Bishop Rhyne's Advent Greetings

First Sunday of Advent 2016

Dear Friends,

God’s grace and peace be with you. We are moving into the Reformation year as October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. 500 years after Luther posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany we are still seeing the Holy Spirit move and reform us and our church. God is active and moving here in our Allegheny Synod.

Our Synod Office has been focused this past year on working to better tell the story of what we do together as the people of God. Through the Lutheran Letter, our Allegheny Synod Facebook page, the Allegheny Synod weekly e-news, and the letters, emails, and other communications we send, we are telling the story of what God is doing through you in this Synod. If you want to be connected to these communications, call our Synod Office for more information.

There are wonderful things going on in the Allegheny Synod. We have congregations growing food for local food banks, thousands of quilts being put together to be sent to people in need, and our congregations reach out to help when there are needs in the community. As God’s people you faithfully minister and care for each other in times of joy and in sorrow. There is life and hope in our congregations because Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit is with us and reminds us that there is always work to be done. Thank you for the many ways you share the love of Jesus Christ with your neighbors and meet the needs of people around the world. You are faithful and are a blessing.

The Year of Prayer project is well underway. I hope will join us in praying for God’s will and work in this Allegheny Synod as well as using the prayer resource with Martin Luther’s morning and evening prayer.

Beginning on the first Sunday in Advent we will once again be holding our Allegheny Synod Can Challenge. This year our goal will be 50,000 items collected in honor of our 500th Anniversary. Please collect items that you can distribute to your local food banks and agencies. Also, please remember to call our Synod Office with your running totals. This will enable us to share with the Synod how close we are getting to our goal.

As we move into the Reformation Anniversary year, we will continue to find ways to worship Jesus with each other and our ecumenical partners. I invite you to three ecumenical services happening in the first half of the year. We will celebrate our annual ecumenical prayer services on Jan. 22, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona, and January 29, 2017 at Mt Calvary Lutheran in Johnstown. Both services are at 2:00 pm. These services are hosted by our Allegheny Synod, the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. We gather with fellow Christians to pray together, to build bridges of friendship, and celebrate the unity we have in Jesus Christ.

On Sunday February 26, 2017, we will have an additional ecumenical service as our first joint service of the Reformation year. The service will be held at First Lutheran in Altoona at 2:00 pm. We will welcome special guest preacher, Bishop Donald McCoid, formerly of the Southwest PA Synod, and former ELCA Director of Ecumenical Relations. Bp. McCoid will be sharing with us his experiences working with on the task force for the new Ecumenical Document “Declaration On the Way.” We invite our partners of other Christian traditions to join us for this service.

Your ministry in these Allegheny hills and valleys is a blessing. I pray that you will continue to find ways to show the love of Christ to your neighbors. Know that Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our congregations.

I thank God for you. Thank you for the way you love Jesus and the way you share that love. May God bless you now and always.

In Christ,

+ Bp. Michael