It is good to be writing my first message of the new year from my Monroeville office, which is only a half-hour drive from my new home. We moved here the last week of December and it is good to be settled in and to no longer be your bishop from afar or by conference call.

My first visitation of the new year was to St. Stephen’s, McKeesport. I remarked that this community, situated on the Monongahela River, reminded of my home many years ago in Morgantown, WV.

In spite of the bitter cold, there was a good-sized congregation at both 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. and for an adult forum after the service. One of joys for me that day was to discover the custom of presenting Bishop’s Certificates of Appreciation and Acolyte Crosses to deserving young people. At St. Stephen’s, these were given to Grace Geisler and Michael Belko. At St. Paul’s, Kittanning, where I will be this coming Sunday, Nathan and Phillip Falchetti will be the recipients.

I could not have chosen a better congregation to begin giving out my first such acolyte recognitions than St. Stephen’s. They have one of the best, most precise, reverent, and well trained corps of servers I have seen in many years. Their professionalism added greatly to the service. It makes my heart sing when I visit a congregation and find young people involved, whether as acolytes, musicians, readers, or in any other way. During this service there was also a lively and very talented choir and an upbeat spirit among the people. Hats off to these dedicated servants of God.

I also enjoyed a lively exchange with the parishioners after the service. This is something I look forward to as I make my way around the diocese. In my fifteen years as a bishop, I have always valued my time in congregations, being among the people, as the best part of my ministry. Our congregations are the heartbeat of our life as Episcopalians and I, as your bishop, see an important part of my ministry as providing a link among these vital outposts of God’s Ministry.

St. Stephen’s web site says that what they are about is to "Proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." I believe that is what we are all about. I believe it must be our PRIMARY purpose. And so, during 2010, I eagerly look forward to discovering with you how we can do this more effectively in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, witnessing our faith to all whom we meet. I am delighted to now be among you more fully as we share in this great commission.

Epiphany blessings,

Bishop Ken Price