Feast of the Ascension

Yesterday, Thursday, May 25, was the Feast of the Ascension, which is a very important and often overlooked feast day.  What is it? Well…

The Ascension of Christ or Ascension Day is the occasion on which the risen Christ is taken into heaven after appearing to his followers for forty days (Acts 1: 1– 11, Mk 16: 19). The Ascension marks the conclusion of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. It is the final elevation of his human nature to divine glory and the near presence of God. The Ascension is affirmed by the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. The Ascension is celebrated on Ascension Day, the Thursday that is the fortieth day of the Easter season. It is a principal feast of the church year in the Episcopal Church.


Adapted from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.


Prayer Request

We pray for the repose of the soul of The Reverend James Kelly of the Diocese of Montana.   He departed this life last Sunday, May 21.  Please keep his family in your prayers, especially his wife, the Reverend Theresa Kelly.

Father of all, we pray to you for Jim, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. (BCP, 498)

Both Jim and Theresa Kelly were ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia and moved to Montana to serve the Plinter Cluster (Anaconda, Butte, Deer Lodge and Philipsburg) in 2014.  Father Stephen knew and worked with both of them when he was in West Virginia as well.

Bishop’s Visitation – May 28

Our bishop, the Right Rev. C. Franklin Brookhart will be joining us for a celebration of Holy Eucharist on Sunday, May 28 in Miles City at 9 AM and in Forsyth at 11:30 AM.


What is a bishop?

One of the three orders of ordained ministers in the church, bishops are charged with the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the church. Bishops represent Christ and his church, and they are called to provide Christian vision and leadership for their dioceses. The BCP (p. 855) notes that the bishop is “to act in Christ’s name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the church; and to ordain others to continue Christ’s ministry.” Bishops stand in the apostolic succession, maintaining continuity in the present with the ministry of the Apostles. Bishops serve as chief pastors of the church, exercising a ministry of oversight and supervision. Diocesan bishops hold jurisdiction in their dioceses, with particular responsibility for the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the church. Bishops serve as the focus for diocesan unity and for the unity of their dioceses with the wider church. Since the bishop’s ministry is a ministry of oversight, the term “episcopal” (derived from the Greek episcopos, “overseer”,) is applied to matters pertaining to bishops. An “episcopal” church is a church governed by bishops, and “episcopal” services are led by bishops. Episcopal services in the BCP include the services for the Ordination and Consecration of Bishops, Ordination of Priests, Ordination of Deacons, the Celebration of a New Ministry, and the Consecration of a Church or Chapel. Bishops also preside at services of Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation. Bishops bless altars and fonts, and the blessing of chalices and patens and church bells are traditionally reserved for the bishop. In the Episcopal Church, diocesan and suffragan bishops are elected by Diocesan Convention. Bishops-elect are ordained and consecrated after consents have been received from a majority of the diocesan standing committees and from a majority of the bishops exercising jurisdiction in the Episcopal Church. If the episcopal election takes place within three months before General Convention, the consent of the House of Deputies is required instead of a majority of the standing committees. Three bishops are required to participate in the ordination and consecration of a bishop. Diocesan bishops may be succeeded by bishops-coadjutor upon resignation of diocesan jurisdiction. Diocesan bishops may also be assisted by suffragan and assistant bishops, who have no right of succession upon the resignation of the diocesan bishop.

Adapted from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.

The Great Fifty Days


The feast of Easter is a season of fifty days, from Easter Eve through the Day of Pentecost. From early times the Greek word pentecost (fiftieth day) was used also for the whole Paschal season. During this season there is no fasting. The Council of Nicaea (325) directed that Christians are to pray standing. The word “alleluia” (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly, which contrasts sharply with the season of Lent when the alleluia is omitted. The color of liturgical vestments and hangings is white or gold. The BCP notes that it is customary for the Paschal candle to burn at all services of the Easter season. The “Alleluia, alleluia” may be added to the dismissals and their responses during the Great Fifty Days. The traditional Christian Easter greeting (see Lk 24: 34) serves as the opening acclamation at the eucharist during the Easter season.

Adapted from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.

Holy Week 2017

As we prepare to enter the holy Easter Triduum, please consider taking part in the following services.

Services for Holy Week are as follows:

  • Thursday, April 13 – A special joint Maundy Thursday service will be held in Miles City at 6 PM.
  • Friday, April 14 – Good Friday services in Miles City at 5 PM and in Forsyth at 7 PM.
  • Sunday, April 16 – Easter Sunday services will be held at regular Sunday times (9 AM in Miles City and 11:30 AM in Forsyth).


Wondering what a triduum is?

A period of three days of preparation for a feast day. The term is most frequently used for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, the three days prior to Easter Sunday that are the concluding days of Holy Week, also known as the Easter Triduum. Other usage for the Easter Triduum reckons the days from the evening of Maundy Thursday through the evening of Easter Day. The term may indicate any three-day period of preparation for a feast.

Adapted from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.

Palm Sunday

palm sunday

“Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem” by Hippolyte Flandrin, 1842.

We will celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9 with services at their normal times (9 AM in Miles City and 11:30 AM in Forsyth)


What is Palm Sunday?

