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Archbishop Justin Welby “scanned” with 100 parishioners for seaside town 3D artwork

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 1:29pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than 100 members of an English seaside Anglican church have been captured by 3D scanning technology, alongside the archbishop of Canterbury, to create a sculptural artwork in celebration of the town’s fishing heritage. Members of St Peter’s Church, Folkestone, and representatives from the local community who took part in The Blessing of the Fisheries procession last year, joined in a one-off art creation which involved each of them being scanned and printed as part of the church’s 150th anniversary celebration. The miniature procession installed in St Peter’s foyer will be unveiled June 20.

Read the entire article here.

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Presiding Bishop receives new primatial cross from Southeast Florida Bishop

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 1:26pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry holds the new primatial cross presented to him June 19 by Diocese of Southeast Florida Bishop Peter Eaton, right, and the Rev. Anthony Holder, president of the diocesan Standing Committee, left. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] On June 19 on behalf of the Diocese of Southeast Florida, Bishop Peter Eaton, and the president of the diocesan Standing Committee, the Rev. Anthony Holder, presented a new wooden primatial cross to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at his office at the Church Center in New York.

There is a unique history to this gift. The silver primatial cross that has been used by every presiding bishop since Bishop Arthur Lichtenberger (1958-1964) was presented to the presiding bishop by the Diocese of South Florida on Dec. 19, 1961, when he ordained and consecrated two suffragan bishops for the Diocese of South Florida, James Duncan and William Hargrave. Eight years later, in 1969, when the Diocese of South Florida was divided into the dioceses of Central Florida, Southwest Florida and Southeast Florida, Duncan became the first bishop of Southeast Florida.

Ghassan Salsaa’, a Palestinian artisan in Bethlehem, made the new primatial cross out of olive wood and mother-of-pearl, representing a traditional art form in Palestine. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The cross, Curry said during the presentation, “is a reminder of the relationship between us and Palestinian Christians and Anglican Palestinian Christian, and the church in Jerusalem, regardless of the politics involved. Our ties are deeper than that.”

Some months ago, Curry asked Eaton where it might be possible to find a wooden primatial cross that would be suitable for some occasions. Eaton had worked with the Tabash family in Bethlehem and suggested that it might be appropriate to have the cross made in Bethlehem, both for its symbolic associations as well as to support Christian artists in Palestine.

“When I became a bishop four years ago, I wanted a crosier made of olive wood from Bethlehem,” Eaton said. “I have a long relationship with the Holy Land and with the Christian community there, and this was an important way for me to be connected to my many friends there.”

Eaton worked with the Tabash family, who run and operate a business in Bethlehem that includes a great deal of olive wood work. They identified a local olive wood artist in Bethlehem, Ghassan Salsaa’, who designed a bishop’s crosier for Eaton, which also included mother-of-pearl inlay work. Olive wood and mother-of-pearl are a traditional art form in Palestine.

“It is a beautiful crosier,” Eaton said, “And every time I use it I remember the Christian community in the Holy Land and all the friends that Kate (his wife) and I have there, and how important it is for us to support a vital and vibrant Christian presence in the Middle East.”

So when the presiding bishop asked about a new wooden primatial cross, it seemed right to Eaton to return to the Tabashes and Salsaa’ to do the work.

“The Episcopal Church has a long-standing relationship with the Christian communities of the Holy Land and with the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East,” Eaton said, “and to have a new primatial cross from Bethlehem sends the right message. By asking the Tabashes and Salsaa’ to make the cross, we have a sign of our historic and important relationship, and we can support local Palestinian Christian businesses and artists.”

Eaton and the Tabashes designed the cross, which Salsaa’ made.

“Mr. Salsaa’ has made a beautiful cross, and it is an honor for the Diocese of Southeast Florida to present this to the presiding bishop, just as our forebears in the former Diocese of South Florida presented the previous cross,” said Holder, the president of the Standing Committee. “We all give thanks to God for our presiding bishop’s ministry, and this is a small way in which we can show our gratitude.”

Like the silver primatial cross, the new primatial cross bears an inscription, with the shield of the presiding bishop:

Presented to
The Presiding Bishop
of The Episcopal Church
by the Diocese of Southeast Florida
The Feast of Pentecost
9 June 2019


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Episcopal Church’s advocacy for LGBTQ people pre-dates Stonewall uprising

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 12:39pm

Members of Washington National Cathedral marched in the June 9 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] The full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of The Episcopal Church had barely been considered by its policymaking bodies when the Stonewall uprising began on June 28, 1969.

But many Episcopalians, anchored in the context and rhetoric of their times, had been pushing for equality in the church as well as in society for at least seven years before the momentous event that is acknowledged as the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States. Their progress was slow and halting.

The goal of their efforts is still not universally accepted today, a year after The Episcopal Church took its strongest step to date agreeing to a plan to give all Episcopalians, regardless of their sexual orientation, the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches.

The secular press occasionally took note of the church’s early recognition of LGBTQ people in its midst, albeit through the lens of disfunction. In late October 1962, The New York Times reported that a meeting of the House of Bishops went into executive session “to consider how to handle homosexuality and alcoholism when they occur among the clergy.” Then-Bishop of Western New York Lauristan Scaife, who chaired the Committee on Counsel for the Clergy, refused to comment to the paper.

However, Diocese of California Bishop James Pike told a news conference that “there are any number of standard weaknesses, such as homosexuality and alcoholism, that happen to people.” He said bishops need to be ready to counsel priests and offer psychiatric help when needed.

This screenshot from the Nov. 26, 1964 edition of The New York Times shows the opening paragraphs of the story, and illustrates how homosexuality was perceived.

Two years later the Diocese of New York took a different approach, supporting the New York State Temporary Commission on Revision of the Penal Law and Criminal Code’s proposal to excluded adultery and homosexual practice between consenting adults in privacy from its proposed new penal law. The Nov. 29, 1964, hearing the Nov. 29, 1964, report on the front page of The New York Times of The New York Times

John V. P. Lassoe Jr., diocesan director of Christian social relations, told the commission it should be commended for “a significant and enlightening advance” of removing penalties for consenting adult homosexual behavior from the criminal code, according to the Times.

“There is no need to restate here the ‘modern sociological and psychiatric principles’ that led the commission to suggest this change,” Lassoe said. “Obviously we accept as part of God’s continuing and progressive revelation about man’s nature, and it is clear that they have done much to reshape a view once held by religious groups.”

However, Charles Tobin, speaking on behalf of the New York State Catholic Welfare Society, said that “sexual deviation,” as the behaviors were called at the time, was a threat to family life and the young.

In 1966, Pike, recently resigned from his diocesan see amid theological controversies, told an overflow gathering at the Duke University Law School that laws controlling homosexuality, sexual practices between man and wife and abortions were unenforceable and must be changed.

Episcopalians in California soon were also supporting decriminalization moves. The California diocese then called in the spring of 1967 for the abolition of all state laws governing sexual relations in private between consenting adults. United Press International reported that the Diocesan Council “was especially concerned about the homosexuals’ ability to live free and creative lives because of legal sanctions and fear of discovery.”

This screenshot from the Nov. 28, 1967 edition of The New York Times shows the opening paragraphs of the story about the Project H gathering the day before.

The Episcopal Church’s ongoing discernment made the front page of the Times again in the fall of 1967, this time via a report about “Project H.” The Nov. 28 “day-long symposium on the church’s approach to homosexuality,” as the newspaper called it, was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, sponsored by Dioceses of New York, Long Island, Connecticut and Newark. The story was headlined “Episcopal Clergymen Here Call Homosexuality Morally Neutral.”

The Rev. Walter D. Dennis, a cathedral canon at the time, told the symposium that Christians “must rethink the usual position that has turn homosexuals into modern-day lepers.” Dennis,  who went on in 1979 to become a bishop suffragan in New York, was the first African American to serve full time at the cathedral and was also active in the civil rights movement of the era. Dennis was also a founding member of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

More and more Christians at the time of the symposium, the Rev. Neale Secor said, were “coming to judge relationships on what they do to people involved and to society as whole.” Secor, then the rector of St. Mary’s Church in Manhattan, said that many people are open to the possibility that “homosexual relationships can be as fulfilling as heterosexual ones.”

