ENS Headlines

Syndicate content
The news service of the Episcopal Church
Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

President of the House of Deputies’ opening remarks to council

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings delivered the following opening remarks to Executive Council on Oct. 24 at the Maritime Center, Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

Executive Council opening remarks
24 October 2014
Maritime Center, Linthicum Heights, MD

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President of the House of Deputies
The Episcopal Church

Good afternoon.

I thought a lot about church structure this summer. Probably not as much as I’ll think about it next summer, but it was a good warm up.

I also thought a lot this summer, particularly as I watched the news from Ferguson, about our promise to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

In July, I spoke to the annual meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians. We met in Atlantic City, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses from Freedom Summer and the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Let me tell you, it’s a humbling experience to give a speech with the voice of Fannie Lou Hamer echoing in your ears.

We were gathered just before the fortieth anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven. On July 29, 1974, eleven women who had been called by God were ordained Episcopal priests by three bishops who were willing to risk ecclesiastical discipline and the derision of their colleagues in the cause of justice.

A fourth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Antonio Ramos, who is today the retired bishop of Costa Rica, attended the ordination and joined in the laying on of hands. He issued a statement afterward in which he said that the ordination “stands as a prophetic witness on behalf of and for the oppressed.” It would, he said, “be characterized as an act of disobedience, ecclesiastical disobedience on our part, willfully done to abolish a system of canon law which is discriminatory, and which can no longer stand the judgment of the liberating Christ.”

So while I was thinking about church structure, I was also thinking about all of the places where I believe God is calling us today to abolish systems that can no longer stand the judgment of the liberating Christ. How do we as Episcopalians best do that holy work?

I believe in my bones that we do it best through General Convention, where we consider issues and concerns that bubble up from across the church. The legislative process at General Convention allows us to hear about, learn from, and consider what God is doing in many contexts and communities. We have to put legislation into action—passing a resolution is always the beginning, not the end. But we need the legislative process to hear all of the voices of the people of God.

Now, I’ve been fond of saying that restructuring begins at home, and in order to make the legislative process one that can best help us discern our mission and ministry, we do need some restructuring. On Wednesday, I wrote to deputies and alternates giving them a lot of details about how we’ll do things differently in the House of Deputies this convention. I want to tell you something about this work, both because many of you will be at General Convention and because we all need to look at what we can do, in practical terms, to make our participation in God’s mission more sustainable.

You might know that Bishop Katharine and I have restructured the legislative committees of General Convention.

I plan to appoint House of Deputies legislative committees by the end of 2014 and instruct all deputy committee chairs to begin committee work before General Convention. I hope that having committees begin work early–a change that is permitted by the current Rules of Order–will make it possible for us to consider legislation much more efficiently once we arrive in Salt Lake City.

If you’ve had a chance to review the General Convention draft schedule posted on the General Convention website, you may notice some highlights and changes from previous conventions:

The nominees for presiding bishop will be presented to deputies and bishops on June 24, the day before the first legislative day. I am truly delighted that both houses of convention will have an opportunity to hear from the nominees together. On June 27, the House of Bishops will hold its election. The House of Deputies, by voting to confirm or not to confirm the choice of the House of Bishops, also has a critical role to play in the process.

Bishop Katharine and I spoke about our hope to have more joint sessions. During General Convention, the House of Bishops and House of Deputies will have three joint sessions. On June 26, we will have a joint session to receive officially the nominations from the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the 27th Presiding Bishop and to receive nominations that may have come through the petition process. During this session, we will also have a conversation on church structure. On June 30, we will gather for a joint session on mission. And on July 1, we will meet together to hear the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget & Finance.

We will have a special Eucharist on July 3, the final legislative day of Convention, to welcome the presiding bishop-elect. I want to say how grateful I am about the ministry of our current Presiding Bishop. Although the new presiding bishop will also be seated at the Washington National Cathedral later in the year, we intend for the service at General Convention to be the primary celebration so that we can all participate in an event with only modest additional costs.

We’re also working on the rules of order of both houses. At the beginning of this triennium, Bishop Katharine and I appointed a joint committee to revise the Joint Rules of Order of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies and the separate rules of order of each house. A committee of bishops, deputies and advisors met together in 2013, and since then, each house has continued its work. The House of Deputies Rules of Order are being revised to be more logical, easier to understand, and accessible—especially to the more than 40% of deputies who are serving for the first time. I am grateful to the people who have worked hard on this important task, including Byron Rushing, Jim Simons, Michael Barlowe, Sally Johnson and Bryan Krislock. I am also grateful to Mark Duffy and the staff of the Archives.

We’ve also spent a good deal of time considering how to move legislation more efficiently through General Convention and reduce the bottlenecks that we have sometimes encountered in previous years. I plan to use a few tools, including a resolution review committee, legislative aides, conference committees, and drafting advisors to help move things along.

This restructuring work can be simultaneously tedious and terrifying. We all know at this point in the triennium that church structure conversations can become pretty charged with emotion. I think that’s because when we talk about structure, we’re really talking about our identity. We’re talking about our vision of the reign of God, and whether restructuring could impoverish it or imperil it if we lose sight of the gifts of all orders of ministry. We are talking about the fate of the governance structures through which we have progressed—sometimes haltingly, sometimes kicking and screaming—toward equality for people of color, for women, and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians.

When we talk about structure, we are getting clear about what is unnecessary and also what is the inevitable messiness of our democracy—democracy that makes possible not just our ministries of social justice and advocacy, but also the very mission of the church. We are figuring out what rules we need to advance the cause of justice and equality. And we are figuring out what God is calling us to do about the parts of our institutions and our world that can no longer stand the judgment of the liberating Christ.

This is the DNA of our Episcopal identity. We can restructure it, we can streamline it, we can even make it more nimble. But it is the heart of who we are as the people of God, and I pray that it guides our work together at this meeting and for the rest of the triennium.

As we work and pray together this weekend, I ask that you keep in your prayers especially our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church in Liberia, which is struggling mightily to respond to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. God willing, their representatives will be with us at General Convention, where they have seat and voice in the House of Deputies. I pray that God will be with them and the people of their country in this desperate time.

Presiding Bishop’s opening remarks to council

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the following opening remarks to Executive Council on Oct. 24 at the Maritime Center, Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

Executive Council opening remarks
24 October 2014
Maritime Center, Linthicum Heights, MD

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

It is very good to see you all again. It’s been a long time since June. I give thanks for the labors of this Council, and for its growth in capacity in this triennium. We are engaging the mission and ministry of this Church in larger and more strategic ways than we have in recent years. I continue to believe that the primary mission of this body is those larger and strategic questions, and I firmly hope the Convention will help us to clarify that role.

The Episcopal Church has crossed a threshold into new ways of being in the 21st century and in our varied contexts. I see signs of growth and missional investment and solidarity at every turn. I’ll give you some examples. In Western Kansas, two women in ranch families – an Episcopalian and a Wesleyan – have started a camp for inner city kids, growing out of their discernment of the needs of kids who’ve never seen a cow, who don’t have terribly stable family lives, have never had chores to do, and need to know what it is to be loved unconditionally in a Christian setting. It’s called Camp Runamuck, and the motto is ‘don’t run amok, run to Him.’[1]

Small congregations are thriving in a number of contexts – a church plant in northern Taiwan to serve children being raised without adequate family support, and in the process is gathering a congregation; a house church in Western Kansas[2], that’s growing into its 23rd year; emerging faith communities in Italy rooted in the native language worshipping according to the Book of Common Prayer; as well as more ancient ones in rural Mississippi[3] and Illinois,[4] celebrating 150 or 175 years and deeply involved in mission in their local communities.

