Programs of the Church Club


See pictures from the Annual Meeting and Dinner below.


Luncheon and Dinner Programs


The Church Club's central activity is a series of luncheon and dinner meetings held in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the Delaware Valley during the fall, winter, and spring. Our luncheons feature outstanding speakers who address issues of interest to the membership, including a range of religious, ecumenical, and secular topics. Luncheons are held at The Acorn Club, 1519 Locust Street, in Center City Philadelphia. Discounted parking is available at LAZ Self-Park, 1500 Locust Street, across the street from The Acorn Club.

In May or June of each year, we also have an Annual Dinner Meeting. This very special event is held on a Friday evening at one of the churches in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. It provides an opportunity for members and their friends and families to socialize and enjoy fine food and music.


Speakers We Have Heard in the 2016-2017 Season

The Reverend Doris Rajagopal

April 18, 2017: The Rev. Dr. Doris Rajagopal

“‘So God created humankind in his image’ (Gen 1:27). If we accept that each person is created in the image of God, it follows naturally that we will work to live together with love and respect for one another.” That was the message when The Reverend Dr. Doris Rajagopal addressed the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia about “The Darby Project.”

Doris is the Missioner for Darby for the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and Episcopal Community Services. She has a PhD in psychology and worked as a research psychologist in the fields of gerontology, addiction, and spiritual/mental health for more than 20 years before answering the call to ordained ministry. Doris was a recipient of Scholarship awards from the Church Club, graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and was ordained in the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 2008. Doris served as Chaplain to St. Augustine of Hippo in Norristown while also serving as Assistant to the Rector of St. David’s, Radnor. Her next call was to serve as Priest-in-charge of All Saints, Darby/Collingdale. As that church was closing, Doris worked with our diocese and Episcopal Community Services (ECS) to maintain the presence of the Episcopal Church in that area, creating the Darby Mission.

The mission is a collaborative effort between the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Episcopal Community Services, the leadership of Darby Borough, the Free Library of Darby, and the William Penn School District. They work together to provide bi-monthly Darby Dinners, 2 after-school programs, computer classes, a community garden, summer camp, Bible study, and various programs throughout the year.

Darby Borough (not to be confused with Darby Township, which surrounds it) is a community of about 11,000 people, predominantly African Americans and immigrants; 30% of the people live below the poverty level. It is also very much a community of families.

Darby Dinners are held at a refurbished recreation center at 10th and Ridge in Darby Borough on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. The dinners average around 95 people. They are not “soup kitchen” meals, but rather “a meal with friends.” They are hosted by a number of churches, including St. Peter’s in the Great Valley, St. Mark’s Center City, and other donors who choose to host. Miraculously, the dinners never run out of food.

The after-school program started with 15 children and has grown to 30 or more, with a waiting list of about 20. The program provides a cold, full meal for the children, time for homework, and other activities, such as project-based learning. In 2016, the United Thank Offering gave the ministry a grant for a computer lab, which is managed by ECS and supported by Pathways, which teaches a GED program.

Also in 2016, the ministry established a community garden on a vacant lot. Furthermore, Doris has her eye on a four-story factory-type building. Doris has a vision in which she sees the re-development of this building for housing for the homeless, with mixed-income apartments on the top two floors, classrooms and an industrial kitchen on the second floor, and commercial space on the ground level.

Describing the Darby Ministry, Doris asserted that it is not charity. Rather, it is showing love for other people, as the Bible tells us to do.


March 7, 2017: Virginia Slichter

Virginia “Ginny” Slichter was our featured speaker when the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia met on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Introduced by ECCP board member Ethel Wesley, who described her as “the Gospel in Motion,” Ginny spoke about “Education for Ministry Teaching in Prisons.”

A lifelong member of Christ Episcopal Church, Pottstown, over the past 40 years she has served the Episcopal Church on the parish, diocesan, provincial, and national levels. Much of her life has been involved in youth ministry and Christian formation.

For the past nine years she has been the Education for Ministry (EFM) mentor at Graterford Prison, a men’s maximum security prison in Schwenksville. She succeeded the late Rev. Dennis Warner, who started the EFM program at Graterford. The ministry functions through St. Dismas Mission Congregation, a parish in the Valley Forge Deanery, within the prison. Ginny currently mentors a group of 11 men every Monday morning. She says it has become her passion to let people know that these men, many serving life sentences, are not defined by what they did that put them in prison.

Ginny spoke movingly of uncertainty she felt in taking over the ministry, and of how the men in the group welcomed her and made her feel both needed and safe in the space the program occupies. (One of the men told her, “Miss Ginny, everbody needs a momma!”) To illustrate the potential for hopelessness, she described the prison as physically dark, ugly, and intimidating. Within the walls, it is impossible for the inmates to see grass or trees. It is also very loud.

The Graterford EFM group is the only such group in a prison in the world. It provides a college course in theology, involving a great deal of reading. It is supported by the Diocese of Pennsylvania, families, and friends. To date, it has produced 15 graduates. Ginny noted that many of her group come from Baptist backgrounds. Ginny showed pictures of the group and pointed out members named Wayne, Aaron, and Germain. She also told of a father and son pair, Calvin and Sean. Calvin is a Muslim, while Sean is a Christian. Each class holds a graduation celebration when it completes the course.

Ginny noted that some people in groups that she talks to question the value of her ministry. However, she poignantly asserted the value of the program for its members, the diocese, and the Church. At the end of her talk, Ginny received a standing ovation from her ECCP audience.


Matt Rader

January 17, 2017: Matt Rader

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society: Transforming Communities and Lives Through Horticulture

Our first meeting of 2017 featured Matt Rader, President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), an organization committed to connecting people with horticulture and working to create beautiful, healthy, sustainable communities. Matt is passionate about Philadelphia and has served as a leader in various preservation organizations.

Matt noted that horticulture in Philadelphia dates back to John Bartram, who built a business exporting plants to England and established Bartram’s Gardens, enjoyed by the public to this day.

A telling illustration of Matt’s description of PHS was a scatter plot of PHS members and projects. With the colored dots extending well beyond the boundaries of the City of Philadelphia, the map showed how PHS forms a community that knits the region together. In fact, the organization has many members throughout the northeastern United States, and others across the country.

The best-known project of PHS is the Philadelphia Flower Show, which has been thrilling visitors for 187 years. This year’s theme is “Holland: Flowering the World.” The show will run from March 11 through March 19 and will include an “Eco Dome” from the Netherlands. The show involves the PHS professional team of more than 100, as well as more than 3,500 volunteers. With the visitors who come to see, the Flower Show connects about 250,000 people each year and generates an estimated $64 million for the Philadelphia economy. Related activities of PHS include the Green City Teachers and Junior Flower Shows, both of which are growing.

PHS also seeks to empower the people in our community. It supports community gardens, City Harvest, and the planting of trees. PHS is working to turn free libraries around Philadelphia into horticultural learning centers. Projects in the public realm include civic landscapes and “pop-ups.” Matt noted that Philadelphia has about 12,000 vacant lots. The society supports the use of such lots for gardens. All are transitional, meaning that eventually the properties will find new, constructive uses.

Programs also seek to develop employment, with a farm program that provides jobs for re-entry into society for those being released from prison. Other programs promote sustainability, as in Raincheck and the PECO Green Roof programs. For more information, visit the PHS website: http://phsonline.org


The Right Reverend Daniel Gutierrez
November 22: The Right Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutierrez

The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (EECP) had the most successful luncheon in many years on November 22, 2016, when our new Bishop, the Right Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, visited as guest speaker. More than a hundred ECCP members, clergy, and other guests turned out to meet and listen to Bishop Gutierrez at The Acorn Club.

