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San Joaquín acoge su próximo capítulo con el ‘obispo misionero’ David Rice

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Obispo David Rice da la Sagrada Eucaristía a uno de los miembros más jóvenes de la Diócesis de San Joaquín. Foto: Richard Schori

[Episcopal News Service] La Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori, más de media docena de otros obispos y unos 400 episcopales dieron, el 23 de febrero, al recién nombrado obispo auxiliar David Rice una alegre, entusiasta bienvenida oficial a la Diócesis de San Joaquín.

Rodeado por un desbordante público en el servicio de la tarde festivo en la iglesia San Pablo [St. Paul’s Church] en Modesto, la obispa presidente dirigió la juramentación de conformidad a la doctrina, disciplina y culto de la iglesia episcopal a Rice, quien recientemente se desempeñó como obispo de Waiapu  en la iglesia anglicana en Aotearoa, Nueva Zelanda y Polinesia.

Rice está a punto de convertirse en el próximo obispo provisional de la diócesis; él va a presentarse a las elecciones en la convención especial del próximo 29 de marzo que se celebrará a las 11:00 am en la iglesia de San Pablo [St. Paul’s Church]en Bakersfield.

El obispo David Rice y su esposa Tracy acompañados en frente del altar por los obispos de las diócesis Provincia VIII de la iglesia episcopal. Foto: Kelvin Yee

Acompañado de algunos de los obispos de la Provincia VIII de la iglesia episcopal  – Marc Andrus (California); Barry Beisner (Carolina del Norte); Mary Gray-Reeves (El Camino Real); Jim Mathes (San Diego); y Edna Bavi “Nedi” Rivera (provisional, Este de Oregon) – Jefferts Schori rindió homenaje al obispo provisional anterior Jerry Lamb (jubilado, California del Norte) y Chet Talton (sufragánea retirado, Los Ángeles), quienes también estuvieron presentes en el servicio.

“El obispo Lamb era un partidario fiel, leal y creativo al fomentar esta diócesis para descubrir la realidad de que… todos los bautizados están dotados para el ministerio, y esos dones y habilidades difieren de una persona a otra, y todos ellos son esenciales para el trabajo del cuerpo de Cristo, “ella dijo con respecto a ese capítulo en la vida de la diócesis. “Tal vez la consigna central de este capítulo fue” crecer… a la plena estatura de Cristo’”.

Añadió que el libro de Jane Onstad Lamb ["Hurt, Joy and the Grace of God”] “Dolor, Alegría y la Gracia de Dios” (applecart Books, 2012) ayudó al mundo a aprender acerca de “el duro trabajo de decir la verdad… y que ha sido un regalo para otros en circunstancias similares”.

Los tres obispos sucesivos provisionales de San Joaquín (desde la izquierda) Jerry Lamb, David Rice y Chet Talton fuera de San Pablo, [St. Paul’s], Modesto. Foto: Kelvin Yee

Talton presidió a Lamb como obispo provisional y su mandato era respecto a “reconstruir, volver a conectarse, sobre la sanación… y animar para ser presencia invitadora y acogedora en la comunidad en general. “Chet y Abril [cónyuge] han empujado continuamente, atraído, y engatusado a la gente de por aquí para probar cosas nuevas, y alcanzarlas en maneras que pueden parecer atemorizantes o nuevas, siempre dirigidas al bien del otro”, dijo la obispa presidente.

Este próximo capítulo con Rice “puede ser resumido, ‘mire aquí y vea cómo es Dios, y si no se puede ver claramente, mire lo que hago, y verá lo que Dios está haciendo’. Esta comunidad diocesana se dedica a hacer que esas palabras y obras sean evidentes – para que el mundo pueda ver la sanación, la reconciliación y la buena noticia en la carne “, dijo.
Ella también desafió a los episcopales de San Joaquín a – en palabras del antiguo obispo de Nueva York Paul Moore “‘¡levantarse, salir y perderse!” Levanta tu coraje, sal al mundo, y perdeos en servir el mundo de Dios”.
Temprano en el día, Rice había compartido un sentimiento similar mientras predicaba en la iglesia San Juan el Bautista [St. John the Baptist Church] en Lodi, a unas 40 millas al norte de Modesto.

Describiéndose a sí mismo como un “obispo misionero”, él dijo: “¿Qué es lo que yo perpetuamente hablaría y preguntaría con respecto a esto?, ¿cómo estás involucrado en el mundo más allá de esta hermosa casa de oración?”. Él desafío a la congregación a pensar sobre lo que significa “volver a definirnos para nuestras vidas para lo que significa un vencindario, y la realidad es que si tomamos en serio el evangelio, si tomamos la vida de Cristo en serio, [un vecindario] es mucho más amplio y mucho más incluyente de lo que quizás queremos admitir a veces en nuestras vidas”.
Temas fundamentales de su ministerio, basadas en el pueblo indígena de la gente Maori  de los conceptos de Nueva Zelanda de “manakitanga” (como es recibido) y whakapapa (de dónde viene), incluyen extender la hospitalidad no sólo a los que nos visitan la iglesia, pero además amplia el concepto de la iglesia, dijo.

 

“Desde mi perspectiva, la iglesia es todo por lo que podemos ver”, dijo Rice. “Es donde está Dios. El mandato del Evangelio nos invita a unirnos con Dios donde quiera que Dios se encuentre y Dios está en todas partes al mismo tiempo en el sentido más ubicuo”.

Lo que significa que “nos permitimos ver y experimentar a Cristo vivo en todo el mundo que nos encontramos”, agregó. “Piense en cómo el mundo en que vivimos podría ser dramáticamente, y profundamente diferente si dejamos verdaderamente ver al Cristo vivo en todo el mundo”.

Recordó ser testigo de miles de jóvenes que jugaban tenis [netball] una mañana de un domingo cuando se dirigía a celebrar la Eucaristía en una iglesia en la diócesis Waiapu, un acontecimiento semanal, de acuerdo con miembros de la iglesia. Rice les preguntó: “¿Qué pasa si algún domingo en vez de reunirse aquí, nos reunimos allí, y usamos nuestras camisetas y ofrecemos agua embotellada a la gente y que poder estar ahí y hacerles saber lo que somos y así podríamos ampliar nuestro barrio”. Varias personas se sentían incómodas con la idea, dijo, diciendo que preferían estar en el edificio de la iglesia el domingo por la mañana. Otros preguntaron si ofrecer agua a los jugadores de tenis atraería a más gente a la iglesia.

 

“Eso se llama-eclesio-céntrico, cuando todo se centra en este lugar, al igual de lo que sucede aquí [en el interior del edificio de la iglesia]“, dijo Rice. “Estoy diciendo amplíe su horizonte de que la iglesia es esto y mucho más.
“Si verdaderamente creemos en la vida de Cristo y en el mensaje de nuestro Señor y las formas en que modela al vivir por ahí, entonces a veces podemos estar un poco incómodos. A veces puede ser que tengamos que cambiar. A veces, el patrón de nuestras vidas podría ser alterado.

 

“Si hacemos lo que hizo Cristo. Si hacemos lo que él nos invitó a hacer, ¿sabes lo que pasa? Construimos relaciones, respondemos a las necesidades, vamos una milla extra… y aquellos a quienes respondemos quieren ser parte de la comunidad y, a veces – no siempre – ellos van a venir”.

Sin embargo, “esto no es la evangelización”, agregó. “Esto es algo diferente. Esta es la misión. Esto es ser misionero”.
En una nota personal, Rice evocó risas y aplausos cuando dijo a los feligreses que él había asistido a un bar nocturno para recaudar fondos en la iglesia Santa Ana [St. Anne’s Church] en Stockton la noche anterior y que su antigua diócesis compartió una tradición con la diócesis de Central California Valley – ambas están situados en las zonas de mayor producción de vino.

Nacido y criado en Carolina del Norte, dijo que sus padres tienen ascendencia cherokee, y cree que él puede llevar el registro para la mayoría de las ordenaciones – cinco, incluyendo ordenaciones para diácono y ministro de la iglesia Metodista Unida, después como diácono y sacerdote y luego como obispo en la iglesia anglicana.
También fue ministro de la juventud y ha añadido que está “muy interesado ​​en participar en las vidas de los jóvenes de aquí en todo lo que pueda”.

Patsy Lithco, 67, un feligrés de la parroquia de San Juan [St. John] dijo que “se enamoró” de Rice inmediatamente. “Me gustó mucho su mensaje acerca de lo que tenemos que hacer fuera de estas paredes. Él me sacó mis calcetines. Él es absolutamente un guardián”.
Rice inspiro esperanza en Jim Reeve, miembro de San Juan [St. John] por nueve años. “Era un esperanzado profético. Ese fue probablemente uno de los mejores mensajes que he escuchado, sobre todo la parte de salir fuera de la iglesia. Él hizo una súplica apasionada a nosotros hacer lo que el Señor nos ha pedido hacer”.
La Rda. Elaine Breckenridge, sacerdote encargada de San Juan, [St. John]  estuvo de acuerdo en que Rice inspiró esperanza. “Estoy muy emocionada. Fue un sermón tan inspirador. Él es carismático y un pensador profundo al mismo tiempo. Él traerá un nivel de esperanza a la diócesis”.

Después de una larga conversación tranquila con Rice, William Bunn, 9, lo pronuncia “agradable. Él es un buen amigo. Llamó a mi camiseta chaleco y dijo que era apuesto”.
EL obispo provisional Chet Talton nombró a Rice obispo auxiliar. Rice comenzará a hacer visitas pastorales en esa capacidad. Si es elegido el 29 de marzo Rice ocupará inmediatamente el puesto de obispo provisional de la diócesis, convirtiéndose en el primer obispo activo para servir en esa capacidad después de que las diferencias teológicas dividieron la diócesis en el 2007.

–LA Rda. Pat McCaughan es corresponsal de Episcopal News Service. Ella radica en Los Ángeles.

All Saints Church puts ‘heart and soul’ into St. Louis neighborhood

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seven-year-old Chelsea West (second from right) learns to play the guitar with other young members from the neighborhood around All Saints Episcopal Church in St. Louis.

[Episcopal News Service] For 7-year-old Chelsea West, learning to play guitar at All Saints Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri, is a grand invitation into a wondrous new world.

“I’m learning the E string and the B string,” the second-grader proclaimed excitedly during a Feb. 25 telephone interview with the Episcopal News Service. “It’s fun. I wanted to take the class because I don’t have anything to do when I go home. I like working with Miss Jillian because she makes guitar fun. I want to be able to sing and play the guitar.”

Jillian Smith, an Episcopal Service Corps intern who serves part time at All Saints, said that sometimes “Chelsea will say, this is hard, this is so hard. We’ll be in the middle of learning something and then suddenly she’ll say, ‘I’ve got it. I’ve got it’ and she looks at me, and it’s wonderful.”

