Deus Dat Incrementum — God Gives the Increase

We are Christians

We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. We are baptized into his death and resurrection. We strive to follow him in all things.

We are Catholics

Our faith and practice is grounded in the tradition of the Church–that is, what has been handed on to us– going back to Jesus and the apostles. (No, we’re not Roman Catholics, though we have much in common with our friends in that tradition.)

We are Anglicans

Our spiritual ‘DNA’ comes from the Church of England, and we are part of the family of 38 churches, all over the world, in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

We are Episcopalians

The Episcopal Church, established in 1789, is the American expression of Anglican Christianity. We are one of 110 dioceses that mutually support one another in a common doctrine, discipline, and worship.

We welcome you …

… to walk with us, worship with us, work with us, and otherwise share our life. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to use the Contact Us link above.

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Two years from now, in 2016, God willing, I will have served the Diocese of Springfield for five years, and will therefore be due for a three-month sabbatical, an opportunity to regroup and recharge away from the pressure of the daily demands of ministry. I haven’t made any firm decisions yet, but one possibility I’m looking at very seriously is to spend about half of that time as a pilgrim, walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, an ancient and still very well-traveled pilgrimage route that traverses nearly 600 miles across northern Spain.

When I mentioned this to the Standing Committee, which serves as my council of advice, an interesting discussion ensued about the necessity to be very careful about what I take with me, because anything I take I will need to carry on my person for the entire journey. There’s no checking luggage in the morning and having it delivered to wherever a pilgrim is going to spend the next night. Some very critical and difficult decisions need to be made about what items are essential, what is potentially useful, and what is merely frivolous or an indulgence. A pilgrim must travel light.

The metaphor of pilgrimage is deeply rooted in scripture and in the vocabulary of our tradition. The patriarch Abraham became a pilgrim when he answered God’s call to move his household to a far away land, sight unseen. His descendants became pilgrims when they followed Moses from Egypt back to that same land that had been given to Abraham. Centuries later, the exiled Jews living in Babylon set off as pilgrims to reinhabit and rebuild Jerusalem. On the mount of the Transfiguration, our Lord Jesus conversed with Moses and Elijah about “his exodus, which he would accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31), and the remainder of Luke’s gospel is, in effect, a travelogue narrating Jesus’ pilgrimage to the Holy City, where he would suffer, die, and rise in glory. Along the way, “the Son of Man [had] no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). He was a pilgrim. He traveled light.

In my study at home hangs a framed print of a painting, something I acquired very cheaply at a flea market in a Mexican border town many years ago. It depicts people from all walks of life–royalty, commoners, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, even a bishop and other clergy–at various points on a road, on a journey. In the distance gleams the Heavenly City, the New Jerusalem, the image of the Kingdom of God come to fruition, all wrongs put right, all tears wiped away. (For the record, the picture also shows people headed in another direction, but that’s not germane to my present purpose!) One of the strong secondary images associated with the sacrament of Holy Baptism is that it marks the point of one’s embarkation on a pilgrimage that will last the rest of this life and beyond. John Milton’s great seventeenth century poetic saga, The Pilgrim’s Progress, develops this notion. All Christian disciples, individually, are pilgrims, and the Church, collectively, is a pilgrim people.

This is not immediately self-evident to most people, even most Christians. Our primary experience of the Church is of an institution–an institution that is ancient and venerable, an institution that has seen challenges come and go, and remained intact and operational, an institution that is as permanent and stable as the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains. Institutions don’t travel, so they don’t have to travel light. They bear within themselves the full accumulated weight of their history–the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Institutions are solid, not easily moved.

When a pilgrim people settles down, its life becomes institutionalized. When Abraham reached Canaan, he stopped travelling, He put down roots and bought property. He became an institution. When the Israelites returned there from Egypt, after wandering for a generation in the Sinai desert, they eventually set up a nation-state, with an institutional hereditary monarchy. When the post-exilic Jews arrived in Jerusalem, they rebuilt the temple and returned that very complex institution to full operational status. When Jesus completed his pilgrimage from Galilee and finally got to Jerusalem, what needed to get accomplished there got accomplished.

So it runs in cycles. There are times when God’s people are called to be on the move, wearing out their sandals and traveling light. There are times when they are called to put down roots, to erect institutional structures that protect them, make their lives secure and fruitful, and become the channels through which God blesses the world. And then there are times when, having grown accustomed to stability, the pilgrim people of God are called to pack up–lightly!–and hit the road toward … wherever God leads.