As old models become unsustainable in some contexts, dioceses are finding new ways to form leaders – like the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry in Topeka that serves students from four neighboring dioceses. Theological education is much in the news, with active conflict in several places, a result of deep anxiety over looming changes. We have excellent resources for theological education, yet they need to be redistributed to form and train leaders more effectively for new and changing contexts. In some ways, that current reality reflects the increasing economic inequality in the developed world, particularly in the United States. The wealthy have little difficulty in accessing those resources; the poor struggle, yet often the poor discover and create new possibilities out of necessity.

The average Episcopal congregation, with 60 to 70 members attending weekly worship, cannot afford the traditional model of full-stipend paid leadership, a building, and a sufficient program to support its members in their daily baptismal ministry. Nor can seminary graduates with educational debt afford to work in most of them.

Students today can be trained for ordination to the priesthood anywhere, if they can foot the bill. If not, they have much more limited resources in residential seminaries – a couple of them can provide sufficient aid to graduate students with little or no additional debt. Increasing numbers of ordination candidates and lay leaders are being educated in programs like Bishop Kemper School, which require minimal displacement from job and family and produce graduates with little or no additional debt. In order to provide effective formation, those more local institutions and programs work closer to home to gather a community for formation. As has always been the case, the struggling and the poorer communities have tended to be more creative in responding to these changing realities. Most of the residential seminaries we have were started in response to similar challenges – the need for education and the inability to provide it in existing frameworks and paradigms.

The Church of England has made a conscious and canonical shift in its expectation. Those who train for non-stipendiary ministry (NSM) do it in two years; those who expect a “career” take a more traditional three years. One of our seminaries has begun to explore a two-year academic track with an additional practical year. The Lutherans have had a model like that for some time – but it’s four years total, three of the four for academics and the third year as a practicum.

We need responses to changing realities that consider the varied needs of the whole body. We have the canonical flexibility already to permit different paths of formation. What we don’t have is a willingness to make resources available to the whole body. We still live in a system that is far more isolated and independent than interdependent. Each diocese makes individual decisions about how to train students. Each seminary does the same. Each diocese and seminary or training program raises and stewards its own financial and human resources with little churchwide conversation or cooperation.

One of the strategic and big picture conversations this Council deals with is the churchwide budget. This body has engaged the process with greater vigor and more detail than ever before. We are making conscious and intentional progress in this budget toward financial autonomy for every diocese (or jurisdiction) in this Church. We’ve engaged a self-sufficiency plan for Province IX, which depends on three legs: the support of the wider church (and not only financial support); the partnership among the dioceses of Province IX and their willingness to pool a portion of their financial resources; and the willingness of leaders in each diocese to risk new ways in the hope of developing greater capacity. We’re doing similar work in Navajoland and in Haiti. The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe has begun this work.

We did not do this kind of work thoroughly enough when we encouraged Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Liberia, and the Philippines to become autonomous. We did not do enough of this work when we encouraged the old missionary districts in the U.S. part of our context to become dioceses. We must repent of our sins of omission and commission, and amend our common life. We are bound to one another, not only in affection, but as the body of Christ, committed to love God and God’s world with all we have and all we are.

We’re not called to build a church that leaves poor and struggling relatives either shamed or incapacitated by their poverty. We are called to build societies of abundance where resources are directed where needed, and no one lives in want. The missionary societies of our forebears in the faith “held all things in common.”[5] We should be challenging all Episcopalians to see the abundance we enjoy as gifts to be shared. When those gifts ARE shared, we know that it brings joy and flourishing to all members of the body. It looks like abundant life.

The challenge is the same, whether we’re talking about the asking from dioceses or what seminaries have to offer. The missional question begins in “what does the body require of us, where is it hungry, suffering, where is it joyous?” All are meant to be shared, not held in reserve for favored parts of the body or hidden away in shame or fear. Any favor enjoyed is a blessing that grows apace by sharing. Hiding either our pain or what we fear losing never leads to healing.

The great leaders of every age have challenged people to live for others. John F. Kennedy put it this way, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Martin Luther King, Jr. in the same era, dreamed: “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. … Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” He went on to speak of the white people of this nation, saying, “they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”[6]

We have a dream as well, of a church walking together, doing and living justice, a church equipped and equipping all its members to do justice. We have a duty to all the members of this body, and to those beyond it who need justice. We are asked for the highest and best gift we can offer, in loving our neighbors as ourselves. We’re not going to settle for anything less, whether it’s the work we do here or what we ask of the people of this church. We cannot walk alone, and we cannot encourage others to walk alone. Together, the stony road our ancestors trod flattens out before us – or rises to meet us – and that road leads to justice, love incarnate for the world.

[1] 2013: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.630330770319334.1073741828.163213160364433&type=3

[2] Church of the Upper Room, Lakin, KS

[3] http://www.hollyspringsepiscopal.org/

[4] http://www.stjamesdundee.org/

[5] Acts 2:44

[6] http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1951-/martin-luther-kings-i-have-a-dream-speech-august-28-1963.php

GTS Board of Trustees moves to reinstate faculty members

Friday, October 24, 2014

[General Theological Seminary press release] In a spirit of reconciliation and healing for the entire Seminary community, The General Theological Seminary (GTS) Board of Trustees announced this week an offer to presently reinstate eight faculty members.  At that time the Board also affirmed its call to the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle as President and Dean of GTS.  

“During this challenging time, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee have maintained open and honest communication with faculty members in the hopes that we may reconcile and end this disruption to our academic year,” said the Rt. Reverend Mark Sisk, Chair of the General Theological Seminary Board of Trustees.  “We are grateful that our prayers have been answered and the good faith of all has been rewarded. We look forward to the faculty members returning to what they do best: educating and forming the future leaders of our Church in an environment of faith, respect and collegiality. The Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle, our Dean and President, is deeply committed to moving the Seminary forward.” 

Professors Joshua Davis, the Reverend Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, Deirdre Good, David Hurd, Andrew Irving, the Reverend Andrew Kadel, the Reverend Amy Bentley Lamborn and the Reverend Patrick Malloy issued a joint response: “Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward.  We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered.  Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.”

This week’s invitation would return faculty members to salaries and health benefits for the remainder of the academic year as they work to resolve all outstanding issues with the Board of Trustees.  The faculty members would agree to not only return to the classroom, but also to participate in all campus activities such as common meals and community worship and abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies, and will work together with both the Board, President and Dean Dunkle and an outside mediator appointed to facilitate permanent reconciliation.  A process of integrating the returning faculty back into classroom activity is under development so that there is as little disruption of class work as possible.

“The Board has the duty to set policy for a nearly 200-year-old religious institution which seeks to educate and form leaders – ordained and lay – for a church which is changing,” said Bishop Sisk.  “Our students have always remained our top priority, both in their continuing education at the Seminary and their spiritual well-being. Together with our faculty, we look forward to turning our full attention to a fruitful and fulfilling academic year that befits our great responsibility.”

Video now available: Civil Discourse in America

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The video is available at no fee here of the October 22 live webcast Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good.   Produced by The Episcopal Church in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, the 98-miinute forum featured a keynote address by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and two panels of experts, moderated by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post.

The Facilitator’s Guide to assist in group discussions and better understanding is available for downloading here.

In addition, a 30-minute video featuring a panel of journalists discussing Civil Discourse in a 30 minute panel is available here.  David Crabtree WRAL; Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service; Chris Satullo WHYY; Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service; Neva Rae Fox is the moderator.

The forum originated from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania).

Information is located here.

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

Forum Participants
• David Boardman, Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University

• Dr. John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Washington DC.

• Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, Washington DC.

• Hugh Forrest, Director of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival,

• Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute on Civil Discourse

• Dr. Elizabeth McCloskey, President and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute,

• Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY.