All Saints’ Music and Arts Village offers free classes for underserved youth aged 7-11 in North St. Louis. “The Arts Village is designed for underprivileged families who could not otherwise afford music lessons,” she said.

Jillian Smith, an Episcopal Service Corps intern who serves part time at All Saints, shows positive encouragement during music classes.

“It is just one way All Saints is really embodying a lot of what the church should do,” Smith added. “They are really putting their heart and soul into the community and neighborhood and trying to do the best they can for the people in this area.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the 140-year-old historically black congregation saw a need and responded. In 1945, when local banks declined to offer financial services to African Americans, All Saints founded a credit union for that express purpose, according to Pat Heeter, church historian and a third-generation member.

Back in the day, the congregation was like family, recalled Heeter, who at 71 is happy to be actively engaged as junior warden and in the Episcopal Church Women. “I’m going to serve my church as best I can,” she said.

(Founded in 1874, the church is the third to be featured in the Episcopal News Service’s series of historically black congregations during February, Black History Month. Others include the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, the first historically black congregation in the nation, founded in 1792 by the Rev. Absalom Jones, and St. Barnabas, in Pasadena, California, founded in 1923 by seven women in a living room.)

They are among 90 historically black congregations still in existence, churches founded by African Americans post-slavery and during racial segregation in the United States because they were not welcome in mainstream Episcopal churches.

Like many historically black congregations, All Saints’ story converges with the social and politic realities of its community, of the nation and of the Episcopal Church.

It was the first African American Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Missouri and west of the Mississippi, and has occupied at least six sites, according to Heeter. It moved as membership swelled – to a high of 900-plus members in 1961.

At one point, members declined to participate in what was largely viewed as an attempt to create “a racial episcopate” after All Saints hosted the consecration of Rt. Rev. Edward Thomas Demby as the first black bishop suffragan in the continental United States.

That was in 1918 and Demby, who served in the Diocese of Arkansas, was “the suffragan bishop for colored work” and was appointed “jurisdiction for all African-American congregations in the Province of the Southwest,” according to a history compiled by Heeter.

“All Saints did not wish to be turned over formally to the suffragan bishop of Arkansas” but considered itself part of the Diocese of Missouri, according to the history. However, the parish financially supported Demby’s ministry.

By then, All Saints was well known and had already occupied several locations. It grew out of a Sunday school begun in 1871 by James Thompson, an administrator and teacher at a “free colored school” in Louisiana, Missouri, about 100 miles north of St. Louis.

Thompson became the first African-American deacon and priest in the Diocese of Missouri, which at the time encompassed the entire state.

Initial services were held in Trinity Episcopal Church as Our Savior mission. In just a year’s time, the church outgrew the spot and moved to a former Jewish synagogue where there was a name change – they worshiped as the Good Samaritan mission.

In 1882, a third building was purchased. Shortly afterwards, the mission was incorporated as All Saints Parish. By 1901, a rectory had been built beside the church.

Five years later, membership had grown to about 250 communicants and another move, to the former Messiah Unitarian Church building, increased seating capacity. “The Unitarians had spent more than $100,000 to erect this building,” according to the Heeter’s history.

“The building passed with all its furnishings, including the grand organ, into the possession of All Saints’. Three thousand dollars was spent in remodeling the interior and adapting the chancel to the requirements of the worship of the church. At this time All Saints’ voted itself self-sustaining, relinquishing all aid from the Missionary Board and has remained self-sustaining ever since.”

In 1917, the Rev. Douchette Redmond Clarke of Philadelphia became rector, and was “like my grandfather,” Heeter recalled. “He was close with our family because my father’s father died. My father was a very little boy, so the male image in his household became Fr. Clarke.”

A retired school psychologist, Heeter has painstakingly researched historical photos and documents while developing a church archives to preserve the church’s story. There were formative years when the name All Saints immediately telegraphed the church’s mission and identity throughout the community, she recalled.

“I was in the youth choir and we had a very active Sunday school for children and adults and a young teenage group. Our church was the gathering place for the youth of the area,” she recalled. “They didn’t necessarily belong to the church. Our youth group met and we had dances in the parish hall, and that kept us off the street.

“I’ve even run into people who weren’t members and they’d say, ‘do you remember the dances at All Saints?’ Even when I left and went away to college and attended another Episcopal church in Denver, I still told people my church was All Saints, St. Louis,” she said.

Christine Crenshaw, 80, whose parents and grandparents were also members, also recalled the days when church was both a family affair and an identity.

“We had a strong Sunday school and … I remember my grandmother took me on the streetcar every Sunday morning. We never missed church.”

She remembered hearing how the church helped out after her grandfather’s death at an early age. “My grandmother had to make it as best she could without a husband,” she recalled. “But every holiday the church brought baskets of food and turkey.”

She has served on the altar guild for nearly six decades and proudly notes that her grandsons – and a daughter – were acolytes, she said. “I enjoyed going to church,” Crenshaw said. “That was a big thing for me. It was a very, very prestigious church. When you said All Saints, it meant something, that was big time.”

All Saints Church as it is today.

Being church in the 21st century
Heeter’s parents, Solomon and Lucille James, established a tradition as church movers and shakers. “My father was an acolyte, a vestry person, and did volunteer work with buildings and grounds, as well as serving as a board member of the credit union,” Heeter recalled.

Her mother was altar guild president, participated in the St. Ann’s Guild and “something we used to call the Women’s Auxiliary that turned into the ECW” as well as becoming church liaison for a community program that provided home care for cancer patients, she said. “They used to make bandages and lap blankets for the patients.”

In addition to written records – births, marriages, deaths – Heeter is in possession of the original church font, she believes. But portions of the written history are missing, and Heeter has even enlisted the aid of a local PBS television station in her efforts to recover historical photos of the church’s past.

Parts of that history tell the story of ministries that soared and others that, after outliving their usefulness, ended. Like Bethany Mission, a church plant in 1921 that closed five years later. And, like the All Saints Credit Union, faced with stiff competition after mainstream financial institutions no longer excluded African Americans, which closed in 2007.

Heeter said the baptismal font – at which she was baptized – and other memorabilia, currently “is packed away because we don’t have space.”

A room designated for the archives doubles as the music room where Chelsea West and about a dozen other students pluck guitars and learn valuable life lessons – a sign of the times for the 140-year-old church facing changed circumstances, according to the rector, the Rev. Michael Dunnington.

Four years ago, the senior warden invited him to serve as rector and added: “I don’t know if it makes any difference that we’re a historically African-American church,” Dunnington recalled. “I was going to joke that, it’s OK, because I’m a historically white priest.”

True to history, the church again finds itself attempting to respond to community needs, he said.

“We’re struggling,” Dunnington said. With an average Sunday attendance of about 65, meeting in a 1930s-era building with “leaky roofs and malfunctioning boilers … part of the question that floats around here is, ‘what is the place for an African-American church, founded really because of segregation? You want to preserve the history, but that’s the question.

“Like any parish of our age and our congregants, we’re facing the challenges of where do we go from here and what does it mean to be church in the 21st century?”

The answer, at least in part, has been mission.

Parishioners, many of whom commute, “have been really good with responding to the challenges of taking a missional approach to this neighborhood” which remains largely African-American and poor, Dunnington said.

Outreach has included hosting community picnics and seasonal events, like a Halloween ‘Trunk or Treat’ safe neighborhood party. A food pantry ministry has expanded to include health screenings and flu shots and the Arts and Music Village is also hoping to expand.

It takes a village … and a church
The All Saints Arts and Music Village is, for Chelsea West, a “fun” place.

“I made a lot of friends in the class,” she said. “I’m learning the first two strings on the guitar and we’re learning notes on those right now. We haven’t gotten to singing yet.”

Students meet after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are snacks along with keyboard and guitar lessons. Intern Jillian Smith, 22, a cellist from Tennessee, said music has been such a big part of her life that she wanted to share it with others.

“I try to instill in them that they can do this,” said Smith. “I have them say, ‘yes I can’ all the time and I let them know how proud I am of them. It’s so good to know that you have the ability to do something; that somebody believes in you. They are so talented and smart and sweet.”

Music “really is a new way of thinking; it’s such a process,” she said. “You have to count beats, to remember which note goes where, and why, and the timing. I explain to the students that music is a cool, different language.

“It can teach you so much. It can help in your subjects in school, like learning another language; it can help you set goals, and achieve normally what you otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve.”

A recent recital added a goal-setting exercise outside the academic world, added Smith.

Sharing the “love and joy that can come from music” means a lot to her, too, she added. “I’m happy everyday that I have this job. The church really is doing a lot of good stuff here, to reach out and be a resource to the community and neighborhood like this. It’s one of the big things the church can do, be a voice for the neighborhood.”

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

Still time to submit videos to marriage study task force

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] There is still time to submit a video to the Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

The videos should focus on the topic: Give us your first name and tell a one minute story about your relationship or one you know well in which you have seen the image of God.

The videos should be sent to taskforceonmarriage@gmail.com

These videos will be used as part of upcoming presentations and reports to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, as well as the Task Force’s report for General Convention 2015.

Task Force member the Rev. Canon W. (Will) H. Mebane, Jr., Diocese of Ohio, previously noted, “The videos don’t need to be professionally recorded – feel free to use a Smartphone or flip cam.”

He added, “Submission of videos is just one method Episcopalians have to submit their thoughts to the Task Force. Traditional written surveys will be distributed and individuals are encouraged to respond to questions that will also be posted on the group’s Facebook page.”

Task Force Facebook page here

Task Force YouTube here.

Note: previously submitted videos should be resent totaskforceonmarriage@gmail.com.

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage is enabled by Resolution A050 at the 2012 General Convention.

Resolution A050 is available in full here.

Rapidísimas

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

La situación política de Venezuela sigue igual aunque todos los días hay nuevos acontecimientos. Ya suman 16 los muertos y los estudiantes no ceden en su empeño de tener un nuevo gobierno que sea democrático y dedicado al bienestar del pueblo. Los estudiantes han interrumpido el tránsito por la autopista de Caracas, la principal vía de acceso urbano dentro de la capital. A una invitación de Nicolás Maduro para dialogar con Estados Unidos, el presidente Barack Obama dijo que ese diálogo debe realizarse con los líderes de Venezuela. Roberto Lückert, arzobispo de Coro, dijo en una entrevista que la crisis política que vive el país es “resultado de la insensatez política del gobierno”.

Ante la situación venezolana, el Presbiterio Central de la Iglesia Presbiteriana reunido a mediados de febrero dio a conocer una carta pastoral dirigida al pueblo venezolano “como un modesto aporte por la paz y el entendimiento entre los que vivimos en esta tierra de gracia”. Después de hacer un somero análisis de la situación actual, los presbiterianos dicen en su carta colectiva: “La violencia como recurso para dirimir diferencias, terminará escapando de las manos que la propician y acabará engullendo a quienes la originaron”.