Would it be presumptuous of me to say that, for the pilgrim people of the Diocese of Springfield, this is one of those times? We are accustomed to stability; indeed, quite attached to stability, and we have a great deal of accumulated detritus that bears testimony to our attachment: church buildings, stained glass windows, historic artifacts, fine musical instruments, lovely vestments, a venerable constitution and set of canons, deaneries led by Very Reverend rural deans, and more. We have our well-defined opinions about what a “proper” church looks like and how the furniture should be arranged. We enjoy the “look and feel” of “church as we know it.”

At the same time, there are about half as many of us as there were a generation ago, and the median age of those who remain is a lot older than it was then. We are a dying breed–not just figuratively, but, in many of our smaller communities, quite literally. The institutional aspects of our common life that once served us very well are not all necessarily very well configured to the new realities. Our buildings are, in many places, not well-suited to these new realities. Many that were once well-located are now poorly-located, and many areas where there was once little or no need for a church are now burgeoning but unserved. Is it a good idea for a worshiping community of a dozen souls to try and sing four or five hymns each week that were written with the setting of an English cathedral in mind? Do our celebrations of the Eucharist shout “God’s people gathered at God’s table,” or do we just proceed with what we think we “should” be doing, as if on autopilot? Why do we persist in thinking and acting as though the solution to all our problems as a church lies in enticing more of “them” (whoever “they” are–the unchurched, the dechurched, the differently-churched) to come through our pretty red doors, rather than “us” camping out on “their” front porches and earning the privilege of introducing them to Jesus?

I’m fairly certain that we’ve reached the point in the cycle when we need to be lightening our institutional load and crowdsourcing ideas for the best walking shoes. I can’t give you a precise catalogue of how this will look in each part of the diocese, and it’s not my place to dictate such things anyway. I do suspect that, over the course, of time, we will let go of more of our buildings. I suspect we will be in locations not presently served, but probably in rented facilities that do not look necessarily “churchy” (I recently visited a parish in the Seattle area that rents space in a business park). A lot of the governance infrastructure of the diocese will be gone with the wind in the next revision of our constitution and canons. In some of our smaller communities, many of the trappings of liturgical grandiosity will be laid aside to make room for worship that is better thought-through and therefore more authentic and vital. Most importantly, we will be much more loosely attached to some of the reassuring physical symbols of stable place and status, enabling us to be more limber and responsive to the world that it is our mission to serve by announcing the good news of God in Jesus Christ.

As your bishop, I am with you in this–with you in grieving the need to let go of much that is comfortably familiar, with you in frustration at the difficulty of sorting that which is essential from that which merely weighs us down, with you in fear at the prospect of rejection and failure, and with you in confidence that God supplies us with every need for the journey of a pilgrim people.


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August 1, 2015 at Trinity, Mt VeSmiles  (1) Smiles Fr. Ben Hankinson Barbara Holliman a preacher, a bishop, and a priest ......... Fresh Blessings (1) Fresh Blessings the Ministry of the Word The Examination-  I believe I am so called The Consecration the Letter of Institution for Trinity E.C. of Mt. Vernon, IL Standing at the Lords Table, it is the first celebration for the newly ordained priest Standing at the Lords Table, the first celebration for the newly ordained priest The blessing of God Almighty signing the Declaration In peace let us pray to the Lord Litanist Lord, hear our prayer The Presentation singing with Mom The last ones in Here they come... It is almost time to start (1) Ben It is almost time to start Bishop Martinsrnon.

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The diocesan family was stunned this past Tuesday morning with news of the sudden death during the night of the Very Reverend Keith Roderick, Provost of the Cathedral Church of St Paul the Apostle in Springfield.

keith Roderick(2)Fr Roderick, 61, had previously served as rector of St Andrew’s, Carbondale until his call to the cathedral last year, and, earlier in several other congregations in the southern part of the diocese. He was also rector for several years of St George’s, Macomb, in the Diocese of Quincy.. The coroner has since reported that the cause of death was a massive heart attack.

Unbeknownst to many in the diocese, he had a significant worldwide reputation in the area of advocacy for persecuted Christian communities, particularly in Islamic countries.

The Burial Office and Requiem Mass for Fr Roderick will be celebrated Monday, March 17, 11am, at St Paul’s. Interment will follow at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Visitation will take place the evening before, 4-7pm, at the cathedral.

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