace — not fear; comfort – not sorrow; fulfillment – not emptiness.  In the Psalms we read, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of your presence Lord.” (Psalm 89:15).

Jesus not only invites us to walk in the light of His presence, but also to be a reflection of His light as we share in His ministry of salvation.  As His disciples, Jesus commands us to go forth boldly in His name and to be a channel of His love and mercy and healing grace.  Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention is focused on our Lord’s command: “Let your light shine!” (Matthew 5:16)  I invite everyone in the Diocese to join us at Camp of the Woods, Speculator, NY (June 9th – 11th) as we learn not only how to better walk in the light of Christ, but also how to be a reflection of His Light so that those around us who are stumbling in the darkness will see and be drawn to the light of Christ in order that they may be set free to truly live and become children of God.

The 149th Annual Convention Bishop’s Address

The 149th Annual Convention of The Episcopal Diocese of Albany
(June 9th – June 11th 2017)
Bishop’s Address
By
The Right Reverend William H. Love

      As I look back at this past year, in many ways it has been a year of sorrow and loss, a year of transition and new beginnings, a year of anxiousness and hope, a year of joy and excitement.

We have had to say good-by to some very special people, to include our dear friend and former Bishop, Bishop David Ball.  You might recall at last year’s Diocesan Convention we celebrated Bishop Ball’s 90th birthday and over 60 years of ordained ministry.  On Easter Tuesday, he took his final breath in this world and returned home to our Lord and Savior, where no doubt he was greeted with the words we all long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Bishop Ball will be greatly missed.

This past year, two of the Dioceses’ key institutions or ministries — The Cathedral of All Saints and Christ the King Spiritual Life Center said good-by to their leaders and have gone through a great deal of transition and change as they were faced with calling new leadership.  As mentioned earlier, by the grace of God and a lot of hard work we were able to call two outstanding new leaders:  The Very Rev. Dr. Leander Harding as Dean, and Mr. Reuben Todd as Executive Director of CTK.  While the search process was long and often difficult, requiring a great deal of  honest reflection and self-evaluation, I believe the Cathedral and Christ the King Center are both stronger and better equipped to move forward in the ministries the Lord is calling them to – sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and building the Kingdom of God.

Several of our parishes have gone through, or are currently going through similar periods of transition as they adjust to, or search for new rectors and Church leaders.  This past year six of our parishes called new rectors or Priests in Charge; one has just issued a call and is still waiting to hear from the priest.  Fourteen others are in various stages of the search process.  While I realize these periods of transition can be very stressful, the Lord often uses this time to heal past wounds, raise up new lay leaders, and breathe new life into the parish.  I pray in God’s time each parish will find just the right person to lead them in this next chapter in their parish’s life.

Another important diocesan ministry that went through a great deal of transition (both in its leadership and physical location) was the Oaks of Righteousness.  One of the original founders of the ministry, Mtr. Hannah Mudge stepped down (due to health reasons and a desire to continue her education), and Fr. Paul Hunter came on board joining forces with his wife Mtr. Christina.  While all of that was taking place, Oaks of Righteousness was moved from its original café location to the newly renovated St. Patrick’s Rectory.  It is truly exciting to see how this ministry continues to grow, sharing the Light of Christ in one of the darkest and most dangerous neighborhoods in North Central Troy.  It has not been easy, or without costs, but the Lord is blessing this ministry.  I know many members of the Diocese have given a great deal of their time, talent and resources in support of Oaks of Righteousness.  Thank you!  The Lord is blessing your efforts.

The Diocesan Staff went through its own period of change and transition this year as well, as it moved the Diocesan Business Office and Bishop’s Office into the newly built addition to the Diocesan Administration Building which had been quite small and confining.  As with any move of this magnitude, there were a few electronic and technical issues to deal with, but overall the move went very smoothly.  Not only is it a much more pleasant environment to work in, but it also provided the desperately needed space for the growing needs of the Diocese.  I am very appreciative to everyone who helped make the new facilities possible.  We hope to have an official dedication of the new space in the near future.

These are just a few of the many ways we have experienced change and transition this past year throughout the Diocese.  While we have had our moments of sadness and loss, as well as moments of anxiousness and uncertainty, the Lord had been good – helping us through those moments and giving us much to be thankful for and hopeful for.