Unión Juárez, fundado en 1870, es un pintoresco pequeño lugar montañoso en el estado mexicano de Chiapas. Es centro turístico y a la vez un lugar de gente intransigente. Cuenta la prensa que los dirigentes del pueblo suprimieron el suministro de agua y electricidad a unas 25 familias evangélicas “por negarse a cooperar con 500 pesos por familia” para la celebración de fiestas católicas tradicionales. ¡Hace falta un buen mediador!

Dos bombas caseras de mediano poder explosivo explotaron el 24 de febrero cerca de la entrada de la Catedral Anglicana de Zanzíbar. Ninguna persona resultó herida aunque sí hubo algunos daños materiales. Las bombas también afectaron el memorial donde existió el Mercado de Esclavos de Mkunazini donde ahora hay un monumento de meditación y oración. La catedral sigue con sus oficios regulares pese al peligro que existe en el lugar. En la isla hay un fuerte sentimiento de independencia de Tanzanía, 98 por ciento de la población es musulmana. La embajada de Estados Unidos ha sugerido a las mujeres  “vestir decorosamente”.

Como prueba de que el Vaticano ha tomado en serio el castigo a los culpables de abusos sexuales en la Iglesia Católica Romana, el papa Francisco ha destituido a su dignidad eclesiástica al obispo de Iquique, Chile,  Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, quien afronta una investigación eclesiástica por abusos sexuales. En su lugar el papa ha nombrado a Guillermo Vera Soto, hasta ahora obispo de Calama.

Alice Herz-Sommer, sobreviviente del Holocausto, ha fallecido a la edad de 110 años en Londres. Pianista destacada y miembro de una familia de intelectuales, en 1943 fue trasladada a un campo de concentración en la ciudad checa de Terezin, donde a los reos se les permitía dar conciertos. Según cálculos oficiales de los 140,000 judíos llevados allí 33,430 murieron víctimas del hambre y el maltrato. Aunque nunca supo donde murió su madre al ser arrestada o su esposo que murió en el campo de concentración de Dachau, los que la conocieron admiran su fortaleza ante la miseria, el dolor y la vejación.

La arquidiócesis católica romana de Los Ángeles, la más grande de Estados Unidos, se encuentra en un proceso judicial acusada de ocultar los nombres de las víctimas de abuso sexual. Según consta en documentos oficiales el anterior arzobispo, Roger Mahony, no reveló los nombres de las víctimas para protegerlos. Se cree que desde 2006 la diócesis pagó más de 700 millones de dólares por acuerdos extra-judiciales a cientos de víctimas que presentaron demandas.

El arzobispo Terence Prendergast de Ottawa, Canadá, ha decretado que en los funerales católicos en su jurisdicción quedan prohibidos sermones o pláticas alabando las bondades del difunto. “En su lugar los fieles deben emplear ese tiempo en orar por el difunto y su familia”, dijo el prelado. Debido a las protestas de los miembros de la iglesia Prendergast aceptó tres condiciones: esas palabras se pronunciarán al principio de la liturgia, no podrán tener más de tres minutos de duración y no deberán decirse desde el mismo lugar donde se leen las Escrituras.

La policía de La Paz, Bolivia, ha informado que ha capturado a José Luis Bertón, pastor evangélico de una iglesia local llamada “Eklesia de La Paz” y presunto líder de una banda de secuestradores. Junto con Bertón fueron arrestados su concubina y dos familiares de ésta. En el mes pasado hubo 17 secuestros atribuido a la pandilla de Bertón. El rescate oscilaba entre 100 mil y  250 mil dólares. La policía dijo que a la banda se les decomisó un fusil, una pistola, una motocicleta y un taxi.

VERDAD. Ser honrado significa decidir no mentir, robar, estafar ni engañar de ninguna forma.

Indian churches speak against discrimination faced by Dalits

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[World Council of Churches press release] Member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in India have expressed deep concern over discrimination faced by Christian and Muslim Dalit communities there, demanding protection of the right to freedom of religion in a meeting with Prof. Dr Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The meeting attended by a number of church leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, academics, leaders of the Muslim community and representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, was organized by the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI).

Bielefeldt is currently visiting India until 27 February on invitation from the civil society organizations including the Indian Social Institute and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

According to a news report of the NCCI, Dr Ramesh Nathan from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights spoke about numerous forms of “untouchability” resulting from the caste system practiced in India. Nathan added that Dalit Christians are most vulnerable to caste-based violence but are not protected by the Prevention of Atrocities Act in the Indian constitution, which is meant to prevent atrocities against the scheduled castes.

The Indian constitution includes Dalits in the list of scheduled castes as the most marginalized communities who need protection. However when converted to Christianity or Islam, these individuals and communities are excluded from these protective and affirmative measures offered by the Indian government.

Haji Hafeez Ahmad Hawari, a representative of Muslim community shared at the NCCI meeting that his nomination to the national elections under the category of “caste with reserved constituency” was rejected because he is a follower of Islam.

Hawari said that he experienced discrimination within the Muslim community as well as in the larger society because he is a Dalit; and yet because of his religion affiliation he could not seek the position reserved in the Indian constitution for scheduled castes.

“Both Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslim are not considered Dalits by our government, and hence, they are denied affirmative action programmes that empower marginalized communities,” said Samuel Jayakumar, the NCCI’s executive secretary for the Commission on Policy, Governance and Public Witness, who chaired the meeting.

“We see this as religion based discrimination against Christian and Muslim Dalits in India,” he said.

Leila Passah, general secretary of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of India also brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteur the “inhumane treatment meted out to the Dalit community by the Indian police, when they organized a peaceful protest in Delhi.”

She said “the police beat up protestors with sticks as Christian and Muslim leaders marched towards the Parliament House to hand over to the prime minster of India a memorandum of demands.”

Around 30 people were injured in this incident and several protestors including church leaders were detained in the police station on 11 December 2013, according to media reports.

Bielefeldt recognized issues of discrimination against Dalits in India, calling religious conversion a test case for freedom of religion. He added that the right to equality has been denied to the Dalit community in India and they cannot be forced to follow a particular religion.

Bielefeldt assured participants in the meeting that the UN human rights mechanism will continue to raise these issues at their forums.

NCCI news release on Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India

Solidarity with Dalits for justice and dignity

WCC member churches in India

‘Malaria fight needs concerted efforts,’ says Zambia Anglican Council

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Zambia says the fight against malaria in the central African region cannot be won unless all stakeholders come together to address the disease, which remains a “major public health and development challenge on the continent.”

Speaking during a cross-border initiative roundtable discussion last week at the Zambia-Namibia border, the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC) National Programmes Director Grace Mazala Phiri said, “The elimination of malaria in Zambia and neighburing countries cannot be addressed by government alone.”

Despite improvements in malaria incidence in the past seven years, it still remains the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Zambia. The improvements have been attributed to efforts made by the Zambian government and key partners such as ZAC through a campaign called Roll-Back Malaria.

Phiri explained, “The overall achievements were made through implementing various strategies which include use of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, prevention during pregnancy and early diagnosis, case management of malaria and surveillance as stipulated in the National Malaria Strategic Plan of 2006-2010.”

The Anglican Alliance, whose mission is to build a world free of poverty and injustice, also participated in the discussions. Co-Director at the Anglican Alliance the Rev. Rachel Carnegie said, “Church leaders from around the world can learn a lot from this initiative and similar strategies can be applied in different contexts around the [Anglican] Communion.

“The church’s reach in communities is unmatched and this can be used to address various health issues. There is so much to learn in this effective partnership between governments, communities and NGOs.”

Phiri said that the programs have been a success due to the strong partnership which ZAC has made with JC Flowers Foundation, Coke Africa Foundation, Christian Aid, JCP, the Ministry of Health in Zambia and the communities in the operational sites.

“The financial and technical support from these partners has made it possible to implement activities successfully,” she said. “This success especially in the ZAC-operated sites cannot go without mention of the contributions of the community-based volunteers from which we draw our strength in implementing the activities.”

The Zambia Anglican Council which has been implementing the Cross Border Malaria Prevention Initiative since 2010 along the borders with Angola and Namibia, and the roundtable discussions provided an opportunity for sharing experiences among participants from the four participating countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.

There was a general consensus that there is need to integrate the malaria project with other health issues affecting the community such as reproductive health and HIV and AIDS. The team also agreed that the cross-border initiative should continue, even if the malaria burden is lessening, to reach the elimination stage.

Australia: Vigils held for asylum seeker who died on Manus Island

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Diocese of Melbourne] An estimated 15,000 people took part in candlelight vigils around Australia on Feb. 24 for Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati, who died as a result of violence at the Manus Island detention center on Feb. 17.

Melbourne Anglican priest the Rev. Jasmine Dow was among the 5,000 people gathered in Melbourne’s Federation Square.

She said, “The “Light the Dark” vigils were advertized only 32 hours before thousands of people gathered around Australia to mourn the death of Reza Berati on Manus Island under Australia’s watch. Not only did we mourn Reza’s death, but also Australia’s unethical and inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

“At the Federation Square vigil the mood was sombre. The presenters spoke with a clear and unified message. We stood listening, with our candles lighting the darkness, in the hope that our corporate voice would be heard; a voice that says that the actions of our government are done not in our name, a voice that says the current solution is ‘wrong’, a voice that calls for another way, a way of compassion.

“When I reflect on the vigil, I can’t help but reflect on our own faith confession: Jesus, light of the world.  This ‘light of the world’ was himself a refugee. I am challenged by the vigil and by our faith confession on what the church will do, or is doing, as the Body of Christ, to light the darkness of Australia’s refugee policy. How we will hold the leaders of our nation accountable?”

In commenting on Reza Berati’s death in a media statement on Feb. 20, Bishop Philip Huggins, chair of the Anglican Church’s Migrant and Refugee Working Group, said that the federal government’s policies on asylum seekers must be reviewed.

“A civilized government must be able to control its refugee intake without resort to measures of intentional cruelty,” he said.

“We have previously been a generous nation towards refugees. Refugees’ contributions have, thereafter, enriched our common wealth. Our own history tells us what blessings follow when the spirit and detail of the Refugee Convention is honored. Conscience cries out for a review of current implementation measures.”

TREC releases second study paper

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Task Force for Re-Imagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has released the second of its Study Papers.

Focusing on Reforms to Church Wide Governance and Administration, the Study Paper is available here.

The first Study Paper was released February 6 and is available here.

TREC members previously noted: We ask you to respond in whatever way feels comfortable and constructive for you: email a TREC member privately, email TREC through our common address (reimaginetec@gmail.com), respond publicly by posting on our website, use your name or a pseudonym, write papers we can use and incorporate, or make comments on specific points. You might like to post on the website in which you are reading this, or go to our home website.

TREC Study Papers are here.  

TREC Engagement Kit

Episcopal Church grants available for campus ministries

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Applications are now being accepted for grant proposals from dioceses, parishes or community college/college/university campuses for new as well as current campus ministries in higher education institutions in the Episcopal Church.

