Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 30 min 26 sec ago

Good Friday Offering raises record total to support Middle East ministries

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 3:50pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry hands a toddler back to her mother while visiting a session for mothers and their young children at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March. Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani is at right. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Good Friday Offering, an annual collection to support ministries in the Middle East, hit a fundraising milestone in 2017, topping $400,000 for the first time.

The offering has been a “remarkable success” in recent years, said the Rev. Robert Edmunds, the church’s Middle East partnership officer. More than 1,400 congregations, including those in overseas dioceses of the Episcopal Church, participated on Good Friday 2017. Contributions totaled $414,310 according to figures finalized recently after a church audit.

The Good Friday Offering supports a variety of programs in the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, such as conferences and summer camps for children in the Diocese of Jerusalem, women’s empowerment programs, an eye clinic and other medical ministries.

“This extraordinary outpouring of generosity allows for essential funding of humanitarian aid in hospitals like the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic in Yemen, in addition to other medical ministries, schools and programs for women and youth,” Edmunds said. “The Good Friday Offering continues a strong tradition of prayer, advocacy and meaningful financial support for valuable ministry among our sisters and brothers throughout the Middle East.”

The Good Friday Offering, an initiative of the presiding bishop’s office, dates to 1922, when it was created in the aftermath of World War I in an attempt to foster relationships with Christians in the Middle East by supporting relief work and ecumenical partnerships. Each year, the Episcopal Church provides the proceeds to dioceses in the region to distribute to their locally led ministries.

The amount collected by all Episcopal congregations on Good Friday had fallen to $266,000 in 2013, but it topped $350,000 in each of the three following years before setting a record in 2017.

“Through the years many Episcopalians have found the Good Friday Offering to be an effective way to express their support for the ministries of the four dioceses of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East,” the Episcopal Church says in an online summary.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land leading up to Good Friday 2018. Among the stops on Curry’s Holy Week trip was the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, whose medical ministry in Gaza City receives money from the Good Friday Offering.

“The number of Christians in Gaza are decreasing dramatically, but the witness to the way of Jesus is as strong as ever because at Al Ahli Arab Hospital healing happens – Muslim, Christian, anyone who needs it, healing happens,” Curry told Episcopal News Service after visiting the hospital. “And that is the way of Jesus. That is what love looks like. That is what the sacrifice on the cross was about.”

The total collected from the 2018 Good Friday Offering has not yet been released.

The Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering grant program and Episcopal Relief & Development also have provided advocacy, awareness and financial support through the years for the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention regularly considers resolutions related to Middle East issues. Resolutions that take positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically generate the most debate, though the church has backed other measures as well, affirming financial support for peacemaking efforts and humanitarian ministries. A 2012 resolution specifically singled out the Al Ahli Hospital for support. And in July, the 79th General Convention passed a resolution in response to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The resolution on Yemen concluded by asserting “that throughout the Middle East region access to water and sustainable agriculture are serious problems and a primary source of conflict,” and it pledged to undertake “relief and long-term economic development projects in areas such as education, job creation and health care, as well as sustainable solutions for the lack of access to water.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Good Friday Offering raises record total to support Middle East ministries appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Cuerpo de Servicio de Adultos Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal: se aceptan solicitudes para plazas vacantes para el ciclo 2019-2020

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 2:28pm

[18 de octubre de 2018] El Cuerpo de Adultos Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal (YASC, por sus siglas en inglés) ofrece atractivas oportunidades para servir, aprender y compartir, por un año, viviendo y trabajando con comunidades alrededor del mundo.

“Desde trabajando como capellanes invitados en barcos como parte de la Misión para Marinos en Hong Kong y Nueva Zelanda, hasta enseñando en escuelas de primaria y secundaria dirigidas por la Iglesia en Costa Rica y Tanzania, o trabajando en apoyo de la transformación a un desarrollo sostenible en las Filipinas, los voluntarios de YASC construyen relaciones con las comunidades de la Comunión Anglicana, desarrollando perspectivas amplias sobre la vida y la fe que permanecerán con ellos toda su vida” dijo Elizabeth Boe, funcionaria encargada del Personal de Misión de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Vemos este ministerio como una manera de apoyar a los adultos jóvenes en su desarrollo del liderazgo mientras exploran su fe de maneras nuevas y se interrelacionan con personas con puntos de vista diferentes, ofreciendo sus dones y destrezas en contextos nuevos”.

Las solicitudes están abiertas, a los episcopales entre los 21 y 30 años de edad, para las plazas durante el período 2019-2020 en el Cuerpo de Servicio de Adultos Jóvenes, que es el programa misionero internacional de la Iglesia Episcopal. Los voluntarios de YASC en la actualidad sirven en todos los rincones del mundo donde está la Comunión Anglicana y trabajan junto a sus socios en las áreas de administración, agricultura, comunicación, desarrollo y educación. Estos voluntarios sirven en ministerios en Costa Rica, Inglaterra, Hong Kong, Nueva Zelanda, las Filipinas, Puerto Rico y Tanzania.

Entre las posibles asignaciones para el período 2019-2020 están (pero no se limitan a) Brasil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Inglaterra, Honduras, Panamá, las Filipinas, Sudáfrica, Taiwán y Tanzania.

La solicitud para el ciclo 2019-2020, junto con información adicional e instrucciones, está disponible aquí.

Jared Grant, quien fue voluntario de YASC, describe su experiencia en el programa como “una experiencia transformadora en todos los sentidos. Yo llegué a este programa con el punto de vista pesimista de que el ‘trabajo de misión’ era algo anticuado, mal informado que no estaba al corriente con la Iglesia que yo conocía y quería. YASC me dio la oportunidad de trabajar con ministerios y también desarrollar ministerios que respetan la humanidad en todos nosotros, ministerios que protegen la santidad de la creación, ministerios que buscan alcanzar esa loca idea de la paz en un mundo que parece decidido a ir en sentido contrario. Sin embargo, resultó ser que mi idea del ‘trabajo misionero’ era lo que estaba obsoleto y no el trabajo misionero en sí. Sigo estando orgulloso de llamarme un misionero de la Iglesia”. A partir de su servicio en YASC en Lesoto y en Italia, Grant decidió explorar la educación teológica en el Seminario Teológico de Virginia, donde ahora estudia.

La fecha límite para enviar solicitudes es el viernes 11 de enero de 2019.

El Rdo. David Copley, director de Alianzas Globales y Personal de Misión dijo que “YASC construye sobre la base de la fe, el conocimiento, la educación y la experiencia que los adultos jóvenes traen consigo cuando sirven y les ofrece la oportunidad de enfrentar retos y ser transformados al involucrarse plenamente en otro lugar del mundo de Dios. El servicio misionero es ante todo un acto de fe y una manera de actuar como Iglesia”.

Para obtener más información comuníquese con Elizabeth Boe.

Hay información adicional sobre YASC, vídeos y blogs en episcopalchurch.org/yasc.

The post Cuerpo de Servicio de Adultos Jóvenes de la Iglesia Episcopal: se aceptan solicitudes para plazas vacantes para el ciclo 2019-2020 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Episcopalians advocate for Great Lakes water quality

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 6:54pm

In this July 19, 2002, file photo, the Mackinac Bridge is shown from Mackinaw City, Michigan. Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP

[Episcopal News Service] Two years ago during a Sunday service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Petoskey, Michigan, Gary Street heard six words in Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer and things came together for him: “…this fragile Earth, our island home.”

About a year and a half earlier, Street, a church member and a retired chemical engineer, began advocating for the shutdown of a Canadian-owned oil and gas pipeline that originates on the southwestern end of Lake Superior, the largest of the lakes, on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.  From there, it cuts across Upper Michigan — in sections tracing Lake Michigan’s shoreline along U.S. 2 — through the Mackinac Straits, into Lower Michigan before it terminates in Canada.

“All of a sudden it just hit me; this is what we are talking about,” said Street during an Oct. 16 interview with Episcopal News Service. After the service, Street spoke to his priest and said, “I’d like to pursue this.”

