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ACC-17 confronts challenge of guarding Anglicans from sexual abuse

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:21am

Garth Blake, Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission chair and an ACC lay member from Australia, introduces the council May 1 to a conversation about preventing sexual abuse in the church. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting heard a stark assessment May 1 of the prevalence of sexual abuse across the communion and the expanding effort to prevent it.

The work builds on similar discussions at the last two meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council, or ACC. In 2012, ACC-15 adopted the Safe Church Charter and urged all provinces to do the same. At its next meeting, in 2016, the council called for an Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission. It also adopted a “protocol for the disclosure of ministry suitability information between the churches of the Anglican Communion” to ensure that those found to have abused people do not attempt to exercise ministry in other provinces.

On May 1, Garth Blake, Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission chair and an ACC lay member from Australia, explained the course of the commission’s effort. Andrew Khoo of the Diocese of West Malaysia, Bishop of Matabeleland Cleophas Lunga and Andrea Watkins from the Church of England, all members of the commission that was established in 2017, each told the ACC that abuse of children and vulnerable adults occurs in their countries. And, they said, each culture has expectations and norms that work against disclosing abuse.

More than half the ACC members raised their hands when commission member Marilyn Redlich asked if they were aware of abusive situations in their province. She then invited them to discuss  at their tables the implications of abuse in the church.

Redlich acknowledged, “this is a most difficult discussion,” in part because of the possibility that some ACC members had been abusers, victims or witnesses to abuse at some point in their lives. She reminded the members that a team of chaplains was available to them, and ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson later said the same. “Do not try to work with this alone,” Redlich said.

After the members spent 20 minutes discussing the safe-church work at their tables, Province of Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told his colleagues, “this session was very rushed; we needed to reflect deeper.”

Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke tell his council colleagues May 1 that sexual abuse has “totally shredded” the larger church’s reputation. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

During the ensuing group discussion, both Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke and Church of England Bishop of Chelmsford Steven Cottrell said sexual abuse scandals have harmed the Christian church’s reputation. Clarke described that reputation as “totally shredded,” and Cottrell said the scandals have driven people from the church and are also “preventing people from coming to Jesus Christ.”

Cottrell said hardest part of preventing abuse in the church is changing the culture. He added the church will only change when it realizes “this is a Gospel issue,” recalling Jesus’ teachings about children.

Clarke, though not disagreeing, wondered if children were being harmed in a psychological way by being taught to assume that “every adult is a predator.” Plus, he said, adults have learned to be extremely cautious around children out of concern about being accused of abuse. “There are no children that I would go near except my own grandchildren,” he said.

Before voting on Resolution C17.01 Swinson asked the members to pause and pray for people who keep the vulnerable safe, those who support victims of abuse and those who work with abusers.

The resolution puts the ACC on record as “recognizing the failures of the past” and saying it “is determined that every church in the Anglican Communion is a safe place for everyone, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.” It approved guidelines “to enhance the safety of all persons – especially children, young people and vulnerable adults – within the provinces of the Anglican Communion.”

The resolution requests the communion’s provinces and extra-provincial churches adopt the charter and implement the protocol and guidelines. It also asks them to appoint a representative to coordinate with the commission, which will continue its work.

While most resolutions are being passed here by what is called “general assent,” in which members verbally acknowledge that they are comfortable with a resolution, Swinson called for a regular vote by show of hands because the issue was of “great public interest.” The measure passed unanimously.

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

 

 

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Anglican Consultative Council Digest: May 1

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:15am

Anglican Consultative Council youth member Basetsana Makena from South Africa pastes to a door in the meeting room her table’s thoughts about what hinders their family relationships. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting here, a number of things happen. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional highlights.

Learning about the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith effort

On May 1, the ACC suspended its work, and members had the option of attending a 90-minute “consultation” on Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England’s new effort to think theologically about diverse opinions on human identity and sexuality. Its subtitle is “Christian Teaching & Learning about Human Identity, Sexuality & Marriage.” Slightly less than half the council attended.

Eeva John, who called herself the “enabling officer” of the project, said it is “large, ambitious and complex.” The work was begun in 2017 after the Church of England’s General Synod rejected a report on human sexuality from the House of Bishops.

The project is not meant to declare the rightness or wrongness of same-sex marriage. Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth told the Church Times earlier this year that it is about “helping people to learn how to think, and how to better understand.” Cocksworth chairs the group that is coordinating about 40 scholars working in theology, history, biblical studies and science.

“It will rather be a pedagogical process that will help to put the church, and the bishops in particular, in the sort of position by which they can develop whatever answers to particular questions are needed,” Cocksworth told the Church Times.

At the same time, Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, was recently launched to advocate a change in the official teaching and practice of the Church of England to allow same-sex marriage. When the United Kingdom decided to allow same-sex marriage it “put the church in a situation it’s never been in before where it has stepped aside from where the country stands legally,” John said.

She noted that the Church of England has considered the issues around human sexuality for about 30 years. However, she said, the church has decided it needs some “quite serious theological reflection” about not only human sexuality, identity and marriage but larger societal issues, such as commodification, consumerism, materialism, individualism and the “idolatry of choice in our society, being able to choose who we are, what we do, what we consume.”

It comes down, she said, to asking where the church fits into a changing culture and what “it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in England today.”

During a group discussion, the Ven. Wendy Patricia Hope Scott, ACC member from the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, said her province has “gone through this and come out on the other side” with “scads” of material, which she offered to John. And she prayed for the project after telling John that prayer “is the only thing that’s going to get you through this.”

ACC member from the Church of Scotland Alistair Dinnie said his province went through “a lot of pain, a lot of soul-searching,” but it has gotten a place where the vast majority of people, regardless of where they stand on the issues, are happy with the foundation on which the decision to allow same-sex marriage was made. Dinnie added that  “to my great sadness, we have not managed to bring everybody with us, because we have lost some of our community after the decision.”

During a pre-meeting news conference April 27, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby he hoped the project will “lead to significantly more careful listening to each other around the world.”

The attendance-optional session required the suspension of the council’s work because “it doesn’t fall within what the ACC can do,” according to Welby. He had contended earlier in the news conference that the council cannot discuss his decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference because the ACC constitution precludes the group from dealing with doctrinal matters.

Considering the communion’s ecumenical relations

The Rev. John Gibaut, the communion’s director of unity, faith and order, briefs ACC-17 on his work May 1. Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The council approved four resolutions May 1 related to the communion’s relationships with other Christian churches.

The members welcomed and commended the following for study:

ACC-17 members also approved a new Anglican Communion process for receiving ecumenical texts developed out of its dialogues with other Christian traditions.

The council heard from the Rev. John Gibaut, the communion’s director of unity, faith and order, who is leaving his post at the end of this meeting. His report touched on a variety of subjects, including the impact of ACC-16’s affirmation of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The declaration, originally agreed to by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, has been described as resolving the doctrinal dispute at the heart of the Reformation; i.e., whether Christians are saved by their works or by their faith alone. It states that the churches who agree to it now share “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.”

The declaration has since been adopted or affirmed by the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council as well as the ACC.

Gibaut acknowledged that, despite the attention the declaration earned in some circles, the fact that five Western Christian churches “have been able to say something together on the Doctrine of Justification” begged the question: So what? The answer to that question has begun to be discerned.

“My analogy is we now have a common master key to unlock so many of those locked doors from the 16th century. How do we use it together; how do we walk together more closely?” he said. “The Doctrine of Justification is not just a theological thing. It’s a vision of what it means to be a human being.”

Convening at the Gold Coast

Most of the Anglican Consultative Council’s sessions will take place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong. The venue is said to be more economical than a hotel in the main part of the city. Photo: Gold Coast Hotel

Whenever the Anglican Consultative Council gathers for its nearly triennial meetings, it convenes in a different place around the Anglican Communion. In the last 10 years it has met in a hotel in Kingston, Jamaica; Anglican cathedrals in Auckland, New Zealand, and Lusaka, Zambia, and now in the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

Some have raised eyebrows at the locale near popular Golden Beach, the sparkling environs of the hotel building – a modernistic wavy array of crystals hangs from the ceiling of the meeting room – and the sumptuous food both in the hotel and at two restaurants in the city the council has visited thus far.

“You might, since you’ve arrived, have thought why are we in such a luxurious hotel with the wonderful food that we’ve had, the wonderful bedrooms, frankly the chandeliers in every space?” Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged on April 28 when he explained to the ACC members the choice of the Gold Coast. “You might be thinking this doesn’t feel as if this is something within the budget of the Anglican Consultative Council.”

White did not specify the cost of ACC-17, nor has that cost been disclosed elsewhere.

When the ACC last met in Hong Kong in 2002, it gathered at the YMCA building in the city center. However, since then, the price of land has skyrocketed in Hong Kong, and so has the cost of anything that sits on that land. Being so far away from central Hong Kong means the cost of the meeting is far less, White said.

The fact that the hotel owner is a Hong Kong Anglican who wanted to host the meeting was helpful as well, White added.

The ethos of hospitality and generous hosts have magnified the sense of luxury. White said that in all the planning meetings, he tried to tamp down the number of choices for each meal. “I have completely failed to reduce the quality with which we will be served,” he said. “With no sense of guilt, with no sense of regret, enjoy facilities and enjoy the company and enjoy the hospitality during which we are here.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was asked at an April 27 news conference about the environmental cost of the meeting that brings 99 ACC members from all over the world, plus staff to support them. He noted that the last ACC meeting changed the council’s constitution to allow groups such as the communion’s Standing Committee to meet electronically.

Yet, he said, sometimes face-to-face meetings need to happen “because you can just do and say things that you can’t do in any other way.”

ACC-16’ Resolution 16.33 also called for the communion office to make carbon-offset payments to the Anglican Alliance, the communion’s relief and development agency, “in their efforts address the world refugee crisis and human suffering as a result of conflict and drought.”

In another change addressed to the meeting’s environmental impact, ACC-17 is largely paperless. All reports and resolutions are posted on a password-protected “microsite,” and members who do not have internet-ready devices have been loaned iPads.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Communion’s gender-justice is rooted in responses to violence, degradation and sin, ACC learns

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 3:05am

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Ten years ago when the Rev. Terrie Robinson was asked to create a women’s desk at the Anglican Communion Office, she was not sure where to begin. An email she received an email containing photos of a murdered woman pointed the way.

The photos came from a bishop who had received them from elsewhere in the world.  “Lord, have mercy,” he wrote. Robinson, who is leaving her post at the communion’s director for women in church and society at the end of May, opened only three of them. They were enough to show her the sequence of the naked woman’s death and dismemberment at the hands of a group of men.

Robinson told members of Anglican Consultative Council April 30 that the photographs depicted “the abuse of power and about rendering another powerless; it was about sin” and “probably taken as some sort of trophy or to spread and circulate fear in a particular community.”