“We hope that, through these grants, dioceses, parishes and campus ministries can imagine new ways of ministering to those young adults who are traditionally the least likely to seek out an Episcopal campus ministry,” noted the Rev. Michael Angell, Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries. “There are also opportunities for leaders in dioceses and congregations to imagine ministry with students who have not historically been a part of our campus ministry communities because they are enrolled in a community college or are working while studying.”

There are two categories of grants:

• A series of Campus Ministries grants to provide seed money to assist in the start-up of new, innovative campus ministries or to enhance a current program; grants will range from $3000 to $5000.

• A Leadership Grant to establish a new, or restore a dormant, or reenergize a current campus ministry; the grant will range between $20,000 – $30,000 for a two year period. Leadership Grants reflecting the same amount will be considered for future academic years in this triennium.

The grants are for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Deadline for submitting grant proposals is April 11.

Guidelines, additional information and to submit a proposal(s) here.

For more information contact Angell at mangell@episcopalchurch.org.

San Joaquin embraces next chapter with ‘missional bishop’ David Rice

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bishop David Rice administers the Holy Eucharist to one of the younger members of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Photo: Richard Schori

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, more than a half-dozen other bishops and about 400 Episcopalians on Feb. 23 gave newly appointed Bishop Assistant David Rice a joyous, rousing official welcome to the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Surrounded by an overflow crowd at the festive afternoon service at St. Paul’s Church in Modesto, the presiding bishop administered the oath of conformity to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church to Rice, who most recently served as Bishop of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Rice is poised to become the next bishop provisional of the diocese; he will stand for election at an upcoming March 29 special convention to be held at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Church in Bakersfield.

Bishop David Rice and his wife Tracy are joined in front of the altar by some of the bishops from the Episcopal Church’s Province VIII dioceses. Photo: Kelvin Yee

Joined by some of the Episcopal Church’s Province VIII bishops – Marc Andrus (California); Barry Beisner (Northern California); Mary Gray-Reeves (El Camino Real); Jim Mathes (San Diego); and Edna Bavi “Nedi” Rivera (provisional, Eastern Oregon) – Jefferts Schori paid tribute to previous provisional bishop Jerry Lamb (retired, Northern California) and Chet Talton (retired suffragan, Los Angeles), who also were present at the service.

“Bishop Lamb was stalwart and creative in encouraging this diocese to discover the reality that … all the baptized are gifted for ministry, those gifts and skills differ from one person to the next, and all of them are essential to the work of the body of Christ,” she said of that chapter in the diocese’s life. “Perhaps the central watchword of this chapter was ‘grow up … into the full stature of Christ.’”

The three successive San Joaquin bishops provisional (from left) Jerry Lamb, David Rice and Chet Talton outside St. Paul’s, Modesto. Photo: Kelvin Yee

She added that Jane Onstad Lamb’s book “Hurt, Joy and the Grace of God” (Applecart Books, 2012) helped the world learn about “the hard work of truth-telling … and it’s been a gift to others in similar circumstances.”

Talton followed Lamb as bishop provisional and his tenure was about “rebuilding, reconnecting, and healing … and encouragement to be an inviting and welcoming presence in the wider community.

“Chet and [spouse] April have continually prodded, lured, and cajoled the people around here to try new things, and to reach out in ways that may seem scary or new, always for the sake of the other,” the presiding bishop said.

This next chapter with Rice “might be summarized, ‘look here and see what God is like, and if you can’t see clearly, look at what I do, and you’ll see what God is up to.’ This diocesan community is engaged in making those words and works evident – so that the world can see healing, reconciliation and good news in the flesh,” she said.

She also challenged San Joaquin Episcopalians to – in the words of former New York Bishop Paul Moore “’getup, get out and get lost!’ Get up your courage, get out there into the world, and lose yourselves in serving God’s world.”

Earlier in the day, Rice had shared a similar sentiment while preaching at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, about 40 miles north of Modesto.

Describing himself as a “missional bishop” he said: “What I will perpetually talk about and ask you about is, how are you engaging in the world beyond this lovely house of prayer?”

He challenged the congregation to think about what it means “to redefine for our lives what a neighborhood means, and the reality is that if we take the gospel seriously, if we take Christ’s life seriously, it [a neighborhood] is far more expansive and far more inclusive than perhaps we want to admit sometimes in our lives.”

Foundational themes of his ministry, grounded in the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand’s concepts of “manakitanga” (how you are received) and whakapapa (from whence you come), include extending hospitality not just to those who visit us in church, but broadening and expanding the concept of church, he said.

“From my perspective, church is everything as far as we can see,” Rice said. “It is where God is. The Gospel mandate invites us to join with God wherever God is and God is everywhere at the same time in the most ubiquitous sense.”

Which means that “we allow ourselves to see and experience the living Christ in everyone we encounter,” he added. “Think about how the world in which we live could be dramatically, profoundly different if we allow ourselves truly to see the living Christ in everyone.”

He recalled witnessing thousands of youth playing netball one Sunday morning while on his way to celebrate Eucharist at a church in the Waiapu diocese, a weekly occurrence, according to church members. Rice asked them, “What if some Sunday instead of gathering here, we gather there, and wear our T-shirts and offer bottled water to the people and we could be there and let them know who we are and we could expand our neighborhood.”

Several people were uncomfortable with the idea, he said, saying they preferred to be in the church building on Sunday morning. Others asked if offering water to the netball players would draw more people to church.

“That’s called ecclesio-centric, when everything is focused on this place, just on what happens here [inside the church building],” Rice said. “I’m saying expand your horizon that the church is this and more.

“If we truly believe the life of Christ and the message of our Lord and the ways in which he models living out there, then sometimes we might be slightly uncomfortable. Sometimes we might have to change. Sometimes the pattern of our lives might be altered.

“If we do what Christ did. If we do what he invited us to do, you know what happens? We build relationships, we respond to needs, we go the extra mile … and those to whom we respond want to be a part of community and sometimes – not always – they do come.”

But “this is not evangelism,” he added. “This is something different. This is mission. This is being missional.”

On a personal note, Rice evoked laughter and applause when he told parishioners he’d attended a pub night fundraiser at St. Anne’s Church in Stockton the previous evening and that his former diocese shared a tradition with the Central California Valley diocese – both are located in areas of major wine production.

Born and raised in North Carolina, he said that both his parents have Cherokee ancestry and believes he may hold the record for most ordinations – five, including ordinations as deacon and minister in the United Methodist Church and later as deacon and priest and then as bishop in the Anglican church.

He was also a youth minister and added that he is “extremely keen to be involved in the lives of youth here any way I can.”

Patsy Lithco, 67, a St. John’s parishioner said she “fell in love with” Rice immediately. “I really liked his message about what we need to do outside these walls. He knocked my socks off. He is absolutely a keeper.”

Rice inspired hope for Jim Reeve, a St. John’s member for nine years. “He was very hopefully prophetic. That was probably one of the best messages I’ve ever heard, especially the part about getting outside the church. He made a passionate plea for us to do what the Lord has requested us to do.”

The Rev. Elaine Breckenridge, St. John’s priest-in-charge, agreed that Rice inspired hope. “I’m thrilled. It was such an inspiring sermon. He’s charismatic and a deep thinker at the same time. He will bring a level of hope to the diocese.”

After quite a long talk with Rice, William Bunn, 9, pronounced him “nice. He’s a really good friend. He called my vest a waistcoat and said it was dapper.”

Bishop Provisional Chet Talton appointed Rice an assistant bishop. Rice will begin making pastoral visitations in that capacity. If elected March 29, he will be immediately seated as bishop provisional of the diocese, making him the first active bishop to serve in that capacity since theological differences split the diocese in 2007.

–The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

Two bombs detonated outside Zanzibar’s Anglican cathedral

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar press release] During the mid-afternoon of Monday, Feb. 24, two small explosive devices detonated sequentially near the main entrance to Christ Church Cathedral and the Former Slave Market in Mkunazini. The Cathedral is a First Class World Heritage Monument and the Former Slave Market an International Site of Conscience. The entire site is presently undergoing significant renovation through a generous grant from the European Union.

The Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar, owner of the site, said it “is grateful to Almighty God that no persons were injured.” There was slight damage to a nearby car and no damage to the structures or facilities whatsoever.

Working in cooperation with local authorities, security measures at the site are being enhanced to ensure the safety of all visitors and staff. The government has increased local security patrols and is thoroughly investigating the incident. The Anglican diocese said it is “thankful for this immediate response and ongoing assistance.”

“The Anglican diocese is undeterred in its mission of promoting peaceful conditions on Zanzibar and the good of all Zanzibaris. This includes an ongoing commitment to securing quality health care, education and job opportunities for all people.

“We call on all people of good will to join with us in prayer for the peace of Zanzibar and the region and committed action towards achieving a safe environment and the prosperity all Zanzibaris.”

Hydroelectric projects to blame for Brazil flooding, primate says

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Episcopal Church of Brazil has blamed hydroelectric projects for major flooding that has left people isolated without access to food, water or medical supplies.

The Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva, also bishop of Santa Maria diocese, wrote to supporters asking for international prayer and local help for those affected by flooding in Rondônia.

“The river Madeira rose up to 17 meters above normal,” he said. “This flood has been tagged as the [worst] flood in the last 70 years…Our Anglican community in Porto Velho (capital city) share with us information that families are isolated with no food or supplies and no possibility to be attended by doctors. There are no more routes. The water took over.”

The primate blamed the flooding, which has been declared a national emergency, on hydroelectric projects that affect the flow of the rivers.

He added that such disasters can be prevented.

Read the full letter below translated from the original Portuguese:

“Sisters and Brothers,

We share our deep concern about the serious situation of the people in Rondônia following the floods last week. The river Madeira rose up to 17m above normal.

This flood has been tagged as the biggest flood in the last 70 years. It has caused lots of damage and loss for the people. Many had nowhere else to go and the economy in the region has been severely affected.

Our Anglican community in Porto Velho (capital city) have shared with us that families are isolated with no food or supplies and no possibility to be attended by doctors. There are no more routes. The water has taken over. The families and their children are isolated because of it. Hunting and fishing are compromised. Our Anglican Mission Moriá, with 36 families, live along the bank of the Rivers Garça and Candeias and they are dangerously affected too.

I call all our Church to pray for the region and the people in that situation and, where it is possible to collect food supplies, clothes and medicines, to help the families [with these]. I make an appeal also to our international partners to support these initiatives of emergency aid via our Provincial Office and by being in contact with our local leaders in Porto Velho (Capital City of Rondonia), where we are present in two communities.

Unfortunately [such disasters] are becoming usual each day in our country. The big hydroelectrics projects are responsible for deeply damaging our rivers, causing changes to their natural pluvial flux. And we all know this is absolutely possible to prevent. Our prayers go out to our sisters and brothers in this part of the missionary district.