Not everyone at the conference agreed with Dennis and Secor. The Rev. L. Robert Foutz, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Astoria, Queens, declared that homosexual acts “must always be regarded as perversion because they are not part of the natural processing of rearing children,” the Times reported. However, Foutz said that if homosexual tendencies were “sublimated and channeled into acts of brotherhood, social concerns and so forth,” then homosexuality could be said to have a positive side.

The Times reported that “churchmen needed more factual information on the cause of homosexuality and on such questions as whether it is possible for homosexual relationships to provide enduring ‘fulfillment’ and ‘happiness.’”

Three years after that conference and about seven miles south of the cathedral, the Stonewall Inn became the locus of protests that are being marked this month. However, when The Episcopal Church held a rare special meeting of General Convention about two months later, the event, which had been in the works for two years, did not address the events of June 28, 1969.

Then-Presiding Bishop John Hines and the Rev. John B. Coburn, then-president of the House of Deputies, had called the gathering so that bishops and deputies could discuss “concerns in our contemporary Church life which often are painfully divisive and always are areas of uncertainty and perplexity.”

Homosexual persons are children of God who have an equal claim upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral care of the Church’  – General Convention 1976

An agenda committee later said the major areas of discussion would be “mission, ministry and authority” and it urged that “representatives” of women, ethnic minorities and young people “be included with a seat and voice” but not vote in the gathering’s joint sessions of the two houses.

The journal documenting the next regular meeting of General Convention in 1970 contained one mention of homosexuality. It came in an essay on “law and order and justice” that was part of the report of the Joint Commission on the Church in Human Affairs. The essay noted that some police officers might be “culturally disposed to find a homosexual act much more offensive than fornication” even though both acts where then equally illegal.

It was not until 1976 that the General Convention officially put the church on record as saying (in Resolution 1976-A069) that “homosexual persons are children of God who have an equal claim upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral care of the Church” and (in Resolution 1976-A071) stating “its conviction that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens.” That convention, which allowed women to be ordained as priests and deacons, also called for a study of “the Matter of the Ordination of Homosexuals.”

Since that meeting of convention until the most recent gathering in July 2018, The Episcopal Church has worked towards greater inclusion of LGBTQ people. That work has prompted some Episcopalians to leave the church in protest, in some cases setting up decades-long legal disputes.

Other Episcopalians in four dioceses have elected openly gay priests to be their bishops. The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson served the Diocese of New Hampshire from 2004 to 2013. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool served as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angles from 2010 to 2016 when she became an assistant bishop in New York. The Rev. Thomas Brown is due to be ordained and consecrated June 22 as the bishop of Maine and the Diocese of Michigan elected the Rev. Bonnie Perry earlier this month to be its 11th bishop.

This month, congregations across The Episcopal Church are marking Pride Month with celebrations and film festivals, and by marching in their communities’ pride parades.

Yet, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recently noted, “Pride is both a celebration and a testament to sorrow and struggle that has not yet ended.

“Especially this month, I offer special thanks to God for the strength of the LGBTQ community and for all that you share with your spouses, partners and children, with your faith communities, and indeed with our entire nation.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal: discurso de apertura del Obispo Presidente

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 5:10pm

Los siguientes son los comentarios de apertura del Obispo Presidente Michael Curry en el Consejo Ejecutivo de La Iglesia Episcopal, que se reunió del 10 de junio al 13 de junio en el centro de conferencias en el Instituto Marítimo de Linthicum Heights, en Maryland.

Consejo Ejecutivo
10 de junio de 2019
Comentarios de apertura

Permítanme compartir sólo unos pocos comentarios de apertura y otra vez darles la bienvenida a todos. Sólo un punto de seguimiento y luego otro en particular, como a especie de saludo de reconocimiento al personal de La Iglesia Episcopal. El punto de seguimiento es—recordarán que, en nuestra reunión de febrero, tuvimos conversaciones y redactamos una resolución de inquietud con respecto a la Conferencia Lambeth y la asistencia de los cónyuges de obispos a ella. Sólo quería que tuvieran en cuenta que la Cámara de los Obispos se reunió poco después, a principios de marzo. Ellos tuvieron una conversación sobre ello y se enteraron de la resolución del Consejo Ejecutivo, por lo cual se sintieron muy agradecidos, podría decirse.

Los obispos tuvieron una gran discusión acerca de eso, y—¿cómo les explico? —bueno, fue vigorosa y sana. No aprobamos una resolución, sino [que en su lugar] un comunicado, pero seguimos trabajando con ello, incluso mientras hablamos. La comunidad de obispos y cónyuges se convocará para nuestra reunión regular de otoño en Minneapolis, en septiembre. En ese momento, habrá aún más discusiones, y reflexión acerca de cómo responder apropiadamente, en el camino del amor, pero con la claridad a la que el amor nos llama. Habrá más discusiones porque tanto los obispos como sus cónyuges estarán presentes. Hay un pequeño grupo, ya que la Vicepresidenta Mary Gray-Reeves está convocando a un pequeño grupo que está trabajando para encontrar la mejor manera de lograrlo. Este trabajo está en curso, y escucharemos más detalles, creo, en octubre cuando nos volamos a reunir.

Ese fue sólo un rápido seguimiento de nuestra última reunión. Ahora, yo quería, en mi discurso de apertura, sólo ofrecer un saludo de reconocimiento al personal de La Iglesia Episcopal. La verdad es que tenemos un personal extraordinario. Estas personas, son simplemente extraordinarias, y es un privilegio servir con ellos. Tengo en cuenta que la Presidenta Jennings y el Secretario Barlowe comparten este sentir conmigo. Es que ellos son sólo un grupo extraordinario de personas. Trabajan arduamente. Realmente que sí, y yo se los recomiendo. Me parece que nuestra continua relación laboral entre el personal y el Consejo está creciendo y desarrollándose de manera sana y positiva. Les agradezco a ustedes por eso, y les agradezco a ellos por eso.

Una señal de eso se vio realmente durante nuestra última reunión interna con el personal, a la cual ellos acudieron de alrededor de las muchas partes donde están ubicados. Como ustedes ya sabrán, casi la mitad del personal está desplegado­, aunque esa palabra como que suena un poco militar, pero supongo que es la más adecuada porque en ellos tuvieron que ser desplegados por toda la iglesia. Hace sólo unas semanas todo nos allegamos a las oficinas centrales 815 en Nueva York, y tuvimos tres días de reuniones internas con el personal. Esta reunión, así como otras en el pasado, pero ésta en particular, fue realmente diseñada por los miembros del personal. Rebecca Blachly está aquí en alguna parte, Rebecca Blachly y Melanie Mullen. Creo que Melanie vendrá más tarde. Ellas fueron las dos copresidentas que realmente lograron unir en equipo al personal.

Lo que fue fascinante fue ver a todos los miembros del personal que participaran en una variedad de roles. El hacer que realmente eso se diera fue genial. Fue simplemente extraordinario.

Digo todo eso para explicar que algo muy importante pasó y quería que lo supieran. Recibimos retroalimentación después de nuestra reunión a través de Survey Monkeys. ¿Conocen lo que son ese tipo de encuestas con por internet como las de Survey Monkeys? Bueno, pues se dio retroalimentación en cuanto otras de las reuniones internas del personal anteriores, para identificar lo que realmente había sido útil, lo que no lo fue, lo que se podía mejorar, y ese tipo de cosas. Ahí se les pregunto a ellos: “¿Qué podría ayudarle en su trabajo?” Y fue muy interesante. En la reunión interna con el personal de creo que hace un año, el personal trabajó con lo de trazarse metas y objetivos. Al estilo clásico de gestiones de gobernanza y sus operaciones.