Beginning in 2016 with the Diocese of Northern Michigan, all four Michigan dioceses passed the same resolution calling on the governor and the state to dismantle Enbridge Line 5.

“… the history of pipeline leaks shows that there is a significant risk of severe damage and economic loss to government entities, individuals, businesses, and the environment,” the resolution states.

Together, Street and Northern Michigan Bishop Rayford Ray took the lead.

“I got to know Rayford quite well. He really understands the issue and is more supportive than almost anyone I’ve met in the religious community,” said Street. “Part of it is that that pipeline goes all the way through the Upper Peninsula. It starts over at Wakefield and it goes to St. Ignace, and, of course, crosses the state. So, it’s almost the entire part of the southern part of the Upper Peninsula that is exposed to the rupture of the pipeline.”

In the 60-mile stretch from Naubinway to St. Ignace, the pipeline hugs the shoreline; through that area wetlands and streams feed into Lake Michigan.

“If there’s a rupture there, it would certainly get into northern Lake Michigan. The straits are kind of an icon, something everyone can relate to; we don’t want to ruin the Straits,” said Street. There are, however, other high-risk areas where a rupture could affect at least three of the five Great Lakes. “It crosses rivers in the western U.S. that flow into Lake Superior. It certainly can get into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.”

On Oct. 3 Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian oil company Enbridge announced plans to replace a nearly 4-mile section of the 65-year-old, 645-mile pipeline that transports 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and natural gas a day from Superior, Wisconsin, across Upper Michigan, through the Mackinac Straits, south and east across Lower Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, where the oil and gas are refined into propane.

The governor’s and Enbridge’s agreement would create a “utility corridor,” creating a new Line 5 pipeline drilled 100 feet into bedrock below the lake bed, at an estimated cost between $350 and $500 million over seven to 10 years. The controversy involves the 3.5 to 4 miles of pipeline that carries the oil and gas through the straits’ narrow waterways. The largest strait connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the third and second largest of the five Great Lakes.

Pipeline opponents argue that a spill poses too great an environmental and economic risk to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. The five Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Superior and Erie – form the largest freshwater system on the planet. The lakes hold close to one-fifth of the Earth’s surface freshwater; the lakes’ watershed drains 200,000 square miles of land, ranging from agricultural to forested to cities and suburbs. They have a combined shoreline of more than 10,000 miles, touching eight states and Ontario, a Canadian province.

The majority of Michigan’s 9.9 million people live below Muskegon on the western and Midland on the eastern side of the state. Remote and rural, Upper Michigan’s economy has been dependent on resource extraction, outdoor recreation and tourism; it has a population of about 300,000 people and has steadily lost population over the last decade. Pipeline supporters and Enbridge argue the pipeline helps meet rural residents’ propane heating needs.

In places like Rapid River, a town of some 4,100 people about 15 miles north of Escanaba on U.S. Highway 41, where a processing facility converts Line 5 natural gas into propane, pipeline opponents make a delicate argument for its decommissioning because some residents work at the facility and love their employer.

“Line 5 has inflamed our community,” said Deb Nedeau, project specialist for the Great Lakes Peace Center and a member of the Northern Michigan diocese’s Peace, Justice and Creation Care Committee.

Nedeau and her business partner, Kathy Vanden Boogaard are careful to stick to the potential environmental hazards associated with the pipeline and corporate responsibility.

“This is about water quality,” said Nedeau, not an unhappiness with local people.

On Oct. 16, the diocese hosted a creation care conference focused on both economic and environmental justice. The conference attracted between 40 and 50 like-minded people.

In April, Ray, Street and interfaith water advocates organized by Michigan Interfaith Power & Light gathered in Lansing to speak to Snyder and state representatives about the pipeline’s potential dangers.

“We gathered because we believe that all of humanity is called by God to love and care for all of creation; the issue of the danger of Pipeline 5 is of grave importance to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and to each of our communities in the Basin,” wrote Ray and Street in a piece scheduled to run in the upcoming issue of The FEAST, published by the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.

“In the Episcopal Church, we believe that we are stewards of creation; called to pursue justice and peace for all people and to care for the world God has given us. The world we inhabit as humans and as Michiganders is in danger,” said Ray in an email to ENS.

“I stand with our Native American brothers and sisters and advocate against the pipeline and tunnel,” Ray wrote. “The environmental and financial impact of a rupture would be devastating to the lands of our Native people and to those of us who occupy it. Let us join together to show compassion for this planet-our island home and work together as advocates for our environment.”

The region’s Native Americans maintain the pipeline violates a treaty granting fishing rights that dates back to 1836. Though tribal leaders have met with the Snyder administration three times over the past year as mandated, they don’t feel heard. Additionally, opponents have argued the state’s 1953 easement granted to Enbridge violates public trust law.

Although the state’s outgoing Republican governor and the oil company came to an agreement, the next step requires Enbridge to reach an agreement with the Mackinac Bridge Authority, which operates the five-mile suspension bridge that connects Upper and Lower Michigan over the Mackinac Straits.

Michigan will elect a new governor in November to replace Snyder, who is term-limited. Two years into Snyder’s second term the Flint water crisis began to make national and international headlines; earlier this year a report found the governor partly to blame for the situation. In August, a U.S. district judge dropped Snyder from a citizen-led class-action lawsuit.

The pipeline has become an election issue, particularly as the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint still reverberates today; that, combined with the 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline that discharged 843,000 gallons of crude tar sands oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, has raised Michigan residents’ awareness regarding water quality issues. The Kalamazoo spill required a $1.2 billion cleanup and ongoing water-quality monitoring.

Even now, Line 5 isn’t the only Enbridge-operated pipeline in the Great Lakes region to catch the attention of Episcopalians. In Minnesota, church leaders and members have joined Interfaith Power & Light’s opposition to replacing Line 3, which would run across the northern part of the state. Opponents say the pipeline threatens Minnesota’s “climate, environment and Anishinaabe people.” The Anishinaabe, aka Ojibwa, have long grown wild rice in the region. The 79th General Convention expressed its support for the Leek Lake Band of Ojibwe with Resolution C064.

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service.

The post Episcopalians advocate for Great Lakes water quality appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Anglicans around the world respond to the annual Season of Creation

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The annual Season of Creation, which ran from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, was celebrated by Anglicans around the world in many different ways. The Season of Creation began as an initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch and has since been endorsed and supported by both Pope Francis and the Anglican Consultative Council. Many other Church groups also take part.

Read the full article here.

The post Anglicans around the world respond to the annual Season of Creation appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

‘Purple’ parish in Minnesota builds paths to compassionate political dialogue

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:42pm

The Rev. Devon Anderson, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, checks in at the candidate event co-hosted by the church Oct. 16 at the South Shore Community Center in Shorewood. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Shorewood, Minnesota] Within this politically “purple” state, the Rev. Devon Anderson describes her congregation at Trinity Episcopal Church as a “purple parish,” neither red nor blue but with parishioners who bring viewpoints that touch all points along the political spectrum.

Purple isn’t an easy color for a parish, especially in these increasingly partisan times. Parishioners at the church in Excelsior, Minnesota, where Anderson is rector, had long felt uncomfortable sharing their political views, and some preferred avoiding such topics altogether at church.

Today, the parish is embracing its political diversity rather than hiding from it. Several church volunteers proudly sported their Trinity name badges as they helped stage a local candidate event Oct. 16 at a community center in the adjoining city of Shorewood, about five miles north of the convention center in Chaska where the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council is meeting this week.

The event, through a partnership with the local chamber of commerce and League of Women Voters branch, was part of Trinity’s effort to turn what could be a liability into an opportunity for promoting open, civil discourse. Anderson sees the congregation as a kind of “incubator” for compassionate dialogue across political divides.

“If we have this parish – we care about each other, we celebrate the sacraments together, we’re really focused on building relationships with each other – could we not also use that as a training ground for being out in the community as respectful, kind people?” said Anderson, who is a member of Executive Council.

