Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts from Bishop Jake


Wednesday, December 19, 2012            
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, have left us all stunned and sorrowful. You can read my initial response from Friday by clicking this link. Later, I provided a theological reflection about this violence and the love of God in the sermon "Where Was God in That?" and you can read it by clicking this link.

Many have wondered how to celebrate Christmas when so many of our fellow citizens find themselves stricken with grief. The dissonance between our usual seasonal gladness and the horror of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School suggests to some that we should forgo joy and celebration this year out of respect for and solidarity with those who mourn.

This is an understandable but misguided impulse. In all things--especially in the face of sorrow, pain, and death--followers of Jesus help each other remember, and announce to the doubting world, that God's love conquers death and his light dissolves all darkness.

Our celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ reminds us that God enters even our darkest, most harrowing places. When we find ourselves in such a place--and Newtown brings us all to such a place--there is no more fitting time to remember Emmanuel. God with us.

We do not dishonor those who have died or turn an indifferent heart to those who grieve when we experience with joy the birth of the Son of God. Instead, we realize with greater depth and clarity why this birth was necessary for us and what an unspeakably wonderful gift we have received.

Nothing we say or do can make whole again what was shattered last Friday in Newtown. Lives and hearts and souls lie in pieces on the ground. And yet, what is beyond our capacity to repair God himself has begun to restore through the birth of Jesus. He makes himself vulnerable to our deepest sorrows and our most agonizing pain in order to bring us joy and healing that we cannot produce for ourselves.

And so I bid you to celebrate this Christmas with joy, because we are celebrating the healing power of the manger. Heaven has bent low to touch the earth. To turn death into eternal life. To exchange crushing sorrow for tender, undying jubilation. To redeem even and especially the tragedy of Newtown.

Joy and the whole Owensby family join me in wishing you every Christmas blessing. May the joy and peace of Jesus Christ be yours this day and forever more.
In Christ's Love,

+Jake
              

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Choose Joy

Here's the sermon I preached at St. Alban's last sunday:                       


Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us.

That’s the collect we prayed just a few minutes ago, the one we pray every third Sunday of Advent. It goes with the lighting of the third candle of the Advent wreath, the pink candle of joy.

And that makes perfect sense, because what could bring greater joy to the hearts and minds of God’s people than the expectation that God will once again be stirred by our plea and with great might come among us?

The early part of this week—after turning in my grades in the nick of time Monday—I spent many of my spare moments thinking about what I might say about that today.

I thought of the great joys of this season, the anticipation of children of all ages, the eagerness with which we look forward to not only gifts under a tree and a feast with our families, but the moments sharing familiar carols and kneeling at a manager gazing in wide-eyed wonder at God become flesh to dwell among us.

And then came Friday, and the cruel and senseless deaths of 20 mere babes and a number of adults in Connecticut.

How can we light the candle of joy when our hearts are broken?

How can we sing—at all, much less “Joy to the World”—when the worlds of so many have been dealt a blow that will color every remaining moment of their lives?

How can we pray and believe that God has and does and will always come among us with great might when we continue to be so sorely hindered by the evil and tragedy that is so a part of the human condition?

I have just two responses that make sense to me this sad morning.

The first is that joy is something we choose, even when we do not feel joyful.

In other words, we tend to think of joy as only an emotion, something we must feel. And we do feel joyful when things in our lives go well, when our children make good grades or graduate from college. When our work is appreciated. When sick people get well. When the love we feel toward another is returned in kind. When the world makes sense.

But when things do not go our way, when our love is rejected, when good people suffer… and most of all when those we love are snatched from us and this life in the most senseless ways, then frustration, sadness, and deep grief drive the joy from our lives. We are bereft. We cannot imagine ever feeling joyful again.

Yet even then, we can choose joy. Especially then, joy is a choice we make in faith. As children of the living, Incarnate God, we go to the graves of our dreams and plans and exalted expectations, even to the graves of family and friends, and ultimately to our own grave, saying, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

The second response that makes sense to me this morning is to claim for our own what John the Baptizer offers to those who had gathered to hear him preach so long ago (Luke 3:7-18, NRSV). What should we do? they ask.

Now the context of today’s Gospel story is somewhat different from our own. John has been doing what John did so well, namely preaching hellfire and brimstone. Indeed, he has just called at least some of his listener’s a brood of vipers!

Those remarks were most likely directed at the religious leadership of the day, who did not take kindly to crudely dressed prophets drawing ordinary folks away from official religion, telling them the good news of salvation at hand and baptizing them in a river on the edge of the wilderness. John was clearly a threat to their power and influence.

But as is often the case, the ordinary folk, the ones with the least power and influence, are the ones who take John’s message most to heart. To them, calamity was at hand. And so they ask John, What should we do?