Bishop Gutierrez was consecrated 16th Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania on July 16. Before that, he was Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. He stated that his family has been in New Mexico for close to 500 years and reflected on the change in coming to the Pennsylvania.

Gutierrez set a goal for himself of visiting every one of the Diocese’s 145 parishes and missions within his first 8 months here. As of the luncheon he had already visited 65 churches. A key question he asks is how we are to build the Kingdom of God together. He sees great hope as we determine the answer to that question.

Bishop Gutierrez paid tribute to the Diocese of Pennsylvania as a great and historic diocese. He expressed the hope that within 5 years, others will say of the diocese, “That’s what we want to be.”

By training and inclination, Bishop Gutierrez is an administrator. He drew a laugh from his audience by saying, “People, at heart, like change, until it actually occurs.” He explained that to be successful, change must be strategic and organic. The strategic component involves finding the resources to support our mission, and the organic component draws from the fact that each parish has its own charism, or power, to achieve things for the good of the church. As the Bishop sees it, one size or pattern doesn’t fit all, and each parish and mission needs to determine what its missions should be. For all, however, perhaps the most important element is personal invitation: we need to extend a personal invitation, one on one, for people to come to where we find God.

Asked for advice to young priests, Bishop Gutierrez said, “We are not here to save the world – Jesus Christ saved the world. The only thing people care about is that you love them. You have to love your people and be prepared to die for them.”

He advised the audience and their parishes to ponder the question of what God is calling them to do to build the Kingdom of God.



September 20: The Reverend Edmund K. Sherrill II

The Church Club kinked off our 2016-2017 season with a luncheon featuring The Rev. Edmund K. “Ned” Sherill II, Head of School at the Church Farm School (CFS), in Exton, Pennsylvania.  He presented a fascinating look at “The Value and Impact of Episcopal Schools”. Sherrill became Church Farm School’s fourth Head of School on July 1, 2009. An ordained Episcopal Priest, he is part of a family with deep connections to the Episcopal Church over many generations.

Sherrill says he wears three hat related to Episcopal education: He is currently Governing Board Chair of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) and Head of School at CFS, and he is currently working to establish an Episcopal Mission School Relations Council in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

According to Sherrill, there are about 160,000 students in Episcopal schools across the United States. They attend a total of 1,182 schools and early childhood education programs. Interestingly, the largest number of Episcopal schools in a single diocese is found in Haiti, with 250 schools. The NAES helps with the governance of Episcopal schools.

Episcopal education is private, independent, and expensive. A major challenge is providing for those students who cannot afford such education on their own.

CFS, a boys-only school, is 99 years old, having been founded in 1918. Originally, it had a large farm program, in which the boys tended herds of cattle and pigs and performed other farming tasks to support themselves and the school. The farm program ended in the mid-1970s. The school currently has a $10.5 million budget that supports 190 boys, and is supported by a $140 million endowment. The school’s mission is to educate young men of ability and promise whose circumstances would ordinarily keep them from receiving a college preparatory education, in a boarding environment. The students are an ethnically diverse group. According to the CFS Annual Report, 31 seniors graduated in 2016, and all were accepted into four-year colleges and universities.

In addition to his activities at CFS and the national level, Sherrill is currently involved in organizing the Episcopal Mission School Relations Council. The council, which will hold its inaugural celebration on October 4, will work for closer relations between CFS, the St. James School in Philadelphia, and the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

For more information, see the following links:

Church Farm School: www.gocfs.net

St. James School: www.stjamesphila.org

National Association of Episcopal Schools: www.episcopalschools.org


Speakers We Have Heard in the 2015-2016 Season

Michael Krasulski with Presiding Bishop Schori
April 19: Michael Krasulski

The final luncheon of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia for the 2015-2016 program year took place on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. The speaker, ECCP’s own Michael J. Krasulski, Assistant Professor in the Library and Learning Resources Department of the Community College of Philadelphia, presented “Looking at the History of Philadelphia through an Episcopal lens.” Michael is secretary of the vestry at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany and secretary of the Southwark Deanery. Michael’s avocation and passion is unlocking the archival treasures that are buried deep in the file cabinets, boxes, and basements of the Episcopal parishes in Philadelphia. These service leaflets, annual reports, letters, and other ephemeral materials tell a story of the people, ministries, and neighborhoods from days past. Michael collects and digitizes these sources, parish by parish, and posts them on his blog (philadelphiastudies.wordpress.com) at no cost to the parish. Michael has a particular interest in the period from 1914 to 1945, though he has examined materials from the 19th century and more recent times.

Michael has visited a cross-section of parishes from across the Diocese of Pennsylvania. So far, he has visited 19 parishes and collected more than 40,000 images. He noted that during the 19th century, many parishes had their own magazines. Michael says that he is a librarian, not a historian or archivist. He wants readers to interact with the materials he has posted on his Philadelphia Studies blog.

A number of Michael’s observations suggest that in a world of rapid change, some things remain remarkably constant over time. He has found complaints from the late 19th and early 20th centuries bemoaning the fact that people were not attending church as much as they used to, and that parishes were shrinking. Reports described proposed parish mergers that did not occur, as well as others that did occur. Of interest were concerns about the effects of redevelopment projects on the life of individual parishes. For example, the construction of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway entailed the removal of 400 families from their homes. Also enlightening were reports of mergers between black and white parishes, with attendant stresses and conflicts.

The Church Club itself featured in Michael’s story: How many of us knew that the Club sponsored the Boys Club of Kensington, a very vital social organization in the early years?

For more information, readers are urged to visit Michaels’ blog (www.philadelphiastudies.org), where information from many of the diocese’s parishes can be found.

Everett Gillison

February 23: Everett Gillison, Esq.

“As one door closes, another door opens.” That was the message delivered by Everett Gillison to the Episcopal Church Club on Tuesday, February 23. Mr. Gillison was, until recently, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety under Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and also the mayor’s chief of staff.

Gillison began by warning, “It is dangerous to give a lawyer a microphone.” Nevertheless, he gave welcome description of his life’s journey, provided fascinating insights into Philadelphia’s city government, and speculated on what comes next. A key point was how important his faith journey has been throughout his career.

Gillison grew up during the 1960s, and for him an important question was, “How do you respond to strife?” His mother’s answer was to “take it to the Lord.” She constantly prayed for her son, and he always felt that he was being watched over. He was in the first class to graduate from the University City High School, a magnet school (and later participated in the decision to tear that school down). He went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania, where he met Michael Nutter. They became lifelong friends.

Gillison wanted to attend Temple University Law School, but couldn’t get in. When that door was closed to him, another opened when he was referred to Syracuse. That school presented special challenges to a son of Philadelphia: classes stayed open even after a 27-inch snowfall. Gillison persevered, and by the end was president of his class. He went into criminal law and became a public defender at the grand salary of $22,375 a year. He worked his way up through the ranks, handling homicide cases. Proudly, he noted that no client of his ever got the death penalty.

In 2007, Gillison was considering the priesthood. Then Michael Nutter called to ask him to join the new Nutter administration. Nutter believed that Gillison was a man who could help to turn the system around. With help from Gillison’s wife, Nutter convinced Gillison that public service in the city government was the way to go (another new door). He thus joined a team that also included another friend from Penn, Clay Armbruster, who was the city Managing Director. The new administration’s approach to leading Philadelphia was epitomized by a moving story about the death of a Philadelphia policeman. Mayor Nutter, Gillison, and other high-level officials went to the hospital where the policeman had been taken. They made a point of being there with the police and with the dead man’s family They then personally escorted the body to the medical examiner’s office and later to the funeral home. They also declared a 30-day mourning period. Their presence made a deep impression on the police, who had been suspicious of politicians.