Uno de los comentarios que surgieron tanto de ahí, así como las revisiones de rendimiento que pudimos hacer, creo que fue para fin de año, fue que el personal realmente quería ver más conexión entre nuestra labor de convertirnos en el movimiento de Jesús osado a caminar el camino del amor, con las tareas que realmente hacemos como empleados. Realmente querían atar esas metas y objetivos – sus metas y objetivos, digamos, a la obra del movimiento de Jesús, de caminar el camino del amor. Cuando esto se vuelve crítico y realmente importante, es cuando se miran a los tres objetivos generales del movimiento, digamos. Evangelismo, reconciliación racial…Y añado, cada vez que digo reconciliación racial, hemos planteado-en Estados Unidos al menos, y puede que no sea verdad en todas partes, pero al menos en Estados Unidos, que la reconciliación racial y la justicia son la puerta de entrada a todas las formas en que estamos quebrados, fragmentados y separados unos de otros. Es la entrada, no sólo el fin. El evangelismo, la reconciliación y el cuidado de la creación de Dios.

Como sea, esos tres tienen sentido. Todo el mundo dice, “sí, amén. Muy bien. ”


Pero supongamos que usted trabaja brindando servicios al edificio. ¿Cómo afecta el evangelismo, la reconciliación y el cuidado de la creación a su trabajo cuando mantiene las calderas en marcha? O como cuando en el apartamento del Obispo Presidente en la planta superior, cuando se enciende y se apaga el aire acondicionado, porque no tiene gradaciones de grados de calefacción, solo se enciende o se apaga, pues es un edificio antiguo.


¿Qué tiene que ver eso con el evangelismo? La pregunta, la muy pregunta práctica y básica para muchas personas es, “Mis tareas diarias. Me encanta mi trabajo. Los cheques llegan a tiempo. Los cheques no rebotan – todo está bien.


Pero ¿cómo eso de regular el termostato en el edificio? ¿Cómo es que eso de supervisar el trabajo de construcción que está sucediendo [tiene que ver con el evangelismo]?  Porque el estado de Nueva York tiene muchas leyes sobre los edificios y cosas así. Tenemos andamios por todo la parte exterior. ¿Cómo es que para alguien que hace eso tiene que ver con el evangelismo? ¿Qué tiene que ver eso con la reconciliación racial? ¿Cómo es posible que tenga algo que ver con el cuidado de la creación esto de los servicios al edificio? Bueno, creando un ambiente que sea amigable con el medio ambiente. Ahí sí se puede hacer esa conexión. Esos fueron los datos que recibimos de las reuniones internas previas. El equipo diseñó nuestros tres días para abarcar estas cosas más profundamente.

Una de las ideas para mí -y no por qué me tardé… Soy un aprendiz lento, pero tardé cuatro años o tres años y medio–no sé cuánto tiempo he estado de Obispo Presidente–en darme cuenta de que los objetivos del evangelismo, la reconciliación racial, el cuidado de la creación, esos tipos de objetivos de toda la iglesia tienen sentido. Pero tiene que haber un cuarto objetivo. No para toda la iglesia, uno que es particularmente para el personal. Uno que proviene de…

Miren, normalmente, mi Biblia está en el iPad, así que tuve que volver a la antigua.


Ese objetivo era particular y único, digamos, al personal, pero tengo el presentimiento, [de que también al] Consejo Ejecutivo. Eso es lo que estoy compartiendo ustedes. Proviene de Efesios, capítulo 4–Efesios es Pablo o literatura Paulina. Sé que la gente se le dificulta entender a Pablo a veces, sé que todos nos pasa. Mi abuela solía decir, “Pablo es como cualquier otro predicador; él tiene algunos buenos sermones y tiene algunos sermones no tan buenos. El gran problema es que están todos en la Biblia. ”


Pero en uno de sus buenos días, Pablo o los escritores Paulinos dicen esto en Efesios 4. Están hablando de la comunidad de la fe en la iglesia. Los dones eran que algunos serían apóstoles, algunos profetas, algunos evangelistas, algunos pastores y maestros. La razón por la que existen, cualquiera que sea el papel o la función, la razón por la que existen sería equipar a los santos para la obra del ministerio. Me di cuenta-no sé por me qué tomó tres años y medio – de que ese es nuestro trabajo, y les dije, “mi trabajo.” Nuestro trabajo como personal, y tengo la sensación de que nuestro trabajo como Consejo Ejecutivo, es equipar a la iglesia para que sea el movimiento Jesús en el mundo, dando testimonio y andando en el camino del amor. Ese es nuestro trabajo. Equipar a los Santos para la obra del ministerio. Eso, para mí, aclaró un mundo entero.

Entonces todos cavaron más profundamente en esto. Algunas cosas notables surgieron, incluso hasta el punto de observar la efectividad del personal. Pequeñas cosas tales como: no más reuniones sin programa entre el personal, y no más reuniones sin–¿cómo se llama? —informe posterior a la reunión.

Una voz femenina exclama: “evaluaciones”.

Si una evaluación, para que todos sepan lo que dijimos que íbamos a hacer. Es útil saber lo que dijimos que íbamos a hacer por adelantado, pero entonces también es útil saber…Y esto es cuestión clásica, pero hasta que te detenas y tengas que pensarlo… Y al personal se le ocurrió eso. No contratamos a ningún consultor para hacer esto…


Pero eso provino de una profunda discusión en verdad en la que todos nosotros participamos, ¿cómo podemos equipar a los santos de manera más eficaz y fiel para la obra del ministerio? Y eso fue una notable realización para mí, y espero que para los miembros de nuestro personal, y espero que para ustedes. Cuando pienso en eso recuerdo a una de las grandes personas de la historia americana pero no es muy reconocida. Su nombre era Bayard Rustin. Ahora, si usted no lo conoce, búsquele en Google o Wikipedia, o donde sea, pero vaya y búsquelo. Creo que va a salir en un documental. Su nombre, está resurgiendo. Rustin había sido entrenado en la comunión de reconciliación después de que Estados Unidos se entrenó en la hermandad de reconciliación, y se dedicó a los derechos civiles no violentos, y estudió la obra de Gandhi.

Era un hombre gay mucho antes de serlo públicamente, y fue muy vilificado por nuestro gobierno, honestamente. Probablemente una de las cosas que el Dr. King lamentaría, supongo, es que no pudo hacer más para apoyar a Bayard Rustin, especialmente cuando el FBI vino tras él. Esa fue la realidad. El nombre de Rustin debe ser recordado porque no dio el discurso: “he estado en la cima de la montaña y he visto la tierra prometida”, no dio el discurso en frente del monumento a Lincoln. No es conocido por la oración en alza y su nombre apenas se conoce. Sin embargo, lo que hizo fue profundamente reconocido y forma parte de los anales de la historia americana.

Fue Bayard Rustin quien orquestó la marcha en Washington. Él fue el genio que realmente hizo que sucediera. Él fue el que supervisó toda la logística, todo el trabajo, todas las interconexiones que se hicieron. Fue Bayard Rustin quien ayudó al discurso, Tengo Un Sueño, que tomara su lugar junto al discurso de Gettysburg, y la declaración de la independencia, y tal vez le dio nueva determinación este a país. Bien puede ser que nuestro papel como personal, nuestro papel como Consejo Ejecutivo, será como el de Bayard Rustin para con el movimiento de Jesús, también conocido como La Iglesia Episcopal.


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Anglican leaders explore global church and state relationships during USPG gathering

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Navigating the changing relationship between the state and the church has been the focus of discussions between Anglican leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania taking part in United Society Partners in the Gospel’s triennial International Consultation in Barbados, this week.

“The consultation is focusing on relationships between church and state across the Anglican Communion,” the organization’s chief executive officer, Duncan Dormor, said. “Experiences vary greatly: for some discriminatory practices are commonplace, for others attempts are made to co-opt the influence of the church. For bishops and archbishops the issue of when and how to speak out, and when to remain silent, is a fundamental one.”

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of York joins celebration of YMCA’s 175th anniversary

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of York John Sentamu joined in celebrations with one of the oldest ecumenical global movements as it marks its 175th anniversary this year. The worldwide YMCA youth movement, which began as an evangelical young men’s Christian service organization, celebrated its start this month with a thanksgiving service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

“It has been a great pleasure to join in the celebrations of 175 years of the YMCA,” said Sentamu, who is the organization’s president. “The work they have done and continue to do today to help and support young people is truly fantastic. My prayer is that the work continues for the next century.”