“The Sunday before Easter at which Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and Jesus’ Passion on the cross are recalled. It is also known as the Sunday of the Passion. Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week. Red is the liturgical color for the day. The observance of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem was witnessed by the pilgrim Egeria in about 381– 384. During this observance there was a procession of people down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. The people waved branches of palms or olive trees as they walked. They sang psalms, including Ps 118, and shouted the antiphon, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The Palm Sunday observance was generally accepted throughout the church by the twelfth century. However, the day was identified in the 1549 BCP as simply ‘The Sunday next before Easter.’ The blessing of branches and the procession were not included. The 1928 BCP added the phrase ‘commonly called Palm Sunday’ to the title of the day. A form for blessing palms was provided by the Book of Offices (1960). The 1979 BCP presents the full title for the day, ‘The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday’ (BCP, p. 270). The liturgy of the palms is the entrance rite for the service. The congregation may gather at a place apart from the church and process to the church after the blessing of the branches of palm or other trees (BCP, p. 270). The liturgy of the palms includes a reading of one of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. The branches may be distributed to the people before the service or after the prayer of blessing. All the people hold branches in their hands during the procession.”

From Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.

Lenten Series

Are you someone who has been a Christian for a long time, but sometimes still wonders about the basics? Or are you someone new to God and the Church who wants to get a better idea of what this Christianity thing is really all about? Then come join us at Church of the Ascension in Forsyth on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm for Transforming Questions.


In this class, we will seek to move into deeper life in Christ by engaging in some of faith’s most basic questions: Who is Jesus? Does God answer prayer? How do I read the Bible? Why bother with Church? What do I have to do to be a Christian? Each week we will gather for a meal, hear a talk on one of the central questions of the Christian faith, and then join in small-group discussion. Through both listening and sharing, we will wrestle with these foundational questions in the context of faith and in the company of fellow seekers. As we do so, we will learn more about ourselves, one another, and the Jesus we are seeking.


Ash Wednesday

ash_weds_cross-1Join us for the start of Lent on Wednesday, March 1 with services in Miles City at 5 pm and Forsyth at 7 pm.  We will be have the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist.


Churchy Term of the Day – Ash Wednesday

The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast in the church year of the Episcopal Church. The Ash Wednesday service is one of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days in the BCP (p. 264). Imposition of ashes at the Ash Wednesday service is optional.

From Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.

Updated Parish Statistics

Every year every Episcopal Church is required to complete a form called “Report of Episcopal Congregations and Missions According to Canons I.6, I.7, and I.17” which is more commonly known as the Parochial Report.

We have just completed the reports for 2016 for both Emmanuel in Miles City and Church of the Ascension in Forsyth. You can click on the links above to read summaries of the data submitted for each church from 1998 to 2016.

Here is some of the data in chart form from Emmanuel, Miles City:


Here is some of the data in chart form from Church of the Ascension, Forsyth:

The Great Litany

On the First Sunday of Lent we will be using a new element in our liturgy – The Great Litany.  So, I thought it might be helpful to share some information about this ancient practice.

The following definition of the Great Litany comes from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.


An intercessory prayer including various petitions that are said or sung by the leader, with fixed responses by the congregation. It was used as early as the fifth century in Rome. It was led by a deacon, with the collects led by a bishop or priest. The Litany was the first English language rite prepared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It was first published in 1544. Cranmer modified an earlier litany form by consolidating certain groups of petitions into single prayers with response. The Litany’s use in church processions was ordered by Henry VIII when England was at war with Scotland and France. It was printed as an appendix to the eucharist in the 1549 BCP. The Litany was used in each of the three ordination rites of the 1550 ordinal, with a special petition and concluding collect. The 1552 BCP called for use of the Litany after the fixed collects of Morning Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The 1928 BCP allowed the Litany to be used after the fixed collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or before the Eucharist, or separately. The 1928 BCP included a short Litany for Ordinations as an alternative to the Litany. The 1979 BCP titled the Litany “The Great Litany” (p. 148), distinguishing it from other litanies in the Prayer Book.


The Great Litany may be said or sung. The officiant and people may kneel or stand, or it may be done in procession. The Great Litany may be done before the Eucharist, or after the collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or separately. Because of its penitential tone, it is especially appropriate during Lent. The Great Litany includes an invocation of the Trinity; a series of deprecations which seek deliverance from evil, spiritual harm, and natural calamities; a series of obsecrations which plead the power of Christ’s Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection for deliverance; prayers of general intercession; the Agnus Dei; the Kyrie; the Lord’s Prayer; a versicle and response based on Ps 33: 22; a concluding collect; and the grace (BCP, pp. 148– 154). The Supplication (BCP, p. 154) may be used at the conclusion of the Great Litany, taking the place of all that follows the Lord’s Prayer.


When the Great Litany precedes the eucharist, the Litany concludes with the Kyrie and the eucharist begins with the salutation and the collect of the day (BCP, p. 153). The Great Litany should not be preceded by a hymn, psalm, or anthem when it is used as an entrance rite at the eucharist. The Great Litany takes the place of the prayers of the people at the eucharist. The confession may also be omitted.


The Great Litany is also especially appropriate on Rogation Days. The Book of Occasional Services (BOS) order for a Rogation Procession calls for the Great Litany to begin as the procession enters the church. It adds petitions for favorable weather, productive lands and waters, and God’s favor for all who care for the earth, the water, and the air. The Great Litany may also conclude the BOS Service for New Year’s Eve.