Now, on a less positive note, as we look beyond the life of the Diocese, to the wider world, there is much that could cause great anxiousness and concern.  The political scene of our nation has gone through one of the most controversial and turbulent presidential elections in U.S. history.  Some were overjoyed by the results, others were devastated.  Many of us are holding our breath waiting to see what happens next.  One thing is for certain, whether we like our new President or not, President Trump and this Nation need our prayers and our Christian witness.

Both at home and abroad, the growing threat of terrorism has wreaked havoc and fear.  Radical Islamic extremists as well as other political and religious extremists have conducted senseless, brutal, barbaric acts of murder and terrorism against innocent men, women and children in our own nation and throughout the world.  It is no longer a question of “if” another attack will take place, but when and where.  No one is immune.

There is growing debate and division among individuals and nations as how best to deal with the hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees fleeing for their lives while at the same time trying to protect the nations of the world from terrorists who pose as refugees in order to sneak into the United States and other western countries to carry out more terrorists attacks.  This is definitely a time to heed Jesus’ command to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Despite tremendous efforts and much success over the past several decades to ease racial tension and bring about a greater sense of equality for people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, there is still far more that needs to be done as witnessed by the ongoing protests and acts of discrimination throughout the United States and the world.  May God give us the eyes and the heart to see one another and love one another as His Son, Christ Jesus sees us and loves us.

The level of poverty, especially among unwed mothers and children in broken homes is continuing to rise out of control, leaving millions not only hungry and in great need, but with a growing sense of hopelessness.  Unwed mothers is one of the largest poverty groups in our country.

The huge number of people being incarcerated in our own country (especially among young African American men) is tragic.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal, state and county prisons and jails in 2013.  That is (1 in every 110 adults); 4,751,400 adults or (1 in 51) were on probation or parole.  “In October 2013, the incarceration rate in the United States was the highest in the world.  While the U.S. only makes up 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

The ever growing number of people of all ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds enslaved to all sorts of addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, and gambling) as well as those struggling with various sexual identity issues is sky rocketing.

The ongoing attacks on marriage, family, and the unborn child are relentless.  The very building blocks of society are crumbling all around us, with no end in sight.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Families have less and less time for one another, and what time they are together, many are simply sharing a space while they do their own things talking or texting on their cell phones or surfing the net.  The next time you go to a restaurant, look around you and see how many people are actually talking to one another verses staring at their cell phones.

According to the World Health Organization, in the U.S. nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended and 4 out of 10 are terminated in abortion.  In 2013 — 664,435 babies were killed in the United States through abortions.

All of these things are indicative of the brokenness of our society and the fallen world in which we live.  The United States and much of the rest of the world is spiraling ever deeper into darkness and away from the one true source of light – the Light of Christ.

I share these things with you tonight, not to depress you, or damper our evening together, but rather to stress the absolute importance and necessity of truly living out our Lord’s command and the theme of this year’s Convention – “Let your light shine!” (Matthew 5:16)

Although Christianity and the Church is coming under ever greater attack throughout the  world to include the United States – a country originally founded on Judeo-Christian values, this is NO time to hide or put our light under a basket.

In his new book “Impossible People,” Os Guinness, one of the great Christian Statesmen and Apologists of the 21 Century, speaks of the extreme seriousness the Church finds itself in and the need to stand up for the Christian faith and our Lord Jesus Christ.  The failure to do so will have dire consequences.  He writes:

“Is Jesus Lord, or are the forces of advance modernity lord? The church that cannot say no to all that contradicts its Lord is a church that is well down the road to cultural defeat and captivity. But the courage to say no has to be followed by an equally clear, courageous and constructive yes—to the Lord himself, to his gospel and his vision of life, humanity and the future, so that Christians can be seen to live differently and to live better in the world of today.”

He goes on to say, “We face a solemn hour for humanity at large and a momentous showdown for the Western church. At stake is the attempted completion of the centuries-long assault on the Jewish and Christian faiths and their replacement by progressive secularism as the defining faith of the West and the ideology said to be the best suited to the conditions of advanced modernity. The gathering crisis is therefore about nothing less than a struggle for the soul of the West and the place of faith—any faith—in the life of advanced modern societies.

“For if the anti-Christian forces prevail, they represent nothing less than a return to the philosophy, the ethics and the lifestyles of the pagan world that Christians overcame originally. In other words, today’s challenge rivals that of the fateful clash of the early church with the Caesars in the first three centuries and the menace of the sultans of Ottoman Islam in the sixteenth.”