Bishops’ World Series wager to benefit Episcopal Relief & Development

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Episcopal dioceses of Kansas, West Missouri and California] Bishops Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas, Martin “Marty” Field of West Missouri and Marc Andrus of California have challenged each other to a friendly World Series wager to raise money for local diocesan charities and to share the cultural wealth of their areas with one another.

Wolfe’s diocese is headquartered in Topeka; Field’s office is in Kansas City, Missouri; and Andrus’ is in San Francisco.

If the Kansas City Royals win the World Series, Andrus will make available Ghirardelli chocolate, sourdough bread, Anchor Steam beer and a San Francisco Giants cap to bishops Field and Wolfe. If the Giants win, Wolfe and Field will provide Boulevard Beer, Kansas City barbecue and a Kansas City Royals cap.

The bishop of the losing team will have to pose wearing the winning team’s cap in place of a miter, the bishop’s liturgical headwear. The losing bishop will also make a donation to a charity of the winning diocese’s choice.

The bishops of Kansas, West Missouri and California also are inviting congregations and individuals to be involved in this effort. While the end of the Series will determine which of the bishops “wins,” they are encouraging their members to make donations on behalf of either the Royals or the Giants to Episcopal Relief & Development, the Episcopal Church agency that aids in domestic and overseas disaster relief and works internationally to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease.

Episcopal Relief & Development has created a special page for the World Series, at www.episcopalrelief.org/worldseries2014. Fans can click on their team’s pennant to make a donation in the team’s honor.

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas includes some 11,000 members in 45 congregations, as well as a secondary school and two social service agencies. It covers the eastern 40 percent of the state of Kansas. More information about the Diocese of Kansas can be found at www.episcopal-ks.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri serves the western half of Missouri with 48 churches and around 11,000 parishioners. Our churches are located in the urban areas of Springfield, Joplin, St. Joseph, the Kansas City metro area and many small towns and rural areas. The diocese is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary. For more information, visit www.diowestmo.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of California serves a diverse community of faith encompassing the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately 27,000 people form 80 congregations in six counties. More information about the Diocese of California can be found at www.diocal.org.

The Rev. Steven Peay named dean and president of Nashotah House

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Nashotah House Theological Seminary press release] The Nashotah House Theological Seminary Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Steven Peay as the 20th Dean and President of Nashotah House.

The Dean and President Search Committee reported to the Board of Trustees a unanimous recommendation for Father Peay’s election as Dean and President during their regularly scheduled meeting on October 23rd. The Board of Trustees enthusiastically approved Father Peay’s election.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Right Reverend Daniel Martins, expresses his strong support for Father Peay’s appointment:

I am completely delighted with the election of Father Peay to be our next Dean and President. He has already shown himself to be an effective leader, pastor, and scholar while a member of the Nashotah House faculty. He is intimately familiar with our operations and will be able to hit the ground running in a seamless transition from the ministry of Bishop Edward Salmon.

Father Peay’s undergraduate study of Church History led him toward monastic life, which he entered at Saint Vincent Archabbey (Latrobe, PA) in 1977. Following his first profession of vows he studied for the priesthood and after final vows was ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1982. The studies he began in college and pursued in seminary continued following ordination. He returned to Saint Vincent to teach as Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Historical Theology. During his tenure at the seminary he also served as Academic Dean for five years. Leaving monastic life in 1994, he devoted himself to parish work for the next fifteen years in Congregational churches in Wisconsin, while continuing to research, write, and teach in various venues. Father Peay came to Nashotah House as Adjunct Professor of Church History in 2008 and was elected to the faculty in 2010. His orders were received in August 2010, and he is now a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

Father Peay was married to his wife Julie in 1996 and is the proud stepfather of Jeremy and Matthew.

Episcopal Church style guidelines available

Friday, October 24, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church communication and style guide is now available here. The guide has been expanded to provide social media best practices, blogging guidelines, email etiquette and tips for parish webmasters.

The easy-to-read and easy-to-reference document can be downloaded and/or printed.

“We’ve aggregated local expertise and experience from across the Church,” explained Anne Rudig, Episcopal Church Director of Communication.  “The one constant in communication is change. We hope the style guide can be helpful in navigating it.”

The style guide includes:

• Use of Episcopal Church logo and shield
• Typography
• Episcopal Church Colors
• Photos
• Writing styles
• “Must haves” for congregational websites
• Social media best practices
• Blog guidelines
• Submission information for Episcopal News Service
• Email etiquette

For more information contact Rudig at arudig@episcopalchurch.org

The Rev. Jon M. White named next editor of Episcopal Café

Thursday, October 23, 2014

[Canticle Communications] The Rev. Jon M. White, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Beckley, West Virginia will become the new editor of Episcopal Café on November 25, the Café’s founding editor Jim Naughton announced today.

“I am excited that Jon has volunteered to lead the Café into a new phase in its life,” Naughton said. “Many talented people expressed an interest in the editorship when I announced that I planned to step down. What set Jon apart was a firm understanding of the importance of the Café’s role as an independent source of church news, and a clear vision of how to sustain the site in the years ahead.

White, 47, is a 2012 graduate of Bexley Seabury, and was ordained in the Diocese of Oregon. He is a native of Indianapolis and an alumnus of Portland State University. White served seven years in the U. S. Navy’s Submarine Service and later in the Coast Guard Reserve. Prior to ordination he worked as an engineer in the high tech industry. He has lived in Australia, England and Zimbabwe.

“As a long time reader of the Café, I am excited about this new adventure;” said White. “The Café opened up the church to me when I was just beginning my Episcopal adventure and I am hopeful and eager that we will continue to provide ways for people to learn about and engage with their church.”

In speaking of the future, White said that his intention is to continue to provide the kind of quality content that has been the Café’s hallmark. “Our first goal,” White said, “is to maintain the integrity of the Café and ensure its place as the prominent place for news and insight about the Episcopal Church.”

The Café was launched in mid-April, 2007 and according to Google Analytics has been visited from more than 367,000 computers in the last 12 months. It has more than 13,000 followers on Facebook and more than 11,000 on Twitter.

“A lot has changed since 2007, technology-wise,” White said, “and we need to move the site to a new platform to ensure we can keep it up and running. So, since we need to make that move we’ll be taking the opportunity to redesign the look and feel of the site as well.” White said that the plan is to shutdown the site Thanksgiving Week and re-launch on December 1st, the beginning of Advent.

Naughton, who maintained two blogs before launching the Café, has been writing about Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion news online for almost nine years. He plans to work on a writing project unrelated to the church after signing off on November 24.

“I want to thank John Chilton of the Diocese of Virginia, the Rev. Ann Fontaine of the Diocese of Oregon and the Rev. Andrew Gerns of the Diocese of Bethlehem, who have been contributing to the Café for as long as it has been in existence,” Naughton said. “Ann deserves special thanks for her tireless work in spotting news items and working with writers on the Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul blogs.”

Naughton also thanked Bill Joseph, the Café’s webmaster, C. Robin Janning of Episcopal Church in the Visual Arts, who maintains the Café’s art blog, and Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Diocese of Rhode Island and the Rev. Torey Lightcap of the Diocese of Iowa for their long associate with the Café.

“I’ll miss working with new bloggers like the Rev. Kurt Weisner of the Diocese of New Hampshire, Theresa Johnson of the Diocese of Florida, the Rev. Megan Castellan of the Diocese of West Missouri and the Rev. Weston Mathews of the Diocese of Virginia,” he added. “They do an excellent job not only in keeping the church informed, but in provoking conversation, and, every now and then, making people laugh.”

The Diocese of Washington sponsored Episcopal Café from 2007-09, but the site became independent when Naughton left the diocese.

Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trustees of the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. with the Rev. Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut at the real estate closing for the property in Avon, Oct. 21. Center: Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Ph.D., President of the FVAMC Board of Trustees, with his wife, Noora Brown, M.A., chair of the FVAMC Interfaith Committee. Right of Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, Canon Audrey Scanlan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

[Episcopal Church in Connecticut] The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has sold its property at 35 Harris Road, Avon, former home to Christ Episcopal Church, to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC).

The sale, for $1.1 million, was completed on Oct. 21.

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used “as an asset to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation” in greater Avon and beyond.

At the meeting they learned that the local Muslim community needed a place to gather for prayers, teaching, youth programs and interfaith work. In September 2013, the ECCT entered into an interfaith partnership with FVAMC that included leasing the Avon building.

Since then the FVAMC has reached out to its neighbors with open houses and other interfaith efforts, expanded its worship and service work, and grown its programs, particularly for youth.

The several committees of the ECCT needed to approve the sale gave it their solid endorsement and support.

Both ECCT and the FVAMC share the understanding that the sale isn’t the end of their relationship but the beginning of a new phase in this interfaith collaboration.

Douglas said of the growing relationship between the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center: “I thank God that through the stewardship of our property in Avon we have come into relationship with our Muslim neighbors in the Farmington valley. Together we are learning about what it means to be people of faith working together for peace and understanding. It is a blessing to cooperate with the FVAMC in the development of their new home.”

“We are grateful to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese for their partnership,” said Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, president of the Board of Trustees of the FVAMC. “This house of worship will serve as a foundation for our efforts to continue building bridges with our neighbors, the local community, and other faith traditions. Our relationship with the ECCT serves as a shining example in our region, and as a beacon of hope for inter-religious understanding and cooperation the world over.

The net income from the sale will be returned to the Missionary Society of ECCT, which provides funding for missional work, among other uses.

– Karin Hamilton is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Rapidísimas

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Aunque Canadá rara vez aparece en las noticias mundiales, el 22 de octubre se informó que un tiroteo tuvo lugar en el Parlamento que tiene su sede en la capital, Ottawa. Se informa de un policía muerto. El primer ministro de Canadá, John Harper, estaba en el recinto pero los encargados de su seguridad pudieron ponerlo a salvo. Un reportero de la Cadena Canadiense de Noticias, dijo que en el lugar “reina la incertidumbre y el caos”.

La muerte del diseñador dominicano Oscar de la Renta ha generado titulares en gran parte de la prensa mundial. La noticia con frecuencia informa de las damas de la alta sociedad o artistas de fama que utilizaron sus servicios. La noticia también hizo titulares en Santo Domingo pero el énfasis aquí estuvo centrado en su calidad humana y en su bondad ayudando a niños pobres. La prensa destaca que nunca olvidó su origen humilde y la tierra que lo vio nacer. Tenía 82 años de edad y padecía de cáncer hacía 10 años. En una reciente entrevista dijo que  el propósito de la vida es “amar, perdonar y dar de lo que uno tiene”. Que descanse en la paz del Señor el distinguido caballero.

Aunque usted no lo crea. En un cementerio de Santiago de Chile hay un mausoleo con el siguiente epitafio “A mamá con todo el cariño de sus hijos, menos Ricardo que no dio nada”.

La epidemia producida por el bacilo del ébora que tanta preocupación ha causado y que ha diezmado a cinco países pobres de África Occidental parece haber sido controlado con nuevos medicamentos y medidas de seguridad en aeropuertos y hospitales. Según las Naciones Unidas las muertes causadas por el bacilo pasan de los 6 mil.

El obispo Frank Griswold, anterior obispo presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal, ha aceptado servir de “moderador” en la candente disputa entre profesores y la junta de síndicos del Seminario General de Nueva York que fue fundado en 1817. Los profesores han aceptado volver a clases. Veremos los resultados. El seminario tiene más de 150 alumnos de ambos sexos.

Misioneros cristianos que ministran en las áreas dominadas por el grupo radical ISIS han pedido a través de varios medios que oren por ellos. La nota dice que los personeros de ISIS van “casa por casa” buscando a los cristianos. Muchos prefieren morir que negar su fe cristiana, añaden.

El presidente Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela encara un nuevo obstáculo en su obra de gobierno. Cientos de chavistas se han puesto en contra suya públicamente. Según la encuestadora Data Análisis, Maduro tiene un nivel de aprobación de 37 por ciento la cifra más baja desde que ascendió al poder.

Una carta abierta publicada en el New York Times y un editorial pidiendo el cese del embargo de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba, han puesto este tema nuevamente en la palestra pública. Los opositores a la medida dicen que Cuba debe cumplir con las siguientes condiciones: elecciones libres, libertad de prensa, cese de hostigamientos a los opositores, libertad para todos los presos políticos y oportunidades a los ciudadanos que deseen viajar al extranjero e igual trato para los exilados que quieren regresar. El Washington Post ha dicho que no cumplir con esas condiciones es “hacerle un regalo a Castro”.

Martín Añorga, pastor presbiteriano jubilado, analiza la actitud de los nuevos cubanos que llegan al exilio en un artículo publicado en el semanario Libre: “El objetivo ya no es regresar a Cuba sino sembrar a Cuba en el espacio extranjero en que les toque vivir. Esto hace que la militancia sea exigua, el patriotismo esporádico y el sacrificio ausente”.

Hassan Jaliouf y 20 miembros de su congregación han sido secuestrados por un grupo de hombres armados en la localidad de Knayeh, Siria. El clérigo tiene 62 años y pertenece a la Custodia de la Tierra Santa. Los secuestradores pertenecen al movimiento yihadista, según informes locales.

Aunque las noticias de los jóvenes indocumentados en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos no tienen la prominencia que tuvieron hace algún tiempo, lo cierto es que todavía hay niños con hambre, familias separadas y abundantes promesas que no se cumplen. Señor, ten piedad.

El Seguro Social del que dependen millones de jubilados, viudas y huérfanos, ha anunciado que las asignaciones para el año que viene serán aumentadas en 1.7 por ciento para compensar con el costo de vida.

VERDAD. Dando es como recibimos, San Francisco de Asís

Canada: Bishop calls for prayers following Parliament Hill shooting

Thursday, October 23, 2014

[Anglican Journal] Diocese of Ottawa Bishop John H. Chapman has called for prayers following the shooting on Parliament Hill the morning of Oct. 22. “Like all Canadians, we are following today’s news from Parliament Hill with shock and trepidation,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon.

Chapman noted that the shooting took place “just blocks from our synod office.”

The shooting began shortly before 10 a.m. when a man who has not yet been identified opened fire on a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial before hi-jacking a car, driving to the Parliament Buildings and entering the Centre Block. He opened fire again, injuring two security guards, but was shot dead shortly afterwards, reportedly by Parliamentary sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

The soldier who was fatally wounded has been identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, age 24, a reservist from Hamilton, Ont. Chapman urged prayers for the victim, “for all those at the centre of this situation and for a return to calm in our homes, hearts and streets.”

He added: “In this moment of huge uncertainty, building lockdowns, evacuated streets, barricaded shopping malls and minute-by-minute updates, we draw strength and courage from our faith and pray that this event will soon be over.”

When contacted this morning, the Ottawa diocesan synod office (located about a mile from Parliament Hill) reported being put on lockdown. Michael Herbert, who serves as director of financial ministry at the synod office, told the Anglican Journal that while many people were “going about their business,” police were also stopping and searching vehicles coming down Wellington Street (the main thoroughfare passing Parliament Hill).

Those at the synod office were later advised to stay away from windows and doors, and citizens have been told to avoid the downtown core as police search for other suspects, according to Art Babych, editor of the diocesan newspaper, Crosstalk.

No one has been taken into custody at this time.