As the one responsible for taking care of this flock, I offer my full solidarity to the riverside people and the solidarity of all our Church!

In the love of Christ
++ Francisco de Assis da Silva
Primaz do Brasil e diocesano em Santa Maria”

Integrity condemns new anti-LGBT law in Uganda

Monday, February 24, 2014

[Integrity press release] Integrity is shocked and saddened by the news that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has signed into law the draconian anti-homosexuality law that introduces long prison sentences for gays and lesbians and makes it a crime to fail to report someone you believe to be gay.

This will increase anti-gay hatred and set in place a renewed witch-hunt in which many people will be hurt. We call upon the Church of Uganda to take seriously its commitment to Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in which Anglican Communion bishops committed themselves “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and… to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

Such a commitment in a time like this will surely include providing places of sanctuary for those whose lives are threatened. Our hearts go out to our LGBTQ sisters and brothers who this morning are living in fear of betrayal by friends, family and neighbors and of long-term imprisonment. It is unfortunate that Uganda should choose this way, according to a government spokesperson, “to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation.”

Uganda’s symbolic independence is being won on the backs of one class of citizens and this will provoke fear and confusion among the very people Museveni is elected to serve. Integrity hopes that President Obama will follow up on his comment that this could complicate US relations with Uganda and will seriously consider the reduction of US aid until Uganda can show a better record of human rights.

Two candidates added to Massachusetts bishop slate

Monday, February 24, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts announced today two additional candidates for election as bishop, having verified proper petitions and satisfactory background checks for both.  They are:

• The Rev. Timothy E. Crellin, vicar, St. Stephen’s Church, Boston; and
• The Rev. Canon Margaret (Mally) Ewing Lloyd, canon to the ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Crellin and Lloyd join the slate of nominees announced by the Standing Committee on Jan. 15:

•  The Rev. Holly Antolini, rector, St. James’s Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts;
•  The Rev. Ronald Culmer, rector, St. Clare’s Church, Pleasanton, California;
•  The Rev. Alan Gates, rector, St. Paul’s Church, Cleveland, Ohio;
•  The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, rector, St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia; and
•  The Rev. Sam Rodman, project manager for campaign initiatives, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

More information about each of the candidates is available at the site independently maintained by the Transition Committee at www.mabishopsearch.org.

The additional candidates successfully submitted required signed petitions and application materials during a two-week petition period after announcement of the original slate. Both have cleared background checks.

All seven candidates will participate in a series of open meetings around the diocese March 14-18, giving the people of the diocese an opportunity to meet and learn more about them.

The election will take place on Saturday, April 5 at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston.  All canonically resident clergy of the diocese and lay delegates (two elected from each of the diocese’s parishes and missions) vote separately as “orders”; a majority of votes on the same ballot from both the clergy and lay orders is required for election.  (April 12 has been set as the date for reconvening, should the electing convention not complete its business on April 5.)

Pending consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of dioceses (via their Standing Committees), the consecration of the bishop-elect is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding.

The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, became the 15th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts in January 1995. In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the new bishop’s consecration.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, comprises 183 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

Presiding Bishop’s sermon at installation of Bishop David Rice

Monday, February 24, 2014

Installation of David Rice as Bishop Assistant
23 February 2014
St. Paul’s, Modesto, CA

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

We’re here today to celebrate the next chapter in a very long story.  The history of this diocese has roots in the first worship by Anglicans, led by Sir Francis Drake’s chaplain north of San Francisco in 1579.  A group of Native Americans stood by and watched.  It took 270 years before there was a settled congregation – which continues today as Trinity-St. Peter’s, San Francisco.[1]  The first missionary bishop of California, William Ingraham Kip, was elected back east in 1853, and shipwrecked en route off San Diego in January 1854.[2]  He held his first service there – in the courthouse.  Never let it be said that the current era is the first to see Episcopalians in court!

Kip was offered hospitality by a wealthy rancher and community leader, Don Juan Bandini.  This eminent resident was dealing with the continuing depredations of American citizens, who were stealing his livestock and plundering his ranch’s outposts.  The desperadoes were white supremacists, led by one William Walker, who thought his manifest destiny was to establish English-speaking colonies in Latin America that could be added as American slave states.[3]  He started in 1853 by capturing La Paz, Baja California.  By the time Kip arrived in San Diego, the Mexican government had forced him out.  Charged with violating the sovereignty of a foreign nation, he was acquitted by an American jury in 8 minutes.  The relationship between the United States of Mexico and the United States of America is still a hot-button issue, in spite of our deep and abiding interdependence.

Kip also found an army chaplain present, John Reynolds, who in 1853 was holding services at St. John’s, Stockton, attending the convention of Episcopalians in San Francisco, and working to develop a church in the San Diego area.  Kip reports the continued lament over low attendance at services and the other attractive, alternative activities available to the population on Sundays – shopping and bars in particular.  Reynolds was also engaged in a war of words in the local newspaper – his day’s equivalent of flaming blog posts.  And we think our age is unique!

Fast forward 155 years.  Exactly six years ago today, Canon Bob Moore and Canon Brian Cox were here in the Diocese of San Joaquin as interim pastors listening to people in deep pain and confusion.  The two canons met with many groups, found widespread mistrust of The Episcopal Church and urgent need for reconciliation, and counseled training and support for that ministry of healing.  Throughout their skilled work here during the interim between December 2007, when leaders voted to leave The Episcopal Churc, and the election and installation of Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop in March 2008, they helped people begin to name their reality and begin to break down the fortifications that had kept individuals and groups from learning what they shared as the body of Christ in this place.  They were led by what Joshua directed his hearers to do:  observe the law of Moses – i.e., love God with all you are and have and love your neighbor as yourself.  The two canons were especially scrupulous about “not turning to right or left” for that kind of taking sides was a good part of what led to the split.  ‘Keep this law in the forefront of your consciousness, particularly as you speak,’ says the prophet, and finally, “be strong and courageous, for God is with you, wherever you go.”  That has been the prime directive around here ever since:  be strong and courageous and love your neighbors.  Be strong and courageous enough to enter into real dialogue with people who hold a different opinion.  You will discover the image of God in them, and you can expect to grow in grace, even if it is very hard work!

Bishop Lamb was stalwart and creative in encouraging this diocese to discover the reality that Paul talks about – all the baptized are gifted for ministry, those gifts and skills differ from one person to the next, and all of them are essential to the work of the body of Christ.  Perhaps the central watchword of this chapter was “grow up… into the full stature of Christ.”  Don’t be misled by despots or tricksters who promise to keep you comfortably in thrall – grow up.  It’s not easy, but it is the way to abundant life.  Speak the truth in love, discover your part in the work of the body, meet the others and figure out how to coordinate this multi-limbed body for the work before us.  Jane Onstad Lamb helped the world learn about the recent history of this community, and the hard work of truth-telling, in the book she edited, and it’s been a gift to others in similar circumstances.[4]

Perhaps the iconic marker of this chapter of the diocese’s history was a report published in 2009 by a Commission on Equality, that challenged the entire diocese to consider the gifts and needs of all, with particular regard to women, the LGBT community, different ethnic and language groups, the disabled and hard of hearing, children and elders, the poor and people of varying educational levels, and anyone who’s been pushed to the margins.  It’s offered a deeply gospel-based response to a history of prejudice and exclusion that reflects Paul’s charge to the Christians in Ephesus to ‘take your part in the body of Christ, which should function as one body, continuing to grow in love.’

The next chapter of ministry here included the installation of Bishop Talton as provisional bishop in March 2011.  Rebuilding, reconnecting, and healing have continued under his leadership, with a new deanery structure and encouragement to be an inviting and welcoming presence in the wider community.  That’s variously looked like blessing animals in a shelter in Atwater, raising funds and friends for Haiti, connecting with the School for Deacons in Berkeley, planting community gardens, and starting campus ministry.

This chapter has been characterized by connecting and kenosis.  Connecting begins with a Trinitarian understanding of God – for being made in the image of God means we are relational beings.  Kenosis is a Greek word that means emptiness, and it’s often used to talk about what God does in taking on human flesh, and the kind of self-emptying ministry Jesus exemplifies.  It’s about humility, and getting out of the way so that others can use their gifts for ministry, and it flows out of an understanding that we all depend on the Body to which we are connected.  Chet and April have continually prodded, lured, and cajoled the people around here to try new things, and to reach out in ways that may seem scary or new, always for the sake of the other.

This chapter of ministry has continued to build on recent ones – finding strength and courage to discover those marginalized or forgotten others around us, and looking inward to discover the gifts God has given each one of us – for the sake of reconciling and healing the world.  Chet and April have modeled that kenotic work in inviting others into leadership and reminding us all that leadership is for a time and includes planning for the next chapter.

We look toward that next chapter today.  Jesus’ words in the gospel about his relationship with God might be summarized, ‘look here and see what God is like, and if you can’t see clearly, look at what I do, and you’ll see what God is up to.’  This diocesan community is engaged in making those words and works evident – so that the world can see healing, reconciliation, and good news in the flesh.

You’re discovering those strengthened connections made evident in the sacrificial generosity of the bishops of Province VIII, funds given to aid this next chapter of your ministry.  It may seem only like a remarkably gracious gift – and indeed it is – but it will challenge you to reflect that sacrificial generosity in your lives and the lives you touch here and around the world.  How will you put that into flesh?  How will you pour yourselves out in love for the broken world around you?  You are calling a new bishop into this community to keep challenging and encouraging you to do just that.

The challenges that faced the first Anglicans and Episcopalians in California are still with us, beginning with the long gaps in physical presence and ministry – don’t wait 270 years for the next chapter.  Use the courts to spread good news.  Share community with earlier inhabitants of this land – the first peoples, both Native and Latino.  Discover the gifts, stories, and insights of new and ancient inhabitants and let them teach you.  Recognize that the popular press and the blogosphere are not your ultimate judges – be courageous and faithful, and keep growing up into the full stature of the Christ who poured out his life for the world.

There is good evidence that one of Kip’s spiritual descendants[5] used to send people on their way at the end of a service with these words:  get up, get out, and get lost!  Get up your courage, get out there into the world, and lose yourselves in serving God’s world.

[1] Founded in 1849 as Trinity Church.

[2] http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/57january/bishop.htm

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walker_(filibuster) He went on to invade Nicaragua in 1855, be recognized as its legitimate government by the US, reinstitute slavery, until a Latin American coalition force routed him.  The US Navy took him home under guard.  He tried another coup in Honduras, which failed.  Honduran authorities executed him in 1860.  American adventurism is not new either.

[4] Hurt, Joy, and the Grace of God.  2012, Applecart Books

[5] Bishop Paul Moore of New York

San Bernabé ‘mantiene viva la esperanza’ en Pasadena

Monday, February 24, 2014

En conjunción con el Mes de la Historia Negra, Episcopal News Service publicará artículos de fondo, durante el mes de febrero, sobre varias congregaciones episcopales afroamericanas.