And finally, Os Guinness states that “As salt and light in today’s extraordinary world, our contribution is indispensable. We are not simply guardians of some of the best of the past, but pioneers whose task is to stand against the world for the future of the world—and for the very future of humanity.”

Os is not over exaggerating. He has had the courage to say that which is before us.

As I stated in my recent letter of invitation to the Diocesan Convention, God doesn’t want us living in darkness, as evidenced by His very first command recorded in the Creation Story – “Let there be light!” (Genesis 1:3)  Tragically, it wasn’t long after God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden (Paradise on Earth) that the world was plunged into the darkness of sin as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God.

Out of His love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ (the new Adam) to save us from the power of sin and death resulting from the first Adam’s sinful disobedience.  Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)   The Apostle John writes, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).

Jesus is in fact the true “light of the world” that brings life — not death; goodness — not evil; peace — not fear; comfort – not sorrow; fulfillment – not emptiness.  In the Psalms we read, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of your presence Lord.” (Psalm 89:15).

Jesus not only invites us to walk in the light of His presence, but also to be a reflection of His light as we share in His ministry of salvation.  As His disciples, Jesus commands us to go forth boldly in His name and to be a channel of His love and mercy and healing grace.  Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The light that shines forth in us is not generated by us, but rather it is a reflection of the light of Christ that is within us and the power and presence of His Holy Spirit. The Lord is calling us not to hide our light, He is calling us to allow His light to shine forth so that others may come to know Him in and through the lives that we live and share.

Wednesday morning I was working at my desk at home trying to figure out what I was going to be saying this evening. While working, the phone rang. Initially I was going to ignore it. I let the answering machine pick it up, but I was listening as the message went on. It soon became obvious that the message that was being shared was not one that could be ignored—that the person calling was in a true state of crisis; a person whose life was falling apart all around her. A reoccurrence of cancer had come back and she had been out of work for over two months. Her health insurance was about to come to an end. She was out all by herself with no family or friends nearby—a true state of hopelessness.

By the grace of God, I had the wisdom to get up from the desk and go answer the phone and share with my dear sister in Christ who was struggling and to offer a word of encouragement as best I could given all that she was confronted with. I then took a moment and wrote a note of encouragement and sent a little gift to try and help her during this in between time.

Afterwards, I went out for a walk to try to get myself reoriented for tonight’s Bishop’s Address. My first question for the Lord was how can we live the light of Christ? His response almost immediately was “You just did it.”

We make it much harder than we need to. The Lord calls us to live our life in such a way that it is not all about us. First and foremost, it’s about Him—living in relationship with Him. When we do that, we can’t help but be transformed by Him. We can’t help but have care and compassion for those around us. We can’t help but want to share the Good News that Jesus offers. We can’t help but want to be there for people in their time of need. In so doing, we are letting our light shine—Christ’s light shine. There is no one way that that happens. Day in and day out, we are faced with these opportunities. Many things can get in the way. We can easily be distracted. But may God give us the eyes to see one another and the hearts to love one another in such a way that we are willing to reach out; that we are willing to minister to one another as best we can through God’s grace.

Jesus said don’t worry about what you are to say. He will give us the words at the right moment. While I was listening to my friend pour out her soul, I was actively praying, “Lord, help me know what to say.” One of the things she needed most was not for me to talk, but simply listen. May God use us in such a way that we can, in fact, make a true difference in the world around us. We can’t change everything but we can change some things. We can’t impact everyone, but we can impact some. I pray that the Lord will touch each of us this weekend. Jesus not only invites us to walk in the light of His presence, but also to be a reflection of His light as we share in His ministry of salvation.

The theme of this year’s Diocesan Convention is focused on our Lord’s command: “Let your light shine!” (Matthew 5:16)  In many ways it is a continuation of last year’s Convention theme: “Abide in Christ, Bear Fruit, Glorify God.” Despite the growing attacks on the Church and the continuous move toward political correctness, and its ensuing fallout, the need to remain strong and boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in love, yet unapologetically, is needed as much if not more now than ever before.

I invite each of you this weekend to join me as we learn not only how to better walk in the light of Christ, but also how to be a reflection of His Light so that those around us who are stumbling in the darkness will see and be drawn to the light of Christ in order that they may be set free to truly live and become children of God.

We are called by God to be His people in this generation.  We are invited by His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be His disciples, to follow Him so closely, that our lives become transformed by His; that we become one with Him; that His Light shines forth in us and through us, so that when people see us, they see Christ who lives in us in the power and presence of His Holy Spirit.