The Rev. Terrie Robinson

Robinson said she realized that the women’s desk “could become a point of contact for any woman or any man in the Anglican Communion who was doing something or wanted to do something about violence against women and girls.”

She found a number of such projects scattered across the communion which “needed to be connected somehow, to be properly noticed and affirmed by church leadership.”

To this day the work is under-resourced and usual relies on women to provide the energy and push the work forward,” she said.

Robinson’s written report [link to come] summarizes a number of examples of such work across the communion, such as “My Faith Says No!” in which the Diocese of Polynesia coordinated leaders from nine faith and cultural groups to produce a multi-media campaign advocating for an end to violence against women and girls.

Such work is a “huge building block of God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven,” she said.

“But for real and lasting change, we must tackle and transform the particular social norms, attitudes, scriptural misinterpretations and behaviors that sustain and exacerbate unjust power relationships between men and women, girls and boys, whether this is in our households or in our churches or embedded in the systems and structures that effect our lives,” she said.

Robinson said the focus of her efforts have shifted over time to work with Anglicans and ecumenical partners “to lift up the values of our Christian faith,” including the teaching of Christ and the stories of the faithful women who followed him “and were the first to tell the good news of his resurrection.” Those values “simply allow no room for ranking power and entitlement according to gender or remaining silent in the face of gender-based violence or devaluing the girl child or being complicit in the stigma that still surrounds victims and survivors of abuse and violence.”

Powerful presentation from Terrie of the ACO Women’s network. Needed study for students @queenscollegenl #ACC17HK pic.twitter.com/nZpFWGBHQV

— David Burrows (@Foxtrap_Burrows) April 30, 2019

One outcome of that shift in focus is a new set of study materials developed by academic theologians from six continents, led by Robinson, called “God’s Justice: Just Relationships between Women and Men, Girls and Boys,” which she asked the ACC to endorse so that they can be offered to the communion’s theological colleges, seminaries and training programs for both lay and ordained ministers. [link to come] Many of those schools and programs “haven’t yet touched on just power relations between women and men,” even though they are what she called an essential part of such formation and leading a Jesus-shaped life.

Anglican women and men need to work together, and with ecumenical and secular partners, to achieve gender justice, Robinson said. One model of this work, she said, is the international Side by Side faith movement for gender justice.

Robinson said she hoped that Anglicans will come to the point of always asking how their actions will affect relationships and “what is this saying about power and how power is used.” They should choose only those actions “that we could say or do in front of Christ crucified” and in front of a young woman made in the image of God, but degraded, rendered powerless and murdered by a group of men.

Her work, Robinson reflected, “it has all been about a simple Gospel truth that whenever the image of God is disfigured by violence or abuse or the misuse of power in any way, then it is a sin against the Holy Spirit.” God’s image should be celebrated as “a picture of being human, not of gender,” she said.

Her report and the study materials are due to be posted here soon.

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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

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Dinorah Padro nombrada gerente de La Iglesia Episcopal para servicios lingüísticos

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 2:33pm

Dinorah Padro fue nombrada gerente de La Iglesia Episcopal para servicios lingüísticos, miembro del personal del Obispo Presidente.

En su nuevo cargo, Padro reportará a Bernice David, gerente de operaciones de comunicaciones, y supervisará todos los aspectos de las actividades de traducción e interpretación requeridas por la Sociedad Misionera Doméstica y Extranjera (DFMS), incluidos los que necesita la Oficina del Obispo Presidente y la Oficina de la Convención General.

Antes empleada de forma independiente por la DFMS en 2004, Dinorah ha servido como intérprete para muchos eventos y reuniones de la Iglesia Episcopal. David observa: “Su nivel de profesionalismo y sus fuertes habilidades interpersonales serán una gran ventaja para la Oficina de Comunicaciones y para la DFMS”.

Padro comenzó sus responsabilidades el 29 de abril de 2019.

Conozca a Dinorah Padro
Además de su experiencia con La Iglesia Episcopal, Padro ha brindado servicios de interpretación a diversas compañías de mercadeo, así como a tribunales civiles y penales a nivel municipal, estatal y federal. Ha viajado extensamente debido al trabajo de interpretación en Estados Unidos e internacionalmente. Padro ha proporcionado servicios de traducción a un sindicato de trabajadores y en una variedad de documentos y materiales legales y de mercadeo. Ha trabajado como gerente de oficina y oficial de préstamos, ha servido como organizadora comunitaria para varias organizaciones sin fines de lucro y se ha ofrecido como voluntaria para ayudar a las familias que hablan español. Padro es miembro de la Asociación Americana de Traductores y del Comité de Acceso Lingüístico para los Tribunales del Estado de Utah. Junto con varias certificaciones profesionales, Padro también estudió psicología en la Universidad de Puerto Rico y en la Universidad Brigham Young de Utah.

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‘Intentional discipleship’ or ‘Jesus-shaped life’ is moving through the communion, ACC members say

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:40am

The Rev. John Kafwanka, Anglican Communion Office director of mission, leads off a session on intentional discipleship April 30 at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong. Photo: Nigel Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] Anglicans across the communion are beginning to see how to live a Jesus-shaped life in the “season of intentional discipleship.”

That was the message here April 30 as Anglican Consultative Council members attending the council’s 17th meeting spent the morning discussing the modern version of what many said has been the foundation of Christianity since Jesus told the disciples to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2016, the ACC accepted a report titled Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making: An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation and called (via Resolution 16.01) for a “season of intentional discipleship” from then until ACC-18, which could run until approximately 2021.

Northern Argentina Bishop Nick Drayson said the term “Jesus-shaped life” is a more specific term than “intentional discipleship.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Northern Argentina Bishop Nick Drayson, a member of the committee guiding the initial work, told the council April 30 that the term “intentional discipleship” needs some unpacking. The group coined the phrase “Jesus-shaped life” because, he said, “it makes more sense.” He said the phrase refers to the lives of individuals and communities being shaped by Jesus “rather than the world or anything else molding us,” while also being examples to others.

The Rev. John Kafwanka, Anglican Communion Office director of mission, agreed. “We have talked a lot about Jesus but sadly many people have not seen Jesus in us,” he said.

The hope, Drayson said, is that the Anglican Communion will become known as a group of churches made up of disciples who lead others to discipleship in all aspects of their lives such as parenting and work and life in one’s culture. “It’s not just about church activities,” he said.

Anglicans in South Sudan need help learning to become Jesus’ disciples and not just churchgoers, the Rev. Bartholomew Bol Deng, clergy member from the Province of South Sudan, told his colleagues. Photo: Nigel Vigers/Anglican Communion News Service

The Rev. Bartholomew Bol Deng, clergy member from the Province of South Sudan, said that most of the dioceses in his province are “young” and filled with people who were recently evangelized. Many of them need to take the next step, he said, of learning “how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, not just to come to church.”

His comment came during one of many short report-back moments in a morning that alternated between presentations about the work and frameworks for creating context-specific programs, and table discussions among the members.

Mark Senada, a youth member from Egypt, said he believes there is a “longing for seeing good Christians who say what they do and do what they say,” just as Jesus did.

Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander told her colleagues that the idea of intentional discipleship has been “like a train gathering speed” in her diocese after a series of activities across the Canadian diocese encouraged people to begin talking about what living a Jesus-shaped life meant. “Sometimes we have to rediscover Jesus,” she said

There were two reasons for beginning the work, Alexander said. First, was increasing secularization. “In my context, the church can no longer assume that the story of Jesus Christ is known. Our evangelism effort can’t assume we’re reacquainting people with an old friend or a childhood memory, but it’s often a completely new introduction to God in Christ Jesus,” she said. “We’ve seen firsthand that as much as we might wish it, the prevailing culture doesn’t bring people through our doors.”

Yet, in asking those people who are in the church to go out and tell others about Jesus, “they often don’t know where to begin,” she said. “Therefore, our discipleship efforts [up until now] have engendered a sense of shame and guilt for not having been good enough doing it.”

Second was a litany of pain from generations of trauma experienced by the indigenous people of Alberta including nearly 2,000 murdered or missing girls and women. Some 12 percent of Albertans live in poverty, including one-fifth of all children and half of all indigenous children. There is a lack of clean drinking water in many of those communities. Food banks use has increased by 50 percent in the last 10 years. There is human trafficking, addiction, teen suicide and social isolation.

“People need to hear good news, but we had a problem. We needed a shared understanding of our own personal call to be disciples,” she said.

Rosalie Ballentine, The Episcopal Church’s lay member, said the idea of discipleship reminds her of the old question of “What would Jesus do?”

Not matter the term, she said, the intent is for Christians “to be the people who are out there fighting for those who are the least of them, those who can’t fight for themselves, fighting against injustice.” Ballentine said Christians cannot “just say that we’re going to be nice and kind to our neighbors or our colleagues, but [they have] to speak truth to power, to stand up for what is right because that’s what Jesus did and so that’s what we should do.”

The Rev. Canon Jerome Stanley Francis from the Province of Southern Africa echoed that notion, saying that “challenging the authorities of the day” is an important part of discipleship.

Leading a Jesus-shaped life, he said, means speaking that truth to “leaders who abused their power, their authority, their people” and “misuse the trust that people have in them.”

The committee is identifying examples of best practices in discipleship programs around the communion to share with other Anglicans and is also encouraging Anglicans to develop programs that make sense in their cultures. Those resources are being shared here.

Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell, another member of the working group, cautioned that the Anglican Communion “tends to be the sort of church that produces pages of documents; it’s our way of doing things.” He suggested that “we have to get away from the idea that being a disciple is like doing a degree in God.”

Cottrell said it’s not that the working group wants the church to be anti-intellectual, but “I think we need to become a much better church at telling stories; that’s how Jesus taught. A story doesn’t close down meaning; it finds community, it finds dialogue.”

During a news conference on April 27, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that “intentional discipleship” is an idea which has to work its way throughout the communion in much the same way the concept of the Five Marks of Mission took time to anchor itself in Anglicans’ consciousness.

“It’s a process of cultural change rather than a sudden declaration from on high,” he said.

Many times, Anglican communities are doing the work of intentional discipleship “without the title being attached,” said Margaret Swinson, ACC vice chair and member from the Church of England, at the news conference.

On May 2, ACC members plan to visits places in the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican province in Hong Kong, where intentional discipleship is being put into practice.

Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong said at the news conference that the province recently committed itself to the work through theological education, evangelism and social services.

