Join us at Bethany House for...

Mass on Saturdays - at 5:00pm (casual attire is our style)!

Rosary Prayer Group - at 6:00pm on the first Wednesday of the month!

Bible Study - at 6:30pm on Thursdays (the Life of Jesus - Serendipity Bible Study)!

Come and join us!

Click the picture for directions...

Click the picture for directions...
We’re located at 408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling, across from the MCHS football stadium.

Contact us at...

Saints Mary and Martha Church
at Bethany House
PO Box 502
Mount Sterling, KY
40353

859-404-8374
mamachurch4you@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

I pray that Ash Wednesday and our first “Sunday” in Lent have been a blessing to you and your journey with Jesus!  Each year, as we enter this Liturgical season, I’m put in mind of the seriousness with which our Lord calls us to his side.  As the temptation to compartmentalize our relationship with him increases (and as we sometimes fall into that trap), the season of Lent takes on increasing importance – we deeply need the reminder that Jesus wants each part of our lives and our complete attention!

I relish the opportunity of gathering with you to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries of the Mass, to study God’s Word, to share with and receive from you in conversation, and to explore what the Lord seems to have in mind for Bethany House!  I’m particularly delighted in the smashing success of our first Saturday evening Mass (our first Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Day) and our fellowship time afterwards!  Not only did we come before the Lord with our worship and adoration, we also shared significant time in talking about some of the prayer-led ideas for the outreach mission of Bethany House.

This week we’ll have the opportunity to continue in the life of “Ora et Labora” (Prayer and Work)…

1. Wednesday at 6:00pm – The First Wednesday Rosary Prayer Group will meet in the Chapel.

2. No Thursday Bible Study – Fr. Todd and Dcn. Emily have to be Lexington for a medical appointment.

3. Saturday at 5:00pm – The Vigil Mass of the Lord’s Day.

4. Saturday at 6:30pm – Light dinner and study on “The Benedict Option”.

If you would like an e-copy of this week’s “Our Life Together”, just send us an e-mail.  You’ll notice that it includes everything but the usual discipleship articles (because of space and time constraints).  Beginning this coming week, I’ll only be publishing a limited number of “complete” OLT’s for those who don’t have access to the e-copy version.  I’ll be asking those with internet access to use the e-copy for the  Daily Office and the reading of the articles.  If you don’t have internet access, please make sure to tell me – I’ll have a paper copy for you!  And now, as always…

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Father Todd

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Lenten Musical Devotion...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I hope you find this little piece - A Lenten Meditation: "Our Hearts Are Restless, Lord" - to be a blessing in your Lenten journey.  It is the outflow of my heart - a prayer to the Lord in music, acknowledging that my heart is restless and that it needs to rest in him.

God bless you!

Father Todd

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

I want to begin this week’s letter by offering a confession: In years and days gone by, I have often felt priestly ministry to be something of a drudgery, a task to be done with faithfulness while eagerly anticipating retirement.  I felt as though I had to clench my teeth and do what I was ordained to do.

Over the past couple of years, however, I haven’t felt that way.  In fact, I’ve had a fire of anticipation growing within my belly – a fire that feels like it’s being fanned into full flame (to paraphrase Saint Paul), especially during the last few months!  It’s like I’m being carried along in my ministry now; as though the Lord is lifting me up on eagle’s wings (to paraphrase the prophet Isaiah)!

So what’s changed?!  Why has there been this shift within me?  Having prayed and thought much about it, I believe it has to do with the power of the Lord being loosed within me (something that CAN happen within each of us!).  As we’ve trod the path of discovery regarding MAMA Church’s charism (our call to ministry and the gifts God has given us to engage in that ministry), I’ve begun to see that my ministry (and yours, too) really CAN be transformational.

In a phrase, I am feeling increasingly free to lead us into a more intentional, more incarnational, deeper ministry than “Church as usual”.  The thought that I would only ever serve nice, normal parishes for the rest of my ministry was killing me inside.  The thought of serving parishes that only saw themselves as closed communities (clubs, if you will) that others were invited to join, made me sick and frustrated.

I only had a hint of it at the time of my Ordination, but I’ve come to realize that if I’m going to serve the Lord and his Church as a priest, I want to see the old model of compartmentalized Christianity obliterated!  I want to serve Christian communities that breathe with the depth of Saint Benedict and sing with the zeal of Saint Francis!  I don’t want “Church as usual”!  Why?  Because “Church as usual” is like dying from the disease of navel-gazing and self-satisfaction.