I would like to close this evening with a prayer that was at the conclusion of Os’ book. Let us pray:

“O Lord, we humbly bow before you. Without your truth, we are confused and our lives lack meaning. Without your grace, we are lost in our sin and cannot find you or save ourselves. Without your mercy, we are overwhelmed by our smallness. Without your providence, we are overcome by a world that refuses be transformed according to our endeavors and our ideals. You are our Lord and our Rescuer. Grant us your truth to clear our fog, your grace to restore us when we go wrong, your fresh calling to stir new purpose in our hearts, and above all your love and mercy to help us stand with heads held high—that we may be a people worthy of the high calling of making a home for your divine presence in our world and in our time. In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” God bless you.

Equipping and Empowering the Laity for the Mission of the Church

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

No greater gift could ever be given at Christmas or any other time, than that which God the Father gave the world that very first Christmas – the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  With the exception of Mary and Joseph who were visited by an Angel and told the identity of the child in Mary’s womb; and Elizabeth who (filled with the Holy Spirit) exclaimed to Mary: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:42-43); and the shepherds who were greeted by a heavenly host announcing the birth of the Christ Child; and perhaps the Magi who saw a mysterious star in the sky and came bearing gifts for the “child born King of the Jews” — no one else had any clue of the priceless gift God gave the world that first Christmas.  Life went on for the people in and around Bethlehem as if nothing happened.  Little did they know that the child born humbly in the manger world change the world forever.

Tragically, some 2000 years after His birth, billions of people alive in the world today (to include many in our own communities and perhaps our own homes) still have no clue who Jesus is, and the gift of eternal life He offers to ALL who believe in Him.

God is calling all Christians (clergy and laity alike) to go forth in His Name, and share the “Good News” – the Gospel of Jesus Christ with family and friends, acquaintances, strangers, whoever the Lord brings into our lives or sends us to.  While we can’t, nor should we try to force our Christian faith on others, we are not only called, but commanded by Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) to share the gift of faith which we have received in order that others may be strengthened in their faith.   And, for those who do not yet believe in Christ, may our Christian witness help them come to believe in  Jesus, accepting Him as Lord and Savior of their life.

No doubt, there are many reading this letter who are thinking – “That’s the job of the clergy.  They are the ones who are called and payed to preach and teach and offer the sacraments. “ I would agree, it is the job and ministry of the clergy, however, it is also the ministry of the laity to help share the Gospel and make Christ known throughout the world.

In “The Examination” of the ordinand, during the liturgy for the “Ordination of a Priest,” we hear the following:

All baptized people are called to make Christ known as Savior and Lord, and to share in the renewing of His world.” (BCP 531)

Similarly, in the Catechism, found in the Book of Common Prayer, the Church teaches:

“The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ…The

      Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice,

      peace, and love…The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.” (BCP 855)

The Episcopal Church is part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  It is a liturgical and sacramental Church, and as such, the ordained clergy have a very special and vital role in the life and ministry of the Church, particularly sacramentally.  The bishops and priests are the ones who are called to serve as the celebrant at Holy Communion; anoint the newly baptized with holy chrism; grant absolution during confession; and offer the nuptial blessing during the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

While they also play an important leadership role in preaching and teaching and providing pastoral care, apart from the sacramental ministry, much of what clergy do in the day to day life of the parish can be done by anyone – lay or ordained.  I believe for far too long, we as the Church have depended too much solely on the clergy to carry out the mission of the Church, while failing to fully appreciate the importance and necessity of the laity’s participation in the mission of the Church.  Given the current clergy shortage and the fact that it is only going to get worse in the near future for a variety of reasons, we need to rethink how we are doing things.

As with many aspects of our life, for better or worse, finances controls much of what we do and how we do it.  The escalating expense of a traditional three year residential seminary education is causing the Church to rethink how we train and educate our clergy.  Similarly, the ever growing struggle of many parishes to afford full-time clergy is forcing us to rethink how we carry out the mission and ministry of the Church in the parish.  Even if it were possible (which it’s not) for every congregation (regardless of size or location) to have its own priest every Sunday, there is far too much ministry that needs to be done for the building up of God’s Kingdom, to be carried out solely by the clergy.