Read more about it
ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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

The post ‘Intentional discipleship’ or ‘Jesus-shaped life’ is moving through the communion, ACC members say appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Nebraska churches expand ministries to serve communities devastated by floods

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:16am

Volunteers prepare food for distribution April 27 at Church of the Holy Spirit in Bellevue, Nebraska, through the church’s mobile food pantry ministry. Photo: Church of the Holy Spirit

[Episcopal News Service] The catastrophic floods that hit Nebraska and neighboring states in March submerged whole neighborhoods underwater and turned some riverbend communities like Fremont into isolated outposts surrounded by water. The rising Platte and Elkhorn rivers blocked roads into and out of the Fremont area for days.

“Fremont was basically an island,” said the Rev. Sarah Miller, whose small congregation at St. James’ Episcopal Church has been on the front lines of relief and recovery efforts.

At the same time, the Missouri River swallowed parts of the Omaha suburb of Bellevue, Nebraska, particularly two rental home communities on the city’s south side. Hundreds of residents were displaced by the flooding. “That whole area was pretty well wiped clean,” the Rev. Tom Jones, rector of Church of the Holy Spirit, told Episcopal News Service.

This is looking South from Fremont on Highway 77. You can see the smoke from a trailer house that Fremont Fire and Fremont Rural are battling. pic.twitter.com/HS4xMuJXsS

— NSP Troop A (@NSP_TroopA) March 18, 2019

The floodwaters have since subsided, and more than 5,000 Nebraskans have applied for federal assistance, according to the state. The federal disaster area includes dozens of counties throughout Nebraska and Iowa. Some displaced residents returned to find their homes and possessions destroyed by the floods, which were caused by an unusually snowy and wet winter.

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska,  while partnering with Episcopal Relief & Development, has rallied its 52 congregations behind the flood victims and, in places like Fremont and Bellevue, provided direct support to the residents most effected by the disaster and its aftermath.

St. James’ began by filling tote bags with three days’ worth of toiletries and supplies for flood victims, a variation on its ministry of assembling similar donations for domestic violence victims. On April 11, the congregation resumed its regular community meals, and some residents displaced by the floods were among the 25 to 30 people who attended, Miller told ENS.

St. James’ Episcopal Church in Fremont, Nebraska, filled tote bags with supplies for flood victims in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Photo: St. James’ Episcopal Church

“We know that this can be an overwhelming time for people,” said Miller, the priest-in-charge at St. James’. Sunday services at the church typically draw about 25 worshipers.

Her disaster response includes providing pastoral care for struggling neighbors as they cope with their flood losses, and she picks up on their cues when deciding how St. James’ will follow up next. “We’re really trying to listen to folks to figure out what’s needed and how we can possibly respond.”

Some church members are dealing with emotional loss because the floods destroyed personal treasures, like family photos. Since others in the congregation have photos taken with the flood victims at past events, they have been encouraged to share the images, a step toward rebuilding lost photo albums.

The congregation at St. James’ also is considering a “laundry love” ministry to serve the increased number of neighbors who have been forced to use laundromats because their homes and appliances were damaged.

No Episcopal church facilities were seriously damaged by the flooding in Nebraska, according to the Diocese of Nebraska, though two families from Jones’ congregation in Bellevue were among those who were left homeless. At one point, the roofs of their mobile homes were barely visible above the rising Missouri River, Jones said. More than a month later, they have found permanent housing and are “very optimistic” about the future.

“The community really, really came together to provide all kinds of support for the people who were impacted,” said Jones, whose average Sunday attendance is about 100. He mentioned another parishioner who offered temporary shelter to a family whose basement had been flooded, and there have been many other examples of neighbors helping neighbors. “They really came together and met those immediate needs.”

His congregation also is among those getting a boost from the diocese’s work with Episcopal Relief & Development, which is providing logistical support in the relief and recovery phases. Episcopal Relief’s expertise comes from years of experience responding when natural disasters strike around the country, and this month it sent two representatives to Nebraska and Iowa “to help diocesan leaders conduct assessments of the damage caused by the flooding and to identify both immediate and long-term needs of communities,” the agency said in an online statement.

Episcopal Relief & Development is helping the dioceses pay for emergency supplies for residents, such as food, gas and clothing, and Church of the Holy Spirit will use a $2,000 grant from the agency paired with $1,000 from the Diocese of Nebraska to bolster the congregation’s food distribution ministry, which is several years old.

The Bellevue church, through its partnership with the Food Bank for the Heartland, had scheduled events every two months to distribute thousands of pounds of food from the Omaha-based food bank, typically serving 100 to 120 families. It now can increase the frequency of its food distribution to every month, filling a gap left by two other Bellevue churches that had decided before the flooding to stop holding distribution events.

The most recent distribution was April 27, and although the number of families hadn’t increased in the wake of the floods, Jones said he saw some new faces. He thinks the need will increase as other flood relief efforts phase out.

Nebraska Bishop Scott Barker applauded Episcopal Relief & Development for its support, and he praised the work of individual congregations and Episcopalians around his diocese.

“I’m proud of our ability to rally to serve,” he said in an interview with ENS. “It’s a difficult bit of work, because the damage is spread over such a giant geographical area but principally in isolated pockets. … We’re trying to be really prayerful and discerning about a long-term response.”

One long-term question is whether small communities in Nebraska will survive if most of the towns’ residents are told their homes are too badly damaged to return to them. Though survival isn’t in doubt for Fremont, a city of about 26,000 people northwest of Omaha, Miller said the smaller towns on Fremont’s outskirts face an uncertain future. If those residents choose to take the federal assistance and relocate elsewhere, “that place just basically disappears,” she said.

For those who stay to rebuild and repair, recovery won’t happen overnight.

“It’s setting in how long this is going to take,” Miller said. “I think people are feeling frustrated navigating the system, trying to figure out how the inspections work, how they get back into their homes, how to work with FEMA.”

But for those who didn’t lose everything, they are approaching a difficult future while still feeling “grateful and lucky,” she said. “There’s a sense from a lot of people that it could have been worse.”

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

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El EJE19 reunirá a jóvenes episcopales de diócesis de habla hispana en Panamá

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 10:43pm

[Episcopal News Service] La Iglesia Episcopal se prepara para un evento de dos días en América Latina para adolescentes y jóvenes adultos que son líderes en sus comunidades religiosas episcopales, con una orientación deliberada hacia los jóvenes de la IX Provincia de la Iglesia.

El Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales, o EJE, tendrá lugar en julio en la Ciudad de Panamá, conforme al modelo de las reuniones del popular Evento de la Juventud Episcopal, que se celebra en diferentes lugares de la Iglesia Episcopal cada tres años. Si bien las reuniones trienales del EYE suelen atraer a más de 1.000 participantes, el EJE inaugural se prepara a recibir a unas 250 personas, incluidos los organizadores, los voluntarios y las delegaciones de cada una de las siete diócesis de la IX Provincia, así como líderes de la juventud anglicana de varios otros países latinoamericanos.

“Esto ha sido un sueño durante muchos años”, le dijo a Episcopal News Service Glenda McQueen, funcionaria encargada de Asociaciones Globales para América Latina y el Caribe. A los jóvenes de la IX Provincia con frecuencia les resulta difícil viajar a Estados Unidos para asistir al EYE, donde el inglés es el idioma principal, explicó McQueen, que está radicada en Panamá.

El EJE “les dará una oportunidad a los jóvenes y a los jóvenes adultos de esta zona de estar presentes y podrán hablar en español y comunicarse y cantar en español, y alabar a Dios en español, que es su lengua”, dijo ella.

Varios departamentos de la Iglesia Episcopal colaboran en el proyecto, entre ellos Formación de Fe, Ministerios Étnicos y Asociaciones Globales, y están trabajando estrechamente con el Equipo de Planificación del EJE19 de la IX Provincia.

“Estamos adiestrando a la gente a hacer esto, de manera que en el futuro —y esperamos que sea pronto— el próximo evento estará dirigido por la IX Provincia”, dijo el Rdo. Anthony Guillén a ENS en una entrevista. Guillén es el director de Ministerios Étnicos y el misionero para el Ministerio Latino/Hispano de la Iglesia Episcopal.

La IX Provincia de la Iglesia Episcopal comprende las diócesis del territorio estadounidense de Puerto Rico y la República Dominicana en el Caribe, y los países de Centro y Sudamérica Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela y Ecuador, este último dividido en las diócesis de Ecuador Central y Ecuador Litoral. La Diócesis de Cuba, luego de ser  recibida de vuelta en la Iglesia Episcopal en la Convención General de 2018, también ha sido invitada a enviar una delegación al EJE19, aunque Cuba se ha unido a la II Provincia, no a la IX.

La mayoría de los episcopales en estas diócesis y sus congregaciones hablan español como su idioma principal, lo cual dijo Guillén que es una razón de que la IX Provincia haya sido históricamente ignorada por la Iglesia Episcopal que es fundamentalmente anglófona.

“Nunca realmente pensé cómo ser receptivo a la IX Provincia”, dijo Guillén, pero en años recientes los líderes episcopales reavivaron la esperanza de salvar esa barrera geográfica, cultural y lingüística mediante eventos como el EJE19. El Consejo Ejecutivo también ha prometido celebrar una reunión en cada una de las nueve provincias de la Iglesia durante este trienio, incluida una de las diócesis de la IX Provincia. “Hay un intento de ir y hacer cosas en la IX Provincia”, dijo Guillén.

La planificación para el EJE19 ha estado en marcha durante varios años y, en 2018, la Convención General aprobó $350.000 para el evento. Se celebrará en Ciudad del Saber, una antigua base militar de EE.UU. en Ciudad de Panamá que se ha convertido en un centro empresarial y de conferencias con teatros, auditorios, aulas y un albergue estilo dormitorio para los participantes del EJE19. El obispo primado Michael Curry está previsto que asista.

“El EJE19 será una increíble reunión de jóvenes dispuestos a aprender acerca del Movimiento de Jesús y a reclamar su lugar en él”, dijo Curry en un comunicado de prensa acerca del evento.

Aunque Panamá es parte de la Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América, comúnmente conocida como IARCA, y no es parte de la Iglesia Episcopal, el equipo de planificación de la IX Provincia para el EJE19 escogió este país centroamericano como la ubicación ideal debido a su proximidad con las diócesis episcopales de la región y los económicos costos de viaje.

Todavía no se ha finalizado un programa detallado, pero Wendy Karr Johnson, encargada de Formación de Fe de la Iglesia Episcopal, dijo que el evento de dos días de duración incluirá una serie de actividades cultuales, talleres y excursiones, semejantes a los que se ofrecen en el EYE.

El obispo de Panamá, Julio Murray, ha sido generoso en apoyar la planificación del EJE en su diócesis, dijo Johnson. Se espera que él les hable a los participantes  acerca del contexto histórico y espiritual de la ciudad anfitriona: “¿Por qué este lugar nos habla, y qué tiene que enseñarnos?”, afirmó Johnson.