Materiales informativos sobre el Mes de la Historia Negra se encuentran disponibles aquí.

Michael Mims, profesor jubilado de Pasadena City College, que tomó en préstamo materiales del archivo de su familia para crear la retrospectiva. Foto de Keith Yamamoto.

[Episcopal News Service] Ishmael Bracy había venido a experimentar el 32º. Desfile y Festival de la Historia Negra en Pasadena, California, el 15 de febrero.

A lo largo de la ruta del desfile, el joven de 24 años, que reside en Pasadena, se sintió atraído por una retrospectiva fotográfica de ocho paneles que abarca nueve décadas de la vida de la iglesia episcopal de San Bernabé [St. Barnabas Episcopal Church] que se exhibía en el jardín frontal de la histórica congregación negra.

“Me siento honrado de tener acceso al legado de sus contribuciones a la comunidad, tanto espiritual como de cualquier otra índole”, dijo Bracy, refiriéndose a la exposición. “Me gustaría ver a más personas de mi edad aquí,  asumiendo la historia que ha mantenido viva la esperanza durante tanto tiempo, y abrazando la iglesia y la comunidad”.

(San Bernabé es la segunda iglesia que se reseña en febrero en una serie de Episcopal News Service sobre el Mes de la Historia Negra que se centra en congregaciones históricamente afroamericanas. Estas congregaciones fueron fundadas por afroamericanos que no eran bien recibidos en las iglesias episcopales tradicionales en la época que siguió a la esclavitud y durante la segregación racial en Estados Unidos).

Mientras espectadores y partidarios se mezclaban con los vendedores, de helados, de camisetas, de banderas panafricanas —negras, rojas y verdes— y de globos, Michael Mims, de 75 años, profesor jubilado de fotografía de Pasadena City College y miembro de San Bernabé, estaba ofreciendo bienes y servicios de otra clase.

“Estoy aquí para responder preguntas, para invitar a la gente a que venga y eche un vistazo, para darles información”, dijo Mims, que calcula que él ha asistido a la iglesia desde que tenía tres años.

El panel que lleva el título de “Primeros Años” incluía fotos de su tía, Rosebud Mims, que junto con otras siete mujer afroamericanas fundaron la iglesia en 1923. Nueve años más tarde, fue oficialmente reconocida como una misión en la Diócesis of Los Ángeles.

La Rda. Mayra Macedo-Nolan de la iglesia de Lake Avenue mira la retrospectiva de San Bernabé. Foto de Keith Yamamoto.

Para la Rda. Mayra Macedo-Nolan y su hija Zion, de dos años, las fotos resultaron cautivadoras.

“He aprendido un poquito sobre la historia de San Bernabé y quiero saber más”, dijo Macedo-Nolan, pastora de la cercana iglesia de Lake Avenue en Pasadena.

“Vamos a hacer un vía crucis comunitario durante la Cuaresma, y queremos incluir a San Bernabé como la estación [de la Cruz] en que niegan a Cristo”, dijo. “Escogimos hacer eso aquí por la manera en que empezó San Bernabé —el modo en que se hicieron las cosas en el pasado fue la negación de Cristo— y también prestar atención a las formas en que aún lo hacemos hoy”.

Historia de la iglesia e historia de familia
Mims dijo que acudió a los archivos de su familia para crear la exposición fotográfica de la historia de la iglesia.

“Tengo fotos de mi tía abuela, que fue responsable de traerme a San Bernabé en 1941”, contó Mims. Se llamaba Laura Kennedy y llegó a Pasadena en los años treinta proveniente de Greenville, Carolina del Sur, para ayudar a la madre de Mims a criar a seis hijos.

Las fotografías cuentan la historia: de las primeras reuniones, en el hogar de Georgia Weatherton, en las inmediaciones de la calle Del Mar, donde unos 30 feligreses asistían los domingos por la mañana; de la dedicación del santuario en 1933; de un oficio de confirmación en 1947; del inicio de la construcción y la dedicación en 1972 del nuevo salón parroquial concebido como un centro comunitario; y de las veintenas de reuniones, recaudaciones de fondos, comidas y celebraciones.

De izquierda a derecha, los Rdos. Jesse Moses (tercer rector), Alfred Norman (segundo y cuarto rector), Alfred Wilkins (primer rector), e Ivor Ottley (quinto rector), quien elevó la iglesia a la categoría de parroquia. Foto de los archivos de San Bernabé.

También se incluía una instantánea de la iglesia en relación con la historia del país, la del primer vicario, Rdo. Alfred Wilkins (1933-1943), quien se hizo eco “del llamado de su país, incorporándose al Ejército como capellán”, según consta en testimonio escrito.

Lo siguieron [al frente de la congregación], el Rdo. Alfred Norman (1943-1946, 1951-1970), el Rdo. Jesse Moses (1946-1951) y el Rev. Ivor Ottley (1977-1990).

Ottley retó a la congregación “a encontrar su verdadera vocación como episcopales negros” y a comprometerse con una ética de mayordomía, autenticidad, educación, liderazgo, hermandad ecuménica, justicia social y servicio comunitario, “llegando a la comunidad más allá de los muros de la iglesia”, según contó Mims.

Los frutos de esos empeños son visibles en la actualidad, cuando los miembros se reunieron frente a la iglesia el 15 de febrero para aplaudir y vitorear a los que desfilaban, más de una docena de bandas de música escolares de la localidad, bailarines y tamborileros africanos, las fraternidades masculinas Omega Psi Phi y Kappa Alpha Psi y las femeninas Delta Sigma Theta Alpha Kappa Alpha; así como a jinetes y a organizaciones de servicio.

[Los miembros de la congregación] recibieron elogios y vítores de su propia gente que participaba en el desfile, como John Kennedy, concejal del municipio de Pasadena.

“Sí, San Bernabé está presente”, gritó Kennedy, al tiempo de saludar a los feligreses al pasar frente a la iglesia, casi al final del recorrido del desfile. “Gracias por estar aquí, San Bernabé”.

‘Acoger a la comunidad’
Al menos una parte de esa vocación ha sido la tradición de tomar parte en la vida de la comunidad, según el Rdo. John Goldingay, profesor de Antiguo Testamento en el Seminario Teológico Fuller, que ahora sirve allí como sacerdote encargado.

“Somos sólo una congregación pequeñita”, pero él y cerca de una docena de otros miembros de la iglesia suelen regularmente cocinar, servir y comer con miembros de la comunidad que no tienen hogar en el albergue de la Union Station de Pasadena, explicó.

Entre todos, sirven a unos 50 adultos sin hogar todos los viernes y es una oportunidad de enriquecer la vida de otros así como la de la congregación, dijo.

“Es una especie de lugar de transición para personas que están en camino de lograr volver al trabajo”, según Goldingay, que fue sacerdote de la Iglesia de Inglaterra durante 30 años. Él se mudó a Pasadena para enseñar y visitó con su esposa la vecina iglesia de San Bernabé, “sin saber que íbamos a ser los únicos blancos allí”, contó él.

“Pero recibimos una fantástica acogida, lo bastante para quedarnos… Al parecer me aceptan como ser humano, como sacerdote y como cristiano”.

Absoluta hospitalidad y sentido de pertenencia
Ese tipo de absoluta hospitalidad ha sido la manera que la iglesia ha encontrado de sortear los retos contemporáneos de cambios demográficos, envejecimiento poblacional y disminución de la feligresía y los recursos.

Con una asistencia dominical promedio de alrededor de 50 personas entre dos oficios, la congregación está sopesando “cómo podemos revertir esa tendencia”, dijo Goldingay.

A lo largo de los años, la tradicional población afroamericana de la congregación se ha ido ampliando cada vez más para incluir a miembros de todo el ámbito de la diáspora, entre ellos caribeños y centroamericanos, y también blancos como Goldingay.

Mark Bradshaw, de 32 años, seminarista que presta servicios en San Bernabé, está de acuerdo. “No soy negro”, dijo en una entrevista telefónica con ENS, pero agregó que él y su esposa Katie fueron acogidos con tanta calidez cuando visitaron la iglesia “que nos hicimos episcopales. Fuimos confirmados en San Bernabé y ésta ha sido todo lo que mi esposa y yo esperábamos y rogábamos encontrar en una congregación”.

Él y la congregación han emprendido varios proyectos, añadió. “Estoy en el proceso de reunirme con personas, de actualizar la página web, de dedicar tiempo durante la semana al parque Jackie Robinson que se encuentra enfrente”, apuntó.

“Y me he estado reuniendo con las personas de la congregación y hemos estado pensando en comenzar un nuevo oficio o en alterar uno de nuestros oficios que sería muy fiel a lo que somos y muy litúrgico, pero que podría también ser un oficio que respondiera mejor a las necesidades de personas más jóvenes”.

Él espera que otros recién llegados puedan experimentar la misma sensación de pertenencia que él ha encontrado. “Nunca he formado parte de un grupo de personas tan acogedoras”, afirmó.

“Hace dos años, el Padre John le pidió a la congregación que compartiera algunas de sus historias sobre el movimiento de los derechos civiles, y resultó increíble”, recordaba él. “Casi todo el mundo había marchado con el Dr. [Martin Luther] King o lo había conocido. La congregación se enorgullece mucho de su historia”.

Lo cual hizo que predicar acerca de la vida del Rdo. Martin Luther King Jr. resultara un poquito apabullante, pero era una oportunidad “de dialogar sobre cuánto hemos avanzado y de la obra del Dr. King y agradecerle a la congregación por la manera en que nos ha acogido”, dijo él.

“Es sorprendente”, añadió. “que esta congregación que comenzó porque [sus miembros] no eran bien recibidos, haya llegado a ser tan acogedora. Nunca antes había presenciado el tipo de amabilidad con que reciben a los nuevos que llegan. Es un don extraordinario”.

Miembros de San Bernabé se reúnen en frente de la iglesia para saludar a los que desfilan. Foto de Keith Yamamoto.

Mirar hacia delante a la nueva generación
Showna Edwards, de 31 años, sentada en una silla plegable frente a la iglesia, estaba atenta al desfile, y esperaba pacientemente ver cuando pasaban los miembros de la iglesia —entre ellos varios jóvenes, junto con Bradshaw, que llevaba la pancarta de San Bernabé.

“Es una sensación emocionante saber que la iglesia está participando del desfile, dar a conocer a nuestra iglesia en esta pequeña parte de Pasadena”, dijo Edwards, mientras mecía al pequeño August Bradshaw, de un año de edad, sobre sus rodillas.

“Somos una familia religiosa muy unida. Yo crecí aquí”, añadió Edwards, que ve señales de recuperación en la iglesia. Ahora, su hijo Kaden, de tres años, participa de los programas dominicales.