Gillison noted that when Pope Francis decided to visit the United States, he chose to come to Philadelphia. Gillison said that enhanced his pride in Philadelphia, noting, “We can do big things.”

Now that another door has closed, Gillison is exploring where the next open door will lead. A lifelong Episcopalian, he has been very active in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and he enjoys spreading the Good News. And ever close to his lifelong friends, he may find that the former mayor, Michael Nutter, has new requests for his talents and efforts.


Sarah Tolvaisa
January 19: Sarah Tolvaisa

For its third luncheon program of the 2015-2016 program year, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia welcomed Sarah J. Tolvaisa, MA, of Project HOME. She presented “A Discourse on Homelessness in America.” The luncheon meeting was held at The Acorn Club, 1519 Locust Street, Philadelphia, on January 19.

Sarah has five years’ post-master’s experience working with the homeless mentally ill, first in Chicago, and now in Philadelphia. In 2011, she received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She then began working in street outreach in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the west and south sides of Chicago. After a few years, she moved back to the Philadelphia area where she grew up, but continued to work with the homeless. Currently, Sarah works for Project HOME’s Women of Change, a safe haven shelter for chronically homeless women with documented severe mental illness.

Sarah presented a sobering picture of homelessness: Every year, 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans are homeless, including 1.2 million school-age children. Sixty-three percent of the homeless are male, and 37% are female; 11.3% are veterans.

It is estimated that 20% to 57% of the homeless suffer from, or have previously suffered from a mental illness. Half of the mentally ill homeless also suffer from comorbid substance abuse.

More than 87% of the homeless report having had an adverse childhood experience (ACE), according to a study that assessed childhood trauma and later adult health outcomes. Being homeless carries high risks of violence, substance abuse, HIV infection, and death. The risks are especially high for women and for trans and LGTBQ people.

Locally, Sarah said that Philadelphia has 5,500 people living outside every year. About 63% of these homeless have serious mental health issues. There were 164 deaths of homeless people in 2015. Philadelphia is the poorest large city in the United States, with a 27% poverty rate and a 12.2% rate of “deep poverty.” On one bright note, Sarah reported that Philadelphia has eliminated homelessness among veterans; the only veterans currently on the street are those who refuse offers of housing.

A cost-benefit analysis by Project HOME in 2010 showed that permanent supportive housing for the homeless can save significant amounts of money by reducing the amounts society spends for emergency shelters, prisons, emergency-room visits, and inpatient hospital stays.

Sarah concluded on a note of hope, offering tips on how to help solve the problems of homelessness and mental illness:

  • Understand the homeless population
  • Don’t ignore them. Show respect and kindness.
  • Volunteer and/or donate.
  • Remain eductated.

For more information on Project HOME, visit the organization’s website at www.projecthome.org.


The Very Reverend Judith A. Sullivan

September 15: The Very Reverend Judith Sullivan

The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia kicked of the 2015-2016 program year on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, with The Very Reverend Judith A. Sullivan, Dean of the Philadelphia Cathedral, as guest speaker. She presented “What’s Happening at the Cathedral.” The luncheon meeting was held at our new venue, The Acorn Club, 1519 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

Judy returned to the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral in July 2010 after her election as the fourth dean. She had served previously at the cathedral, first as Missioner and then as Canon Residentiary from 2004 to 2007. Before her return, she was the associate rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

As Judy noted, the current Cathedral of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (formerly the Church of the Savior) is the third church on the site since about 1850, the first two having been destroyed by fire. The present church was completed in 1906, having “risen from the ashes.” It has a growing, extraordinarily diverse congregation, ranging from the homeless to members of the academic and business communities.

The Cathedral complex consists of the church building itself, a 25-story office tower, and the Cathedral Center (which opened recently). An important architectural component of the complex is the extensive use of glass, which symbolizes transparency and provides a thin “membrane” between the Church and the world.

The Cathedral is demonstrating a deepening commitment to the community. Ministries include a food pantry that distributes 1,000 of food every week, community luncheons, hot meals for those in need, and a clothes closet. The Cathedral Early Learning Center, located in the extensively renovated undercroft, serves about 70 children, from infants to pre-K, and provides subsidies in addition to what the state pays. In addition, the Cathedral is prominent in civic and interfaith activities, and it has important programs in music and the arts.

Dean Sullivan encourages everyone to visit the Cathedral to see the new facilities and to join in worship. For more information, visit the Cathedral website at www.philadelphiacathedral.org.


Speakers We Have Heard in the 2014-2015 Season

David Griffith
January 20: David Griffith
  
“Poverty will devour us. My challenge to you is to talk about your back yard” (local poverty). That was the message when David Griffith, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services (ECS), spoke to the January 20 luncheon of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia.

After successes in business, Griffith was asked to consider taking the leadership position at ECS. At the time, he didn’t know what ECS was, but after visiting the agency, he “fell in love with it.” Griffith joined ECS as the 11th executive director in May of 2013. He is the first layperson to serve in that role. He is a lifelong Episcopalian, and he and his family are members of Trinity Church, Solebury.


Griffith declared that ECS focuses on a single issue: poverty and has done so for 144 years. “We believe that the way out of poverty is a job,” he said. “We need to give a voice to poverty,” he added, defining “we” as ECS, the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and the churches of the diocese. He explained that ECS is not a safety-net agency but a “lift-up, lift-out” agency. The solution to poverty involves education, safety, literacy, and wellness. ECS addresses these in four types of services: programs for youths 14 to 23 years old, residential and community services, health and wellness services, and community engagement. (For more information, visit the ECS website at www.ecsphilly.org.)


ECS has outreach programs with organizations that include the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the World Affairs Council. Griffith noted that various companies in the area have committed to providing significant numbers of jobs in cooperation with ECS.


Paul Saionz with son Robert and ECCP President Charles Blackman
November 11: Paul Saionz on the Holocaust

On November 11, 2014, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia welcomed Paul Saionz as speaker to the Racquet Club. He presented “A Holocaust Survivor’s Personal Story.”

Paul Saionz was born in Poland on March 11, 1928 to Rachel and Abraham Saionz. He was the fourth of six children, with a happy childhood until war broke out in September 1939; then his life changed.

Paul’s story of his experiences in the Holocaust is full of death, despair, and horror, but it is also filled with his courage and resilience to be a survivor of one of the most horrific tragedies the world has ever known. He was born in Poland, near the German border. After the German invasion, his family was split up, and he was sent to a series of labor camps. Despite severe hardships, including contracting typhus, he survived with the help of several protectors. In the final camp, Paul’s personal “Schindler” took the form of a camp commandant who refused Hitler’s orders to kill as many Jews as possible.

Wartime imprisonment ended with liberation by the Russians. Paul recounted how the prisoners at his camp commemorated the occasion by singing “Hatikva” (meaning “hope” in Hebrew), which later became the national anthem of Israel. After the war, he became reunited with surviving members of his family; two of his siblings had died in concentration camps. The family tried to return to Poland. However, they encountered hatred from the Poles, so they moved to the British Occupation Zone in Germany. Eventually, they moved to Philadelphia. In 1959, Paul met Linda, the woman who became his wife. They shared more than 50 years of marriage, until she died in 2011.

