A Diocesan Mystery

A Diocesan Mystery

My intention for this week’s blog was to present a somewhat lighthearted discussion of a 15th century sculpture and to share a few things from my trip to the southern part of the diocese. Those will follow. However, it is once again important to acknowledge the painful news which has come to us from our brothers and sisters in Manchester, England. Once again innocent people attending a concert found themselves the target of extremists. My heart and prayers go out to all whose lives have been lost and to those who mourn their loved ones. I send my prayers also to those whose lives are forever changed by these events. May God be merciful and may God’s love be manifest in God’s people. Please join me in prayer and solidarity with the people of Manchester, England and beyond.

Now for what I had originally intended for this week:

Luca Della Robbia was an Italian sculptor from Florence and he lived from 1399/1400 – 1482. Della Robbia is most remembered for his colorful, tin-glazed terracotta statuary. One of his most famous sculptures is a Madonna and Child from 1475. If you go online, you can find all about him and see representatives of this and many of his other works. Or, you might be able to just look around your church and find one hanging on the wall! (Not an original, I am afraid, but a nice copy.) I know this because I have seen them in a number of our congregations and there are at least two in the diocesan office. Too bad they are not originals; we could solve a lot of challenges with those!

My questions are: 1) Who has one of these in their church; and 2) Why do we have so many in the diocese? I was in Brookings recently, the congregation farthest away from the diocesan office, and saw a very small Della Robbia Madonna and Child hanging on a wall outside the church office. I asked Bernie+ about it, and he admitted that he had not really noticed the plate sized piece near the office.

If your congregation has a Della Robbia I would love to know of it. And if you happen to know some of the story behind the diocesan Della Robbia explosion that would be a great tale to hear as well!

In the past week I spent a good deal of time in the southern part of the diocese. I celebrated Eucharist with Grants Pass, Shady Cove, Coos Bay and Gardiner, and also enjoyed lunch with the clergy of these regions as well. We talked of the joys and challenges these congregations face. At the present we are facing a shortage of clergy willing and able to serve the congregations of the South Coast, especially as some who have been with us for a time retire and move away.

You may not know it, but we have some 15 congregations on the coast of Oregon. Some with full-time salaried clergy, many with part-stipend clergy, and it appears as many as four congregations that manage with only supply clergy. St. Mary Gardiner (profiled in this week’s Congregation Close-up in the Diocesan Digest) has morning prayer three Sundays a month and Eucharist just once a month. If you know someone who might be willing and able to be a part of the ministry of these great congregations, please encourage them to contact us at the diocesan office to see if their gifts and skills for ministry have a match on the coast.

+Michael