And John gives them simple, gentle instructions about how to live as those who have accepted God’s love and mercy, as those who have chosen joy in faith that God is with us.

Give your second coat to one who has none, says John. Share your food with those who are hungry. Don’t cheat. Don’t bully. Care for one another as God cares for you.

These are the same instructions Jesus the Christ gave us over and over: Welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner, love your enemy. And today, especially in light of Friday’s calamity, find someone who grieves and be with them in their grief.

We cannot all rush off to Connecticut, or to the many places worldwide where violence and suffering abound. But we can reach out in love and kindness to those who suffer in our very own community. It is how we express the joy we have chosen in faith, even when our hearts are heavy.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us.

AMEN
   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Party

St. Thomas's will have its annual Christmas Party tonight, December 15 at 6:00 p.m. at Harvey's Dance Hall.

Harvey's Dance Hall is located at 500 DeSiard Street in downlown Monroe. From Interstate 20, take the Hall Street Exit (#117A.) Go North 4 blocks. The Dance Hall is on the corner of Hall and DeSiard Streets. It will be on the right-hand corner. Note that Hall Street is a one-way street going north.

Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Commencement Invocation


I thought you all might enjoy this photograph. Because the pastor scheduled to give the invocation at ULM's commencement decided to go to New Orleans to a football game at the last minute, I was called upon to fill in. It was a great privilege to get to do the invocation at Will's graduation! Fr. Walter Baer attended and took this photo. Here's the prayer I wrote especially for commencement invocations:


God of mystery and splendor, from age to age your devotion to all creation never wavers. You constantly enfold us with extravagant care. At life’s every turn we are sustained by your ancient love that continually refreshes us.

Blessed Creator and sustainer of life, we give thanks this day for this university and for the teaching and learning that happen hear. We give thanks for all who make it possible: for dedicated faculty and students, and for the support of staff and administrators. We give thanks for family and friends who sustain the educational endeavor in so many ways, from paying bills to offering words of encouragement when the going gets tough, and above all, for always believing in our ability to succeed.

This day we are especially thankful for this graduating class, for the failures from which they have learned and for the challenges they have faced and overcome.

We ask now that the skills and knowledge they have gained here be crowned with wisdom. May they go forth guided by the light of your love. As they move through their lives, may they continue to learn and grow. And may they always use their privilege as educated people to create a world of peace and justice in which all peoples of the world live and thrive.

Blessed are You, Creator God, Lord of the Universe, who is good and causes good. Praise and glory be to you, Gracious Mystery. We trust that you will rise to answer us when we call upon your Holy Name this day and always. AMEN.

Monday, November 26, 2012

We're celebrating!

Will Phelps is about to graduate, and we're celebrating!

Commencement is Saturday, December 8, 10 a.m., in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

But whether you attend the ceremony or not, please join us:

Champagne Lunch
1 - 3 p.m.
Dec. 8
79 Quail Ridge Dr.

Please stop by to toast the graduate!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Holy Eucharist

 


A reminder that St. Alban's will celebrate Holy Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. All are invited and bring your family!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

105th Archbishop of Canterbury

 
On 9 November 2012 the Right Reverend Justin Welby was announced as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.
In his opening statement at Lambeth Palace, Bishop Justin said he was “astonished and excited” to be taking over from Dr Rowan Williams, who stands down as Archbishop at the end of December. Acknowledging the many challenges faced by the Church, he said it will be a privilege to lead the Church “at a time of great spiritual hunger”.

The new Archbishop's Biography can be found here
Source: ENS

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bishop Jake's Wednesday Message

Dear Friends in Christ,

My daughter Meredith plays the flute. As a music performance major, she spends hours practicing her scales and mastering music theory. Her repertoire grows year by year not only in size but in complexity and sophistication. As you might imagine, Meredith reliably hits the right notes as the ensemble moves through the score.

Plenty of accomplished musicians hit the right notes. That is not what distinguishes Meredith and the very best among her peers from others. Instead, the most admired musicians thrill our hearts and stir our minds because they achieve a pleasing tone. Lesser musicians can play precisely the same notes in the correct tempo and yet, nevertheless they lose our interest with a thin or shallow tone.

In both our nation and in our Church we are struggling with our tone. We seem unable to disagree without contempt, and we heap scorn upon compromise as if it were always born of the spirit of cowardice and surrender. Our proud insistence upon being right drowns out the humble impulse to submit ourselves to something greater than our own opinions and agendas. We need a new, more edifying tone.

By God’s tender grace we are finding a more compelling tone in the Episcopal Church. While we will always debate ideas, we are beginning to speak to each other on the basis of something more fundamental than our differences. The Holy Spirit is reminding us that we are one in the crucified and risen Christ. Our unity in Christ gives us a common mission. Jesus himself sends us to make disciples and to serve the poor in his name.