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Christian, Muslim scholars discuss freedom of religion

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Freedom and the role of faith communities has been the subject of a bridge-building event for Christian and Muslim academics gathered in the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland, this week. The annual seminar, now in its 18th year, was set up by the archbishop of Canterbury in 2002 and is hosted by the World Council of Churches. Its sponsorship has been taken on by Georgetown University, Washington D.C., which invites some 30 scholars from around the world to take part.

Read the full article here.

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South African Anglican priest to discuss healing of memories with Pope Francis

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A South African Anglican priest and social justice activist, the Rev. Michael Lapsley, will have a private meeting with Pope Francis on June 15, when he hopes to receive support for his international work in healing of memories.

Lapsley lost both his hands and one of his eyes after receiving a letter bomb while living in exile from South Africa. He has spent his life pursuing peace and justice issues. He described the forthcoming visit with the Pope as “a dream come true.”

Read the full article here.

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Mexican bishop hopes to lead services in indigenous languages

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Mexican-born priest in the Church of Canada has been elected as the coadjutor bishop of Southeast Mexico, where very few of the congregations speak Spanish.

The Rev. Julio Martin said one of the biggest challenges he faces in the rural areas of his new diocese are the many congregations which speak a number of different indigenous languages. “Some of those languages are as hard as Chinese to learn. . . I’m not saying I’ll learn them, but out of respect, I would like to be able to lead the Eucharist in their own language – that’s the aim.”

Read the full article here.

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Former Anglican primate of Melanesia elected governor general of Solomon Islands

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 3:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop David Vunagi, former archbishop of Melanesia, has been elected to serve as the next Governor General of the Solomon Islands.

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1978, the Solomon Islands remained a constitutional monarchical system of government, with the queen of England as head of state. The governor general is elected by the state’s National Parliament as the queen’s personal representative on the islands. The role is largely ceremonial, but the post holder does retain some reserved powers.

Read the full article here.

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Two Michigan dioceses to share bishop, charting path forward together in spirit of innovation

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 2:29pm

The Diocese of Eastern Michigan and Diocese of Western Michigan held a joint clergy retreat in May. Here, participants pose for a group photo. Photo: Diocese of Eastern Michigan

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of Eastern Michigan is poised this year to finalize a partnership with the neighboring Diocese of Western Michigan in which they would share a bishop, increase collaboration and pool resources – a process of experimentation and dialogue that eventually could lead to a long-term commitment between the two dioceses.

The dioceses have not shied away from discussing the possibility of someday merging, a canonically governed process known as “juncture,” though that is just one of many options on the table as they consider the future of The Episcopal Church in Michigan. The state encompasses four dioceses, and all four have collaborated in the past in various ways, from joint formation programs to coordinated public statements on statewide issues.

In October, Eastern Michigan’s convention is scheduled to vote to elect Western Michigan Bishop Whayne Hougland Jr. as bishop provisional. If approved, Hougland would be following in the footsteps of other dual-diocese bishops, in particular Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe, who also serves as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Western New York.

The transition underway in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan follows a spirit of innovation that dates back to its creation in 1994, when it was carved out of the Detroit-based Diocese of Michigan.

“The idea was local leadership. Grassroots efforts would rise up from the local congregation and be shared,” said Katie Forsyth, who joined the diocese as director of communications and public engagement in 2013. “Very purposefully, the diocese was designed to be a little more flexible. … We are actually well skilled to try something on and see how it goes.”

Bishop Edwin Leidel Jr. was consecrated as the diocese’s first bishop in 1996, and today, he is remembered for encouraging Episcopalians in Eastern Michigan to be open to change.

“Bishop Leidel’s entrepreneurial spirit and tireless embrace of possibilities helped give shape to a diocese that blesses experimentation and gives permission to take bold steps without fear of failure,” the diocese says on its website.

Forsyth’s own career path is emblematic. In March 2018, she assumed her current role, serving both Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan as canon for networking and evangelism. The dioceses also work together on a congregational development program, youth ministries, a diversity task force, a disciplinary board and mission outreach to the Dominican Republic.

Future collaboration could include clergy retreats, diocesan publications, ministry workshops and joint Standing Committee meetings.

The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley resigned from the Diocese of Eastern Michigan in June 2017 to lead The Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

A key catalyst for the recent conversations was the resignation of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley in June 2017. Ousley, who left to lead The Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development, a position on the presiding bishop’s staff that assists dioceses undergoing bishop transitions, said in an interview with Episcopal News Service that The Episcopal Church is working to move beyond organizational structures that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

“We’re getting better as a church on focusing on mission-driven priorities rather than trying to squeeze the mission into an existing structure,” Ousley said.

General Convention underscored the importance in a 2018 resolution that called on dioceses and congregations to engage periodically in missional review, to determine “what is God calling us to be and do at this time and in this place.”

Ousley, who joined the Diocese of Eastern Michigan as canon to the ordinary in 2001, succeeded Leidel as bishop in 2007. He told ENS that toward then end of his tenure he sensed that Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan were ripe for a more substantive partnership, something he began discussing with Hougland.

“Both Eastern and Western were going to come to a point where they were facing questions of viability,” Ousley said.

The Diocese of Eastern Michigan facilitates table discussions of three resolutions outlining its options for a bishop transition at its October 2018 convention, held in Flint, Michigan. Photo: Diocese of Eastern Michigan, via Facebook

Envisioning the future of The Episcopal Church in Michigan

Those questions partly focused on regional demographics, Ousley said. The eastern half of Michigan was losing population – Flint, the diocese’s largest city, dropped from 125,000 residents in the 2000 census to about 102,000 in 2010 – and the statewide population has stagnated at about 10 million. Furthermore, Eastern Michigan mirrored churchwide declines in Sunday attendance, with baptized members down nearly 40 percent from 2007 to 2017.

Diocesan leaders also recognized that Eastern Michigan, based in Saginaw, and Western Michigan, based in the Grand Rapids area, had much in common theologically and culturally, with congregations spread across rural communities, summer resort areas and smaller cities. By contrast, the Diocese of Michigan in the southeast corner of the state includes more large cities and suburbs, including the capital of Lansing and the college town of Ann Arbor. The Diocese of Northern Michigan encompasses the state’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula and is geographically separated from the rest of the state by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The Rev. Dan Scheid had served in the Diocese of Western Michigan before moving to Eastern Michigan to become rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Flint in 2015. Back then, he recalls Ousley at a clergy retreat talking about tough decisions ahead and how best to use Episcopal resources in the state.

“He had made it clear that certainly the bishops of the state had been in conversation about what the church in Michigan would look like,” said Scheid, who also serves as president of Eastern Michigan’s Standing Committee.

When Ousley left in 2017, rather than immediately launch a search for a new bishop diocesan, Eastern Michigan voted in October 2017 to elect Bishop Catherine Waynick as bishop provisional for at least a year. Waynick had retired in April as bishop of Indianapolis.

“We saw that as a time to do some discernment,” Scheid told ENS, and early on, Eastern Michigan leaders invited Hougland and others from the Diocese of Western Michigan to be part of those conversations.

That process picked up steam in early 2018 when Eastern Michigan held five gatherings around the diocese from January to March to hear what Episcopalians thought about the dioceses’ strengths, needs and outlook for the future.

A follow-up meeting in May at St. Paul’s in Flint was attended by Waynick, Hougland and other leaders from both dioceses. The presentations included an outline of what Eastern Michigan had identified as its three options: Start searching for Ousley’s permanent replacement, find a long-term provisional bishop or take a step closer to Western Michigan by electing Hougland as bishop provisional.

There was a “shared sense that continuing on in separate ministry without change is not a sustainable model for the future of The Episcopal Church in this place,” according to a written report from that meeting. The report also said Hougland was open to adding the role of Eastern Michigan’s bishop provisional “should a process for deepened relationship be explored.”

“As a bishop in the church, it’s my duty and, I believe, my calling to seek ways to bring people together and so this seems to be a natural process that makes perfect sense,” Hougland said months later in a video to his diocese identifying the options considered by Eastern Michigan.

Learning from Western New York’s example

A similar process underway hundreds of miles to the east was providing a potential model for Michigan Episcopalians.