Over the past few months, as we’ve swung open the doors of Bethany House to see where and how the Lord is calling us to be the Church in a post-modern world, I’ve come to feel a renewed life and energy within me.  It feels, for all the world, like what I imagine the coming of the Holy Spirit must’ve felt like at Pentecost!  I feel once again like I have something deep and profound to live for!  Like I have something I’m willing to die for!  Like there’s a ministry that’s something more thank “milk toast” to engage in!!  I FEEL ALIVE IN JESUS AGAIN!!

I find myself, once again, talking to people about Jesus.  I find myself, once again, praying earnestly and deeply.  I find myself, once again, opening my life to anyone who needs to hear the Good News.  What the myth of “Church as usual” promised to deliver was orthodoxy.  What it actually delivered was a slow and agonizing death of self-pleasing shallowness.  Jesus was right!  Unless the seed falls to the ground, splits open, and dies, nothing good will be born.

Jesus is still offering MAMA Church (and every Church and every believer) the chance to be broken open, to die to self, and to bear something beautiful to his Altar and to the world beyond!  I spoke a few years ago, in one of my sermons, of desiring a vigorous faith life for MAMA Church – a faith life that could neither be created by nor sustained in a community of believers that only sought to worship Jesus on Sunday and not engage him (or his world) for the rest of the week.  In this moment of our life as a community of believers, we stand on the threshold of being broken open, dying to self, and bearing something beautiful to Jesus and his world.

Tomorrow evening we’ll gather for Ash Wednesday Mass (at 6:30pm).  On Saturday we’ll gather for the first of our intentional Vigil Masses (at 5:00pm).  We have offers of help on the table for our ministry to unexpectedly expecting mamas and papas.  We are already engaged in deepening our prayer and devotional lives.  We are being joined by folks who have heard of the vision that the Lord is casting in our midst and who want to be a part of it.  The Lord is not only inhabiting the praises of his people, he’s reorienting his people to the life of prayer and work (the “ora et labora” of Saint Benedict)!

Brothers and Sisters, I have been deeply hungering for the juicy meat of the life of intentional prayer and work – and that’s all well and good.  The Lord seems to be bringing us into a place of feasting on that meat – and that’s all well and good, too.  But this is a feast with a purpose: To feed the world, even as we are being fed.  That is salvation and joy – and that’s so much better than well and good!!

So, as we fling open the doors to Bethany House and allow the Lord to re-build us, let’s do the following…

1. Be present for Mass on Ash Wednesday (at 6:30pm tomorrow night) and for Mass on Saturday, March 9 (at 5:00pm).  (By the way, we won’t have Bible study on Thursday this week – it will resume next week.)

2. Be present for “Talk Time” and dessert following Saturday evening Mass – we’ll be looking at Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option” and at material regarding “The Francis Option”.  We’ll also be laying the groundwork for our ministry to new mamas and papas.

Let’s dig in to this amazing feast!  As ever, you can receive an e-copy of this week’s “Our Life Together” (which is full of good stuff regarding these issues) by sending an e-mail.  And now, as always…

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Father Todd

Friday, February 22, 2019

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

My goodness, when it rains it pours!  I feel, at the moment, like I’m running to keep up with all the good things the Lord is sharing with us!  There are so many “irons in the fire” right now – and each of them, when taken together, seems to be an integral part of what the Lord is leading us to do.  As we look at ways in which to become a more deeply intentional community and to reach out with the love of Jesus – ministering to both the spiritual and corporal needs of those around us – my heart is bursting with joy!

So, let me give you an update on where things stand – following conversations with many of you, with a special brother beyond our community, and with the Lord (in my prayer times and in my holy reading)…

Saturday Evening Mass followed by Bible Study or a Chapter Meeting: Having spoken and/or heard from nearly everyone, I do believe it’s time to begin a trial period of celebrating Mass on Saturday evenings.  I propose that we begin doing so on Saturday, March 9 at 5:00pm.  This will be the first Saturday in Lent.  I also propose that the trial period extend all the way through Lent and Holy Week, ending with The Great Vigil of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday.

As I’ve mentioned before (if we decide to continue permanently with Saturday evening Mass), this will allow us to do the following:

1. Gather for a community meal following Mass – a meal which we can use to offer hospitality to people outside of MAMA Church and which we can use to help build a deeper sense of community within MAMA Church.

2. Following the community meal, we can engage in Bible study or a Chapter meeting (all will be invited to attend, whether or not they are participants in the Companions of Mary and Martha – more on the Companions below).

Ministry to Unexpectedly Expecting Single Moms and Dads: Since it is no longer sufficient (and has never been pleasing to the Lord) to simply curse the darkness, it’s time to start bringing the light of Jesus into the present darkness!  One of the ways that we can bring tangible light into our community is by ministering to the spiritual and corporal needs of expecting mothers who are at risk for choosing abortion and/or feeling alone.  Likewise, we can bring tangible light by ministering to expecting fathers who have no idea what it means to be either a father or a mature man.