On this Tuesday evening, that plan seemed to be hitting its mark. A roar of conversation filled the South Shore Community Center as dozens of voters met with candidates for office in communities around the Twin Cities’ west suburbs. Signs, buttons, postcards and banners – Tonka Bay mayor, Hennepin County sheriff, Excelsior City Council, Minnesota House of Representatives – decorated all corners of the room, and some candidates placed cookies on the assigned card tables to sweeten their pitches for support.

Kelly Morrison, a Trinity Episcopal Church member and state House candidate, talks with a local voter at the Oct. 16 event. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

One of the candidates, Kelly Morrison, who is running for a state House seat, is also a member of Trinity. She has been inspired by her church’s efforts to encourage people to talk and listen without prejudging each other based on political beliefs.

“I’m a proud Democrat, but I don’t want conversations to end before they begin,” she told Episcopal News Service. “We’re all on the same team.”

She also thinks Christian teachings, such as loving your neighbor and welcoming the stranger, help inform Christians’ actions as they enter the public sphere. They’re “what all of this should be about,” Morrison said.

Fellow Trinity member Bev Lane, who had volunteered as a greeter at the candidate event, shares that support for the congregation’s efforts.

“When you know the people, you understand them,” Lane said. “I think that we have to be more civil. We have to get along, even though we have differing opinions.”

Gary Veazie, who works part time as facility manager at Trinity, on this occasion was in charge of setting up refreshments in the community center room. He stood watch over the table of snacks and drinks.

“I’m running for doughnuts and water,” Veazie joked.

Candidates for local election in the west suburbs of the Twin Cities talk with voters Oct. 16 at the community center in Shorewood. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Veazie started attending worship services at Trinity in 1980, and he had high praise for the congregation’s several rectors over the years. Anderson, too, is known for giving a “top-level sermon,” he said – including sermons that draw connections between the Gospel and current events, “which is a hard line to walk.”

One particularly difficult sermon in 2016 helped focus the congregation on its civil discourse work.

The presidential election left Anderson in a “panic,” she admitted in her sermon that November, not from her own views on the outcome, but because she wasn’t sure how to unify a congregation with such divergent reactions to Donald Trump being elected president.

Some parishioners were cheerful, while others were in shock. “How are we going to continue together?” she thought.

She found her answer in the very congregation that seemed so divided. “We need church and Christian community more than ever, because within it we can practice the kind of peace and unity we so desire for our country,” Anderson told her congregation.

Minnesota narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the state’s counties are a patchwork of blue and red, with the bluest centered around the metro areas of the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth. Hennepin County went solidly Democratic; however, Anderson said, Excelsior and other west suburbs are more politically diverse and lean more conservative than Minneapolis.

Trinity Episcopal Church already had begun encouraging parishioners to be more open about their political views and listen to each other respectfully. An early catalyst was Minnesota’s adoption of a law in 2013 legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

As with other political issues, parishioners’ views on gay marriage varied widely, and “the congregation had never had a conversation about it,” Anderson said. Trinity would need to decide whether it would offer same-sex ceremonies, but first it enlisted a consultant through the University of St. Thomas’ civil discourse lecture series to coach parishioners.

“We needed to learn how to create a safe space for people to really be able to express how they felt, and so we learned a methodology for doing that,” Anderson said.

After strengthening the congregation’s civil discourse skills, the vestry called an all-parish meeting to discuss offering the sacrament of marriage to all people. Parishioners were encouraged to put their newly developed skills to work as they listened to members sharing their views one at a time. The meeting felt like a liturgical experience, Anderson said, as each speech was followed by a moment of silence and hymn singing.

The meeting was well attended and lasted several hours, she said, and when the vestry later voted to offer same-sex ceremonies, it was not the divisive decision it otherwise could have been.

“It was a real moment for the parish,” Anderson said. “Because it was like, we can actually do this. We can be diverse in our opinions, in our political opinions, and we can still be a really close worshiping community.”

Such an approach worked for Trinity, but it need not end there.

“I think this kind of thing should be the leading edge of the Episcopal Church,” said Betty Bright, a vestry member who was volunteering at the candidate meet-and-greet event. “For me, it’s about being open to each person’s heart.”

The candidate meet-and-greet event Oct. 16 was hosted jointly by Trinity Episcopal Church and the local chamber of commerce and League of Women Voters branch. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Fellow vestry member Christopher Williams also attended the event and was pleased by the turnout. Some Episcopalians may attend worship services and just want to hear the Gospel, without talking about how it may apply to contemporary life, he said, but opening paths of conversation across differences can broaden people’s thinking, within the congregation and beyond.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said. “I think it adds a lot to any conversation you’re going to have, with anybody about anything.”

A small team of volunteers from Trinity had been working to host candidate forums at the church, but they struggled to get candidates to commit, Anderson said. In the meantime, the volunteers turned their focus toward supporting the meet-and-greet event Oct. 16.

Monica Wiant, a vestry member and one of the event volunteers, credited Anderson for pressing the congregation not to shy away from conversations just because they may seem uncomfortable. The all-parish meeting on same-sex ceremonies was a big step, she said.

“It was just terrific,” Wiant said. “Because not everybody agreed, but there was a lot of mutual support and listening.”

Wiant, who described herself as “proudly liberal,” was among those parishioners shocked and unsettled by the presidential election, and she appreciated Anderson’s invitation to come together as a faith community. “The church needs to be a place where we can bring those emotions and work through it,” Wiant said.

Whether Republican or Democrat, they are all Christian.

“I think spiritually we have a lot of common ground, regardless of how we vote,” Wiant said.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post ‘Purple’ parish in Minnesota builds paths to compassionate political dialogue appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Brazil’s Anglican bishops condemn hatred and lies in pre-election statement

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 5:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil is urging the country’s Christians to “read your Bible in a profound and prayerful way” as the nation prepares for the run-off presidential election. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro will faceFernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party on Oct. 28.

Read the full article here.

The post Brazil’s Anglican bishops condemn hatred and lies in pre-election statement appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

1,200 volunteers ask to serve on churchwide bodies as Episcopal leaders herald new energy

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 5:29pm

Members of Executive Council break into committees on Oct. 16 in Chaska, Minnesota. Executive Council is one of 65 interim bodies during this triennium. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chaska, Minnesota] One impressive figure keeps coming up as Executive Council meets here this week: 1,200.

More than 1,200 volunteers from around the Episcopal Church applied to serve on one of the church’s dozens of interim bodies, including those created by the 79th General Convention in July, to address various issues and tasks over the next three years. That response is a 60 percent increase over the applications received for the previous triennium.

Members of Executive Council have heralded that number, calling it representative of the energy in the church following its triennial meeting in Austin, Texas.

“It indicates that people are interested in serving in a churchwide level,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, told Episcopal News Service on Oct. 16 during a break in the day’s proceedings at Oak Creek Hotel & Conference Center. “I think it indicates we’re doing some worthwhile and meaningful things.”

Interim body refers to any task force, board or committee created to do work for the church in the interim between the last meeting of General Convention and the next, which will be in 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. The types and numbers of interim bodies have fluctuated since 2015, when General Convention sought to dramatically reduce the number of long-term policy-making bodies, known as standing commissions.

Much of the work that had been done by the eliminated commissions was assigned to newly created task forces, explained Sally Johnson, chancellor to the president of the House of Deputies. So the number of interim bodies has actually increased this triennium to 65. They are listed here.

Some interim bodies are created by church Canon. Executive Council is one such example. General Convention in July created an additional 21 interim bodies by resolution, such as the Task Force on Church Planting and Congregational Redevelopment, the Task Force to Study Sexism and Develop Anti-Sexism Training and the Advisory Council on Disability and Deaf Access.

Even with so many interim bodies, the church won’t have space for all 1,200 volunteers, Jennings said. She estimates there will be 554 appointments this triennium by her office, the presiding bishop’s office or both offices jointly.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, estimates she and the presiding bishop will make 554 appointments from a list of more than 1,200 volunteers to interim bodies. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Jennings maintains a spreadsheet of all applicants and their criteria, which helps assist church leaders in selecting candidates for seats on interim bodies. Her office fills some interim bodies, while the presiding bishop’s office is responsible for filling others. Some will be filled by vote of Executive Council.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Jennings said.