El EJE19 está concebido para jóvenes de entre 16 y 26 años de edad. A las diócesis episcopales que participan se les invitó a enviar delegaciones de hasta 15 personas, hasta 13 jóvenes acompañados por dos adultos que los cuiden.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él a dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.   Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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Miembros de la Comunión Anglicana se dirigen a Hong Kong para reunión del Consejo Consultivo

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 3:50pm

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] Los miembros del Consejo Consultivo Anglicano están llegando aquí para el comienzo de una reunión de ocho días que examinará la misión y el ministerio de la Comunión, y durante la cual podrían emerger también algunas de sus diferencias internas.

Los tres miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal del CCA dicen que esperan que la reunión del 28 de abril al 8 de mayo le dará mayor unidad a la Comunión en su misión a través del mundo.

Rosalie Ballentine, de la Diócesis de las Islas Vírgenes, le dijo a Episcopal News Service que ella espera que la reunión se concentre en el “continuo empeño de crear relaciones de edificar la Comunión, y de ocuparse de las cosas que son importantes para la población del mundo”.

Esos asuntos incluyen la labor de ayuda y desarrollo, las mujeres, las familias, la violencia doméstica, la trata de personas, la pobreza y el hambre, el cambio climático y los pueblos indígenas, según el proyecto de agenda. Los miembros también discutirán temas más relacionados con la Iglesia, tales como la labor de fe y disciplina, consultas litúrgicas y relaciones interreligiosas, educación teológica e iniciativas devocionales.

El Consejo se reúne cada tres o cuatro años, y la reunión en Hong Kong es la 17ª. sesión. El CCA se reunió la última vez en abril de 2016 en Lusaka, Zambia. Está regresando a Hong Kong donde tuvo lugar en 2002 su 12ª. reunión. La primera reunión se celebró en Limurú, Kenia, en 1971.

El tema de la ACC-17 es “Equipar al pueblo de Dios: profundizar en un discipulado consciente”. Atiende un llamado de la ACC-16 hace tres años (por vía de la Resolución 16.01) para concentrarse en un discipulado consciente a través de la Comunión Anglicana. Un “discipulado consciente” se define como la deliberada priorización de acciones individuales e institucionales de vivir como discípulos de Cristo  y atraer a otros a esa vida.

El objetivo del CCA, según su constitución, es “fomentar la religión cristiana y en particular promover la unidad y propósitos de las iglesias de la Comunión Anglicana, en la misión, la evangelización, las relaciones ecuménicas, la comunicación, la administración y las finanzas”. Entre las facultades del CCA que aparecen listadas en la constitución, hay una que dice que debe “desarrollar tan extensamente como sea posible políticas anglicanas consensuadas en la misión mundial de la Iglesia” y alentar a las provincias a compartir sus recursos para laborar hacia el cumplimiento de esas políticas.

Propagar el Evangelio y “continuar extendiendo la misión de la Iglesia” debe ser el tuétano de la reunión, dijo Ballentine, que asistirá a su segunda reunión del CCA.

El obispo de Oklahoma, Edward J. Konieczny, dijo que él espera “vernos proseguir para crear oportunidades de estar en diálogo a través de nuestra Comunión y de que encontremos medios de no centrarnos tanto en todas las tensiones y desacuerdos, sino centrarnos más en la misión a la cual hemos sido llamados: la edificación del cuerpo de Cristo y responder a las necesidades reales del mundo que nos rodea”.

La catedral de San Juan [St. John’s Cathedral] en Hong Kong celebra su 170º. aniversario en 2019. Durante la ocupación japonesa de Hong Kong, de 1941 a 1945, la catedral se convirtió en un club para los japoneses y la despojaron de muchos de sus accesorios originales. Foto de la catedral de San Juan.

El alcance de la Comunión alrededor del mundo significa que “tenemos una increíble oportunidad de trabajar juntos y de encontrar medios de responder a esas reales y auténticas situaciones de vida o muerte”, dijo Konieczny, que se dirige a su primera reunión del CCA. Él quiere explorar cómo “crear más oportunidades para aquellos de nosotros en lugares con algunos privilegios y recursos de ser canales y asociados para prestar ayuda en otros lugares donde exista una necesidad”.

Konieczny añadió que él quiere entender qué [tipo de] trabajo se está haciendo a través de la Comunión. “¿Estamos sólo hablando de eso, o tenemos realmente los pies en el suelo y a la gente realmente dedicada a hacer la obra juntos?”

El Rdo. Michael Barlowe le dijo a ENS que él espera compartir con “mis hermanos y hermanas de la Comunión Anglicana” lo que él dijo que es “un relato convincente de una Iglesia que está haciendo bien su ministerio y de formas nuevas”.

Por ejemplo, Barlowe dijo que él cree que el tema de la reunión “es acorde con lo que estamos haciendo en el Camino del Amor”, aunque lo que la Iglesia Episcopal está haciendo es “más detallado y más orientado hacia algo que pueda ser usado lo mismo por individuos que colectivamente como comunidad”.

Barlowe, que es el director ejecutivo de la Convención General, está sirviendo de suplente a la Rda. Gay Clark Jennings, presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, quien habría asistido a la última de las tres reuniones a las que tenía derecho. Rebecca Wilson, su portavoz, dijo que a fin de cumplir con otros compromisos y de usar prudentemente el presupuesto de viajes de la Iglesia, Jennings le pidió al Consejo Ejecutivo que nombrara a Barlowe como el miembro clerical suplente para esta reunión del CCA. Barlowe, que representa a la Iglesia Episcopal en reuniones de los secretarios provinciales de la Comunión, ya estaba programado para viajar a Hong Kong para esa reunión que tendrá lugar del 6 al 9 de mayo.

Los tres miembros de la Iglesia Episcopal hicieron notar que, debido a que el CCA está compuesto de obispos, clérigos y laicos, es el organismo más representativo de la Comunión. La diversidad, dijo Ballentine, crea oportunidades de [ofrecer] un modelo que trascienda las diferencias teológicas en el seno de la Comunión. Los miembros del CCA “pueden provenir de provincias que tienen diferentes puntos de vista sobre muchas cosas, pero esa persona logra conocer a Rosalie y Rosalie llega a conocer a esa persona  y sabemos que, al fin de la jornada, todo se reduce a nuestra común humanidad, a nuestra fe común, eso es para nosotros lo más importante de asumir”, afirmó ella.

De las 40 iglesias autónomas, o provincias, y las otras seis iglesias nacionales o locales conocidas como “extraprovinciales” que componen la Comunión, sólo Nigeria y Uganda no están enviando representantes a la reunión de Hong Kong. La La lista de los participantes en la CCA-17 se encuentra aquí.

“Creo que el CCA es la conciencia de la Comunión Anglicana”, dijo Barlowe, en parte porque incluye los tres órdenes. “Como he descubierto, jubilosamente, en mi vida en la Iglesia Episcopal, tener todos los órdenes a la mesa siempre es una manera de mantener viva la conciencia de la Iglesia, porque es fácil para muchos de nosotros [miembros] de un orden en particular no ver el panorama general”.

En la catedral de San Juan, situada en el corazón del distrito financiero de Hong Kong, tendrán lugar las eucaristías de apertura y clausura de la 17ª. reunión del Consejo consultivo Anglicano. La iglesia es el más antiguo edificio eclesiástico occidental que sobrevive en Hong Kong. Foto de Wikimedia Commons.

Plantear el asunto de Lambeth

Konieczny dijo que el carácter representativo del CCA hace que sea el “lugar apropiado” para suscitar el tema del conflicto que surgió luego de saberse que el arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby decidiera excluir a los cónyuges del mismo sexo de los obispos invitados a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020.

La discusión sobre la Conferencia de Lambeth está ahora programada para el final de la mañana del 4 de mayo como uno de los tres temas de la 19ª. sesión de trabajo, de las 21 que habrá en la reunión. También en la agenda de esa sesión se incluyen un debate sobre las finanzas del CCA y asuntos concernientes a la organización (que prosiguen de la sesión anterior) y la primera de las dos veces en que los miembros examinarán resoluciones. La sesión está programada para que dure 75 minutos. En la última reunión del CCA se probaron 45 resoluciones,  todas ellas en votaciones  de aprobación o rechazo conforme al calendario acordado.

“No espero que vaya a ver resoluciones  en el CCA pidiéndole al Arzobispo que cambie de actitud”, dijo Konieczny. “La agenda está muy ajustada y, en mi opinión, está siendo supervisada”, de manera que las tensiones están reducidas al mínimo y ese empeño “puede impedir la posibilidad de tener algunas conversaciones”.

“Personalmente, no veo cómo podemos ir al CCA, dado donde nos encontramos en la Iglesia hoy día y con la Conferencia de Lambeth el próximo año, y ni siquiera abordar, en mi opinión, las repetidas resoluciones de Lambeth, del CCA y de otras partes de la Comunión que afirman que hemos de escuchar a todas las voces de la diversidad de nuestra Iglesia, y luego sin embargo hacemos cosas que bloquean esas voces de venir a la mesa”, recalcó Konieczny.

Ballentine estuvo de acuerdo. “Todo se reduce a querer que prosiga esa labor de crear relaciones, y uno no puede hacerlo si algunas personas no están a la mesa”.

Barlowe explicó que, como alguien que “ha participado en los debates acerca de la plena inclusión y ha percibido las consecuencias” de esos debates, le entristece que personas y provincias individuales  estén  “aún cosificadas” debido a su discernimiento de esa inclusión.

“La historia que conozco es que todos nosotros estamos ansiosos de compartir con nuestros amigos de toda la Comunión Anglicana”, dijo; es la historia de cómo el discernimiento de la Iglesia Episcopal acerca de la inclusión se ha hecho “para la misión y el ministerio de la Iglesia”. El resultado de ese discernimiento es la experiencia de “cómo Dios nos libera para ser quienes debemos ser para ministrar en nuestro tiempo y en nuestro lugar”, afirmó.

Miembros del Consejo Consultivo Anglicano que asistieron a la 16ª. reunión del 8 al 19 de abril de 2016, posan en las gradas de la catedral de la Santa Cruz en Lusaka, Zambia. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

¿Qué es el Consejo Consultivo Anglicano?

El Consejo Consultivo Anglicano es uno de los tres Instrumentos de la Comunión, siendo los otros dos la Conferencia de Lambeth de los obispos anglicanos y la Reunión de los Primados. El arzobispo de Cantórbery (que es el presidente del CCA) es considerado como el  “el foco de la unidad” de los tres instrumentos.

El CCA es responsable de organizar la labor de los comités y redes de la Comunión, así como del personal y del Comité Permanente de la Comunión Anglicana. Hay en la actualidad 10 redes temáticas que abordan y describen varios asuntos y áreas de interés en la Comunión Anglicana.