When we focus on what we have in common, our tone grows sonorous and resonates with others. The content of the Good News is too often lost because it is being conveyed by a shrill or grating voice. Keeping before us always our unity in Christ’s person and the mission he gives us, even the tone of our disagreements can draw followers to Jesus.
On this first day following President Obama’s reelection, some are rejoicing and others are lamenting. Oddly enough, we Episcopalians have a hard-won lesson to share with rest of the nation.

We have discovered through bitter internal turmoil that unity is a gift. It is a gift that we must nurture or risk losing. Who we are together is well worth working for. It is fine to disagree. However, when we do so in forgetfulness that our primary calling is to deepen and to reinforce our unity, then we chance forfeiting who we truly are.

So let’s be mindful of our tone. As Christians and as Americans. As followers of Jesus, we have an especially high calling. Jesus has sent us into this world to set a new tone.


In Christ's Love,
.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org
http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com
http://sermon.net/bishopjake

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall Back Tonight!

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m on Sunday, November 4, 2012. Set you clocks back one hour before going to bed on tonight, or you’ll be really early for church!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More BBQ fun!

Recognize any of these folks? I thought so!
                                      
                              

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bishop Jake's Wednesday Message

October 24, 2012
                                                

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last Friday I had the privilege of celebrating and preaching at the Red Mass, hosted this year by Mtr. Catherine Thompson and the good folks at Trinity, Natchitoches. As you may know, in the Red Mass we seek God’s wisdom and guidance for our jurists.

Mtr. Catherine and the rest of the worship planners and leaders did us proud with a reverent and uplifting service, and I am very grateful for their hard work and liturgical excellence. It was especially exciting that the Louisiana Supreme Court attended the service.
 
For this week’s Wednesday message, I’m offering this excerpt from my sermon at the Red Mass:

Life is not fair. 

Sometimes the good among us meet with calamity and the evil prosper. Stinkers get off the hook and good guys have been known to finish last.

No one chooses the family or the social class or the town or the historical period into which they are born. And the circumstances of our birth can make all the difference to the shape and direction our life takes.

Some social and economic conditions give a decided advantage to the lucky stiffs born into them, while some socioeconomic settings present obstacles so great that even the most industrious and clever will never completely overcome them.

The inherent unfairness of this life leads some to cynicism, bitter resentment, and even despair. The reason for their spiritual disintegration is clear. They have correctly observed that life is unfair and yet have erroneously concluded that this is all that there is. The dream of justice is just that for them, a dream. A pipe dream. And so for them it would be better to have no dream at all than to have one that leaves us feeling cheated and shortchanged.

By contrast, that same dream--the dream of perfect justice--inspires some among us to devote our entire lives to raising up what has been cast down, to rectifying wrongs committed by self-serving hearts, to protecting the weak, to guarding the dignity of every human being, and to promoting the common good even for those who have precious little regard for it.


If you would like to read the rest of the sermon, you can find it at “Justice and Hope” at Pelican Anglican. Or, you can listen to the audio version here.

Blessings in the coming week.
.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org
http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com
http://sermon.net/bishopjake

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bishop Jake's Wednesday Message

October 17, 2012   
                                                 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Thank you all for the encouraging emails and texts and FB messages about Diocesan Convention. Gathering with you in common faith and mutual joy has energized and delighted me! It’s a gift to know that so many of you feel the same way. Thanks to the Alexandria Convocation for doing such a fabulous job hosting our Convention and to the Commission on Liturgy and Music for crafting such meaningful worship!

Now what will we do with the energy, excitement, fellowship, and vision we shared last weekend? We will take the next step. Share with your congregations the vision of the beloved community. Take time to consider the practices that make your congregation vital and form strategies for supporting and enhancing these practices.

In my sermons I will begin speaking more intentionally about core Christian practices. So I encourage you to keep an eye on Pelican Anglican or tune in to my audio sermons.

I also plan to continue to gather with the Commissions for the purpose of retasking toward congregational vitality. But I also charge the chairs of these Commissions to establish monthly meetings to begin visioning how they can help encourage vitality in their specific ministry area.

I am also available for midweek visits to offer a teaching about Christian practices and congregational vitality. Once St. John’s calls a new Rector, Fr. Bill Bryant will also be available as my new Canon for Congregational Vitality.

There is one piece of late-breaking news I want to share. Just before the Convention opened, Jamie Simon notified me that he could no longer serve as chair of the Commission for Youth and Youth Adults. His work situation has become too demanding to devote the time he needed. I want to thank Jamie for his work in the past.