The interim bodies typically have about a dozen members, but some are smaller. The largest, the Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision, was created by General Convention Resolution A068 and will have 30 members – 10 bishops, 10 priests or deacons and 10 lay people.

After General Convention, the application process was promoted across the church, and interested Episcopalians were encouraged to identify which of the interim bodies they’d prefer. Jennings was impressed by the quality of the candidates.

“There’s a huge number of incredible, gifted people in this church. It’s really great,” she said.

This year’s crop of candidates easily topped the 750 or so people who applied in 2015, and Jennings noted that many younger Episcopalians were among the new names on this year’s list.

She and other church leaders are in the process of reviewing all the applications, and applicants should find out soon if they have been selected to an interim body and, if so, which one.

General Convention did not approve funding to support all 65 interim bodies, so each will face its own set of accommodations and limitations in carrying out business over the next three years. Some will meet electronically, and others will meet in person, as Executive Council is doing for four days this week.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post 1,200 volunteers ask to serve on churchwide bodies as Episcopal leaders herald new energy appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Plaque dedicated to mark 130 years of the Mothers’ Union in Ireland

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 4:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Both Church of Ireland archbishops took part in the All–Ireland Triennial Thanksgiving Service of the Mothers’ Union this month at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The highlight of the service was the dedication of a stained glass plaque commissioned to celebrate 130 years of the Mothers’ Union in the island of Ireland last year. The Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson led the service and the sermon was preached by Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke, the primate of the Church of Ireland.

Read the full article here.

The post Plaque dedicated to mark 130 years of the Mothers’ Union in Ireland appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Executive Council meets in Minnesota, aims to link ‘local context’ to broader Jesus Movement

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 5:07pm

Presiding Bishop MIchael Curry gives his opening remarks Oct. 15 during the first day of the Executive Council meeting in Chaska, Minnesota. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Chaska, Minnesota] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council kicked off its first meeting since the 79th General Convention on Oct. 15, gathering in a conference center in this Twin Cities suburb to begin discussing how to align church operations with the priorities and mandates established in July.

The 40 voting members of Executive Council and additional nonvoting members are a broad mix of races, ages, genders and places of origin. One example was Table 4, where Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen from sat across from the Rev. Devon Anderson, rector at the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota. The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, lauded the group for its diversity – “more diverse than it was at last triennium, and I think God for that.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry opened the morning session at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center by using a passage from the Gospel of John to set the tone for this four-day session: “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said during his Last Supper. “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Curry came back to those lines several times during remarks that ran about 20 minutes. The church “loses its soul the further it gets away from Jesus of Nazareth,” he said, but the work of the Executive Council will build on the movement of Christians seeking to reclaim what it means to be followers of Jesus and his teachings.

“I know that it’s easy for fads to come and go, and yet it is my deep and earnest prayer that our embracing what it means to be the Jesus Movement will not be a fad that comes and goes,” Curry said.

The Episcopal Church put its beliefs into action through more than 500 resolutions passed at the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. “Our structures for translating, processing and disseminating strained at the sheer volume” of resolutions, Jennings said, but she was heartened rather than troubled by the numbers. A record number of resolutions shows Episcopalians are energized by their faith.

She also was encouraged by the stunning 1,200 people who have volunteered to serve on one of the interim bodies that continue the work of General Convention during the triennium.

“The good news is 1,200 people want to be involved in the work between conventions,” Jennings said.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, speaks Oct. 15 at Executive Council. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

She opened her remarks by briefly recapping General Convention and couldn’t help getting in final references to the General Convention Pigeon and some deputies’ love of VooDoo doughnuts. Lighter moments aside, during the two weeks in Austin, the bishops and deputies led the church in confronting some of the most pressing issues facing society today, including immigration and gun violence.

The House of Bishops held a “Liturgy of Listening” to tell the stories of sexual abuse and exploitation, including within the church, drawing attention to an issue “that too many church leaders have refused to acknowledge and have only become more urgent since convention concluded.”

Jennings in February appointed a 47-member Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation to lead the church’s efforts, and those efforts will accelerate in the new triennium, Jennings said Oct. 15. She also referenced that work recently in a guest post in The Christian Century written in response to sexual assault allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh made by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1).

Curry, as presiding bishop, serves as president of Executive Council, and Jennings is vice president. Twenty members of Executive Council – four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people – are elected by General Convention to six-year terms, with half of those members elected every three years. Each of the Episcopal Church’s nine provinces elects an ordained member and a lay member for six years, and those elections also alternate every three years.

Council also has several additional nonvoting members, such as the Episcopal Church’s finance director and chief operating officer.

The agenda for the first day of this Executive Council meeting was light on legislative business, though the group voted in the morning to establish a new roster of committees based on the priorities set by General Convention under Curry. They are Finance, Government & Operations, Ministry Within the Episcopal Church and Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, gives an overview of the work of Executive Council on Oct. 15. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, secretary of General Convention, sought to frame the Executive Council’s business this week partly as an attempt to bridge the gap between the churchwide and the local. “The further you get from the local congregation,” he said, “the more remote things can sometimes seem.”

He encouraged the Executive Council members to keep the local context in mind, and he noted the Executive Council plans to meet in all nine provinces over the course of the triennium leading up to the 80th General Convention in Baltimore Maryland. “We’re going to make an effort to learn more about that local context as we go around,” he said.

The next Executive Council meeting will be Feb. 21-24 in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Future locations have yet to be announced.

Curry, in his remarks, also alluded to unspecified organizational “crises” within the Episcopal Church that had been hindering its spiritual work. “Every crisis is a disguised opportunity, you just have to figure out what it is,” he said. “We realized we needed to do something different.” One of those things was hiring a personnel consultant to study the workplace culture of the churchwide offices and help church leaders improve that culture.

“Through it all, we’re going to love each other and take care of each other,” he said.

Curry was more pointed in making his case for “reclaiming Jesus,” invoking an initiative that he and other ecumenical leaders launched earlier this year to refocus the broader culture on Jesus’ teachings. Certain far-right Evangelical preachers don’t even mention Jesus, Curry said, but they speak with a “religious intonation” that sounds Christian but is actually political.

“Christianity is being hijacked in public perceptions of what it means to be Christian,” Curry said.

By trying to reclaim the Jesus of love and compassion, he said he wasn’t making a political commentary, though “it may have political consequences.”

“That’s what I believe we need, not just in the church,” he said. “I’m talking in the culture, a revival of the way of being Christian that looks something like Jesus, the Jesus that said love is what it’s all about.”

When the group reconvened after lunch, Curry spoke briefly about the “Way of Love”, a rule of life that he, his staff and leaders from around the church developed to help Episcopalians practice being part of the Jesus Movement in their own lives and communities.

Russell Randle, a lay member from the Diocese of Virginia, offered praise and thanks for the Way of Love, which Curry had unveiled during General Convention.

“For the first time, really, in my memory our wider church has put in the hands of people a very able and effective tool to make people at the individual and parish level more effective witnesses of the Gospel,” Randle said. One of the resolutions at Virginia’s upcoming convention would ask parishes how they plan to implement the Way of Love locally, he said.

Allen, the Honduras bishop, speaking through a interpreter, emphasized the need to change how the church reaches the younger generation, including through smarter use of technology and rethinking what church should be in today’s world.

“Jesus Christ has challenged us,” Allen said. “Jesus Christ is challenging this church. … Let’s leave our old ways behind, and let’s do what Jesus called us to do.”

The Executive Council’s mandate is to provide top-level leadership for the church during the triennium, but Allis Freeman worried that most Episcopalians don’t understand its function.

“We’ve heard that all politics is local. I think all church stuff is actually local, too,” said Freeman, a lay member from the Diocese of North Carolina. “There are people who do not know there is an Executive Council. There are people who do not know what the executive council does.”

She urged the church to communicate that mission more widely, adding this is one way to improve outreach to young people.

As if on cue, much of the rest of the afternoon was devoted to a presentation about the role of the Executive Council, led by Sally Johnson, chancellor for the president of the House of Deputies, and Douglas Anning, chief legal officer.