After Western New York Bishop William Franklin announced in April 2017 that he intended to retire, his diocese began a discernment process that led to the decision to collaborate and experiment with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, giving both dioceses time to try new approaches before figuring out what might come next. The two dioceses carefully avoided talk of possibly merging someday, focusing instead on their short-term work together.

Eastern Michigan’s third option was similar to the arrangement between Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. “We’ve pointed them out as kind of the most direct reflection of the work that we’re considering,” Forsyth told ENS.

Northwestern Pennsylvania’s Rowe traveled to the Diocese of Eastern Michigan to offer his insight into the process at a gathering hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan, on Sept. 16, 2018.

The next month, Western New York elected Rowe as its bishop provisional for five years.

Eastern Michigan took its own definitive step forward last October. At its convention that month, a majority threw its support behind the diocese’s third option and voted to officially invite Hougland to be considered for election as the Diocese of Eastern Michigan’s bishop provisional, leading both dioceses for three to five years.

Hougland presented that proposal to his diocese at three listening sessions, two of which Scheid also attended. In April, after meeting with Western Michigan’s Standing Committee and Diocesan Council, Hougland announced in a video their unanimous approval of “the invitation to dance with our friends in Eastern Michigan.”

The plan is expected to be finalized by Eastern Michigan in October.

Scheid noted that this process has taken place during a period of relative health in both dioceses, long before either had reached a panic moment that would have forced desperate measures. And with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry encouraging all dioceses to find new ways of spreading the Jesus Movement, Scheid said Eastern Michigan reached the conclusion that the most effective way to serve that purpose, at least in the short term, wasn’t to continue devoting resources to the office of the bishop.

“It’s a tremendous gift and opportunity, as I see it, really to do some creative thinking, some experimentation, to sort of help set some possible ways forward for other dioceses in the church too which might be exploring new models,” he said.

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

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Bishop says UK government’s new climate change goal will benefit the poorest

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 11:50am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A tough new goal to cut greenhouse gas emission in the United Kingdom to almost zero by 2050 has been welcomed by the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment.

“This announcement is very welcome, and the U.K. can be proud to be setting an example by making this commitment to address the global climate emergency.” Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam said, but he warned that the commitment must be backed by “relentless action.”

Read the full article here.

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Executive Council moves toward lay-clergy pension parity for members of churchwide staff

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 5:09pm

Members of Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finance June 13 sing a song they wrote to the tune of “There is a balm in Gilead.” The song, “Is there a pledge in Baltimore,” urged members to participate in The Episcopal Church’s Annual Appeal. Photo: screenshot from video by Frank Logue.

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] Acknowledging that true “benefit equivalence” is unlikely, The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council decided June 13 to take two concrete steps to get closer to parity in pension benefits for its lay and clergy employees.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, or DFMS (the church’s legal and corporate entity), will increase its base contribution to the Church Pension Fund’s defined contribution plan for lay employees from 5 percent of salary to 8 percent. If employees contribute the maximum 4 percent to receive the maximum matching employer contribution, the increase will essentially equal the 12.25 percent of salary contributed for clergy staff. The decision applies to approximately 114 lay employees.

The task force that recommended the move found that of the 18 percent contribution that Episcopal employers are canonically required to make for each clerical employee, 12.4 percent goes towards the clergy defined benefit plan. Of the remainder, 3.3 percent covers disability, death and maternity benefits; 2 percent goes to retiree medical insurance costs and .3 percent is for life insurance for active clergy. Clergy are not allowed to contribute to the plan.

Council also agreed to pay for the Medicare supplement insurance premium for spouses of retired lay employees with at least 10 years of service. That move will mirror the benefit provided for clergy retirees. Currently, 51 lay employees meet that threshold and 34 of them have spouses, according to the report that task force sent to council.

The decision applies only to lay employees of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the church’s legal and corporate entity). It does not pertain to diocesan or congregational lay employees.

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, council member from the Diocese of Massachusetts who chairs the council’s finance committee, describes the lay pension parity resolution. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The changes are effective July 1. For a full triennium, increasing the pension contribution will cost $1 million and the Medicare supplement premium decision will cost $500,000. The task force also considered but did not recommend increasing the post-retirement death benefit for lay spouses from $10,000 to match the $50,000 provided to clergy spouses. That increase would have cost an additional $550,000.

Money to cover the remainder of this triennium’s payment will be drawn from a $2.6 million fund in the DFMS’s short-term reserves designated for lay employee benefit related expenses. The $1.5 million plus any inflation expense will need to be built into subsequent triennial budgets.

The task force told council in its report that while “benefit equivalence is unlikely to be achieved between a defined benefit (clergy) plan and a defined contribution (lay) plan,” it decided to focus on making pension contributions more equal. The Church Pension Fund board told General Convention in 2018 that most Episcopal Church employers have chosen to enroll their eligible lay employees in its Lay Defined Contribution Plan; only about 11.6 percent of eligible lay employees participate in the Lay Defined Benefit Plan.

“This is a good example for dioceses because while it does not mandate it for the dioceses, lots of dioceses will say ‘oh, well, the [DFMS] is only doing x percent, we only that to do that,’” said Council member Diane Pollard. “This could be an incentive to places that are doing five percent.”

While no one spoke against the proposal during council’s plenary session on June 13, some members of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finance expressed concern about the impact of such a model during the committee’s discussion earlier in the meeting.

“If this is to be a model that we hope to perpetuate on the rest of the church, this is going to kill parishes,” warned the Rev. Mally Lloyd, council member from the Diocese of Massachusetts who chairs the committee and joined the group in unanimously agreeing to forward the proposal to the full council.

The Rev. Anne E. Kitch of the Diocese of Newark told her committee colleagues that if they want to support parishes they must acknowledge that the discussion is about parity and privilege, and “the way to fix it would be to lower what clergy get.”

Lloyd also warned that when the 2022-2024 budget is presented to the next meeting of General Convention in July 2021, the $1.5 million decision “will have major impact on program or staffing, or something.” Convention might have to require dioceses to pay more money into the churchwide budget, she said. On the other hand, she added, the market might go up, which would increase the church’s income.

Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple said the pension decision is consistent with the values of equity implicit in the Jesus Movement. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said during the committee discussion that he hoped the next budget process could remember the lens that Hodges-Copple described.

Also on the agenda of the final plenary session, council:

* heard from the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, that they will soon be the first The Episcopal Church leaders to receive a survey and thus engage in a new effort aimed at “speaking the truth about our church and face.” The online survey will look at the racial, culture and ethnic makeup of various leadership bodies in The Episcopal Church. Council members will be asked about their racial and cultural identities, as well as where they saw race playing a factor in their election and in their time on the council, she said.

The survey will eventually go the members of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, as well as cathedral deans and the leadership in three dioceses in each of the church’s nine provinces. The data collection, along with interviews with selected people who have answered the survey, will take a year, Spellers said.

“By the time we get to the next General Convention we will truly have a comprehensive picture of race in our church, where we have fallen short, where we have moved forward,” she said.

* passed two resolutions setting vaccination standards for Episcopal institutions and events, and “recognizing no claim of theological or religious exemption from vaccination” for church members while reiterating the spirit of General Convention policies that “Episcopalians should seek the counsel of experienced medical professionals, scientific research, and epidemiological evidence” when making decisions about vaccinations.

A summary of all resolutions council passed at this meeting is here.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 laypeople) elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

Complete ENS coverage of the meeting is here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The June 10-13 meeting took place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore. Council convenes again Oct. 18-21 in Montgomery, Alabama.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter.

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A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 4:37pm

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] During its June 10-13 meeting here The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Committee on Finance

* Establish Trust Fund 1197, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin for the benefit of Saint Paul’s, Bakersfield, for the Diocese of San Joaquin, California (FIN030).

* Establish Trust Fund 1198, Hunt Bequest-Kitchen STPAAS for St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri (FIN031).

* Establish Trust Fund 1199, Hunt Bequest-Canterbury STPAAS for St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri (FIN032).

* Establish Trust Fund 1200, Hunt Bequest-Food STPAAS for St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri (FIN033).

* Establish Trust Fund 1201, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico (FIN034).