Churches have role to play in fostering civil discourse in society

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Rev. Tim Safford, rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia, Oct. 22 greets those attending the Episcopal Church’s forum, Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good, while Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton Daniel looks on. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Philadelphia] Americans are increasingly worried about the country’s polarized political debate and religious communities can help foster a return to respectful dialogue, said panelists in the Episcopal Church’s civil discourse forum here Oct. 22.

All three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — believe people are created in God’s image, Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, reminded participants, and so people of faith must encounter each other as if they have a spark of God’s great wisdom in them that others can learn from, even when they do not agree with each other.

Faith communities, he said, must act out of what he called a passionate commitment to what they believe God is telling them to do as well as a passionate commitment to the idea that each person is created in the image of God and thus must be honored.

Diocese of Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, noting that the forum had gathered on the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali, said that it is a spiritual discipline to resist the urge to demonize opponents and instead to strive to bring light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues.

Produced by The Episcopal Church, the 90-minute forum, titled Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good, was webcast from Christ Church in Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania), the birthplace of the Episcopal Church and the church that significantly figured in the United States’ founding.

The sessions are available for on-demand viewing here.

Organizers developed a facilitator’s guide to assist in group discussions and better understanding of the forum. Information about the guide is here and it is available for downloading here.

“Our conversations are limited by human frailty, but they can also partake of divine and eternal possibilities,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her keynote address, adding that the latter is possible when conservationalists approach each other not as enemies but instead as a “gifted, blessed human being who might have a gift to give us.”

“I remain convinced that face-to-face conversations have more possibility of being life-giving than the disembodied ones we engage so much in by text, tweet and blog,” she said.

“When we fail to see the very human beauty and blemishes in our conversation partners, it is easy to injection venom rather than expect transformation.”

Before the forum’s two panels began, Robert Jones, the chief executive office of the Public Religion Research Institute, briefly summarized an overview of public opinion polls his organization conducted with the Episcopal Church in conjunction with the forum. The overview, “Is Civility Still Possible? What Americans Want in Public Leaders and Public Discourse,” concluded that “despite being divided by generation, by religion, by race, and by political party allegiances, Americans express a strong preference for compromise” and the “public appetite for compromise is growing.”

The country’s fragmented and polarized media contribute to the lack of civility in public discourse, the report concluded, as media outlets “reward extreme rhetoric with political discussion that often aims to create conflict and drama at the expense of moderation.”

Yet, “the overwhelming majority of the public believes that the lack of civil discourse is a major problem for the functioning of our political system,” according to the report.

Religious institutions are hampered in their efforts to foster dialogue because congregations continue to be segregated along racial and even ideological lines, the report concluded. “Religious bodies must also navigate the declining levels of trust in civic institutions, particularly among young adults,” the report said. “When religious leaders focus on divisive issues, Americans are more likely to perceive them as part of the problem rather than as a potential solution.”

Civil discourse forum panelist John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, makes a comment while, from left, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Elizabeth McCloskey, president and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute; and Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester listen. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the panel on civil discourse and faith, John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, agreed with Jefferts Schori’s focus on face-to-face conversations. One-on-one conversations, he said, often result in far fewer disagreements than do larger discussions during which individuals rarely connect with each other.

In those small conversations, the participants find there is far more that hold them together than that separates them, he said, adding that churches need to emphasize the commonalities in the human community.

Elizabeth McCloskey, president and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute, invoked what she called President Abraham Lincoln’s humility and conviction that each person has a vocation to try to achieve a more perfect union. She urged faith leaders to preach both that humility and that assumption of honorable intent.

Saying that many in the U.S. Congress want to compromise but think their constituents do not want them to do so, McCloskey said she would like to see faith leaders model civil discourse “and then have people of faith … start to demand political leaders who will compromise, who will engage in deliberative debate.”

South by Southwest Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest talks about creativity and diversity while, from left, moderator Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post; Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse; and David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia, listen. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the second panel, on civil discourse in politics and policy, Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, warned against believing that the country is truly as divided as the U.S. Congress. Instead, she said, what Alexis de Tocqueville saw in Americans in 1838 is still true today: Presented with a problem, they quickly leave behind ideologies and look for solutions.

“That is an extraordinary asset about where we are right now,” she said.

Addressing the media’s role in civil discourse, David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communications at Temple University, said, “Americans use the media the way a drunk uses a lamp post – for support, not illumination.” While American “media monopolies” have been fractured in ways that have often led to a loss of resources that support deep, investigative reporting, the fracturing has also led to the creation of very issue- and geographically-specific media that are providing willing consumers with reporting at a greater depth and breadth than ever before.

South by Southwest Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest said the festival discovered that requiring diversity among the festival’s panelists resulted in a creativity that the gathering had lacked earlier.

Rabbi Gutow and Bishop Singh also participated in the first panel.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive religion editor for the Huffington Post, moderated the panel discussions.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Presiding Bishop’s keynote at Civil Discourse in America forum

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good

Christ Church, Philadelphia

22 October 2014

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

The arts of politics and civic discourse are central to the ways in which human beings work to build societies of justice and peace. That goal is shared by many people of faith as well as ethical humanists – in the form of greater compassion, care for the weak, and ensuring that all human beings are treated with justice. In spite of what some people believe, our political systems, imperfect as they may be, are necessary to this work. The full involvement of community members is essential to building societies that care for all their members. The call to “love your neighbor as yourself” is foundational to this work, for justice is the form love takes at the level of communities and nations. When Jesus said, “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”[1] he was talking about employing the world’s tools for this work.

The public conversations around us too often seem to be rolling in the dust along with the snakes, and seldom show great wisdom or enlightenment. We can elevate the discourse by continually asking, “does this political act or discourse give evidence of loving all our neighbors, or increasing the availability of justice for all?

The Abrahamic traditions share creation stories that tell of two ways of relationship. In the first one[2] God creates on each of six days, and at the end of the day announces, “it is good.” As the sixth day ends, God has created humanity and pronounces them “very good.” The second creation story[3] tells of the first human beings, Adam and Eve, and how their relationships with God and one another begin to go awry. There’s a snake in that story, slithering through the dust and offering promises of wisdom. The human beings keep trying to hide – from truth, God, and honest relationship with each other. We claim that both stories tell of eternal truths about human beings and their relationships: that we are created good, beloved, and blessed – and we continue to turn away from the source of life, preferring to look for wisdom in snakes.

All conversations partake of the truths of those two creation stories, whether they are intimate words between lovers, teaching children, searching for understanding with colleagues, or attempts to build systems of governance. They can be creative and life-giving encounters of blessing, and/or they can be life-denying, dissembling, and violent.[4]

Our conversations are always limited by human frailty, but they can also partake of divine and eternal possibility. The outcome has something to do with where we begin. What do we expect of our conversation partners? Do we see the image of God in those others? Do we expect to meet a gifted, blessed, and beloved human being who might have a gift to offer? Or do we look on an enemy, someone who is out to mislead or destroy us, like a snake in the grass? The intention at the beginning has a great deal to do with the outcome. Will this encounter produce more life and possibility – or will it devolve into verbal battle and destruction?

I remain convinced that face to face conversations have more possibility of being life-giving than the disembodied ones we engage so much by text, tweet, and blog. When we fail to see the very human beauty and blemishes of our conversation partners, it’s easy to inject venom rather than expect transformation. The hard conversations, and the tender ones, are better done in person. That’s why we expect our legislators to show up in the same place to do the work of governing our common life. The relationships built over months and years of seeking a shared way through thorns and thickets of difference can be life-giving, if we discover the creative possibility in those others.

We live in a deeply fractured age. This nation has been at war for half a generation, and we’ve spent the lives and potential of far too many in the process of reacting to large-blown fears. We are engaged in nasty verbal and positional wars in Congress and on the hustings. The people of this nation deserve better – the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness our forebears proclaimed. As human beings concerned with a more expansive vision of human flourishing that what we see around us, we have the responsibility to seek better and more life-giving ways of engagement for the common good.