Paul kept his experiences to himself until 2012. Then he decided to speak openly for the sake of his children, grandchildren, and history. Robert, one of his sons, accompanied him to ECCP and spoke briefly, describing who the family convinced a reluctant Paul to visit the state of Israel. Paul stated that, despite his experiences, his Jewish faith remains strong. He also acknowledged a lack of hatred, noting that, “We are all God’s children.”


Canon Andrew Kellner

September 16: Canon Andrew Kellner

“To tell, to teach, to transform, to treasure” was the message. To kick off its 2014-2015 season, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia welcomed Andrew Kellner, Canon for Family & Young Adult Ministries of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Canon Kellner spoke on “Creating a Space for Encounter: Christian Formation as Experience.”

 

Andrew Kellner has served the Diocese of Pennsylvania since 2008. In his current capacity, he works with the diocese’s 138 parishes and missions, 3 schools, 4 campus ministries, and 2 affiliated ministries to provide resources, programming, and support.  He oversees a dynamic team of young leaders in the Office of Family & Young Adult Ministries; as they administer programs that will directly engage more than 2,400 participants in 2014.

 

Kellner related how he came to the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 2008 to serve in a 16-month interim capacity. Immediately on arriving, he was informed that his budget had been cut in half. Despite that, he embarked on a plan to meet all the youth ministers in the diocese. He found that many wanted a stronger relationship with the diocese. And he found that his 16-month job lengthened significantly!

 

Kellner described his mission as helping the church’s young people to encounter God. He has found that young people need an invitation to do so. Among the programs that Kellner and his staff have implemented is Nightwatch, retreats hosted by individual parishes. Six Nightwatch events are held each year. As part of such programs, the young people are asked to write their thoughts. Kellner said that they have written many very meaningful things. He also noted that the organizers of Nightwatch are open to “coming to your parish.”

 

An important part of the diocese’s ministry to youth has been a summer camp, which started at the then vacant Church of St. James the Less. High school students were recruited to work for the camp. Once the St. James School was founded at the site, the youth ministry looked for other places to continue its work and now has nine locations. Since that time, the City Camp program has hosted 150 young people a week for 6 weeks during the summer. In addition to other activities, the camps include morning prayer, evening prayer, and compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

 

The diocese also offers Servant Year, in which graduates of various colleges and universities volunteer to serve in parishes, missions, and other diocesan organizations for a year, before heading to seminary or graduate school. For more information, see www.servantyearphila.org. Another program, Stories and Rituals, provides a weekly curriculum for junior and senior high school youth. It supplies materials via free downloads from www.diopayouth.org for its first year. That amounts to 30 lesson plans for free!

 

An important goal of the programs has been to connect people. Kellner noted that the young people really want to give back to the church. The youth ministry encourages participants to tie their experiences to what is going on in their own parishes.

 

Additional information on mission programs is available from The Episcopal Mission Center, at www.episcopalmissioncenter.org.

 

Speakers We Have Heard in the 2013-2014 Season

Cordelia Frances Biddle
February 25, 2013: Cordelia Frances Biddle
 
"Be dangerously good.” That was the message of Saint Katharine Drexel, as delivered by writer Cordelia Frances Biddle. At the fourth luncheon of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia’s program year, on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, Biddle presented, “Saint Katharine Drexel: Transformation from Heiress to Social Activist.”
 
Ms. Biddle grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, a member of the branch of the Biddle family that historians refer to as “The Romantics.” The term denotes a predilection for spectacular, if chancy, careers. The other half of her Philadelphia ancestry is the Drexels. Her great-great-grandfather, Anthony Drexel, established Drexel University. Thus, Biddle is related to Saint Katharine Drexel. An author whose books include the Martha Beale novels, Biddle has written a biography of Saint Katharine.
 
In opening, Biddle described the scene in Rome when Katharine Drexel was canonized by Pope John Paul II. The event started in the pouring rain, but when the pope read out her name, the skies cleared dramatically, and pigeons flew up into the air.
Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858, to a family of Austrian extraction. During her early life, she was “wonderfully vain” and very interested in the opposite sex. “Not a saint,” she often socialized with no chaperones. She received numerous proposals of marriage, but did not accept any of them. At the time, she and her sisters were the wealthiest heiresses in the United States.
 
At the age of 27, Katharine suffered a nervous breakdown, “the dark night of her soul.” A physician recommended that her sisters take her to Europe. While there, they met with Pope Leo XIII to ask for missionaries to staff Indian missions in the U.S. that they had been supporting financially. To Katharine’s surprise, the pope suggested that she become a missionary herself. Subsequently, she decided to dedicate herself and her fortune to God, through service to American Indians and African Americans. After taking holy vows, she became first a sister and later Mother Katharine. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) and established numerous missions and schools to support her chosen beneficiaries. She vigorously combatted racism and economic inequality long before those issues came to the fore in America. In one striking incident, the Ku Klux Klan tried to suppress a church and school the SBS had established in Beaumont, Texas. The Klan threatened the SBS with tarring and feathering. Apparently, God had other ideas, as a tornado destroyed the KKK meeting place.
 
Mother Katharine died in 1955 at the age of 96. She was beatified in 1988 and canonized as a saint in 2000. The Saint Katharine Drexel Mission Center and National Shrine is located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
 
Ms. Biddle attends St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where she serves on the vestry.

Bishop Bartlett with his wife, Jerri, and ECCP's Charles Blackman and Kent John Pope
January 21: The Rt. Rev. Allen L. Bartlett, Jr.
 
 

After a week’s delay due to snow, our program year continued on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, as 60 members and guests heard our third speaker, The Rt. Rev. Allen L. Bartlett, Jr., retired Bishop of Pennsylvania. The bishop spoke on "Experiencing Worlds We’ve Only Read About: Stories from St. George’s College, Jerusalem.”

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Bishop Bartlett described himself as a man of the South. He recounted a bit of his history and then focused on his principal topic: a trip he and his wife, Jerri, made to Jerusalem in 1991, shortly after the end of the first Gulf War.

The purpose of the Bartletts’ trip was to learn about the Diocese of Jerusalem and Palestinian Christians. To do this they attended a 14-day course at St. George’s College, Jerusalem. As the bishop explained, St. George’s is not an academic, degree-granting college, but rather an institution for continuing education and pilgrimage.

Arrival in Jerusalem was somewhat daunting: after enduring a strip search by Israeli security, they arrived at the college, only to find, at least initially, no apparent way in. Finally, however, a door opened and a friendly face emerged. There followed the warmest of welcomes from the college staff and the others attending the course.

St. George’s Cathedral serves as the center of the Anglican Church for the whole Middle East. Key figures include the dean, Graham Smith; Mike Billingsley, who is chaplain for 2014; and the new program director, Rodney Aist. According to Bishop Bartlett, the college is a model of diversity, with attendees from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Zimbabwe…, in short, “the whole world.”

As part of their course, the Bartletts visited important locations in the life of Christ, including the Church of the Nativity and the site of Christ’s burial. The bishop showed a stunningly beautiful picture of the Sea of Galilee, where he felt the very presence of Jesus. He also remarked on what Jesus must have given up by leaving as beautiful as Galilee to go to Jerusalem.

Bishop Bartlett asserted that the course at St. George’s College is not for political indoctrination, but that it has political aspects. He noted that, although the Christian community in Israel and the West Bank has shrunk in recent years, he expects the college to continue and flourish. He encourages everyone who wants to learn about Christianity in the Holy Land to consider attending the college.


Bishop Daniel (r) with ECCP President Charles Blackman
November 12: The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III
 
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write… Look, I have set before you an open door.” – Revelation to John 3:7a, 8a
 
That was the message that The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, brought to the Church Club at its second luncheon of the 2013-2014 season.
 
