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Friday, September 23, 2011

Clergy Conference

On Wednesday and Thursday I attended the Annual Clergy Conference at Antiochian Village outside of Ligonier. It was a wonderful time of teaching, fellowship and worship. I was told we had 87 registrants and about 80 were actually present. We had clergy from Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio with us – which added a nice flavor to our fellowship. Our teachers were Bishop Neil and Marcia Lebhar. Neal is the recently seated ACNA Bishop of the Gulf-Atlantic Diocese (Northern Florida/Southern Georgia). Marcia is an accomplished Bible teacher and former Executive Director of Shoresh/CMJ-USA. Neal served as an assistant rector at Truro Church Fairfax VA when Gale and I lived in Fairfax and attended that parish in 1985-86.

The Lebhar’s biblical theme was “The Wilderness” and they used texts from the Old Testament, mainly Exodus and Deuteronomy along with stories from their own life, marriage and ministry to illustrate their points.

My role was to organize the “entertainment” during the fun time on Wednesday evening. It was like an unscripted, unpracticed talent show, we had a magic act, two weirdly funny Irish ballads sung, a few funny prose readings and a skit that I wrote and was one of the co-leads with John Fierro. John and I have done this routine now for three years. He and I are two clergy Chauncey and Biff and we are meeting at clergy conference and are reviewing diocesan events of the year past (since the last clergy conference).

This year’s skit involved the negotiations or lack thereof. We poked fun at the Bishop and the Canon and TEC and anybody else that came to mind but mostly ourselves. The skit included cameo appearances from Joseph Martin, Kathy Walzer, Kua Apple and Keith Pozzuto. I emailed a copy of it to a diocesan staffer who emailed me back, “Too funny. You do know how to push the envelope. How did it go over?” My response, “The Bishop was okay with it -- at least he said that to me and everybody else. There were also a lot of ad libs from Joseph, Kua and Keith. The key is to end it on a positive note which we did.” And back to me, “Cool. Sorry I missed it. I am going to try to make it next year for the whole time”.

The times of intercession were quite heartfelt and moving, the worship was great – Paul Cooper is a talented pianist and picks great hymns and praise choruses. Canon Hays shared a bit of her experience in breaking her leg in a golf cart accident and the painful recovery and spiritually life changing aftermath. It was also the first clergy conference for St David's newly ordained deacon Rege Turocy and he thoroughly enjoyed the entire two days.

Prior to realignment, our conference began 5 PM on Wednesday and ran through lunch on Friday. So now we arrive at 8:00 AM Wednesday – ugh! and go through late afternoon on Thursday, though the troops start thinning after Thursday breakfast and by the end we were probably a third to half smaller than our size at the start.

Before realignment, the diocese had subsidized the conference fee. Prior, it was $65; it is now $125. The diocese had received a $10,000 grant each year from the Widow’s Corporation of the Episcopal Church for clergy wellness which was used primarily for the clergy conference among other things. Also, prior to realignment the Clergy Association helped foot the bill for the adult beverages – no more. Not to worry, we still had plenty of beer and vino. And the Bishop’s Fund Inc. had subsidized whitewater rafting, golf or cycling on first morning – again no more. These are not to be construed as complaints, however: they are observations of change and of fond memories about times past and are but a small price to pay for a being in a new Province and a changed diocese -- all for the better.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you guys have been able to revive and continue the fine tradition of skit night, and it sounds like a good conference and a good spirit of forward movement. Our conference last spring, shared with the clergy of Northwestern Pennsylvania, was also a very positive one. I imagine it's hard on both sides of the stream--and it certainly is for me, anyway--not to sense sometimes at gatherings like these, with a twinge of sadness, the shadows of those good friends and colleagues who aren't around any more. But I'm sure in all this he is and will be doing in our lives better things than we could ever ask for or imagine . . . .

    Bruce Robison