Our Staff Contact us
Dean's Corner
The Dean's Blog

November 17, 2017
We who follow Jesus are people of thanksgiving.  Each week when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist together, we give our thanks and praise to God for the gift of our lives in all their complexity and fullness, including our recent losses and sorrows.  May this week ahead be a time of peaceful recollection for you as you draw close to family and friends.  
Among those things for which I gave thanks are the love and strong sense of community which we share in our Cathedral where we are reborn in the love of Christ.  The poet E. E. Cummings captures this spirit well and I share his poem below. 

i thank You God for most this amazing 
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees 
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything 
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, 
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth 
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay 
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing 
breathing any-lifted from the no 
of all nothing-human merely being 
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and 
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

November 10, 2017
I extend my thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make the 234th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania a success.  For many years, the small, yet growing, Cathedral congregation has served this Diocese with the generous gifts of your time and love.  Here is the text of my address to the Convention which contains some important history as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our designation as the Cathedral Church.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  I look forward to seeing you on Sunday for our morning service at 10am and then again for our Harvest Home potluck supper and Second Sunday Eucharist at 5pm. 

November 2, 2017
This weekend your Cathedral will host the 234th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.  As the Cathedral Church, the spiritual and liturgical center of the Diocese, it is a cherished privilege for us to welcome sisters and brothers from across five counties to worship together in the beauty of holiness and to offer the best of ourselves in prayer to God. We will then conduct our annual business within the faithful frame of that holiness and prayer. 

The Church of The Church of the Saviour, our former name, was designated as the Cathedral Church in 1992 by the Convention and by the Rt. Rev. Allen L. Bartlett, who had served as the Dean of the Cathedral in Louisville, Kentucky prior to his election as the XIV Bishop Diocesan of Pennsylvania. Bishop Bartlett understood well the gift that a Cathedral could be to a Diocese and its unique expression of God's grace in Jesus Christ.  

At this Convention, our Cathedral will celebrate its 25th anniversary.  We will mark the occasion by presenting Bishop Allen Bartlett with a gift as a sign of our appreciation for his special role in creating the Cathedral, and for his leadership and wisdom. 

At Convention, I will also tell the story once more of how, by the grace of God, we got from there to here.  If you have not yet had an opportunity to read in the Diocesan magazine Caminos my piece, "The Cathedral Development Project: A Walk of Faith and Grit", you may access it here

October 26, 2017
This Sunday, October 29th, at 3pm we will celebrate in the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral an ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  As a Cathedral in the Anglican tradition which historically has provided a bridge and middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, this is a particular privilege and joy for us to host.  We will be joined by religious leaders and members of many Christian denominations as we celebrate our common baptism in Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral have a long history of ecumenical relationship.  Our covenant with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) known as Called to Common Mission (CCM) has been a model for dialogue and shared ministry throughout the wider Church.  Our immersion font in the Cathedral was, in fact, a gift from the ELCA in loving recognition of this special relationship.  The Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop, the former Chair of Liturgics at the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia, theologian, author, and former Lutheran pastor to the Cathedral congregation, will be preaching at this service.  I add that Gordon is my dear teacher, friend, and mentor.  His preaching is inspirational and I encourage you to come hear it and to welcome him back!
On the weekend of November 3rd and 4th, the Cathedral will host the annual Diocesan Convention, beginning with the Convention Eucharist on Friday evening at 6:30 pm.  Delegates, lay and clergy, from across the Diocese will then gather on Saturday to accomplish the holy business of the Diocese.  It is not too late to join our ministry of hospitality by serving as an usher or greeter.  Please contact Dan Tomko in the Cathedral offices if you would like to participate.
Following noonday prayer on Saturday, November 4th, our Bishop will bless the sculpture of The Hungry and Thirsty Jesus which will soon be installed in the niche on the north side of the Cathedral's front doors.  Please join us for this exciting moment that marks our 25th anniversary as the Cathedral Church of this Diocese and celebrates our Cathedral Table Ministries which are such an important part of our mission and common life.

October 19, 2017
In this year in which we celebrate our 25th anniversary as the Cathedral Church of this Diocese, I had occasion to review a copy of the original by-laws and charter of the Church of the Saviour, circa 1851. Among the fascinating tidbits they contain is the section dedicated to "register and rents of pews and sittings." It's hard to imagine a time when the right to a seat in this church, now a Cathedral, was purchased and the pew rents were "due on the first day of March, June, September, and December, in every year, in advance." 
Thank God, we have come a long way since then! Inside our doors where everyone has an unconditional seat, we have received many gifts for which we rejoice and give thanks. We are nourished each week by the Holy Scriptures and by the sacrament of the Eucharist. We experience God's presence in the midst of our community, in the faces of those whom we have to come to know, love, and serve. We pray. We feed the hungry. We care for one another and our world. We leave renewed, full of hope in the promises that God has made to us in Jesus and strengthened by the Holy Spirit to live our Gospel faith in the wider world. 
In thanksgiving and in response to these good gifts of God, each member of the Cathedral community is called to give of themselves. Many in our community share their time and talent, and we are also called to give financial support at a level which is appropriate for our circumstances and which reflects the importance of the Cathedral in our lives. 
A pledge is a faithful expression of thanksgiving for these loving gifts of God. It is also a commitment to yourself and to God to be an intentional giver by supporting the faith community where you are nourished and sustained by the love of God. While it is a promise to give a specified amount of money in the coming year, we understand that circumstances sometimes change and that it may be necessary, on occasion, to adjust that commitment. 
Much like individual households, the congregation's pledges help us to know approximately how much financial support we can count on as we plan for ministries and expenses. Even with endowment income, your pledge is critical to affording salaries, outreach, music, our children's programs, heat, electricity, and snow removal to assure that the doors of the Cathedral remain open and that we continue to serve and to care for one another. 
Please take some time to reflect upon the level at which you will pledge this year and mail the card back to us, place it in the offering basket, or pledge directly through our website. If you would like prayerful assistance in your discernment, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the clergy for guidance. We care deeply about each one of you, and welcome the opportunity to talk and pray together.
October 12, 2017
Hungry-Thirsty-4"For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me ..."