Will we challenge the leaders of this nation to seek the good of all our people, and not only those with the greatest access to our political systems? Will we seek to be builders of cities to live in, as Isaiah challenged Israel[5]? Do we aspire to be a society which other nations seek to emulate and join, because we are a beacon of justice and peace for all[6]?

It is possible – if we commit to engagement with a beloved neighbor who bears the image of unfolding creativity, if we will seek out the gifts in those with different opinions and positions, if we search for creative possibility in the midst of diversity. Diversity of opinion, just as much as the diversity of creatures in a prairie ecosystem, is a prerequisite to health. Human communities without diversity are totalitarian states and concentration camps, where human beings become mere commodities, and any possibility of eternity or divinity is denied. They are violent, in the deepest sense of that word. Our search for health and wholeness, and indeed, holiness, depends on celebrating and engaging diversity. It may not be easy; it IS essential. Creative engagement with diversity is synergistic, it makes more than was present before, and it is ultimately life-giving. For people of faith, it is an affirmation that God is in the midst of the tension of diversity, continuing to create more life out of what may seem like chaos. Continuing the conversation is the only way toward conversion of heart.

Engage your neighbor in conversation, expecting to find a gift. Do that, and change the world toward that dream of peace!

[1] Matthew 10:16

[2] Genesis 1:1-2:4

[3] Genesis 2:4-3:24

[4] Violence is anything that denies or diminishes or takes away life

[5] Isaiah 58:12

[6] Isaiah 60: 1-3,11a,14c,18-19

Civil Discourse in America: Watch live webcast at 2pm Eastern

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Watch the live webcast, listen to the information and email your questions as political, interfaith and education leaders discuss a topic of great importance to our society: Civil Discourse in America: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good.  Produced by The Episcopal Church, the 90-minute live webcast on October 22 begins at 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central, noon Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 10 am Alaska, 9 am Hawaii). There is no fee to watch the live webcast here.

Email questions to publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org. Follow on Twitter at #EpiscopalForum

Forum Participants
The forum will be moderated by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will present the keynote address.

Two panel discussions will focus on main themes: Civil discourse and faith; and Civil discourse in politics and policy. Panelists include:

David Boardman, Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University

Dr. John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, Washington DC.

Hugh Forrest, Director of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival,

Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute on Civil Discourse

Dr. Elizabeth McCloskey, President and CEO of The Faith & Politics Institute,

Bishop Prince Singh of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY.

The forum will be available on-demand following the live webcast.

A panel of journalists will discuss Civil Discourse in a 30 minute panel that will be videotaped and posted after the event. David Crabtree WRAL; Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service; Chris Satullo WHYY; Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service; Neva Rae Fox is the moderator.

The discussion originates from historic Christ Church, Philadelphia (Diocese of Pennsylvania).

The forum is ideal for live group watching and discussion, or on-demand viewing later.  It will be appropriate for Sunday School, discussions groups, and community gatherings.

Forum information is available here

The Facilitator’s Guide to assist in group discussions and better understanding is available for downloading here

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

General Seminary faculty returning to work, devoted to reconciliation

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] In a letter to Bishop Mark Sisk, chair of the board of trustees for the General Theological Seminary, the eight striking faculty members have accepted the board’s invitation to accept “provisional reinstatement” and to enter a process of reconciliation. A conflict between eight of the 11-member faculty and the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle, who became GTS dean and president in July 2013, was made public late in September when e-mails and letters from the departing professors to students were circulated and the professors announced a work stoppage.

The full text of the Oct. 20 letter to Sisk follows.

Dear Bishop Sisk,

Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward.

We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered. Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-­term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.

We accept your offer of reinstatement to our positions, and the salaries and benefits outlined in our contracts in effect prior to September 25, 2014. We look forward to being able to do this as soon as possible. Like any member of the Seminary’s faculty we agree to abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies. Given some of the confusion that has arisen about these texts in recent weeks, we will need you to provide us with copies of them: this would help us as we seek together to work within them. We are pleased to see that during the “cooling off period” all of the parties’ respective legal arguments and positions will be reserved.

We also commit with energy to the holy work of reconciliation which we understand to be very important for the health of the entire institution and all of its constituent members: faculty, board, administration, staff and students alike. You mentioned in a telephone conversation the possibility of using a Mennonite group to facilitate this process. We heartily accept this proposal, since we have great respect for their expertise in this area.

If, God forbid, at the end of the academic year we find that the collective process of reconciliation has not worked well, we ask that there be some understanding that appropriate severance will be made available to enable us and our families to make a transition. Lest we be misunderstood here, let us state clearly that we will devote ourselves fully to the difficult work of reconciliation this  year.

As you know, one of our principal concerns has been to ensure that the seminary workplace be one of mutual respect and collegiality. As we move forward and return to our work, we ask that  you consider the appointment of an ombudsperson agreeable to all sides who would act during this “cooling off period” as an interlocutor and safe person to whom complaints could be referred if need be. This will help all of us to feel less on edge and safer, and so will be an indispensible means of helping the process of reconciliation to work well.

As an important sign of our movement forward together, any public acknowledgement of these agreements should be issued together.

Thank you for this very positive step forward for the sake of our Seminary, our students, and staff and God’s church.

Yours sincerely,
Professors  Davis,  DeChamplain,  Good,  Hurd,  Irving,  Kadel,  Lamborn, Malloy.

Episcopal Church acronyms: what are they and what do they mean?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Do you know the difference between EMM* and ECW*?  Or maybe you know who the PB* is, but not so clear about the ABC*.

Acronyms and terms that are used regularly in The Episcopal Church are presented in an easy-to-reference document located on the Public Affairs web page in English here and in Spanish here.

From A (Anglican Consultative Council) to Z (well, actually YASC*), the document is prepared for anyone who needs a clearer understanding of the meanings of acronyms.

It’s easy to check what ECVA* or UBE* is, let alone LEVAS* and NAES*, and a lot of others.

For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officers, at publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

* Did you know these?
ABC – Archbishop of Canterbury
ECVA – Episcopal Church and Visual Arts
ECW – Episcopal Church Women
EMM – Episcopal Migration Ministries
LEVAS – Lift Every Voice And Sing
NAES – National Association of Episcopal Schools
PB – Presiding Bishop
UBE – Union of Black Episcopalians
YASC – Young Adult Service Corps

Liberian priest emerges from quarantine to spread word about Ebola

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Rev. Herman Browne voluntarily quarantined himself for 21 days after his wife’s friend tested positive for Ebola. On Oct. 19, he returned to his church, Trinity Cathedral, in Monrovia, Liberia to preach to his congregation about Ebola prevention, National Public Radio reports.

Browne began educating his congregation about Ebola long before it affected the family directly. And it’s clear the message has been received at the church. People sanitize their hands before entering the cathedral. A priest delivers the Holy Communion wafers with tweezers. The church program tells the congregation: “Do not hide sick persons.”

Read  NPR’s story and listen to the radio report here.

 

 

Church in Minnesota forgives $1.2 million in loans to faith communities

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[Episcopal Church of Minnesota press release] On October 11, the Trustees of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) voted unanimously to forgive the remaining balances of all loans currently held between the Trustees and ECMN faith communities (parishes or missions within ECMN), totaling more than $1.2 million. The Trustees are elected to ensure the missional sustainability of faith communities, and have traditionally managed property, engaged in investments, and made loans to faith communities. After nearly two years of discernment about their identity and role within ECMN, the Trustees have chosen to divest themselves of the loan program, converting the remaining loan funds to a matching grant program for property maintenance called the ECMN Maintenance Savings Plan.