Brooks Boylan has accepted my call to serve as the chair of the Commission for Youth and Young Adults, and I thank Brooks for taking on the challenge with very short notice. He has already called a meeting of the Commission and we can look for some exciting ministry from that energetic group.

Let me encourage you once again to help me stay in touch with you. Send me a friend request on Facebook. Subscribe to Pelican Anglican. Listen to my sermons at http://sermon.net/bishopjake.

Here’s how to subscribe to Pelican Anglican by email. Go to http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com. Enter your email address in the box that says “Follow by Email.” Hit submit and follow the instructions. You will receive an email from FeedBurner in your email inbox. Open that email and click the link inside that email to verify your subscription. It only takes a couple of minutes. Once you’re done, you will receive an excerpt from each new post to alert you that something new is available to read.

Prefer listening to sermons? Go to http://sermon.net/bishopjake. Click the sermon you want to hear. You can subscribe to these podcasts as well, but an explanation will have to wait for another time. Please note, some Pelican Anglican posts are essays and will not appear in audio form.

As always, you can simply go to the web and click the appropriate links for both my blog and my audio sermons.

The Holy Spirit is moving in our Diocese! He is binding us together in love, equipping us with gifts, filling us with godly power, and sending us on a great adventure. We are motivated by the power of God’s love. What a joy and a privilege it is to serve you and love you as your bishop!

In Christ’s Love,
.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org
http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com
http://sermon.net/bishopjake

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Food, Music & Friends!

Is the best thing about the barbecue, old friends who show up...?


                              
...Or the food and music?



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interfaith this week!

Conversations about Ouachita Parish
 
The Rev. Dale Farley, Messiah Lutheran, and Minister Mary Ann Cooper, Bethel COGIC, co-chair a recent Interfaith assembly.
 
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 6:15 p.m.
New Light Baptist Church
1623 So. 4th St.

A diverse group of people will gather Tuesday evening to share a potluck meal and their visions for Monroe and Ouachita Parish. Episcopalians volunteered to provide desserts. To keep it simple, I have encouraged everyone to pick up a dozen cookies.
 
Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith is a coalition of primarily faith-based institutions that purposefully crosses lines that historically divide people, lines of religion, race, socio-economic status and geography. We cross these lines in order to work together to improve the quality of life in the community for everyone.
 
I will co-chair Tuesday's meeting with The Rev. James Johnson, pastor of New Light Baptist Church.  If anyone needs a ride, I plan to depart from campus no later than 5:45 p.m.

To drive yourself, go south on Hwy 165 to Winnsboro Road (a.k.a. Hwy 15), turn right, go to either 4th or 5th St., turn right again. In the first block, you'll see New Light Baptist Church, with a large parking lock and blonde brick buildings that extend from 5th to 4th St., just around the corner from Winnsboro Rd.

If you have a vision for Ouachita Parish, this will be a great place to share it. Hope to see you there! 
 
P.S. Unfortunately, this meeting conflicts with Ultreya, but, hey, not everyone goes to Ultreya, right! 

    

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Memorial Walk



Today we gather at St. Thomas' for the annual barbecue and to raise money for the Memorial Walk. A few weeks ago, I took some photos of the Memorial Walk and thought I would begin sharing them on the blog. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tune in!


Some St. Thomas folks will be on local media talking about Saturday's barbecue over the next couple of days.

Karen Hayward will be on KTVE early Wednesday morning, and Bette Kauffman will be on KNOE early Thursday morning. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember what times we're to go live, only that we have to be at the stations by 6 a.m. So tune in early!

Bette Kauffman and Ed Ryland will be on KEDM's "Lagniappe" Thursday at 8:30 a.m. That's 90.3 FM on your radio dial.

Why not tune in so you can tell them what a great job they did!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bishop Jake's Message, Sept. 26, 2012

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,                                  

This week I’m sharing a brief excerpt from Connecting the Dots. The following passage begins Chapter Seven, “Fear and Hope.” (pp. 97-98)

Followers of Jesus live hope-inspired lives. This is not to say that we have successfully developed the habit of positive thinking or that we are optimistic by nature. In fact, hope is not a human achievement at all. Hope is a gift that comes as the result of a relationship with Jesus. The clearest example I have is from John’s gospel. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to his disciples. He showed them his hands and feet so they would know that he was the crucified and risen Lord. Then he breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). With the Father, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into each of his disciples.  He literally inspires us. The word “inspire” is derived from the Latin word inspirare, and it means “to breathe in.” “Spirit” and “breath” come from the same root in Latin (spirare), as well as in Greek (pneuma) and in Hebrew (ruach). Therefore, it is no surprise that the Bible leads us to connect the idea of the Spirit with the image of God’s breath. When we follow Jesus, we breathe in his spirit. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts, empowers us, and sustains us. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we follow Jesus, he abides in us. We draw strength, direction, and purpose from him. Jesus inspires us by giving us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he is already at work connecting the dots of our lives. As Paul said, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it”
(Ephesians 1:13–14).