Bishop Daniel illustrated the concept of the open door in a number of ways. He started by describing how he was born and educated in North Carolina, and after entering the ministry, eventually became the bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina. He was quite comfortable there, but after 16 years as bishop was approached about becoming provisional bishop in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. A letter hand-delivered by a postman, inviting him to an interview with our diocesan search committee became an open door to a new mission, in a diocese that, as he says, has “hit a few bumps in the road” in recent years.
 
Daniel also related how in 1973, during his first year of ordained ministry, he came to Philadelphia to witness the ordination of 11 women at the Church of the Advocate, “to see the show.” A friend prodded him to go further, to go forward and join other clergy in the laying of hands on the ordinands. That act, which he was warned was “at worst illegal and at best highly irregular,” has helped to shape Daniel’s ministry.
 
In another illustration of how we as Christians can be an open door to others, he recounted establishing a friendship with a disabled street beggar named Harvey. That man was touched by the way the bishop talked with him and addressed him by name. Said Daniel, “A church without a beggar is a museum.” He also quoted Robert Runcie, a past Archbishop of Canterbury, as saying, “The good news is one beggar telling another beggar where the food is.” Daniel stressed the importance of caring for the poor, both as individuals, and even as institutions, citing the example of the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District that can’t even afford pencils for the students.
 
In another illustration of how we as Christians can be an open door to others, he recounted establishing a friendship with a disabled street beggar named Harvey. That man was touched by the way the bishop talked with him and addressed him by name. Said Daniel, “A church without a beggar is a museum.” He also quoted Robert Runcie, a past Archbishop of Canterbury, as saying, “The good news is one beggar telling another beggar where the food is.” Daniel stressed the importance of caring for the poor, both as individuals, and even as institutions, citing the example of the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District that can’t even afford pencils for the students.
 
 

The Rev. Matt Holcombe with Charlie Blackman and The Rev. Frank Allen, Rector of St. David's
September 17: The Rev. Matthew Holcombe
 
The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) launched its 2013-2014 season with the Reverend Matthew Holcombe, Associate Rector of St. David’s Radnor, as guest speaker. Holcombe spoke on “829 Days,” a title drawn from the time since his ordination to the priesthood.
 
Holcombe began by presenting a collage of pictures from various travels, including his own and some by parishioners from St. David’s. He explained how experiences such as travel shape our beliefs, faith, and relationship with God. In addition to travels to far places, Holcombe cited travels to local churches and the St. James School.
 
“The answer is always God,” he said, extending the idea to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Holcombe noted that he was drawn to St. David’s because of the parish’s clear focus on its mission: to learn about God and Jesus Christ. He stressed the importance of community: “Be a friend, make a friend, bring a friend.” Also important, he said, is the idea of invitation, to draw in everyone, even children, to be active in the Church. Furthermore, we need to show gratitude. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
 
In an entertaining lesson, Holcombe demonstrated how to memorize the Ten Commandments quickly by using one’s fingers to relate the numbers visually with the activities the commandments call for or forbid. (If you want to know whether the method works, ask someone who was at the luncheon!)
 
The ECCP is proud to claim Matt Holcombe as a past recipient of one of the club’s scholarships.

Speakers We Have Heard in the 2012-2013 Season

Rev. John E. Midwood (right) with ECS staff members
January 22: John E. Midwood for ECS
 

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) received an update on the Episcopal Community Services (ECS). The speaker was The Reverend John E. Midwood, Executive Director of ECS. Midwood joined ECS as Associate Director in 1999 and rose to head the agency in 2004. His message was “Mission in an Age of Growing Expectations and Diminishing Public Support.” Midwood was accompanied by several members of his staff.
 
ECS was established in 1870. Its mission statement says that ECS “empowers vulnerable individuals and families by providing high-quality social and educational services that affirm human dignity and promote social justice.” Its vision: ECS “is faith in action and leads the way in responding to changing human needs.”
 
Midwood recounted some of the history and evolution of ECS. He noted the importance of foundations and non-profit organizations in providing social services. Because government agencies tend to focus on meeting needs in crises and seeking to produce short-term results, the non-profits are increasingly taking on the role of providing wellbeing services that have more long-term effects. Among ECS services are programs that provide shelter and housing; safety and stability for children, adults, and seniors; and literacy and eduction.
 
Midwood will retire on June 30, 2013. To honor and celebrate his service, ECS has established the John E. Midwood Pathways Fund. The purpose of the fund it to “support life-changing programs and innovative opportunities that help clients overcome barriers to success and break the cycle of deep-rooted poverty.” The fund will also “invest in groundbreaking initiatives and agency partnerships to ensure strong support for ECS clients as they find a real and reachable path to self-fulfillment and independence.”
 
For more information on ECS or to make a donation, click on one of these links: www.ecs1870.org and www.ecs1870.org/donate-now

Speakers We Have Heard in the 2011-2012 Season

Dr. Lorna Stuart and Rev. Marie Swayze
April 17: The Clinic in Phoenixville
 
On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) heard of an amazing project, when The Rev. Marie Z. Swayze and Dr. Lorna B. Stuart spoke on “The Clinic in Phoenixville.”
 
They told the story of The Phoenixville Clinic. This was the dream of Swayze, who in her position as the Rector of St. Peter’s Church in Phoenixville saw the urgent need for medical care for people who had no medical insurance. Dr. Lorna B. Stuart, who “found herself frustrated” in dealing with paperwork and insurance companies, joined Swayze in the fruition of both their dreams when they created a medical center that provides care to thousands of people in the community with no insurance.
 
The speakers took turns in presenting their visions. Said Swayze, “I think that God dreams.” The clinic opened in what had been the derelict rectory of St. Peter’s. It started simply, measuring blood pressures, giving checkups, and the like.
 
Dr. Stuart noted that a project such as the clinic must prove its sustainability “before anyone will sustain you.” But she added, “Miracles do happen.” The clinic has benefited from some completely unexpected donations that arrived at just the right moment, from a roll of stamps to a significant cash gift.
 
Mother Swayze was first a nun before becoming a priest. She served as Interim Rector of three parishes in our Diocese before becoming the Rector of St. Peter’s. She is now Assisting Priest at St. Mark’s Church in Philadelphia and Chaplain of the school the parish has started, St. James School. She is a graduate of Trinity College in Washington D.C., and earned an M.S. from West Chester University and an M.Div. from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
 
Dr. Lorna Stuart is the Medical Director of The Clinic, as well as one of the founders. She holds degrees from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, the British Columbia School of Medicine, and Oxford University. She was also a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University. She has received many honors for her work with the Clinic, most recently the Pride in Profession Award from the American Medical Association Foundation. Dr. Stuart was in private practice for 25 years before helping to found The Clinic.
 
The Clinic, which is located in the former Rectory of St. Peter’s Church, has served over 50,000 patients who have no medical insurance since its founding in 2001. It receives no government funding and relies completely on generous donors for support. “The populations we serve are people who truly fall through the cracks of human and social services.” The Clinic has received many community and professional awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Impact Award, and has been featured on the Today Show and CNN, when Dr. Stuart was named a “Medical Marvel.”

February 28: Tracy Davidson
 
On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) was treated to a serious but upbeat talk by Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Tracy Davidson. Our guest is co-anchor of the NBC 10 News at 5PM and also reports on consumer news. Davidson arrived at WCAU in 1996 after a substantial career in television and radio in the State of New York.
 
