Easter brings to mind thoughts of new life. It has not been hard to think those happy thoughts this year as unseasonably warm weather has yielded an early blooming of flowers and a general positive spirit among the people. It truly feels that God is alive!
That same feeling of new life is evident in our own beloved Diocese of Pittsburgh. There have been many signs to this effect recently. I think most people will agree that God has provided us with truly sterling nominees for the next bishop of our diocese. Their presence among us for the walk-about generated much excitement and to a person each of them expressed genuine enthusiasm at the prospect of coming among us.
After an emotional decision by our Cathedral to reaffirm its charter as the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese, in effect shelving the special resolution crafted there years ago in which it attempted to serve both our diocese and that headed by Bishop Duncan, there has been a noticeable sign of new life there. I was able to assign our newest priest, Tim Hushion, to work with Canon Brall and in the spring will add to that team a brand new seminary graduate, Ben DeHart, with a portfolio of ministry to young adults and college students. The opportunities for rebuilding and rejuvenating our Cathedral are endless and all the bishop nominees expressed creative ideas for continuing this.
This past Monday, a historic service was held at the Cathedral when Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the Lutheran Synod joined me as we shared the annual Chrism Mass and Renewal of Vows for our clergy. The coming together and mingling of our clergy was exhilarating and was a sign of more possibilities for the future.
Shortly after the last convention, I appointed a task force to draft a plan suggesting areas for our trustees and standing committee to focus resources on over the next few years. That plan is not complete, but when preliminary thinking was shared with our bishop nominees they responded quite positively and expressed eagerness to help set that direction. I believe that more new and renewed congregations will soon be a reality as our diocese returns to strength.
As I am now in the midst of my last round of visitations to all our congregations, I am overwhelmed by the positive spirit, eager anticipation and the upbeat attitudes I find. God is constantly blessing us with a large number of new seminarians and newly ordained people, with dedicated laity, and with property coming back to us. And most noticeably there is a sense of normalcy returning to our diocese, fueled by a great feeling of hope.
As we go through the drama of Holy Week, we cannot escape the devastation and desolation of Good Friday. Jesus’ disciples and other followers were at a loss of what to do, and many deserted our Lord. But on Easter Day all that was put to flight and a new day dawned bringing the era of Christianity into being. For the Diocese of Pittsburgh, our Good Friday occurred at end of 2008. It was unsettling, destructive and a gut wrenching shame that this great diocese was so torn apart. Many felt they had been left in a tomb. But just as our Lord’s time in the grave passed, so has ours. This diocese has emerged from its tomb and the day is as bright as Easter morn.
This is not say all will now be smoothing sailing. Through the years the church has had its rough moments, and so will this diocese. The next bishop will have his or her work cut out for him or her and this diocese may look very different. But I am convinced that we are now ready to move on and a positive future is in store for Pittsburgh. I take the good weather that has marked my last Springtime with you as a positive sign that sunny days are upon us. Praise God for God’s blessing on us and for the prospect of new life that lies our future.
This is indeed an Easter to celebrate!!!
The Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Jr.