We can accomplish this mission in two ways (both of which are equally and urgently needed): First, through elbow grease and sweat equity, we can gather a “pantry” of baby and  household items that these unexpectedly expecting parents will need.  In this way, we could become the reason they might choose life over abortion!  Second, our “pantry” can be linked to engaging with them in mentoring, Bible study, and discipleship.  Not only can we help them to choose life, we can help them choose abundant life in Jesus Christ!

To this end, I have begun conversations with Deacon Georgette Forney at Anglicans For Life.  She is helping me to locate parishes that are doing similar things, so that we don’t have to re-invent the wheel.  Also to this end, we will need to seek out brothers and sisters in Christ in other local congregations who will be willing to join us in this ministry.  There will be plenty of work to do, and The Companions of Mary and Martha will need help!

I’m beyond ecstatic to share with you that our friends, Rabbi Rod and Jenny Eisenberg, will be making themselves available to advise us in this type of ministry.  Additionally, Rod shared with me today that the Board of Baruch Haba Messianic Congregation in Lexington would like to find ways of helping us in this ministry!!  The Lord truly provides!

The Creation of The Companions of Mary and Martha: I’m also excited beyond measure about both the interest in and possibility of creating a monastic community at Bethany House!  As you know, I’ve begun reading Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option” and am looking within it to see how other Churches have answered the call to create a more intentional community of discipleship.  I’ve also been reading the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Rule of Saint Francis, and the Rule of The Company of Jesus.

I’m interested in us pursuing monastic community because I firmly believe that what the secular world needs now more than ever is Christians who are deeply formed in their faith – more deeply formed than what Sunday attendance will ever be able to provide.  So, what will this entail?  Well, it will develop as we go, but the basic Rule of Life will include these things:

1. Praying the Daily Office (by praying at least Morning and Evening Prayer or by praying either Morning or Evening Prayer with Noonday Prayer and Compline);

2. Earnestly participating in the mission of the community (to the extent possible – but some kind of active participation will be required);

3. Earnestly seeking the Lord’s will in creating your individual Apostolate (ministry) and then engaging in that Apostolate on a regular basis.

4. Coming together as a community (outside of Mass, in a Chapter meeting – perhaps every other Saturday evening, with Bible study on the alternate Saturday evenings) to share updates with each other, to receive encouragement and prayer for each other, and to receive teachings concerning the Rule of Life and our monastic mission.

How Do We Get Started?  Well, I think that we’ll need to gather for a retreat or two.  I would like to offer a retreat with Rabbi Rod and Jenny regarding our ministry to unexpectedly expecting moms and dads.  I would also like to include material gleaned from Anglicans For Life and other Anglican parishes in this retreat.  But even before that retreat, here are some things to be praying for/about…

1. That the Lord will give us favor with local (and beyond) merchants/stores – in terms of donations of baby and household supplies;

2. That the Lord will begin calling those – from among us at MAMA Church and from among those in other congregations – who can serve as mentors and/or Bible study leaders;

3. That the Lord will direct us to the mentoring and Bible study resources to be used in this ministry.

I would also like to offer a retreat for those who are interested in making a commitment to join The Companions of Mary and Martha!  I would like this retreat to focus on listening prayer – hopefully engaging Rebecca White from Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington.  I would also like each of us to be preparing for this retreat by engaging in holy reading – perhaps “The Benedict Option” and other books and resources.

And now for this week at Bethany House: We’ve got some good stuff coming our way!

1. Bible study on Thursday evening at 6:30 – John 5:1-15; and,

2. Mass on Sunday at 10:30am.

Also, if you would like a copy of this week’s “Our Life Together” just send us an e-mail.  I pray that it will be a wonderful blessing to you!  Until we meet again…

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Father Todd

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Videos from Mass...

Hello, friends!

If you weren’t able to attend Mass on Sunday and would like to see just the sermon, here it is.  By the way, this was a very important sermon that relates to what the Lord might be calling us to do.  If you’re interested in what’s happening at Bethany House, this is a sermon you don’t want to miss!


Also, here’s the entire Liturgy of the Mass.  May it be a blessing to you!

Monday, February 11, 2019

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

This week’s letter about what’s happening at Bethany House is going to be a little different (and longer) than usual.  In addition to what I usually share, I have several updates to share with you about various things that are happening.  I also want to share one or two more videos with you regarding the testimonies of men and women in religious life (that is, men and women who have consecrated their themselves to lives of prayer and service).  So, let’s get started!