Davidson has earned many significant awards for her work in broadcasting. She has also worked hard for various community service projects for women and children, a shelter for battered women, breast cancer, and service to families, as well as being a former member of the March of Dimes Board of Directors.
 
A member of St. Matthias Church in Bala Cynwyd, Davidson is a Minister of Holy Communion. She has a Religious Studies Certificate from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and is studying for a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling at Chestnut Hill College.
 
Tracy Davidson’s message to the Club was about the “Gift of Attentiveness.” She started by describing the distractions and annoyances of modern life, resulting from everything from e-mail to cell phones, that make it hard to concentrate on the main task at hand and contribute to high levels of stress. While people often claim that they are multitasking, Davidson said that no-one can really multitask effectively; what people are really doing, she said, is “task-switching,” focusing on one task for a short time and then switching in rapid succession to other tasks. The result of trying to multitask is that we lose attentiveness, whether that means attentiveness to a single task or attentiveness to the people we are with. Importantly, she said that we can choose what we want to focus on, but that we can’t do it for a long time without practice. In the case of spiritual life, attentiveness draws us to prayer.
 
Of particular interest to a faith community such as ECCP was Davidson’s account of how attentiveness has contributed to her own spiritual life. She told how being attentive to “whatever He calls me to do” led her to the seminary and subsequently to her current studies at Chestnut Hill College.
 
Asked what she considered her proudest moments in broadcasting, Davidson cited a case she investigated as consumer reporter in which a trucking and storage company was stealing and selling customers’ property. Her pursuit of the case resulted in significant restitution for the customers.
 
Asked what direction she will choose for the future, Davidson replied that she will be attentive to “whatever He wants me to do.” That may lead her into hospice care for children, pastoral counseling within the Church, or perhaps some other direction.

Guy S. Gardner
January 17: Guy S. Gardner

On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia heard an inspirational presentation by Guy S. Gardner, President of the Williamson Free Trade School of Mechanical Trades. His topic was “Faith, Integrity, Diligence, Excellence, and Service.”

 Gardner, a former fighter pilot with 117 combat missions during the Vietnam War, became a test pilot and ultimately a NASA astronaut, piloting two shuttle missions aboard the orbiter Columbia in 1988. After leaving the Air force as a colonel in 1992, he served at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, as the initial director of the joint U.S.-Russian Shuttle-Mir Space Flight Program.

Given his history, Gardner began his talk with “Flying in Space,” a reflection on the wonders of space flight. A short video illustrated the theme, with astronauts cavorting in weightlessness, and amazing views of the earth and space.

The real reason for Gardner’s visit, however, was to tell the members of the Church Club about the Williamson School. Located in Media, Pa., it prepares deserving young men to be useful and respected members of society. To accomplish the mission, Williamson gratuitously provides students with academic, trade, technical, moral, and religious education and a living environment based on the Judeo-Christian perspective that fosters the values the Mr. Gardner described in his presentation.

The school was founded in 1888 by Isaiah V. Williamson, who saw boys on the streets of Philadelphia without a future. Originally, the school took in boys 13 to 18 years old as indentured servants. Now it is a three-year junior college, serving 270 boys and young men. It is supported entirely by private donations and receives no federal money. The students pay no tuition, only fees for tools and other things they keep after graduation.

Williamson trains its young men in six trades: carpentry; masonry; paint and coatings technology; machine tool technology; power plant technology; and horticulture, landscaping, and turf management. Williamson operates as a boarding school, with the students on campus from Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. Mandatory chapel services are held daily.

Gardner spoke proudly of the school’s achievements. The rate of job placement after graduation is 100%, and graduates leave with the tools of their trade and no debt.


Dr. James W. Jones
September 20, 2011: Dr. James W. Jones

The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia started its 2011-2012 season on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 with Dr. James W. Jones, Professor of Religion and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University. Dr. Jones spoke on “Sacred Terror: Understanding Religious Terrorism.”

Dr. Jones has published numerous books on the subject of religious terrorism and violence, including Blood That Cries From the Earth: The Psychological Roots of Religious Terrorism; Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychology, Religion and Violence; and Terror and Transformation: The Ambiguity of Religion. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Terrorism of John Jay College in New York City, a lecturer in Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary, and a visiting professor at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
Dr. Jones made three main points about religious terrorism: 

First, religious terrorism is very complicated. To understand it requires a multi-perspective approach. Much is yet unknown.

Second, religious terrorists, regardless of whether they are nominally of Muslim, Christian, or some other faith, have much more in common with each other than with the mainstream elements of their professed faiths. Among the common elements are feelings of shame and humiliation of their faith community, seeing a cosmic battle between the totally pure (themselves) and the totally evil (the rest of the world), demonization of their enemies, the need for purification by violence, and sanctification of violence. The terrorists also have common views on the role of women in society, the need to do away with abortions, and the need to eliminate homosexuality.

Third, Dr. Jones maintained that if religious terrorism is a religious phenomenon, an effective response must include a religious approach.

A question-and-answer period provided further insights. Dr. Jones expanded on the distinction between nationalist or ethnic terrorists and religious terrorists. He noted that the former have a geographically limited focus and purpose, whereas the latter have a global view and purpose. He also contrasted groups like the Amish and the Hasidic Jews, whose beliefs focus on purifying themselves, with the religious terrorists, who believe that it is their mission to purify the world by violence. In response to a question, Dr. Jones asserted that religious terrorists are not clinically psychopathic. However, he fears that with the growth of media such as the Internet contributing to the breakdown of groups, individuals who are psychopathic may become a significant problem. When asked whether some cultures are predisposed to violence, Dr. Jones said no. He noted that all cultures have had periods when they were violent, citing the example of the Swedes, who are now a generally peaceful people but who were quite violent in the time of the Vikings.


Speakers We Have Heard in the 2010-2011 Season


Fr. Littrell, Dr. McKenzie-Hayward, and ECCP's Charles Blackman

April 19: Diocesan Antiracism Commission

On Tuesday, April 19, two members of the Antiracism Commission of the Diocese of Pennsylvania addressed the final luncheon of the 2010-2011 Church Club season.

The Very Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward, PhD has been the Chair of the Antiracism Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania since 2004 and a member of the Antiracism Team since its inception in 2008. In addition to her antiracism work she is the Rector of Calvary St. Augustine Church and, along with the vestry, recently founded a non
profit organization, Striving Together Empowering People Community Development Corporation.

The Rev. James H. Littrell is Vice-Chair of the Antiracism Commission and served on its predecessor, the Antiracism Commi
ttee of the Episcopal Diocese. Father Littrell is Rector of St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village, which is the Episcopal Church at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania.

Father Littrell laid out the historical context for the Antiracism Commission. He highlighted the role of St. Thomas African Episcopal Church, noting that 1864 was the first year in which that parish could vote in convention. Littrell also noted that many Philadelphians had played important roles in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. He further cited W. E. B. DuBois, who asserted that African Americans attended church first for socialization and then for religion. Littrell concluded that when the Diocese closes black churches, it tramples on a valuable heritage. Quoting another prominent African American Episcopal priest, Father Paul Washington, he said that the question is not whether the Diocese can afford such churches, but whether it can afford not to have them.

Dr. McKenzie-Hayward grew up a Baptist, but came to the Episcopal Church after personal exploration. In the Episcopal Church she found a commitment to taking meaningful actions. She observed that most of us fight racism on an individual level, but stated that we must also address institutional racism. She defined racism as a misuse of power, in contrast to prejudice, which may not necessarily be racism.