* Establish Trust Fund 1202, St. Paul’s KCMO Parish Endowment, for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri (FIN035).

* Use income and appreciation of trust funds 179.01, 240.00, 341.03 and 773.01 to benefit Voorhees College; and, if this is not possible, use income and appreciation of those trust funds to benefit other Episcopal historically black colleges; and, if this is not possible, use income and appreciation of those trust funds to support any African American Episcopalian student attending a college or university affiliated with The Episcopal Church, as the Executive Council sees fit (FIN036).

* Use a portion of accumulated appreciation not to exceed $55,000 of Trust Fund 188, Gift of John H. Hewson (1908), to fund management training for staff (FIN037).

* Authorize raising the employer base contribution from 5 percent to 8 percent of base salary, effective July 1 to make contributions to lay and clergy pension savings plans more equivalent for all lay employees of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, or DFMS, (the church’s legal and corporate entity); and authorize DFMS to pay for the Medicare supplement premium for spouses of retired lay employees who have served at least 10 years; costs be funded, as needed, from council’s “reserve for lay employee benefit-related expenses” during the 2019-2021 triennium and costs be included within the budgets adopted by General Convention in subsequent triennia (FIN038).

* Designate a portion of the total compensation paid to two DFMS missionaries for calendar year 2019 as housing allowances pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 107 and Internal Revenue Service Regulations S1.107 (FIN041).

* Approve the marketing and sale of two buildings and five lots in Guam, proceeds to be used for general purposes of the Episcopal Church in Micronesia (FIN042).

Committee on Governance and Operations

* Establishes a nine-member Foresight Committee to bring forward to council issues key to the effective future ministry and mission of The Episcopal Church for discussion, consultation and potential action (G008).

* Acknowledge receipt of the report of the Church Pension Fund (CPF), in its capacity as the Recorder of Ordinations, in response to Resolutions 2018-C029 (Clergy Compensation by Race) and D037 (Expand Clergy Compensation Report); ask that CPF engage in further review and modification of the proposed implementation plans, particularly addressing the issues of education, self-reporting, privacy and data protection; CPF to submit a revised proposal for implementation of the resolutions to the secretary of General Convention not less than 30 days prior to the October 2019 meeting of council (GO009).

* Direct that before council accepts any nomination to fill an unexpired term for a vacant council seat, nominees undergo the background checks and reviews described in Joint Rules of Order of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, Section VII.21, to determine whether anything in that background check precludes the proposed nomination; before nominations are made at provincial synods for the election of lay and clergy representatives to council for 2021, each nominee’s name be submitted to the office of General Convention for the same background check and review; if it is determined by office of secretary of General Convention, in consultation with the chief legal officer, that the results should preclude a person from holding the office sought, the General Convention office shall share the determination with the proposed nominee and remit that determination, but not the background check results, to the nominator. (Background check information shall not be shared beyond those entities); costs of such background checks shall be covered by the General Convention budget (GO010).

Committee on Mission Beyond The Episcopal Church

* Elect the Rev. George Sherrill Jr. of the Diocese of Southern Ohio as a member of the Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue Committee for a term ending December 31, 2021 (MB007).

* Express concern about the ongoing political and humanitarian situation in Burundi, dating from April 2015, when plans were announced to hold a referendum to revise the nation’s constitution; note with grave concern United Nations Commission of Inquiry’s finding that “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Burundi since April 2015” and confirming “the persistence of extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence in Burundi since April 2015;” commend the work of the Anglican Province of Burundi and Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, who seek to transform, empower, and promote justice in the community; call upon all parties to the conflict, and their international partners, to work towards a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis; encourage the Office of Government Relations to partner with Anglicans and ecumenical partners to advocate for peace, human rights and good governance in Burundi (MB008).

* Express The Episcopal Church’s continued support for the principles of multilateralism that underpin global dialogue and concerted action in the world; encourage all member states of the United Nations to continue to support and engage in its work and functioning, including through timely payment of their dues (MB009).

* Express thanks and appreciation to Ursuline Bankhead for her presentation on implicit bias, leading the council into a deeper appreciation of this aspect of our common life as the Beloved Community; state that the Executive Council desires to continue this important work with her, with sufficient time devoted for meaningful conversations between members of that might result in transformations in the shared life of the council; Bankhead, or another facilitator with equal training, passion and insight, be requested to offer a presentation at the October 2019 council meeting that would prepare hearts and minds more fully to appreciate the experience and context of the meeting in Montgomery, Alabama; call for implicit bias training and presentations be a part of the work of the next triennium, beginning with the October 2021 council meeting, so that the new class of members will be enabled to share the fruits of this important work (MB010).

* Express grave concern and sorrow for the recent rise in easily preventable diseases due to anti-vaccination movements which have harmed thousands of children and adults; condemn the continued and intentional spreading of fraudulent research that suggested vaccines might cause harm; recognize no claim of theological or religious exemption from vaccination for our members and reiterates the spirit of General Convention policies that Episcopalians should seek the counsel of experienced medical professionals, scientific research and epidemiological evidence; call on the Office of Government Relations to advocate to the United States government for stronger vaccination mandates informed by epidemiological evidence and scientific research; urge all religious leaders to support evidence-based measures that ensure the strongest protections for our communities; ask congregations and dioceses to partner with medical professionals to counter false information, and to become educated about programs in their communities that can provide vaccinations and immunizations at reduced or no cost to those in need (MB011).

Committee on Mission Within The Episcopal Church

* Approve Roanridge Trust grants (MW002).

* Approve United Thank Offering grants (MW003).

* Request General Convention Office have staff or an appropriate contractor analyze information from the 2018 Parochial Reports to report to council and the wider church about the number of congregations who host or conduct worship in a language other than English (including sign language for hearing impaired congregations), the languages used and, to the extent the data can be readily gathered, information on whether these congregations have prayer books authorized by The Episcopal Church or another province of the Anglican Communion in their language, and whether these congregations have the full Scriptures in their native language; request that the report include the number of congregations lacking either or both (a) Scriptures in their native language and (b) an authorized version of the BCP in their native language, together with estimates of the cost and effort needed to assure that these resources are made available to such congregations and to those intending to begin mission work in these linguistic communities; if a full report is not available, request an interim report two weeks in advance of the October council meeting (MW004).

* Adopt policies for vaccination standards within Episcopal institutions and programs requiring them to ensure the safety of participants, including that all participants and staff participating are vaccinated in accordance with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Immunization Schedule and/or applicable state law; outside of the United States, local health agencies, ordinances and protocols should be followed in place of the CDC Immunization Schedule; a participant may be exempted from this vaccination requirement only by presenting a certificate from a licensed physician to the staff stating that due to the physical condition of the participant one or more specified immunizations would endanger the participant’s life or health; coordinator of applicable programs and facilities should review for completeness the immunization records of all participants, staff and volunteers for the safety of all involved in the program; dioceses, parishes, schools, camps, daycare and childcare programs, and other programs at Episcopal facilities or sponsored by Episcopal institutions should strive to ensure funding is available or partner with charities to ensure that vaccinations can be made available so that no child is prohibited from participation due to financial burden of vaccination; request the chief legal officer to create a model policy for the church based on this resolution (MW005).

* Express deep concern that additional restrictions on remittances and travel, and recent efforts to marginalize Cuba will cause U.S.-Cuba relations to deteriorate further; express concern that any additional travel and financial restrictions will have a negative and harmful impact on the church’s religious activities; and that it will be increasingly difficult for our clergy to obtain visas to come to the United States from Cuba and to go to Cuba from the United States; religious exchanges, travel and engagement, particularly when there is a shared faith tradition, help sustain faith communities and contribute to religious expression and religious liberty, and bridge building, fellowship and continuing to be in relationship will allow the transformation of the political dynamics between the U.S. and Cuba; assert that the policy changes are also likely to negatively impact U.S. relations with Canada, the European Union, Latin American and Caribbean nations, and limiting the frequency and amounts of remittances will increase economic hardship for many Cuban families and will further isolate the Cuban people; reiterate The Episcopal Church’s call for an end to the embargo; and reassert a commitment to strengthening relations between the Cuban and American peoples (MW006).