Just as Jesus animates our individual lives through the Holy Spirit, so too does he breathe vitality into our congregations. Sometimes we slip into thinking that our church is just a place that individuals gather to pray. That may be true about the buildings we inhabit for worship, fellowship, and programs, but the Church is a living, breathing community of which each of us is a unique, irreplaceable part. Instead of saying, “I go to Church at St. Agnes of the Trees,” members of St. Agnes say, “We worship together at St. Agnes.” In a world marred by loneliness, finding a place where a person can genuinely say “we” is a priceless treasure.
Stayed tuned for more about congregational vitality at Diocesan Convention. Please set aside October 12th and 13th for a time of worship, study, and family business. While visitors to Convention do not have voice or vote, they will be able to participate fully in our community-building activities and hear about the future we envision. (There is also time set aside for a book signing. Connecting the Dots will be available as a premium for donations to outreach.) 

Turning to a slightly different topic, I invite you to visit our website (http://www.diocesewla.org) to view the first of a series of short videos that we are producing. In each clip I will briefly discuss a single topic such as faith, hope, grace, and forgiveness. Eventually, we will make these clips available in packages that can be used for small group ministry or Sunday programs. We are assembling a team to provide a leader’s guide with questions for discussion. Many thanks to Bob Harwell for coming up with this idea and for doing so much work to produce these videos.

I will close by reminding you to help me stay in touch with you. Friend me on Facebook (you’ll find me as Jake Owensby). Subscribe to Pelican Anglican via email or check it out manually every week (http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com). My Sunday sermons are always posted there, and occasionally I post additional essays. If you would like to listen to Sunday sermons, head to http://sermon.net/bishopjake. Links to both the blog and the audio sermon are located on the diocesan website.

What a gift you all are in my life! It is a joy to love you so dearly and to serve as your bishop. May the Lord bless you and keep you until we meet again.
Faithfully,

.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bishop Jake's Message, Sept. 19, 2012

Dear Friends in Christ,

Violent protests across the Muslim world have dominated the news in the past week. Responding to a video ridiculing Mohammed, Muslims in the Middle East and beyond have taken to the streets, threatened American embassies, hurled rocks and insults, and killed and wounded diplomatic personnel.

These are stark reminders to us that we live in a multicultural, religiously pluralistic world. Perhaps even more challenging, people of many cultures and a variety of religious traditions call the United States home.

One of the great strengths of our nation–and of our Anglican heritage–is our persistent commitment to religious tolerance. We insist on acknowledging and respecting religious beliefs different from our own. Even while we deplore the violence by mobs composed of Muslim individuals, we show due respect for individual Muslims and for their faith tradition.

But note that tolerance assumes difference. A common error in our attempts to exercise tolerance involves confusing tolerance with relativism and subjectivism. Relativism says that all religions are equally true. They are all partial perspectives on the great whole that is God. Now the problem with relativism is twofold. First, consider the person who says that religious belief is relative. He or she must see the greater whole in order to say that religious believers are unwittingly seeing only slices of the whole. In other words, relativists make a claim to see a total picture and at the same time says no one else sees the total picture. This is at once condescending and contradictory. Second, to say that all religions are equally true is actually to say that none of them is true in any genuine sense.

Subjectivism is an extreme case of relativism. This point of view is summed up in the oft heard phrase, “It’s true for me.” In other words, a subjective approach to religion reduces every faith to the whims and fancies of each individual and surrenders any claim to describing a larger spiritual reality. Usually, subjectivists end up admitting that they live according to a comforting and comfortable fiction. They do not know God. They cling to a practical, reassuring fable.

Followers of Jesus do not claim a perfect knowledge of the mind of God. We claim friendship with Jesus because he has claimed us as friends. We are committed to following him, with the humble awareness that we will always do so imperfectly. Our commitment to Jesus does not make us morally superior and gives us no room for condescension toward or condemnation of anyone else.

Jesus followers are tolerant because we are humble. We do not relinquish the truth of Jesus’ saving love when we acknowledge that others have chosen to take a different path in life. Tolerance does not require that we agree with those who are different. That just makes us the same. In fact, tolerance calls us to continue to love those who are different. As spiritual challenges go, that seems essentially Christian. Our Friend and Lord has called us to love even our enemies.

And now for some news.

Last Sunday’s sermon is entitled “Speaking of God.” As usual, here’s where to find the text and the audio:

http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com

http://sermon.net/bishopjake

On Thursday we will celebrate the new era of ministry at Redeemer, Ruston, with the Institution of the Rev. Bill Easterling as Rector at 6:00 p.m. Our color is red.