Creado en 1969, el CCA incluye clérigos y laicos, así como obispos, entre sus delegados. La membresía consta de uno a tres representantes de cada una de las provincias o iglesias extraprovinciales. Donde hay tres miembros, hay un obispo, un sacerdote y un laico. En provincias con menos miembros, se les da preferencia a los miembros laicos.

Representantes de los asociados ecuménicos de la Comunión asisten también y, por primera vez, la CCA-17 incluirá dos delegados jóvenes de cada una de las cinco regiones geográficas.

La ubicación de esta reunión ha cambiado desde abril de 2016 cuando los funcionarios del CCA y la Iglesia Episcopal del Brasil anunciaron que Sâo Paulo, Brasil, sería la sede de la conferencia de 2019. En septiembre de 2017, el Comité Permanente de la Comunión Anglicana dijo que la reunión se mudaría a Hong Kong porque, según el Servicio de Noticias de la Comunión Anglicana  [Anglican Communion News Service], se había programado en lo que “sería un tiempo conflictivo para [Brasil] y para la Iglesia Anglicana allí”.

Se suscitaron inquietudes acerca de la inestabilidad política y económica del país junto con “discusiones sobre la sexualidad humana y el matrimonio”, que debían tener lugar en su sínodo provincial de 2018. Los anglicanos de Brasil aprobaron en junio de 2018 cambiar sus cánones para permitir matrimonios de personas del mismo sexo.

– La Rda. Mary Frances Schjonberg es la redactora sénior y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee meets ahead of ACC-17 in Hong Kong

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 1:47pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council met on April 27 in Hong Kong to deal with its regular business and to prepare for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, which began the following day. Fifteen members were present, with Archbishop of Hong Kong Paul Kwong, primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, chairing the meeting.

Read the full article here.

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Philippine Independent Church prepares to consecrate first woman bishop

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 11:44am

Bishop-elect Emelyn Dacuycuy will become the first woman to serve the Philippine Independent Church. Photo: Winfred Vergara/special to Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Manila, Philippines] Amidst the sweltering heat of Philippine summer there is a rising religious fervor here as the clergy and people of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) prepare for the consecration of the first woman bishop, Emelyn Dacuycuy.

While there are three other IFI bishops-elect scheduled for consecration in several dioceses this year in this 10-million member Christian denomination, the attention is focused on this historic event.

The consecration will be held at the Aglipay National Shrine in Batac, Ilocos Norte on May 5. The date and venue coincide with the birthday and birthplace of the Most Rev. Gregorio Aglipay, co-founder and first Obispo Maximo of the IFI.

Known in history as “the only and living result of the Philippine Revolution of 1898,” the IFI was proclaimed in August 3, 1902, by the first Philippine labor leader, Don Isabelo delos Reyes, at the meeting of Union Obrero Democratico in Centro de Bellas Artes in Manila.

While its founding was the offshoot of political revolution against three centuries of Spanish colonization and a movement for religious reformation in Philippine Catholicism, the IFI followed closely the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church with regards to gender inclusion.

And while its first full-communion partner, The Episcopal Church welcomed women ordination in 1973, it took 44 years before the IFI followed suit and formally accepted women’s ordination in 2017.

Because Aglipay was not a bishop when the IFI departed from the Roman Catholic Church in 1902, the church wandered for 40 years in “theological wilderness,” seeking to be restored to catholicity.

It was The Episcopal Church that bestowed historic apostolic succession when three Episcopal bishops came to the Philippines and consecrated three IFI bishops (Isabelos delos Reyes, Jr.; Gerardo Bayaca and Santiago Fonacier) into the episcopate in 1948.

Both churches then approved the concordat of full communion in 1962 recognizing their common catholicity and mutual independence and autonomy.

Not an easy journey

The election of Dacuycuy to be bishop of the Diocese of Batac after 117 years of IFI history was therefore not an easy journey. Anxious that if they elect a woman bishop she might have a chance to become an Obispo Maximo, many members of the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) made determined efforts to derail any chance for a woman to be elected bishop.

In an interview with this writer, Dacuycuy said, “It took me 11 special General Conventions and three SCB meetings before I finally got the approval.”

“Any woman priest aspiring for the position of bishop in a male-dominated council of bishops needs extra strength for the hard struggle. I am very fortunate I have very strong support from my family and by the grace of God I am endowed with a very firm principle to stand against stiff opposition and even amidst my own brokenness,” Dacuycoy said.

Dacuycuy, who prefers to be called, “Bishop Emelyn” (to emphasize her womanhood) said that the struggle for gender equality must continue to pervade not only in church but also in the larger Philippine society.

“Patriarchalism and machismo images are still prevalent in the Philippine culture. Filipino women are not yet fully free from economic, political, cultural and religious oppression. The work of empowering women must be continued vigorously,” she said.

Role in the church

Asked what role she would have to play as the first and only woman in the Supreme Council of Bishops, Dacuycuy said that “engendering leadership and inspiring more women clergy to step up would be the biggest challenge.”

“In my humble beginning as ‘the first,’ I plan to help redefine patriarchal meanings, symbols, attitudes, cognitions and recognitions that have long been considered normative in a male-dominated house of bishops,” she said.

“I continue to pray for God’s wisdom and I believe I am now getting a better support not only from several male bishops but also from the current Obispo Maximo, the Most Rev. Rhee Timbang, in whose term this historic event is taking place.”

While there are three other bishops-elect scheduled for consecration in several dioceses in the country, the Obispo Maximo highlighted the consecration of Dacuycuy and has invited local and foreign dignitaries to attend including its full communion partner, The Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Church guests

Kansas Bishop Cathleen Bascom and Southern Ohio Assisting Bishop Nedi Rivera, who has also served the dioceses of Olympia and Eastern Oregon, will serve as co-consecrators, and will bring greetings from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

In addition, there are two female Filipino-American priests attending. The Very Rev. Irene Igmales Maliaman, the first Filipino woman archdeacon of Micronesia, will bring greetings on behalf of Hawaii Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, and the Rev. Ruth Casipit Paguio, first woman rector of Holy Family Episcopal Church in San Jose, California, will bring greetings on behalf of El Camino Real Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves.

-The Rev. Winfred B. Vergara is missioner for Asiamerica Ministries in The Episcopal Church.  

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Communion must deal with ‘ignorance’ and possible schism, Secretary General tells ACC

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 10:24am

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon April 29 painted for the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting a somewhat dire ecclesiastical and financial picture of the communion.

He balanced a warning of “schism” with stories which he said showed that “growth within the communion is very exciting.” The latter included “hundreds” of converts in Ethiopia and Algeria, a program of evangelism and spiritual renewal in Melanesia, and an increase in young people joining the Church of England.

“Don’t let anybody deceive you that, because of our crisis, the spirit of the Lord is not moving,” he said. “The spirit of the Lord is moving even more because of the crisis. I believe it will move even more if we’re able to get focused on discipleship.”

His remarks came during his hour-long amplification of a written report about his work since the ACC-16 meeting in Lusaka in 2014, and his reflections on the state of the communion

Idowu-Fearon told ACC members that the last three years have “opened my eyes to see a major problem within our communion: ignorance.”

He said the problem is two-fold, beginning with “deliberate ignorance,” which he said occurs when a bishop or a primate (the episcopal leader of one of the communion’s 40 provinces) “pretends he doesn’t know” what it means to be an Anglican church.

“And then there is ignorance as a result of lack of knowledge,” Idowu-Fearon said, adding that “within a good number of our theological colleges and seminaries, Anglicanism is not even taught; where it is taught, it is not Anglicanism, it is self-made Anglicanism.” Different provincial contexts mean that “Anglicanism has many faces, but there are basic things,” he said, particularly Anglican ecclesiology, meaning the Anglican understanding of the church.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

“This is one the major reasons for the crisis we are facing today within this communion,” the secretary-general said.

Idowu-Fearon challenged the ACC for its help answering the question of “how do we fight this ignorance that is chewing us up and creating further divisions within the communion?”

Some provinces follow Anglican polity in which bishops, clergy and lay people debate, “but in a good number of our provinces and dioceses, particularly in the global south, there are no debates” or when there are debates, they are not well-informed, he said.

Asking the pardon of anyone who might be offended, the secretary general said, “you would think we are a Roman [Catholic] church where decisions are taken and passed down.”

“How,” Idowu-Fearon asked the ACC members, “do you want us to fight this ignorance?”

Earlier in his report, the secretary general had asked for advice on how any archbishop of Canterbury can “enhance his ministry without his becoming a pope.”

When the afternoon session began, Idowu-Fearon stepped to the podium to tell the council that he had assured Father Anthony Currer, the Roman Catholic observer at the meeting, that “something I said casually but seriously” was “not meant to derogate the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the position of the pope.” The secretary general said Currer accepted his apology, and Idowu-Fearon asked the same of the ACC.

“What I said was serious. We are not a church. We are a communion of 40 provinces – so far,” he said. “Therefore, we do not have a curia and we do not have something similar to a pope. That is what I said. It’s not to say that our polity is better that the Roman Catholic polity.”

A warning of schism

Idowu-Fearon’s warning about a possible schism in the Anglican Communion came as he discussed GAFCON, or the Global Anglican Future Conference, the 11-year-old organization that says it formed in 2008 when “moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness in parts of the Anglican Communion” had reached a critical level.

Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon gave a fiery report April 29 to the Anglican Consultative Council about his work since the ACC-16 meeting in Lusaka in 2014 and his reflections on the state of the communion. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The secretary general told the ACC “the question is how should we respond to GAFCON?”

He said that “the Lord has given me this position to stand and speak truth to power” and so he would attempt such a response.

Idowu-Fearon said he and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcome GAFCON’s commitment to the renewal of the church and will pray for that work.

“The difficulty arises when GAFCON involves itself in the structures of the communion in a way that causes confusion and potential division,” he said, beginning with the group’s decision to form ministry networks. The communion has 10 thematic networks that address and profile various issues and areas of interest in the Anglican Communion. GAFCON’s actions are not meant to fill a void in the communion’s work, Idowu-Fearon said.

The secretary general said the group’s 2018 “Letter to the Churches” contains some “regrettable” comments about Welby and the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Idowu-Fearon said he has difficulty with the call in the letter “for some to be invited to the Lambeth Conference as full participants who are clearly not members of the Communion, and for boycott of the Lambeth Conference and other meetings of the instruments because of disagreements with some other provinces.”

He said Welby is working with “the members of his team” to find “a way out of this dilemma.” However, he asked for the ACC’s help “to prevent a schism within our communion.”

A warning about finances

Idowu-Fearon said the Anglican Communion Office’s work is financially constrained. Later in the day, David White, the communion’s chief operating officer, told the ACC that work outlined in a six-year strategic plan the members requested at the last council meeting in 2016 could potentially at least double the office’s current annual sending of £2.0-2.5 million ($2.6-$3.2 million).