More information about Executive Council can be found here, and the Executive Council bylaws are here.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Executive Council meets in Minnesota, aims to link ‘local context’ to broader Jesus Movement appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Gulf Coast churches remain in ‘rescue phase’ after Hurricane Michael

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 3:38pm

First responders and residents walk along a main street following Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 11, 2018. Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal churches on the Gulf Coast, including parts of Georgia and North and South Carolina, continue to assess Hurricane Michael’s damage, with some in the hardest hit coast areas still in the rescue phase.

“We’re at a time when every tree is down, and every roof is compromised,” said Dwight Babcock, diocesan administrator for the Episcopal Church of the Central Gulf Coast, in an Oct. 15 interview with Episcopal News Service. “This [recovery] is a marathon, not a sprint. We just don’t know what we’re looking at.”

On Oct. 12, Babcock and Central Gulf Coast Bishop Russell Kendrick traveled east from Pensacola to Panama City and other affected areas to visit some of the 11 affected churches. The bishop made a second trip the following day with a small group to distribute generators and other emergency supplies, said Babcock.

Ten of the 11 damaged churches held services “in one form or another,” on Oct. 14; some inside the churches, some outdoors in pavilions, he said.

On Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Panama City, Florida, as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the mainland United States, killing 19 people. A Category 4 hurricane packing 155 mph winds, Michael wiped out trees and flattened buildings. Five days later thousands of  people remained without electricity.

“From Highway 79 to the eastern edge of our diocese, the road conditions are still not safe for anyone to travel,” said Kendrick in a video posted on the diocese’s website. “Please be patient. Let’s let the trained responders do their jobs and make the conditions safe so we can get in there and help as necessary.”

The Episcopal Church of the Central Gulf Coast has created a Hurricane Relief Hub, listing ways to donate to hurricane relief efforts. The diocese also offers emergency preparedness and response resources. The diocese includes the Florida Panhandle and parts of southern Alabama.

Communities inland, in Georgia and further into the Southeast, were affected by Hurricane Michael; some of those communities continue to recover from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall as a Category 1 storm on Sept. 14 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. The Diocese of East Carolina, which covers North Carolina’s coast, also has issued an appeal for support.

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia reports significant damage in Albany, Brainbridge, Americus and the surrounding counties. Tree damage was significant in Albany, affecting the infrastructure and leaving many without power or potable water. In Bainbridge and Decatur County, roofs were blown off and trees took out power lines, blocked streets, and crashed into houses, according to Episcopal Relief & Development.

“The local dioceses are continuing to assess the damage caused by the storm,” said Katie Mears, senior director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program, in a statement posted on its website. “Disasters have three phases: rescue, relief and recovery. We are prepared to support them as we move into the next phase of providing relief to affected communities.”

-Lynette Wilson is reporter and managing editor for Episcopal News Service.

The post Gulf Coast churches remain in ‘rescue phase’ after Hurricane Michael appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘All Nigerians have in your hands a golden future’

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 1:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, have taken part in a pre-election interfaith peace conference in Nigeria. Giving the keynote address at the “Religious Harmony in Nigeria: Towards the 2019 General Elections” conference in Abuja, Welby told the audience that “Peace requires justice.” He said: “Attacks cannot be treated with impunity. Truth needs telling and arriving at the truth that is to be told is a complex process.” While in Abuja, Welby held separate meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar. A series of primaries will be held between now at the election date of  Feb. 16, 2019. The new president will be inaugurated on May 29, 2019.

Read the full article here.

The post Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘All Nigerians have in your hands a golden future’ appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Archbishop Rowan Williams leads Anglican delegation at canonization of Oscar Romero

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 1:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams led an Anglican delegation to the Vatican this weekend for the canonization of Oscar Romero.  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby sent a letter to Pope Francis in which he described the former archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated as he celebrated Mass in March 1980, as “a true example to all Christians, and particularly to our fellow bishops.” The weekend’s service at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, also saw the canonization of Pope Paul VI and five other saints: Francesco Spinelli, Vincenzo Romano, Maria Catherine Kasper, Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, and Nuncio Sulprizio.

Read the full article here.

The post Archbishop Rowan Williams leads Anglican delegation at canonization of Oscar Romero appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

‘Activen’ a los ciudadanos para reclamar derechos humanos y gobiernos que los garanticen, dicen los líderes de Cristosal

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:47am

Noah Bullock, a la derecha, director ejecutivo de Cristosal, se dirige al publico en la Universidad de San Luis, Misurí, sobre el tema de los refugiados y los derechos humanos. Lo escuchan David Morales, al centro, director de litigios estratégicos de Cristosal, y el Rdo. Mike Angell, rector de la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Comunión en University City, Misurí. Foto de Sid Hastings/WUSTI (las fotos se han reimpreso con permiso).

[Episcopal News Service – St. Louis] Un grupo de derechos humanos en El Salvador fundado por clérigos episcopales ha recurrido a los tribunales para obligar al gobierno del país a vivir a la altura de su responsabilidad de proteger a centenares de miles de ciudadanos desplazados internamente por la violencia desenfrenada, delincuencial y de otro tipo.

Y cuando esos refugiados de la violencia vienen a Estados Unidos, este país tiene también una responsabilidad de brindarles un asilo seguro, dijo Noah Bullock, el director ejecutivo de Cristosal, el 8 de octubre en la Universidad de Washington en San Luis, en un simposio sobre una respuesta a la inmigración y a la violencia desde la perspectiva de la fe.

“A ninguna persona puede negársele un lugar en el planeta Tierra donde pueda ser libre de persecución”, dijo Bullock, al hablar en el  Centro sobre Religión y Política John C. Danforth , que lleva el nombre del senador John Danforth, republicano de Misurí y sacerdote episcopal.

Contrario a la opinión popular, dijo Bullock, el típico inmigrante que cruza la frontera sur de Estados Unidos ya no es un mexicano en busca de trabajo, sino alguien proveniente de los países del [llamado]“Triángulo Norte” [de América Central] , El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, que huye de la violencia de las pandillas. Cristosal, que tiene oficinas en los tres países, dirige centros de acogida en ellos para la protección de los desplazados. Sin embargo, la solución definitiva no consiste en que agrupaciones  privadas reemplacen al gobierno en ese papel protector, dijo Bullock. Más bien, instituciones como Cristosal logran reformas estructurales a largo plazo “motivando” a las víctimas a reclamar sus derechos, y al estado a cumplir con sus deberes. La Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre los refugiados de 1951, dijo Bullock, enuncia este deber para cualquier país que reciba a personas que huyan de la persecución.

Bullock describió una ejecución exitosa de su estrategia de activación. Cristosal demandó al gobierno de El Salvador en nombre de seis familias obligadas a abandonar sus hogares debido a la violencia de las pandillas, arguyendo que un gobierno indiferente había violado sus derechos constitucionales. En julio, el Tribunal Supremo del país falló a favor de las familias, ordenándole al gobierno que reconociera el problema del desplazamiento forzoso después de haberlo desmentido durante años, que impidiera que sucediera y que ayudara a las víctimas.

David Morales, que dirige el equipo de litigio estratégico de Cristosal, le contó a los 75 asistentes en la Universidad de Washington de otro intento de exigir responsabilidades a los poderosos de El Salvador a través de los tribunales. Cristosal está acusando privadamente a los perpetradores de la masacre de El Mozote, en la cual soldados del gobierno adiestrados por EE.UU. mataron a más de 1.000 civiles —más de la mitad de ellos niños— en 1981. Morales comenzó a investigar la masacre durante el conflicto cuando trabajaba en la oficina de derechos humanos de la arquidiócesis católica de San Salvador, la capital de la nación. (Morales también buscó justicia para el asesinato del arzobispo Oscar Romero en 1980, un defensor de los pobres que  será canonizado como santo católico el 14 de octubre).

El caso de El Mozote se paralizó cuando la guerra civil terminó en 1992 con un acuerdo de amnistía que protegió de enjuiciamiento a los criminales de guerra. Sin embargo, en 2016, el Tribunal Supremo del país anuló la amnistía como inconstitucional. Ese fallo le permitió a Morales retomar [el caso] donde lo había dejado años antes.