Jesus initially called and trained the 12 apostles to share and carry on His ministry.  However, we are told in Luke’s Gospel that as Jesus continued moving toward Jerusalem, He appointed seventy-two others and sent them ahead in groups of two to all the towns and villages where he planned to go.  Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Luke 10:2)

The “seventy-two others” weren’t the apostles, but they had an important role to play in preparing the people for Christ to come into their lives.  Similarly, not all Christians are called to the ordained ministry, but all Christians are called by Christ to be ministers and to go into “the harvest field” to proclaim the Gospel and help prepare people for the coming of Christ.  The “harvest” is indeed plentiful.   As mentioned above, there are currently over five billion men, women and children alive in the world today who have not yet come to know and believe in Jesus Christ.

When Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14: 6), He wasn’t kidding.  The salvation of billions of lives is at stake.  Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commands us to love God first and foremost, but also to love one another – even our enemies.  If we are to truly love others, it is imperative that we share God’s love with them.  The Lord is sending us into the world to do just that.  During their final night together, before He was arrested, Jesus prayed for the Apostles and for each of us.  He said, “Father…As you sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world…My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me, and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” (John 17:18, 20-21)

The Apostle Paul heard and obeyed the Lord’s command to go into the world and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  He knew the importance and necessity of preaching the Gospel in order that others might come to know and believe in Christ.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.’” (Romans 10:13-15).      

Dear Friends in Christ, the “Harvest” is plentiful, so much so that it is going to take far more than just the clergy to go out into the “Harvest Field.”  As I have been praying about how we as the Diocese of Albany can better minister to the needs of our congregations, and also go out more effectively into the world to share the Gospel, I believe the Lord is calling us to focus more on building up and equipping the laity to become even more involved in carrying out the mission of the Church – “To restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP 855).

As I have traveled around the world, visiting different provinces of the Anglican Communion, I have noticed that lay leaders/ministers have played a key role in those areas where the Church is exploding in growth, particularly in Africa.  Unlike the United States where a parish church normally refers to one congregation, in the Anglican Provinces in Africa, a single parish is usually made up of 10 or more separate congregations.  The parish priest travels to the different congregations providing for the sacramental needs of the people while the laity carries out much of the rest of the ministry.  I realize the American and African cultures are vastly different, however, I believe there is much we can learn from the way our African brothers and sisters carry out the various ministries of the Church.  They have raised up, trained and empowered the laity to serve as: lay administrators, lay catechists, lay Eucharistic ministers and visitors, lay evangelists/church planters, lay preachers, lay readers, and lay worship leaders, just to name a few.

I am very appreciative of all the laity in the Diocese of Albany and the many ministries they are already involved in such as: wardens and vestry members, choir members, acolytes, altar guild members, Daughters of the King,  lay Eucharistic ministers, lectionary readers, parish secretaries,  treasurers, Bible Study and Sunday School teachers, healing prayer team members, etc… These are all important ministries and need to continue.  In many instances, however, we need to do a better job as a Church, training and preparing people for these ministries.  Often times we plug people into ministries without giving them adequate training or explanation about the importance of these ministries.

This year’s Parish Leadership Conference will focus on lay ministry.  We will be taking a look at existing lay ministries and how we might improve them or empower them to do even more.  We will also be exploring new lay ministries, or bringing back past ministries such as officially licensed and trained Lay Readers who can lead congregations in Morning or Evening Prayer Services.  I also believe we need to have trained and licensed lay preachers.  There is a growing need for lay vicars and lay administrators, especially in some of our smaller rural parishes.  We need trained and licensed lay evangelists and church planters to help us reach out more effectively into world sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I invite and encourage everyone in the Diocese (clergy and laity) to join me for this year’s Parish Leadership Conferences as we celebrate the lay ministries of the Diocese and explore ways to improve and expand them to better meet the growing needs of the Church and its mission “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”  May God Bless us and use us mightily as we go forth boldly into the world in the name of His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, offering ourselves as an instrument of His love and mercy and healing grace.

 

His Name is Jesus

Lent 2018

During a recent ecumenical/inter-faith service, I found myself getting very frustrated when two top Christian leaders in the community seemed unable or unwilling to pray in the name of Jesus Christ, while offering a prayer and asking God’s blessing on the people gathered for the service.  I was amazed at how much creativity went into making vague references to our Lord in the prayer and blessing without actually saying His name.  It was all I could do to keep from standing up at the end of the prayer and saying, “His name is Jesus!”