“Hemos vuelto a tener escuela dominical. Los jóvenes están aquí. La iglesia está creciendo. Es muy bonito ver eso, porque es un buen apoyo crecer con amigos en el ambiente familiar de una iglesia”.

Gail McKinnon (extrema izquierda) con Gloria Huffman (a su lado) miembros de San Bernabé que trajeron al desfile y a la iglesia a sus hermanas del capítulo Rosas Nubias del Nilo de la Sociedad del Sombrero Rojo. Foto de Keith Yamamoto.

Gail McKinnon y Gloria Huffman, que han sido miembros de la iglesia durante mucho tiempo, trajeron consigo a algunas de sus hermanas del capítulo de las Rosas Nubias del Nilo de la Sociedad del Sombrero Rojo: una sociedad internacional de mujeres que usan sombreros rojos y vestidos color púrpura y que se dedican a rehacer la manera en que las mujeres son vistas en la sociedad.

“San Bernabé es una familia”, convino McKinnon. “He estado aquí desde 1995. Me había alejado de la iglesia durante muchos años y me acogieron de regreso con tanta cordialidad que se convirtió en mi hogar. Nos amamos los unos a los otros. Hacemos muchísimas comidas. Me incorporé y nunca miré hacia atrás”.

La iglesia —localizada frente al parque que lleva el nombre del gran jugador de béisbol Jackie Robinson, hijo nativo del lugar, donde la multitud ya había comenzado a agolparse para comer, divertirse y disfrutar del festival— también celebraba una fiesta de puertas abiertas para la comunidad.

Para John y Tina (residentes de Pasadena que pidieron mantener sus apellidos en el anonimato), la jornada fue una oportunidad de hacer conexiones históricas y futuras para sus mellizos de cinco años Phoebe y Perry.

Karla Enrequez y su hijo Matthew llevan la pancarta de San Bernabé en la 32º. Desfile de la Historia Negra en Pasadena. Foto de Keith Yamamoto.

Ellos visitaron la retrospectiva fotográfica de Mims y luego observaron la participación de la iglesia en el desfile cuando Karla Enrequez y su hijo Matthew, junto con Mark Bradshaw, llevando la pancarta de San Bernabé, saludaban a la multitud.

“Esto es tan informativo”, dijo Tina, cantante profesional, mientras irrumpían los vítores y los aplausos en San Bernabé.

“Esto es toda una perspectiva histórica del pasado afroamericano en Pasadena… Esta es una comunidad pujante”, añadió Tina, quien prometió que regresará para visitar la iglesia.

Goldingay se mostró de acuerdo, haciendo notar un creciente interés entre muchos de los que estaban viendo el desfile que visitaron la iglesia. “El año próximo, queremos ver cómo podemos desarrollar lo que hemos hecho este año”, dijo.

En cuanto a Michael Mims, dedicó gran parte del día en contar historias de su familia y de la iglesia, relatos de su tía y de otros muchos que levantaron el estandarte para mantener la fe y la esperanza vivas en Pasadena y por transmitirle la tradición a las generaciones futuras.

“Ha sido un buen cimiento”, comentó refiriéndose a la iglesia. “Desde un punto de vista espiritual, comunitario y familiar, ha sido una gran parte de mi vida. No sé lo que habría sido de mí sin San Bernabé. He tenido muchísimos mentores”.

–LA Rda. Pat McCaughan es una corresponsal de Episcopal News Service radicada en Los Ángeles. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Episcopal networks issue joint statement on need for a living wage

Monday, February 24, 2014

[Episcopal Network Collaborative press release] The social justice networks of the Episcopal Church were given life in the movement for civil rights, but it has always understood that civil rights without access to economic prosperity was at best a protest movement without a vision in reality. We understood that a free and democratic society included the opportunity to better ones human status through meaningful employment, which would then open the door to a better quality of life and hope for the future. The dream of home ownership, a steady and hopefully growing income, the ability to secure a quality and empowering education for self and ones children and the possibility of passing on to the next generation are all what is necessary for full participation in a democracy such as ours and part of the real dream that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of more that fifty years ago.

The reality is, however, that in 2014, we are living in an America that is increasingly becoming a nation that is divided into the haves and the have-nots. The trickle-down theory and the “rising tide lifting all boats” has not become a reality for the increasing numbers of working poor in this country. Income inequality in the United States is amongst the highest in the world. President Barack Obama referred to the widening income gap as the “defining challenge of our times”. Pope Francis called on world leaders to address the problems of the poor by “attacking the structural causes of inequality.”  Many statements of the Episcopal Church General Convention have called on our legislators to address issues of poverty, unemployment and the rights of workers.

Nothing points out the income gap in this country more dramatically than the issue of providing a living wage to those who work, but cannot begin to move out of poverty. Being locked in a cycle of poverty increases job stagnation, increasing class division and social disorder. Further, globalization has resulted in an economy where disadvantaged groups engage in a race to the bottom as they compete for declining wages and benefits. Working full-time but not earning enough to move out of poverty, limits the access to those things which can improve life overall, such as health care, housing in safe neighborhoods, the ability to buy fresh and nutritious foods, the opportunity to attend an educational system that will provide the tools and resources to enter higher education and employment training programs, both of which are absolutely necessary in this present society that is no longer driven by manufacturing. The Episcopal Networks Collaborative is particularly concerned about income inequality and the raising of a living wage, because most of those impacted, those stuck in poverty although working, are people of color at least in central city areas. Poverty is directly related to the high dropout rates of youth of color and other marginalized groups, the rise in the percentages of youth impacted by hypertension, obesity and diabetes and the increase in violence and incarceration rates because of a lack of hope and any sense that life might change for the better. Child abuse rises with income inequality according to a recent study published in the journal, “Pediatrics,” March 2014. Increasingly we are witnessing class divisions within communities of color around education and income, which further isolates those who would rely on examples of success and possibilities to motivate and to give hope.   The lack of good-paying jobs with benefits is not just a problem of the inner city.  They impact the rural and urban poor everywhere including whole regions such as the Mississippi Delta, coastal Carolina and Appalachia.  Immigrant workers are often among those who suffer the worst working conditions and lowest wages.

Those at the bottom economically are often the first to be impacted by disasters related to industrial pollution, destruction of the environment and the effects of climate change.

We believe that a practical step to meeting the crisis of income inequality in this country is to enact legislation to require a living wage for full time workers. Lifting adults out of poverty also will move thousands of children out of poverty thus impacting future generations. The plight of part time workers also needs the attention of our legislators.  Part time jobs were once the province of students and others who did not seek full time work.  Now many companies hire heads of households for part time, low wage jobs with no benefits.  This should be a big concern for policy makers and regulators.  We know that the work of those who are now making a minimum wage is very much a part of the ongoingness of our society. It is work that needs to be done and enhances the quality of life of us all. In Sirach 38:34 it is stated, “the work they do holds this world together. When they do their work, it I the same as offering prayer.” We in the Episcopal Networks Collaborative believe and pray that it is just and right that all be given the opportunities of a life that can only begin when people are able to move out of poverty. That is why we join with others across this nation who believe that empowering people through economic equality and seeking  legislation that would guarantee a living wage is the next step in the struggle for justice and freedom.

Annette Buchanan

Dianne Aid

The Rev. Frank Edmands

Union of Black Episcopalians

Episcopal Network for Economic Justice

Episcopal Ecological Network

Rapidísimas

Monday, February 24, 2014

Los sucesos de Venezuela siguen ocupando  la primera plana de la prensa internacional. Desde hace un poco más de dos semanas grupos estudiantiles han salido a las calles para protestar por la situación de inseguridad y la política económica del país más rico de América Latina. A los primeros manifestantes se les fueron añadiendo más y más estudiantes hasta llenar el centro de Caracas. Los estudiantes también han protestado por el estilo autoritario del gobernante Nicolás Maduro puesto en la primera magistratura de la nación como última voluntad del difundo presidente Hugo Chávez, además de la masiva presencia militar cubana. Las manifestaciones han sido por lo general pacíficas aunque para el fin de la jornada seis personas han perdido sus vidas (incluyendo dos bellas reina de belleza) y cientos de ciudadanos han sido heridos. A pesar de las amenazas y los peligros inherentes a las manifestaciones, los estudiantes se han seguido reuniendo y proclamando sus aspiraciones y derechos. El sábado 22 de febrero habrá una masiva manifestación.

El régimen ha respondido estableciendo el cierre de emisoras y canales de televisión lo que ha enfurecido aún más a  la ciudadanía que hasta hace una semana se mantenía en sus casas. Según observadores políticos Nicolás Maduro no ha sabido controlar la situación y en sus discursos en cadena nacional ha tildado a sus opositores como fascistas y epítetos similares. “Ha sido muy poco conciliador”, dice un corresponsal extranjero. Juan Manuel Santos, presidente de Colombia, le aconsejó a que buscara la reconciliación mediante el diálogo a lo que éste contestó: “A mí no se me pueden dar clases de democracia”. Muchos creen que Maduro no podrá continuar en el poder por más tiempo. El liderato de la oposición también ha sufrido conflictos internos. Así Enrique Capriles ha tenido que ceder su liderato a Leopoldo López, un líder político de 42 años graduado de la Universidad de Harvard, casado y padre de dos niños, que ha demostrado valor y firmeza para hacerle frente a la situación. López está preso en una cárcel militar después de entregarse a las fuerzas policíacas en un gesto patriótico.

 

Mientras el mundo opina y se manifiesta sobre los hechos de  violencia en Venezuela, los famosos reaccionan y participan en paradas cívicas, se sacan fotos con carteles pidiendo la paz, se expresan por las redes sociales, salen en shows de televisión, de radio, la prensa escrita y digital (cerrada posteriormente). Por primera vez en la historia los famosos se comprometen políticamente de esta manera y  con una única consigna piden: paz para Venezuela. Sin embargo, Gustavo Dudamel, el célebre director de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Los Ángeles, ha sido criticado por no pronunciarse en este conflicto a favor de su patria natal Venezuela.

 

Al cierre de esta edición de Rapidísimas el panorama nacional luce confuso y complicado al tiempo que la ciudadanía guarda una “tensa calma meditando y orando” porque vuelva la tranquilidad y no sucedan más hechos de sangre. “Es triste y desalentador” que sólo cuatro países latinoamericanos han brindado su ayuda a la patria de Bolívar. Estados Unidos se ha limitado a sugerir que las diferencias se resuelvan en la mesa de negociaciones diciendo además que “los problemas de Venezuela tienen que ser resueltos por los venezolanos”. La comunidad religiosa oficial se ha mantenido al margen de la situación y si ha hecho alguna declaración, ésta no ha sido recogida por los medios de prensa internacionales.