This Wednesday I will be present for a book signing at St. Michael’s in Pineville at 6:00 p.m. Everyone is invited. Books will be available as a premium for donations to outreach. My next signing will be at Diocesan Convention. Just email me if you would like for me to come to your congregation for a brief talk and book signing. I would love to come!

For photos of my recent visits, check out my Facebook page. If you’re on Facebook, send me a friend request. I would love to keep up with you and help you to stay connected to our Diocesan family.

Remember how much Jesus loves you. It is such an honor and a joy to be your bishop! I love you with Christ’s own love.


In Christ’s Love,
.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

General Convention Follow-Up



The rescheduled General Convention Follow-up Meeting is at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in McLean Hall. Light refreshments will be provided.

Come and hear from our new Bishop and our Deputies about all that happened at  77th  General Convention of the Episcopal Church. All are welcome…

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bishop Jake's Wednesday Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Yesterday we marked the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks that ushered in a new era of our common life as a nation. Among the powerful memories of that day, dust almost always comes to my mind first. 

While my imagination does conjure up visual images, this is not what grabs me. It’s not the sight but the feel of the dust--its weight bearing down on me and everything and everyone--that grabs me as a visceral recollection. 

This is odd, since I was not there that day. The dust of the towers never clogged my throat, coated my clothing, dusted my skin or blinded my eyes. And yet there it is. The memory of the dust covering us all that day creeps into my gut and begins to close my throat and cause tears to well in my eyes.

And then again, maybe it is not so strange to have such a memory. For what I recall as dust may not be the dust of those towers, at least not their literal dust. But instead it is the dust of a grief shared as a community. We mourn the loss of lives lost in mid-stride. We share the fractured hearts of those left behind to walk ahead on life’s path alone when they had grown so accustomed to walking in step with another.

We mortals all go down to the dust. If that were our final word, we would be a pitiable creature, a creature destined to disappear in the dust. But we followers of Jesus remember that God breathed life into dust and made Adam. And yet more remarkably, when Jesus himself went down to the dust, the Holy Spirit raised him to a life utterly beyond the dust. And by grace, through faith, we are heirs not of the dust, but of this life eternal.
May God grant rest to the souls of all the departed and mend the broken hearts of those who mourn.
***
I’m going to turn now from theological reflection to news about some exciting additions to the diocesan ministry team.

First, The Rev. Deacon Bette J. Kauffman has accepted my call to serve as Archdeacon. An Archdeacon in this sense is not a Canon to the Ordinary. Instead, Archdeacon Bette (formally speaking, Archdeacon Bette J. Kaufman, Ph.D.) is the convener and coordinator of the community of Deacons. This is a non-stipendiary position in keeping with Archdeacon Bette’s role as a deacon.

Next, The Rev. Ron Clingenpeel has accepted my call to serve as my Deputy for Transition Ministry. This position serves clergy deployment, and Ron will work with our clergy, our congregations, and Transitions Officers from around the Episcopal Church. Fr. Ron has graciously agreed to work on a contract basis that will save the diocese tens of thousands of dollars.

Additionally, The Rev. Bill Bryant has agreed to serve on a part-time basis as the Canon for Congregational Vitality. Naturally, he will only begin this role once he ends his tenure as Interim Rector of St. John’s, Minden. Fr. Bill will be a resource for enhancing congregational vitality and will be instrumental in helping to develop our program for congregational vitality through the Diocesan School.

While budget realities are not yet completely clear, I am beginning a search for a full-time Canon for Christian Formation, Youth and Young Adults. These ministries are very important to congregational vitality, and a diocesan resource and support person would be a tremendous help in increasing our effectiveness in these ministries.

Here are some reminders. Facebook friend request me to keep up with diocesan doings. Check out my blog (http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com). My audio sermons are at http://sermon.net/bishopjake. On Wednesday, September 19, I will have my first book signing at St. Michael’s, Pineville at 6:00 p.m. Connecting the Dots is available through Amazon and the online store at Barnes and Noble. I’ll have some copies for purchase at the signing. Proceeds of that signing will go the outreach ministries of St. Michael’s.

That’s all the news for now. By now I hope it’s not news to hear that my love for you grows every day. It is simply a joy to serve such loving, faithful people. I am blessed beyond measure to be your bishop!
In Christ's Love,
.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031
bishopjake@diocesewla.org

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bishop Jake's Wednesday Message

 
September 5, 2012   

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I give thanks to God for all of you. As Hurricane Isaac approached, made landfall, and slowly crept its way northward, many of you prepared yourselves not only to weather the storm’s fury, but also to help those affected by rain, surge, and wind.