The secretary-general said that “two provinces keep this Anglican Communion Office going [as well as] our ministries within the communion.” He did not say which provinces. His written report said those two provinces contributed 67 percent.

However, historically the Church of England and The Episcopal Church have been the two largest contributors to what is known as the Inter-Anglican Budget. General Convention has budgeted $1.15 million as its 2019-2021 contribution (line 412 here). The secretary-general said in his written report that 94 percent comes from 10 provinces.

“There are provinces, that since 2011, have not paid a dime as part of their financial responsibility to the communion,” Idowu-Fearon told the council. He did not name those provinces.

The secretary general asked for the ACC’s advice about what to do about provinces that “are able [to pay] but they are being financially irresponsible.”

Both Idowu-Fearon and White said the communion office will begin to look at fundraising sources beyond the provinces, such as the Anglican Communion Compass Rose Society and grant-making institutions.

“I want to challenge members from provinces that are not being financially responsible. I want to challenge you to speak with your bishops, to speak with your primates on being financially responsible,” he said.

The ACC is scheduled to hear more about finances on May 4 and consider a new proposal for setting the level of financial commitments from the provinces

After lunch on April 29, the ACC members then spent 20 minutes at their tables discussing Idowu-Fearon’s report. They submitted written summaries of their reactions and advice.

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong.

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

The post Communion must deal with ‘ignorance’ and possible schism, Secretary General tells ACC appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

ACC-17 opens with calls for Christian witness and intentional discipleship for a better, peaceful world

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 1:01am

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby strikes a ceremonial gong at the end of the Eucharist opening the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] The Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting officially opened April 28 with a combination of speeches and traditional Anglican liturgy spiced at the end with Chinese custom.

Near the end of the Eucharist which took place at St. John’s Cathedral in the heart of the financial district here, Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong told the congregation that Hong Kong means “Fragrant Harbor,” a name it took because of the spice trade in its early days.

“I believe that a disciple gives off the ‘Fragrance of Christ’ in daily life,” he said. “My prayer is that ACC-17 can help our Anglican Communion to become a giver of the ‘Fragrance of Christ’ to the world.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby thanked God “that you have gathered your church from north and south, east and west,” and vigorously struck a ceremonial gong three times and declared ACC-17 open in the name of the Trinity.

St. John’s, which is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year, is the seat of Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong Island, one of three dioceses which, along with the Diocese of Eastern and Western Kowloon and the Missionary Area of Macau, form the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican province in Hong Kong. The church is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945, the cathedral was converted into a club for the Japanese and stripped of many of its original fittings.

Anglicans must bring to others the peace that Christ has brought to them, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said April 28 in his sermon during the Eucharist opening the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During his sermon, Welby thanked the present-day victims of Christian persecution from around the Anglican Communion for “standing firm in your faith” and sharing it with others.

Speaking of the Easter Day terrorist bombings in Sri Lanka, the archbishop said, “that paradox of death all around, of the hands of violence seemingly triumphing, is as old as the promise of Jesus when he says to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you.’”

Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon, later leading the Prayers of the People, began by asking the congregation to stand for a moment of silence for the victims of those attacks.

Welby said that Anglicans and others are “called to support all those torn apart by persecution, by civil disorder and by war.” Support begins, he said, with praying for peace and receiving from God “much more than we can consume ourselves so it should overflow to the world around us,” forging people into peacemakers and reconcilers.

Welby called on the ACC members to pray “that we will be filled with wonder and peace,” rather than hiding behind barriers of prejudice. “For in doing so, we lose peace, we abandon our sisters and brothers, and we have nothing to which to witness,” he said.

That witness, which ACC-17 is pondering via an approach called “intentional discipleship,” happens easily and frequently in some parts of the communion, while elsewhere, Welby said, it is “rare, exceptional, even forgotten.” For example, he said, a Church of England survey found that only one-third of church-going parents thought it is important to pass on Christian faith to their children.

“Our families are our closest mission field,” he said.


Earlier in the day, a presidential address
As the council’s first business sessions got underway the morning of April 28, Welby said in his presidential address that the ACC meets “not for ourselves, but in God’s service.”

“The Anglican Communion does not exist for itself,” he said. “It exists primarily to serve God’s mission in God’s world.”

The ACC is “the most remarkably diverse group” in the communion, representing 2,000 different languages and a similar number of cultures, according to Welby. “The miracle of the communion is that through the work of Jesus Christ, we are made one by the grace of God alone, not by our choice or by our selection,” he said.

Welby reminded the ACC that each of the communion’s 40 provinces and six extra-provincial bodies are both autonomous and interdependent.

“We know that what one of us does effects all of us. We have the autonomous right to make choices, province by province, to be present or to be absent,” he said. “Being interdependent means we should limit that right out of love for one another.”

Welby made clear in his address that the unity of the Anglican Communion will show the world how followers of Christ live, even when they disagree.

“We cannot condemn whole nations to the absence of help, neglect of support, solitary suffering through indulging in the luxury of disunity,” he said. Anglicans cannot neglect those harmed by war, neglect the poor and the persecuted, ignore climate change and fail to preach the Gospel with the intention of making disciples “because we think our issues are more important,” the archbishop said in the most animated part of his 20-minute speech.

Noting that while some countries know what it is to live in danger, Welby described a danger that he said is spreading across the world “in which the possibility of the breakdown of the rule-based order that has governed the world since 1945 looms large, and populism is rising across the Global North, with isolation in its wake.

“Climate change grows more and more dangerous for the whole planet – a true horseman of the apocalypse. It is in these times that the Anglican Communion has the potential not only to be a place of refuge and stability in the world, but a place of transformation, a place where self-interest is converted into service, where fear is transformed into faith and where enmity and injustice become the love and mercy of the Lord.”


Some council statistics
The Anglican Consultative Council is one of three Instruments of Communion, the others being the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops and the Primates Meeting. The archbishop of Canterbury (who is president of the ACC) is seen as the “Focus for Unity” for the three instruments. Because the ACC is made up of bishops, clergy and laypeople, it is the communion’s most representative body.

Of the 99 members present at ACC-17, 69 are male and 30 are female. More than half are new members. Fifty-six are ordained and 43 are lay. Of the 56 ordained members, nine are women.

That compares with the Primates Meeting, which has not had a female member since Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s term as The Episcopal Church’s 26th presiding bishop ended in November 2015. Out of the 670 bishops who attended the last Lambeth Conference in 2008, 18 were female, compared to 11 in 1998. The 2020 Lambeth Conferences will see a major increase in that number, but the total will be less than 60.

Only Nigeria and Uganda did not send members to the ACC-17 meeting. The roster is here.

Lion dancers from a number of Hong Kong schools and other organizations welcomed the Anglican Consultative Council, staff and clergy from the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, the Anglican province in Hong Kong, during an April 28 dinner. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Read more about it
ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service is also covering the meeting here.

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

The bulk of the meeting is taking place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong. The venue is said to be more economical than a hotel in the main part of the city.

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

The post ACC-17 opens with calls for Christian witness and intentional discipleship for a better, peaceful world appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Welby: British law prevents ACC from debating his decision to exclude same-sex spouses from Lambeth

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 6:06pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, left, told a news conference April 27 that his decision not to invite bishops’ same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference was painful for everyone involved. Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong, right, also particpated in the news conferecne. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] The members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting here April 28-May 5, cannot formally discuss Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Welby  told a news conference on April 27, in response to a question from Episcopal News Service, that the ACC is the only one of the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion that is governed by British law. It is incorporated as “an English company with a charitable aim.” Via the ACC constitution, the trustees “very clearly specify what it can and cannot do,” he said.

“Doctrine is not one of the issues that it does,” Welby said of the council.

The ACC’s “object,” according to its constitution, is to “advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance.” The constitution lists 30 specific powers of the ACC after making the general statement that “the council has the power to do anything which is calculated to further its Object(s) or is conducive or incidental to doing so.”

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

Welby said “there will be an opportunity outside the conference for members of the conference to ask me questions” about any subject they would like, and he said, he has no doubt that Lambeth will come up. “And, that will be in a private session so people can express themselves freely and clearly, and express their disagreement, which is perfectly proper.”

He noted that the decision about who to invite to the conference has been the sole prerogative of the archbishop of Canterbury since the first conference in 1867.

Formal discussion of the Lambeth Conference is currently on the agenda for the late morning of May 4 as one of three items in the 19th of the meeting’s 21 business sessions. Also on that session’s agenda are a discussion of ACC finance and organizational matters (carried over from the previous session) and the first of two times when the members will consider resolutions. The session is scheduled to last 75 minutes. The last meeting of the ACC saw passage of 45 resolutions, all of them on one up-or-down consent calendar vote.

Both The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council and House of Bishops, as well as a number of dioceses, have objected to the decision announced Feb. 15 in an Anglican Communion News Service blog by Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon.

Idowu-Fearon wrote that Welby had invited “every active bishop” to the periodic gathering of the Anglican Communion’s bishops set for July 23-Aug. 2, 2020. That decision represents a change from the previous Lambeth Conference. In 2008, then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams refused to invite Bishop Gene Robinson, who in 2003 became the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion.

However, Idowu-Fearon said in his blog post that “it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.” He said the Anglican Communion defines marriage as “the lifelong union of a man and a woman,” as codified in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Welby’s decision promoted push-back in Britain as well, including at the University of Kent in Canterbury, where most of the conference will take place, and among some members of the House of Parliament.

“It is worth noting that the controversy is not only one way,” Welby said, adding that he has received “a significant number of letters” objecting to his decision to invite bishops who are in same-sex marriages when none were invited in 2008. “That’s a point that is sometimes forgotten.”

Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool currently is The Episcopal Church’s only actively serving bishop who has a same-sex spouse, Becki Sander. The Rev. Thomas Brown is due to be ordained and consecrated on June 22 as the next bishop of the Diocese of Maine. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin.

The only other active bishop in the Anglican Communion to whom Welby’s decision is known to apply is Diocese of Toronto Bishop Suffragan Kevin Robertson. He married Mohan Sharma, his partner of nearly 10 years, on Dec. 28, 2018.

When K.C. Wong of the Hong Kong Catholic Newspaper asked Welby if the issue of same-sex relationships is as pressing an issue now as it was when Robinson became a bishop is 2003, Welby replied “it depends on who you ask.” It is a pressing issue in North America and parts of Australia, he said.

“To be honest, in very large parts of the communion, it’s not an issue that registers very high,” Welby said. In those areas, people are faced with “issues of life or death,” he said, such as rising water levels in the South Pacific, expanding deserts in Africa, warfare and rape as a weapon of war in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Christian persecution.