First, with regard to the possibility of moving Mass from Sunday morning to Saturday evening, let me share what’s likely to happen with my schedule in the Chaplain’s Office at the prison and how that may affect us.  It may be worth noting that I have very little control over any of this.  As Father Tim prepares to leave for Michigan and we search for a new Chaplain to work with me, it is likely that I will required to work both Saturdays and Sundays (my current work week is Tuesday through Saturday, and Father Tim’s is Sunday through Thursday).

We are required – given the large size of our inmate population – to have seven day per week coverage by the two Chaplains.  This is largely due to the requirements surrounding emergency and death notices coming in to us from inmate family members.  We only have a 24 hour window in which to notify inmates of such emergencies – and, to be truthful, we like to notify them as quickly as possible.  In my ten years at the prison, I can attest to the fact that most of the emergency and death notices come in between Thursday and Sunday.  With Father Tim’s departure, I’m fairly certain that the Warden will want me there during those days.

Hence, I may not have a choice – for an extended period of time, at least – as to whether I can be with you on Sunday mornings.  Even so, this may be a blessing in disguise for us.  Here’s why: It may force us to think outside the box when it comes to our ministry to each other and our outreach to the community beyond Bethany House.  Whether we are forced to worship on Saturday evenings or simply choose to do so, the following opportunities will present themselves…

1. Current members of MAMA Church, for whom Sunday mornings are difficult to attend, will be much more likely to be able to join us.

2. Individuals and families who are interested in MAMA Church but not yet ready to make any “jump” from their current Church home (of whom there are quite a few) could join us more easily on Saturday evenings.

3. Individuals and families who are interested in MAMA Church and in taking part in our worship and some of our ministries (but who do not intend on leaving their home Church) could join us more easily on Saturday evenings.

4. Celebrating Mass on Saturday evenings would allow much greater flexibility in facilitating “Sunday School” and/or community meals (to which we would invite the community beyond Bethany House) follow Mass.  It’s worth noting, that for many individuals Saturday evenings are the loneliest time of the week.  Celebrating Mass and offering post-Mass activities on Saturday evening could prove to be an immense blessing to such folks.

5. Celebrating Mass on Saturday evenings would free me up to celebrate Mass with the EKCC inmates on Sundays.  Not only that, it would be an opportunity to revive the work I had begun in 2009/10 of creating a quasi-monastic community behind the walls of the prison – The Fellowship of Saint Joseph.

6. Celebrating Mass on Saturday evenings would give me a two-day weekend.  Even though I am highly energized to do the work God has given me and I’m excited about seeing what Bethany House can become, I need more than a one-day weekend in which to rest, be quiet, and prepare for the week ahead.

Please pray about this.  As I noted, we may not have a choice.  The lapse of time between the departure of Father Tim’s predecessor in the Chaplain’s Office and Father Tim’s arrival was nearly eight months – eight months in which I had to care for 1,700 inmates’ spiritual needs on my own.  I anticipate having to do likewise this time – the only difference is that EKCC now houses just under 2,000 inmates.  I am going to need all the support and help I can get from you!!

Now, on to the issues surrounding the creation of a monastic community at Bethany House!  I’ve known since July 29, 2010 – at Morning Prayer on that Feast of Saints Mary and Martha – that the founding of a Anglican parish in Mt. Sterling would be something very different than just another Church.  As I wrestled with the Lord over why yet another Church should be founded here – and as I honed the sense of call and had to meet with the approval of two bishops – I knew, and still know, that MAMA Church is to be some kind of monastic community.  This is why, through the years, I have laid such emphasis on our participation in the Daily Office.  This is why I have asked us to be highly intentional about our daily study of sacred Scripture.

So, what is the difference between a monastic community and a normal parish Church?  (By the way, let me say this before starting down the road of explanation – a monastery or abbey can simultaneously serve as the home for a monastic community and also as the home of a parish Church – not all the parishioners will choose to live according to monastic vows, and that is quite okay!)  The first difference is obvious: The members of a monastic community take vows relating to the mission of the community, while members of a parish Church do not.  Members of a parish Church are highly encouraged to engage in the practices of the spiritual life, but they do not make vows to that effect.  And for those among us who choose not to make monastic vows, nothing will change for them at Bethany House.  They will be able to pick and choose what they participate in and how often.

For those, however, who do choose to make vows in a monastic community at Bethany House, there will be self-imposed requirements of prayer (the Daily Office), worship (Mass), and service (especially in the area of evangelism and the works of mercy).  They will wear a certain kind of cross that will serve as the “habit” for the community and will seek to give themselves over as completely as possible to God.  Once a Rule of Life is written and adopted by the community, it will become the way of life for us.