These words from Matthew's gospel are the centerpiece of our Cathedral Table ministries. Each week with your help and support, we are providing 150 families in our community with sustaining, nourishing food from our food pantry. Teams of congregational and community volunteers are also cooking and serving hot lunches in the Cathedral. And, beginning on Wednesdays this month, the University City Hospitality Coalition, our neighborhood partner, returns after an absence of almost twenty years to prepare and serve hot dinners, along with offering medical, legal, and social work services. All of this hospitality takes place in the Cathedral sanctuary where we offer another holy meal in the form of the Eucharist on Sundays, Mondays through Fridays at noon, and for those in recovery on Tuesdays at 5:15. We trust that God's healing love and mercy are present in these ingredients.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the designation of the Church of the Saviour as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Pennsylvania at Convention this year, it is fitting to mark the occasion by acknowledging our Table Ministries and the deep hospitality of Christ that they embody. We will be placing in the niche on the north side of the Cathedral's front doors a sculpture of the Hungry Jesus.  It is, after all, his face whom we see in all who pass through our doors and his hands which we extend in love and care.

Our Bishop Daniel Gutierrez will dedicate Hungry Jesus during lunch on Convention Saturday, November 4. Sculptor Tim Schmaltz will also be on hand.  Please join us as we celebrate and give thanks to God for the faithful endurance of our community and its ministries represented by the presence of Hungry Jesus at our doors.

For more information about how to become involved in Cathedral Table Ministries, please contact Archdeacon Pam Nesbit. If you would like to contribute financially to these ministries or to the costs associated with the sculpture and it's installation, please contact Cathedral Director of Operation Lynn Buggage.

October 5, 2017
I have now arrived in the U.K. and I am wending my way north to Iona. As I process the news of the horror and heartbreak of what has happened in Las Vegas, please know that I am holding my Cathedral family in my heart and in my prayers.  I encourage you to pray fervently for all those who have died, those who recover from their physical wounds, those who recover from their psychic and spiritual wounds, and those who mourn. Pray for our nation and for the enactment of sensible legislation that prevents the purchase of assault weapons that have no place in our daily lives.

I also encourage you to act now. Please avail yourselves of the advocacy table in the Cathedral which will assist you in writing to your elected officials to prevent these gun related tragedies from continuing. March. Make phone calls. Send e-mails. Our democracy cannot work effectively, or perhaps even decently, if we do not exercise our privilege to participate by making our voices heard. The Kingdom will not come without us.

If you are in need of pastoral assistance or a reassuring word at this difficult time, please reach out to the clergy for help and support. Please also extend your hand in solidarity, friendship, and love to all who pass through our doors, seeking the solace in God's tender and gentle mercy that we find in the gathering of our community.

September 28, 2017
For Episcopalians, thinking about God is a holy pursuit. Typically, we like to think and we think a lot about the eternal questions. We are collaborative people, applying our God-given ability to reason as together we pour over the Holy Scriptures and examine the imperatives handed down to us through our tradition. Yet because we are finite creatures with limited capacities, we do humbly acknowledge that there are limits to our ability to find those answers, or even to ask the right questions.  We acknowledge that we live with a degree of ambiguity about the nature of God in the world. 

Because one thing that we know with certainty is that even collectively we do not have all the answers, we are generally suspicious of those who claim that they do. Because we look for the movement of the Holy Spirit among differing voices and points of view, we often do not presume to impose our own.  We can be a politely fractious group, careful to emphasize that we value and honor differences within the big tent of Anglicanism and within an increasingly pluralistic world.  Even so, “Being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” as we are charged by Paul in the letter to the Philippians this Sunday, is daunting for us, as it is for all Christians.  “Letting the same mind be in [us] that was in Christ Jesus” is more daunting still.  

As Paul invites the Philippians to have the same mind as Christ Jesus, he invokes the gorgeous language of a hymn that points to Jesus’ humility, and obedience, and the self-emptying love that allowed him to put the interests of others ahead of his own to the point of death on the cross.  These are beautiful, inspiring characteristics of our Lord and Savior that are that are the core of our faith.  But if we for a moment only understand Jesus and his vision of the kingdom of God only in passive terms, we do not have him.   We will have missed his humanity and his flesh and blood passion for the justice, righteousness, and compassionate love that can transform the world.

If we have the mind of Christ, thinking about God may be a holy pursuit, but it is simply not enough.  If we have the mind of Christ, we are motivated by kingdom principles.  We are motivated by relationship with our loving God, revealed in Jesus, who cares for the needs of the whole world, especially the poor, the weak, and the suffering.  In the words of Anglican theologian Urban T. Holmes:  “We cannot postpone the issue of justice to a future date; we cannot ignore the hungry at our doorstep; and we cannot pretend that what we do in business has no effect upon the state of our soul…We can debate the trivial points,” Holmes says, “but the vision is largely clear.  To love God is to relieve the burden of all who suffer.  The rest is a question of tactics.”  

How is God calling us forward as individuals and as a community to have the mind and be the heart and hands of Christ in this world? I encourage you to explore this question in the two upcoming Discerning Spiritual Gifts workshops being offered by the Rev. Bob Tate.


Last Published: November 18, 2017 10:59 AM