I realize that by its very nature, an inter-faith service is not just for Christians, but often people from a variety of different religious backgrounds are in attendance – Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc..  I can appreciate the sensitivity one might feel, especially in this “politically correct” culture in which we live, of not wanting to say or do something that might be regarded as offensive to someone else.  Tragically, however, many Christians have come to believe that mentioning Jesus’ name in public, or praying in the name of Jesus Christ during an inter-faith service should be avoided in order not to offend non-Christians.

While called in our Baptismal Covenant to: “Strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being;” we are also called to: “Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” (BCP 305).  The two are not in opposition to one another, but rather point to the way in which we should live out our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ.  Yes, we need to be respectful of people of different faiths, and not try to beat them up or force our Christian faith on them, however, we should also stand firm in our faith, not hiding our faith in Jesus, but rather sharing it in love.

Contrary to what many Christians have been led to believe, Jewish and Muslim leaders have more respect for Christian leaders who are strong in their faith, than those who hide or deny their Christian faith.  During the inter-faith service mentioned above, in which much “tap dancing” was done by Christian leaders to avoid mentioning Jesus by name, the Jewish Rabi and the Muslim Imam shared their faith openly and unapologetically.  Should Christians do any less?

As I think about the growing trend of so many Christians who are afraid or unwilling to speak of Jesus in public for fear of offending non-Christians, or being looked down upon by an ever-growing secular anti-Christian society, I am reminded of what Jesus said about those who acknowledge Him and those who disown Him:  “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before My Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)  When we purposely remain silent about our faith in Christ, either not wanting to “offend” non-Christians, or be targeted and attacked for being a Christian, are we not in essence “disowning” Him?  The Lord calls us to remain strong in our faith, even when it is not popular, or potentially dangerous.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told of how Peter and John remained faithful, upholding the name of Jesus, even in the midst of adversity and danger to themselves:  “Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but who God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed’…Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-10, 12).

In an attempt to silence Peter and John, we are told: “The religious leaders called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you or to Him?  You be the judges.  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18-20).

There are those in our generation (both within and outside the Church), who like the religious leaders above, are attempting to silence the Church and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes it is very blatant through the passage or misinterpretation of laws regarding the separation of Church and state, or the threat of lawsuits designed to intimidate and silence the Christian voice.  Often times it is more subtle, under the guise of not wanting to offend or embarrass non-Christians.  Whatever form it might take, the result (if successful) is the same —  the Good News of Jesus Christ is not being shared.

It is important that we recognize what is going on and not fall further victim to it.  Our Christian faith and religious liberties are under attack.  Throughout the western world and here in the United States (a country founded on Judeo-Christian values), Christianity is being more and more marginalized.  The question is—what will we do about it?

I am reminded of the second stanza from the great Christian Hymn “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus” – “Stand up, stand up for Jesus; the trumpet call obey; forth to the mighty conflict in this his glorious day: ye that are his now serve him against unnumbered  foes; let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.”  May we be inspired by this hymn, and may we like the apostles Peter and John be so filled with the courage, conviction and holy boldness of the Holy Spirit that “we cannot not help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20).

The broken and hurting world in which we live is in desperate need of hearing and receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every day (if we are paying attention) the Lord gives us a multitude of opportunities to share our faith with others, not obnoxiously or in a condemning or judgmental way, but lovingly.  Are we taking advantage of those opportunities?  Are we sharing the love of Jesus with others, or are we remaining silent, fearful of speaking His name and sharing our faith?

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

Before Jesus was born, we are told in Matthew’s Gospel, that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that Mary would give birth to a son and “You are to give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:20-21)  The name, “Jesus”, is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua” which means “the Lord saves.”

While we need to be respectful of people who come from different religious backgrounds, we also need to be careful not to buy into the lie that all religions are essentially equal and that they all lead to heaven because they don’t.  Abraham did not die for the sins of the world.  Mohamad did not die for the sins of the world.  Buda did not die for the sins of the world.  The hundreds of Hindu gods did not die for the sins of the world.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate, is the only One who died on the cross paying the price for the sins of all the world.  It is only in and through Jesus Christ that we can be saved and share in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  Either this statement is true or it isn’t.  To say that for Christians Jesus is the way to heaven, but people of other faiths have their own equally valid way to heaven, may sound nice, be inclusive, and the “politically correct” thing to say, but it isn’t true if in fact John 14:6 is true.  We can’t have it both ways.

Jesus proclaimed this truth about Himself.  As Christians we are called to share that truth, not in a judgmental or condemning way, forcing people to become Christians, but rather in a loving, compassionate way, through the sharing of our faith and all that God has done for us, in and through His Son, Jesus Christ, inviting them into the Body of Christ.  Ultimately each person will have to decide for themselves what they believe and how they will live out that believe.