Of the Trustee’s recent action, the Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, said, “Part of our heritage is that of the Jubilee, where our spiritual ancestors reset their relationships with their neighbors by letting go of debts and obligations held against one another. I am proud that our Trustees made this brave decision, and pray that our faith communities will have even more resources from which to engage in God’s work.”

This decision affects, in total, six faith communities around the state: two in the Twin Cities metro area, two in the Duluth area, and two in Central Minnesota. One of the Central Minnesota faith communities largest outreach effort is working to educate the public and raise awareness about human trafficking, while another one of the faith communities, also located in Central Minnesota, is very active in donating to local food shelves and providing meals to those in need.

For the other four faith communities that are affected by this decision, working on issues such as providing food for those in need and combating homelessness are among the most common community outreach efforts that these parishes and missions are engaged in.

The Trustees expect to have the Maintenance Savings Plan fully operational by January 1, 2015. Through this matching grant program, the Trustees will match a portion of investments from faith communities, while offering simple tools and a template that will enable faith communities to easily create a plan for maintenance while enhancing their sustainability in God’s mission.

Ferguson: ‘El momento, para nosotros en la Iglesia, de ‘venir a Jesús’’

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Danielle Dowd, joven misionera para la Diócesis Episcopal de Misurí, ha estado pasando varios días a la semana en las calles de Ferguson y San Luis.

[Episcopal News Service] Danielle Dowd volvía a situarse frente al Departamento de la Policía de Ferguson el 15 de octubre, sólo dos días después de haber sido arrestada allí mientras protestaba por la muerte a tiros, a manos de un policía, del adolescente desarmado Michael Brown y de otros jóvenes afroamericanos.

Desde la muerte de Brown el 9 de agosto, “he venido un par de días todas las semanas, salvo cuando a mi hija de 7 años le extirparon las amígdalas y debí cumplir mis deberes de madre. He podido establecer algunas buenas relaciones con los jóvenes, cuyas voces deben ser escuchadas” dijo Dowd, de 26 años, misionera de los jóvenes para la Diócesis Episcopal de Misurí, a Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Del mismo modo, el Rdo. Jon Stratton, director del Cuerpo de Servicio Episcopal de la diócesis, pasó el 13 de octubre —día en que cumplía 30 años— desfilando, cantando, voceando “¿De quién son las calles? Las calles son nuestras. ¿De quién son las calles? Las calles son de Dios”, para ser finalmente arrestado.

Ellos y otros episcopales se cuentan entre las docenas que fueron detenidos durante las actividades del llamado “Lunes Moral” [Moral Monday] ante el Departamento de la Policía de Ferguson como parte de una serie de actos de desobediencia civil llevados a cabo durante el fin de semana en la región de San Luis y coordinados por “Manos Arriba, No Disparen” [Hands Up, Don’t Shoot] y la Organización para la Lucha de los Negros.

Algunos han comparado el movimiento emergente, su joven liderazgo y sus crecientes relaciones con el activismo de los derechos civiles de los años 60, y otros lo han llamado un movimiento pro derechos humanos. También han sacado a relucir las viejas y enconadas tensiones entre la comunidad afroamericana y el Departamento de la Policía, y han dado lugar a demandas de cambios radicales en los terrenos docentes, económico e institucionales.

El momento le presenta interesantes oportunidades a la Iglesia, dice el Muy Rdo. Mike Kinman, deán de la iglesia catedral de Cristo [Christ Church Cathedral] en San Luis. “Este es el momento para nosotros en la Iglesia de ‘venir a Jesús’”.

Chuck Wynder, misionera para la justicia y la defensa sociales de la Sociedad Misionera Nacional y Extranjera (DFMS), se muestra de acuerdo. “Reconocemos que la Iglesia tiene cada vez más un papel que desempeñar en ser una voz profética en un lugar seguro para la obra de justicia y reconciliación raciales. Seguimos siendo un medio para la Diócesis de Misurí y para conectar los acontecimientos y las novedades de Ferguson con los problemas, la dinámica y el dialogo en todo el país”.

Entre otras cosas, “estamos en el proceso de crear una página a través de la Red Episcopal de Política Pública (a nivel denominacional) de voces, recursos e iniciativas acerca de la muerte de Michael Brown, la situación de Ferguson y cómo eso se relaciona con la obra de justicia social y reconciliación racial a través de la Iglesia en todo el país”, dijo Wynder.

La Iglesia sigue dispuesta a ser un recurso fundamental mientras Ferguson —y el resto de la nación— esperan ansiosamente el dictamen del gran jurado y si habrá instrucción de cargos por la muerte a tiros de Michael Brown, dijo Wynder, quien añadió: “Estamos preparándonos para lo que sabemos que viene”.

La Iglesia Episcopal ha estado concentrando recursos en la zona de Ferguson desde poco después de la muerte de Brown. En septiembre otorgó $30.000 y Ayuda y Desarrollo Episcopales contribuyó con otros $10.000 para una subvención, dividida entre las tres iglesias de la zona, destinada a la labor de [combatir] la pobreza nacional, el quehacer pastoral y el trabajo comunitario en Ferguson.

La iglesia de San Esteban [St. Stephen’s] (Ferguson), de la Ascensión (Northwoods) y Todos los Santos [All Saints’] (ciudad de San Luis) han sido significativamente afectados por la perturbación social que siguió a la muerte violenta de Brown y la respuesta de la comunidad. Las iglesias han estado a la vanguardia de la movilización de recursos para la comunidad, ministrando las necesidades de manifestantes y policías por igual y simplemente “siendo la Iglesia” para todos.

La marcha: arrepentimiento, confesión, absolución y arresto
Stratton se encuentra entre un estimado de varios miles de personas que se unieron el 13 de octubre a una marcha dirigida mayoritariamente por jóvenes, y que tuvo que hacerle frente a tanta lluvia que, en un momento, “estábamos cantando ‘Wade in the Water’[‘Metidos en el agua’]”, le dijo a ENS el 15 de octubre.

“El tema era de arrepentimiento y confesión y absolución y cambio de los sistemas que perpetúan el racismo y la injusticia”, incluidos los sistemas eclesiásticos, afirmó. Los clérigos confesaron su complicidad con tales sistemas y llamaron a los agentes de policía, que se encontraban alineados frente a la estación de policía de Ferguson, a hacer lo mismo.

“Queremos dejar muy claro que el clero, hablando por mí y por los que estaban conmigo, no estábamos hablando del pecado individual, sino de un pecado sistémico”, añadió. “Les dijimos a los agentes de policía que ellos eran valiosos y amados hijos de Dios, pero que formaban parte de un sistema que no sólo estereotipa y deshumaniza a las personas [que se encuentran] del otro lado, sino que conduce también a la deshumanización de la fuerza policial.

“Siempre que salen con sus equipos antimotines, es un signo tangible de deshumanización. [En ese momento] dejan de ser vistos como personas y más como máquinas o como instrumentos de violencia”.

Era la segunda vez en su vida que a la Rda. Anne Kelsey —de 67 años, rectora jubilada de la iglesia de La Trinidad [Trinity Church] en Central West End de San Luis— la arrestaban. Ella recordaba cuando protestó en el Pentágono con la Hermandad Episcopal de la Paz y con los Testigos por la Paz, hace 42 años “y esto no fue como aquello”, le dijo ella a ENS. Entonces “estábamos en el vestíbulo del Pentágono celebrando una misa por la paz”.

De izquierda a derecha, la Rda. Anne Kelsey, el Rdo. Jeff Moore y el Rdo. Jonathon Stratton, director de la Casa de la Diaconisa Ana en San Luis, fueron arrestados juntos el 13 de octubre.

Para Kelsey, el fin de semana, especialmente la manifestación de la noche del sábado, tenía una sensación histórica, como si “estuviéramos presenciando el renacimiento del movimiento por los derechos civiles”.

