Letter to diocese 5/15/15

Dear sisters and brothers,

Summer is fast approaching, and before it overtakes us I would like to update you on several ongoing diocesan initiatives.

At our convention last November we put the deanery system behind us. At the same time we embraced the principle that underlay it: embracing connection in every direction for the sake of Jesus and the reign of God. This is not just about parishes relating to other parishes, but parishes partnering with faith communities, schools, associations and agencies in their own neighborhoods. This embrace of connection lies at the heart of our tradition as Episcopalians. For us, this is what Jesus is all about. I challenged every congregation in the diocese to note the neighborhood partnerships it was already engaged in and to let all of us know, so we could celebrate these partnerships and see what next steps they pointed to. As you may know, I have appointed a task force to gather your stories over the next two years and to begin noting patterns of connection – the signature of the Holy Spirit. This group has begun its work, beginning by approaching congregations that I have visited recently.

Our Appalachian micro-lending initiative is continuing to move forward. We are partnering with ACEnet, a social service agency in Athens, and with several of our eastern congregations, to provide red-tape free support for potential and rising entrepreneurs. More soon on this.


Preparing lunch for Street Church at St. John’s Columbus

We continue to devote significant attention to young adults who wish to explore discipleship in the context of intentional community. “Confluence,” a ministry of St. John’s, Columbus, in association with the diocese and the Episcopal Service Corps, is about to graduate its first class of residents. In Cincinnati, our three-year old program has just burst onto the scene with a new name: “Brendan’s Crossing.” Check out what they are up to at BrendansCrossing.org.

Community garden at Brendan's Crossing

Community garden at Brendan’s Crossing

Meanwhile, as happens every three years, the Episcopal Church is about to convene its General Convention, this time in Salt Lake City, from June 25 to July 3. Three major topics are sure to garner major attention: the report of the task force on marriage, the report of the task force on restructuring (aka reimagining) the Episcopal Church, and the election of a new presiding bishop. I urge you to become familiar with and to pray about these matters. Go to GeneralConvention.org for more information.

Please keep me and the other nominees for Presiding Bishop in your prayers. I am very grateful for the many expressions of support I have received. There is great work to be done, both in Southern Ohio and beyond. As we approach the feast of Pentecost, let’s be as open to the Holy Spirit as we dare, and then do whatever we are impelled to do with boldness and joy.

Finally, before the Fifty Days of Easter are over, I’d like to share with you a new translation of the ancient Latin Easter hymn, Salve Festa Dies, written by Venantius Fortunatus in the sixth century. That hymn is known to many of you as “Hail Thee, Festival Day.” I did the translation while on my sabbatical last year, at the suggestion of Stephan Casurella, Organist and Choirmaster of our cathedral. He put me up to it after I confessed to disliking “Hail Thee, Festival Day.” “Why don’t you just write a new version?” he asked. So I did, and he wrote a beautiful tune to sing it to, and it was the processional hymn on Easter Day. I offer it in thanksgiving for the countless ways we are invited into resurrection light, and with all my good wishes to you for a splendid Pentecost.

Salve Festa Dies (Translated from Fortunatus)

This day of days with joy we claim
And praise our risen savior’s Name,
Who, having conquered the abyss,
Now owns the stars themselves as his.

A world reborn lifts up its face,
Still weeping but surprised by grace.
What once was lost now stands restored
Refulgent in its risen Lord.

The harrowed earth explodes in bloom
For him who burst forth from the tomb;
The poor and the oppressed take heart
From him who dying took their part.

This Jesus nailed upon the tree
Was God poured out for you and me:
The Father and the Spirit join
With Jesus the eternal Son.

So now to God the three in one
The universe lifts up its song
For mercy’s triumph over hate:
Now no repentance comes too late.

So we this day to Christ our friend
Lift up our praises without end,
Who ransomed us from Satan’s hand
And guides us to the promised land.

Dear Jesus, maker of the earth,
And instrument of its rebirth:
The ground of being brought you forth
Eternal mirror of God’s truth.

When we were sinking deep in sin
You took our flesh, became our kin,
And entering on the path of death
Became in us God’s living breath.

To you, O Christ, we lift our hearts
In thanks for all this day imparts,
And for prevailing in the strife,
We thank you, Jesus, Lord of life.


Tom Breidenthal