Because of His love for Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, atheists, and people of all other faiths, Jesus has commanded us (the Church, the Body Of Christ) through the Great Commission to go forth in His name, stating: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus has given us the Great Commission commanding us to go forth sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not so that Christians can point to themselves and say how good and superior they are compared to non-Christians, but just the opposite.  Christians and non-Christians alike are all sinners in need of God’s love and mercy and redeeming grace.  In sharing our faith, we are not to point to ourselves, but rather to the One who loves us beyond our comprehension; the One who died on the cross for us, paying the price for our sins (a price we are incapable of paying ourselves); the One who rose from the grave, conquering the power of sin and death; the One who invites us to share in His new resurrected life in His heavenly kingdom for all eternity.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if we are to be a channel of God’s love and mercy and healing grace, and if we are to share the greatest news the world has ever heard, we must be willing to speak the “Name that is above every name”(Philippians 2:9); the only name in which “Salvation is found.” (Acts4:12)  That name is “JESUS.”  May the Lord bless you as you go forth in the name of Jesus Christ!

Faithfully Your Brother in Christ,

+Bill

Bishop of Albany

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace be with you.

In accordance with Article I of the Constitution of the Diocese of Albany, the Bishop of Albany has issued a Call to the 151st Annual Convention of the Diocese of Albany to be held on June 7-9, 2019 at the Camp of the Woods in Speculator, New York, the Right Reverend William H. Love, presiding.

A proposed schedule for the convention business meetings is:

Friday, June 7

2:00 – 7:00 PM
Deputy Registration
(Purdy Center Basement)

7:00 – 8:30 PM
Opening business meeting & Bishop’s address
(Tibbitts Auditorium)

 

Saturday, June 8   

7:00 – 8:45 AM
Deputy Registration
(Purdy Center Basement)

9:00 AM -12:00 PM
Second business meeting
(Tibbitts Auditorium)

1:00 – 2:00 PM
Third business meeting (if needed)
(Tibbitts Auditorium)

The materials postedbelow contain business session information and respective forms. If you have questions, you may contact me at msive@ctkcenter.org, 518-692-9550 ext 201, or at 575 Burton Road, Greenwich, NY  12834

The business meeting registration tables will be in the lower level at the far end of the Purdy Center.  Information about accommodations and/or other convention matters will be sent from the Diocesan Office.

May God bless you.

In Christ,

The Rev. Marian M. Sive

 

Call to Convention 2019
2019 Certificate of Election
2019 Nomination for Elective Office Form
2019 Resolution Form

 

Letter from Bishop Love Regarding Presiding Bishop’s restrictions on Love’s Ministry

Please find Bishop Love’s letter to the Diocese concerning the Presiding Bishop’s partial restriction on Bishop Love’s ministry as Bishop of Albany.
Here is the full text of the Presiding Bishop’s letter which includes Bishop Love’s November 2018 Pastoral Letter to the Diocese.