Venezuela no es el único país que está experimentando violencia. Las agencias internacionales informan que Nigeria está afrontando una seria lucha armada entre musulmanes y  cristianos que ha producido por lo menos 95 muertos. Al tiempo que ocurrían estos sucesos se supo que dos ancianos sacerdotes salesianos fueron muertos a puñaladas en el Colegio Don Bosco de Valencia, posiblemente con la intención de robarles. “Oremos por la paz y el restablecimiento del estado de derecho en el país”, exhortó el sacerdote David Marín, de 64 años, que sólo fue herido en el asalto. Como resultados de larga lucha del pueblo de Ucrania, se logró firmar un acuerdo de paz en Kiev el 20 de febrero.

Una jueza federal de Virginia ha dictaminado que ese estado no tiene la facultad de prohibir las bodas gay entre personas del mismo sexo. Por otra parte el estado deberá reconocer los matrimonios gay celebrados en otros estados. Líderes gay celebraron que “por fin en este estado tenemos los mismos derechos que el resto de la población”.

VERDAD. La sangre de los buenos no se derrama en vano. José Martí, patriota cubano (1853-1895)

‘What were you thinking?’ A letter from the bishop of Atlanta

Friday, February 21, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta] A response to those wondering how I can welcome and affirm LGBTQ persons and recommend a book coauthored by Pastor Rick Warren.

“What were you thinking?” is a question that was put to me by a member of one of our congregations when she learned that I had recommended The Daniel Plan for reading during the season of Lent. The question and the concern it voices at my recommendation are fair. And, I am thankful for an opportunity to share my thinking on the matter.

The Daniel Plan is a book about faith, focus, fitness, friends and food, born out of Pastor Rick Warren’s repentance of being over weight and not setting a good example for his congregation. In collaboration with physicians Dr. Amen, Dr. Hyman and Dr. Oz, The Daniel Plan was born: a six week plan to live more healthy and to recognize our bodies as the divine gift they are. The problem for some of us is that Pastor Warren has been an outspoken advocate of traditional marriage and has made remarks that I and others find objectionable about gay and lesbian persons.

For some, this is an open and shut case. Their argument being, ‘I take offense with Warren’s views on the subject of human sexuality and therefore other contributions he may make about Christian discipleship should be rendered invalid.’

While I understand the temptation to make this argument, it seems to miss the mark of Christian fellowship as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. Is it our contention that by dining at the home of a tax collector, Jesus is endorsing the man’s financial malfeasance, collusion with Rome and abuses of the poor? And do we understand Jesus’ lengthy interaction with a Samaritan woman as an endorsement of her religious
practices and promiscuity? Remember also Jacob was a liar, Moses a murderer and Peter and Paul struggled with cowardice and arrogance to say nothing of misogyny. Are they also unable to positively contribute to our faith journey? Or, is there something more we are supposed to learn about learning from one another?

By recommending The Daniel Plan I am in no way endorsing Pastor Warren’s views on human sexuality. Having read the book, there is nothing in its content that is inconsistent with our baptismal promises. I therefore am certain his invitation to thoughtfulness about health and spiritual wholeness has merit, is commendable and is useful.

Not long ago, other members of the Diocese of Atlanta were asking me “What was I thinking,” when I made provision for the blessing of monogamous life-long, same-sex relationships. Prior to that as a Rector, my congregation asked me “What was I thinking” when I hired a partnered gay white man as the organist and choir director of a historically black church.

Further back, I had to answer that question by my then bishop in New York, as I planned to bless the relationship of two of my parishioners more than a decade before it was permissible.

No doubt more people will ask that question when I produce a video encouraging teens struggling with questions of sexuality not to consider suicide because God loves them and they are welcome in the Episcopal Church.

I confess to you, I struggle with thin, single issue-based fellowship that gets passed off as Christian fellowship. On both sides of the issue. I deeply believe that human beings are too complex and valuable to write off even when their understandings are deemed deplorable. I am afraid that I have preached and taught about a God of limitless grace, love and mercy too long to banish people to a garbage pile of contempt. Or, to teach polite indifference as an acceptable substitute for Christian fellowship.

For decades in the Episcopal Church we have debated and dialogued about the full inclusion of people. And I am proud of the gains we have made. But full inclusion must mean full inclusion even of those we vehemently disagree with, even those who cannot at present celebrate our humanity or dignity, or it is a hollow sentiment. When we say in our churches on Sunday morning, “Wherever you are on your journey you are welcome here,” do we really mean “wherever you are” or something much smaller?

As an African-American, I am well practiced at embracing those who cannot fully embrace me. I have had too many experiences of being slighted based on race and the injury to dignity that that causes. So I have great empathy with those who have these same kinds of scars and who are asked to love those who hate them. But I am sure that retreating into hermetically sealed conversations and communities is not the way forward for followers of Jesus. Fellowship that has Christ as its center is more durable and life giving than single issue-based fellowship. And, I am sure that people who we differ with on issues and biblical interpretation, still have something to teach us.

By some cosmic alignment, I would have you notice that as I write this response, the gospel lesson for the Church this coming Sunday is Jesus’ mandate for us to “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:38-48

While my positions on issues in the past and no doubt in the years to come may cause some people consternation, perhaps even grief, you have my promise that, “what I am thinking about,” constantly, is Jesus’ invitation to the church to partner with Him in the work of reconciliation.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share my heart with you. I offer this response in all humility. If I have offended you, I sincerely ask for your forgiveness. If you are unable to join me on The Daniel Plan for Lent, I invite you to read The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Please always know, my intention is simply to call myself and those souls in my care to Christian maturity.

With gratitude to God for our life together,

The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright
Tenth bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Friday, February 21, 2014

From Bishop Kirk Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

Who among us doesn’t want to support religious freedom? This argument seems to be the tactic of some arch-conservative lawmakers, who have convinced our Arizona legislators that it is fine to deny people basic human rights under the guise of religious freedom. Lawmakers in other states and members of both political parties have been astute enough to see what bills like this really are – a wolf in sheep’s clothing that masks discrimination under a venue of piety. Arizona, however, with its propensity for making itself into the political laughing-stock of the nation, has been duped once again. One can only pray that our Governor will, as the Arizona Republic said this morning, “get out her veto pen.”

I must admit that I wasn’t aware of the details of the State Senate’s action yesterday, but I was immediately aware of the pain that this bill has caused, not only to our own LBGT community in Arizona, but also around the country. Fortunately, Dean Troy Mendez of Trinity Cathedral has been following this issue more closely, and so I asked him to join me in writing about it today. Our E-pistle is thus a bit longer than usual, but we wanted to give you the back ground that will help you convince the Governor that true religious freedom means, as our Prayer Book so clearly states, “respecting the dignity of every human being.”
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Proclaiming the Gospel of Peace, by The Very Rev. Troy Mendez

As Christians, we’re called to be peacemakers in the world. But sometimes we face unexpected challenges, and scripture helps us find our center, our peace. Paul’s letter to the Romans calls us ever closer to this peaceful center when he writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free…for those who walk [now] not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” And in that Spirit, Paul says, we find “life and peace.” (Romans 8:1-2a, 4, 6).

The Episcopal Church has heard this call from scripture to live into our common life with the Holy Spirit, and as recently as the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis affirmed resolution D019, which states and reaffirms Title I, Canon 17, Section 5: “No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by Canons.” As a former Presiding Bishop Browning said in 1986, “there will be no outcasts in this church.”

No Outcasts. Period. We are fortunate that we have collaborated, prayed, argued, and listened to scripture, tradition, and reason to discern our church’s guidance by the Holy Spirit. However, the majority leadership in the Arizona State Legislature has recently diverted attention from our state’s economy, educational systems and overall well-being, and instead has put forward two articles of legislation (SB1062/HB2153) that will most likely be sent to Governor Brewer’s office for her signature. The intent of this legislation runs contrary to not only our church’s canons, but also to Holy Scripture itself:  the legislation intends to allow people to discriminate on the grounds of their religious beliefs and practices. Individuals and entities will be able to determine who in society is “religiously righteous” or not. (A more detailed description of the legislation is below.)

If we are followers of Jesus, then we must use this time as a call to recognize all the victims of this potentially harmful legislation. Who around you might be shut out from fully participating in society? How might this legislation prohibit the church from exercising ministry in the best ways we see fit? If we’re promising in the Baptismal Covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” how might this newly enacted legislation fly in the face of what we’ve promised? Where is the church’s presence of peace in all of this?

Arizona Episcopalians, now is time for us to be peacemakers. The Holy Spirit promises to lead us, if we open our hearts, into the fullest life and peace imaginable. Being a Christian means we are asked as a community to follow Jesus to proclaim Good News to the people in the state legislature who seem to be walking in darkness. How do we help them see the great light – the reconciling love and deep peace of Jesus Christ for all people?

Some details about SB1062/HB2153*

What is being proposed?  Actually, several things are being proposed in this bill, including the following:

a)           Enables Discrimination based on “sincerely held beliefs.” The bill expands the term “exercise of religion” to include elements of practice and tacit “observance” of the religion (i.e., enacted beliefs). A person’s “religious practice and liberty” could be used under this bill as an excuse to deny people fair housing, job opportunities, and any kind of equal protection under the law. The framework of the bill is state-sanctioned discrimination.

b)           Expands the legal definition of personhood. In the current legislation, a “person” by definition becomes any and all entities, including “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity. Personal morals could therefore apply to the way commerce is conducted, theoretically denying access or services to another group, under the grounds that offering them would be religiously reprehensible.

c)           Overrides any municipal non-discrimination legislation. The ordinances of local governments would be subject to the state’s legislation, thereby nullifying the will of the people of a community, including recent legislation passed in the City of Phoenix about a year ago.

Who will be hurt?  In reality, the legislation is targeted towards members of the GLBT community, but women, people of color, non-Christians and anyone who falls out of favor with any religious group for any reason could theoretically be hurt. Anna Tovar, the Senate Minority Leader released a statement saying, “With the express consent of the legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves….separate and unequal under the law.” For example, if it’s against your religion for women to cut their hair, you could, as a business entity, refuse service to women who cut their hair. You could also legally hide behind your religious convictions to deny people fair housing, job opportunities, and any kind of equal protection under the law. On grounds of any religious idea or practice, this statue says other anti-discrimination laws do not apply.

How are we as Christians a catalyst for healing?  At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations, and Jesus promises to be with them in their ministry, to the end of the age. We call this the Great Commission – to make disciples in the name of Christ, by bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to letting the oppressed go free, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor.

Jesus sends the presence of the Holy Spirit to be with us to guide us into new territory. Prayer, discernment, and commitment to community are required to proceed into this new territory. Dialogue is essential, and we cannot rest until all of God’s children are included as full-members of society. Not some. All.

We have all made a covenant in Baptism to uphold one another in our life in Christ. Now is the time to live more fully into our call, and join with all brothers and sisters who are being shut out. As Christians, we must walk with Jesus, and follow him into the midst of this situation, proclaiming peace, justice, and God’s never-failing mercy.

*Special thanks to Grant Miller for his help in compiling material for this summary.

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