The Antiracism Commission was established by the Diocesan Convention in 2005. Funded annually, the commission constantly has to fight budget cuts. The commission holds workshops twice a year. The workshops address definitions of institutions and structures of accountability. Littrell and McKenzie-Hayward encourage all members of the Diocese of Pennsylvania to attend one of these workshops.

The Reverend Jean Mather
March 1, 2011: The Reverend Jean Mather on the Anglican Communion

On Tuesday, March 1, the Reverend Jean Mather, Rector of Christ Church & St. Michael’s, Germantown, spoke on “Issues in the Anglican Communion (or How We Got in This Mess).” Our speaker came to us with a broad academic and theological background.  In addition to being a parish rector in our diocese, she is also a distinguished scholar and former college professor.

Dr. Mather started by telling why the Anglican Communion exists: the British Empire, as it spread its political control around the world, took the Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer with it. Thus were sown the seeds of what became national churches in the now former colonies. As an interesting aside, Dr. Mather noted that nobody was compelled to attend an Anglican mission school or church.

The status of the Church was greatly affected by events in the fall of 1945. The liberation of Nazi concentration camps and the revelation of the horrors of those camps greatly discredited the supposed superiority of western Christianity. The Anglican Communion was also affected by the rise of Pentecostalism, characterized by aspects such as speaking in tongues. Dr. Mather described Anglicanism as a structured church with a structured liturgy. A church of learned clergy and laity, Anglicans have been uneasy with the Pentecostalism.

Some of the current stresses in the Anglican Communion arise because of differences in how people in Latin America, Asia, and Africa interpret the Bible. In many areas, people take the Bible literally. They base this on direct experience with family, plaques, warfare, and other events of “biblical” proportions. There is great reliance on miraculous healing.

Technology, notably the rise of the Internet, has a great effect on affairs of the Church. However, this is not new. The Reformation drew tremendous impetus from the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the languages of the day. Since that time, developments such as steam navigation, the telegraph, and railroads have each played a role.

Changes in the last decade or so have stemmed from tremendous growth in the Global South. Even this is nothing new, however: the early church made a historic shift from the Middle East to Europe.

Anglicans often boast that we have churches in 160 countries. This wonderful claim comes up short, however, when someone dissents from common opinion. Currently, the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church in Canada face significant ostracism by other Anglican Churches because of issues such as the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop and the ordination of openly gay priests. Furthermore, the various national Anglican churches have different languages and cultures.

Dr. Mather pointed out that we are a decentralized church, with dioceses having considerable autonomy within the national church, and national churches being autonomous within the Anglican Communion. In the case of the American church, congregational autonomy grew out the colonial situation, in which there were no colonial bishops (colonial parishes were governed by the Bishop of London).

One issue that divides Anglicans today is the question of whether to increase the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Such an increase is supported by churches in Asia and Africa. The implication is that the Archbishop could then exercise greater clergy discipline.
Where is the Anglican Communion heading? Dr. Mather professed not to know. One possibility is that Anglican Communion of the future will not be a comprehensive one, embracing within it people of a wide range of beliefs and opinions. The outcome will depend on how the church deals with internal and external dissent.

The Rev. Wil Gafney
January 18, 2011: The Reverend Wil Gafney - "Gentile Reflections on a Jewish Jesus"

Members of the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia braved the snow and ice on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, to hear a fascinating presentation by the Reverend Wil Gafney,
an ordained Episcopal priest and Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Dr. Gafney is a member of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and also a member of the Dorshei Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Center. She is particularly interested in how Jews and Christians interpret the texts they hold in common.

Dr. Gafney presented “Gentile Reflections on a Jewish Jesus.” She began by summarizing what we know about Jesus. He was born in 4 BCE, spent his childhood in Nazareth, and was baptized by John the Baptizer. He preached the reign of God and in 30 CE went to Jerusalem, where He created something of a sensation. He was tried and crucified. Afterwards, His followers, who were Jewish, formed a community to await His return. Aside from the books of the New Testament, Jesus is mentioned by other sources. The historian Josephus noted Him as a wise man who did many wonderful deeds. The Roman Suetonius wrote of someone called “Chrestos.”

Dr. Gafney asserted that throughout history, Christians have consistently overlooked Jesus’ identity as a Jew. However, his ministry can be understood only from a Jewish perspective. In the book of Acts, a significant debate occurred about whether a Gentile could become a Christian without converting to Judaism. The Gospel according to Matthew quotes Jesus as telling His followers to “do whatever the Pharisees tell you to do.” He also instructs the disciples to spread the Gospel only to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. Another passage indicates that Jesus had a low regard for Gentile prayer.

According to Dr. Gafney, it is important to recognize that Jesus represented a fusion of the fully human and the fully divine. As part of this fusion, Jesus’ ministry involved a learning process. While in the beginning it was aimed solely at the Jews, it broadened after His interaction with the Canaanite woman who sought His help for her daughter in Matthew 15:21-28. At first, He told the woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” and “It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.” But after the woman persists, He said, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” We are told that her daughter was healed “from that very hour.” As time went on, Jesus expanded His ministry to the Gentiles, and ultimately to the whole world.

Dr. Gafney said that too often we focus on our differences and forget what unites us. She pointed out that Abraham wasn’t Jewish, that Joseph married an Egyptian, and that Moses couldn’t find a suitable wife among the Jews.

In a striking illustration, Dr. Gafney described an icon she has. It portrays Mary holding the baby Jesus, who holds a torah and wears a prayer shawl. Mary herself is surrounded by barbed wire and wears a yellow six-pointed star.

Speakers We Have Heard in the 2009-2010 Season

The Rev. Judith Meckling
March 2, 2010: The Reverend Judith B. Meckling

The fourth luncheon of the 2009-2010 featured The Rev. Judith B. Meckling, Rector of All Souls’ Church for the Deaf in Philadelphia. She spoke on “All Souls’ Church: 150 Years of Ministry to the Deaf Community.”

Meckling’s talk included the history of All Souls’, the history of the larger church’s ministry to the deaf, and approaches to interacting with the deaf. She presented a story that is little known among the general public and even with the Episcopal Church.

Meckling spoke as an outsider who has come into a community moving toward the end of its ministry and purpose in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. She is the hearing daughter of parents who experienced major hearing loss.There is an important distinction between persons who were born deaf or lost the ability to hear before they acquired the skills to hear and speak language (the “Deaf”) and those who have lost their hearing after acquiring language skills (the “hard-of-hearing”). The congregation of All Souls’ consists of both groups. Meckling conducts services in signed English (which is not the same as American Sign Language, ASL) or with the aid of an interpreter who translates into ASL.

The story of ministry to the Deaf in America began in the early 19th century, with a Congregational minister in Connecticut, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He went to France to study ways to educate the Deaf so that a school could be established in Connecticut. The subsequent history included figures such as Laurent Clerc, a deaf Frenchman who came to the United States to help establish the school; Thomas Gallaudet (son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet), who became an Episcopal priest and established churches for the Deaf; and Henry Winter Syle, an Episcopal priest who was the first Deaf person to be ordained by any denomination. Since the 19th century, the Episcopal Church has been instrumental in ministering to the Deaf, and its ministries have attracted people of all faiths and denominations.

As Meckling explained, the Deaf have developed their own culture and their own language (ASL has been recognized as a separate language since the 1960s). They have also developed a strong sense of pride in their identity. They see as a terrible blow to that identity an event in 1888: In that year, an international congress in Milan, Italy, decided that instead of using sign language, the Deaf should be taught using the so-called oral method of lip reading and speaking aloud; signing was reserved for those who could not succeed by the oral method. As a result, the oral method, supported by people such as Alexander Graham Bell, gain the ascendancy for a long period. There are still debates on how the Deaf should be taught to communicate.