Morales dijo que el uso de violencia flagrante contra los civiles durante la guerra ha persistido en el presente en que la policía y el ejército salvadoreño asumen un criterio de “puño de hierro” hacia la violencia pandilleril “sin invertir en políticas para la prevención de delitos”. En el proceso, los jóvenes de quienes meramente se sospecha que pertenecen a pandillas enfrentan prisión, tortura y ejecución extrajudicial, dijo él.

Bullock añadió que es importante enjuiciar crímenes de guerra de hace décadas porque ¨cuando no hay verdad, cuando no hay justicia,  hay una continuación de la norma”.

“Creemos que podemos impugnar la premisa de impunidad, la premisa de que el poderoso puede hacer lo que quiera del débil sin consecuencias”, dijo Bullock acerca del caso judicial. “Es algo que buscamos eliminar”

En lugar de instar a Estados Unidos a proteger a refugiados del Triángulo Norte, Bullock y Morales no abordaron las controversiales políticas migratorias de EE.UU. sobre separación de familias, estatus de protección temporal o Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia [DACA]. Bullock abordó de manera más amplia la importancia de Estados Unidos, no obstante imperfecta, en la salvaguarda de los derechos humanos.

“Significa mucho para el mundo cuando Estados Unidos dice que los derechos humanos son importantes”, dijo Bullock. Hay una palanca, entonces, para organizaciones como la nuestra para abogar”.

“Pero cuando Estados Unidos renuncia a su papel de liderazgo, hay menos presión para promover esos cambios”, dijo él. Advirtió de un resurgimiento del autoritarismo a través del planeta e “incluso en nuestro propio país”, que envalentona a los violadores de los derechos humanos. Sirva de ejemplo: “En Nicaragua, el régimen ha matado a más de 400 personas que protestaban en los últimos meses y expulsaron del país al Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos sin importarles ninguna repercusión [internacional]”, afirmó.

Bullock también impugnó la caracterización que hizo el presidente Donald Trump de El Salvador y otras naciones en desarrollo como “agujeros de mierda”, diciendo que el Presidente ignora las políticas de EE.UU. que han configurado a esos países para lo peor a lo largo de los años. Por ejemplo, las balas usadas por los soldados del gobierno en la masacre de El Mozote se fabricaron en una planta de municiones de Independence, Misurí, dijo Bullock.

“No podemos vernos al margen de las condiciones que existen allí”, afirmó.

Un panel de tres activistas religiosos de San Luis que participaron en el simposio relacionaron la obra de Cristosal en América Central a sus propias  misiones. “La fe es personal, pero no privada —la fe tiene que ser pública”, dijo el Rdo. Travis Winckler, pastor de la segunda Iglesia Presbiteriana. Su congregación, dijo Winckler, está intentando hacer realidad esas palabras salvando el abismo entre un barrio predominantemente afroamericano que queda justo al norte [y] que ha experimentado “el residuo histórico del racismo” y un barrio más próspero e integrado que está al lado.

Para la Rda. Dietra Wise-Baker, que estuvo activa en las protestas en Ferguson, Misurí, luego de la muerte a tiros por la policía de Michael Brown, el “puño de hierro” que blandiera el ejército y la policía salvadoreña “suenan como la misma historia, la misma cantinela, que tuvo lugar aquí, con la policía en atuendo antimotines”.

“¿Cómo entenderán que están a nuestro servicio?”, dijo Wise-Baker. “Hay mucho en común entre nuestro pueblo y el pueblo de El Salvador”. Ella añadió que anteriormente no había visto la opresión de los afroamericanos a través de una lente de derechos humanos.

Wise-Baker, organizadora comunitaria con una agrupación llamada Congregaciones Metropolitanas Unidas, está de acuerdo con Cristosal en lo que respecta al uso del sistema judicial. En agosto, su agrupación presentó en un tribunal federal una demanda legal contra un distrito escolar local —junto con agencias educativas de Misurí— por supuestamente brindarles educación de calidad inferior a niños indigentes, en violación de estatutos federales. “Esta es una manera de intentar que el estado asuma su responsabilidad”, dijo ella.

Los panelistas también comentaron sobre las falsas caracterizaciones o narrativas repetidas sobre las personas privadas de derechos humanos, tales como el concepto erróneo de que los inmigrantes indocumentados que entran por la frontera sur son en su mayoría buscadores de empleo o, como Trump ha dicho, “delincuentes y violadores”.

“En verdad no me gustaría  repetir lo que se dice contra nosotros”, dijo la majarat Rori Picker Neiss, directora ejecutiva del Consejo de Relaciones de la Comunidad Judía de San Luis.

Neiss dijo que una narrativa falsa  sostenía el criterio común de que los posibles inmigrantes  debían venir aquí legalmente como los recién llegados de generaciones anteriores.

“Tenemos historias de judíos que entraron ilegalmente en el país”, dijo ella. “En mi infancia, muchos de los relatos que oímos eran de personas que heroicamente falsificaron documentos, robaron documentos, y todo lo que necesitaron hacer para sobrevivir”.

– Robert Lowes, periodista independiente y poeta, es miembro de la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Comunión [Holy Communion] en University City, Misurí, un suburbio de San Luis. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

The post ‘Activen’ a los ciudadanos para reclamar derechos humanos y gobiernos que los garanticen, dicen los líderes de Cristosal appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

10 candidates in running to be Bishop of Polynesia

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 11:31am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A former Olympic sprinter is among 10 candidates in the running to be the next Bishop of Polynesia. The holder of the diocesan post will also become one of three primates and archbishops of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The slate of candidates includes two women, a cathedral dean, three senior educators, a vicar-general and three bishops. An electoral college will convene in Suva on Oct. 26 and 27 to conduct the vote.

Read the full article here.

The post 10 candidates in running to be Bishop of Polynesia appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Diocese of London launching School of Pioneers to train lay church planters

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 11:29am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new School of Pioneers is opening in the Diocese of London to provide non-residential training for lay leaders in creating new congregations. The initiative is being run jointly by the Diocese’s Centre for Church Planting and Growth and the Anglican mission agency Church Mission Society. The new venture will “identify and train new pioneer leaders to birth ‘new churches, for new people in new places’ across London,” a spokesperson for the diocese said in a statement.

Read the full article here.

The post Diocese of London launching School of Pioneers to train lay church planters appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Episcopalians assess damage from Hurricane Michael’s destructive tear through Southeast

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 6:10pm

A man walks past buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 11. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians, congregations and dioceses across the Southeast again are assessing the damage and praying for the best after another powerful hurricane wreaked havoc on the communities in its path.

Last month it was Hurricane Florence, which hit coastal North Carolina hard and also brought wind, rain and flooding to parts of South Carolina and Virginia and cities farther inland. On Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Panama City, Florida, as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the mainland United States. At least two people are dead as Michael left buildings in ruin, blocked roads and power outages affecting hundreds of thousands.

Michael weakened Oct. 11 to a tropical storm as it made its way across the Carolinas, dropping more rain on regions already struggling to bounce back from Florence. The latest storm is moving rapidly northeast and expected to head out to sea by early Oct. 12.

Episcopal Relief & Development, the agency that works at the churchwide level to help coordinate disaster response, began holding conference calls with dioceses before the storm hit, and that outreach continues as local leaders assess the needs of their communities.

“Our partners are just beginning to assess the impact of Hurricane Michael,” Katie Mears, senior director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program, said in a press release. “We will continue to support church partners to serve and care for affected communities in the weeks and months ahead.”

Michael intensified surprisingly fast into a Category 4 hurricane before hitting land, forcing residents and church leaders to expedite their preparations and evacuations.

In the Diocese of Florida, Christ Church in Monticello shared photos on its Facebook page of volunteers boarding up the church’s windows on Oct. 9. “Hope everyone remains safe as Michael approaches,” the post said.

Farther west along the Florida Panhandle, in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, the Rev. Thomas Dwyer was bracing for the worst.