While the territory within our Diocese was spared the most severe effects of Isaac, we did receive evacuees in several places and provided support to first responders. Here is what I find most exciting. Congregations took initiative. Camp Hardtner readied itself. We responded at the grassroots level.

Yes, I did monitor the situation by checking in with Convocational Deans and spoke with Camp Director Jason Ezell. And, I connected with Disaster Relief Coordinator The Rev. Liz Ratcliff and her successor The Rev. Mitzi George, who themselves prepared to coordinate efforts. Everyone had already taken the initiative.

The point is that from the ground up we were the Church in response to human needs arising from the storm. The Diocese is not located in Pineville. It is in every congregation, in each set of hands, and in every beating heart throughout Western Louisiana. And that heart is a servant’s heart. Thanks be to God!

On another note, I want to share an interesting article about evangelism with you. It describes a ministry whose premise is one I share. Instead of focusing on getting people into church, let’s take church to where the people are. Click here for the article.

It is such an honor to be your bishop. Remember that I love you and that my love for you is a reminder that God loves you. By God’s grace, each of us can be just that kind of reminder to someone today. You certainly are for me!

In Christ’s Love,

.

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, LA 71309-2031


Check out my blog at http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com.
 

You can subscribe to the blog and receive an email with each post.

Listen to sermons at http://sermon.net/bishopjake
                             

Monday, September 3, 2012

Canterbury@ULM


Last week Canterbury@ULM met for the first time this fall. We shared pizza, elected a student president and vice-president, and talked about how we want to proceed.

The students agreed that they prefer to meet on campus most of the time, but that they would occasionally like to come to St. Thomas' for something special. One student even mentioned having a barbecue to attract new members! So I was delighted to tell them that they are invited to the annual barbecue and should bring a friend they think might be interested. I'll talk about that more this week and try to give you an idea of numbers that might be coming.

The Tuesday 5:30 - 6:30 meeting time we began with also looks like it will work well most of the time, so we're sticking with that. Finally, we discussed program and I'll share more about that in another post.

Please feel free to visit the Canterbury@ULM blog (linked above) and sign up to receive e-mail notifications if you wish. However, if you don't want to be bothered with every communication that goes out on that blog, don't worry. I'll update you occasionally through this blog.

And, BTW, I wrote something for the last newsletter and thought I sent it, but apparently didn't. I'll do better in the future!
                                        

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Labor Day Collect

Hope all are safe and dry this Labor Day!

The Collect for Labor Day:
Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bread

I spent the summer of 1979 as an exchange student in Spain and took this photograph of "our daily bread" in my Spanish mother's cupboard.


In the summer of 2009, I traveled for 10 days in Central Europe and once again, loved the fresh bread!

You've probably noticed that we have spent that last few Sundays reflecting on Jesus' statements in John's Gospel about being the Bread of Life. So my sermon for the good folks at Christ Church in St. Joseph for August 12 begins with my experiences eating bread in Europe, and I used the above photo to illustrate that sermon on my sermon blog.

You can read the entire sermon here: http://the-deacons-sermons.blogspot.com/2012/08/bread.html
                                       
Archdeacon Bette
                         

A Special Message from Bishop Jake

Dear Friends, 
 
With the help of The Weather Channel, I've been tracking Tropical Storm Isaac as best as possible. You are all in my thoughts and prayers as this storm heads in our direction.
Tomorrow and Thursday we have scheduled General Convention Wrap Up Conversations in Alexandria and Monroe Convocations, respectively. Given the unpredictability of the storm's path and it's possibly destructive effects, I have decided to postpone these meetings for another time. A new schedule will be available soon.

Rescheduling these meetings will also allow us more time and flexibility to respond pastorally to the needs of those affected by the storm. The Rev. Liz Ratcliffe is our chair for disaster relief. Her successor in this ministry is the Rev. Mitzi George. Both have spoken with me and with each other in anticipation of the storm's arrival.

Our Interim Camp Director Jason Ezell has notified me that Camp Hardtner is prepared to receive evacuees. Should these measures be needed, Mtr. Liz suggests an excellent way to help. In order for Camp to offer hospitality to guests, supplies of diapers, soap, shampoo, playing cards, and art supplies for children would be very helpful.

Please share this email with people in your parishes. Let's continue to pray for those in the storm's path and offer ourselves as the hands of Christ in the ways that present themselves to us.

Blessings to you all.
In Christ's Love,

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.
The Diocese of Western Louisiana
P. O. Box 2031, Alexandria, Louisiana 71309-2031
318-442-1304

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Deacon, the Archdeacon


Our deacon, The Rev'd Dr. Bette J. Kauffman, has been appointed by Bishop Jake Owensby to the position of Archdeacon. Her title can be either "The Venerable" or "Archdeacon." Bette has elected to use the title - Archdeacon Bette J. Kauffman, Ph.D., which recognizes her new position and still acknowledges her doctorate. As Bette said, "Somehow "the Venerable" just makes me feel old!"