“It’s a very pressing issue for the unity of the communion or, to be absolutely specific because we will not agree on that point, it is a very pressing issue for how we disagree well and whether we’re capable of disagreeing well,” he said.

Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon said April 27 that many churches outside the Anglican Communion are wrestling with what he called “this problem” of same-sex relationships. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

When Idowu-Fearon replied that many churches outside the Anglican Communion are wrestling with what he called “this problem” of same-sex relationships, Welby cautioned against that characterization.

“It’s not an issue; it’s not a problem. It’s about people. When we’re dealing with people, we treat them as people made in the image of God and with the dignity of being in the image of God,” he said. “The first rule is these are people and I think the most painful part for me of the decisions that have to be made is that I know at every moment that I write a letter or make a decision, that I’m making a decision about people and that there is no decision that will result in nobody getting hurt.”

His decision “hurt a lot of people,” Welby admitted, “but I would have hurt a huge number of people elsewhere in the communion” if he had decided differently.

“There wasn’t a nice solution,” which he rejected in favor of “the nasty solution,” he said. “It’s not as simple as that.”

Welby pointed out that on May 1 the ACC will suspend its work and members will be offered the option of attending a 90-minute “consultation” on Living in Love and Faith, the Church of England’s new effort to think theologically about diverse opinions on human identity and sexuality.

“It will, I hope, lead to significantly more careful listening to each other around the world,” he said.

Welby said the attendance-optional session requires the suspension of the council’s work because “it doesn’t fall within what the ACC can do.”

Read more about it

ACC background is here.

Ongoing ENS coverage of the ACC is here.

The Anglican Communion News Service’s coverage is here. https://www.anglicannews.org/tag/ACC17.aspx

Tweeting is happening with #ACC17HK.

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

The post Welby: British law prevents ACC from debating his decision to exclude same-sex spouses from Lambeth appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

What is the Anglican Consultative Council?

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 12:33pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Anglican Consultative Council is one of three of the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion, the others being the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops and the Primates Meeting.

The archbishop of Canterbury (who is president of the ACC) is seen as is the “Focus for Unity” for the three instruments.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

The ACC’s objective, according to its constitution, is to “advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance.” And, among the ACC’s powers listed in the constitution, is its ability to “develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the church” and encourage the communion’s autonomous churches, or provinces, to share their resources to accomplish those policies.

The ACC is responsible for charting the work of the communion’s committees and networks, as well as that of the Anglican Communion staff and the communion’s Standing Committee. There are currently 10 thematic networks that address and profile various issues and areas of interest in the Anglican Communion.

Formed in 1969, the ACC includes clergy and lay people, as well as bishops, among its delegates. Members are chosen by various means in each of the Anglican Communion’s 40 provinces and six extra-provincial bodies to serve for three meetings of the ACC. The largest provinces are entitled to three members: a bishop, priest and lay person. Other provinces are entitled to two members: one ordained person (deacon, priest or bishop) and one lay person.

In addition, the primates, or episcopal leaders, of the Anglican Communion provinces elect five members to the ACC and the Standing Committee can appoint “up to six additional members in order to achieve balanced representation and to assist the work of the council in achieving its object,” according to the ACC constitution. The latter are known as “co-opted members.” This year, the ACC will also be joined by eight youth members from five regions across the Anglican Communion.

Representatives from the communion’s ecumenical partners also attend and, for the first time, this 17th meeting of the ACC includes eight youth members from five geographic regions of the communion.

The Episcopal Church’s ACC members in Hong Kong are Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. This is the first meeting for Barlowe and Konieczny, and Ballentine’s second. Terms run for three meetings.

Barlowe, the executive officer of General Convention, is serving as an alternate to House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who would have been attending the last of her three-meeting term. Rebecca Wilson, her spokesperson, said that in order to fulfill other commitments and use the church’s travel budget wisely, Jennings asked Executive Council to name Barlowe as the alternate clergy member for this ACC meeting. Barlowe, who represents The Episcopal Church at gatherings of the communion’s provincial secretaries, was already scheduled to travel to Hong Kong for such a meeting May 6-9.

The roster for ACC17 is here.

The council meets every three or four years and the Hong Kong meeting is the council’s 17th session. The ACC last met in April 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. It is returning to Hong Kong where it met in 2002 for its 12th meeting. The first meeting was held in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971.

Some parts of the meeting in Hong Kong are being livestreamed here where they will also be available for later playback. The schedule for livestreaming is:

April 27, 5 p.m. Hong Kong Time
Press conference with Archbishop of Canterbury and ACC President Justin Welby, Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong, Canon Margaret Swinson, ACC vice chair and member from the Church of England, and Anglican Communion Secretary General Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

April 28, 11:45 a.m. HKT
Presidential address by Welby

April 28, 5 p.m. HKT
Official opening of ACC-17 with Eucharist at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Hong Kong
Presiding: Kwong; Preaching: Welby

April 29, 11a.m. HKT
Report by Anglican Communion Secretary General Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

May 4, 5:30 p.m. HKT
Press conference with Welby, Kwong and others

May 5, 4 p.m. HKT
Official close of ACC-17 with Eucharist at St John’s Cathedral
Presiding: Welby; Preaching: Kwong

Note: Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Daylight Time; 13 hours ahead of Central time; 14 hours ahead of Mountain time; and 15 hours ahead of Pacific time

The Twitter hashtag is  #ACC17HK.

The post What is the Anglican Consultative Council? appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Parts of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong being livestreamed

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 11:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Some parts of the the week-long 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council,  which begins April 28 in Hong Kong, will be livestreamed here (where they will also be available for later playback).

The schedule for livestreaming is:

April 27, 5 p.m. Hong Kong Time
Press conference with Archbishop of Canterbury and ACC President Justin Welby, Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong, Canon Margaret Swinson, ACC vice chair and member from the Church of England, and Anglican Communion Secretary General Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

April 28, 11:45 a.m. HKT
Presidential address by Welby

April 28, 5 p.m. HKT
Official opening of ACC-17 with Eucharist at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Hong Kong
Presiding: Kwong; Preaching: Welby

April 29, 11a.m. HKT
Report by Anglican Communion Secretary General Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon

May 4, 5:30 p.m. HKT
Press conference with Welby, Kwong and others

May 5, 4 p.m. HKT
Official close of ACC-17 with Eucharist at St John’s Cathedral
Presiding: Welby; Preaching: Kwong

Note: Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Daylight Time, 13 hours ahead of Central  time, 14 hours ahead of Mountain time and 15 hours ahead of Pacific time

The Twitter hashtag is #ACC17HK.

The post Parts of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong being livestreamed appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Archbishop of Canterbury invites ecumenical observers to the Lambeth Conference 2020

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 3:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is inviting leaders of other Christian churches to send observers to next year’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. For next year’s event, invitations are being extended to a greater number of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches and bodies than at previous Lambeth Conferences. A Lambeth Conference spokesperson said that this was to “recognize their importance in the changing face of world Christianity.”

Read the full article here.

The post Archbishop of Canterbury invites ecumenical observers to the Lambeth Conference 2020 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Anglican bishops in Sri Lanka advise clergy to ‘prayerfully discern’ whether to hold services

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 3:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishops of the Anglican Church of Ceylon have written to clergy, wardens and lay leadership urging them to “prayerfully discern whether it is prudent to hold the worship” on Sunday, April 28. Their advice comes following the terror attacks a week ago in which around 235 people were killed when bombs detonated at churches and hotels as Christians in the country celebrated Easter.

Read the full article here.

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EJE19 to bring young Episcopalians from Spanish-speaking dioceses together in Panama

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 2:32pm

Members of the team planning Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales, or EJE, pose for a photo in March during meetings in Panama, where the event will be held in July. Photo: Anthony Guillén, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church is gearing up for a two-day event in Latin America for teenagers and young adults who are leaders in their Episcopal faith communities, with a deliberate focus on young people from the church’s Province IX.

Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales, or EJE, will be held in July in Panama City, Panama, and is styled after the popular Episcopal Youth Event meetings, which are held in different locations around The Episcopal Church every three years. While the church’s triennial EYE gatherings typically draw more than 1,000 participants, the inaugural EJE is preparing to welcome about 250 people, including organizers, volunteers and delegations from each of the seven Province IX dioceses, as well as Anglican youth leaders from several additional Latin American countries.

“This has been a dream for many years,” Glenda McQueen, The Episcopal Church’s global partnerships officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, told Episcopal News Service. Young people from Province IX often find it difficult to travel to the mainland United States for EYE, where English is the primary language spoken, said McQueen, who is based in Panama.

EJE “will give an opportunity for youth and young adults from this area to be present and to be able to speak in Spanish and communicate and sing in Spanish, praise God in Spanish, their own language,” she said.

Several departments of The Episcopal Church are collaborating on the project, including Faith Formation, Ethnic Ministries and Global Partnerships, and they are working closely with the EJE19 Planning Team from Province IX.

“We’re training folks to do this so that in the future – and we hope soon – the next event will be led by Province IX,” the Rev. Anthony Guillén told ENS in an interview. Guillén is The Episcopal Church’s director of Ethnic Ministries and missioner for Latino and Hispanic Ministries.

The Episcopal Church’s Province IX encompasses dioceses in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, and the Central and South American countries of Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela and Ecuador, which is split into the dioceses of Central Ecuador and Litoral Ecuador. The Diocese of Cuba, after being welcomed back into The Episcopal Church at General Convention in 2018, also has been invited to send a delegation to EJE19, though Cuba is joining Province II, not Province IX.

Most Episcopalians in these dioceses and their congregations speak Spanish as their primarily language, which Guillén said is one reason that Province IX has historically been overlooked by the primarily English-speaking Episcopal Church.

“It never really thought about how to be responsive to Province IX,” Guillén said, but in recent years Episcopal leaders have rekindled hope for bridging that geographic, cultural and linguistic divide through events like EJE19. The Executive Council, too, has pledged to hold a meeting in each of the church’s nine provinces during this triennium, including in one of the Province IX dioceses. “There’s attempt to go and do things in Province IX,” Guillén said.

Planning for EJE19 has been underway for several years, and in 2018, General Convention approved $350,000 for the event. It will be held at Ciudad de Saber, a former U.S. military base in Panama City that has been converted to an entrepreneurial hub and conference facility, with theaters, auditoriums, classrooms and dormitory-style lodging for EJE19 participants. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is scheduled to attend.

“EJE19 will be an incredible gathering of young people to learn about and claim their place as members of the Jesus Movement,” Curry said in a press release about the event.

Although Panama is part of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America, commonly known as IARCA, and not part of The Episcopal Church, the Province IX planning team for EJE19 chose this Central American country as the ideal location because of its close proximity to the region’s Episcopal dioceses and the low travel costs.