“I hope this finds you all busily completing your preparations,” he told his Port St. Joe congregation in an Oct. 9 post on the St. James’ Episcopal Church’s Facebook page.  “Since we will likely lose power, I wanted to get this out early. Please, if you are staying in the area, make sure that wherever you are is safe, and stay indoors.”

Dwyer told Episcopal News Service by email on Oct. 11 that he fled the city before the hurricane. He heard from someone who made it to the church afterward that the church was damaged but survived the hurricane.

“Lots of shingles blown off and a chain-link fence down, but sounds like structurally it is OK,” he said. “I will hopefully get back Saturday and then I’ll know more.”

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast posted hurricane preparation info prominently on its website well before Hurricane Michael arrived, and Bishop Russell Kendrick issued a statement Oct. 9 offering prayers and support to the members of his diocese, which includes the western Panhandle and southern Alabama. He followed up Oct. 11 with a video message.

Kendrick and other diocesan leaders gathered for a morning staff meeting Oct. 11 to share updates on the storm’s aftermath and plan their next steps. Communication has been difficult in some areas, so information was still flowing in from various congregations.

“We do know that there has been damage to several of our church buildings,” Kendrick said. He didn’t have details but identified the churches with confirmed damage as Holy Nativity Episcopal Church and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Panama City, Grace Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach and St. James’ in Port St. Joe.

A similar assessment was underway in the Diocese of Georgia, which encompasses the southern half of the state. The diocese had been tracking congregations through an alert system, and by Oct. 11 more than 100 messages had come in, according to Katie Willoughby, the diocese’s canon for administration.

Bainbridge, Georgia, was one of the communities in the diocese reporting the most damage, Willoughby told ENS by phone. Thomasville, Albany and Americus also were hit hard, but most of the damage reported so far was downed trees. Church buildings seemed intact.

“Generally, we came through well, however we have some significant tree damage,” she said. Several parishioners also reported trees falling onto their homes.

Information is only trickling in about the congregations in the Panama City, Florida, the small Gulf Coast city that was in the direct line of the storm. News reports from that region paint an alarming picture.

A 300-bed hospital in Panama City was forced to evacuate Oct. 11 after the hurricane turned parts of the complex into tatters. The storm wiped out the roofs of hi-rise condos, knocked down trees, tossed boats around like toys and left the city looking like a “complete war zone,” according to one Facebook user who posted video of the destruction.

The Rev. Steve Bates, who fled Panama City before the storm with his wife, posted a forlorn update Oct. 11 on the Facebook page of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, where Bates is rector.

“My heart is broken for our community. In just a few hours, all of our lives were changed,” Bates said. “But what remains the same is the loving, caring, and giving of those who call Panama City home.”

He wasn’t sure if his own home sustained damage in the storm, nor could he say anything about the condition of the church, but he hoped for updates soon. “The work ahead is daunting. but I know beyond any doubt that we are stronger than this storm,” he said. “God love you.”

West of Panama City, services at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, were canceled Oct. 10 afternoon, but the congregation posted an update on Facebook the next day saying the church had weathered the storm well. “No damage to the buildings, no trees down and power is on,” the post said. “Prayers continue for those to the east of us.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Episcopalians assess damage from Hurricane Michael’s destructive tear through Southeast appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Matthew Shepard to be interred at Washington National Cathedral after public service

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 2:28pm

Matthew Shepard was active in his Episcopal congregation in Casper, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Washington National Cathedral.

[Episcopal News Service] Twenty years after the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard sparked national outrage, his ashes will be interred at Washington National Cathedral following a public service of remembrance.

The Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance for Matthew Shepard on Oct. 26 will be led by Washington Bishop Marian Budde and retired New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop who knowns the Shepard family. Until now, Shepard’s parents had not settled on a final resting place for Shepard’s remains out of concern the site would be vandalized. As they approached 20 years since their son’s death, Robinson helped the family make arrangements at National Cathedral.

The tragedy of Shepard’s death is still a call to the nation to reject bigotry and “instead embrace each of our neighbors for who they are,” the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, said in a news release. “The Shepard family has shown extraordinary courage and grace in keeping his spirit and memory alive, and the Cathedral is honored and humbled to serve as his final resting place.”

Shepard, 21, was a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie when a passerby found him beaten and tied to a fence in October 1998. He died later at a hospital. The crime ignited an outcry against the prevalence of anti-gay violence.

His 1998 funeral was held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming, the congregation where he had served as an acolyte. Shepard also had attended the Canterbury Club while at college.

“Matt loved the Episcopal Church and felt welcomed by his church in Wyoming,” his mother, Judy Shepard, said in a cathedral news release. “For the past 20 years, we have shared Matt’s story with the world. It’s reassuring to know he now will rest in a sacred spot where folks can come to reflect on creating a safer, kinder world.”

About 200 people are interred at National Cathedral, including President Woodrow Wilson and Hellen Keller. Shepard’s internment will be a private ceremony, but the service of remembrance will be open to the public and could draw a capacity crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 people, cathedral’s chief communications officer, Kevin Eckstrom, told Episcopal News Service.

The site may become something of a pilgrimage stop within the LGBTQ community, Eckstrom said. And Budde, quoted in the New York Times, underscored that the Episcopal Church is striving to offer a message of welcome to all people.

“A lot has changed [since Shepard’s killing], but not everything has changed,” Budde told the Times. “It felt really important for us to say that we believe LGBTQ people are beloved children of God, not in spite of their identities but because of who they area – who God created them to be.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Matthew Shepard to be interred at Washington National Cathedral after public service appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

‘Activate’ citizens to claim human rights, and governments to ensure them, say Cristosal leaders

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 11:45am

Noah Bullock, right, executive director of Cristosal, speaks to an audience at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, about refugees and human rights. Listening are David Morales, center, Cristosal director of strategic litigation, and the Rev. Mike Angell, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in University City, Missouri. Photo: Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos (reprint with permission)

[Episcopal News Service – St. Louis, Missouri] A human-rights group in El Salvador founded by Episcopal clergy is using the courts to force the government there to live up to its responsibility to protect hundreds of thousands of citizens internally displaced by rampant violence, criminal and otherwise.

And when such refugees from violence come to the United States, this country also has a responsibility to give them safe haven, said Noah Bullock, the executive director of Cristosal, in a symposium on a faith-informed response to immigration and violence on Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis.

“No person can be denied a place on planet Earth where they can be free of persecution,” said Bullock, speaking at the university’s John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, named after U.S. Sen. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican and Episcopal priest.

Contrary to popular opinion, Bullock said, the typical immigrant crossing the southern border of the United States is no longer a Mexican looking for work, but someone from the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala fleeing gang violence. Cristosal, which has offices in all three countries, operates safe houses there for their protection. However, the ultimate solution is not for private groups to replace the government in this guardian role, Bullock said. Rather, groups like Cristosal achieve long-term structural reforms by “activating” victims to claim their rights, and the state to do its duty. The 1951 Refugee Convention of the United Nations, Bullock said, spells out this duty for whatever country harbors people fleeing persecution.

Bullock described one successful execution of its activation strategy. Cristosal sued the Salvadoran government on behalf of six families forced out of their homes by gang violence, contending that an indifferent government had violated their constitutional rights. In July, the country’s Supreme Court sided with the families, ordering the government to recognize the problem of forced displacement after years of denial, prevent it from happening and aid victims.

David Morales, who directs Cristosal’s strategic litigation team, told the audience of 75 at Washington University of another attempt to hold the powerful of El Salvador accountable for wrongdoing through the courts. Cristosal is privately prosecuting the perpetrators of the El Mozote massacre, in which U.S.-trained government soldiers killed more than 1,000 civilians—more than half of them children—in 1981, the second year of the country’s 12-year civil war. Morales began investigating the massacre during the conflict when he worked in the human rights office of the Catholic diocese of San Salvador, the nation’s capital. (Morales also sought justice for the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a defender of the poor scheduled to be canonized as a Catholic saint on Oct. 14).

The El Mozote case came to a halt when the civil war ended in 1992 with an amnesty agreement that shielded war criminals from prosecution. However, the country’s Supreme Court struck down the amnesty as unconstitutional in 2016. That decision allowed Morales to pick up where he left off years earlier.