Complete ENS coverage of the meeting is here.

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Comunicado del Obispo Presidente sobre el Mes del Orgullo honra a los episcopales LBGTQ

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 1:41pm

[13 de junio de 2018] El Obispo Presidente Michael Curry, ofreció el siguiente comunicado:

Jesús dijo: “Les doy este mandamiento nuevo: Que se amen los unos a los otros. Así como yo los amo a ustedes, así deben amarse ustedes los unos a los otros. Si se aman los unos a los otros, todo el mundo se dará cuenta de que son discípulos míos”. (Juan 13:34-35)

En mis años de ministerio, he visto y sido bendecido personalmente por innumerables hermanas y hermanos LGBTQ. Queridos amigos y amigas, la iglesia ha sido bendecida de la misma manera por ustedes. Conjunto a muchos más, ustedes son fieles seguidores de Jesús de Nazaret y de su camino de amor. Ustedes han ayudado a la iglesia a ser verdaderamente católica, universal, una casa de oración para todas las personas. Ustedes han ayudado a la iglesia a ser un verdadero reflejo de la amada comunidad de Dios. Ustedes han ayudado a la iglesia a auténticamente ser una rama del movimiento de Jesús en nuestro tiempo.

Sus ministerios para con esta iglesia son innumerables. Yo podría hablar de cómo a menudo ustedes lideran nuestras juntas parroquiales y otros órganos de liderazgo en la iglesia. Yo podría hablar de cuántos de ustedes organizan nuestras liturgias de adoración, levantan nuestras voces en el canto, gestionan los fondos de la iglesia, enseñan y forman a nuestros hijos como seguidores de Jesús, lideran congregaciones, ministerios y diócesis. Pero a través de todas esas cosas y por encima de todo, ustedes siguen fielmente a Jesús y su camino de amor. Y al hacerlo, ustedes ayudan a la iglesia, no tanto a construir una iglesia más grande solo por el mero hecho de hacerlo, sino que ayudan también a construir un mundo mejor por el amor de Dios.

Durante junio, los estadounidenses y las personas de todo el mundo observan el orgullo. Mientras lloramos a las 49 personas que fueron asesinadas en el club nocturno Pulse en Orlando hace tres años, estoy consciente de que el orgullo es a la vez una celebración y un testamento del dolor y la lucha que aún no han terminado. Especialmente este mes, ofrezco un agradecimiento especial a Dios por la fortaleza de la comunidad LGBTQ y por todo lo que comparten con sus cónyuges, sus parejas e hijos, con sus comunidades de fe, de hecho, con toda nuestra nación.

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Iraqi Christians, chicken farmers rebuild their lives in the Nineveh Plains

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:02pm

Ghazwan holding chicks in a farm previously destroyed by ISIS. Photos courtesy of International Christian Concern and Stand With Iraqi Christians

[Episcopal News Service] At a cost of $5 each, chicks are helping Iraq’s Christian chicken farmers rebuild their livelihoods in the Nineveh Plains, a region historically home to Jesus’ followers dating back to his time on Earth.

With the cooperation of the farmers, Stand With Iraqi Christians and the nonpartisan, ecumenical International Christian Concern, the first of two chicken farms are up and running as part of an economic revitalization program aimed at re-establishing farmers in the Nineveh Plains, in an area known as “chicken city” prior to its occupation and destruction by ISIS, or the Islamic State.

“The SWIC initiative in chicken farming speaks to the need for sustainable economic development in a region devastated by violent conflict. The local commercial infrastructure, being destroyed during the fight to reclaim territory from ISIS, needs to be restored to its former levels for job creation and food production,” said the Rev. Robert D. Edmunds, The Episcopal Church’s Middle East partnership officer, in a press release. “This is a far-reaching effort to start to reclaim hope for a prosperous future for the people of the Nineveh Plain.”

 For more information on Stand With Iraqi Christians or to donate click here.

A U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003 overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s government and initiating an eight-year war. A dictator, Hussein ruled the country for a quarter century and was convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged in 2006.

Throughout the Iraq War insurgents targeted and terrorized Iraqi Christians, whose numbers fell from 1.4 million at the start of the war to less than 250,000 today. When the United States completed its troop withdrawal in 2011, the then-fledgling Islamic State, began to take hold.

“In Iraq, 80 percent of Christians from some of the oldest Christian communities on earth were driven from their ancient communities by ISIS. Yet, those who remain are extraordinarily courageous, resilient, faithful, and are desperately in need our friendship and help,” said the Rev. Christopher Bishop, Stand With Iraqi Christians’ founder and president and the rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Radnor, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb.

Still, some Christians have chosen to remain, including chicken farmers in the Nineveh Plains.

“The Western Church and societies must understand that without our assistance, the impending loss of these communities would constitute a humanitarian, political, cultural and economic catastrophic for Iraq, and an irreparable wound to the world-wide body of Christ,” Bishop said in an email to Episcopal News Service.

A chicken coop on the Nineveh Plains destroyed by ISIS. Photo courtesy of Vincent Dixon

Before ISIS’s invasion, the northern Iraq city of Qaraqosh, located about 20 miles southeast of Mosul, was home to Iraq’s largest Christian community and had some 100 poultry farms. ISIS killed or displaced the city’s residents and destroyed their farms.

Today, however, as conditions improve chicken farmers are returning to the area. Stand With Iraqi Christians and International Christian Concern plan to help farmers establish two more farms in July and another four by October. Each farm creates or supports 134 jobs, from farm laborers to chicken sellers and hatcheries to butchers, grocers, to feed sellers, veterinarians and truck drivers, and generates $48,000 in income during each growing period, according to Stand With Iraqi Christians.

Bassam (right) in his newly rebuilt chicken coop. Photos courtesy of International Christian Concern and Stand With Iraqi Christians

“They’re chicken farmers, they know what they are doing; they’ve been raising chickens for a long time and what they want is to re-establish their chicken businesses. What they lack is the startup capital to re-establish the infrastructure,” said Buck Blanchard, a Stand With Iraqi Christians board member and the missioner for outreach and mission in the Episcopal Church in Colorado, in a telephone interview with ENS.

“Once they get their chicken farms back up and running, they’re capable of running a successful business and supporting their families,” he said.

Blanchard visited Iraq with Bishop in October 2018. Bishop launched his organization in 2015 as a grassroots mission to address Iraqi Christians’ struggles; through friendship and material aid, it supports the right of Christians and their communities in Iraq to survive and thrive.

A former filmmaker, he documented his first trip to Iraq in a 36-minute video, “Where is Our Place?”

The Anglican Church in Iraq is one of 14 Christian communities under the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. Regarding Stand With Iraqi Christians’ economic revitalization efforts in the region, Bishop Michael Lewis said: “I think what you are doing is fantastic. So, the primary thing is ‘thanks.’ Another thing I’d like to add is tell your friends, get more involved, spread in your state, spread across the country.”

The Episcopal Church’s 79th General Convention adopted a resolution in support of Iraq’s Christians. In part, it resolved “that the General Convention encourages The Episcopal Church, working in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, to provide prayers, friendship, and material support as determined by the needs and aspirations of Iraq’s Christians, as an expression of our love and recognition of their religious, cultural, and humanitarian inclusion in the sacred Body of Christ.”

Bishop, on Stand With Iraqi Christians’ behalf, drafted the initial resolution.

“The presiding bishop’s staff and the Global Partnership Team at The Episcopal Church have been immensely helpful in raising up Iraq as a long neglected and extremely time-sensitive focus of The Episcopal Global Mission commitments. As Anglicans, Episcopalians are both free of the long-standing religious tensions and conflicts roiling Iraq and are known world-wide as honest and effective mission partners,” Bishop said in an email to ENS. “As Americans, we have a special responsibility to extend the hand of friendship and support. We are uniquely equipped, and have a unique opportunity, to make the crucial difference in walking with our sisters and brothers in Iraq out of a crucifixion into a resurrection story.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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Presiding Bishop’s Pride Month statement honors LGBTQ Episcopalians

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 3:06pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry today offered the following statement:

Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

In my years of ministry, I have personally seen and been blessed by countless LGBTQ sisters, brothers and siblings. Dear friends, the church has in like manner been blessed by you. Together with many others you are faithful followers of Jesus of Nazareth and his way of love. You have helped the church to be truly catholic, universal, a house of prayer for all people. You have helped the church to truly be a reflection of the beloved community of God. You have helped the church to authentically be a branch of the Jesus movement in our time.