A detailed schedule hasn’t yet been finalized, but Wendy Karr Johnson, The Episcopal Church’s officer for Faith Formation, said the two-day event will feature a full lineup of worship, workshops and outings, similar to what is offered at EYE.

Panama Bishop Julio Murray has been generous in supporting the planning of EJE in his diocese, Johnson said. He is expected to speak to participants about the historical and spiritual context of the host city: “Why is this location speaking to us, and what does it have to teach us?” Johnson said.

EJE19 is intended for young people ages 16 to 26. The participating Episcopal dioceses were invited to send delegations of up to 15 people, with up to 13 youths paired with two adult chaperones.

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

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Anglican Communion members head to Hong Kong for consultative council meeting

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 9:34am

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] The members of the Anglican Consultative Council are arriving here for the start of an eight-day meeting that will examine the communion’s mission and ministry, and during which some of its internal differences might surface.

The three Episcopal Church members of the ACC say they hope the April 28-May 5 meeting will bind the communion closer together in its mission across the world.

Rosalie Ballentine from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands told Episcopal News Service that she hopes the meeting will focus on the “continuing effort to build relationships, to build the communion, and to deal with those things that are important to the people of the world.”

Those issues include relief and development work, women, families, domestic violence, human trafficking, poverty and hunger, climate change, and indigenous people, according to the draft agenda. Members will also consider more church-related topics such as faith and order work, liturgical consultations, ecumenical and interreligious relationships, theological education and prayer initiatives.

Most of the Anglican Consultative Council’s sessions will take place at the Gold Coast Hotel, about 45 minutes from central Hong Kong. The venue is said to be more economical than a hotel in the main part of the city. Photo: Gold Coast Hotel

The council meets every three or four years, and the Hong Kong meeting is the council’s 17th session. The ACC last met in April 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia. It is returning to Hong Kong where it met in 2002 for its 12th meeting. The first meeting was held in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971.

The theme for ACC-17 is “Equipping God’s People: Going Deeper in Intentional Discipleship.” It follows a call from ACC-16 three years ago (via Resolution 16.01) for a focus on intentional discipleship throughout the Anglican Communion. “Intentional discipleship” is defined as the deliberate prioritizing of individual and organizational actions to live as Christ’s disciples and to bring others into that life.

Blog: The Director for Theological Education at the Anglican Communion Office, the Revd Canon Dr Stephen Spencer, unpacks Intentional Discipleship.
#Anglican #Anglicans #AnglicanCommunion #IntentionalDiscipleshiphttps://t.co/t2nAcfQ0R9

— Anglican Communion News Service (@AnglicanNews) April 8, 2019

The ACC’s objective, according to its constitution, is to “advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance.” Among the ACC’s powers listed in the constitution is one that says it should “develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the church” and encourage the provinces to share their resources to work toward accomplishing those policies.

Spreading the Gospel and “continuing to further the mission of the church” needs to be at the heart of the meeting, said Ballentine, who will be attending her second ACC meeting.

Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny said he hopes “to see us continue to create opportunities to be in dialogue throughout our communion and find ways for us to not so much focus on all of the tensions and disagreements, but to focus more on the mission which we’re called to do: the building up the body of Christ and responding to the real needs in the world around us.”

St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong is celebrating its 170th anniversary in 2019. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945, the cathedral was converted into a club for the Japanese and stripped of many of its original fittings. Photo: St. John’s Cathedral

The communion’s reach around the world means “we have an incredible opportunity to work together and to find ways to respond to those real, true life-and-death situations,” said Konieczny, who is heading to his first ACC meeting. He wants to explore how to “create more opportunities for those of us in places with some privilege and resources to be the conduit and partners for helping in other places where there’s a need.”

Konieczny added that he wants to understand what work is being done across the communion. “Are we just talking about it, or do we actually have feet on the ground and people actually engaging in doing the work together?”

The Rev. Michael Barlowe told ENS that he is looking forward to sharing with “my siblings in the Anglican Communion” what he said is “is a compelling story of a church doing ministry well and in new ways.”

For instance, Barlowe said he thinks the meeting’s theme “is consonant with what we’re doing with the Way of Love,” although what The Episcopal Church is doing is “more detailed and more geared towards something that both can be used by individuals and collectively as a community.”

Barlowe, who is the executive officer of General Convention, is serving as an alternate to House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, which would have been the last of her three-meeting term. Rebecca Wilson, her spokesperson, said that in order to fulfill other commitments and use the church’s travel budget wisely, Jennings asked Executive Council to name Barlowe as the church’s alternate clergy member for this ACC meeting. Barlowe, who represents The Episcopal Church at gatherings of the communion’s provincial secretaries, was already scheduled to travel to Hong Kong for such a meeting on May 6-9.

All three Episcopal Church members noted that because the ACC is made up of bishops, clergy and laypeople, it is the communion’s most representative body. That diversity, Ballentine said, creates opportunities to model reaching across the theological differences among the communion. ACC members “may come from provinces that have different views about many things, but that person gets to know Rosalie and Rosalie gets to know that person and know at the end the day, it’s all a matter of our common humanity, our common faith, that’s the important thing for us to deal with,” she said.

Of the communion’s 40 autonomous churches, or provinces, and six other national or local churches known as “extra provincials,” only Nigeria and Uganda are not sending members to the Hong Kong meeting. The ACC17 roster is here.

“I think the ACC is the conscience of the Anglican Communion,” Barlowe said, in part because it does include all three orders. “As I’ve discovered, joyfully, in my life in The Episcopal Church, having all orders at the table always is a way of keeping the conscience of the church alive because it’s easy for many of us in a particular order not to see the full picture.”

St. John’s Cathedral in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district will host the opening and closing Eucharists for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. The church is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, and the oldest Anglican church in the Far East. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Raising the Lambeth question

Konieczny said the representative nature of the ACC makes it the “appropriate place” to raise the issue of the conflict that emerged after it was learned that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby decided to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Discussion of the Lambeth Conference is now scheduled for the late morning of May 4 as one of three items in the 19th of the meeting’s 21 business sessions. Also on that session’s aggenda are a discussion of ACC finance and organizational matters (carried over from the previous session) and the first of two times when the members will consider resolutions. The session is scheduled to last 75 minutes. The last meeting of the ACC saw passage of 45 resolutions, all of them on one up-or-down consent calendar vote.

“I don’t expect that there’s going to be any resolutions at the ACC asking the archbishop to change his mind,” Konieczny said. “The agenda is pretty tight and in my opinion it’s being monitored” so that tensions are minimized and that effort “may negate the ability to have some conversations.

“Personally, I don’t see how we can go to the ACC, at least given where we are in the church today and with the Lambeth Conference coming up next year, and not at least address, in my opinion, the repeated resolutions from Lambeth, from the ACC and from other parts of the communion that state that we are to listen to all the voices of diversity in our church, and then yet we do things that block those voices from coming to the table.”

Ballentine agreed. “It all comes down to wanting to continue that relationship-building work, and you can’t do that if some people are not at the table.”

Barlowe said that, as a someone who “has been through the debates about full inclusion and has felt the consequences” of those debates, it saddens him that people and individual provinces are “still objectified” because of their discernment about inclusion.

“The story that I know all of us are eager to share with our friends from around the Anglican Communion,” he said, is the story of how The Episcopal Church’s discernment about inclusion has been done “for the mission and ministry of the church.” The result of that discernment is the experience of “how God frees us to be who we need to be to minister in our time and in our place,” he said.

Anglican Consultative Council members who attended the council’s 16th meeting April 8-19, 2016, pose on the steps of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

What is the Anglican Consultative Council?

The Anglican Consultative Council is one of three Instruments of Communion, the others being the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops and the Primates Meeting. The archbishop of Canterbury (who is president of the ACC) is seen as the “Focus for Unity” for the three instruments.

The ACC is responsible for charting the work of the communion’s committees and networks, as well as that of the Anglican Communion staff and the communion’s Standing Committee. There are currently 10 thematic networks that address and profile various issues and areas of interest in the Anglican Communion.

Formed in 1969, the ACC includes clergy and laypeople, as well as bishops, among its delegates. The membership includes from one to three members from each of the provinces or extra-provincial churches. Where there are three members, there is a bishop, a priest and a layperson. In province with fewer members, preference is given to lay membership.

Representatives from the communion’s ecumenical partners also attend and, for the first time, ACC-17 will include two youth delegates from each of five geographic regions.

The location of this meeting has changed since April 2016 when ACC officials and the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil announced that Sao Paulo, Brazil, would host the 2019 conference. In September 2017, the Anglican Communion Standing Committee said that the meeting would move to Hong Kong because, according to the Anglican Communion News Service, it had been scheduled at what “would be a challenging time for [Brazil] and for the Anglican Church there.”

Concerns were raised about the country’s political and economic instability along with the province’s “discussions on human sexuality and marriage,” which were due to take place at its 2018 provincial synod. Brazil’s Anglicans voted in June 2018 to change their canons to permit same-sex marriage.

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

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Wyoming Bishop John Smylie calls for election of his successor

Thu, 04/25/2019 - 11:47am

[Diocese of Wyoming] The Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, has called for the election of the next bishop for the Diocese of Wyoming. Smylie, the ninth bishop of Wyoming, will remain on board through the lengthy transition process that will result in the seating of a new bishop in early 2021, if all goes according to plan.

Diocese of Wyoming Bishop John Smylie

The process includes many steps and lots of moving parts before the election of a new bishop, scheduled to occur in Wyoming at the Diocesan Convention on Sept. 18 to 20, 2020. Then, all other dioceses in the Episcopal Church must approve of the election before the actual ordination and consecration of the new bishop can occur. Bishop Smylie will continue to remain fully engaged in the ministry of the diocese throughout the election process, and the work and vision of the diocese will continue uninterrupted until he hands over the crozier, the shepherd’s crook symbol of a bishop’s office, in 2021.

The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming is made up of 46 churches with approximately 6,500 members throughout the state of Wyoming. During his tenure in Wyoming, Smylie has successfully overseen the empowerment of a shared ministry model that values both lay and ordained ministry. Under his leadership, a seminary training program known as the Iona Collaborative, developed through the Seminary of the Southwest, has resulted in the graduation of over 35 lay and ordained leaders in the diocese. Most recently, Fresh Expressions of Faith, spiritual communities established primarily for the “nones” and the “dones,” has the diocese excited about growing in new and creative ways outside the walls of traditional churches. Bishop Smylie challenged the diocese to adopt a vision that calls for the creation of one fresh expression of faith for every traditional church in the diocese in the next decade, and achievement of that dream is well underway.

Smylie received his Masters of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in 1981 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. He served parishes in New Jersey and New York for a number of years before relocating to Spokane, Washington, to serve as dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Casper, Wyoming, called Smylie as its rector before his election as ninth bishop of Wyoming in 2010.

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