We who are interested in making this commitment must remember two things:

1. The requirements will be realistic and take into account the range of busy schedules in our midst.  Essentially, our Rule of Life will be very similar to what is expected of an Oblate – someone who “obligates” themselves to living in similar fashion to a monk or nun, but in the world rather than in a monastery.  In this sense, Bethany House will be the “mother house” and our individual homes will be like “daughter houses”.  As vowed members of a religious community we will engage in the mission of the community (as the Lord leads us and as we decide as a community), but we will also engage in our own separate missions or “apostolates” that are centered in our own homes, lives, and vocations.

2. Also, members of the monastic community need not be members of MAMA Church!  So long as they are Baptized believers (having been Baptized with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) who are in good standing with their home Church, they may fully participate in the life of the monastic community.  And, given that the community’s main mission will be something (perhaps a ministry to expecting mothers who are at risk for considering abortion) that transcends doctrinal issues, we would gladly welcome sturdy believers who have a desire to take their prayer and worship and service life to a new level!

If you would, please take some time this week to view this wonderful video about monastic life at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachusetts.  Pay special attention to the testimonies of the sisters!  Hear their hearts for God.  Listen carefully as they explain what led them to a life of prayer.  And notice the peace that pervades both the words of their testimonies (about their relationship with Jesus) and their countenances!  What God has done in them he can do in us, too!


As you think about your life with Jesus in the week ahead, please consider making room for the Daily Office, the reading of sacred Scripture, and attendance at Bible study this Thursday (our Life of Jesus Study continues with John 4:1-26 – Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well).  Bible study begins at 6:30pm and we try to wrap up by 8:00pm.  Come and join us!!

If you would like a copy of this week’s “Our Life Together”, just send us an e-mail.  Everything you need for daily prayer (Morning, Noonday, Evening, and Compline) is contained in it.  And everything you need for daily Bible reading is also contained in it!

If you weren’t able to attend Mass on Sunday, you can see video of the entire Mass or just the sermon on our Bethany House Youtube Channel, on our Saints Mary & Martha Church at Bethany House Facebook page, or at our website – MAMA.church.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Father Todd

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

This Week at Bethany House...

Hello, dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha (and special friends, too)!

My heart is full to overflowing as I write this letter to you!  As I’ve shared in my preaching and teaching and conversations over the past few weeks, I sense that the Lord is renewing me as I pause in quietness throughout each day to hear him.  The pattern of daily prayer (morning, noon, evening, and compline) has made room for him to maneuver within me.  I’m hearing what I was missing before, and I’m responding – because of his grace – in ways that were once a struggle for me.

This morning, as I was getting ready to leave the vicarage and talking with the Lord (yes, the shower, among other ordinary places and activities, is a really great place for conversations with him!), he helped me find the words to express the growing desire of my heart: I want to live more deeply in the hidden life of continuous prayer.

I want to be more faithful in giving him the “tithe” of my time throughout each day (in the Morning, Noonday, Evening, and Compline Offices), but I also want to make more room (as I go about my daily routine) to let my mind wander to him and with him.  I want my hidden life of prayer to be where the “real me” is found.  In the words of Saint Paul, I want to “Set [my] mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For [I] have died, and [my] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)

My continuous prayer for us as a community and for each of us individually is that we will come to the place of desiring nothing but Jesus.  My heart aches with yearning to see this realized in my own life.  It also aches to see MAMA Church live fully – even extravagantly – in that desire.  It is, after all, the monastic mission of “ora et labora” (prayer/study/worship and work/mission/outreach).  I can think of nothing more beautiful than individuals who are seeking Jesus with all their heart coming together in a community that provides them with the tools for spiritual growth and evangelism!

I’ve waited to send this letter because I wasn’t sure whether we might have to cancel Bible Study on Thursday evening.  If the weather forecasts hold, it looks like the snow will hit tonight and that those who are able can gather tomorrow evening as planned.  Even so, if that changes I’ll get word out as quickly as possible.  Check e-mail, Facebook, text messages before heading out for Bible study!

As we continue in our study of the life of Jesus, we’ll be looking at John 1:35-51.  This promises to be a wonderful time in which the Lord can reach into our lives and call us – just as he did Andrew and Simon, Philip and Nathanael!  Weather and road conditions permitting, we’ll gather tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 6:30pm.  Come and join us!

If you’d like a copy of this week’s “Our Life Together” just send an e-mail to the address listed above.  I pray that what’s contained in it is exactly what the Lord wants to provide for your needs this week.  May it be a blessing to you!

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Father Todd