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Is it possible to have meaningful conversations even if people have vastly differing opinions? Can we disagree, but still love one another? The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”
At the 2019 Parish Leadership Conferences for the Diocese of Albany you will learn how to set agreed upon guidelines that help to create an environment where your parish can have meaningful and productive conversations, even those that are potentially difficult. We will look to show how we can find common ground through our love of God and use that to show love to one another, even when we disagree.
After a presentation on this model of conversation, Bishop William Love will offer two teachings on the Great Commandment. First he will discuss what it means to Love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. Then he’ll discuss what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. After each teaching, there will be a time for discussion and an opportunity to use the conversation model presented in the morning. The discussion portion of the afternoon will conclude with an opportunity for parish leaders to discuss difficult issues they are facing in their church and network with others on potential solutions, specifically how to use the conversation model outlined in the teaching back home.
The entire program takes place in the context of the Eucharist.
There is no charge to attend. All parish leaders, both clergy and lay persons are encouraged to attend. Registration begins at 8:30 am and the afternoon will conclude by 3:45 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
This PLC’s will take place in three locations, click your choice to register
Christ the King Center, Greenwich January 26 (Reg closed)
St. James’ Church, Oneonta – February 2 (Reg closed)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
k
As Christmas approaches, I find myself thinking about the journey Mary and Joseph found themselves on — starting with Mary’s visitation by the Angel Gabriel in which he told her that she “had found favor with God,” and that “the Holy Spirit would come upon her” and that she would “conceive and give birth to a son” who would be “called the Son of the Most High…the Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35).
k
Joseph as well, received a visitation by an angel of the Lord, to reassure him that Mary, his betrothed, had in fact told him the truth and not to be afraid to take her home as his wife. The Angel assured him that “what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” and that “she will give birth to a son” and that Joseph was to “give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:20-21).
k
Trusting in the truth of God’s Word, Mary and Joseph stepped out in faith and obedience to the Lord, knowing very well that many of their family, friends, neighbors, and the society at large would not believe the Word of God revealed to them through the angel of the Lord. In being faithful to God, they risked being misunderstood, ridiculed, judged and attacked by the people around them. They risked their reputation, their livelihood, and their very lives. Despite the risks and possible consequences they would face from their very own people, Mary and Joseph remained faithful and said yes to God.
k
Continuing to act in faith they began the 80 mile journey on foot and donkey from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea in response to Caesar Augustus’ decree that a census must be taken throughout the entire Roman world, requiring every man to return to his home town to be registered. As Mary and Joseph began this 7 to 10 day journey, traveling over dusty, difficult and dangerous roads, Mary was near the end of her pregnancy. I can only imagine the sense of anxiousness and uncertainty she and Joseph must have felt, not knowing what the future would hold, whether they would even make it to Bethlehem before the child was born? Where would they stay; how would they provide for the child – this very special child – the Son of God; who would ever believe them?
k
It would not be an easy or risk free journey; there would be challenges and hardships to overcome; there were so many unanswered questions and yet, it was a journey they had to take, for Mary had been chosen by God to bring His Son into the world – Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, The Way, the Truth, the Life, the Word, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Alpha and Omega.
k
What a difference, saying “Yes” to God, can make. While you and I can never bring Jesus Christ into the world in the sense that Mary did, or to care for Jesus in the sense that Joseph did, we are called by God to bring or share the “Good News” of Jesus in this broken and hurting world in which we live, and to care for those in need, remembering the words of Jesus: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40).
k
As Christmas approaches and we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s birth and the faith journey Mary and Joseph undertook in response to God’s call on their life, what do you hear the Lord saying to you? What message has He put on your heart to share? Who is He asking you to reach out and minister to? As individuals and as a Diocese, how much are we willing to risk in answering God’s call on our lives? What price are we willing to pay as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ — the greatest news the world could ever receive? Are we willing to speak God’s “Truth in love” to a people who are in desperate need of hearing it, even if it is not comfortable or politically correct to do so? Are we, like Mary and Joseph, willing to risk our reputations, our relationships, our jobs and livelihood? How far are we willing to go to be faithful and obedient to God and His Word? Do we have the faith and courage to trust God and to be faithful and obedient to His Word even when we don’t know where it might lead, or what it might ultimately cost us in this world? These are very real questions that each of us need to ask ourselves and wrestle with?
k
These are the very questions that I recently found myself struggling with as I tried to discern God’s will in knowing how best to respond, as the Bishop of Albany, to General Convention Resolution B012. After much thought, prayer and wrestling not so much with God, but with myself, I issued the Pastoral Letter which I believe the Lord called me to share. It has spread throughout the world touching the hearts and minds of people in ways that I never would have imagined. For many it was seen as an inspiration and encouragement, upholding the faith; for others, unfortunately, it was seen as a personal attack – something I never intended or wanted.
K
As I write to you now, I don’t know what the future holds. There is a strong possibility that I may be facing Title IV disciplinary proceedings for my unwillingness to abide by General Convention Resolution B012. As I stated in the Pastoral Letter, it was “not out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, or homophobia” that I have taken the actions that I have, “but rather out of love – love for God and His Word; love for The Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion; love for each of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially love for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions.” Whatever the outcome, I trust and believe that God will use it for His purposes and the benefit of His Church and people.

K
Trusting in God above all else, Mary and Joseph, by God’s grace, acted in faith and obedience to the Lord’s call on their life. Through their faithfulness, God the Father has given the world the greatest gift we could ever hope for – His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May God find in each of us, that same sense of faith as we answer His call to share the love and Good News of Jesus Christ in our generation. May the Lord bless you as you go forth in His Name.
k
Merry Christmas!
+Bill

This Christmas the Episcopal Diocese of Albany invites you to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. There are many parishes located throughout the Diocese that offer Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.  All are welcome!

For a list of services please click here.