Morales said the naked use of violence against civilians during the war has persisted into the present as the Salvadoran police and military take an “iron fist” approach toward gang violence “without investments in policies to prevent crime.” In the process, young people merely suspected of gang membership face imprisonment, torture and extrajudicial execution.

Bullock added that it’s important to prosecute decades-old war crimes because “when there is no truth, when there is no justice, there is a continuation of the norm.”

“We think we can challenge the assumption of impunity, the assumption of the powerful that they can do what they like to the weak without any consequences,” Bullock said about the court case. “It’s something we chip away at.”

Other than urging the United States to protect refugees from the Northern Triangle, Bullock and Morales did not address controversial U.S. immigration policies on family separation, temporary protected status or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Bullock more broadly stressed the importance of the United States, however imperfect, of upholding human rights.

“It means a lot to the world when the United States says that human rights matter,” said Bullock. “There’s leverage, then, for organizations like ourselves to advocate.”

“But when the United States abrogates a leadership role, there’s less pressure to leverage those changes,” he said. He noted a resurgence of authoritarianism across the globe and “even in our own country,” which emboldens human-rights violators. Case in point: “In Nicaragua, the regime has killed more than 400 protesters in the last few months and kicked the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights out of the country with no concern for [international] consequences.”

Bullock also disputed President Donald Trump’s characterization of El Salvador and other developing nations as “shithole countries,” saying that the president ignores U.S. policies that have shaped those countries for the worse over the years. For example, the bullets used by the government soldiers in the El Mozote massacre were made in an army munitions plant in Independence, Missouri, Bullock said.

“We can’t see ourselves in isolation from the conditions that are there,” he said.

A panel of three St. Louis faith-based activists at the symposium related the work of Cristosal in Central America to their own missions. “Faith is personal, but not private—faith has to go public,” said the Rev. Travis Winckler, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church. His congregation, said Winckler, is trying to live out those words by bridging the divide between a predominantly African-American neighborhood immediately to the north that has experienced “the historical residue of racism” and a more affluent, integrated neighborhood next door.

To the Rev. Dietra Wise-Baker, who was active in the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting of Michael Brown, the “iron fist” wielded by the Salvadoran army and police “sounds like the same story, the same song that has happened here, with police in riot gear.”

“How do they understand who we are in their service to us?” said Wise-Baker. “There’s so much resonance between our people and the people of El Salvador.” She added that she had not previously viewed the oppression of African-Americans through a human-rights lens.

Wise-Baker, a community organizer with a group called Metropolitan Congregations United, is on the same page with Cristosal, though, when it comes to using the judicial system. In August, her group filed a lawsuit against a local school district along with Missouri educational agencies in federal court for allegedly providing substandard education to homeless children, in violation of federal law. “This is a form of trying to get accountability from the state,” she said.

The panelists also commented on false characterizations or narratives repeated about those deprived of human rights, such as the misconception that undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border are mostly job seekers, or, as Trump has said, “criminals and rapists.”

“I’d hate to think about actually repeating what people say against us,” said Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.

Neiss said a false narrative undergirded a common argument that would-be immigrants should come here legally like previous generations of newcomers.

“We’ve had a history of Jews illegally entering this country,” she said. “In my childhood, so many of the stories we heard were about how people heroically falsified papers, stole papers, did whatever they needed to do to survive.”

-Robert Lowes, an independent journalist and poet, is a member of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in University City, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

The post ‘Activate’ citizens to claim human rights, and governments to ensure them, say Cristosal leaders appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Episcopalians join prayers, protests against death penalty as Tennessee execution looms

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 4:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] Executions resumed in Tennessee this year after a nearly decadelong hiatus, and Episcopalians who minister to death row inmates and those who advocate against the death penalty are responding with prayers and protests.

The first execution in the state since 2009 was carried out in August with the lethal-injection death of Billy Irick for the 1985 rape and killing of a 7-year-old girl. A second inmate, Edmund Zagorski, is due to be put to death on Oct. 11 for a double murder committed in 1983. An anti-death penalty group has organized a demonstration for the evening of Zagorski’s execution outside the Riverbend prison in Nashville where male death row inmates are held.

Alvaro Manrique Barrenechea, a parishioner at Nashville’s Christ Church Cathedral, expects to participate. He joined a similar demonstration before Irick’s execution on Aug. 9 after spending a year and a half meeting monthly with Irick through a death row visitation ministry led by Christ Church Cathedral.

“He was definitely very excited when I visited,” Barrenechea said in an interview with Episcopal News Service. Irick didn’t have any relatives come see him, so Barrenechea often was Irick’s only contact with the outside world. That is one reason Barrenechea felt called to this ministry. “I can’t imagine the thought process of thinking there’s nobody in the entire world that’s thinking about you.”

Episcopalians also are called to such ministries by the Episcopal Church’s longtime opposition to the death penalty, as reaffirmed several times at General Convention since 1958. The 79th General Convention, meeting in July in Austin, Texas, added to that list a new resolution that calls for all death row inmates’ sentences to be reduced and enlists bishops in states where the death penalty is legal to take up greater advocacy.

“There’s considerable confusion about what might be the Christian response” to capital punishment, the Very Rev. Timothy Kimbrough, dean of Christ Church Cathedral said in an interview. “The Episcopal Church has been very clear for decades about its opposition to the death penalty. That’s one of the reasons I’m grateful to be a part of a community like this.”

Christ Church’s death row visitation ministry has been carried out by a team of up to 30 lay volunteers. Each is assigned to one of the 60 inmates awaiting execution.

Kimbrough wrote a letter to his congregation before Irick’s execution, saying such a time “tests the Divine’s resolve to forgive, hallow, and bless.”

While acknowledging the horror of Irick’s crime, Kimbrough wrote, “to murder the murderer … will neither restrain the savage impulse of another criminal nor model for society the respect that life itself would otherwise demand.”

Kimbrough also sent a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, asking him to convert the sentence to life in prison. Receipt of that letter was acknowledged, Kimbrough said, but Haslam did not act to stop Irick’s execution.

Edmund Zagorski

Haslam also declined on Oct. 5 to offer clemency to Zagorski despite new objections to Tennessee’s lethal injection drugs in the wake of Irick’s execution. Some experts have suggested the first drug in a three-drug cocktail failed to render Irick unconscious before the other two drugs subjected him to excruciating pain and finally killed him.

Zagorski cited the threat of “torture” in requesting death by electrocution instead, but that request was denied by the state.

When asked about the execution drug controversy, Kimbrough called it something of a spiritual “red herring.”

A Christian “who would see the death penalty dismantled would not stand for any method of execution that somehow would be deemed constitutional,” he said. “Every method of execution might be seen to a Christian as cruel and unusual. How we can look at the cross and don’t imagine that to be true, I don’t know.”

The Rev. Bob Davidson, national chair of Episcopal Peace Fellowship who submitted the anti-death penalty resolution at General Convention, argued in an email to ENS that economic disparities in the judicial system also support reducing Zagorski’s sentence to life in prison.

“Those who cannot afford adequate representation or resources” often are unable to defend against “the ultimate act of society playing God by putting someone to death,” Davidson said.  “Every life has worth and value, regardless of our human actions.”

Zagorski is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. Oct. 11. The state Department of Correction said in its latest update that he had refused to receive a final meal.

The death penalty still is in effect in 31 states, but the number of executions nationwide has dropped steadily since 1999, from a high of 98 that year to 20 in 2016, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

A rapid series of executions in Arkansas in April 2017, brought the issue of capital punishment back into the national spotlight. At the time, Episcopalians and other advocates hoped the attention would add momentum to the push for abolition.

Public opinion has for decades tilted in favor of the death penalty, with a Gallup poll from 2017 showing 55 percent of respondents supporting a death sentence for someone convicted of murder. Support has been on the decline since the mid-1990s, however, and polls show fewer people favor the death penalty when alternatives are suggested.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Episcopalians join prayers, protests against death penalty as Tennessee execution looms appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Pages