All Souls’ Church for the Deaf was established 151 years ago in Philadelphia. Since that time, it has ministered to the Deaf in various locations. Currently it is located at the Seamen’s Church Institute. Over the years the congregation has been led by priests including The Reverend Roger Pickering and The Reverend Gustav Meckling, father of the speaker. Once a thriving congregation, it has dwindled in recent years and currently numbers about 20 to 25 active members.

Serous questions remain. As The Reverend Judith Meckling says, “We are at a critical place in our ministry with the Deaf in the Diocese of Pennsylvania as this older congregation approaches the end of its life. Younger Deaf face an uncertain future as medical and electronic advances provide greater opportunities for communication with the hearing world. Cochlear implants also provide opportunities for some Deaf to “hear” and interact with the hearing world. Will the Deaf want to keep their own language and culture? Will deafness disappear? What role will the church play in ministry and outreach to the Deaf community at this critical time?"

The Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson
January 19, 2010: The Reverend Canon Lloyd S. Casson

The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) presented The Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson, interim Dean of the Philadelphia Cathedral, at a luncheon on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. The dean spoke on “Cathedral – the Concept and the Realities in Our Episcopal Church.”

Canon Casson, a native of Delaware, is a seasoned Episcopal clergyman with more than 30 years’ experience of providing visionary and sensitive spiritual and administrative leadership for mission and ministry through the parish, diocesan, and national levels of the Church.  He has been involved in urban community affairs and world issues, and in ecumenical and interfaith relations locally, nationally, and worldwide.

Canon Casson has been Deputy to the Rector of historic Trinity Parish on Wall Street, canon Missioner of Washington National Cathedral, and Assistant to the Bishop for Community and Ecumenical Affairs in the Diocese of Washington, DC.  In 1982 he served as Chaplain and Instructor in Liturgy at the Bishops Training Program of the Anglican Provinces of Africa.  In 1985 he became the Sub Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York, until he returned to Trinity Church to serve as its Vicar.  In 1993 he was appointed Social Justice Officer of the Episcopal Church and served as Rector of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery until he returned to Wilmington, where he had begun it all as Associate Rector of St. Andrew’s Church and Rector of St. Matthew’s Church.  Back in Wilmington he became Rector of the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, a congregation formed out of the union of the two historic Episcopal churches,  where he had served 30 years earlier.

Canon Casson served both on active duty and in the Reserves of the United States Army.  He entered the University of Delaware upon returning from active duty, and following graduation earned his Divinity Degree from Virginia Theological Seminary.  He was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1988.  He is the recipient of many awards, including the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
November 17, 2009: The Honorable Michael Nutter

At its second luncheon of the 2009-2010 season on November 17, 2009, the Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) was honored to present the Honorable Michael Nutter, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia as the featured speaker.

Mayor Nutter began by acknowledging several Episcopalians who play vital roles in his administration. More broadly, he told of the importance of faith-based organizations in social service programs. Of particular note was a program that involved a special court, set up in a church, that has salvaged the lives of about 1250 people. The program, organized by the First District African Methodist Episcopal Church, the sheriff of Philadelphia, and the court system, has provided a place where people charged with offenses can resolve those charges in a way that gives them a new start in life.

A key point in the Mayor’s talk was the 2010 US Census. Mr. Nutter said that no event is more important for Philadelphia than the census. He noted that the 2000 census missed an estimated 56,000 addresses in the city, contributing to underrepresentation in the US Congress. Mr. Nutter said there are indications that the downward slide in Philadelphia’s population may have stopped, but that we need an accurate count in 2010 to know that. The clergy have a special role to play, he said, in getting the word out to people who may be apathetic or apprehensive about contacts with census takers and other officials. On November 10, Mayor Nutter launched the city’s own effort, the Philly Counts campaign.

Mr. Nutter declared that his administration will never use its power to interfere with efforts to support the nourishment of the souls and bodies of Philadelphia’s people. He cited a 25% reduction in homicides in the city since 2007. He also affirmed his intention to lift all schools, not just public. The Mayor stressed that all young people must expect to graduate from high school and go on to higher education. He termed a high level of education a key factor in the national defense. As with the census, the church has a key role in promoting education, especially since the government will never have all the resources needed for this critical function.

Mayor Nutter’s visit brought out a very large turnout of ECCP members and their guests. His talk elicited a warm response from the appreciative audience.
The Rev. Rodger Broadley
September 15, 2009: The Reverend Rodger Broadly

The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia (ECCP) kicked off the 2009-2010 season on September 15, 2009, with a luncheon program at The Racquet Club. The Rev. Rodger Broadley, Rector of St. Luke and the Epiphany and a Diocesan Deputy to the 76th Episcopal General Convention, reported on the convention held July 8 to 17 in Anaheim, California.

July's General Convention was the sixth that Rodger has attended as a Clergy Deputy representing the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Rodger is the longest-serving Clergy Deputy from our diocese. This year he is also celebrating his twenty-fifth year as the Rector of The Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany in Philadelphia.

Noting that membership in ECCP is limited to lay persons, Father Broadley asserted that the Church needs to be “pro-lay,” supporting members who express the glory of God in their daily life. He pointed out that among all the churches that make up the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church in the United States is essentially the only one empowering lay people and providing a large role for the laity.

Father Broadley described this year’s General Convention as “one big family reunion,” marked by open, honest discussions and many hours of serious work on hundreds of resolutions and revisions to canon law. He noted that prayer formed an important part of the proceedings and described the liturgy as beautiful and powerful, with many lay speakers. Of particular significance was the participation of a Muslim imam, a Jewish cantor, and a Lutheran representative, who sang individually and then together, blending different music and languages to striking effect.

Also evident at Convention were the advances the church has made with respect to women. This was illustrated by the fact that Bonnie Anderson is President of the House of Deputies, Katherine Jefforts Schori is the Presiding Bishop, and a large number of women deputies were present. 

Sadly, Father Broadley reported that because of a serious budgetary shortfall, 25% of the staff at church headquarters in New York will be laid off in January. Budgetary problems have resulted from a variety of factors, including the general economy, dissention in the church, and a trend for mission efforts to shift from the national church to the local level.
Addressing the relationship of the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion, Father Broadley told of work on a covenant to define the Communion. An important presence at Convention was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Although he did not address the Convention, the archbishop met with many of those in attendance, stressing the importance of the Anglican Communion and attempting to address the issues that threaten unity.

Father Broadley concluded his talk by noting that, as chair of the Commission on Ministry, he has become increasingly concerned by the rapid rise in school-related debt carried by our seminarians. Therefore he greatly appreciates the work the Church Club does in raising money for scholarships for our seminary students. 

Scenes from the 2015 Annual Dinner Meeting at
Christ Church, Media


Christ Church, Media, with its rector, The Reverend Adam P. Kradel, PhD, hosted ECCP’s 2015 Annual Dinner Meeting on Saturday, May 30. About 65 ECCP members and friends came together for a pleasant evening of worship, fine dining, music, and socialization.

The program began with Evening Prayer in the church. This was followed by social hour and dinner in the air-conditioned comfort of the parish hall. Dinner was catered by Amy, who has provided an excellent repast for several years. The Holton LeBlanc Duo accompanied dinner with fine music.

Formalities included the election of new officers for the coming year. Among special recognitions was the retirement of Jack Tinkler after many years of dedicated service to the ECCP as secretary.


Selected pictures from the Annual Meeting appear below.