Your ministries to and with this church are innumerable. I could speak of how you often lead our vestries, and other leadership bodies in the church. I could speak of how many of you organize our liturgies of worship, lift our voices in song, manage church funds, teach and form our children as followers of Jesus, lead congregations, ministries and dioceses. But through it all and above it all, you faithfully follow Jesus and his way of love. And in so doing you help the church, not to build a bigger church for church’s sake, but to build a better world for God’s sake.

During June, Americans and people around the world observe Pride. Today, as we mourn the 49 people who were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando three years ago, I am mindful that Pride is both a celebration and a testament to sorrow and struggle that has not yet ended. Especially this month, I offer special thanks to God for the strength of the LGBTQ community and for all that you share with your spouses, partners and children, with your faith communities, and indeed with our entire nation.

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In California, celebrating a new name and affirming authentic identity

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 1:20pm

Jennifer Gonzales affirms her new name with “I am a new creation, grateful to embody Christ’s image” during the renaming ceremony at Holy Trinity Church in Covina, with the Rev. Steve DeMuth, rector. Photo: Pat McCaughan

[Episcopal News Service] For Jennifer Gonzales, 49, participating in a June 7 Service of Renaming at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Covina, California, near Los Angeles, was claiming her authentic self.

“I knew I was transgender from a young age,” Gonzales told Episcopal News Service after the ceremony. “Even though I did all the boy stuff, biking, skateboarding. My mom didn’t know, really. One time I told her, Mom, I’m transgender. She laughed at me.”

The ceremony is included in the Book of Occasional Services 2018, a liturgical resource of The Episcopal Church that was released in April 2019 and is available online. The service of renaming is intended for “when an event or experience leads a baptized person to take or be given a new name … this new beginning is distinct from the new life begun in Holy Baptism.”

The Book of Occasional Services is a companion to the Book of Common Prayer and offers ceremonies and rites for occasions that occur too infrequently to be included in the prayer book. Authorized by The Episcopal Church General Convention, it includes rites intended to aid congregations in celebrating specific occasions, such as: the Blessing of a Pregnant Woman; St. Francis Day animal blessings, and the Way of the Cross, typically used during Holy Week and representing Christ’s journey to the cross.

Vicky Mitchell, 58, who attended the June 7 ceremony and identifies as a transgender woman, said the ceremony makes sacred what too often has been ridiculed and shamed.

It has often led to “dead-naming,” the practice of referring to a transgender person by the name they used before they transitioned to their new identity.

“For trans people, identity is a really core thing,” Mitchell said. “It has to do with the divine image, with personal identity. Naming is just so special, having our name accepted. Knowing that our name is lifted, and that we have found the right one for us.”

She, like many transgender people, “knew years and years ago, that the outward image that all the rest of you saw did not match the image within our hearts,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t know how to communicate that to you for so long. But we kept looking, kept seeing this, and finally one day, it was either let it out or harm ourselves.”

“I knew I was female in spite of being the father of three children,” she added. “I tried for years to fit in with my male counterparts.”

The discontinuity between inner awareness and outer appearance can lead to heightened suicide rates compared to the general population, she said.

A 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicated that among transgender teens, more than half of males, 29.9% of females and 41.8% of nonbinary, or youth whose gender identity may fluctuate, said they had attempted suicide at least once.

Additionally, a Human Rights Campaign online survey of 12,000 LGBTQ youth from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., revealed “heartbreaking levels of stress, anxiety and rejection” from family and others. It also indicated that all LGBTQ teenagers “overwhelmingly feel unsafe in their own school classrooms.”

The 2017 report indicated that transgender youth were twice as likely to be harassed and mocked by family members. About 51% reported they are barred from using school restrooms matching their gender identity.

‘I am a new creation, grateful to embody Christ’s image’

After the April release of the Book of Occasional Services 2018, “Jennifer and I read the service together and we both started crying,” recalled the Rev. Steven De Muth, Holy Trinity’s rector. “I asked her if doing it would be a blessing, and she said yes.”

Gonzales, who lives in Covina, said she felt nervous before the ceremony’s start, practicing again and again, her one-line response: “I am a new creation, grateful to embody Christ’s image.”

“I’m trying to memorize it,” she told De Muth, who officiated. The ceremony recalled scriptural name changes such as: “Sarai, who became Sarah; Jacob, who became Israel; and Simon called Peter” and included prayers for the LGBTQ community written by Rabbi Heather Miller of Temple Beth El of South Orange County, California.

“This isn’t my story to tell. I am simply a companion on the road,” De Muth told about 50 worshippers in a reflection during the ceremony.

Speaking directly to Gonzales, he said: “Along the way, you captured our hearts, with your willingness to participate in our ministry of feeding those who are hungry.

“You captured the imagination of The Episcopal Church who, until they met someone who was transgender, the beauty of experience and the challenge of experience were just on a written page. For us, you’ve brought that to life.

“It’s sometimes not until your heart is touched by someone you love that you begin to understand and to care.”

The service was co-sponsored by the Covina and Pomona chapters of GLEAM—Gathering of LGBTQ Episcopalians in Active Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles. During a meal after the ceremony, they led a conversation about challenges specific to transgender persons.

“The Episcopal Church has been way ahead” in supporting LGBTQ persons, Robert Amore, coordinator for GLEAM’s Pomona chapter, told the gathering. He described “as groundbreaking” the General Convention 1976 Resolution A069, which affirmed the full and equal claim of homosexual persons as children of God deserving of the love, acceptance and pastoral concern of the church.

From the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as the first gay bishop in 2003 to renaming ceremonies, “we just keep going,” he said. “Here I am, 64 years old, and things are opening up and I’m so grateful.” During the renaming ceremony he said: “I could just feel the joy in God’s spirit, and this is how we go forward, in joy.”

Accepting new names; new understandings

When Gonzales first selected Jennifer as her new name, “the people I told laughed at me,” she told ENS.

Others dead-named her, “almost weaponizing my former name and calling me by it to make me feel bad. It makes me really mad.

“When I was a guy, I didn’t like myself,” she said. “I was really self-conscious. I couldn’t even go into a place or a building that had people in it, I hated myself so much. But I don’t care now. I go wherever I want and if somebody’s hateful to me, I say to myself, just give it to God.”

The Rev. Julie Kelly, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Riverside, California, told the gathering she is “the proud mom of a young bisexual man, two straight young men and a nonbinary transgender transmasculine child as well” and that dead-naming is a very real and very damaging occurrence.

“‘Dead name’ sounds so powerful and hurtful for some people,” she said. “Some trans persons don’t use the word because they appreciate their history, their previous name, but they also know that is not representative of who they are now.”

As a member of several support groups for transgender parents and children, she said often parents have difficulty with the new names chosen by their children.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re ever denying the love, the intentionality, the nurturing of that person. It’s just a name we picked before we knew the person, and now the right name has risen up and that is a sacred thing,” Kelly said.

“We rebirth our children over and over again. That’s what parenting is. We rebirth, we go through the pain and we watch them become a person on their own in the world. When we let the dead name go and we acknowledge how important that is, we give them that breath, just like the first one they take after they are pushed out of the womb.”

She said it is vital for communities to understand and support the importance of acceptance of transgender persons’ chosen names.

“It is such a tiny thing for us and yet for a trans person, it is everything,” she said. “It is lifesaving. It is breath. I invite you into that as a mom who has seen what happens to my kid, every time they’re dead-named … I hear a little part of them die. I invite you into that practice, because it’s life-saving.”

Maria Guadalupe Sanchez, 61, a Holy Trinity parishioner who also attended the celebration, said both ceremony and conversation felt wonderful.

“I am very proud of my church,” Sanchez told ENS. “It is very open, very human. We really try to help everyone believe they are made in God’s image. We celebrate our diversity, and our dignity, that we are all God’s children.”

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

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