Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown


…most excellent Theophilus…

Dear Theophilus, (that is you, dear friend of God)

Our pilgrimage prayer asks God to help us move out of our “comfort zone.” When I decided to do this Pilgrimage Blog, I imagined placing the pilgrimage of the earliest Christians, as written in the Acts of the Apostles, in conversation with the pilgrimage of our diocese. I had no idea how far out of my comfort zone this would lead me.

Writing about the early history of the two St. Luke’s for Wednesday’s column, I wondered why all these early churches established reading rooms. To answer that, I found that I had to learn about the context of our churches in the 19th century industrial revolution in Pennsylvania. What was it like to be in cities which were based on railroads, iron ore, and coal mining; with breaker boys, and other children forced to work before there were child labor laws? What was it like to be the church back then?

History was always my worst subject in school and I didn’t even grow up in America so my grasp of American (much less Pennsylvania) history and geography is pretty sketchy. I think I may have a better sense of life in Israel in the first century than in Pennsylvania when many of our churches were founded!

On top of that, I regret that I haven’t visited many of the parishes in our diocese. So, Theophilus, I need your help.  I would like to hear stories about your parish’s history or activities that are beyond what I have discovered in a 1909 history book of the diocese or found on your parish website; so please have your pilgrimage shepherd contact me with information. I can’t promise that I will mention every parish between now and Pentecost, but I will try.

We are on this pilgrimage together, most excellent Theophilus!


(Image: center window at Church of the Mediator, Allentown, PA)