De manera que ella asistió al evento del “Lunes Moral” con sotana, sobrepelliz y estola “y estuvimos allí y llovía y llovía, y a medio camino hasta hubo un anuncio de tornado”.

Kelsey se unió a las protestas después del 8 de octubre cuando la policía mató a tiros a otro joven afroamericano, Vonderrit Myers, cerca de la casa de ella en el barrio de Shaw.

“Oí los disparos y mi marido y yo caminamos las tres cuadras para ver que estaba pasando. Era sencillamente terrible, la furia y el dolor de la multitud”, recordaba. Las circunstancias que rodearon la muerte de Myers —que supuestamente tenía un arma y le disparó a la policía— difieren de los testimonios en la muerte de Michael Brown, que estaba desarmado. Pero “era realmente traumatizante después de lo de Michael Brown”.

Después que la policía se llevó el cadáver y las cintas que identificaban la escena del crimen, “nos paramos exactamente encima del lugar donde él murió y oramos¨, dijo Kelsey lenta, balbuceante y penosamente. “Me involucré de una manera que no había planeado. Este era mi barrio”, afirmó. “Existe una línea divisoria en este barrio. Yo estaba de pie allí, mientras una mujer me estuvo dando gritos durante largo rato. Decía que ella había trabajado para Amnistía Internacional y que reprendía a la clériga blanca por no hacer lo suficiente. No es una situación cómoda”.

Mientras participaban en la manifestación del 13 de octubre, Kelsy y otras personas se mantuvieron frente a la fila de policías en el Departamento de Policía de Ferguson y le pidieron a los agentes “que se arrepintieran de los pecados institucionales del departamento de policía. Le dije al hombre que tenía frente a mí que, me gustara o no, cuando yo usaba mi alzacuello, era el rostro de la Iglesia para el pueblo y tengo que ser la primera en pedir perdón por los pecados de la Iglesia, no importa que yo los hubiere cometido o no de la misma manera. Los agentes de la policía son el rostro del sistema de justicia. No creo que sea irrazonable pedirles que reflexionen al respecto”.

Cuando ella se arrodilló frente a él, “cruzó la línea” y la arrestaron e inmediatamente la esposaron y la pusieron en un vehículo de la policía. Estuvo encarcelada durante varias horas y luego la liberaron.

Un movimiento emergente: ‘Los jóvenes nos dan lecciones’
Dowd y Stratton han pasado varios días de la semana en las calles de Ferguson y San Luis “para llegar a conocer a los jóvenes que han estado allí a diario durante 67 días. Parte de lo que quiero hacer es apoyarlos y seguirlos”, dijo Stratton.

“Ellos son los más afectados por la brutalidad policíaca, pues eran amigos de Michael Brown y viven en Ferguson. Son la gente que la Iglesia debe escuchar y, de muchas maneras, seguir el ejemplo”.

Como Joshua Williams, de 18 años, y Jermell Hasson, de 27, que el 15 de octubre estuvieron junto con Dowd frente al Departamento de Policía de Ferguson.

“He estado aquí todos los días porque Michael Brown era mi primo hermano”, dijo Williams. “Lo que me trajo aquí fue que yo lo vi en el suelo. Vi su sangre en el suelo. Me pongo en su lugar. Yo podía haber estado en el suelo, podía haber sido el hijo de cualquiera. Luego, estoy luchando por los derechos de los chicos”.

“Eso me hizo presentarme aquí, en representación de todas las personas del mundo y de sus hijos”.

Hasson está de acuerdo rn que el problema significa justicia más plena y más profunda para Michael Brown, “pero eso es sólo un aspecto de lo que está en juego”.

“Esto tiene mucho que ver con los derechos humanos”, agregó. “Esto no es un movimiento de derechos civiles, es un movimiento de derechos humanos. Debo ser capaz de recibir el mismo trato que cualquier otro que entre en una estación de policía en Estados Unidos y estaré aquí indefinidamente”.

Pero por ahora, “me estoy concentrando en Michael Brown. Quiero que un asesino vaya a prisión”, añadió Hasson, quien fue arrestado en la protesta y dijo que acababa de salir de la cárcel el 15 de octubre luego de que lo arrestaran en una protesta anterior. “Si tuviera que encontrar una palabra para [definir a] Ferguson”, dijo, “sería ‘frágil’. Esto puede evolucionar en cualquier dirección. Es sencillamente muy, muy duro”.

Aunque no pertenece a ninguna iglesia, Hasson dijo que mantener una presencia fuera del Departamento de Policía le ha infundido esperanzas debido a “la diversidad que veo aquí. Me muestra que no es sólo mujeres y hombres afroamericanos los que me apoyan. Veo muchísimas mujeres y hermanos blancos, y asiáticos. Me gusta la diversidad, que todo el mundo pueda relacionarse con lo que pasamos en esta sociedad. He aprendido acerca de otras culturas aquí en conversaciones casuales. Ésta es una experiencia de aprendizaje”.

‘Esto es lo que es la teología’
Kinman dice que “una de las características más insidiosas de una sociedad segregada es que no tenemos relaciones donde nos conozcamos mutuamente” y por consiguiente estamos tentados a no vernos los unos a los otros como imágenes de Dios y estamos inducidos al temor y, particularmente cuando estamos cansados y traumatizados, estamos tentados a actuar fuera de lugar”, lo cual le permite a la Iglesia asumir papeles interesantes que pueden parecer contradictorios”.

Un papel es encontrarse “allí donde el Evangelio está surgiendo, a partir de estos líderes jóvenes en la calle. Debemos estar presentes con estos líderes jóvenes en la calle, líderes jóvenes asombrosamente no violentos”, dijo Kinman.

Otro [papel] es entablar relaciones con los agentes de policía, víctimas también de un sistema institucional, dijo Dowd el 15 de octubre. “No estoy aquí para demonizar a los agentes de la policía o de la ley. Quiero que todos trabajemos juntos para encontrar algo mejor”, dijo ella.

“El sistema no beneficia a los agentes de policía tampoco. Los priva de su humanidad; y no beneficia a los jóvenes afroamericanos: muchas veces los priva de la vida”.

Dowd dijo que ella está siendo más consciente del privilegio y de “ las ideas equivocadas que he tenido o de las maneras en que me he beneficiado por ser blanca en este país. Estoy aprendiendo muchísimo de escuchar y de darme cuenta de que no siempre tengo que ser la que esté a cargo [de las cosas]. Es importante escuchar y aprender de los jóvenes negros y seguir su ejemplo sobre el terreno aquí, día tras día, viviéndolo todo el tiempo.

“Para mí, esto es una opción; para ellos, no”, añadió. “Yo puedo participar en esto e irme en el momento en que lo desee. Pero esto es su vida cotidiana. Esto es algo que estos jóvenes sienten que es un asunto de vida o muerte para ellos. Me siento orgullosa y honrada de poder mantenerme en solidaridad para mostrarles lo que quiero decir cundo afirmo que estoy con ellos todo el tiempo”.

Kinman dijo que los manifestantes del 13 de octubre revisaron una tradicional consigna de protesta de preguntas y respuestas y en lugar de decir “muéstrame como es la democracia, así es como es la democracia”, coreaban “muéstrame lo que es la teología; esto es lo que es la teología” y añadió que muchos manifestantes le han pedido a la Iglesia una participación más plena.

Pero agregó: “éste no es el movimiento de los derechos civiles de su abuela. Estos jóvenes se congregan en Twitter y están valiéndose de la tecnología para el cambio social. Y no son episcopales. Uno de los momentos más aleccionadores para nosotros es que estas personas no han estado en nuestras iglesias. Algunos asisten a la Iglesia, pero en general las voces que emergen son voces que sienten que la Iglesia los ha dejado atrás. Quieren saber dónde hemos estado”.

– La Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.