Congratulations Archdeacon!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plumb Line of Love

Foucault's pendulum at the Panthéon, Paris.
                 
Here's a sermon I preached at Christ Church in St. Joseph a few weeks ago. It is based on God's call to Amos the prophet to be a plumb line in the midst of the Israelites. Of course, Amos was one of a long line of solely human prophets that ended with John the Baptizer. Jesus the Christ is the ultimate plumb line whose life and teachings proclaim God's love for all as the true measure of humankind.

Link to the full text of the sermon: http://the-deacons-sermons.blogspot.com/2012/08/plumb-line-of-love.html

Best Game in Town: Interfaith

Interfaith celebrated its 10th birthday a few years ago with a skit.

I recently wrote two articles about Northern & Central Louisiana Interfaith. The first tells some history about my finding Interfaith and what it means to me, as well as attempts to summarize what Interfaith does and how. Your questions and feedback are always welcome!

Here's a link to the article on my commentary blog: http://comingto-terms.blogspot.com/2012/06/best-game-in-town-interfaith.html


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughts from Bishop Jake for August 15, 2012

Dear Diocesan Family,

Let’s commit to staying connected. That’s what families do. And we are a family through more than genetics and lineage. Our common faith in the one Christ makes us brothers and sisters in an eternal sense. Nevertheless, staying connected is important.

Worshipping with the Book of Common Prayer keeps us spiritually connected. That is the gift of our Anglican heritage. Each Sunday we pray together in the same ancient forms from many different geographical locations. Different places. Same prayers. Same Jesus Christ.

We read the same scripture passages from the Revised Common Lectionary. God speaks the same words of love and grace in different tones with different cadences to the gathered believers in every place. The words are the same, and yet somehow God crafts the message for each and every heart. God’s word keeps us connected.

The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ slake our thirst and quell our hunger each Sunday. Each of our different Altars is a finite perspective on the one true Altar where Christ is both priest and sacrifice. Or, to us the image of the Table: the Holy Table in each congregation is a different glimpse of the one true Table at which Jesus is host and feast. The Sacrament connects us to God and weaves us into one Body.

In our polity, bishops serve as a symbol of our deeper unity in Christ. When I visit a congregation, my presence as bishop reminds everyone that the entire diocese, in fact the entire Church, gathers as one in worship.

As aids in remembering our unity and keeping us connected, I post pictures of my visitations on Facebook. Additionally, you can read each week’s sermon at Pelican Anglican (http://pelicananglican.blogspot.com and listen to it at my Bishop Jake Owensby sermon.net site (http://sermon.net/bishopjake).

Please consider friending me on Facebook (just look for Jake Owensby) to check out the latest pictures and updates. Also, visit my blog and consider subscribing by email or RSS feed. You can also subscribe to my audio sermons. (There is a link from Pelican Anglican to the audio sermons if that’s more convenient for you.)

Several parishes have touched base with me about book signings. Please feel free to let me know that you would like for me to come, and we will work something out. I will be happy to do a brief class and bring some copies for purchase and signing. If you already have a copy, just bring it along. Connecting the Dots is now available in a number of places, including Amazon.

I am so proud to be your bishop. Your faith and love fill me with joy and encourage me in my own walk with Jesus. I love you all and look forward to seeing each of you face to face.

In Christ’s Love,

The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sunday School Prep


If you can spare a half hour, an hour or more, please come! We will organize classrooms, sort supplies and get ready for Sunday School to kick off after Labor Day. All skills needed, from teaching to crafts, snacks and more! What can you contribute to make this a success?

Lady's Night Out

Deacon Bette holds the primatial staff as the Most Right Rev. Katharine Schori begins the examination of Bishop Jake.


The women of St. Thomas' will dine together at the Olive Garden Wednesday, 8/15/12, at 6:30 p.m., following the Wednesday evening Eucharist. Deacon Bette will reflect on her experiences as chaplain to the Presiding Bishop while she was in Shreveport for Bishop Jake's consecration and installation.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jane Wayman Schlatter Burial

A celebration of the life of Jane Wayman Schlatter will be held on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. Jane's obituary can be found at this link. Online condolences may also be left for the family there.

The Rev'd Dawnell Stodghill will officiate using The Burial of the Dead: Rite Two with Holy Communion, assisted by the The Rev'd Dr. Bette Jo Kauffman, Deacon. Special music will be provided by Deborah Chandler accompanied by Julian Jones and by the Praise Band. All are invited to attend.

A reception will follow on the Sun Porch.